Baseball Hall Of Fame Ethics Bulletin

The results of the voting for the Major league Baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown are in. The Baseball Writers Association of America elected Braves third-base great  Chipper Jones, slugger Jim Thome , relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman and Montreal Expo legend Vladimir Guerrero, excellent ad deserving choices all.

Joe Morgan is happy tonight. The writers did not elect Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa or Gary Sheffield, steroid cheats all. Nor did any of them come particularly close to the 75% of ballots cast (a voter can select up to ten) necessary for enshrinement.


Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/2/2018: Cheaters, Stoners And Head Explosions

good morning

(i lived in e e cummings’ old dorm room as a college freshman. never got him at all, but it would be great not to have to worry about the shift key)

1 Three wrongs don’t make a right. They track baseball’s Hall of Fame votes as they come in now, using those ballots that the baseball writers make public (not all of them do). It looks like neither Barry Bonds, nor Roger Clemens, the all-time “greats”—cheaters cannot be fairly considered great—who sullied the game and its records by using performance enhancing drugs, are not gaining support to the extent than many predicted, and will fall short again.

Good. That makes six years down and only four more to go before the two are no longer eligible for this method of entering Cooperstown. Not so good is the development that the newer and younger voters tend to support Barry and the Rocket while the older sportswriters they replace as voters did not. Why is this? Well, the young Turks don’t see anything wrong with illegal drugs, for one thing: they probably used–use?— them themselves. Next, they have been hearing the routine rationalizations and flawed arguments defending Bonds for 20 years, which can rot one’s brain—I know they have nearly rotted mine, and I know they are worthless. Mostly, I think, each succeeding American generation has less ethical literacy and competence than the one before. The field isn’t taught in grade school, is barely mentioned in the media, and unlike the good ol’ days of “The Lone Ranger,” “Father Knows Best”  and “The Defenders,” popular culture undermines an ethical culture more than it nurtures one.

There is also a new bad argument for letting in Bonds and Clemens, which would then open the floodgates for arguably worse baseball deplorables like Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez—who knows? Maybe even Pete Rose. That line of reasoning  is that since the Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig, who averted his gaze while the steroid epidemic was infecting every team and the evidence was undeniable, was admitted to the Hall last year by his complicit cronies, the cheating players he enabled should be forgiven too.

That this is increasingly being cited a justification by the younger writers tells us that mothers aren’t teaching their kids that two wrongs don’t make a right any more.

2.Three wrongs don’t make a right, Part II. In related news, California went all-pot-head at midnight New Years Eve. My conviction that legalizing marijuana is an abdication of government’s responsibility to protect society, a leap down a deadly slippery slope, and the product of greed and cowardice hasn’t abated one iota, but I’m happy to have a large-scale experiment to prove me wrong—or right. Now we can expect a wave of stoners as well as illegal immigrants into the Golden State—ah, what a paradise it will be! This creeping crud in U.S. culture is also in part the result of a terrible example of “two wrongs make a right” fallacy—I’m sure you have either heard it or—yecchh—used it yourself. “Alcohol and tobacco are worse than marijuana, and they are legal!”

Yes, about that: guess what is on the rise and killing more people? From the New York Times a few days ago:

[A]lcohol overuse remains a persistent public health problem and is responsible for more deaths, as many as 88,000 per year. … [T]here has been about a 50 percent uptick in emergency room visits related to heavy drinking. After declining for three decades, deaths from cirrhosis, often linked to alcohol consumption, have been on the rise since 2006….[B]inge drinking — often defined as five per day for men and four per day for women — is on the rise among women, older Americans and minorities. Behind those figures there’s the personal toll — measured in relationships strained or broken, career goals not met and the many nights that college students can’t remember.

3. Gee, thanks, David, I love starting a new year with my brains on the ceiling...David Leonhardt, one of the many Democratic operatives with press credentials (Instapundit calls them)  writing for New York Times, exploded my head with his New Years column, “7 Wishes for 2018.” His wishes 1, 2, 6 and 7 each would have done the trick by themselves, but collectively it was Krakatoa all over again.

Here are David’s four wishes: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: “The Big Hurt,” Frank Thomas [UPDATED]

An ethics whiff for Frank Thomas

An ethics whiff for Frank Thomas

Baseball, and all its annual ethics puzzles, begins in about two weeks when Spring Training gets underway.  Meanwhile, I have to tolerate everyone talking about Tom Brady and the Cheating Patriots as the NFL makes billions encouraging  Americans to cheer for the gradual lobotomizing of young athletes for their pigskin entertainment. Still, even the off-season of America’s Pastime provides ethics fodder.

Frank Thomas, the 6’6″ 300 pound ex-first baseman, never was suspected of using steroids before he was elected to the  Hall of Fame, in part because he was naturally so huge and strong that if he had used steroids he would have ended up battling Godzilla in Tokyo. “The Big Hurt,” as he was called, was and is an outspoken opponent of steroid use in baseball, but speaking at  the annual White Sox fan convention last week, he proved that he is an ethics bush-leaguer.

The recent Hall of Fame vote  elected two players, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez, long rumored to be users of performance enhancing drugs, and the vote totals showed  increased support for uber-steroid cheat Barry Bonds and accused steroid-user Roger Clemens. The New York Post reported that Thomas said, without mentioning names, after he was asked how he felt about the election results, Continue reading

Ethics Dunce And Unethical Column Of The Month: Univision Anchor Jorge Ramos

Who is the traitor, Jorge?

Who is the traitor, Jorge?

There are some positions in some controversies that I really cannot manage to respect, because no matter how much I try to understand the points of view, they seem so obviously wrong and ethically indefensible. On “The View” yesterday, for example, alleged comedian Joy Behar, in discussing the character of Bill and Hillary Clinton, stated without joking that she would vote for a proven rapist for President, as long as he or she was a Democrat. This is the kind of position I’m talking about.

Yesterday, the Hall of Fame voting results were announced. Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey, Jr. were elected to the Hall by the baseball writers, and equally welcome to this ethicist-baseball fan was the fact that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both unrepentant steroid cheats, were not elected, and their still paltry vote totals suggest that they may never be. Yet several baseball pundits, reporting on the voting results, preceded this aspect of the news with “Unfortunately.”

I don’t understand that attitude toward cheating at all. I have written about as much about Barry Bonds as any ethics topic on Ethics, and  the case against him is air-tight, with the only defenses ever put forth being invalid rationalizations, easily rebutted. Nevertheless, otherwise intelligent people keep repeating them, hoping to outlast reason and reality by perseverance and repetition. (Sadly, this often works, as “77 cents on the dollar,” “Bush lied” and “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” tragically prove.) In the last 24 hours, I have heard Clemens and Bonds called “great players” so many times that my teeth have been ground down perceptibly. Cheaters are never great, as I explained in one of my favorite posts of 2015.

I was preparing to once again swat down the cultural poison being peddled by the Bonds and Clemens defenders when another of the issues that I believe has no respectable “other side” again raised its uglier than ugly head, so I changed course. That issue is illegal immigration, as in “immigration that occurs in direct violation of U.S. law, making it illegal.” Those who engage in illegal immigration are immigrants, and because their manner of immigration is illegal, they are illegal immigrants. Those who insist on calling them merely immigrants are lying; those who favor euphemisms like “undocumented workers” are engaging in intentional deceit. No, I have no respect for their rhetorical dishonesty–their smug and falsely sanctimonious rhetorical dishonesty—and it should not be tolerated by any U.S. citizen who wants transparent debate on a crucial national policy issue.

The ethics violator in the immediate case is serial offender Jorge Ramos, who uses his position as a broadcast journalist—unethically, since his duty is to report the news accurately, not to spout propaganda—to advocate  unrestricted immigration by Hispanics and Latinos into the United States. It is a logically, historically, demographically, economically, politically and legally irresponsible, outrageous position, but he managed to exceed previously established depths in promoting it by writing, in a column for Fusion, that GOP candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are engaging in betrayal by “turning their backs on immigrants,” who, he says, just got here a little later than they did. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: MLB Players Union Chief Michael Weiner

“Today’s news that those members of the BBWAA afforded the privilege of casting ballots failed to elect even a single player to the Hall of Fame is unfortunate, if not sad….To ignore the historic accomplishments of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, for example, is hard to justify. Moreover, to penalize players exonerated in legal proceedings — and others never even implicated — is simply unfair.”

—-Major League Baseball players union executive Michael Weiner, in a formal statement released after the news that the Baseball Writers Association of American had denied Hall of Fame admission this year to all-time home run leader Barry Bonds, pitching ace Roger Clemens, and several other players who have either admitted to steroid use or are strongly suspected of being users. No player was on the requisite number of ballots this year.

It takes a Harvard lawyer to be that unethical in so few words.

It takes a Harvard lawyer to be that unethical in so few words.

It’s not easy to pack so much bad ethics into one statement, but we should not be surprised that the baseball players’ union chief was up to the task. The union shares responsibility with baseball’s “see-n0-evil” management during the steroid era and the willful blindness of the sportswriting community for allowing steroids and other performance enhancing drugs to permanently scar the game’s integrity and distort its records beyond repair. Small wonder Weiner is eager to rationalize his organization’s complicity with an absurd, deceptive and corrupting assertion that none of it should make any difference:

  • The writers did not “ignore” Bonds’ accomplishments. To the contrary, his “accomplishment” of blatantly abusing steroids, launching a late career surge of power and prowess that was alien to the career arc of every other player who ever set foot on a field as he morphed into baseball’s version of the Hulk, all while lying his head off and convincing other players that drug-assisted cheating was the accepted way to achieve fame and fortune, was exactly why he was on less than 40% of the ballots ( 75% is required for enshrinement.) Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: The Baseball Writers Association of America



In the Baseball Hall of Fame balloting announced today, those who elect baseball’s greats to its shrine of heroes failed to give anyone the requisite 75% ballots required for election. That’s too bad: Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Mike Piazza are deserving candidates.

The writers also did not elect unrepentant cheater, record thief and game-corrupter Barry Bonds, however, who was on only 36.2% of the ballots, slightly less than suspected steroid cheat Roger Clemens (37.6).


Bob Nightengale’s Rationalization Orgy

“OK, he got caught, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t still the BEST at Rubik’s Cube…”

I was interviewed on a radio news show early this morning, and one of the questions I was asked was whether what the host called “the decline of ethics in the country” could be reversed. I’m not convinced there has been such a decline, but if there is, it sure doesn’t help to have so many  journalists with big microphones displaying infantile analysis of ethics-related issues on a regular basis.

Today’s case was USA Today sportswriter Bob Nightengale, who took the occasion of the annual induction of new members into baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this weekend to trot out nearly every rationalization and ethical invalid argument imaginable to explain why he would be voting for all the proven or suspected steroid cheats  for the Hall when their time comes:

“There, I said it. I will vote for Bonds. And Clemens. And Sosa. And Piazza. I’ll think about Bagwell. And will continue voting for Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive in his final season when he reached 3,000 hits.”

And then come the rationalizations:

  • “Hey, it’s OK to admit racists, criminals, drunks and recreational drug abusers, but let’s not tarnish the sacredness of the Hall of Fame.” This is essentially a “there are worse things” argument with an overlay of ignorance and stupidity. This is a baseball Hall of Fame with very clear character requirements: “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.” No other sports Hall of Fame has such standards: just wait for the fight over admitting Joe Paterno into the College Football Hall of Fame (O.J. is a member in good standing.). Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: Washington Sports Writer Sally Jenkins

“Overreaching by government is far more harmful than any of the alleged offenses. It has poured more poison into the system than is contained in any needle.”

—-Sally Jenkins, writing in the Washington Post sports pages about the Roger Clemens prosecution.

Elsewhere in her column, Jenkins writes:

“Someone in authority at the Justice Department should have said to the federal investigators who pursued Clemens since 2007 on perjury charges, “You don’t have the evidence that can win a conviction.” The government never had a case, and knew it didn’t have a case (or at least should have), and brought the case anyway.”

Bringing a case when a prosecutor doesn’t have sufficient evidence is the epitome of unethical prosecution, and the Clemens case certainly qualifies. I can’t write much about this now, because I am preparing to give an ethics seminar to Washington D.C. government attorneys about legal ethics in government practice. I always find the government attorneys to be extraordinarily informed regarding ethical standards, and to have excellent ethical instincts. I will be talking about the Clemens case, and the Ted Stevens prosecution that went so horribly wrong, and the Fast and Furious investigation, in which a Federal Prosecutor announced his intention to take the Fifth Amendment if he was called before Congress. I will be talking about a lot of things.

There is obviously a problem.


Spark: Ron Sarro

Source: Washington Post

Graphic: The Cell Phone Junkie

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

Roger Clemens Was Acquitted, Not “Vindicated”

The first ethics breach is the utter incompetence of reporters who nonetheless are permitted to go on the air and mislead the public. A jury acquitted baseball great Roger Clemens  of 6 counts of perjury today, and I have just screamed in my car, frightening Rugby (my Jack Russell Terrier), after hearing three reporters on three radio stations say that Clemens was “vindicated.”

Incompetents. Ignoramuses. Continue reading

New Passengers on the Roger Clemens Ethics Train Wreck

Hey Andy! Listen to that guy behind you…you won’t believe what he’s saying about you!

First, an Ethics Train Wreck recap, before we get to yesterday’s developments:

The Roger Clemens ethics train wreck officially started rumbling down the tracks in 2008, when Major League Baseball’s Mitchell Report, itself something of a train wreck to begin with, revealed that Roger Clemens’ trainer, a rather shady character named Brian McNamee,  had told the investigative commission that he had injected the pitching great with banned performance-enhancing drugs, or PED’s. In rapid succession there was ethics carnage everywhere. Clemens, under the pretense of inquiring about the health of his former trainer’s child, who was gravely ill, tried to get the trainer to admit he was lying. Congress, absurdly, called a special hearing on the matter. Clemens visited select Congressional offices beforehand, which tainted the objectivity of questioning. The Congressional committee, rather than seeking to illuminate the Clemens dispute or the status of PED’s in baseball, instead decided to take sides, with Republicans defending Clemens (a Bush-supporting Texan) and the Democrats seeking his scalp—facts had nothing to do with it. Clemens, meanwhile, made several dubious statements, and showed his class by telling the world that his wife, not he, was the PED-user in the family. A few months before, Clemens prevailed upon his friend Mike Wallace, then in his late 80’s and semi-retired, to tarnish his reputation as a tough and objective truth-seeker by tossing soft-ball questions to Clemens on CBS, so the pitcher could deny his drug use to a famously skeptical interviewer who was, in fact, thoroughly conflicted. Continue reading