— So we have another (forced) confession. This one, from arguably the game's greatest active player.
Alex Rodriguez has joined Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi among those who have admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.
We also have the 103 others besides Rodriguez on the list of those who tested positive in 2003 — but whose names haven't (yet) been leaked.
We have even more names in the Mitchell Report.
And we have the accused who continue to deny charges, led by arguably the game's greatest player and pitcher since World War II.
We can't be shocked anymore; of course we can't. Mounting evidence points to performance-enhancing drug use being rampant and widespread; that roughly the two decades prior to the 2004 institution of testing truly were the 'Steroids Era'.
Do we need to put a percentage of users on it? Or, is it enough already? And when it comes to the Hall of Fame, are voters soon going to reach the point where they accept that the entire era was tainted, and just vote in its best players anyway?
Or, will voters just continue to follow the pattern of Mark McGwire's candidacy, and just keep saying no? And, will a movement start to discard the statistical accomplishments of the era, and we re-crown Hank Aaron as the home-run king again?
Because when you consider the 15-year eligibility period for Hall candidacies, those questions could linger for a couple of more decades, keeping the game in a damaging self-flagellation mode.
McGwire — who, in case you've forgotten, is not part of the Mitchell Report hit list — is watching his Hall of Fame candidacy be decimated by his testimony before Congress.
It already has drawn out three years, and remains stuck around the one-quarter approval mark. That's despite the fact that he never failed a drug test — something both Rafael Palmeiro and now Rodriguez have.
Palmeiro's first turn on the ballot comes in 2011. Then there is the mega-class of 2013 — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio.
At some point down the road, we could have the Biggios of the Steroids Era getting in — and the Bonds and Rodriguezes excluded. Not to besmirch Biggio's accomplishments, as 3,000 hits alone qualify him for Cooperstown. But he surely wasn't Bonds or Rodriguez, either.
Could we be looking somewhere in the 2020s at Bonds, Rodriguez, Clemens, McGwire, Palmeiro and Sosa all being out, while others with lesser credentials get into Cooperstown?
Unquestioned in all of this is the fact that users — whoever they all were — did the wrong thing. Just because there were no MLB rules against performance-enhancing drugs didn't make it right to use them.
There's no way around that. And for that reason alone, if Hall voters continue to exclude the known users, they are on solid moral ground.
(And while we're on the subject, we again raise the issue of accountability among the game's leaders — none of whom have faced any recrimination for what went on.)
But what about the suspected users who haven't gotten caught? Trying to pick and choose from among their candidacies is a very dicey proposition. And it simply isn't fair to decide a Hall candidacy on who got caught, and who didn't.
There isn't a shred of legal evidence to incriminate Sosa — all we saw was the body-type change and the fact that he curiously lost grasp of the English language when he testified before Congress. So does he get in? It's much the same story with Piazza.
There are some Hall voters who already have answered that dilemma in their minds. They are in the minority now, those few McGwire supporters.
But you have to wonder that with each new leak or admission of guilt — especially ones that encompass 104 players in one fell swoop — will those ranks swell?
And eventually, will there be enough support for McGwire, other suspects who haven't been proven guilty, and maybe even the proven-guilty?