Tigers manager Jim Leyland, can you really be serious when you claim that troubled Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera will not be a distraction to the team despite his pending court appearance on charges of drunken driving???
Sure, Skipper, you're absolutely right, and the Lions will go 16-0 and win the Superbowl next year, Studebaker-Packard will resume making automobiles with points on the grill and Jimmy Hoffa will throw out the first ball when the season opens.
Skipper, you say Miguel Cabrera is going to have "the year of his life?" Doing what, sewing baskets at the Betty Ford Clinic?
Fans can fully expect that Miguel Cabrera will miss significant time this year, a minimum of a month from spring training, perhaps two, and perhaps part (or all?) of the regular season. How much downtime is pending is an open question, but if Cabrera is forced to check himself into rehab -- which is expected -- one is compelled to ask how long he will be gone and what kind of playing shape will he be in when he returns.
Rehabilitation, very likely to last a minimum of four weeks, will do Cabrera a lot of good in overcoming what has to be a serious alcohol abuse problem. But it will not help him ready himself for the baseball season. What are his handlers going to do, tell him to cut short his counseling session today so he have some time in the cage or take some grounders?
The last thing psychologists are going to allow Cabrera to be concerned with is baseball. He's got bigger problems.
From now forward, until Cabrera has his difficulties behind him and under control, the Tigers 2011 season is on hold, as far as he is concerned.
No courtroom in Florida -- or anywhere else in this country -- is going to allow Cabrera to jeopardize the public as he did last Wednesday, when he was caught swilling straight Scotch from a bottle as he staggered and weaved by the side of the road while abusing sheriff's deputies next to his smoking automobile.
Can Cabrera try to fight the charges, with the expectation of being found not guilty, being let off with probation or paying a fine? Not a chance. Prosecuting attorneys will lay out a tight script in which Cabrera will be virtually forced to undergo intense intervention and and probationary supervision. There is no way around it.
If he has any idea of getting off, he will be firmly threatened with the loss of his freedom, and his own counsel will warn him of dire consequences if he wants to play the cards any other way.
The court can be fully expected to exact its pound of flesh, with Cabrera's lawyer and both the legal counsel of the Tigers and Major League Baseball acquiescing, to assure that Cabrera resurrects his career only when he's ready to do so, and doesn't wind up driving off a cliff, smashing into a stationwagon being driven by a woman with three children and a dog, or God forbid, a school bus or worse. He is a menace. He will be stopped.
When that has been accomplished, Cabrera can count himself a very lucky man that no one was more hurt than himself, his family and his team.