Friday, May 27, 2016

A death and a DWI

Neil Allen's pitching staff has struggled this year.
Thursday was a rough day for for Minnesota pitching coaches.

Todd Oakes, longtime pitching coach for the University of Minnesota, died after a long battle with leukemia. 

Glen Perkins of the Twins, who pitched for Oakes in college, posted a statement on Twitter praising "T.O." for his influence on Perkins both as a pitcher and as a person. 

Also on Thursday, the Twins suspended Neil Allen after the pitching coach was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Allen ran his playing career aground on alcohol but was reportedly sober for 20 years.

Eric Rasmussen, the organization's pitching coordinator, has been named interim pitching coach.

I have no real personal experience with addiction and addictive behavior, and I have no idea if Allen's arrest was a unique lapse or the exposure of ongoing behavior. It certainly seems possible that the continuing struggles of his charges fed the impulse to return to the shelter of the bottle. Sobriety is a daily struggle for the alcoholic, and lapses are unfortunately common. I can, and do, sympathize with Allen without condoning driving under the influence.

His superiors will eventually have to make a decision: keep him or dismiss him. They don't have to make that decision now, and they shouldn't. Allen too has a decision to make, whether he can maintain his sobriety under the stress of being in charge of a major league pitching staff. I don't know what the correct answer is for the organization or the individual, and I doubt any of us do. 

1 comment:

  1. This is definitely a hard one. Having a coach pass away with cancer is a pretty sad occurrence, but he fought long and hard with that battle. Then the issue with the DUI is a sad one too. Knowing that he had a drink after 20 years of sobriety reminds us that anyone could slip up.