Stuff a sanitary sock in it - Will Durst

Oh for crum's sake. Settle down, people. You're fixated. You've inflated this whole steroids thing into a national obsession.

Suddenly, steroids are the root of all evil. An Al Qaeda trick designed to devastate Democracy from within.

No. That's not it. It's athletes trying to cover Father Time's spread.

The average Major League Baseball career is 5.6 years long. If you're going to make it, better start today. And be willing to do whatever it takes. Especially after Marvin Bernard and Fernando Tatis start going long.

This unhealthy obsession has all the earmarks of payback. Face it: your average baseball writer is smarter than your average ball player. Better educated. Reads more books. Some without pictures in them. Watches PBS. On purpose. And yes, they know they're smarter, and the players probably do, too, but demonstrate little, if any, respect.

Try to remember how star athletes got treated back in high school. Now multiply that by a gazilliondy, and substitute free money for test answers and sculpted siliconed strippers for cheerleaders.

Pampered their entire lives, these guys never possess a single second's doubt as to whose existence is more exalted. Theirs. Which is why the girls, the money, the agents, the money, the fame and the money, all seek them out. For 5.6 years and beyond.

Because these grown boys are Mount Olympus' inheritors, they treat the pesky inquisitive, know-it-all, four-eyed, 8-year-old Taurus-driving scribes like spit. And they do. Mocking them. Loudly.

In their less-than-delicate "jockular" way. In front of the whole locker room. And pretty much do everything in their power to make the sportswriters' jobs harder. Not all of them. Not all the time. And not necessarily intentionally.

With steroids, however, the worm has not only turned, but grown teeth and is threatening to chew up the record book and the Hall of Fame.

How else to explain the intensity of the outrage? You know what? It's a game. Everybody's looking for an edge. Kids are taught, "If you're not cheating, you're not trying."

Race car teams lighten loads. Football coaches rip off signals. Hockey players knock out their own teeth to look meaner.

Also, why is the anger focused on a few players and not on Major League Baseball itself, which knew what was going on and did nothing about it? Oh, I forgot, they didn't know. Yeah, right.

And Formica is edible. Get off it. Everybody knew. I knew. My wife knew. My Aunt Hoogolah knew. And she don't play. Much. Anymore.

In 1998, there was a bottle of androstenedione lurking in the back of Mark McGwire's locker during TV interviews. And the commissioner didn't know? Then he's dumb as a stump and should be put out of his misery with a shot to the back of the head with a splintered maple bat.

The sins of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez have received more attention than all the banking irregularities of the past five years put together, and right about now I'm kind of wishing all those investigative reports had switched focus. So give it a rest, would you?

Especially with Easter so close and the start of baseball season. And for a brief shining moment, every fan's October dreams are renewed.

Hey, if the Brewers and Tampa Bay can make the playoffs, anything is possible. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Some players cheated and lied. We know. Now shut up and play ball.

Eternal optimist and San Francisco political comedian Will Durst's seats at AT&T Park are in section 110. Giants and Yankees in October. '62 all over again. Except the ending.

Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at durst@caglecartoons.com.