I think everyone who follows the Giants can agree: any way you slice it, this is as big of a back-breaker to the franchise for 2012 as Bane was to Batman in “The Dark Knight Rises.”
But I digress.
The news just broke: San Francisco OF Melky Cabrera, MVP of this year’s All-Star Game, was busted for using testosterone, and has been suspended by the league for 50 games, per MLB’s Substance Abuse Policy. He has since admitted to the use, and apologized. With 45 games left in the regular season, the suspension will either carry into this year’s postseason, or, should the Giants not make it, into the first five games of 2013.
For Giants fans, this is a crushing blow – the team was fighting for the division with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and were going to need Cabrera’s .346 batting average (second-best in the NL) down the stretch to hold them off. They were hanging onto the division by a thread, as it was – what with a virtual tie with LA headed into tonight’s game against the NL-leading Nationals. Now the team will be ever more reliant upon C Buster Posey, 3B Pablo Sandoval (who was just activated from the DL), and new OF Hunter Pence for the offensive punch they will most likely lose with Cabrera’s sudden absence. Unfortunately, in any case, the Dodgers are now considered the odds-on favorite to win the NL West.
Moreover, this is just upsetting – Cabrera looked like the missing offensive weapon the Giants needed to really make another run at, and in, the postseason. He was welcomed, with open arms, from Kansas City – despite losing one of their coveted pitchers (Jonathan Sanchez) for his much-needed services.
And, no one could have been beaming more than Giants fans when he not only stepped up as an offensive force, but became the All-Star Game MVP. This is a fan base that, despite their recent success, is still recovering from the outside scrutiny BALCO had brought upon the team. Now, in light of this story, echoes of those scandals may return. Subsequently, how can you not lament for the fans – for them, with a team poised to make a postseason run, it’s nothing short of heartbreaking. Not only do they lose their best player, but they do so in the most shameful fashion. Because he was a cheater. That kind of scrutiny stings … and it lingers.
In that case, for him to make such a stupid mistake is not only clueless, but pretty close to unforgivable.
By that same note, I have to agree with MercuryNews.com blogger Tim Kawakami – this team seems cursed by PEDs. First, RP Guillermo Mota (who received a 100-game suspension), and now this. And that’s not even considering the aforementioned BALCO scandal. Ultimately, that’s beside the point.
What matters now is how the Giants respond moving forward. How will the pitching staff react? What will Pence do to alleviate the gaping hole that is the Giants offense sans the Melk Man? Will everyone’s worst-case scenario become a reality by season’s end? Only the Giants can answer those questions. It starts tonight at AT&T Park, against the best team in the National League.