In what has already been a tumultuous season for the Arizona Diamondbacks broadcasting staff, color analyst Mark Grace was arrested on Thursday night on suspicion of DUI after he failed a field sobriety test. He was administered the test after being pulled over for driving with expired registration and when officers determined that there was “probable cause” that he was driving under the influence.
This is Grace’s second run-in with the Scottsdale, Ariz. police department in the past 15 months–he was cited for DUI last year. He did give a blood sample for alcohol testing in this incident, and as of Friday, he has gone on an indefinite leave of absence from the team while he seeks treatment for unspecified issues.
Before we get to the meat of this editorial comment, it needs to be said that Grace has not admitted to anything, has not been charged as of yet and has obviously not been convicted in this matter. The following comments should not be taken to assume that he is guilty of the charges, even though it is reasonable to suspect that he is due to the leave he is currently on and his past history of run-ins with the law.
Obviously, in matters like this, we should first and foremost be thankful that Grace didn’t injure or kill anybody when he got behind the wheel of his vehicle. Whether he was legally drunk or not, he was clearly impaired in some way, and the lack of judgment that it shows for a man of his means to choose to drive rather than hiring a cab to get him home safely is something that the Diamondbacks have to seriously question. Posing that kind of a threat to unsuspecting motorists is something that every person who decides to drive after drinking seems to ignore, and especially in the case of a guy who has many ways to get home other than putting himself and others at risk, it is particularly galling behavior.
The second most important thing about this situation is to express hope that Grace gets the help he is obviously seeking. Whether that is checking into alcohol abuse rehab, a 12-step program or even just seeking counseling for his decision making, he is very much entitled to his privacy at a time like this, and he really isn’t in a position where people should be demanding that he be made accountable for his actions while the various legalities of this case are being litigated.
The third and final thing that needs to be kept in mind here is that no matter what extenuating circumstances there are surrounding this case, the fact of the matter is that Grace has caused another blot on the reputation of his employer. As they are struggling to deal with the prolonged absence of lead commentator Darren Sutton due to an as yet undisclosed reason for his suspension, Grace has further complicated matters and caused some to question the intelligence of having those two particular men in the booth calling baseball games for the organization.
It is with that in mind that, pending him being found guilty or pleading guilty in this case, Grace needs to be relieved of his duties by the team. It seems like a callous thing to do to a man who has meant a lot to the fans of the team and who is clearly dealing with some serious problems, but the fact of the matter is that anyone who can make such a stupid decision twice in such a short time span isn’t someone you need to coddle. It is someone who you need to give a wake-up call to, and the way to do that is to send him out the door.
In his stead, it would make sense for the Diamondbacks to pursue another figure from their World Series championship year. Bob Brenly, who has been the color analyst for the Chicago Cubs for the past eight seasons, is currently in negotiations for a new contract with the club as his deal with expire at the end of the season. Brenly managed the 2001 Diamondbacks to the franchise’s only championship and he would likely fit in well with Greg Schulte, who has replaced Sutton and may very well be hired on as his full-time replacement.
Firing someone with the following that Grace has is a step that cannot be taken lightly, but in light of what has happened over the past 15 months, it is apparent that there are more important things for Grace to be attending to than calling baseball games. The Diamondbacks need to give him an opportunity to recover from his illness and to remove themselves from what has been a messy relationship up to this point.