I've made this statement before and I stand by it: If any baseball player gets caught taking steroids after what major-league baseball went through in the offseason -- the bad publicity, the congressional hearings, all the criticism of players by fans and the media -- it shows he doesn't have any respect for the game.
If a player has respect for the game, he won't continue to engage in behavior that tarnishes the game. Everyone has been given sufficient warning about steroid testing, so anyone who tests positive has only himself to blame.
I'm extremely disappointed that Rafael Palmeiro has tested positive for steroids. I've always liked Palmeiro, and I've always had a lot of respect for him because of where he came from and what he's gone through. He came to the United States from Cuba, and he had a hard time getting his brother out of Cuba. When Palmeiro was with the Rangers, his brother was at a "Sunday Night Baseball" game in Texas shortly after he was able to come to the U.S., and I was part of the broadcast team. I've always remembered that story, and I've appreciated Palmeiro as a player and as a person.
A big part of me hopes there has been some mistake, that Palmeiro is not guilty. But it would be difficult to make a mistake on someone the magnitude of Palmeiro. Baseball officials checked and rechecked the test, and they heard (and rejected) an appeal before they suspended him.
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised to hear Palmeiro say he never intentionally used steroids. It's the old line: If it was in my body, I don't know how it got there. This has been the standard excuse for track-and-field athletes, but I don't want to hear it. If the positive test is true and the appeals hearing was fair -- and it appears they were -- I don't have any sympathy for him.