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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Law And Ethics Notes

ethics and law

I’m desperately trying to meet a course materials deadline so my brain is stuck on law right now. Here are are few items of general interest:

1. As expected, the Supreme Court passed on the various cases involving the election, ruling them moot, which indeed they are. Thomas and Alito dissented, with Gorsuch joining with Alito, on the grounds that it would be prudent to take up the issues involved in those cases now, to avoid a repeat in the next election.

Justice Thomas wrote:

“The Constitution gives to each state legislature authority to determine the ‘Manner’ of federal elections,” Yet both before and after the 2020 election, nonlegislative officials in various States took it upon themselves to set the rules instead. As a result, we received an unusually high number of petitions and emergency applications contesting those changes.”

Thomas argued that the cases Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Veronica DeGraffenreid (2021) and Jake Corman v. Pennsylvania Democratic Party (2021) presented “a clear example” of election law issues that the Supreme Court should settle, writing

“The Pennsylvania Legislature established an unambiguous deadline for receiving mail-in ballots: 8 p.m. on election day. Dissatisfied, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended that deadline by three days. That decision to rewrite the rules seems to have affected too few ballots to change the outcome of any federal election. But that may not be the case in the future. These cases provide us with an ideal opportunity to address just what authority nonlegislative officials have to set election rules, and to do so well before the next election cycle. The refusal to do so is inexplicable.”

Oh, I can explain it. The Court doesn’t want to inject a destabilizing element into what is already dangerously widespread suspicion about the election. An opinion that said, in essence, “This was illegal, and some illicit votes were allowed to count that shouldn’t, probably not enough to change the results, but at this point, who knows?” would not be helpful or wise.

2. If you think a lawyer looking like a cat at a hearing is bad, or appearing before a judge on Zoom in pajamas, or a professor being on mute for two hours while lecturing remotely, consider this: Peruvian defense lawyer Héctor Cipriano Paredes Robles was taking part in a virtual hearing when his video feed began to show him stripping naked, and engaging in enthusiastic sex with a naked woman.The judge, John Chahua Torres, tried to alert Robles that the hearing participants could see him and his partner’s multiple positions on the live feed, but the lawyer was, uh, busy.

“We are witnessing obscene acts which represent a violation of public decency and are aggravated by the fact they are being recorded nationally!” Judge Torres said.

Good point.

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Once Again, America’s Best-Known Scientist Demonstrates Why We Can’t Trust Scientists, Especially If They Are Progressive, Pandering, Political Correctness-Obsessed Jerks Who Apparently Get Their Information From Cartoons [Corrected]

Not for the first time, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the anointed successor to the far more serious and reliable Carl Sagan, abused his reputation as the nation’s most-recognized scientist by grandstanding for the progressive mob, his allies and pals.

On Christmas Eve, he tweeted,

“Santa doesn’t know Zoology: Both male & female Reindeer grow antlers. But all male Reindeer lose their antlers in the late fall, well-before Christmas. So Santa’s reindeer, which all sport antlers, are therefore all female, which means Rudolf has been misgendered.

One of the annoying things about Tyson is that he is a know-it-all, and like most know-it-alls, he doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does. When someone sporting the mantle of scientist is delving into the accuracy of the alleged features of Santa’s reindeer, he should be aware of the origin of the assertions he is debunking. Tyson obviously isn’t. Indeed, he is apparently illiterate.

The first mention of Santa’s reindeer is in the 1822 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” better known today as “The Night Before Christmas.” He refers to “eight tiny reindeer.” Reindeer aren’t tiny, at least the reindeer we know about. If Santa’s reindeer are indeed tiny (in the poem they are pulling a “miniature sleigh”) , then they must be a species unknown to us and science, and thus the male members of the breed might retain their antlers. We have little information on this question. Scientists are supposed to investigate such things, not leap to conclusions. Tyson just assumed tiny reindeer are the same as the usual kind, or, more likely, he didn’t consider the issue at all. That’s sloppy, agenda-driven science, and malpractice by Tyson.

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Ethics Dunce, Rogue And Fool To Be Held Up As An Example Forever More: Dr. Anthony Fauci

Fauci

From the New York Times:

“In the pandemic’s early days, Dr. Fauci tended to cite the same 60 to 70 percent estimate that most experts did. About a month ago, he began saying “70, 75 percent” in television interviews. And last week, in an interview with CNBC News, he said “75, 80, 85 percent” and “75 to 80-plus percent….In a telephone interview the next day, Dr. Fauci acknowledged that he had slowly but deliberately been moving the goal posts. He is doing so, he said, partly based on new science, and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks. Hard as it may be to hear, he said, he believes that it may take close to 90 percent immunity to bring the virus to a halt — almost as much as is needed to stop a measles outbreak.

No, what is hard to hear, though at this point hardly a shock to anyone with a functioning brain, is that Fauci now admits he’s been lying….you know, “for our own good.”

Don’t heed the spin, the double-talk and the euphemisms: when someone tells you something other than what he or she knows to be true or believes to be true, that individual is deliberately attempting to deceive you by communicating what they believe to be untrue as true. That’s lying. No debate. No defense. That’s what it is, by definition. “I did it for your own good” is a rationalization.

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Comment Of The Day: Ethics Quiz: The French And Indian War Remains

This Comment of the Day by reliably thoughtful commenter JP is exactly what I hoped this particular Ethics Quiz would inspire. Unlike some ethics quizzes, and reminding everyone that an issue isn’t presented as an ethics quiz unless I have doubts about the ethically correct answer, this one has me torn right down the center. The usual ethical systems for approaching a problem are at odds here, making it a true ethics conflict.

Here is JP’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz: The French And Indian War Remains”:

I think the simple answer is that depends.

There any a lot of laws in the context of digging up graves that often vary between state and context. The United States pretty much has a statue of limitation on 100 years for excavation (not to be confused with common graverobbing). I imagine this is because it is far outside any claim a family member might have. Jack alaudid to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act which protects remains on federal or tribal lands. These rules were essentially created to protect the living. The purpose of their creation is what I believe is at the heart of understanding if the act is ethical or not. The first question I would ask: who does it hurt?

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Ethics Quiz: The French And Indian War Remains

Fort Henry

Nearly 70 years ago, Fort William Henry, the fort overcome in 1757 battle portrayed in the film (and novel) “The Last of the Mohicans,” was reconstructed on the banks of Lake George in New York.

There, French forces led by General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm defeated the British, who were then, in many cases, slaughtered by the Indian tribe allies of the French as they attempted to retreat. Whether Magwa really ripped out the heart of the British commander, I do not know.

But I digress. Over the decades, the remains of many British combatants have been discovered in and around the site of the fort. Some of the remains have never been reburied, and were displayed for decades. Eventually the bones were studied by anthropologists, and yielded many details about colonial life in the era of the French and Indian War.

260 years after the fall of Fort William Henry, some of the bones are still at Arizona State University, where they are available for research. Other bone fragments unearthed by anthropologists in the 1990s and sent for study at the University of Waterloo in Canada were returned to the fort eight years ago, and lie in a box in a storage area. The company that owns the fort, known as the Fort William Henry Museum, says the bone fragments are being properly cared for, and that it is trying to balance the value of scientific research with respect for the remains of the dead.

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“My Cousin Vinny” Meets Zoom

vinny

Once again I have to say “I don’t understand this story at all.

If you recall “My Cousin Vinny,” as almost all lawyers do (and fondly), Joe Pesci’s fish-out-of-water defense lawyer annoyed imposing Southern judge Fred Gwynn by first appearing in court wearing a leather jacket, and then showing up in the suit above because it was the only one he could acquire at short notice.

At least he tried.

While Ethics Alarms has taken the unalterable position that when children are forced to attend school via Zoom, what may appear in their homes are not, in fact, “in school,” a lawyer who appears before a judge via Zoom is still, in fact, “in court” and before a judge. Why? Because the judge says so, that’s why. And as Vinnie soon learned, when a judge says “Jump!” the only responsible response is “How high, Your Honor?”

Perhaps a Delaware lawyer named Weisbrot has never seen the movie. He complained to Delaware Vice Chancellor Joseph R. Slights III i ex parte “that [the court] would not consider an application from him because he “was not wearing a tie.” The Vice Chancellor responded, “That is true, as the record reflects.” BUT…

What the record also reflects is that Mr. Weisbrot appeared in court for trial (via Zoom) on Tuesday in either a printed tee-shirt or pajamas (it was difficult to discern).

In other words, “It’s true you weren’t wearing a tie, but a greater problem is THAT YOU WERE WEARING FREAKING PAJAMAS!”

Mr. Wiesbrot responded by channeling his inner (and outer) Vinnie by, in his next appearance via Zoom before the same judge, in something less than the kind of attire he had to know the judge expected:

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On Masks, I Get The Message…

face-masks-chart

The New York Times has been a primary offender in fearmongering and hyping the pandemic, while trying to bolster the efforts of power-abusing mayors and governors to make life miserable for the public in order to show they are “doing something.” Thus when the Times published this article, with the sub-head, “The accumulating research may be imperfect, and it’s still evolving, but the takeaway is simple. Right now, masks are necessary to slow the pandemic,” I assumed that I would read an unequivocal, full-throated, air-tight brief for mask-wearing.

Well, it wasn’t. In fact, there is so much equivocation and doubt in the article, which announces itself as pro-mask, that it reinforces the conclusion that the case for masks is being overstated, which is to say dishonestly reported. The takeaway is “simple” if one is inclined to blindly follow orders without good reason. I’m not.

The thing is rife with red flags. “May be imperfect” is a euphemism for “it might turn out that this is all wrong.” “It’s still evolving” is another dodge. One section of the article is headed, “Over time, recommendations on masks have changed. That’s how science works.” Wait, aren’t we always being told that challenging conventional scientific “consensus” is being a science denier? Skepticism is just a caution that what is being pronounced as the absolute answer isn’t as certain as its advocates claim. Here, the Times is saying that science being proved wrong is “how science works.” This obviously a procrustean standard at best. “Believe what we say, because we are scientists, but when it turns out we were wrong, that just proves how trustworthy we are.”

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Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/30/2020: Zoomed Out”

Zoom

Once again I am horribly behind in posting deserving Comments of the Day, or even announcing them. I apologize for this; there are many reasons, but no excuses. This COTD , authored by Null Pointer, is three weeks old, and there are some unposted ones that are older still. Fortunately, the topic is ever-green, at least as long as Shut-Down Hell is upon us: the curse of Zoom.

Here is Null Pointer’s Comment Of The Day on the post, “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/30/2020: Zoomed Out”

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Good Morning! Once Again, Here Is A 2020 Election Ethics Train Wreck Update…[Corrected And Revised]

live_map_president

1. As you can see from the map above, RealClearPolitics, the remarkably balanced politics blog (which means that progressives view it as a right wing propaganda organ) still rates the election as undecided.

Notice of Correction: Several sources reported incorrectly that RCP had called the election for Biden and then reversed itself based on, among other developments, the Trump campaign’s lawsuit alleging widespread voting fraud in Pennsylvania. RCP sent out a tweet denying that it had ever had William Penn’s pride and joy listed as anything but unsettled. Thanks to EA readers who pointed this out, and good for RCP for not following the mob and its conventional wisdom. What matters, of course, is what the map says now, and that at least one non-partisan, responsible source officially regards the election as undecided, which, in fact, it is.

RCP also shows Arizona, Alaska for some mysterious reason, Georgia, and North Carolina. All but Alaska currently have the President less than a percentage point behind with recounts looming and legitimate questions popping up daily. Biden’s Electoral vote count is under 270, at 259.

Observes Victory Girls, accurately,

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state to segregate votes that came in late. The state has been very reluctant to follow the orders of a Supreme Court Justice. This happened because at the last minute the Governor of Pennsylvania asked the state Supreme Court to extend the voting time. Constitutional expert Ken Starr [explains] this unconstitutional action:

“…[W]hat happened in Pennsylvania over these recent weeks is a constitutional travesty. Governor Wolf tries to get his reforms, his vision, as he was entitled to do, through the legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He failed. He then goes to the state Supreme Court, which by a divided vote, accepted the substance of what Governor Wolf was doing, and then added thereon nooks and crannies as well.”

In short, there are a lot of Biden votes in Pennsylvania that may be disallowed.

Pennsylvania isn’t enough: Trump still has to run the table to win, and that is a huge long-shot. But the claim that the election is over and settled now is simply and unequivocally false.

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