Sports Law Blog
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Monday, May 01, 2006
The Doug Mirabelli Story: Police Escorts, Pro Athletes, and Tax Dollars
Earlier today, the Boston Red Sox traded for catcher San Diego Padres catcher Doug Mirabelli. Mirabelli had played for the Red Sox between 2001 and 2005, during which time he was essentially the personal catcher of knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. The Red Sox had been using Josh Bard as Wakefield's personal catcher this season, but 10 passed balls later, the team decided to get Mirabelli back.
And the Sox wanted Mirabelli back immediately. Wakefield was starting tonight, against the Yankees no less, with a game start time at 7:05 PM. So after the trade was finalized, Mirabelli flew into Boston Logan Airport, but his plane didn't land until 6:48 PM. And yet somehow, someway, he was able to get from Logan to Fenway Park by 7:00 PM, and was then in the starting lineup (and for those of you who are unfamiliar with Boston, Logan to Fenway Park in 12 minutes is basically impossible, even without traffic at 4 a.m., let alone during rush hour on a Monday night).
So how did Mirabelli pull off this miraculous traveling feat? Did he happen to catch a cab driven by the most sagacious of cabbies--the one who knows all of the roads less traveled? Or did GM Theo Epstein pick him up and drive like a maniac? Or did he (perhaps fittingly) illegally drive through an often-closed Ted Williams Tunnel and thus save time?
No. Mirabelli was provided a police escort that curried him out of Logan, into a jeep, and then over to Fenway Park. The escort apparently cleared the roads and drove really fast. After the game, which the Red Sox won, Mirabelli said, "I had like six seatbelts on . . . they were going about 100 MPH."
That's great. But was the escort an appropriate use of tax dollars? And was it an appropriate use of the state police's time? I'm as much of a Sox fan as anyone, but the police escort strikes me as an odd use of public resources. I mean, it wasn't like Mirabelli was carrying a heart needed for a transplant. Nor was he involved in a fact-pattern akin to something you might see on 24. He was just a baseball player traded earlier in the day.
Were there simply no crimes going on in Boston that satisfying Tim Wakefield's catcher preference could have been considered a good use of public resources?