According to Ken Rosenthal of The Atlantic, 53-year old Rafael Palmeiro is attempting a comeback to minor league baseball next season. Oh whoops, I have that wrong. He's actually attempting a comeback to MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL in 2018. Better yet, he doesn't think he'll even need any time down in the minors, believing he'll be able to make a big league club out of Spring Training.
As opposed to talking about Palmeiro's future I'd rather talk about his past, because it's fascinating. There are a few reasons for this. For one his career basically spanned the entire life of the steroid era (1986 - 2005). Additionally, he lied to us about using PEDs (allegedly). Before the 2005 season he told Congress "I have never used steroids, period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never". He tested positive four months later.
The timing of his positive testing was unfortunate. A month earlier Palmeiro had captured his 3,000th hit, becoming one of just four players to ever collect both 3K hits and 500 homers. Since he was one of the first players ever suspended for PEDs this put his entire career in doubt, which he has never even slightly recovered from. For what it's worth Raffy still denies having ever used steroids. He claims the 2005 positive test was a supplement given to him by Miguel Tejada, and he didn't know anything illegal was in it. Yet Jose Canseco has also claimed to have personally injected Palmeiro with PEDs so who the hell knows.
We'll obviously never know how many years, if any, Palmeiro was using for (testing wasn't implemented until 2004). I'm not sure it matters though. At least it shouldn't matter for HOF voting, where Palmeiro had a tough go of things. He never received more than 12.6% of the voting despite being one of the four 500/3K members. The potential use of steroids definitely inflated his numbers, but other supposed users from the era have been given more love in the voting process.
The bigger problem for Palmeiro is that despite all the counting stats he was never really that dominant. He never finished higher than 5th in the MVP voting. The only stats he ever led his league in were doubles (once), hits (once), and runs (once). There's something to be said for consistency and durability, however I'm not going to kick up a fuss that he isn't in the Hall. It would've been interesting to see how he would've faired in the voting without the 2005 testing. As for his "comeback" I'm going to go out on a limb and call it unlikely. The oldest position player in the majors was Julio Franco at the age of 49. This is likely the last we will hear of Palmeiro for a while. It's been fun to look back on his crazy career though.
Fun Rafael Palmeiro fact: he won the 1999 AL Gold Glove despite playing just 28 games at first base 🤷🏼— Too Much Tuma (@toomuchtuma) December 6, 2017