Mitch Albom and Irresponsible Journalism

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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

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