"I screwed up and I crossed the line. I feel like I've been shown mercy in all of this. If I'm not standing there naked in front of the world with my big secret, I'd still be holding onto it, hiding it. It would still be eating at me. It's not fun by any stretch holding onto something like that, so secretive, so dirty. I'm grateful it's out there. I'm freed a little bit, a lot actually."
In other words, take away Mitchell and we have no apology. Herges goes on to state:
"When people see someone broken and they see humility about it, I think people appreciate that. I think that's what people want. I think that's what our country wants. People are like, 'Just admit, show that you're sorry, legitimately, and we'll forgive you.' I did this because I needed to do this. No matter what the penalty, I was still going to admit it and apologize."
It's certainly possible that Herges did this because he "needed to do it", but he needed to do it because of Mitchell's investigation and report -- it was provoked not by some internal compulsion to come clean regardless of the consequences, but because the report provided a very convenient opportunity to bare his soul. But a willingness to suffer the costs of an apology issued 'after' Mitchell's report is less impressive than suffering the pain and sacrifice had Herges (or Pettitte, Gagne, etc.) admitted to these mistakes long before the pressure became too great, and the answer so obvious.
The same post-Mitchell sentiments were expressed by Lo Duco:
“You do something wrong in your life and you get away with it, you still have something inside you that burns. And it’s been a big relief for me to know that I’ve come to grips with it. That I made a mistake.”
In other words, Mitchell did these guys a huge favor.