Baseball isn't one of my favorite games. It's near the bottom of my list of favorite pastimes. Ok, honestly ... it's not even on my list.
I do enjoy going to the ballpark and catching a game or two during the season, but I've never made it to the end of a game, and, really, I'm just there for the socializing and to look at athletes in tight pants.
So last week when the Cleveland Indians, my home team, played in Detroit against the Tigers, my Facebook page was filled with outrage at Jim Joyce's blown call. I had to know more. Ninth inning, and Cleveland was not only scoreless (no shocker there), but it hadn't put a man on base. Detroit was looking at a perfect game - the first in its history. Though "perfect game" conjures yawns from me, it's a big deal to the cute guys in tight pants and their true fans.
Outrage. Fury. Name-calling. Fans and players were pissed off!
Joyce, who could have fought for his call, "manned up" and admitted his mistake, apologized for it and, get this, even CRIED publicly.
(I thought there was no crying in baseball?)
This got me thinking about another news item that has grabbed headlines lately - that BP oil disaster in the Gulf.
The oil company has become The One To Hate for not only the spill but the way its executives have handled the disaster. I initially thought, "Boy, those BP execs could learn a thing or two from Joyce." Then I realized I was kinda off-base. BP did take responsibility for the oil spill right away, even though it pointed fingers at Transocean, the company that owns the rig, and Halliburton, the contractor that works on the rig. Those companies pointed fingers right back.
BP's stock has been on a decline since the end of April, when the oil rig exploded and killed 11 people. Its PR folks and Tony Hayward launched an apology campaign last week in newspapers, Facebook and on TV, though the apology is framed like this: "BP takes full responsibility for the clean-up in the Gulf." It doesn't take responsibility for its role in the spill. And Hayward says, "I'm sorry," which sounds like "I"m sorry this has happened to you," as I'd say to a girlfriend whose man just walked out on her.
The apology comes about six weeks into the debacle, after angry Americans began boycotting the company and staging protests. Too little too late? Mmmmm hmmmm. BP must have some sleepless PR and legal teams.
I realize that comparing a baseball umpire's error doesn't compare to the error that cost 11 human lives and is polluting our waters with 210,000 gallons of oil a day (according to a McClathy News report).
Joyce became a hero for his immediate, sincere, tearful apology. Baseball's outraged fans were silenced; who could stay angry at an umpire who offers a tearful apology publicly?
BP became The One To Hate while it shifted blame and Hayward put his foot in his mouth ("I'd like my life back," he is quoted as saying and later apologized for). There's a lesson here to be learned about apologies, timing and sincerity, me thinks.