Uncontrite champions: Why is it easier to cheat in sports than to apologize?

Sports

Houston Astros’ Alex Bregman, right, delivers a statement as Astros owner Jim Crane listens during a news conference before the start of the first official spring training baseball practice for the team Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Fla. | Jeff Roberson, Associated Press

The Houston Astros were so sorry about cheapening the integrity of baseball that two players offered a combined 90 seconds of contrition.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Houston Astros want to move on. Desperately. At Thursday’s half-hour press conference featuring team owner Jim Crane, newly installed manager Dusty Baker, and All-Star infielders Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, they wanted the big takeaway to be this: The cheating scandal that dominated the MLB offseason is in the past, and people should focus on the future.

But not without a steady stream of “sorry” thrown in, even if it seemed like the only goal was convincing spectators to forget.

“What are you apologizing for?” ESPN’s Marly Rivera asked Crane at the conclusion of the press conference.

“We’re apologizing because we broke the rules,” Crane answered.

Isn’t there more to it, Rivera pressed? Isn’t this about more than a technicality? Isn’t electronic sign stealing against the rules because it gives hitters an unfair advantage by letting them know what type of pitch is coming, thereby unbalancing the psychological tussle between hitter and pitcher at the center of baseball?

“It could possibly do that,” Crane answered. “It could possibly not.”

Jeff Roberson, Associated Press
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker speaks during a news conference before the start of the first official spring training baseball practice for the team Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Absent from the conversation was any detail about what actually happened, about the report from Major League Baseball’s commissioner that found Astros players orchestrated an electronic sign-stealing scheme during their title-winning 2017 season. Everyone was quick to say sorry, though not for anything in particular, until Crane clarified: The problem here was a rules violation that “could possibly” have given hitters an advantage.

Not “possibly” giving the 2017 Astros an advantage, and “possibly” disrupting the competitive balance of a league where competitive balance is the singular virtue upon which the game is built, thereby breaching — ahem, “possibly” breaching — baseball’s already steroid-battered social contract. No. This was as simple as getting busted on a technicality, like a student suspended for fighting who’s really sorry about breaking the school code and the consequences it brought; not for breaking his classmate’s nose.

Bregman, who didn’t take questions, also offered few details about what actually went wrong.

“I’ve learned from this,” he said after noting he was sorry for “choices made,” offering no hints as to what he’s learned, but making sure to highlight the importance of putting such discomforts behind him. “We as a team are totally focused on moving forward to the 2020 season.”

The problem with apologies like these — especially for something as …read more


Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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