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Chris Sosa: No Hall pass for baseball cheaters

December 12, 2011|By Chris Sosa | RedEye

Oh great, another pain in the asterisk* for baseball.

When I heard Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun may have violated Major League Baseball's drug policy, I rolled my eyes and thought "not again."

Every instance of cheating is like a fastball to the ribcage**: It's gonna leave a mark. By taking performance enhancers, players are saying either "I can't hack it without help" or "all I care about is a monster contract." Both are insults to fans, and violations should not be brushed off simply because they've become commonplace.

Braun, the newly minted National League MVP, should tread carefully. Cubs fans in particular know what happens when players dig in on these matters. Sammy Sosa's stubbornness helped buy his ticket to obscurity. Ditto for Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro***.

Players who have figured out it's better to apologize—including Alex Rodriguez and Mark McGwire—regain some goodwill. Learn from them, Mr. Braun. One mistake does not have to undo a career. If you're guilty, it's best to accept the 50-game suspension and move on.

Where the line is drawn, however, is the Hall of Fame. There should be no room for doubt (or a special wing****) as to how great a player is, and we don't get an accurate sense of that when performance enhancers are involved. We can't say, for example, that using Drug Cocktail X equals 10 percent more home runs or 5 percent more hits. We just don't know.

It would be fun to see someone legitimately chase 61 homers. Or 755. Sadly, it might be ages before we can be confident that what we're witnessing is genuine.

Braun has denied wrongdoing, and for his sake I hope he's exonerated. Otherwise, compounding a lie with false indignation could ruin him. For the fans' sake, if not your own, make some amends.

* Lots more where this came from.

** We're talking a Kerry Wood-in-his-prime heater, not a Mark Buehrle lob.

*** Don't even get me started on Barry Bonds.

**** See how annoying asterisks are? Arrrgh!

chsosa@tribune.com | @sayitissosa

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