Friday, August 31

The Ethicist

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.

1. Following yesterday’s heartbreaking 5-0 loss that completed the utterly meaningless sweep at the hands of the Yankees, Jose was asked to way in on an ethical question.

Now, you folks out there in internet land may be surprised to hear this, because you just think of Jose as the sort of fun loving faux Puerto Rican who entertains you day in day out by making keen observation such as the fact that tonight’s match up pitches Tim Wakefield vs. the First Lady of Wrestling, the lovely Miss Elizabeth. (Note: Reader City of Rosie Palms insisted that Jose include this because the Orioles are starting a guy named Liz, and let it be never be said that Jose does not pander to his audience.)

But Jose is so much more than that. As a person obsessed almost to the point of madness with being good and doing good, Jose is constantly asked questions about the thorniest ethical issues of the day. Thus, Jose is proud to rip off the New York Times Magazine’s Randy Cohen, with KEYS’ new feature The Ethicist. (Note: Ethics lesson one. Because Jose said he was ripping off Randy Cohen it’s not plagiarism or unethical, it’s an homage. Keep this in mind. Under the same principle, if you tell a store owner you are going to steal a television set from him and then do it, it’s not stealing—it’s a homage to his fine wares. Unless it’s Best Buy where stealing from them is always okay because they’re jerks.—sub note to scummy Best Buy lawyer— Jose is not actually encouraging people to steal from Best Buy even though they are jerks, so don’t get all litigious. Similarly, since everyone knew Dave Roberts was going to steal in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, he is not actually credited with a stolen base. Rather, he was credited with an homage to Rickey Henderson.)

On to this week’s question. One of Jose’s softball teammates, let's call her Bettor In Cambridge (BIC), made a wager on the outcome of the Red-Sox Yankees series. She and a Yankee fan friend agreed that if either team swept the supporter of the losing team would be required to wear the winning team’s T-Shirt to an upcoming softball game. They do not play on the same team or live near to each other, thus verifying the payoff is difficult.

Here is the ethical quandary. Is BIC obligated to follow through on the wager? Could she just send a picture with a Yankees shirt on and then not wear it to the game? Could she ignore the thing all together?

It is a tough nut to crack and must be approached from several angles.

First, Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative would dictate that she must fulfill the terms of the wager. The categorical imperative, in the simplest terms, insists that any behavior that would screw up the world if everyone did it, must always be avoided regardless of circumstance—no exceptions. If she did not wear the shirt, Kant would argue, Presidents could lie about wars, CEOs would lie about corporate finances and civilization would end. Ergo, Kant is a total *sshole.

In a criticism of Kant, Swiss philosopher Benjamin Constant pointed out that the categorical imperative was total BS by citing the example of a murder looking for the person he is trying to kill. If a murderer asks you where the person he wants to kill is, Kant would say you have to tell him. Constant would point out that that is crazy and that at most you should say “Manager’s Decision.” Jose would argue that the Yankees shirt example is analogous. Fulfilling one’s commitment will lead to great evil. Kant would say that moral value does not derive from the expected consequences, but rather from following the imperative so do it, but what does he know. If he’s so great, why is he dead?

So what is the right course of action? Jose has thought and mulled on the wisdom of the sages and concluded that the most ethical action is to go double or nothing. This avoids deception and thus a violation of the categorical imperative and also creates the distinct possibility of not having to wear the f’ing shirt. Now, what if she loses on double or nothing? Keep going on with double or nothing for ever and eventually the law of averages will save the day.

Next up: Jose will rip off William Safire’s “On Language” column and explain how “there,” “their” and “they’re” are basically the same word so people should stop sending Jose emails about his crummy usage.

2. Perhaps the decisive moment in yesterday’s game came when the Red Sox had men on first and second, no outs and DJ Dru at the plate. Dru grounded to third but Kevin Youkilis ducked under A-Rod’s tag and was called safe by umpire Earl Hebner. A-Rod then completed the throw to first to get Dru. The result was runners on second and third with one out, a prime scoring opportunity. But something was amiss. While A-Rod, Derek Jeter, and Yankees manager Joe Torre screamed at Hebner, keeping away from the action, as best Jose could tell, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman came out of the stands and tore off his suit to reveal an umpire’s shirt. Cashman then made the out signal, changing the ruling and killing the rally, before jumping back into the stands.

Though Jose will confess it is possible that it didn’t go down quite like that. It is conceivable that somewhere during the conference of umpires, Earl Hebner was knocked out and replaced by his twin brother Dave, who everyone knows is in George Steinbrenner’s pocket. The upside of this scenario is that even if the Yankees somehow go on to win the championship they will surrender the title to The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase in return for fistfuls of cash.

3. When Jose got home last night he had a reply in his inbox from Todd Kehoe, the Weekend Editor at the PostStar in Glens Falls who did the terrific write up on KEYS featured in KEY 3 yesterday.

The reply read

Well, now I’ve really made it. My name on Jose Melendez’s blog.
I, too, hope Hacksaw can read and now is a devoted fan of your site.
And don’t worry about the dry cleaning. The Yankees remain a flawed and self-destructive team.
Todd Kehoe

Jose has decided that he is sufficiently interested to email Mr. Kehoe and try
to do an impromptu interview. Jose sent this email this morning.

Dear Mr. Kehoe:
Congratulations on having really made it. You have now joined presidential candidate Mitt Romney and superhero Rocket Racer among the dignitaries featured in KEYS. It is not quite as good as winning a Pulitzer or a Slammy, but it is significantly better than winning a daytime Emmy or God forbid an ESPY.

Jose would like to put the shoe on the proverbial other foot and ask you a few questions. How do you like that Mr. Reporter?

1. How many people does the PostStar have on the Hacksaw Duggan beat? Jose guesses four. A full time reporter, a night shift guy, a weekend reporter and then a Hacksaw Duggan editor.

2. How did you discover KEYS and why would people in Glens Falls care? Is it one of those weird random pockets of New York where the Sox broadcasts are stronger than the Yankees broadcasts?

3. Do you ever see Rachel Ray walking down the street? If so, how many times do you kick her?

4. Does the Iron Sheik ever visit Hacksaw Duggan up there? Jose knows
they’re friends because they got busted together with drugs in their car once.

That’s about it for now.
Your pal,

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.


City of Rosie Palms said...

Thank you. There will be a thong purchased...when I make the "mainboard".

City of Rosie Palms said...

..and yes, I already purchased the 2004 Keys.