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Stars, but only on diamond - Greg Gelpi

Their forearms may rival those of Superman, but that doesn't mean that their integrity does as well.

Baseball players may be able to ooh and ahh crowds down on the diamond, but their performances before members of Congress recently were less than stellar.

A co-worker likened the antics to the days of demanding Hollywood actors to disclose whether or not they were members of the Communist Party and to identify those who were.

I acknowledge the sensationalism of the media circus and the emotional constraints of the circumstances. Still, I expected more of the players, but I, being like most, fall into the category of those who mistake the ability to play a kid's game with the ability to act responsibly as an adult.

When questioned by members of the Congressional committee, sure-to-be Hall of Fame slugger Mark McGwire dodged, ducked and avoided questions as if he was facing a line of pitchers aiming at his head.

Even when members of the committee asked simply and directly if McGwire was attempting to plead the Fifth Amendment, he continued to dance around an answer.

Baseball players and members of Congress alike touted their "love of the game," still major League Baseball is more than a mere game. A baseball game is played in the neighborhood park with a dinged up bat and ruddy ball, not played in multi-million dollar parks with bats and balls bought in bulk. That's about the love of the dollar.

It's not about being a snitch and naming names, and players such as McGwire shouldn't be viewed as honorable like the Chris O'Donnell character in Scent of a Woman.

Just as I write for others to read, Major Leaguers play for others to watch. The players owe the fans, the ones paying their contracts.

The players shouldn't be forced or feel threatened to spill the truth about steroid use in the league, but they should feel obligated. That sense of obligation should guide their words and actions , instead of their words and actions being guided by an attorney.

It takes a big man to stand at the plate and face a 90-plus mph pitch, but it takes a bigger man to be open, honest and admit that which he may not be proud of, sacrificing himself for the betterment of others.

McGwire, Sammy Sosa and others may (emphasis on the may) be clean of steroid use, but their answers, if nothing else, raised questions of their sincerity and motives.

If the players had been sincere, there would have been cooperation and assistance lent to the committee, rather than non-answers bordering on belligerence and incompetence.

Players had the opportunity to provide insight into how steroids are provided to players, the pressure to use steroids, anything that could have been used to address the problem of steroids.

Canned answers and prepared statements only stirred furor among the members of Congress and provided a gloomy backdrop for the opening of the new baseball season.

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.