National Columnist

Giants looked other way on cheating Cabrera and should pay for it

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Melky Cabrera tested positive for testosterone, which means this is a tainted season. His season? Well, sure. Cabrera's season is tainted.

But I was talking about the Giants' season.

Games illicitly won. Postseason opportunity unfairly attained.

Tainted.

Nothing can be done about it now, of course. Bud Selig isn't about to change the rules on the fly -- dock the 2012 Giants a handful of games, declare them ineligible for the postseason -- even if the Giants don't deserve to play in October. Not after getting 113 dishonest games out of a player who ranks second in the league in batting, first in runs, hits and triples, and in the top 10 in on-base percentage, OPS and sacrifice flies. Cabrera is having a career year, and the Giants have unjustly reaped those rewards.

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Have the Giants known all season that Cabrera was juicing? I can't say that. But I can say this: They didn't want to know.

Seriously, what good would it do the Giants in May, as Melky Cabrera was embarking on the hottest month of his mediocre career, to wonder aloud how in the world he was doing it? That month Cabrera hit .429 with an OPS of 1.104. Hone in a bit more, and from May 4 to June 1 he hit .445 with a 1.175 OPS. For a month, middling Melky Cabrera was Mickey Freaking Mantle. When the month was over, Cabrera's batting average -- for the season -- sat at .376.

To repeat, Melky Carew Cabrera was hitting .376 on June 1. Hell, he was still hitting .346 on Wednesday when it was announced that he had failed a drug test and would be suspended 50 games.

You say the Giants didn't know he was dirty? I repeat: They didn't want to know.

It could be any team that wouldn't want to know, of course, but this isn't any team. It's the Giants. Steroid Central. The Giants looked the other way when Barry Bonds was doing the (legally) impossible. They looked the other way when employing 12 other players who would make their way onto the Mitchell Report.

After all that, the Giants looked right at three known cheaters -- Jose Guillen and Guillermo Mota in 2010, Miguel Tejada in 2011 -- and added them despite their history with performance-enhancing substances. Guillen was dumped after being connected to a shipment of 50 pre-loaded HGH syringes late in the 2010 season. Mota, who had been suspended 50 games in 2007 with the Mets, had a second failed test in May and was suspended 100 games. He's eligible to return Aug. 28.

Presumably the Giants will let Mota pitch again this season. It's the Giants, after all. Steroid Central.

Anyway, that's the background in San Francisco -- background I can't make like a Giants official and simply ignore. But don't let that background obscure the bigger point here:

No team should be able to reap the rewards of a cheating player. Not anymore. Not in today's baseball, which claims to be trying so hard, and caring so much, about the integrity of its game.

You want to show integrity, baseball? Don't just punish the player when he gets caught cheating. Punish the team that won all those games unfairly.

Every team in baseball has cheaters. I suspect it. So do you. But only those who are caught can be dealt with, whether it's a player like Cabrera or a team like the Giants. Cabrera was caught and will pay for it. So should the Giants, and while there is no precedent for that in baseball, there is precedent in other sports.

NASCAR deducts points toward the Chase for the Sprint Cup, its postseason, for a failed post-race inspection. That happened in July to Tony Stewart. In European soccer, various leagues dock points from teams for reasons including financial trouble, crowd behavior and -- yes -- fair play.

Point being, something not only needs to be done -- something can be done. Something like this: Dropping a team in the standings if one of its players fails a drug test. Let's say, 10 percent of the player's suspension. Since Cabrera was suspended 50 games, the Giants would be docked five games in the standings. Oh, and since Mota was suspended 100 games, there goes another 10 games.

Harsh? Sure. But something has to be done, though Lord knows it won't be happening this season. Selig isn't going to channel his inner Roger Goodell and just start making up crap as he goes along, though it would seem fair in this case. It sure would be nauseating for the Giants to eke into the postseason -- they'd have to eke past someone else, you see -- thanks to a good start featuring the illegally fueled Melky Cabrera.

There are two nauseating offshoots already: One, Cabrera might win the NL batting title even though his 501 plate appearances are one short of the qualifying standard. At the end of the season, if he's close to current NL leader Andrew McCutchen, MLB would simply add one at-bat to Cabrera's total, therefore qualifying him.

Two, the National League has home-field advantage for the World Series by virtue of its victory in the All-Star Game. The MVP of the All-Star Game? Cheatin' Melky Cabrera.

Galling, all of it. And so is this: The Giants might well have known for weeks that it was using a dirty player. Why did San Francisco, set as it seemed to be in the outfield -- Cabrera and Angel Pagan in starting roles, Nate Schierholtz and Gregor Blanco in a platoon -- trade for starting outfielder Hunter Pence of the Phillies on July 31?

Perhaps because it knew Melky Cabrera was in the process of appealing a 50-game suspension.

Disgusting, that thought. Maybe it's unfair to voice it, though I don't think so. This is the Giants, after all. This is a historically tainted franchise, and it just might host Game 1 of the World Series.

Thanks to Melky Cabrera.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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