Cheating is wrong. That’s what every child is taught from the moment he or she is old enough to take a test at school or play a board game. It’s the fundamental principle that underlies every sport and competitive event, a seemingly basic standard that all are expected to abide by regardless of circumstance or level of competition. As naïve as it sounds, I’d like to believe that the concept of fairness holds significant value even in the cutthroat, money-driven world of pro sports, that the athletes and teams I root for have the integrity and sense of self-worth to maintain an even playing field and that the outcome of each game, each season is determined by talent, hard work and a pinch – or an ocean – of luck. It’s a glorious, ideal world, so simple and alluring compared to our mundane, messy everyday lives.
Then, every so often, reality will casually stroll by and slap you in the face, just as it did this past Wednesday, when the San Francisco Giants’ outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games by MLB after testing positive for testosterone, an illegal performance-enhancing drug. Previously playing for the Yankees, Braves and Royals, Cabrera was traded to the Giants during the offseason in exchange for pitcher Jonathan Sanchez (we can all agree the Giants still, hands-down, won that swap, right?). He emerged in 2012 as a stunning offensive force, finding himself in the National League All Star starting lineup and putting up a number of impressive stats, including a .346 batting average that put him in line for the NL batting title (which, for those of you who might not know, goes to the player with the highest average at the end of each season). With this suspension, Cabrera has not only tarnished his individual reputation, but also put in jeopardy the season of his team, which has been spent the past couple of months locked in a tight battle with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the National League West division lead. That potential batting title, however, is apparently still his to lose.
At least we probably won’t have to see these dorky "Melkmen" costumes anymore.