Arizona Diamondbacks' relief pitcher Jason Grimsley struck out big time the other day, not for his mediocre performance on the mound, but because he is the latest player to be disgraced by his involvement with drugs.
The scary part? Before Grimsley is done naming names, he could take a lot of other players with him.
The Diamondbacks released Grimsley after federal agents raided his home following an earlier admission he used growth hormones, steroids, and amphetamines.
He has identified other players who have either supplied or used the drugs, as well as a fitness trainer who referred him to a drug supplier, providing authorities with new suspects in their ongoing investigation.
No one doubts that more players will be named in the widening probe into drug use in baseball, after years of denials - including, famously, by Rafael Palmeiro - that they played when juiced. It was Palmeiro who emphatically told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that "I have never used steroids. Period!" and then was caught by baseball's testing system and hit with a suspension that effectively ended his career.
Who would have expected that former slugger Jose Canseco, whose book was a catalyst for looking into drugs in the sport, ends up looking like the only honest one in the bunch?
The investigation into the use of growth hormones - known as HGH - suggests that Commissioner Bud Selig is serious about cleaning up the game. Random testing has put players on notice that if they use, they lose.
But the message obviously didn't get through to Grimsley, who failed a baseball drug test back in 2003. Ironically, the drugs don't seem to have done the pitcher much good. He has a 4.88 ERA over 19 games this season. Perhaps he should ask for a refund from his dealer.
Cheating has long been part of baseball, from a little sandpaper to scuff up the ball, to Vaseline to grease a pitch, to a corked bat to boost power. But the use of steroids and growth hormones is more insidious - and dangerous to the health of the players.
Major league baseball is acting properly and responsibly in making it clear to the boys of summer that they will play clean or they won't play. Enough damage has already been done to the game's image. Baseball is all about statistics, and fans nowadays recognize that the record books are being rewritten unfairly.
The home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire back in 1998 captivated the nation, but now it is viewed as suspect. The same is true of Barry Bonds passing Babe Ruth's career home run total, a milestone which excited few outside San Francisco.
Despite the humiliation of Grimsley, and those who undoubtedly will follow him, it may take years for the message to sink in through the ranks of the major and minor leagues that users of steroids and growth hormones eventually will be caught.
Until then, maybe we had better get used to seeing players wreck their careers and their health in the search for a little extra on their fastball or a better slugging percentage.
Such is the evil influence of obscene salaries in professional sports and the need to make money fast.
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