I was a former corrections officer inside of Rikers Island. In my 20 years of service I would see the same inmates come though the system countless times as if they couldn’t get out of the revolving door. I thought about that when I read that the Boston Red Sox signed pitcher Jenrry Mejia to a minor league contract. The righthander has been out of the Major Leagues since July 2015. The cause was a lifetime suspension after his third positive test for a banned steroid.
This will be Mejia’s fourth chance to redeem himself, which by the way is three away from former pitcher Steve Howe’s seven chances. Howe’s drug woes were well chronicled in the 80’s and 90’s. He was granted chance after chance, after numerous suspensions, to continue his career of wearing a big-league uniform and being a role model to the youngsters who dream of a big-league career. Howe was killed in a vehicle accident in 2006. The toxicology reports indicated he had recreational drugs in his system.
Is the talent level so sparse throughout the world that guys like Mejia and Howe are given numerous chances to clean up their acts, only to have their agents read a prepared statement with words like, “Oops, I’m sorry!”
A career as a pro sports athlete is a dream achieved. It’s the reward one gets for the countless hours of physical training and living a pure healthy lifestyle. To continue blowing a chance that one has been blessed with is simply mindboggling, which takes me back to the prison walls of Rikers Island.
There was always a saying amongst us officers, “If we unlock the gates and let everyone free, about ninety percent of these cons will be back behind these gates within thirty days.”
Shame on the Commissioner of Baseball throughout the years for letting these guys play the system, as in the real world where the cons play the judges in the courtroom.