But nobody can remember a time when a player won back-to-back triple crowns, leading their league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. It could happen this year because Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers became the first Major Leaguer in more than 40 years to win a triple crown last year. This year, his totals in all three categories are ahead of his pace last year.
Yet, this is not a feat we are watching daily in sports pages or on ESPN’s Sports Center. We’re not seeing his face on magazine covers.
Let’s face it, baseball is not what it used to be, and neither are the players. In fact, as many as 50 Major Leaguers may be taking illegal performance-enhancing drugs that make them rich in the short term but put their health at risk in the long term. Figuratively and literally, they are like the character “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo.” in the Broadway show “Damn Yankees” — players who literally sell their soul to the devil, all for the opportunity for athletic glory.
This is not to say that Cabrera is taking steroids or other performance-enhancing products. It is to say that players such as Bonds, Sosa and McGwire haven’t made the Baseball Hall of Fame because there are too many doubts about the methods they used to reach the ends they achieved. It’s a shame since Cabrera, who has always been a great talent, is simply at the top of the game without peer and is ahead of the pack — performance-enhanced players and all. It’s a shame if he is using performance-enhancing drugs because if he is, he’s making a sham of what has been a legitimate profession for over a century.