The other day, Buster Olney basically said it’s alright to believe that Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera is currently cheating – despite there being ZERO evidence – based solely on his past mistakes and associations. Reading between the lines of Olney’s column (it’s Insiders only, so I won’t link it here), that’s precisely what he is suggesting readers and fans do. And he calls that fair.
Cabrera did the crime – and the time (he was suspended for 50 games, without pay, as per the rules then in play) – two years ago. He’s now playing well again (.329 average, 6 home runs and 14 runs batted in), but that doesn’t mean we should just assume his performance is artificially and illegally enhanced without any positive tests or other evidence to support the accusation.
Teammate Jose Bautista took particular issue with Olney’s comments on Cabrera, and eloquently responded in an article by Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star.
“What bothers me specifically about Melky’s situation is that he’s a free agent after the year and those type of comments can really affect his status as a free agent and his ability to negotiate,” Bautista said before playing the Phillies Wednesday. “That story can get picked up by somebody else and it can get expanded and blown up into whatever they want, which could be detrimental to his negotiation.”
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“It’s not my place to say what is right or wrong,” Bautista said. “I can tell you what my opinion is, not the general opinion of the (other MLB) players. I think if you did something wrong and you were caught and you pay your dues, that should be it. (Failing once) doesn’t mean that you’re always going to be doing something that’s illegal or not allowed.”
Bautista is a good spokesperson on this issue. When he hit 54 home runs a couple of seasons ago, writers penned that it was acceptable to simply assume he was using PEDs, even with no evidence. It was an unexpected level of production, so it had to be supported by some artificial and illegal enhancement, right?
The overall message in Olney’s column is that it is perfectly reasonable to just assume that once a cheater, always a cheater. But is that really the message we want to be sending?
People in all walks of life make mistakes. Do any of us want to be judged in our current lives based on some past transgressions or based on people we may have associated with in the past? That answer is a resounding no, so I agree with Bautista – we shouldn’t be doing that to ballplayers either.