Posted: Friday March 18, 2005 1:42AM; Updated: Friday March 18, 2005 9:38AM
For sure, there were other losers in the painfully long day. Several congressmen were after blood, including Christopher Shays of Connecticut, Henry Waxman of California and Patrick McHenry of North Carolina. Grandstanding or not, the congressmen came out looking like champions for the public good, and baseball's ruling officials felt their wrath.
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Commissioner Bud Selig was on his heels for much of the last part of the day. His right-hand lawyer, Rob Manfred, seemed absolutely exasperated at the questioning. Union boss Don Fehr was savaged at times.
Baseball, as a whole, came out looking terrible. Even as baseball officials pushed the merits of their new drug policy and pleaded for a chance to let it work, they had no real explanation as to why they didn't see earlier the extent of the steroids problem. Arguments over the new policy -- wording in the drafts of it, the fact that the committee had only a draft, perceived loopholes in it, differing views of the effectiveness of it -- pervaded the afternoon and early evening.
"I think you've let baseball down," Waxman told Selig. "Maybe it's time for new leadership in baseball."
Said Rep. John Sweeney of New York: "Congress has reached a level of intolerance. You need to do something a little more definitive than what you have done."
It's clear now that the congressmen aren't willing to simply leave baseball to its own devices. Waxman and others want the government to step in create a federal drug policy that would cover baseball and other sports, an idea that Selig said he would not oppose.
Whatever happens, as Rep. Tom Davis said less than 10 minutes into the proceedings, this is only a first step.
"The truth needs to come out, however ugly the truth might be. We can't look forward without looking back," Davis said. "Today's hearing will not be the end of this inquiry. We're in this first inning of what could be an extra-inning ballgame."
If this was just the first inning, it was the longest in the history of baseball. And, maybe, the strangest.
After 11-plus grueling hours of testimony from four different panels, after comments and questions from maybe a dozen congressmen, this day will be best remembered for one, sad moment in which Mark McGwire -- former American hero -- didn't say the one thing that he needed to say.