Monday, August 01, 2005

Hard Hits: It Was 'An Accident'

Rafael Palmeiro has had a distinguished 20-year baseball career which has included 10 seasons of 35 homers-or-more and 10 100-plus RBI years. Recently, Palmeiro reached a career milestone when he recorded hit number 3000 against Seattle on July 15th. It put him into exclusive company with Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray as the fourth player in major league history to reach 500 home runs and 3000 hits. A moment like that should be savored and celebrated. Not tarnished.

Before this season began, Palmeiro was one of several star sluggers under scrutiny to testify before Congress back in March about whether he ever used performance enhancement drugs. Back then, he defiantly rejected the notion standing up, pointing and saying, "I have never used steroids. Period."

That was under oath. When major league baseball shockingly announced that Palmeiro had indeed become the seventh major leaguer and first notable one to test positive for steroids Monday morning, Palmeiro quickly released a statement claiming he didn't intentionally or knowingly use. He even went as far as to say, "Why would I do this in a year when I went in front of Congress and I testified and told the truth?" Added the embattled Orioles first baseman, "Why would I do this during a season where I was going to get 3000 hits? It just makes no sense... I'm not a crazy person."

Whether or not Palmeiro wants to portray his innocence, it's hard to argue with the end results, which contradict his statements and make him look like a pathological liar.

What isn't known is when he tested positive. That wasn't released by MLB.

So, was it really an accident as Palmeiro basically is claiming? Was he setup as the fall guy? If you're a conspiracy theorist, you might take the bait. It is pretty mindboggling that a well known player who insisted they never cheated before to a grand jury in the nation's capital would be stupid enough to get caught red handed when he knew the consequences. And we're not talking about the weak 10-day suspension Palmeiro has to serve. We're referring to his reputation being tossed out the window and put in serious jeopardy of making Cooperstown.

The public is a sucker for the truth. When something like this comes to the forefront, the vast majority will believe MLB because the test cameback positive.

While Palmeiro tried to claim that he didn't know how the roids wound up in his system, he also went on to apologize to baseball, the Baltimore Orioles and the fans for making a mistake. Correct me if I'm wrong. But if he unknowingly took something that he didn't realize could be a banned substance, what would he have to be sorry about? Clearly, the 40-year-old first baseman contradicted himself here. Either he knew what he took and was trying to underwhelm the public or he didn't and wasn't sure how he was found guilty.

In any event, Palmeiro's positive test is a black eye for baseball and once again begs the question if MLB's anti-drug policy is stiff enough. Why would a potential Hall of Famer risk getting caught in probably his final year? It makes no sense.

So, was it really an accident Rafael or would you like to alter your statement and get the story straight? It's time to stop deceiving the public.


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