Ryan Braun

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.

 

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.