Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Baseball and ethics: Kenny Rogers' thumb

During the second game of the World Series, Fox television commentators early-on pointed to discoloration at the base of Kenny Rogers' left thumb and raised the specter of a foreign substance. The commentators noted that St. Louis, which would be watching the Fox broadcast, would be all over this. Such does not seem to be the case.

from the Guardian:

Television replay close-ups showed discoloration at the bottom of Rogers' thumb during the opening frame. Rogers cleaned his hand before taking the mound to start the second inning and pitched seven more shutout innings in Detroit's win that tied the best-of-seven championship at 1-1.

"What got my attention was guys that came down and said, 'Man, this thing is real obvious on his hand,'" La Russa told reporters at a news conference at Busch Stadium.

"I didn't see it. But I did watch video of the other postseason games, so I had an idea of what it looked like, and I said, let's get rid of it and keep playing.

LaRussa, who went to law school at Florida State University, talked about the ethics:

La Russa spoke about the ethics of the question.
"Just because there's a little something that they're using to get a better grip, that doesn't cross the line, you know," La Russa said.
"There's a line that I think that defines the competition.
"And you can sneak over the line, because we're all fighting for the edge. I always think, does it go to the point of abuse?" said La Russa, who holds a law degree.

In contrast to LaRussa's NOT looking at the television, Rogers (according to the Boston Globe) was aware of what was being said on television:

But that's Rogers's story and he's sticking to it. He also said he wiped his hand off because he saw on TV that they were talking about it, not because he was instructed to do so by plate umpire Alfonso Marquez.

"I think once I wiped the mud off, the last seven innings were very good," Rogers said, "but I'm sure that will be lost in translation with everything."

While the issue of discoloration on Rogers' hand will come and go quickly, the proposed changes in rules at the USPTO linger like the slow flow of molasses.

A hit came up on news.google on Oct. 24 that began:

In an effort to streamline the patenting process, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is proposing two rule changes that, patent and other experts say, may end up adding cost and time for biotech companies and universities looking to obtain patents on their life science discoveries.

The hit ENDED with text:

While no public hearings are planned, and the USPTO has wide discretion to change the rules, the agency has been holding a series of "town hall" meetings around the country to explain the proposed rules changes. Additionally, those interested in submitting comments to USPTO can do so by mail until May 3, 2006.

In between, one had some quotes:

"Most universities will be dismayed," says Carl E. Gulbrandsen, managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the tech transfer office of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "At universities, even more so than startup biotech companies, the technology that comes off the bench is very early-stage, and often you need several continuations to understand what the invention is and its full breadth," says Gulbrandsen.

Doll rejects this logic. "I have absolutely no sympathy for that because when you file an application, that invention is supposed to be complete," he says. "We are being reasonable, [the refiling process has] been a burden on the examiners." But, he continues, if applicants really do need more continuations "and can show a good and sufficient need, we will grant them." However, says Nancy J. Linck, deputy general counsel for intellectual property and trade at the Biotechnology Industry Organization trade association in Washington, DC, the biotech industry relies on continuation practice. "This [proposed] requirement just puts an increased burden on them."

The URL is

See also 88 JPTOS 743 (Sept. 2006).

**UPDATE on Oct. 27**

Jeff Ferguson wrote:

For the first inning Sunday night, Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers had what looked to be a foreign substance — pine tar — at the base of his thumb on his left (throwing) hand. Pine tar is perfectly legal for batters to use for grip on the bat, but is disallowed on the mound. Joe Buck pointed out this brown substance to a national television audience sounding like he’d just discovered who was the second gunman at the Grassy Knoll.

After some discussion with the home plate umpire at the end of the inning, Rogers returned to the mound sans smudge in the second inning. For the entire game, he pitched a 1-hit shutout, but the damage to his reputation was done. Or was it?

[IPBiz post 2100.]


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