I have a list. So do you, right? If you're a baseball fan and you're hearing that more names are about to be connected to Biogenesis, the cheatingest PED factory since BALCO, this is where you dig through your mental rolodex for the names of guys you're sure are cheating.
It wouldn't be fair to say that list out loud, certainly not with a megaphone as large as the one given to me here at CBSSports.com, and I'm not. But I have a list. Some of you do as well. How can we not? Baseball deserves the scrutiny, even the suspicion, that its players have stirred among us since the 1990s -- when the ordinary became stars, and stars became superstars, and superstars began doing things we had never seen before. Mark McGwire hitting 70 home runs? Barry Bonds hitting 73? Roger Clemens posting a career-best 1.87 ERA at age 43?
Come on. To this day Bonds hasn't admitted he was cheating. Neither has Clemens. So they're on another list, a list that seems fair to say out loud, even on a megaphone as large as the one given to me here at CBSSports.com. Given their superhuman results and their constant links to PEDs, Bonds and Clemens -- and Sammy Sosa -- are on that list of players we suspect used PEDs.
The players we suspect are using them to this day? That's another list, and soon baseball will provide us with its own list, and we can compare notes. Meantime, say this about the list of players baseball will reportedly announce as cheaters:
Good. Reveal them. Give us their names so we can hold them up to the ridicule they deserve.
It would be foolish, not bordering on naive but bordering on outright denial, to think baseball doesn't have a PED problem anymore. Here's a tip for you, so mark this down in ink: Baseball will always have a PED problem. Cheaters always will find a way to cheat, and as soon as they get caught, they'll find another way to cheat. And then another. The cheaters are always ahead of the testers, and while the PED police eventually catch lots of cheaters -- as they caught Victor Conte of BALCO and Anthony Bosch of Biogenesis -- there are more cheaters out there. Baseball can't catch them, because baseball doesn't know they exist. Not yet anyway.
Guarantee you this: Right now there's a person or two -- or 10 or 20 -- in labs across America just giggling at this news that Bosch and a handful of people connected to his PED farm in South Florida have been rounded up by the DEA and that guilty pleas are coming and that more names of MLB cheaters are about to be released. The next Conte and Bosch think they're untouchable, because for now they are. The cheaters are always ahead of the testers, and they're like degenerate gamblers or thieves on a hot streak: They stupidly think they'll stay ahead forever. They look at people like Conte and Bosch, and they don't see their own future. They see someone sloppy, someone not nearly as smart and careful as they are. Because they'll never be caught. And the players whose use their drugs? They'll never be caught either.
Nothing lasts forever, not even something as murky and vaporous as a drug the police don't yet know exists. The cream that Barry Bonds took? Drug testers didn't catch that because they didn't know what it was. Just as life finds a way to survive, evolving to adapt in the conditions it has confronted, cheaters are the same. They're the Galapagos turtles of sports, creatures that find a way to survive in a dangerous and changing world.
They do it because players make it worth their while. Men like Conte and Bosch used their genius for chemistry for bad, not good, because millionaire ballplayers wrote them big enough checks to make the risk seem worth it. And people like us, we sit back and wait for the next wave of players to be caught, then outed publicly, so we can scorn them like we scorned A-Rod and Braun.
When the next list comes out, I'll scan it for three names I'm sure are cheating. What do I look for? I'll tell you some day, when the list comes out and if any of my names are on there. I figure one of them will be at least. This stuff is easy, really. It's simple to look at certain guys and just think, just know, "He's not doing that legally." Especially given what we know about the nature of baseball, just like the nature of sprinting and cycling. Certain things have never been possible before, and while breakthroughs and advances do happen, there are some ceilings that get cracked that just don't seem plausible. Not legally plausible, anyway.
So my list is ready. Is yours? Baseball's about to release its list, and while I have no idea who's nice anymore, I have a strong feeling about which guys have been naughty.