Its been described as the perfect game in literature and poem. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball. Its a game that is played between father and son, father and daughter, mother and son, grandparents...every combination of family and friend there is. How many arguments between a father and son, for example, have been soothed by a game of catch?
Alas, the grown-up game, the professional game, is not so romantic. The steroid era of some years ago tainted home run records and caused baseball fans to be in some ways as cynical about their sport as track-and-field fans were about theirs, as cycling fans were in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandals. But not to worry, the pooh-bahs of Major League Baseball said, were going to clean this up.
Now, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees and a dozen others stand suspended in a doping investigation connected to a Florida company that allegedly supplied the players with performance-enhancing drugs. At 38, Rodriguez appears to have wanted to prolong the twilight of his career, and his earning power, as long as he could.
This problem developed because players wanted bigger paychecks and sought to enhance their strength to play better -- any way they could. It happened because owners looked the other way.
Baseball needs to install widespread random testing. It needs to levy lifetime penalties, period. Too many second chances lead to third and fourth chances. It needs to establish penalties for owners who have repeat problems. It needs, in other words, to return to the fans the game that has broken their hearts, but still has their love.