Friday Evening Ethics Gallimaufry, 7/17/2020: SCOTUS, Di Blasio’s Delusion, And DiMaggio’s Luck

Speaking of gallimaufry, “A Heavy Dragoon” is one of the best Gilbert and Sullivan “list” songs, but you seldom hear it. Erudite is the listener who can identify all the historical figured named! The song is from “Patience,” the firs show I ever directed, and still one of my favorites. The singer in the clip above, Darrell Fancourt, played the part of the Mikado more times than anyone, and even dropped dead while playing the role.

1. In baseball history, it’s Moral Luck Day. On July 17, 1941, New York Yankees center fielder Joe DiMaggio didn’t get a hit against the Cleveland Indians, in great part due to a pait of great plays by Cleveland third baseman Ken Keltner, finally ending his historic 56-game hitting streak, the longest in MLB history then and now. Largely on the basis of the streak, though it helped that the Yankees won the pennant, DiMaggio was awarded the American League MVP award, despite the fact that Boston’s Ted Williams hit .406 that season, nearly 50 points higher than DiMaggio. In fact, Williams outhit the Yankee during the same 56-game period.

The end of The Yankee Clipper’s amazing streak was luck, and the streak itself was luck. All hitting streaks are. Baseball is the  sport most governed by random chance, especially hitting: a well-hit ball can become an out if it happens to be hit within a fielder’s reach, and a ball barely touched by the bat can dribble down the  baseline for a cheap hit. DiMaggio was undeniably a great hitter, but many players in baseball history were better; he just was lucky—good, but lucky—for a longer stretch of games than anyone else. Yet of all his many achievements, the 56 game streak in 1941 is the first thing baseball fans cite when assessing  the greatness of Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio.

2. It isn’t what it is! Yesterday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said that releasing prisoners onto the city’s streets to avoid their infection by the Wuhan virus  in jail had made New York City safer, saying, “We now have fewer people in our jails than any time since World War II and we are safer for it and better for it.”  De Blasio’s office announced  that more than 1,500 inmates had been released from city jails in three weeks, reducing the number of prisoners to its lowest level in 70 years.

The problem is that his assertion is ludicrous. De Blasio’s boast that the prisoner release made the city safer defied  the evidence of the results of the prisoner release the NYC Bail reform law required in January 2020. Of those who committed felonies that were no longer eligible for bail, 19.5% were re-arrested at least once after an initial non-bail eligible felony arrest, 1,798 of 9,227 individuals were re-arrested. 2020 recidivism resulted in 1,452  major crime arrests (murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny, and grand larceny of a vehicle) vs. 681 in 2019. Meanwhile,  shootings in the city were up 205% in June  compared to a year earlier.

3. Gee, that means Supreme Court made Florida follow its own Constitution! I’m sorry for the sarcasm, but the criticism of this decision as driven by partisanship is intellectually dishonest, so the Trump Deranged on social media are binging on it.

Yesterday, the Court  let stand a lower court ruling that up to 1 million Florida felons who  completed their sentences but have yet to pay outstanding fines, restitution and other fees were not eligible to vote. In an unsigned 5-4 opinion with the conservative justices voting together, SCOTUS declined to revisit a federal appeals court ruling that permits Florida to stop felons with outstanding court-imposed debts from registering to vote as next week’s July 20 primary election registration deadline approaches.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan dissented.

The dispute concerns the 2018 amendment to Florida’s constitution that restored voting rights to those with felony convictions if they had completed “all terms” of their sentences.

The Florida’s legislature and highest court interpret the amendment as requiring payment of all court-imposed fines and costs before voting eligibility is restored. In May, a federal trial court invalidated the payment requirement, ruling that it was unlawful to prohibit voting access based on indigence. But on July 1, just over two weeks before the voter-registration deadline, the Atlanta-based Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit agreed to halt the lower court ruling pending a full appeal. The decision effectively makes it illegal for court-indebted felons to register to vote or cast ballots.

Progressives and Democrats are whining that the decision essentially imposes a poll tax, which would be unconstitutional. Garbage.  A fine in connection with a felony conviction is not a tax by any definition of the word. Fines are imposed by judges, in sentencing, as part of the sentence. They aren’t taxes. If the authors of the Florida amendment wanted the law to allow convicted felons to vote after serving their prison terms with no other requirements, they should have, and would have, written it that way. The five conservatives made their ruling based on the law; it was the four liberals who were guided by partisanship.

The decision should have been 9-0.  It’s too bad that all those convicts won’t have a chance to vote for Joe Biden, but the law is the law.

4. Uh, transparency?  From the New York Times:

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most prominent member of the Supreme Court’s liberal minority, said Friday that she has had a recurrence of cancer, causing a wave of anxiety among Democrats that was not completely assuaged by her assurance that she was undergoing chemotherapy, with “positive results,” and would remain on the Supreme Court….She said that the lesions on her liver had been detected in February and had been reduced by the chemotherapy. “Satisfied that my treatment course is now clear,” she said  “I am providing this information.”

She said she planned to continue biweekly chemotherapy sessions and maintain an active daily routine. “Throughout, I have kept up with opinion writing and all other court work,” she said.”

Wait…so Justice Ginsburg’s pancreatic/liver/colon cancer returned in February, six months ago, and the 87-year-old justice has been secretly undergoing chemotherapy, all while  letting the public think she was in relatively good health and fully able to complete the demanding duties of her job. Great.

Ginsburg has been unethical to remain on the bench in her advanced years and state of health. Her purely political, and unprofessional, determination to stay on the Court as long as a Republican is President is indefensible, a betrayal of the public, the law and the Court.

12 thoughts on “Friday Evening Ethics Gallimaufry, 7/17/2020: SCOTUS, Di Blasio’s Delusion, And DiMaggio’s Luck

  1. 1. I don’t recall if it’s true, so correct me if I’m wrong.

    Ted Williams went into the final day of the season facing a double-header with a batting average of exactly .400. Given the opportunity by his coach to sit the two games and maintain his average, Williams refused and took the field. He finished the day with six hits and his .406 average.

    I’m not sure it would have been unethical to ride the pine, but it’s awesome that he put that magical number on the line for the game.

    • Actually, he was at .3997, which would have been rounded up to .400. But he would have done the same thing at .400. Ted was an unusual man,with obsessive integrity and lots of ethical blind spots.

    • Not so oddly in Ted’s case. He led the AL in walks, as he usually did. He never had 200 hits in a season, either, but he had the highest on-base % in MLB history, at .481, ahead of Babe Ruth.

      Joe was 63rd.

      Ted holds the record for consecutive hits.

  2. 1. I am expecting that in this year’s short season, at least one player will bat 400 or higher in, say, 180 at-bats – who that will be, I won’t even guess.

  3. 1. Missing out on that 57th cost Joe since Heinz Company had in place a deal to advertise Their 57 brands using Joe. DiMaggio picked up a walk in that game and then hit in another 17 games for an on-base streak of 74 games. Only TSW (84) has the record. DiMaggio was not new to hitting streaks having a 61 game one in the Pacific Coast League. Red Sox record for consecutive games? Joe’s brother Dom at 34.

    2. Every year we make one or two treks to NYC for Broadway Shows. In the 1970s the city and especially everything in the vicinity of 42nd Street was a s**thole. That dramatically changed and now I expect a full back to the future. We will go to Broadway in Boston or the community theater.

    • Re: #1…I’ve always found Dom D’s streak and Sox record one of the more fascinating coincidences. He was a fine hitter, but the Sox, of course, had better ones, and a lot of batting champions, notably Wade Boggs. There couldn’t possibly have been something in DiMaggio DNA that made streaks more likely, but still…

      • I wonder what brother Vince had for his longest streak? The DiMaggio DNA – Vince six times led the league in whiffs – quite an accomplishment for a ten-year career. And Joe? Joe whiffed 369 times in his career and hit 361 home runs! And Dom was damn good at getting the bat on the ball and not taking the walk of shame.

  4. 3 and 4. What’s your take on Ruth Bader Ginsberg? I’m beginning to consider her little more than a knee-jerk lefty hack in the Sonia Sotomayor category.

  5. “Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan dissented.”

    Their official dissent read, “It’s not fair that they can’t vote just because they don’t play by all your stuck up rules! You don’t understand them like I do! Deep down they’re sweet and nice and they always treat me good and they said they’d love me forever! Like you’d even know what true love is! I hate you, Dad!

  6. 1. The streak may have been moral luck, but sometimes, how someone deals with that luck can say a lot about their character.

    In 1987, Paul Molitor was making a run at DiMaggio’s streak. He’d reached 39 games, and was on-deck, hitless (he’d gotten on base at least once due to a dubious ruling of “error” by an official scorer –

    He watched as Rick Manning got the walk-off hit to win the game for the Brewers – and got booed for it. Molitor was the first person to congratulate Manning for the hit, and Mike Felder for scoring the winning run (Fox Sports Wisconsin has the footage of that).

    Can’t ask for a better example of what being a good teammate is all about.

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