This time there is no excuse.
No understanding. No benefit of the doubt. No trying to see it from their point of view.
This time if you're a major-league baseball player and you're guilty of the allegations in this latest drug scandal, you have whatever is coming to you, whether it's a 50-game suspension, a 100-game suspension or one even longer.
This time not only are you a cheater and a liar, you're a simpleton or one arrogant son of a gun.
This week ESPN broke the story that Major League Baseball had reached a deal with Tony Bosch, accused of being a performance-enhancing drug distributor at the Biogenesis clinic in South Florida. He is expected to provide MLB with information that he supplied his junk to several of baseball's more recognizable names, including former MVPs Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Bartolo Colon.
We are still dealing with this?
Years after Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro, A-Rod (the first time) and Roger Clemens and BALCO, baseball is still trying to kick its drug habit.
Major League Baseball is so desperate to clean up the game once and for all that it is willing to make a deal with a snake-oil salesman such as Bosch. You could call him a quack, but he isn't qualified enough to be a quack. Just a month ago, Bosch told ESPN, "I am a nutritionist. I don't know anything about performance-enhancing drugs."
Suddenly, he knows so much that he's the star witness in MLB's case to rid the sport of cheaters. Oh, I probably should mention that federal authorities are sniffing around Bosch, and he's hoping MLB puts in a good word with them in exchange for his information.
The latest news on Bosch? He reportedly asked Rodriguez for money and when he didn't get any, his memory about performance-enhancing drugs and A-Rod and the others became clearer and he started getting chatty.
All this is a way to say Bosch might not be the most credible witness. You can see how MLB might need a bit more than his word and a few jottings in a ledger before handing out 100-game suspensions.
Then again, when dealing with a flea problem, sometimes you have to lay down with dogs. The type of characters who provide various drugs illegally and then snitch on others in part to save their own hides aren't going to be pillars of the community.
But it also doesn't mean Bosch is lying. Jose Canseco's claims about steroid use turned out to be more right than the crazy ramblings of a former juicer.
Besides, this latest story isn't that outlandish, is it?
I mean, are you surprised to see A-Rod's name tied up in PED rumors? Cabrera was suspended 50 games a year ago after a failed drug test.
And then there's Braun.
You get the feeling a lot of this is about the Brewers outfielder.
According to MLB, Braun failed a drug test last year. He was suspended 50 games but won an appeal, apparently because testing protocol had not been followed. Braun questioned the chain of custody and collection procedure, and it was learned his urine sample was kept in the sample collector's home overnight.
Braun always has proclaimed his innocence, but there is a general feeling he avoided suspension on a technicality.
Now MLB has a chance at payback and will do whatever it can to make sure it gets him this time.
Is this all a witch hunt? Maybe, a little. But who can blame MLB for doing whatever it needs to do to finally put an end to the biggest scar this game has seen since the 1919 Black Sox?
We have a long way to go before anybody is suspended. This is the just the first step in a process that could take months. We'll have investigations and interviews and testimonies and arguments, and likely appeals.
But let's assume for a moment that there is fire with this smoke, that A-Rod and Braun and the others really did cheat.
Wouldn't that just gall you?
Certainly no one condones the steroid use of the 1990s, but you can sort of understand it. The rules were different. The game was different. There was no testing. It was part of the culture. Some players believed they had to do it just to keep up with their cheating colleagues.
That isn't the case today. Even if you believe taking PEDs is no different from, say, getting Lasik surgery, it's absolutely clear what the rules are. Everyone is aware of baseball's stance. There is testing. There is no gray area anymore. The culture has changed.
If you're about to go down in this latest chapter of baseball's ugliest book, you deserve not only baseball's harshest punishment, but you deserve to be labelled forever as a cheater and a liar.
Maybe suspensions and public scorn will clear out a few more of the knuckleheads. And, we hope, the last of them.