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Kolakowski: Rafael Palmeiro doesn’t deserve a comeback

| Thursday, December 7, 2017

No, Rafael Palmeiro, you are not making a comeback to the big leagues.

Really, Major League Baseball is doing just fine without you.

Ken Rosenthal, an MLB on Fox reporter and senior writer for The Athletic, reported on Wednesday that Palmeiro hopes to make a return to the big leagues. Palmeiro is now 53 years old and has been out of Major League Baseball for 12 years.

Palmeiro — a La Habana, Cuba, native — last played baseball at the major league level in 2005. Despite the solid production that the 40-year-old had for over 20 seasons for the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles, his career ended unceremoniously.

Sure, Palmeiro had some great statistics and great accomplishments. After being selected as an All-American at Mississippi State University, he crafted a long and productive Major League career. He was selected to four All-Star games, earned three gold gloves and was awarded two silver sluggers. He racked up 569 home runs and maintained a .288 batting average throughout his career.

Shortly after collecting hit number 3,000, a major milestone for professional baseball players, Palmeiro tested positive for Stanozolol, an anabolic steroid.

Palmeiro was suspended for the positive test, and his appeal to the suspension was denied. “I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period,” Palmeiro said in a released statement.

Jose Canseco, a known steroid user, claimed Palmeiro also used steroids during his career. Canseco and Palmeiro were teammates on the Texas Rangers.

Palmeiro is a product of the Steroid Era, and Major League Baseball must do everything it can to distance itself from that stain on its timeline.

Forget whether or not Palmeiro, at 53 years old, is even physically capable of making a comeback. Regardless of his health and ability to play, Palmeiro should not return to Major League Baseball.

There are many reasons why Palmeiro may want to return. A return may offer an opportunity for Palmeiro to clear his name. He may still be able to perform at a high level and earn a spot on a Major League ball club. It seems unlikely for a 53-year-old to perform on the grandest stage in baseball, but Julio Franco played until he was 49 in 2007.

None of that matters, though. Major League Baseball teams will hardly be lining up for Palmeiro’s services, nor should they.

The initial steroid ban in Major League baseball was implemented in 1991, and punishment for steroid use has grown stricter since then. Today, a first-time offender is suspended 80 games for steroid use. A second offense comes with a 162-game suspension, an entire season. Following a third offense, a player will be banned from Major League Baseball. Former New York Met Jenrry Mejía is the only player to be banned from baseball for use of performance-enhancing drugs.

It is clear the league has changed its stance on steroids since Palmeiro played a dozen years ago. His accomplishments are tarnished by the failed drug test of 2005, and he has no business playing in a league that is still recovering from the steroid era.

Palmeiro might want a return to Major League Baseball, but that doesn’t mean baseball should take the aging and tainted slugger.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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