Saturday Afternoon Ethics Coolers, 6/26/2021: Bad Baserunning And Bad Laws


1. Professional incompetence, Baseball Division. ESPN had a long article by a former player about how the base-running skills of modern players had declined to a such a degree that he couldn’t stand watching games. I hadn’t thought about it much, since there have always been notable players who made repeated gaffes on the basepaths, and I assumed this was another of those, “In my day, we played the game right!” lectures from leathery old codgers. Then I started paying attention, and he was right: a shocking number of players don’t know the rules of the game they are payed eight figures to play. It really is amazing: players don’t understand how the infield fly rule works. They even get confused about whether they need to get tagged out or if the fielder just needs to tag the base in a force-out.

Last week, in a game with the Tampa Bay Rays, the Boston Red Sox got a break when a Rays player, thinking a fly ball out would be a hit, ran from first base past second, and then had to dash back to first so as not to be thrown out by the outfielder. The throw into the infield was wide, and the player made it back safely. But the Red Sox threw the ball over to second base, and the runner was out. Why? Because a player who runs past a base and then has to return to the original base is required to tag the second base on the way back. They used to teach this in Little League; my friends and I observed it in sandlot ball.

The Red Sox announcers thought the mistake was hilarious. Then a few innings later, young Red Sox superstar Rafael Devers did the same thing! Worse, no one on the Rays caught it, and he returned safely to first base.

2. I see no possibility that this unethical program will be be ruled constitutional. “You Can Feel the Tension’: A Windfall for Minority Farmers Divides Rural America,” reads the New York Times story from last month about the Biden Administration’s $4 billion fund that black farmers can access but not white farmers. Gee, why would a lot of money that will be distributed to members of one race and not another cause division?

“A $4 billion federal fund meant to confront how racial injustice has shaped American farming has angered white farmers who say they are being unfairly excluded,” reads the cut-line. You see the framing there? This is one of the many, many ways the news isn’t delivered straight: the “good intentions” of the law preceded the facts about the law, and thus slants the perception of it. “The debt relief is redress set aside for what the government calls socially disadvantaged farmers — Black, Hispanic, Indigenous and other nonwhite workers who have endured a long history of discrimination, from violence and land theft in the Jim Crow South to banks and federal farm offices that refused them loans or government benefits that went to white farmers,” the story goes on. Wait a minute: were these farmers the victims of that “long history” of discrimination? No, they weren’t and they don’t need to show any discrimination or mistreatment against them personally at all to get their money. Skin color or racial identification is enough.

I guess it’s to be expected for black farmers to love the idea. “Getting his government loan paid off now could change everything,” the Times writes of one enthusiastic black farmer. “He said he could pay down other loans on his livestock. Expand the patchwork of fields he owns to compete against established farmers. Get financing to build a home so he and his wife can escape their one-bedroom apartment.” You know, I’d love loan forgiveness too, but if a program was announced that would give me money while excluding blacks in exactly my position, I’d have to oppose it.

“It’s a bunch of crap,” a white farmer told the Times reporter. “They talk about they want to get rid of discrimination. But they’re not even thinking about the fact that they’re discriminating against us.”

Of course the white farmers have sued—the Times blames the opposition on “conservative groups,” but again, I don’t understand why there are no liberal groups with integrity that can see that this law is wrong. Two days ago, Judge William Griesbach of Wisconsin’s Eastern District sided with the plaintiffs and issued a temporary restraining order on the program. It is going to be struck down; it has to be. It is irresponsible for the Democrats to try to sneak such a discriminatory program by the Courts, and demonstrates bad faith and contempt for Equal Protection.

This and similarly anti-white laws and policies are going to create a white civil rights movement that will not be derailed by accusations that it is “white supremacy.”

3. And one more progressive attack on basic rights is shot down. In California, union activists had the right to trespass on a business owner’s private property. The Supreme Court just rejected that law as unconstitutional, and it clearly was, although the Court’s three liberals tried to come up with some way to allow it. This did not reflect well on them.

A California state law mandated that union activists be allowed on private property up to 3 hours a day, 120 days a year. The owner of a strawberry farm couldn’t make the activists leave his property, though he showed that they disrupted his business. His lawsuit made it all the way to the Supreme Court, and in a 6-3 ruling last week, the SCOTUS majority struck down the California law as a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of Americans’ property rights. Among its other provisions, the Fifth Amendment declares that the government cannot take citizens’ property without providing them adequate compensation.

“The right to exclude is ‘a fundamental element of the property right’,’” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion. Central to our property rights is the ability to remove people from our property. Imagine a law that said that Black Lives Matter could come into your home and yell at you—in the pursuit of racial reckoning, of course— and you had no right to make them leave. 

By restricting business owners’ rights to exclude people from their property without providing fair compensation, the California government violated the Constitution. This should have been a unanimous decision, but Justices Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor babbled that this regulation doesn’t really count as a “taking” of property, because the state wasn’t literally taking it away. Such a narrow and limited view of property rights contradicts the Founders’ vision and would negate landowners’ fundamental rights. It’s ominous that they would stoop to such an argument.

The decision is here.

3 thoughts on “Saturday Afternoon Ethics Coolers, 6/26/2021: Bad Baserunning And Bad Laws

  1. 1. I believe it is up to the coaches and the athletes themselves to make sure that all those in the team know the rules. Any team that does not know the rules is incompetent and asking to lose.
    The sport I am involved in is track and field. A few years ago I did a jumps course followed by an exam where eight of those on the course were pole vaulters. So now there is a group of athletes who should be less likely to make a mistake which may result in a vault being ruled a foul, or know that if another vaulter breaks a rule that is not ruled against, then they know to appeal.
    I wish more coaches and athletes would take the courses and become more competent.

  2. From the dissent: “In my view, the majority’s conclusion threatens to make many ordinaryforms of regulation unusually complex or impractical.” I see that as a good thing. I’m not wholly convinced the dissent is wrong about the existing case law at first glance, but I would embrace the idea that existing case law is wrong. It claims that it’s not a permanent taking, but as the permission at hand is a brief period every single day, it is at the very least a persistent one.rather than temporary.

  3. What Robert’s should have said is “This law would allow white supremecists, under guise of a pro-white workers union, to enter black businesses and disrupt them for 3 hrs/day for 120 days/year.”

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