On Triple Crowns and Alcohol.
This season saw some truly remarkable baseball. Three (3!) perfect games and four other no hitters. Astonishing. A knuckleballer won twenty games and will probably win the Cy Young in the National League. And of course, Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown. The first player since Carl Yazstremski to do so, back in 1967. The Triple Crown goes to any player who leads his league in Batting Average, Home Runs, and Runs Batted in over the course of a championship season. It’s only been done a few times, and for the most part, we know the names of the legendary baseball men who’ve done it. Frank Robinson. Ted Williams. Mickey Mantle. Rogers Hornsby. Ty Cobb. It’s a list of the VIP section of the Hall of Fame.
Now, thanks to science, we now know that two of the three Triple Crown stats are not extremely important. Batting Average is a pretty lousy measure of a hitter’s quality. And Runs Batted In depends too much on the quality of his teammates. Nevertheless, it’s a venerable distinction, rarely won. And anyone accomplishing the feat is a great hitter and worthy the praise.
Miguel Cabrera is a special case too. He struggles with alcohol. I won’t call him an alcoholic, because I don’t know if he calls himself one. But he has been in treatment for alcohol, and he has been arrested with a blood alcohol content of 0.26%. That’s a pretty astonishingly high number. By comparison, when I had my DUI, that evening I had drunk two bottles of wine and a tumbler full of bourbon, and my BAC was 0.19%. The legal limit, which I’ve been told comes out to about two drinks in an hour for a healthy, ordinary-sized man, is 0.08%.
To my knowledge, Miguel Cabrera is not currently drinking at all. The media makes a big deal out of mentioning that he stayed away from the champagne celebrations when his team clinched a playoff berth. He’s a good example, I hope, to people who struggle. Being an alcoholic doesn’t mean we can’t excel at our trades. In fact, among the alcoholics I know, I generally find them to be exceptional as the rule. Of course, my sample is biased to those who have found sobriety.
Now, Miguel Cabrera’s sobriety isn’t really any of my business. It’s his journey and I wish him well on it. I was just inspired to write about it because of a tweet I saw from @PalMD, saying:
miggy cabrerra’s triple crown is almost as impressive as his gaining control over his etoh problem. I’m happy for him for both.
— PalMD (@palmd) October 4, 2012
I’m troubled by this. Now again, I don’t know that Miguel Cabrera is an alcoholic like I am. But for alcoholics like me, there is no “gaining control over [our] etoh problem”. In fact, trying to control our alcohol problem is an excellent indication that we are not ready for sobriety. And I should say too, twitter is an abbreviated medium, and this is almost certainly just a shorthand way of indicating the pleasure a physician takes in seeing a person suffering from a disease achieve remission. I’m not trying to indict @PalMD here. All of our interactions have been good. I’m just using the tweet as a springboard to my own ideas, not trying to take him to task (which would be inappropriate).
But it matters to me to get this right. The people I know who have gotten sober, and who have happy lives in sobriety, are the ones who recognized that they had no control over alcohol. That striving to control the alcohol in our lives was pointless. We lose every time. To be sober, we must abandon control. Abandon battle. Surrender. Peace, serenity, an end to our alcoholic misery, comes from recognizing that we cannot win any fight with alcohol. We can never drink like normal people can. We are lost.
And when we recognize that there is no safe way to drink, when we accept that alcohol has utterly defeated us, when we surrender to our desolation, then we can begin to rise again. And we can rise to magnificent heights.