Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The First Step Toward Wisdom: More than a piece of metal

Baseball is in a precarious position this spring. The news cycle around the sign stealing scandal of the Houston Astros and how to right the wrong hasn't faded. It doesn't help that the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred referred to the World Series trophy as a "piece of metal." The desire for a what is fair and just have made the ideas, claims and questions written by William O'Malley, author of "Building Your Own Conscience" come to life in a new way. I have taught this article to students in my Morality class for over 15 years now. I have always believed and still do: the first step toward wisdom is to call something by its right name. Sadly, MLB has provided a great case study for how and why this is true.
Damn it, I love this metal.
As written in Forbes
The rhetorical point Manfred was trying to make regarded the constant trashcan beat about why he hadn’t vacated Houston’s 2017 World Series title because they defeated the Dodgers in seven games using the electronic sign-stealing scheme. 
"The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act,” Manfred said in an ESPN interview.
On one hard, Manfred is right. The Commissioner's trophy IS a piece of metal. Kori Rumore and Michael Terchaa of the Chicago Tribune write "the Commissioner's Trophy is a gleaming 30-pound prize made by Tiffany & Co. Sporting 30 metal flags, one for each major league club, and a gold-stitched baseball it is sterling silver and stands about two-feet tall." Wisdom suggests it is something more.

To most sports fans it is known as the World Series Trophy.

To baseball fans, it is the Commissioner's Trophy. In fact "Unlike championship trophies for the NBA, NFL and NHL, Major League Baseball's championship is not named for a person."

To those baseball fans whose teams have won the World Series, it is something much more. It is magical. It is memorable. It is priceless. 

The same might be said for other pieces of metal such as a wedding band, a miraculous medal or cross, as well as a key to a city. Indeed they are pieces of metal, but a wise person recognizes what they might mean...why they are valued and worth fighting for.
Los Angeles Dodgers' third baseman, Justin Turner feels no differently. He said
“I don’t know if the commissioner has ever won anything in his life. Maybe he hasn’t. But the reason every guy’s in this room, the reason every guy is working out all offseason, and showing up to camp early and putting in all the time and effort is specifically for that trophy, which, by the way, is called the Commissioner’s Trophy. 
“So for him to devalue it the way he did yesterday just tells me how out of touch he is with the players in this game. At this point the only thing devaluing that trophy is that it says ‘Commissioner’ on it.”
Rob Manfred is the tenth and current Commissioner of Baseball. He previously served as the Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball. He has issued a very public, humble and important apology for his remarks. He should. Why? Calling something by its right name and seeking wisdom means that "Then, you will handle it as it deserves." —William O'Malley, SJ

Such is the important work for Major League Baseball, its leaders, players, and all those who love the game. This event ought to be handled as it deserves. Discernment, more decisions, time and history will reveal how. 

Photo Credits
Manfred with Commissioner's Tropy

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