Tag Archives: Melky Cabrera

The Declining Integrity of Professional Sports

The past eight days have not been baseball’s proudest. The suspension of Melky Cabrera for using testosterone and his attempted fake website coverup were followed a week later by another suspension for the same violation, this time for Bartolo Colon.

With these suspensions, the MLB has quickly learned that their battle against performance-enhancing drugs is still raging. In fact, Victor Conte, founder of BALCO (the company closely linked to Barry Bonds’ steroids case), claims that close to half of the players in the MLB are juicing. MLB vice president Rob Manfred quickly shot down Conte’s claim as nothing more than a guess, but the whole scenario underscores a major problem. Any credibility baseball had to its fans is long gone.

An example of the rock hard abs performance enhancing drugs will give you.

ESPN analyst  contrarian Skip Bayless proved this by accusing Derek Jeter of using performance-enhancing drugs, given the 38 year old’s impressive season after appearing “washed up” a year ago. Jeter responded to the accusation, suggested Bayless be the one who is tested. But how are we as fans supposed to take Jeter’s side when Bayless, for once, makes a decent point. Jeter is hitting 30 points higher than last season, and his average last year was 30 points higher than the year before. Athletes aren’t supposed to get better as their body deteriorates. Jeter has never tested positive for any performance enhancers, but because of the recent violations, fans and analysts alike are entitled to a higher level of skepticism.

What makes matters even worse is that last year’s NL MVP, Ryan Braun, tested positive for testosterone during his MVP campaign. He was able to avoid suspension by appealing the test, which he retook and passed. The false positive was never explained, casting doubt over the whole situation, regardless of whether or not Braun is guilty.

The MLB does not want to deal with another era in which nearly all of its best players are cheaters. That was the case for the past decade, where Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmiero, Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Roger Clemons, and Jose Canseco were all linked to performance enhancing drugs. With All-Star teams comprised of the players who juiced the most, not necessarily the most talented ones, little separated the MLB from the WWE. With this new bout of cheaters, the MLB may soon be struggling to maintain its ethos. How can fans differentiate talent from testosterone.

That’s right, Lance. 7 is how many gold medals you’re being stripped of.

Sadly, this issue goes beyond baseball. Cyclist Lance Armstrong was given a lifelong ban from the sport today after announcing he was finished fighting against the doping charges leveled against him. He will be stripped of his seven Tour de France gold medal and, while not conceding guilt, his legacy will be forever tarnished.

Armstrong was an athlete everyone wanted to love. Overcoming cancer and regaining the strength to compete at a high level was a great feel-good story, but he won’t be remembered for that courage. He’ll be remembered instead as a man who betrayed the trust of his supporters.

With so many athletes across nearly every sport hiding behind the veil of drugs, the sports landscape has turned into some sort of Oz-like mockery. Yet even with such widespread drug use still prevalent, the cheaters surely must be outweighed by the clean players. But because of those cheaters, a cloud of distrust has been cast over everyone.

It’s no longer about innocence, but the fact that we can never truly be sure.

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Melky Cabrera Banned for PEDs: How Baseball Should Respond

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.

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What should never have been…

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.

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Does Big Papi’s admission taint that legendary 2004 ALCS 0-3 rally?

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.

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National League Wins Third Straight All-Star Game

After a nearly 14-year losing skid, the National League All-Stars have officially started a new streak.

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T.I., uh, I mean… Adam Jones… was just one of many American League players to struggle at the plate.

Reversing a trend that began in the 1990’s just two years ago at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, the N.L. went to work early on Tuesday night, winning their third straight Mid-Summer Classic in an 8-0 laugher in Kansas City.

Coming into the break with a 9-5 record and a 2.58 ERA, American League starting pitcher and Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander did not earn his stripes this evening.

He pitched only one inning and surrendered two walks and five earned runs in a performance that sealed his league’s fate before national anthem singer Luke Bryan could finish the word “brave.”

It was widely speculated around the league that San Francisco Giants fans “cheated” the All-Star voting system, liberally using internet voting to secure spots for a number of Giants players, including third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who started over a probably more deserving David Wright.

Sandoval quickly showed the importance of voting early and often, hitting the first bases loaded triple in All-Star Game history off of Verlander in the first inning to put the National League ahead 4-0.  Giants players would drive in five of the N.L.’s eight runs.

On the mound, the National League pitchers were masterful.  With such a deep bullpen allowing relief pitchers to go all-out against the one or two batters they faced, flamethrowers like Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel and Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman proved to be particularly devastating, both topping out at over 100 miles-per-hour in the eighth inning.

In one particular at bat, Kimbrel’s repertoire was just too much for American League hitting.

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Going 2 for 3 with 2 RBI, Melky Cabrera was one of three San Francisco Giants to deliver big in the All-Star Game and was named MVP.

Having blown a 100 mile-per-hour fastball by Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians to get ahead 0-2, Kimbrel unleashed a filthy backdoor curveball at 87 miles-per-hour that caused Cabrera’s knees to buckle and the American League’s hopes to fade even further.

The American League All-Stars barely even let out a whimper all evening on offense.  Only one player on the entire roster, 20 year-old Angels outfielder Mike Trout, was able to reach base twice as the team scratched together a meager five hits on the night.

The sole high point of the American League team may have been its home fans.  The American League faithful (a.k.a. the Kansas City Royals faithful) showed their class throughout this All-Star week, which is typically the norm for loyal Midwest fan bases.

Last night, American League Home Run Derby captain Robinson Cano heard deafening boos after failing to pick Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, who has 16 home runs on the season, to be on the four-man squad.  An airplane message even reiterated the message before first pitch, declaring, “Congrats, Billy!  You blew it, Cano!”

The boos quickly turned into cheers as a jet-lagged Cano failed to clear the fences once.

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The Royals have seemingly never been able to win in Kauffman Stadium, one of the league’s most picturesque ballparks.

Still, the Royals fans stuck around to cheer on the rest of their American League brethren, applauding Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder as he hoisted his second Home Run Derby trophy.

Their biggest throwback, class-act moment, however, came on Tuesday night when Chipper Jones stepped up to the plate in the top half of the sixth.

This would be Jones’ only at-bat in his last All-Star Game, and the 40,000-plus on hand certainly made it a momentous occasion, rising to their feet for a thunderous standing ovation.  The curtain call received an audible, “Wow!” and a tip of the cap from the usually unsentimental Jones, who would later poke a single to the right side.

Aside from saying goodbye to a first ballot Hall of Famer and showcasing a beautiful, often overlooked Kauffman Stadium, this All-Star break in Kansas City served as an opportunity for the National League to start a dynasty of its own.

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The Identity Crisis of the MLB All-Star Game

The MLB All-Star Game has become such a jumbled mess, I doubt anyone – players, league officials, or fans – truly understands what it has become. The main issue with the game is pretty simple: it has no identity.

The MLB All-Star Game, hosted this year in Kansas City, has a number of flaws that the league needs to address.

Bud Selig and the players union decided to add some weight to the game starting in 2003, by awarding the winning league with home field advantage in the World Series. The reasoning behind this decision was to get players to take the game more seriously, since their title hopes depended on it.

Why then, would the league trust the decision making of the majority of the teams’ rosters and starters to the fans, most of whom will vote solely for their favorite teams’ players? The MLB advertises the game as being for the fans; why then is this game more than a lighthearted affair for players and fans alike to celebrate the first half of a season?

The MLB needs to decide which identity it wants its All-Star Game to take because it certainly can’t be both. If the fans are the main say in who is on the team, then get rid of the game’s impact on the postseason and let home field advantage be determined by which team had the better regular season record.

But if Selig wants to keep the All-Star game as a competitive affair, give the fans less power in determining the rosters. If I were a team in contention for the World Series, I would much rather have David Wright at third base than Pablo Sandoval, who is hitting nearly 50 points lower and missed a month due to injury (and this is coming from a Giants fan).

The San Francisco Giants provide a perfect example of why fan voting shouldn’t be the main determinate for the All-Star roster, which was announced Sunday. Their aggressive voting campaign landed them three starters for the NL squad: C Buster Posey, 3B Sandoval, and OF Melky Cabrera. Of those three, only Cabrera is truly deserving of a starting spot, as he has lead or been amongst the leaders in hits and batting averaging for the league for most of the year.

Fan voting goes the other way too, keeping qualified players off the team. Some notable snubs this year include 1B Albert Pujols, OF Andre Ethier, SP Johnny Cueto, 2B Brandon Phillips, SP Yu Darvish, and 1B Edwin Encarnacion, among others.

Even David Wright is facepalming from the ridiculousness of the All-Star Game.

While it’s fun for fans to see their favorite players in the Midsummer Classic, the honor for a player of being selected is almost like an award, and it doesn’t seem fair for fans, many of them not experts beyond their own team, to decide who to honor as baseball’s best. This line of thought doesn’t hold as true to baseball as it does to other sports such as basketball, where small rosters mean making the team is more prestigious. The MLB features at least 1 player from each team at it’s All-Star Game. Which brings us back to the point: if the game affects the World Series, why are unqualified players being chosen to play for it?

Texas Rangers’ manager Ron Washington, who will manage this year’s AL team, has decided to take the fan friendly approach, announcing each player elected to his team will play in the game. Now it’s up to the MLB to decide which of its All-Star Game’s dueling identities to embrace.

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