The headline of today's SN column -- "A-Rod's 'Sorry' Enough" -- was meant to have a double-meaning: (1) He sounded appropriately pathetic, and (2) "I'm sorry" is all fans need to hear.
Fans are infinitely more forgiving than the media, more ready to move on than the media -- which nurses its grudges for maximum sensationalism.
In a decade of Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro and -- especially -- McGwire, all fans really want to hear is that you're sorry and that you're nominally contrite. There is too much else going on not to move forward from that.
A-Rod provided that apology -- and (for a guy who is pretty much a robot) even some semblance of contrition. Given who he is, it was certainly as contrite as Andy Pettitte -- who, remember, was let off from his cheating by fans and media alike with virtually no backlash after his apology.
(It's important to remember that in the absence of being busted, none of these players would have copped to anything. I'm still waiting for the first player to come forward on his own to admit to cheating. Doubt it will happen.)
I'm pretty sure fans are going to move on. Sure, they'll jeer A-Rod, because it'll seem like fun. But it's not like folks want to see him run out of baseball. And it's not like anyone would dispute that he remains one of the best -- if not THE best -- player in the game.
So A-Rod followed the critical Step 1 of sports crisis management: Apologize.
What could he do next? For starters: Take some of his massive wealth and establish some kind of large fund to educate kids on the dangers of taking steroids. Whether it is effective or not isn't the point; it's the symbolism. He could also volunteer to take monthly steroid tests, making the results publicly known -- even learning the results when the public learns them. That kind of transparency and good-faith effort would go a long way toward helping his image.
I don't expect him to do either, even though they are simple and would be quite effective. A-Rod may very well recognize that "I'm sorry" is enough. It is.
More from today's column:
*Mizzou hoops is for real.
*Big Ben's ribs: Who cares?
*Big Al's knee: A shame.
*Tiger Woods: Westminster champ?
*The First Fan on A-Rod
Lots to cover. Check out the entire thing here. More later.