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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Posnanski: Blaming the fans

Ehh, they’re in a pennant race, it’s about time to fire him anyway.

Tuesday night, Royals manager Ned Yost – in the moments after what was perhaps Kansas City’s signature baseball victory in 20 years – decided to unload on Royals fans for not showing up.  You can go to the most excellent Sam Mellinger to get a full recap of Yost’s blundering nonsense, but I think the essence can be condensed into his sarcastic, “I mean, what, 13,000 people got to see a great game?” opening shot… Well, every year we’ll get two or three of these blunders from managers or players… First, the statement will be widely discussed – fans lambasting Yost, a few fans will counter that he has a point and Kansas City fans must represent, other fans will lambaste those fans – and before the day’s out we’ll have Yost backtracking from the statement, probably saying he was speaking emotionally, and it was misunderstood and he loves the Kansas City fans and just wants them to be a part of things.

But I’m not sure he will get, even then, why what he said was so insulting and stupid. I didn’t get it for a long time… First, there are the obvious things. One, you can’t win a few games and expect people to just stop their lives for you… A large percentage of tickets sold are season tickets… A large percentage of tickets sold are bought well in advance… Families build their plans around their children’s schedules – and school started this week…

the heart of what’s wrong with blaming fans for anything: The fans are right. I don’t mean they are right in the “customer’s always right” sense, though that’s true too. What I mean is that fans aren’t a PART of spectator sports. Fans are the REASON for spectator sports… If more fans buy one book than any other, it goes to No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. If more fans go to a movie than any other, it becomes the No. 1 grossing movie. If more fans buy one song than any other, it shoots to the top of the ITunes list. People can and do complain about the choices of these lists and what they say about society, but what they’re not complaining about the lists themselves. The lists are reflections of the fans wishes. The fans define those lists. They cannot be wrong. A director who moans that more people should have watched his or her movie is not just ludicrous, he’s by definition wrong. Exactly as many fans watched the movie as watched the movie.

When 13,000 or so fans showed up for the Royals game Tuesday night, that was what the Royals had wrought… How many people you draw to a game is not a reflection on the people. It’s a reflection, entirely, on you.

The District Attorney Posted: August 27, 2014 at 11:05 AM | 90 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: joe posnanski, ned yost, royals

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   1. Astroenteritis Posted: August 27, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4779893)
Yost can't win with this approach. The manager doesn't needs to be alienating the fans. After all, as Yogi said, if people aren't going to come to the game, how you gonna stop them?
   2. Gamingboy Posted: August 27, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4779906)
One thing that needs to be taken into account is that schools are now entering into session, and especially the first few days of the school year you aren't going to see many families coming to a ballgame now. Posnanski mentions this, actually, and I know it was pointed out as the Orioles have also had poor attendance this week.
   3. Cargo Cultist Posted: August 27, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4779908)
This is just lame on his part.
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 11:38 AM (#4779910)
A director who moans that more people should have watched his or her movie is not just ludicrous, he’s by definition wrong. Exactly as many fans watched the movie as watched the movie


Huh? This makes no sense at all. "How many should there be of X" is an entirely different question than "How many are there of X." Is Posnanski one of those people who lives in an entirely descriptivist world, in which there can be no normative propositions?
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 27, 2014 at 11:38 AM (#4779911)
FWIW The Royals did draw 31k on Monday, although it was Jeter's last game in KC.

13k is troubling, but I'll be more alarmed if its more than a one-game thing. They drew really well mid-week for Oakland a week or two ago, but school wasn't in session (and it wasn't 200 degrees outside).
   6. BDC Posted: August 27, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4779915)
Managers should not complain about fans unless they're willing to go the full Lee Elia :)
   7. kthejoker Posted: August 27, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4779929)
I dunno, reading Yost's remarks (and not seeing them live), they sounded more like "C'mon, people, we need your help" than an outright, "Fine, you all suck, be that way." kind of attitude.
   8. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 27, 2014 at 11:54 AM (#4779934)
Managers should not complain about fans unless they're willing to go the full Lee Elia :)


The Lee Elia rant is the best because he is insulting the fans for actually coming to the games. "Go get a job! What are you doing here in the middle of the day?"
   9. Baldrick Posted: August 27, 2014 at 11:58 AM (#4779935)
And this, finally, gets to the heart of what’s wrong with blaming fans for anything: The fans are right. I don’t mean they are right in the “customer’s always right” sense, though that’s true too. What I mean is that fans aren’t a PART of spectator sports. Fans are the REASON for spectator sports.

This is a really poor column from Poz. I sort of agree with the general premise, but I vehemently disagree with the idea that the only standard of reference available to us is the simple descriptive fact of how people respond. That's a terrible way to think about the world.

In a sense, you could say the exact same thing about politics. Citizens aren't a part of politics; they're the reason for politics. But it would be ludicrous to say that whoever wins an election IS the right winner simply because they won. That's a terrible idea of what democracy means because it completely eviscerates the value of independent judgment - and a series of independent judgments is the only thing capable of even producing the result in the first place.

Let’s try again: If more fans buy one book than any other, it goes to No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. If more fans go to a movie than any other, it becomes the No. 1 grossing movie. If more fans buy one song than any other, it shoots to the top of the ITunes list. People can and do complain about the choices of these lists and what they say about society, but what they’re not complaining about the lists themselves. The lists are reflections of the fans wishes. The fans define those lists. They cannot be wrong. A director who moans that more people should have watched his or her movie is not just ludicrous, he’s by definition wrong. Exactly as many fans watched the movie as watched the movie.

Once again, there are two totally different things here. There is the descriptive fact that X sold more than Y. And there is also the question of whether it SHOULD have. Those are not even remotely the same things and it's frankly pretty nihilistic to conflate the two. The analogy for baseball attendance is simply that you can't argue that 40k people showed up if only 13k did. But you can say that they SHOULD have.
   10. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 27, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4779936)
"I hope more and more Royals fans come to the stadium. The team's in first place! We're headed in a really exciting direction, we've got some huge games coming up, and I really want these fans here in our great city realize that the Royals are playing some great baseball. We're working really hard to represent our city, and I want our fans get out here, support their guys, give us that extra push we need to get into the playoffs."

Why is that difficult?
   11. villageidiom Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4779940)
Huh? This makes no sense at all. "How many should there be of X" is an entirely different question than "How many are there of X." Is Posnanski one of those people who lives in an entirely descriptivist world, in which there can be no normative propositions?
No, that's not it.

"How many should there be of X" is from one narrowly-defined point of view, taking Y hypothetical influences into account, but no more than Y. "How many are there of X" takes into account infinite actual influences. Yost, in saying there should have been more fans, is only looking at a few variables - the current standings, the excitement of the game's ending, the size of crowds they were getting a couple weeks ago, the location of the game - and deciding there "should have been" more fans there. Well, when you ignore the ticket prices, the decades of suck, the fact that the school year just started, the opponent... I can see how he reached that conclusion. It's just willfully underinformed.

Yost is noting that reality didn't match his expectations, and his reaction is to blame reality. Reality might not be great, but it's by definition correct.
   12. TDF, situational idiot Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4779945)
In a sense, you could say the exact same thing about politics. Citizens aren't a part of politics; they're the reason for politics. But it would be ludicrous to say that whoever wins an election IS the right winner simply because they won. That's a terrible idea of what democracy means because it completely eviscerates the value of independent judgment - and a series of independent judgments is the only thing capable of even producing the result in the first place.
Of course whomever wins an election is the "right" winner; to say otherwise is to move from a democracy (or democratic republic) to a plutocracy. It may be a simplistic explanation, but it certainly isn't wrong or "ludicrous".
The analogy for baseball attendance is simply that you can't argue that 40k people showed up if only 13k did. But you can say that they SHOULD have.
No, you can't because you don't know the reasons those 27K people didn't show up; further, even if you did know why, you don't have the right to decide the "right" way for other people to spend their time and/or money.
   13. Scott Lange Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4779946)
Pos is way off base here. There was nothing insulting about Yost's comments. He just said he wished more people came out to see the game, and that the team needs fan support. That's it! He didn't call anyone dumb, or lazy, or traitorous, or anything. Really, Pos and the KC Star writer he quotes are the only people insulting anyone in this story.

If you want to know why athletes are terrified to give anything but the most saccharine, anodyne quotes, this article is your answer.
   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:12 PM (#4779947)
"How many are there of X" takes into account infinite actual influences.


Right, which is just another way of saying it's more descriptive. You're still leaving no room for normative statements. See Baldrick's elaboration above.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:14 PM (#4779948)
No, you can't because you don't know the reasons those 27K people didn't show up; further, even if you did know why, you don't have the right to decide the "right" way for other people to spend their time and/or money.


So no normative statements, ever?
   16. tshipman Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:15 PM (#4779949)
And this, finally, gets to the heart of what’s wrong with blaming fans for anything: The fans are right. I don’t mean they are right in the “customer’s always right” sense, though that’s true too. What I mean is that fans aren’t a PART of spectator sports. Fans are the REASON for spectator sports.


This is silly. Ned Yost's goal is to win baseball games. That's what he's told at the start of the year, and it's why he's hired. He's not hired for his entertainment value, his interviews, or anything else.

The only guys who care about team revenue don't go on the field.
   17. TDF, situational idiot Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:20 PM (#4779953)
A director who moans that more people should have watched his or her movie is not just ludicrous, he’s by definition wrong. Exactly as many fans watched the movie as watched the movie

Huh? This makes no sense at all. "How many should there be of X" is an entirely different question than "How many are there of X." Is Posnanski one of those people who lives in an entirely descriptivist world, in which there can be no normative propositions?
I think he's close, but not quite right. What he should have said is "Exactly as many fans watched the movie as wanted to watch it", given the price and alternatives.

I have $10 in my pocket. I can watch Movie A, Movie B, Movie C, buy a 6-pack and watch something on cable, or work on something in the house and buy a pizza. There is no right or wrong answer among those 5, but if no one picks Movie A it's simply because no one would prefer to watch it.
   18. Baldrick Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:20 PM (#4779955)
No, that's not it.

"How many should there be of X" is from one narrowly-defined point of view, taking Y hypothetical influences into account, but no more than Y. "How many are there of X" takes into account infinite actual influences. Yost, in saying there should have been more fans, is only looking at a few variables - the current standings, the excitement of the game's ending, the size of crowds they were getting a couple weeks ago, the location of the game - and deciding there "should have been" more fans there. Well, when you ignore the ticket prices, the decades of suck, the fact that the school year just started, the opponent... I can see how he reached that conclusion. It's just willfully underinformed.

Yost is noting that reality didn't match his expectations, and his reaction is to blame reality. Reality might not be great, but it's by definition correct.

I was with you for most of this, but 'reality is by definition correct' goes way too far.

The problem is that we're talking about 'the public' as an undifferentiated whole. 'More people should have been there' doesn't really make sense normatively because it runs into all the problems you outlined. But as a statement to individual fans: 'you ought to prioritize the team a bit more' is perfectly reasonable. I'm not saying I AGREE with that claim, but it's not conceptually incorrect (which the argument Poz seems to be making).

Or think about it this way. Given all the variables, 13k fans attended. But if one variable (commitment to the Royals) were to change, that number would also change. And Yost seems to be saying 'it would be good if that variable changed.' That's a coherent claim, and it can't be refuted by simply identifying the countervailing elements that held down the attendance. It CAN be refuted by noting that a manager probably shouldn't complain about that sort of thing, and should instead phrase things positively. It also can be refuted by saying that 'supporting the team' isn't a particularly important value and it's kind of gauche to demand that people fork over additional money for an entertainment industry to prove they REALLY like it. But it's not by definition incorrect.
   19. BDC Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:25 PM (#4779959)
A large part of any manager's job is to talk to the press. There are no Albert Belles among managers. I'd hate it if there were :)
   20. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4779960)
No, you can't because you don't know the reasons those 27K people didn't show up; further, even if you did know why, you don't have the right to decide the "right" way for other people to spend their time and/or money.


And yet I think it's perfectly reasonable to express the opinion that if some of the people had gone to the game instead of watching the Golf Channel or whatever they would have had a more pleasant afternoon.

I mean, if my friend says "you ought to go see this movie" I don't reply "you don't have the right to decide what movies I watch!"
   21. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:31 PM (#4779968)

A large part of any manager's job is to talk to the press. There are no Albert Belles among managers. I'd hate it if there were :)


There was once, in KC no less.
   22. TDF, situational idiot Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:31 PM (#4779969)
So no normative statements, ever?
Go right ahead, but don't act as if I'm an idiot because my idea of ideal is different from yours - which is what Yost seems to be doing. And when you're in business, belittling the potential customers is considered sub-optimum. FTA:
I don’t mean they are right in the “customer’s always right” sense, though that’s true too.
No, customers are often wrong (I've been in retail 30 years). Sometimes they are factually wrong, and the salesman is right to point it out; but when their opinion is wrong, that's just a matter of opinion and that's when "the customer is always right".

   23. Scott Lange Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:33 PM (#4779970)
when you're in business, belittling the potential customers is considered sub-optimum


What did Yost say that was belittling? I really can't see a thing.
   24. Baldrick Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:35 PM (#4779972)
Of course whomever wins an election is the "right" winner; to say otherwise is to move from a democracy (or democratic republic) to a plutocracy. It may be a simplistic explanation, but it certainly isn't wrong or "ludicrous".

The one who wins is the authoritative winner, sure. They are designated with the task of governing. But it is a WILD leap to say that authoritative=right. And it's a tremendously dangerous one. Because it implies two contradictory things:
1. I must make my own judgments about the correct answer to this question. My input is crucial to producing a democratic result.
2. Whoever wins is the correct winner. My personal feelings about what should have taken place are irrelevant.
But if I'm willing to accept #2, that requires completely sublimating my personal judgment for the judgment of the collective. And if I'm willing to do that, then what was the significance of registering an opinion in the first place?

The only way democracy works is if its subjects live within this disconnect, and accept that a functioning system has value - which means we have to accept the 'wrong' result in a bunch of cases, even as we hold out hope that we can change the variables to achieve better results in the long term.

I think he's close, but not quite right. What he should have said is "Exactly as many fans watched the movie as wanted to watch it", given the price and alternatives.

I have $10 in my pocket. I can watch Movie A, Movie B, Movie C, buy a 6-pack and watch something on cable, or work on something in the house and buy a pizza. There is no right or wrong answer among those 5, but if no one picks Movie A it's simply because no one would prefer to watch it.

If I had a friend in that circumstance who chose to watch Movie B (which I think is terrible) instead of Movie A (which I think is amazing) I would absolutely say 'you should have chosen Movie A' and my friend could not refute that claim simply by saying 'I saw Movie B.' That's a meaningless response, which only makes sense if we presume that the world is nothing but a series of economized decision points and that desire is nothing but an external variable that cannot be assessed by normative reasoning.

Which is a terrible way to think about the world.
   25. Dale Sams Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4779975)
Just wait til the Red Sox series in September. Between Sox fans, Royal fans getting to see the Sox get thumped, September baseball and being closer to the end of the playoff race....that place is going to be rocking.
   26. bunyon Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:44 PM (#4779978)
Right and wrong is never opinion. If you've moved into the realm of opinion, you can't say "X is right".

So, none of these statements: "you should have seen Movie A" or "John Kerry should have won the election" or "40,000 people should have been at the Royals game last night", are right or wrong. They're opinions.
   27. Joey B. has reignited his October #Natitude Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:46 PM (#4779980)
I dunno, reading Yost's remarks (and not seeing them live), they sounded more like "C'mon, people, we need your help" than an outright, "Fine, you all suck, be that way." kind of attitude.

I too thought his comments were pretty mild, and not over the top at all.

Having said that, I would cut them some slack, seeing as how the Royals just got good. This isn't a Tampa Bay situation where the crowds remain an embarrassment even after being one of the best teams in baseball for several years.
   28. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4779982)
I have $10 in my pocket. I can watch Movie A, Movie B, Movie C, buy a 6-pack and watch something on cable, or work on something in the house and buy a pizza. There is no right or wrong answer among those 5,


Depends on the beer.
   29. Baldrick Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:53 PM (#4779988)
Right and wrong is never opinion. If you've moved into the realm of opinion, you can't say "X is right".

So, none of these statements: "you should have seen Movie A" or "John Kerry should have won the election" or "40,000 people should have been at the Royals game last night", are right or wrong. They're opinions.

But if you hold an opinion which you do not think is right, then what the heck does it even mean to say it's an opinion?

The desire to treat all normative judgment as simply the expression of personal desire is incredibly troubling to me. "You should treat her well" is not equivalent to "I will be sad if you don't treat her well." It's a moral injunction, which carries force because it embodies a spirit of righteousness. It could be misplaced righteousness. It could be infused with a set of assumptions and subjective experiences. It could be dangerous. But it is not simply a statement of preference. It aspires to more than that.
   30. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4779994)
Right and wrong is never opinion. If you've moved into the realm of opinion, you can't say "X is right".


Well, some opinions are just wrong. I get into this argument with my hardcore relativist friends all the time.

Me: "So you honestly think you couldn't say that Eric Clapton is a better guitarist than I am?"

Friend: "No, who's a better musician than whom is just a matter of opinion."

Me: "But there are objective data - Clapton can play faster than I can, can play a broader range of licks, can play with fewer out of tune notes, etc. etc. etc."

Friend: "But that's all aesthetics, which is a matter of opinion."

Me: "I get that my style of guitar playing could (entirely theoretically) be more pleasing to some ill-informed individuals in some universe. Those people could factually say that they like my playing better. But if they try to say that in their opinion I am a better guitarist than Eric Clapton, their opinion would be factually incorrect."

Friend: "Nope. All just a matter of taste."

But Eric Clapton is a better guitarist than I am, and would be a better guitarist if I was the one who had been a rock star for 50 years and sold 80 gazillion albums and he was just a guy playing in a bar.
   31. ReggieThomasLives Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:00 PM (#4779996)
Once again, there are two totally different things here. There is the descriptive fact that X sold more than Y. And there is also the question of whether it SHOULD have. Those are not even remotely the same things and it's frankly pretty nihilistic to conflate the two. The analogy for baseball attendance is simply that you can't argue that 40k people showed up if only 13k did. But you can say that they SHOULD have.


You can only say this in fantasyland.

Pretty clearly at least 27k baseball fans had better things to do with their time, and a better perspective on what's important in their lives.

I have 2 kids in elementary school with normal 9 pm bed times, if I took them to that game and it went extra innings my response would be "ugh".
   32. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4779997)

But Eric Clapton is a better guitarist than I am, and would be a better guitarist if I was the one who had been a rock star for 50 years and sold 80 gazillion albums and he was just a guy playing in a bar.

I was going to make a similar point, using the claim, "The Godfather is a better movie than Magnum Force." It's just opinion and you can't prove it, but that doesn't mean it's not actually true.
   33. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:05 PM (#4780000)
I was going to make a similar point, using the claim, "The Godfather is a better movie than Magnum Force." It's just opinion and you can't prove it, but that doesn't mean it's not actually true.


Yeah, I also sometimes use the Beatles vs. Britney Spears as the comparison, but it's more fun to do it with me vs. Eric Clapton, because of course my friends know damn well I'm not as good as Eric Clapton.
   34. Matt Welch Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:09 PM (#4780007)
Neither endorsing nor attacking the argument, but when I worked at the L.A. Times several years back, a guy once made a semi-similar case when talking about the contentious issue of how many "affordable housing" units there were in Los Angeles (a number, it turns out, that no one precisely compiles). His retort: ALL housing, or at least all inhabited housing, is by definition affordable, because people live in it!
   35. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:10 PM (#4780008)
Marty DiBergi: Does this mean uh...the popularity of the team is waning?
Ned Yost: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no...no, no, not at all. I, I, I just think that the.. uh.. their appeal is becoming more selective.
   36. bunyon Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:10 PM (#4780010)

I was going to make a similar point, using the claim, "The Godfather is a better movie than Magnum Force." It's just opinion and you can't prove it, but that doesn't mean it's not actually true.


True for who though? If 50%+1 of the people share an opinion does that make it "right"? I agree that saying there are no normative statements when talking of how we treat others is wrong. But for what form of entertainment is best, there are no normative statements. Art is entertainment. Sport is entertainment. We've come to a standard on these things because we all have much in common and certain forms please most of us. But, no, "The Godfather is a better movie than Magnum Force." is not "true". It's widely agreed. Those are two different things.

Similarly, the winner of a democratic election is the person who should have won, assuming it was on the level. It may well be that the voters are immoral and/or evil but the winner shows who they feel should represent them, which is the entire point of the democratic process.

Certainly in the matter at hand, there is no "right" or "true" statement about how many people should go to a baseball game. If everyone on the planet woke up tomorrow hating baseball, the right answer would be zero. If we all woke up loving it, it would be 8 billion. There simply isn't a standard there that can be used other than one's opinion.

I actually think it's quite dangerous to think so highly of an opinion that you view it as a universal truth. It's a sign of someone who won't question themselves. Obviously, I have some opinions I hold much more dear than others. You'd more easily change my mind to thinking Magnum Force is better than The Godfather before you'd get me to think wife-beating is okay, for instance. One who simply holds that these things are all "true" has lost perspective, IMO.
   37. Moeball Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4780015)
Also keep in mind - attendance often tends to lag team performance.

You often see a spike in attendance the year AFTER a team has a breakthrough season, not the year of the actual breakthrough. That's because now people expect to have a good team to go see.

Fans in KC may be excited over this year's success so far, but they are also waiting for the other shoe to drop. They have been conditioned by 20+ years of ineptitude not to expect good things from the Royals. Which is really sad because in the early days of their existence they were a textbook example of how to run an expansion franchise.

Ned needs to back off a bit, but his comments also aren't the end of the world. If they keep winning, fans will show up.
   38. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4780016)
Ned Yost is required to talk to the press on a daily basis as part of his job, even though it is not the primary responsibility of his job. He (like all managers and head coaches) has to make public statements an awful lot. Even people whose primary job is to communicate in public settings (politicians, heads of trade associations, lobbyists, weathermen, press spokespersons, radio talk show hosts, whatever) sometimes mess up, and sometimes communicate imperfectly.

Ned Yost is a 60 year old dude whose chief qualification for getting into the "baseball managing" business was that he was a backup catcher for the Brewers and two other teams for about five years in the early-to-mid 1980s. If he had been a professional baseball player, he would not have become a professional baseball manager, either. If you read his quote, it is not crazy. He is excited that the team won an important game in dramatic fashion. Anybody who has ever done anything they care about for an audience is disappointment when the audience is smaller than you expected. Many of you probably played sports as a kid, in high school, maybe beyond. Didn't you love it when more people came out to support you? Ned Yost obviously is proud of his team, and why not - they are having a very good year. He feels that the team is holding up their end of the bargain - playing games that matter in late August, and winning some of those games. Players are often told that people show up for winners...but if they are winning, shouldn't that mean that, well, more than 13,800 people in the greater KC area would likely have come to the game? What he said was perfectly fine, especially when you consider who he is, what he is being compelled to do, and the emotions of the moment.

All that said, you've got a team that hasn't been to the playoffs since 1985, and may be the most "faceless" team in playoff contention you will find (Alex Gordon? James Shields? Greg Holland?)...it takes more than a month of hot baseball to turn around almost 30 years of irrelevance...but I don't blame Yost for being fired up after a game like that.
   39. Baldrick Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:15 PM (#4780019)
You can only say this in fantasyland.

Pretty clearly at least 27k baseball fans had better things to do with their time, and a better perspective on what's important in their lives.

I have 2 kids in elementary school with normal 9 pm bed times, if I took them to that game and it went extra innings my response would be "ugh".

Again, none of this contradicts my point. I'm not saying I agree with Yost that people should be obliged to come to the games. In fact, I mostly disagree. But if you want to refute his point, you should do so in precisely the way that you do here. By citing actual reasons. By noting the countervailing issues that cause people to not turn up. Not by dismissing the very idea that one can make the argument, which is what Poz does.
   40. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4780020)
There are no Albert Belles among managers.


I'm sick and tired of Ned Yost and Albert Belle complaining about attendance.
   41. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4780021)
Neither endorsing nor attacking the argument, but when I worked at the L.A. Times several years back, a guy once made a semi-similar case when talking about the contentious issue of how many "affordable housing" units there were in Los Angeles (a number, it turns out, that no one precisely compiles). His retort: ALL housing, or at least all inhabited housing, is by definition affordable, because people live in it!
Your friend was obviously correct, although only in the cutesy sense. Insofar as "affordable housing" is defined as a technical term-of-art however (e.g. a monthly mortgage payment of no more than a certain percentage of monthly after-tax income), it then takes on an objective meaning.

But then you knew this.
   42. Baldrick Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:24 PM (#4780032)
Similarly, the winner of a democratic election is the person who should have won, assuming it was on the level. It may well be that the voters are immoral and/or evil but the winner shows who they feel should represent them, which is the entire point of the democratic process.

Certainly in the matter at hand, there is no "right" or "true" statement about how many people should go to a baseball game. If everyone on the planet woke up tomorrow hating baseball, the right answer would be zero. If we all woke up loving it, it would be 8 billion. There simply isn't a standard there that can be used other than one's opinion.

I actually think it's quite dangerous to think so highly of an opinion that you view it as a universal truth. It's a sign of someone who won't question themselves. Obviously, I have some opinions I hold much more dear than others. You'd more easily change my mind to thinking Magnum Force is better than The Godfather before you'd get me to think wife-beating is okay, for instance. One who simply holds that these things are all "true" has lost perspective, IMO.

To believe something is correct does not mean you believe it to be a universal truth. It means that - all things considered and measured against the complicated balance of competing reasons - it is the best assessment you can make.

If people are not capable of self-generating moral value through their judgments (if their judgments are merely 'opinions' with no moral value) and we must simply defer to the logic of market interactions, then what is the point of valuing the initial judgments? Why do we value democracy, if the result of democracy is to simply institute whatever values are held by a majority regardless of what they may be?

How do we know what "the entire point of the democratic process" is? The entire point according to whom? And how do we know they're right?
   43. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4780037)
His retort: ALL housing, or at least all inhabited housing, is by definition affordable, because people live in it!


Yeah, that's more of an "I see what he did there" kind of thing. But my guess, of course, is that he believed that his statement successfully defined away the issue.
   44. The District Attorney Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:34 PM (#4780040)
I think Poz would draw a distinction between the director of the movie saying "more people should see my movie", and you telling your friend he should see it... or, in this case of course, the manager of the team saying more people should see my team. I think he's saying that, if you're a person running a business, you have to realize that you create your own customer demand or lack thereof... people are voting with their dollars on whether what you're doing is worth their money. I don't think he's talking about how a third party feels about the situation. I think the philosophical discussions about the nature of reality here are going beyond what Poz meant to say.

That said, I'm amazed that I hear logic along the lines of "everything about art is subjective, and yet the Beatles are objectively better than Britney Spears" so often in allegedly educated discussions. It couldn't make any less sense. It's just being a snob (so I probably shouldn't be amazed as I am.)

I wonder if KC has an unusually large disparity between weekday and weekend attendance. At least when they were actually consistently good, I seem to recall hearing that a disproportionate number of their fans came from many miles away. (cf. Alex Gordon himself, apparently growing up a diehard Royals fan in Nebraska) That unusually long trip would make it more difficult to pull off a weekday game.
   45. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:34 PM (#4780041)
His retort: ALL housing, or at least all inhabited housing, is by definition affordable, because people live in it!


My father used to something similar WRT organic food. "All food is organic. It's carbon based not silicon based food, is it?"

Sigh. "Yes Dad, right again, as always."
   46. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:37 PM (#4780044)

My father used to something similar WRT organic food. "All food is organic. It's carbon based not silicon based food, is it?"


I didn't know Ray had a kid.
   47. Baldrick Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:37 PM (#4780045)
I think Poz would draw a distinction between the director of the movie saying "more people should see my movie", and you telling your friend he should see it... or, in this case of course, the manager of the team saying more people should see my team. I think he's saying that, if you're a person running a business, you have to realize that you create your own customer demand or lack thereof... people are voting with their dollars on whether what you're doing is worth their money. I don't think he's talking about how a third party feels about the situation. I think the philosophical discussions about the nature of reality here are going beyond what Poz meant to say.

But a huge portion of his post is about his own mistake in blaming the fans.

Edit: Which is the part I disagree with. I agree with your premise that it's stupid to 'blame' your customers for not purchasing your product. Stupid and potentially destructive.
   48. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:40 PM (#4780049)
But for what form of entertainment is best, there are no normative statements. Art is entertainment. Sport is entertainment. We've come to a standard on these things because we all have much in common and certain forms please most of us. But, no, "The Godfather is a better movie than Magnum Force." is not "true". It's widely agreed. Those are two different things.


Do all opinions carry equal weight, though? If I have seen neither The Godfather nor Magnum Force, and I say Magnum Force is better, presumably that carries very little weight.


To believe something is correct does not mean you believe it to be a universal truth.


Kant covered this in his Critique of Judgment. There are certain classes of statements that one believe that everyone ought to hold, even though they in practice do not. And just because those statements are not subject to logical proof doesn't mean they don't have meaning.
   49. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:40 PM (#4780050)
That said, I'm amazed that I hear logic along the lines of "everything about art is subjective, and yet the Beatles are objectively better than Britney Spears" so often in allegedly educated discussions. It couldn't make any less sense. It's just being a snob (so I probably shouldn't be amazed as I am.)


I'm only saying one of those things. A lot of art is subjective, but the Beatles are objectively better than Britney Spears as musicians. I'll give you that she's an objectively better dancer, if you're into that sort of thing. It's not snobbery - for example, each of the Beatles knew/knows how to play a musical instrument. We have no evidence that Britney Spears does. That's objective data.
   50. PreservedFish Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:44 PM (#4780054)
To me, the Beatles are close enough to objectively superior that I will call it a true fact. Until you get into an argument like this, where I will admit that it's only like 99% true.

There are versions if the Beatles/Spears comparison where it gets tricky. Who's a better guitar player, Neil Young or Joe Satriani?
   51. BDC Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4780064)
Music illustrates this issue very well, because it objectively involves technical difficulty. I can play Satie's Gymnopedies. I can't play a Scarlatti sonata. Someone who can play Scarlatti is a better pianist than I am.

It's taste that's subjective. Some people prefer Satie to Scarlatti.
   52. The District Attorney Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:57 PM (#4780066)
But a huge portion of his post is about his own mistake in blaming the fans.
Well, Ned Yost doesn't own the Royals either. You can argue from the point of view of the person running the business, even if you're a writer, or even if you're just a fan (in fact, fans, theoretically the most removed from the situation, nonetheless do it constantly.) Again, I think there's a difference between telling your friend to see a movie, and saying that it's unjust that the movie didn't make more money.

A lot of art is subjective, but the Beatles are objectively better than Britney Spears as musicians. I'll give you that she's an objectively better dancer, if you're into that sort of thing. It's not snobbery - for example, each of the Beatles knew/knows how to play a musical instrument. We have no evidence that Britney Spears does. That's objective data.
And it's not objectively true that playing an instrument means that your music is better, or that you yourself are a better musician.

Please don't try to come up with a different criteria that you think I'll be more likely to accept, because it's not possible. It's subjective that the best "music" isn't the sound of a faucet dripping for twelve hours. The criteria for "good music" that might lead me to that conclusion aren't disprovable. Subjective means subjective.
   53. PreservedFish Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:58 PM (#4780067)
If you restrict it to a purely technical discussion then the point becomes uncontroversial and uninteresting. It's like saying that some guy can lift heavier rocks than another guy.
   54. Ron J2 Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:02 PM (#4780071)
#49 I'm not sure I buy the specifics of your argument about being able to play an instrument. There are first rate groups that have a lead vocalist who may or may not be able to play an instrument. Mick Jagger's prowess on the piano has roughly nothing to do with the merits of the Stones as a group.

Britney Spears is a solo pop vocalist. That's something that for instance John Lennon couldn't have done with anything like the success the Beatles had (among other things, according to George Martin, his voice wouldn't hold up to much more than one number at a time. IOW he couldn't have carried a live concert, or even recorded a full album the way it was done when the Beatles first started)

The musical prowess of the group matters and can be sensibly compared to Spears' backup band (and it's pretty clear to me that here the Beatles come out well ahead). But one thing that really isn't on offer for a solo performer is the vocal harmonies that is such a big part of the Beatles. IOW you're comparing Spears to everybody singing for the Beatles and that's not a contest.

   55. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:11 PM (#4780078)
There are versions if the Beatles/Spears comparison where it gets tricky.


Oh, of course. There's a very broad range where the data are close enough that it's not clear. That's why a lot of art preference is subjective. Just not all of it.
   56. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:18 PM (#4780088)
It's subjective that the best "music" isn't the sound of a faucet dripping for twelve hours. The criteria for "good music" that might lead me to that conclusion aren't disprovable. Subjective means subjective.


So the statement "Gilbert Gottfried reading from the phone book while a horse passes gas and a car honks its horn is better music than Beethoven" is just as valid as its converse? Fair enough if that's your view, but you're ignoring a lot of relevant data.
   57. Baldrick Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4780098)
That said, I'm amazed that I hear logic along the lines of "everything about art is subjective, and yet the Beatles are objectively better than Britney Spears" so often in allegedly educated discussions. It couldn't make any less sense. It's just being a snob (so I probably shouldn't be amazed as I am.)

And here, I understand the irritation, but...the equally dismissive response is pretty irritating. Immanuel Kant. Plato. John Stuart Mill. All pretty smart folks. They think that aesthetics has objective qualities. Maybe they're wrong. But it's not 'uneducated' to agree with them.

Is it objectively true that The Beatles are better than Britney? No, of course not. If by 'objectively true' we mean it's baked into the physics of the universe. But then, NOTHING that humanity has ever known is objectively true by that standard. All we have are guesses, some better than others. General relativity is in a different category from 2+2=4 which is in a different category from Beatles>Britney which is in a different category from pleasure>pain. But they're not completely different.

Anything which requires judgment requires a certain commitment to truth. Even the claim 'there is no objective truth' makes a universal claim.
   58. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:26 PM (#4780100)
First place doesn't mean what it used to mean, and the fans know it. The 13K is the tradeoff for getting a few extra bodies out to the mallpark for the "wild card race" that might not otherwise come.
   59. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:27 PM (#4780101)
#54, fair points. I didn't mean the instrumental ability/no instrumental ability distinction to be the entirety of my argument, just one example of bringing objective data to bear. Vocal endurance and ability to sing consistently on key would be other examples of a data points, sure (although I'm not willing to hand Britney a win there, because we don't have much data about how her voice sounds without studio processing and how much she can sing without lipsynching).

To your last point, it doesn't really matter if it's an apples vs. oranges comparison for the larger point I'm making. The statement "the Beatles are better than Britney Spears" is true, I assert, regardless of whether (and to some extent because) it's an unfair comparison. In ultra-relativist thinking, the statement cannot be true and is just as valid as the converse. So your recognition that it's "not a contest" supports my point that there are limits to relativism when it comes to music and other artistic preferences.
   60. BDC Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4780103)
Bear, 13K was the lowest attendance in the majors last night, so it's hardly due to jadedness over pennant races in general.

More to the point was probably the last-place opponent.
   61. bunyon Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:34 PM (#4780107)
But then, NOTHING that humanity has ever known is objectively true by that standard.

Now you're getting it. ;)


Look, I agree with you that there are things that "humans" as a group hold true. But there simply isn't and objective standard other than what we like that holds it true. I'm not suggesting anything goes; I'm suggesting the wisdom to know that things you think today are true you may discover aren't tomorrow.

But all of that is well beyond what is necessary here. There is, as I said, no right answer to the number of people who should have gone to that game.
   62. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:37 PM (#4780110)
Is this the most blog posts about the royals in, um, forever?
   63. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:38 PM (#4780111)
Is this the most blog posts about the royals in, um, forever?


Clearly you've never read a British gossip blog.
   64. villageidiom Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:38 PM (#4780112)
To your last point, it doesn't really matter if it's an apples vs. oranges comparison for the larger point I'm making. The statement "the Beatles are better than Britney Spears" is true, I assert, regardless of whether (and to some extent because) it's an unfair comparison.
Nothing's gonna change my world.
   65. will Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:39 PM (#4780113)
I started reading these comments to learn more about the Royals.......now I just feel......stupid.
   66. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:40 PM (#4780115)
Similarly, the winner of a democratic election is the person who should have won, assuming it was on the level. It may well be that the voters are immoral and/or evil but the winner shows who they feel should represent them, which is the entire point of the democratic process.

That's not actually the point. The point is to secure our rights and liberties as citizens; we believe democracy is the best way to achieve that.

When a Germany 1933 result occurs in a democratic election, the result is wrong, and should be overthrown.
   67. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:49 PM (#4780119)
I actually think it's quite dangerous to think so highly of an opinion that you view it as a universal truth. It's a sign of someone who won't question themselves.


This entirely begs the question, no? If you think of something as objectively true, you inherently don't think of it as an opinion. It's based on data and should of course be questioned if more and differing data come along.
   68. The District Attorney Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:49 PM (#4780120)
So the statement "Gilbert Gottfried reading from the phone book while a horse passes gas and a car honks its horn is better music than Beethoven" is just as valid as its converse?
I warned you not to do this. :P Yes, that is correct.

Is it objectively true that The Beatles are better than Britney? No, of course not. If by 'objectively true' we mean it's baked into the physics of the universe. But then, NOTHING that humanity has ever known is objectively true by that standard. All we have are guesses, some better than others. General relativity is in a different category from 2+2=4 which is in a different category from Beatles>Britney which is in a different category from pleasure>pain.
Agreed; it is a line-drawing problem. If you want to use the same word to describe your certitude that the sun exists as you use to describe your certitude that one musician is better than another, you're not "wrong." I would say that you're using language in a very suboptimal way. But that is, indeed, only my opinion.
   69. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:53 PM (#4780129)
Come on guys, stick to the subject in the post. We should be comparing The Beatles to Lorde.
   70. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:56 PM (#4780134)
If you want to use the same word to describe your certitude that the sun exists as you use to describe your certitude that one musician is better than another, you're not "wrong." I would say that you're using language in a very suboptimal way.


I agree that these two concepts are not the same - although I believe that both are correct with the same level of certitude, they're different types of "truth," I suppose. I would say that our language is suboptimal in that it doesn't really give us words that reflect the nuances particularly well. Maybe there should be a word for "true as a physical law of the universe" as opposed to just "true."
   71. Ron J2 Posted: August 27, 2014 at 02:59 PM (#4780137)
#59 It's funny how singing works. Mariah Carey for instance has a very wide vocal range and sings on key pretty reliably. But I'd never argue that she's anything more than a generic pop artist. I don't know whether it's just that she doesn't choose her material well or what.

In my opinion she's got a better voice than Bob Dylan (to pick but one) but I'd much rather listen to Dylan. And I don't think it's got anything to do with the fact that Dylan is part of the music of my youth.
   72. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: August 27, 2014 at 03:30 PM (#4780167)
I would say that our language is suboptimal in that it doesn't really give us words that reflect the nuances particularly well. Maybe there should be a word for "true as a physical law of the universe" as opposed to just "true."

There is a word for "true as a physical law of the universe." That word is "true." Your latter definition of "true" also has a word. It's "opinion." If that word isn't strong enough, use "conviction" or "belief."

How do you determine which opinions are "true," and which opinions are just opinions?
   73. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4780169)
#60 - Agreed. To me, the various pop stars who have technically great voices are like the middle school girl who has beautiful handwriting but only uses it to write "I luv Johnny" on the cover of her notebook. But anyway, the statement "I acknowledge that A is better than B at skill C, but I prefer B to A for reason D" is entirely different than saying "neither A nor B can possibly be better at skill C."
   74. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4780175)
How do you decide which opinions are "true," and which opinions are just opinions?


I've never claimed it's an exact science. As I said, there's a very broad range where there's not enough clearly differentiating data. Where does that range end and things start to go more towards truth? There's probably also a reasonable range of gradient for that. My only argument here is that the absolutist position that no one's opinion in these types of matters can ever be untrue, and no data can ever be brought to bear, is a bridge too far.
   75. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 27, 2014 at 03:57 PM (#4780196)
Pos is way off base here. There was nothing insulting about Yost's comments. He just said he wished more people came out to see the game, and that the team needs fan support. That's it! He didn't call anyone dumb, or lazy, or traitorous, or anything. Really, Pos and the KC Star writer he quotes are the only people insulting anyone in this story.
This. I read Pos's column, and the one he linked to, expecting to find that Yost had blasted the fans or something. He didn't. He said nothing offensive at all.
   76. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 27, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4780200)
How do you decide which opinions are "true," and which opinions are just opinions?
Oh, mine are true.
   77. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: August 27, 2014 at 04:48 PM (#4780247)
My only argument here is that the absolutist position that no one's opinion in these types of matters can ever be untrue, and no data can ever be brought to bear, is a bridge too far.

I'm still not seeing how this version of truth is different from a strongly held opinion. So, if you (or anyone else on your side) can, please offer an example of a music-based opinion that is "wrong," and try to explain how.

edit: I'm not talking about something like your Clapton story. Technical skill is not all there is to making music. For instance you're unlikely to convince me that Rush is better than Daniel Johnston, even though everyone in Rush is freakishly skilled at what they do while Johnston can't really sing or play any instruments.
   78. Ron J2 Posted: August 27, 2014 at 05:00 PM (#4780261)
#77 I feel kind of the same way about Hendrix. I can appreciate the virtuosity, but I don't happen to enjoy the sound.
   79. bunyon Posted: August 27, 2014 at 05:00 PM (#4780263)

When a Germany 1933 result occurs in a democratic election, the result is wrong, and should be overthrown.


Ah, we're back to talking about the Royals.
   80. PreservedFish Posted: August 27, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4780266)
Subjectivists, at least promise me that when I tell you that The Godfather is overrated, you will call me a big fat idiot and not merely confirm my opinion as equally valid.
   81. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 27, 2014 at 05:08 PM (#4780268)
OK. Referencing an earlier post I need to know which is it. Baseball is too boring for kids so parents don't taken them or school starting can affect attendance

They can both be true but its a stretch. And if both are true then wouldn't the cross section of the two groups be so small that attendance dips would be negligible?

Just asking
   82. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 05:27 PM (#4780286)
So, if you (or anyone else on your side) can, please offer an example of a music-based opinion that is "wrong," and try to explain how.


On what grounds do you not buy the Beatles v. Britney, or let's make it even more extreme, Beatles (or Stones, or Dylan, or Chuck Berry, or Pavement) vs. Paris Hilton. Yes, that's right folks, Paris Hilton had a hit single in 2006. If someone said that Paris Hilton is a better musician than, say, Jimi Hendrix, that would be wrong for at least the following objective reasons, off the top of my head:

1. Hendrix could play a musical instrument. Hilton, as far as we know, cannot. Hendrix therefore had broader musical ability than Hilton.
2. Hendrix wrote songs. Hilton did not. Hendrix therefore had broader musical ability.
3. Hendrix innovated musically, playing the guitar in objectively different ways than others had before. Hilton cannot be reasonably argued to have done anything musically innovative.
4. We know Hendrix had at least a decent singing voice. Admittedly subjective. But we have no data on what Hilton's voice would sound like without autotuning and other processing. Maybe she has a technically strong voice, maybe not. But we don't have enough data to show that she's so much better than Hendrix in that area so as to overcome her deficiencies in the other areas.

I'm sure there are others, but those are the main ones that come to mind. I'm sure this won't convince you, but there it is.
   83. Zach Posted: August 27, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4780299)
Here's my problem with the "everything is relative" argument:

It is extremely useful to be able to say that the Beatles are better musicians than Paris Hilton.

If you have a finite amount of time or attention, you would be better rewarded for listening to the Beatles than Paris Hilton.

If you are learning to play, and you want to get any rewards beyond simply screwing around with the instruments, you're better off listening to the Beatles.

If you want to learn how to write songs...

If you want to promote bands...

If you want to write interesting things about music...

The thing you're throwing away when you insist that it's impossible to prove the Beatles are better than Paris Hilton is music itself. So if you're interested in a theory of the world which includes music, you really ought to find some standards that you're happy with that also allow you to say very obvious things like "The Beatles are better than Paris Hilton."

   84. The District Attorney Posted: August 27, 2014 at 06:06 PM (#4780313)
#81: Kids of a certain age or below are usually being brought to games because the parents are fans, not because the kid is. The decision is based on the parents' desire and convenience. So if the parents think it's going to be a problem to have their kid out until 11 PM on a school night, they don't go, where under other circumstances, they might.

When people talk about wanting baseball to move faster and be more appealing to younger people, I think they're talking more about teens who at least have some ability to go to the park on their own, rather than younger kids. I mean, how short are we going to get a game? Probably no less than 2 1/2 hours, right? That's still going to be too long for most pre-teens to pay attention the entire length of the game.

#83: You can do that by saying the Beatles are better by your criteria. You don't need to be able to claim that the criteria themselves are objectively correct in order to be able to do what you're discussing.
   85. BDC Posted: August 27, 2014 at 06:11 PM (#4780315)
A lot of people will base a subjective taste preference on an objective fact. They'll enjoy, let's say Wagner, because his work is complicated, innovative for its time, influential, displays certain generic features, is on high serious cultural themes. That still doesn't mean that a taste for Puccini is objectively incorrect, just that the Wagner fan can identify components of his/her taste objectively and distinguish it from other tastes. Taste isn't always a vague feeling.

And one can be wrong. I had a student once tell me that Nirvana was the greatest band ever because Kurt Cobain was the first musician who tried to connect with young people. I'm pretty sure she was wrong about that reason for appreciating them.

What's impossible is arguing someone into your taste objectively. Or, I'd venture, holding up your taste as better. In that respect, whether it's Wagner > Puccini or Beatles > Paris Hilton is only a matter of degree.

One reason I say this is because I think I have good taste in music (who doesn't) and there's many a genre or artist I just dislike, from hip-hop and metal to Laurie Anderson to the f*ing Eagles to Aaron Copland to, yes, Wagner. I think even informed tastes are inevitably various.
   86. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 06:36 PM (#4780329)
I think even informed tastes are inevitably various.


No disagreement here.

In that respect, whether it's Wagner > Puccini or Beatles > Paris Hilton is only a matter of degree.


I don't disagree with this either. It's just that at some point along the continuum, all those individual degrees add up enough that while someone could reasonably claim Puccini > Wagner, a claim of Hilton > Beatles would be facially (no pun intended, Paris) unreasonable as well as untrue.
   87. tshipman Posted: August 27, 2014 at 06:42 PM (#4780332)
My father used to something similar WRT organic food. "All food is organic. It's carbon based not silicon based food, is it?"


I say this too. Organic is a stupid label. I also get upset about people who talk about their food being "all natural." My typical response is that Arsenic is also all natural.
   88. Baldrick Posted: August 27, 2014 at 06:57 PM (#4780338)
I will repeat: the claim 'everything is relative' is itself a universal claim to truth.

You can't get away from the appeal to something beyond opinion. It's embedded in the very structure of human subjectivity. The extreme relativist claim - which says that there is only taste and it's impossible to broaden from taste to any sort of claim on truth - is useless practically (as Zach in 83 illustrates) and philosophically bankrupt. It's not a helpful way of talking about the world.

The only reason it has any proponents is because people insist on thinking that there are only two possible ways of understanding truth: 1) it doesn't exist, there's only opinion and 2) truth is absolute and objective. Since #2 is even more clearly wrong than #1, they take the first option. But that is not at all how people use language. It's not how they approach the world.

When I say 'the Beatles are better than Paris Hilton' I am not merely saying 'I prefer the Beatles.' Although of course that is also true. I am attempting to interact with an intersubjective community of language, seeking to reference the subjectivities of different people, and attempting to pitch my argument in terms that exist between and among us. That is a form of 'external' truth, but it doesn't depend on the absurd premise that the secrets of the universe are at our fingertips.

The Beatles are my favorite band (opinion)
The Beatles are among the greatest musical artists of all time (attempt to state their musical significance objectively)
I enjoy Miles Davis, but he's not among my favorites (opinion)
Miles Davis is a tremendously talented, innovative, and musically rich artist. He is also among the greatest musical artists of all time (attempt to state their musical significance objectively)

I am capable of making the 4th claim because I seek to speak outside of my limited perspective, and open myself to the possibility of different subjectivities. Whenever I do this, I must be humble because it's very easy to take our assumptions and treat them as universal. But just because this is a risk does not mean the entire practice is impossible. And it is worthwhile to do this because I think it is important to be able to speak in normative terms about issues. It's not helpful to simply say 'I like/dislike X' or 'many people like/dislike X.' People will be poorly served if I (as a critic) limit my claims to those. They want to know what I think is actually GOOD or BAD about X, in addition to the other stuff.
   89. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2014 at 08:34 PM (#4780407)
Damn, Baldrick, you're good at this s**t.
   90. Cargo Cultist Posted: August 28, 2014 at 01:52 AM (#4780631)
When a Germany 1933 result occurs in a democratic election, the result is wrong, and should be overthrown.


"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

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