Sunday, June 6, 2010

All Apologies

BP has now released a commercial apologizing for the catastrophic (and apparently unstoppable) oil spill in the Gulf. In the commercial, CEO Tony Hayward, earlier blasted for his off-the-cuff "get my life back" comment, stares earnestly into the camera and tells everyone that BP is trying its very hardest to clean up the mess. He praises the government, assures citizens that no tax dollars will go to the clean-up, expresses his deepest concern for the people of the Gulf states, and takes "full responsibility" for the environmental disaster.

Meanwhile, in the world of sports, Jim Joyce, the umpire whose bad call deprived pitcher Armando Galarraga of a perfect game, issued an apology of his own, this one apparently full of profanity--at least, the reports I read had lots of words bleeped out--in which he took full responsibility for the muffed call. A friend of mine, posting the story on Facebook, suggested that Joyce's willingness to apologize, and the gracious acceptance of said apology by everyone affected by his call, showed the sort of moral courage that BP lacks. Indeed, she even went so far as to say (I'm quoting,and not kidding) that "If Joyce, Galarraga, and [manager Jim] Leyland ran BP, there wouldn't be a spill or the spectacle of the guy at the top whining that he wants his life back. . . ."

Frankly, I don't follow the logic. If Jim Leyland ran BP, he'd drill holes into the ocean floor; that's what the CEOs of oil companies do. And when one of those holes sprang a leak, as it most assuredly would, he'd apologize, just as Hayward has (however belatedly) apologized, because that's also what the CEOs of oil companies do.

But who cares? Apologies are easy; hell, I make them all the time. On the other hand, I also try to avoid doing things for which no apology could possibly be useful or even acceptable. So, for example, I don't drill holes into the ocean floor and release millions of gallons of crude into a fragile ecosystem.

When I was a teenager, I umped a few ball games to make some money, and I made plenty of bad calls; though I was a good ballplayer, I wasn't much of an umpire. But since it seems all I need to do to redeem myself is apologize, I'd like to say "I'm sorry" to all the kids whose strikes were actually balls, and to the runner I called out when the first baseman had clearly trapped the throw.

I'm sure everyone feels better now. I'm sure the people and pelicans of the Gulf can all sleep soundly.

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