Monday, December 12, 2011
Rafael Palmeiro, 1994 Score Select #317
Raffy more than lived up to his contract, with a pair of Gold Gloves, an All-Star appearance, and a batting line of .292/.371/.545, 182 home runs, and 553 RBI. He was a member of the 1996 squad that won the American League wild card and upset the Indians in the Division Series before mumble mumble something Yankees mumble ALCS. He was also a steady force on the 1997 wire-to-wire A.L. East championship team that dispatched the Johnson-Griffey-Rodriguez-Martinez Mariners in the ALDS before grumble grumble Indians cough ahem ALCS.
Of course, the rest of the story isn't so textbook. Davey Johnson leaves, the free agent-heavy O's tumble in 1998, Palmeiro returns to a chastened Rangers club in free agency and continues knocking the cover off the ball for the next five years, then returns to Baltimore to finish his career and collect his 3,000th career hit but winds up retiring in disgrace after a positive test for the steroid stanozolol. Despite his continued insistence upon a bizarre alibi involving a tainted B-12 shot borrowed from Miguel Tejada, I've concluded that life is too short for harboring animosity. I think Rafael Palmeiro belongs in the Hall of Fame, I'm grateful for all of the positive contributions he made to the Orioles during his career, and I think he's suffered for the mistakes that he made.