Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Pall of Fame

In the wake of the steroid scandal, we are starting to face some uncomfortable reality. Maybe Jose Canseco was the only guy telling the truth, even if were a bit enhanced.

The story reminds me of the Reagan administration, circa 1987, around the time of Iran Contra. I was working in Washington at Bethesda Naval Hospital. An unattributed Administration source (I'll call him Manny and he wasn't a patient so there's no doctor-patient confidentiality), told me that the only guy he trusted in Washington was Robert McFarlane. Ironically, McFarlane pleaded guilty to four counts of providing false information to Congress. The point isn't to indict politicians for lying (there wouldn't be enough courts in America to handle the business), but rather to show how difficult it is to tell when they are telling the truth.

So now that we have the truth about Palmeiro (and provisionally about other Canseco nominees to the Hall of Shame), what do we do with them? Raffy ought to get some good rest and swimming pool time during his massive ten-day suspension. For him to get caught enough times to get a serious suspension, he'll have to play to Julio Franco age. Franco, of course, knew God's dog when he was a puppy.

As one of the few good men with 500 homers and 3000 hits, Palmeiro was considered one of the upper echelon of hitters. I guess he still is, in the sense that Ben Johnson burned up the track, wind-aided of course.

Does Palmeiro belong in the Hall of Fame? Does President Kennedy get elected without dead people's votes in Illinois or President Bush the younger without some mysterious action in Florida? Does OJ Simpson belong in Canton after his exploits? The answers belong to the voters, whether sports writers, ordinary citizens, or impaneled jurors. As William Goldman said, "life isn't fair, it's just fairer than death, that's all."

Crime pays. Will Palmeiro get into the Hall of Fame? Probably. I also believe that Mark McGwire probably will, too, but it make take awhile. Gaylord Perry got in throwing spitters, so he cheated, and Jason Giambi's (he of the Yankee BALCO bash brothers) homers in Game 7 of the ALCS aren't coming off the board, either.

Would I vote for Palmeiro? That depends. If he came clean and penitent, then I'd forgive him. If he persists in the fantasy that steroids came in his ham and cheese on rye with special sauce, then I'd turn him down. Why? It's one thing if I'm stupid already, but don't insult my intelligence.

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