Tag Archives: baseball

Ethics Hero: Washington Nationals Star Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper

The knock on Bryce Harper, the Nationals’ 22 year-old burgeoning superstar who will soon be named the 2015 NL MVP, is that he’s immature, cocky, and self-destructive. But he seems to have proven himself to be far less so than the same sportswriters who have so often leveled such doubts about his character. This is good news for the Nationals and their fans, and also for suckers like me, who believe that baseball stars have an obligation to be good role models.

I wrote here about the late September, mid-game dugout fight between Harper and Jonathan Papelbon, a late season acquisition by the Nats whose arrival as a new bullpen ace coincided with team’s collapse in the National League East race. Post hoc ergo propter hoc being as seductive a logical fallacy as it is, Nats fans and, less excusably, the D.C. sports press blamed much of the Nats failure on the ex-Phillies, ex-Red Sox closer, along with manager Matt Williams, who was fired immediately after the regular season. Papelbon was also blamed for the fight, which is fair: he started it.

I noted in a follow-up post: Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, Leadership, Sports

Comment of the Day: “World Series Ethics: Another Pine Tar Sighting, As Baseball Ethics Rot Gets A Thumbs Up From Legal Ethics Rot”

Volquez, unaware...

Volquez, unaware…

I think I made a poor call deciding not to write about the interesting ethics question that arose during Game #1 of the just completed World Series.

We learned during the broadcast of Game 2 on Fox that Daniel Volquez, the father of Kansas city Royals Game #1 starting pitcher Edinson Volquez, had died of heart trouble during the day in the Dominican Republic. But Volquez’s family had asked the team not to inform Volquez until after the game, and the team, on behalf of the family, asked the same of the broadcasters, directing them to withhold the news from the TV audience. I decided to pass on the story because I couldn’t confirm that Volquez didn’t know about his father’s passing, though it now appears he did not. That was foolish: the ethics issues are the same regardless of whether he knew.

Fortunately Ethics Alarms reader Noah D. insisted that the issue was attention worthy, and wrote his own commentary. I’ll have some comment at the end. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, World Series Ethics: Another Pine Tar Sighting, As Baseball Ethics Rot Gets A Thumbs Up From Legal Ethics Rot: Continue reading


Filed under Family, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Professions, Sports

World Series Ethics: His Decision Didn’t Work, But Mets Manager Terry Collins Was Right

KC wins

The end of the baseball season is traumatic for me, except for those few years that ended in Boston Red Sox championships, and those two golden glow seasons (1967 and 1975), when the team lost at the end but fought such a good fight that it felt like they had won. In my house we refer to the days between the end of the World Series and the beginning of Spring Training as The Dark Time.

On the plus side, I have about three more hours every day to do something productive.

For the second consecutive year, baseball ended with an ethics conundrum in its final game. Last night, as the Kansas City Royals battled back from a late deficit again (they had done so in the previous game as well) to take the Series four games to one,against the New York Mets at Citi Field, the topics were trust, courage, leadership, and most of all, consequentialism. The latter is to baseball as apple pie—or baseball— is to America.

Let me set the stage. The Royals, having stolen the previous game from the Mets’ grasp by an unlikely 8th inning rally (the Mets lost one game all season when they were leading in the 8th; they lost two such games in this five game series). With their backs against the wall (on the short end of a 3-1 game tally, the Mets had to win last night to avoid elimination), the New York sent their ace, the remarkable Matt Harvey, to the mound to do what aces do: win. Harvey had it all last night. After eight innings, the Royals hadn’t scored.  Harvey looked fresh in the eighth, and got the Royals out without surrendering a baserunner.

All season long, with a close game after eight innings, Mets manager Terry Collins would tell his starter to take a seat and let his closer finish the game. This is standard practice now: complete games by starting pitchers are a rarity. Once, not too long ago, the league leader in that category would be in double figures. Now the top is usually about five. Moreover, nobody cares. The best teams have 9th inning specialists who almost never lose one-run leads, much less two, and the Mets had a great one, Jeurys Familia.

After Harvey’s dominant eighth, the Fox cameras recorded the drama unfolding in the Mets dugout. Collins’ pitching coach told Harvey that his night was done and Familia, as usual, would close out the game. Harvey pushed past the coach to confront his manager, passionately. Let me finish it, he insisted. The game is mine. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Popular Culture, Sports

World Series Ethics: Another Pine Tar Sighting, As Baseball Ethics Rot Gets A Thumbs Up From Legal Ethics Rot

Sal Perez

Cameras during Game #2 of the 2015 World Series revealed that Kansas City Royals catcher Sal Perez had what appeared to be pine tar on his shin guard during the game. This would presumably be there for the purpose of surreptitiously smearing some of the gunk on the ball, then throwing it back to the pitcher so he could “get a better grip on the ball,” a.k.a “tamper with the baseball so it can do loop-de-loops.” This is illegal. It is cheating. According to Rule 8.02(a)(2), (4) and (5), the pitcher shall not expectorate on the ball, on either hand or his glove; apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball; [or]  deface the ball in any manner. The rule is unambiguous, and if a pitcher or a catcher is caught violating the rule, they are thrown out of the game with a suspension and fine to follow.

None of this happened to Perez or his pitcher that night. According to NBC Sports blogger Craig Calcaterra, a former practicing lawyer who I am officially disgusted with, the reason was that “Nobody cares,” including Calcaterra.

I wrote extensively about Major League Baseball’s unethical attitude toward violations of this particular rule last year, after an absurd sequence in which Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda was caught by TV cameras apparently using pine tar on his pitches without compliant from the opposing Red Sox, followed by Sox manager John Farrell saying that he hoped he would be “more discreet” about his cheating “next time,” and then when Pineda was more obvious about it next time, Farrell complained to the umpires, who threw Pineda out of the game (he was also suspended). I wrote, Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Sports, Unethical Blog Post

Baseball, Moral Luck, And Ike’s Big Lie


Dwight D. Eisenhower lied in  a signed pledge in order to play football as a West Point student. Had the false assertion been discovered, the Allied Forces would have had a different commander, and the Cold War would have been fought on the U.S. side by a …Adlai Stevenson, if not Herman Goering. Ike never mentioned his ethical and very uncharacteristic breach of military conduct in his memoirs, but the incident seems to have haunted him all his life.

President Eisenhower played the outfield for Class D Junction City, a professional minor league team, in 1911. Ike  used a false name—“Wilson”— to maintain eligibility for collegiate athletics. He was 20 years old and  hit .355,  but he wasn’t aiming for  the big leagues.  “I wanted to go to college that fall and we didn’t have much money,” General Eisenhower told the Associated Press in 1945. “I took any job that offered me more money, because I needed money.”

When Eisenhower joined the Army’s football program at West Point, he had to sign a form saying he was never compensated for playing a professional  sport. The assumption is that Ike signed, but the document has never been found. Had his lie been discovered whgile he was at West Point, he would have been kicked out of the Academy. Had the falsely signed document surfaced while he was President, it would have been a serious embarrassment for both Ike and the military.

My guess is that it was “lost.” Continue reading


Filed under Character, Education, History, Sports, War and the Military

Ethical Quote Of The Month: Yankees Pitcher C.C. Sabathia

CC Sabathia

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.”

New York Yankees starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia, in a statement announcing that he would not be helping his team prevail in the upcoming playoffs and World Series because he was checking into an alcohol rehabilitation center to treat his alcoholism.

Nobody outside of the Yankees organization and Sabathia’s family was aware that he was suffering from this malady until the announcement. Here is his whole statement, which speaks for itself: Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Quotes, Health and Medicine, Sports, Workplace

Observations on the Great Baseball Game Sorority Selfie-Shaming Affair

Screen-Shot-selfie girls

I was going to skip this one as too stupid even for my intrigue, but the combination of baseball, selfies, privacy, the generation gap, The Golden Rule, cultural rot…and those pictures above… is too much to resist.

In a now viral video clip, about a dozen comely members of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority attending the Arizona Diamondbacks-Colorado Rockies game this week were put on camera to serve as fodder for TV broadcasters Steve Berthiaume’s and Bob Brenly’s ridicule. The reason they were on camera is that it was an unusually attractive bevy of maidens, and that they were engaged in something that could best be called a selfie orgy. It went on and on as the announcers snickered, saying things like…

“Do you have to make faces when you take selfies?”

“Wait, one more now. Better angle. Oh, check it. Did that come out OK?”

“Here’s my first bite of the churro. Here’s my second bite of the churro.”

“That’s the best one of the 365 pictures I’ve taken of myself today!”

“Welcome to parenting in 2015!”

“Every girl in the picture is locked into her phone. Every single one is dialed in. They’re all just completely transfixed by the technology.

“‘Help us, please! Somebody help us!'”

As the internet weighed in, the girls found themselves being defended by most commentators, at least by most commentators under 40.

Observations: Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Social Media, Sports, U.S. Society