Baseball Primer Newsblog
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Thursday, October 27, 2011
Phew! I haven’t seen this much over-thinking since…okay, since whenever the Cardinals last played.
What interests us is whether players succeed or fail, whether they achieve or get lucky. The judgment that a ball is a strike is, really, the judgment that a pitcher delivered a a pitch that the batter ought to have hit. This is not so much a judgment about where the pitch was located, as it is a judgment about whether the pitcher or the batter deserves credit. It is, in the original sense of the term, a forensic judgment. It is, therefore, a decision made within the context of the game, with its distinct interests, problems and dynamics. From this standpoint, umpiring — together with official scoring — are an ineliminable part of the sport. Exernal Realism seems helpless to account for this forensic side of baseball.
External Realism and Internal Anti-Realism are extremist views. A better view — let’s call it Internal Realism — grants that there are no baseball facts apart from the internal standpoint of the game.
There is no merely physical, practice-independent conception of what a “fair ball,” a “home run” or a “strike” even are. These are events that only exist inside baseball. At the same time, Internal Realism acknowledges that disputes about whether a runner was really out, or whether a ball was in the strike zone, also unfold inside baseball. You don’t need to step outside of the practice and take up “a view from the outside” to call plays in baseball. A concern for whether a call was correctly made is something we do precisely from the inside. These questions have the significance they do because we are interested in the game, because we are participants.
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