Property Rights, The Fan, The Baseball, And The Lesson [CORRECTED and UPDATED]

That’s Hydes in the middle. The little white round thing is the ball.

During an Angels-Tigers game in Detroit last week, California slugger Albert Pujols hit a solo home run that gave him  2,000 runs batted in for his career. This wasn’t just a round number. Only four batters in Major League History have knocked that many across the plate in their careers, three if you don’t count steroid cheat Alex Rodriguez, and you shouldn’t and I don’t. The three are Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth,  and now Pujols. It’s a big deal.

[I erroneously had Willie Mays and Barry Bonds (yechh) in the list. Thanks to Diego Garcia for the correction.]

A Detroit fan named Ely Hydes, a law student, got the ball in the stands. As is the usual practice in such situations where a ball represents a landmark achievement, and stadium  security asked him for the ball to present to the man who hit it. Hydes said no.  In an interview later with a Detroit radio station, he said that he hadn’t decided decided whether to give the ball to his brother, his father, or Pujols. The security staff offered money, and then, he said, got nasty with him, which he resented, and caused him to be more adamant about keeping the ball. Continue reading

Bob Nightengale’s Rationalization Orgy

“OK, he got caught, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t still the BEST at Rubik’s Cube…”

I was interviewed on a radio news show early this morning, and one of the questions I was asked was whether what the host called “the decline of ethics in the country” could be reversed. I’m not convinced there has been such a decline, but if there is, it sure doesn’t help to have so many  journalists with big microphones displaying infantile analysis of ethics-related issues on a regular basis.

Today’s case was USA Today sportswriter Bob Nightengale, who took the occasion of the annual induction of new members into baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this weekend to trot out nearly every rationalization and ethical invalid argument imaginable to explain why he would be voting for all the proven or suspected steroid cheats  for the Hall when their time comes:

“There, I said it. I will vote for Bonds. And Clemens. And Sosa. And Piazza. I’ll think about Bagwell. And will continue voting for Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive in his final season when he reached 3,000 hits.”

And then come the rationalizations:

  • “Hey, it’s OK to admit racists, criminals, drunks and recreational drug abusers, but let’s not tarnish the sacredness of the Hall of Fame.” This is essentially a “there are worse things” argument with an overlay of ignorance and stupidity. This is a baseball Hall of Fame with very clear character requirements: “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.” No other sports Hall of Fame has such standards: just wait for the fight over admitting Joe Paterno into the College Football Hall of Fame (O.J. is a member in good standing.). Continue reading