I was slightly confused recently when I made a quick visit to the Baltimore Orioles team website.
It's not that anything was different or confusing about the site itself; in fact, being a part of the MLB.com network, it looked eerily similar to every other team website I'd ever visited. A rotating photo with select headlines graces the upper left corner, while the next game's probable starters take up the right side of the page. Stats, scores, standings — all were located in the same place.
So why was I confused, you ask?
Well, it's really quite simple. You see, I was under the impression that only images of respectable players, coaches, team personnel, etc. graced the pages of a team's website. Isn't it the business of each team to present their fans with a positive image of the club, an image that makes people want to be associated with a ball club?
Guess I was wrong, because the second the page downloaded for me I was staring at a picture of one Rafael Palmeiro.
You'd think that a team would want to distance themselves as much as possible from a player associated so infamously with the steroid controversy in baseball. Perhaps take him off the masthead of the team's website. Evidently not.
The Orioles already sent Palmeiro on a "rehab assignment" to help him recover from his knee and ankle problems. Of course this occurred suspiciously soon after the Aug. 30 contest where Palmeiro took his at-bats wearing earplugs because the boos and jeers were so deafening.
Let's be honest, Palmeiro probably would be playing right now with those injuries if he hadn't insulted the entire U.S. Congressional panel he testified against.
But we'll see how the Orioles feel about continuing to make him one of the faces of the team after his latest incident. The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday that Palmeiro, while facing a three-member baseball arbitration panel, told the panel a teammate gave him a substance that might be responsible for his positive test.
Nice work Raffy; blame your teammates like a 10-year-old kid.
Palmeiro decides that he obviously couldn't be to blame for his positive drug test. No, it must have been one of Palmeiro's teammates that gave him the substance responsible for his own test. Yeah, that's it … maybe.
"Maybe"? What's this "maybe" he's talking about? Either someone gave it to Palmeiro or they didn't. It's Raffy's job to know what substances he's putting into his body, especially in this day and age. Unless Palmeiro was tied down and injected with the substance by force, quite an unlikely scenario, it's his own damn fault.
But the bigger problem here for Palmeiro, and the Orioles organization, is how this will affect the team. Any player in any professional, semi-professional or college team understands there are just some things you don't do. You don't discuss private team issues with the public, you don't chastise your teammates and you absolutely don't blame your teammates for something you did wrong.
Palmeiro has, in essence, broken all three of these rules. It's already been established there is the use of performance-enhancing drugs in MLB — just look at the list of culprits. But you don't rat out a teammate if you know they are using the substance, especially not on a national stage. At the same time, by naming names you're calling out those members of your team and setting them up for continued suspicion when it may not be necessary.
The Associated Press already verified one current player, Colorado's Jorge Piedra, was contacted by the committee because he worked out with Palmeiro a few times. Several other former and active players are still to be questioned by the committee because of Palmeiro's statement.
Palmeiro screwed up. He screwed up when he took, voluntarily or involuntarily, the substances, he screwed up when he wagged his finger at Congress and he's really screwed up now by implicating his teammates and friends in what is his problem alone.
Team sports require a level of trust. Players must trust each other on the field to get their job done, and they must trust each other even more in the sanctuary of the clubhouse. Palmeiro has broken that trust his teammates gave him, which, in this writer's mind, is worse than any substance he ever took.