PA's Baseball Apology Rankings

Here are our evaluations of the recent string of HGH-steroid induced-baseball apologies.

Eric Gagne (score 2/10):

"I'm here to let you know I feel bad for my family, what they had to go though, and all my friends, especially my teammates here with Milwaukee. I think that's a distraction that shouldn't be taking place. I'm just here to help the Milwaukee Brewers get to the World Series and playoffs, and that's all I really care about."

"Since 2004, Major League Baseball has done everything in their power to clean up the game, and I think they've done a great job. Right now, I just want to go forward. Major League Baseball is ready to go forward, and hopefully all the fans are ready to do that."

"Right now, I'm just looking forward to pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008, to do good, have fun and enjoy the game. It's sad, everything that happened, and I think right now we're looking forward to playing baseball in '08."
Gagne's was clearly the weakest of all five apologies, because of how dismissive it was. It failed to accept responsibility for anything other than a "distraction that shouldn’t be taking place." He feels bad for his family but doesn’t appear to be particularly contrite and apologetic with respect to taking HGH. The implication here is that had it not been for the Mitchell Report there would be no reason to apologize or distract his family. The mistake is implicit rather than explicitly acknowledged. He accepted no responsibility and decided to take no questions after his very brief statement. This last item is relevant because it conveys a clear unwillingness to suffer any consequences, including the consequences of investing even a few more minutes of his time to face a probative press corps.

Paul Lo Duca (4/10):
“In regards to Senator Mitchell’s Report, I apologize to my family, all my fans and to the entire baseball community for mistakes in judgment I made in the past and for the distractions that resulted.”

Unlike Gagne, Lo Duca does express an apology to the relevant audience, but, like Gagne, he is apologizing for "mistakes in judgments" and "distractions." The common theme is a reluctance to come clean with respect to what everyone now sees as a serious breach of trust and sportsmanship. Another problem was Lo Duce's refusal to comment on whether he thought the Mitchell Report's allegations about him were accurate -- "I'm not going to comment on that." Unlike Pettitte, Lo Duca stopped short of a full and complete apology.

Brian Roberts (5/10 and then 2/10):
"It's life. You make bad decisions, you pay whatever price there is and you move on. It's not the end of the world. It's not the biggest thing in the world to me. It's really not. I've sincerely apologized and I know I made a mistake, but it won't change the rest of my life. I won't let it change the rest of my life."

This is an interesting case of an apology being issued, then followed by statements (above) that downplay the relevance of the initial apology. In fact, the statement appears to downplay the costs and overall relevance/significance of the entire issue. In the grand scheme of things he is probably right, but it would help for him not to downplay those costs to him. If the issue is not that significant, then the apology is not that impressive.

Andrew Pettitte (8/10):

Andy Pettitte has come off comparatively quite well.
"I want to apologize to the New York Yankees' and to the Houston Astros' organizations and to their fans and to all my teammates and to all of baseball fans for the embarrassment I have caused them. I also want to tell anyone that is an Andy Pettitte fan I am sorry, especially any kids that might look up to me."

"I know that once I have this press conference and talk to everybody about this and share everything with you, I think the truth will set you free. I think I'm going to be able to sleep a lot better at night once all this gets by."

"I am sorry for not telling the whole truth in my original statement," Pettitte said. "I never wanted to bring my dad into a situation like this. This was between me and him, and no one else. I testified about my dad in part because I felt in my heart I had to, but mainly because he urged me to tell the truth, even if it hurt him."
This not only hits many of the ingredients the other two apologies missed, but the fact that his father was somehow implicated because he provided two of the syringes speaks volumes about the costs and consequences Pettitte was willing to accept to begin to make things right. These costs are really important demonstrations of a willingness to pay for the mistake. It certainly goes a long way toward making his apology much stronger, and significantly more credible. Pettitte took a full hour to issue the apology and answer questions, the others took a few minutes and refused to invest the time to answer questions form the press. It’s interesting that Pettitte's apology comes off much better in relation to so many others, because they were so bad in comparison

But here are a few of the problems with Pettitte's apology as expressed in some of his other comments, particularly his steadfast reluctance to call it "cheating."
"From the bottom of my heart I know why I did this. I didn't do it to try and get an edge on anyone, I didn't do it to get stronger or faster or throw harder. I did it because I was told it might be able to help me. If people think I'm lying, then they should call me a cheater. Do I think I am a cheater? I don't. From the bottom of my heart, God knows my heart, I know why I was doing this. Was it stupid? Yeah it was stupid. Was I desperate? Yeah I was probably desperate. I wish I hadn't done it obviously, but I don't see myself as a cheater."

The problem is that it clearly was cheating, under any generally accepted interpretation of the rules governing MLB, even if Pettitte refuses to admit it. This is a point he could have conceded without any additional consequences or costs to his already damaged reputation. But he didn’t, most probably because an admission of cheating is a very tough pill to swallow in the sporting world.