In The Dead Of Winter, Welcome Baseball Ethics News

The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reports  that automated ball and strike calling is now inevitable, and we may see it as early as 2022. He writes, “The mental games used to inch the strike zone this way or that has long been a tool of the game’s best – from the hitters whose impeccable eye define it, to the pitchers’ whose pinpoint control push to expand it – but an automated zone will all but abolish the in-game politicking of the strike zone, giving hitters a new advantage they have long been without: certainty. Robot umpires will define the strike zone with better precision than their carbon-based forerunners – but first the humans must decide what they want that strike zone to be. For those particularly fond of strike zone drama, appreciate it now, because deciding on the parameters of the automated zone might be one of the last great strike zone debates before the robots take over.”

Good.

Once computer graphics allowed TV viewers to see blatantly botched ball and strike counts in real time, this development became a serious matter of trust and integrity. The baseball Luddites who continue to argue that missed ball and strike calls are part of baseball’s charm and should be retained  as “the human factor” have sounded progressively more desperate and ridiculous as the seasons pass.

Statistical analysis has shown decisively how much a bad ball or strike call even early in the count can change the outcome of an at bat and a game. Look at this chart:

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/15/18: Overthrowing The Government, Replacing Umpires, and Fooling Some Of The People Who Never Did Their Science And Math Assignments [UPDATED!]

Good morning…

1. Baseball Ethics: Again, Robocalls, please! Last night, Game #2 of the American League Championship Series between the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros and some team from Boston again showed why Major League Baseball must install automated ball and strike calls and automatic video review if the game is going to have any integrity at all. Regarding the latter, there was a play in which a Houston batter’s swing and miss for strike three was erroneously called a foul ball by the home plate umpire, and the replay claerly showed that the bat had missed any contact by inches. Nonetheless, the batter got another chance. He struck out (“no harm, no foul” literally) a second time, but that was just moral luck. If he had hit a home run, altering the game’s outcome, the system would have been changed with lightning speed: Ye Olde Barn Door Fallacy.

Regarding the constant missed call and strike calls that risk changing the outcome in every game, the previous game in the serious contained a classic example. In a close contest with the two runners on base and a 3-2 count, Red Sox batter Andrew Benintendi was called out on a pitch about six inches outside the strike zone. Instead of the inning continuing with the bases loaded and the AL season RBI leader, J.D. Martinez, coming to the plate, the inning was over. Listening to the ex-players like TBS color man Ron Darling babble excuses and rationalizations is almost as infuriating as the obviously wrong calls. “Well, the ball wasn’t too far off the plate” and “That pitch has been called a strike earlier tonight” and “The umpires have a difficult job”: Shut up, Ron. The strike zone is set by the rules; a ball is either a strike or it isn’t, so a call is either correct or it’s botched. Blatantly missed calls were “part of the game” in an earlier era when nothing could be done about them, but that’s not true now. Baseball is supposed to be determined by the skill and performance of the players, not by random, unpredictable mistakes by the bystanding officials. Can you imagine a criminal defendant sent to prison in a trial where the judge repeatedly allowed inadmissible evidence against him because he misinterpreted the law, and the appeals court shrugging and rejecting an appeal with a unanimous opinion that said, “Hey, mistakes happen! It’s part of the system’s tradition and charm!”

2. Run, Fauxahontas, Run!  Fake Native American Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) announced that she finally did have her DNA tested. No cheapie home test for this aspiring Cherokee: she had the DNA test performed  by Carlos D. Bustamante, a Stanford University professor (and Democrat) and expert in the field who won a 2010 MacArthur fellowship for his work on tracking population migration via DNA analysis.  He concluded that “the vast majority” of Warren’s ancestry is European, but he added that “the results strongly support the existence of an “unadmixed Native American ancestor,” and calculated that Warren’s pure Native American ancestor appears in her family tree “in the range of 6-10 generations ago.” That’s a big range: six generations would make her 1/32nd American Indian, but ten generations would make her 1/1024th Native American. Nothing in the test proves she has the Cherokee ancestry she claims.

UPDATE: Apparently the Globe reporters and editors are among the math-challenged. Mid-day, it issued a second correction:

“Due to a math error, a story about Elizabeth Warren misstated the ancestry percentage of a potential 6th to 10th generation relative. The generational range based on the ancestor that the report identified suggests she’s between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American,” the Globe explained.

This means Warren is somewhere between 0.09 and 1.5 percent Native American, not between .19 and 3.1 percent as originally claimed.

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Criminal Defense Ethics: The Aneurysm-Inducing Argument

Darrow would understand.

Apoplectic stand-up comic Louis Black has a classic routine in which he describes how a snippet of a conversation he over-heard at an IHOP nearly killed him. The statement, “If it hadn’t been for that horse, I never would have spent that year in college,” made no sense to him at all and kept going around and around in his brain, threatening to cause a fatal aneurysm.

I know exactly how he feels.

A week ago, I read a news account of the election fraud trial of one Julius Henson, a former campaign consultant to ex-Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich. This was the second trial arising out Ehrlich’s dirty and unsuccessful campaign in 2010 to win re-election over Democrat Martin O’Malley. In the first one, Ehrlich’s campaign manager, Peter Schurick, was convicted of election fraud for approving an election day robocall that went out to African-Americans in Maryland who were registered Democrats, suggesting that they “relax” and stay home, because O’Malley had already won. In the article, it said that Henson’s attorney had offered the defense that the call, which was created by Henson with his wife’s voice on the recording, was not designed to suppress the black vote for O’Malley. It was, argued Edward Smith, intended to prompt them to go to the polls and vote for Erhlich through the use of “reverse psychology.”

WHAT??? Continue reading

Ethical Quote of the Week: Ed Koch

You're still doin' just fine, Ed!

“David Weprin is making phone calls trying to scare seniors. They’re nonsense. Weprin should be ashamed of himself . . . Bob Turner is running for Congress to protect your Medicare and Social Security. If anyone tries to scare you with lies about Bob Turner, tell ’em Ed Koch told them to knock it off!”

——Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, in a robocall on behalf of Republican Bob Turner, who is alarming Democrats by threatening to win Anthony Weiner’s vacant House seat in New York’s 9th Congressional District.  The State Democratic Committee, trying to bolster his opponent, Democrat David Weprin, had sent their own robocalls to senior voters, warning that Turner wanted to “dismantle” Social Security  (Translation: “You won’t get your checks!” This is a lie, as no politician has proposed any Social Security reform that would alter the benefits of any current or soon-to-be recipients of Social Security benefits.)  and end the program “as we know it.” Continue reading