Recently I have been in quite a few conversations about honesty. I am pleased to report that I seem to know people who are just as disgusted as I am with those who seem to lack this character trait. I tend to feel you are either honest or you aren’t. You can’t be sort of honest. Or honest except when you aren’t. Yet there clearly are large numbers of people who have a different perspective. Unfortunately many of these people are in positions of authority or even serve as role models.
I mention this because I have an article sitting on my desk that I tore out of the May 8 Philadelphia Inquirer. It’s about Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels being suspended for throwing a pitch that hit a batter. Actually, he wasn’t suspended for throwing the pitch, but for admitting that he did it on purpose.
No, I am not defending Hamels. I think throwing a baseball at someone on purpose is a great character flaw of its own. The reason I’ve been ruminating on this article is the quote that starts the article, “Phillies left hander Cole Hamels learned Monday night that honesty is not always the best policy” and the quote later on from Phillies manager Charlie Manuel saying “he could have been a little less honest.”
This is followed up by reliever Chad Qualls offering that “you cannot be honest.” By the time I got to this quote I was wondering about the values of these people. Apparently winning is all that counts and lying is a perfectly acceptable way to achieve this end.
And they wonder about the behavior of young people who copy what they see. Not to mention the adults who egg them on with hero worship beyond any reason.
Later in the game the opposing pitcher, Jordan Zimmerman, drilled Hamels in the knee with a pitch. Since he didn’t admit he did it on purpose, he got off without any punishment while Hamels received a short suspension.
What is the message this sends?
It reminds me of the business person or politician who does something everyone knows is wrong and defends it by saying he didn’t break any laws. The message about your character is in your actions but comes through even stronger in what you say about what you did. It’s not whether it technically is illegal or violates a sports rule. It’s whether you take responsibility for your actions or try and hide from them. Or worst of all, blame someone else.
The message about your character is read by all.
Which leads to golf, the only professional sport I know of where the players call the penalties on themselves even if it keeps them from winning a tournament. You never would see a professional golfer making pretend they weren’t tagged out when they know full well they were.
Perhaps Cole Hamels chose the wrong sport.