And the baseball world lost its mind on August 16.
Actually, that's not quite accurate—the frenzy set in pretty much the minute the Cabrera bomb was dropped, but it took a while for its products to filter out via newspapers and websites.
Over on ESPN, Tim Keown, who once worked for the San Francisco Chronicle, broke out his finest understated rhetoric to charge that the San Francisco Giants "have a knack for attracting players who are: (1) prone to cheat, and (2) ignorant and/or arrogant enough to get caught."
At the San Jose Mercury News' website, one of the Giants' most gleeful whip-wielding assailants is having a grand ol' time with the news. Tim Kawakami immediately dredged up the Barry Bonds saga and noted that the Giants "harbored, and flourished with, a cheater, again."
Unsatisfied, he took another whack at the organization by simultaneously pouring cold water on the successful series in San Diego while implying that San Francisco is somehow more culpable than a typical franchise would be for the steroid/PED issue (though he was careful to emphasize he's not saying the latter...just implying).
Of course, none of these luminaries of rational thought compares to CBSSports.com's Greg Doyel, who exclaims right in his title that "the Giants looked the other way on cheating Cabrera." He goes on to refer to the Giants as "Steroid Central" and argues that the team should have wins vacated and/or be disqualified from the postseason.
Doyel also laments that the National League's home-field advantage in the World Series is tainted because it comes courtesy of the Senior Circuit's victory in the All-Star Game. Cabrera was named the game's the Most Valuable Player.
Where to begin, where to begin...
Let's start with the easiest—the asinine assertion that Cabrera's idiocy somehow means anything about the National League's All-Star Game victory.
The NL won the game 8-0, the squad scored five runs in the first inning and the NL pitchers dominated the affair from start to finish. Sure, Melky started the rally in the first with a single off Justin Verlander and had a two-run big fly to score the final runs of the game. So the disgraced star accounted for three runs.
I repeat, the final score was 8-0.
The American League only got six hits and they were all singles. The losing team had 10 total baserunners and only twice had multiple runners on the bases at once. The NL pitching staff was the difference in the Midsummer Classic.
Melky Cabrera had a great game, but he was one of four or five players who could've justifiably been the MVP. You never know what would've happened, but there's no reason to think the outcome would've been different had Melky not been in the game.
The other assertions are almost as laughable.
To argue that the San Francisco Giants are more tainted by MLB's steroid era than any franchise in the beautiful game is ludicrous. It requires either willful ignorance or a devotion to the developing I-can't-be-good-so-I'll-be-outrageous trend that's sweeping journalism of all kinds.
I guess a full collection of Los Angeles Dodgers paraphernalia could also explain it.
The reality—and I know that's an unpopular word with shock-jocks—is that the list of teams untouched by the taint is a hell of a lot shorter than the list of teams that have been slathered in it.
Bud Selig and his cronies decided to get somewhat serious about drug testing before the 2005 season, an effort that ratcheted up a few notches the following year.
Since '05, there have been at least 33 different players on major league rosters who have been suspended for testing positive (according to Baseball-Alamanac.com). I say "at least" because that number excludes a doper like Ryan Braun who skated on a technicality.
Of those 33 players, three were San Francisco Giants.
The Seattle Mariners had the same number pinched in the very first year of testing. Additionally, the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays and Colorado Rockies have all seen three rostered players come up hot.
If you open the discussion to include minor leaguers, the number of suspensions jumps from four to 74 in 2012 alone (via Bruce Jenkins at SFGate.com).
If you go back even further than '05, to the dark ages of the steroid era when performance-enhancing drugs weren't technically illegal and the Show wasn't testing for them anyway, things get really out of hand.
And you must reach back that far to ensnare S.F.'s public enemy No. 1, Barry Lamar Bonds.
Almost every marquee franchise and baseball moment from that period are covered in PED stink.
Eric Gagne's incredible, Cy Young season for the Dodgers in 2003 carries a whiff of steroid stink thanks to his admitted HGH use. The Bums get dragged further into the muck by Manny Ramirez's first official positive test for PEDs in 2009.
The Boston Red Sox history-reversing World Series of 2004 and 2007 can't escape the smear, either. The pair of title runs were fueled by Ramirez and David Ortiz, both of whom surfaced in an article by The New York Times about a leaked list of about 100 players who tested positive in 2003.
The New York Yankees and their World Series streak join the club thanks to Roger Clemens and trainer Brian McNamee, both of whom would play starring roles if the Mitchell Report were ever made into a movie.
The list goes on and on.
Put the entire picture together rather than cherry-pick certain elements of it and the Giants' history is no more pock-marked by the steroid era than anyone else's. We don't even need to address the broader scope that includes dopers who have avoided detection, a population of debatable size that certainly exists.
Based on the documented cases, it's obvious that everybody was (is) profiting from juicers, whether in the standings or on their balance sheets.
Only the Pittsburgh Pirates could possibly claim innocence since they were terrible for the last two decades.
I'm not suggesting Melky Cabrera or the San Francisco Giants should get a pass for this latest major league embarrassment.
Cabrera richly deserves every ounce of criticism he's getting, especially now it's been revealed by The New York Daily News that he and his bumbling handlers initially tried to wiggle off the hook using a fraudulent website.
Likewise, los Gigantes have earned some heat and shame.
They need to take a firmer stance against PEDs by avoiding players who've been previously implicated and jettisoning individuals who encounter an initial offense while with the organization. Team solidarity and personal compassion are dandy concepts, but San Francisco needs its actions to more closely reflect the anti-drug rhetoric it shares with Major League Baseball.
But in that regard, the Giants are no different than any other big-league franchise.
When use was (is) so widespread, it's cheap and lazy to suggest one team is exceptional in courting, condoning and even protecting users without evidence more damning than a high-profile bust reinforced by personal disdain.
Of course, the claim is sensational.
And if you can't be sensationally good, I guess sensational has to suffice.
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