Dear Boo Bird: I am a congressman from a Midwestern state that is crazy about major-league baseball. Tonight I will be attending a major-league game with some of my valued constituents, and during a break in the action former major-league player Mark McGwire will perform a small ceremonial act -- his first public appearance since his disgraceful testimony before my honorable colleagues in March of this year. Some fans will boo him, and I -- out of a sense of duty to the great democractic institution I serve -- I am tempted to join them. It is awkward for a man in my position to behave this way publicly, but I have always placed principle before expediency. However, there is an even more awkward circumstance: Mr. McGwire has contributed large sums of money to various campaign funds that my associates control, including certain deposits made via shall we say back-door channels. I certainly would not want to do anything that might impinge upon Mr. McGwire's constitutional right to free speech in that regard. What would you recommend? -- Confused in the Capital
Dear Confused: If we let ballplayers get away with cheating and lying, next thing you know our elected officials will be trying to get away with it too. And America could never survive that. Boo.
Dear Boo Bird: I paid $44 for Mark McGwire in my 1998 rotisserie-league auction, and he led my team to the league title. Between the first-place money and the side bets I cleared several thousand dollars, all of which I used to buy shares of Enron -- buddy of mine went to biz school with the CFO, gave me the tip. I sold the stock in the nick of time, hoo boy, then turned around and sold it short. I'm flying in this weekend on my private jet to see the final series at Busch Stadium. McGwire will be there, and I have to say I'm steamed at the guy over this whole steroid business. Sends the wrong message; I mean, wouldn't I have liked to have the playing field tilted in my favor too, instead of having to earn my fortune the hard way? But because of the rotisserie thing I kind of feel like I owe McGwire one. If I send him a check for $44, can I call it even and boo the bastard? -- Sore Winner
Dear Sore: Seems to me that he owes you $44 -- he violated the terms of his rotisserie contract by using steroids and hence is not entited to the $44 in rotisserie salary you paid. You're the real victim here --- boo.
Dear Boo Bird: My son was 11 years old when Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris's HR record. The kid worshipped McGwire and was desperate to be in attendance when the record fell. So I took a second job and bought tickets to every game down the stretch. We were there when McGwire did it. I'll never forget the thrill on my son's face. He even said, "Thanks Dad." Best thing we ever shared. Now my kid is 18 and all bulked up on Equipoise. We hardly speak -- I keep finding his needles and getting rid of them, and he just keeps restocking and hating me more. I softened up and bought tickets to tonight's game so we could see McGwire and remember all the fun we'd had in '98, but my kid wants nothing to do with me. So I'm going alone. And I'm torn -- do I boo or cheer? I feel like I want to do both; McGwire gave my son and me a great gift in '98, but it has ended up costing so much . . . . please help me, Boo Bird. -- Distraught in De Soto
Dear Distraught: Boo yourself. It's not McGwire's fault that you're a lousy father.