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Why do people want apologies from bad people anyway?

Aug 23, 2013, 11:06 AM EST

Ryan Braun AP

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.

 

  1. rickdobrydney - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    I , for one , do not need an apology from this clown, because I do not even ignore him.

  2. El Bravo - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    Everybody knows Braun is a cake guy. There is no coming back from that.

    • Jonny 5 - Aug 23, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      Never ever trust the cake consumers El Bravo. That’s my motto. ALL HAIL PIE!

    • indaburg - Aug 23, 2013 at 8:01 PM

      Braun is a bread pudding man. I have it on good authority.

    • raysfan1 - Aug 24, 2013 at 2:11 AM

      Remember this: “pie” is how one spells the word for “foot” in Spanish. Eat feet all you like, cake is clearly superior.

  3. greej1938l - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    Dangg Craig…..You must really hate Ryan Braun. It is what is…lets move forward

    • paperlions - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:17 PM

      Yeah, Craig is a complex guy….a Braun apologist who hates Braun.

      • indaburg - Aug 23, 2013 at 8:01 PM

        I am so confused.

    • indaburg - Aug 23, 2013 at 8:03 PM

      Dear Craig,

      Do you like Ryan Braun? Pick one:

      Yes

      No

      (All this nuanced thinking confuses me.)

  4. jarathen - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    I like this post and approve of it. Sums it up perfectly. Any and all apologies like this are theatre and change zero minds.

    • Ben - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      No he LOVS Lyin’ Fraun. Craig marchs to th beast of his own hummer. Sometimes he hate somtimes he lovs, but sometimes he wears an onion on his belts in conclusion Egypt is a land of many contrasts.

      • cur68 - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:33 AM

        ^^^This is your brain on drugs, people.

        Ben, step away from the bong, man. Its time to go outside and get some air. Maybe take a walk. A big drink of water. Stuff like that.

      • fanofevilempire - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:58 AM

        stop banging your head on the wall dude!

      • Gamera the Brave - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:01 PM

        cur,
        Ben’s post was one of the funniest I have read in a long time – it’s entirely possible that he has having a bit of ee cummings-inspired fun with us…

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:02 PM

        but sometimes he wears an onion on his belts in

        Dead give away. You were so close to a perfect troll and then you had to throw in the Simpson’s line.

      • jarathen - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:17 PM

        Which was the style at the time. I had to chase the Kaiser dickety-six miles.

      • indaburg - Aug 23, 2013 at 8:05 PM

        This is poetry.

  5. jcmeyer10 - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    I think, at least in the athletes case, that the fans who want the apology were funding Brauns salary.

    I wouldn’t ask for an apology (to me) from a burglar who robbed someone else’s house. I would like one from a guy who I helped pay his salary with my hard and honest work.

    I think we need to think about where their salaries come from when trying to tease out motivations of fans demanding an apology.

  6. greej1938l - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    I mean… you said it in your Crawford article. of course Brauns a little more current. Past us the past…he took a step forward..(Rays Fan)

  7. youngwomanscreek - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Americans, as a whole, like to believe there is no such thing as a “bad” person. We can all be saved. An apology is part of the saving process, to mess it up is to stop on the road to salvation. There will always be disappointment when the road to salvation is abandoned, especially when it seems the abaondonment is a choice (in this case, the choice to not deliver an apology in person).
    As for me, I read the statement. Sounds good enough. Serve your time and play ball next year. I do hope baseball is able to keep its testing program in the same ballpark as the people developing new ways to get around it.
    And writers do like endings to their stories, because readers like it. Life isn’t neat and orderly, but we try to make it so with our presentations of it.

    • paperlions - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      Nah, American’s just think everything is black and white. You are either a good person or a bad person, and once labeled a bad person, there is no coming back from that because you are a bad person. Of course, there are good people and bad people, but most people are in between (good people that sometimes do bad things or bad people that sometimes do good things)….and many people only require one strike to condemn you to the “bad person” category….confirmation bias takes over from there.

  8. yahmule - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    Thought provoking piece. I think the attitude that prevails in your first scenario is more about shaming the transgressor by making him admit to his guilt. There is no way to win in that position, of course. Partial forgiveness is attainable if you prostrate yourself in abject humility Everth Cabrera style. If Braun could have turned on the waterworks a bit, those big brown eyes of his would have helped his cause.

  9. dcarroll73 - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Hey Craig, way to go! “We are what we do, not what we say.” Well said. You’re channeling your inner Jean-Paul Sartre. As the man himself wrote, “L’homme se définit par ses actions.” I agree, and this is part of my disagreement with all the anti-Arod vitriol. I look at what he does between the lines, and except when he was trying to play on a hip most of us wouldn’t walk on, that has been pretty damn good. Alex’s actions off-field may be lousy, but I care about how he plays.

  10. geoknows - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    Craig, I don’t think anybody is acting surprised that “there are bad people who get away with stuff sometimes or who are, in the view of many, punished more lightly than they should be.” Disappointed, yes, but surprised? No. Disappointed that yet again we are reminded that these things are out there. Because deep in our hearts we all would like it if the world were a little bit better place than it is. Disappointed because we have hope and again our hopes are dashed.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      But if the world is not a better place, our hopes are irrational, right? At what point do we take responsibility for seeing the world as it is, not as we wish it to be? At what point do we stop being hurt despite knowing full well we will be.

      • militarymanmc - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:16 PM

        Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciapara say that Braun’s “apology” was weak and they needed more. I think they “need” the apology because guys like them, that played the game clean would like to see Braun (and others) stop crapping on the game. To be honest, I don’t care about what the writers or bloggers say or want. I look to the players that put their heart and soul in the game and did it cleanly. They are the ones that deserve the apologies from the dirt bags.

      • sabatimus - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:19 PM

        That’s an absurd amount of hyperbole. But I’ll bite:

        1) Most children get taught that the world is a bed of roses–or at the least get told lies about how the world really is, so no wonder a lot of people see things as they wish them to be; 2) We stop being hurt when we stop caring. And over many years watching the PED stuff over and over, it hurts to care because I want to see a clean game, and that probably isn’t going to happen. To stop caring would mean to stop watching baseball, at least for me. And I’m not sure I want to do that. Besides, there’s something called radical acceptance that can be quite useful in today’s world.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 23, 2013 at 3:41 PM

        I think they “need” the apology because guys like them, that played the game clean

        What evidence do we have that they played the game clean, because they said so? There’s plenty of rumors about Nomar. Also the game hasn’t been “clean” for 50+ years.

        I look to the players that put their heart and soul in the game and did it cleanly

        The players had every opportunity to institute drug testing before the game was hauled in front of Congress. None of them spoke up 10+ years ago, let alone 40 or 50 years ago when PEDs were running rampant, and they choose to say nothing. To do so now is chickenshit behavior.

      • Gamera the Brave - Aug 23, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        Craig –
        Please slowly step away from the Camus novel you must surely be reading…

      • indaburg - Aug 23, 2013 at 8:22 PM

        Holy shit, Craig. That’s depressing.

  11. abarabarabar11 - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    funny how we have the “lets get over it for this clown braun”, but when it was bonds we wanted his head. braun should have been suspended for at least 2-3 yrs. dude lied many times. braun ruined the reputation of the dude that handled his sample, braun knew he was dirty. then braun tried to use the anti semite card. the sampler handler needs to sue the hell out of braun and get paid for defamation of his reputation. braun has been dirty his whole life. trust me his numbers will go down once he returns. good luck milwakee with that sucky contract.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:04 PM

      braun ruined the reputation of the dude that handled his sample

      Ruined so bad you don’t even know what his name is. RUINED!

      then braun tried to use the anti semite card.

      [citation needed]

      • Jonny 5 - Aug 23, 2013 at 2:37 PM

        http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/9579944/ryan-braun-lobbied-veteran-players-support-appeal-sources-say

        “Sources”

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 23, 2013 at 3:41 PM

        Anything you can do I can do better:

        http://cincinnati.com/blogs/reds/2013/08/19/votto-says-braun-did-not-reach-out-to-him/

      • militarymanmc - Aug 23, 2013 at 4:42 PM

        Church…seems like you’re making every excuse to let the PED’ers get off. All you do is argue with every post on here. You don’t agree with anybody do you?

        Not sure if you have kids, but is this the way you teach/would teach them to act in society too?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 23, 2013 at 8:38 PM

        Church…seems like you’re making every excuse to let the PED’ers get off. All you do is argue with every post on here. You don’t agree with anybody do you?

        I’ve never made an excuse to let anyone get off, as long as people follow the rules. MLB isn’t following the rules in their suspension of Arod, so I’m against it. However, I’m one of the few people who’s against the punishment who’s said that Arod did use PEDs and should be punished for it. However, as it’s his first transgression, he should only be served a 50 game suspension.

        Not sure if you have kids, but is this the way you teach/would teach them to act in society too?

        First, what does having kids have to do with how I responded to this point? Tell me the logic behind how someone was wronged so badly, that the poster I was responding to couldn’t even remember his name? The same guy who didn’t do his job and was fired because of it? See, you can’t. In any other walk of life, if someone doesn’t do their job, and gets fired, no one cries a river for them.

        Second, the information Jonny 5 posted is a rumor. Not only is it a rumor, the principles involved said it never happened. As I posted in the original thread that covered this rumor, maybe I’m just being naive in that if someone tells you that Person A said this, and Person A denies it, you don’t run the story. But maybe that’s just me.

        Now, I actually do have a child. But you know whose responsible for teaching him how to act in society? My wife and I. It’s not the job of the church, it’s not the job of the school, it’s not the job of MLB/NFL/FIFA or whatever hobby he enjoys doing. It’s my wife’s and mine.

        Athletes are normal people with extraordinary gifts. They make mistakes. That’s a great teaching tool for my son. See L’il Church, this great baseball player screwed up, broke the rules, and now he has to pay the consequences.

        How is not joining the lynch mob bad for my son?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 23, 2013 at 8:43 PM

        Church…seems like you’re making every excuse to let the PED’ers get off

        Going to double up on this response. How am I making excuses to let PEDs get off? Because I say certain people like Bonds/Clemens/McGwire didn’t break any rules? Or I point out the hypocrisy of others by saying that Mantle/Mays/Aaron also took PEDs?

        Point out the logical inconsistencies of others isn’t making excuses for current players. If you think Bonds/McGwire/Clemens broke rules, then point out the rules they broke. If you think they don’t belong in the HoF, then be prepared to say that others who broke “rules” also don’t belong in the HoF.

    • yahmule - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:20 PM

      Yeah, poor Barry, all he got was no suspensions and four MVP awards. Clearly more severe punishment than was meted out to Braun.

      • dcarroll73 - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        I will point out again that Bonds never failed a test. His name was leaked in connection with the supposedly anonymous testing, but now it seems there were more names than the supposed number of positives so we have no idea what that means. The government prosecution was a joke, but how much of his life did it take? The teams clearly colluded so that he received no offer when his agant was publicly stating he had no demands (without collusion is it likely that no team would at least try to see what it took to sign him?) So all in all yes I think he suffered some pretty intense punishment when NOTHING has been proven against him.

      • yahmule - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        So, because he happened to do what he did during a time period when attitudes were permissive, he’s to be held blameless. Even though his actions largely contributed to the current backlash that swept up Braun? And he is genuinely a victim in your eyes. That’s the part that tickles me.

      • mrznyc - Aug 24, 2013 at 9:07 AM

        The rule they broke was taking precription medications without a prescription – It is in the rule book.

  12. beearl - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    The only apology I want from Braun has to do with his clothing line. Admit your mistakes, Ryan.

  13. ctony1216 - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Not sure how you get classified as a “bad person”. But that’s another story.

    Anyway, apologies matter only in the sense that they acknowledge a mistake. You can’t fix a mistake until you realize you made one. And yes, actions do matters more. If Braun were to help MLB and the union work to rid the sport of PEDs, it would be a sign that he’s sincere. But the apology is a start.

    By the way, Braun probably never thought of himself as the bad guy here. If PEDs were common at Miami, where Braun went to college, he probably didn’t think twice about using them himself. In fact, he might have thought he was letting his team and himself down if he failed to use them, and that MLB was totally unjustified in cracking down on him for this, after all he’s done for the Brewers and MLB(!). That’s where his self-righteousness may have come in. (“Bad people” often don’t think of themselves as bad people, especially not psychos and sociopaths.) Ultimately, though, we’ll know if Braun is sincere by his actions.

    • sabatimus - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:30 PM

      “In fact, he might have thought he was letting his team and himself down if he failed to use them, and that MLB was totally unjustified in cracking down on him for this, after all he’s done for the Brewers and MLB(!). That’s where his self-righteousness may have come in.”

      I’d have said “self-delusion” myself.

  14. sabatimus - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    I’ve not read the apology. For all I know, that could be filled with lies too. Some people (in this case certain athletes) have their priorities all messed up–they want to be on top of the world, get paid millions, and they’re willing to cheat to do it. That might sound like anyone’s dream to a lot of people. But what about personal integrity? Calling a press conference so that you can blatantly and orchestratedly lie to the world indicates to me that Braun doesn’t (didn’t?) have personal integrity or doesn’t care about it.

    In the name of money and fame. Sigh. This is the country we live in. And those two things (mostly the former) run it. I wonder if integrity is dying a slow death, or has already died.

    And yes, this sounds overly dramatic.

    • granadafan - Aug 23, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      It was filled with lies. He used ye olde “nagging injuries” lie that he merely took treatment and didn’t know it had PEDs. Blah blah blah.

  15. sabatimus - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    I’ll also add this simple answer:

    “Why do people want apologies from bad people anyway?”

    Because that gives people more ammunition. Braun could sob in front of the mic and haters would call him a crybaby and worse. Once the internet allowed people to sit quasi-anonymously at their computers and spout hate, a culture was born.

  16. muskyhunter2542 - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Ryan Braun Also kicked Craigs dog!!!

    • yahmule - Aug 23, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      That would make me hate him worse than any of this other shit.

      • muskyhunter2542 - Aug 26, 2013 at 9:12 AM

        Ha, I suppose you would.

    • indaburg - Aug 23, 2013 at 8:19 PM

      You mean Craig’s cat. Craig would never own a dog.

      • muskyhunter2542 - Aug 26, 2013 at 9:12 AM

        True… True!!!

      • indaburg - Aug 26, 2013 at 9:51 AM

        :-)

  17. edelmanfanclub - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    We deserve an apology as fans from these scumbag cheaters. Although everyone will continue to ridicule these guys I know some of them are truthful and regret what they did and would like to change, I also know many of them are just mad they got caught and will continue to cheat (IE: Tejeda). Let’s see how the future plays out, I’m for giving guys like Braun one more chance (but only one more).

  18. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    You forgot one Craig.

    3. People enjoy judging others and feeling morally superior. Isn’t that the entire point of an apology, acknowledging that you are inferior to those with whom you wronged? As a society, it’s become a growing trend to build people up, just so we can enjoy tearing them down when they get too big. Our forefathers preferred to turn everyone into heroes, then ignore their indiscretions. Just look at JFK compared to Bill Clinton. Politics aside, they both had multiple affairs, but one was beloved and almost admired for it, while the other was villainized and turned into a circus sideshow. (From which he later recovered.)

    Braun does not owe me an apology. He did not wrong me in any way, and I don’t need to feel superior to him to feel good about my life. He did what he did because he is a professional athlete who dances and sings and hits baseballs for our amusement. And I honestly don’t care about how he got that way. Baseball players stopped being heroes for me when I hit puberty, grew up, and realized that the world wasn’t a fairy land where men were knights and women were princesses.

  19. righthandofjustice - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    No, not just an apology. An official request to relinquish his 2011 stats including his MVP title would be more appropriate.

    But make no mistake Braun, don’t just go to a public show and hand in a letter asking for a rule change like what MLB did, or else it will be a violation of the CBA. You need to go through the normal procedure to request a rule change like what they did with the request of Melky Cabrera. The league, union have to be informed first.

  20. brewcrewchamps - Aug 23, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Obviously, I’m a brewers fan.

    Besides that, I feel that, according to fans, there is no way for him to right this ever. Apologizes, not good enough. Doesn’t apologize, he’s labeled a scumbag. Comes back and plays badly, labeled as a career built off PED’s. Plays well, he found a way to dupe the system again and is still doing PED’s.

    I just don’t see any scenario where people say, “Yeah, I’m over it.”

  21. indaburg - Aug 23, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    He doesn’t need to apologize to me. What I dislike about these “apologies” is that they are insincere PR exercises. He feels awful… after he got caught. If Braun felt compelled to make a statement, here is what I would like:

    “I’m sorry I messed up this guy’s life. It was a total dick move, and I behaved like a complete asshole. If you want to hate me for behaving like an ass, I can understand that. But really, what did I personally do to you? That guy should hate me. You should worry about your own problems. If you’re going to waste time hating all people who did something wrong to someone else that in NO WAY personally affects you, you’re going to be a very hateful person. That kind of thing is really bad for your psyche.

    You know what I am not sorry about? Not that I used steroids. If I was, I would have confessed before I got caught. The guilt would have been overwhelming, and I would have felt compelled to confess. Are you kidding me? Man, I felt like a freaking god on that stuff. You know what I’m sorry about? That I got caught. Now everyone hates me. It sucks. I did it because I wanted you all to worship me. And now. Shit. I have to give these statements. I feel like freaking Hester Prynne. Except she really didn’t do anything wrong per today’s societal standards. Maybe someday, what I did will not be seen as wrong per the societal standards of the future. I mean, the steroid using part. The ruining a guy’s life part–that will still be a total dick move.”

    Not PR friendly, but at least I would respect its sincerity. (And this is why I am not a public relations agent.)

  22. dirtyharry1971 - Aug 24, 2013 at 1:42 AM

    Why do people follow bad teams? (bluejays hint hint!!) They just do!!

  23. mrznyc - Aug 24, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    It is possible that Ryan Braun is simply dumb – There are people out there who speak well but are dumb.

  24. dwdive - Aug 24, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Bruan is one of the biggest Frauds in MLB. He’s been using PED’s for years and would be an average at best player without the juice. For all the Braun defenders and fans, you really need to discard this guy for the scum he really is. Not only is he a cheater and a liar, but he IS a bad guy and a low life scumbag. Letting your kids look up to this guy in any way, is terrible parenting…

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