People seem to be missing the point on Melky Cabrera and his removal from the race for National League batting champion. Several times on Mets broadcasts Gary Cohen has said MLB is setting a “dangerous precedent.” That couldn’t be further from the truth.
To recap, Cabrera was suspended 50 games — the rest of the regular season and then some — after testing positive for PEDs. At the time he had 501 plate appearances. That’s one short of the necessary total needed to qualify for the batting title.
There is a rule that says if a player falls short of the minimum, hitless at bats are given to him until he reaches 502. If he is still the leader when those at bats are calculated, then he is the champ (we’ll discuss in a moment how ridiculous this rule is).
After several weeks of hang-wringing over the possibility of having a tainted batting champ, Cabrera requested that the rule not be applied in his case, and both the league and the players union agreed.
Cohen and others say this is the equivalent of such organizations as the NCAA, the Olympics and the bicycling folks which retroactively take away victories if violations or positive drug tests are later revealed. This is not true.
Had Cabrera reached the 502 plate appearances, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. He would be the batting champ, albeit a tainted one. End of story.
MLB is not taking anything away from Melky Cabrera. All the league is doing is not enforcing an asinine rule. If the minimum is 502, then the minimum is 502. If you can add things to get players to the minimum, why have a minimum at all? I suspect the league will do away with this flawed rule for good after the season.
If Cabrera had the 502 and the MLB took the batting title away, then that would be precedent-setting. Those other sports take things away after they are accomplished, which makes no sense at all. Those sporting events happened; now they are telling is they did not.
There are many people who want to void Barry Bonds’s home run record because he allegedly hit much of them while using PEDs. That would be a travesty. Those home runs happened, and if MLB was not bright enough to catch Bonds at the time, there is nothing it can do afterwards.
Taking something away and not adding something to someone’s totals are two very different things.