Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Melky Cabrera Is Bad At Lying

on pop theology, philosophy, theology, culture, pop culture, christianityby Ben Howard

Melky Cabrera.

I'm going to assume that unless you're a serious baseball fan or an avid reader of ESPN you have no idea who this is. That's okay.

How about some quick background on The Melk. Melky came up in the Yankees system and was always considered a player on the borderline between being a starter and a backup. He was best defined by the word, Meh.

“Is he a good hitter?”
“Is he a good fielder?”
“Will he help us win?”

My favorite Melky moment came when he played for my favorite team the Atlanta Braves in 2010. Melky ran down a ball at the warning track in left-center field and proceeded to throw the ball in an arc to slighty center-er field where there was no one at all. The batter scored. How do I feel about Melky? Meh.

But then last year, Melky started playing well. This year, he played so well that he was named an All-Star. Huh?

Then this weekend the other shoe dropped and Melky was hit with a 50 game suspension because he tested positive for a banned substance. Excess testosterone was found in his system.

Now, Melky isn't the first player to take drugs to be a better player. As an economic decision, it's pretty defensible. Break the rules, make tens of millions of dollars. No judgment here. You tried to break the rules and you got caught.

But that's not how Melky took the news. Nope, not even a little bit.

Instead, in a series of misadventures that can only be described as Quixotic, Melky paid for a website to be created. And on this website there was a product. What kind of product? A fake product. A fake product that Melky claimed he took and caused him to fail his drug test. Yeah.

Apparently it took Major League Baseball investigators very little time to deconstruct Melky's brilliant facade. Is he good at subterfuge? Meh.

It always amazes me how athletes, or anyone really, reacts when they're caught red-handed. I think everybody knows at some level that the best possible reaction is to tell the truth and try to push your way through the awkwardness and the consequences that might come. Just deal with it head on, but then that wise voice in your head gives in to that much louder voice that just screams, “Lie!”

And so we get Melky's fake website. And Tiger Woods driving an SUV into a tree as his wife attempts to beat him with a golf club. And Presidents debating the meaning of the word is. And whatever other absurdities we've tried to concoct to cover over our own inadequacies and failures. Every one little more than a joke in hindsight. A fraud perpetrated in our minds that no one else believes.

Honesty is such a simple thing, yet at the same time it is so deeply profound. It reinforces the dignity of our humanity and allows us to engage others on the same level. I will be honest with you and I will hope you are honest with me. Even the pain that occassionally comes from honesty feels better than the unsteady doubt fostered by the possibility of a lie.

This all seems so trite. Your mother told you that “the truth shall set you free,” but sometimes the simplest things are those that are most difficult to hold within our grasp. I wish I could promise you that I'm always going to be honest, but I can't. I just don't think life works that way. I wish it did.


Note: More than likely, I'll continue to look at this idea of honesty/apologies later in the week. I'd really appreciate any comments or insights you might have on the topic.

When he isn't criticizing baseball players for cheating and then elaborately lying about it, Ben likes to read the works of Jonah Lehrer and James Frey. That's some real honest writing. You can follow his literary pursuits @BenHoward87.

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