Mitch Albom and Irresponsible Journalism

If you haven’t read Mitch Albom’s column in today Free Press, don’t waste your time. Today he attacked Miguel Cabrera for the drinking issues that lead to the arrest of the star first baseman. There’s no real harm in that. People are going to be angry with Cabrera. I’m not angry with him, but I understand why many folks are. When Cabrera’s drinking became the team’s problem in 2009, fans were angry. But Cabrera made us all believe in him again last year. Now he’s fallen back into the bottle. I’m saddened, I’m disappointed, but I’m not angry. Albom is angry.

More than that though, Albom is plain wrong. In the opening of his column today, Albom attacks Cabrera not for drinking, but for drinking and driving. This despite the fact that at this time there is zero proof that he was driving the vehicle on Wednesday night. Albom doesn’t stop there, though, he accuses Cabrera of being guilty of DUI for the second time, citing also the 2009 incident.

In 2009, Cabrera was out drinking at a hotel near his Birmingham home. He was arrested (at his home) after an early morning confrontation with his wife. There were no DUI charges filed against him at that time, no evidence that Cabrera drove himself home, in fact until Albom decided that Cabrera was guilty of a DUI that night/morning, no real speculation that Cabrera had driven. But regardless of all of this, Albom has declared Cabrera guilty.

On Wednesday night in Florida, police approached a vehicle on the side of the road with smoke coming from the engine compartment. Cabrera was drinking, the keys were in the ignition, but there has been no evidence that Cabrera was actually ever driving the vehicle. Yes, he was charged with DUI, but in Florida, that charge can be made when a person is “in physical control” of the vehicle. As Cabrera was the only person present when police arrived, they assumed he had been driving. But there are two things that we don’t know.

Was there someone else who had fled the scene? When police asked Cabrera who was with him, Cabrera responded “I’m gonna (effing) kill him.” That says to me that there certainly could have been someone else there before police showed up. Could that person have been the driver? It’s possible. I don’t know if anyone else had been in the vehicle, and I don’t know if Cabrera was in fact driving the Land Rover. But Albom doesn’t know that either, he simply decided that he did.

We also don’t know how long Cabrera waited with his disabled SUV on the side of that road. Is it possible that his car broke down and in his anger over the vehicle, he grabbed an unopened bottle of scotch and began to drink? It is possible. Maybe, and I’m speculating here, but maybe that’s what happened. Perhaps Cabrera didn’t start drinking until his car became disabled. We don’t know. Neither does Albom.

Are any of the above scenarios likely to have happened that way? No, probably not. But this isn’t about what is or isn’t likely. This is about what we know as fact. And what we don’t know is whether or not Cabrera is guilty of driving under the influence. We don’t know that he’s guilty of it on Wednesday and we don’t know that he was guilty in 2009. But Albom declared Cabrera guilty on both counts.

Sorry, Mitch, but after you made up a story about a pair of Michigan State alums watching from the stands of a game that neither attended, I’d think you’d learn to check your facts going forward. You want Cabrera to learn a lesson from his irresponsibility? I’d suggest that you do the same. There is no place for the kind of laziness that Albom deployed in his article today. There is enough damning circumstantial evidence to use without making up the rest of the story.

When I was little (well, younger anyway. I was never really “little”.), I enjoyed listing to “Albom in the Afternoon” on WJR. You don’t get much Tigers coverage in West Central Ohio, but that station has always come in crystal clear. I respected Albom for his take on all things, but especially my Tigers. Looking back now, I wonder if it was Albom that I actually respected, or would I have felt the same respect for anyone that gave me the Tigers talk I was searching for. Knowing what I now know about Albom and his affinity for making up “facts”, I think it was probably just that someone was talking Tigers. It didn’t really matter who it was.

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Tags: Bad Journalism Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera Mitch Albom

  • Bob

    In this age of instant internet gratification, it’s become almost commonplace for journalists and pseudo-journalists to jump to some ridiculous conclusions and engage in wild speculation before all the facts are in. There are countless examples of it and Albom proved that he isn’t above the practice. It’s disappointing but hardly surprising.

  • Chris

    Thanks for calling him on that, John. Not that Albom is likely to notice. He falls a bit too far on the Views side of News & Views to seriously be called a journalist, in my opinion anyway.

  • Rogo

    Nice job, JP. Blogs have gotten the reputation from the mainstream media over the years of jumping the gun and not reporting facts.

    The coverage of the Cabrera situation has proven that it is the exact opposite nowadays, at least in this situation. The media has been disgusting throughout this with blogs being the only voice of reason.

  • Rob Long

    It’s common knowledge that Cabrera was driven home from the Townsend by a worker at the hotel. But dont’ expect any reporting effort from Mitch. He’s got a play to write, a book to sell, and a daily talk show to run, plus fly out to NY to do the Sports Reporters. Odd that a guy on the Sports Reporters doesn’t “report”. That’s entertainment for you.

  • Tim Navarro

    Mr. Parent,

    WAKE UP!

    Engine running, keys in the ignition, alone in the car, sitting in the driver’s seat. WHO DO YOU THINK WAS DRIVING? The tooth fairy! Don’t think this a bash against Miggy, I like the guy. He’s a franchise player and a key to the Tigers winning; this is a bash against your ignorance.

    Through the grace of the baseball gods Miggy did not slam his car into a vanload of nuns, or worse a group of teen- agers going to the mall on Gratiot. He was stopped off on a side road “with the engine smoking.” Why does an engine smoke? Like when someone, who may or may not be drunk as a monkey, has been driving the HELL out of it, ya think, maybe…?

    Also, look at the laws of the State of Michigan & Florida; read the ACTUAL police report at this link: The arresting officer describes Cabrera as the driver, but hey we all know that cops just love to endanger their jobs by lying on a SWORN affidavit to a court. I KNOW – they DID know who the “f” Cabrera was, but they both were formerly from Minnesota and just want to do their part in keeping the Twinks was the Central Division champs. That’s why one of them twisted Miggy’s throwing hand and endangered his season by kneeing him in the thigh, giving him a charley horse, after Miggs told him to “f” off.

    You’re a friggin hypocrite Mr. Parent, because if Miggs HAD slammed his SUV into a vanload of teenagers – you’d be calling for his head on a pike. I want Cabrera to work out his issues, get the hell OUT of the bottle and play at the professional level he is capable of and demonstrated so often. I want YOU to stop justifying or marginalizing or whatever the hell your point is, what is a LIFE THREATENING CRIME just so you can lambaste a reporter for calling a drunk just what he is: a drunk – who could have very well slammed his luxury 3,000 pound Land Rover into YOUR family vehicle.

    Come talk to me then,

    Sgt. Tim Navarro
    A local police department AND
    Season ticket holder

    • John Parent

      I appreciate your response Tim, and I have read the police report, which I linked to on an earlier piece. I am aware that Cabrera is referred to as the driver. He was the only person with the vehicle. As my post says, it IS entirely possible and certainly plausible that Cabrera was driving under the influence. But I don’t KNOW that he was and he certainly hasn’t been found guilty as of yet. A distinction I would hope you, as a law officer, would understand and one that Albom obviously does not.

      I’m not attempting to justify or marginalize Cabrera’s action in any way and I don’t see anywhere in any of my writings on this topic that would lead you to think as much. I am attempting to shed light on the poor journalistic practices of a lazy writer. I agree 100% that DUI is a serious and potentially lethal offense and if guilty Cabrera should pay a stiff penalty for his actions just as any person who is found guilty of such a crime would.

      And if you’ll re-read my opening, you’ll see that I said that I have no problem with Albom being angry with Cabrera for drinking. But I don’t feel that as a reporter in any fashion that it’s okay to say that a person is guilty until a court says he is, especially when the reporter has zero first-hand knowledge of the situation in question.

    • Bob

      “the arresting officer describes Cabrera as the driver, but hey we all know that cops just love to endanger their jobs by lying on a SWORN affidavit to a court.” – Yeah sure, we all know cops are just complete angels who never lie and always have the publics best interests at heart. What a friggin’ joke!

  • jayrc

    Its been like 36 hours and I am already tired of reading about Cabrera.
    Stupid thing to do (AGAIN), seriously inexcusable.
    I wish him well and trust that he will finally wake up and do the right thing.
    Heck buy a Rolls Royce and hire a driver.
    I am seriously getting tired of writers and fans blasting Cabrera though. I can’t tell you how many times I heard trade him or try to make his contract non-guarenteed. REALLY?
    The Ordonez approach is best. Hold him accountable BUT get behind him and help him.
    This whole situation just seems like a wet dream for the press.

    • Chris Hannum

      Anyone remember how Dmitri Young was treated by the Tigers when he was going through his alcohol-related problems?

      • John Parent

        I think the difference Chris, is that Young wasn’t very popular within the organization or the clubhouse. Young had made himself a distraction even before his alcohol problems surfaced.

        There’s also the matter of the contracts involved and that should be noted as well. Cabrera is due a whole lot of money for several more years. Young was in the last season of his deal.

        Even so, the Tigers allowed him to come back to the team. Young’s attitude didn’t improve and he didn’t last long thereafter. But they did allow him to be away from the club and seek help for his issues.

        • Chris Hannum

          My memory may be a little fuzzy, but I remember him being popular in the clubhouse and with fans. His off-field problems (not necessarily the drinking, but the collateral damage), as I recall, were more serious and as opposed to Cabrera may have seriously impacted his ability to play at a high level. He wasn’t owed a lot of money over a lot of years, and he was valuable but not an MVP. Still – he was exiled and told to get his life straight. The only ‘attitude’ that I remember him displaying was bitterness over his treatment by the organization during that time.

          • jayrc

            Thats pretty much how I remember it too. Oddly enough DY was raking too when they ditched him.