What a ballgame we just saw in Minnesota, the Twins prevailing 6-5 over the Tigers in 12 innings to win the AL Central. Minnesota won 17 of the last 21 games, overcoming a seven-game deficit from back on Sept. 7.
But as good as the Twins were, they had lots of help from a Tigers team that should be asking plenty of questions about itself this winter.
Personally, I’m glad the Twins won. Because they put the heat squarely back on Tigers’ slugger Miguel Cabrera. And that’s where it belongs.
Photo Credit: AP
Cabrera, you may remember, showed up at his home at sunrise on Saturday, with a blood-alcohol reading of 0.26 — three times the legal limit for drivers in Michigan. He’d been out with members of the Chicago White Sox and had a game to play later that same day.
He wound up going 0-for-4 and stranded six runners. His Tigers blew their division lead.
We’ll forget, for now, all about the scratches on his face and his wife’s. Police have said he wasn’t arrested, just driven to the station where GM Dave Dombrowski had to pick him up. Must have been a fun ride home. I’m not here to judge the legal merits of the situation. But what on Earth was he thinking being out that late and getting sauced with his team about to blow the division race? With a wife and child waiting for him to come home?
So, I’m glad the Tigers lost. I could already hear the apologists lining up to forgive Cabrera had the Tigers won today. After all, he belted a two-run homer early on. He’s an enormous talent and can do stuff like that at any moment. I watched him firsthand during the 2003 World Series when he helped the Marlins upset the Yankees.
There will always be jock-worshippers looking to forgive every transgression and I suppose, since Cabrera hasn’t killed anyone, he should eventually be forgiven if he mends his ways. The Tigers are paying him millions and will do all they can to protect him in public and shield him from any undue stress. But I want to see him sweat a bit more.
What he did, even putting aside everything with his wife, which raises more questions if the worst is true, was insulting to his teammates, Tigers fans and the game in general. A game that has made Cabrera a very wealthy man.
Today, I spoke to a group of baseball players from Seattle University, which is reviving its baseball program and will play an independant schedule starting next February. I spoke to them about the dedication it takes to reach the majors. The sacrifice and the hard work, Their coaches wanted me to go into the differences between last year’s Mariners clubhouse and this year’s. They wanted to hear about the sense of accountability that was there this year.
I told them about that. How the Mariners this year represented the best of what being accountable to themselves and their teammates means.
Well, Cabrera is the worst example of that.
He let his team down. He let himself down. He apparently cares so little about that team that he’ll go out and get plastered before what was then the biggest game of his team’s season.
I’ll tell you what, back in May, I was on the road with the Mariners, who had just finished a series in Minneapolis and were on their way home. I was having dinner at the hotel bar ahead of my flight the next morning when, as time went on, some people in the lounge behind me got louder and louder. I was chatting with a Red Sox scout and we both looked behind us.
It was Cabrera and somebody else I didn’t recognize. The Tigers had just arrived in town for a series the next day and Cabrera was getting more and more “jovial” as the evening wore on and the alcohol flowed at his table. They were both extremely loud and becoming more and more demanding of the hostess serving them.
Now, there is nothing wrong with having drinks. Obviously, I was there and it wasn’t soda pop in my glass.
But hey, if my sports editor ever has to come get me out of a police station at dawn because I’ve got three times the legal driving limit worth of alcohol in my system, then I’ll have opened myself up to commentary about my nocturnal activities.
I hope that what I saw that night was just a one-time letting off of steam by Cabrera. And that this unfortunate incident over the weekend was not indicative of a longer-term problem.
Because this story made me very angry. Cabrera is one of the larger talents of his generation on the field and what he just did is take it all for granted. He did the exact opposite of what I and the coaches at Seattle University tell their players they have to do if they want to make it in this game.
Cabrera asks now that people show respect for the privacy of his wife and 4-year-old daughter.
Where was that “respect” towards them on Saturday when he pulled an all-nighter? Where was the respect for his team?
It was nowhere. Cabrera did the equivalent of spitting in their collective faces.
And now, he has to suffer for it all winter long. The hero worshippers inclined to rush to his defense will have little other than an ultimately meaningless home run today with which to make their case. And I’m glad for that.
Because you don’t just shrug off stuff like this, either as a ballplayer, a father, or a man.
Time for Cabrera to grow up. I’m tired of seeing players who waste their talent and hurt the people who depend on them most. Who waste the opportunities they’ve been given.
And I’m sure most Tigers fans, who probably went to sleep tossing and turning on Friday night while Cabrera was having a jolly good time, hope he grows up as well.