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On Triple Crowns and Alcohol.

4 October 2012

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:

— 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.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 5 October 2012 05:31

    My last year of drinking was the worst – in that time I was desperately trying to control it – to drink normally. The pattern became, give up, wait some days/weeks until thinking it was safe to start again, start again – generally not too bad (probably way over “safe limits” but much below my regular consumption, suddenly find myself on a bender, unplanned, unexpected and regularly bewildering to comprehend how I got there again. So… stop, wait … etc. Repeat until insane! Oh and the continuous mental obsession with drink was always there.

    When I arrived at rehab I’d stopped again but wasn’t really expecting them to say – you have to abstain completely. I wanted the “how to drink normally” group – they didn’t run one of them, their position was if you could drink normally you would and you could take or leave drink with complete impunity from the obsession etc. I couldn’t – I soon realized it was the first drink that got me drunk not the middle one or the last. Luckily the programme I’m on is that I only don’t drink for today – I don’t plan to drink or not drink tomorrow, I make that choice when I need to. Currently today is another day when I choose abstinence and sobriety over the drink and for that I’m very grateful.

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