Being a fan these days isn't easy

This morning's Post-Dispatch web site displays the obvious complexity. Is it possible for a newborn star to be reborn in less than a month? If you've read the Daily News story then you know what all the hub-bub is about. Baseball can't catch a break. Its fans can't catch a feel-good story. And now I can't even enjoy the small sample of this season that's been enjoyable for me, the Cardinals fan. Or can I? Can I just block out the suspicion? Can I justify that prescription (regardless of its legality) as part of Ankiel overcoming a bunch of significant injuries and attempting to battle back to the majors as a hitter? Do I believe that he is now clean, accepting that we may never know because baseball doesn't test for HGH? What a fucking dilemma. And all it does is distract from a great pennant race between three mediocre teams.

Up until today Rick Ankiel has been the opposite of the typical jock storyline of 2007, which is to say he hasn't been in trouble with the police, in and out of court, beating his wife, being a reckless, gun-toting idiot. He has figures in his life — like his dad — who fit that mold. Yet he rebelled from that stereotype, seeming unbeatable, invincible, able to do the impossible and walk that thin line.

I'll need some time to process this. Being a Cardinals fan hasn't been easy after the McGwire hoopla. I didn't know if I would ever be able root as hard for a team or a player again after that. And then came Rick Ankiel. And then came his scandal.

I hope someone gives him the best advice of his life: Be honest. Do it for yourself. Do it for the game you love. Do it for your fans. Do it to be a real hero, to set an example for all the other players around you who are too chickenshit to own up. Tell us why. Maybe your reasons are legit. Maybe you did stop using when HGH was banned. Or maybe you didn't. Either way, just tell us the truth. It can even be your interpretation of the truth. Just speak. Now. Please.

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