Thursday, August 8, 2013


So there was another drug bust in Major League Baseball....

and Fay Vincent, once the Commish himself, says "one strike an' yer'out."

I agree, but I found the tone of Vincent's article provocative, but in a quixotic, almost nostalgic, way.  Such a moral clarion call would've worked better, probably should've been heard much more clearly, back in the mid-90s, right after Vincent concluded his term as MLB commissioner and right in the midst of baseball's season and World Series-killing strike of 1994.  Baseball had to rebuild itself, and a clear stance on PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) could've been part of that reconstruction.

But no, baseball went the other way:  steroids made for record-breaking home run tallies, which brought back the crowds, and when the $$$ rolls in, nobody's going to ask questions.  Scruples?  feh....

Now we know that the late 1990s MLB resurgence was a medically-induced fraud, and now we know that a baker's dozen more--headlined by the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, who if healthy and clean was supposed to make us forget all about the late 90s roiders like McGuire and Sosa--were engaged in the same dirty play. 

Enter Fay Vincent's call for "one strike and you're out--for good."  Would this solve the problem?  To a certain extent, yes, but even Vincent knows the ban on gambling on baseball didn't prevent gambling altogether (cf. "Durocher, Leo" for just one well-known example).  So there'd still be some dietary/medicinal hanky-panky.  Chia seeds!  Whey protein shakes!  Mountain Dew and a Snickers! 

More to the point, Vincent bases his call on similar zero-tolerance bans on smoking and illicit drug use.  Problem:  popular votes in Colorado and other states have overturned "the war on drugs."  This in itself is a problem, again one that even undergraduate students grasp:  just because a majority of people think some action is right--or at least morally permissible--doesn't make it so.  That's exactly Vincent's point--but I wonder if the tide of moral relativism, or at least moral apathy, has already swept over his beachfront property.  Vincent concludes:

There is also the need for education and moral leadership to explain to all of those who play sports that cheating is simply wrong. It may seem odd to contend in a world often saturated by moral relativism that there is such a thing as an immoral act. But cheating at games—whether it be cycling, baseball, football or track and field—is wrong, and we had better begin to say so. Otherwise we risk, quite literally, losing all our games.

Vincent's not alone in defending the need to name immoral acts as such.  See Confucius, "rectification of namesas well as the Church's Catechism.  Ah, but when some moral authorities exercise this right (and this is especially true whenever the Church flexes its moral authority), the masses demarcate where that authority's power lies. So do calls for zero tolerance hold weight anymore? It's not so much moral relativism as "I/we don't want to hear what you have to say...on this particular point." After all, it's currently all the rage to extol Pope Francis as the Church's sha-zam! rehabilitator.  Wait till Pope Francis has a Humanae Vitae moment.