With Casey Serin hogging so much of the "public jackass" spotlight, it's often difficult to find someone who deserves the award more than him.
But as I was traveling last week, I was knocked in the head by the story of Dean Hancock, whose sense of entitlement gives Casey Serin a hard run for his borrowed money.
Dean's son Josh Hancock was, until recently, a relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. His five-year professional career ended at the age of 29, when Josh was killed in a drunk driving accident.
The details of Josh Hancock's death reveal that he did, literally, everything wrong. He was driving down a highway doing 68 in a 55 mph zone; blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit for Missouri; talking on a cell phone; not wearing a seatbelt; marijuana and a glass pipe were found in the car.
Unfortunately, he was driving down a stretch of road where a disabled motorist had called for a tow truck. Josh Hancock died when he slammed into the back of the tow truck, and investigators say there were no skid marks to indicate that he ever even hit the brakes to avoid the collision.
It's a sad and certainly untimely death. So why would his grieving father receive an Jackass of the Week Award?
Because Dean Hancock has taken the unthinkable step of initiating a lawsuit against every party involved in the accident caused by his son. He is suing the restaurant where his son ate and drank before the accident, the restaurant's manager; suing the tow-truck company and its driver; and even suing the driver of the Geo Metro that had the audacity to break down on the side of the road!
Restaurant manager Patricia Shannon Van Matre (who is the daughter of former Cardinal and restaurant owner Mike Shannon) has said in numerous publications that Hancock was offered a cab, but he told her that he was walking to the Westin hotel three blocks away.
Whether or not this is true, only these two will ever know for certain. But to place blame for a grown person's actions at the hands of a restaurant manager is beyond the pale. A 29-year old man knows when he's had too much to drink. And those who think that either his bartender or the restaurant manager should have intervened has never been in such a situation--particularly with a pampered sports personality who is surrounded by people who support his every whim.
It is interesting to note that, at the time of his death, Josh Hancock was driving a rented SUV. This is notable because the rental was a replacement for his personal SUV, which was being repaired from an accident that Hancock caused just three days prior, when he was clipped by a tractor-trailer at 5:30 a.m., tearing off his car's front bumper.
In that accident, Hancock was in Sauget, Illinois, just across the river from the city of St. Louis, Missouri. Sauget is adjacent to the crime capital of East St. Louis, Illinois and both towns share a reputation for their strip clubs, gambling and bars that serve until 5 a.m.
In other words, the only reason why a St. Louis, Missouri resident (particularly a white, affluent one) is leaving Sauget at 5:30 in the morning is because he's had a long night of hard drinking.
That particular morning, Josh Hancock almost killed himself when he nudged his SUV out into oncoming traffic to make a left-hand turn. His car was clipped by an oncoming tractor-trailer that was traveling at an estimated speed of 45-50 miles per hour.
While police were called to the scene, no citations were given. Was this because the officer gave the well-known baseball player preferential treatment? Because Sauget's only reliable income stream comes from bar and club-goers and police in that area tend to look the other way in these types of situations? Or because a trained police officer could not spot signs of inebriation in Josh Hancock, in which case, how could anyone expect a restaurant manager to do the same?
What is known is that Hancock was to pitch in a Cardinals game later that afternoon, but appeared to the stadium late and hungover. So if Dean Hancock is so interested in making the rest of the world responsible for his grown son's behavior, why not also sue the City of Sauget, its police force, and the officer who had the opportunity to intervene and take the baseball player's license, but failed to do so?
In that same vein of logic, why shouldn't the Cardinals and/or Major League Baseball sue Dean Hancock and his family for failing to intervene in this time-bomb's life? After all, they lost a pitcher in whom they have invested a lot of time, money, and training, only to lose him as the season starts.
The handwriting was on the wall, Dean. Your son came to the Cardinals after he was dropped by the Cincinnati Reds for violating a weight clause in his contract. Since this is a common side effect of heavy drinking, do you want to sue the Reds for perhaps acknowledging that your son was a drunk, but didn't want to bring public attention to the fact?
No, instead you're suing some guy from Collinsville who just so happened to have his car break down the night your son was so fucked up on booze and pot that he never even hit the brakes for a huge-ass flatbed tow truck. Hundreds of other, most likely sober, drivers managed to avoid the tow truck that night, but your son barreled into it like it wasn't even there.
And if that 26,000 pound truck hadn't been there, your son would have killed an innocent motorist as he sat in his disabled Geo Metro. But you want some sort of handout because, by some chance of science, your sperm met an egg and the product could throw a baseball, and now your family's trickle-down economics have come to a halt and you want folks with jobs and families and lives to pay you.
Dean Hancock's lawsuits represent the most odious sense of entitlement we've seen in the past couple of years. Not only should the defendants in this case refuse to capitulate to any settlement, this man should be ashamed to show his face in public.