Melky Cabrera did it to me.
I’ve felt more disgusted than angry with past sports drug abusers. Manny Ramirez got hit with a 50 day suspension and I thought that was stiff but fair. As an Oakland A fan I looked forward to the day when Manny’s suspension was up. (The A’s signed him to a minor league contract, though they never activated him in the majors.) He paid his penalty; move on.
But Cabrera’s crime struck me for the way that it undermines the integrity of the game. Not the integrity of one star’s statistics, as was the main case with cheater Barry Bonds.
When Melky was suspended yesterday, the Giants were in first place. And they were in first place only because Melky picked them up and carried them, hitting spectacularly. Now we know that was all a mirage. Does that mean that the Giants’ pennant race should be suspended too?
I was reminded by this outstanding article in the New York Times that Ryan Braun was juiced last year while hitting .500 in the National League championship series. Do the Diamondbacks he eliminated get a do-over?
Remember Pete Rose? He was thown out of baseball permanently for betting on games. Long before him, eight members of the Chicago White Sox were permanently banned for throwing games in the 1919 World Series. The reason for these hard-nosed, unyielding decisions was that the cheating, or even the appearance of cheating associated with betting, undermined the competitive integrity of the game. Baseball itself was on the line.
I’m having a hard time seeing Melky Cabrera any differently. Or Ryan Braun. Or (retrospectively) Manny Ramirez. I don’t think 50 games is enough.