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.