Sunday, November 1, 2009

36 Questions: What’s the difference between an excuse and a reason?

You hear a lot about excuses this time of year. When the baseball season reaches the playoffs, postgame interviews are covered with references to excuses. Mostly, it’s one team or player not wanting to use something as an excuse. Apparently, it makes you weaker to use something as an excuse. I’m just not exactly sure why.

After a poor performance, most reporters ask a player or team the same question. “What happened?” For some reason, though, the player isn’t really allowed to answer. If he does, he’s just making excuses. I just wonder, why can’t it simply be a reason, and not an excuse? If the player gives a reason, does that mean they couldn’t have done anything to prevent it? Isn’t it just an answer to a question?

Earlier in this postseason, Matt Holliday made a costly error on a fly ball. It has been suggested that he lost the ball in white towels that the fans were waving. But, he wouldn’t say that himself. That would have been making excuses. Why can’t he say, “I lost it in the little white towels. I should have done a better job of blocking them out, but couldn’t. If the towels weren’t there, I’m sure I would have made the catch.” Is that not all true? Is that somehow not taking fault for the error because he explained why he made it?

You see the “excuse” word used a lot when it comes to injuries. If a team loses it’s best player, the rest of the team will try to ignore it. Sometimes, they’ll actually say they won’t use it as an excuse? Why not? Isn’t it fair to say that if Mark Teixeira goes down with an injury during a game, that the Yankees will be at a disadvantage? Why can’t they say that? “Boy, we lost our best player, and top run producer. It really put us in a hole that we couldn’t climb out of.” Instead, Jeter will trot out something closer to “We can’t make excuses. We just need to buckle down, and get the job done.” Which begs the question, if the Yankees could just buckle down and get the job done without Teix, why give him the $150 million in the first place?

Maybe we’d get actual answer from players if they were allowed to give actual answers. If it’s 30 degrees out, so Beckett can’t grip his curveball correctly leading to control problems, I want to know that. I don’t want to know that he needed to try harder. If Drew has a pulled hamstring, and couldn’t make it to that ball in the gap in time, I want to know. It’s not an excuse. It’s a legitimate point. Why not make it? Whenever one team wins, and another loses there are plenty of reasons why.

Why can’t everyone just talk about them? 

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