George Will

     Philip Schiliro, chief of staff for the committee's Democrats, says: ``If Sammy Sosa hit 60 home runs three times without being on steroids, kids should know that. That's a great message for kids.'' Sentimentality trumps legality, and doing this or that for ``kids'' is the first and usually the final rhetorical refuge when government wants to wander where neither the Constitution nor common sense says it should.

     But Davis' Committee for the Dissemination of Great Messages to Kids is shoving its oar into the steroids controversy tardily. Waxman says the committee must investigate because baseball's leaders will not ``do an investigation.'' But baseball, having been prodded by the president and the National Scold (John McCain), investigated the problem and then reopened and revised its collective bargaining agreement to institute more rigorous testing and more severe penalties that have substantially reduced the incidence of steroid use.

     Stanley Brand, attorney for those the committee has subpoenaed, says the House rule granting the committee's jurisdiction ``provides no indication'' that the committee is empowered ``to review a collective bargaining agreement between private parties.'' Not even the National Labor Relations Board, he says, evaluates ``the substantive merit of collective bargaining agreements.'' But imitation is the sincerest form of congressional behavior, so now Rep. Joe Barton, the Texas Republican who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, warns all sports everywhere, ``If you don't clean it up, we're going to clean it up for you.'' That is the voice of another conservative who has gone native in Washington.

     The one witness eager to testify is Canseco, who is flogging a book in which he accuses many players of using steroids. Jeff Merron of ESPN.com read the book -- has Canseco done that? -- and found:

     Canseco says that during spring training 2001, when playing for the Angels against the Mariners and their second baseman Bret Boone, ``I hit a double, and when I got out there to second base I got a good look at Boone. I couldn't believe my eyes. He was enormous. `Oh my God,' I said to him. `What have you been doing?' `Shhh,' he said. `Don't tell anybody.''' But in five Angels-Mariners games that spring, Canseco never reached second base.

     He recounts game six of the 2000 World Series -- which ended with game five. He recalls baseball in 1982 being ``closed'' to Latinos -- although there were 62 major leaguers from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and more from other Latin countries.

     The Committee for the Dissemination of Great Messages to Kids has found the witness it deserves.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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