Cabrera gets no excuses this time

by | Feb 19, 2011 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Who swigs a bottle of scotch in front of a police officer? A guy with a problem, that’s who. And Miguel Cabrera has a problem. Doesn’t matter if he had a reason. Doesn’t matter if he says he’s sorry. Doesn’t matter how the Tigers try to spin this to save him.

Cabrera has a problem because, police say, he was drinking, resisted arrest and faces a driving under the influence charge.

But most important, because he was out on the road.

And booze and cars are an absolute no-no.

Don’t care who you are. No ifs or buts. You cannot mix alcohol and driving. The last time Cabrera made such news, in October 2009, the Tigers had to pick him up at a police station after a night of drinking and a scuffle with his wife.

Lost in that incident was the fact that he had to get to the places he got to that night, and one can only suspect he did so with alcohol in his system.

Now comes an event that removes all doubt, an ugly arrest Wednesday night on a Florida roadside, Cabrera allegedly cursing at the cops. Whatever he was doing with alcohol, Cabrera didn’t mind doing it on public streets.

You know what that makes him?

A public menace.

‘Not an alcohol problem’

Drunken driving is only the first half of a problem. The second half is who you harm when doing it.

Cabrera is fortunate. Picture him still out there driving, and another vehicle with an unsuspecting family inside, and a sudden collision and – well, you have a much bigger headline.

“You guys write in the paper ‘alcoholic,’ that’s not right,” Cabrera told the media last spring after he had presumably cleaned up his act. “I don’t know how to explain, but it’s not an alcohol problem.”

Right. It’s a judgment problem.

And Miguel has still got it. This is twice that Cabrera has made terrible decisions. The 2009 incident came during a pennant chase series with the Chicago White Sox, the last place you need alcohol and domestic issues.

Now this, where Cabrera’s judgment is below juvenile. Swigging from a bottle while cops are watching? That, to me, suggests someone who is out of control when he gets out of control.

Not someone to be counted on the way the Tigers are counting on Cabrera.

But there’s also compassion

“I was completely shocked,” Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski told the media Thursday in Lakeland, Fla. “I didn’t think there were any problems there because they have been thoroughly addressed.”

Well, you can address any problem, but it’s only fixed if it doesn’t reoccur. And you can’t watch a grown man all the time – nor should you have to. Especially one you’ve given a $152.3-million contract.

Sure, I feel badly for the Tigers – and for Cabrera. He’s a huge talent, and no one wants to see a man so publically humiliated, especially one children look up to.

But we have to stop treating him like one of those children. His teammates always talk about Cabrera as a “big kid.” That’s fine for locker-room towel throwing. But not for our highways. Not for our safety.

Cabrera has been in a baseball cocoon from such an early age, he probably can’t accept a world where someone doesn’t take care of everything for you – a world of consequences. But he’s 27, not 17. Time to grow up.

“I’ve said this all along,” Dombrowski added, “when you are dealing with issues of alcohol, that is a constant battle for a person for the rest of their lives.”

Lives? Right now the Tigers are trying to figure how to get through spring training. And if they want Cabrera to be a part of this season, they clearly must find a way to protect him against perhaps his own worst enemy. Himself.

Contact Mitch Albom: 313-223-4581 or Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760). Also catch “Monday Sports Albom” 7-8 p.m. Mondays on WJR.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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