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Gutless Wonders

Homeland security in this country is abysmal. Look at the infiltration of baseball alone.

Seems like every week somebody sneaks into the mansion of a major league player and spikes his Lucky Charms with steroids. Or tricks him into sitting on syringes full of testosterone. Call in the Marines! Or at least Ann Coulter!

Take poor Barry Bonds. He found out too late that the flaxseed oil he was innocently taking had been secretly laced with the designer steroid THG. "What did I do?" Bonds asked reporters at spring training. Indeed, what kind of monster would do that to our beloved Barry?

Same with the first major leaguer who came up positive under baseball's new drug-testing policy, Tampa Bay Devil Rays centerfielder Alex Sanchez (now with the San Francisco Giants). "I take stuff I buy over the counter," he protested. Safeguard the water supplies!

The conspiracy claimed another hero last week. Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro was shocked--shocked!--that he'd tested positive for steroids. After all, only four months earlier he'd wagged his finger at Congress and barked, "I have never used steroids. Period!"

He was completely befuddled as to how he could possibly have ingested stanozolol, the same juice that sprinter Ben Johnson was framed with at the 1988 Olympics. "I have never intentionally used steroids," Palmeiro insisted afterward.

So there's only one question left: Who abducted, drugged and memory-wiped Raffy?

After all this, some people wouldn't believe a baseball player if he said Niagara Falls was wet. And I'm one of them.

Honestly, have you ever come across a bigger bunch of deceitful, mealy-mouthed liars this side of vinyl-siding salesmen? How can a guy have the courage to stand in against a 95-mph fastball aimed at his head yet be so gutless that he can't fess up when caught red-urined?

And you know who lets them get away with lying? Baseball writers. Hardly any Hall of Fame voters have the stones to stand up and say, "These guys cheated. I'm not voting them into the Hall of Fame." Instead, many of them puff out their chests and say, "That's it. I'm fed up. I'm not voting for them on the first ballot."

Good god, no! These cheats won't get into the Hall until the second ballot? How will they ever be able to face themselves in the mirrors of their Hummers? Can you imagine saying, "O.K., Pete Rose bet on baseball, an act that undermines the very credibility of the game. Let's not vote him in until the second ballot!"

Some baseball writers, such as's Jayson Stark, don't think steroid use should count against a player. He wrote last week that he would vote Palmeiro into the Hall "first ballot, every ballot." And do you know why? "Because I'm not a cop," Stark wrote. "I'm just a guy who covers baseball for a living. So it's not my job to police this sport. It's the sport's job to police itself."

Aren't you glad Stark wasn't covering President Nixon for The Washington Post in 1972? "It's not my job to police the White House," Stark would've said. "It's the White House's job to police itself."

Hey, Jayson, Journalism 101: You are a watchdog. If it were up to baseball, every hitter would get four strikes, with his mom pitching and outfield fences set up for Wiffle ball.

Baseball writers coddle players because they have to cover them every day for eight months a year. They spend so much time with these undereducated, overpharmacied brats that they begin thinking like them. They even write the players' alibis for them: "But there was no rule against it then!" Every writer and every player knows that using steroids to pump up your numbers is flat-out immoral, unethical and wrong. And that includes Bonds, Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Mark McGwire and every other player who has flunked a steroid test or admitted taking steroids in grand jury testimony or admitted taking androstenedione, which metabolizes into testosterone in the system.

Bottom line: They cheated. Which means their numbers are dirtier than Don't vote the rats in.

(Did you ever think it'd come to this--the most honest voice in baseball would belong to Jose Canseco?)

You know what every Hall voter should do to Bonds and Palmeiro and the rest? Wag his finger at the players and bark, "You're never getting into Cooperstown. Period!"

Instead, most of them will go back to their permanent Fantasy Camp, where only players' stats count, not how they got them, and where players contract steroids off toilet seats.

"I have no clue [where the steroids came from]," Seattle Mariners pitcher Ryan Franklin said last week, after he was suspended for 10 games for a positive test. "It's hard to swallow."

Actually, Ryan--judging from your test--perhaps it wasn't.

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These days some people wouldn't believe a baseball player if he said Niagara Falls was wet. And I'm one of them.