Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Never Mind Impeaching Cheney: Solons And Dracos Are Into Juicing Jocks

We have a vice president who is arguably guilty of impeachable offenses. It now looks like the Jan. 6 Strait of Hormuz "incident" may have been a timed "Wag the Dog" sham by the Pentagon. Many of the nation's financial pillars are crumbling. We have the worst president of the U.S. since James Buchanan. Many families are on the verge of homelessness for one reason or another.

Yet, amid all this, on Congress' first day back in 2008, Henry Waxman and Company opened a hearing, by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that Waxman chairs, on the Mitchell report on performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. Nice to see we've got our priorities in order.

Not that I think this episode of men behaving badly doesn't need to be investigated. I just wonder if it needs such immediate attention, what with these national crises and all.


Here's what The New York Times online had today:

WASHINGTON — The House Oversight committee has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the possibility that Miguel Tejada, the 31-year-old star shortstop for the Houston Astros, made material false statements in interviews with Congressional investigators, the chairman of the committee said Tuesday at the opening of a hearing on performance enhancing drugs in baseball.

Tejada was interviewed by Congressional investigators in 2005 when they were investigating the possibility that Rafael Palmeiro had committed perjury when he denied in testimony that he had used steroids.

Tejada was a teammate of Palmeiro’s on the Baltimore Orioles and told investigators that he had never used steroids or talked to others about using steroids.

But a recent report on performance-enhancing drugs by former Senator George J. Mitchell includes evidence that Tejada did discuss steroids with others. It says that Adam Piatt, a former teammate of Tejada’s on the Oakland Athletics, recalled providing Tejada with two steroids and human growth hormone in 2003.

Tejada said the injections he was observed giving himself in the bathroom were vitamin B-12 shots. He's also supposed to have given such shots to three of his teammates during the 2005 season. One of them was Palmeiro, who was suspended on Aug. 1, 2005 after testing positive for steroids.

So that B-12 is the secret? No doubt the Babe would have hit 1,000 homers if he'd been geezing that stuff instead of guzzling beer and wolfing hot dogs.

But I still can't help but wonder why, at this critical time in our republic's history, Henry Waxman's considerable talents are focused on this. Message to Henry: Baseball's a game, dude. The stakes are very, very low compared to what they are in some other corners of action.

Here's a parting note from The Times:

In addition on Tuesday, Representative John F. Tierney of Massachusetts, a member of the committee, said that baseball had granted more than 100 “therapeutic use exemptions” to players who said they have attention deficit disorder, so they could use drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall — both stimulants — in 2007, compared with only 28 such exemptions in 2006. The rate of baseball players claiming to have attention deficit disorder and subsequently using stimulants, he said, was eight times that of the general population.

Perhaps, one might hope, this rampant attention deficit disorder can explain those very short memories that the panels and investigators keep running up against.

As a kid, I had that common fantasy of becoming a baseball star. I fondly remember schoolyard home runs, Little League clutch hits, and nailing an opposite-field single off a local pitcher who had a great curveball and was being scouted. Unfortunately, hitting was the only skill I was particularly good at, and I didn't have attention deficit disorder. Maybe some B-12 shots would have made me a better outfielder.

But there comes a time to put away childish things. For the vast majority of Americans, baseball is, again, just a game. Mr. Waxman, we need you and others like you in Washington. But at this crucial time, you and your colleagues should probably be concentrating on other things. Play ball! It ain't over till it's over.

Crossposted at Manifesto Joe.