What Can He Say?

Live It Down, Dontrelle

What to say about the Dontrelle Willis arrest? There's a lot of mundane thoughts and questions that come to mind. Why, someone could write an entire column on the issue of why a multimillionaire athlete didn't have a driver (oh, and they did).

But I don't want to get into too much speculative BS. What we know is that Willis is going to have this one to live down for the rest of his career. Not the DUI part so much as the urinating on the road thing. It's the imagery of it that will have resonance, especially among the fans of the opposition. I can hear it now:

We wanna a pitcher Not a street pisser ...

Yes, that's right, it's going to be the bastards from Philly, NY, ATL, etc. that are going

to remember this one. That's why it's important for South Florida, which knows from years with Dontrelle that he really is a superb human being, to give him full support. (C'mon, have you seen Willis in the clubhouse day in and day out? No sullen alcoholic, he). On his web site, he says he rarely goes out and that when he does he likes Corona beer. He may be an international sports star, but he's also a 24-year-old nightlife greenhorn who apparently had some steam to blow off. And it may have been his last gasp at wild youth, considering his wife is about to have a baby.

In a way, it makes him more interesting, shows that he's a real person and not a cardboard cutout role model like, say, the uptight image-controlling freak Cal Ripken. The last question in the "Ask Dontrelle" section of his web site is: Any embarrassing moments so far?

His answer: "I ran out to warm up 30 minutes too early right in the middle of batting practice in my uniform. Everybody laughed at me."

How dull it that? New answer: "I was caught whizzing on Washington Street in South Beach after getting hammered at the Mansion nightclub."

Maybe he needed this to take some of the pressure off of being the dude in the white hat all the time. Look at the mug shot -- he doesn't seem concerned with image in the least; he's not trying to let us see Jesus through him. He seems to be saying, "Yeah, well, I fucked up." When asked about his status as a role model to youth, he said, "I'll do a better job."

You can bet he will, too.

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