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Bless me, America, for I have sinned ...


I know that according to the Chinese Zodiac, 2010 is going to be the Year of the Tiger. Without succumbing to the obvious gag opportunities, I would suggest that in America it’s going to be the Year of the Confession.

The almost equally zany worlds of politics and entertainment will, of course, provide their annual drip, drip, drip of such mea culpas, but my reference is more pointedly to the world of professional sports. I think Mark McGwire might have just opened the floodgates.

My guess is that anybody who can do so without inviting legal peril is going to step up to the mike and make official what most everybody has more or less known all along. And hopefully they’ll do a little better job at it than McGwire, who performed handsomely in conveying how awful he felt about the whole thing but whiffed in a number of areas in terms of candor and believability.

Just as Big Mac did, everybody else is going to have to pick their spots, but you can’t help but think that for most the sooner they come clean – no pun intended – the better.

I liken this to Thelma and Louise as they started heading to that cliff and the dark finish of that 1991 film. Take, for example, the 100-plus guys on the “list” that the Major League Baseball drug testing regimen produced. If I were one of those guys, I think I’d be pondering a way to get it out there, because I just can’t imagine that list is going to stay under wraps forever. Frankly, I am amazed it’s avoided the light of day for as long as it has.

I think those guys should ask MLB to covertly notify each and every last one of them on the list and create an amnesty day – how about June 6, 2010 – and encourage all 100-plus to fess up at one time.

Gee, the more I think about that the better it sounds for all concerned. It’s huge national news, of course, but it’s remarkably blunted for each individual simply because of the volume. The shadow is removed from the other couple of thousand “clean” guys who played through the period, so I assume they’d be tickled with the idea as well.

And from Major League Baseball’s perspective, it would serve to largely close a chapter that’s been as close to Chinese water torture as one can imagine, not that I am suggesting that waterboarding is torture. And I’m back to the Chinese again, who deserve their own apology for the water torture reference, because apparently there’s no historical evidence pointing to them aside from popular usage of the expression itself.

I should add that urging those 100 ballplayers who participated in that testing regimen in good faith with the understanding that the results would remain under seal is a great departure for me. I have said all along that we have no right to know who they are; my change of tune comes from the belief that eventually they are going to be “outed,” and if that’s the case, a better strategy is to get out in front of it.

Amnesty Day would naturally present the same opportunity for some of the more prominent names ensnared in the steroid debacle – Mssrs. Bonds and Clemens come to mind – but their eventual confessions are more complicated because of the legal proceedings already underway.

And please, no scolding for the use of the expression “their eventual confessions.” Just like Thelma and Louise, they have to know that the edge of the cliff is out there waiting for them.

And there’s at least one other big-time sports confession to come ... in the Year of the Tiger.