Tag Archives: baseball

Independence Day Ethics Dunce: Sports Illustrated Illustrates How Too Many Americans Regard The Nation’s Veterans

McCain tweet

Sports Illustrated tweeted out the above image and message that linked to a story by “Extra Mustard.” That masterpiece noted that

Senator John McCain attended Tuesday night’s Dodgers–Diamondbacks game and had a chance to grab a souvenir in the seventh inning.Dodgers’ shortstop Jimmy Rollins fouled a ball over the backstop that went bouncing into the lap of the senior senator from Arizona, but McCain couldn’t get his hands on the ball. But McCain deserves a break from critics: As you can see the ball was approaching from a very awkward angle. Still, this photo from Dodgers photographer Jon SooHoo does not make the former presidential candidate look particularly athletic.

Apparently neither the reporter nor any of his/her/its editors were aware that McCain has extremely limited use of his arms as a result of being tortured as a North Vietnam prisoner of war. Both arms were broken by his captors and left untreated for so long that he was permanently handicapped, as anyone who watched even a little bit of his 2008 campaign for President could hardly fail to notice. McCain is also 78 years old, not that respect for seniors who have spent their lives in public service could be expected to be a factor in SI’s commentary.

Would any of the magazine’s staff attending a game dare to openly mock a disabled serviceman who didn’t catch a foul ball?  Probably not, since the likelihood of some fans of the National Pastime taking offense and throwing a beer in their smug, ignorant faces would be a real risk. Ah, but from the safety of an office  in New York City and hiding behind a pseudonym—of course, Extra Mustard might be the jerk’s real name, I suppose—it’s easy to insult an elderly U.S. Senator, military veteran and war hero for the consequences of the wounds he sustained in the service of his nation.

Eventually SI was tipped off to its error, and it quietly removed the last sentence. No apology, of course. Such is the historical, cultural, political and ethical ignorance of a substantial portion of our national media.

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Pointer: Newsbusters

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society, War and the Military

Ethics Dunce: Keith Hartley, Cubs Fan

The one-handed foul ball catch made by Chicago Cubs fan Keith Hartley was all over the web and cable TV yesterday. If you missed it, here it is:

Nice catch. Of course, it interfered with the ball in play, keeping Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from making the catch. In most circumstances, Hartley would have been thrown out of the game.

That’s the least that should have been done to him. He endangered his son—twice.

How quickly people forget that a fan in Boston is still recovering from a near fatal encounter with a shard from a broken bat that sailed into the stands during a game at Fenway Park, causing many baseball-hating pundits to call for netting to protect fans at field level. (This is how the Barn Door Fallacy works, after all.) I hate the idea of the netting, but there is no question that the seats near the action can be perilous. I once had access to season tickets by the visiting team on-deck circle at Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium, and foul balls were whizzing by my head several times a game. I’m talking about line drives, not pop-ups, like the one Hartley caught.

To be blunt, his baby could have been killed. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Dunces, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Sports

Observations On The News That Pete Rose Bet On Baseball As A Player After All

Rose Time cover

The story is here.

To summarize for those new to this story and its various issues:

Because the 1919 World Series fixing scandal nearly toppled the sport, any player, manager or coach who bets on baseball games will be automatically banned from the game for life and from the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame for perpetuity. Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader as a player and a certain Hall of Fame admittee under normal circumstances, was shown to have bet on baseball while a manager, after his playing career. For many years he lied, denying that this was true, then came clean in time to hawk his autobiography.

Rose has always had a lot of sympathy from fans and players, in part because he was such an exciting player, in part because he played with the innocent enthusiasm of a child and  he is a child, at least emotionally, and mostly because it was believed, since Rose insisted that it was true—yes, I know that sounds strange, given Rose’s record of serial dishonesty—that he never gambled on baseball while he was a player.

This season, public sentiment had been building to finally pronounce Rose forgiven. He had even progressed to the stage that some advertisers were using him in TV commercials. Baseball has a new Commissioner, and he had signaled that he would give Rose’s long-standing and ignored petition for reinstatement due consideration.

All of that is gone now, presumably forever.

Some last thoughts on Rose, as with any luck this is the last occasion I will have to write about him: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Sports, U.S. Society

No, Lisa, Alex Rodriguez Has Not Suddenly Become a Role Model. Also, YECCCHHHH…

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez warms up before the Yankees' American League baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts August 16, 2013.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Some role model.

Yesterday’s Washington Post “Outlook” section was polluted by a column by blogger Lisa Swan, and were her message not so ethically offensive, I would be inclined to ignore it. Her masterpiece was titled, “The Redemption of A-Rod,” and it argued that because Yankee designated hitter Alex Rodriguez has played unexpectedly well for his team after a one-year suspension, because the team is doing well this season, because he has not, as in the past, been involved in some embarrassing or slimy scandal on field or off for the grand total of nearly three months, and most of all, because Yankee fans are cheering him, he has become, in her words, a “role model.” She writes, and I am suppressing a gag reflex as I type this:

“We want our role models to be perfect, especially for our children’s sake. But what can flawless, contour-free statues — the marble creatures on pedestals — really teach us about overcoming adversity? The reality is that most of us have more A-Rod in us than we do Jeter. No. 2 is cool but boring; No. 13 is the one who, after decades of trying, finally bested his demons — the flawed human who dug his own grave, then climbed out of it.”

The stunning thing is that A-Rod’s biggest and most ethically obtuse fan does a reasonably fair job of summarizing his illegal, dishonest, unsportsmanlike, narcissist and sociopathic behavior. She writes… Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Sports, U.S. Society, Workplace

Would You Trust This Newspaper?

Amphibious-Pitcher

I wouldn’t.

The newspaper is the East Oregonian of  Pendleton, Oregon. The subject of the headline was not, in fact, an amphibious pitcher, nor, as the photo above was labeled in its file, an amphibian pitcher, which really would have been a story. No, it referred to ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte, who was brought up from the minors by the Oakland Athletics last week, and who, while pitching against the Boston Red Sox (I saw the game on TV)  made baseball history by becoming the first big league pitcher to record an out as a left-handed pitcher and a right-handed pitcher in the same inning. In case you are wondering, the age-old question of what happens if a switch-hitter faces a switch-pitcher was answered quickly. Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart, came up to bat right-handed, then switched to batting left-handed because Venditte was then pitching right-handed. Venditte responded by switching his glove (it has two thumbs) from his left hand to his right to throw left-handed, and that’s how the situation stayed. Both batter and pitcher can switch once before the at bat is underway.

But I digress.

As for the headline, I won’t blame the reporter (he used the correct word in the story), but the headline writer, editor and anyone else on staff who saw the page before it was printed and distributed needs to find a line of work that doesn’t require English, writing, the conveyance of information, or common sense.

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Pointer: The Sporting News

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Sports

A Lesson In Moral Luck And Consequentialism

car-key

If I accomplish nothing more through Ethics Alarms than to cure some intelligent readers of the seductive fallacy of consequentialism and the insideous influences of moral luck, then the long, aimless trail of squandered opportunities, under-achievement, diffuse focus, quixotic quests, Pyrrhic victories and lost causes I call my life will not have been entirely in vain.

Last week I was again in the throes of consequentialism hate. The Boston Red Sox, in the midst of a terrible start to their season, brought up minor league prospect Eduardo Rodriguez for a spot start. He was spectacular, allowing no runs and looking like the team ace Boston has been searching for all season. Immediately after the game, articles popped up in the baseball media excoriating the team for not bringing him up from the minor leagues long before. It was obvious back in Spring Training, said unnamed scouts, that he should be with the big club. It was negligence and stupidity, said other pundits, that it had taken this long to promote him. Strangely, there had been no published arguments to this effect before his impressive debut. And would any of these “I could have told you so” pieces have been written if Rodriguez had been bombed out of the game in the early innings, as literally any starting pitcher may be in a given game?

No. That’s the marvel of hindsight bias, the human tendency to presume that what could have been known should have been known after it is known.  Consequentialism is its more destructive cousin. These same analysts will conclude that the decision to bring up the pitcher was a brilliant one, if tardy, because he performed well. If he had done badly, the decision would have been, in all likelihood, decreed ” a mistake.” This was the fallacy that Jeb Bush was recently pilloried for not embracing regarding his brother’s decision to invade Iraq.

And moral luck? That’s the phenomenon that makes hypocrites and fools of us all, pointing us to the suffocating arms of Dame Consequentialism. If two decision-makers take exactly the same course in exactly equivalent circumstances, the one who is the beneficiary of good fortune—moral luck—will be hailed as a genius. The unlucky soul whose identical plans are derailed by unpredictable misfortune will be handed the mantle of an incompetent failure.

Situations where reasonable decisions and actions are declared “mistakes,” or, as is more germane here, “unethical” according to how uncontrollable events and contingencies occur subsequent to the conduct itself are legion. I am always looking for the counter example, where wrongful conduct has a good result, and is there for forgiven, ignored, or even praised. Well, I found one, and it just happened to me.

I had an important though brief client meeting scheduled this morning, and I had managed to forget the exact time. It was either at 10:45 or 11:00, and I had to be on time, because he was on a tight schedule. My wife was annoyed at me for my scheduling, since she had to use the car to get to a long scheduled appointment of her own at noon and my meeting was 30 minutes away. To make things worse, I couldn’t reach my meeting partner to determine the right time ( a postponement was impossible). To complete the fiasco, I misplaced the car keys, delaying my departure until after 10:30. I was informed, as I left the house with my newly discovered keys (never mind where they were; it is too embarrassing), that if I didn’t have the car back by 11:45, I was dead.

I assumed I would be dead. Continue reading

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Filed under Daily Life, Family

No, Craig, Barry Bonds Wasn’t A “Great” Baseball Player. Bernie Madoff Wasn’t A “Great” Investment Manager, Either

Christy Mathewson, a genuine hero. Barry Bonds would have made him want to throw up.

Christy Mathewson, a genuine hero. Barry Bonds would have made him want to throw up.

I like and admire Craig Calcaterra, who blogs entertainingly and perceptively about baseball on the NBC Sports website. I suppose I’m a bit jealous of him too: he’s a lawyer who now earns his living blogging about something he loves.

But Craig has always been a bit confused about how to regard baseball’s steroid cheats (they are cheats, which should answer any questions, but somehow doesn’t for a lot of people), and predictably, I suppose, he couldn’t resist reacting to the early results of Major League Baseball’s “Franchise Four” promotion, in which fans vote (until mid-May) for “the most impactful players who best represent each Major League franchise” as well as some other categories, including “Four Greatest Living Players.” The early results have Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver leading in the “Greatest Living Players” category, so Craig snarked that this is sad, because “it must mean Barry Bonds has died in a tragic cycling and/or Google Glass accident and no one thought to tell me.”

No, Craig, this is what someone failed to tell you: cheaters in any profession are not “great” by definition. Great baseball players, like great lawyers, writers, doctors, scientists and Presidents, bring honor on their profession, don’t corrupt everyone around them, don’t force people who admire them to embrace unethical conduct and turn them into aiders and abetters, and accomplish their great achievements while obeying the law, following the rules, and serving as role models for everyone who follows them. Barry Bonds was not a great baseball player. He had the ability to be one, but not the character.

Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver never once disgraced their game while they wore a uniform, and indeed made baseball stronger and better while they played. Good choices all.

The disgrace is that San Francisco fans voted Bonds as one of that team’s “Franchise Four,” and dishonoring great Giants of the past like Juan Marichal, as well as New York Giants greats like Christy Mathewson, Bill Terry, Carl Hubbell, and Mel Ott, Hall of Famers  and lifetime Giants who played with honesty and sportsmanship. But Giants’ fans warped values are among the casualties of Bonds’ career…and one more reason he can’t be rated anything but a great villain.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Sports, Unethical Blog Post, Workplace