As a St. Louis Cardinals fan, I?get steady doses of Albert Pujols-related skepticism. After all, in this steroid era, great hitters are guilty until proven innocent. And there’s not really a way to actually prove  innocence.

As a St. Louis Cardinals fan, I?get steady doses of Albert Pujols-related skepticism.

After all, in this steroid era, great hitters are guilty until proven innocent. And there’s not really a way to actually prove  innocence.

So people look at Pujols’ meteoric rise from 13th round draft pick to National League Rookie of the Year in two years and say he had to have help, that a guy doesn’t hit .320 with 40 home runs consistently unless he has help.

One of the best arguments for Pujols’ innocence is that his numbers didn’t drop off when steroid testing began.

That’s why I’m so interested in the timetable of Alex Rodriguez’s use.

If A-Rod did indeed stop using after the 2003 season, as he claims, then here we have an example of a player whose numbers and skill did not  diminish after coming off of performance-enhancing drugs. In fact, two of Rodriguez’s three MVPs have come in his time in New York, after he supposedly stopped using.

If that is true, then conceivably Pujols could have been using and stopped without a difference in his numbers.

But will we ever know? Will there be a "witch hunt" ten years down the road that wants to test samples collected since testing began in 2005?

And much like the Warren Commission’s report only caused more conspiracy theories to sprout about John F. Kennedy’s assassination rather than less, so the Mitchell Report, supposed to be a somewhat definitive (as definitive as one can get with the current evidence and revelations
of people like Jose Canseco, Brian McNamee and Kirk Radomski) chronicle of the steroid era, has faced the same questions.

Fans, especially Yankees fans, have pointed out the fact that Mitchell, who was and still is a director in the Boston?Red Sox organization, didn’t figure any Fenway thumpers.

Those claims of bias grew even louder when Manny Ramirez, a centerpiece of the curse-breaking team in 2004 and of the subsequent World Series winner two years later, faced the music a few weeks ago for a violation.

Even claiming innocence vehemently doesn’t do any good.

Rafael Palmeiro told Congres that he “never took steroids, period”.

The only period is the one that’s been put on the end of his career after he was busted for a positive test.

Roger Clemens continues to proclaim that he never was injected with steroids by Brian McNamee. But few people believe him.

The absence of proof against Albert Pujols makes me hope that here we may have a player that can be great and not have to cut corners to do so.

Mineral Daily News-Tribune (Keyser, W.Va.)