The Ethics of Nomar Garciaparra's one-day contract

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Nomar Garciaparra Sox.jpgFriend of the blog and professional ethicist Jack Marshall has put some thought to Nomar Garciaparra’s one-day contract/retirement with the Red Sox. After registering his surprise and displeasure with Dan Shaughnessy’s highly negative reaction, Jack throws an interesting idea out for consideration, that applies to sports and beyond:

When an organization has parted ways with any individual who has
been unusually important in its development, it has an ethical
obligation to make certain there is genuine closure and reconciliation
some day, some way. Unless the individual actually harmed the
organization or institution so grievously that it erases any benefit he
and she conferred, not to acknowledge a debt of gratitude and
recognition estranges the organization from its past, and whiffs on the
important values of respect, fairness, gratitude, and kindness. And
rare is the former organization super-star who is so bitter about his
exit that he won’t accept this important gesture.
You can identify dysfunctional organizations by their refusal to do this.

I was in the Sox press box last Wednesday for the announcement and, later, Nomar’s
press conference. When the news started to spread, several people scoffed and sneered.
Nomar? The guy who moped his way out of town in 2004 and whose departure paved the way for the 2004 championship? He’s got a lot of nerve.  Shaughnessy peddling that stuff was predictable, but I was surprised at how negative the reaction was overall. I was even more surprised that some of that negative reaction was directed at the Sox themselves for entertaining the notion of honoring Garciaparra in the way they did (and, presumably will continue to do).  Say what you want about Garciaparra’s tenure in Boston, but personally, I agree with Jack’s take on how healthy organizations
should handle this stuff.

But it went even further that morning. The second question asked to Nomar during the
press conference was who-approached-who first. Nomar admitted that he
made the overture to Theo. You could tell by how quickly everyone
started writing that the press smelled a “desperate Nomar asks to be
let back in the family” angle that reflected their own biases.

Theo,
however, sitting right next to Nomar, almost immediately jumped in to say
(not in so many words, but in effect) that it doesn’t matter who approached who, the organization thought it was
a wonderful idea, that they embraced it and other words along those lines. This suggested to me organizational health in both the way Jack described it in his post — that they’re willing to let bygones be bygones — and in its manifest desire to protect their
own from attacks from outsiders who may mean to do harm (i.e. Theo’s save).

I think anyone
would want that from their employer, and it certainly made an
impression on me. The fact that anyone is mining negativity out of it all says more about those doing the mining than the principals involved.

Video: Adrian Beltre belts a walk-off home run on Monday against the Athletics

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 25:  The Texas Rangers celebrate the two-run walk off homerun by Adrian Beltre #29 against the Oakland Athletics at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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The Rangers found themselves in a 5-1 hole after three innings against the Athletics on Monday, but scratched out some runs in the middle innings. That allowed them to enter the bottom of the ninth inning trailing by only one run, 6-5, facing A’s closer Ryan Madson.

Adrian Beltre, who hit a solo home run in the seventh inning, stepped to the plate with a runner on first base and two outs. He was the Rangers’ last hope to keep the game alive. The veteran third baseman swung at Madson’s first pitch, a 96 MPH fastball, and drilled it to left-center field for a walk-off two-run home run.

Beltre now has nine walk-off home runs in his career. While the 37-year-old isn’t quite the offensive dynamo he was even two years ago, his numbers are still respectable. He’ll head into Tuesday’s action batting .281/.334/.468 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI in 392 plate appearances.

Jay Bruce: “This is such a fleeting game. It’s so unforgiving.”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 25:  Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds swings and watches the flight of his ball as he hits a two-run homer against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the fourth inning at AT&T Park on July 25, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Outfielder Jay Bruce was the catalyst in the Reds’ 7-5 victory over the Giants on Monday night, drilling a pair of two-run home runs. It’s good timing for the Reds, as the trade deadline is six days away. The Reds might prefer to get a prospect or two for Bruce rather than pick up his $13 million club option for 2017 or buy him out for $1 million and let him walk into free agency.

It was only a year ago that it seemed like the Reds would have to settle for next-to-nothing to get rid of Bruce. He posted career-lows across the board in 2014, including a .654 OPS and 18 home runs. He improved last season, returning to 26 home runs, but came with an uninspiring .729 OPS.

This year is another story. Bruce is currently hitting .272/.326/.564 with 23 home runs and a league-best 77 RBI. He’s on pace to set career-bests in a lot of categories if he’s able to stay healthy.

Bruce was honest about his resurgence, though, admitting that he doesn’t know why he’s so much better this year as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

This is such a fleeting game. It’s so unforgiving. You’re never settled. You’ve never got it. You’ve never figured it out. It’s like a puzzle that never has all the pieces to it. You might get close and feel pretty good about your progress, but you never are going to have the puzzle put together.

Bruce, who welcomed a child into the world back in April, also discussed the difficulties of hearing his name bandied about in trade rumors once again.

It’s harder this year. I have a family I have to focus on now. Logistically, it’s much more intricate. I know the skit. I know how it goes. But it will be nice when it’s passed because we’ll have a plan of attack on whether my family is staying where they are in Cincinnati or elsewhere.

This is a point of view that is not often covered. This time of the year can be very difficult for players who may be traded, as they await a phone call that could send their lives into upheaval. It may mean being away from their families for three months. It means living out of a hotel room or finding a place to live on very short notice. Even Bruce’s comments about his success this year are illuminating about the mental strain of the game.

As usual, great reporting by Buchanan. His full article is worth your time.