I've just never felt as if I possessed a single sadistic bone in my body -- until now.
Confession: I am enjoying watching what many are describing as the Chinese water torture of baseball -- the drip, drip, drip of names from what was supposed to be a secret list of players in 2003 who tested positive for using performance-enhancing drugs. Big Papi and Manny on Thursday. Sammy Sosa in June. A-Rod just before spring training started. Keep them coming, I say, nice and slow.
A lot of folks have suggested they can't stand this anymore. Some of my peers are writing that they want the rest of the 104 names from the infamous list revealed all at once. Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune the other day that "to have the names piddling out there is ridiculous."
I think this IV-like drip of culprits is the medicine baseball deserves.
After all, baseball has mismanaged its reaction to its drug problem just as badly as it did the drug problem in the first place. The whole reason a list exist is because baseball, specifically the union, failed to trash it as it promised. How did that happen? Was the office paper shredder broken that day? Could it not afford to hire a company to erase a hard drive?
They won't be the last to be identified. There will be more big names dropped too. It is highly unlikely, however, that there will one day be a flood of these names that will cleanse baseball's soul all at once.
Bud Selig would probably prefer that in the best interest of the game. So, too, I suspect, would most of the 1,438 players tested in 2003 whose results were clean. As the Astros' Lance Berkman said during spring training: "The problem with this whole sordid mess is now everybody is questioned."
But the players union won't go for full disclosure, especially after all those years of fighting the exact same thing with the argument that the game wasn't in need of an intervention. Retiring union boss Don Fehr has said as much several times.
Let the names of the guilty continue to trickle out as a constant reminder of how this whole steroids era should not have been handled.The players union, according to Selig's office, is the only baseball organization that has the list, too.
Furthermore, the 97 players who were informed by baseball after the 2003 test that they didn't make the wash certainly don't want their names revealed. Look at Big Papi, the heretofore very likeable David Ortiz. At least twice earlier this year he was all mouth about the need to rid the game of steroids and the like. But Thursday after his name was linked to the list, he went mute. Not talking about it, he told the press, before going out to play (He later released a statement after the game).
That's typical. Forthrightness is not. If Ortiz wanted to be the stand up guy we liked so much he would act like a college caught cheating by the NCAA and impose a penalty upon himself.
The guilty guys don't want to talk, though, or they would have volunteered to do so by now. There are 97 guys out there right now, playing or recently departed from the game, who are living a lie. They are going to fight the truth setting them free. They don't want fans to turn on them. They don't want endorsements to be lost. They want to continue their very rewarding livelihoods. Eventually, they'll be outed, though.
At the rate the list is being divulged -- eight since 2003 -- it'll be almost the year 3000 before the final name comes out. Imagine that? Four generations from now, baseball fans could still be living the lies of the last fifth of the 20th century.
Consider it a curse, not unlike that which haunts the Cubs and even the Red Sox still. Until Thursday, we figured the curse that long hovered over the Red Sox was exorcised after they finally won a World Series again. Now we know the Red Sox succeeded only with juiced hitters in their lineup, Big Papi and Manny. Give them asterisks to go along with their championship rings.
I would rather this not happen to baseball. I like the game. Always have. Proof: I sat through a rain delay Wednesday night at Prince George's Stadium outside Washington D.C., before watching the Bowie Baysox shut down the Connecticut Defenders 6-2. I was in the stands, where I paid $9 for a general admission ducat and downed a couple of Shocktop wheat beers with two slabs of cheese pizza.
But that all this bad news is trickling out about baseball seems to me to be a perfect penalty for all those who brought it about, particularly the union and the players it tried foolishly to insulate for so many years from all the drug-use accusations that have turned out to be true.
Let the names of the guilty continue to trickle out as a constant reminder of how this whole steroids era should not have been handled. Let the slow release be a continuing reminder to all those coming into the game about what not to do. Let it go on long enough so that one day baseball suffers an ultimate embarrassment for its arrogance when the Hall of Fame must remove a player from its wall because he was found to be on this infamous list.