Truth and Law

Tonight Detroit Tigers' pitcher Armando Galarraga came within one out of throwing the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history. There's some controversy regarding the last out; in fact, the umpire, Jim Joyce, apologized to Galarraga after the game: "I just cost that kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay." Check it out:

This seems like an interesting case in the field of Truth Studies. The rules of baseball don't allow for instant replay, but the truth, as anyone who watches the video can tell, is that the umpire made the wrong call here. That makes baseball an institution with more respect for "the Law" than for Truth, and that troubles me a bit. But as I think about it, this seems to be an inevitable problem with Law. It must obey itself first, even when, after the fact, it recognizes its mistake. And isn't that necessary?--precisely because sometimes we need a decision in the moment, before we can watch the metaphorical (and actual) "instant replays," etc.?

But as a Tigers fan, I just wish that the umpire could call up the commissioner and say, "I got that one wrong. Let's change the score book and make it a perfect game, because it was."


fenhopper said...

wow, i just realized how little i care about baseball records.

Insignificant Wrangler said...

In this case, Bug Selig represents the Law. And he does, I believe, have the authority to reverse the call. I still haven't actually seen the play, but if even the ump says he blew it, then I hope Selig does reverse the decision.

(Potentially) three perfect games in one season? Incredible!

Jon Sealy said...

That's infuriating.

Hey, check out the new book, THE BASEBALL CODES.

pure_sophist_monster said...

Are you reducing "Truth" to "fact" or raising "facts" to the level of "Truth"? Of course, what you are doing is making an argument about the value of a fact predicated on that fact's place in a particular context. You are not outside of the Law here Casey nor are you above it). A "perfect game" is meaningless and doesn't exist outside the rules of the game. The Law of baseball is the fact, to borrow from a poet, that teaches fact to mean.

Casey said...

That's along the lines I'm thinking, SophistMonster. It seems to me that "truth" must always be a prerequisite to "Truth," so I would say that facts must not contradict our theory of Ultimate Reality. But yeah, where should our loyalty lie here?--with Truth or with Rules? I'm honestly torn. If, as Wrangler suggested, Selig is where the buck stops, then I suppose I'd be okay with him changing it. But then I'd want to know just how able he is to change the rules for the sake of outcomes.

Anyway, there seems a vague correspondence to political philosophy here, but I feel like I'd need two hours in 215 to iron it out.

fenhopper said...

"If, as Wrangler suggested, Selig is where the buck stops..."

i guess this is where my disconnect is. because that's obviously not where the buck stops. the buck stops with each person who has an opinion about the game or the sport. so when you say you'd be ok with selig "changing it" i have to wonder what "it" is, and if it's the record books, then i wonder why this matters?

i'm looking then at the monster's point that context is what's really being argued. selig's decision changes your experience only if the record book is a part of your experience.

so of course it is a part of yours because you've chosen it. carry on then.

Casey said...

Well, but also insofar as this is an allegory for reality (which all good sports must be), "the records" are the determination of the Law. So translating this into political/legal discourse, we're talking about things like "false convictions" and "wrongful sentences" and so on.

fenhopper said...

as much as george will likes to lie about global warming, i do like his take on sports. it's not an allegory for anything. it's a bunch of guys doing their job.

and he and i both hated field of dreams.

Casey said...

Fenhopper, the problem with you is that you could be a great stand-up comedian if you had an audience of 100 Casey Pratts.