The Filibuster

Do you think Miguel Cabrera needs a handler for the season like Josh Hamilton does?

Novi, MI


tiger_handler.jpgA handler?  That’s an interesting question.  After all, he is a Tiger and no one would think of letting a tiger just roam free.  Except in India where tigers live.  But that’s different.  But seriously, after Hamilton’s experience falling back off the wagon, I think many teams realized that a contract and shame alone aren’t always enough to keep players in line.

For me, the question comes down to an economic consideration.  The Tigers are already into Cabrera for quite a few million and if they want to get the full return on their investment, what do they need to do?  When you pose the question this way, it seems like a no-brainer.  Of course you get him a handler.

I guess for me this is a pretty simple answer.  Alcoholism is a disease and sometimes despite the best intentions of those afflicted, they just don’t have enough to fight it off.  The real question is, who pays? 

Here, my feeling is that the the team and Cabrera should split the costs.  The Tigers knew when they signed Cabrera that he had a history of problem drinking.  Similarly, Cabrera knows that he needs to avoid the alcohol in order to perform at the expected level.  If the Tigers want the full return on their investment and to avoid a repeat of Cabrera’s 2009 meltdown that cost the team a trip to the playoffs, they should pony up.  If Cabrera wants to actually win a championship with the Tigers and avoid spending some serious time in prison as well as possibly getting himself deported, he needs to pony up.

In a way, this debate is actually a good sign.  Baseball was more than happy to let players do whatever they wanted up until a few years ago.  You weren’t supposed to cheat but pretty much everything else was fair game.  But imagine if a program like this had been put in place 25 years ago and covered things like problem gambling.  Maybe then we wouldn’t have this inane controversy about whether or not Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame.  If putting a handler on Cabrera keeps him from experiencing a similar fate, I’m all for it.  I’ll even do my part by ponying up and buying the leash.


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  1. Catherine

    I think that a “handler” of sorts might really be helpful for Cabrera. As you mentioned, his drinking problems cost the team in ’09. But even from a non-baseball standpoint, it would probably be good to give his family peace of mind.

  2. blithescribe

    I agree. A recovering alcoholic in a traditional job can take advantage of counseling, AA and their family/friend support system every day to support, encourage and, when necessary, tough love them through their recovery process. For a ballplayer continually on the road and in situations where it’s hard to not be in the same room with temptation, a trusted handler can fulfill some of the same functions.
    And, for the record, I’m in the camp that thinks the HOF should revisit the Pete Rose case on the grounds that we now understand gambling addiction is an illness.

  3. Michael David

    Cabrera needs someone watching over him more so for his personal well being than for his baseball career. Ilitch is a good owner, and will take care of his players no matter what. This is something I hope he can get through for his and his families sake.
    I don’t think it’s fair to blame the Tigers ’09 meltdown just on Cabrera, though. I think it’s this kind of thinking that pushes him to the alcohol (yeah, I know he’s paid a boat load of money, too). Detroit picked up Washburn and Huff late in the season, and those two were horrible for the Tigers. If either of them would have played DECENT they would have won the division.
    ‘Minoring In Baseball’

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