Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games by the Major Baseball League (MBL) for using performance enhancing drugs (PED) but there's unexpected good news: Melky is eligible to lead his conference in average categories including the granddaddy that still overly impresses traditionalists: batting average. Currently, Andrew McCutchen leads with .356 to Melky's .346 (159/460 = .34565217391 including one more AB to reach 502 PA) but thanks to his suspension Melky's batting average is frozen.
During yesterday's Yankee - Red Sox game on Fox former catcher Tim McCarver mentioned Melky's eligibility but insisted on saying something silly, that he did not think that someone in Melky's situation should be allowed to receive an award. Timmy, it's not an award, it's a statistic. The only way to prevent Melky from leading in a statistic would be too purge his stats. Uh-oh.
Did Timmy's inability to articulate inadvertently suggest something that knuckleheads like Tony Kornheiser have advocated for a long time? Don't count an offending player's numbers! Off with his head and stats!
On September 24 1988 Canadian Ben Johnson won the Olympic 100 meter dash breaking his own world record with a time of 9.79 seconds only to be disqualified three days later because his urine samples were found to contain stanozolol, a synthetic anabolic steroid also known as Winstrol. Johnson's coach claimed that this was done to remain competitive with the competitors who were also using.
The record for 100 meters did not officially match Johnson's time until June 16, 1999 by American Maurice Green. American Tim Montomery finally had a faster time of 9.78 September 14, 2002. The current record was set August 16, 2009 by Usain Bolt of Jamaica with 9.58.
Removing Johnson from the group of eligible contenders in that 1988 Olympic race was easy and even made some sense because the sprint is a discrete activity in which the competitors do not interact with one another. They remain in their lanes and cannot block, bump or interfere with each other. Longer races such as 5,000 meters have very different dynamics and ignoring the existence of one or more athletes does not make for a clean result.
To purge the stats of an athlete in a team sport such as baseball presents many more complex issues all of which would need to be ignored by those who mindlessly advocate such action. Here are a few as applied to Melky Cabrera playing for the San Fransisco Giants in 2012.
1. If Melky got a hit should that be changed to s strike out for the pitcher?
2. If Melky got a hit and the next Giant hit a home run should that teammate have his RBI total reduced by one?
3. If Melky got a hit and the next Giant grounded into a double play should that be deducted from the teammate's total of DP grounded into?
Blah, blah, blah. You can see how absurd this could become. But what will be the cry if the season ends with the banned Melky Cabrera having the highest batting average in the National Conference? You can bet that the hypocrites and zealots will advocate that Melky somehow be stripped of this distinction. Baseball fans will be faced with a Ben Johnson type of dilemma: pretending that something that happened did not happen. It will get curiouser and curiouser.
But wait, there's more in Wonderland. What about the record of Melky's team? Without Melky the Giants would probably have won fewer games. Shouldn't the Giants wins with Melky playing be vacated the way the NCAA does with rules violations in football? And shouldn't the Giants be banned from the MBL tournament for a couple of seasons?
For the 2005 college football season playing for the University of Southern California (USC) Reggie Bush won the Heisman Trophy as the nation's top player. However:
On June 10, 2010, the NCAA announced major sanctions against USC. The NCAA found that Bush had received lavish gifts ... As a result, USC was given four years of probation and forced to vacate its last two wins of the 2004 season – including the 2005 Orange Bowl – as well as all of its wins in the 2005 season. The Trojans were also banned from bowl games in 2010 and 2011 and will lose 30 scholarships over three years.
Last but not least: Melky was MVP in the 2012 All Star game, which though an exhibition, carries the weight of designating which conference champion receives home field advantage in game seven of the finals of the MBL tournament. Shouldn't that result also be vacated and home field advantage awarded to the American Conference?
What a tangled web. I'll be rooting for Melky to have the highest batting average in his conference just to see the hypocrites and zealots squirm.