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No, you don’t take Melky Cabrera’s batting title away if he wins it

Aug 17, 2012, 9:18 AM EDT

Melky Cabrera Reuters

We went over the silliness of attempting to scrub history last year when Ryan Braun‘s positive test for testosterone was revealed after winning the MVP, but apparently we have to go over this again. Dejan Kovacevic, specifically, thinks that Melky Cabrera, should he finish the season with the highest average, should not be considered the NL batting champ:

There’s no sane thought process in which he would be allowed to claim a batting crown … But even if Selig wants to keep baseball’s asterisk-free approach to history, he has an easy escape hatch: Forgo the Tony Gwynn Rule in this one instance. Let Cabrera forever linger one plate appearance shy. His hits remain intact, but he’s disqualified from the crown.

Selig’s got the authority within the famous “best interests of baseball” clause, and it’s imperative that he uses it.

Not after the fact, either.

Right now.

This is yet another example — see yesterday’s — of people wanting to take an orderly and routine punishment process and turn it into some system of emotion-driven post-hoc righteous reactionary retribution. And it is, by definition, reactionary and emotion-driven. If it was something other than that, something borne of logic and reason, it would have been considered before the fact.  This is all about people seeing something that should have been quite foreseeable — a top player in the hunt for an award or a title — testing positive during the season — and getting an immediate jolt of that’s-not-fair-itis.

The thing is, though, that no punishment system worth a damn works on a post-hoc, retributive basis. Melky Cabrera got those hits under the system we have. They actually happened. Taking away a batting title if he wins it does nothing to change that and, more importantly and obviously, does nothing to deter Melky Cabrera.

If you want to change the rule going forward and make a guy ineligible to be the batting champ or home run champ or whatever after a suspension, fine, do it. That’s how laws and rules work: prospectively.  But now, suddenly saying “Melky can’t be the batting champ!” would be nothing more than a revenge-fuled emotional salve.  And that’s not what any of this should be about.


  1. vallewho - Aug 17, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    I’m I the only one that wishes that all sports leagues give up the pretense of being “PED” free???? Everyone is so hypocritical.

    I remember the ground swell of cheers for McGwire and Sosa..I remember Bonds. It all started with ESPN cutting in to show every one of Canseco’s at-bats. Everyone cheered.

    I would also like to see the full-blown PEDified Olympics. Can a guy like Bolt run 9 flat on a full cycle?

    And oh-yeah…Melky should keep his batting tile (if he finishes wit the highest BA). Bud did not take away Braun’s MVP….Was that not in the best interest of the game?

    • pjmarn6 - Aug 18, 2012 at 12:13 AM

      This is too simple for me. Cabrera used the drugs to make himself look supergood so that he would get millions more in the free agent market. Along the way he might have gotten the mvp title etc. Everyone knows what happened to Penn St.Their victories for about 10 years were vacated by a ruling from the organization that regulates college football.
      The organization that regulates professional baseball should do the same thing to Cabrera. Vacate all his hits, runs, rbis etc and he goes 0 for 501 with a batting average of .000. End of story.

      • vallewho - Aug 18, 2012 at 2:49 AM

        and what happens to the stats tied to other players (including opposing pitchers and teams) on those 501 at bats?

      • earlnash - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:00 PM

        Agree! Here is the full arguement:

      • pjmarn6 - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:33 PM

        As far as what happens to the other players and teams that Cabrera batted against, ask the college oversight committee that took away Penn St victories how they are going to handle their problem. With computers and all, it could just be a complicated wash out. Fair but complicated. Of course where Cabrera helped his team win, you can’t give his team a victory, but you can with computers figure out what a possible outcome might have been and then let the computers do the work. There are rules in NASCAR and after the race there are inspections and winners have been eliminated. If you want to clean up the sport make the right decisions and make the penalties draconian.

      • pjmarn6 - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:43 PM

        I hope you are not that unintelligent that you don’t have to ask what happens to you if you are found cheating in Las Vegas!

    • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 18, 2012 at 9:50 AM

      Craig= I usually enjoy your writing. Imagine my disgust when I reached the phrase “post-hoc retributive basis”. WHile that may mean something to somebody I can’t believe it’s the best way to say whatever it is you’re trying to say. Buyt if you must include that kind stufff in your new writing style I’d request a usage of Ipso facto – and maybe you might want to use corpus delecti. thanks

      • pjmarn6 - Aug 18, 2012 at 1:04 PM


      • earlnash - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:01 PM

        Counterpoint here:

  2. steelturf76 - Aug 17, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Dejan Kovacevic is a writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and is trying to build a case to make Andrew McCutchen have a better chance of winning the batting title just in case that somehow McCutchen fades during the final month and a half of the season and ends up with a lower batting average than Cabrera. Almost any sports writer would do the same thing if it was going to try and benefit a player from their respective city. If McCutchen catches fire again and puts up numbers like he did during June/July then this all becomes a non issue. Living in the Pittsburgh area, we haven’t seen a player like McCutchen play this good in more years than I can remember so naturally we’re going to do all we can to “push envelopes” and get some kind of recognition wherever we can. Nineteen years of losing takes its toll on a city and he has been the silver lining this city has needed for many years. Barry Bonds was one of the last players this ball club has had that has left this city and has had major success, and that was after the ’92 season, with the exception of a couple players, everyone else that was either traded away or left via free agency has disappointed since their departure.

  3. manestor - Aug 17, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    To put things in perspective let’s consider the fate and punishment for Pete Rose! Who damaged the game more? Bonds or Rose? I’ll take Rose on my team anyday. Let’s get serious about PED! In the meantime – – let one of the greatest of all time back into baseball.

    • raysfan1 - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:34 PM

      PED use is cheating in an attempt to win.

      Gambling on baseball, Is cheating in an effort to make more money by attempting to manipulate the outcomes of games, who wins or loses or by how much.

      There’s no evidence that either Rose or Bonds did anything as players but try to win. You can’t go wrong with either on your team. However, Rose’s crime against baseball is clearly worse.

  4. savocabol1 - Aug 17, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    By giving him the batting title you tell him (and everyone else) that if you take steroids you may get suspended, but you can still earn awards.

    Lets go ahead and allow a bank robber to go to jail….but keep the money.

    • alang3131982 - Aug 17, 2012 at 2:33 PM

      The batting tittle isnt an award per se. It’s not voted on. It’s an historical statistic. Basically, the batting tittle signifies who had the best average. it doesnt mean anything.

      Can you name last year’s batting tittle winner? two years ago? heck Bill Mueller won a batting tittle, who cares?

      However, if you feel this has to be dismissed you have to rejigger everything. Certainly Melky’s hits affected the standings, and MVP and CY Young voting, so how can you change one “award” and not change the others? Just because it’s easy? That’s silly.

      • alang3131982 - Aug 17, 2012 at 2:36 PM

        To boil it down, my point is why is batting title so important. Your analogy isnt a bad one. However, if all we do is not let Melky qualify for the batting title, it’s like we’re just taking the money away from the robber but not giving it back to the bank. The dodgers have been hurt by this.

        Going one step further, why arent pitchers (Joel Peralta) who are caught scuffing the ball eliminated from the Cy Young voting?

        it’s just a wormhole once you start with one thing and shouldnt be applied backward. Making up rules as you go creates problems. Rules should be created in a thoughtful fashion not as a swift, emotional reaction to one event.

  5. jimeejohnson - Aug 17, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Craig: you mention a “system of emotion-driven post-hoc righteous reactionary retribution”; you just pinpointed the Republican strategy for, at least, the past 4 years. “NICE” (say like South Park Dad’s on Ike’s sex with substitute teacher episode)! Thanks.

    • nullstadt - Aug 17, 2012 at 5:44 PM

      Thumbs-down, not because I disagree with you (I don’t), but because you’re injecting politics into where it doesn’t need to be…lots of other places to snark on the election besides here. Flame away…

  6. simon94022 - Aug 17, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    This is a team sport, not the Olympics. In baseball, “records” are simply data points describing what actually happened on the field. Suggestions that records be taken away (for any reason) are attempts to deny reality.

    At the end of the year, either Melky will have the highest batting average or he won’t. If he does, it is perfectly legitimate to disparage his achievement as having been steroid-induced. It is not legitimate to pretend that reality is different from whatever actually happened.

    • alang3131982 - Aug 17, 2012 at 3:44 PM

      Perfect comment.

      basically, if you take away his “batting title,” which is silly on its face, arent you saying that the designation for player who had the best average is more important than wins and loses? Why focus on a non-award when this cheating is believed to help a player help a team win? If you’re really just focusing on an award you’re making an empty and pointless gesture.

      These aggressions will not stand, except they will in determining the ultimate champion of baseball.

  7. theboysofdallas - Aug 17, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    I agree with chill

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