The nation's problems solved, Congress can now focus on steroids

January 22, 2008|By Steven P. Grossman

Having successfully extricated us from the president's disastrous war in Iraq and with the economy humming along seamlessly, Congress was finally able to turn its attention last week to what really matters in America: whether baseball players are telling the truth about using steroids. Apparently, our legislators are feeling especially sanctimonious these days because with more than a week left to go, no member of Congress has been indicted this month.

We heard, from former Sen. George J. Mitchell, baseball commissioner Bud Selig and union leader Donald Fehr, breathtakingly revealing testimony about the widespread use of steroids in baseball and how - yes, perhaps - someone should have noticed what was going on.

As illuminating as this testimony was, I can't help but express my concern that we have to wait another month before we hear from Roger Clemens, his accuser, Brian McNamee, and others apparently part of the grand conspiracy to bring down our national pastime. (Hey, Andy Pettitte - was it just two shots, or three? Inquiring congressional minds want and need to know.)

We have to live through another month without the benefit of really, really knowing who lied - a conclusion we can draw reliably only after hearing commentators analyze the looks on the faces of the witnesses as they testify under oath.

Wisely, our elected representatives have realized that a problem as fundamental to our national existence and identity as the threat posed by juicers in baseball cannot possibly be handled by only one branch of the federal government. So we hear now that upon the recommendation of a House committee, the FBI has launched its own investigation into whether Miguel Tejada lied to a congressional staffer about whether he knew Rafael Palmeiro and others were using steroids.

Thank goodness that with domestic terrorism no longer a worry, the FBI can be brought into this crusade as well. While I am pleased that law enforcement is on top of this, I do worry about Mr. Tejada still roaming free (though no longer in Baltimore, at least).

I have a complaint, though. These important investigations have not gone far enough. Our legislators and others have screamed about how our great American game has been tarnished by cheating, so let's get to the bottom of it once and for all.

Some of you as old as I am may remember Gaylord Perry, a great pitcher for the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians, among other teams. Mr. Perry won more than 300 games and was elected to the Hall of Fame. But everyone knew he did it primarily by throwing spitters, which was then, and still is, illegal in baseball.

I charge Mr. Mitchell with speaking to former players and trainers who spoke with other players and trainers who saw Mr. Perry doctor the balls. I charge Congress with bringing those witnesses and Mr. Perry before it to find out who is lying.

And after that? On to bowling!

Steven P. Grossman is the Dean Julius Isaacson professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. His e-mail is sgrossman@ubalt.edu.

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