Note: This piece is not intended to be the official Bless You Boys reaction to Miguel Cabrera's problems. It's not meant to be informative about the situation or analytical about what it means. This is simply me putting my honest thoughts about the situation out there because I think that's what blogging is when it's at its best.
I have to admit the first thing I wondered when I heard Miguel Cabrera was arrested for drunk driving, among other things, my primary concern was how many games he was going to miss. The first report I read mentioned him being in a substance abuse program for three months the last time an alcohol problem reared its head, and my heart skipped a beat. The Tigers, after all, would not likely overcome losing Miguel Cabrera for the first two months of their season.
I know this probably sounds terrible. As it has been pointed out to me multiple times today, these players are people. He has concerns bigger than baseball. He is a husband and a father. These are all true things, and I like to think of myself as a caring human being who hopes that any person facing something as challenging as alcoholism can find the strength to keep it at bay. Millions of people are fighting that fight right now, and I wish them all the best. I've spent all day worrying about how Miguel Cabrera faces it, though, because he is one of the best baseball players in the world on a team that I love.
Of course I prefer it when stories about Miggy can focus on how happy he is now and the playfulness and joie de vivre he displays with his teammates and fans. Who doesn't prefer that to what we had to read this morning? But I only want to hear those stories when it's part of a piece on how his MVP-like numbers could help the Tigers to the playoffs. I don't want to hear them as part of a story about why his teammates like having him on the team even though he sucks.
I know this sounds cold, but this is the flip side of the distant relationship we are asked to keep with our team's players. By the players themselves. I will never, never ask any player for an autograph. I will never pester them for a photo and I will never interrupt them while they're eating. I won't boo them after they get in trouble with their wife or with the law during the offseason. I grant them their privacy out of respect for what I presume to be their wishes.
It's a knife that cuts both ways, though. If I'm not supposed to care about what you do if it doesn't impact what you do on the field, you can't really expect me to fret personal problems that don't reach the field. I can empathize, sure. I don't like to hear anybody has to deal with alcoholism, or a sickness in the family or any of the other things that keep us awake at night.
I try to say what I can to make people feel better in that situation - if I can think of anything - same as anybody else. But in those situations, people turn to their friends and family to get through the hard times. I cannot claim to be friend or family to anybody on the Tigers, so I focus on the reason for our relationship. They're good at baseball.
They are people who are good at baseball. Screw up and I will react just like I do when anybody else screws up. Shake my head and tell myself how you should've handled this or that. Do great things off the field and I will applaud your efforts just as I would for anybody else doing the same. The reason I know who you are, though, is because you are good at baseball. That's all I expect from you. Because I enjoy what you do on the field, for the team I love so much, I grant you the courtesy of these focused expectations.
So Miggy, keep up the never-ending fight it takes to beat this problem. Do it for your family and friends who care about you and are torn up to see you face these personal problems. For us fans, just get back on the field and help the Detroit Tigers win a World Series.