It was a memorable turnaround story in the making.
For years, Melky Cabrera bounced around the league, bringing nothing but his mediocre statistics with him.
Then his fortunes began to change last season. He batted .305 with 18 homers and 87 RBIs last season. All of a sudden, Melky Cabrera was “The Melk Man.”
His encore performance in 2012 was even better – an MVP-caliber season, second in the NL batting race, an All-Star game MVP, and offensive leader for a division leading ball club – until it hit a little snag: the truth.
On Wednesday, Melky Cabrera tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, and was suspended for 50 games.
From his teammates to his supporters and to baseball fans everywhere – he deceived us all.
It was all a lie. A lie caught up in more lies.
A few weeks ago, a Giants reporter caught whiff of a rumor that Cabrera tested positive for PEDs and asked him if it was true. Cabrera denied ever using them, and the reporter issued him an apology in his next column.
You have to ask – Why Melky, just why?
Why take the chance of your reputation being tarnished forever?
Why bring the steroid era out from under the rug?
Why disgrace the game of baseball like that?
The answer seems obvious – money. Cabrera was set to be a free agent this offseason, and putting up noteworthy numbers were sure to lead to a life-changing payday.
But somewhere along the way, it all came crashing down on Cabrera.
Behind him, he left a shameful, tainted mess. The All-Star game. Home-field advantage in the World Series. The Giants win total so far.
“My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should have not have used. I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down,” Cabrera said.
Okay Cabrera did own up to the truth so I’ll give him credit for that. But Cabrera’s not sorry for using PEDs. He’s only sorry he got caught.
The steroid era plagued the game for years, and in hindsight, for decades. It was supposed to be a handicap of the past.
In the past five to ten years, baseball has cleaned up the game pretty well. Still some players are still using PEDs, and a few of those are making monumental impacts on the game because of it.
Imagine if Melky didn’t use PEDs? The Giants offense, already on life-support with him, would sputter and leave the Dodgers with a considerable lead in the NL West.
Let’s go further back to 2008/2009. What if Manny Ramirez, scorching hot at the time, didn’t use them? The Dodgers probably don’t make it to the NLCS in 2008 and another team gets a chance to make the World Series.
Let’s raise the stakes. What if David Ortiz didn’t use them? Maybe the Red Sox don’t win the World Series in 2004 because they don’t even get past the ALCS, where the Red Sox needed numerous late game heroics from Ortiz to win the series.
It’s time to make the punishments for PED use more stringent so even less players will think about using them.
The current standard is a 50 game suspension for a first time offense. That’s not enough anymore. This is a big boy league, and now it’s time for big boy consequences. How about a season? Let’s add community service during that downtime too.
The current standard for a second offense is 100 games. Second chances are fine, but third chances aren’t. A second offense should be a lifetime ban from the game.
Baseball has done a superb job of ridding the game of PED use in the last five years, but now it needs to finish that job.