#7 * baseball and all sorts of things

I can’t believe I’m about to write about Baseball. Hopefully by now you’re seeing that what I’m talking about isn’t actually what I’m talking about. When I take about Ariel I’m not just talking about Ariel. When I talk about baseball, I’m definitely not just talking about baseball.

A few weeks ago, I headed south to the Rogers Centre to watch the Blue Jays play a baseball game.  I usually can’t sit through more than one baseball game a year.

The game was slow. Baseball is already a slow sport, making this game uncomfortably slow. Matt is a much bigger baseball fan than me and it was him who said in the 8th inning
Let’s get out of here…

Despite the fact, I did enjoy being at the game. Thousands of people, warm weather, good company and a bagful of candy can make anything fun!

As the game was being played I couldn’t help but notice all the particularities of the game. Every game has rules which are put in place in order for the game to run smoothly and for it to make the most sense. The rules of baseball are no exception.

The distance between the bases. 90′.

The distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate. 60′-6”.

The pitcher’s mound diameter. 18′.

The number of innings. 9.

The number of outs. 3.

The number of strikes it takes to get someone out. 3.

The number of balls it takes to get someone to walk. 4.

The numbers, the distances, and the specifications.

As each team made their way onto the field they knew about the rules. They learnt the rules and had agreed that if they were going to play todays game they would have to follow them. They were taught the rules at a young age and never doubted them. How could they doubt them? There was no reason to doubt them. They were just learning something and you can’t doubt something you don’t know. That’s impossible.

They were young and the rules existed much longer than them. They didn’t have the authority to challenge the rules. The rules were set in place and if they wanted to play the game and have fun then they would have to obey the rules and follow them.

Of course they could change the rules and go about calling a ball a strike and allowing 5 outs instead of 3 and changing this and that, but before long it would become clear to those watching, those who knew the rules, those who were the true fans, that the game-changers wouldn’t be playing baseball. They would be playing something else.

They could call it baseball all they want, but they would be in denial.

They would be having their own private affair that the rest of the baseball community would call notbaseball.

The meaning of baseball is fabricated by the intricate way the rules are used and followed. Once you start to change the rules you begin to change the meaning because meaning depends on how something is used in its larger framework.

Following the rules is what gives baseball meaning.

Following the rules is what makes something meaningful.

In the last 60 years or so we’ve started to move away from this idea of rule-following. Politics, relationships, religion, architecture, music, everything is evolving and moving away from the predetermined rules. The assumption for many is that rules are bad. Arbitrary. Rules are meant to be broken. Rules dictate and 60 years ago the last thing we wanted was for anything to dictate (ever again).

We started saying things like
Rules aren’t liberating. They confine us. They don’t give us freedom. They don’t let us do what we want. They don’t let us be our own person. They’re so black and white. They don’t let us be individuals. We need to be individuals. We need to be liberated. We don’t need rules. We just need love. All we need is love. All we need is respect.

Finally! Our discussion is about to move from the main foyer of the house and into the living room.

Grab that old comfortable reclining chair and get ready.

Categories: 25 cents, culture, ideas

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4 Comments on “#7 * baseball and all sorts of things”

  1. estolte
    August 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    But who makes the rules?

  2. August 22, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    I’m really not sure, Eric. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and I really don’t know who makes the rules. Obviously the one who makes the rules is the one who makes the rules but you’re asking “who”.

    The postmoderns like Foucault, who spent their time tracing these societal rules back through the ages, will say it was the ones with the power; the ones who would benefit the most. The ones who had the power could say “Give your money to the church and you’ll get to go to heaven” without being challenged.

    As I’ve been thinking about this for the last two years I’ve had to step back from the postmoderns and ask myself, so what? Who cares if it’s those in power that are making the rules? If we want freedom then must find it in any/all circumstances. Anyone who has ever truly experienced freedom (I’ve only read their stories) is going to say that freedom is certainly NOT having whatever you want and whatever you think you’re entitled to have. Freedom IS being denied what you want and what you think you’re entitled to have while remaining content.

    But back to your question.

    It’ll help if you look at HOW these rules come into place.

    In most cases, whether it’s a constitution (politics), a creed (religion) or cricket (games) they certainly aren’t arbitrarily made. They are established based on experience and repetition. They are tested. They are evaluated. They are discussed in length between people who have been testing and evaluating them. They are then, after a long time of thoughtfulness and carefulness, put in place and adjusted accordingly.

    A perfect example is the Vatican Council. You can take any other system but the Vatican is a great example of what I’m talking about. It took months upon months and hundreds upon hundreds of trusted leaders in 1869. It wasn’t relative. It wasn’t arbitrary. Anyone who thinks so can be excused from the conversation. Nearly 100 years later, however, they recognized that things needed to be adjusted and amended. Times changed after after the Two Wars and so they had to convene again and adjust the rules, thoughtfully and carefully.

    The NHL has changed the goalie crease. Our government is constantly making amendments.

    This is the reality we live in. For most of us, it is simply our job to have faith in the leaders, trust in what they decide and follow the rules. I’ll explain why this is important and what can happen when we don’t follow the rules in the next couple posts

  3. estolte
    August 22, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    But if “the game” is life, the creator (the one who holds all power) of that game sets the rules, otherwise, as you say above, “They would be having their own private affair that the rest of the baseball community would call notbaseball.” So, violate the “rules” of life and we’re living “not-life.” If so, the key question is: “Is the one holding the power to set the rules for the game of life good or only self-interested?” Am I thinking well?

  4. August 23, 2011 at 12:05 am #

    You’re thinking really well, just a bit too much too fast.

    I’m interested by what you’re saying, but it’s a long way ahead of what I’m talking about.

    This whole discussion I’m trying to interact with comes from Wittgenstein’s theory known as “language-games”: a principle later employed by Lyotard in his book the postmodern condition.

    I think it’ll become clear in tonight’s post that I’m not using this theory to try and figure out who the HUMAN UMPIRE is and what the human game is. I think we’ve tried that for centuries and are only now realizing that it’s nearly impossible; we’re far too diverse to come to any absolute conclusions. Rather we now have the means to see how different forms of life (political, religious, cultural, artistic, etc), in different parts of the world live – we must recognize that our “game” is vastly different from the Other and that this has huge consequences for how we interact on a day-to-day basis.

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