Is baseball becoming the black market?

-- For SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 12:11 AM ET

"Show me a hero and I'll write you a tragedy" -- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Confronted with the opportunity to re-establish credibility in the area of drug testing, the Major League Baseball Players Association on Monday brushed aside commissioner Bud Selig's proposal for penalties of 50 games, 100 games, and a lifetime ban for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

The union's counter-proposal of 20 and 50 games, respectively, for the first two offenses and arbitration to determine whether the commissioner can impose a lifetime ban.

Rich Levin, a spokesman for the Commissioner's office, told MLB.com that, "The union's proposal is not 'three strikes and you're out.' It is three strikes and you're almost out."

Remember Rafael Palmeiro's proclamation on a league-wide conference call this summer, "I am here to make it very clear that I have never intentionally used steroids," said the disgraced Baltimore slugger. "Never. Ever. Period."

Palmeiro neglected to mention in his quasi mea culpa that he and Orioles teammate Miguel Tejada were prescribing and administering prescription medications in the form of vitamin B-12, a practice routinely performed by physicians and nurse practitioners in North America.

Forget MLB for a moment.

Is anyone concerned that Palmeiro and Tejada may have violated federal Food and Drug Administration regulations regarding the distribution and administration of prescription medications?

Diverting prescription drugs, even as innocuous as B-12, is considered illegal when improperly used.

"I didn't do anything wrong," Tejada told the media last week.

"I just gave a B-12 to one of my friends to help him out. I don't give any steroids. Right now they're not looking for B-12, they're looking for something else."

Tejada denied giving Palmeiro a syringe of B-12 and instead gave Palmeiro a bottle of the drug.

What would happen at your job if you were caught under similar circumstances? Should players like Tejada who supply the means for players like Palmeiro also be subject to punishment?

Absolutely. And not just by Major League Baseball.

Athletes should be subjected to criminal penalties the same as the average citizen; after all, they're the ones that don't want to be held to a higher standard.

Washington National's manager Frank Robinson also had it right when he told MLB.com that Palmeiro's records should be eliminated from the record books.

"Where do you go back, stop and say, 'OK," Robinson asked.

"To eliminate all that, and get the players' attention, you wipe the whole thing out."

Palmeiro's 3,000 hits and 500 home runs have an asterisk next to them.

They happened, but they don't count in the record books.

Remember Palmeiro's testimony before Congress earlier this year?

The presumably Hall-of-Fame bound slugger spoke of "talking to young athletes and their parents around the nation that success, not just in baseball but in any sport, is achieved through hard work and discipline, not by using steroids."

Palmeiro forgot to mention illegally acquiring and administering prescription drugs.

Palmeiro also stated that "since arriving to this great country, I have tried to live every day of my life in a manner that I hope has typified the very embodiment of the American Dream."

Only if the American Dream is gaining an unfair advantage to your opponent.

So the big shot of the 2005 season that will be linked to Palmeiro will not be to right, center or left field.

Instead, it will be to the biceps, quadriceps, or the gluteus maximus.

David W. Unkle is a frequent contributor and columnist for SLAM! Sports and can be contacted at:


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