By Ross Newhan
On a day that King Felix Hernandez demonstrated pitching perfection, as the Seattle Mariners right hander was destined to do at some point in his career, Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants, proved there is no limit to stupidity in baseball (or in anything else really) by being suspended for the remainder of a season in which he was a key member of a team battling for a division title or wild card berth at worst.
Cabrera, the San Francisco outfielder batting .346 in what has been either a breakthrough season or one in which he benefited from an elevated level of testosterone, a level that resulted in his 50 game suspension under baseball's drug policy, will not be eligible to play until the Giants reach the sixth game of the playoffs, if they get that far. By violating the drug policy, and there is apparently no technicality involved, such as the one that enabled Ryan Braun to excape suspension earlier this season, he managed to taint the perfect game that Hernandez pitched against Tampa Bay in Seattle.
Until baseball is totally free of illegal drug use--if that is possible--the cheaters will always cloud the accomplishments of the non-cheaters, which is a shame in the case of Hernandez, the 2010 Cy Young Award winner in the American League and arguably--along with Justin Verlander and Jared Weaver--a candidate for the award again and a player who has breezed through all of his drug tests.
In pitching the third perfect game and sixth no-hitter of a season dominated at near historic levels by pitching, Hernandez improved his record over his last 11 starts to a remarkable 6-0 with a 1.73 earned run average. As usual, the Mariners provided meager support as King Felix managed to turn a single run into a 1-0 victory.
Almost at the same time, the Giants, beginning play Wednesday tied with the Dodgers for the National League West lead, were losing to the Washington Nationals, 6-4, in the first game of Cabrera's suspension. He is the second San Francisco player to fail baseball's drug policy this year, joining pitcher Guillermo Mota, who is in the process of missing 100 games because of a second violation.
Given a shocking pattern of drug violations at the minor league level it is obvious that baseball is still working its way through a major and underlying problem.
At least, on Wednesday, King Felix stood above it--despite the shame of Melky Cabrera.