Miguel Cabrera had a pretty crappy Friday night, and it just isn’t ending – nor should it. Cabrera screwed up big time and is deserving of the bulk of the criticism that he is receiving today. Whether it was a lapse of judgment or a habitual problem remains to be seen but getting drunk enough to blow a .26 at 6 a.m. on the morning of one of the biggest games in his Tigers career is a huge problem. The problem has since been compounded by errors in judgment by Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski.
Everyone has heard the story by now. Cabrera leaves the Tigers clubhouse after nearly popping out for the cycle on Friday night and finds himself eventually at the Rugby Grille in the Townsend Hotel. It’s a bar he’s been told to avoid by the Tigers after an August 31st incident, yet he’s there with a member(s) of the White Sox.
While there he consumes mass amounts of alcohol. For a 240 lb. man to get his blood alcohol up to .26 would mean something like 22 drinks in a 7 hour period. He eventually stumbles home to a wife who becomes irate when he wakes up the whole house talking loudly on his cell phone. There is an altercation that left his wife Rosangel with an injured lip and Cabrera scratches on the right side of his face and results in a call to 911 at 6:05 a.m.
Police find a broken cell phone and a broken chain and an incoherent and uncooperative Cabrera. They take him to the station for questioning with an interpreter. This is when he blew the .26 which is below the limit for medical intervention.
He is then released to Tigers President, General Manager, and CEO Dave Dombrowski who picks him up between 7:30 and 8 a.m.
The Tigers Response
An average person metabolizes alcohol at .015 per hour meaning it would take about 17 hours to metabolize all the alcohol in Cabrera’s blood. At the time Dombrowski picks him up Cabrera had less than 12 hours until game time and less than 9 hours until he needed to be at the park.
Even if Cabrera metabolized the alcohol quickly and was aided by IV fluids to stave of dehydration, there is no way he would have been in game shape to play on Saturday night. Yet there he was in the starting lineup.
Jim Leyland claimed ignorance on what happened to Cabrera’s face. Trainer Kevin Rand issued a statement through the team denying any knowledge. That Dombrowski and Leyland both knew about the situation and chose to let him take the field in a pennant race absolutely sends the wrong message to the fans, the team, and probably to Cabrera.
What to make of Cabrera’s actions?
I think Cabrera screwed up. I’m disappointed and I feel let down. I don’t know if he’s a bad guy or a guy that made a bad decision. I don’t know if he’s an alcoholic or a guy who got hammered. I frankly don’t care what Cabrera does on his own time – as long as it doesn’t adversely impact the team. If Cabrera was able to compete in his state then I’m much less inclined to react. But the circumstances and the results paint a grim picture.
Athletes have a right to private lives but when the careless decisions made in those private lives impact my favorite team’s ability to compete then I care. This was going out and having drinks and getting in late. This was a complete lack of respect for the fans. I won’t speak for the Tigers and their take on the situation. I don’t know if they are distracted or angry or if they just want to rally around their teammate.
I invest a great deal of time and money and passion in the team. If they fail because they aren’t good or just get beat it is one thing. If they are hungover and exhausted because of a night of idiocy I feel cheated.
There has been a lot of feel good talk about how the team recognizes the economic struggles of the region and that they want to put their best effort forward for the fans. I appreciate players coming out and saying what they’ve said in that regard. I don’t know if that’s the reason for their home record, but I appreciate the sentiment. Yet the franchise player has pissed all over that sentiment.
I have no false pretenses that athletes are all wonderful people and really I care more about what happens on the field than off it. It’s just easier to cheer for the ones who excel in both facets. Fortunately the Tigers by and large seem to be a group of guys that fans can be proud of off the field and on it. Many are involved in the community and in my limited interactions the positives far outweigh the negatives.
If this is immaturity then Cabrera needs to grow up. If this alcoholism then he needs help. In either case Cabrera needs to apologize to the fans. He needs to issue a real apology. To stand up in front of a TV camera and muster some sincerity. A canned statement where he apologizes because his actions have become a distraction is far different than apologizing for his actions and it is hardly sufficient.
Fortunately nobody was severely injured. Neither Cabrera nor his wife suffered long term physical damage. There was nobody hurt in an automobile accident. That’s the good news. Cabrera is a fun player to watch. A guy that looks like he loves playing baseball and he is blessed with incredible talent. The hope is that Cabrera can learn from this and avoid these situations in the future.