Melky’s decision could change baseball

Melky Cabrera will not walk away with the NL batting title this season. Everybody involved let out a huge sigh of relief when the news was announced.

Early last week, Bug Selig didn’t think there was any way Melky wouldn’t win the title. But then again, Selig probably didn’t think in his wildest dreams that a player would step forward and ask MLB to ignore a rule that would have almost surely given him the coveted batting title.

No one knows Cabrera’s true motives. Did he genuinely feel guilty? Or did he realize that if he made this request, he might earn some goodwill from the Giants and the rest of baseball as he heads into the offseason looking for a contract?

What the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association did is unprecedented. They changed a rule during the season. They changed a rule for someone guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs.

What impact will this have on players that fail a test in the future? Will fans and media scream for their records and achievements to be scrapped from the record book?

It’s a major moment in baseball. Of all the players that have failed PED tests — and those believed to have used PEDs — none have had their stats, awards or achievements wiped from the record books. This has never been done. All eyes will be on how MLB and the Players Association handle future cases involving players that fail a drug test.

The Chronicle’s Steve Kroner thinks we could see MLB and the Players Association try to turn this ruling into a permanent rule in the offseason: If you test positive for a banned substance during the season, you’re not eligible for awards or achievements that year.

One of Cabrera’s former teammates believes this was the right decision: