America#039;s pastime shouldn#039;t be Congress#039;

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 11, 2005

Our U.S. Congress seems to swinging at the high, outside pitches but not batting an eye at the ones that are sitting right over the plate.

Our nation is buried beneath a record deficit, struggling with a violent war and facing monumental domestic issues with health care and Social Security. So what are some of our esteemed members of Congress focused on? Steroid-using baseball players.

We love America's pastime as much as the next person but we believe it is past time that Congress leaves this issue alone. While we believe that steroid-shooting athletes is a social problem that must be addressed, our leaders are wasting valuable time and resources on something that should be handled by the respective sports leagues and local law enforcement.

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But for the U.S. House of Representative's Energy and Commerce subcommittee to waste its time focusing on this instead of the two things their name alludes to - energy and commerce - is an absolute waste of time, energy and commerce.

Texas Republican Joe Barton said the latest talks may be the first of a series of hearings on the issue and that subpoenas might be issued for commissioners of the major sports leagues.

''The time has come to put an end to this mess and reclaim sports as competition,'' he said in an Associated Press report, adding that the use of performance-enhancing drugs is tainting sports and its stars.

We won't argue that but we did not elect our best and brightest to spend their time and our money to debate an issue that is essentially of no consequence to the daily lives of the average citizen.

This latest announcement comes only one day after the House Government Reform Committee subpoenaed Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and five other baseball stars to testify at a hearing next week.

Government needs enough reform of its own before they start pointing the finger elsewhere.

Maybe it is a case of subconscious avoidance that the legislators would rather talk about a game than the issues that matter to many Americans. We urge our leaders to keep their eyes on the ball - our economy - and start swinging at the pitches that matter.

If not, our country may lose the real game while our leaders are focused on the between-inning entertainment. And unlike baseball teams, Congress doesn't get 162 chances in its season.