Friday, February 18, 2011

Miguel Cabrera Merits Concern, Not Judgement

There is a certain slice of our society that received the news concerning the arrest of Miguel Cabrera with either glee or condemnation. Throw the bum in jail was probably an oft repeated thought. And yes, on the one hand, over-pampered athletes that make millions of dollars to do something we would all love to be able to do get little sympathy when they get into trouble. And yes, there is always the knowledge that what Cabrera chose to do could have killed somebody. The Fan gets all of those thoughts and ideas. And perhaps the Fan is an old softy, but this news was not good news. It was sad news.

It was sad because most of us believed that Cabrera was over the problems that made him an embarrassment at the end of the 2009 season when he let his teammates down during the pennant stretch. If Cabrera was not forthright about his shame at his problems, if he hadn't apologized so profusely or worked so hard to beat the alcohol, we wouldn't be sad. But he did all those things. He was a different man last year and his play reflected his sobriety and his new status as a dry ball player. That Cabrera was worth rooting for and someone to be encouraged about. His arrest is shocking to the system and shocking how far a person can fall.

But it really isn't shocking if you have any experience with alcohol or drug addiction. This writer has a family riddled with the stuff and it's a painful family shame and the stress is extreme. When you live through that kind of thing, you understand that addiction is never beaten. It is only handled and overcome on a daily basis.  Many addicted who spend some time away from the root of their problem think that one drink won't hurt or that an occasional taste won't hurt. But it's all that is needed to restart the snowball from hell to start running down a hill. Consider cigarette smoking. Many have quit that awful and sad addiction for months or even years at a time only to fall prey to the addiction from a family stress situation or a few too many to drink at a party.

No, Miguel Cabrera doesn't get a free pass this time. He needs to confront and face this episode and work with doctors to get him back on the dry side. But the last thing Cabrera needs is judgement and punishment. If anything, facing his problem should be the alternative to punishment and only failing to work on solutions for his life should lead to suspensions and that sort of thing.

You have to have experience with addiction to know how difficult this is. If you and your family have been immune to this kind of situation, it's very difficult to explain to have you understand. Yes, all addiction stems from choices. Yes, to a strong degree, we have control over those choices. But life can be hard and sometimes resolve can crumble in a quick spate of depression. It happens.

Ultimately, this Fan will root for Cabrera. He's not just a rich ball player. He's a human being with a family and children. His blood runs red and he's part of the human family. How can you not root for him to learn from this experience and work diligently to keep it from being repeated? People around him are affected too and thus they need our support and prayers. Point fingers if you must. Be one of the throng that shout epithets to him at the stadium. Not this Fan. This Fan will be concerned with thoughts only on Cabrera being well and a healthy member of society and our human family.

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