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SUNDAY, MARCH 20, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Say it ain't so, Mark; baseball needs a hero

Mark McGwire appeared as much less than the baseball giant who broke Roger Maris' homerun record in 1998 when he testified before a congressional hearing last week.

The former homerun king who hit 70 out of the park as a St. Louis Cardinal was caught between the truth and telling a lie. He wouldn't say he used steroids to enhance his power to swat baseballs out of the stadium, and he wouldn't say he didn't.

But somewhere in between those dilemmas, baseball fans had to recall the heartbreaking story of Shoeless Joe Jackson, who took $5,000 from gamblers to help throw the 1919 World Series.

Folklore has it that a young fan, heartbroken that his hero had been hauled before a grand jury investigating the scandal, called out, "Say it ain't so, Joe."

Like Shoeless Joe, Mr. Mc

Gwire appears to have cheated at America's pastime.

Like the youngster, America wishes it were not so.

The forced lineup of present and former major league players talking to Congress didn't represent one of baseball's finer moments. They quibbled with each other and with the reports of steroid use.

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig couldn't help the punchless crowd. Even though the homerun king couldn't say if he used steroids and another one, Barry Bonds, is associated with an alleged steroid-distribution ring in California, the commissioner said baseball has no major problem.

And, he said, baseball's drug testing would have been stronger had it not been for the players' union and collective bargaining.

Like Mr. McGwire, the commissioner was in a dilemma about the truth.

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