The Trevor Bauer Affair: “What’s Going On Here?” Unclear So Far, But It’s About Ethics

This developing ethics story comes out of baseball, and if you skip the baseball ethics stories, this one shows why that is a mistake. The erstwhile National Pastime is certainly off to a flying start this season in ethics controversies, what with the game’s bone-headed decision to get involved in race-baiting politics seeded by Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams. This new controversy has the advantage of actually being about the game on the field. It also has a marvelous jumble of factors , real and hinted: history, tradition, real rules, unwritten ruled, rationalizations, hypocrisy, persecution, tarnished heroes, and maybe revenge.

Here we go…

Trevor Bauer is a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers whose fame, reputation and salary ($34 million a year for three years) are out of proportion to his record, which stood at 75-64 as this season dawns. At 30, this is roughly the equivalent of the success achieved by such immortals as Chris Young, Ben McDonald, and Chuck Dobson, mediocrities all. But Bauer is 1) unusually articulate 2) a social media master, and 3) had his best two seasons, including winning a Cy Young Award in last year’s shortened, pseudo-season, just as he was nearing free agency. Many players and his primary team in his career, the Cleveland Indians, don’t like Bauer, and not just because opinionated players are never popular with management. He once knocked himself out a crucial post-season start by cutting a pitching hand finger playing with a drone (he loves drones). In 2019, after allowing seven runs, Bauer threw a baseball over the centerfield wall, after seeing his manager Terry Francona come out of the dugout to remove him from the game. Bauer apologized profusely, but it was the final straw, and the Indians traded him.

Bauer, among other opinions, has been among the most vocal critics (and one of the few player critics) of the Houston Astros in particular (see here), and cheating in baseball generally.

After the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, baseball cracked down on pitchers doctoring the ball with foreign substances or by marring the surface to make it do tricks. Nonetheless, that many pitchers continued to try to slip spit, or Vaseline, or slippery elm, or pine tar onto the ball has been assumed, indeed known, ever since. This year, as part of the game trying to cut down on strike-outs which have reached boring levels (baseball is more entertaining the more the ball is put in play), MLB announced that umpires would be checking the balls more carefully and regularly to ensure that the rule against doctoring the ball wasn’t being violated. Lo and Behold, the first pitcher to have his thrown baseballs collected for inspection based on suspicion of doctoring was…Trevor Bauer!

How ironic!

Part of the game’s new policy is examining Statcast spin-rate data to determine unusual upticks for individual pitchers. What does that mean? “Spin-rate,” which now van be measured via computer technology, determines how much a thrown ball moves in curves, sliders and other breaking balls, as well as fastballs. The quicker the spin-rate, the harder the ball is to hit. Bauer has tweeted and spoken about spin-rate, and how using stuff on the ball speeds it up. Coincidentally, while Bauer’s normal spin rate on his fastball was about 2,250 r.p.m. in 2018, which is the league average, his spin rate began rising by 300 r.p.m. is 2019, and rose still more last season. So did his effectiveness.

Funny.

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End Of Day Ethics, 4/7/2021: “Ick,” Ethics, And Law

And as we bid farewell to April 7 and good morning to April 8, I want to wish my wonderful, kind, talented and tolerant wife of 40 years a happy birthday. I owe everything to her.

1. Well, you can’t accuse satellite radio of being politically correct…the Comedy Legend Sirius channel is a welcome oasis in the woke era humor desert, with routines old enough to remind one what it was like when comedians only had to worry about being funny to the audience at hand—and yet there are limits. At least, there should be. Today I heard an old Louis C.K. routine about his childhood. You recall how C.K. became a #MeToo arch-villain, costing him his show, bookings, and essentially his career, don’t you? He set a new low for celebrity sexual harassment by masturbating in front of non-consenting female visitors to his hotel room, and on more than one occasion. Ick. Also sick. In the routine featured on Sirius-XM, the comedian was reminiscing, to audience hilarity, how he showed his penis to a girl with Down Syndrome when he was nine. I don’t know that I would have ever found that story funny, but hearing C.K. tell it in light of his later revealed proclivities was an experience I could have lived my whole life without having. Since it is now clear to me that whoever programs that channel can’t be trusted to apply any discretion or common sense at all, I’m not sure it is safe for me to drive with it playing…

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Ethics Observations About “How Trump Steered Supporters Into Unwitting Donations”

To imply that I am not exactly shocked is not to suggest that what the story—that headline is from the New York Times—described isn’t just as wrong as it would be if the news sent me to a cardiac ward.

But read on…

What the story describes is this…

….Facing a cash crunch and getting badly outspent by the Democrats, the [Trump] campaign had begun last September to set up recurring donations by default for online donors, for every week until the election.

Contributors had to wade through a fine-print disclaimer and manually uncheck a box to opt out.

As the election neared, the Trump team made that disclaimer increasingly opaque, an investigation by The New York Times showed. It introduced a second prechecked box, known internally as a “money bomb,” that doubled a person’s contribution. Eventually its solicitations featured lines of text in bold and capital letters that overwhelmed the opt-out language.

The tactic ensnared scores of unsuspecting Trump loyalists — retirees, military veterans, nurses and even experienced political operatives. Soon, banks and credit card companies were inundated with fraud complaints from the president’s own supporters about donations they had not intended to make, sometimes for thousands of dollars.

….In the final two and a half months of 2020, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and their shared accounts issued more than 530,000 refunds worth $64.3 million to online donors. 

Observations :

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN

“We generally do not get involved in the medical decisions of our employees. However, it is not surprising that in the earliest days of a once-in-a-century global pandemic, when Chris was showing symptoms and was concerned about possible spread, he turned to anyone he could for advice and assistance, as any human being would.”

—-CNN spokesman Matt Dornic, in a jaw-dropping defense of anchor Chris Cuomo after it was revealed that he used  his brother’s influence to “cut in line” to get Wuhan virus testing when it was unavailable to the general public.

Earlier this week, the The Albany-Times Union and The Washington Post reported yet another scandal involving New York’s Francis Ford Coppola-redolant governor, Andrew Cuomo. As if the deadly NY nursing home cover-up and the expanding sexual harassment allegations were not more than enough, we learned that…

“High-level members of the state Department of Health were directed last year by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to conduct prioritized coronavirus testing on the governor’s relatives as well as influential people with ties to the administration. Members of Cuomo’s family including his brother, his mother and at least one of his sisters were also tested by top health department officials — some several times.”

The governor, in short, manipulated state resources to ensure that his brother, CNN’s Chris Cuomo, received Wuhan virus testing when tests were scarce and generally unavailable. “The CNN anchor was swabbed by a top New York Department of Health doctor, who visited his Hamptons home to collect samples from him and his family,” WaPo reported. The test specimens from Andrew and other Cuomo family members were then rushed, in some cases driven by state police troopers to a state public health lab in Albany, where they were processed immediately. Some employees in the state health laboratory worked overtime late into the night to process the results for Cuomo family members whose roles in society, while hardly essential to New York or the public, were favored by the Governor of New York.

In particular, the CNN anchor got specialized medical attention while “media reports were full of accounts from New Yorkers desperate to get tested — including some with symptoms and recent travel history who were turned away because of scarcity.”

Glenn Greenwald neatly sums up the import of this beyond the obvious fact that this is another example of elected officials using their power and influence for personal gain:

For more than a year now, CNN’s promotion of “interviews” conducted by Chris Cuomo of his own brother — in which the CNN host repeatedly heaped lavish praise on Gov. Cuomo and even hyped him as a presidential contender while the Governor was corruptly and possibly criminally covering up COVID deaths — was one of the most glaring breaches of journalistic ethics imaginable…it aggressively deceived CNN’s audience. That they knew it was corrupt was evidenced by the CNN host’s recent announcement that he would not cover his brother’s recent scandals: what conceivable framework makes it journalistically permissible for a news host to shower his own brother with praise, but then not cover his scandals?

But now Chris Cuomo is directly involved in a serious abuse of power scandal by his brother: in fact, he’s the prime beneficiary of that scandal. He sought special medical favors from his brother, depriving other sick people more in need of it than he, by exploiting the fact that his brother is Governor and thus rules the state. That’s a scandal by any measure — one involving not only the Governor but also the CNN host.

What’s even more remarkable is that on May 6 — just weeks after Gov. Cuomo provided special COVID testing and treatment for him — Chris Cuomo “interviewed” his brother and began the interviewing by noting that New York State lacks the resources to provide COVID testing to the public at large. So not only did they conceal that they had both just used state resources to get Chris that scarce testing, but they both acknowledged that there was a resource shortage to serve the general public, even as Gov. Cuomo was lavishing those resources on his own family.

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Ethics Test For Your Progressive-Turning-Totalitarian Colleagues, Friends And Relatives

Instagram ban

Ask them about the fact that Instagram is blocking posts including the video showing President Biden falling while boarding Air Force One. Ask them if this is acceptable to them. Ask them how they would have responded if platforms had banned publication of videos of President Trump that fed antagonistic partisan beliefs and attitudes.

If they try to excuse it, rationalize it or justify it, ask them when they abandoned integrity, if they ever had it.

Ask them when they began to support the destruction of our democracy.

Ask them how they became fascists.

Added:

anti-Biden memes meme

As with the fact of Biden’s problems themselves, this isn’t a laughing matter.

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Exclamation Points, 3/16/21: Duh! Whoa! Yay! Gag! Asshole!” (Item #1)

AngryJudge

The following Comment of the Day by long, LONG time commenter Michael West is especially welcome: there’s nothing I like better than a long, erudite COTD when I feel terrible and every moment not seeping is an ordeal. For a lot of reasons, I was way behind on my usual dental care last year, and the piper must ne paid: I have two toothaches, a related sinus infection and headache, and now face three extractions next week that wish could be in the next minute. My situation is just one more fun benefit of the lockdown, drastic, sot-in-the-dark precaution that had still unmeasurable benefits and many, many costs that have still not been quantified.

But I digress. People citing the Bible as authority for dubious ethical principles or, in the case sparking the COTD, unethical conduct has always been a pet peeve of mine even before I started thinking about such matters as a career. The example abused by Don Lemon was even on the Rationalization List: #6, The Biblical Rationalizations.

As a special treat, Michael ends by taking on “Walk a mile in another man’s shoes.”

Here is his erudite Comment of the Day on the first item in the post, “Ethics Exclamation Points, 3/16/21: Duh! Whoa! Yay! Gag! Asshole!”

***

Oh look, someone who hasn’t cracked open a Bible in decades hopes to lecture Christians or Jews on Judeo-Christianity!

Here’s the whole passage from Matthew-

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

This comes from the famous Sermon on the Mount.

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From “The Rest Of The Story Files,” The Resolution Of The Great Central Park Dog-Walking Controversy, And I Don’t Like It One Bit

Amy Cooper

You might have forgotten this ethics story from last May. That would be understandable. It was momentarily big news (though it should not have been), but it occurred on the same day Derek Chauvin put his knee on George Floyd’s neck, and the George Floyd Freak-out and The Great Stupid soon descended on the land.

The verdict here—you might want to review the post—was that the villain in the story, Amy Cooper, was indeed an asshole for calling the cops on a black bird-watcher in Central Park.She did it because he told her to leash her dog (as the rules required) and began filming her defiant reaction. The other Cooper, Bird-watcher Christian, posted the video, thus severely tearing the fabric of Amy’s life for a single incident of miserable conduct. (“Take that, bitch!”) She was fired and humiliated, and New York banned her from Central Park and tried to put her in jail. Amy is also probably tarred as a racist for life, though as I argued in the post, the fact that she mistreated a black man and attempted to use his race against him doesn’t prove she’s a racist. It just proves she’s an asshole.

Christian, who did his part to blow an ultimately minor dispute into a national controversy, ultimately had second thoughts, and to his credit decided not to pursue a legal vendetta against Amy. I don’t like his rationale for this, which consisted of two rationalizations that I detest: #38 B, Excessive Accountability, or “She’s Suffered Enough,” and the awful rationalization #22, Comparative Virtue, or “There are worse things.” He told a reporter that he felt the lack of D.C. statehood was more important than punishing Amy Cooper. Oh. If there’s one thing that makes me think about D.C. statehood, it’s a rude white dogwalker having an altercation with a black bird-watcher.

I would have had no problem with prosecuting Amy Cooper for making a false complaint to the police if that law were enforced in New York as a matter of course. It isn’t, however. NYC District Attorney Cyrus Vance decided to charge Amy because of the high profile nature of the case, and to grandstand for social justice warriors, using the Minnesota white cop’s knee on black neck narrative as an opportunity. The Ethics Alarms verdict is that this was an unfair and irresponsible reason to pile on Amy, not because she didn’t deserve to be charged, but because the motive behind her charging was unethical for a prosecutor, and indeed racially biased. Vance would not have charged a black Amy under the exact same circumstances.

Now you’re caught up, so this next development can be put in context: the criminal case against Cooper was dismissed a month ago. In part because Christian Cooper declined to support her prosecution, Amy Cooper cut a plea deal that stipulated that if she completed a “therapeutic program” including instruction “about racial biases,” all charges would be dropped. She did, and they were. Amy had faced up to a year in jail if convicted, so a metaphorical gun was at her head. Learn to love Big Brother, or else.

Yecchh.

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(PSSST! Columbia! Just Because You’ve Held Segregated Graduation Ceremonies Before Doesn’t Make Holding Them Now Any Less Unethical)

Lavender graduation

The news stories yesterday in various conservative sources that Columbia University would be holding six segregated graduation ceremonies based on ethnicity, income, and sexual orientation in fealty to “multiculturalism” sounded like a Babylon Bee gag to me, except that it isn’t funny. The story also seemed to epitomize The Great Stupid in so many ways, but something stopped me from rushing to the keyboard and writing a KABOOM! story. I don’t know why: this week has had one news flash after another showing the Left has not only gone bonkers, it is no longer trying to hide it.

So I went to Columbia sources (unlike, say, Fox News) to clarify “What’s going on here?,” and part of what’s going on is that conservative media and social media are misrepresenting the story, but not what’s wrong with Columbia’s conduct. What’s wrong with the story is that it isn’t news. The University has been doing this—segregated, group-identification ceremonies— for quite a while.

I haven’t checked to see if the groups or their names have changed: in 2021, the six are called the “Latinx Graduation,” the “Black Graduation,” the “Asian Graduation,” the “FLI Graduation” (for “first-generation and/or low-income community” students), the “Native Graduation” for Native-American students, and…I kid you not… the “Lavender Graduation” for the LGBTQ students.

“Lavender Graduation’? Really? Heck, why not the “FABULOUS! Graduation”?

If this were a new disgusting and embarrassing innovation for what is supposed to be an elite educational institution, I would have designated it as the perfect embodiment of “The Great Stupid” : separating groups in the name of inclusivity, segregating groups while celebrating the diversity of the whole, returning to “separate but equal” while demanding civil rights. But it is not new, and therefore not news.

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Tit For Tat Ethics: The Anti-Biden-Pro-Trump Flags

Anti-Biden flags

Two stories about vulgar flags hanging on houses were so similar, I thought they were a single episode. In fact, they occurred in different states. It didn’t help that in both stories, the politically correct, silly and near-useless news media refused to actually reveal the facts because they might be “offensive.”

In Charlotte, North Carolina, a flag with “graphic language” directed at President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hangs in front of a home down the street from Mallard Creek Elementary School. Teachers and neighbors are upset at “the profane language and blatant disrespect for the President and Vice-President,” and complained that this was was “a terrible example” to set for kids. The house is on a street on the route for all the buses to get to the school.

What exactly is “the graphic language”? We’re supposed to guess: that’s today’s woke journalism, as in “lousy journalism.” Some comments from neighbors are also revealing. A neighbor told the local Fox affiliate, “If she’s concerned about that, then she needs to be getting on these rap songs and everything else.”

Yeah, that’s a classic deflection, in the style of a nice round, ten rationalizations, like 2.Whataboutism, or “They’re Just as Bad,”8, The Trivial Trap (“No harm no foul!”), 8A. The Dead Horse-Beater’s Dodge, or “This can’t make things any worse,” 16., The Consistency Obsession, 22, “There are worse things,” 26, “The Favorite Child” Excuse,” 33. The Management Shrug: “Don’t sweat the small stuff!,” 44. “It’s Not The First Time, ” 50A. Narcissist Ethics , or “I don’t care,” and #58. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!” The response doesn’t address the issue at hand, it just shrugs it away.

Too bad they don’t teach basic ethics in the U.S.

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: New York Times Columnist Ross Douthat

seusscancelled-header

“It was mildly creepy to hear that the custodians of Theodor Geisel’s estate, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, consulted with a ‘panel of experts’ and decided to cease publishing six Seuss titles because they ‘portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.’ But it was much creepier that so few people notionally in the free-expression business, so few liberal journalists and critics, seemed troubled by the move.”

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, one of the paper’s three token conservatives (or perhaps “non-knee-jerk Democrats” is more accurate), in his column, “Do Liberals Care if Books Disappear?”

The question is a rhetorical one. Douthat knows the answer, and so do regular Ethics Alarms readers: “Only if the books that disappear are those they agree with.” Though the column focuses on the Dr. Seuss metaphorical book-burning, Douthat properly interprets what it signifies. Of course, he is appropriately late to the party, for it was obvious well before “If I Ran the Zoo” was under attack that the totalitarian-tending Democrats and their progressive supporters and allies were in favor of “good” censorship. Never mind—Americans rushed to their mailboxes to vote an anti-free speech regime into power anyway.

Better late than never for Ross, I guess. Here are some highlights (but read his whole piece):

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