The AP has a story about top Astros prospect Jon Singleton, the point of which seems to be to leave readers feeling inspired by Singleton's journey from being a marijuana-addicted and troubled youngster to clean-living prospect knocking on the door of the big leagues. And I suppose it is that kind of story, if you ignore nearly every piece of information in it.
After many words describing Singleton's lifelong dependence on marijuana and his revelatory trip to rehab—"They would turn off the lights at 11:30 and I would just sit there and stare at the ceiling because I couldn't go to sleep"—the story swerves:
Last season when he made his debut in Triple-A after stopovers in both Low-A and Double-A following his suspension, he struggled. He hit just .220 in 73 games and his old demons resurfaced.
"I went through some slight anxiety, some depression because I wasn't being successful," he said. "That was definitely difficult and that drove me to drink."
He admits to abusing alcohol as a substitute for marijuana, getting drunk almost every day and "waking up hung over every morning."
"Old demons" is a funny choice of words there. Earlier in the story, we are told that Singleton hit .284 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs in Double-A after his first positive test for marijuana and before his stint in rehab. Marijuana and alcohol abuse are two very different demons, and it appears that only one of them had an adverse effect on Singleton's ability to play baseball. It also appears that alcohol would have never been an issue for Singleton if MLB's draconian restrictions against a drug that's becoming increasingly legal in states across the country hadn't driven him to an anxiety-ridden stay in rehab. But hey, you can't test positive for booze!
And here is where the story goes from odd and tone-deaf to troubling:
The team has been supportive during his battle, but Singleton knows he'll have to stay clean to reach his goals.
He isn't receiving any treatment for his addiction, isn't currently in a program and doesn't have someone traveling with him to keep him on track.
OK. Wait. So Singleton started as a guy who smoked way too much, developed an alcohol dependency that hurt his play on the field due to baseball's punitive stance toward weed, and now he's just left to deal with his troubles on his own? By this account, Singleton is someone who definitionally has a substance abuse problem, and yet his team and MLB don't seem to think he needs to be in a program of any kind. This is essentially the same thing as letting a diabetic prospect get along without insulin because he's pretty sure he can take care of it through willpower.
We've said it before: Pot isn't life and death, and sports leagues that still think it is aren't helping anyone.