Professional Athlete Makes Good Case for Drinking on the Job

A.J. PierzynskiPlenty of us have had one of those days at work when a nice, cold alcoholic beverage would really hit the spot. And now the rumors that Red Sox pitchers Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and John Lackey have a habit of tipping back some beers in the clubhouse (while eating fried chicken and playing video games) during games have turned into a confession from White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski that he really has tippled between plays! So do these guys have an excuse?

Most of us wait until we get home to crack open the bottle of wine -- because we value our jobs enough to stay sober while we're on the clock. But then, most of us aren't major league athletes under pressure to deliver in front of thousands of fans in a stadium and even more at home.


Pierzynski's confession, and his explanation to talk show host Dan Patrick, almost make it seem like this is a good thing. The way the Sox starting catcher tells it, a "rally beer" with his buddies can calm him down and bring his head back into the game, especially when the team is battling it out in extra innings.

On a normal day, if you told me someone was drinking on the job, my first response would be pretty hardcore: can his sorry butt, now. Even watching Mad Men, knowing that it was typical in the '60s to have a mid-day scotch, I can't help the feeling of sanctimony that takes over as I suck my teeth and shake my head. Drinking on the job is really just a great way to screw up and get yourself fired.

But sports are about winning. And when you're a professional athlete, it's about winning at all costs. So if a "rally beer" is what helps you win, well, that's a tough one.

I have a hard time believing the booze makes him better as a player, because most of us find a drink is going to slow down our reflexes -- something your average catcher really NEEDS during a game. But Pierzynski is an athlete. His every move on the field is tracked by scouts and coaches. He has real figures to quantify his performance before and after his beer. And he says it works for him, that it helps his team.

Provided the fans and owners of the company are getting what they want out of a player like Pierzynski, he's doing his job. Then again, the White Sox didn't make it to the playoff this year, did they?

What do you think? Is it OK for players to have a drink, as long as they're winning?


Image via Wikimedia Commons

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