Logic and steroids just don't mix   

Updated: September 11, 2007, 5:55 PM ET

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The news that three more big leaguers -- Troy Glaus, Rick Ankiel and Jay Gibbons -- allegedly forgot to set up a PO Box and a fake name for their rogue pharmacy shipments comes as no surprise. Neither does the verbal exhaust that inevitably follows such revelations.

The discussion of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball has become one long vacation for logic. Part of it is understandable: Nobody really knows what to think or how to act. Should it be accepted or reviled? Hell, let's just watch the game.

Still, this weekend brought back a lot of the old standbys from the grand defenders of the game. Two stand out.

For one, the claim that fans don't care about the issue. They don't read the stories or sweat the details. And here's your proof: attendance. Amazingly, the number of people in the stands is a statistic routinely trotted out as evidence of the fans' disinterest in the who's and what's of steroids and HGH.

Baseball set an attendance record last year and could break it this year. So -- voila! See, nobody cares. Move along here.

But ... wait a second. Attendance has no bearing on whether fans are concerned about performance-enhancers. It proves nothing. It's not contradictory for someone to enjoy watching a ballgame in person and still -- amazing as it sounds -- be distressed by the growing evidence that Jose Canseco's numbers might have been right all along.

These two things -- interest in the game, concern over PEDs -- are not mutually exclusive. Both things can be equally true.

It's like this: To a fan, baseball is a form of entertainment, just like theater or movies. So if an Owen Wilson movie opens No. 1 at the box office next week, does that mean that Owen Wilson fans don't care about his personal problems? Or does it mean that people still like Owen Wilson movies and would prefer that he stick around for a few more decades to make more of them?

The other tired old saw -- steroids and HGH weren't banned by baseball during whatever time whatever guy is accused of taking them -- is slightly less maddening, only because it's easier to refute.

It's simple: Baseball does not operate outside of the law. Obtaining HGH from a doctor you haven't met is not legal. Prescribing HGH to a patient you have never met is not legal. This, allegedly, is what happened in the case of Ankiel. It doesn't matter that he was recovering from arm surgery. It doesn't matter that the war on drugs has been an abysmal failure and has resulted in overcrowded prisons. It doesn't matter that it did not explicitly state on the door of the clubhouse do not take HGH prescribed by a doctor you have never met.

There's no note on the door telling players not to park in a handicapped spots, either.

This Week's List

After Week 1 of the NFL season, here's an important stylistic observation: It seems like guys with braids tend to lose their helmets more than their nonbraided brethren, and as evidence we offer up Marion Barber and Marshawn Lynch.

Because there's more to life than wins and losses and ERA: For every strikeout in the big leagues today -- Sept. 11 -- USAA will send $400 to Strikeouts for Troops, a charity started by Barry Zito, who contributes $400 for every one of his strikeouts throughout the season.

Now that Major League Baseball announced it wants to talk to Ankiel, Glaus and Gibbons, a question arises: Do you think there will ever be a time when MLB's own investigation -- led by former Senator George Mitchell -- becomes the inquiry that actually reveals users, instead of just trailing around behind the media and the feds?

Nah: Me either.

This wouldn't have happened if Pacman was still around: I have a question about Peyton Manning's DirecTV commercial -- the one in which he tells everyone to watch another game because his is a blowout -- why is he throwing a touchdown against the Titans on the last play of a game his team leads 28-3?

Assuming Lane Kiffin needs a little pick-me-up after a loss to the Lions, here's the best we can do: Norv Turner survived being the Raiders' coach and was rewarded with a sweet situation in San Diego.

As punishment, the league should make Bill Belichick dress like he doesn't sleep outside: The NFL is investigating the possibility the Patriots aimed a video camera at the Jets' defensive coaches on the sideline to pick up their signals.

We all know past performance never predicts future results, but keep in mind: This is the same cameraman who was removed from the field for allegedly doing the same thing against the Packers last year.

Till you saw this, you probably thought Curtis Granderson was having a statistically significant season: The Giants' Kevin Frandsen has 14 extra-base hits and has hit into 16 double plays.

Yeah, but for about six weeks there, they really showed him who was boss: The way it looks from here, the Raiders ended up giving JaMarcus Russell what he wanted all along.

And finally, he would work for a driver named Josh, who hails from a tiny town in Virginia: With his sweet striped cap, Brian Billick looks like a NASCAR crew chief.

Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Tim here.


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