Ethics Heat, 5/21/2022: RIP Roger Angell, And More

New Yorker essayist Roger Angell has died at 101, and what a writer he was! Baseball was one of his special passions, and I seldom missed any of his perfect gems of sports reporting and philosophy. My favorite, as you might guess, was his account of the famous Game Six of the 1975 World Series between the Red Sox and the Reds—the game where Carlton Fisk waved his winning home run fair in a TV sequence that changed how they broadcast baseball. I was there that night with my father, thanks to the good luck of having two law school classmates who were sons of the Cincinnati Reds president. The experience remains one of the top two or three joyful moments of my life.

In tribute to Angell, here is his November 1975 account of that game, “Agincourt and After,” expressing perfectly at the end an aspect of the ethical value of caring that is too often overlooked:

The Sox, it will be recalled, nearly won it right away, when they loaded the bases in the ninth with none out, but an ill-advised dash home by Denny Doyle after a fly, and a cool, perfect peg to the plate by George Foster, snipped the chance. The balance of the game now swung back, as it so often does when opportunities are wasted. Drago pitched out of a jam in the tenth, but he flicked Pete Rose’s uniform with a pitch to start the eleventh. Griffey bunted, and Fisk snatched up the ball and, risking all, fired to second for the force on Rose. Morgan was next, and I had very little hope left. He struck a drive on a quick, deadly rising line – you could still hear the loud whock! in the stands as the white blur went out over the infield – and for a moment I thought the ball would land ten or fifteen rows back in the right-field bleachers.
 
But it wasn’t hit quite that hard – it was traveling too fast, and there was no sail to it – and Dwight Evans, sprinting backward and watching the flight of it over his shoulder, made a last-second, half-staggering turn to his left, almost facing away from the plate at the end, and pulled the ball in over his head at the fence. The great catch made for two outs in the end, for Griffey had never stopped running and was easily doubled off first.
 
And so the swing of things was won back again. Carlton Fisk, leading off the bottom of the twelfth against Pat Darcy, the eighth Reds pitcher of the night – it was well into morning now, in fact – socked the second pitch up and out, farther and farther into the darkness above the lights, and when it came down at last, reilluminated, it struck the topmost, innermost edge of the screen inside the yellow left-field foul pole and glanced sharply down and bounced on the grass: a fair ball, fair all the way. I was watching the ball, of course, so I missed what everyone on television saw – Fisk waving wildly, weaving and writhing and gyrating along the first-base line, as he wished the ball fair, forced it fair with his entire body.
 
He circled the bases in triumph, in sudden company with several hundred fans, and jumped on home plate with both feet, and John Kiley, the Fenway Park organist, played Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” fortissimo, and then followed with other appropriately exuberant classical selections, and for the second time that evening I suddenly remembered all my old absent and distant Sox-afflicted friends (and all the other Red Sox fans, all over New England), and I thought of them – in Brookline, Mass., and Brooklin, Maine; in Beverly Farms and Mashpee and Presque Isle and North Conway and Damariscotta; in Pomfret, Connecticut, and Pomfret, Vermont; in Wayland and Providence and Revere and Nashua, and in both the Concords and all five Manchesters, and in Raymond, New Hampshire (where Carlton Fisk lives), and Bellows Falls, Vermont (where Carlton Fisk was born), and I saw all of them dancing and shouting and kissing and leaping about like the fans at Fenway – jumping up and down in their bedrooms and kitchens and living rooms, and in bars and trailers, and even in some boats here and there, I suppose, and on back-country roads (a lone driver getting the news over the radio and blowing his horn over and over, and finally pulling up and getting out and leaping up and down on the cold macadam, yelling into the night), and all of them, for once at least, utterly joyful and believing in that joy – alight with it.
 
It should be added, of course, that very much the same sort of celebration probably took place the following night in the midlands towns and vicinities of the Reds’ supporters – in Otterbein and Scioto; in Frankfort, Sardinia, and Summer Shade; in Zanesville and Louisville and Akron and French Lick and Loveland. I am not enough of a social geographer to know if the faith of the Red Sox is deeper or hardier than that of a Reds rooter (although I secretly believe that it may be, because of his longer and more bitter disappointments down the years). What I do know is that this belonging and caring is what our games are all about; this is what we come for.
 
It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look – I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring – caring deeply and passionately, really caring – which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete – the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the hap hazardous flight of a distant ball – seems a small price to pay for such a gift.
 
1. Yes, I am a weenie. I happened to be chatting with our next door neighbor of 42 years, a wonderful person about a decade older than I, as our dogs tried to keep cool in the shade. Some tangent led her to exclaim that she was so sick of hearing “right to lifers” talking about abortion when they “weren’t doing anything about gun control.” “They don’t care about all these kids getting shot in schools, but pretend to be concerned about abortion. Why aren’t they out protesting about guns?,” she said.
 
What do you say to an 80-year-old long-time friend, someone who is smart and generally well-informed (and a lifetime Democrat) who makes a comment like that? A statement like that in the comments here would provoke some combination of these observations:
  • The two issues are completely unrelated.
  • The Second Amendment creates a right in the text of the Constitution. The right will be abused, like all rights. No “gun control” will stop those who will abuse the right from doing it, often with deadly consequences. Law abiding citizens should not forfeit their rights because the nation’s criminals, sociopaths and nutjobs abuse them.
  • There was never a Constitution-based right to abortion.
  • Protesting a SCOTUS decision or an enumerated constitutional right is useless and pointless.
  • As for her claims that nobody needs “all these guns” if they aren’t using them to hunt, the response is: Neither you nor the government have any business telling anyone else what they “need.” The Second Amendment says that individuals get to decide what they “need.”

But I didn’t say any of these things. I changed the subject.

2. How did a hospital think it would get away with this? Lisa Melody French needed back surgery as the result of a car accident. The Denver area hospital  reviewed her insurance information and told her she would be personally responsible for paying about $1,337. After the surgery, though, the hospital said that it had “misread” her insurance card and that, as an out-of-network patient, Centura Health, which operates the hospital, was billing her $229,112.13.  Centura sued her when she didn’t pay.

I don’t understand why this suit wasn’t tossed out immediately. The patient relied on the hospital’s representation. This is a classic “bait and switch.” Nonetheless the litigation dragged on for a year, despite the fact that the hospital couldn’t even justify its claimed costs. The Colorado Supreme Court, courts, however, eventually sided with French, ruling unanimously that she had no way of knowing what she had agreed to pay when she consented to the surgery.

3. A national memorial to the Wuhan virus?  Uh-uh. “Despite a landmark toll from Covid, there is still no U.S. memorial to the dead,” whines a New York Times headline. What is this? Virtue signalling? More pandemic fear-mongering? An unquenchable need to spend more money we don’t have? There is no memorial to the dead of the Spanish flu, and why should there be? The current death toll being measured for commemoration is almost certainly inflated anyway. The whole concept sounds politically motivated to me. Kristin Urquiza, an activist (we are told) says that a permanent national memorial to the pandemic is essential, and that there is a “need for us as a country to have our President set the tone, bring us together as a nation to really commemorate this moment.” Because he does those things so well?  We have no memorials to the more than a million people who died from alcohol in 2020, about 100,000, about 20,000 due to the lockdown. There is no memorial to tobacco-related deaths either, or, come to think of it, the 63,000,000 unborn who have been aborted sine Roe v. Wade.

When the U.S. is ready to firmly, clearly and openly assign responsibility for the pandemic to China, and say so on a memorial, then there will be a valid reason for one.

4. Here’s another one of those stories I expect the mainstream news media to bury. The 55 page independent report released yesterday regarding the National School Board Association’s infamous letter to White House asking for the government to protect school boards from “domestic terrorists,” defined as angry parents who opposed Critical Race Theory-style course instruction and pro-trans indoctrination in public schools indicates that the Biden White House coordinated the effort to intimidate parents and smother dissent via the public letter, with the organization being assured, “We have your back.” The letter backfired spectacularly, causing many school districts to pull out of the NSBA, and the NSBA to eventually apologize for the language used.

As for the White House, this was just one more example of the ongoing effort to demonize opposition, in this case, the valid objections to ideological indoctrination in the schools.

5. We haven’t looked in on the Times’ racist columnist Charles Blow for a while. Report: he’s not getting better. In his latest screed, Blow laments that the George Floyd Freakout is fading:

In the end, transformative national change proved to be an illusion. Inflation, a war in Ukraine, public safety, abortion and even a baby formula crisis have overtaken the zeitgeist. Support for Black Lives Matter has diminished. Federal police reform and federal voter protection both failed to pass the Senate. And the founders of Black Lives Matter have been drawn into controversies about how they handled its money….Passions flare and subside; power endures. Like the art, broad-based, transracial interest and energy to support the Black Lives Matter movement are fading.

Good.

Nowhere near fast enough, however.

15 thoughts on “Ethics Heat, 5/21/2022: RIP Roger Angell, And More

  1. During lunch together yesterday, OB Junior referred to Putin as the cause the current gasoline prices. I should have said something along the lines of “Come on. You’re smarter than that. You’ve been hornswoggled by a Dem party talking point/misinformation campaign. And how’s that ‘Trump is Pitin’s cock holster’ thing working out for you in the Sussman trial?” But I didn’t. He’d have immediately erupted into a Bernie Sanders caliber tirade against “gouging” oil companies and Trump, and I had some family matters I wanted to bring him up to speed on. Really depressing.

    • Why is it so hard to confront these people and humiliate them with their words?

      My longbtime Usenet ally, Christopher Charkles Morton, loved online debates, and enjoyed “humiliat[ing] them with their own contradictions”. he had been doing that for at least thirty years.

      You could have had fun humiliating OB Junior.

  2. 1.) Your response (change the subject) was the best possible. Once someone makes it beyond a certain age they’ve earned the right, in my eyes, to say whatever they want (in the political realm) without argument.

    If your neighbor is anything like my relatives, by arguing, you would have just become another “racist, conspiracy-mongering, psychotic Trump supporter” to be avoided.

  3. Meh, I’m going to wait for the monkey pox memorial. They could do it on the cheap, too. Just move THESE up to New York, and place them surrounding “Proud Girl”.

  4. But I didn’t say any of these things. I changed the subject.

    Yes, that was an act of cowardice.

    As for her claims that nobody needs “all these guns” if they aren’t using them to hunt, the response is: Neither you nor the government have any business telling anyone else what they “need.” The Second Amendment says that individuals get to decide what they “need.”

    Also ask where whom the Secret Service hunts.

    Ask her if she ever heard of John Kass.

    Ask her is she knows about mass incarceration in the U.S.

    Ask her if she agrees with Elizabeth Warren, Elie Mystal, and Charles M. Blow that the criminal justice system is racist.

    My longtime Usenet ally, Christopher Charles Morton, had been eviscerating these kind of arguiments online for thirty years!

    I don’t understand why this suit wasn’t tossed out immediately. The patient relied on the hospital’s representation. This is a classic “bait and switch.” Nonetheless the litigation dragged on for a year, despite the fact that the hospital couldn’t even justify its claimed costs. The Colorado Supreme Court, courts, however, eventually sided with French, ruling unanimously that she had no way of knowing what she had agreed to pay when she consented to the surgery.

    It is moral luck that the hospital so far managed to avoid doping this to a person willing to go to more extreme methods.

    . Kristin Urquiza, an activist (we are told) says that a permanent national memorial to the pandemic is essential, and that there is a “need for us as a country to have our President set the tone, bring us together as a nation to really commemorate this moment.”

    More died under FJB’s watch.

    When does Blow face consequences for his words?

    When does Cullors face consequences for her words?

    When does Hannah-Jones face consequences for her words?

  5. 1. The shooter himself stated one of his purposes was to increase civil unrest by increasing the legal pressure on gun ownership. He also picked a location specifically where citizens were crippled by local gun laws.

    I guess your neighbor both wants him to achieve his secondary goal and also make it easier for those like him in the future to repeat the lunacy.

    A gun blog I follow also poses a “just one question” challenge, ask the person if they can identify any instance in history where the average citizen was made safer by restricting personal access to weapons. This has the flaws of the person needing to know history and make deductive reasoning though.

  6. 1. Being close to 80 myself, I know the elderly have a lot of wisdom, so, you might have continued the conversation to draw out her views in more detail.
    Acknowledge that many on the right-to-life bandwagon don’t speak out about gun control. Mention that it is possible they see the problem not as one of gun control, but one of violence control. State that the school shootings and, more importantly, the much more prevalent inner city killings that are on the increase again, are really a violence problem. Despite the fact that we do have a lot of gun control, the killings go on.
    Ask her, ‘But, what is it that contributes to such a willingness to kill?’
    Both abortion and gun killings end a human life, so that it may be that the real problem to be addressed is that human life is not respected as it should be, and maybe that is what we should encourage. But, you might say, ‘I’m afraid those who support abortion rights would see this issue differently.’
    That nice elderly lady might not see abortion as ending a human life, so, the question then is when does human life begin? Without agreement on that, we have no hope of a consensus on abortion rights.

    • What are the chances of even me changing someone’s mind who makes an illogical leap like that? In the absence of that, what is accomplished, other than a dive down the cognitive dissonance scale? Wisdom can’t compensate for ignorance. There is no nexus between gun control and abortion. It’s like the claim that it is hypocritical to back capital punishment (for murderers) but oppose abortion. How do you debate someone who even thinks that’s a logical argument? Making the case that unlimited abortion is unethical and destructive has value, because the policy is subject to legislation, or should be. Protesting about “guns” is pointless, and when you ask what exactly “sensible gun control” would be, you get (and my neighbor has said this before) “banning automatic weapons” and “requiring background checks.”

      • Changing the mind of a true believer is well night impossible, but, is that what she is? Sometimes the best we can hope for with someone strongly committed to something we don’t believe in is just to give them pause, to cause them to think a bit more.
        I was thrown off a bit because you said she was smart and generally well-informed. But, someone who doesn’t understand automatic weapons or the current state of background checks is not well-informed, and she may well be the type who refuses to add to her knowledge.

        • She’s not a true believer. She’s a retired lifetime gov’t worker whose social circle revolves around family and church, who pays more attention to public matters than most Americans, but who relies on the mainstream news media for most information. Most Americans don’t know the details about gun distinctions or gun policy, and certainly the distinction between Constitutional rights, caselaw, legislation, and Court created rights like abortion nor most legal distinctions either. It’s the inch-deep knowledge that is impossible to dislodge. This is why climate change babble works. Guns are easy: we have too many guns, and too many gun deaths, so why can’t we just pass laws to stop them? Why are people determine to stop good people from getting abortions when they won’t Do something about BAD people getting guns?

          How do you delve into that in a casual conversation?

  7. 3. I’m not opposed to a COVID-19 memorial. I’m not personally as invested in (nor affected by) it, but it has been earth-shattering for many people. There are HIV/AIDS memorials put up in public spaces and I don’t begrudge the people who put those up; I’d feel the same way about a tastefully done COVID-19 memorial.

  8. 101. RIP Roger Angell. His baseball writing enthralled ever6 deity that ever was, and wised them all up to the beauty and elegance of baseball. How wonderful that you attended Game 6 of the ‘75 Series, Jack. I, then a senior in HS, watched it on tv with my best friend Larry O., a native Cincinnati-an. One of the highlights of our lives…made more indelible by Angell’s cherished prose. He was emblematic of” “the greatest generation.”

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