OUT OF BOUNDS

This past Monday, Alex Rodriguez admitted to taking steroids from 2001-2003, adding him to the constantly growing list of baseball superstars who doped, and tarnishing his legacy forever.

A-Rod's excuse? He wanted to live up to the lofty expectations inherent in his record-setting $252 million contract.

Rodriguez said this despite the fact that his God-given talents were already envied by every other player in the game; he was a five-tool prodigy seemingly destined for baseball immortality. His justification doesn't excuse his greed in trying to raise the ceiling of his unlimited potential with performance-enhancing drugs.

Unfortunately, Rodriguez is just the latest in a long line of selfish, glory-hungry baseball players who weren't satiated with their greatness. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and now Alex Rodriguez have been revealed as 'roiders, and their flimsy, pusillanimous excuses only distance the superstars further from who used to be their dedicated fans.

These excuses range from dubious rationalizations to arrogant, outright denials. Ex-slugger Barry Bonds had been faced with doping allegations ever since his record-shattering 73 home runs in 2001. Now, Bonds faces perjury charges for stubbornly refusing to swallow his pride and admit to steroid use even when under oath in federal court.

Similarly, Roger Clemens' legacy seemed indestructible after compiling over 350 career wins and 4,000 strikeouts. Then, his name showed up in the infamous Mitchell Report, threatening to invalidate the pitcher's entire career. Rather than own up to his steroid use, Clemens opted to sue his former trainer Brian McNamee and idiotically attempt to maintain innocence.

The fallout from Clemens' ill-advised legal maneuver continues to snowball; federal prosecutors are reportedly mulling an indictment of Clemens on charges of perjury. Between Bonds, Clemens and the newly-convicted Miguel Tejada, it seems that the adage "the truth will set you free" has an equally accurate converse.

In light of the cowardly cover-ups attempted by Bonds and Clemens, Rodriguez's choice to meet the allegations head-on appears admirable (well, as admirable as a forced public apology can be). During the interview, it was apparent that the megastar had been crying, which further suggested his considerable regret. But was A-Rod lamenting his past corruption, or that he was caught? My intuition tells me it's the latter.

I want Clemens to admit, "I was already the most dominant pitcher in the game, I didn't need steroids, and I apologize to my family, the fans, the players and Brian McNamee from the bottom of my heart."

I want Bonds to implore statisticians everywhere to wipe his freak 2001 season from the records and consult a physician to return his cranium to its original size.

I want Rodriguez to say, "I'm going to live up to my new $275 million contract the honest, admirable way, and I'll never again try to gain an unfair edge."

I want the non-doping baseball players to stop allowing their peers to gain an edge on them, and an anonymous hotline to be set up by Major League Baseball to which cheaters can be reported.

I want team trainers to stop looking the other way when players inject themselves with performance-enhancers.

I want to be able to root for a player without having to worry about future steroid allegations.

But most of all, I wish I had no reason to write this column.

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