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Rank Baseball's Ethical Trangressions

Boy Howdy

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"Imagine a college course where students hang out with Ron Coomer in the bowels of the Metrodome, watch video of Lenny Randle on all fours trying to blow Amos Otis’ famous squibbler into foul territory, spend hours debating nuanced baseball ethics, and ring up Major League umpires for help on their homework. Sounds like too much fun to be true? It’s not. That very course—an academic study in "baseball ethics"—was offered in the spring of 2008 at Carleton College, a top-tier liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota.

Taught in the American Studies Department by visiting professor Willy Stern, the course had this descriptive, if long-winded, title:

An inside look at fighting, cheating, corking, scuffing, sign-stealing, drinking, race-baiting, name-calling, spitting, law-breaking, gambling, spiking, bug-hiding, doping, tomato-dropping, game-fixing, arrow-shooting, grooving, spying, lying, head-hunting, water-logging, freezing, sand-dumping, ridge-building, tacking, greasing, superball-stuffing, skull-smashing, head-pounding, potato-carving, bribing, lemon-tossing, field-burning, filing and other everyday occurrences in our nation’s beloved past-time: A historical analysis of ethics and ethical decision-making in Major League Baseball."


Decide for yourself right here:


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I'm surprised that there's been no more interest in this topic. THT just posted a new article today with some of the results, so far, but there's still time for fans to participate in the survey.

[Description deleted] was voted the single most unethical act in the history of professional baseball, out of 133 such scenarios presented last week by THT. In the five days after posting that article, we received more than 35,000 votes on our ethical ranking page from many people like you, and the results are fascinating.

It's interesting how far down the Black Sox scandal placed. :)

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I've been reading through these articles and there are some mistakes in the scenarios. I suppose it's mostly irrelevant to the ethical debates, but I kind of get the feeling that some of the situations were lifted uncritically from books of tall tales and such.

Two John McGraw incidents came up almost immediately that couldn't be true, or almost certainly couldn't be. In the first they talk of McGraw holding the belt of Louisville baserunner Pete Browning to slow him down when tagging up on a sac fly. Problem is McGraw only played three games at third base during seasons that Browning was on Louisville. I'm sure McGraw did this to someone, as I've heard the story repeated many times. But Browning was probably inserted into the story to make it more fun, since he was one of the most unusual characters in baseball history.

Second one said McGraw tried to incite the Baltimore fans to throw bottles at the opposition in 1887. McGraw was 15 years old in 1887, and wouldn't make his debut in Baltimore until 1891.

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