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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Hey, Barry, how about a fun trip to Capitol Hill this month?

Tim Dahlberg Associated Press

OK, Mark McGwire, here’s your chance.

Go ahead, Sammy Sosa, step up there with Big Mac and proclaim your innocence.

And you, Barry Bonds? Well, for some reason you weren’t invited, but isn’t this really the best place to say it wasn’t steroids after all?

Talk about perfect timing. Just as the major league season seemed destined to open under the black cloud of steroids, someone is giving baseball’s gargantuan sluggers a chance to finally speak the truth about those nasty rumors about performance-enhancing drugs.

No, it’s not those pesky reporters, the ones Bonds last week called the real liars in this whole muscular scandal. Listen to Barry and he’ll tell you that reporters envious of his $20 million salary are really to blame.

“It’s almost comical, basically,” Bonds said. “Are you guys jealous, upset, disappointed, what?”

No, Barry. We’re not.

Like most of America, we’re just wondering how you, Sammy and Big Mac suddenly grew so big and strong and started hitting every other pitch you saw out of the park. We’re wondering how you hit 37 home runs in 552 at-bats in 1998, and three years later hit 73 home runs in 76 fewer at-bats.

There’s probably a reasonable explanation for it. Good nutrition, maybe. Some extra time in the weight room probably helped, and it didn’t hurt that pitchers couldn’t pitch you inside because of the body armor you wear.

But here’s the great thing, Barry. Now you have a chance to set things straight so that America can celebrate with you when you pass Babe Ruth this year and take aim at Hank Aaron’s home run record.

A guy named Tom Davis is offering the opportunity of a lifetime – and just in time.

You probably don’t know Davis. He’s not the outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers who played in your father’s day, nor the clubhouse attendant who makes sure your recliner is properly set up next to your locker.

This Davis is a Republican congressman from Virginia who just happens to be the chairman of the House Government Reform Committee. Just what government reform has to do with steroids in baseball is somewhat of a mystery, but that’s not really the point.

Like you, Davis wants to set things straight. He and some others on his committee want to air out a story largely told before now behind closed doors.

Oh, yeah. Two more things before you decide to go, Barry.

He wants to do it March 17 in front of America. And he wants to do it with everyone under oath.

“There’s a cloud over baseball, and perhaps a public discussion of the issues, with witnesses testifying under oath, can provide a glimpse of sunlight,” Davis said Thursday.

Actually, Barry, you were left off the initial invitation list for some reason. Davis probably knew you and your teammates had an important exhibition game against the Texas Rangers that day and didn’t want to bother you.

Big Mac was invited, though. So was Sammy, Rafael Palmeiro, Frank Thomas, Curt Schilling and baseball’s steroid poster child, the newly lovable Jason Giambi. A guy named Jose Canseco, who’s also been in the news a lot lately, was also asked to attend and plans to be there.

It’s OK, though. We know you want to clear your name from all the scurrilous insinuations that somehow modern medicine did more to help you break the single season home run record than the many hours you spend in the weight room.

We know you’d love to be there when Sosa smiles and tells the congressmen that he never did anything more illegal than cork a bat. We know you want to be there when McGwire – assuming he doesn’t have a golf date that day – testifies under the penalty of law that Canseco must have mistaken him for someone else while injecting steroids in the bathroom stalls at the Oakland Coliseum.

What would be better than to see Canseco exposed as the lying, cheating scum all your brethren thinks he is?

In front of America, and under oath.

Meaning, everyone has to tell the truth.

Under oath.

Barry, have your guy call Davis’ guy and see if you can wangle a special pass.

Ask manager Felipe Alou for the afternoon off, have the Giants charter you a jet and get to Washington D.C., as early as you can. Don’t use the excuse that your lawyers told you not to say anything until the trials are over in San Francisco.

You haven’t been charged with anything, so you’re free to talk as much as you want.

Don’t be surprised, though, if Big Mac doesn’t show. He hasn’t said much of anything since he left baseball so quickly. He might have a good tee time that day.

Sammy might not be there either, and Schilling said he’ll have to check with his union rep before making up his mind.

It wouldn’t surprising at all if Canseco is the only one who appears March 17. And that might be only so he can set up a kiosk to sell his books on the steps of Capitol Hill.

But there is no downside to attending, Barry, if you’re telling the truth.

Tell them it ain’t so, that you would never knowingly take drugs to hit more home runs.

Don’t be afraid to crash the party, even if you’re not an honored guest.

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