Palmeiro deserves Hall pass

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

Who knew we would ever type the following words:

Noted author Jose Canseco was bang on.

Especially after Canseco retracted everything he had written -- everything but the liner jacket -- when called to testify before the U.S. congressional hearings this spring.

Canseco wrote that his then Texas Rangers teammate, Rafael Palmeiro, used steroids in 1993.

And while the Major League Baseball drug policy doesn't reveal what Palmeiro did, he sits on Day 2 of a 10-game suspension for "violating" MLB's drug policy.

And the Seattle Mariners' Ryan Franklin is on Day 1 of his 10-day suspension. In a couple of months or so, will newspapers list along with the probable pitchers, "today's probable violators?"

We're told missing the cup and splashing the wall is not a 10-day penalty.

The test which Palmeiro failed was administered in mid-July.

So was it a coincidence the commissioner's office announced the suspension the day after Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg were inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, with all baseball fans were thinking nice memories and feeling warm and fuzzy?

We think not.

NOT AN EASY QUESTION

The big question now, and until five years after Palmeiro retires, is should he be elected to the Hall of Fame?

It's not an easy question to answer, and the great thing about the vote is that you do not have to give a final answer today or tomorrow.

What if six years from now Palmeiro is not the only Hall of Fame candidate with a drug violation on the back of his baseball card?

What if he is one of, say, 10?

Some may think he shouldn't even be considered for using Viagra.

If you go by the numbers -- and Palmeiro has them with more than 3,018 career hits and 569 homers -- he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Did he cheat? He must have, he's suspended. But how many of the hits and homers should be deducted from his totals? You are wiser than I to come up with that number.

Gaylord Perry cheated and won 300 games yet he's in the Hall of Fame, and they don't have him in the spit ball wing.

Ty Cobb was a flaming racist, according to those who played in his era, yet you won't find his plaque hanging in a Port-A-Potty.

The great thing about having a Hall of Fame vote and players not being eligible for five years after they retire is you don't have to cast your vote the day after someone went 0-for-4 or made three clanks or tested positive the night before.

Today, my answer on Palmeiro is yes, I would vote for him. I would vote for him unless there you can convince me he was the only one who cheated. To date he is the only star player who got caught.

Despite the immediate wringing of hands and the fact some want him strung up from the right field foul pole, and considering the forgiving society we live in, my guess is that the first January five years after he retires, he will be elected to Cooperstown.

At spring training, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, who has been ahead of the curve on this issue since Day 1 was told by a major league player:

"In my opinion, everyone who plays baseball in this era has been tainted. Not just the people Canseco named in the book, I think this whole era over the last 10, 15 or 20 years has been tainted. Regardless of whether you did or you didn't do anything, this whole era will have that label."

The player who spoke those words was Rafael Palmeiro.

Palmeiro will remain tainted until he reaches the old age home, when someone shows up in the year 2045 to do a feature story on him.

Despite it all, he still belongs in the Hall of Fame.


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