Single page view By Tim Keown
Page 2

Well, there goes Rafael Palmeiro's career. There goes the legacy, the good vibes of 3,000 hits, the poetic musings on his swing. There goes the certainty of the Hall of Fame.

Too harsh? Palmeiro's positive test for a banned performance-enhancing substance is the tangible evidence that's been lacking throughout this entire steroid ordeal. This is stronger than the leaked grand jury testimony of Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi. It's far more important than Juan Rincon or a host of minor leaguers who weighed risk versus reward and decided to take a chance.

His vehement denial of steroid use -- remember him pointing his finger? -- was one of the few unequivocal moments of the House Committee hearings. Now Palmeiro is probably wishing he'd just said he wasn't interested in discussing the past.

It's nothing short of amazing, really. Palmeiro tested positive after everything that came before his drug test. He tested positive after the BALCO mess, the Jose Canseco book, the congressional hearings and the new testing policy. He just designated himself the new poster boy.

You can hear Giambi's sighs of relief from here.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Palmeiro episode -- and it holds true for most of those who have come under suspicion -- is the complete lack of regard he has for the intelligence of the public. The continued denials, the "I never knowingly ..." attitude -- it's all so transparent. This is the celebrity culture at work.

Obviously, many fans will never believe any of the steroid stuff, and a larger percentage simply doesn't care. But the idea that he can apologize and deny at the same time, as Raffy did during a conference call, is an insult to anybody who bothers to listen.

So from a public relations standpoint, what are Palmeiro's options? Can he garner some sympathy by claiming addiction? He's probably ceded that ground with his denials and appeals, but he can state that his denial was evidence of his denial. Get it?

At this point, isn't addiction the only excuse we haven't heard? Maybe he was addicted to success, addicted to the rush, addicted to the pursuit of 3,000 hits, addicted to further fame and glory.

How about this scene? Palmeiro calls a press conference and says, "I'm a junkie. Through 20 years in baseball, I've gotten hooked on the game and the lifestyle. The fear of living without the money and fame of my baseball career is paralyzing. I decided to do whatever I could to make it last as long as possible."

Wouldn't it be easier to believe that than what we've been hearing? Wouldn't you at least have a shred of sympathy for that line of reasoning? And not only that, but it might contain an unexpected bonus. It might actually be true.

This Week's List
• Another guy who will reap the indirect benefits of the Palmeiro news: Manny Ramirez.

• You know what they say about strange bedfellows: David Wells, speaking out about Manny and the responsibility of being a teammate.

• However, with that being said: It was big of Manny to take time out from his busy schedule to pinch hit and win a game Sunday.



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