Melky Cabrera Suspension for PED Use Casts a Pall on Giants Season

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer IAugust 15, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 18: Melky Cabrera #53 of the San Francisco Giants hits a sixth inning home run against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 18, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The steroid era is evidently not over, and left field in AT&T Park once again is in the spotlight.

According to ESPN's Jorge Arangur, Giants left fielder and All-Star MVP Melky Cabrera has been suspended for 50 games for using a performance-enhancing substance.

The Giants, riding high on a terrific run and looking to capture the National League West with a more balanced lineup than they had in 2010, now have lost Cabrera for the rest of the season.

Cabrera was talking about a contract extension with the Giants, according to Jon Heyman of Now, they will be thinking about how to fill a massive hole in their lineup with a post-waiver wire deal as the team currently tied with the Dodgers.

What was shaping up to be a remarkably fun last few weeks of the season with the Giants and Dodgers butting heads for the division crown will now will be dominated by more talk about hormones, testosterone and who is legitimately hitting home runs and who is not.

Cabrera's stats spiked this season. Nobody in the National League has more hits. His average is 62 points above his career mark. His OPS+ is 57 points higher. His WAR is higher than it ever has been. Everything seemed to click, or so the post-PED narrative went.

Once again, the narrative involves a player who was a good player that suddenly became an All-Star. Baseball fans' antennae were put down temporarily, as the Mitchell Report weeded out some players, home run totals went down and players stopped looking like Lou Ferrigno.

No doubt fans in San Francisco are worn down by talks of performance-enhancing drugs. Barry Bonds' charge to Hank Aaron's record was cheered by Giants fans, but they seemed relieved that the era had passed.

The new crew of players were thinner, leaner and less surly. The world champions of 2010 and the 2012 crew were free of the baggage, or so it seemed.

Now the Giants once again have the PED questions. But so does the rest of baseball. Should we remain skeptical, if not cynical, toward surprise seasons?

Or should we no longer care? Should we surrender and simply shrug our shoulders when someone gets caught?

Either way, the potential pennant race in the National League West got a lot less fun. And no doubt a member or two of the Dodgers and every other team in baseball is a test away from a suspension.