Ethics Quiz: Boston’s A-Rod Dilemma


This is a really, really hard one.

Over the weekend, as reported here, Yankee superstar/pariah/cheating jerk for the ages Alex Rodriguez announced that he would “retire” after next Friday night’s game. He’s not really retiring, of course. Like almost everything involving A-Rod, lies and cover-ups reign. Since the Yankees were going to have to pay the rest of his contract to the tune of 27 million bucks either way, they told Alex that they could release him, thus ending his career on a sour note, or allow him to pretend to make the decision to leave the game himself, which would be better PR for all concerned.

However, the announcement presents a problem for the Boston Red Sox. A-Rod’s next-to-last game is Thursday night in Fenway Park, and a player with Rodriguez’s astounding career on-field achievements would typically warrant an on-field salute, like the Sox gave Yankee icon Derek Jeter when he retired. The problem is that Red Sox fans don’t like or respect A-Rod, and they shouldn’t. No baseball fan should. He disgraced the game with his drug use and lies; was an unsportsmanlike presence for most of his career, and will not reach the Hall of Fame despite one of the best careers ever unless the Hall junks all of its character requirements.

Yet reciprocity raises its ethical head. David Ortiz, the beloved Red Sox slugger, is also retiring after this season, and the Yankees have planned to give him a big send-off when Big Papi plays his last game in Yankee stadium. How can the Red Sox snub A-Rod, and expect the Yankees to honor their hero? If the Red Sox do hold a ceremony for Rodriquez, will Sox fans use it as an opportunity to heap well-deserved abuse on Alex one last time? If Sox fans fill Fenway with boos, will Yankee fans reciprocate by ruining Ortiz’s moment in New York? (I would give my guess on this, but it might expose a long-held bias against Yankee fans.)

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

What is the most ethical way to handle this awful situation?

I have no idea, but here are some questions that make the quiz harder:

1. If PED use is culturally condemned in baseball, and A-Rod’s achievements are tainted by cheating, isn’t any honor at all hypocritical and self-contradictory?

2. Is the Red Sox’s first duty to its player, Ortiz, its fans, or the integrity of the sport?

3. Is there a way to give an honorable good-bye to a player who lacked honor, without rejecting the value of honor?

4. Should the team leave the decision to Ortiz, or is that just placing unfair responsibility on him?

The mess, like so many messes, is entirely Alex Rodriguez’s fault for being such a venal, lying creep. He could defuse the issue by publicly asking the Red Sox not to do anything this Thursday, because he doesn’t want to take attention away from the retirement of David Ortiz.

That would be a selfless, considerate gesture.

In an equally likely alternative, he might flap his arms and fly away to Neptune.


19 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Boston’s A-Rod Dilemma

  1. Is A-Rod even that popular with the Yankees at this point? It’s not the kind of thing you’d want to bet on, and I agree Yankees fans have been dogs in the manger before, but will they even attempt to honour him on their own?

  2. Why the heck did the Yankees decide his last game would be in Beantown? Why not just have hi m retire effective immediately and schedule an A-Rod day sometime before the end of the season? Dumb.

    • Isn’t Brian Cashman more grown up than that? Did the Steinbrenner boys really want to stick it to Boston that badly? I think these are the ethical questions.

        • Maybe the entire organization is suffering from A-Rod Derangement Syndrome at this point. Dealing with lunatics can drive you nuts.

        • I don’t know that I agree with you about not being able to blame Cashman… if a standard send off was part of A-Rod’s deal to leave, I think it would be almost more unethical on Cashman’s/Steinbrenners’ part to let it happen away in Boston, where they has no control over whether it even happens, and can’t begin to guess how the spectators will react. It seems like that would have been bad faith on the part of Yankees management, to negotiate a send off and then abdicate all actual responsibility how or if it actually happens.

      • It looks like Costner actually did some of his own sliding in that scene – at least, that one slide on the run/limp from third base to home plate. I am still doubtful that’s Costner doing that very first slide into second base. I NEVER did it head-first, in my playing days; it would’ve killed me. Last night’s replay of Buster Posey’s “kissing” of third vindicated my technique.

  3. I don’t see A-Rod as a big Yankee hero. Jeter, beyond his abilities on the field, was beloved by the Yankees because he was a good guy. People liked an respected him. A-rod, he isn’t well liked. Sure, the Yankees fans will root for him when he’s playing well, but there is no great love for him as a player, or a Yankee, and particularly as a baseball person. They may give him something in Yankee stadium, and some people may cheer out of politeness, but most fans don’t really care about him.

    I don’t see the RedSox needing to do anything special for him. Even outside of the fact that ownership knows he’ll just get booed by the crowd if they do anyway. (Unless they want to rub that in).

    In my view.
    1. I will ignore it in this case, mainly because Ortiz’s career arc just adds to the questions on the point of his name being released as one of the players failing the 2003 PED tests before the penalties came in. Granted Ortiz has been given a pass on it, but he’s lucky in that regard in that he’s a good guy and well liked and it’s generally been forgotten.

    2. I would say fans first, they’re the ones who basically pay for the organization. Then the player/good of baseball. (I think in this case they’re equal really, as one follows the other).

    3. That’s tough. And yes, I guess there is a way, but it will be a lot more low-key I would bet.

    4. No, to me that’s completely unfair to Ortiz.

    • It hasn’t been forgotten. He is by far the least offensive of the PED group, because they don’t know what the substance was, he has great credibility when he says he never intentionally took anything, the supplements in the Dominican Republic were notoriously tainted, it could have been a false positive. and both the Union and MLB came to Ortiz’s defense, agreeing that it was unfair to make any assumptions based on the test at all. Still, there are many, many who see the two groups as black and white, no-PEDs and cheaters. I’m afraid that if Ortiz gets in, Bonds and A-Rod, and Palmiero, and Sosa..will get in too. I think Ortiz is a Hall of Famer in every way and meets the character clause with room to spare, but if it means stinking up the Hall with Bonds, I’d vote against him.

      • I’m not sure Ortiz getting voted in will open the door to some of the others. I think a few of them are so tainted at this point (Bonds, Sosa, McGuire, Palmeiro as 4 in particular), and so disliked by the fans and voters, that they’re not getting in. I think of any player who might get in if Oritz does, it’s Clemens (with the connection of the Red Sox). You’re starting to see some loosening of the voters though, at least those who there is only some light rumor and suspicion (and not serious doubt or proof). Piazza being an obvious example, someone where a few people wonder based on his performance but never even any hint of anything to be found.

        • I’ll bet you on that…of course, we won’t know for 6 years. Ortiz tested positive, and that’s all it will take for the pro-steroid writers and Bonds excuse-makers to vote in Sosa, Clemens, McGwire, Bonds…who didn’t test positive.

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