Five years too late, 10 years too late, doesn't matter. That was hard.
That was hard for Mark McGwire to admit yesterday that his entire career was a lie, that the glorious summer of '98 when he rescued baseball with the power of his swing was a sham.
The man was an athlete and a proud one. A cheater, as bad or worse than Canada's own Ben Johnson, quite probably.
Still, that was hard.
He has come clean and apologized, and we, as a sporting culture, should accept that apology.
Not unconditionally, mind you. The apology should be accepted, but with the condition that McGwire, other than working in the game he loves, should receive nothing more from the game he harmed so badly.
Certainly not a Hall of Fame induction, and one can only hope McGwire doesn't believe he can get a pass into the hall by coming clean.
That ship has sailed. He was a borderline case anyway, and now that he's admitted to be a desperate cheater for years, the numbers he accumulated mean nothing.
If he had a record that could be stripped, it should be. If baseball wants to invalidate the home runs he hit, that's okay with me.
See, he led the way in the steroid era. He wasn't just part of it. He was the poster boy, and he even had the temerity, the appalling judgment, to include his son and the Maris family in the entire drama, all the while knowing he was lying and cheating and lying some more.
For that, he should have his name forever stricken from the record books.
But as a man, these past years must have been a terrible time, hiding from the public eye, facing himself in the mirror day after day after day.
Anybody who can't recognize that can't recognize their own humanity.
So if he wants to work in baseball now, fine. Be the living monument to the cost of cheating, although the tens of millions of dollars earned in salary by McGwire certainly taints the quality of that monument.
Maybe he could've been a great player. Instead, he wasn't. He was just a cheater. He couldn't do it without the benefit of drugs that if not illegal in baseball, were quite clearly viewed as forbidden.
If coming clean helps him be a better man tomorrow than he was last week, then baseball's the better for it.
So forgive the poor fool. He screwed up terribly, all to feed his ego and lust for attention.
Still, McGwire now has a chance to truly make a positive contribution to the game.
That's worth something.