A little over a month ago, Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera tested positive for testosterone and was suspended for 50 games. Old farts got even more upset about it than they usually do, because, when the suspension hit, Cabrera was just a few points behind Andrew McCutchen for the National League batting title. If Pittsburgh faltered—ha, "if"—one more decent, meaningful crown would fall in the hands of a drug cheat. And that could not stand! Sure, Cabrera was one plate appearance short of the minimum required to qualify for the title, but baseball deals with that by assigning a player imaginary outs until he reaches 502 PA. If his line still leads after the outs, he gets the crown.
Today, with McCutchen at .339 and Cabrera at .346, and no team with more than 13 games left in the season, baseball did what baseball does and changed the rules in the middle of the season to keep Melky from winning the batting title. CSN Bay Area has the exclusive. The gist is that MLB will modify the rule which assigns players imaginary outs to reach qualification—suspended players won't be eligible. Our natural inclination is to wonder what would have happened if Cabrera had been suspended one day later, if his arbitrator missed a flight or something, but this is baseball, where nothing makes sense.
It gets worse. Bud Selig said two days ago that he didn't plan on interfering with the Cabrera matter: "we generally don't interfere in that process. We'll take a look at it at the end of the year." Two days ago!
But that's not the end of the madness! Here's CSN:
Cabrera asked to be removed from consideration on Wednesday, when his representatives sent a letter to union officials. The Players' Association worked out a one-time amendment to Rule 10.22(a) with MLB officials on Thursday, one day after Commissioner Bud Selig said publicly that he was not likely to take action on the matter.
Here, there's all the usual baseball rules foolishness—as with the eight-inning no-hitters that don't count because the visiting team trailed, and the rest—lacquered over with the we-respect-the-history-of-the-game-and-don't-know-nothin'-bout-no-steroids p.r. slime that Cabrera's agents habitually spew.
Cabrera got caught. (Hilariously.) But before he got caught, he hit .346. That's better than anybody else hit, which is why he's supposed to win the batting title, which is not an award, just an end-of-season reality.
But because The Game is so delusional, filled with cobwebs and mythology and old men named Vinegar Bend, Melky Cabrera felt like it would be to his advantage to ask for an exemption from reality. And then The Game gave it to him! Somewhere Bob Costas is elated—hey, look, Jon Heyman is, too—but everyone with their head on straight is guffawing and eyerolling and yawning and wondering why they put up with this.