Why do people want apologies from bad people anyway?

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Some more thoughts about Ryan Braun’s apology and the disappointed reactions thereto:

The weirdest thing about the reactions from the “Braun’s apology wasn’t good enough” camp is that, generally speaking, they come from people who are usually totally comfortable making stark character judgments. The “this guy is bad and evil and a cheater and a liar, and that’s what defines him” sort of stuff. Which, fine, everyone is allowed their opinion.

But if you are the sort of person to make those sorts of judgments why, exactly, do you want an apology or expect anything from one?  Why do you expect the subject in question — here Braun — to suddenly cast off the traits you are so certain he has and come clean and repent in convincing fashion? Doesn’t the lack of an apology or remorse better fit your assessment of his character? You should not be surprised at all. Indeed, if you are right about the person in question, you shouldn’t expect one. Or at least one that is actually intended to show the remorse and contrition you are so certain he lacks to begin with.

Which makes me wonder what the point of this apology judging really is.  I see two possibilities. Maybe there are more, but two stick out to me:

1. Writers like stories to actually be stories with beginnings, middles and ends. And those ends are best if they are happy endings in which the bad guy is taught a lesson and maybe a group hug is had. It makes for a satisfying narrative. The dissatisfaction at the apology is not that it reveals Braun to be a bad guy — they’re already convinced of that — it’s that this jerk Braun is depriving us of a happy ending in which the good guys win and the bad guys are shown the error of their ways;

2. People like their confirmation-bias. It’s satisfying. And rather than just note that the p.r.-driven apology was a predictable exercise in p.r., the layer of dissatisfaction at the apology is ladled on because it scratches the itch we have for our previous opinions to be validated.

I believe that bad people exist. I think that, generally speaking, Ryan Braun has shown himself to be a bad guy. He lies. He cheats. He throws friends and colleagues under the bus. Pretty low rent. Given that, I’m not sure why we should expect any statement he makes to show genuine public contrition and I’m not sure why he’s owed any added criticism for failing to live up to that unrealistic expectation. As I’ve said before, I’d hope he offers personal apologies to people he directly wronged but I kinda don’t give a flip how he executes his public relations game and don’t think that and that alone can or should change the public’s opinion of him. We are what we do, not what we say.

But even if he fails to live up to that low standard, let’s stop acting surprised that there are bad people in the world who get away with stuff sometimes or who are, in the view of many, punished more lightly than they should be.

 

Sean Manaea thought he was throwing a one hitter

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Tossing a no-hitter doesn’t just require physical excellence; it’s a mental feat, too. Which is why it may have helped that Athletics hurler Sean Manaea didn’t realize his no-hitter was intact until the eighth inning of Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Red Sox.

While the first few innings passed uneventfully, Sandy Leon managed to reach base in the fifth inning after skying a ball to shallow center field. It wasn’t a clean hit, of course — shortstop Marcus Semien dropped the ball on the catch and was promptly charged with an error to preserve Manaea’s no-hit bid.

That was news to Manaea, who told reporters that he didn’t realize he still had a no-hitter going until he saw the scoreboard in the eighth inning. “Until the eighth, I thought it just like was a one-hitter,” he said. “I looked up in the eighth and saw there were still zeros and was like, whoa, weird.” The delay of that realization may have calmed his nerves as he continued to blank the best team in baseball, eventually capping his 108-pitch, 10-strikeout effort in the ninth.

A few fun facts about the feat:

  • Manaea’s no-hitter was the 12th of its kind in franchise history, dating back to Weldon Henley’s no-no against the St. Louis Browns in 1905.
  • The most recent pitcher to do so for the A’s was fellow left-hander Dallas Braden, who completed the club’s second-ever perfect game against the Rays in 2010. Surprisingly, Manaea managed to make even more efficient use of his pitch count than Braden did during his perfecto; he fired just 108 pitches against the Red Sox, a hair under the 109 pitches used by Braden against the Rays.
  • Manaea himself, however, is just the seventh Athletics pitcher (and third lefty) to toss a no-hitter. Legendary southpaw Vida Blue pitched two no-nos for the team, including a combined no-hitter that also featured Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers against the 1975 California Angels.
  • Until Saturday, the Red Sox had the second-longest streak without being no-hit in the majors, at 3,987 games… a record that was only eclipsed by the A’s own streak.
  • With a 17-2 record and .895 winning percentage, the Red Sox were the most successful team to be no-hit in major-league history. Prior to Saturday’s loss, they averaged 6.4 runs per game and had yet to be shut out by any team in 2018.
  • Since 1908, 46 no-hitters have been pitched against AL East teams: four against the Blue Jays, five against the Rays, eight against the Yankees, 13 against the Red Sox and 16 against the Orioles. Mariners lefty Chris Bosio was the last pitcher to no-hit the Red Sox, a feat he accomplished almost exactly 25 years ago on April 22, 1993.