All yesterday, whenever I got my proper sprawl on, on the couch or whatever, I kept hearing this tearing sound coming from the seat of my pants. Numerous thorough self-examinations were unable to identify the cause of the ripping fabric noises. Only when I turned in last night did I realize it was my underwear. So much for those Halloween-themed black and orange boxers with the spiderwebs my mom got me a couple years ago. I don’t know why I’m sharing this. It’s been a long season; I guess we’re all starting to get too familiar with each other.

Tony Reali always says that self-promotion is the mating call of the mute button, but I just can’t help myself. If you find my writing amusing and enjoy watching TV (besides baseball), you may find my TV.com blog of interest. It’s pretty much what it sounds like, I watch TV shows and write about them. I don’t get paid a thin dime for either of my websites; I just do ’em because I love baseball, and I love watching TV, and I’m completely loopy for writing. Well, take a look if you feel like it.

I want to take a moment to speak from the heart about the Rafael Palmeiro situation. Not about what is going to happen, or who’s deluding whom, or what the just thing to do is. If it were up to me, and it’s not, I would ban the guy for life. No more of this nonsense. He tested positive for a steroid — not a supplement, not something you get at GNC, but a real live needle-in-the-vein steroid — back in May sometime before he got his 3,000th hit. Strip him of every single one of those hits that occurred after the positive test, and ban him for life.

Does this mean I think Barry, Sammy, Jason, and all the other alleged dopers should get the axe too? No, because what’s important isn’t the past. You can’t change the past. Baseball looked the other way on the steroid situation for years, and it’s a terrible shame, but this isn’t "Quantum Leap" here. Do you imagine that it’s possible players conspired to throw games before the White Sox did in the 1919 World Series? In all likelihood, they did. Maybe a couple of them are even in the Hall of Fame. What’s important is, how many guys tried it after the Black Sox?

Raffy should be made an example of. If he’s stupid enough to shoot himself up after baseball belatedly passed a somewhat serious testing policy, after going in front of Congress and vehemently denying this and that and calling Jose Canseco a liar, he deserves it. I mean, he should be banned from baseball just for retroactively making Canseco look like a paragon of virtue. This is the house arrest guy. Moreover, this is the guy who once let a ball bounce off of his head for a home run.

Yeah, I realize that everything is collectively bargained such that Bud Selig doesn’t have the powers of a Peter Ueberroth, let alone a Kenesaw Mountain Landis. But everyone is so sick of this steroid mess that an extreme reaction is necessary. This story is going to raise its ugly head over and over again…next spring, when Bonds tries to mount a comeback…again next year when Bonds strokes his 715th homer…in five years when Palmeiro is first eligible for the Hall. Making a sacrificial lamb out of Raffy would (hopefully) guarantee that no one would be stupid enough to try and get away with using steroids again. It possibly could lead to Bonds taking the cue and retiring, or at least having him break the records with fans knowing that at least the last few dozen were clean. And besides, is Rafael Palmeiro anybody’s favorite player? We’re not talking Cal Ripken here. In many ways he’s the perfect guy to make an example of — famous enough that fans and players alike will get the message, but not so beloved that it’ll cause permanent scarring.

Look, all the steroid use that went on before this year, that’s MLB’s fault. The players can hardly be faulted for seeing guys all around them shooting up and getting rich and famous and wanting to ride the ‘roid train themselves, knowing there was little chance of getting caught and less chance of facing meaningful consequences. But druggin’ it up with the rules in place, making a mockery of what’s supposed to be baseball’s most revered milestone, lying about it persistently, soliciting MLB’s cooperation in burying the news of the positive drug test for months…we don’t need this. Any of it. Axe Raffy. I’d rather see a million guys like Phil Rizzuto and Dave Concepcion in the Hall of Fame than guys like Palmeiro and Pete Rose, who put themselves first, second, and third, and baseball a distant fourth. It’s not the juicing so much that bugs me. It’s the lying. One day I want to take my son to Cooperstown and show him Ryne Sandberg’s plaque, and Ripken’s, and Sandy Koufax’s, and Ernie Banks’, and Catfish Hunter’s, and RON SANTO’s (ahem), and say: "See these men? All of these guys were different. They were black and white, city and country, English-speaking and Spanish-speaking. Fergie Jenkins was even Canadian. But all of them had one thing in common. They loved baseball more than anything, and they made it their lives." I don’t want to have to stop in front of Palmeiro’s ugly mug and say, "Except this guy. He lied to Congress."

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