Friday, January 13, 2006

My new favorite book.

I wish I had something interesting to say, but I'm busy being engrossed in a new book. Baseball and Philosophy has joined my bookshelf, in it's rightful place next to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy, The Simpsons and Philosophy and The Matrix and Philosophy. Pop culture meets philosophy? I'm there. Even if they are kind of happy-fluffy-bunny philosophy books.

Anyhow, Baseball and Philosophy is my new favorite book. I've been gushing about it to everyone I talk to. Which really only makes people think I'm even weirder. I've found that most people don't particularly care about either philosophy or baseball. Their loss. If you're one of those people.....I'm sorry, in advance.

Myself, I have been practically salivating over every essay. My obvious favorite would be Minnesota's "Homer Hanky Jurisprudence": Contraction, Ethics, and the Twins. The contraction hubabaloo over the 2002 season still touches a nerve. That was an awful time. I still say very bad swears at my TV anytime I see Bud Selig's face. That rat bastard. But that's beside the's an excellent essay looking at the unique benefits that the sport of baseball provides society, above and beyond revenue and monetary rewards, and how those benefits fit into a Utilitarian mindset.
Imagine someone in the very same community bringing a lawsuit to enforce the Minnesota Timberwolves' obligation to play the basketball season. The idea is absurd. Is it a part of the fabric of the community? An intangible community asset? Not quite. And it's not just about the Timberwolves versus the Twins; it's about baseball itself. As a game of mass appeal, basketball is young, on the move, the game of the hip-hop generation, where the most exciting plays take place, literally, in the air. A good basketball team, by definition, can't be tied down. In baseball...a sense of place still matters: the ivy at Wrigley Field, tech Green Monster at Fenway Park. Socks are still worn high, and for the most part, the manager, not the star player is still in charge of the team.

Like the utilitarian mandate to consider "the greatest good for the greatest number," baseball is rather retro, even without throwback uniforms to take us back in the day. Basketball, football, hockey are part of the new economy, playing by the rules of the market, subject to the antitrust laws that promote competition, operating like the businesses that they are. Under those rules, obligations to others are for suckers. The self-interest by each leads to the best results for all, or so the theory goes. But baseball succeeded in setting itself outside those rules, and now has to live with the consequences.
Other topics include the ethics of the intentional walk, the theme of sacrifice in baseball, and whether A-Rod really deserves that much money or not.

I love it.

If books were people, this book would make me rethink my position on marriage.


Blogger jenny said...

your enthusiasm alone makes me intrigued, and my interest in sports is really nonexisting. funny, isn't it :)

January 14, 2006 9:46 AM  
Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

Baseball as it relates to Louisiana: it's largely of domain of white frat-boy types, and the best ones (of any race) all leave for pro teams in other states.

We have/had a minor-league team (the New Orleans Zephyrs), but we don't support it in a huge way. And yet, if it leaves, there will probably be lots of mourning by people who never attended a game in the first place, strictly on principle.

And most importantly, because we don't have a pro team, hardly anybody here follows pro baseball. Because that's in them newfangled other states that aren't as good as we are.

January 14, 2006 2:48 PM  
Blogger Phillip said...

can you find large-print versions? i'd be totally down.

January 14, 2006 6:15 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I lost interest in baseball after I stopped playing in Jr. High. One of the reasons I can't stand it is because everyone is now infatuated with homeruns and there's no longer any appreciation for base stealing and good pitching. I love games that are 1-0, 2-1, and the sort. That's why I took an interest in the playoffs the last 2 years because of the Astros with their pitching.

My favorite player as a kid was Ricky Henderson. He did alot of bitching, but his excellent base running is something rare in pro baseball these days. I still like watching UL-Lafayette's team because the things that make their team good is pitching and small ball. But, give me a baseball or football game and I'll take football 99% of the time.

January 14, 2006 8:05 PM  
Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

Do you think Nick even reads the posts, or does he just see "keyword: baseball" and riff on his childhood baseball memories? That seems to be his pattern.

That said, though, he does have a point. Everybody wants to score these days and get the glory. They want to see the defense fall apart and allow for the highlights to ensue. A well-played and evenly matched game? How quaint! We watch the Super Bowl for the commercials...AND a blowout by the Patriots! Baseball? May the most expensively offensive team win!

Play ball.

January 14, 2006 8:22 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

I went to a Zephyrs game. It was all right. Nothing to write home about.

I think Nick has a point too. I love it when I go to a game and see a show...stolen bases, impressive pitching and the like.

Once, when I was still living in LA, I went home for a break, and got my dad and I really awesome seats at a Twins game, since I was having MLB withdrawals. Except that was the season that everybody (EVERYBODY) was injured. My then favorite Twin, Doug Mientkiewicz, was injured literally the night before the game we went to. I thought perhaps I'd wasted $80. I believe my comment before the game was "I spent almost $100 dollars to see a bunch of minor league players."

But, I'll tell you....that was one of the best Twins games I've ever gone to. Those guys played baseball the way it was meant to be played. It was glorious.

January 15, 2006 12:32 AM  
Blogger barn said...

I have mixed feelings about baseball. I love the idea of baseball; the history, the pace, the timelessness of the game, the fact that an individual game can live forever in the box scores. I'm less enthusiastic about the reality of baseball; the bloated salaries, the constant expansion of the leagues, the DH, the trades and the lack of loyalty they engender. And don't get me started about the playoffs. Worst thing that ever happened to the game. Modern big league baseball games always remind me of visiting Colonial Williamsburg--all I see are paid reenactors going through the motions. The single A guys seem to have more passion and drive and love of the game. But maybe I've just watched Bull Durham too many times.

January 15, 2006 5:27 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Oddly enough, I do read Flamingo's posts. It's just yours that I don't read Icon, because I already know you'll be wrong.

January 15, 2006 8:06 AM  
Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

That explains a lot, really.

January 15, 2006 11:42 AM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

Boys, boys....we are all friends here :)

January 15, 2006 11:57 AM  
Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

I think we should get some of that money back from Iraq and build baseball stadiums for everybody.

January 15, 2006 11:50 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

wait, wait, wait....can we DO that? I vote for that option too, then.

January 16, 2006 12:09 AM  
Blogger R said...

"Everybody wants to score these days..."

Don't I know it. ;p

January 18, 2006 10:45 AM  

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