“To be plain, I personally have no wish to win an award that would widely be seen as tainted, and I believe that it would be far better for the remaining contenders to compete for that distinction,” Cabrera wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
More than a month after receiving a 50-game suspension for a positive PED test, Cabrera still has the highest batting average in the National League. His .346 average is eight points better than Andrew McCutchen‘s .338 and 11 points higher than Buster Posey‘s .335.
Cabrera’s request opened the door for baseball to change the rules governing the qualifications for winning a batting title, but it also raises other questions that might cause more awkwardness than the possibility of a cheater receiving an individual award.
If Cabrera is disqualified from the batting race, should his team also be penalized? The NCAA will require college teams found guilty of serious offenses to forfeit victories and vacate championships – should the San Francisco Giants be forced to forfeit some or all of the games Cabrera played?
Wouldn’t that be a bigger injustice than allowing the results of the games played to stand? After all, we don’t know exactly how long Cabrera was using a banned substance, just that he was suspended on August 15th as the result of a positive test for testosterone. It wasn’t even immediately clear how long he was able to continue playing after testing positive. The Major League Baseball Players’ Association filed a grievance that delayed the application of the penalty.
Commissioner Bud Selig seemed to understand the Pandora’s Box that would be opened if baseball started to go back and rewrite the past.
“You can’t change records because once you get into that it would never stop,” Selig said when asked during a YES Network interview about retroactively altering records set during baseball’s Steroid Era. “It would create more problems than it would solve.”
The rule change agreed to on Friday is a narrow exception that might not even prevent Cabrera from winning the 2012 National League batting title. (If one of the Giants’ final 11 games is cancelled for any reason, the altered batting title qualification provision would no longer apply.) But it won’t change the fact that Cabrera has the highest batting average in the National League this year unless McCutchen or Posey can catch him.
You can’t rewrite the past. I think Baseball’s integrity would be better served through strict testing and quick punishment to keep would-be cheaters from thinking they could get away with it, than by altering records and winners of awards after the fact.