The Lineup: Jeter Cheater?

At Bat: Well, he’s back ladies and gentleman. No, not Brett Favre, but someone just as annoying. Roger Clemens has agreed to join the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent Atlantic League team, at the age of 50.

This is ridiculous and an embarrassment for professional baseball. Not only is it pathetic that Clemens is trying to pitch at 50, but most fans and the media personnel, including myself, do not care about Clemens anymore. He isn’t relevant anymore, and like Favre years ago, he should just quietly go into retirement and stay away from the game, especially from a professional standpoint.

He also has some serious nerve to make this comeback weeks after a grand jury found him not guilty of using performance enhancing drugs or steroids during his career. Most of us outsiders still believe he cheated in some way, even if the evidence and verdict prove otherwise. So, to try and convince us even more that he’s not a cheater, he’s going to try to pitch at age 50 and show the world he’s still “The Rocket”?

Please just go away before Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro decide maybe they’ll join you on the Skeeters.

What’s even more appalling is that the GM of the Houston Astros has a sent a scout to see if Clemens still has his overpowering pitches when he makes his first start this Saturday for the Skeeters. Even though Houston is 39-85 it will have hit a new low in looking at a 50-year-old formally accused of using steroids.

On Deck: One week to the day and we have ourselves another cheater. Oakland Athletics starting pitcher, Bartolo Colón, has been suspended 50 games for testing positive for testosterone, the same banned performance-enhancing substance that nailed the San Francisco Giants’ Melky Cabrera one week ago. At this point, I would not be surprised if another player or two gets hit with a suspension, as it seems the MLB is getting the results of its “surprise” drug test during the regular season.

What intrigues me is that Colón’s performance this season does not suggest the use of a banned substance. All you need to do is look at Cabrera’s numbers the past three seasons to see the spike, hit yourself upside the head and wonder how we let this get past us. Maybe it has something to do with my generation and growing up in the steroid era, but it just makes sense to suspect someone is using PEDs when their career takes that much of a turn for the better.

While most cheating suspicions are directed at the bulky position player who all of a sudden crushes 40 or more home runs a season, Colón proves to the MLB world that more players are cheating than we want to believe.

If a player like Colón is using it and still not seeing the benefits that someone like Cabrera saw, then it is easy to say that countless others could be abusing. Baseball, like any other sport, is very similar to what we non-athletes refer to as the real world. If you don’t do everything in your power to keep your position – and do so with an outstanding performance each day you go out – someone younger and better will take it from you. Survival of the fittest, folks.

In the Hole: This week, everyone’s favorite ESPN television personality, Skip Bayless, made some harsh and inappropriate comments toward baseball icon Derek Jeter. He insinuated that Jeter could be just like all his peers who have been suspended recently, citing the impressive numbers he has put up at 38 years old as cause to at least wonder. Seriously, Skip?

I’ll be honest; comparing Jeter’s numbers this year to his past two seasons with the Yankees, one might wonder if he is in fact using some kind of substance. In 2010 and 2011, Jeter batted .270 and .297, respectively. As of right now, Jeter is batting .324 (third in the AL), leading the majors with 168 hits (already more than last year), and has twice as many home runs (13) as he had all of last season.

Yes, the numbers seem shockingly similar to the spike we see in Cabrera’s three-season span. But unlike most skeptics, I believe Jeter respects the game too much to cheat. If he later tests positive for a substance, Jeter’s legacy goes out the window despite what he did during his time with the Yankees, much like Joe Paterno and Penn State. But until that day, Jeter is still the poster boy of the MLB, and should still be seen as a role model and legend even when he’s in retirement.

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