If Everth Cabrera “duped” you, you have only yourself to blame

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Last year, when Everth Cabrera was caught up in the Biogenesis stuff, Union-Tribune writer Matt Calkins wrote a weird column. He was prepared to totally rip Cabrera for using PEDs — he was really gonna let him have it! — but then Cabrera cried at his press conference and all was forgiven. Today, a couple of days after we learned that Cabrera was arrested for a DUI, Calkins says he was duped:

Man, do I feel cheated . . . On its own, this was an irresponsible action. But when juxtaposed against that tearful mea culpa last year, this is, quite simply, a disgrace.

I’m not going to waste a word defending Cabrera here because there is no defense to driving while impaired. I will, however, note, that the only person Calkins has to blame for him feeling duped is himself.

He notes that, last year, when he was going to bury Cabrera, his “tolerance for cheaters was spent. In an era where PEDs carried such a glaring stigma, I felt that conscious users should be cast off into oblivion with no sympathy or forgiveness.” Then Cabrera’s waterworks started and he felt better.

If one had anything approaching a reasonable view of PEDs and the Biogenesis case, one would’ve probably noted that Cabrera’s tearful apology was overwrought and disproportionate. Or that any public statement on a matter like that has, by now, become pretty meaningless in the grand scheme. We know players lie and serve themselves in such situations by now. We know — or should know, anyway — that the words they say about it one way or another are all part of a grand dance of blame shifting and/or accommodating a public bloodlust for PED users that is silly.

But Calkins buys the notion that PED use is the worst possible thing, so he was totally willing to believe that it could — and should! — inspire real tears. That’s why he suddenly had such a good feeling about Cabrera. He finally agreed with Calkins about how dire it was to take some HGH or whatever! He bought what Cabrera was selling because it conformed with his world view that PEDs are so bad it should make grown men cry.

If Calkins had a more realistic view of the world and of people, perhaps he would’ve been a bit more dubious last year. Perhaps he would’ve remembered that this was the same Cabrera who had been arrested for domestic violence the year before and perhaps he wouldn’t feel so betrayed by a legitimate offense like his DUI now. But he didn’t. He let PEDs cloud everything about a person’s worth and morality and allowed himself to fall into a trap in which good and bad are defined by that particular subject.

How about this: going forward, why don’t we judge men on what they do, not on what they say. And why don’t we judge what they do on a reasonable basis, so as not to gloss over the truly bad stuff and overreact to stuff that is not as bad. Let us not say that an athlete is super evil for PEDs such that when he shows tearful contrition over it, we think that he has repudiated super evil behavior. That way, when real bad behavior happens, we can judge it on a reasonable scale.

Tim Tebow homers in spring training game

Tim Tebow
Mark Brown/Getty Images
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Mets minor league outfielder Tim Tebow hit a two-run home run during Tuesday afternoon’s Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. It’s his first spring training home run since beginning his professional baseball career in late 2016.

Tebow, 32, is, of course, a former college football legend. He had a much-anticipated NFL career that ended up brief and disappointing, prompting a change of vocation. Tebow was passable with Double-A Binghamton in 2018, but the Mets promoted him to Triple-A for the 2019 season anyway. That was a mistake. Through 264 plate appearances, Tebow hit .163/.240/.255, ranking as the worst hitter in the minor leagues.

Tebow also walked along with the homer in three plate appearances on Tuesday. While it’s a solid early showing, Tebow participating with the other big leaguers or soon-to-be big leaguers in spring training is something of a sideshow. If he were a regular ballplayer working his way up the ranks, he likely would have been cut after last season. He certainly wouldn’t have been given an invitation to big league camp the next year.

There are aspects of the Tebow situation to respect: that he’s athletic and dedicated enough to attempt a professional career in another sport, for example. He moves tickets and merchandise. But one can’t help but wonder about the roster spot he’s holding that would otherwise go to a more deserving player.