It’s not unusual these days to hear about baseball players being barred from the game for a set amount of time (first offense, 50 days; second offense, 100 days) after getting caught with substances in their bodies that are not allowed. However, it appears Melky Cabrera might have taken an unusual step to try to avoid detection and escape punishment.
In an exclusive published on Sunday, the New York Daily News reported the San Francisco Giants outfielder may have helped to create a phony website which apparently was supposed to foster the idea that Cabrera inadvertently took synthetic testosterone. Instead, the website ensnared him in the lie, and may cause further problems: now investigators from the U.S. federal government and Major League Baseball may be looking to file charges of fraud and other offenses.
There are several compelling angles in this story. First of all, the MVP of the 2012 All-Star Game immediately owned up by issuing an “I am deeply sorry” statement to the media. The expected reaction for the person who has been caught is to fight the allegations tooth and nail until all means of recourse are exhausted.
After the outcome of cases against players such as 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun, it seemed like a breath of fresh air for someone to own up to his mistakes. Unfortunately, given the new assertions made by the New York newspaper, Melky’s mea culpa might now be seen as an attempt to move on from the issue without any further or deeper investigation by the authorities. If that is true, the tactic didn’t work.
Another big issue is the black eye this deals to baseball. It took years for the fans to return to the game after the 1994 players’ strike, only to have a series of steroid scandals resulting in a mandatory drug-testing policy for all players in the major and minor leagues. One player, even one as popular as Cabrera is (or was, until now) is not likely to cause fans to turn away in droves. Still, the optics of this couldn’t be good, especially in the Bay Area where they’ve had to endure the embarrassment of the Barry Bonds story for many years.
Then there is the matter of the Giants’ playoff run. Cabrera was a big part of San Francisco’s attack, and now that he’s gone the club will be hard-pressed to find an effective bat to replace him.
Speaking of batting, Cabrera is currently second in National League batting average with .346, and it will stay there because his suspension won’t conclude until, and if, the Giants make it into the playoffs. Ahead of him is Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen at .356, while just behind Cabrera is one of his Giants teammates, catcher Buster Posey, at .333.
If McCutchen should fall off his pace or if Posey can’t pass him, Major League Baseball will be facing a situation where an admitted cheater has won the National League batting title. They’ll likely award it to whoever is the runner-up, but obviously it’s not an ideal situation.
Yes, it’s a mess. The idol of the “Melk Men” has thrown a wrench into his team’s post-season plan, and as mentioned previously this may not be the end of the issue from a legal standpoint.