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Thursday (Miguel Cabrera and tales of redemption) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball Updated: February 17, 2011 - 9:41 AM

Believing in and enjoying tales of redemption seems to be part of human nature -- especially when it comes to the sentimentality of a sports fan. The idea of overcoming obstacles -- even ones that are largely self-inflicted -- to achieve greatness stirs something within many of us.

The more cynical folks hang back and wait for the other shoe to drop. Once a problem surfaces, they say, all the talk in the world can't guarantee the trouble won't come back. Their way of thinking appears to be right in the case of the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, who was reportedly arrested and charged with DUI late Wednesday night.

Fans will recall that Cabrera had an alcohol-related run-in right after the epic Game 163 between the Twins and Tigers in 2009:

The All-Star first baseman got into a fight with his wife after a night of drinking, right before his team surrendered the American League Central Division title to the Twins. Police said Cabrera had a 0.26 blood-alcohol reading — three times above Michigan's legal limit for driving — and Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski had to pick up Cabrera at the station. No charges were filed.

During spring training last year, Cabrera said he was done drinking alcohol after he spent much of the offseason in counseling. "You guys write in the paper 'alcoholic,' that's not right," he said last March before a spring training workout. "I don't know how to explain, but it's not an alcohol problem."

Cabrera talked the talk. And, on the field in 2010, he walked the walk -- with career highs in home runs (38) and OPS (1.042) he had perhaps his best all-around season. If his car hadn't apparently overheated, leading a deputy to check on the situation, that might be the Cabrera we were all thinking about this morning.

Instead:

Inside the vehicle, Cabrera smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and took a swig from a bottle of scotch in front of a deputy, according to St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office said. He refused to cooperate and more deputies were called to the scene. He was wandering into the road with his hands up before he was handcuffed, the report said. He kept saying, "Do you know who I am, you don't know anything about my problems," and cursed at deputies who tried to get him into a patrol car. One deputy struck Cabrera in the left thigh several times with his knee after Cabrera pushed into him, causing the ballplayer to fall into the patrol car. Cabrera refused to take a breath test, deputies said.

What is Cabrera -- the dominant slugger who can carry a team or the troubled athlete whose off-field problems are haunting him? For now, he is both.

How should we view tales of redemption -- with joy or with caution?

Cabrera again provides the answer: Both.

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