This isn't the kind of thing I'd usually post here, because I think former big-league players, while maybe not deserving of sympathy or anything like that, face a tricky situation, as this excellent article by former big-league outfielder Doug Glanville illustrates. They've spent their whole lives doing something and become public figures doing it. They've got money but may not have the education or real-world awareness necessary to know what to do with it, and just as importantly, everyone knows that. So it's no surprise that many of them wind up in debt. And then suddenly they're in their 30s or early 40s and can no longer do the thing they were once great at. So as fun as it might be to laugh at a Derek Bell for getting in trouble with drugs, it's probably natural that some former big leaguers are bound to wind up on the wrong side of the law.
As former-athlete-transgressions go, Shawn Chacon's recent arrest for allegedly writing bad checks to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas is pretty typical. (Chacon may technically still be a ballplayer; he pitched 73 poor innings for the Athletics' AAA affiliate in Sacramento this year and is probably on his way out, if he isn't done already. When this alleged crime occurred in March, he may well have thought his playing days were over, since he didn't sign with the A's until June.) I don't know the circumstances behind the alleged crime, but it's not hard to see how a former pro athlete could get mixed up with gambling, which can provide a "high" similar to competing as a top athlete. But it's striking that, when Chacon was in Pittsburgh, he was considered a team leader. Since then, he's been essentially kicked out of the Astros organization for choking GM Ed Wade, and now busted for writing bad checks to cover gambling debts at a casino. If that doesn't speak poorly for the futures of ballplayers who aren't team leaders, then I don't know what does.
Thanks to Pat for the link.