September 23, 2005
Miguel Tejada:
What's that smell? Oh, it's the stench of Palmeiro taint. And with Raffy seemingly taking the rest of the season off, Miggy's on his own.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Baseball's steroid scandal taints anything it touches.

Holy smokes: Is Miguel Tejada the source for Palmeiro's positive steroid test?!

Let's recap the denials:

*Tejada says it wasn't him.

*The O's say it wasn't him.

*And, to confuse things even more, Palmeiro says he didn't name Tejada at all (as a source says he did).

But again, remember: The taint has *everything* to do with perception, and perception is driven by hazy, complicated, denial-ridden stories like these.

Tejada does admit to giving Raffy a shot of the perfectly legal B-12 (mmm ... B-12) a while ago. Miggy had the stuff, it was tested and it was clean.

Here's what we may not KNOW, but BELIEVE by ASSOCIATION:

Tejada is linked: He may not have given Palmeiro the money shot and it may have been perfectly legal, but all fans remember is "Tejada," "Palmeiro" and "needles."

And Palmeiro is a rat: He may not have thrown a teammate under a bus, but by now fans are willing to believe the worst about him.

It looks like Palmeiro picked the right time to decide not to return to the team for the rest of the season.

ChiSox Choke Watch
CHICAGO -- To much attention, Ozzie Guillen said he'd consider quitting if the White Sox won the World Series.

But did any of the crackerjack Chicago media ask him what he'd do if the White Sox choke away the playoffs?

The ChiSox stepped closer to that precipice, losing 4-1 in 11 to the Twins, while the Indians powered past the Royals and now sit 1.5 GB.

AL East Update
While the Red Sox idled, the Yankees pulled another half-game ahead in the East with a 7-6, series-sweeping W over the O's. You can hear the cringing from New England from here.

The good news for Boston: They get to play woeful Baltimore next, and this ain't the O's team that has played the Sox to a draw in 15 other games this season.

The Yankees host the Blue Jays this weekend in their final homestand of the season (unless, of course, they return a week from Monday for a cataclysmic one-game playoff with Boston).

NFL Game of the Week, but don't be fooled: A Steelers win here shouldn't make Pittsburgh fans feel any better about last January.

NASCAR: Threatens suspensions for any more bad behavior
Maddux 15-Wins Watch: 8IP, 4H, 0ER, he wins his 13th
NCAA Instant Replay: Approved for upcoming bowl games
U.S. at President's Cup: Internationals take the lead
Keith Foulke: Shut down for season (knee surgery)
Aaron Small: Yankees' 9-0 sensation moved to bullpen
Remember last season's huge regular-season win by the Steelers over the then unbeatable Pats? Yeah, I barely do, too. Why? Because in the grand scheme of things, it meant nothing.

That said, given the Steelers' early-season diet of cupcakes, perhaps a W would give their fans confidence that maybe this year the team can beat the Pats when it matters.

More Week 3 Subplots
Key Injury Watch:
OAK/PHI: McNabb. Sure, because last week's injury watch meant so much when he went out an dominated the 49ers. Plus: Moss vs. T.O.!

ATL/BUF: All eyes on Vick's hammy. He's been upgraded to "probable."

Is 2-0 a Fluke?
CIN/CHI: If the Bengals can move their offense against that tough Bears D, the early record is a sign of a huge season to come.

Is 0-2 a Fluke?
NYG/SD: Aren't these two teams' records supposed to be flip-flopped? Chargers need to turn the season around on Sunday night. (Expect boos for Eli.)

"Prove-It" Game
TB/GB: Could the Bucs really move to 3-0 at the expense of sending the Packers to 0-3, doing it at Lambeau?

Mike Tice Hot Seat Watch:
NO/MIN: Saints back on the real road, as opposed to last week's surreal road laughably spun as "home." Of course, home won't be hospitable for the Vikings if they fall behind (listen for boos!)

Fantasy Intrigue:
CLE/IND: Still waiting on that monster game from Peyton Manning.

See Big 5, right, for more.

D-Train for NL Cy?
How much extra value does a pitcher deliver when the manager so values his hitting that he puts him *7th* in the batting order?

Dontrelle Willis batted 7th, unprecedented in the ESPN Era, and won his MLB-leading 22nd game (8IP, 5H, 1R, 7K), nudging his Cy comp with Chris Carpenter that much closer.

I certainly hope the same purists who hold it against David Ortiz for AL MVP because he doesn't field apply the same bias to Carp because he doesn't hit as well as Willis.

Put another way: If A-Rod is that much more valuable than Ortiz because he fields slickly (or at all), why isn't D-Train given the same consideration for the extra element of his bat?

CFB Wknd Preview
Rose-Impacting Game of Week:
GA Tech (15) at VA Tech (4):
Hokies lucky to play this one at home. The Wreck is underrated and should give them a game.

Rita Forces Schedule Change:
Tennessee (10) at LSU (3):
Game moved to Monday. After L to Gators, Vols can play SEC/BCS spoiler vs. sympathetic Tigers. (More on Monday.)

Notre Dame Watch:
ND (16) at Washington:
Pitting UW's Ty Willingham against the team that fired him last winter, the irony of the matchup eclipses what a blowout this will be.

Heisman Watch: L'ville QB Brian Brohm could continue to put up silly numbers vs. overmatched South Florida.

More: Remember when Iowa/OH St looked huge?... USC could regain my No. 1 vote with a convincing win at Oregon... Upset alert: Wisconsin over Michigan in Madison.

Rafael Palmeiro:
Buster Olney called it yesterday in his blog: Ratting out other players could be a worse offense (to players AND fans) than using steroids.
Today on
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 index
Clayton on Week 3
More NFL W3 Plots
Panthers are legit.
More Leftwich grit?
Will Cards right ship?
Could be ugly.
Could be uglier.

NFL W3 Office-Pool Picks: ATL, CIN, TB, IND, StL, CAR, MIN, JAX, PHI, DAL, SEA, PIT, SD (SNF), KC (MNF). (LW: 6-10, Season: 15-17)

AL West: OAK had Boston's problem. While they sat idle, their rival won; LAA topped TEX for their 6th straight W. Now up 3G.

NL Wild: Willis' W doesn't advance FLA's cause, because HOU and PHI both won. PHI's Jimmy Rollins extended his hit streak to 27.

Keep an eye out for new anti-steroid TV ads from the NFL and MLB. Let me know if you think they're effective.

The death of boxer Leavander Johnson from ring injuries once again brings in topic of whether boxing is too brutal to continue.

Gary Payton officially joins the Heat: Between Glove and J-Will (not to mention 'Toine), will Wade's career stall?

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