Single page view By Patrick Hruby
Page 2

At the very least, he appears to be a hypocrite. Rafael Palmeiro stood before Congress, wagged his finger like Harry Potter's magic wand and swore up and down he never, ever used the juice. Period. Poof!

Oh, and then he tested positive for steroids. To which I say -- and I think I speak for America here -- yawn.

Rafael Palmeiro
Come on Raffy ... you can do better than this, right?

Don't get me wrong. Palmeiro did a bad thing. A very bad thing, presuming you care about the integrity of a game played by men in numbered pajamas and/or Palmeiro's future autograph income.

Remember, kids: no Hall of Fame, no sweet, juicy premium for every bat signed. Just say N-O.

Still, I'm having a hard time working up a rabid, "Around the Horn"-worthy froth over Palmeiro's transgression before God and Bud Selig. Perhaps I'm a little -- OK, a lot -- jaded. Or maybe I'm just underwhelmed, bored to a single, Iron Eyes Cody tear (fake, by the way) running down my apathetic cheek.

Hmmm. Gotta go with the latter. The reason?

Raffy might have done a bad thing. But he didn't do it badly enough.

Oscar Wilde once said that people are neither good nor bad, but rather charming or tedious. The same goes for sports malfeasance. As a professional purveyor of lousy news, I relish the novel, demand the unusual, live for spectacularly absurd misdeeds that transcend the ordinary and enter the realm of NAFTA-inspired aliases.

Case in point: Nate Newton wasn't busted for toking an itsy-bitsy joint; he was sent to prison for transporting more than 200 pounds of marijuana in two different vehicles, all while vowing to be "the biggest dope man." Now that's entertainment, and a perfect example of just how high the bar for shock 'n' awe, say-it-ain't-so misbehavior has been set.

Think Bronco chases. Colorado hotel rooms. Tom Cruise's recent media junket. Such are the big-league standards, the reasons I get out of bed in the morning. And measured against them, Palmeiro's oops is Double-A. At best.

Deny. Admit. Lamely claim ignorance. Ho-hum. Given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to wipe out in dazzling fashion -- a la ski jumper Vinko Bogataj in the "Wide World of Sports" opening montage -- Palmeiro chose the bunny slopes, his wrongdoing both predictable and conventional. Perhaps that's only fitting for a guy who has tallied more than 500 homers and 3,000 hits but is better known for Viagra ads; nevertheless, I don't have to like it.

To put things another way: I wanted "Catwoman." I would have settled for "Battlefield Earth." Raffy gave me "New York Minute."

Take fibbing to Congress. Oh, the audacity. Get this: It's old hat. Yesterday's news. People in Washington spin tall tales for our duly elected representatives all the time. They even get paid to do it. They're called lobbyists, and they generally have the common decency to spring for a nice lunch while they're righteously wagging their fingers.

You call it perjury. I call it friendly persuasion. If you're going to bash Palmeiro, bash him for not providing free crab cakes.

Next there's the matter of lying to America -- which is to say, lying on television. Again, this has been done, and far more memorably to boot. President Clinton claimed he never had sexual relations with that woman. A stain on that woman's dress said otherwise. Vice President Dick Cheney insisted Saddam Hussein possessed reconstituted nuclear weapons. If by "reconstituted nuclear weapons" Cheney meant "a scraggly, graying beard," the veep was technically correct.



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