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Friday, June 19, 2009
Sosa report isn't worth the outrage

By Jim Caple
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Hasn't the statute of limitations passed on being outraged over a baseball player testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs?

I always try to ignore the angst and hyperventilating when there's another story about steroids and baseball, but I never can. Everyone shouts that we've all been betrayed and lied to and how our kids have no one to model themselves after and how much purer the game was when players just smoked and drank and took drugs and how dirty baseball is compared to football, whose players are all naturally 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds with 32-inch waists and where some of the veterans die in their 50s of heart disease. And try as I might, I just have to respond.

Sammy Sosa
Many fans and pundits were suspicious of Sammy Sosa's claim that he took nothing stronger than children's vitamins.

The latest case is the revelation that Sammy Sosa tested positive for a PED in 2003. Can you believe it? As surprises go, this is right up there with Mike Hampton going on the disabled list, the Nationals losing another game or the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets having high payrolls. I mean, Sammy Sosa took steroids? Really? Who would have suspected?

Remember in 1998 when Sosa and Mark McGwire were battling in the great home run chase? Associated Press reporter Steve Wilstein noticed that McGwire had androstenedione in his locker and sparked a national debate over whether this was cheating or not. Sosa claimed he took nothing stronger than Flintstones vitamins, but we all saw how big these guys were. We all knew that steroids had been in baseball for a decade -- fans chanted "Steroids! Steroids!" when Jose Canseco batted in the 1988 playoffs -- and in other sports for far longer. And the national consensus was no one cared! If it was a magic act, no one wanted to ruin it by looking too closely behind the smoke and mirrors.

Now we're supposed to feel cheated? Or upset that an athlete might have been less than truthful to some of our more publicity-hungry politicians? Sorry, I just can't work up the anger. I'm too busy wondering whether Joe Mauer can hit .400 or Zack Greinke can win the Cy Young.

The year after the McGwire-Sosa home run chase, there was an episode of "The Simpsons" entitled "Brother's Little Helper," in which Bart becomes convinced that major league baseball is spying on Springfield and proves it by shooting down an MLB satellite. McGwire appears and Bart asks him why baseball is spying on people. "Do you want to know the terrifying truth?" McGwire responds. "Or do you want to see me sock a few dingers?"

"Dingers!" everyone shouts. "Dingers!"

Maybe that was just a weak ending to a plot gone horribly out of control, but I prefer to think of it as the best commentary we've ever had on baseball, steroids and our general attention span.

Yes, baseball moved far too slowly and far too late on steroid testing. Duh. I think we all get that by now. But baseball finally did get a plan in place, and now its policy is harsher than the revered NFL's. What more can the sport do? What more is there to say on the subject? How much more outrage can there be after so many years of hearing this same endless story?

And just think there are still 100 names on the list to "leak'" out which means we get to go through this 100 more times!'

So I'll let other columnists scream that Sosa doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame because he cheated, unlike immortals such as the above-reproach Gaylord Perry. I can't work up the energy to care any more about something that happened six years ago. After the constant drip, drip, drip of steroids stories, I'm ready to move on.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for