“Do you know who I am?” a twenty eight year old Miguel Cabrera asked St. Lucie County, Florida police officers when they pulled him over February 16, 2011 for suspicion of drunk driving. As he took a swig from a bottle of Scotch, Cabrera told police officers “You don’t know nothing about my problems”.
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This was Miguel. Seemingly on a death spiral that we have seen engulf so many talented, personable and successful athletes.
Seventeen months earlier in October 2009, Miguel Cabrera allegedly got drunk with some Chicago White Sox players the night before a one game playoff with the Minnesota Twins. He stumbled home at 6AM where he and his wife had an altercation and both were arrested. Dave Dombrowski picked him up from a suburban Detroit police station as Miguel was detained for having a .26 blood alcohol level, nearly three times the legal level. Miguel showed up to play that night with scratches from his “cat” on his face, the Detroit Tigers lost and the season was over.
The Tigers took Miguel’s issues seriously and sent him to intense rehab and counseling. In the spring of 2010, Cabrera swore that he was done drinking. He posted MVP like stats that year seemingly have beaten his demons – hitting .328, thirty eight home runs and 126 RBI.
Then in the winter of 2011 he shocked everyone with his arrest. Fellow teammate Alex Avila said after his 2011 arrest, “I’ve known Miguel for a long time, I’m as shocked as everybody.” Miguel was good at hiding his demons.
Miguel who made his debut at 20 years old for the Florida Marlins in 2003 and contributed to their World Series championship that year.
Miguel a nine time All Star
Miguel creator of the Miguel Cabrera Foundation
Miguel a back to back American League Most Valuable Player
Miguel a Triple Crown Winner
Miguel battling demons that most of us will never understand
Miguel Cabrera is a great success, fall down and comeback story. We don’t know Miguel’s back story from Venezuela because he is so private. He has always been extraordinary at playing baseball. And arguably the best active player hitting .320, 400 home runs and 1,399 RBI over thirteen seasons.
Last week Miguel joined the “400” home run club. A feat that he probably thought was not achievable that February evening in 2011 when he asked the officers to shoot and kill him.
Alcoholism and demons don’t go away. They lay hidden and can come screaming out at any time. The late Robin Williams once said “As an alcoholic, you will violate your standards quicker than you can lower them.”
Miguel was heralded last week for hitting 400 career home runs.
To me the greater story is Miguel Cabrera suppressing the demons and the alcohol to become the greatest baseball player of our time and one of the best ever.
The even greater story is the leader Miguel Cabrera has become in the clubhouse, outside the clubhouse with his foundation and with his family.
To see Miguel’s smile on his face as he jokes with players, fans, and kids is the best reward a fan can ask for.
The comeback of a man on the brink of the edge in 2011. Forget 400 home runs, many more baseball players will achieve that.
The man Miguel has become. That’s our reward as Tiger and baseball fans.