By Jason Keidel
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Miguel Cabrera is blessed with the pristine gene, born bathed in athletic splendor. And despite his sublime skill set, he is doing everything he can to ruin it.
Cabrera was arrested early Thursday morning, charged with D.U.I. and two counts of resisting arrest somewhere near the Detroit Tigers’ spring training complex in Lakeland, Fla. According to the police report, Cabrera was not violent but had to be coerced into the police car.
The Tigers’ general, manager Dave Dombrowski, said Cabrera was “down” during a phone chat following his arrest. This is not the first time Dombrowski has had to cover Cabrera’s hide.
In 2009, before a crucial, late-season game against the Minnesota Twins, Cabrera was arrested with a 0.26 blood-alcohol content. His wife called 911 during an altercation, and the evening ended with a sober Dombrowksi bailing a somber Cabrera out of jail. The Tigers lost to the Twins and missed the playoffs.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the police report said Cabrera was “cocky, “combative,” “argumentative,” and “belligerent.” They could have saved the syllables and just said, “drunk.”
The aforementioned incidents are just the ones we know about. No doubt dozens of drunken episodes have been swept under the symbolic rug just before the press caught wind.
In the arrest affidavit, deputies said Cabrera repeated, “Do you know who I am? You don’t know anything about my problems.” Cabrera then grabbed a bottle of Scotch and started guzzling.
We know who you are, Miguel, and we know what you are. It’s time for you to know, too, before it’s too late.
No doubt this sounds odd coming from an already angry New Yorker quick to kick the first diva at the first whiff of malfeasance. Normally I am sick of seeing pampered millionaires gripe about the dearth of decency in their world while the rest of us have to deal with it daily, often having to decide between dinner and a movie because we can’t afford both.
But despite the titanic evidence to the contrary, even Charlie Sheen is a human being We love to see the affluent gorge on humble pie, but we don’t want them to die. If he doesn’t get treatment, Cabrera’s next joy ride with Jack Daniel’s might not end in a courtroom but rather with a coroner.
There’s a chicken-or-the-egg tone to the perils of celebrity. Does the star become troubled because of stardom or is he/she cursed before the glory? No human is qualified to answer. But the Center for Disease Control estimates that about 10 percent of Americans suffer from alcoholism (over 30 million people), which makes it likely that at least one branch of your family tree is wet with whiskey.
That doesn’t mean you should feel sorry for Miguel Cabrera. Indeed, in this decrepit economy it’s tough for an already grumpy fan base to feel sympathy for a man making $20 million to a play a game he loves while a cab driver makes 20 grand doing something he loathes.
But it is clear that Miguel Cabrera needs treatment. Many men find it emasculating to ask for help, to admit a bottle has beaten them. Somehow they think that handcuffs at midnight and mug shots and perp walks are more aesthetically pleasing. Having a regular rendezvous with the police blotter is better than saving your life. When you have a broken bone, you go to a doctor. When you have a broken soul, you’re weak. In an age where narcissism is all the rage, machismo becomes a malady.
Despite his drinking – because you can be sure he drank even if he wasn’t arrested – Cabrera batted .328 with 38 home runs and 126 R.B.I. in 2010. Heck, when he was 22-years-old he dropped a .323/33/116 on us on autopilot. He has that kind of talent.
Ray Lucas recently checked into rehab to treat his addiction to painkillers. New Yorkers rally around Ray because they like him. Perhaps there’s a similar circle for Miguel Cabrera, firm but fair, that can cajole him into a long gaze into the mirror.
I don’t know Cabrera. He may be a creep. He may be a swell guy. But there’s a selfish cell in all of us that loves great performances, no matter the performer. And Miguel Cabrera, when he digs his spikes inside the chalk of the batter’s box and swings that slab of maple at a baseball, is beautiful.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com