Steroids, lies and videotape
August 5, 2005
Hey, Rafael Palmeiro, rough week huh?Because of one failed drug test, you may end up sitting next to Pete Rose signing autographs at Hall-of-Fame induction ceremonies, instead of actually being inducted at Cooperstown. You also gave your former teammate Jose Canseco credibility, a pretty amazing feat considering the guy’s rep had gone so far south that he agreed to be a cast member on the fourth season of VH1’s “The Surreal Life.”Now, instead of people championing you as a leader in the fight against steroids, you’re the biggest anti-drug hypocrite since Rush Limbaugh. It’s right there on the videotape, Raffy. Forget Canseco’s striptease in drag on “The Surreal Life” – your appearance in front of a congressional panel in March, followed by the unveiling that you tested positive for an anabolic steroid used on horses this season is better reality TV.There’s you wagging your finger at those stoic congressmen and vigorously pronouncing, “I have never used steroids. Period.” Then, there’s you belting a ball into the left-field corner at Cambden Yards last month to record your 3,000th hit – joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray as the only players with 3,000 hits and 500 homers. And then there’s this week, when all of America found out you flunked a steroid test before that oh-so-special hit and that an arbitrator upheld the findings of the test after you filed an appeal through the players association. Here’s the best part, too, Raffy – the part where instead of you coming clean, and maybe salvaging some of that Hall-of-Fame credibility, you continue to lie like Pinocchio.You claimed you never intentionally took steroids, saying that the steroid detected – stanozolol – must have been in some supplement that wasn’t prescribed.Good one. Stanozolol, actually, is so potent that you’d never find it in any over-the-counter nutrition store. It can only be taken in pill form or injected, and isn’t like other designer steroids, which can be covered up by masking agents.Charles Yesalis, a steroid specialist at Pennsylvania State University, told The Associated Press that “no tested athlete in their right mind should be using that drug.”Weird, huh, how that drug ended up in your system, Raffy? You being a spokesperson for Viagra and everything, maybe you thought stanozolol was just another pill to cure E.D. – I don’t know? It’s also a little strange that stanozolol, whose brand name is Winstrol, is the same drug that Canseco said he introduced you to in 1992 when he was traded to the Rangers midway through the season. In his tell-all bestseller “Juiced” he said he injected you and teammates Ivan Rodriguez and Juan Gonzalez numerous times with a combination of deca durabolin, Winstrol and testosterone. Afterward, he wrote, “Raffy, who’s naturally stocky, made reasonable gains in size and weight.”You also made considerable gains at the plate, where before 1992 you’d hit more than 20 home runs only twice in five seasons. Funny how starting in 1993 the balls just started flying out of the ball park. You whacked 37 dingers that season, then 23 in the strike-shortened 1994 season, before belting 39, 39, 38, 43, 47, 39, 47, 33 and 38 from 1995 through 2003.Despite those telling statistics, you copped an innocent plea when you got busted this week, trying to convince everyone that this was a once-in-a-career mistake. You sounded flummoxed in a phone interview with the AP, saying, “Why would I do this in a year when I went in front of Congress and I testified and I told the truth?”I don’t know why you would do this during a season in which you were destined to collect your 3,000th hit? In which you had to do was hang it up afterward – if you wanted to – and walk right into the hall in five years?Maybe because you never thought you would get caught? Or, maybe because you and your pals Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa really thought that testifying before Congress was just high-stakes theater, and that the congressmen who had dragged you there were really doing it just to rub elbows with you?Maybe you just like to lie, Raffy. And cheat.Lie about how you managed to prolong a 20-year career by taking a steroid known to build muscle, boost acceleration and help you recover better. Lie about how you went from leading the bigs in singles early in your career to being one of the game’s most consistent home-run hitters.Heck, people believe you. A sampling of Hall-of-Fame voters showed that 56 percent were still unsure about whether you will get in or not when you are eligible. You also got a vote of confidence from your close buddy George W. Bush, who said he believed that your positive test was a simple mistake made by you, not evidence of a career built on pills and needles.This, in spite of the fact that W himself singled out baseball owners and players for ridding the game of its integrity by continuing to tiptoe around the steroids issue last year in his State of the Union address.Why tell the truth when the truth hurts so bad? Your career has been built on consistency, so why be inconsistent now?Maybe because you could save kids who have dreams of one day playing in the bigs from making the same mistakes you did? Maybe because you care about the legacy of the game and the players who made it to 3,000 hits or 500 home runs without having to use performance-enhancing drugs? All good questions, but you seem to keep answering them with your trademark denial of wrongdoing. To hear if from you, you’re just the victim of a big foul-up – an unlucky guy who just happens to have Hall-of-Fame numbers.You ended your interview with the AP by saying, “I would not put my reputation on the line, everything that I’ve accomplished throughout my career. I would not do that. I’m not a crazy person.”Maybe you should have that checked out.New sports editor Nate Peterson can be reached at email@example.com
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