This afternoon, Everth Cabrera went in front of San Diego media* to make a statement regarding his 50-game suspension. In a heartfelt apology, Everth talked about the circumstances behind his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic and how much he regretted his decision. He took all responsibility for his actions as he explained (through a Spanish interpreter) his story.
According to Everth, the substance he took was not an attempt to enhance his athletic performance, but solely an attempt to speed up his recovery after sustaining a shoulder injury in 2011. Heading into Spring Training in 2012, he was advised by his (now former) agent, Juan Nunez, to contact Biogenesis owner Tony Bosch. Bosch gave him a package, which he took for four days before deciding he didn't need it. He made it very clear during his statement that he never sought out the substance and that it was only meant to help him heal from his injury, not affect his performance on the diamond. He also made it clear that he alone is to blame for the situation he is in, but warned young (Latin) players to be cautious about who they associate with.
At one point, Everth stops speaking through his interpreter and starts speaking in English. In between bouts of trying to hold back tears, he apologizes to the Padres organization, to his teammates, and especially to the fans. NBC has the video of this portion of his statement:
I made a mistake. All my responsibility, just me. Now, I'm gonna work very hard to be a better player for next year...
I want to say something to the fans in San Diego... to come to the stadium next year... The whole reason for playing this game is for you guys.
Many of San Diego's media personnel live tweeted the press conference. They all seemed to come to the same conclusion: Everth's apology was nothing but sincere, he knows he made a mistake, and he truly regrets letting everyone down.
From what I know abt Cabrera and speaking to him personally, his apology is sincere. He's well liked in clubhouse. Hates letting team down.— Annie Heilbrunn (@annieheilbrunn) August 5, 2013
Personal opinion: That was about as good as Everth could have done, under the circumstances without taking questions.— Ben Higgins (@BenHigginsSD) August 5, 2013
Everth Cabrera just gave the best apology I've ever seen. You want a second chance with fans? Do it like that. Powerful stuff.— Matt Calkins (@Matt_Calkins) August 5, 2013
If it's possible for someone to cheat, get caught, & earn MORE fans, Everth Cabrera might have done it. Sincerest apology I've seen. #Padres— Derek Togerson (@DerekNBCSD) August 5, 2013
Whether or not you choose to forgive Cabrera for all of this is obviously up to you. Personally, even with my bias aside, it's hard to watch his statement and not feel the emotion behind his words. If you choose to believe his story, and I can't think of a reason not to, it's easy to see that he was just someone who who had a momentary (four-day) lapse in judgment who is now suffering the consequences, and might I say doing so with more humility and sincerity than I think I've ever seen in an athlete.
I used to be someone who took the use of PEDs to be an absolute deal-breaker. I always understood the need for some athletes to try to gain an edge in that way, but I never condoned it and for a long time refused to forgive it. But what I've come to accept over time, especially over the past year, is that it's hardly black and white. Not everyone who gets caught/suspended is completely guilty. And something like this, doesn't label someone permanently as a cheater.
I still hate the idea of PEDs. I wish they weren't present in any way and I wish that athletes didn't feel the need to use them. I'm not of the opinion that just because they are present and not always detected, and because they (arguably) make the game more entertaining, that they should be condoned. I think that players who are caught using them should definitely take their punishments, no matter the circumstances.
But these days, I'm also more forgiving. What Everth did (and what Yasmani Grandal did as well) wasn't right. But it wasn't a deal breaker. Like Grandal before him, Cabrera is going to take his punishment, as he should, and learn from all of this. He's going to work his butt off and hopefully come back twice as strong following his suspension. And when that happens I'm going to welcome him back.
*You know, except for the city's two sports radio stations who were too busy during the press conference discussing Sharknado and the Chargers on air to be bothered with this drivel.