THE GOOD WITH THE BAD
I am distracted by too many important things in my life right now, but I did note the great contrast of yesterday's Hall of Fame induction and the announcement that Rafael Palmeiro has been suspended by Major League Baseball for steroid use.
Ryne Sandberg is a columnist for Yahoo! Sports, which published his induction speech online today. It was a wonderful speech, and it spoke directly to all players who have taken shortcuts to money at the expense of the integrity of the game, whether steroid user or gambler on baseball games. If you're a baseball fan, I urge you to read it.
As for Palmeiro, just two weeks ago I was sitting in the stands at Safeco Field in Seattle hoping to watch him stroke his 3,000th basehit. I saw only his #2,999 (as well as, over the years, probably two dozen more, and probably at least a half-dozen home runs that sank the Mariners).
I had a hard time dealing with Palmeiro's commercials for Viagra, but this obviously is a new problem for baseball. Palmeiro is easily the biggest slugger to be suspended for cheating. Without listening to the baseball talking heads on Fox Sports and ESPN, I'd bet any amount of money that Palmeiro, despite his accomplishments, has at the very least put his seemingly probable election to the Hall of Fame back to the second ballot.
Draw, if you will, a contrast in memory to Palmeiro's refutation of charges during his testimony before Congress last winter and President Bill Clinton's outright lie when refuting charges of adultery. Even though I felt Clinton didn't deserve the scorn he received for what should have been a private matter, many feel otherwise. If Palmeiro is indeed a steroid user, then I will actually feel more betrayed, because what Palmeiro would have done to cheat is directly related to his job.
The timing of the announcement is amazing, too, because Palmeiro did just mark a major baseball achievement; he is now one of just four players with more than 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, in all 130 years of major league baseball. But now we must ask, how many of his 569 home runs were chemically aided? How many of those doubles in the gap would have been singles or pop outs?
Don't know. And maybe we'll even see that he hasn't cheated.
But -- as Randy Newman sings in the opening credits of the television show, Monk -- I don't think so.