June 2009 Unethical Websites


Manny Ramirez is back from his 50 game suspension for testing positive for banned substances, and many in Los Angeles are happy to see him. The cheers emanating from the Dodger stands for this cheerful sociopath are infuriating to those (like me) who view Ramirez as virtually immune from the influence of any ethical values at all as long as he gets paid, the antitheses of a sportsman and a walking affront to the whole concept of professionalism. His continued popularity has been analyzed to death, among the theories being that he has come to embody a living Chris Farley character, a lovable moron who makes all the wrong choices but keeps on smiling; that his acceptance proves that the public really doesn’t think illegal drug use is that big a deal; that California fans like people better when they use illegal drugs, or that it is proof that the Apocalypse is imminent.

I tend to embrace all four, but never mind: while Manny was serving his suspension testing positive for drugs, a blogger named Jason Rosenberg decided that it would be “funny” if Ramirez was voted on to baseball’s All-Star team. This was not inconceivable. Because the vote takes place over the internet over many weeks and there are few limits on how many times one can vote, players have been elected to the teams while injured or otherwise not playing very much. In the latter category as a potential All-Star was another exposed drug cheat, Yankee super-star Alex Rodriguez, who missed the first quarter of the season with a hip ailment. "It would be too interesting, too funny, too pick-your-adjective to see Manny get elected," Rosenberg was quoted as saying. "It’s got to be MLB’s nightmare that the two biggest stars who have implicated themselves or gotten implicated by this [meaning performance enhancing drugs] are now potentially starting in their signature midsummer moment." Rosenberg decided to help make baseball’s nightmare come true by creating www.voteformanny.blogspot.com, which noted that MLB has no rule preventing players coming off drug suspensions from becoming All-Stars. It linked to an online All-Star ballot and implores fans: "Remember, vote early and often!" He figured if the drug-lovers, the ignorant, the blindly loyal Ramirez fans and the people like him who would get a kick out of throwing a stink-bomb into the All-Star game, Manny might make it.

He didn’t, so it all worked out well. Manny was not voted onto the team, and Rosenberg acquired a few minutes of fame thanks to ESPN. Still, creating the website was a destructive act, an attempt to make trouble and cause unhappiness just for the hell of it. His was, at heart, the inspiration of vandals and hackers, purveyors of chaos, whose idea of joy is to see rain fall on their neighbors’ parade, or fire ants invade their friends’ picnic.

Because it would be “funny,” Rosenberg set out to…

…force Major League baseball to honor a player recently suspended for cheating,
…send young ball players the message that steroid use pays,
…keep an honest, deserving player off the team, a player who might have a need for the bonus money that follows All-Star game selection in some contracts, unlike Manny Ramirez, whose salary is so large that such bonuses amount to pocket change,
…undermine baseball’s anti-steroid campaign, and
…make the game less enjoyable for the many fans who find the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball a scourge.
…give Ramirez, a player who has shown his complete disrespect for the game itself and the fans who voted for him by refusing to play in the past games when he was elected, yet another chance to thumb his nose at the baseball establishment by proving that he is beyond sanction

And for what reason? “Fun.” After publicity of his site (and a brief spike in votes for Manny) made him the target of some criticism, Rosenberg tried elaborating on his motivations, saying that he really wanted to make a “protest,” revealing a loophole in the All-Star Game rules permitting suspended players to participate, and that he also thought a Ramirez victory would show the folly of letting the fans vote. His recasting of his purposes were unconvincing.

He wanted to cause trouble. He had no substantive positive objective other than that. Although the pro-Ramirez website failed at its objective, it should be remembered as an example of how the web, like paint on a wall, a rock through a window, or a nail on the finish of a new car, can be abused by people who feel powerful and significant when they louse up what others care about.




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