“I am tired of hearing that they are going to kidnap my mother, and I don’t know whether it is a policeman or a bad guy, I don’t know who they are,” “All I know is if I don’t pay, those people disappear.”
– Miguel Cabrera (via The Detroit Free Press)
Professional baseball player. 11-time All-Star. World Series Champion. Triple Crown winner. League MVP’s. League batting titles.
As one of the best right-handed hitters in the history of the game, Miguel Cabrera is a certain 1st ballot Hall of Famer, sure to have his #24 retired at Comerica Park and a statue erected to honor an epic baseball career.
The Tigers will pay him $30M+ annually for at least the next 8 years. And he may need every penny.
Is he happy? No. Not at all. In fact, he is scared to death. But why? How could a man who has had all of this success playing America’s game, have a worry in the world? Well, actually, worry dominates his life.
Miggy spends his money trying to keep his mother and family safe in Venezuela. He is a man totally consumed with what’s happening in his homeland, a place he cannot go without risking his own life, a place ravaged with nightmarish political unrest.
This is what Miggy is saddled with these days. We’ve wondered all season what’s wrong with him, and now we have the answer.
Statistically, he is having one of the worst years of his career, again saddled with injuries including back pain he has battled since hurting it during the WBC last spring. But his troubles go so much further than that.
Miguel Cabrera is having one of the worst years of his entire life, and you can take baseball completely out of the equation. It starts and ends with the safety of his family in Venezuela.
As fans, we need to take all of this into account the next time we see him play. We no longer need to wonder, “What’s wrong with Miggy?” This is a horrible burden he is carrying. I can’t imagine how he manages to focus on the game, at the plate or in the field, without his mind wandering and worrying about whether his mother will make it through another day.
I regret having written anything critical about him this season given what we now know. He doesn’t deserve any criticism about anything. None. Only support.
This is a man in another place. Miggy’s attention has been pulled in another direction, away from baseball, to the horrible events in Venezuela.
If he shows frustration, who are we to blame him? If he is lacking in energy or emotion or enthusiasm, who are we to question it?
Just imagine. He’s been told to send money. He’s been asked to send medicine. He’s even been asked to send weapons. When a man is totally immersed in such a horrible political nightmare taking place in the land where his family is no longer safe, who are we to place any importance on how he performs on the baseball diamond?
In comparison, baseball means nothing. And the best thing we can do as fans is to stand behind him.
As he saunters to the plate the day the Tigers return to Detroit, fans must stand and cheer. It’s really the only way we can show we care. It’s really the only way to show that we understand why this year has been such a struggle. I expect it to happen. I for one, may attend my first game this year for this reason alone.
Baseball in Detroit this season has been tough to handle. But in the grand scheme of things, it means very little.