The guilt or innocence of these individuals and by nature of association, every other player in organized baseball will be tried once again in the court of public opinion.
Sadly, what will likely be lost in this recent news is the unmasking of the athletic trainer who was allegedly the conduit by which several of the players obtained their illegal enhancements.
Called out in the affidavit was former Yankees trainer Brian McNamee, personal trainer for both Clemens and Pettitte. What was not mentioned in the Times is the fact that trainer is not named Chris Mihlfeld.
The only photo in the Deadspin "report" was that of Pujols, though he was unnamed in the affidavit. In fact, just about every story published anywhere thereafter pictured the Cardinals star, rather than the previously-anonymous trainer.
The resultant shockwaves not only ruined the reputation of Kansas Cityan Mihlfeld, it also thrust Pujols into the spotlight, forcing him to publicly defend himself time and time again despite not being named or accused by anyone.
Pujols' unparalleled success as a major leaguer singles him out for special scrutiny. Yet, the player reminds anyone and everyone that he continues to be tested for banned substances and passes every time.
As a subjective measure of the damage caused, I had noticed considerable booing directed toward Pujols around the league this season for the first time. At least it is the first time I recall it happening in such a consistent, widespread manner. It seems to be much more than begrudging respect given to an opposing star.
Since nothing has changed with Pujols since last year other than a Most Valuable Player Award and the apparent mis-connection with Grimsley, I surmise it to be fan backlash, expressing displeasure over the steroid implications.
I imagine the harm caused to Pujols and Mihlfeld that originated from the Deadspin "report" and repeated all over baseball can never be totally undone. And, no one can be held accountable.
Sadly, only the damage remains.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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