Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/5/2019: Knaves, Idiots, And Fools

Good Morning!

1. Stupid lawsuit update. The bitter ex-Ethics Alarms commenter now appealing the obvious ruling by a Massachusetts judge that his vindictive defamation suit against me continued his abuse of process by filing a spurious motion accusing me of contempt of court and perjury, and calling for sanctions.. It’s 100% baloney, but I still have to file an answer, thus wasting more of my time, which is the point. I’m debating whether to note in my opposition to the motion that the man is an asshole.

2. What an idiot, #1: You have been signed to a ridiculous contract by the Philadelphia Phillies, 13 years for $330 million dollars. You waited four months to do so, jamming up the careers and lives of dozens of lesser players because you really didn’t want to play there, and were determined to get a record setting amount. You know the city’s fans are dubious about your loyalty and commitment, though you have stated that you took such a long contract to demonstrate that commitment. Now you are being introduced to your new team, city and fan base after spending all of your career playing for one of their rival in the National League East, the Washington Nationals. Do you carefully plan out what you will say, when you have your turn at the microphone, knowing that one has only one chance to make a good first impression?

Not if you are Bryce Harper. Yesterday, at his press conference, he said that he wanted to bring a World Series title to Washington D.C.

It’s going to be a long 13 years. For everyone.

3.  What an idiot, #2: Special counsel Robert Mueller notified federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson that Roger Stone had sent  an Instagram post which containing a photo of Mueller under the words “Who framed Roger Stone,” despite Stone being under Jackson’s gag order barring him from speaking in public about Mueller’s team and its investigation.
Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Philadelphia Phillies Pitcher Vince Velasquez

I am now officially a Vince Velasquez fan.

Pitching in the second inning last night against my Washington Nationals (they will briefly cease being my team when they face the Red Sox in an inter-league series this week), Velasquez was nailed in his pitching shoulder by 97-mph line drive from the Nats’ Adam Eaton.  Rather than fall to the ground screaming—the ball easily could have broken the pitcher’s arm—Velasquez continued doing his job. He went after the deflected ball, throwing off his glove as he ran, picked it up with his left (non-pitching) hand, and threw hard and accurately to first base for the out.

THEN he fell to the ground in agony from the pain in his injured pitching arm. Velasquez was placed on the disabled list after the game, which he left immediately.

From a purely athletic standpoint, the play was remarkable. Velasquez is obviously ambidextrous, and I assume he has thrown a baseball left-handed before. Nonetheless, doing so in a game situation so accurately is astounding. Ethically, which is more important (here anyway), his play demonstrated exemplary character. His first thought was not of himself, though nobody would have thought less of him if the pitcher had fallen to his knees in pain immediately and taken himself out of the play. Velasquez’s immediate focus was on his job, and hid duty to his team. He not only completed the play, but reacted to the circumstances coolly and efficiently, exhibiting courage, diligence, sacrifice, responsibility, and competence.

Vince Velasquez is the baseball equivalent of the hero in a war movie who tosses the decisive hand-grenade into the nest of enemy soldiers after he has sustained a crippling wound.

Crotch-Grabbing Ethics: A Pitcher And An Umpire Make A Dunce/Hero Pair, And Baseball Teaches The NFL About Values

Jonathan Papelbon

I don’t know about you, but I need a break, however brief, from the NBA’s political correctness self-immolation and the NFL proving that it really has no idea what’s right or wrong when its players are violent off the field. Fortunately, Major League Baseball has its own, rather less societally significant ethics scandal for this baseball fan to focus on.

Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon has been very good this year, unlike the rest of his team., but he was lousy Sunday, blowing a big lead for the last place Phillies in front of a home town crowd over the weekend. The Philly fans, as they are famous for doing, booed him lustily as he left the field, so classy Papelbon grabbed his cup and gave it a heave, as he stared down the mob. Translation: “Boo THIS!”

At this point, home plate umpire Joe West, a crummy umpire from a technical viewpoint but notable as an outspoken arbiter of the conduct of players, threw Papelbon out of the game. This was unusual, because Papelbon was almost certainly through for the day anyway. The ejection under such circumstances  didn’t mean the umpire’s usual, “You are unprofessionally challenging my authority regarding a call that does not favor your team and delaying the game, so you can’t play today any more,” but the more succinct and far more rare, “You’re really an asshole.”

Papelbon then took offense, and furiously confronted the umpire. Now Major League Baseball has suspended Papelbon for seven days, and is enjoying it, telling sports fans and the media, “See? The NFL suspends its players for a game or two when they punch women in the face and beat their kids with a log. We kick out our players for seven games just for being rude.” Continue reading

Sigh. Cliff Lee Isn’t An Ethics Hero After All

I just pulled a post designating new Philadelphia Phillies pitching ace Cliff Lee an Ethics Hero “because more than any free agent sports figure in recent history, he displayed  integrity, common sense, sound life priorities and courage by deciding where he wanted to ply his trade based on factors other than the size of his paycheck alone.” Sadly, Cliff’s honor is hereby revoked. As the details of the deal he has agreed to with the Phillies emerged this morning, it appears that he did not, as reported earlier, forgo the opportunity to make an additional $50 million dollars by signing with the New York Yankees or Texas Rangers. Arguably, he took the richest deal.

Sigh. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: San Diego Padres First Baseman Adrian Gonzalez

“In essence, if I take what you call a San Diego discount then I’m affecting their market. I’m affecting what they are going to make. It’s a lot like real estate. That’s the reason why. The way the game of baseball is set up, we have to protect each other. We have to do what’s best for each other.”

—-San Diego Padres superstar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, explaining to an interviewer why he would sign with the highest bidder when he becomes a free agent next season, rather than stay in San Diego, his home, for a lesser salary.

If you don’t follow baseball, you might not know who Adrian Gonzalez is. He is a phenomenal young (28) superstar who has yet to earn the mega-millions that his skill would demand on the open market, because he has yet to fulfill his obligation to the team that brought him to the majors, the San Diego Padres. His time is coming, however: he will be a free agent after the 2011 season. The Padres, a small market franchise without a spendthrift owner, can’t and won’t pay as much to keep their best player as large market predators like the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels or Phillies will pay to acquire him. Gonzalez will be able to demand in the vicinity of 20 million dollars a year from these teams. The only hope the Padres have would be if Gonzalez, a longtime resident of San Diego and active in the community there, will accept less money to stay where he has roots, what is referred to as a “home town discount.” Continue reading

The Fan, the Taser, and Respect for the Law

A teenaged fan ran out on the field in the middle of a Philadelphia Phillies game a couple of days ago. This happens many times, too many times, during the baseball season, and it is always followed by a merry chase, sometimes with fans laughing or cheering, featuring over-weight security staff or police trying to capture the fool, and occasionally a featuring a  surprise, like a player intervening and decking the guy. There was a surprise this time, all right: when the fan wouldn’t stop after the pursuing officer told him to, he was shot with a taser. And some fans cheered at that, too.

A tsunami of criticism is now crashing over the security officer, condemning the tasering of 17-year-old Steve Consalvi, sometimes in terms more appropriate to discussing Abu Ghraib. If I were Consalvi’s father, I would counsel him to immediately issue a statement taking full responsibility for the incident and absolving the officer. The teen’s conduct was irresponsible and illegal, and for it to result in any adverse employment action against the security officer who tasered him would only compound the offense. This is especially true because the critics of the officer are dead wrong. They are in the grip of a dangerous, illogical but increasingly popular idea in our culture that submitting to  legitimate police authority is one of those things that we can do or not do without consequences or stigma. The fan on the field is one of the mildest examples of disrespect for the law, but it is a perfectly good place to start getting our ethics unmuddled. Continue reading