A sad day in baseball

When’s the last time two future Hall of Famers made news like this on the same day?

Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro — who recently joined the exclusive 3,000-hit, 500-homer club — was suspended Monday for 10 days by Major League Baseball for violating its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and began serving the suspension immediately.

And Giants slugger Barry Bonds — who should be No. 2 on the all-time home run list by now if it weren’t for a knee injury — told MLB.com on Monday that he does not foresee playing again this season.

I am very saddened by the Palmeiro news. I have always been a huge fan of my fellow Cuban-American. He’s got one of the sweetest swings I have ever seen in my life. But now, Palmeiro joins a dubious club — he is the highest-profile player to test positive under the current drug prevention policy adopted earlier this year.

Back in March in front of Congress, Palmeiro vehemently denied that he used any performance-enhancing drugs. On Monday, he said he "never intentionally put a banned substance into my body." At his age, Palmeiro should know better. He shouldn’t take anything without reading the bottle. And as a former spokesperson for Viagra, Palmeiro should be checking what he takes so it doesn’t mess with his body. You can easily harm yourself if you don’t thoroughly read a label.

Palmeiro’s image is definitely tarnished. Many fans — including myself — are outraged. According to an ESPN poll, a majority of fans don’t think he’s a Hall of Famer anymore. You can’t totally discount his stats, though. ‘Roids might make you stronger, but they don’t you give better hand-eye coordination. He’s still a Hall of Famer in my book; I just wouldn’t put him on my first ballot if I had the opportunity to vote.

"I hope that people look at my whole career and appreciate that I’ve given everything that I’ve got," Palmeiro said. "I respect the game. I respect my opponents. I respect the players that came before me. I respect the Hall of Fame. If they think I’m worthy enough, I would be very honored. If they don’t I gave it all that I had for this game."

While Palmeiro’s rep takes a beating, the floundering O’s are in trouble, too. They’ve lost six straight and are 1-9 in their last 10. The O’s are three games are .500 (51-54) and 8 1/2 games back in the AL East. Put a fork in ’em, they are done.

As for Bonds, he had been hoping that to return to the field in September. But a recent MRI showed that his knee is swelling.

"I don’t think you’re going to see me out there this year," Bonds said during a telephone interview. "That’s the reality of the situation. … The doctors say it’s wise for me to work out hard this winter and be ready to go next season. I want to be out there and play the whole year."

With Bonds out, the Giants can kiss their slim chances goodbye in the NL Jest. And for the first time in his career, Bonds will miss an entire season.

It was a sad day indeed.

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