A public apology to Melky Cabrera

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A public apology to Melky Cabrera

SAN FRANCISCO

Medical school graduates take the Hippocratic oath, which can be distilled into three words: Do no harm.

Journalism school grads take no such oath, but our duty is clear: We're bound to seek the truth, to be as fair and accurate as possible and to serve the interests of readers.

I thought I was doing that Friday when I chose to ask Melky Cabrera about rumors that I had heard from several different readers who had contacted me via email and my Twitter account over the past few days. I had no idea where these rumors started, but the questions were starting to mushroom about whether Cabrera flunked a drug test and would face a 50-game suspension.

Let's be clear: There is no evidence that there is any shred of truth to these rumors. Cabrera knew nothing about it. He contacted the union and his agent. They told him the rumors were unfounded as well. If Cabrera had failed a test, he and the union would've been the first to know. The rumor, to my knowledge, is a red herring. Cabrera even suggested to me that Dodgers fans could have made it up as a distraction.

I wasn't 100 percent sure what to do next. On one hand, it's my duty to serve readers who look to me to provide accurate information about the team I cover. On the other hand, knocking down the rumors would serve to give greater voice to them.

Ultimately, I decided to serve the truth.

Upon reflection, I did more harm than good.

We live in a different media universe and the rules are changing every day. Information is immediate. The level of interaction between fans and journalists is greater than ever. Anyone can self-publish any thought that rumbles through his or her head, true or untrue. It can be a confusing cacophony for any journalist, and it certainly is for me at times.

Its my job to serve readers. But what if its just one tenth of one percent of my readership who are asking these questions? Is it my responsibility to respond to them in a public way?

Asking these questions from a different vantage point: If I were Melky Cabrera, would I appreciate a reporter who knocked down a rumor that was just a whisper in some corners of the Internet? Or would I be royally pissed to see my name mentioned alongside PEDs, no matter the context, by a credentialed, professional journalist?

Its obvious, isn't it? Well, it should have been obvious to me. It wasn't.

In retrospect, I made the wrong decision to address these rumors on my Twitter account and disseminate it to my 30,000-plus followers.

So I feel its important that I issue a public apology to Melky Cabrera for giving greater voice to a rumor that, to the best of my knowledge and on his word, has absolutely no basis in fact.

I can only hope that he, and the rest of the Giants clubhouse,coaches and front-office personnel, at least understand that my motivations were not nefarious or self-oriented in any way. I wasn't looking to create a story. I was trying to squash one that has no basis in fact.

As I often say to folks who ask me to describe my job, I write about the Giants, not for them. In this case, I'm not apologizing becauseIm seeking their approval. I'm apologizing because its the right thing to do.

About that, I am certain.

Brawl overshadows Giants' shutout loss to Nationals

Brawl overshadows Giants' shutout loss to Nationals

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Tanner Roark (5-2) struck out six and allowed six hits in seven innings. The NL East leaders opened a nine-game West Coast trip with their sixth win in eight games.

Koda Glover pitched a scoreless ninth to notch his sixth save in seven tries.

Ryan Zimmerman hit his 14th homer, off Matt Moore (2-6) in the second.

Daniel Murphy hit an RBI double in his first game after missing three games due to illness.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Nationals: INF Stephen Drew, out since April 12 with a right hamstring strain, was reinstated before the game. The Nationals optioned LHP Matt Grace to Triple-A Syracuse. . Manager Dusty Baker rejoined the team after missing the weekend to attend son Darren's high school graduation.

Giants: Utilityman Eduardo Nunez was evaluated for concussion symptoms after suffering a head injury while scoring on a passed ball on Sunday. He experienced blurry vision but stayed in the game, manager Bruce Bochy said. Nunez hadn't been placed on the seven-day concussion list before Monday's game. The Giants brought in but didn't immediately activate utilityman Orlando Calixte, a possible replacement for Nunez, from Triple-A Sacramento.

UP NEXT:
LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 2.90 ERA) is 4-4 with a 2.94 ERA in 11 starts against the Giants. Jeff Samardzija (1-6, 4.50) is 2-5 with a 3.83 ERA in 14 appearances (seven starts) against Washington and 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA in his last three starts against the Nationals.

Punches thrown, epic brawl ensues after Strickland hits Harper with pitch

Punches thrown, epic brawl ensues after Strickland hits Harper with pitch

SAN FRANCISCO — Pitchers never forget, and Bryce Harper didn’t either. Three years after Harper took Strickland deep in the NLDS and the two exchanged words, Strickland drilled Harper, setting off a wild, legitimate fight on the mound. 

Harper charged Strickland and tried to throw his helmet before the two started throwing haymakers. A wild brawl ensued, and Strickland had to be dragged off the field by three teammates. Both players were ejected. 

Harper came up with two outs and the Giants trailing by a pair in the eighth. The first pitch was a 98 mph heat-seaker right at Harper’s hip. Harper pointed his bat at Strickland and then tossed it down. Strickland dropped his glove and then Harper threw his helmet, which ended up going toward second base. Each player got at least one good shot in before they were swallowed up by a dogpile. 

Jeff Samardzija — coming from the bench — collided with Michael Morse, who was coming from first. Both appeared to be fine.

Harper and Strickland first crossed paths in the 2014 NLDS, when Harper homered off Strickland in Game 1 and then hit a 97 mph fastball into McCovey Cove to tie Game 4. He watched it fly and the two stared at each other as Harper rounded second. When he reached the dugout, he turned back toward the field and screamed at Strickland.