The Latest Kentucky Derby Doping Scandal Should End Horse Racing…Let’s Hope It Does

Derby cheat

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a postrace drug test, and if the results stand, his victory will be nullified. The horse’s Hall-of-Fame trainer Bob Baffert revealed the test results yesterday. The three-year-old colt tested positive for elevated levels of betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid and sometimes used to relieve joint pain in horses. Medina Spirit’s post-race test revealed 21 picograms per milliliter, which is more than double the allowed limit in Kentucky racing.

If the original results are confirmed, Baffert will have a chance to appeal. Meanwhile, Churchill Downs suspended” Baffert “from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack.”

While the Derby’s winner is under suspicion, the second “jewel” in racing’s Triple Crown, The Preakness, takes place in five days. Medina Spirit will run, even as his legitimacy as Kentucky Derby is in doubt.

The Kentucky Derby is the only horse race most Americans know anything about or pay attention to: a cheating scandal in the Derby is racing’s equivalent of baseball’s 1919 fixed World Series. The difference is that baseball was on the ascendant in 1919, while horse racing today is is barely hanging on by its hooves. Moreover, drugging in horse racing has been epidemic for decades.

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No-Hitter Ethics!

Hope

You see, this is why I am a lifetime underachiever. Here I am, desperately preparing for a challenging 3-hour seminar, and when Jutgory sends me a story about a controversy over what should count as a “perfect game” in baseball, I can’t think of anything else. Baseball and ethics. The combination gets me every time! So I am writing a post instead of doing my job. Pathetic.

For some reason, 2021 has been a big year for no-hitter definition categories. About ten days ago, Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Madison Bumgarner threw seven hitless innings against the Atlanta Braves, winning 7-0. However,the game was part of a doubleheader, and this year, as in the 2020 season, twinbills consist of two 7 inning games. Bumgarner’s gem does not officially count as a no-hitter, because MLB declared many years ago that an official no-hitter must be nine innings, a shutout, a victory, and a complete game. This eliminated no-hitters that had been shortened because of rain but were still official games, and the strange games where a pitcher gave up a run or more because of errors or walks. It also wiped out one of the most famous no-hitters of all time.

Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Piratesgave up no hits, walks or baserunners for 12 innings against the Milwaukee Braves on May 26, 1959 in a 0-0 extra-inning tie. He retired 36 consecutive consecutive batters until an error in the 13th ended the perfect game bid, then he gave up a hit, and eventually a run and the game. It was one of the greatest pitching performances of all time, but did not count, sayeth the rule-makers, as a perfect game or a no-hitter.

Not giving Baumgarner credit for a “no-no,” as no-hitters are called by their close friends, seems very unfair. The game was official and not shortened by the elements. He did everything he could do: it wasn’t his fault MLB is lazy and incompetent and decided to allow kiddie rule 7-inning games this season. (The excuse was, as with much that is outrageous, the pandemic.) I am quite sure that baseball didn’t think through such possibilities as a double-header no-hitter, and was stuck with a rule that really shouldn’t have applied.

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Ethics Quiz: The Football Coach’s Tweet

Malone

Once again, I am 90% certain, maybe more, what the right answer should be, but also again, I’m close enough to the cusp to have “reasonable doubt,” or as they would say in the Chauvin trial, “Never mind!”

Chris Malone, an offensive line coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (UTC), , was fired two days after he tweeted,

“Congratulations to the state GA and Fat Albert @staceyabrams because you have truly shown America the true works of cheating in an election, again!!! Enjoy the buffet Big Girl!! You earned it!!! Hope the money is good, still not governor!”

The school responded, through its athletic director,

“Last night, a totally inappropriate social media post by a member of our football staff was brought to my attention. The entire post was appalling. The sentiments in that post do not represent the values of our football program, our Athletics department or our University. With that said, effective immediately, that individual is no longer a part of the program.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for today (as I head to my oral surgeon for the latest emergency…):

Was it ethical to fire him?

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May The Fourth Ethics Warm-Up: The Derby, Booing Mitt, And Other Pastimes…

Besides the terrible pun, May the 4th has great ethical significance in U.S. history. The children of the Sixties have the date seared into their memories as the 1970 tipping point in the Vietnam war protests. Twenty-eight young and badly trained National Guardsmen fired their weapons at a group of anti-war demonstrators on the Kent State University campus. Four students were killed, eight were wounded, and one was permanently paralyzed. The tragedy didn’t make the war any more or less wrong, but it massively shifted sympathies to students, protesters, and the one-time punchline of the previous few years, hippies. Future U.S. activists learned the lesson of Kent State well: if you can goad the opposition into violence, it is a victory for the cause, just and reasonable or not. This makes no sense, of course, other than being the ideal use of the cognitive dissonance scale

But Kent State doesn’t came close to the impact of the Haymarket Square Riot in Chicago, Illinois on this date in 1886. A bomb was thrown at a squad of police attempting to break up a peaceful labor rally that was getting rowdy. The police responded to the bomb by wildly shooting into the crowd, killing more than a dozen people and injuring hundreds. The episode had wide-reaching effects in labor, law and politics, galvanizing the union movement, leading to great political courage by some politicians (like Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld, who pardoned three arrested activists who hadn’t been executed or died in 1893) and craven expediency by others.

The episode was also the major catalyst in bring a small-time lawyer named Clarence Darrow to Chicago, and inspiring him to be a labor lawyer.

1. More on Brandon Mitchell, the Chauvin juror who couldn’t keep his mouth shut. The photo of Mitchell wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt at a protest in Washington D.C. last August…

…has some legal experts…and me…wondering if the chances of the Chauvin verdict being overturned just got a whole lot better. “I’d never been to D.C.,” Mitchell humina-huminaed about his reasons for attending the event. “The opportunity to go to D.C., the opportunity to be around thousands and thousands of Black people; I just thought it was a good opportunity to be a part of something.”

Part of what, exactly, sir?

Brandon also says he doesn’t recall wearing such a shirt. That’s not encouraging regarding his honesty, is it?

Meanwhile, in the story about the latest development in the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck, the AP writes,

A photo, posted on social media, shows Brandon Mitchell, who is Black, attending the Aug. 28 event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington. Floyd’s brother and sister, Philonise and Bridgett Floyd, and relatives of others who have been shot by police addressed the crowd.

Others who have been shot by the police? Floyd was shot too? I did not know that!

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“It’s A New Week!” Ethics Warm-Up, 5/3/2021: Good Day Edition

Bad, BAD week last week, and not just for me. It was a bad week in ethics, and because of my own shortcomings, I wasn’t able to properly provide a path through it. This week will be better, starting today. At least if I have anything to say about it…

1. From “the rest of the story” files: Remember when Jonathan Papelbon attacked Bryce Harper in the Washington Nationals dugout? It was 2015, and pretty much marked the end of relief ace Paplebon’s career. Harper went on to become a mega-million dollar free agent after the 2018 season, when he signed with the Phillies for a ridiculous 30 million dollars a year long-term contract. Papelbon finally resurfaced in Boston this season as an amusingly unrestrained analyst for NESN, which broadcasts the the Red Sox games. And I recently discovered how almost right he was to accost Harper, if admittedly a bit too enthusiastically. The prompt for Pap to go grab Harper by the neck was the latter loafing down the line as he barely ran out a ground ball. Harper’s periodic lack of hustle had been a source of annoyance for years (to be fair, he was “only” being paid 2.5 million bucks to play hard in 2015), but I just saw the stats for his last year in Washington. Having been a plus-defensive player in previous years, Harper stopped hustling entirely in 2018, both in the field and on the bases. Though he had once saved over 20 runs in a season in the field alone, in his free agent year Harper cost his team over 20 runs that year, making sure he stayed healthy for the big payday to come (to be fair, he was “only” being paid 21.6 million bucks to play hard in 2018). As soon as he had a guaranteed contract with Philadelphia, Harper started playing hard again, dashing around the bases and diving in the outfield.

Both Papelbon and Harper were jerks during their careers, but nobody could accuse “Pap” of not doing his best to win for the fans, his team, its city and his team mates every single time he stepped onto a baseball field.

2. Not Harvard this time: it’s back to Georgetown! Both of my schools’ diplomas are turned to the wall of my office in a symbolic protest against their continuing unethical policies and conduct—-I’m not sure what more I can do to signal my contempt and embarrassment. Now it’s Georgetown’s turn again—I worked for the University for five years after I graduated from the Law Center—to make me wish I had graduated from a school with some integrity. Though it has been notably un-covered by the mainstream news media, Georgetown Professor Michele Swers read the words of a Ku Klux Klan leader in her “U.S. Political Systems” class for the college, but because she “did not censor” the word “nigger,” a large contingent of her students sent a smoking gun letter letter to Swers and the college’s diversity office, demanding that she apologize profusely, review all future presentation and lecture material for potential bias;  and demonstrate her “understanding of the history of the N-word and why it is inappropriate for a non-Black person to say it in any context, including an educational context.” [Pointer: Steve Witherspoon]

So far, I can find no record of a response from the university or the professor, but writing of the incident, Prof. Turley says in part,

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One More Time: It Is Unethical For The News Media To Present Idiots As Commentators

In the case at hand, the appellation “idiot” is neither unfair nor ad hominem. For some mysterious reason, CBS News anchor Lana Zak decided to feature former U.S. professional soccer player Lori Lindsey as an authority on the issues involved in transgender participation in female sports. Lindsey rapidly demonstrated that she lacked the knowledge, analytical skills and rhetorical ability for the role, as she defaulted to woke buzz-words that had nothing to do with the topic. Asked about various bills being considered around the country that would ban transitioning biological males from competing against girls and women, Lindsay babbled,

“These bills do uphold white supremacy under the guise of protecting women’s sport when we actually know that women’s sport, protection of it, would be to have more funding and to have more women in leadership positions and equal pay. But the reality, though, is that these youth just want to participate with their friends and play sports like everyone else.”

What? How is “white supremacy” involved in trying to keep trans competitors out of women’s sports?

Not able to resist endorsing this gibberish, Zak asked, “I want to circle back to something you said earlier about these bills are trying to perpetuate supremacy. I imagine that there are parents at home who have genetically, or who have daughters who were assigned a female gender at birth, and that are concerned that their child is not going to get a fair shake in competing against other people, against a trans girl and they’re not thinking this is a supremacists position. How do you appeal to that parent that feels it is just about the sports to see that there’s actually a greater debate that is a proxy for?”

Feel that pressure building in your skull yet? The reason such parents don’t feel that it is a “supremacists position” is that the issue has nothing to do with race, other than the fact that race is the default argument for every progressive position when it runs out of legitimate arguments.

Answering like the 10-year-old she reasons like, Lindsay’s reply was this:

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Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/17/2021: No Good, Good, Good, No Good, and Good

Some baseball ethics notes in italics, since a lot of you don’t care:

  • The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) issued Major League Baseball an overall grade of C+ , with a B+ for racial hiring and a C for gender hiring. (There was nothing about competency and qualifications hiring, for some reason.) The report also praised MLB’s decision to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta, proving that the organization is a partisan political group using “diversity” as a prop. Baseball should pay no attention to TIDES whatsoever. It is the Southern Poverty Law Center of sports.
  • There was a wonderful example of why baseball needs robo-umps in Wednesday’s game between the Red Sox and the Twins in Minneapolis. At a critical moment in a tie game with the bases loaded for the Twins, Sox pitcher Matt Andriese struck out the last Twins batter for out number three, ending the threat. The umpire, however, said the ball had been fouled into the dirt before bouncing into the Boston catcher’s mitt. The video showed that the bat had missed the ball by several inches, and no foul had occurred. When Red Sox manager Alex Cora came out to protest, the home plate umpire, also the crew chief said, “There’s no way I’ll be over-ruled on that call.” What he apparently meant was that the other three umpires would back him up even though he was obviously wrong, and after briefly caucusing, that’s what they did. Cora was thrown out of the game. Luckily for the umpires, Andriese struck the batter out with next pitch, so the mistake and cover-up didn’t matter. Moral luck!
  • Also Twins related: Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons issued an articulate tweet about why he was declining to be vaccinated like his teammates, after considering the risks. He tested positive 24 hours later. Also moral luck!

1. NOW you’re telling us???. At 6:57 pm on April 15, I stumbled across this:

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Morning Ethics Expectoration, 4/15/2021: I’m In A Really Bad Mood (And Ethics Is Just A Part Of It…)

Let’s see what revoltin’ developments we have accumulated, shall we? But first, some positive news…

1. Bernie Madoff has died in prison. Good. If there was ever a case for using capitol punishment for crimes other than murder and treason, Bernie is it. He was convicted of orchestrating the biggest Ponzi scheme in American history and was serving a 150-year sentence that he managed to escape by dying in prison of natural causes at age 82. He was a stone-cold sociopath who destroyed his family, foundations, charities and lives, all out of greed. On the plus side, his exploits did spawn two excellent dramatic portrayals, one by Robert De Niro and the other by Richard Dreyfuss. I liked Richard’s better, but after his disgusting conduct during the Trump years, Robert is permanently unwelcome to my eyeballs.

So much for the good news…

2. Don’t tell me again how poor Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Pete was the second Ethics Dunce of them all, way back in 2004, here. Knowing well that baseball had an iron-clad, one strike and you’re out forever rule forbidding players, coaches and managers from betting on games, he did it anyway (as a manager) because, see, he is Pete Rose, and the rules don’t apply to him, but mostly because he’s an idiot. So he got banned from the game and the Hall of Fame despite being the all-time hit leader, ahead of Ty Cobb. He’s a walking, talking ethics corrupter, prompting fans and writers to resort to rationalizations to explain why he should be forgiven.

Now we have this:

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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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The Augusta National Golf Club. Shows How Virtue-Signaling Can Be Unethical

“Virtue-signaling” was going to be the 2017 Ethics Alarms “Unethical Trend of the Year” if I had ever had time to compile that year’s “Ethics Alarms Best and Worst” lists. Until it was overtaken by “presumed racism” in 2020, it was probably the winner in 2018 and 2019 as well. Now it’s on the rise again, thanks to corporations beclowning themselves and abusing their societal roles by taking political stands based on nothing but a desire to appeal to the woke social media mobs.

Signaling one’s virtue, real or imaginary, is not necessarily unethical, but it is always obnoxious. Just as smart people don’t have claim that they are smart, good people and organizations that ostentatiously trumpet what they think will get them societal brownie points should start ethics alarms faintly ringing. I don’t trust such organizations. They are usually sucking up to what they perceive as majorities, meaning that they have no ethical principles themselves, and, sadly, most businesses don’t. At its best, virtue-signaling shows a deficit in humility, modesty, and self-restraint. Its worst is nicely demonstrated by the recent statement by Fred Ridley, the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.

Since Major League Baseball immolated itself and gratuitously harmed the Atlanta community by relocating the 2021 All Star Game as its demonstration of unethical virtue-signaling, activist have been pushing the PGA to do the same with the Masters. Is “lemminging” a word?

The responsible course for the Masters and related parties to take would be to shut up, firmly. It is a sports organization, and should not have any position on political matters and partisan debates. But Ridley, who is especially worthless in this matter because for his golf club to lose the Masters would be a disaster of biblical proportions—“Dogs and cats, playing golf together!”—, so he has a conflict of interest, apparently couldn’t help himself, or was forced into blathering by some of his club’s more influential and less intelligent members.

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