Was Bush an Accident Waiting to Happen?

I truly want to find a way to somehow spin this into a positive post, but I can’t.

I am not only appalled, but I am both emotionally angered and saddened simultaneously with the recent events involving Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Matt Bush. I hate to admit it, but this is clearly a definite third strike against a guy who has tried to face his demons on his own, and now might be mandated legally to force-feed himself some real medicine and counseling to help deal with his issues.

I am a compassionate human being who truly want to stand up for Bush and his actions, but the reality is that I could not even look him in the face right now for the vile and angry triad that would spill from my lips. I want to show empathy for his past, present and future struggles with alcohol and it’s dependency issues, but to me, Bush broke what I consider the fundamental cardinal rule.

Matthew Brian Bush got willingly into an automobile knowing he was impaired and drove not a few miles, but at least a half hour on US 41 North from Sarasota to Port Charlotte, and in the process Bush could have easily impacted countless additional innocent lives or untold damage before this final horrific event unfolded in front of his Dodge SUV.

That angers me to a state of rage that is not fit for print, and shows the lack of concern or even basic principle of common decency and responsibility that we all assume when we collectively get into our vehicles and take to the roadways. What angers me more to the core is the fact that Bush had an alert to his inebriated state when he hit a pole during his blurry travels back. This first accident should have jolted Bush back into the reality of his state of mind, but Bush still drove on. And that is where my anger increases tri-fold because money for cab fare, a hotel or even the distance should not be the issue for ignoring this basic safety issue.

Getting into a car after even feeling a bit tipsy in my opinion is asking for something bad to happen. I know personally if I go over my predetermined 2-3 beer limit I have alternative solutions to a safe night home. My salvation is a cab ride , a designated driver or non-drinking friend or maybe even a Good Samaritan. These are the options I have laid out for myself in the even of a tipsy evening. I wonder if Bush had any inclinations to any of these secondary actions, or if he just ignored them like that incident with the pole. You do not get into a car impaired because you could effect and change another life, not just your own.

When the Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy asked Bush if this was his “serious awakening”, Bush responded in his arrest report, “ It wasn’t, he had ‘already been there’.” To compound the issue, Bush admitted to the arresting officer he had “stopped and bought a few (adult beverages) and kept driving”, a clear sign of his addiction consuming him. Seems as if things were piling onto Bush with a vengeance prior to this final accident, but he did not heed their signals.

Some of you might not know this of my background, but my father owned a towing service when I was young and I did a lot of the accident calls with him, even at night. I also worked for several police rotation and towing services from 1987-1994 were I got to see the aftermath and destruction first hand. I even had the unfortunate event of having to hold an elderly woman’s hand back in 1988 as the life was leaving her and I was helpless to help her since she was impaled and pinned into her car by the steering column after a head-on collision with a drunk driver. That is only one story of the many I have witnessed first-hand where the effects of alcohol took the wheel and severely changed people’s lives in an instant.

I understand addiction. I want to have empathy for Bush, but even after his horrific crime, he drove away completely oblivious that his SUV had rolled over the helmet of a downed motorcyclist. Even less of a defense is his blood alcohol limit of .180 which clearly is 2 times the Florida legal limit. Truly Bush’s demon was firmly at the controls.

I wonder what broke Bush? Was it the clarity that he might be back in Triple-A Durham and not sitting in the AC confines of Tropicana Field? Could all the expectations, responsibilities have somehow descended on him that day and plunged him into this liquid abyss and Bush knew of no other alternative.

For his ignorance Bush now sits behind bars currently without an attorney and not eligible for bail an a elderly motorcycle rider fights for his life at Lee Memorial Hospital. How his evening would have been different if Bush had been forthright and just picked up his phone, call a teammate, a friend, a Rays clubhouse attendant…..a cab and admitted he was not fit to be behind the wheel. This angers me to the core because this not the road a baseball career, or a life should ever travel.

3 Comments

If you actually understood addiction as you claim, you wouldn’t even be asking why this happened or why he failed to do the responsible thing at several intervals. I am not defending Matt at all, but I know first hand why. I am a recovering alcoholic. Alcoholism is the only disease where your mind tries to convince you that you don’t have it. The only control or defense he has regarding alcohol is the choice to take that first drink or not. If he CHOOSES to not call someone for help before he picks up that first drink, and he CHOOSES to take a drink, all of his defenses are gone. He has an allergy to alcohol. After that first bit of alcohol, he is powerless to stop. Have you ever tried willpower to stop diarhea? It won’t work. Alcohol for an alcoholic is the same thing.  He is no longer able to control or limit his drinking after that point, and as he becomes impaired, there is no way to make rational & responsible decisions, like a non-alcoholic would. Why would he call someone after he started drinking? He was ashamed. He was scared. He f’d up and he knew it. His responses to law enforcement were not to blow off what he did, but more of an attitude that he didn’t think he was actually capable of hitting a bottom lower than the one he had a few years ago. He knows he messed up, and I bet he wishes more than anything he could go back and make the right decision. I’m sure right now he wants to die. No words could express how sorry he probably is.  I am sure baseball is the last thing on his mind. I have met Matt. Arrogant, cocky, self-righteous he is not. Shy, humble, gracious and soft-spoken he is. I don’t believe his decision to pick up a drink that day had anything to do with baseball. As alcoholics, an urge to drink can hit you out of the blue. We are taught what steps to take when that happens. He knows what he should have done, and he chose otherwise. The consequences that an alcoholic must face for making a single bad choice are not the same for a non-alcoholic. You drink too many one night and you may lose sleep and suffer a hangover. If I take a drink, I might end up where Matt is. Sometimes it is not so easy for an alcoholic to remember that theory every second of every day for the rest of one’s life. Now he will have to take responsibility for his actions, which I am sure he will. From all I know, he has never been anything but open & honest about his past failures & mistakes. However, I Will say that he might be one of those alcoholics like the one I was married to, that just can’t handle success. That usually is a result of some deeply rooted shame they have about their past actions. My spouse would get back on the wagon for a few years and life couldn’t be any better. Finally! A success story! And the next day it all vanished when he picked up a drink,  lost his job, looted our home of all valuables, and was in jail facing another felony. He felt so shameful of his behavior & the harm he caused others as a result of his drinking that he never felt deserving of the rewards sobriety gave him, so he unconsciously sabotaged it all. No one knows why Matt chose to drink, matt may not even know why. But everyone in ST knows his situation and I’m sure his pride would not allow him to tell anybody what was going on with him that day. Be mad at him all you want to,  but know that he is far more angry with himself. I’m sure he deserves more prayers than judgement, unless you are the victim or the  judge. Just because he has a certain athletic talent doesn’t make him any more capable to understand what he is risking and throwing away. 
I have said it for the past few years, but MLB has got to make some changes in regards to alcohol in spring training. When ST starts, so do the DUI’s. Baseball players adhere to a very routine life as far as their schedules & day-to-day life. Most of the year their day starts & ends later than most people. Spring rolls around and they are excited to be reunited w/ their teammates, get it going, etc. But their schedule is reversed. They wake up early, work hard, play a game and end their work day early in the afternoon. Some don’t know what to do when they have free time because they are used to not having any. They now have this block of time available in a warm climate with their buddies to do what? Drink. The earlier they get started, the more likely chance they will get drunk, and here come a slew of DUI’s because somebody thinks they can drive. Alcohol is accepted in baseball. That won’t change. But I am sure that it isn’t easy for someone like Matt who is around it more in ST than the regular season, and he has to remind himself that he isn’t like them, they can drink and he can’t. That is what happened that day Plain & Simple…He gave himself permission to drink that day. 

If you actually understood addiction as you claim, you wouldn’t even be asking why this happened or why he failed to do the responsible thing at several intervals. I am not defending Matt at all, but I know first hand why. I am a recovering alcoholic. Alcoholism is the only disease where your mind tries to convince you that you don’t have it. The only control or defense he has regarding alcohol is the choice to take that first drink or not. If he CHOOSES to not call someone for help before he picks up that first drink, and he CHOOSES to take a drink, all of his defenses are gone. He has an allergy to alcohol. After that first bit of alcohol, he is powerless to stop. Have you ever tried willpower to stop diarhea? It won’t work. Alcohol for an alcoholic is the same thing.  He is no longer able to control or limit his drinking after that point, and as he becomes impaired, there is no way to make rational & responsible decisions, like a non-alcoholic would. Why would he call someone after he started drinking? He was ashamed. He was scared. He f’d up and he knew it. His responses to law enforcement were not to blow off what he did, but more of an attitude that he didn’t think he was actually capable of hitting a bottom lower than the one he had a few years ago. He knows he messed up, and I bet he wishes more than anything he could go back and make the right decision. I’m sure right now he wants to die. No words could express how sorry he probably is.  I am sure baseball is the last thing on his mind. I have met Matt. Arrogant, cocky, self-righteous he is not. Shy, humble, gracious and soft-spoken he is. I don’t believe his decision to pick up a drink that day had anything to do with baseball. As alcoholics, an urge to drink can hit you out of the blue. We are taught what steps to take when that happens. He knows what he should have done, and he chose otherwise. The consequences that an alcoholic must face for making a single bad choice are not the same for a non-alcoholic. You drink too many one night and you may lose sleep and suffer a hangover. If I take a drink, I might end up where Matt is. Sometimes it is not so easy for an alcoholic to remember that theory every second of every day for the rest of one’s life. Now he will have to take responsibility for his actions, which I am sure he will. From all I know, he has never been anything but open & honest about his past failures & mistakes. However, I Will say that he might be one of those alcoholics like the one I was married to, that just can’t handle success. That usually is a result of some deeply rooted shame they have about their past actions. My spouse would get back on the wagon for a few years and life couldn’t be any better. Finally! A success story! And the next day it all vanished when he picked up a drink,  lost his job, looted our home of all valuables, and was in jail facing another felony. He felt so shameful of his behavior & the harm he caused others as a result of his drinking that he never felt deserving of the rewards sobriety gave him, so he unconsciously sabotaged it all. No one knows why Matt chose to drink, matt may not even know why. But everyone in ST knows his situation and I’m sure his pride would not allow him to tell anybody what was going on with him that day. Be mad at him all you want to,  but know that he is far more angry with himself. I’m sure he deserves more prayers than judgement, unless you are the victim or the  judge. Just because he has a certain athletic talent doesn’t make him any more capable to understand what he is risking and throwing away. 

I can say through my own trials I never did the actions or had the conclusions that now face Bush. I lost my child, a future wife and a whole lot more being arrogant and thinking I was above my urges and desires for something that destroyed me more than it eased pains and indignities. I can honestly say I never went down the rabbit hole to a level that spirals and twists out of control. I made my decisions as spontaneous motions that set others into opposite directions and changed my life because I thought I had a ” handle” on something that can not be tamed.
I understand you atand on alcohol at Spring Training, but I understand Bush was to drop off Brandon Guyer at the Rays Clubhouse then head home. Instead the journey we know now started. I think compared to a lot of the reports/blogs that have been written, I tried to be objective without making a rash verdict. The road from here is up to Bush. I do hope he finds the support, foundation again to rebuild. I have also met Bush a few times and as you have said, he is not a monster, but the liquid created a version of a monster. I do wish him confidence, strength and resolve as he moves forward. Believe me I know this is not an aliment that can be surgically removed, frozen or even replaced….but sometimes I wish there was a clear answer.

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