Presenting Two (Terrific) Baseball Ethics Comments Of The Day By Slickwilly

I apologize for combining these two deserving comments into a single post, but the baseball season is over, and as much as I try to make the case that readers who are tragically immune to baseball’s charms should still read and ponder the ethics posts this most ethically complex of sports inspires, most don’t, and I also have a backlog of Comments of the Day that feels like a 400 lb monkey on my back.

First is Slickwilly’s Comment of the Day on the Halloween post, Unfinished World Series Ethics Business. He is discussing this iconic moment, when a crippled Kirk Gibson limped to the plate as a pinch-hitter against the best closer in the game at teh time, Dennis Eckersley:

Used a clip from one of your posts to teach my kids last night: Game 1 of 1988 World Series last at bat.

The mental aspect of Baseball was NEVER more apparent than in that at bat. The names and teams are irrelevant. Dangerous runner at first as the tying run, two outs, bottom of the ninth inning. Crippled power hitter is substituted to bat for the bottom of the lineout, in hopes of a base hit.

Pitcher, a professional at the top of his game, has not allowed a home run since late August: a powerful matchup indeed!

First two pitches are fouled away. Pitcher starts messing with the batter by throwing to first (where there was no chance of an out.) Two more foul balls and the count is still 0-2. Pitcher continues to throw to first, where the runner is taking progressively larger leads.

Batter hits almost a bunt down the first base line: foul. However, we see how badly the batter is hurt: he is almost limping and could never reach first base on an infield hit. Indeed, he is so banged up he did not take the field during the warm ups: a sign that the manager never expected to play him. (One suspects that a pinch runner would be used, should a base hit occur.)

The mental game continues with the pitcher, way ahead in the count, throwing hard-to-hit pitches in an attempt to make the batter strike out. The batter gets a hold of a pitch: foul ball. Pitcher throws outside again. Now the count is 2-2. More throws to first, and the runner is a legitimate threat to steal second as the count evens up.

The pitcher throws way outside, and the runner steals second, getting into scoring position. Now the count is 3-2, and the advantage goes to the batter: a base hit can tie the game!

The batter hands some of the crap back to the pitcher: calls time out just as the pitcher has his mental focus for the deciding pitch. The batter takes his stance, and HIS focus is unshaken: you can see it in his stance, how he holds his head, how he holds his bat, everything. This man suddenly exudes confidence, and the pitcher can see it. Everyone in the ballpark can see it!

Sometimes, in Baseball, a thing is meant to be. I cannot explain it, but there are moments where you know you are about to see greatness, where all of the little factors are lining up to produce a great play. There is a feeling in the air at such times, and it is palatable even on video and across decades of time. For those who worship at the altar of Baseball, these are the moments that make the game great.

Pitcher throws a low slider (betting on a junk pitch!) and as a result, hangs out what Baseball fans affectionately call ‘red meat’ for the batter, who gets EVERY BIT OF THAT PITCH AND SENDS IT ON A TOUR OF THE RIGHT FIELD BLEACHERS!

The second of Slickwilly’s CsOTD came in response to Question: You Are Offered 300 Million Dollars To Do What You Want To Do Where You Say You Want To Do It For The Next Ten Years. Why Would You Say, “No”?

Again, the ethics issues involved are not restricted to baseball, and if you don’t read his excellent commentary, you will be the worse for it.

Question: You Are Offered 300 Million Dollars To Do What You Want To Do Where You Say You Want To Do It For The Next Ten Years…

First, let me address the situation at hand: Harper IS an idiot, for all the reasons stated.

Additionally, the man has no idea what truly makes a person happy. Fulfilling relationships is a big part, with parents, friends, and family. Health contributes, and is often not recognized until it fails. Faith in something (some say ‘anything!’) plays a big role. For some, children can contribute (and can poison happiness as well.) Personal satisfaction in a job well done. Working at something you have a passion for. The Red Sox winning the Series works for certain individuals. Keeping things in perspective (not being angry all the time) is another contributor. None of these can be bought with the last thing providing happiness: money. Money can alleviate certain pressures, but after that, is no indicator of a happy life. Maybe one day Harper will figure that out: many never do.

Now, to the implied question: what would you do with far more money than you and your heirs will ever need?

Material needs and wants will be taken care of. Pursuit of the dollar will become a hobby, not a pressing need. Money does not bring happiness, I have been told, but it CAN rent it for a while. Initially, perhaps a vacation for my family, assorted friends, and the odd theater troop or two.

My pastor will be really happy: I tithe. My church could use a parking garage… or a water park. 🙂 All kidding aside, I would set up a foundation to distribute that tithe (and maybe more?) and make a difference in our little corner of this planet.

My kids could pick a college, contingent on it being Texas A&M. Wait, that is the rule NOW. In any case, their education would be funded.

Of course, I would likely quit my job: managing that amount of cash would require a LOT of attention. I would find something I am passionate about to work at: perhaps a home dedicated to the care of indignant cats? 🙂

What I will not be, in all likelihood, is more happy. Such is the nature of mankind: there will always be problems to overcome, issues to resolve, and setbacks to endure. People will still die. Sicknesses will still exist. Politics will still be the mess they have always been. My current little city will still be run by unelected self important morons. McDonalds will still bring back the McRib only for limited engagements. Such is life.

Money is a tool, not an end unto itself. Like any tool, the ethics lie in how it is used. An unethical person will act the same way when rich: they will just be more damaging to those around them. An ethical person can remain so, but the temptations will be much worse. “With great power comes great…” you get the idea.

Happiness lies within each person. It is a decision, a way of looking at life, and a choice. Circumstances can hinder it, but one has to allow them to overcome it. YOU set your ‘altitude.’

This may be the single most important lesson in this life.


12 thoughts on “Presenting Two (Terrific) Baseball Ethics Comments Of The Day By Slickwilly

  1. Slick said:
    “Happiness lies within each person. It is a decision, a way of looking at life, and a choice. Circumstances can hinder it, but one has to allow them to overcome it. YOU set your ‘altitude.’

    This may be the single most important lesson in this life.”

    Happiness has been a difficult commodity for me, for roughly the last year and a bit. One of the things my late wife and I discussed after her negative prognosis was my happiness. I told her bluntly that life without her was NOT going to be happy. After a year and some, I am finding that I can, in fact, be happy, with Great-grandchildren, grand children and three sons, all contributing to my life in one way or another, younger friends “checking up on me” from time to time it’s hard Not to be happy. Even when some of those friends are via electronics, slick. As you said, I set my attitude.

    • Life and lemons would be a trite reply, did, but out adversities run deeper than that. Remember you are going home by the long way around, and that there are those who care about you.

      It keeps me going even though circumstances suck and have for almost 3 years 😐

      • The thing that keeps me going is that at the end of this road, however long it might be, I get to put everything down and just sleep.

  2. Thanks for posting the vid of Gibson’s AB with Eck. Living down in The Swamp you may not be as familiar with the fact that Eckersley has turned into a good-bordering-on-brilliant color man for NESN’s regular Red Sox broadcasts. It’s not quite the glory days of Orsillo and Rem-Dawg, but Eck is really, really good at explaining the dynamics of pitching, both offensively and defensively. And he does it with respect and kindness, It’s great stuff.

    • What? I don’t think I missed more than five NESN broadcasts all year, and Eck is, as you say, fun, informative, and generally brilliant. When he and Remy are both in the booth, it’s probably the best three man booth chemistry I have ever seen in any sport. OB is not quite up to Orsillo (too much “scampers” and other repetitive descriptions) but he’s good. Jonny Gomes and Lyons are another issue entirely…

  3. The mental aspect of Baseball was NEVER more apparent than in a written description – a veritable script – of a suspenseful piece of color commentary, especially on radio. Like the best announcers, your love for the game couldn’t be clearer. Thanks for the experience, slick.

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