The eminent Bart Giamatti—commissioner of Major League Baseball in 1989 before his untimely death—often spoke of why the rules of the game, indeed of all games, are inviolable. Games, he'd say, are defined by rules without which there can be no games. When rules are ignored, the event becomes entertainment and ceases to be a true athletic contest. The result is then professional wrestling or theater—but not sport.
My pal Bart comes to mind whenever I hear about the continuing saga of big-time players violating Major League Baseball's performance-enhancing drug policies or refusing to cooperate with MLB investigations.
Yankee superstar Alex Rodriguez and up to a dozen other players are reportedly facing stiff suspensions (a ruling is expected Monday) over their ties to the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic. Three 2013 All-Stars could face suspensions of 50 games or more: Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera and Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
Obviously we have learned that those who once dared pronounce—rather more hopefully than accurately—the end of baseball's so-called steroid era were wrong. Perhaps the performance-enhancing drugs being used today are not of the steroid classification, but drugs on the MLB's banned substances list, including human growth hormone, or HGH, are reportedly still being used. Last month, Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun was hit with a 65-game suspension for his involvement with Biogenesis that will end his play for the rest of this season. Last year, Toronto's Melky Cabrera, Oakland's Bartolo Colon and San Diego's Yasmani Grandal were suspended for drug violations.
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Fay Vincent is a former CEO of Columbia Pictures Industries. He served as the Commissioner of Baseball from 1989-92.