Q: Can Melky Cabrera still win the NL Batting Title? Referred to the People's Court of Pretzel Logic



“Hear Ye! Hear Ye!  The People’s Court of Pretzel Logic is now in session!  The Honorable Danny Steel presiding.  Come Ye now, Citizens of Red Sox Nation, and all other fans of the Game of Baseball!  Bring Ye now you questions to present to the Court!”


Q:  Although he is banned for the remainder of the 2012 MLB Regular season, at the conclusion of said season, if Melky Cabrera attains the highest batting average, does he win the NL Batting Average title?

A fellow baseball columnist over at Bleacher Report, Mr. Craig Calcaterra, says:

Yes; Cabrera gets to keep his batting average title:

“The thing is, though, that no punishment system worth a damn works on a post-hoc, retributive basis. Melky Cabrera got those hits under the system we have. They actually happened. Taking away a batting title if he wins it does nothing to change that and, more importantly and obviously, does nothing to deter Melky Cabrera.

If you want to change the rule going forward and make a guy ineligible to be the batting champ or home run champ or whatever after a suspension, fine, do it. That’s how laws and rules work: prospectively.  But now, suddenly saying “Melky can’t be the batting champ!” would be nothing more than a revenge-fueled emotional salve.  And that’s not what any of this should be about.”


Let’s stipulate to these objective facts:

  • Melky Cabrera tested positive for using testosterone, a substance that is on the banned list of substances that are believe to enhance athletic performance.
  • The testing system is part of the contract signed by the MLBPA, prior to the 2012 season.
  • Mr. Cabrera was aware of the system, the rules, the list of banned substances, the testing procedures and the penalties.
  • Mr. Cabrera immediately admitted using a banned substance and accepted his penalty.

Did anyone recall him saying:  “Oh, but I still get my batting title, right?”

[Shouted from the gallery:  What about Peter Rose and the Hall of Fame?!!!"]


The case of Peter Rose and the HOF has been placed in the Court docket and will be heard at a later date.

[Shouted from the gallery:  What about Bonds?!!!"]

BAILIFF: The Bondsman is across the street!

JUDGE STEEL:  Order!  Order!  You may proceed, Barrister Nash…

NASH:  Thank you, your Honor…

In this matter, Mr. Craig Calcaterra avers that:

“Melky Cabrera got those hits under the system we have. They actually happened.

Correct on both points; #1: A system is in place and it is very specific:

“The new agreement calls for first-time offenders to be suspended for 50 games, second-time offenders to be suspended for 100 games and third-time offenders to be banished from baseball for life.”


“…players banned for life will have the opportunity to seek reinstatement after a minimum suspension of two years, with potential arbitral review of the decision on reinstatement.

Players who test positive for amphetamines for the first time will be subject to mandatory evaluation and follow-up testing. Subsequent positive tests for amphetamines will carry suspensions of 25 games, 80 games and up to a lifetime ban.”


#2: The hits actually happened.

But, what also “actually happened” was that Mr. Cabrera, admittedly, used adrenaline with the express purpose of increasing his number of hits.  We can only speculate as to whether he was motivated by the prospect of winning a batting title, bulking up his stats for his upcoming contract year, or improving his chances for the HOF; we do know that his stats were achieved by illegal advantage.

He cheated and he admitted it.

Many barristers have used the analogy of the “fruit of the poison tree.”  In this case, Mr. Cabrera’s statistics were the results, the fruits, that were nurtured by the “poison,”  adrenaline, or performance enhancement “fertilizer,” that created a bumper crop of hits; also likely larger “limbs” and shrinking... if you will…“stones.”

So, although these stats “actually happened,” it begs the question: do they “count”?  Should they be recorded in the baseball records?

The answers are No and Yes; they are not authentic and should not count, but they could be recorded [in italics], but with a footnote saying that they do not count and why; to wit:  all stats were illegally achieved by means of use of banned performance enhancement substance.

Thus, when we calculate Mr. Cabrera’s career stats, the 2012 stats are not included.

Mr. Calcaterra of the Bleacher Report…




JUDGE STEEL:  Proceed, Mr. Nash…

NASH:  Yes, thank you, your Honor…

Mr. Calcaterra of the Bleacher Report could be correct in assuming that losing a batting title “does nothing to deter Melky Cabrera;” only Mr. Cabrera can validate that speculation.

But, we assume that losing his salary for 50 games and negatively impacting his future market value will deter Mr. Cabrera from using a banned substance in the future.  The potential shame and guilt are for Mr. Cabrera to weigh for himself.

Mr. Calcaterra’s assertion that denying Mr. Cabrera the batting title would be “a revenge-fueled emotional salve” is off point.  Leaving the moral issues aside, in purely logical manner, we conclude that any stats achieved by “cheating,” cannot count; thus, logically, any “fruits,” titles and awards and such, that derive from these tainted stats are revoked.

We agree with Mr. Calcaterra’s suggestion that they should “change the rule going forward and make a guy ineligible to be the batting champ or home run champ or whatever after a suspension…” and we would join him in urging  MLB and the MLBPA to state the obvious by amending; the contract language; otherwise, by default, they will create a vacuum that the Commissioner will fill, playing the dictatorial trump card:  “In the best interests of the game.”

JUDGE STEEL: [Bangs his gavel, thrice] Thanks you, Mr. Nash.  This Case is now closed; here is my ruling:  Any player who breaks the rules set forth in the MLBPA contract, loses the appertaining statistics achieved illegally, as well as any related awards and titles.

NASH:  Your Honor, there is an addendum ruling remaining…


NASH:   Mr. Calcaterra also cites the Ryan Braun affair. As you recall, Mr. Braun won his appeal on a “technicality;”  he was found not guilty under the existing rules and procedures in the MLBPA contract.

Do many “suspect” that he is having a great year, because he is using a banned substance? Yes.  But, the suspicions of the majority do not trump the law; the current rules and procedures.  If one is not personally satisfied with the current procedures and “suspects” that the player “got away with it, because of a technicality,” the proper remedy would be to refine and revise the procedures.

JUDGE STEEL:  So ruled!  Could you come to the sidebar, Mr. Nash…

[at the sidebar]

JUDGE STEEL:  It is well known that I am a Dodger fan, so I have a hypothetical question for you:

How would you feel if you were playing for the Dodgers [or a rabid fan] and the Giants won the NL West title by a game, or two.   Couldn’t one make the case that, any game that was clearly won by the Giants, due directly and solely to the offensive performance of Mr. Cabrera, should be deducted from the W column in the Giants’ season record?

[NASH staring with mouth open.]


NOTE:  If you have a case that you would like to bring before Judge Danny Steel in the People’s Court of Pretzel Logic, simply file a question in the Comments section below…









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