Meanwhile, Yankees "slugger" Jason Giambi met the press on Thursday to discuss his own steroid story. He'll spend the season under tremendous scrutiny, with fans and the media trying to figure out whether he can actually hit a baseball, or whether he was merely a laboratory creation of Victor Conte. There will be more discussion of Bonds' "accidental" steroid use. And if Sosa continues his statistical slide, Orioles fans will wonder if his earlier performances were illegally enhanced. Meanwhile, Selig will be trumpeting the game's good health and releasing test results, all the while hoping some mad chemist isn't concocting an undetectable formula to be used by the next generation of cheaters.
The amazing thing is this is plain, smart corporate communications. Don't let someone else find your dirty laundry. Air it yourself. Take the hit, and move on. If baseball does that, it will regain credibility. By keeping quiet as people wonder how McGwire could have gone from a husky player to an offensive linemen without illegal help, baseball is complicit in the charade. As long as that happens, cranks like Canseco will continue to titillate with their accusations, and fans will wonder if the game really wants to be clean.
And that's too bad, because pitchers and catchers report next week, and we could all use a little bit of baseball's romantic power. Instead, we're getting reports of players injecting each other with drugs. Ah, spring.
EL HOMBRE SEZ: Phil Jackson's desire to coach the Lakers again can mean only one thing: GM Mitch Kupchak must have promised to trade for Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Steve Nash. ... In other big basketball news, the WNBA has announced it will add a franchise in Chicago but not until the '06 season. Guess it will take that long for them to install the technology needed to pipe in the canned crowd noise.
AND ANOTHER THING: At first, Philadelphia earned high marks for its behavior in the aftermath of the latest championship disappointment. Eagles fans didn't riot or loot. The media was complimentary to the Patriots and willing to admit that the Local Heroes had a great run to the Super Bowl. Then came reality. And so did the hunt for scapegoats. First up was Andy "Big Ben" Reid, who eschewed hurry-up offenses at the end of both halves. Then came the Donovan McNabb stomach controversy and accusations he was not only overmatched by the New England defense but also poorly conditioned and almost hurled in the huddle. Enough, Philadelphia. Take the loss. Move on to next season, when a return Super Bowl run is not only possible but likely. Realize that the Better Team won. Stop crying about "deserving" a title. All the good will engendered by the city's enthusiastic fans in Jacksonville is in danger of being wasted by a postgame tantrum. Instead of ripping a great team, put your energy to better use, like running Phillies GM Ed Wade out of town.