Major League Baseball on Friday ruled that suspended San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera will not be eligible to win the National League batting title.
Cabrera, who was hitting .346 at the time of his 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs back on Aug. 15, was actually the one who asked to be removed from consideration on Wednesday, when his representatives sent a letter to union officials.
"I have no wish to win an award that would be tainted," Cabrera said in a statement. "I believe it would be far better for someone more deserving to win. I asked the Players Association and the league to take the necessary steps to remove my name from consideration for the National League batting title.
"I am grateful that the Players Association and MLB were able to honor my request by suspending the rule for this season. I know that changing the rules mid-season can present problems, and I thank the Players Association and MLB for finding a way to get this done."
The Players' Association then worked out a "one-time" amendment to Rule 10.22(a) with MLB officials on Thursday.
"Melky Cabrera, through a written request to me, asked the for the Union's assistance in removing him from consideration for the 2012 National League batting title," said MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner. "We complied with Melky���s wish and brought the matter to the Commissioner's Office, which agreed to suspend the rule. We commend Melky's decision under these circumstances."
Commissioner Bud Selig stated earlier this week that was not likely to close a loophole that would have allowed Cabrera to add one hitless at-bat to reach the minimum 502 plate appearances necessary to qualify for the title at .346.
"After giving this matter the consideration it deserves, I have decided that Major League Baseball will comply with Mr. Cabrera's request," Selig said in a statement. "I respect his gesture as a sign of his regret and his desire to move forward, and I believe that, under these circumstances, the outcome is appropriate, particularly for Mr. Cabrera���s peers who are contending for the batting crown."
So now Cabrera will finish one at-bat short of qualifying for the batting title. The rule had permitted a player to be recognized as the official winner if extra hitless at-bats are added to his average and it remains higher than any qualifying player.
Basically Cabrera would have won the batting title on a technicality. With the amendment MLB does not let him benefit because of the suspension. Seems simple enough, right?
In the end everyone should be happy. The public is not outraged, Cabrera gets to clean his image a bit since he will be a free agent at season's end and MLB saves itself a whole lot of embarrassment in having a suspended player win a batting title.
But does this now open a can of worms for MLB in the future? Will they take his All-Star Game MVP Award away too? Or better yet, will they now go and take statistical titles away from other steroid cheaters?
MLB got lucky here. This was an easy fix, but why wasn't the possibility of something like this brought up before? The Mitchell Report came out what seems like forever ago. The whole Ryan Braun fiasco happened just last winter.
It seems pretty obvious. A cheater shouldn't be able to win something like this. This should have been clear years ago.
This little act should go a long way in Cabrera winning back some public sentiment. After he was caught remember Cabrera tried to get himself out of it by creating a fake website.
Maybe this helps him now, as he heads to free agency this winter.
In the end who cares? Without looking it up can you tell me who was the NL batting champion last year? It was Jose Reyes by the way.
And as far as this year's NL batting title is concerned, well it's a legitimate race now between Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and Cabrera teammate Buster Posey. McCutchen heads into action this weekend hitting .339, while Posey is batting .335
By the way this whole little charade could have been avoided had McCutchen not gone in the tank. McCutchen was leading the NL at a .359 clip at the time of the Cabrera suspension. But, then again his Pittsburgh Pirates were also 12 games over .500 at the start of play that August day and now seem destined for a 20th straight losing season.
That will be a story for another day.