Thursday, May 10, 2007

Excuses, Justifications and Exculpations - Learn From The Pros

Okay…a lot of people have criticized Floyd Landis for his early attempts to explain his supposedly positive test during the 2006 Tour de France. Sure, the initial press conference was awkward, with the rumors easily gapping the facts in the race for public opinion and I will admit that the possible whiskey defense had me scratching my head a little bit. But the fact is, he never should have been subjected to that whole process to begin with. Floyd was put in a position where he was forced to defend himself against documents, results and allegations that he had not even been formally presented with. Regardless of what you think of the case…that’s just not right.
So anyway…I couldn’t help but laugh when reading a recent public defense that makes Floyd look like Johnny Cochrane, or better yet, Jackie Chiles. I am referring to the ramblings of the ever-entertaining Curt Schilling, All-Star pitcher and self-promoter of the Boston Red Sox. On Tuesday, he of the (allegedly) bloody sock, took issue with San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds on his blog and on a local Boston radio station, making a number of statements that have caused quite a stir.

"Everyone has days and events in life they'd love to push the rewind button on, yesterday was one of those days," Schilling wrote on "Regardless of my opinions, thoughts and beliefs on anything Barry Bonds it was absolutely irresponsible and wrong to say what I did. I don't think it's within anyone's right to say the things I said yesterday and affect other peoples lives in that way."

Here’s what caused the ruckus:

"I mean, he admitted that he used steroids," Schilling said Tuesday. "I mean, there's no gray area. He admitted to cheating on his wife, cheating on his taxes and cheating on the game, so I think the reaction around the league, the game, being what it is, in the case of what people think. Hank Aaron not being there. The commissioner trying to figure out where to be. It's sad.

"And I don't care that he's black, or green, or purple, or yellow, or whatever. It's unfortunate … there's good people and bad people. It's unfortunate that it's happening the way it's happening."
While only bits and pieces of what he said are true, Schilling kind of, sort of took responsibility for his comments, but then just actually suggested that the early time of the interview may have been partly to blame. Wow, it must have pretty early in the morning to make someone say stuff like that. Somebody get this guy some coffee. So, just how early was the interview?

"I'd love to tell you I was ambushed, misquoted, misinterpreted, something other than what it was, but I wasn't," Schilling wrote. "I'm thinking that waking up at 8:30 am to do the weekly interview we do with WEEI is probably not the greatest format and if you heard the interview it's not hard to realize that I'm usually awake about 30-45 seconds before it begins.”

Okay now I understand. I mean…people actually expect you to be able to talk coherently and make defensible comments at 8:30 in the morning? Is the sun even up by then? I mean…come on, there aren’t even any game shows on TV at that hour. Just the boring news with all those…what do you call them…oh yeah…facts.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I respect that Schilling is being so public in his apology and I wish more athletes would be accountable for what they say. I just can’t quite understand how the time of day or how long you have been awake affects the ability to censor one’s true beliefs in a public forum. Curt Schilling isn’t sorry for the comments he made…he’s sorry that people took offense to them. Those weren’t just “off the cuff” remarks by a sleepy guy who doesn’t know what he’s saying. I could be wrong here, but somehow I get the sense that Curt Schilling may have actually developed a stance on the subject of Barry Bonds over the last few years. It just so happens that he has now made that stance public in a rather unflattering manner.

But seriously…8:30 in the morning? The funniest part is that he acts like it’s early and that we should somehow be sympathetic. It would be one thing if he had just pitched a night game prior to the interview but Schilling last threw on Sunday and the Sox didn’t even play on Monday. So basically…that’s a really poor excuse for Tuesday morning. Far worse than anything Floyd said.

In retrospect, I think Floyd’s whiskey defense was actually one of the most telling factors in this whole process. You would think that if someone were doping, they would probably try to formulate some kind of defense in the event of a positive test. Maybe not…but it seems logical to me. Not that logic has anything to do with this, but the fact that Landis was so scattered in his initial attempts to explain the result could be seen as a testament to his confusion, surprise and ultimately, his innocence.

I just have to think that a person with something to hide would find a better way to hide it than by publicly claiming he may have had too much to drink the night before. And it’s not like he would ever be able to use that excuse in another event or context. The only reason he was drinking on the evening of Stage 16 was because of the specific circumstances of that particular day. It’s not like he was out doing shots of JD after he got the yellow jersey in the first place. It was just so random. Usually people blame alcohol for poor performances, not good ones.

It’s kind of counter-intuitive, but sometimes a well-articulated response to an accusation is indicative of a prior assumption that the accused could be required to defend themselves at some point. In Floyd’s case, his poorly formulated response to the initial results from the Tour may have actually reflected the potential of a false positive from a psychological perspective more than say…Ivan Basso’s false declarations of “tranquility” regarding Operacion Puerto, for instance.

In Schilling’s case, his highly polished apology is in stark contrast to his poorly formulated excuse. From a psychological perspective, this is representative of an individual who is accustomed to apologizing publicly due to an unfavorable external reaction but probably has little remorse for the actual content of his statements. But then again…it was 8:30 in the morning. Perhaps Schilling will be more careful to get some caffeine before he discusses cycling on his blog or the radio.

By the way, the Floyd Landis hearing is scheduled for Monday.


Olaf Vanderhoot said...

mmm ... this looks like good eatins.

i'll be diggin into this tonite after work.

dessert wine, it is!

Uncle Leo said...

I only have one question:

"Who told you to put the balm on?"

Floyd should hire Jackie for his trial.

"It's an infringement on your constitutional rights. It's outrageous, egregious,

Jeremy T. Arnold said...

Olaf, I was going to write about your Havoc interaction but...I'll work on something in the future.

Also...the Maestro told me to put the balm on.

Nobody knows what a balm is going to do. They're unpredictable.