By: Holly Horning
He usually doesn’t speak publicly. He has a reputation of avoiding the press and being reluctant to give interviews mostly based upon several messy incidents with alcohol and the law. And despite the fans’ desire to hear him speak, it’s probably a good thing he doesn’t.
Miggy has broken his silence over the past couple of weeks by giving 3 interviews. None of which have endeared him to fans. Or to ownership. Or, to the PR Department. The latter rumored to have every member currently curled into fetal positions as they try to dig out of this mess. The mess that happens when your remaining franchise player repeatedly expresses his unhappiness with where he is and the people who directly and indirectly pay for his massive contract.
But didn’t we know that something bad would happen again? Or did we think that Miggy had permanently left his poor public moments behind?
There were the troubles of 2009 that involved drinking, disorderly conduct, an arrest and spousal abuse. Followed by 2011’s DUI, public threats of violence and disobeying law enforcement. In both instances, he became angry when denied and was heard saying “Don’t you know who I am?”
A period of rest, or so we believe, until the mess of the second family that started to become public in late 2016, blew up in 2017 and continues into 2018.
And now, instead of laying low, Miggy has chosen this inopportune time to show his unhappiness and lack of gratitude. Never mind that some of his unhappiness may be justified. That is not the point. What needs to be remembered is that perception is reality.
It is a period of challenge and change for Miggy. A time when he can no longer control what happens to him and when pure, stupendous talent can no longer easily deflect the questions and criticisms.
And it’s easy to see why he may be unhappy:
– Lingering injuries
– A team in transition
– Declining skills
– The ageing process
– A team performing well without him
– A new manager unafraid of veteran players
– A World Series quest unfulfilled
– Recognition that another World Series is improbable
– Understanding that, unlike JV, Detroit remains his only option
But now, Miggy is experiencing an unvarnished evaluation of him, as a person. No longer able to hide completely behind the stats, his character must now take over some of the workload. And he is the last to understand this.
If we’re honest about it, Cabrera has been a selfish person for much of his career. Making his own needs a priority over those of others – his wife, two sets of children, playing with significant injuries that did not help the team and focusing on individual stat building instead of team success. And then there was the infamous partying with the opposing team that allowed the Tigers to lose a 3-game lead with 4 games left in the season, letting the AL Central title slip away.
This year, it was acknowledged he didn’t bother to learn many of his teammates names. Because, obviously, other people aren’t important to him or important enough for him to make the effort.
And often, people who are so focused on themselves are the ones who achieve greatness in their careers.
But now, in the wake of getting older and needing more time to recover from injuries, Miggy is feeling the pressure and finding it hard to cope and adjust. And when it is hard or even impossible to turn inward and take a critical eye to oneself, the frustration turns outward at others.
The resentment ends up being directed to those critical of him. The media and the fans primarily. It is how those unaware find a venue to make themselves feel better.
First is his statement that includes a broad generalization of fans being critical. Including fans who have supported him through the years with both their cheers and money. Money that made his gargantuan contract possible. Expenditures that often came with sacrifice.
Fans who also forgave him for his past transgressions from 2009 and 2011. If Miggy had played in a number of other cities during these times, fan bases would not have been as accepting and made his stay with those teams a living hell if not impossible.
And one would think that given today’s ongoing battle with marital infidelity, a mistress, 2 children and child support, that Miggy wouldn’t be attacking the people he really needs to support him. Other than the lawyers, that is.
But he also doesn’t see why certain supporters of the Tigers may be angry. The fact that he makes $160,000, an unfathomable sum for many, per day even when he’s not playing.
And when all is said and done, when he hangs up his cleats, Miggy will be MLB’s most expensive player ever in the history of the game. A professional income totaling over $400,000, 000. It’s not unreasonable for fans to rightly think that he’s the one who should be grateful. Mr. I, the Tigers and one of the best fan bases made his enviable lifestyle possible.
A sense of entitlement on his part? It sure appears to check all the boxes.
And that’s also part of the problem. And Miggy needs to have a reality check sooner rather than later because the worst is yet to come.
A contract that goes on for another 6-8 years at $30 – $32 million a pop as he progresses into his late 30’s and early 40’s. Higher and long-term salaries don’t mix well with increasing age and lowered production. The scrutiny and criticism will only grow. And there will be fans who will grow increasingly negative because his performance will not match up well with what he is being paid.
And many of these same fans will see his contract as the main stumbling block to developing a competitive team.
It is highly probable that Cabrera doesn’t yet realize any of this. It is the norm in any sport and is the price players pay for having such expensive contracts. No one is immune from the criticism that comes with the territory. And going forward, fans will not be as forgiving as they have in the past.
Miggy should know by now that when you malign fans with either words (VMart) or obscene gestures (Tyler Collins, Joe Nathan), it never goes well and you will never win. Someone needs to teach him the phrase “silence is golden.”
He needs to understand that much of the criticism he receives is based upon his own behavior – whether personal or professional. That fans are only willing to forgive for so much and for so long. That when you criticize those who have supported you, you will only lose their support and increase the voice of criticism.
Will Miggy realize this on his own? Probably not. We’ve seen him spend over a decade making bad personal decisions without thinking how they would impact his life. Some even repeated proving that he is unable to learn from his mistakes.
It’s logical to assume that a man who is unable to successfully manage his personal life is also unable to take an honest look inward to see how he is harming his future years with the team and with fans. And conceivably, the rift he has created could grow worse.
The Tigers, of course, have seen the growing problem and their PR department is now on overdrive trying to correct it. Miggy is unlikely to hire his own media specialist so the duty will fall upon the Tigers to keep him silent and away from anyone with a recording device.
That or invest in a case of duct tape. Because someone has to help Miggy understand that “silence is golden.”
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