By Matt Welch
Baseball managers are not exactly know for being the sharpest tools in the crayon box, but Tampa Bay Rays skipper Joe Maddon not only wears fancy-lad glasses, he also said something very refreshing to hear from anyone, let alone a grown man who works in tight pajamas. In regards to some recent discussion about banning alcohol in big-league clubhouses in the wake of some pointless Red Sox controversy, Maddon went off:
"I'm not into knee-jerk reactions," the Rays manager told WEEI.com. "If somebody had all of these wonderful thoughts prior to this happening I may be more on board with it, or more empathetic to it. But all of this knee-jerk stuff that occurs in our game absolutely drives me crazy. If you want to be proactive about some thoughts, go ahead, be proactive and I'm all for that. But to say a grown-up can't have a beer after a game? Give me a break. That is, I'm going to use the word, 'asinine,' because it is. Let's bring the Volstead Act back, OK. Let's go right back to prohibition and start legislating everything all over again. All that stuff pretty much annoys me, as you can tell."
Maddon, whose team is one of 13 in Major League Baseball to allow beer in the clubhouse, said that players at the big league level should be allowed to regulate themselves in regard to such activities as the use of beer in the clubhouse.
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"I don't understand any of that. Do we sell beer in the ballpark? These people who attend the games have a much greater chance of becoming drunk by the time they leave than a baseball player does," he said. "Most of the time if you have a beer after the game, it's one, maybe two, and that's it. I have a glass of wine. I defend there's not a thing wrong with that. If they want to start pulling beers out of clubhouses they better start pulling them out of ballparks, too, because that's a higher percentage chance of something going awry.
"I'm not a big rules guy. Whenever you start enforcing the rule thing, and when you start regulating too much and take it out of their own hands ... they're not babies. These guys are old enough to understand. These guys are grown-ups and why would I attempt to regulate their behavior? What I talk to my guys about is right and wrong and I have a sign in my clubhouse that says, 'Integrity has no need of rules.' And I believe that. I believe if you give your guys the freedom to make the right choices and talk to them about it.... Of course they're going to screw up. I'm going to screw up, we're all going to screw up. But at the end of the day if you handle it in that manner you have a chance for it to become more permanent and more accepted and it becomes part of your culture in a good way."