Like most American men I have spent some time thinking about this.  Here’s the replay if you need a refresher:

So, Jim Joyce blows the call.  He then goes into the Detroit locker room and apologizes for blowing the call.  There are two conversations at work now, one is about ethics and Jim Joyce’s actions and second is about the game of baseball.

Ethics.  First, check out this drivel as an example of what is being said:

http://ethicsalarms.com/2010/06/03/ethics-hero-umpire-jim-joyce/

This is the current vein: no matter how Joyce may have erred people recognize the difficulty of the call and hence credit Joyce for his error.  The courage of the error.  Hold on a second.  How do we know it was a courageous act?  Maybe it was, in fact, a cowardly act where Joyce knows, or is confident at least, that this is where the direction will turn.  Or maybe Joyce had a stake in the game and was looking for a way to help the Indians?  I’m not claiming Joyce was trying to be impartial, but to automatically credit him with a gutsy decision is premature and only exists in a revisionist analysis.  In fact, the supposedly normal act, letting the perfect game, is also based on a revisionist logic: the ump chooses the safe call by importing his impression of the world’s reaction and not based on a close reading of the play at the plate.  This is the argument lodged against basketball refereeing.  I am fairly certain baseball fans do not want to hone this road, no matter how accurate it may be.

Plus, ethics are not about courage.  Ethics are about acting consistently.  People make decisions based upon their expectation of your reaction.  If you suddenly change your criteria then you deny them a chance for accurate predictions.  Basing your ethical framework in a valuable goal then produces decisions that appear courageous.  Not that ethical decisions are courageous decisions.  Making a tough call can be ethical, but not because it is a very unpopular call.  Apologizing to the locker room may also be an ethical move, but not because it is a very hostile/uncomfortable situation.

Was Joyce guided by more than a blasse sense of acting?  Yes.  But if it was inconsistent behavior then it was not ethical, and his apology seems to admit this.  While he acted confrontationally he robbed Galarraga of becoming only the 21st person in the history of the game from doing something.

Baseball.

People forget the error is a structuring principle of baseball.  And not just on the part of the players.  While Joyce may have robbed Galarraga, you have to wonder if maybe a Joycean error in the 5th created the possibility of a perfect game.  What if he had earlier called an out at first where the runner would have normally been safe?  How many other pitchers have been robbed of potential perfect games by umpire error?  It’s sad for Galarraga that his robbery comes at the last possible moment, but he possibly joins a much larger and longer list.  This is baseball and I contend it is the possible misfire that makes it as beautiful as it is.  See the Derridean notion of a misfire as that which makes language so great.

The first question I asked about the whole situation, however, was: the THIRD perfect game this season?  What is going on?  Is it a steroid, absence of, issue?  Is this really healthy for baseball?  Joyce may have saved the game.

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STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - DECEMBER 10:  French write...
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With the recent Nobel announcements I decided to check out last year’s lecture from the winner of the literature prize.  Here are some notes as I proceed and I might later compile them into something larger and more formal.

The opening of the essay is about why writers write.  Obviously there is reduction as Le Clezio attributes the same impulses to writers.  Writers see injustice in the world and decide to take a different approach to resistance, a form that is “another way to react, another way to communicate, a certain distance, a time for reflection.”  It almost sounds like cowardice Le Clezio is describing, but I will hold off on that since Le Clezio will surely attempt to rehabilitate the role of the writer.  I will spare us from the usual refutation that has been put to rest since Of Grammatology, however one thing needs to be noted.  I have never before seen the spoken resisatcne that is neither meditated nor mediated.  Le Clezio’s initial premsise seems overly Socratic.

Le Clezio then takes us to the next reason writers are not resistant: their works are consumed almost exclusively by the wealthy.  The hungry woman does not purchase books when instead she is worried about feeding her children.  Again I am not sure this is true.  So much so that it smells like a set up.  Le Clezio is constructing the straw man so he can later pummel it.  I am cynical of his motivations (the straw man construction makes me suspect he wants to appear radical is more improtant than being radical) even if I may agree with his ultimate conclusion.  This is Le Clezio’s founding paradox: the writer is a radical dressed in chic clothing.

The remainder of the lecture is a series of rembrances, which are interesting, that do nothing for what I guessed to be his argument.  In the end Le Clezio’s argument is less ambitious than it should be.  He argues that hunger and illiteracy are the same problem and need to combated together.  The once hungry is not much improved if she remains illiterate and the once illiterate is still a captive if hungry.  I am not sure this is at all controversial.  This conclusion is so brief and unexplored that it seems pithy.  I wonder if this speech was extemporaneous even though he had had months to prepare.

The blandness of the conclusion also makes me think Le Clezio’s writer is a bourgeoisie dressed in radical clothing.  Expanding literacy as a goal to combat hunger is insufficient in our politics.  If the goal is to sell more books then it is a great message.  Feeding people does little to combat hunger as the problem is more about distribution mechanisms than it is about the desire to resist.

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