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Congressional Hearings

Here's a link to some saucy soundbytes from the hearings. My take? McGwire was depressing. I hate to say he's "guilty," but boy did he not look innocent in any way. From nearly breaking down during his opening statement to continually "not talking about the past" - I love Big Mac. It really hurts (in some way) to think that one of the most exciting hitters of my lifetime was what some people would call a cheater.

Now, to make clear in case you didn't watch: McGwire did not admit to steroid use, he was not formally connected to steroid use in any new way today. But he looked bad. It was the most depressing part of the entire hearings, at least up through the players' panel, as I stopped watching after that. I think we can all take a good guess at the runaround that Selig, Fehr and company will give Congress.

photo courtesy AP As for Sosa and Palmeiro, nothing big there. Palmeiro was adamant that he has not taken steroids or anything else. Sosa said he has not taken steroids. Palmeiro and Schilling were the most vocal of the group, and Sosa was easily the least, basically passing on questions most of the way through, though he did have his lawyer read an inspiring tale of Sosa's life as an orange salesman in the Dominican Republic, a bit of a head-scratcher being read by an older white guy.

Canseco did his spiel, but was probably the most honest of all the panel members. My personal feelings on Canseco are pretty simple. I think he's a jerk and a bit of a scumbag. But there's truth to what he has to say. He did look stupid when declaring his opposition to steroid use after writing in his book about endorsing the monitored use of the drugs, but other than that Canseco came off better than you might imagine.

Schilling was his usual spotlight-stealing self. He repeatedly slammed Canseco whenever he got the opportunity and got a couple of laughs from the room. He stood firm on his known position, and seated next to Palmeiro, the two of them were like some sort of classy superfriends out to rid the world of steroid use.

But one seat over was Big Mac, and he had the worst day of anyone in attendance. McGwire was grilled and made to look horrible at various points throughout the session. I can't say enough about how honestly sad it made me, for both McGwire and baseball. It's hard to look at someone of whom you have begun to assume guilt, and they aren't really denying it, but they won't make any admissions either. It was uncomfortable as a viewer and a fan of his. Not that I'll stop liking Mark McGwire because of this, though - I like McGwire as more than a ballplayer. I think he's a good person, and if he "cheated" in any way (which we still don't know), then you know what? People make mistakes. I'd forgive McGwire in an instant because I don't think he has a bad bone in his body. He's a class act, always has been and always will be.

Jim Bunning's testimony, however, was excruciating. I don't even want to get into it.

On an even sadder note, I want to say rest in peace to "The Monster", Dick Radatz, who had three absolutely outstanding seasons in the early 1960s for the Boston Red Sox. The AP story on Radatz's untimely death at the age of 67 can be seen here. The legend of Radatz is striking out Mickey Mantle 44/63 times or whatever other number floats around, but the real number is 12/16 - great nonetheless.

The O's played St. Louis today, but the game was cancelled due to rain in the third inning. We had a 3-1 lead, with Sal Fasano hitting his second homer of the spring. Luis Matos tripled and BJ Surhoff drove him in with a single.