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Hard to feel bad for outed players from 'The List'

No doubt A-Rod feels a lot better now. Big Papi and Manny, too.
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No doubt A-Rod feels a lot better now. Big Papi and Manny, too.Somewhere, Sammy Sosa must be smiling, even as he plots his latest baseball comeback.They were wronged, and now everyone knows. A bunch of judges got together Wednesday and told us so.No one was ever supposed to know they were juiced when they were hitting all those home runs just a few years back. Not Bud Selig, and certainly not the clubs paying them millions of dollars to slug balls out of the park.It was all supposed to be a secret. And it would have been if those pesky federal investigators hadn't tried to find out what was really going on in baseball.They wanted answers, and they weren't going to get them from the players. So they went on a fishing expedition and reeled some big names in.Of course, now we know a few of them _ some lawyers who couldn't keep a secret and some aggressive reporters took care of that.There's nothing in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Wednesday that will change that. The 70 pages of legal opinion don't change the court of public opinion, which has long since found the outed players (yes, even Big Papi) guilty.The cat can't be put back in the bag. The unnamed players on the list can't even breathe a sigh of relief, because enough people know who they are and they might someday talk.Yes, in a perfect world certain names wouldn't be made public while other names remain secret. But in a perfect world baseball players wouldn't have used concoctions whipped up in a lab to make a mockery of the records that the game used to hold so sacred.So don't feel too sorry for A-Rod and company just yet.Remember, it wasn't those outing them who promised their names would never be revealed. It was the union and Major League Baseball, and together they've been in the business of telling a lot of lies to fans for a long time.They're the ones who claimed there was no steroid problem, even as players bulked up to Incredible Hulk levels and hit balls over the fence with seemingly every other swing. They're the ones who parlayed the home runs into huge contracts and sparkling new stadiums even when they knew it was all a charade.And they're the ones who held out until the very end, when political pressure grew too great, before finally instituting the round of testing in 2003 that would lay the groundwork for drug tests in the major leagues.The court's ruling that federal investigators went too far in seizing the samples and names of 104 players from two labs when it was only looking for 10 players as part of the BALCO investigation came after a protracted legal battle between the union and the government over the names. Prosecutors could appeal to the Supreme Court, but odds are that part of the fight is over.That doesn't mean curious journalists and others won't still try to uncover other names on the list. That's something Braves' star Chipper Jones _ who has never been linked to steroids _ was quick to acknowledge."It's not going to be over until it's all out there," he said.The union reacted predictably, saying the leaks are crimes and that the people involved should be prosecuted. That was probably a show for the membership, though, because the last thing union lawyers want is to get involved in legal proceedings that could cause even more names to be made public.A lot of union members, though, surely would love to see all the names released. They are the players who play clean, yet are always under suspicion because fans have been bombarded with so much steroid news that they now think everybody juices.The clean players are the real losers in all this, and not just because every time they hit a home run someone wonders. They're the ones who don't get monster contracts because they don't put up monster numbers like their teammate using the latest magic drug.So too bad, Manny. Tough luck, Big Papi and A-Rod.Sorry, Sammy.You've been outed.There's nothing the judges can do about that.____Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)