Chuck and I are not alone: time to dump the dude

Cabrera’s outpatient treatment isn’t sufficient

By Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports
Feb 24, 6:49 pm EST

Miguel Cabrera drank himself into a violent, abusive state in October 2009, and the Detroit Tigers responded by playing him hours after they picked him up from jail. Cabrera drank himself so silly a week ago he didn’t bother to stop swigging from a bottle of scotch in front of the police, and the Tigers are responding by welcoming him to spring training like nothing happened.

At this rate, the next time Cabrera takes a drink the Tigers will give him a raise.

Seriously, what does Cabrera have to do for the Tigers to punish him? Run a dog-fighting ring? Kill someone? Insult Little Caesars? Cabrera’s apology, delivered Thursday almost entirely in Spanish and translated by assistant general manager Al Avila, was a joke. He still refuses to admit that he is an alcoholic. He hid behind medical privilege rather than answer legitimate questions, such as why doctors recommended he rejoin the booze-soaked baseball life today rather than check in to a rehabilitation center. And he skated once again, the Pussy Cats happy to enable the player to whom they’ll pay more than $100 million over the next five years because it’s so much easier than holding him accountable.

Cabrera will slip into his Tigers uniform Friday morning and practice with his teammates in Lakeland, Fla., eight days after police detained him on DUI and resisting-arrest charges. This is special treatment even by superstar standards. To invite Cabrera back into their clubhouse so soon – and so consequence-free – after such a spectacular arrest screams: Come ye, alcoholic baseball players, for we at the Detroit Tigers welcome your kind!

Even if the doctors chosen by Major League Baseball and the players’ union recommended that Cabrera follow a program rather than commit to inpatient treatment, it doesn’t lessen the severity of what he has done – and what he faces. This is now two extreme incidents of alcohol abuse that ended in embarrassment. Certainly they’re not the only two times Cabrera drank himself into oblivion.

The Pussy Cats are, essentially, doubling down on an alcoholic whose sobriety lasted barely a year. There is supportive, and there is coddling, and for somebody who said he has worked with dozens of players with substance-abuse issues, general manager Dave Dombrowski should know better than to skew toward the latter.

Forget a reprimand. The Pussy Cats couldn’t even slap him on the wrist.

“He acknowledges he has a problem,” Dombrowski said.

He does, huh? Asked directly if he was an alcoholic, here was Cabrera’s response: “The doctors … are the ones that would know best how to answer that.”

It’s no surprise Cabrera is in denial. It’s not like the Pussy Cats have given him any reason to believe he has a problem.

Dombrowski said the team will help Cabrera find someone to shadow him at all times and help prevent relapses. A full-time sponsor is a nice idea. It can help. By no means, though, does it stop an addict from going back to his old ways. Johnny Narron was supposed to be with Josh Hamilton(notes) for 24 hours a day. Hamilton ended up in a Phoenix-area bar getting whipped cream licked off him by random women. Slip-ups happen. They happen far less when a person understands his disease and how it affects those around him.

Cabrera’s apology tour began during a press conference – he even said he was sorry for acting like a drunken lout to the policeman who needed to give him four Charley horses before arresting him – and will continue tomorrow when, he said, he’ll roam around the clubhouse with contrition on his tongue. Then he’ll step into the batting cage, smack balls over a fence and all will be forgiven.

His manager, Jim Leyland, was right: This won’t cause distractions. The furor over Cabrera will pass much quicker than if he were in rehab. He’ll hide behind medical privilege as an excuse not to talk about it – you don’t see Hamilton and other addicts who are honest with themselves taking that tack – and hit his 30 home runs and drive in his 100 runs and earn his $20 million while in what MLB termed a “multifaceted, professionally-administered program.”

It sounds good. Lots of … facets. And professional … administration. And – oh, hell, who are they kidding? Miguel Cabrera, alcoholic, is back in precisely the place he needn’t be. And every time the urge hits him – and it’s not going away anytime soon – he’ll have a choice to make: drink or don’t. If he’s in a proper program, he’ll be able to resist almost every time. That one time he doesn’t, though, he’ll go through the repercussions in his mind. The law won’t like it. Neither will his family. Even MLB said, in a statement, “any future alcohol-related incidents could involve more serious consequences.” With so many pitfalls, Cabrera can take solace in at least one thing.

The Pussy Cats won’t do a thing about it.

Jeff Passan is a national writer for Yahoo! Sports. He is the co-author of the new book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series." Follow him on Twitter. Send Jeff a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.;_ylt=AiqRTUcVFnjCjht8.N_7q.YRvLYF?slug=jp-cabrerareportstigers022411


  1. "Pussy Cats"? How cute. Oh well, I guess the guy had a column to write. Again I disagree. Alcohol is a legal substance. Let Cabrera get help and fight his problem. Keep him on the Tigers.

  2. Damn -- second time I am postin this - lost the first one. Alcohol is a leagl substance, which Cabrera was used illegally (DUI). I may have been able to accept him back if he wasmore honest and repentetive, but instead Jim Leyland (the circus leader) welcomed him back like a returning hero. Being the hero and the center of the team, does not put him above the law. Hiding behind medical priviledge. MLB network did a nice piece about Carlos Guillen watching our for MIggy, but it was not enough. I say cut your losees while he has some value and before he kills somebody (hopefully not my relative) on the road using a legal substance!

  3. Legal or not is almost irrelevant. Fact is the guy has let the team down, twice, can't come to grips with the fact that he is an alcoholic, won't admit it, and will almost certainly be in trouble again. Mark my words.

    "Pussy Cats" is right. Tigers have shown no ability to control him.

    Yep, his stock is low now; sell while he has any value at all.

  4. The nice thing about being a fan is that we get to interpret "facts" anyway we choose. We state that Miggy won't admit that he is an alcoholic. How do we know that? He only has to admit it to his family, health care provider and employer. He doesn't owe that statement to you or I. We don't know.

    Whether or not we agree, alcoholism is a disease, a very evil one. I have an alcoholic in my extended family and I always wonder if that person is going to take that next drink. If Passan is correct, all alcoholics will ultimately face the dangerous choice: to drink or not. As Passan states, "if he’s in a proper program, he’ll be able to resist almost every time." It is nice to have absolutes but how might it be that the program that my family member is in is proper, but Miggy's is not? We must also recognize that alcoholism is a disease that is covered by the ADA. You can't terminiate someone that has been caught under the influence off the job. Baseball encourages the use of alcohol. It's in the club house and in the stadium. Why is it that so many stadiums have to have "alcohol" free sections? Don't be hypocritical.

    So maybe the treatment that the "Pussy Cats" is appropriate and legal. (Also, please keep in mind that the ADA was sponsored by the first Bush.)

    I hope that my fellow bloggers are fortunate enough not to know an alcoholic, but for once, look at the disease from the eye of the sick rather than the make believe world of a baseball fan.

  5. Great discussion. I'd like to throw in my two cents (or three or four)...

    First of all, we don't know that Cabrera is an alcoholic. I'm not making excuses for his behavior, which has been careless and stupid, but there is a difference between being an alcoholic (dependant on alcohol to get through the day) and abuse (drink to get drunk). He is absolutely an abuser. He may or may not be an alcoholic.

    Second, I agree that whatever his "label," alcohol appears to be poison to this guy. I would feel waaaaaay better about his future if he had stepped up and said, "Alcohol is a demon that I will have to battle for the rest of my life. I need to steer clear of it. Period." At least that would have been honest.

    Using an interpreter (when you don't use one any other time) raises suspicion. Honestly, I get it – he just wanted to make sure his words and meaning were clear, and speaking in his native tongue (through a team official) gave him confidence/comfort. Still, using an interpreter gives the appearance that you're trying to hide behind the language barrier (remember Sammy Sosa in front of Congress?).

    I agree that whatever Cabrera's diagnosis, eight days isn't long enough to undergo any kind of real treatment. He also deserved more of a reprimand. What's it going to take to get serious about this? Cabrera doesn't need guidelines; he needs to change his life. Can't do that in eight days. Even if the Tigers cared only about Cabrera's production (not his life), it makes sense that they would push a little harder for rehab, simply to protect their investment. If a million dollar race car is leaking coolant, they don’t just throw some Stop Leak in the radiator and call it good. They get in there and find out the real problem – and fix it.

    I totally disagree with anyone who says the Tigers need to dump Cabrera while he has some value. His value at the moment is the lowest it's been at any time since he became a Tiger – including the time following his first alcohol-related incident in 2009. If the Tigers are looking to trade him (and they AREN'T), they should wait until he's raking American League pitchers on a daily basis.

    And for the love of God, stop "considering" having a sponsor/team official stay with Cabrera most of the time. DO IT. Here’s an analogy: You catch your kid playing with matches … TWICE! He catches something on fire … TWICE! You're extremely fortunate that he didn't burn the entire house down. So your solution is to talk to him about it – tell him "you really need to stop playing with matches" – and then leave him alone... when he knows where to find more matches? Are you kidding me? Wake up, Tigers!

  6. "Stop Leak"!!? I love it Peek. I may disagree with you now and then, but I wish you were still in the media (wish I was reading you when you were in the media.)

  7. Well - at least these comment generated some of the most conversation this blog has seen in a while. One thing for sure, we are all passionate. We are all glad spring is here!

    Now what about MIggy's weight gain? Of course that won't be a concern when he starts banging out home runs. But...

  8. Well, if we are interested in more discussion (and I'd be in favor) we simply need to invite more people to be "authors." Send me names and e-mail addresses of folks you think might like to participate. (anybody can read this.)

  9. From what I've seen so far this spring Cabrera doesn't look any heavier than last year.

  10. Npw what about this expert lawyer Cabrera has hired? who will agressively defend Cabrera and Cabrera is pleading his innocence. Another episode in the three ring circus. And this lawyer will make more money off Cabrera than most of us will make in the next couple of years.

  11. His life will be the same if he does not seek substance abuse program, he is filthy rich he could easily have himself in a luxurious rehabilitation centers than denying that he is not alcoholic although the people are much aware of it.