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Baseball and Philosophy

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Here’s an excellent article about baseball and philosophy that is worth reading. There’s something about the great game of baseball that makes one contemplative. Perhaps it’s the pace of the game, which can, at times, be languid that gives baseball a philosophical edge. It’s hard to pin what exactly makes baseball so philosophical, but the article’s author, Kieran Setiya, a professor of philosophy, does a good job.

Kieran explains succinctly:

Baseball is the most philosophical of games because, like philosophy at its best, it harmonizes meaning with meticulous analysis. There is no opposition between wonder at the double play, the home run, or the perfect game and the statistical dissection now known as “sabermetrics” (after SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research). In fact, it is the arithmetic and geometry of the game that best disclose its truth. The highest aspiration of philosophy is to be both rigorous and humanistic, to place analytical thought in the service of human values. Baseball shows us that it can be done.

No other sport can make this claim even with the invasion of data analytics into executive suites of every major sports franchise, from football to hockey. It’s no longer the exception but the rule. Nevertheless, baseball has always been (and probably always will be), where numbers reign supreme. Even the old-school guys, who eschew “sabermetrics” and mock Moneyball-like thinking, still rely on outdated statistics like hits, runs, RBIs, etc. In essence, the meaning – or truth— of baseball is hidden within the numbers.

Kieran finishes his essay with the following:

Some treat baseball as an allegory for life or for a perilous journey in which, if we are lucky, we make it safely home. For me, it is an allegory for philosophy at its best: humanistic but rigorous, historically informed. We do not have to choose between humanity and rigour, between progress in solving problems and engagement with history. In fact, you can’t have any of these without the others. Baseball’s romance with advanced statistics is not a rejection of its past but a fulfillment, not an indifference to meaning but a better interpretation. That is a condition to which philosophy should aspire.

Baseball is a sport that lends itself to deep analysis because it’s not a fast game. There’s no clock in baseball. Every pitch can tell you something. Each plate appearance can be a moment of discovery. The shifting of infielders with each batter at the plate. It’s all a calculation that, hopefully, and meaningfully, will lead to a profound answer of some kind, both for the player and the fan.


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Written by niraj

October 25th, 2017 at 10:00 pm

Posted in red sox

The Wise Man And The Fool

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Compare and contrast these two young baseball players, both in the same boat experience wise, in how they cope with their weak bargaining positions regarding contracts. First, Prince Fielder:

The Milwaukee Brewers renewed the slugger’s contract for $670,000 on Sunday after he finished third in NL MVP voting last season, when he made $415,000.

“I’m not happy about it at all,” Fielder said. “The fact I’ve had to be renewed two years in a row, I’m not happy about it because there’s a lot of guys who have the same amount of time that I do who have done a lot less and are getting paid a lot more.”

And second, Jonathan Papelbon:

Jonathan Papelbon may be young, but he knows how the business of baseball works.

He knows that, with a little more than two years of major-league service time, he has no contractual leverage with the Red Sox. Not yet eligible for arbitration, Papelbon has little recourse at the bargaining table.

But he also has a benchmark for what he should be paid in 2008, and if the Red Sox don’t come close to his figure, he would rather they renew him at a lower salary figure, without further negotiation.

It’s obvious Papelbon is the wiser of the two. Papelbon knows full well he can’t do anything about his contract, the collective bargaining agreement between the owners and union exclude him from the negotiation process, so he’ll concentrate on being the most dominant closer in the game, knowing full well come arbitration time he’ll get his money one way or the other.

Fielder, on the other hand, needs to take a reality check.

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Written by niraj

March 3rd, 2008 at 12:23 pm

The Sweet Sounds Of Baseball

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Saturday is Truck Day in Boston, when the Red Sox sends a truck filled with equipment to their spring training site in Fort Meyers, Florida. It’s an annual ritual that is well reported by the Boston media, and it’s also a sign that spring will soon be upon us, and with it the 2008 baseball season. Will the Red Sox repeat? Let’s hope so. Some key dates:

  • Feb. 14 — Pitchers and catchers are due to report to Fort Myers.
  • Feb. 16 — First workout for pitchers and catchers.
  • Feb. 20 — Reporting day for Sox position players.
  • Feb. 22 — First Red Sox full squad workout.
  • Feb. 28 — First Red Sox spring training game.

The entire Red Sox Spring Training schedule can be found here.

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Written by niraj

February 7th, 2008 at 12:18 pm