A Baseball Ethics Quiz: Moral Luck And The Deflected Ball

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I was surprised to find how often I have written about the Steve Bartman incident (shown above) here. For those of you who missed it (and if you are not a baseball fan, couldn’t care less) the episode is rife with ethics lessons.

Bartman was the hapless young Chicago Cubs fan in 2003 who unintentionally interfered with a foul ball that might have been catchable by Cubs outfielder Moises Alou in the decisive game of 2003 National League Championship Series. Bartman’s mistake (it didn’t help that he was wearing earphones and watching the ball rather than the action on the field) began a chain of random events that ended in a complete collapse by Chicago in that very same half-inning, sending the Miami Marlins and not the Cubs, who had seemed comfortably ahead, to the World Series.

Bartman issued a sincere and pitiful apology but it didn’t help. He was widely vilified by Chicago fans, who at that point had not seen a pennant-winning team in their lifetimes. Sportswriters joined in, and he was literally run out of town. Bartman’s name then became part of Cubs and baseball lore, one more chapter in the sad saga had been called “the Billy Goat Curse,” the uncanny inability of the Chicago National League team to win it all. The Cubs finally broke the imaginary curse in 2016, and in a show of kindness and remorse, privately awarded Bartman  an official Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Championship ring.

That was nice, but Bartman’s life had already been, if not ruined, seriously degraded by the incident. I thought about poor Steve last night, when a foul ball nearing Fenway Park’s “Green Monster” left field wall wafted its way down the foul line. As Sox outfielder Danny Santana tracked it, so did several fans in the seats that look over the grandstand onto the field. Their eyes were on the ball, and as it moved way from foul territory into fair–maybe: in Fenway Park at that point, it is only a matter of a few feet’s difference—one fan lunged for the ball, deflecting it away from Santana’s glove.

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Dear Red Sox: That Was An Unethical Banner, But You Asked For It

trump-won-banner-fenway-park

During yesterday’s late afternoon game Red Sox game against the Miami Marlins in Fenway Park, some fans unfurled a huge “Trump won — Save America” banner over the centerfield wall during the fourth inning. The banner was confiscated and the fans ejected from the game. Some of the players and quite a few spectators were amused. Similar messages appeared on banners unfurled during Mets and Yankees games in recent weeks.

The Red Sox have long had a policy prohibiting large signs and banners in the park, though I have seen some appear without the park staff taking action. Political signs have always been taboo. In 2017, this sign…

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Daunte Wright Dining Car Specials On The George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck…

1. “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Naturally, the New York Times has a ticket…The Timed headline in its print edition: “Minnesota Police Kill Another Man As Tensions Build.” Oh, did the jury rule that the Minnesota police officers killed George Floyd already? They didn’t? Then what the hell is the New York Times saying “Another” for?

The news media decided that Derek Chauvin is a murderer and has been repeating that assertion as fact for almost a year now.

2. Wait, the Chaivin jury hasn’t been sequestered? Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, had argued yesterday that the jurors should be ordered to avoid all media and spend the rest of the trial sequestered, because he feared that rioting in the nearby community where the Wright shooting took place might limit their ability to be fair jurors. The unrest will be at “forefront of the jury’s mind-set,” Nelson argued. He also asked for new interviews with the jurors to determine whether this recent event had already biased them. The judge, Peter Cahill, denied both requests. “This is a totally different case,” the judge held, since the current riots aren’t about a jury verdict but a shooting.

Wow This pretty much convinces me that this is a kangaroo court, and that the judge is trying to do his best to see Chauvin convicted.

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Afternoon Ethics Delights, 4/6/2021:

The U.S. entered The Great War on this date in 1917, surely among the most disastrous decisions the nation has ever made. Unfortunately, almost all of the debate over whether we “should” have gotten involved in the seemingly pointless quarrel among the European powers is polluted by hindsight bias, consequentialism, and a disregard for moral luck. Yes, it’s true that The Great War led to a far worse one, and that Germany winning what became World War I probably would have kept Adolf Hitler painting houses. But that’s cheating: we can only assess the legitimacy of the U.S. entering the war on the basis of what was known at the time.

1. Baseball uniform ethics. Oh yeah, this makes a lot of sense. The Boston Red Sox uniforms have been red, white and blue for almost a century—perfect for the team’s annual Patriot’s Day game, which occurs in the morning so the crowd can watch the end of the Boston Marathon. Only Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut celebrate Patriot’s Day, when Paul Revere (and his two friend) rode to warn the Boston suburbs that the British were coming in 1775.

Well, Nike is now pulling baseball’s strings (there is evidence that the company that employs Colin Kaepernick as a spokesperson helped push MLB into punishing Atlanta for Joe Biden’s made-up racist voting law claims), and part of its deal with the sport is that it will design new uniforms for many of the teams. Here are the uniforms the company thinks the Boston Red Sox should wear to celebrate Patriots Day, since those old colors just reflect the flag of the racist nation founded on the backs of slaves:

They look like eggs.

And of course, no red socks.

2. The rest of the story! Remember this post, about San Francisco’s lunatic school board declaring that one-third of the city’s school names, including those honoring Washington, Jefferson,  Lincoln, James Madison and both Roosevelts , Presidents Monroe, McKinley, Herbert Hoover and James Garfield; John Muir, the naturalist and author; James Russell Lowell, abolitionist poet and editor; Paul Revere,  Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,  Daniel Webster, and current California Senator and former city mayor Diane Feinstein must be replaced so as not to honor individuals who were, in the words of an over-acting character in “The Birds”,

Rendering the equivalent of Tippy Hedren’s slap to these idiots has been, well, just about everybody, from historians, scholars, parents, anyone with an IQ above freezing, and even San Francisco’s reliably woke mayor. Implementing the re-naming was also expected to embroil the city in litigation. So now, the school board, after pausing its grand cancellation project, is expected to overturn its decision after wasting a lot of time and money, and making the city appear even more absurd than it usually does, which is quite an achievement.

You would think that someone on the school board would have been sufficiently smart, competent, responsible grounded in reality to predict the fate of such a mass historical airbrushing. Nope!

This isn’t called The Great Stupid for nothing, you know.

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Saturday Morning Ethics: Christmas Countdown Edition

The story of that Christmas classic, Bing’s last holiday hit and also the last popular Christmas song that references its religious origins, is here.

I almost called this post the Clinton Impeachment Anniversary Edition, but decided to be more upbeat. It was on this date that William Jefferson Clinton became the second U.S. President to be impeached. Like the first, the unfortunate Andrew Johnson, Clinton was acquitted in the Senate. Also like Johnson, Clinton was impeached for genuine reasons consistent with the Constitution’s requirements. The next impeachment—did you notice how Democrats never mentioned it during the 2020 campaign?—-was very different: the Democratic House just decided it wanted to impeach President Trump and contrived an excuse to do it after three years of searching.

As veteran readers here know, it was the near complete absence of ethical analysis from the news media during Monica Madness and the mountain of rationalizations and obfuscations employed by Clinton’s defenders that prompted me to launch The Ethics Scoreboard, which in due course led to Ethics Alarms.

1. A bar exam ethics train wreck in California. The ABA Journal reports that more than 3,000 law school grads who sat for the State Bar of California’s remote October exam had their proctoring videos flagged for review, and dozens report receiving violation notices from the agency’s office of admissions. The issues flagged appear to be largely technology-based, and many claim they had no indication of a problem until they received violation notices. The flagging will create serious problems for those involved. A Chapter 6 Notice, as it is called, allows an applicant to respond in writing before any finding is made. If there is a determination that a test-taker violated procedures, bar actions could include warnings, a score of zero for the flagged sessions or the entire exam and negative marks on character and fitness evaluations, endangering the applicant’s prospects of receiving a license.

An individual can challenge the office’s determination and request an administrative hearing, and an unfavorable outcome can be appealed with the Committee of Bar Examiners and the California Supreme Court. However, those applicants’ October bar exam scores will be in limbo while hearings and appeals are resolved, and they will not be able to take the February 2021 exam when determinations of previous scores are pending.

The violations cited include examinees’ eyes being intermittently out of view of their webcams, audio not working; and test-takers not being present behind their computers during the exam. In other words, this is another disaster created by pandemic hysteria and technology unsuited to the challenge of providing an adequate alternative to in-person activity.

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Ethics Corrupter: The Boston Red Sox

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Sometimes, a mere “ethics dunce” designation isn’t enough.

The decision, announced yesterday, by the Boston Red Sox to rehire disgraced manager Alex Cora to a two-year contract that will again put him at the helm of the team is disgusting and indefensible, unethical to the core. For me, it constitutes 2020’s second major ethics offense by an organization and a sport that has been important on many levels throughout my life, substantially challenging my loyalty and affection.

I was going to call the post “Ethics Strike Two On the Boston Red Sox,” but that formula would require me to give the team a third chance to disgrace itself before I called it “out” of my life, and I don’t know if I can do that. Nonetheless, I’m going to attempt to keep the emotional component of this most recent ethics breach on the metaphorical bench in this post as I try to be objective.

I won’t promise that I will succeed.

Cora was fired by the Red Sox in January after he was found to be the architect of the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scheme, one of the worst scandals in Major League Baseball history, trailing only the 1918 Black Sox scandal and the illegal player steroid era in its degree of damage to the sport. Commissioner Rob Manfred later suspended Cora through the end of the 2020 postseason. The revelation that Cora, a bench coach for then Astros manager A. J. Hinch,  had been at the center of an organized cheating scheme that helped bring the Houston Astros a World Championship also cast a shadow over the following year’s World Championship achieved by the Boston Red Sox, which had hired Cora as its manager. Did the cheating mastermind from Houston bring his unethical ways to his first managing job? Why wouldn’t he?

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Ethics On A Sunday Afternoon, 9/27/2020: Baseball And Rainbow Hearts [Corrected]

1. For the first time since I was 12, I’m glad to see the regular baseball season come to an end.

Not only was the 60-game make-shift schedule played before empty stadiums,  with fake crowd noises and cardboard cut-outs a farce, but it looks like some of the accommodations made to adjust to Life Under Lockdown will stick, cheapening the game forever. The worst is the expanded play-off system, which, like the National Hockey League version, basically makes the regular season irrelevant. Maybe the habitually wrong-headed owners will reject it for future seasons, but I’m not sanguine. The extra-innings gimmick of starting each half-inning with a player on second is an abomination, and only slightly less offensive are the seven inning games in double-headers.

Meanwhile, I haven’t watched or followed a Boston Red Sox game since the team joined the one-day wildcat strike to protest the racist, brutal shooting of Jacob Blake, which was neither racist in motive nor an example of police brutality. I’ll be writing a long letter to the team this week: if it alienated me, it’s not only in trouble, it doesn’t know its fan base. And if I get anything approaching the “you’re just a racist not to believe that black lives matter” response that I got from idiot Boston sportswriter Pete Abraham, I’m burning all my Red Sox memorabilia, and burying the stuff that doesn’t burn.

Meanwhile, the club showed its ethics deficits in other ways. Before today’s merciful finale, the team announced that manager Ron Roenicke would not be returning in 2021, a move that was inevitable but that certainly didn’t have to be made now, before the season was even over. Roenicke did nothing to distinguish himself in the lost 2020 season, but he was a good soldier, doing his best—which appears to be mediocrity personified—to guide a snake-bitten team that began by losing its popular manager, Alex Cora because he’s a cheater, then traded its best player, superstar Mookie Betts, then lost its star pitcher to arm surgery and its second best pitcher to the complications from Wuhan virus. The Boston team began a 60 game season by quickly falling ten games under .500, guaranteeing no post season slot, and several of the veteran players started going through the motions. Roenicke, in short, never had wisp of a chance, and the team would have crashed if he were a combination of Casey Stengel, Earl Weaver, John McGraw and Connie Mack

Boston fans, even those that are not disgusted with the team for slapping huge racist, Marxist, lie-based slogans inside and outside Fenway Park, will not want to be reminded of this season, so Roenicke’s demise was mandatory, but he deserved to be treated with some respect. Not even waiting until the season to dump him was over has a “this guy is so bad we can’t stand having him around another second” stench to it, and he did not deserve that.

Well, there’s always the Yankees... Continue reading

Tuesday Ethics Tidbits, 8/18/2020: Michelle Lies, The Convention Dies, An Ethicist Is Unwise, And A Red Sox Fan Cries

1. Loyalty dilemma. I have deliberately refused to watch the last two Red Sox games against the Yankees. This, for me, is high treason. For more than 50 years, I have supported the team through its darkest hours, thus entitling me to take special pleasure during its greatest triumphs. There was stretch of 15 years, many of them with dreadful Red Sox teams,in which I watched, attended or listened to every game, even when it required standing on a chair while holding the radio to the ceiling, as Lithuanian folk music broke into the broadcast without warning. However, the current edition looks like it has quit. I get it: the team lost its manager, Cheatin’ Alex Cora. It had to trade its best player, Mookie Betts, to the Dodgers because he was determined to sell his services to the highest bidder after this season.  The team’s ace, Chris Sale, is out for the year after arm surgery; last season’s biggest winner got a heart infection from the Wuhan virus and has to sit out the season as well. The team traded last season’s #2 starter because he was absurdly overpaid, and let the #3 sign with the Mets because he was a poor gamble at 20 million a year. Even with all that, the team figured to be competitive because it had, or was supposed to have, a dominant offense. Yet the Red Sox have the worst record in baseball, even worse than the Marlins, who lost half its squad to the pandemic, and with only 40 games left, things aren’t going to turn around.

It’s not the losing I mind: I’ve endured that before. I love baseball: watching your team  lose games can still be exciting and fun. But the Red Sox players look like they’re just waiting for this strange, shortened, season without fans and with piped in crowd sounds to end. Why should I watch that, when it take three hours out of my day, the team is behind by 5 runs by the fourth inning in every game, and watching is less fun than “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”?

And I’m not even considering the giant “Black Lives Matter” banner across the Fenway Park center field bleachers…

Or, having derived so much wisdom, perspective, diversion and joy from Boston’s iconic team throughout my life, am I obligated to stay the course, even if it is just one more thing to make me miserable?

2. No. Just no. Ethics professor Parker Crutchfield is troubled that everyone won’t follow Wuhan virus protection measures, writing,
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Baseball Ethics While Watching Baseball, Part 1: “Nothing”

I should be writing an evening ethics potpourri, but I’m watching the Red Sox, who have been terrible, play the Mets, who I detest, so I’m too distracted. But while I was sitting here, two baseball ethics issues popped up. I can chew gum and walk at the same time, but I can chew gum and think about gum.

The first issue is schadenfreude-related. John McNamara died today in his eighties. He’s the Boston Red Sox manager most fans, including me, hold responsible for the Sox losing to the Mets in the 1986 World Series`. I’m sure Johnny Mac, as he was called, was a wonderful husband and father, but he was a lazy, terrible manager who got jobs when lazy, terrible team owners wanted to choose an organization man who wouldn’t rock the boat. He was incompetent, basicly, like so many middle managers in conventional businesses who take jobs away from better, harder-working, smarter people because they know how to play the right games and suck up to the right people. As a baseball manager his stock in trade was inertia. He had a flat learning curve, assumed problems would solve themselves eventually, and never took risks.

He was the epitome of a hack, in short. Such employees and professionals are a blight on society and civilization, but it’s not intentional, and not exactly their fault that there are too many of their breed, and that collectively they make life for the rest of us more nasty, brutish and short than it should be. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/25/2020: The Congressional Playpen And Other Embarrassments

Good Morning!

Bulgaria has a holiday called “July Morning” that celebrates freedom, friendship, and love of life.

Maybe I’ll move to Bulgaria…

1. I cannot believe this doesn’t alienate more people than it pleases. I watched the Red Sox-Orioles game last night to open the Strangest Baseball Season Ever in Boston, and would have enjoyed it completely ( the Sox won 13-2) had I not had to constantly avert my eyes from the Red Sox management’s ostentatious virtue signaling, if you can call it that, since pandering to Black Lives Matter is far from virtuous.

Not only was the special BLM MLB logo at the back of the pitcher’s mound (BLM MLB is a palindrome!), but the full Black Lives Matter name was emblazoned on a banner, about 250 feet long, across the empty bleachers.

I’d love to know how many Red Sox executives, or if any of them, actually know what the “movement” the team is pimping for intends. My guess is that the decision to promote BLM was a cynical go along to get along decision that had nothing to do with substance, but rather was made in fear and expediency.

2. On the Fox News harassment accuser. The sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Tucker Carlson by Cathy Areu now appears to have fatal flaws. Continue reading