Baseball: No stranger to scandal
The acquittal of Roger Clemens on perjury charges for lying to congress about taking performance-enhancing drugs this past Monday is just another chapter in the many steroid scandals that have plagued the sport of baseball recently. For some, the abuse culminates in players being stripped of their titles, awards and eventually denied entrance to baseball’s Hall of Fame. Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco and Sammy Sosa who have all been linked to taking performance enhancing drugs, and are among the few who have been mentioned to where many believe they should have their homerun or batting titles taken away. However, there is always that exception. Ryan Braun had been under scrutiny last season during the playoffs in October for elevated testosterone levels in his system. The drug he was taking had been for an unrelated ailment, and Braun, who had originally received a 50-game suspension, appealed the decision, and won back in February, when it was proven not to be a performance enhancing drug of any sort.
In most cases the outcomes of such events results in new regulations of players’ behaviors or how the game is even played. What many consider the most impactful scandal in the history of baseball is the ‘Black Sox Scandal’ of 1919 in which the Chicago White Sox intentionally lost the World Series because winning at that time would have paid less due to the low salary and miserly approach of the club’s owner, Charles Comiskey. Roughly eight of the players on the team were involved in a deal with gamblers and gangsters of the era of whom then would pay the players a portion of the winnings if they went along with the scheme.
From the throwing of the series that season came the decision by team owners to appoint a commissioner of baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, a Federal judge who would hold ultimate authority in “best interests of baseball”. Even though a grand jury acquitted the players of any wrong doing, the commissioner stated ‘Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player who sits in confidence with a bunch of crooked ballplayers and gamblers, where the ways and means of throwing a game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball.’
I’ve always been on the fence about this one. I feel there was a definite loss of integrity on how the game was played, but I also think the players were justified in some of their actions; fighting for the right to earn a livable wage and to be given an opportunity to play for other teams. The caveat with the Black Sox was that the players were driven by their unhappy situation and united to make a change to the treatment they received. That’s what’s lacking in today’s scandals. Now, it’s all about personal glory and fame. Sigh.