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.