San Francisco Giants' Melky Cabrera fouls off a pitch from Washington Nationals' Jordan Zimmermann in the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, in San Francisco. (Ben Margot/AP)
The World Series opened Wednesday night in San Francisco – and one of the reasons it did was because of the play of Melky Cabrera. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2012 All-Star Game, won 8-0 by the National League. The champion of the league that won the All-Star Game, in this case the Giants, has home field advantage in the World Series.
But Cabrera is nowhere to be seen in this World Series and may well have played his last game as a Giant on Aug. 14, the day before he was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Batting .346 after a 1-for-4 performance on Aug. 14 against the Washington Nationals, Cabrera would have been eligible to win the league’s batting title while still serving his suspension. He disqualified himself.
Cabrera is eligible for the World Series against the Detroit Tigers, as he was for the league championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals. But the only Cabrera anyone is talking about on baseball’s biggest stage is Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, who this past season became the first Triple Crown winner since 1967.
The management of the Giants made the decision not to activate Melky Cabrera – and the decision on the surface looks to be a bit on the hypocritical side. If they don’t want Cabrera because of his drug suspension, why is relief pitcher Guillermo Mota, who served a 100 game suspension this season and twice has failed drug tests, on their World Series roster?
This is, after all, the same franchise that supported, applauded and celebrated the exploits of Barry Bonds. He is now a convicted felon for obstructing justice into an investigation of illegal steroids distribution. (But, as Bonds is quick to point out, he was not convicted of using steroids.)
The Giants reveled in Bonds’ pursuit and passing of Hank Aaron’s home run record. They welcomed back the twice-banished Mota. Did they finally get religion on Cabrera and decide it was the right thing to do? Or, was their decision “sheathed in hypocrisy and selective morality,” as Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan wrote?
The Giants don’t feel they need Cabrera to win – and their recent performance supports that stand.
They also clearly don’t want the headaches and distractions that would accompany a return to the lineup. After going 6-0 in elimination games in the first two rounds of the playoffs, San Francisco has become a feel-good story. Reinstating Cabrera would re-focus the attention back to the drug suspension and would also call into question the franchise’s motives.
And though the Giants can’t say this publicly, they don’t want Cabrera back. He was, by all accounts, a lousy teammate, at first lying to his fellow players about the results of the test and then not communicating to any of them after he was suspended. He was on a one-year deal with the team after having been acquired by trade from Kansas City.
Cabrera also set up a phony website which he hoped would convince readers that he had used the drugs accidentally. Investigators from Major League Baseball were not fooled by that hapless attempt at subterfuge.
Cabrera supporters – and he has them – argue that he has served his suspension and deserves the chance to play. They point to the Mota situation and the apparent double standard.
But the Giants should be applauded for telling Cabrera to stay away, lest the 2012 season be more tainted than it already is. San Francisco can’t do anything about the 113 games Cabrera played before he was suspended. But it can – and did – do something about the games since his suspension ended.
In short, the Giants said, ‘we don’t want you, we don’t need you and we’re doing just fine without you.’
Cabrera is eligible for free agency this off-season. But you can take the Giants off a list of potential employers for 2013 and beyond.
LISTEN: All-Star MVP Melky Cabrera Hit With Suspension (Only A Game)
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the writer and do not in any way reflect the views of WBUR management or its employees.