The current National League leader in hits is officially done for the 2012 regular season, as Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants was suspended for 50 games after a positive testosterone test (via Ken Rosenthal). A potential killer to the Giants postseason hopes, Melky was the All-Star Game MVP this season and on pace for over 200 hits. Now, not only are the Giants reeling to fill the void of their top offensive producer, but the entire game of baseball is once again tarnished in a huge way by another positive doping scandal.
It was only three years ago that Manny Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers tested positive for artificial testosterone and the human fertility drug human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG. That ordeal stained not only Manny’s entire career as a pure slugger, but proved that once again baseball was not free and clear of its steroid era. Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, NL MVP of the 2011 season, was suspended for testing positive as well after the season. However, upon further review and Braun’s continuing claims of innocence, Major League Baseball overturned that and Braun was pardoned.
Just as Braun has not been able to escape the stigma of being related to steroids and doping, Major League Baseball once again has a dark cloud over this 2012 season. This season was planting seeds of providing some of the best division races, best September series and most exciting baseball in some time. Now, MLB officials should be scrambling to put this behind them and make it known that the game is clean. Sure, testing is rampant and the game is significantly more pure. But, Melky’s positive test leaves questions for how many games and how many hits he got away with his enhanced performance.
So far Cabrera’s best career year, batting .346 with a .516 slugging percentage, Cabrera, in his first year with the Giants, was looking at signing a three-year extension worth more than $9 million a year. Now, Cabrera will be hoping he can catch on with any team after this season is over. His 60 RBI, 13 stolen bases and 159 hits are not nullified in the books or in the minds of Giants fans, but even beyond what we assumed with Barry Bonds, it now comes with a permanent asterisk. The fact that the issue of steroids has come back to the San Francisco Bay is especially sad, since it has only been five years since Barry walked away coldly from the game.
If the Giants make the postseason, as they very well might considering they are tied for first in the NL Western Division, Cabrera will be eligible to come back in the sixth game of the postseason. Will that change manager Bruce Bochy’s roster decisions? Probably not, but Cabrera could come back for the NLCS or even the World Series.
One thing is certain though, and that this is a sad day for baseball. Perhaps a day of relief and joy for Los Angeles Dodger and Arizona Diamondback fans, this day is a painful one for the still healing face of baseball. The black eyes and broken appearance of a game that once required a completely face-lift, this minor setback rubs the raw flesh of a history tainted by an era we all hoped to end.