Tag Archives: baseball

Ethics Quiz: Is Jose Fernandez: A Fallen Hero or A Dead Asshole?

When Miami Marlin pitching star Jose Fernandez died, along with two friends, in the night crash of a speedboat he owned, the city of Miami and Major League Baseball was thrown into a state of extended grief. Not only was the 24-year old pitcher the super-star of the Miami Marlins franchise, but, we were told, was a young man of extraordinary character as well. He had the brightest future imaginable. Fernandez was expected to earn between 300 and 500 million dollars during what was expected to be a Hall of Fame caliber career. His girlfriend was pregnant. He was already a role model and a celebrity.

After his death, the team mourned their fallen star with dignity and emotion. This season, the Marlins to honor plan his memory in various ways.

But.

After nearly six-month investigation, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s report on the accident  concluded  that Jose Fernandez was driving the speed  boat when it crashed. killing the pitcher, Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Macias  in the early morning of Sept. 25, 2016. Fernandez’s blood alcohol level was .147 and there was “noted presence of cocaine,” according to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s toxicology report.

The speed of the 32-foot vessel during the impact of the crash on the north side of a jetty was 65.7 miles per hour, far too fast for the conditions and the area. The report concludes:

“Fernandez operated V-1 with his normal faculties impaired, in a reckless manner, at an extreme high rate of speed, in the darkness of night, in an area with known navigational hazards such as rock jetties and channel markers.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is it ethical, responsible and right for the Miami Marlins, or anyone, to honor Jose Fernandez in light of these revelations?

Continue reading

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Screwing Over Mexico In The World Baseball Classic: Now THAT’S A Stupid Rule…

Rationalization #30. The Prospective Repeal: “It’s a bad law/stupid rule,” is a widely employed ethics dodge, used by everyone from drug dealers to tax cheats. It doesn’t mean that many rules are not bad and stupid however. The World Baseball Classic just demonstrated its management’s incompetence with one of them. As is often the case when bad rules and laws prevail, injustice is the result.

Sixteen national teams are competing in the World Baseball Classic, a relatively new baseball tournament played during MLB’s  Spring Training. There are five pools of teams in an elimination tournament. The competitors this year (the tournament is held every four years, sometimes three—never mind, they are still working it out) are Japan, Taiwan, China, SOUTH Korea (the first version of this post erroneously said “North”—wishful thinking on my part), Mexico, Cuba, Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, the U.S., of course, and…Israel. Pool competition just ended (the US is moving on to the next round) and Mexico, Venezuela and Italy all finished with records of 1-2 in their pool games. The tournament doesn’t have time for extended play-off games, so a tie-breaker was triggered.

Under Classic tiebreaker rules, the two teams with the fewest runs allowed per defensive inning in games played between the teams tied during the tournament play an elimination game, and the other is eliminated. The calculation of runs allowed per inning includes “partial innings.” (Hold that thought.) Major League Baseball announced that Venezuela (1.11 runs allowed per defensive inning) and Italy (1.05 runs allowed) will play an elimination game, with Mexico (1.12) out of the tournament. Here is how it stacked up: Continue reading

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Why Shouldn’t Baseball Star Jose Abreu Be Deported?

No,no,no! Not “passport to eating,” EATING A PASSPORT!

There was a trial, still ongoing,  in a Federal court in Miami last week, where sports agent Bartolo Hernandez and baseball trainer Julio Estrada were tried before a jury for alien smuggling and conspiracy. Prosecutors say they operated a ring that took Cuban players from the Castros’ island to other countries where they could established residency and sign lucrative Major League Baseball contracts.  The big surprise in the trial came when star Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu told a Miami federal jury Wednesday how he ate his fake passport while flying to the U.S. to cover up the fact that he was arriving illegally as a prime participant in the smuggling operation.

Abreu said he ordered a beer on an Air France flight from Haiti to Miami and used it to wash down the section of his passport showing a false name with  his photo. The reason the unique meal was urgent? Money. Abreu was about to  miss an October 2013 deadline that would forfeit the $68 million agreement he had in place withe White Sox.

“If I had not been there on that particular day, the deadline, then the contract would not be executed and would no longer be valid,” Abreu told jurors. “We had to be in Chicago to sign the contract.”

Ah. Then that’s all right, then!

Abreu the was American League Rookie of the Year in 2014. He  testified under a grant of limited immunity, meaning he wouldn’t be prosecuted if he told the truth on the witness stand.  Jurors learned that the slugger got the fake passport in Haiti, where he and his family had escaped to from Cuba by speedboat in August 2013. One of the associates of Hernandez and Estrada—naturally, the smugglers got a cut of Abreu’s contract—obtained the fake passport and booked the Air France flight, telling the ballplayer to destroy the document on the plane. .

He did not tell him to eat it. Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: St. Louis Pitcher Adam Wainwright

nissan

It’s Spring Training for Major League Baseball, and all over Florida and Arizona established millionaire baseball stars are getting in shape, while impoverished minor league veterans are hoping to nab a big league roster slot that will alter their finances, careers and lives. The dirt wages teams pay their minor league players is an ongoing scandal, as life in the minors still consists of bus rides, crummy motels and cheap eats, with no job security, no pensions, and little respect. Most of the latter is reserved for the hot young prospects expected to be stars within a couple of years.

These two worlds of Lexus-driving superstars and subsistence-level grunts merge in March,  as the Cactus League and the Grapefruit League play exhibition games before retirees and out-of-state fans.

Ryan Sherriff, 26, is from that Other World. He is  a non-roster invitee to the St. Louis Cardinals camp, hoping to establish himself on the team’s pitching depth chart for a mid-season call-up when there is an injury or a trade. At his age, time is running out. Ryan  also is at camp on his own dime. Every day, Sherriff  made the 10- to 15-minute walk from his rented condo to the ballpark. He then walked  back after workouts.  When he needed food, he walked 15 minutes in the other direction to get groceries.

On one of those walks last week, Cardinal starting pitcher Adam Wainwright was driving by, noticed Sherriff walking and realized that he had seen him do this several times. Wainwright stopped and inquired, and learned that this was his temporary teammate’s mode of transportation as long as he was in Florida.

A couple days later, a Nissan Altima rental was delivered in Sherriff’s name  at the ballpark, all expenses paid by Wainwright. Continue reading

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Major League Baseball’s Hypocritical Effort To “Speed Up The Game” Gets Sinister

extra-innings

When I was a kid, listening to Curt Gowdy describe the discouraging daily travails of the Boston Red Sox of Chuck Schilling, Frank Malzone, Gene Conley and Pumpsie Green over WHDH in Boston, sponsored by Atlantic Refineries (“Atlantic keeps you car on the go,go go,GO!”) and Narragansett Beer (“Hi, neighbor! Have a ‘Gansett! Straight from the barrel taste!”), most baseball games were done in two and a half hours. Now three hours is average, and for Red Sox games, four hours is not unusual. For those of us who enjoy baseball, this is hardly a tragedy, though it can be an inconvenience, and in my case, a major reason why my two languishing ethics books are still incomplete.

The honchos of the game, however, worry that the increasing time of games limits the game’s appeal to the younger generations, whose attention span resembles that of kittens, except for the relative few who can appreciate such features as drama, compelling narratives, suspense, character and probabilities. Thus MLB has been for years trying various measures to pare some of the time out of the modern baseball game. The baseball execs also act and talk as if they have no idea why the games have lengthened. They know. Anyone who follows the game knows. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: “The Big Hurt,” Frank Thomas [UPDATED]

An ethics whiff for Frank Thomas

An ethics whiff for Frank Thomas

Baseball, and all its annual ethics puzzles, begins in about two weeks when Spring Training gets underway.  Meanwhile, I have to tolerate everyone talking about Tom Brady and the Cheating Patriots as the NFL makes billions encouraging  Americans to cheer for the gradual lobotomizing of young athletes for their pigskin entertainment. Still, even the off-season of America’s Pastime provides ethics fodder.

Frank Thomas, the 6’6″ 300 pound ex-first baseman, never was suspected of using steroids before he was elected to the  Hall of Fame, in part because he was naturally so huge and strong that if he had used steroids he would have ended up battling Godzilla in Tokyo. “The Big Hurt,” as he was called, was and is an outspoken opponent of steroid use in baseball, but speaking at  the annual White Sox fan convention last week, he proved that he is an ethics bush-leaguer.

The recent Hall of Fame vote  elected two players, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez, long rumored to be users of performance enhancing drugs, and the vote totals showed  increased support for uber-steroid cheat Barry Bonds and accused steroid-user Roger Clemens. The New York Post reported that Thomas said, without mentioning names, after he was asked how he felt about the election results, Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On The 2017 Hall Of Fame Vote

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Baseball’s Hall of Fame votes were announced yesterday, and is often the case, the ethical issues raised were as interesting as the choices. The Baseball Writers Association Of America chooses who is to be enshrined; successful candidates must be on 75% of all ballots submitted, and have ten years of edibility after the initial 5 year waiting period expires.

Here were the vote totals of the players receiving significant support; the years each player has been on the ballot is the last number.

Jeff Bagwell 381 (86.2%)  (7)

Tim Raines 380 (86.0%) (10)

Ivan Rodriguez 336 (76.0%) (1)

Trevor Hoffman 327 (74.0%) (2)

Vladimir Guerrero 317 (71.7%) (1)

Edgar Martinez 259 (58.6%) (8)

Roger Clemens 239 (54.1%) (5)

Barry Bonds 238 (53.8%) (5)

Mike Mussina 229 (51.8%) (4)

Curt Schilling 199 (45.0%) (5)

Manny Ramirez 105 (23.8%) (1)

Bagwell, Raines and Rodriguez were elected. Hoffman, the all-time leader in relief pitcher saves, just missed, and will almost certainly get into the Hall next year.

Ethics Observations:

1. More than anything, it is discouraging to see Barry Bonds crossing the 50% threshold. Bonds cheated, took the integrity out of some of baseball’s most important records, has lied about it to this day, and corrupted the game. Of course he is disqualified by the character requirements for entrance to the Hall. Bond’s vote total rise is attributed to several factors, including the old, unethical rationalizations we have been reading in defense of Bonds since he was playing. The latest excuses include the influx of younger voters who never saw Bonds nor witnessed the grotesquely inflated mutant he turned himself into, more voters throwing up their hands in frustration over the problem of sifting through so many players whose PED use is rumored, likely, or insufficiently proven, and voters who find the Hall’s recent election of former commissioner Bud Selig hypocritical, since he contrived ignorance to allow Bonds and others break the rules as long as possible. None of those excuses and rationalizations justify a single vote for Bonds.

2. Ivan Rodriquez‘s election also probably helped Bonds. He was one of the greatest catchers of all time, quite possibly the greatest defensive catcher, but in Jose Canseco’s first baseball and steroid tell-all book, “Juiced,” the steroidal slugger wrote of personally injecting I-Rod with the stuff while they were Texas Rangers. The catcher never tested positive in a drug test, but Canseco’s accusation was credible, especially after Rodriquez magically gained about 25 pound of muscle and started hitting home runs. Unlike Bonds, however, the evidence against him was slim.  Jose, for example, is one of the great slime-balls in sports history. He may not be a liar, but since he admittedly wrote hisbook out of spite, he might be.

3. Ivan, in turn, was helped by the election of Jeff Bagwell. No player ever pinned steroid use on him, but Bagwell was judged a steroid-user by many because he became so muscular after starting out as a normally-built third baseman. Bagwell lifted weighs like a fiend, and clearly had a Hall of Fame level career, so keeping him out purely on suspicion seemed unfair, and was. His election slipped down the slope to boost Rodriquez, though, which in turn allowed some writers to rationalize voting for Bonds (and Roger Clemens, not as clearly guilty as Bonds, more seriously implicated than Rodriguez). Continue reading

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