SI.com: How much did the testimony from the second panel, in which the Hootons and Garibaldis discussed how steroids played a role in the suicides of their children, set the tone for the rest of the day?
Yaeger: There's no question it set the tone. It made this more than a hearing about Major League Baseball and its testing policy. It made it a hearing that had a real personal touch to it because those parents were telling the story of their children killing themselves while going through steroid withdrawal. I even saw a couple of crusty old sportswriters who had tears in their eyes.
SI.com: What do you think about Mark McGwire's decision to tap-dance around the questions of steroid use with non-denial denials?
Yaeger: That's a huge issue. I don't know who advised him that was the way to handle it but he probably did more to hurt himself and the image of baseball by not being stand up about it than he would have if he had just said, "I did it and I'm sorry." That is, assuming he did it, which everybody in the world does right now.
SI.com: Will McGwire's testimony be the lasting image of this hearing?
Yaeger: No question. You just don't see that very often. Two weeks ago through his agent, McGwire was telling reporters, "I never did steroids." And then when it came time to step up before Congress, under oath, he couldn't do it. What does that tell you?
SI.com: How odd was it that at one point, Jose Canseco appeared to be the voice of reason among the players?
Yaeger: Several congressmen and congresswomen made that point -- that there were a number of questions which Canseco appeared to be the only one telling the truth. Players were saying things like, "I've been in the game 18 years and never seen syringes ... I've never known anybody else who has done steroids." One congressman referred to it as theater of the absurd.
SI.com: What do you think of Canseco backtracking considerably from his book Juiced, in which he strongly advocated steroid use?
Yaeger: Does that surprise anybody? What he said in the book was publicly indefensible, but it was pure Canseco. Outrageous and indefensible. In a setting as somber as the hearing was following the parents telling the story about the death of their children, he would have had to have been nearly inhuman to repeat the type of things about steroids that are in his book.
SI.com: How palpable was tension in the room between Canseco and the other players?
Yaeger: Very. When they first came into the room, when everybody read their opening statements, you could cut it with a knife.
SI.com: Rep. Henry Waxman was pushing for a federal policy on steroids. Is any legislation likely to come from this?
Yaeger: There's a sense that Congress is going to work with baseball officials to try to get them to beef up the testing program and eliminate the loopholes that were identified in the hearing. If baseball fails to do so, there could be some form of legislation and it could go as far as costing baseball its antitrust protections.
SI.com: Congress has leaned on baseball with these type of threats before, though. What is the likelyhood that MLB will heed the warnings this time?
Yaeger: I don't think there's any question baseball takes this seriously after Thursday. If you look at the way baseball treated this when the hearings were first announced, saying that they were not going to show, not going to encourage players to show up, from Day 1 baseball tried to act as if this was a nonevent. But the bipartisan leadership of this committee, Rep. Tom Davis and Waxman did not back down. They forced baseball's hand. I don't think Bud Selig and Don Fehr today think this event was a joke. This could be a clash of the titans between Congress and baseball. Baseball's got more to lose than congress does.
SI.com: So you anticipate a follow-up to this hearing if Congress isn't satisfied?
Yaeger: A year ago congress held these hearings and baseball said it had beefed up the steroids program, and when it was time for baseball to show what it beefed up, there was not as much meat on the bone as baseball claimed. Congress will not fall for that deception on baseball's part again.