“Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” –Groucho Marx
Many of those who have difficulty in rising to the level of faith asked of us by the Lord, have no difficulty going a lot further to embrace the level of faith Groucho Marx would ask from his wife when she catches him in bed with another woman. Especially when their lying eyes are a threat to American Exceptionalism, America’s economic system, and now, it seems, to America’s pastime.
For Bud Selig to acknowledge that Armando Galarraga’s game was perfect would be to acknowledge that the system is not. The system. He’s got one to defend. The Texas Board of Education has one. The special interests have theirs. And their defenses always follow the pattern of the famous story of the student in the philosophy class on final exam day. The professor picks up his chair, places it on top of his desk, and gives the writing prompt to the class. “Using everything we’ve learned in this class, prove that this chair does not exist”.
Students spend the hour furiously trying to come up with anything Descartes might have told them about how they can never know anything for a fact, anything about the lack of conclusive proof that they are not Keanu Reeves and that the chair and everything else in their known universe is not merely a product of what the matrix is feeding them, etc… They are shocked when one student spends less than thirty seconds writing his answer before turning it in, and are even more shocked a few weeks later when they find out that that student received the highest grade in the class. His answer: “What chair?”
And there’s the twisted genius of the absolutist application of Groucho-style faith to the defense of the indefensible. And its why you can’t win an argument with a right-winger. He could try logic, and come up with the most compelling of arguments for why your eyes are lying to you when you see that chair, but the fact remains that to make any such argument is to acknowledge that both of you DO see a chair. If he’s as smart as that student, he won’t have to deal with that uncomfortable obstacle. So just sit still and relax, as as he spins his little coin….
Watch the coin….. Watch the coin…. You are asleep. Now listen carefully.
There is no chair…. You did not see a chair…. Anybody who says there is a chair has been indoctrinated by the liberal media….
Now it’s Bud Selig’s turn.
“Donald beat the throw…. The still-frame from the replay that says otherwise does not exist…. Jim Joyce decided to say he made a mistake after he watched a Michael Moore movie…. Jason Donald is recanting on his base hit because of all the money he has received from the teachers’ union….”
Now it’s the Texas Board of Education’s turn.
“America is always right…. Its founders never intended for it to be a democracy…. Non-Christians had no influence in its development….”
Alright, that’s enough. Give me the coin. SNAP!! You’re awake.
You’re awake, but those are all the talking points you’ve now been programmed to shoot back with anytime I offer empirical evidence to the contrary. You don’t attempt to disprove that evidence. You don’t explain why that evidence might lead to a different conclusion from mine. You simply don’t acknowledge it, and repeat your talking point. How do I win an argument with you now? It’s simple. I can’t.
That’s how extremist ideologues argue. And I guess I’d better also include the extremist ideologues of “the far left”, having recently taken heat for giving them a pass after illustrating how Rand Paul’s position on the Civil Rights Act represents the logical destination of the far right’s extremist ideology.
So let’s let the “left-wingers” step forward. Who thinks Joseph Stalin was a good guy? Step right up. Anybody think his Five Year Plans provide the proper model for Obama to use to end the Bush Depression? Stand and be counted. Who believes his purges were a regrettable but necessary way to rid the world of dangerous capitalist sympathizers? Anybody, anybody?
Hmmm…. pretty small group of leftists we’ve got here, compared to the sizable crowd who would have agreed with all those statements back in the 1930s during the last depression that years of trickle-down policy had led us into. Still, I’m glad to have your attention, left-wingers, because I’m talking to you. No, I’m not speaking to progressives, who ARE the “Vital Center” of the political spectrum Arthur Schlesinger referred to. Progressives represent the middle of the road, in between those on either end of the spectrum who are dedicated to the infallibility of either the market economy or the command economy. At either end, they will pick between one of those two, decide that a complete version of that system is the only one that is acceptable in all segments of the economy, and say “what chair?” in response to any evidence that says otherwise. And at either end they will resist the use of free elections if their outcome does not produce winners that share this ideological purity.
Ok, so baseball’s purists are not this bad. I’d never attempt to suggest that Bud Selig doesn’t have just a little bit more class than those in the Tea Party crowd. Obviously, he does not deny the existence of the evidence that shows Donald was out. But he sure can get his lawyer to have that evidence “ruled inadmissible” when it comes to keeping the record books. But if the keeping of these record books is going to deal with such legalisms, one would almost hope that this case makes it all the way to the Supreme Court, where Justice Scalia could be ideally suited to settle the issue conclusively through the opinion he writes: “the watching of replays that are of questionable legality does, in my view, threaten irreparable harm to Mr. Donald, and to the game of baseball, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his base hit”
Go ahead. Attack my patriotism. It just so happens that I not only love America, but I love America’s pastime. And I happen to be a purist too. When I watch Bull Durham, I want to join Crash Davis in his campaign for a constitutional amendment banning Astroturf and the designated hitter. But being a purist does not have to mean being a fool, who creates imaginary slippery slopes, like the right-winger’s contention that the Civil Right Act will inevitably lead to a “government takeover” of Woolworth’s lunch counter, and the left-winger’s contention that the operation of a mom and pop store will inevitably lead to.… well, to what America experienced for eight years under Bush and Cheney.
It’s just as ridiculous to suggest that allowing the record book to reflect Armando Galarraga’s perfection, and the system’s lack thereof, will inevitably result in the review of every call in every game since photography was available, and to the alteration of World Series outcomes. Obviously baseball can’t start allowing challenges to every single call, including balls and strikes.
In baseball, as in life, we need people like Bud Selig to exercise their judgment as to when certain challenges have gone too far. But in baseball, as in life, we’ll eventually get to the point where our paranoia over imagined unintended consequences gives way to our recognition of the value of doing the job right. Maybe when that day comes our government can start to do its job right, as we set aside our paranoia over socialism and government takeovers, and Justice Scalia can admonish us to get over it.
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