Law & Order: Baseball Intent
It's the only app I've ever paid for, and at $14.99 the price is up there. The app that started this week's discussion, though, was free. Also from MLB, it lets you track the latest news, standings and statistics from your favorite team.
Monday night, amid a story about the Reds' latest loss and their second baseman complaining about being kept out of the lineup, there was a different kind of headline: "Leake arrested for department store theft." There's enough editor left in me that I went "tsk, tsk", because being accused of a crime doesn't necessarily mean you did it.
It's a distinction I spent the next half hour explaining to the guys. The police accuse you of a crime. You go to court, where 12 people will decide if they believe you did it. Your lawyer will explain why you're not guilty, while the prosecutor will tell jurors why you're guilty. If the jury finds you guilty, you might go to jail.
In this case Leake has been accused of taking six shirts worth $59.88 from a Macy's story - I think the bigger news is that Macy's has shirts for $10. Either Big Guy is willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt or he has the makings of an attorney. Or maybe he's simply used to rationalizing his own misdeeds. Whatever the reason, he quickly came up with three possible defenses:
- He didn't take anything - his phone set off the store's alarm so they thought he did. Its possible. My phone sets off the alarm at the post library all the time.
- He meant to pay for the shirts but forgot. Maybe with one. But six?
- He didn't have the money and planned on paying later. Aside from Leake's $425,000-a-year contract - that's a little bit more than Daddy and I make in a year, I told Big Guy - and $2.7 million signing bonus, a Cincinnati newspaper reported that the pitcher had $250 cash and three credit cards in his wallet when he was booked.
"He didn't get any pants?" Boots asked. "Why didn't he get pants, too?"
"So is he going to go to prison?" Big Guy asked.
No, it's not a "serious crime" so he isn't likely to go to prison even if he's found guilty, I said.
"But taking people's stuff is serious. That's stealing!" Big Guy protested.
Right. And I know that $50 sounds like a lot to you, but to the law it's not, I said. Most likely, he'll have to do community service if he's guilty. And the judge should make him buy hundreds of dollars worth of shirts for people who really need them, too, I added.
Can the judge do that? they asked.
Sure. I knew a judge once who sentenced people to write book reports. While that sounded pretty bad to Big Guy, it didn't sound nearly as awful as prison. "You don't even get dessert in prison," Boots added.
The judge assigned book reports only to people who hadn't done anything wrong before, I said. He wanted to give them a chance to make their lives better, to learn from their mistakes.
"I bet his mommy's really mad, though," Big Guy said.
"I wouldn't be mad," I said as their chins dropped. "I'd want to hear why you did something that you know is wrong and how you're going to make up for it. I'd also want you to promise that you'll never do it again. And if the judge didn't make you buy hundreds of dollars worth of shirts, I would."
Not that I'll have the authority to make them do anything by the time they're Leake's age. While they're still under my roof, though, I'm going to keep looking for opportunities such as Leake's story to teach them right from wrong and to teach them about the way society works.
I could have lectured from now until next week about the justice system, but it wouldn't have made an impression. I could have demanded that Big Guy read the news every night, but he would have balked. Thanks to a baseball application, though, he's reading more every night and learning in the process.
I'm glad, though, that it wasn't a Kobe Bryant-type case. There are some lessons I'm not ready to lead yet.
Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.