Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cabrera Claims He's Not An Alcoholic; Jim Leyland Claims He's Never Smoked

Ok, obviously the second part of that title isn't true but I'm sure you see the point I'm trying to make here.
Miguel Cabrera is one of the best hitting first basemen in baseball. He's coming off arguably the best season of his career. In 2010 Cabrera batted .328 with 38 HR and led the league in RBI with 126. Throw in a league leading OBP of .420, 111 runs scored, and an incredible WAR of 6.9 and you have a more than a valid argument that Miguel Cabrera and not Josh Hamilton deserved the MVP. (Cabrera finished second.) There is no question that Cabrera is a unique talent.

He's also in a state of denial more massive than our national debt.

Upon arriving for Tigers spring training in Lakeland, Florida this morning, Cabrera immediately faced the media and issued a public apology for his February 16th arrest for driving under the influence and resisting arrest. Thankfully he's planning to undergo treatment through the MLB's players union. That's certainly encouraging news but what was perplexing was this statement from Cabrera:
"I have it under control. It was just a bad decision. I plan to continue with treatment. I made a mistake this time, and all I can do is continue treatment."
Cabrera basically said everything except, "I can stop whenever I want to." This is a textbook reaction from someone who doesn't want to admit that he's an alcoholic. I'm sorry but when you get caught driving drunk without a license (he only has a permit), resist arrest, and drink liquor straight from the bottle in front of the cops, it's not just a "mistake."

What's sad is that this is not the first incident for Cabrera. On October 3rd, 2009 Cabrera spent the entire night binge drinking, got into an altercation with his wife, and had to be taken in for questioning. Just last August TV station WXYZ obtained a police report involving Cabrera. Said reported alleged that Cabrera got into a verbal confrontation with people in a restaurant outside Townsend. He threatened physical violence and even claimed he had a gun.

And now we have this latest incident. What's befuddling is that Cabrera also stated the February 16th incident "was out of the ordinary." Anyone with a modicum of self-awareness can see that this is patently not the case. There is a chain events involving Miguel Cabrera that establishes a pretty strong pattern of abuse.

On a positive note, the Detroit Tigers front office is apparently willing to do whatever it takes to see Cabrera clean and sober. Treatment for Cabrera will continue throughout the 2011 season. Cabrera is in the midst of an 8 year $152.3 million contract so it's clear the Tigers' interest is financial as well as personal. And why shouldn't it be? Detroit has invested a lot of time and dollars in the 27 year old first baseman. I believe they've earned the right to intervene and Cabrera seems to be on board. Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski even stated that the Tigers were willing to allow Cabrera a companion on the road, ala Josh Hamilton, to help him steer clear of drugs and alcohol.

However, until Cabrera stops saying he's made "mistakes" and admits he has a problem, all the assistance and support in the world won't amount to a pile of dirt on the pitcher's mound.

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