Disappointment. Anger. Betrayal.
Those were some of the emotions running through me as I approached AT&T Park today. I was approaching Orlando Cepeda’s statue when read the ESPN text message alerting me that Melky Cabrera had failed a performance-enhancing drug test and would be suspended for 50 games.
We were deceived. We all fell in love with The Melk Man. Some got so caught up in the whole thing that they threw their dignity out the window and showed up to the stadium dressed as Milk Men and Milk Maids.
We fell so in love with Melky that we couldn’t imagine a scenario where the Giants didn’t re-sign him after the season. We wanted the Giants to sign him weeks ago.
We fell so in love with Melky that we overlooked his immature crotch-chop antics in Atlanta in mid-July.
In the middle of a contentious pennant race, this is the worst possible news the Giants could get. They will have to move forward without their leading hitter and their starting left fielder.
Cabrera will miss the remaining 44 regular season games and the first five playoff games, if the Giants can even get to the postseason.
And even they can get to a point where Melky can return, he won’t have played in two months. So, it’s time for everyone to forget about Melky. He’s not helping this team in any way this year. Don’t hold out hope.
Giants fans have to adjust their mindset from expecting Cabrera in the lineup for the next few years to expecting that he may not wear the Orange and Black again.
Last week, Cabrera was so turned off by an offer the Giants made to him that he decided to end extension talks with the team. Now he’s probably wishing he had accepted whatever the Giants were offering him.
He’s not going to get close to a three-year deal this offseason. He’s probably going to have to prove himself all over again and settle for a one-year deal.
Cabrera’s failed test comes while he’s in the prime of his career. Other players like Manny Ramirez, Jose Guillen, Mike Cameron and Rafael Palmiero all flunked tests close to the end of the careers and were inevitably forced out of the game.
Cabrera is far from the end of his career, so we’ll have to see what type of contracts he can attract.
Melky’s teammates must not allow this to derail the 2012 season like Buster Posey’s injury derailed the 2011 season. Posey, Pablo Sandoval and newly-acquired Hunter Pence need to step up.
For the moment, Gregor Blanco will probably fill the void left by Melky, although it’s not easy to replace someone hitting .346 and leading the majors in hits.
The sad part is, we shouldn’t be surprised by the news. On Friday, July 27, CSNBayArea’s Andrew Baggarly heard that Cabrera had failed a PED test. When he approached Cabrera for comment, Melky didn’t hesitate to deny it.
But now we know it was true. Melky Cabrera deceived everyone. He hurt his team, his fans and his future. He has left a bitter taste in the mouth of everyone that expressed joy over his breakout season.