The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







Palmeiro's Blunder

By Jerry Keys

Even those of us who believe he willfully used steroids; have to have some sympathy for Rafael Palmeiro.  Rafy was not the first to be suspended but was the first big-name player to be.  Was he in damage control when he accused teammate Miguel Tejada of furnishing him the steroids?

Rafy posted very impressive numbers throughout his career, 569 homers, 1835 runs batted in, 3020 hits, and a .288 lifetime average.  All worthy of Hall

of Fame consideration - well almost.  With the impending steroid allegations still fresh in the air, a good question to ask is if Rafy will even be considered for the Hall.

Before the Age of the Hitter (1993-2003), the benchmark for the Hall as a hitter was either 400 homers or 3000 hits.  Rafy has both.  Dave Kingman was the first to club over 400 homers (442) but never receive serious support, mainly due to a .236 lifetime average.  Several sluggers have accumulated higher home run totals and will most likely raise the benchmark more.

Jose Canseco hit 462, Mark McGwire hit 583, and Sammy Sosa stands at 588.  Canseco admitted to "juicing-up", McGwire will not admit nor will he firmly deny, and Sosa really doesn't need to, the difference in his statistics tells that for him.  In the last five years, Sosa's home run totals have gone 64-49-40-35-14 and average 328-288-279-253-221.  Is it a coincidence that his stats fell just as the steroid testing rose?

Palmeiro had a stellar career but it will all be for not.  I do not expect him to play in 2006.  If he could still post 35-40 homers and 115 RBI's, almost any baseball GM would be willing to forgive him for his wrongdoings.  But since he was in the twilight of his career when this occurred, he will be used as an example of what

Jerry Keys

will happen to a steroid user, superstar or not.

Using steroids illegally is wrong.  Everyone knows that.  But how many of us that have accosted Palmeiro and others for the use, would use ourselves?

If we were 25 and a utility player/crossover between Triple-A and the majors, we are very expendable and enjoy a very short shelf life.  We make either at or just above the major league minimum (although that is still superior money in the real world).  If we are lucky enough to clear $500,000, we are the first to go when the team "downsizes".  We are the first to go if a teenage phenomenon of any caliber is brought up.

During the off-season this player begins

to use steroids.  He returns to spring training quite buff and hungrier than ever for a place on the roster.  An injury to a starter here, extra playing time there, leads to more at-bats and more attention.

By season's end, he posts career numbers, maybe 20-25 homers, and nice RBI and batting average numbers.  He is now 26 and a top commodity on the free agent market.  Maybe a three year / $10 million contract, or if the timing is just right a five year / $25 million contract.  Just enough to set you for life if you have any type of financial planning.  26 and set for life.  26…… it does sound nice.

Do we still want to spew venom at the users now?  Do we blame them?  To what length would we go to trade our paltry salaries for $25,000,000?
The same goes for career platoon players, 10-12 years under their belt and seeking that one breakout year that could have them set for life.  They do not see it as cheating; they see it as doing what everyone else is doing.

Baseball can only be played on a level playing field; if everyone either uses steroids or does not.  If put to a vote between the 30 major league owners, I wonder what the outcome would be.

Maybe within the next five years the bar for how many homers are needed for Hall consideration will be raised to 500 or even 600.  Will starting pitchers with only 225 wins and a 4.00 ERA be allowed in?  From 1978 to 1994 only one player clubbed 50 homers in one year.  Since 1995 it is commonplace.

Maybe Cooperstown will earmark 1993-2003 in a separate category for consideration.  Palmeiro may be the only superstar that gets caught using but we all know he was not the only one.  Barry Bonds is making an assault on Hammering Hank's 755 mark but will always be intertwined with BALCO.  Wouldn't it be nice to see Bonds crack 800 homers and be suspended for steroid use?  Would his mark stand?  We shall see………