Way, way too much ethics-related politics this past week. I keep getting complaints about all the political content, and it annoys me too, but I don’t know what kind of alternatives I have. Back in the sane days, the idea of a House Speaker planning on tearing up the official copy of the State of the Union speech would have been the stuff of Saturday Night Live…when SNL would make fun of Democrats, anyway. I’m trying to keep the politics to a minimum. I swear.
1. The Astros cheating scandal, cont. Would you wonder about this answer? A.J. Hinch, the ex-Houston Astros manager who was fired and suspended by Major League Baseball for allowing an illegal sign-stealing scheme to be used by his players for the entire 2017 World Champion Astros season, finally sat down for an interview. When he was asked whether Houston players had utilized buzzers in their uniforms to receive signsduring the 2019 season as some have claimed based on inconclusive evidence and rumors, Hinch only would answer, “The Commissioner’s Office did as thorough of an investigation as anyone could imagine was possible.”
Why not “No”? That was what reporters term a “non-denial denial.”
2. If they advised her to run her sick child through the washing machine and he drowned, would that be their fault too? The death of a four-year-old boy named Najee is being blamed on an anti-vaxx Facebook group.
The boy had been diagnosed with the flu and the doctor had prescribed Tamiflu. His mother sought advice from the Facebook group “Stop Mandatory Vaccination” on how to treat her son’s’ illness. The members told her to give the boy vitamins, botanicals, zinc, fruits and vegetables, and to skip the medicine.
“Ok perfect I’ll try that,” she responded. Later that night, Najee had a seizure and died. Continue reading
Yum or Yecchh?
1. And the baseball cheating scandal is still roiling! I feel sorry for ethics enthusiasts who are missing out on this fascinating episode because they shut down when baseball is mentioned. One emerging issue that focuses on “woke” (and in some quadrants, sadly, female) leadership models has become evident. The two managers fired in the sign-stealing scandal were part of the “new wave” of “collaborative” baseball managers that teams embraced in recent years. They are sensitive to the players’ needs; they don’t give orders as much as set flexible boundaries; they are not confrontational, and they absorb and guide the culture of the clubhouse rather than dictate it. Then we learn, in MLB’s report on its investigation, that when Houston’s A.J. Hinch discovered (in 2017) that his bench coach and his players were operating an elaborate sign-stealing operation that he knew violated the rules , he made it known that he disapproved, but never ordered them to stop. Now baseball commentators are saying that the Astros need to hire an “old school” manager (like the ones who have been put out to pasture over the last five years) who will be leader, who will lay down the law, and who won’t shy away from confrontation for fear of not being “collaborative.”
Duh. How did anyone come to think effective leaders should do otherwise? Leaders need to lead. Leading doesn’t have to be autocratic, but a leader who acts like Hinch did in this matter is no leader at all.
In another revelation regarding the scandal, the report by Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred states that when Manfred put teams on notice in a Sept. 15, 2017 memo that using electronic means to steal and relay opposing teams’ signs during games would henceforth be severely punished, Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow “did not forward the memoranda and did not confirm that the players and field staff were in compliance … Had Luhnow taken those steps in September 2017 it is clear to me that the Astros would have ceased both sign-stealing schemes at the time.”
This is gross managerial negligence, and it puts Lahlow’s self-serving statement that he had no involvement in his team’s cheating in perspective. Continue reading
Ex-Astros manager Hinch and “dead man walking” Alex Cora, the cheating mastermind.
Since I posted the initial commentary on Major League Baseball’s tough punishment of the Houston Astros for their illegal sign-stealing (there are legal ways to steal signs too), there have been some interesting developments with ethical implications.
The full MLB report can be read or downloaded here.
- One promising development is the widespread discussions of organizational culture that have been taking place in the media. When Astros owner Jim Crane announced that he was firing GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch, both suspended for a year by the Commissioner of Baseball, he made it clear that the team needed to reform its culture, which had metastasized from “play to win” into a “win by any means necessary.” There were signs of this in Houston long before the sign-stealing was known, when in 2018 the team traded for relief pitcher Robero Osuna while he was suspended for domestic abuse and facing trial—even though the Astros had previously announced a “no-tolerance” policy regarding players and domestic abuse. The team really needed a closer, you see.
The Astros culture, we now can see, was thoroughly compromised by ethics rot, and eliminating one or two managers won’t fix the problem immediately.
- A prime enabler of that rot was Jeff Luhnow, who traded for Osuna. After he was fired yesterday, he issued this apology:
In November, I proposed that the Houston Astros should be punished severely for their sign-stealing during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the first of which resulted in a World Series Championship. Major League Baseball’s investigation is complete, and today the wrath of the Baseball Gods rained down on the team. MLB didn’t take my advice (stripping the team of its titles), but the actions it dis take were surprisingly and appropriately tough.
The Astros, you will recall, used illegal cameras and video monitors to steal the signs of opposing catchers at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, then signal those signs to their hitters before pitches by banging on trash cans. This occurred throughout the 2017 regular season and postseason, and during the 2018 season as well. Baseball’s Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Astros Manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow, fined the team $5 million (the most allowed under the MLB rules) and took away the team’s top two draft picks in both 2020 and 2021. Hours after the announcement, the Astros fired both Hinch and Luhlow, with owner Jim Crane saying, “We need to move forward with a clean slate. [We] will not have this happen again on my watch.”
All of this is as it should be. The MLB investigation indicated that Hinch had not been involved in the sign-stealing, but was aware of it and allowed it to continue.
Now the saga moves on to, <sigh>, the Boston Red Sox. Continue reading
Having a nice weekend?
Literally nothing can spoil my mood now that the Red Sox are going to the World Series…and playing the Dodgers.
1. White House art ethics? I’ve been wanting to post about this all week. Here is the painting President Trump has hung in the White House:
I love it. It makes me smile every time I see it. But because there is nothing President Trump could do that the news media and the “resistance” wouldn’t mark as shameful; and scandalous, he is actually being attacked for his choice of art.
Well, to hell with them, which I’m sure is Trump’s attitude. Sure it’s a tacky painting; I’m pretty sure the artist knows that, and doesn’t care. Called “The Republican Club,” it is the work of Missouri artist Andy Thomas. Trump is President and for at least four years he’s living in the White House: he can put up whatever art he likes. If it makes him smile like it does me, then that’s a good enough reason to hang it. It’s bad art, but so was Obama’s official portrait showing him being slowly devoured by plants with the sperm on his face, and that one didn’t make anyone smile, except the artist.
By the way, CNN displays its ignorance by writing that “Chester Arthur, Rutherford B. Hayes and James Garfield are presumably in the crowd, but impossible to identify.” I could identify Arthur easily. Can you? Garfield, Hayes, and Benjamin Harrison, whom CNN’s reporter apparently never heard of, were all similarly bearded, and there are two bearded faces near Arthur that could be two of them. I can’t find McKinley anywhere, so maybe the artist was minimizing the presence of the murdered Presidents—given the tenor of Democratic rhetoric, that might be prudent—which means the bearded figures are Hayes and Harrison. Also missing is the only impeached Republican President, Andrew Johnson. Yeah, poor Andy would be a skunk at the picnic too. Continue reading