By: Kurt Snyder
In light of the news this week that Josh Hamilton has allegedly had another relapse with substance abuse, it brought to mind, one Miguel Cabrera.
The Tigers are about to embark on the 5th season since we were greeted at spring training in 2011 with the news that Miggy had been arrested for another alcohol related incident.
Well, before Holly and I embarked on this blogging journey together, I quietly wrote my own personal Tiger “diary.”
The day after the incident in 2011, this is an excerpt of what I wrote in response to the news:
Sports columnists and commentators all over town are busy putting their stamp on this story with the usual dramatics. They are quick to use words that unfairly label athletes like Cabrera based on 2 documented episodes of drunkenness over the last 2 years.
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t the kind of activity you want to see anyone on our team involved in, much less Miggy, the straw that stirs the drink in this town, so to speak. But we are talking about a guy in his 20’s ….who likes to go out, have a few drinks and on occasion, unfortunately, has gotten carried away and got himself in trouble. I can’t condone it, but this is nothing new.
Today, in 2015, my opinion hasn’t necessarily changed on Cabrera. The media can be quick to label athletes and celebrities when they get into trouble. In most cases, not all, you just don’t know enough, to generalize or draw conclusions about people.
As a baseball fan, I root for guys like Josh Hamilton to conquer his battles, because he has been such an exciting and talented player to watch.
But my purpose for broaching this subject is not to bring up old dirt on Cabrera. The intention is to recognize how much Miggy seems to have matured. Now sure, he acts like a kid out there on the field, as he continues to goof around with base runners when they reach first base and clowns around with his teammates in the dugout. These are the traits now that have endured us to him, not the unfortunate mistakes of the past.
Today, he seems at peace with himself and when he has been healthy, he has been able to focus on his game and perform at a Hall of Fame worthy level.
So as we approach another Tiger season with more anticipation, all eyes point to Miggy again as he recovers from more injuries that have hindered the Tigers.
I will continue to contend that in 2013, a healthy Cabrera would have ended up riding victoriously down Woodward as part of a World Championship parade in Detroit.
But injuries aside, as we move forward, the media and the fans of the Detroit Tigers have forgotten the dark days of Miguel Cabrera. He has turned the corner from an ugly past and I think it has been more about maturity than anything else.
In contrast to Hamilton, Cabrera, who endured a lot of pressure having to carry this team early in his Tiger career, seems to have weathered the storms. Miggy is a man now, with one goal; to work hard and help this team win at all costs. In fact, arguably, he may have put his career more at risk on the field than off, considering what he has put himself through physically the last 2 seasons.
There have been times where it seemed he should have never been on the field with the injuries he was enduring. He regularly fought obvious pain, but he was out there giving everything he had; he was a shell of what we were used to seeing.
To me, in the spring of 2011, Cabrera was a rich, 27-year-old kid, with a lot of growing up to do, nothing more. He showed all the traits of a selfish boy, not realizing what he was risking.
Today, his demeanor and renewed commitment are proof of a kid who has grown up to be a selfless man; a baseball player who wants nothing more than to stand in the middle of the Tiger locker room in October as a World Champion.
The Tigers have shown great trust in him financially. And from the looks of things as he walked into camp a few days ago, he appears physically committed to giving it yet another run. I will not be one to bet against him.