Remember last week when I gave San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera some credit for owning up to the positive test for elevated testosterone levels that resulted in a 50-game suspension? Well, scratch that.
Cabrera may have elevated himself to a new level of cheating dirt bag after the New York Daily News reported Sunday that part of Cabrera’s campaign to claim that he inadvertently ingested a substance that led to the positive test included the creation of a bogus website featuring a fake product that Cabrera suggested was responsible for the failed test.
Really? That was the brilliant plan to beat the rap? To fool Major League Baseball and its players association with a plan so highly developed that it’s at least one giant step up from yelling, “Hey! Your shoe’s untied”?
To say the plan backfired would be an understatement.
The players union, which had initially filed a grievance on Cabrera’s behalf, quietly dropped the appeal. Cabrera and his entourage of trainers, handlers and agents are now squarely in the crosshairs of Jeff Novitzky and the MLB Department of Investigations.
If Novitzky’s name sounds familiar, it should. He was the special agent who ran the federal government’s probe into the infamous Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO).
According to the Daily News’ report, Juan Nunez—described by Cabrera’s agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, as a “paid consultant” but not an “employee”—is alleged to have paid $10,000 to purchase the bogus Internet site.
The Levinsons told the Daily News they had nothing to do with the plan and Nunez, along with a source from the MLBPA, confirmed that to the newspaper.
Should the MLB add to Melky Cabrera's suspension?
While Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy wouldn’t talk about the new allegations against Cabrera on Sunday, he wasn’t exactly rushing to the Melk Man’s defense, either. Bochy told The Associated Press in a report published by ESPN.com:
You can be world-class parents, and your kids can go south or have some issues. We can’t follow guys 24/7, and it comes down to choices. [Cabrera] is a grown man; he’s a veteran. These are unfortunate things, and we’ll continue to work at cleaning out baseball.
So now the question is how the MLB should move forward with this new information. The collective bargaining agreement doesn’t have any explicit penalty for attempting to use deceit in order to avoid suspension, but that shouldn’t prevent MLB commissioner Bud Selig from tacking on extra time to Cabrera’s punishment.
I’d say a doubling of the suspension to 100 games and perhaps adding the sweetener of a significant fine would be justified, and I would be terribly disappointed if the players union were to appeal such a ruling.
After all, it wasn’t just the MLB that Cabrera was trying to dupe; the union was also a target of the misinformation campaign.
As it stands, Cabrera’s suspension would end either during the 2012 playoffs or early next season. There were 45 games remaining on San Francisco’s regular-season schedule at the time Cabrera was banned, so the extra five games would either be playoff games; contests scheduled for the beginning of the 2013 season; or, if the suspension is increased, a combination of the two.
If what the New York Daily News and Major League Baseball are alleging is true—that Cabrera and his people tried in an extraordinarily ham-handed fashion to fool officials from the MLB and the union into believing he had ordered a supplement that was fraudulently spiked with testosterone from an online retailer—a suspension that would continue into late May or early June 2013 seems appropriate.
It might prevent future offenders from concocting schemes that would make a B-movie producers say, “Are you crazy? That would never work.”