Ethics Note To The Chicago Cubs: Double Standards Promote Racial Discord Even When They Aren’t As Stupid As Yours

The Chicago Cubs ridiculous virtue signaling and capitulation to political correctness bullying is metaphorically coming home to roost.

Love it.

In May, as I wrote about here, the Cubs banned a fan for life because he made the ubiquitous “OK” sign behind a black broadcaster. Nobody had any basis to say with certainty what the fan meant, but after the Twitter mob demanded the fans head, the Cubs meekly complied. You see, the OK gesture might have meant, “My race is better than your race,” because a rumor was circulated online that “OK” is a white power symbol.  It might have been trolling by someone who knew that the  symbol would trigger social justice warriors. Or, you know, OK might have just meant “OK” as it as for almost 200 years.

Hmmm…tough one! Occam’s Razor, anyone? Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Cubs Fan Ban

(I have already made up my mind about this one, but I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise…hence the quiz.)

At the start of the bottom of the third inning of the May 7th Marlins-Cubs game, the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast went to analyst Doug Glanville for some “in the stands” commentary. Behind Glanville,  , a fan in a hoodie waved hello to the camera, flashed a peace sign, then made an upside-down OK hand gesture with his fingers.

Always looking for outrages and ways to hype racial tension, sharp-eyed activists flooded  the Cubs  with tweets like this:

@cubs @dan_bernstein What say you about this racist fan flashing a white power sign behind Mr. Glanville at tonight’s game? pic.twitter.com/zR7DqYWgQv

— Marc Lipkin (@Flipkin) May 8, 2019

Whether or not that gesture is “racist” is a matter of opinion, debate, and context. Annoyingly and self-consciously “woke” lawyer-NBC sports blogger Craig Calcaterra explains: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/28/2018: Short, But Disturbing…

Good Morning!

1. Am I a chicken? Today I am doing an early morning CLE seminar for prosecutors and government lawyers, and there are a lot of juicy issues that I am staying away from. Last year’s seminar on this topic with this audience bogged down almost immediately in political arguments, and later I received complaints, which I almost never do. Despite the fact that the ethics of government lawyers have never been more under a microscope than  now, today’sthree-hour course is going to almost (almost) completely avoid the controversies surrounding the Mueller investigation, Rosenstein, Strzok and the rest. I am going to mention Andrew McCabe’s use of GoFundMe, but only in the context of lawyers crossing ethics lines while using the web.

Is avoiding the political controversies wrong and cowardly when they are so relevant to the topic of government ethics? I’ve been thinking about this for months. In the end, I have decided that the distraction and static is more damaging to the mission—giving government lawyers a chance to tune up their ethics alarms—than the embargoed topics are essential. There is more to cover than I have time for anyway.

2. More on the baseball mind-control front. Back in 2015, then-Mets second-baseman Daniel Murphy said in an interview that he “did not agree with the lifestyle” of a gay former player. Now, two teams later, he is playing for the Chicago Cubs, and the news media has resuscitated the “scandal”—apparently not agreeing with someone else’s lifestyle when that lifestyle has been officially sanctified is a scandal now—and Murphy is being examined, prodded and watched. Are his anti-gay—apparently not “agreeing” with something is to be “anti-“ too—attitudes a burden on the team? Are they “harming” gay fans? Gays in general? It is clear that Murphy will never stop being a target of political correctness-besotted reporters until he publicly embraces his inner gayness, announces that he has forsworn his sincere religious beliefs (they are  behind the times), and publicly endorses every LGBT issue under the skies. Of course, gay baseball fans in Chicago will be happy with Murphy as long as he hits and helps the Cubs win games, which is all that should matter, and in fact is all that does.

The lesson of Murphy’s ordeal is, I suppose, that no celebrity or public figure should dare utter non-conforming opinions or views, unless they are willing to be hounded by the political correctness Furies to the grave.

I don’t believe this condition is compatible with freedom of thought and expression, but then, neither are the Furies. And those who would deny Murphy leave to “disagree” with whatever he choose to disagree with want freedom of thought and expression to be constrained, or as the Supreme Court put it, “chilled.”

3. Flag up, flag down. Apparently there are people who have nothing better to do than watch flag poles. In response to Senator McCain’s death, The White House lowered its U.S. flag to half-staff on Sunday, raised it back up and on Monday lowered it again after the death of Senator John McCain, in a break with the tradition following the passing of a national leader. Based on the reaction of my Facebook friends, this was far more outrageous than the Catholic Church facilitating child rape for the last 50 years or so. Finally, under pressure from the news media, veterans and members of Congress, President Trump  ordered flags to half-staff, and came out with a late, grudging tribute to McCain.

Yes, the President should have treated McCain like prior departed leaders of his stature and duration on the national scene.

Yes, his response was petty.

Yes, he is petty, and yes, apparently Trump being Trump will perpetually be news.

Yes, John McCain is dead, and his orders that the President of the United States isn’t welcome at his funeral still stand.

Yes, the news media’s attitude is that McCain’s pettiness was justified, because any anti-Trump attitudes are per se virtuous and just, and Trump’s pettiness is just more proof that he should be impeached.

Got it.

4. Lanny Lanny Lanny…In July, CNN published a story claiming that President Trump knew about the planned Trump Tower meeting with some Russians bearing gifts of dirt on Hillary Clinton, or so they had claimed delegation. According to their anonymous source, former Trump fixer and Olympics-level slimemeister Michael Cohen claims Trump was briefed on the meeting. It now appears that the only source for CNN’s story was Lanny Davis, Hillary Clinton’s and Bill’s fixer and Olympics-level slimemeister. Now Lanny is saying that he was somehow “misunderstood.” You see, his client testified under oath to Congress that Trump did not know, so Lanny’s leak to CNN implicated his own Client in a crime—one that he hasn’t pled guilty to yet. Now all of the media outlets, notably the Washington Post, that went into full impeachment heat over the CNN story are having to backtrack, just like Lanny. [Pointer: Liberty Girls]

Nah, Chuck Todd is right, there’s no news media anti-Trump bias!

Sarcasm aside, I find it impossible to believe that a majority of the public isn’t sick of this.

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/23/2018: Look! A Trump And Biased News Media-Free Warm-Up!

Good morning.

The three days of heavy rain wouldn’t bother me so much if it didn’t make Rugby so miserable. You do NOT want to be cooped up with an unhappy Jack Russell Terrier. Trust me on this.

1. Baseball Ethics, Jerk Division. Watch this:

Yes, that guy deliberately took a baseball away from a kid who lost hold of it after it had been tossed to him by Cubs first base coach Will Venable during yesterday’s Cubs-Cardinals game. Apparently the child was given a replacement ball by the Cubs, and this one was autographed. The gesture also took some the inevitable heat off the jerk who snatched the ball. with the Cubs telling reporters that he had helped the same boy get a ball earlier in the game and wasn’t really a monster.

A few points:

  • That the kid ended up, as some commentators put it, “better off” because the jerk stole his ball is pure moral luck, and doesn’t make what the guy did any less wrong, cruel or despicable.
  • Neither is it mitigation that the same man—claims the Cubs—helped the kid get another ball earlier. What kind of ethical principle is that? “I helped you before, so this entitles me to steal from you now: all even, right?”
  • Please save some contempt for the woman the jerk gave the purloined ball to. She should have handed the ball right back to the child, She’s as big a jerk as her friend is.

2. Now consider this: what if the jerk was a federal judge nominated to fill a Supreme Court seat? Would that video be fair game to consider in evaluating his qualifications to be a SCOTUS justice? Let’s have a poll:

Continue reading

From The Moral Luck Files: Searching For The Tipping Point On Robo-Umpires

Tonight the MLB play-offs end, leaving us with a World Series featuring either the Yankees against the Dodgers (tell me how that one turns out), or the Houston Astros against the Dodgers, which is better. My wife’s wish for a blown ball-strike call so obvious and outrageous as well as game-deciding that baseball resolves to let computers police the strike zone did not, alas, occur.

This did, however:

In the top of the eighth inning of a crucial  Dodgers-Cubs NLDS game, Dodger batter Curtis Granderson struck out. The pitch hit the dirt, and Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, as the rules require when a strike isn’t caught cleanly, tagged Gunderson for the final out of the inning. Granderson argued to home plate umpire Jim Wolf that his bat had made slight contact with the ball. It  didn’t. The replay showed that his bat missed the ball by at least four inches.  Nonetheless Wolf, after conferring with the other umpires agreed that the ball was a foul tip. Gunderson’s at bat was still alive.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon rushed out to argue the call and was ejected. Meanwhile, the Cubs big video screen in centerfield showed the replay, as the crowd booed. The umpires  deliberately did not look at the Jumbotron. After the game, Wolf watched the video and told reporters that he had indeed, as everyone already knew, blown the call.
Continue reading

Ethics Hero: The Chicago Cubs Organization

This was a wonderful gesture of kindness and reconciliation. It won’t mean much to those who don’t follow baseball, and that is Reason #478,653,222 why it’s a mistake not to follow baseball.

I’ve written about the Steve Bartman fiasco several times, both here and on the currently off-line Ethics Scoreboard.  I am not in the “Steve Bartman was an innocent victim of circumstance” camp, though he was a victim of moral luck. He was an  incompetent baseball fan, not paying sufficient attention to the game and interfering with it as a direct result. On the other hand, for members of the 2003 Cubs to use him as a scapegoat for their blowing a lead,  the game, and the play-offs, and for Chicago fans to hound him out of town and into hiding, was far worse than his negligence, the most disproportionate and vindictive treatment of a fan in sports history.

Here was my summary of the saga to date before the Cubs finally won the World Series after more than a century of failure:

Bartman, for those of you who have lived in a bank vault since 2003, was the hapless young Chicago Cubs fan 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. In a perfect display of the dangers of moral luck, 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 constituted 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 Series. Bartman, who issued a sincere and pitiful apology, was widely vilified and literally run out of town. He then became part of Cubs and baseball lore, one more chapter in the sad saga has been called “the Billy Goat Curse,” the uncanny inability of this team to win it all.

Yesterday the Cubs announced that the team had privately awarded Bartman  an official Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Championship ring as a special gift from the the Cubs organization. These things contain 214 diamonds at 5.5 karats, three karats of genuine red rubies and 2.5 karats of genuine sapphires, and are worth about $70,000. Even so,  the symbolism is worth far more.

Tom Ricketts, the Cubs owner, issued a statement: Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein

“That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It’s baseball–a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I’m on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan.”

—-Theo Epstein, president of the Major League Baseball’s 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs, upon learning that Fortune Magazine had chosen him #1 among “The World’s Greatest Leaders” in a click-bait list released last week.

Thank-you, Theo, for explaining moral luck and the perils of consequentialism to the public. When it came down to the final innings of Game 7 in last year’s World Series, it looked for a while like Cubs manager Joe Maddon was about to blow the chance to win an elusive title after over a century of frustration by keeping his clearly gassed closer on the game. That his risky decision didn’t make Maddon a goat for the ages and Epstein one more name in the long list of Cubs saviors was pure moral luck—the element of chance that often distinguished heroes from villains. winners from losers and geniuses from fools in the public’s mind—and gross consequentialism, judging decisions by their uncontrollable results rather than their objectively judged wisdom and ethics at the time they were made.

If the Cleveland Indians had won that crucial game in extra-inning, no matter how, Epstein might have made Fortune’s list (I doubt it), but he would have been nowhere near the top. Continue reading

Sorry, Steve Bartman, But It’s Impossible To Leave You Alone

As the Chicago Cubs plowed their way to the World Series and a possible end to their 108 year failure to win a World Series, numerous sports writers, including some I thought were smart enough to know better, set out to prove their compassion, sensitivity and gooey caramel centers by arguing that the news media and fans should “leave Steve Bartman alone.” Bartman, for those of you who have lived in a bank vault since 2003, was the hapless young Chicago Cubs fan 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. In a perfect display of the dangers of moral luck, 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 constituted 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 Series. Bartman, who issued a sincere and pitiful apology, was widely vilified and literally run out of town. He then became part of Cubs and baseball lore, one more chapter in the sad saga has been called “the Billy Goat Curse,” the uncanny inability of this team to win it all.

Over time, even Bartman’s tormenters came to see that holding him responsible for the team’s failure was cruel consequentialism at its worst. Alou, who had sicced the Furies on Bartman by angrily pointing at him after the incident from the field and later told everyone that with the interference, he would have caught the ball, even came out ten years later–five years!—to say that he wouldn’t have caught the ball, and Bartman wasn’t to blame. (I wrote about that epic example of barn-door locking here.) Now, NBC’s Craig Calcattera and many others are beating a new drum: nobody should write about or talk about Stave any more, because it’s so unfair. Continue reading

KABOOM! The Wrigley Field DJ Really Thought This Would Be OK! (And The Cubs Get A Jumbo…)

exploding-head5

Talk about malfunctioning ethics alarms! This story made my head explode, once I confirmed that it was not a hoax, as I desperately hoped. It apparently made the heads of a lot of Cubs fans and Cubs executive blow craniums too.

If you don’t follow baseball closely, and by the way, what’s the matter with you?, you probably don’t know two crucial facts about the Chicago Cubs closer (that’s the pitcher who comes in to pitch the ninth when his team is ahead in a close game) Aroldis Chapman:

1. He throws the baseball over 100 mph. on almost every pitch, and has hit 105 mph. on the radar gun this season. Traditionally 90 mph on a pitcher;s fastball is considered good. 95 mph is considered very good. 100 mph is outrageous. Last year, Chapman threw more pitches over 100 mph than the rest of his league’s pitchers combined.

2. Chapman was suspended for much of this season for domestic abuse, under baseball’s new policies.

The Cubs recently acquired Chapman (from the Yankees) to be the team’s closer, in this, a season that bids fair to be the one that finally ends the team’s epic string of seasons without a World Series title. The Cubs last won the Series in 1908, over a century ago. The team hasn’t even made it to the Series since 1945.

Now here’s the punch-line.

Hold on to your head. Continue reading

The Phenom, The Agent And The Cubbies: 2015’s First Baseball Ethics Controversy

No, I don’t count Pete Rose.

Kris Bryant, whose day will come.

Kris Bryant, whose day will come.

The lesson of the Kris Bryant dispute is that sometimes the result that seems the least fair is also the right one. Bryant, in case you don’t follow baseball or do not live in Chicago, is the hot Chicago Cubs minor leaguer—what used to be called a “phenom” in the old days—who will not be playing third base for the Cubs when the season opens despite everyone’s agreement that he is not just ready for National League, but ready to star in it. Last week, the young man was assigned  to  the Cubs’ Triple-A Iowa farm team.  Cubs fans are upset. Sports pundits are outraged. Bryant’s agent is furious.

What’s going on here?

A lot.

The MLB  collective bargaining agreement, negotiated and signed by both baseball management and the players union, gives teams control over players for six years before a player can enter free agency and sell his talents to the highest bidder. Thus most young players earn a small percentage of their true market value initially, and, if they are good, hit the jackpot after that. (The average salary in Major League Baseball is $4 million a year). There is a catch, however—and an unavoidable loophole. A full season is defined as 172 days, though the season is 180 days. If a young player is left off the roster until there are fewer than 172 days remaining in the regular season, that season doesn’t count as one of the six years; a player can’t become a free agent mid-season six years later. Before the demise of the reserve system that bound a player to one team until the team released or traded him, there was no reason not to promote a promising minor league star to the big team the second it looked like he was ready. Now, there is a big reason: delaying those few games will give the team an extra year of control, since under the rule, 6 years and 171 games is still just six years. That means an extra year of the player at bargain compensation, and possibly an extra year of the player, since he can fly the coop once the clock has run.

This is not a new issue: players and agents have been complaining about teams doing this for years, but the rules allow it. Since the rules allow it, and since the monetary and competitive benefits of waiting those extra nine days can be huge, there is nothing unfair or unethical about a team taking advantage of the provision. Indeed, it would be irresponsible and a breach of management’s fiduciary duties not to save millions and ensure the extra year of a star’s services. What, then, has made Bryant’s case so contentious?

It’s the Cubs, that’s what. Continue reading