The Best of All Games

Discussion in 'Sports' started by midcan5, Mar 26, 2008.

  1. midcan5
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    midcan5 liberal / progressive

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    John Rawls is one of my favorite political philosophers and has had a great influence on thinking about justice and fairness in America. In youth I spent too much time playing baseball or going to Connie Mack to see it played from the bleachers, the only seats we could afford. I once coaxed Roberto Clemente into an autograph even though he was trying like heck to ride the cab away from us pushy kids. I remembered that recently when I saw his biography in Barnes and Noble. This letter on baseball is worth sharing for fans and everyone.

    "Dear Owen,

    Many thanks for sending me the bibliography of Kalven’s writings and the copy of your memorial address. When classes are over at the end of next week I hope to read some of his essays listed that I haven’t gotten to yet. I have until the end of May to revise the lecture (a copy enclosed) for publication in the Tanner volume. A lot needs to be done on it, although I feel better about it than I did around March 1st when I was having trouble deciding how to give a useful example or two and bring the thing to a close. Here especially, Kalven’s writings were most helpful. I look forward to seeing the MS should that be possible.

    It is curious that although I only saw Kalven once to talk to, and that was in the summer of 1961 (I think, otherwise 1962) at breakfast while attending a conference sponsored by the Encyclopedia Britannica at Santa Barbara at Hutchins’s madhouse among the palms, we talked about the only subject that you never seem to have gotten around to in your conversations with him, namely baseball. I distinctly recall the conversation because he brought out to me many splendid features of the game which, though obvious, require his sort of brilliance to see the significance of. For example, he gave these reasons for why baseball is the best of all games.

    First: the rules of the game are in equilibrium: that is, from the start, the diamond was made just the right size, the pitcher’s mound just the right distance from home plate, etc., and this makes possible the marvelous plays, such as the double play. The physical layout of the game is perfectly adjusted to the human skills it is meant to display and to call into graceful exercise. Whereas, basketball, e.g., is constantly (or was then) adjusting its rules to get them in balance.

    Second: the game does not give unusua1 preference or advantage to special physical types, e.g., to tall men as in basketball. All sorts of abilities can find a place somewhere, the tall and the short etc. can enjoy the game together in different positions.

    Third: the game uses all parts of the body: the arms to throw, the legs to run, and to swing the bat, etc.; per contra soccer where you can’t touch the ball. It calls upon speed, accuracy of throw, gifts of sight for batting, shrewdness for pitchers and catchers, etc. And there are all kinds of strategies.

    Fourth: all plays of the game are open to view: the spectators and the players can see what is going on. Per contra football where it is hard to know what is happening in the battlefront along the line. Even the umpires can’t see it all, so there is lots of cheating etc. And in basketball, it is hard to know when to call a foul. There are close calls in baseball too, but the umps do very well on the whole, and these close calls arise from the marvelous timing built into the game and not from trying to police cheaters etc.

    Fifth: baseball is the only game where scoring is not done with the ball, and this has the remarkable effect of concentrating the excitement of plays at different points of the field at the same time. Will the runner cross the plate before the fielder gets to the ball and throws it to home plate, and so on.

    Finally, there is the factor of time, the use of which is a central part of any game. Baseball shares with tennis the idea that time never runs out, as it does in basketball and football and soccer. This means that there is always time for the losing side to make a comeback. The last of the ninth inning becomes one of the most potentially exciting parts of the game. And while the same sometimes happens in tennis also, it seems to happen less often. Cricket, much like baseball (and indeed I must correct my remark above that baseball is the only game where scoring is not done with the ball), does not have a time limit.

    Such, as I recall, was the substance of the conversation one morning with Kalven as I and several others had breakfast with him. And having played baseball some I tried to draw him out a bit. I’m sure there were many more things I’ve forgotten, and I’m also sure he could have gone on forever, if we hadn’t had to stop.

    Again many thanks for sending me the things. They will be most helpful to me.

    Best,

    Jack"

    http://bostonreview.net/BR33.2/rawls.php
     
  2. Paulie
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    Paulie Platinum Member

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    That was a cool read. Baseball is definitely my favorite, and for all those reasons.
     
  3. onedomino
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    onedomino SCE to AUX

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    Baseball is indeed a wonderful game. Here are some interesting and fun baseball quotes:

    "You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." -Jim Bouton, Ball Four, 1970


    "If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there are men on base." -Dave Barry


    "A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz." -Humphrey Bogart


    "I see great things in baseball. It's our game - the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us." -Walt Whitman


    "Baseball players are smarter than football players. How often do you see a baseball team penalized for too many men on the field?" -Jim Bouton, 1988


    "A critic once characterized baseball as six minutes of action crammed into two-and-one-half hours." -Ray Fitzgerald, in Boston Glove, 1970


    "It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone." -A. Bartlett Giamatti, The Green Fields of the Mind, Yale Alumni Magazine, November 1977


    "It ain't nothin' till I call it." -Bill Klem, umpire



    Lots more : http://www.quotegarden.com/baseball.html
     
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  4. akiboy
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    akiboy Member

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    The quotes rocked..But soccer is way better than baseball...Sorry , everyone here is entitled to his opinion!
     
  5. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    John Rawls was a great philosopher, not that I'm qualified to say that, I'm just using his idea of the Veil of Ignorance in some work I'm dong and although his fellow philosophers ripped it apart, in the project I'm working on it is so apt.


    The baseball quotes were excellent!

    Oh and the Brit who mentioned cricket in the comments to the article completely missed the point.
     
  6. rayboyusmc
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    rayboyusmc Senior Member

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    Baseball is bery bery boring.

    Football more better.

    Go Packers.
     
  7. Dr Grump
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    Dr Grump Gold Member

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    He was wrong on the cricket in that it has unlimited time. A test has a maximum five-day limit...:cool:
     
  8. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    It just feels like eternity :rofl:
     
  9. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    I saw the Astros and Giants one night at the Astrodome some years ago. I was up there at the back drinking beer, it came in plastic buckets, well they were the size of buckets anyway - don't get me wrong, I didn't complain :D
     
  10. JimH52
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    JimH52 Gold Member

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    Personally, I love baseball...when I want to take a nap. there is nothing in the world that can put me to sleep faster. I have tried! I really have tried to get excited about Baseball and alas, it is not to be.

    NFL football is now the favorite American sport. Look at some of the regular season baseball games this year and see how many empty seats there are. You will not see that in football, except maybe during a hurricane of something.
     

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