It was only a matter of time, I guess, before Major League Baseball officials applied enough pressure to the hindquarters (the area of his wallet) of anti-aging clinic founder Anthony Bosch to get him to spill the beans about which big league players were using performance-enhancing drugs made available at Biogenesis in Florida.

And, of course, it was only a matter of time before this baseball season was spoiled by more scandal related to performance-enhancing drugs.

That time has come.

According to published reports, there are 20 current Major League players (or more) who secured their PEDs from Bosch's clinic in recent years.

And Bosch allegedly is now ready to name names.

Of course he is. MLB has sued Biogenesis and its operators in a civil suit, accusing them of providing banned PEDs to players in violation of their contracts. And now, MLB apparently has agreed to drop that suit, but only if Bosch will reveal which players bought what and how much.

At the top of the list -- and no one will be too surprised to hear these names -- are Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriquez and Brewers' outfielder Ryan Braun, both of whom have either admitted PED use in the past or denied PED use in the past.

Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez has been linked to Biogenesis, but could ultimately be cleared if the substances he received from the clinic prove to be legal.

We'll see about that, I guess. One thing is for certain, this issue will again dominate discussions about baseball for the rest of this season and probably most of next season.

Because it won't go away quickly, and it won't be resolved quietly.

Lawyers are already involved. That's never a good sign. The players' union also will be involved. And in the end, who knows what will come of it.

One thing for certain, money is going to be a central theme in every negotiation.

And rest assured that the players, even if suspended and condemned to a future that won't include selection into the Hall of Fame, will still be paid handsomely.

That's part of the problem, I suspect. Players can violate MLB drug rules and still get a big payday. There may be penalties, but for the most part they aren't financial. So what's the incentive to play by the rules, to stay clean, if players can walk off into the sunset with their pockets loaded with cash?

To me, that's somewhat similar to allowing bank robbers to keep most of the loot after they've been caught, convicted and paid their debt to society.

For its part, MLB says it intends to suspend players for as many as 100 games, starting within the next couple of weeks. The theory is they get 50 games for using illegal substances and another 50 games for lying to MLB investigators about using them. The old double-whammy.

If that happens -- and it sticks -- baseball players might take notice. But I guarantee you they'd notice quicker if part of the penalty was a voiding of the player's contract.

As far as we know, most of the players on the list are not superstars of the game. That's a good thing. Included on the list, according to The New York Times, are Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Padres outfielder Everth Cabrera and Mariners catcher/first baseman Jesus Montero.

Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, signer of a $16 million contract in the offseason, A's pitcher Bartolo Colon and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal have been linked to Biogenesis, and all were suspended for 50 games last season, after positive tests for testosterone.

Frankly, this all sounds like more of the same nonsense we've been hearing almost non-stop for five or six years, at least.

It got old a long time ago. Now, it's past being old. It's a drag.

Let's not feel sorry for the players in this deal. The real victim here is the game of baseball. It'll recover, I guess, but only when players take responsibility for the integrity of the game.

For the most part, I think that's happening. I think nine out of 10 players are playing the game as cleanly as it can be played.

That's to their credit.

But it's still a hard pill to swallow when a perfectly good baseball season takes another hit like this before we're even half way through the schedule.

It's just one more slap in the face of America's finest game.

Sports columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Thurs days. E-mail: lhick