Single page view By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

The human condition -- millions of years old, and still a mystery.

Without such human mysteries, we would never gather at The Cooler, no?

Today's question: When early man cheated his neighbor by illegally hunting mastodon in the offseason, did the cheated neighbor wish the illegal mastodon hunter well while the cheat feasted on the poached meat?

Or, put another, clearer way: You were one of the 30,954 at Camden Yards on Sunday. Rafael Palmeiro approached the plate for his first at-bat since his steroid suspension. And you ...

Rafael Palmeiro
While some fans got on Palmeiro, many others cheered his return to the lineup.


Or you ...


If you booed, we know why: You felt jobbed. You pay big money to watch gifted men play ball. It is an escape hatch from your everyday life, but you wound up playing the stooge, getting ripped off by Palmeiro's dishonesty. Worst of all, he tried to bamboozle you. He broke the social contract between player and fan. Perhaps resorting to the boo is a coarse tack -- I'd prefer no reaction, or total silence -- but it is, at the least, understandable.

But if you cheered?

If you cheered?

If you cheered ... I don't know what to say. I don't know why you cheered.

I know forgiveness is a noble concept, but there's a difference between forgiveness and approval. A cheer, to my ears, signals some sort of approval and acceptance. Surely, nobody in Baltimore wanted to offer approval and acceptance for Palmeiro, did they?

Or perhaps the denizens of Charm City are bigger men than I. Perhaps they were saying this: Raffy cheated. Raffy lied. Raffy got caught, got embarrassed, got penalized, served his time, and now is the time for page-turning. Perhaps Baltimore is a grudge-free town.

Another incident comes to mind: The 2002 World Series, at PacBell Park in San Francisco. I was at Game 3, when Visa sponsored a mondo pregame ceremony honoring the top moments in the game's history. It featured an in-person appearance by Pete Rose, who dishonored the game in the most heinous way possible -- he dishonored its integrity. And our response in '02? We stood and cheered and cheered -- for what? I wondered at the time, but I felt we were saying no penalty should last forever -- that when a man has been beaten down, his character and reputation sullied, there is a chance to cheer him, eventually, for the good things he did in his life and on the ball field.

But cheering Raffy? Yesterday in Baltimore? It seemed too much, too soon. At The Cooler, it's too soon to cheer. For now, it's still time for Palmeiro to feel the sting of our disappointment.

On, then, to the Weekend List of Five:

1. Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?
By the time you read this, the 2005 PGA Championship will have a winner. If there's any justice in this world, the winner will be Tiger Woods.

Tiger was the only headliner with enough moxie to stare back at Baltusrol on Sunday and say: "I speet in your general direction."

When lightning halted play late on Sunday, Tiger was in the barn with a 68, by any measure, on any course, a stellar final-round at a major championship. The crew of headliners who never should have let Tiger anywhere near the Wanamaker Trophy played as follows, as of the weather delay:



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