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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.

 

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