Miguel Cabrera. His off-field behavior may have impacted our shot at the playoffs last year. Some people can’t let it go, and I get that. Me? I still roll up into a ball and rock back and forth when I think about a collapse that rivaled the Bridge of San Luis Rey. Miguelito is making mad money, and many reckon that a giant performance yardstick is thereby created. The Puma better measure up, or the fans will crucify said cat.
My “muse” for today’s editorial is none other than the dreaded Sports Talk Radio, specifically Mike Valenti and Terry Foster on 97.1. Don't judge, you probably watch Jersey Shore. Some fans called in and said there is no way they’ll root for Miggy, no matter what he does this year, on or off the field. Mike Valenti agreed, and swore never to don his Cabrera jersey again. Terry Foster asserted that Cabrera’s got little margin for error, and because of his contract, fans in this (economically challenged) area will not embrace him unless he puts up Albert Pujols-esque numbers.
Persons who become incredibly wealthy playing a game rightfully do not receive a lot of sympathy. Persons who desecrate our hallowed pastime receive the unmitigated ire of ardent followers. Persons who imbibe obscene amounts of alcohol with the opposition the night and into the morning before a critical game are asking to be tarred and feathered and then defeathered by a hungry African tiger from the Detroit Zoo.
All that being said, Miguel Cabrera may have taken the weight of the Tigers’ world on his shoulders and found it too much. Much was made of his lack of clutch hitting last season. For quite a while, he had little protection due to slumps and injuries to other players. That’s part of it. The other part may be that a young kid who loves to play the game and have fun playing it was so burdened that he couldn’t stay loose enough to perform. Michael Rosenberg's piece is quite compelling. People who feel that kind of duress need an outlet. What’s it gonna be?
I’m not really under any undue strain, but when I do get stressed, my outlets are working out and Tigers games. Those are pretty healthy options (uh, the Tigers games are debatable), but it’s not always easy to make a good choice. Insert food binge and subsequent self-loathing here. We all know that working out is a proven physiological stress-breaker. Professional sports give adults all over the world an escape from the mundane. For athletes though, working out and playing games are part of their jobs, so they’ve got to get creative. Johnny Damon thinks the answer is naked pullups in the clubhouse. Um, don’t see how too many teammates would appreciate eye-level views of his package, but ok.
Another issue is whether Cabrera is in denial. He scolded reporters for saying he was an alcoholic, and said that his problems were not alcohol-related. Huh? I think getting drunk and using abusive language on an overweight teenager qualify as alcohol-related. Cabrera better have a little chat with Josh Hamilton. A lot people take exception to having a “babysitter” for an adult professional. I look at it more as a support system/outlet that some people might need. If calling in the Big Cat himself works, I’m all about it. Who wouldn’t want a player of Andres Galarraga’s caliber around anyway? It’s win-win-win-win....
Denial or not, Cabrera did the right thing this off-season. He got some treatment. I hope one of his assignments was writing a brain-stormy list of good alternatives to booze on one of those giant pads of paper with an oversize sharpie. Scratch that--too many inhalable fumes.
I think most of us fans make emotional decisions about players at times. We have our predilections about guys that we may not even be able to quantify. So if someone we don’t really care for anyway does something reprehensible, it results in permanent banishment.
What a windbag. What I should have just said instead of wasting time you could have spent catching up on these glorious Spring Training photos, is that I’ll be giving Miguel Cabrera another chance this year. If pervy, rug-wearing Marv Albert can get another shot, the Puma ought to get one too.