While it’s likely a safe bet to assume anyone with the interest to read this column has already heard the story, let’s just recap. After an 8-0 shutout loss Friday night, Miguel Cabrera went out for a night of drinking and socializing, meeting up with a friend from the opposition White Sox, and didn’t make his way home until 6AM. It was at this point where things took an ugly turn, where a domestic skirmish resulted in Miguel’s wife Roseangel calling 911, and the police making a visit to their residence, where they took Cabrera to the police station temporarily, and where he blew a .26 blood alcohol level.
Of course, as is expected when a highly acclaimed athlete or celebrity gets in some sort of trouble, the general public (and those that cover his or her respective industry) find their high horse and don’t shy from showering the individual with criticism. He’s a disgrace to his team, to the game, to the fans, to the city, etc. etc. etc.
But all this talk about him disgracing from mankind to everyone and their mother has reminded me of a well-known quote from the Bible, the Book of John 8:7;
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
The quote, for those that aren’t familiar with it, is a quote from Jesus when addressing a group of individuals discussing the issue of stoning her for committing adultery.
This is not meant to be a literal analogy. But I think anyone can understand the symbolism present here and how the criticism might be just a tad too much for what has happened here with Cabrera.
To be clear, this shouldn’t be taken as a proclamation of innocence for Miguel. Miguel’s actions were at best, unacceptable, and he will have to answer to those who he caused harm to.
But the fans and the sports writers don’t fall into that category.
There are absolutely those that have been hurt by Cabrera’s actions, starting with his wife, their young daughter, and the rest of his family. But the fans and sports writers don’t get the right to criticize a young man for what is most definitely a family matter that should be dealt with in kind, in the family.
Cabrera is also accountable to his employers and his coworkers – manager Jim Leyland, general manager Dave Dombrowski, and owner Mike Ilitch. Dombrowski staked his franchise on Cabrera, Ilitch a massive contract reserved for only the very elite in the game, and Leyland his reputation by labeling Cabrera the team superstar. If in fact Cabrera broke team rules (though I’d love to see any fan or writer break out the team rule book to show which rule he broke), he should be held accountable and serve the appropriate punishment.
But last I checked, we as fans and sports writers aren’t privy to that sort of information. And speaking of that analogy, if showing up to a game hungover is a violation of team rules, then I’d like to see every other player stand up and admit the truth about it first before they cast their stone.
To their credit, not a player has.
Maybe that’s because of the fundamental belief that team problems stay within the team. Or maybe it’s the realization that if they’re going to speak out, they better well understand that they’re going to be open to the same criticism.
Some fans want to vilify this normally typical behavior because of the enormity of the time of the season that it came at. The dog days of summer on a long road trip are one thing, they claim, but at the highest pressure moments of the season, how could he be out drinking and partying on the eve of such an important game?
Should we go ahead and assume those fans don’t have an issue with players celebrating until late on Wednesday night after the team’s big win over Minnesota, even though the division title clinching game was the next afternoon? What about the players that could be spotted out on the town drinking and socializing on Thursday night, after the difficult loss to Minnesota and with the key series with Chicago coming up next?
The truth is, Miguel Cabrera is not the first player in baseball to have a little too much to drink one night with a game the next day, and he most certainly won’t be the last. The only difference in this situation is that Cabrera had a personal, domestic issue arise that required police attention. No crimes were committed, no charges pressed. But the incident has now caused the firestorm that we’re seeing.
And the sports writers, oh, the writers. A dedicated group to be sure, but if there’s a more hypocritical body of professional individuals this side of Wall Street CEO’s and the U.S. House of Representatives, well, I have yet to encounter it.
But, they don’t seem to have much of a problem criticizing a man’s personal life, and making accusations that it has affected his performance on the field.
So I guess that means the one former columnist famous for “covering” spring training games while actually flirting with waitresses at the local Hooters in Lakeland should have to be exposed right? He still had his articles in the paper the following morning, though who knows how much of the game he ever saw.
Or how about those writers that became well known for handling their liquor with the best of them when they followed the team out on the road? Who asked them if those few too many the night before resulted in the poor story they generated the next day?
At last check, no one did. But that still won’t stop them from making their proclamations about Cabrera, on a matter that should clearly be kept personal.
Personally? I’m a sports writer, reporter, analyst and editor. It’s my responsibility to cover what happens between the white lines, and when you’re wearing the uniform and representing the team.
Instead, we’ve seen sports writers and fans insinuate Cabrera has a drinking problem, that he’s an alcoholic, an abusive husband, a poor father, and seen his name mentioned amongst those that are felons for committing crimes such as vehicular manslaughter under the influence of alcohol.
But personally, I believe those assertions and evaluations should be left up to the professionals. And last time I checked, my bachelor’s degree in economics doesn’t quite leave me qualified to make those sorts of determinations. And I’d be willing to bet most of those journalists making these accusations are likely lacking that doctorate in clinical psychology to make their point valid.
Now, as far as baseball is concerned, Cabrera had a bad series. It was only the second series all season in which he didn’t manage a hit, and the first he went just 0-for-1 with three walks back in June against Los Angeles, the series in which he tweaked his knee. The Tigers absolutely, positively need a productive Miguel Cabrera if they hope to top the Twins on Tuesday, and should they succeed there, they’ll only need him more for the series matchup with the Yankees.
But a man’s personal life is beyond my scope of coverage and analysis, so I’ll leave that to others.
But for those others that do wish to make their foray into individual personal life critiquing, remember that quote about casting the first stone. And please, first take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself the following; “Have you ever had a night where you had a bit too much to drink and something suffered (work, family, etc) because of it?” “Have you ever made an error in judgment that caused your loved ones pain?” “Have you ever had a difficult personal situation spill over into your professional life?”
If you can answer ‘no’ to all those questions, then grab a stone and get ready to throw. But as for me, well I certainly know where I stand. And I’m sticking to baseball.
Paul Wezner is the Executive Editor of TigsTown.com, and has been covering and analyzing the team since 2004. He can be reached at Paul@TigsTown.com.