Thursday, February 17, 2011
A Personal Look at Miguel Cabrera's DUI Arrest
I was just about ready to leave the house this morning for work when I received the following text message from my friend Derek:
FWD: ESPN MLB – Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera arrested Wednesday on charges of DUI, resisting an officer without violence.
Like many of you, I’m sure, my first reaction was, “F-------------------ck!”
Since then, I’ve read the reports of what happened and have been waiting for the entire story to come out. Worse, I’ve read the reactions of many online and it’s making me sick. “Trade that idiot!” “He’s an alcoholic!” “Our season’s ruined!”
Two words for those of you jumping the gun with all this nonsense. F-CK and YOU.
I’m a firm believer that you can’t seriously judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.
Well, I’ve walked that mile. Twice.
I’ll try to keep this as brief as I can since you’re not here to read about me and my personal life. But still, I think it’s important background info to what I’m writing about this evening. Thanks.
In 2004, I was out celebrating getting a new job. People kept buying me shots and, like an idiot, I kept drinking them. I knew I was too drunk to drive home and a friend agreed to take me there. But stories had been going around about cars being broken into overnight at this particular bar, so I insisted on moving my car in front of the lone security camera that was located outside. As I started the car, I began to throw up while in reverse, and backed into another vehicle. They called the cops and I was changed with a DUI. I’m a moron.
I did three days of alcohol awareness, passed an evaluation, lost my license for a year, and paid a lot of fines. I don’t recommend it to anyone out there and definitely thought that I’d learned my lesson.
Fast forward 5 ½ years later. It’s March 2010 and some friends and I are going to a concert in Detroit. I leave my car in Toledo and we go. Someone else drove. I had a few drinks, but stopped drinking 2 ½ hours before we got back since I knew I had a 20 minute drive home, wasn't going to drive drunk, and didn’t want to stay at their house. I was sober, but was stupid enough to be talked into going to a bar for last call with one of the people that went to the concert with me. I had two rum and cokes at the bar and drove home. I was pulled over two minutes from my house, blew a .085 at the road (legal limit is .08) and began the year of hell that is still going on for me with my second DUI.
By the time I’m done in around three weeks, I’ll have paid around three grand in fines and fees. I lost my driver’s license for a year, other than work privileges. My car was impounded and I had to get it out and watch while they put a boot on it for 30 days. I live with the daily humiliation of having to blow into a hose in my car to start it along with yellow DUI license plates. I served ten days in jail alongside the kind of thugs you only see in rap videos and on “Cops”. All of this for barely blowing over the legal limit, but laws are laws. Worst of all, I had to look my little boy the eyes and tell him that Daddy wasn’t going to be able to take him to all the places we talked about going last summer. That about killed me and was more terrible than any punishment the judge could dish out.
Another part of all of this is that I was required to be evaluated by a substance abuse councilor. After hearing my story, having me take several tests, and examining my personal history, the councilor gave a glowing recommendation to the judge that I was not a problem drinker or an alcoholic. His professional opinion matched my amateur opinion that I had made a couple dumb decisions and had some really bad luck. Also, the officer that arrested me spoke up for me saying how I had been polite, respectful, and willing to cooperate. (Take note, Miguel.)
The point of ALL of this is, you don’t know Cabrera’s situation. As I write this, I’m listening to the commentators on ESPN’s “Around The Horn” calling him an alcoholic, talking about suspending him, saying he needs months of treatment, and all other sorts of ignorant nonsense. Maybe he does. Maybe he doesn’t. Point is, WE DON’T KNOW! Every situation is not the same. Life is not always black and white. It's usually shades of gray.
I have two DUI’s and I am not an alcoholic. Believe me, I know alcoholics. I know people that can’t get through a day without getting a buzz on. If he receives it, this will be Mig’s first DUI, along with the highly publicized incident with his wife in 2009. That sucks. But does he drink every day? Can he not function without booze? Obviously, this has not been the case with him.
Maybe, just MAYBE, Miguel Cabrera is like damn near everyone else. Sometimes when he gets loaded, he does stupid things. Like fight with his wife. Or yell at cops. Or take a swig of booze in front of cops. That doesn’t make him an alcoholic. That makes him a guy that can't handle his alcohol and probably shouldn’t drink. There IS a difference, despite what the talking heads are telling you.
Working in the bar business, I’ve seen brothers get drunk and fight each other, only to end up hugging and crying minutes later. I’ve seen people urinate in random places thinking they’re in the bathroom. I’ve seen a girl break a glass over a stranger's face for no particular reason and leave her permanently scarred. I’ve seen lots and lots of stupid activity. Are all of these people alcoholics? Some might be. But I’m willing to bet that most of them are just normal people that had too much to drink and acted like an idiot. Alcohol is a bitch when it’s abused.
I’m not trying to defend Miguel Cabrera, or myself. Please don’t take this piece as one drunk defending another. Let me make that VERY clear. Drinking and driving is serious business. I know someone that killed a woman while driving drunk and it’s haunted him for 30 years. I’ve met people that have lost loved ones in drunk driving situations and it’s horrifying. I cannot urge anyone reading this enough, do not drink and drive. I’m paying for it. Cabrera will do so, too.
So where do we go from here? Simple…we go forward. Miguel will have to deal with his legal issues over this. I’m sure he’ll get some counseling. He might even get out of the DUI if you believe what some legal experts are saying. He’s going to have to explain his actions to his teammates and hope they forgive him. Worse, he’ll have to look at his wife and two little girls and do the same. He’s going to be heckled and taunted by home and away fans alike. Ironically, many of those hurling insults at him will be drunk and probably drive home from the ballpark that night. He’s going to pay, people, one way or another.
And he’ll play baseball. He’ll play baseball well and hopefully be the same guy on the field that we saw last year when he finished second in the MVP voting to Josh Hamilton of the Rangers. You remember Hamilton, right? The reigning MVP who had drug and alcohol problems, almost ruined his career, came back, relapsed in early 2009, and won the MVP in 2010? Cabrera doesn’t have half of that baggage and there’s no reason to think he can’t rebound just like Josh did.
The man didn’t kill dozens of dogs in a dog fighting ring. He didn’t sexually assault a woman in a nightclub. He (luckily) didn’t kill anyone. He is a 27 year old multi-millionaire from another country that made a stupid mistake. We all make mistakes and we pay for them. That’s life. It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up. It’s if and how you learn from your mistakes. I sure as hell know that I have. I hope Miguel Cabrera does, too.
On the baseball field, Big Mig looks like he’s superhuman. All this incident has proved is that he’s just a human being like the rest of us. He has flaws. None of us are perfect. If you can’t understand that, and if you’ve never done something stupid that you regret, then I don’t know what to tell you. You’ve obviously a much better person that everyone else in the world.
Go to hell.
And good luck, Miguel. I’m still rooting for you.