What with the emotional end to the Miguel Cabrera' season, I don't know if you've been following this story at all, but in case you hadn't heard,
- went out drinking with some friends on the after Friday's game
- got wasted
- came home at 6 in the morning with a BAC around .26
- fought with his wife
- was taken to the police station
- got picked up from the station by GM Dave Dombrowski around 8
- went hitless in the series
Ordinarily I like to take this opportunities to come to the players' defense. Fans tend to hold players to an impossible standard of behavior and hate to find out that they have the same flaws as everybody else, and that isn't the least bit fair. But in this case...in this case, Cabrera comes off seeming, at best, irresponsible, and, at worst, indifferent. This one's going to haunt Cabrera for a long long time.
I'll say this for Miguel - I don't think it's that he didn't care. I don't think that's it at all. People will take this as a sign that he's all about himself and the money and couldn't give two shits about going to the playoffs, but that allegation rests on knowing more about his motivations than any fan ever could. Players do this kind of thing all the time. At the start of the year, at the end of the year, in the heat of a race - players don't have the flu as often as TV would have you think they do. I imagine it's just more likely that he didn't think about it. Professional athletes are a different breed. They've been conditioned to think they're great to the point where they think they can do anything, and a lot of superstars like Cabrera take that to the extreme. Had you asked him in an impossible and hypothetical moment of sobriety Saturday morning whether he'd be fine in time for the game, I'm sure he would've said yeah. He's Miguel Cabrera. One night of drinking with buddies at the end of a long season couldn't be of any harm.
And maybe it wasn't. There's no way of knowing whether Cabrera's being drunk on Saturday morning played any part in his going hitless Saturday night. It's not hard to imagine that it did, but then it's not hard to imagine that it didn't, either. I've woken up hungover from a couple drinks, and I've woken up not hungover from a dozen drinks; I've struggled with a clear mind, and I've done amazing shit with a headache. Miguel Cabrera's Friday and Saturday nights very well may have been completely independent of one another.
But that's not how fans are going to see it, and, ultimately, this is probably going to deal a severe and perhaps immutable blow to his image. No one's going to care that he may have landed a hand on his wife. History has shown that fans tend to be pretty forgiving of players who do bad things in their personal lives. For Cabrera, though, to put himself in a situation that could be interpreted as showing disinterest in the success of his team - to a fan, there is no greater insult. Ask Manny Ramirez or Erik Bedard how well people respond when they think you don't care.
After Friday's game, Miguel Cabrera did a stupid thing. He did a few stupid things, really. That, by itself, doesn't make him different from a lot of other players in the league, but what makes this situation exceptional is that he's a high-profile player, and that he got caught. And now he gets to deal with the fallout for far, far longer than he ever would've imagined. This little episode won't soon be forgotten. Even if Cabrera ends up hitting the winner homer on Tuesday, people are still going to bring this up every time he strikes out in a big at bat or otherwise seems lackadaisical. And should Cabrera go hitless or thelose - there are a lot of people to blame for the Tigers' collapse, but Cabrera's in position now to be hearing about a careless night of drinking for the rest of his career.
I'm sure this is exactly what everyone in the organization wants to be talking about a day before the biggest game of the season.