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On a day such as today, you can’t help but think of the old cliche, “you can’t win them all.”

And then the Dodgers go out and do just that, losing the Nationals in spite of holding a six-run lead at one point. This, without their dreadlocked leader, whose suspension began today.

I don’t think it’s fair to say every baseball player is on the juice. I also don’t think it’s fair to say most baseball players aren’t on the juice. I’d be incredibly surprised if an overwhelming majority of ballplayers weren’t guilty of using some sort of peformance-enhancing chemical, legal or not.

Of course, that doesn’t justify using them, particularly illegal drugs. But what confuses me greatly is the rather high, if not absurdly standard of purity that we insist baseball players maintain. Yet, when any other athlete does it, like say, Shawne Merriman, we figure it’s part of the game, right?

Our culture voraciously consumes all manner of performance-enhancing drugs. For crying out loud, Viagra is a Major League Baseball sponsor! There isn’t any ailment (or non-ailment, for that matter) that can’t be addressed with yet another magical pill.

And yet we react with sanctimony and high piety and righteousness when someone decides to … pop a pill or three? Sports “nutrition” is a standalone industry, with GNC stores everywhere, and we’re surprised that someone wants something to put a little pep in his … whatever Manny needed these pills for.

When its millions of dollars at stake, why are we so surprised that the competitors are doing everything they can to get a leg up on the competition?

Cheating is always wrong. But it’s superbly hypocritical of all of us — as a society and as baseball fans — for us to thumb our noses at Manny and what he did, at A-Rod, Giambi, McGwire, et. al. — when we accept it as part of our culture.

While we may not resort to using female fertility drugs, who among us can cast stones when we resort to stomach stapling, ephedra, and Hydroxycut when it comes to losing weight? Really, who among us is really doing things “the way they ought to be,” o.k.a. “the right way?”

I am honest when I say I don’t care. I didn’t care when McGwire and Sosa were under the spotlight. I didn’t care when it was Bonds. I still don’t care now that it’s A-Rod and Manny. And if it’s ever Pujols, I still won’t care.

Why?

The game is still just that. People can do what they want to get a leg up on the competition. We’re fools if we think that there’s ever been “purity” in the sense that ballplayers wouldn’t try something to make them better, if they knew they would get away with it. The only difference is that today’s greenies are far more sophisticated, and they’ll continue to be that way. HCG may be illegal today, but I guarantee there’ll be something else they’ll be using, and something else after that.

So inevitably, yes, it is part of the game; as much as it is part of our culture.

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