- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Baltimore Orioles are not inviting Rafael Palmeiro back to finish the season.

They reportedly came to this decision after a meeting among owner Peter Angelos, twin front office flops Mike Flanagan and Jim Beattie and interim manager Sam Perlozzo, too nice and decent a man to be dragged through any of the trash heap this once-proud franchise has become.

Palmeiro tested positive for steroids and received a 10-day suspension on Aug.1. He held an embarrassing conference call with the national media where he said he couldn’t talk about the test, but would tell his side of the story at some point and claimed he didn’t knowingly use steroids.

Then Congress got involved and began investigating whether Palmeiro committed perjury when he forcefully testified before Congress in March that he had never used steroids. It has since been reported that Palmeiro, in an arbitration hearing appealing his suspension, claimed a B-12 injection he received from teammate Miguel Tejada might have caused the positive test.

While all this was going on, Palmeiro was booed in his home ballpark upon his return to the field, and then booed so badly in Toronto — one of the meekest crowds in the American League — that he had to use earplugs.

After all this, what is pathetically hilarious is that the Orioles braintrust actually had to have a meeting to come to the conclusion that it might be better if Palmeiro not return to Camden Yards for the rest of the season.

“He won’t be dressing for the rest of the year,” Beattie told reporters. “We felt it wouldn’t be appropriate for the organization.”

Actually, for most organizations, it wouldn’t be appropriate. For the Orioles, it would qualify as a promotional event — B-12 night at the Yard.

The decision to ban Palmeiro, though, left the organization with a hole in its regular schedule of shameless and arrogant events. So they have come up with a totally appropriate substitute for Palmeiro’s absence — honoring Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich for his role in strong-arming Major League Baseball into giving Angelos a ridiculous compensation deal for baseball’s return to Washington.

“Earlier this year, with the financial stability of this organization in doubt, Governor Bob Ehrlich worked with me to guarantee a strong Baltimore Orioles organization for a generation to come,” Angelos said in a statement released by the organization. “Together, we worked out a win-win situation for the citizens of Maryland. He deserves to be thanked by everyone associated with this team and by every baseball fan in the region.”

Governor Ehrlich — who didn’t raise a fuss when the state was losing tax money at the gate at Camden Yards because of the organization’s incompetence — will be honored Tuesday. Remember that day. Ten years from now, they’ll be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the event.

Maybe they’ll put Governor Ehrlich on the cover of the Orioles media guide next year. It would be an improvement over the trio on this year’s cover — one for the ages:

• Rafael Palmeiro — steroid abuser, told to stay home.

• Sammy Sosa — steroid suspect, sent home with his pathetic 14 home runs and .221 batting average.

• Miguel Tejada — accused by the steroid abuser of providing him with steroids, then cleared by baseball. But someone might want to ask Dr. Feelgood what the heck he is doing using a syringe on a teammate to inject anything.

It would be nice if the Orioles could just simply wallow in their own muck, as they have pretty much since Angelos has owned the team — in the midst of their eight consecutive losing seasons. But this Palmeiro mess could spread throughout the game, with players fingering other players to save their own skin, something that could cause internal strife in every clubhouse.

“I don’t know what is going on,” Nationals third baseman Vinny Castilla said. “Only Rafael Palmeiro knows what really happened. But it is sad.”

The steroid story never gets better. It only gets worse. What we know now is worse than what we knew a year ago. And a year from now, what we know will be worse than what we believe today.

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