Saturday, March 12, 2005
The crack of the bat, the pop of the catcher's mitt, and the service of subpoenas -- it sure sounds like Spring Training. The House Government Reform Committee issued subpoenas to the eleven players and executives (earlier post here listing scheduled participants) who it wishes to hear from on March 17 at a hearing into baseball's steroid policy. The Committee was even kind enough to post copies of the subpoenas (here) for all to see, and you get the autograph of Rep. Tom Davis (Committee chair) at the bottom of each for free. A release by the Committee explains the reason for its scheduled hearing:
The Committee will conduct a thorough, fair, and responsible investigation. It is important the American people know the facts on baseball’s steroid scandal. And it is important that all Americans, especially children, know about the dangers of drug use. Consistent with our jurisdiction over the nation’s drug policy, we need to better understand the steps MLB is taking to get a handle on the steroid issue, and whether news of those steps – and the public health danger posed by steroid use – is reaching America’s youth.
Interestingly, the Committee did not invite (and then subpoena) Barry Bonds, the best-known player and an admitted, albeit unknowing according to his grand jury testimony, user of steroids. Does Bonds bring too much star power, drawing attention away from the topic -- and, perhaps, overshadowing Chairman Davis and the other Representatives during their moment in the spotlight (and, more importantly, on ESPN's SportsCenter)?
Jose Canseco has asked for immunity (despite writing a book about his and others steroid use), and he identified Rafael Palmeiro as a steroid user in the book, which Palmeiro vehemently denies. Their appearance together at the hearing promises to be testy. Jason Giambi testified in 2003 before a federal grand jury under a grant of immunity, and he will likely demand another grant to testify again before the Committee. To this point, only Curt Schilling, who has been critical of steroid use by players, has agreed to testify without any reservations. Just like Spring Training games, this doesn't count in the standings, but that doesn't detract from the circus. An article on ESPN.com by Jayson Stark (here) raises question about the Committee's motive for the hearing. (ph)