Jason Giambi sure picked a lousy time to finally come clean.
Mired in a deep slump, his team in an even deeper funk, Giambi could have been excused for doing what he's been doing so well the last few years - collecting more money than some small countries have while pretending that the whole messy steroid thing never really existed.
So it was a bit surprising to hear Giambi's de facto acknowledgment the other day that, yes, he was juiced and that he and baseball owe everyone a big apology for the sins of the past.
Actually, Yankee fans are more concerned with the sins of the present, which in Giambi's case centers around the fact he has just five home runs and only one hit in his last 26 at bats. There's more than a few New Yorkers who wouldn't mind making a midnight run for some human growth hormone if it would get his bat going again.
While they're at it, maybe they can find a miracle drug to repair an aging pitching staff that gets even older when the $28 million man arrives in the next week or so to earn his money six innings at a time. Yes, Tyler Clippard helped ease some of the sting of a weekend series gone bad at Shea Stadium, but there's only so much a rookie pitcher can do.
Giambi sat quietly in the dugout Sunday night, waiting to be called upon to pinch hit if necessary. It wasn't because the Yankees got a good performance from Clippard and some timely home runs to avoid yet another embarrassment against their cross-town National League rivals.
Giambi is making $20 million a year, so maybe he felt it was his duty to make some noise at a time when his bat was so silent. Or maybe he couldn't sleep at night knowing the only controversies in the Bronx were whether Roger Clemens should be allowed to come and go as he pleases and whether Joe Torre and Brian Cashman should simply go.
Either way, he didn't do himself any favors by telling USA Today that he was ``wrong for doing that stuff,'' which was either an admission that he used steroids or that he put itching powder in Derek Jeter's jock.
To complicate matters, Giambi followed it up by doing something baseball officials seem to believe is even worse - he said everyone in the sport should have apologized for either allowing the use of steroids or putting itching powder in Jeter's jock.
Giambi, of course, has apologized before. He spent an entire press conference prior to the 2005 season saying he was sorry, though he never really explained what he was sorry about. Besides, hitting lots of home runs means never having to say you're sorry to Yankees fans.
What was most interesting about Giambi's latest comments is the timing of them. Though he reportedly admitted to the BALCO grand jury in December 2003 that he used steroids, Giambi has refused to address the issue publicly and the media has been so busy bashing Barry Bonds that he's largely been given a free pass.
The fact that Giambi said anything might make the more conspiracy minded wonder if he has some inside knowledge of upcoming developments in one or more of the various steroid probes. What other reason would he have to risk a possible 50-game suspension or the possibility of having the rest of his lucrative contract voided?
That being said, he's not the first baseball player to say something he would later regret.
Actually, Giambi may have inadvertently done the Yankees a favor by taking some of the heat off his underachieving teammates, who can't pitch, can't field, and lately haven't even been able to hit much. They are so desperate they not only signed Clemens, but have been burning through one rookie starting pitcher a week.
And while it may be too early in the season to panic, all $195 million has done so far this year is buy the Yankees a losing record and a tie for second place 10 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox.
``It's definitely embarrassing,'' Johnny Damon said. ``We definitely know that we are better than we've showed.''
Sports talk shows in New York are filled with speculation that both Torre and Cashman could be fired, which likely would have happened by now had George Steinbrenner not mellowed with age. There's frustration over the team's inability to consistently hit, and worry about whether Mariano Rivera might finally be losing his masterful touch at the age of 37.
The Yankees will get better, because they have too much talent to languish below .500 all season long. But if they don't turn it around fast, there's a good chance they'll not only fail to win their division for the first time in 10 years, but miss the playoffs entirely.
As for Giambi, his best days are already behind him. His power numbers have fallen, he doesn't hit for average, and he's at an age where things like the bone spur in his foot that caused him to miss several games are occurring with increasing frequency.
Worse yet, the 2000 AL MVP is at a point in his career where he realizes his accomplishments will always be tainted by being a central figure in the BALCO scandal.
And for that, he's really got something to be sorry about.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org.

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