I suppose the Ethics Alarms headline could also be Ethics Dunce: Bill Baer, for the NBC baseball writer responsible for the irresponsible, misleading, ignorant and mighty close to libelous story under the headline, which is…
Sherwin Williams is trying to back out of a charitable contribution at Angel Stadium
No, it isn’t. Not even close.
Here, in part, is what Baer writes. Raise your hand when you realize that he is full of beans:
The paint company Sherwin Williams created a neat promotion at Angel Stadium. There’s a giant paint can with the brand name in left-center field. If a player hits a ball into the can, Sherwin Williams will donate $1 million to the Angels Baseball Foundation, the Angels’ charity for kids.
Angels outfielder Justin Upton appeared to trigger that charitable contribution when he hit a solo home run to left-center field against Indians closer Cody Allen on Tuesday night. The ball bounced in front of the can and then went in on a hop.
ESPN reports that Sherwin Williams is using a technicality to try and get out of the obligation. Because Upton’s home run didn’t land in the can on the fly, Sherwin Williams is saying they’re not obliged to make the $1 million donation. In 2014, Frazee Paint and the Angels agreed to the paint can promotion and indeed the press release says, “…if an Angels player hits a home run that lands in the can on the fly, the company will make a $1 million donation to benefit the Foundation’s efforts to improve the lives of children in the community.” Frazee Paint is now owned by Sherwin Williams.
The first lie in the story that helps generate the false headline is, “If a player hits a ball into the can, Sherwin Williams will donate $1 million.” False. As the story itself confirms, the paint company agreed to donate the sum if a player hits a ball into the can on the fly, meaning without hitting the ground first. Also, presumably, this has to occur during a game, and not batting practice. I would assume that a player can’t stand ten feet away between innings and try to hit a ball into the can either. Or use a tennis racket to do it.
The second lie is that Sherwin Williams is using a technicality to try to get out of the obligation. Actually, the second lie is that ESPN reports that Sherwin Williams is using a technicality, because ESPN’s story, unlike NBC, is accurate. It doesn’t use the term “technicality” anywhere. Its headline is also accurate: ” Justin Upton’s homer doesn’t count for $1 million paint can promotion.”
That’s correct. The homer didn’t, and doesn’t. The ESPN story does say that the crowd applauded and cheered when the ball landed in the can, thinking the terms of the promotion had been met. What a surprise: a crowd of fans doesn’t know what’s going on. Sports reporters, however, are paid not only to know what’s going on, but to accurately explain it to the great unwashed.
After three lies, Baer (all right, if the headline is the first lie, then it’s four lies), writes, “indeed the press release says, “…if an Angels player hits a home run that lands in the can on the fly, the company will make a $1 million donation to benefit the Foundation’s efforts to improve the lives of children in the community.”
Wait, what? If that’s “indeed” what the deal was, then obviously the ball landing after it bounced into the can did not trigger the contribution. This is not a “technicality.” This is called a “material fact.” Sherwin Williams is not trying to weasel out of a commitment, as Baer claims, because it never made a commitment to donate money unless a ball, hit by a player during a game, lands in the paint can on the fly.
Try cashing in a Powerball ticket that is one digit off from the jackpot, Mr. Baer. When the official says, “But that’s not the winning number,” come back with, “Well, that’s just a technicality!”
Baer, permitted by his editors and NBC, then continues to try to make Sherwin-Williams a villain in traditional, despicable, social justice warrior fashion: The company is rich, so why didn’t it just write a check? He writes,
“According to Forbes, Sherwin Williams is worth $29.2 billion, ranking at 724 on the Global 2000. One would imagine ponying up the relatively minuscule sum of $1 million would be worth it rather than taking the P.R. hit from the dozens of articles that have been and will continue to be written about the company’s pedantry over a charitable donation to needy children.”
Are there other equally dishonest articles, or is Baer trying to prompt them? ESPN’s piece wasn’t about “pedantry,” and the company insisting that the terms of a commitment involving a million dollars be met as agreed isn’t “pedantry.” It is law. It is fairness. It is common sense. Baer, an evident ignoramus, thinks the standard for meeting a specific written term is “close enough for horseshoes.”
Well, he’s called a reporter in his contract, so I can see his confusion.
There is hope: Baer’s dishonest, rabble-rousing, so-legally-ignorant–that-it-hurts effort to extort Sherwin-Williams generated few supportive comments last I looked, though several idiots voted “thumbs down” on correct comments like, “It didn’t land in there on the fly, thus doesn’t meet the guidelines to warrant the payment. Enough said.”
[As an aside, this is why I don’t permit this feature on ethics alarms. It allows fools to proclaim their foolishness anonymously.]
The small minority seems to think that Sherwin-Williams should pay the money or a smaller amount anyway for PR safety (due to threat to ist image created by the lies of idiots like Baer), because, as one comment put it, “it’s not like major corporations ever pay out huge sums of money for outrageous crap before.” Everybody does it! That same fatuous commenter also invokes another rationalization, “It’s for a good cause.” Another ethically-challenged individual writes (and got a lot of “thumbs up”), “when it’s a charity, they probably should have announced that while the conditions for the payout were not met, they’re going to donate a smaller sum because of Upton’s home run.” That’s an ethics chess fail. Sherwin-Williams allowing itself to be mau-maued into paying a significant sum because hacks like Baer intentionally misrepresented what occurred guarantees that companies end such promotions for their own protection.
I think NBC is obligated to donate the one million.
Right after it fires Bill Baer, his editor, and the headline writer.