The S.F. Giants Title Should Have an Asterisk

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Or another idea that Commissioner Selig will see fit to ignore…

If I was commissioner Selig, I might only focus on the positive aspects of what was going on in MLB.  I probably wouldn’t focus any off-season marketing program around the elephant in the room that is juiced players, and I definitely wouldn’t mention anything about the 2 playoff teams that had players booted from their roster because they were bad cheaters (I had completely forgotten about Bartolo Colon’s suspension until I was reminded of him last week.)  Colon was having a stellar season for the Athletics (10-9 with a 3.43 ERA at the time of his suspension), but the revelation that he cheated takes all of the shine off of that.  Maybe another GM will give him a chance next season, but I hope not.  Cheaters should be removed from the game at all costs.

I actually took a moment to defend Melky Cabrera back in August, shortly after it was revealed that he, too, was a Cheater.  According to Victor Conte, around 1/2 of MLB cheats (by using synthetic testosterone), but simply aren’t as dumb as Cabrera and Colon are.  However, the only players to be judged here are the ones that we know cheated, and definitively affected their teams position in the standings (For instance, we all know Arod is a Cheater, but seeing as his performance actually was a detriment to the Yankees, and as MLB has never deemed it necessary to suspend him, we won’t look at him in this context.)  Colon’s work for the Athletics helped keep them in the hunt, and in so doing, allowed for their amazing 28-12 run to close out the regular season to mean something.  Without his help, it’s highly likely that the Rangers win the division and the Tampa Bay Rays or the LA Angels get in as a wild card.  The Angels in particular may have a case to press for compensation from the Athletics given the fact that Colon won 2 out of 3 decisions against the Angels in 2012, but it’s not just playoff teams that are affected, retreads like the Red Sox feel the pain just as much.  When Colon’s suspension was announced, Bobby V. had this quip:

I just wish we’d get that loss back he pitched against us.

That’s not going to happen, Bobby, but it’s an interesting idea and one that many would like to have seen put in place.

As much as Colon’s cheating may have been a boon to the Athletics, Cabrera’s contribution to the Giants up until his suspension was far more important.  Unlike Colon, he took the field in 113 of the 117 games the Giants played through August 14th.  He was a stabilizing force in the Giants’ lineup, and even if the Giants played better once he was gone (34-15, .694) it was his presence that kept them competitive.  Yet, there is no consequence for the Giants.  There should be.

Commissioner Selig should step up and do the thing that Ford Frick wasn’t man enough to do:  put an asterisk on an accomplishment in MLB’s record book.  In Frick’s case, it was more semantics than anything else:  Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record, but he only was able to accomplish his feat because the American League schedule was extended to 162 games as a result of expansion that added two teams to their league (the National League played a 154 game schedule in 1961.)  For Selig, he once again is presented with an opportunity to show that he truly cares about baseball’s history.  He should have a big, bold asterisk slapped on all official merchandise that will be sold, and on any flag, banner, or pennant that the Giants put up in celebration of their title.

I don’t begrudge the Giants or their fans their title, it was a hard-fought victory, and regardless of the help they received from Cabrera, they still had to take care of business.  However, without his ‘help’, the Giants might not have found themselves in the playoffs, let alone hoisting the World Series trophy.  Future generations of fans should know that even after MLB had done all they could to prevent cheating, there were still those who did, and they were sometimes even caught.  There should be at least a hint of shame that a Championship season was determined in part by a player who took it upon himself to Cheat, and a franchise that willingly turned a blind eye to his actions.

Do the right thing, Mr. Selig.  Tag this Giants season for what it is:  one that was assisted by someone who juiced up in order to compete at a higher level.  Then, follow my words of advice from July and institute MLB-wide penalties for franchises that employ players who are caught cheating.

Does Melky Cabrera’s cheating in any way diminish what the Giants accomplished this season?  What of the teams that were shut out of the playoffs because of his actions?

Let me know what you think:

tbone.kline@gmail.com or @tbone44444444

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