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In the fearless prediction department, I'd like to venture the opinion that steroids and baseball are now the same thing. I don't think steroids are going to go away because baseball is now officially hooked.

It's hooked on homerun hitters who literally hit the ball out of the park, like Barry Bonds hitting balls beyond the walls of the ballpark. Baseball is hooked on pitchers like Roger Clemens who can throw 90-plus miles an hour and collect Social Security at the same time.

Bud Selig says nothing is more important to him than the integrity of this game, and I must say I do not believe him. I'm sure he did want the problems revealed, but I think it was to make full disclosure to the public and now baseball will wait and see how big the stink is.

I predict the public will yawn and will only want to know when spring training starts. There will be some gobbledy gook about accepting Sen. George Mitchell's recommendations and clamping down on steroid use, and it will come to almost nothing.

There will be public floggings, of course. And there will be teary-eyed confessions, but the players and the commissioner know the public doesn't care. The public — the people who actually buy tickets and go to games and watch games on pay TV — wants more booming homeruns and more fire-breathing pitchers throwing a ball so fast it cannot be seen.

That's what has made baseball so obscenely rich, and pardon me, but I don't think anybody is giving up any money here. None of the players and the executives have any history of going for less money, fewer fans and lesser players.

So we're going to have a summit, says commissioner Selig. Excuse me, but it's getting so deep around here you need hip boots. Soon enough it will be "Play ball" and forget this stuff. The fans want to see hard throwers and big hitters.

Selig says our fans deserve a game played on a level playing field. He knows darn well nobody really cares about that.

That's My Word.

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