Exhibit A in how to totally destroy a hall of fame career in three short months: Rafael Palmeiro.
If there is a wrong decision to be made, rest assured Palmeiro is going to lean that way.
Palmeiro tests positive for steroids. He screwed up. Does he:
A) Fess up, apologize, steer clear of the juice, and show prolonged public remorse?
B) Turn into Maurice Clarett, deny fault, and try to take a bunch of other people down with him?
For those of you who answered "B", you are very cyncial and very right.
If Raffy's going to be turned into a steroid pariah, by golly, Miguel Tejada is going to play the part of the drug-dealing rat who shot him up.
If I am the Baltimore Orioles, I want to cold-cock Palmeiro right in the teeth about now. Destroying your own reputation is one thing. Trying to take your whole team down with you by implementing their best player is another.
But wait, you say. What if Palmeiro was injected by Tejada? Tejada was, after all, a teammate of Jason Giambi in Oakland. Giambi is most famous for his non-apology apology for using steroids earlier this year.
It's possbile, but don't bet money on it. Why? For one, Tejada is pretty stocky and muscular for a shortstop. If he hasn't tested positive for the juice, chances are he isn't taking steroids, or feeling the need to.
Two, Palmeiro is desperate. Anything he says should be taken with a grain of salt, especially with regard to a teammate who is making far more money and someone who Palmeiro might view as holding a lot of sway in the Orioles clubhouse.
This might be a case of good guy, bad guy in Baltimore, and Palmeiro knows where he stands.
Three, the discrepecy between what Tejada said he gave Palmeiro and what Palmeiro said Tejada gave him. Tejada said he injected Palmeiro with vitamin B12, which is supposed to increase red blood cells' ability to carry oxygen. Palmeiro paints a Canseco-esque pitcure of Tejada jabbing him in the butt with a steroid needle.
Orioles GM Jim Beattie said the test evidence backs up Tejada. Unless there is a lying epidemic going on in the Orioles camp, I am inclined to believe him.
Now, if were talking the different between Andro and human growth hormone, Palmeiro might have a beef. But vitamin B12? Heck, you pop those when you take your water-soluble One-A-Day each morning. Last I've seen, vitamin takers aren't developing muscles, zits, excessive body hair and violent mood swings. Unless they are juicing, too.
Right now, all the arrows point to an egotistical has-been trying to destroy the reputations of others the way his has been, by his own doing.
In June, Palmeiro was Mr. 500 homers and 3,000 hits. One of the game's good guys. Now, he is unquestionably one of the game's villains.
I hate to say it, but Barry Bonds is handling steroid inquiries with more dignity than Palmeiro. Then again, he hasn't been caught. Yet.