Philosophy and Jim Joyce

In looking at whether or not Commissioner Bud Selig should overturn Jim Joyce’s call and award Armando Galarraga a perfect game, I want to take a philosophical approach. Unfortunately, most of the dialogue surrounding the situation has been wrapped in cliche and hyperbole, so I believe thinking about it more logically could help everyone involved.

I’m a utilitarian, which means I belong to a moral philosophy that believes acts should be judged on the amount of utility (or happiness) they bring to people. If you’ve ever taken Philosophy 101 or read any of Mill, you understand my position. So what would a utilitarian have to say about this situation? Well, I think the burden of unhappiness or unrest sits most heavily with the people most closely involved with the situation. This would be Armando Galarraga and his family, Jim Joyce and his family, and the Detroit Tigers organization and fans. For everybody else involved, this will likely just be a news story that fades away and is eventually forgotten about. However, the people directly involved will not forget about this situation (meaning be at mental ease about it) for a long, long time. Without question, the decision to make Galarraga’s start a Perfect Game would bring them great amounts of happiness.

So if Selig’s decision could only bring happiness, where is the issue? Firstly, many people will not be thrilled with the decision, but as I said earlier, their small inconvenience will be outweighed by those intimately involved, along with the many people who will like the decision. Why do many people not like the potential decision? They are worried about the “precedent” it may set. There are other irrational worries out there, but the precedent argument seems to be the one most often put forth by intelligent analysts (such as Keith Law). Baseball columnist Phil Rogers states the case:

If Selig announces that Galarraga does in fact have a perfect game, he’ll also have to make a few other changes too. The St. Louis Cardinals will be awarded the 1985 World Series, which was changed forever by the Don Denkinger call. Milt Pappas will get his perfect game, because everyone knows Bruce Froemming squeezed him. Willie Keeler, Pete Rose or someone else will own the longest hitting streak, as favorable scoring calls helped Joe DiMaggio put together his streak of 56 games in a row.

There’s no precedence for Selig to issue an after-the-fact finding, no matter how badly Joyce would love to be let off the hook.

But this is as silly as a strawman as I have ever seen. Just because someone makes a decision in one specific situation does not mean people down the line need to act only according to the previous decision (or, as Rogers absurdly argues, retroactively change prior events with loosely related circumstances). Tom Boswell hits the nail on the head here:

I think Bud should reverse the call in the best interests of the game. Everybody screams, “But what about the precedent it would set!”

Yeah, what precedent? That the next time an umpire blows the 27th out of a perfect game by two feet (then the pitcher gets the 28th out on the next hitter so that the bad call has no effect on the outcome) the next commssioner will reversethat call, too? Oh, you mean that precedent?

Come on, just do the right thing.

Besides the fact that another situation happening like this one (perfect game blown on safe/out call on last play of the game) is extremely, extremely unlikely, if it does happen again, then change it in the future if you see fit! If not, don’t. Rational actors keep agency in future events. There’s a reason the “slippery slope” is an informal fallacy!

I hope this was at the least a unique perspective on the situation. Considering there will be more utility, and the fears of the relatively inconvenienced fans/sportwriters against it rest mostly on logical fallacies, I believe Bud Selig should rule Galarraga’s start a “Perfect Game” in the best interest of baseball.



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Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat


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mockcarr
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mockcarr
6 years 27 days ago

There’s more utility in doing nothing, which is what he did. Everyone seemed fine today.

DavidCEisen
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DavidCEisen
6 years 27 days ago

Philosophically, what makes a perfect game a perfect game? Is it the actual performance, or the official recognition? In the end, Galarraga pitched well enough to get 27 consecutive outs. If a defensive player would have booted the should have been 27th out, Galarraga would have lost the perfect game as well. Would his performance have been any better or worse? ‘Perfect’ games are, like most of sports in general and especially baseball in particular, arbitrary. We reward certain acts but ignore others that are equally ‘difficult’ or ‘rare.’

Everyone involved or interested in this story knows that Galarraga should have gotten the 27th out. I could care less if Selig overturned the call (you are right to point out the various fallacies of slippery-slope arguments, though). In the end, he pitched a hell of a game. Sure he’s not going to be in an official record book (as if anyone cares about this mythical book sitting on some hallowed shrine somewhere in, I guess, Bud Selig’s basement). But he’s in a much more interesting unofficial one.

bowie
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bowie
6 years 27 days ago

I like this outlook.

RonDom
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RonDom
6 years 27 days ago

I agree with David Bowie. This philoshopical outlook is what I see the situation as.

DavidCEisen
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DavidCEisen
6 years 27 days ago

Best. Response. Possible.

davidk
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davidk
6 years 27 days ago

I don’t think you have to argue “slippery slope” to argue against Selig overturning Joyce’s call. You see, you just have to look as far as another call ON THE SAME NIGHT. In the Twins-Mariners game, the Ms won the game on the last play, where the runner should have been called out at 2B to end the inning. Why should Selig overturn the call in the Tigers-Indians game, which DIDN’T AFFECT THE GAME’S OUTCOME, and not overturn a call that definitely affected the outcome of the game? What’s more important in the sport, an INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT or a team’s W-L record? What if this call, that cost the Twins one game in the standings, costs them a playoff spot? This is not a “what if” slippery slope, it’s based in ACTUAL REALITY. There’s no logic in changing one call and not the other.

DavidCEisen
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DavidCEisen
6 years 27 days ago

It is a slippery slope argument to say if you overturn this call you need to overturn this different call. You are arguing that one action leads to a slightly different, slightly more consequential action–or a slippery slope.

Overturning calls that don’t affect the game’s outcome is different from overturning calls that do. And one does not have to lead to the other. You’re arguing that consequential calls should be overturned, not inconsequential ones, so you already recognize this difference.

Jdub
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Jdub
6 years 26 days ago

I think people are arguing for Selig to change it BECAUSE it didn’t affect the outcome. The argument is, “it didn’t affect the game, the Tigers still won, so just give him his perfect game.”

Ellis
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Ellis
6 years 27 days ago

I don’t understand how you don’t think it won’t set a bad precedent; your argument here is basically just saying “Come on!” and “slippery slope? Thats ridiculous!”.

It would definitely set the precedent that when a call is clearly missed and it affects the game, the commissioner can reverse the call after-the-fact. How is that not a huge precedent to set? I don’t see why you think it only sets the precedent for the 27th-out-perfect-game scenario; the whole point of precedent is that its meaning expands over time to cover slightly different cases.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
6 years 27 days ago

This is a very unique case because it as the last out of a game and there’s not a series of events that rook place after the call as a result of the call.

This is absolutely different from Don Denkinger, who made a bad call for a man reaching first at the beginning of an inning, when that man went on to score. We don’t know how events would have unfolded if Orta had been called out. Orta wasn’t even the man who ended up scoring the winning run. A sequence of events unfolded after the call including 2 singles and a passed ball. There was no guarantee the Cardinals would have won the game anyway. Not only that, but there was a full game played afterward that the Cardinals failed to win.

This is completely dissimilar because there is certainty for how events unfold if you reverse the call. There’s no change in the standings. The man who was called safe was out, and the game would have ended in a perfect game. There are no resulting situations to consider. I don’t see why you think this opens the door for a bunch of other calls when this circumstance is exceedingly specific-the 27th out of one game that still resulted in a Tigers victory.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
6 years 27 days ago

“That man” = “that team”

KeithLawLogic
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KeithLawLogic
6 years 27 days ago

Keith Law says it’s not a unique case so you are wrong.

Gomez
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6 years 27 days ago

“It would definitely set the precedent that when a call is clearly missed and it affects the game, the commissioner can reverse the call after-the-fact. How is that not a huge precedent to set?”

Sure it’s a damning precedent, if baseball’s run by easily manipulated and unintelligent individuals who are mostly unable to understand context, would see such an action by Selig and say, “Oh hurf durf now we can change every blown call after the fact!”

Garison
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Garison
6 years 27 days ago

Every missed call “affects the game”, but very few literally determine the outcome in a way that we can look back and say “if that call is made, the game is over.” That last-out-of-the-game scenario is crucial to the argument for the Galarraga call to be reversed, for a proper understanding of what precedent it should set, and for a proper handling of past blown calls.

You raise an interesting point about the meaning of precedent expanding to cover other slightly different cases. But the definition of “slightly different cases” just needs to be clearly defined (by MLB) if the Galarraga call were to be overturned. The most logical slightly different case is a blown call on the LAST OUT of a game (not necessarily a perfecto). NOT JUST ANY MISSED CALL. As long as replay is not expanded it is just a non sequitur to say that if one call is reversed then many more should be reversed in the future.

The caveat is that, of course, people could mistakenly use that logic and we might end up with people crying for post-game reversals of calls that occurred earlier than the last out. And for that, the counterargument is rather simple. Just realize that for any play in which there is a blown call on any out but the final one, if we hypothetically assume the call were made correctly it would then necessarily be followed by more events that could theoretically play out differently. In other words, it’s complex and unpredictable. (This directly applies to the Denkinger scenario and explains why the Cardinals will never be awarded a World Series that, strictly speaking, they didn’t earn.)

That’s just not the case with the Galarraga scenario, which is simple and predictable. That’s what makes it essentially unique and why it would be reasonable for MLB to overturn the call, though that is looking increasingly less likely.

Circlechange11
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Circlechange11
6 years 27 days ago

I don’t have a big emotional investment whether it is or not a pefect game in the books, but I do agree that we would not have to retro fit all other events.

If the exact scenario happens again, we’ll deal with it when it happens.

I also agree that bad decisions made in the past does not mean we have to continue to make the same bad decision in the present … Just to be consistent.

I’m a Cardinal fan and even I know Galarrag’s situation is different than the Worrell play (paticularly the numer of outs).

Making the game a perfect game does
not mean we would have to start a chain of events that extend through the course of MLB history. We can view the present situation as a unique event.

Toz
Guest
6 years 27 days ago

Mills would recognize that utilitarian principles cannot apply here, as MLB’s system of governance is not one of liberty principle (power exercised over one’s will can only be exercised to prevent harm to the greater number). Selig has certainly demonstrated that time and time again.

In the end, this comes down to the “integrity of the game” argument and this very simple question: Which of the following better preserves the integrity of the game: 1) Leaving stand a blown call which, should all 6,825,211,363
people in the world have had an opportunity to see it, would agree that it is the wrong call; or 2) Reversing a call that is without question acknowledged by all parties to be wrong in order to make it right?

I like to use the “how would I explain this to my kids” analysis when answering these questions. Explaining option two appears to be more logical, no? “Son, Bud Selig reversed this call because it was the right thing to do.” “Why is that, dad?” “Well, you see son, the umpire went back and looked at a replay and acknowledged that he made a mistake. Mistakes are okay, because we’re all human, but if we make a mistake, we should fix it and make it right.” “Dad, that makes a lot of sense, and that seems fair.”

The other conversation is illogical. “Dad, why did he not reverse the call once he realized he made a mistake?” “The Commissioner wouldn’t let him.” “Well, why not? He made a mistake and he was sorry and everyone knows it was just a mistake.” “Tough noogies, son…life sucks that way.” “But, dad…” “Shut-up before I send you to your room.”

Unfortunately, “integrity of the game” is linked inexorably linked to the integrity of those playing in it, managing in it, and governing it.

Doug Lampert
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Doug Lampert
6 years 27 days ago

For your second conversation try:

Because games are played by rules, and those rules are agreed to in advance, and in the case of baseball one of the rules is that in the case of judgment calls all calls by the umpire on the field are final. If you don’t have rules then the idea of a perfect game is meaningless, and by the rules this wasn’t a perfect game. That sucks, and it’s a reason to change the rules, but its not a reason to pretend the rules don’t apply because you don’t like them.

That’s what “integrity of the game” means. It means playing by the rules that you agreed to when you stepped onto the field.

Your strawman that there’s no argument against is nonsensical. There are good arguments on both sides, but the one with special pleading is the more suspect, and the special pleading is all the claims that this case is different from all other cases and will never come up again (hint: all cases are different, being different isn’t a reason to do something, its a reason to ask what you should do in this case, and for a game “what you should do” should normally come out “follow the rules”).

You know, I started out thinking that Selig probably should change this call. I’ve changed my mind, and not because of claims about precedent, which really are nonsense, future commissioners retain free will. But simply because all the claims about how this case is “special” by those wanting a change are ultimately BS, everything is “special”. Is who gets “official” credit for a perfect game more important than who actually wins a game? Special pleading should be reserved for things that matter, and the “official” scoring for Galaraga’s game doesn’t matter at all. Everyone will know what he did for far longer than they would if there’d been no blown call.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
6 years 27 days ago

I’m pretty sure the rules also say that (Rule 6.05j) “A batter is ‘out’ when….after hitting a fair ball, he or first base is tagged before he touches first base.” Which is undoubtedly what happened.

Why give one rule precedence over another when you have clear license to change it, and no one except for a few “purists” whom are completely unaffected by the ruling would be offended?

Gomez
Guest
6 years 27 days ago

Like anything governed by rules, those rules can be overriden or changed when it becomes clearly evident that they cause an easily correctible problem.

Rich
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Rich
6 years 27 days ago

“and in the case of baseball one of the rules is that in the case of judgment calls all calls by the umpire on the field are final. ”
Yes, and just as the “all calls by the umpire are final” overrules the actual safe/out rules, the rule stating the commissioner can do whatever the hell he wants for the good of the game, overrules the “calls by the umps are final” rule.

ingeindahouse
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ingeindahouse
6 years 27 days ago

you try explaining that to a 7 year old

davidk
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davidk
6 years 27 days ago

“But simply because all the claims about how this case is “special” by those wanting a change are ultimately BS, everything is “special”. Is who gets “official” credit for a perfect game more important than who actually wins a game? Special pleading should be reserved for things that matter, and the “official” scoring for Galaraga’s game doesn’t matter at all. Everyone will know what he did for far longer than they would if there’d been no blown call.”

Yes, you nailed it on this one, and I can’t understand for the life of me how anyone can think otherwise. I’m not a “black-and-white” kind of guy in general, but I know this one is obvious that it should be left alone.

wobatus
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wobatus
6 years 26 days ago

Bronnt, yes, that’s the rule, and the rule also is that the ump on the field at the time of the play makes the call as to whether rule 6.05 was satisfied. I actually agree with you, but just saying.

Ryan
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Ryan
6 years 27 days ago

Best opinion on this topic that I’ve seen so far.

Steve
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Steve
6 years 27 days ago

Best article I’ve read on it so far

Larry Smith Jr.
Guest
6 years 27 days ago

I’ve written this in many places, but as a Tiger fan I’m unconcerned about it being called an official perfect game because I lost out the moment Joyce blew the call. Unless another Tiger pitcher in the future/my lifetime throws a perfect game, I’ll never get to experience the euphoria of the 27th out and all that comes with it. I won’t get to hear my team’s announcer as the bumper in and out of MLB radio commercials and my team as the bumper in and out of MLB Network commercials. I didn’t get to hear the announcer that I listen to make one of the classic calls for the ages. So I already lost, and Bud Selig can’t make a decree that rewinds the hands of time.

Therefore, I lean on “I know what really happened that night” and that’s all. Whether or not he reverses the call isn’t consequential to me.

Mason
Member
Member
Mason
6 years 27 days ago

First, I completely agree with Pat.

Second, the precedent for changing a game after the fact has already been
set: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_Tar_Incident

Basically this is what happened: George Brett hit a go ahead homerun in the top of the 9th with two outs. The opposing manager (after he crossed home plate) asked the ump to check the pine tar on the bat. The umpire ruled the pine tar extended too far up the bat and ruled George Brett out and the game over. The next day the league president overruled the decision, and a few weeks later they continued the game as if the homerun had counted.

Stephen
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Stephen
6 years 27 days ago

Yes, but that was a rules call, not a judgment call by an ump. There is no precedence for this situation.

Mason
Member
Member
Mason
6 years 27 days ago

I just wanted to point out that the precedent has been set to change the outcome of a game after the fact.

Additionally all calls are rules calls. If you look at the rules, Donald was out. The umpire isn’t there to judge the outcome of the play, he’s there to ensure the rules are followed.

Anon21
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Anon21
6 years 27 days ago

I don’t understand why people misuse this word all the time. Is it just because it looks kind of similar to “precedent”? That seems like a pretty weak explanation, when you see professional writers screw it up constantly too.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
6 years 27 days ago

Well, Anon, they also have kind of similar definitions. It’s rather understandable for people to confuse two very similar words which have related definitions because they come from the same root word.

Anon21
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Anon21
6 years 27 days ago

Mason: No, not all calls are rules calls in the sense that they require an actual interpretation of the rules. The rule applied by Joyce in this situation is well-known and uncontroversial: if a fielder holding the ball steps on first base before the batter-runner reaches first base, then the batter-runner is out. All that Joyce did was make a judgment call, as to whether the conditions of the rule were satisfied.

In contrast, in the pine tar game a new interpretation of the rule was required. The rules specified no penalty for having excessive pine tar on the bat; McClelland made up his own remedy (calling the batter out AFTER the home run had already been hit). And that interpretation of the rules was then reversed. Say what you like about the appropriateness of overturning that call or this one, but there is a category difference between the two calls which needs to be recognized if you’re going to accurately describe the precedents that have been set and which would be set by overturning this call.

Peter
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Peter
6 years 27 days ago

Imagine a hypothetical in which there is a close call that will decide Game 7 of a World Series between the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs. The call is so close it could go either way. Deciding the call in the Cubs favor would award the Cubs their first World Series win since 1908. If we measure the decision by amount of utility awarded, the call should certainly be decided for the Cubs, since by the theory of diminishing marginal utility, the Cubs organization and fans will gain more utility than the Yankees. But, in this case I think we’d all want the right call to be made not the call that would create the most utility. Just something to think about when applying utilitarianism to events like sports, in this case we’re back to square one over whether the right thing to do would be to award the perfect game.

Phillies Red
Guest
Phillies Red
6 years 27 days ago

Though I’m not a utilitarian and I’m still divided about whether or not the call should be reversed, I am thankful you took the time to point out that the precedent and retroactive-game-changing arguments don’t make sense when thinking about this issue. It would see that baseball, and many of it’s fans, are so inured to irrationality within the management of baseball that they can’t comprehend the possibility that “rational actors keep agency in future events.”

baka
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baka
6 years 27 days ago

I like the analysis, even though I disagree with the moral philosophy on which the analysis is based (though that’s a discussion for some other time :). You’re completely correct in stating that the slippery slope argument against overturning the call is completely fallacious. Being a rational agent, any future commisioner who has to deal with a similar situation is free to use his own judgement and reason to make a decision. That decision does not, by necessity, have to be the same or follow the “precedent.” After all, it’s not like anyone is asking to have the rulebook rewritten to automatically overturn questionable calls.

What I would primarily disagree with in the analysis is the premise that Joyce, Galarraga and Galarraga’s family will have their happiness increased by reversing the call. It is possible that this will be the case. But according to Galarraga, he already considers himself to have pitched a perfect game. Therefore a reversal will only “put it in the books.” In other words, it will officially give him something that he already believes he has.

In the end, though, nothing can ever really undo the call. I have a hard time believing that his game being number 21 will really remove the heartache of that call. I also think that there being an asterisk next to his name in “the book” due to the fact that the call was overturned will serve as a constant reminder of what happened, thus diminishing the happiness to be had as a result.

dave
Guest
dave
6 years 27 days ago

Baka wrote:

Therefore a reversal will only “put it in the books.” In other words, it will officially give him something that he already believes he has. In the end, though, nothing can ever really undo the call. I have a hard time believing that his game being number 21 will really remove the heartache of that call.

Baka,

it seems like you’re pitting the perfect against the good. Although it is true that heartache cannot be undone, that is an impossible standard. By that standard no compensation for any wrong would ever be awarded. “Compensation” (for lack of a better word) in repayment for wrong by definition cannot *undo* the wrong or the injury associated with it. But that is not the reason we compensate the injured. We do so to put the injured party (and the game for that matter) back as close to “right” as possible.

MLB practice is to award a “perfect game” to any pitcher that records 27 consecutive outs–and to mark those games as special. In that sense there’s really no “only” to putting a no hitter in the books. The book is really all there is to a no-hitter. That Gallaraga recorded 27 consecutive outs is entirely undisputed by any party. Yet, he has not been awarded the perfect game primarily because MLB has chosen to be held hostage by what has to be a textbook example of “a foolish consistency being the hobgoblin of small minds.”

The case for making an exception to the policy of allowing umpires to have the last say on judgment calls cannot possibly be clearer. The mistake was a) immaterial to the game’s outcome, b) immediately acknowledged to be a mistake by the official (consequently bringing all parties into agreement), and c) in a stroke of great fortune, the mistake occurred on what should have been the game’s final play. This confluence of circumstances is not only highly unlikely to be repeated, it also reduces the “shockwaves” from overturning the call to essentially nothing.

Change any one factor, and this is a much more difficult case for granting an exception. But, as it happens, the circumstances played out so perfectly that literally nothing bad could come from granting an exception in this instance. Not only would no one else be bound by this exception, if the commissioner implements a replay system the exception constitute the end of an era and not even a precedent.

baka
Guest
baka
6 years 27 days ago

it seems like you’re pitting the perfect against the good. Although it is true that heartache cannot be undone, that is an impossible standard. By that standard no compensation for any wrong would ever be awarded. “Compensation” (for lack of a better word) in repayment for wrong by definition cannot *undo* the wrong or the injury associated with it. But that is not the reason we compensate the injured. We do so to put the injured party (and the game for that matter) back as close to “right” as possible.
—————————————–

Dave,

I have no argument against the purpose of compensation. My point was primarily a criticism of using utilitarianism as an argument for action. To act on the basis of increasing happiness requires knowledge that doing so will actually increase happiness. This knowledge should be based on evidence, and the evidence seems to dictate that for the parties involved, it will not make a huge difference.

I’m not opposed to providing compensation when one is wronged. But that’s more a question of justice, not necessarily of ethics. Would it be just to overturn the call and provide Galarraga the perfect game? Probably. But in doing so, it would therefore become unjust to the other teams and players who have suffered from blown calls.

It’s far better to adjust the rules and use this as a learning experience than to plead special cases from philosophical standpoints.

I could equally argue from the point of view of Kant’s categorical imperative that changing the call is morally impermissible.

daiheide
Member
Member
daiheide
6 years 27 days ago

I can’t tell whether your point is either: a) baseball ought to apply the act utilitarian standard to this single incident, regardless of which standard it deems appropriate in other, more general contexts; or b) baseball ought to apply the act utilitarian standard as its formal decision and rule-making procedure in general.

If (a), it’s hard to see why Bud Selig might be justified in implementing a new decision procedure for a single event. It seems ad hoc that act utilitarianism ought to be used to make this decision, but that the standard ought *not* be used in general.

Alternatively, perhaps you think that baseball already makes its decisions in accordance with the principles of act utilitarianism. That’s akin to affirming (b), in which case your point might be construed as an admonition to implement here the principle MLB already endorses.

But I don’t think baseball makes its decisions this way: surely baseball was more titillating to the many before the full implementation of the 2001 anti-drug policy. Nor do I think MLB *should* adopt an act utilitarian policy standard. Among the many well-known objections to act utilitarianism is the criticism that act utilitarianism seems to justify intuitively unfair or wrong acts, e.g., the torture of the few for the benefit of the many. Perhaps you want to bite that bullet, but I think we can think of similar baseball cases that, while in keeping with the act utilitarian standard, would strike many serious fans as corrupting the game to some degree. Wouldn’t the act utilitarian standard justify all sorts of intentional competitive imbalances for the sake of TV viewership and merchandise sales?

Gomez
Guest
6 years 27 days ago

“it’s hard to see why Bud Selig might be justified in implementing a new decision procedure for a single event”

It should be noted that Selig would be implementing nothing new in reversing this call. He already has the authority of Special Action to reverse injust calls and make other game-related decisions on games played as he deems fit. He would be implementing nothing in reversing the call… simply utilizing a power he already has as Commissioner of MLB.

mockcarr
Guest
mockcarr
6 years 27 days ago

Just because it’s easier to fix this one event than almost all others, doesn’t mean you should. Messing around with umpire judgment calls after the fact does affect the integrity of the game. What if Detroit had only one run scored through a worse judgment call by an umpire? Wouldn’t the other team have the right to say, if he has a perfect game, we should still be playing since their run shouldn’t count. How do we know a bunch of records aren’t tainted by umpire judgment? Are we sure about strikeout records if the plate umpire called a huge zone as the game progressed, for instance?

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
6 years 27 days ago

Mockcarr, the flaw in your statement is that you’re building up this prop of what we “don’t know.” There is this singular, exceeding specific instance where everyone absolutely does know that this call is incorrect and a single action taken by the Commisioner, within his power, can correct the error.

dave
Guest
dave
6 years 27 days ago

And not only does everyone know every detail about this specific instance, all parties are in agreement.

To reverse the call would literally adversely impact no one.

Alex
Guest
6 years 27 days ago

I respectfully disagree with you, Pat. I think more interest is stirred in Gallaraga’s game, and his achievement, with the bad call standing. The fact of the matter is, nothing Selig could have done would make that game a perfect game. It will always have that mistake. The question was whether the asterisk would say “*Gallaraga allowed a hit but it was widely considered a bad call” or whether the asterisk would say “*Ruled a perfect game after Bud Selig changed a bad call.” Either way something rare and somewhat unfortunate happened.

Slippery slopes are not fallacious when actions taken now will have an effect on the decision calculus later. You can’t deny that something weighing on Selig’s mind was the decision made by previous commissioners. If that is true, how can you say that it won’t matter for future commissioners in making decisions like this? The fact of the matter is that people in positions of authority like Selig need to consider the *means* as well as the *ends* that they are attempting to achieve. This is a failure of utilitarianism – it treats those means as irrelevant. But the means in this case could set up a bad standard for the future.

Would the fans, Joyce, Gallaraga, etc be much more happy if it was ruled a Perfect Game? I don’t think so. I think only marginally. Either way this game won’t be forgotten, and I would argue that either way this game will be more memorable than most Perfect Games that *actually* go off without a hitch.

fg
Guest
fg
6 years 27 days ago

Fact is, he faced 28 batters, not 27. Blown call sucks, but the scorebook records 28 batters faced.

Youtube
Guest
Youtube
6 years 27 days ago

Good thing we live in an age where the boxscore is no longer only a section in the newspaper. We now link the boxscore with replays and highlights. Everyone knows and will see what happened.

Colin
Guest
Colin
6 years 27 days ago

While in general I agree that the call should be reversed, and I agree that the precedent set is a once in a millennium issue, your final statement is a bit counter intuitive to your main argument. If the purpose of reversing the call is for the utility of Galaragga, Joyce, and the Tigers fans than changing the call would not be for the good of the game, but for the good of those specific participants. If everyone else is going to forget anyways, than ‘the good of the game’ won’t change for the majority of the participants in the game.

Nevertheless, I’m curious to see, whether the call is changed or not, how history will remember this game. In 50 years will we say, there have been 35 perfect games including the Galaragga game (assuming of course there are 14 more perfect games arbitrarily); I think I will. While I think that the conversation will fade from the forefront of peoples minds, I think in the long run people will still judge it against other perfect games, whether or not it’s officially called one.

wobatus
Guest
wobatus
6 years 27 days ago

Well, to take a Rawlsian view, what should Selig’s ruling be if you didn’t know but that you might end up being in Galarraga’s shoes, or Joyce’s? I dunno, been a long time since I read Rawls.

Not a big deal to me. He piched a perfect game in my mind. I think Selig might as well have just given it to him. It doesn’t change anything but “the record book.”

But give Milt Pappas his strike 3 to Larry Stahl. :)

John
Guest
John
6 years 27 days ago

Funny, I was just going to post that I thought a Rawlsian position is the superior way to look at this (and almost any) issue. What answer is most just if we position ourselves behind the veil of ignorance? Personally, I think that you leave things as they are, going back and adjusting things will give neither players nor fans the moment of pure joy they would have had if the call had been made correctly. In the end I don’t think either pitcher or umpire will suffer from this blown call, both have shown themselves to be men of dignity and class. The umpire has my respect in a way he never would have had if he hadn’t blown the call and handled it the way he did. If he was calling a game I attended, I most certainly would cheer him when he was announced. As for Galarraga, he now has more fans than he ever would have had for pitching a perfect game. He will likely make more money related to the memorabilia associated with this game than he ever would have from the perfect game. Yes he would have pitched the 21st perfect game, but instead his game was one of a kind.

TJ
Guest
TJ
6 years 27 days ago

Saying another incident like this is “extremely, extemely unlikely” seems undercut by the fact a judgment call on batter #27 has ended a run at a perfect game before.

Gomez
Guest
6 years 27 days ago

Care to elborate with a direct reference?

TJ
Guest
TJ
6 years 27 days ago

The Milt Pappas no-hitter in 1972.

RB
Guest
RB
6 years 27 days ago

I don’t know. 2 examples out of 185,299 instances seems “extremely, extremely unlikely” to me.

TJ
Guest
TJ
6 years 27 days ago

How many times have the first 26 batters been set down in a row? I think 185,299 is a bit high.

adohaj
Guest
adohaj
6 years 27 days ago

I don’t think it should be overturned. Not getting a perfect game because of a blown call is a lot more memorable/interesting than getting a perfect game even though it may not be the happy ending everyone wants.

Evan
Guest
Evan
6 years 27 days ago

This is the simplest scenario for Selig to overturn a call long after the game has ended. It was the last out of the entire game, and it was clearly a blown call. The end result remains the same and there is no butterfly effect for the rest of the game. The only change is awarding Galarraga the 21st perfect game ever, whic is the right thing to do.

If it isn’t changed I think Galarraga will be acknowledged every time someone talks about a perfect game as a footnote rather than as a pitcher who earned a perfect game. Not overturning the call somehow diminishes what he did, when 20 other guys have accomplished the same feat and received a different level of recognition.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
6 years 27 days ago

I don’t see the evidence that Galarraga and his family are reaping a lot of disutility from the mistake which could be rectified by overturning the call. Galarraga took it very much in stride, and as he said in a post-game interview, he knows that he did throw a perfect game, and he plans to show the tape to his kids one day. All of baseball knows that he did it, too. No need to open up a Pandora’s box when the primary beneficiary of the extraordinary remedy doesn’t seem to want it. Nor do I see any evidence that Joyce’s guilt would be assuaged by overturning his decision. He will forever be known as the man who blew the biggest call of the last few decades, and overturning that call will not change that.

Standard Deviance
Guest
Standard Deviance
6 years 27 days ago

Ha ha, after typing my comment, then re-reading the new comments in the thread, it’s fun to see so many readers don their philosopher’s hats (much more articulately than I did). Of course, I also like that the result is that Utilitarianism is getting a bit of a comeuppance.

Gomez
Guest
6 years 27 days ago

There is an interesting note w/r/t utilitarianism… its biggest flaw is that the definition of ‘greatest good’ is typically subjective and based on whoever’s opinion holds the greatest sway over the population in question. What may be considered ‘the greatest good’ may not be in fact what’s best for the population. But again, it’s a subjective matter depending on who’s making the judgment.

DanielRC
Member
DanielRC
6 years 27 days ago

But the best thing to come out of this event is the call for expanded replay. I would much rather Selig take the position of “let’s make sure this never happens again,” not “we ended up with the right call here, so let’s carry on as is.” Expanded replay, to my mind, would be exponentially better for the greater good than slightly tweaking the scorecard in a single game.

Greg Rybarczyk
Guest
Greg Rybarczyk
6 years 27 days ago

I have to disagree with you, Pat, and I don’t have to go back very far in time to find an example to support this.

Selig overturning the Galarraga call will not only bring happiness. It will greatly anger the Minnesota Twins, who lost their game Wed. night to Seattle on a bad call at 2nd base that turned a fielder’s choice third out in a tie game into a walkoff single for the Mariners.

If you support overturning the Galarraga call, you ought to understand how this would be viewed as a precedent, and a 100% valid precedent, for overturning the Twins-Mariners call. The Twins call, unlike the Galarraga call, affected wins and losses, the supreme currency in baseball.

If fixing a bad call after the fact is in your opinion “in the best interests of baseball”, then convince me that if I’m a member of the Twins, that fixing my game is NOT “in the best interests of baseball”.

Or, if you think both of these should be “fixed”, tell me how you would draw the line where you stop fixing bad calls.

MikeS
Guest
MikeS
6 years 27 days ago

Luck is a part of baseball. If a player in an indoor stadium is camped out under a popup and it hits a support or hanging speaker, it’s a double not an out. The game was not perfect. The game is not perfect.

Gomez
Guest
6 years 27 days ago

There’s a point behind this point… however, a pop fly hitting a speaker isn’t an umpire calling a batter who was out by 5 feet safe at 1st. One scenario is more within everyone’s control than the other.

Captain
Guest
Captain
6 years 27 days ago

while i agree with you, lets just dispel the notion that Donald was out by 5 feet. the play in real time was a bit closer than most people are making it out to be.

Standard Deviance
Guest
Standard Deviance
6 years 27 days ago

+1 to Captain… I’d even go so far as to say that it wasn’t an easy call, because, when he caught the ball, it looked like Galarraga was about to bobble it (though he didn’t).

Gomez
Guest
6 years 27 days ago

Okay, 4 feet. Donald had another full step to take once the ball hit Galarraga’s glove.

And no one is ever “about to bobble” a ball because a bobble is an absolute action: You either bobble a ball or you don’t. If Joyce anticipated a bobble before the ball hit his glove, it’s still a bad mistake on his part.

NotAboutABobble
Guest
NotAboutABobble
6 years 26 days ago

Joyce said he thought Donald beat Galarraga to the bag. It was not a bobble that made him miss the call.

bowie
Guest
bowie
6 years 27 days ago

One aspect of this even that I have come to appreciate is that some very beautiful examples were set for how to handle unfair and unfortunate events by the people involved in them, which to me is more important and lasting than whether the record book will have a 21st perfect game or not.

An honest mistake was made, one that happens quite often actually. Only this time it happened at a moment of huge consequence for one man in particular. The man who suffered directly from the mistake, Galarraga, handled the situation with great dignity and did not vilify the umpire or attack him in any way. Instead, he showed empathy for Jim Joyce. And Joyce has taken the high road too, admitting the mistake, not hiding from it or offering b.s. excuses. He owned up to it immediately, apologized–he CRIED about it–he was as contrite as can be. The whole thing makes me want to cry too!

SF_Matt
Guest
SF_Matt
6 years 27 days ago

If he was safe by a foot and the umpire called him out, thereby giving Galarraga a perfect game, should the commissioner step in and reverse the call thereby taking away the undeserved perfect game?

baka
Guest
baka
6 years 27 days ago

This is actually a good question to consider. Would our reaction be the same if he had gotten a perfect game that he didn’t deserve?

bowie
Guest
bowie
6 years 27 days ago

great question

jimnvox
Member
jimnvox
6 years 27 days ago

whoa. the guy didn’t pitch a perfect game. a runner was called safe at first base. whether rightfully or wrongfully, the call was made and it would be silly to reverse it after the fact. silly. there’s no point. but then again, some of us are deontologists and think john stuart mill was mostly full of crap.

i don’t care who’s happy and who isn’t. i don’t care who takes this lightly. i don’t even care about precedent. because the consequences shouldn’t matter. what happened happened and it wasn’t a perfect game. it doesn’t matter to me that a retroactive change of the call might cause “a slippery slope”. It does matter to me that it is untrue to what actually occurred, and that the basic principles by which the game is organized would be violated by such a ruling change. just leave it be.

Standard Deviance
Guest
Standard Deviance
6 years 27 days ago

Love that deontology can come up in the course of a discussion on this site!

Heather
Guest
Heather
6 years 27 days ago

If you want to argue this from a strictly utilitarian perspective, I would still have to disagree with you. Why? Because plenty of other hideous calls have been made in baseball, and those folks have had to have the consolation that it is a human game and calls made by umps are not able to be reversed. I would argue that part of the peace that they have gained is knowing that NOBODY is special and this crap happens. If we reverse this specific call, it might please Gallaraga and his family, but I think it would have the effect of spreading unhappiness to every other person who has been victimized by a bad call. “They were special enough to rate an overturn, but I wasn’t!”

You can’t easily ignore the fact that you might be re-victimizing all these folks again and making the collective unhappiness worse rather than better.

joe
Guest
joe
6 years 27 days ago

Interesting point which gets back to the main issue with the whole philosophy – how do you define utility (or happiness) and who defines it?

On a side note I though the article was interesting… well except for the part that listed Keith Law as an example of an intelligent analyst.

philosofool
Member
Member
philosofool
6 years 27 days ago

Mill defines happiness as the presence of pleasure and the absence of pain, i.e., you are happy to the degree that you feel pleasure and don’t feel pain. With respect to pleasure and pain, utilitarians are typically subjectivists, i.e., what’s pleasurable will be relative to the individual having the experience. If baseball is pleasurable for you, then it’s good when you watch baseball; if it’s painful for you, then it’s bad. Same for me, and if we disagree, the theory just tells us to promote baseball watching only for those who like it. (Mill complicates his picture with “higher” and “lower” pleasures, but that’s presently an aside.)

philosofool
Member
Member
philosofool
6 years 27 days ago

On the list of things more controversial than Jim Joyce’s call, I’d list utilitarianism. I’m not sure you’ll solve the controversy, even if you add logic and reduce emotion, by appealing to a highly controversial ethical theory.

By the way, I think your argument ends up being very close to a sort that its opponents use to show that utilitarianism is bunk. The issue is that utlitarianism requires us to aggregate everyone’s utility and sum it all up. The standard version of this is the angry mob who wants to lynch someone that they falsely believe committed a crime or harmed them. If the mob is large enough and their fervor great enough, according to utilitarianism, the fact that the person is innocent is irrelevant because the large amount of pleasure he gets from continuing to live is swamped by the sum of thousands of small pleasures seeing him at the end of a rope. Same with Joyce and Gallaraga: what’s of concern to them is swamped by the millions of tiny interests of those who don’t want the call over turned or whatever. Ultimately, it’s a factual and empirical question what will produce the greatest happiness, so maybe you’re right that it lies with Gallaraga and Joyce, but the fact that they are *most* affected could potentially be irrelevant.

(There are better objections to utilitarianism. Suppose that a pedophile has a big stash of ruffies and takes them to the parks, feeds them to children so they can’t remember it and mollests them. His happiness is bad happiness. It’s certainly not morally relevant to our considerations. But it’s easy to see that given the right kind of secrecy and the effectiveness of ruffies, he could *according to act utilitarianism* successfully make the world a better place by molesting kids. Since it molesting kids isn’t the right thing to do, we can see that utilitariansim gets it wrong and is therefore a false doctrine.)

Rex Manning Day
Guest
Rex Manning Day
6 years 27 days ago

Are you in college? You must be in college (or, at the very least, graduated no more than 5 years ago). Nobody but college students/recent graduates would seriously describe themselves as “utilitarians”.

MGL
Guest
MGL
6 years 27 days ago

You want to take a utilitarian approach, fine…

You are speculating as to the positive ramifications of a reversal. It is far from being certain that you are correct. Maybe Joyce and Galarraga’s lives are enhanced in some way from this mistake and no reversal. Maybe MLB needs to “learn a lesson” which leads to more replay and the lesson would be diminished by a reversal. Maybe fans need to appreciate how two persons can react so well in the face of adversity, and that would be diminished by a reversal. Maybe just as many fans would be angered by a reversal than would welcome it.

And what about if we not only speculate on Joyce’s and Galarraga’s and the fan’s happiness, but we speculate about other repercussions if a reversal is done. That is utilitarian, right? The next time any bad call is made that changes the result of an important game (which happens all the time of course – probably at least once per post-season), won’t there be a large controversy and much “unhappiness” (by the team that is short-changed and their fans)? This is a utilitarian perspective, isn’t it?

And is “happiness” the end-all for utilitarian arguments? I think not. If I give my son candy before dinner, he is going to be happy, but from a “utilitarian” perspective, happiness is not the proper utility. His present and future health and well-being is.

Just as you are speculating that Joyce and Galarraga and the fans would be happier upon a reversal, I can also speculate that their happiness (assuming that your assumption is even true) is not the proper utility.

There are many holes in your argument, Pat.

Steve
Guest
Steve
6 years 27 days ago

Yes, it is indeed correct that this call had no impact on the actual outcome of the game. But changing it could conceivably lead to a problem in the future.

Consider this extraordinarily unlikely (yet still possible) situation. Pitcher has a perfect game through 26 outs, and has a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 9th. The last batter reaches on a blown call. Fans/players begin to think, “That’s OK, they’ll just reverse the call afterwards.” The next batter hits a walk-off home run, taking away the pitcher’s perfect game and the win.

Granted, that’s very different from Galarraga – he recorded the “28th out” to successfully win the game. But the pitcher in the above situation, if the ‘Galarraga precedent’ were set, should have his perfect game. It’s unfortunate, but history can’t be changed, it can only be used as a lesson for how best to impact the future. Replay is most likely on the way in some capacity, and this situation also helps us see that umpires are human, and they care about the game and its history just as much as we do.

And in regards to Galarraga – I think he’s making out just fine from this situation. Nobody can ever take away the game he pitched – for all intents and purposes, he pitched a perfect game, but some won’t recognize it as such. The new Corvette and added fame are also nice. Strangely, I feel that the circumstances surrounding the game have made Galarraga more widely known in baseball circles than he would have been had he recorded the 27th out. Lots of fans know who Harvey Haddix is and why he’s famous. Fewer know that Len Barker and Mike Witt actually completed perfect games.

Charles
Guest
Charles
6 years 27 days ago

Major League Baseball is not a vehicle for social justice. Bad calls happen all the time, it is understood that they are accepted and everyone moves on. Stop imposing morality and ethics onto this situation as if we were discussing jumping into a time machine to go kill Hitler (no real argument misses out on including a Hitler reference).

Baseball is a game based more on mistakes than success. Nobody was wronged in some nefarious or malicious way. In fact, except the guy who actually made the mistake – everyone involved is, or will shortly be, a millionaire. And I don’t know, maybe Joyce is too.

This doesn’t need to be changed because there simply isn’t really a problem. But if you are dead set on righting wrongs, we live in a world full of them. And they have consequences more dire than whether or not some fellow has his name in some magical book.

Colin
Guest
Colin
6 years 26 days ago

Pat,

I threw up a little in my mouth at the sight of even some praise being given to Keith Law. I think if you are going to describe him as “intelligent” you should disclaim that he is also a pompous horses behind who talks to other intelligent adults as if they were children. Go read his most recent chat on this subject on ESPN and look at some of his responses to questions if you need confirmation.

Klaus
Guest
Klaus
6 years 25 days ago

Precedents apply not only to future cases in which the facts are more or less the same but to cases whose resolution proceeds by the same principle. That is, if utility provides a sufficient justification for reversing a call and restoring the happiness of but two people, why doesn’t the principle apply also in say, the case of a playoff game, in which a wrong call adversely affects the happiness of not merely an umpire and a single player, but of a whole team and an entire fan-base, composed of millions? The precedent established by the former wouldn’t absolutely obligate the commissioner to correct the latter (I think (actually I’m not sure)), but the arguments against his doing so would be seriously weakened. Therefore it seems to me that any precedent set in the case of Galaragga/Joyce would have real-world ramifications going well beyond incidents involving simply blown calls of the 27th out of a perfect game–ramifications which can’t be dismissed with the mere wave of the hand.

Mike
Guest
Mike
6 years 25 days ago

I’ll start by saying it is strange to declare yourself a utilitarian, Pat. Do you mean you’re literally a utilitarian (e.g. you attempt to make all moral decisions according to utilitarian reasons?) or do you just think that, while utilitarianism isn’t the ultimate moral principle, it’s the best ‘tie-breaker’ we have in difficult moral or other normative situations?

No one seems to buy the first (besides Peter Singer perhaps), but I think the second is plausible. I take the greatest objection to Utilitarianism to be Bernard Williams’ ‘integrity’ objection. It is absurd to ask people to set aside their reasons for action for the ‘perspective of the universe’. The utilitarian can respond by saying ‘Well, that just shows we’re very immoral. Not that utilitarianism is wrong’, but I think it shows that Utilitarianism misunderstands the nature of belief, reasons for action and actual decision making. The best we can do is adopt a Utilitarian outline and not the position itself.

Anyway, onto baseball. This is a case where a decision can be overturned without setting worrying precedent. Overturning the decision doesn’t alter any significant feature of the game and it would rightly put Armando in the record books and alleviate some of Joyce’s displeasure. Why can’t the Commissioner set a guideline where a decision can be overturned if it occurs sufficiently late in games, doesn’t affect the status of the game and has some immediate cultural/record related significance?

Whether you think it is right to overturn games for these reasons and not more significant reasons (e.g. wins/losses) is a separate question to whether this would actually set a ‘dangerous’ precedent. As Pat has said, to assume it would is a rather large step.

nartin
Member
nartin
6 years 25 days ago

If the pitcher was Josh Beckett or John Lester, the change would have been made for sure.

Charles
Guest
Charles
6 years 24 days ago

I doubt that, but I’d say there’s a good chance that the call wouldn’t have been missed like that for a higher profile big market pitcher.

Debbie Ruacho
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4 years 8 months ago

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