Comment of the Day: “World Series Ethics: Another Pine Tar Sighting, As Baseball Ethics Rot Gets A Thumbs Up From Legal Ethics Rot”

Volquez, unaware...

Volquez, unaware…

I think I made a poor call deciding not to write about the interesting ethics question that arose during Game #1 of the just completed World Series.

We learned during the broadcast of Game 2 on Fox that Daniel Volquez, the father of Kansas city Royals Game #1 starting pitcher Edinson Volquez, had died of heart trouble during the day in the Dominican Republic. But Volquez’s family had asked the team not to inform Volquez until after the game, and the team, on behalf of the family, asked the same of the broadcasters, directing them to withhold the news from the TV audience. I decided to pass on the story because I couldn’t confirm that Volquez didn’t know about his father’s passing, though it now appears he did not. That was foolish: the ethics issues are the same regardless of whether he knew.

Fortunately Ethics Alarms reader Noah D. insisted that the issue was attention worthy, and wrote his own commentary. I’ll have some comment at the end. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, World Series Ethics: Another Pine Tar Sighting, As Baseball Ethics Rot Gets A Thumbs Up From Legal Ethics Rot: Continue reading

World Series Ethics: His Decision Didn’t Work, But Mets Manager Terry Collins Was Right

KC wins

The end of the baseball season is traumatic for me, except for those few years that ended in Boston Red Sox championships, and those two golden glow seasons (1967 and 1975), when the team lost at the end but fought such a good fight that it felt like they had won. In my house we refer to the days between the end of the World Series and the beginning of Spring Training as The Dark Time.

On the plus side, I have about three more hours every day to do something productive.

For the second consecutive year, baseball ended with an ethics conundrum in its final game. Last night, as the Kansas City Royals battled back from a late deficit again (they had done so in the previous game as well) to take the Series four games to one,against the New York Mets at Citi Field, the topics were trust, courage, leadership, and most of all, consequentialism. The latter is to baseball as apple pie—or baseball— is to America.

Let me set the stage. The Royals, having stolen the previous game from the Mets’ grasp by an unlikely 8th inning rally (the Mets lost one game all season when they were leading in the 8th; they lost two such games in this five game series). With their backs against the wall (on the short end of a 3-1 game tally, the Mets had to win last night to avoid elimination), the New York sent their ace, the remarkable Matt Harvey, to the mound to do what aces do: win. Harvey had it all last night. After eight innings, the Royals hadn’t scored.  Harvey looked fresh in the eighth, and got the Royals out without surrendering a baserunner.

All season long, with a close game after eight innings, Mets manager Terry Collins would tell his starter to take a seat and let his closer finish the game. This is standard practice now: complete games by starting pitchers are a rarity. Once, not too long ago, the league leader in that category would be in double figures. Now the top is usually about five. Moreover, nobody cares. The best teams have 9th inning specialists who almost never lose one-run leads, much less two, and the Mets had a great one, Jeurys Familia.

After Harvey’s dominant eighth, the Fox cameras recorded the drama unfolding in the Mets dugout. Collins’ pitching coach told Harvey that his night was done and Familia, as usual, would close out the game. Harvey pushed past the coach to confront his manager, passionately. Let me finish it, he insisted. The game is mine. Continue reading

World Series Ethics: Another Pine Tar Sighting, As Baseball Ethics Rot Gets A Thumbs Up From Legal Ethics Rot

Sal Perez

Cameras during Game #2 of the 2015 World Series revealed that Kansas City Royals catcher Sal Perez had what appeared to be pine tar on his shin guard during the game. This would presumably be there for the purpose of surreptitiously smearing some of the gunk on the ball, then throwing it back to the pitcher so he could “get a better grip on the ball,” a.k.a “tamper with the baseball so it can do loop-de-loops.” This is illegal. It is cheating. According to Rule 8.02(a)(2), (4) and (5), the pitcher shall not expectorate on the ball, on either hand or his glove; apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball; [or]  deface the ball in any manner. The rule is unambiguous, and if a pitcher or a catcher is caught violating the rule, they are thrown out of the game with a suspension and fine to follow.

None of this happened to Perez or his pitcher that night. According to NBC Sports blogger Craig Calcaterra, a former practicing lawyer who I am officially disgusted with, the reason was that “Nobody cares,” including Calcaterra.

I wrote extensively about Major League Baseball’s unethical attitude toward violations of this particular rule last year, after an absurd sequence in which Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda was caught by TV cameras apparently using pine tar on his pitches without compliant from the opposing Red Sox, followed by Sox manager John Farrell saying that he hoped he would be “more discreet” about his cheating “next time,” and then when Pineda was more obvious about it next time, Farrell complained to the umpires, who threw Pineda out of the game (he was also suspended). I wrote, Continue reading

More All-Star Vote Cheating: A Lesson In How Corruption Spreads

KC-Royals-logo

Using computer technology to exceed the voting limitations of Major League Baseballs (sloppy, naive, badly-conceived) on-line voting rules to elect the American and National League All-Star teams, some Kansas City hackers managed to flood the virtual ballot box with enough votes to elect four Royals players to the squad (after a brief, frightening period when it looked like they would elect eight). Two of the starting Royal All-Stars, shortstop Alcides Escobar and catcher Salvador Perez, are clearly bogus victors who owe their slots and bonus provisions to the cheating ways of a couple of computer savvy fans—or, perhaps, a couple of assholes who distorted the vote, weakened the team, lessened the quality of the game and forced deserving players off the team because they could, to puff up their little pigeon chests with hacker pride.

Every year, MLB hold a supplemental election to let the fans choose among five candidates in each league who have impressive records but haven’t made the All-Star squad. That one is online only, and unlike the main vote, there are no limits to voting. With typical sensitivity (I don’t think the MLB’s leadership could define what cheating is with a gun at their heads), the brass ignored the obvious fact that someone in Kansas City was making a travesty out of the process, and paved the way for him/them/it to do it again. Sure enough, the one Royal on the list of candidates for the final slot, 3rd baseman Mike Moustakas, is leading the early returns. There are already six Royals on the team, not counting the manager, Ned Yost. Of course, MLB could have avoided this obvious problem by leaving Royals off the American League’s final five. Naaaa. That would make sense. Continue reading

Kansas City’s All-Star Game Cheat, And Why It Matters

May 22, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals second basemen Omar Infante (14) attempts a throw to first over St. Louis Cardinals base runner Peter Bourjos (8) during the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Another example of how the acceptance of cheating is seeping into American culture is being played out in the Major League All-Star Game voting. The American League squad supposedly elected by “fans,” will be announced tomorrow, and what the results will show is…

…that Major League Baseball, like the federal Office of Personnel Management, depended on technology with out comprehending technology, displaying unethical incompetence and harming those who had no choice but to trust it,

…that technologically adept computer dorks decided to rig the vote, harming the game, the sport, and deserving players, and

…that Major League Baseball is pretending there is no problem to minimize PR damage, its proven disastrous approach in other cheating scandals, such as the steroid infestation of the ’90s.

The ineptitude of the sport here is beyond belief, especially since this has happened before. Continue reading

Now THIS Is Disloyalty…

Good ol' whatshisname. We'll never forget him.

…also ingratitude, venality, and crassness.

Baseball’s  Kansas City Royals are putting the name of their ball park, now Kauffman Staudium, up for corporate bidding. Soon the stadium that stood as a monument to the late Kansas City community leader Ewing Kauffmann, who owned the Royals in their very first season (1969), built the state-of-the-art home for them that is still a source of civic pride, and turned the team into a model franchise and perennial pennant contender in record time, will be named “Kansas City Masterpiece Stadium” or something else that makes it a giant billboard. Meanwhile, little will be left to remind future baseball fans and Kansas City residents of the life and dedication of the man who was responsible for the city having a major league team at all. Continue reading

Pat Summitt, Failing a Great Leader’s Toughest Test

Be like Lou, Pat...so the next diminished leader can be like you.

Pat Summitt, the legendary University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach who has won more games than any other college coach ever, men’s or women’s, received test results from the Mayo Clinic at the end of May that confirmed early-onset Alzheimer’s type dementia.  The irreversible brain disease is now at work destroying the 59-year-old Summitt’s abilities of recall and cognition, and as it is for the other estimated 5 million Americans with the disabling disease, the prognosis is grim.

Everyone in the Tennessee and sports community as well as the media and all of us who have seen loved ones suffer with the disease are rallying behind Summitt, who is one of the toughest, smartest, most determined figures in sports. But Coach Summitt has decided that her symptoms are not yet severe enough to force her into retirement, and she intends to stay at the helm of the Tennessee women’s basketball team at least three more years.

It is the wrong decision. It is a selfish and unethical decision. The question is whether anyone will have the courage to try to convince Summitt that she has a duty to the team, the school, her own legacy and basic principles of ethics to change course and do the right thing. Quit. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Gil Meche

[ Finally reduced to hunt-and-pecking blog posts from an Arlington, VA. Starbucks as the result of a still-ongoing power outage at the Marshall home-office, I apologize for an uncharacteristically quiet day.]

All Kansas City pitcher Gil Meche needed to do to collect $12 million in 2011 was to show up, do his best to pitch—which his ailing right arm would no longer permit him to do—and cash the checks. But despite having an iron-clad contract (the last in a long-term deal he signed as a free agent), Meche decided to retire, thus ending the contract and forfeiting the money. Continue reading