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.

 

Yankees trade Sonny Gray to the Reds

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The deal was much talked about all weekend and now the deal is done: The Cincinnati Reds gave acquired starter Sonny Gray and lefty Reiver Sanmartin from the Yankees in exchange for second base prospect Shed Long and a 2019 competitive balance pick.

The key to making the deal happen: Gray agreeing to a a three-year, $30.5 million contract extension. The Reds will likewise hold a $12 million club option for 2023. The deal had been struck and a window granted through close of business today to get Gray to agree to the extension and, obviously, he has.

The Reds will get a pitcher coming off of a bad season in which he posted a disappointing 4.90 ERA in 23 starts and seven relief appearances. He was hammered particularly hard in Yankee Stadium but pitched better on the road. Great American Ballpark is not a great pitcher’s park itself but any change of scenery would be nice for Gray, who had become much unwanted and unloved in New York. In Cincinnati he has the assurance of a spot in the rotation and, even better for him, he will be reunited with his college pitching coach, Derek Johnson, who joined new manager David Bell’s Reds staff earlier this offseason. If he bounces back even a little bit, the Reds will have a useful starter at a below market price for four years. If he doesn’t, well, they haven’t exactly gone bankrupt taking the chance.

The Reds will also get Reiver Sanmartin, 22, who started in the Rangers system before being traded to the Yankees. He’s a soft-tosser who figures to be a reliever if he makes the big leagues. He played at four different levels last season, with one game at Double-A and the rest below that, posting a composite 2.80 ERA in 10 starts and 13 overall appearances while striking out 7.8 batters per nine.

The Yankees will get Shed Long, who is ranked as the Reds’ seventh best prospect. The 23-year old second baseman hit .261/.353/.412 at Double-A in 2018 and has hit very close to that overall line for his entire six-year minor league career. He strikes out a bit and may not stick at second base long term, shifting to a corner outfield slot perhaps, but he’s a legitimate prospect.

The Reds get another starter with some upside. The Yankees get rid of a problem and gain a prospect and a draft pick. Sonny Gray gets some job and financial security at a time when it is not at all clear what his future holds. Not a bad baseball trade.

UPDATE: Welp, the Yankees don’t have a prospect anymore. They just traded long to the Mariners for outfielder Josh Stowers. Stowers was a second-round pick in last year’s draft. He’s 21 and batted .260/.380/.410 with five homers and 20 steals over 58 games in Short-Season ball in 2018. He’s ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners’ No. 10 prospect, but now he’s New York bound.