Tigers’ Cabrera, who almost was acquired by Sox, has punished South Siders, Cubs
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com October 24, 2012 11:20PM
Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) watches as the ball hits third for a double off the bat of San Francisco Giants' Angel Pagan during the third inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/The Sacramento Bee, Jose Luis Villegas) MAGS OUT; LOCAL TV OUT (KCRA3, KXTV10, KOVR13, KUVS19, KMAZ31, KTXL40); MANDATORY CREDIT
Updated: November 26, 2012 7:26AM
SAN FRANCISCO — Could this have been the White Sox instead of the Detroit Tigers opening the World Series on Wednesday night? Should it have been?
Would Ozzie Guillen be here, in uniform, instead of apparently taking this one off from the broadcast booth the day after the Miami Marlins fired him?
Maybe if Dave Dombrowski had flinched that December day in Nashville, Tenn., five years ago.
Maybe if the Sox hadn’t.
Consider it just one more way Miguel Cabrera might be a bigger curse on Chicago baseball than the goat, Steve Bartman and Arnold Rothstein combined.
‘‘I’m glad he’s with us,’’ Dombrowski, the Tigers’ president and general manager, said of the 2012 Triple Crown winner he unwittingly snatched from the clutches of Sox GM Ken Williams during the 2007 winter meetings in Nashville.
Dombrowski, who quickly accepted the Florida Marlins’ proposal that sent six players to Miami, considers that move a division-changer in the American League Central.
He won’t get much argument from the second-place Sox, who since then have filled that theoretical lineup void with mixed results.
Along the way, Cabrera’s close friend Guillen — who counseled the young hitter through alcohol-related problems in recent years — feuded with Williams until a messy divorce from the team in the final days of last season.
How much of that might have been different with Cabrera and Paul Konerko hitting 3-4 for the Sox the last five years? For Cabrera, for Guillen, for the Sox?
‘‘It would have been awesome,’’ Cabrera said. ‘‘[Ozzie’s] known me for a lot of years. We’ve got a great relationship. It’s a very good park to hit home runs. … It would have been pretty cool.’’
Cabrera hasn’t talked to Guillen since he was fired Tuesday and plans to call him this week.
Dombrowski is just glad he didn’t haggle over players or dollars when the Marlins called him.
‘‘I don’t know what they’d have given up,’’ he said, ‘‘but put him with [the Sox] vs. us, it’s a big difference.’’
It came perhaps within a phone call — maybe a matter of an hour or less — from going the other way.
Williams was on Cabrera’s trail long before Dombrowski, put a deal in place and needed only to get ownership to sign off on taking Dontrelle Willis’ big contract.
Once he got it, the deal seemed done. Until the Sox got blindsided.
The Sox made the playoffs the following season but were quickly bounced and haven’t been back. They’ve finished behind Detroit three of the last four seasons despite some of the better starting-pitching depth in the division.
And this year, Cabrera just rubbed it in.
He killed Sox pitching, helped overtake the Sox the last two weeks of the season and won baseball’s first Triple Crown in 45 years.
The last time he rubbed it in to a team that badly, well, just ask the Cubs.
After slugging the Marlins to that Cub-wrenching, Bartman-series victory in 2003 — including a three-run homer off Kerry Wood in Game 7 — he came back to Wrigley the next year and mocked them.
During a September game, Moises Alou hit a foul ball near the Bartman seating area. After giving unsuccessful chase, Cabrera re-enacted Alou’s famous tantrum during the Bartman incident as the boos rained down.
Eight years later, the Sox feel the Cubs’ pain.
‘‘It worked out very well for us,’’ Dombrowski said.