Perhaps forgetting that once upon a time, there were journalists who thought Mark McGwire or Rafael Palmiero were solid citizens, the Houston Chronicle’s John Lopez rushes to the defense of the Astros’ Craig Biggio.

I think I can speak with as much knowledge about Biggio’s history as anyone who is not a teammate, friend or family member.

What makes him perform at a remarkable level? You cannot find it in a bottle, cream or syringe.

David Wells’ recent drive-by potshot at Biggio was about as idiotic as anything I’ve heard in a while. Wells intimated that Biggio should be mentioned in steroid discussions.

When you’re around a ballplayer or team, you will over time hear dirty little secrets here and there. That’s how stories get broken. A writer is tipped on something, follows up, finds facts or sources who can go on the record, and then, bam, there’s the BALCO investigation or whatnot.

Biggio has in the past taken creatine and other legal, over-the-counter supplements. Every athlete does. But not once in his 19 seasons has any other implication been made or reported.

If you really want to know why Biggio would never risk his reputation and legacy, look at one of his other character traits: He’s ultra-conscious of his image.

He carefully chooses every word he says publicly. He never makes any appearance or does any endorsement without carefully studying the effect it might have on his star value. He likes to be in control of everything around him that could affect how he’s perceived.

You think Biggio would associate with scumbag personal “trainers” or dabble in illegal or improper supplements?

On an unrelated note, just when did walking out of a Pirates game require an explanation? The Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette’s Bob Smizik has reached the astonishing conclusion that the Bucs’ miserable performances the past few years aren’t down to managers old (Lloyd McClendon) or new (Jim Tracy), but rather, “the reason for the team’s poor play is poor players.”

Tony Massarotti posed the following question in his Herald bloggity blog ; What was Manny Ramirez thinking when he showboated during an admittedly colossal home run in the seventh inning? (You™d think it was the man™s first home run), a theme echoed by the Daily News’ Sam Borden.