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?
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.