No one is above suspicion

Updated: June 22, 2006, 11:41 AM ET
By Tim Keown | ESPN The Magazine
Baseball doesn't need this, not now. Baseball doesn't need another federal case, not in the wake of Barry Bonds' joyless trudge toward 715, not with the exhaust fumes from the BALCO mess still wafting across America's playing fields, not with so many questions and so few answers. Before, the toxic cloud of mistrust hovered over the sluggers, especially Bonds and anyone else whose power spiked. But now, following the Jason Grimsley raid, the cloud envelops pitchers, too. No one is above suspicion.

Today's ballplayer is like a cartoon character hanging from a cliff by a fraying rope. Strand by strand, revelation by revelation, the rope snaps. Of course the pitchers were in on it. The stuff extends their careers. How could we not see that? So it wasn't just the gap-hitting outfielders who found that a carefully calibrated regimen of Deca or Winny or HGH could help them take care of their families for generations to come. It was the starters and middle relievers and closers, too.

Ballplayers hate rumors and rats, and with so much to hide, who can blame them? It's a new world, and success itself now triggers suspicion. Ask Albert Pujols, who found himself under a microscope after hitting 25 homers in 53 games, a feat that would have merited celebration not long ago. Luis Gonzalez had to call a press conference on June 15 to defend himself for whacking 57 homers in 2001. So now that we know what we know about pitchers, is it fair to raise an eyebrow because Roger Clemens can command more than $3 million a month -- at age 43?