Another Knucklehead

19 year old Frank Ratcliff, a middle infielder who had a fine freshman season at college baseball power Miami, recently got busted for selling 21 grams of marijuana to an undercover police officer for $220.

Acting on a tip, the undercover officer made the buy, and a later warrant search of Ratliff’s residence found 101 grams of pot and 19 vials of synthetic human growth hormone.

Because the sale and arrest were made on school property, Ratliff faces a minimum three year prison sentence.  He was officially charged with various felonies yesterday and has already been suspended from Miami’s baseball team.

While I personally believe marijuana should be legalized, or at least decriminalized, and a minimum three year sentence for selling less than an ounce of pot is outrageous, I still find myself profoundly irritated whenever I read a story about a young and apparently talented ballplayer who has done something this stupid and essentially thrown his career away.

In the 2010 season, Ratliff hit .276 with an .846 OPS.  His OPS is pretty terrific for a freshman middle infielder, and by the season’s end he had firmly established himself as the Hurricane’s starting 2Bman.

Now, I’ll admit that his numbers were almost certainly inflated by HGH and/or steroid use (is there any chance he wasn’t at least using HGH if the cops found 19 vials of it in his residence?)  Even so, I very much doubt he’s the only college player at a top program dabbling with HGH, which I understand is still harder to test for than steroids.

Ratliff’s sheer stupidity bothers me.  The odds are good he really didn’t need the money, because his fine freshman season virtually guarantees a full scholarship at Miami for the 2010/11 school year.

And who knows? He might well have developed in two year’s time into a player selected in the first five or six rounds of the 2012 Draft who would thus receive a six-figure signing bonus.  It was certainly a reasonable possibility after the 2010  freshman season he had.

Instead, he’s headed off to the can, because they have him dead to rights, likely for three years, less time off for good behavior.

Young ballplayers, would you rather be starting for your college baseball team or throwing your future away because you want to make a little extra money selling illegal substances?

The answer seems fairly obvious to me, but you still read about one or two of these knuckleheads every year.

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4 Comments on “Another Knucklehead”

  1. FormerCane32 Says:

    As somebody who is looking in from the outside ( I think its safe to assume you never played top level college athletics) you shouldn’t have the right to comment on the life choices that athletes make. If you are going to, you shouldn’t have the right to publish assumptions that have to factual reasoning behind them. Frankie was from Key West, from a low income family, and was not on full scholarship (No baseball player at Miami is on full scholarship due to Title 9. Get your facts straight. And yes, I’m coming at you like this) Living in Miami is incredibly expensive, and to come from a simple lifestyle in Key West to being exposed to the luxuries and superficial nature of the Miami can have a dramatic influence on a 19 year old mind. Stupidity? No. Naivety? Absolutely. To be put on a pedestal as a standout athlete on a premier team at Miami brings a false sense of entitlement, importance, and invincibility. When there are other 19 year olds driving around Range Rovers and Mercedes on campus, a 19 year old mind, in some cases, being exposed to these things for the first time can be led to believe that these luxuries are the norm in society. As an athlete, and a full time student, it is impossible, and i do mean impossible to hold a legitimate job to fund these luxuries. So what did Frankie do? Sold pot . That’s what he knew from the culture he came from. And with a clientele of wealthy students at UM who spent their parents’ money, he made money and lots of it.

    The problem lies not with solely with Frankie, but the education system for these athletes. The inability to humble them and bring them back to Earth. The attention that is garnered as an athlete at UM or any perennial powerhouse can be overwhelming and often leads to a false sense of reality for these student athletes. Steroid use, HGH in Frankie’s case, can be partially blamed on the greed that consumes these student athletes. Greed for more, a desire to outdo those around them because they are lead to believe that others are using the same drugs, a fear of failure. When one is not only led to believe that this is the norm in their field of competition and that they will plateau without it, then they feel that they are left with no other option other than to succumb to the pressure and take that next step and use performance enhancers. Steroids are not looked upon as an advantage anymore in athletics, they are looked upon as the norm. Maybe to onlookers like yourself, it is hard to fathom why somebody would make these “stupid” decisions. And I will agree, Frankie messed up. But live a day in the life of these student athletes with a young, impressionable mind. Social learning– They see those around them who are a model of success (not just on TV, but actually interact with them on a daily basis). If these “models’ got to where they are by using performance enhancers while those who never used them never made it, the decision is too easy.

    • Burly Says:

      I can’t really disagree with anything you have written. Nevertheless, not all student athletes use performance enhancers, and not all student athletes sell marijuana to live a better lifestyle.

      While I may not have sufficient knowledge to provide anything more than my own personal opinion (and that’s really all a blog post like this is) on the choices Frank made and the pressures and temptations he faced as a Miami baseball player, he will absolutely be judged by a court in the State of Florida, where, as I mentioned, selling drugs on a college campus reportedly brings a mandatory minimum three-year sentence. I’m sure his lawyers will make some of the same arguments you make above (his young age, the pressures he faced at Miami, etc.), and we’ll see what a judge or jury thinks of them. However, it is hard to get around a three year mandatory minimum sentence established by statute.

      However, I certainly think that I am qualified to render an opinion on whether it was a good idea for a college student to engage in an illegal activity that brings a felony conviction and a three year minimum prison sentence if you are caught doing it. It’s more than simply “naive”.

      As for baseball scholarships, according to the website, Division I schools get 11.78 baseball scholarships to divide as they see fit among the players on their baseball teams.

    • shlepcar Says:

      What a load of bullshit. You fuckin’ idiot- and yes, I’m coming at you like this- to suggest someone has to walk in someone’s shoes or write off discretions as naivete is a complete crock, you enabling dumbass, and you fuckin’ know it. So Frankie’s an idiot with really good reasons to be one. Fine. Then where are his dipshit people. Fucking athletes (or ex- ones) confusing athletic skill with genuine entitlement. You’re a dick.

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