Ethics Quiz: Is Jose Fernandez: A Fallen Hero or A Dead Asshole?

When Miami Marlin pitching star Jose Fernandez died, along with two friends, in the night crash of a speedboat he owned, the city of Miami and Major League Baseball was thrown into a state of extended grief. Not only was the 24-year old pitcher the super-star of the Miami Marlins franchise, but, we were told, was a young man of extraordinary character as well. He had the brightest future imaginable. Fernandez was expected to earn between 300 and 500 million dollars during what was expected to be a Hall of Fame caliber career. His girlfriend was pregnant. He was already a role model and a celebrity.

After his death, the team mourned their fallen star with dignity and emotion. This season, the Marlins to honor plan his memory in various ways.


After nearly six-month investigation, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s report on the accident  concluded  that Jose Fernandez was driving the speed  boat when it crashed. killing the pitcher, Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Macias  in the early morning of Sept. 25, 2016. Fernandez’s blood alcohol level was .147 and there was “noted presence of cocaine,” according to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s toxicology report.

The speed of the 32-foot vessel during the impact of the crash on the north side of a jetty was 65.7 miles per hour, far too fast for the conditions and the area. The report concludes:

“Fernandez operated V-1 with his normal faculties impaired, in a reckless manner, at an extreme high rate of speed, in the darkness of night, in an area with known navigational hazards such as rock jetties and channel markers.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is it ethical, responsible and right for the Miami Marlins, or anyone, to honor Jose Fernandez in light of these revelations?

The Ethics Alarms call?

Absolutely not.

There is a level of recklessness, irresponsible conduct, arrogance and stupidity that cannot be excused, and whatever the level is, Fernandez exceeded it. The fact that he was killed himself was moral luck: imagine if only he had survived. Fernandez would be facing homicide charges and serious prison time….and would deserve it all. He had a family, a child, a city, a baseball team, and a sport all relying on him, and he decides to risk it all for coke, booze, and a speed boat ride, killing not only himself but two other human beings, who had families and responsibilities of their own? He was  no hero. He was a deadly, selfish, asshole.

No other message should be sent to the kids who once admired him that that one. Honoring Fernandez now would be a particularly ugly example of The King’s Pass or The Star Syndrome, Rationalization #11 on the list. A non-celebrity did what Fernandez did would be guaranteed posthumous infamy. The fact that the pitcher was a baseball star doesn’t make him better than that; if anything, it makes him worse.


Facts: ESPN


30 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Is Jose Fernandez: A Fallen Hero or A Dead Asshole?

  1. Mourned and honored. This one incident doesn’t undo everything he did in his life. come on, I hope no one holds me, you, our your loved ones to this ridiculous standard.

    “I’m sorry your husbands dead and I feel for your loss, but he always carried 30 extra pounds and he didn’t exercise, how thoughtless with a family to take care of! I know he loves you and was president of the rotary club, but none of that really matters with the reckless way he lived his life!”


    I’m a no good dirty sinner who’s just trying to do a little better each day and God forbid one of those things should kill me, I’m a dead asshole now? Wow.

    • So you’re going the “Just one mistake route,” eh? Wow is right. When in one idiotic sweep, you kill yourself, two friends, break multiple laws, leave your (illegitimate) kd without a father and your girl friend without a spouse to help raise him, when you screw over your team and team mates and betray the kids who looked up at you a hero, that’s some “mistake.” In fact, it is about ten mistakes or more.

      • Well, ten mistakes by lunch time is about par for the course for me.

        I’m not saying what he did was not stupid, criminal, and had tragic results for him and many others, no question (not sure why it was relevant that his son was illegitimate). But to judge a man’s whole life by it? To wipe away everything else?

        Remind me not to let you give my eulogy.

        • One more try: If he was coked up and at the wheel driving drunk in a truck and wiped out a young family with two young kids as well as his friends–surviving himself—would anyone be calling him a wonderful man? If Ethan Couch (the “Affluenza” kid) could throw a mean slider, all would be forgiven?

      • In a sense, he is both.

        And maybe the Marlins should have an event – not just to honor what he did on the field for them, but to also lament how his poor choices have cost the team, the community, and his family dearly.

        Perhaps in death, Jose Fernandez’s story can help save lives by getting people to re-think their choices.

      • They do have that sort of training. Seminars for money management; older assigned mentors; warnings about paternity scams; keepers and handlers. It appears to have the same influence as a ship’s chaplain giving a stern lecture to sailors about avoiding loose women and strong drink, just prior to entering port after a few months at sea.

  2. Drunk and boating was illegal. Doing cocaine is illegal. Driving the boat at that speed in that area was illegal and a danger to others. If he knew the dangers of the area or not just makes him stupid as well, either way.

    We all make mistakes. If I have one too many at a Christmas party and kill a family of 4, my 40 years of no criminal record and all the good I may have done in my community, for my family, and how I lived my life do not matter. I will pay for that mistake for the rest of my life, if I survive my lack of judgement, my reckless stupidity. My family and friends will pay as well.

    This was a tragic mistake, and he paid the ultimate price for living life on the edge. There is a reason boys under 25 are singled out for higher insurance rates: the brain is not quite mature in judgement yet.

  3. Throw into the mix the apparent fact that Fernandez was coked up and drunk because he was furious at his pregnant girlfriend (for whom he’d recently dropped his immediately prior girlfriend) for having the outrageous audacity to expect him to marry her. He wanted the real King’s Pass. He wanted the twenty-four year-old multi-millionaire jock’s pass. He wanted to be able to sport fuck with absolute impunity for the next thirty or forty years..

    Sixty-five miles an hour? In a thirty-one foot open boat? At night? In the open ocean? That’s breathtakingly stupid. That’s the kind of thing you do in the day if you’re a professional racing boat driver wearing a helmet and are lashed into your specially designed seat next to a co-driver and a mechanic. The guy was clearly an idiot and a hot head and spoiled brat.

    “When you’re a ball player, there ain’t much to bein’ a ball player.” My favorite Rogers Hornsby quote. Okay, my only Rogers Hornsby (“And The Range”) quote.

  4. And another example of why people think lawyers are so annoying:

    From the Miami herald story on the investigation’s report:

    Fernandez’s family attorney, Ralph Fernandez, no relation, said he was disappointed with the FWC’s report. He disputes that the evidence was conclusive to place Fernandez steering the boat during the crash, and said the agency should have turned to outside maritime accident experts for an analysis.

    “I can assure you the experts will disagree,” said the attorney, who represents the pitcher’s estate that is being sued for negligence by the families of the other victims.

    He also said that just because Jose Fernandez was behind the center console, it doesn’t mean he was steering the boat.

    “There’s room for two or three people behind the console area,” Ralph Fernandez said.

    Read more here:

    Yeah. Sure Ralph. Whatever you say. Just shut up and split the few hundred thousand that’s remaining in any of Jose’s bank accounts between the two families suing the estate and get to work on some other cases. If you’re not careful, all of Jose’s dough will be consumed by his attorneys fees. Oh, wait, that would be you, wouldn’t it? And I know, you’re just doing your job and defending your client’s interest vigorously. Blah blah blah.

  5. I agree on this. I live in South Florida (basically in the Ft Lauderdale suburbs), and of course it was big news down here when it happened. I’m also a baseball fan, so it was even bigger news for someone who follows the game. It’s a sad situation, that someone younger in life, with a lot of promise and potential and a bright future, will commit acts that will cause not only his death, but the death of others. But in the end, his reckless actions are what led to this.

    Should he be mourned, sure. And also as mentioned by others, be held up as a telling tale of what can happen when you do a bunch of stupid, and illegal, acts.

    • I agree with all this. But the choices were fallen hero or dead asshole. I’m not willing to go with dead asshole.

      Slickwilly: your 40 years of no criminal history would not matter in the situation you describe? I think the lawyer representing you during sentencing might not agree.

      • I’d go with dead asshole. So the guy had outstanding major league “stuff” and a big smile. So what? He was a winner of the genetic lottery, that’s all. I’d say his conduct all that night was signature significance. You really think this was the first temper tantrum he’d thrown in his life?

        • Yikes. I thought an ethics blog especially would be a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. I guess I was wrong. I’m apparently the only one here who doesn’t have all my shit together.

          I usually agree with you, OB, but I’ve got to part ways here. “He was a winner of the genetic lottery, that’s all.” You think? I’m a lawyer (as I believe you are?) did we win the genetic lottery “that’s all?” (Some would say lawyers lost the genetic lottery, there’s more than a little truth in that). Or did we have a little bit of smarts and spend hours and hours in the library, first in undergrad then in law school, only to continuously work on the practice?

          • Yes he was a winner of the genetic lottery. Projected earnings of half a billion for throwing a baseball every fifth game for ten or fifteen years? Feted everywhere he went? Girls throwing themselves at him and his wallet? What is there about this guy and his actions that make him worthy of being called a hero? Other than being naturally gifted in a sport?

            EO, maybe you’re saying he taught himself how to pitch and became excellent because of hard work. Hah. That’s not how high performance sports works. If it were, I’d have had my ten year old’s dream of playing in the NBA. But I stopped growing at 6’1″ in ninth grade and was as quick as molasses and have average sized hands. I couldn’t have even played small college basketball. At the major league level of all sports, it’s all about raw talent. These guys are all genetic freaks. Then they get groomed a little and they’re turned loose. They don’t get on a baseball card because of “hard work.”

          • Ethics and sin are on two different planets. We’re talking ahout honoring someone as a hero here, not whether he belongs in Hell. You have to deal with my alternative: Jose loads up on drugs and booze, and just like the “Affluenza” kid, crosses a center line, wiped out a family of 5, and leaves his friends dead or paralyzed. Do then Marlins have a “day” for him? Shower him with gifts? Express their love and sympathy by proclaiming his character and work within the community, and give speeches about what a fine young man he is? Really?

      • … but the lawyer asserting my crimeless life would be unethical, no?

        I am on trial for my actions, and asserting how great I am diverts from the actions, and is not mitigating those actions. My victims are still dead.

        What if, in a fit of rage, I loosed a barrage of bullets that missed my intended target and killed the same family? Would this one act be mitigated by my worth to society? Why or why not? Drunk driving is as great a lapse of judgement as this example, IMHO.

        I am NOT a lawyer. I may be off base here. Could any of the law trained here enlighten me?

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