I apologize. Who doesn't?
I apologize to you, Jose Canseco, the instantly credible source of baseball misdeeds. And here I thought you were only going after a buck with "Juiced." (Fifty-eight dollars for an autographed copy on josecanseco.com.)
I am starting to believe everything you have to say. (Insert shower here.)
Apparently in Rafael Palmeiro's world, "never" means, "well, perhaps once in a while." The Baltimore Orioles first baseman, who dared to point his finger in defiance at Congress at March's steroid hearings, now perhaps may be hit with perjury charges after Major League Baseball suspended him for 10 days for violating the league's substance abuse program with ... gasp, steroids.
I apologize, Jose, for you were right about Palmeiro and Mark McGwire. You mention Sammy Sosa and Ivan Rodriguez in your tome as well. I see Sosa's dramatic dip in offense this season, and the fact that Rodriguez looks like a spokesperson for Jenny Craig, and I say, "tell me more."
That day before Congress, Curt Schilling called him a "so-called author," which may be true. But he's a so-called author with credibility now. In between his book tour, schlocking merchandise, and starring in VH1's "Surreal Life," Canseco is now working on the follow-up to "Juiced," titled "Vindicated." I can't wait.
Take away one more Hall of Fame career, because Palmeiro's case is over, unless you're Jayson Stark, who says he would still vote for him. Still vote for him. And you wonder why guys like Jim Rice aren't in the Hall. It's because of yahoos like this, writers who inexplicably want to turn the cheek lest admit there is anything wrong with their game. God forbid. As the Baltimore Sun's John Eisenberg writes, how can you not wonder about the legitimacy of those numbers? And believe it or not, that is the basis of Stark's argument: the numbers are there. Oh. Well, then. Might as well add a Steve Howe wing to Cooperstown with an Otis Nixon room.
Thankfully, I think enough writers have enough sense that McGwire won't go into the Hall and neither will Palmeiro. Those who vote for them are apologists, writers who look at the game the way a parent might buy his or her high school kid a new VW after finding a fifth of Popov in their backpack. Put it this way, if Rice is not elected to the Hall in January 2006, there are an awful lot of voters out there who need to explain themselves as to why, since the only reason he hasn't made it all this time anyway is that his stats are being compared to the explosion of numbers we have seen since he retired.
Once again, folks, we've been hoodwinked. Players got bigger and put up equally proportional numbers. Salaries went up. Ticket prices followed. Records fell. And we fell for it and paid for it. Just when we finally decided to get mad about it all, the whole issue just went away, quietly into the start of the season for America's beloved pastime. Nobody wanted to talk steroids anymore, and nobody had to be happier about that development than the players on the hook.
Let's not forget, Palmeiro had one home run back on May 1. One. He's hit 17 in the three months since. Does that throw up a red flag or what? Let's also consider there is another very famous first baseman with a steroid past out there who had three home runs and was batting .224 on May 1. Said first baseman hit 14 home runs in July alone, a month with a three-day break mind you, in an eye-opening resurgence. Is it mere convenience that the heat had gone away? Isn't it all a little convenient that on the very same day Palmeiro's suspension came to light, Barry Bonds announced he is likely going to sit out the rest of this season?
Palmeiro's veiled admission that he "never intentionally took steroids" is a farce. Are we to believe this was all an accident? "Sorry, officer, I didn't mean to drink that 12-pack and get into a car behind the driver's wheel, and I certainly didn't mean to sideswipe that tree. I didn't do it intentionally." And yet, this is the way good ol' Donald Fehr will try to play it. And there will be many Raffy fans that fall for it, questioning the drug policy in lieu of the player.
It could also mean bad news for baseball in Congress, which might finally see this as its opportunity to legislate baseball's drug policy. That would mean a two-year ban for a first offense, just like the Olympics. If that were the case, Palmeiro's career today would likely be over instead of the silly 10 days he gets, 10 fewer than Kenny Rogers received for punching a cameraman, and insanely, just four more than Bronson Arroyo received for his part in a brouhaha at Tampa Bay back in April.
That, my friends, is a joke.
On that day back in March, Palmeiro sat in Congress and dared to lie in front of parents who had just given heart-wrenching testimonial about sons and daughters they had lost to steroid use. By doing so, he spat on their memories, their lives, in his now deflated quest to clear his name. Hey, all in the name of 3,000 hits and the Hall of Fame.
And Jose Canseco, just like that, became a credible source. God help us. And baseball. And Barry Bonds. And Jason Giambi. They may all very well, finally, need it.