Matt Bush Arrested for DUI

Matt Bush screwed up. Again. According to Roger Mooney, the former first overall draft pick was arrested Thursday night for DUI. As if that weren’t bad enough, Bush is also responsible for a hit and run in which he seriously injured a 72-year-old motorist and fled the scene before he was picked up by law enforcement.

Bush had already been trying to rehabilitate his image following a night club brawl in 2004 and an alleged assault in 2009. After washing out with the San Diego Padres, Bush, now 26-years-old, was attempting to comeback as a reliever with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Considering the severity of this incident, it doesn’t seem appropriate to bring up Bush’s baseball history. Unfortunately, it’s part of the reason he was still in the game. Bush did not produce as a hitter in the minors and this comeback was a last chance to prove himself in the majors. Due to his live right arm, the Rays decided to take a chance on Bush despite his past legal issues. While an organization is always going to be tempted by talent, character is also a factor in which players deserve contracts. That’s not to say the Rays completely ignored Bush’s past, but they also knew the risks involved in bringing a player with his history into the organization.

In the end, though, talent often wins out, and people you wouldn’t want marrying into your family continue to get chances as long as teams think they can help them win baseball games. Milton Bradley was known for his off the field issues, but played on eight different teams due to his baseball skills. Elijah Dukes was a more serious case, but still received multiple chances based on his potential. Delmon Young once threw a bat at an umpire, but the Rays stuck by him due to his prospect status – at least, until they realized he was not very good and traded him to Minnesota. More recently, Alex White was arrested for an “extreme DUI”, and yet the Rockies declined to punish him in any way.

Talent usually buys players multiple chances to clean up their act, but Bush’s situation is different than the players listed above. What made those players attractive to other teams was the fact that they offered tantalizing potential. Bush washed out as a shortstop and had to be converted to a reliever, limiting the value he can bring to a franchise. His strikeout rates and big arm suggest that perhaps he have made it as a big league setup man, but the reward part of the value calculation is significantly lower with a guy who only pitches for an inning at a time.

This incident also highlights a significant problem for MLB. The number of DUIs appears to be growing, and even if that is just due to heightened media coverage of the sport, the appearance of an increase is a problem for the league. Yet, it’s rare that these players ever get officially punished beyond the legal system. While one can argue that an employer shouldn’t be involved in the personal lives of its employees, celebrities make a conscious decision to give up some privacy in exchange for greater financial reward, and their status demands a higher level of responsibility than the average man on the street.

With Bush, it’s not even a what-if scenario. According to a witness, the situation could have turned into a much larger tragedy.

“Literally the tire on the SUV ran over the driver’s head,” said a witness to the crash. “Without the helmet, the gentleman would have been dead instantly.”

If that doesn’t make MLB react and start evaluating what they should do to curb drinking and driving by the players who represent the league as a whole, then what will it take? The league should not wait until a Major League player kills someone while being drunk behind the wheel to intervene.

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Chris is a blogger for He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

54 Responses to “Matt Bush Arrested for DUI”

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  1. geo says:

    Between Matt Bush and Bobby Jenks, yesterday sure was a heck of a day in the Grapefruit League.

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  2. walt526 says:

    For a year or two after he retired, Bob Ojeda traveled around to clubhouses during spring training to talk about the tragedy that he was involved in. For those who aren’t familiar, during the 1993 spring training there was a boating crash in Florida that killed fellow Indian pitchers Tim Crews (who was piloting the boat) and Steve Olin. Ojeda was the lone survivor.

    Anyway, wonder if he still does that or if MLB would consider hiring him to talk to players during spring training. I remember a couple of young Giants in the mid-1990s said that it was a profoundly powerful PSA-type activity.

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  3. billybob says:

    Thanks for making a real point out of this: I agree that the MLB should add some kind of enforcement. Although a criminal or civil fine might not be a big deal to some of these guys, compounding it by tacking on some MLB-imposed public service and some missed games & salary might make them think twice.

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  4. Plasmaj says:

    If my employer discovered I had been arrested for DUI (i haven’t been), I would likely be fired. It is a great deterrent

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    • Psst says:

      and if your skills were elite enough to put you in the top 500 people in the world with your skills you would immediately be picked up by someone else(assuming you don’t drive for a living)

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  5. Jonathan says:

    Twenty-five day suspension with no pay, doubling for each subsequent offense. The higher profile the star, the more intense the media scrutiny and hence the higher the punishment when putting a month’s pay on the line.

    I would love to see the MLBPA try to argue against something like that.

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  6. Shane says:

    This is “Bush” league behavior.

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  7. philosofool says:

    Seriously, isn’t one of the benefits of a multi-million dollar salary that you can afford a cab?

    MLB finds itself on a slippery slope with this sort of thing, unfortunately. If it has rules about drunk driving, should it also have rules about domestic violence, wreckless (sober) driving, and other harmful behaviors?

    There may also be a union issue here.

    I’m not defending the behavior, I just wonder if it is more complicated for MLB to step in here than it would at first seem.

    (It’s almost juvenile to suggest it, but I bet posters in every locker room that say “Drunk? Call a cab. It’s best for you, it’s best for the team, it’s best for society” would have an effect. I know that sounds stupid, but 50 or 60 years ago, the slogan was “One for the road” instead of “Don’t drink and drive.” Sometimes just reminding people not to be dumb helps.)

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    • Joey says:

      At my work we pay a retainer for a private taxiing service that is available 24/7 for anyone who needs a ride because they are drunk. Every month a bill comes to my office without any names attached to it and we pay it off discretely. If an employee uses the service it simply says “service used on xx/xx/2012, $50” or whatever. It’s anonymous and respects everyone’s privacy so that if someone has too much to drink they can get a safe ride home without their name appearing on the bill.

      I don’t care if my employees are out drinking, they are adults, but some of them would have to be terminated if they were convicted of a DUI or DWI. With the private car service we avoid DUI/DWI arrests and any drunk driving that doesn’t get caught either. And the service is easily worth it because the cost of one DUI and having to fire a longtime or valuable employee is hundreds of times more expensive than the yearly fee for the car service.

      The thing that is bothersome to me is that MLB players, and other professional athletes, are worth millions of dollars per year and the teams could easily afford to pay to have a car company on standby for any players who need a ride. It’s really simple economics. The cost of a car service is only a few thousand dollars per year. The cost of keeping a car service on standby for the spring training months is a drop in the ocean for most team’s operating budgets.

      MLB shouldn’t even have to mandate teams getting their own private car services. Teams should be doing it on their own for simple economic reasons.

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      • colin says:

        Now THAT is a quality boss! Hiring?

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      • marcoscutaro says:

        If they HAVE to be terminated I guess they aren’t your employees now are they?

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      • eliasll says:

        You said it, they are adults, the fact that they are worth millions has nothing to do with responsibility. The league or team should not babysit these idiots. This event was unfortunate because it involved an innocent old man, but if Bush would’ve crashed his car and bust his leg or something it would’ve been a well deserved learning lesson…

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      • jwb says:

        And we know this because hitting a tree while drunk and missing two months with injuries really straightened out Len Dykstra, right? Darren Daulton was injured in the crash, too.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        Joey, if no names are listed on the invoice, how do you know they’re legit? Seems very easy for the cab company to scam you with fake invoices.

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    • Shane says:

      Yeah but if you call a cab you can’t drive 130 mph shitfaced, while sniffing lines of blow off a groupie’s cleavage.

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    • Dmitri says:

      MLB does have a program where the players can call a cab at any time and anywhere. Players just fail to use it

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  8. dp says:

    I’m quite surprised that teams would not have 24-hour car service available to players in Spring Training and during the season. This is something that’s been available to all NFL players for some time, and I would imagine that if MLB teams don’t have this now, they will do so sharpish. The costs of DUI far outweigh the expense of having such services available. It won’t always stop a knuckle headed chump from getting behind the wheel while soused, but if it means a few less drunk drivers on the road then it’s more than worth it.

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  9. OTerry says:

    The MLB should learn from the NFL, and throw down the hammer.

    Suspend the players for a year, and dock a third of their salary in the next two seasons for MADD or some other charity.

    The punishment must be more severe than that of taking a performance enhancing substance.

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    • Omar says:

      Bullshit. DUI laws are too strict anyways. .08? Are you fucking kidding me? If you’ve had at least three beers in your life you should be able to handle yourself. If you can’t drive a car at .10 you’re a shitty fucking driver and you shouldn’t be driving at all. DUI Laws are what need reform, not MLB’s or the NFL’s policies in dealing with them. .15 was the line before in most states to where you’re too fucked up to drive, and at .15 I don’t give a shit how much you drink or who you are…you’re too shit hammered to drive. Perhaps, DUI laws should be stronger, when you’re over X amount it’s not a license suspension it’s automatic jail time. And .08 to .12 or so is merely a speeding ticket or not a crime at all.

      DUI laws are an interesting kind of stupid, it’s like they’re too extreme yet not extreme enough at the same time. They’ll fuck you in the ass for just having one or two too many, but yet if you’re Matt Bush and almost kill a guy you’re out of jail later the next day. I mean one of these things is not like the other. If you’re dangerous on the road you should be punished, and that’s all there is to it. However, if it’s three in the morning out in the middle of fucking no where and you’ve had one or two too many then I don’t see why you have to go through miles of bullshit and get popped for 10K or so in fines and shit.

      My Uncle’s a narcotics detective in Chicago, and most DUIs that he pulls over he’ll end up locking the idiot’s keys in his trunk, towing the car, and making him call a cap. That’ll set you back about three to four hundo in Chicago. I’d say that’s an acceptable penalty for having one or two too many.

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      • DL80 says:

        Wait, so everyone should be capable of driving at .10 but no one is capable at .15? The point of having the low limit is to motivate people not to drink at all before driving, but to allow for one or two within a couple hours before. If you think you are a great driver after 3-4 drinks (.08 in most people), then I hope we are never on the same road.

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      • John says:

        Stupidest thing I’ve ever read in my entire life. I bet having a loved one killed by a .09 driver would change your tune real quick, douche-bag.

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      • eayres33 says:

        And having your loved one killed by some one on muscle relaxers or any presription or not prescripton drug that impairs you driving as much if not more than alcohol would have no effect. Or some one texting, or eating a burrito. Its the fact he his someone not what ever dumb reason he hit them that is the problem. Why we just single out alcohol and not the hit and run is besides me.

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  10. Snowblind says:

    Talent usually buys players multiple chances to clean up their act, but Bush’s situation is different than the players listed above.

    Which is yet another unfortunate aspect of this. One set of rules for the guys with higher potential on the field, and another for the lower tier guys.

    People used their time allotted in the their day for sports, to agonize over Ryan Braun’s PED issue, for weeks. Something like this goes by and it’s just another news item or piece of trivia within a day or two.

    I guarantee you the average fan will get way more worked up over Barry Bonds’ HOF chances than over the serious issues of substance abuse and domestic abuse in MLB. Until or unless that flips around – until you have fans actively turning away from the game in droves because of MLB’s attitude towards these topics – things won’t change.

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  11. Marver says:

    Bad time for a Rays “extra 2%” joke?

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  12. Hurtlockertwo says:

    Bush was a punk, and the Padres knew it, when they drafted him. (he is from San Diego after all) I don’t feel sorry for a guy that squanders an opportunity that most of the male population would give their right nut for.

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    • Shane says:

      Not to exonerate Bush but be careful with your judgements. I joke around alot but seriously this young man is troubled. We simply assume he is out partying and throwing everything away. More often than not the drinking and self destructive behavior has nothing to do with taking dreams such as this for granted. As a man in recovery i can speak wisely about such things. In these cases whay the general public assumes to be a simple truth involves a much more complicated equation.

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      • bpdelia says:

        Yeah I don’t need or expect the general public to understand what it’s likeb. But I do want them to know it isn’t a matter of being “punk”. Numerous times I came “THIS FREAKIN” close to losing my wife and kids over drinking and drugs. I lost a baseball scholarship for two failed drug tests. IT wasn’t until a lot of therapy and finally getting prescriptions that worked to make life feel bearable that I beat it……kinda.

        Alchohol and drug problems are almost always a symptom of other serious mental issues. If I had a dollar for every time someone made some assnine comment about “just think of your kids” or “just buckle down” I’d be loaded….with money….and probably dope too.

        Anyway, it’s not so simple. Bush may very well be a total freakin douche, but his drinking issue is almost certainly unrelated to his douchiness. It’s just another contributing factor

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      • Shane says:

        I hear you bpdelia. It’s a fine line. On one hand you want people to understand so they will stop calling you a douchebag. You want them to realize that despite how the behavior appears its really a backassward way of thinking which is more generous and empathetic than the general public will ever understand. On the other hand I would never wish the mental gymnastics and the hell it brings on, to anyone. Behavior defines everyone and that’s how it goes. But in the case of an addict it never reveals the true intentions of the man (or woman).

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      • Hurtlockertwo says:

        Being an alcoholic doen’t make you a punk, being a punk makes you a punk. This guy’s behaviour, attitude, arrogance makes him a punk with a drinking problem.

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      • My echo and bunnymen says:

        As somebody called it, it is a fine line. Now I truly wonder if an emphatic or a straight up apathy is better when drugs or drinking is the problem? Because although the emphatic approach is definitely the right choice, which would would actually get more people off drugs? To see a better light than constantly downing JD every night, or smoking a dime, or shooting up, or snorting, or _________, wouldn’t the negative view of society be a push for more than without? Or would the understanding of the masses be the cure (although Robert Smith suffered with heroin)? For a lot the empathy is working and there are drug counselors working hard to help people, a job that is vastly under appreciated, but it sounds like that empathy wasn’t your motivation above. Sounds like you needed rejection to find salvation, or its equivalent.

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      • My echo and bunnymen says:

        Unfortunately, I’ll never understand the desire to do any drug while losing the family I had, but I also would never condemn a man with a problem. It’s hard to give empathy when you hear of relapses and the things they do to get back into it, steal valuables and prostitution. However, the education and situation is possibly a lucky break for me and to find a solution for the problem for others would be the only. I have friends whom do ectasy, marijuana, and many more. For marijuana I just wish the frequency was less. Throwing up in the bathroom and becoming a dependent person is not healthy for me, nor for the individual, but other than apathy, how was I to handle that situation? I can’t go to college, work 30 hours a week, have a girlfriend, and increase the odds I will succeed in the world while also caring for a friend with a major problem, I would just like to know how could we possibly find a better solution? AA has been under attack for years because of its religious element, safe houses are constricting. How?

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      • My echo and bunnymen says:

        *However, the education and situation is possibly a lucky break for me and to find a solution for the problem for others would be the only way I could help.

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    • Mike says:

      You are so right about Matt He was a wisemouth cocky Teenager at Mission Bay HS, he went and got arrested as soon as he had a signing bonus for the Padres in Yuma his last incident in El Cajon he was drunk and beat up some Teenagers in a park and then was Yelling ” Do You kow who I am?” Rich Parents spoiled Brat They wanted to blame the Padres for giving him too much money yet they demanded the bonus Padres have it even worse The Moron in the front Office that drafted Bush ( since fired) Passed on Jared Weaver and Verlander in the first round syaing Bushs arm was better and Weaver on a lower round saying his arm wasnt lively enough Hope they put Matt behind bars for a long time

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  13. Tim says:

    Teams can be dumb like that for a local kid….they see $ signs from the local connection and fear the fan backlash for letting a local star get away….

    The Lions KNEW Charles Rogers was a MAJOR EPIC pothead, and a borderline “special” person based on his Prop 48 status, his 8 score on the Wonderlic and generally his lack of ability to do anything like an adult but catch a football….they hired his college head coach to babysit him in the NFL….and he still smoked pot “errry day” as the Chuckster later admitted as a Lion. Meanwhile, Andre Johnson, taken one pick after, is the 2nd best WR in football (behind Calvin Johnson, also a Lion)

    Smokey McDumbass is now broke despite collecting about $25m of his contract, owes the Lions $16million in court ordered recovery of his signing bonus(unique in sports history I think) that is literally up in smoke and never to be seen, and is still a drugged out retard literally living in his mom’s basement…

    but at least he didn’t run over someone’s head with an SUV…..smh

    Draft Character. Not Characters.

    But as a Tiger fan visiting San Diego next month….Thanks for Verlander! :)

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    • Shane says:

      Shame on the Lions for having all that information (Especially the prop 48 status stuff) and giving him that contract. Then they have the odassity to come back and sue him for his signing bonus (look up Ricky Williams, not unprecedented). Sounds like the Lions fault to me.

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    • bpdelia says:

      I gotta tell you he was a moron but the whole suing him for the signing bonus really cheese me off. it is, of course a “signing” bonus. A bonus for signing.

      In a league where contracts are barely guranteed. Where no one ever EVER gets the full amount that is reported at the time of the signing and where guys (even stars) are released at the drop of a hat, to then sue for a signing bonus because you made a horrible draft pick (again) seems piggish and disgusting

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    • My echo and bunnymen says:

      Wes Walker is the second best WR in the NFL, but that’s a minor nitpick.

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  14. Pat says:

    I’m Matt (bleeping) Bush!!!

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  15. eayres33 says:

    Drunk driving is a serious issue, but I don’t think MLB handing out punishments would solve anything. When you drive drunk, you are drunk, things like punishments, is this the right thing to do, could I possibly hurt things aren’t considered. Prevention not punishment is a more proactive solution, offer driver services put posters up in locker rooms make it a peer pressure thing to not drink and drive. Perhaps have account a bill a buddies may help

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  16. Alex says:

    Just for the record, San Diego was forced to draft Bush by ownership due to the PR boost from taking a local kid and the fact that they did not want to pay the high price Verlander wanted to sign. All the baseball ops people wanted Verlander.

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    • Paul says:

      Towers and Chief Gayton (the scouting director at the time) have said that Jeff Niemann and Stephen Drew were the two choices that they went to mgmt. About. They weren’t impressed by Verlander’s college #s and wouldn’t have taken him 1-1.

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  17. Omar says:

    Extreme DUI!?!?!? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT

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  18. eliasll says:

    It is not like he can’t afford a cab, he can afford a driver… The thing is he has no education, just like Dukes and Bradley, gangsters/scumbags with talent. Threatning their wives, assaulting pregnant teenagers, now leaving an old man for dead on the street? I don’t know how can the league allow criminals to continue persuing a baseball career.

    note: Bush was sent to the same rehab center as Josh Hamilton, even the same room for 120 days. So much for motivation…

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  19. j bones says:

    You’d think after Nick Adenhart the MLB would make a bigger show of cracking down on drunk driving

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  20. My echo and bunnymen says:

    Gambling doesn’t effect anyone negatively except the person gambling, and yet MLB won’t punish DUIs and spouse abusers, yeah I love baseball but F%^& you MLB!

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  21. vivalajeter says:

    To be fair, cabs aren’t always safe either. If I recall correctly, Duaner Sanchez injured his shoulder in a cab accident and missed the rest of the 2006 season. The Mets are a laughingstock now, but in July 2006 they looked like they would be perennial contenders. Look at the domino effect from that accident: trading for Oliver Perez, signing him to an absurd extension, collapsing 2 years in a row with a bad bullpen, etc. Heck, if it weren’t for that cab, maybe Madoff wouldn’t have gotten caught! Teams need to be very careful when putting their players into cabs! :-P

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  22. Joebrady says:

    “Teams can be dumb like that for a local kid….they see $ signs from the local connection and fear the fan backlash for letting a local star get away….”

    It’s not just local talent, it is talent in general. Jamarcus Russell couldn’t stay in any type of shape when he was a senior and extremely motivated to stay in shape. What were the chances that he’d get a $20M check and then get in game shape? -0-. The Raiders drafted him anyway because they thought they were imbued with magical powers. Same as why Hendry signed Bradley. Boras was right when he said the biggest mistake GMs make is underestimating the character issue.

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