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MORRISSEY: We can’t be absolutely, positively certain any player is clean

Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun watches from dugout during seventh inning baseball game against OaklAthletics Wednesday June 5 2013 Milwaukee. (AP

Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun watches from the dugout during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics Wednesday, June 5, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

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Updated: July 7, 2013 12:59PM



Name one major-league baseball player you are positive never has used a performance-enhancing drug. I mean absolutely, bet-the-savings-account positive.

There are two possible answers here:

You can’t.

You’re crazy.

As the latest revelations about baseball and PEDs continue to
spill out, it’s apparent that putting your faith in a ballplayer is still a fool’s game.

I know that’s unfair to those players who wouldn’t know a steroid from human-growth hormone, but that’s where we’re at in sports these days. We’re getting closer and closer to presumption of guilt being the norm. I don’t apologize for that, nor should you. I think the players should apologize. They certainly can blame themselves for their predicament.

The owner of a now-closed clinic at the center of a PED scandal has agreed to cooperate with a Major League Baseball investigation, according to ESPN. There are a lot of nervous players right now. MLB reportedly wants to suspend about 20 of them, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, for their involvement with Tony Bosch, the owner of that Miami-area clinic. There might be more names to come.

That Braun’s name has appeared on the list as owing anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 to Bosch’s clinic is interesting, seeing as how the 2011 National League most valuable player got out of a failed drug test on a technicality and sang his innocence to anyone within earshot. Rodriguez has admitted using steroids in the past and has lost any credibility.

ESPN reports that MLB wants to hand out 100-game suspensions to each of the players, which sounds harsh but isn’t. If MLB really wants to do something
about this mess, the suspensions need to last multiple years and the players’ union needs to get on board. The vast majority of the 20 players on the list is Latin. Many of the players come from incredibly poor backgrounds and will do whatever they can to succeed and help their families. If the punishment takes away their ability to make money, they might think twice about using PEDs.

Braun refuses to answer questions about the most recent development but still maintains his innocence.

‘‘The truth has not changed,’’ he said.

We’ll see about that. The big question hovering over the ESPN report is whether Bosch would be considered believable. (What says ‘‘shady’’ more than a guy handing out PEDs from a strip-mall office?) As it stands now, it would be his word and records against the protestations of ballplayers who aren’t very believable.

A month ago, the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy wrote a column listing all the reasons he was skeptical of Red Sox slugger David Ortiz’s hot start: Ortiz’s bat speed at age 37 was better than it had been earlier in his career; he was getting over an Achilles tendon problem, an injury often consistent with steroid use; he was hitting .426 without the benefit of a spring training; and his name had made the 2003 list of players who had failed a drug test.

To Shaughnessy’s points, Ortiz had the same answer, none of which was, ‘‘Steroids make me better.’’

Shaughnessy became something of a punching bag for writing the column.

It’s funny. Eleven years ago, when PED use in baseball became a full-blown scandal, the public ripped the media for having not seen it earlier. Now Shaughnessy gets ripped for asking Ortiz — in person — hard questions about his late-career success. Sort of hard to win, no?

A month later, here we go again. Care to bet the savings account on Ortiz, who isn’t named in the ESPN report? On any ballplayer? Didn’t think so.

I know there’s a sizable portion of the populace that doesn’t care if athletes shoot each other with tranquilizer darts, provided it makes them perform better. I know many of you are bored to tears with this subject. In your world, players play, fans turn a blind eye and everybody’s happy.

But this isn’t happening in a vacuum. This isn’t like the news Wednesday that Indians reliever Chris Perez is being investigated for a suspected marijuana shipment to his home.

If you don’t think high school athletes are emulating pro athletes using steroids, you are very naïve. If the job of adults is to protect children, then it would follow that stopping pro athletes from using PEDs would be part of the protection.

If you want kids turning into adults with heart and liver disease because of steroid use, well, then never mind.



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