Under Official Baseball Rule 10.22 (a), players can be recognized as the official winner of a batting title if extra hitless at-bats are added to his average and it remains higher than any qualifying player. In the National League, San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera was on the verge of winning this year's batting title despite serving a 50-game PED suspension. By adding one hitless at-bat to his season total, Cabrera was likely going to win this year with a .346 batting average.
In an unprecedented move, Cabrera essentially relinquished the title when his representatives sent a letter to union officials asking to be removed from consideration for the award. After an agreement between union officials and Major League Baseball, the Players' Association created a one-time amendment to the rule, making him ineligible for the 2012 NL batting title.
"After giving this matter the consideration it deserves, I have decided that Major League Baseball will comply with Mr. Cabrera's request," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "I respect his gesture as a sign of his regret and his desire to move forward, and I believe that, under these circumstances, the outcome is appropriate."
Whether its baseball or any other professional sport, making changes or accommodations to rules during the season is rare. In MLB's eyes, this agreement helps the league avoid a potential disaster in terms of rewarding a suspended player with a prominent award at the end of the season. While this change does prevent a blemish in baseball from happening, this could lead the way to future midseason rectifications with regards to players who are suspended or become involved in other negative events. If it weren't for Cabrera's request, the season would have likely ended with Cabrera receiving the award.
"I am grateful that the Players Association and Major League Baseball were able to honor my request," Cabrera said in a statement. "I know that changing the rules midseason can present problems, and I thank the Players Association and Major League Baseball for finding a way to grant my request."
After ruining his image with this drug suspension, Cabrera made a smart move by requesting this decision. Will this move grant him forgiveness from teams who are considering him for next season? Will the Giants consider bringing him in during the postseason once his suspension is over?
The answer is probably no for both of those questions, but this was definitely an attempt at trying to right his wrong and possibly help his chances at getting a contract next season. This step ended a possible embarrassment for the league and will probably lessen the public relations mess he has put upon himself and his representatives. That being said, there is likely much more he will have to do in order to rebuild the positive image he had during the first half of the 2012 season with the Giants.
After this unexampled move, a Giants player may still end up winning the NL batting title. With Cabrera now out of the race, teammate Buster Posey could end up winning the award. Currently sporting a .335 batting average, Posey is four points behind Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, the player who now assumes the lead in this batting category with a .339 batting average.
Melky Cabrera Is Out of Race for Hitting Title, NYTimes.com
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