Give me a break, baseball purists: there’s no need for asterisks. No sport has prided itself more on cheating than baseball: from spit balls to corked bats to gambling scandals (from Shoeless Joe to Pete Rose) to, I don’t know, not letting black people in the game.

I know I took Michael Phelps to task for his brand of apology last week, but I’m almost sympathetic to Alex Rodriguez. Almost. Yes, he’s a cheater and has tainted his legacy and any future work he has in the sport. Yes, this one stung a bit more because so many pinned theirs hopes on the idea that HE was one of the clean ones who would allow for the redemption of the sport. And I’m on board with all of that. I’m up for stamping a big ole asterisk across the entire hall of fame at this point.

But part of me gets where he was coming from.

I know there’s part of me that when I’m about to release a new novella or story, I don’t want to let my audience of readers down. I want to put out the best product I can. I don’t want to disappoint even a single paying customer with less than my best. Ditto my publisher: when I get an advance, no matter how large or small, I feel the subtle pressure to earn out. Yes, I still cash the check if I don’t, but I still want to justify people’s confidence in me. I know what it’s like to look around at my peers and be surrounded by a lot of people who are naturally head and shoulders better than you. Folks who you know you had better work as hard or harder than if you want to keep up. As entertainers and artists, we all face that pressure to succeed, that pressure to be seen as worthy, that pressure to live up to your potential.

It seems like it doesn’t matter how large your salary is or how good your reviews are, many of us wrestle with lots of insecurity: about job, about ability, about what others are doing, how others perceive you. Talk about believing the lie: even when you’re widely regarded as the best, you might not see yourself as good enough, pretty enough (memo to plasticized Hollywood), smart enough, talented enough.

And there is an underlying reality to that fear. This is a “what have you done for me lately” culture, and even as a writer, you’re only as good as your latest story. You’re always one book not selling well enough from your career being flushed away.

We live in a culture of deniability and instant gratification. Where peer pressure and worrying about what other folks are doing gets into your head. Short-sighted though it may be, our desperation and competitive natures can combine into a mix of bad decision making. We could yield to the temptations, the short cuts, of plagiarism or self-publishing, rather than do things the right way, the harder way. Where we have to read more. Practice more. Experiment more. Push yourself more. Where we learn and grow from the failures that it takes to climb up the ranks. Where we learn what works, what doesn’t, what people are looking for as we’re being shaped into the artists and performers we were meant to be.

I understand. It was still a poor decision, but I understand the root of it. We can all rebound from our mistakes (say like an early PublishAmerica mistep). So I’ll cut Alex Rodriguez the tiniest bit of slack and take his remorseful, apologetic, semi-confession for what it was and allow for the possibility of redemption.