I’ll be honest. I’m pretty tired of the whole steroid theme that has engulfed Major League Baseball in the past few years. I don’t really care much about who shot up or didn’t, I just want it to go away. Then, when I heard that the New York Yankees are considering voiding Jason Giambi’s contract because it’s all but obvious that he has used performance enhancing drugs, I got excited. How can a professional sports franchise try to rip up the contract of an alleged drug user while other organizations are constantly keeping athlete-criminals on their rosters? Worse yet, why would the Yankees decide to become the first team to tackle the steroid issue on a contractual basis?
Precedent places a substantial role in sports and that’s what the Yankees are creating. If this all goes through and a court rules Giambi breached his contract and his contract is voided, this will immediately become an avenue every baseball team will explore intently if they haven’t already begun to do so. What if it comes up that Alex Rodriguez or Chien-Ming Wang have used drugs in the past? In that case, the Yankees would be forced to terminate their contracts or be destroyed in the court of public opinion and every MLB club would be forced to follow suit. This is a dangerously thin line and, if crossed, could open the floodgates across MLB.
In addition to being close to setting a standard that could tarnish the game even more, the Yankees disgust me in how they are trying to take the high road. They are trying to get people to think they are cleaning their clubhouse of wrongdoers, but if Giambi wasn’t struggling at the plate this year, this approach would have been tabled immediately. The Yankees are clearly upset with their $120 million man’s performance at the plate – only six home runs and 19 RBI in the second highest scoring offense in the league – but trying to play the good guy so they can recoup some wasted money is ridiculous. If they are going try to cancel the contract they should do it regardless of numbers.
If Giambi’s contract is voided for steroid use, what should teams do with athletes who commit more serious crimes? I consider anything involving weaponry or assault much more serious than taking drugs. If I ran the Cincinnati Bengals while the Yankees got out of the Giambi deal, how could I look at my roster and keep my various criminals? While cutting extra linebacker A.J. Nicholson for his slip-ups is a step in the right direction, professional sports organizations could not justify keeping athletes convicted of serious crimes on their rosters if Giambi gets the axe for drug use.
Sure the Yankees want to blame someone for their 19-23 start that has them 10.5 games back in May, but all they are doing is trying to get some extra cash from a player whose performance on the field isn’t up to standards. This should not be baseball’s answer to the steroid issue because it’ll only make the problem worse. This would create incredible pressure on other baseball clubs and franchises from other sports and every organization would be forced to take a long look at their stance on character. The last thing baseball needs is more steroid drama and the sport better hope this plan doesn’t go through.