Reading through the number of apologies issued by players and organizations these past few weeks has reminded me of sitting down with a stack of students’ papers to grade. They’re filled with errors, products of players who have never had to apologize for anything, just as students litter papers with common errors, each the mark of an inexperienced essay writer. As an instructor, it is my job to provide these students with the tools they need to claw their way to a level of acceptable writing.

As there is limited in-class time each semester in which to focus on developing writing skills, the bulk of this instruction occurs in the comments on each paper. It is difficult to strike the balance between being unhelpful and overbearing, but when done correctly and to the right students, I have seen great improvements in their writing skills, from thesis formulation to the inclusion of supporting evidence, though comma splices remain.

It is my hope that using the same method on players’ apologies will produce similar results. Without further ado, then, I present Trea Turner and Sean Newcomb’s graded apologies:

I love the show The Good Place a lot, to the point where I’ve started watching episodes on Netflix in Spanish because I’ve memorized enough of the dialogue that I can translate the episodes. What I do not love is this piece on The Shatner Chatter titled “What Which Character You Think You Are on The Good Place Says About You,” a merciless, vicious own by which I feel personally attacked. In my heart of hearts I know thinking you are Chidi, the wimpiest but least overtly bad character with whom to identify, is self-delusion: I’m a real stickler about grammar! I can’t ever make up my mind because I see every side of every issue! Books! The real truth of the matter is I am Eleanor: well-intentioned but lacking follow-through on my better days, a destruction rocket powered by booze and coconut-fried shrimp on the worse ones.

This isn’t an uncommon problem, this moral Dunning-Kruger effect that impels us to click “sacrifice myself” over “push my enemy off the trolley” on internet quizzes. We all want to identify upwards, to scrape the ceiling of our ideal selves. We want to follow the bumper sticker’s advice and be the person our dog thinks we are. But recognizing what lies in the gap between what you think you are and what you actually are can provide an actual, workable blueprint toward becoming that higher version of yourself. Let’s start with your so-called favorite baseball player.

You think your favorite baseball player is Kris Bryant:

When people ask your favorite food you say “Italian.” You get a secret thrill from sending your food back in a restaurant when the waiter gets your order wrong, even though you always offer to keep the wrong dish first before saying “well, if it’s not too much trouble…” You think of yourself as well liked, but every year for your birthday you receive only gift cards.

You think your favorite baseball player is Bryce Harper:

You make a point of letting people know that you own a Justin Bieber CD and you aren’t ashamed of it. You’re amazed at the number of people you’ve met who also love the show Entourage. You believe quiff height is proportional to personality. As a guy, you wear pink a lot, but not because you particularly like the color.

You think your favorite player is Mookie Betts:

The only thing you listen to on Spotify is the Top-50 playlist. You think “hyper” is a personality trait. You show up to parties empty handed, which you feel like you can get away with because everyone will be happy to see you, which they are, for the first hour. You recite viral tweets as if they were your own.

You think your favorite baseball player is Joey Votto:

You’ve come into work while sick and gotten other people sick but have never once admitted it was you. When eating out with friends, you insist on separate checks. You imagine other people think your passion is charming when they really just wish you’d talk a little bit quieter, just a little bit?

You think your favorite player is Jose Altuve:

You have transformed one disadvantage in life into a war cry; you would never say this, but you believe that surmounting this obstacle makes you a little better than everyone else. You wait until the cashier is looking before you put a tip in the jar.

You think your favorite baseball player is Mike Trout:

You describe your style as “classic” when in reality you’re not sure what style is or how one goes about getting one. Your favorite store is Target. You hate being wrong more than you love anything else.

Thank you for reading

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