TMZ reported that Yu Darvish, the highly-regarded Dodger starting pitcher who may have delivered the worst World Series performance for a hurler ever, apologized to Dodger fans following his early exit from Game 7. Darvish didn’t make it out of the second inning in either of his two starts.
To begin with, I don’t think he apologized. Darvish said, “Dodger fans … they expect we won the World Series. I couldn’t do it. I still feel sorry,but I did my 100%, so…” Of course he’s sorry that he stunk during the Series, lost two games, and was a major reason his team was defeated by the Houston Astros. He regrets tat he didn’t play better. That, however, is not the same as apologizing, which is how TMZ and—yecch–Breitbart headlined the story. It is a social balm to say that you are sorry that your best efforts weren’t good enough, but one should not apologize for bad results unless your conduct was wrongful in some way. An athlete not being at his best on a given day is not wrongdoing. It’s moral luck. If he performed badly because he was drunk, or tried to lose, or didn’t prepare properly, then he owes his stakeholders an apology for breaching their trust and his duty of competence. If, as Yu says he did, the athlete gave “100%,’ then there is nothing to apologize for.
Acting as if there is something to apologize for helps confuse the easily confused public on an important aspect of accountability. We are accountable for bad events when our actions lead to those events, but we can only be blamed for those bad events if some negligence misconduct or other variation from competent and responsible standards causes the undesirable results, when such results could have been anticipated.
Howard Hughes filmed, “The Conqueror,” his hilariously awful movie about Genghis Khan, near St. George, Utah, 137 miles downwind of the United States government’s Nevada National Security Site. In 1953, there had been eleven above-ground nuclear weapons tests there. The cast and crew were these for weeks, and Hughes even shipped 60 tons of dirt back to Hollywood in order to match the Utah terrain for re-shoots. The federal government had stated that the tests caused no hazard to public health. Not quite: eventually nearly everyone who worked on the picture, including director Dick Powell, John Wayne and Susan Hayward, died of cancer.
Hughes could have said he was sorry he ever made the movie, sorry he believed the government, sorry he decided to film where he did, but he shouldn’t have apologized. The government should have apologized.
The difference between wrongdoing and something that is regarded as wrongful only in hindsight, and because of how unpredictable factors shook out, is a critical one. Apologizing as if both are the same thing just makes it harder to tell right from wrong.
You have nothing to apologize for, Yu.
You just stunk, that’s all.
Pointer: Other Bill