In a deliberate snub to countdown maven Buster Olney (number of days we’ve waited for Olney’s ESPN blog to reappear : 3), the disgraced Rafael Palmiero chats with Murray Chass in Wednesday’s New York Times.

Given the way last season ended for him – the stunning suspension, the poor performance upon his return, the injuries that gave the Baltimore Orioles an excuse to send him home – Palmeiro, a free agent, would ideally like to play another year or two, bat .300 and hit 30 home runs or so each season.

But, he added in a telephone interview:“I think it is an unfair thing to expect me to do at the age of 41, 42, play the way I did when I was 30 . But maybe if I have some solid years and don’t test positive, they can say he went out and hit that way. Maybe that’s what I can do.”

“At this point I really don’t know,” he said, speaking publicly for the first time since last season. “I love baseball and I’d like to play forever, but there are other things that are important.” He mentioned his two sons, ages 15 and 10. “There are things I have to weigh. Baseball needs to be second to my family. I’m still interested in playing. I want to see what options I have. If there’s something that’s intriguing, I’ll do it.”

And what might he find intriguing?

“I’m not sure,” he said. “Well, obviously I’d like to play for a good team. I’d have to see what the options are out there. The Yankees would be intriguing. I grew up being a Yankee fan; I’ve always loved the Yankees. But the Yankees seem to be maxed out.”

Between Raffy, Sammy Sosa and Bret Boone, the Newark Bears will have some impressive talent to choose from in 2006.