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Miguel Cabrera: Goat or Scapegoat?

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You think you had a worse weekend? Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera's involved excessive drinking, a physical altercation with his wife, and not a single base hit against the White Sox.

Even Monday, a day off on the baseball calendar, wasn't a reprieve for him as he had to apologize for the run-in with the law, for the Tigers' collapse, the subprime mortgage crisis, and for bringing AIDS into the New World. (And for making fun of an overweight teenager. Really, dude?)

"There was an incident that took place on Saturday and it is a personal matter," Cabrera said in a statement. "I am sorry this has become a distraction, and I apologize to the Tigers, my teammates, and all of the fans. I would appreciate it if you would respect my family's privacy as I prepare for our next game."

The timing couldn't be worse. Reports even said he was out drinking with a member of the White Sox, the very team they had to beat into the ground to reach the playoffs. And this is why sportswriters, our nation's last bastion of morality, and columnists like Michael Rosenberg have been condemning his actions.

I'm not such a huge fan of what he did, and when he did it. And it's entirely possible that, when he went 0-for-4 and left six runners on base in Saturday's 5-1 loss, he was a little hung over. And any undue difficulty one puts on himself during a baseball game is inexcusable.

But when it comes to the Tigers' stretch run that went from a seven-game lead on September 6 to a tiebreaker in Minnesota on Tuesday afternoon, that isn't Cabrera's fault. That's the team's fault. And to witness a Metsian collapse, there hasn't been a singular person to blame. It's been a collective dump, really, from the lack of hitting with runners on base to the crumbling rotation that saw the team depend on Alfredo freaking Figaro to clinch a playoff game. Now we have Cabrera, the team's best hitter, mired in a weekend slump, and he has become the face behind the collapse.

This is a shame, because the hand-wringing outrage by fans will want to see Cabrera face some type of quantifiable punishment for his actions. But suspending him for the year? For that? The punishment doesn't fit the crime.

I suppose one could make the argument that Cabrera not in the lineup against Scott Baker and the Twins is a sound baseball strategy. Baker is right-handed, and the hot-hitting Ryan Raburn could play first with Magglio Ordoñez, another slugger who finally found his $15 million groove, taking the cleanup role. You could then backload the lineup with Carlos Guillen and Aubrey Huff. But if manager Jim Leyland is going to do that, let it be a decision based squarely on the best possible chance to beat the Twins, not to teach Miguel Cabrera a lesson and send him to double-secret probation in order to protect the innocence of youth.

It may be a shock to many to learn about this pattern of violence and asshattery Cabrera has in his life. For me personally — and this could be true of many others — I knew little about the man inside the No. 24 uniform. But despite these players appearing in Tigers fan's dens (see what I did there) on a nightly basis, we really don't know any of them, do we? For all we know, drunken bar threats actually spark home run streaks for Cabrera, and we should all applaud him for trying to better the team.

Maybe Justin Verlander is a shitty tipper. Brandon Lyon might cut in front of little old ladies at the deli line. What does any of this have to do with us? Squat.

The only people Cabrera has to answer to are his family, his teammates, and the organization that's paying him a gazillion dollars. If they can all live with each other — and no one files charges — then the matter is closed and let's all move on and hope the Detroit Tigers baseball team doesn't formally turn a dream season into a penultimate September ocean of sadness and runners left on base.

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  • Tony

    I don’t think he should be suspended or anything like that but saying that maybe he was a little hung over is a joke. The dude blew a .26. You’re not a little hungover the night after you blow a .26, you’re still drunk. Mickey Mantle could walk into a game drunk and hit 3 home runs. Cabrera cannot obviously.

    You can’t blame the collapse on him but a few points;

    – If he blew a .26 he’s obviously a pretty heavy drinker. No one goes out (especially the night before the most important game of the season) and drinks more than they ever have in their life. If this guy blew a .26 and knew he had a game the next day, this is not the first time he’s done something like that, it just hasn’t ended up the police blotter.

    – He was drinking with the White Sox which is a big time baseball foul. You do not go get wasted with the opposing team before you play them. That’s what the offseason is for.

    – I don’t think most people blame him for the collapse but to do something like this while the collapse is happening is unbelievable.

    – If this were the NFL he would be suspended. The MLB doesn’t do this “personal conduct stuff” but there is definately two very different policies here and I think people who believe in the way the NFL does thing are the ones who feel like he should be suspended.

  • zingzing

    HAHA! TWINS! that was an amazing game though. so tense. i have to pee so bad.