It keeps happening, and most specifically, it keeps happening in the Bay Area, home of two baseball teams and a seemingly endless amount of PED use.
Just as the pennant races got fired up, key members of the A's and Giants apparently got juiced up. And got caught. And penalized. That's the story of this season now, that's how this will go into the history books.
With Wednesday's news that Bartolo Colon tested positive for testosterone and has been suspended 50 games, there's no doubt about it:
The Bay Area is the Hometown of Steroids, and that's both frustrating and incredibly devastating for the credibility of the two teams' achievements this season.
Last week, I said the Giants franchise was cursed by steroids. Clearly, it's not limited to them -- it's the whole region, and I don't know when the curse will be lifted.
Just in this year alone, Giants reliever Guillermo Mota was suspended 100 games for a second-time PED offense, then came Melky Cabrera's infamous 50-game ban and now Colon, who has been such a vital part of the A's pitching staff.
To make it all more numbing: Colon's suspension came exactly one week after Cabrera's suspension, almost to the minute, for the same substance.
I wouldn't imagine that Colon's suspension will quite have the shock value in the A's clubhouse that Cabrera's had in Giantsland. Cabrera was the All-Star game MVP and the No. 3 hitter, and the Giants are just
But (unlike Cabrera, for instance) Colon was an important emotional part of the A's run -- he was the one steely veteran going out there every fifth day, throwing strikes, steadying all those impressive young starters. His advice was important and often requested.
His was an amazing story, coming back from major injury issues and a career lull in his 30s to pitch well and forcefully in his late-30s, first with the Yankees last year and this year with the A's, at 39.
Like Cabrera's recent rise, it was too good to be true.
In Bay Area baseball, too-good-to-be-true almost always turns out to be chemically aided and soon-to-be-an-embarrassment.
Of course, it starts with the whole sordid history of BALCO (the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative) and Barry Bonds and the early steroid adventures of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.
The Mitchell Report was littered with the names of Bay Area players; now, years later, the Bay Area is home to three players testing positive for PED use.
At this point, nobody in the Bay Area can be blindsided by anything like this anymore.
We all just go into automatic mode now: Absorb the news, wait for the player's public statement, try to figure out how the team will deal with it.
Here's Colon's statement Wednesday, issued via the players union (just as Cabrera's statement was last week):
"I apologize to the fans, to my teammates and to the Oakland A's. I accept responsibility for my actions and I will serve my suspension as required by the Joint Drug Program."
How will the A's deal with it? They have pitching depth, as evidenced by Brett Anderson's brilliant return Tuesday night from Tommy John surgery. More than most teams, they can absorb the loss of a stalwart starter.
They still can make it into the playoffs. They have plenty of good players who remain unsuspended and theoretically free of steroids.
But the A's have lost credibility with this, as all teams lose credibility when they win games with players who are proven cheaters. They won 14 games that Colon started, including five of his last six starts.
If the A's fail to make the playoffs, they can point to the loss of Colon at this crucial period. If they do make the postseason, the 14 victories he helped get will be a part of it.
And it all makes 2012 unclean, tainted, and a perfect reflection of Bay Area baseball, the cradle and largest current purveyor of steroid use.