Monday, July 14, 2008

Logical Fallacy of the Week: Introduction

As I'm sure you're well aware, baseball folks make erroneous statements and draw invalid inferences and derive conclusions from nothingness and arbitrarity. All the time. And as someone in the thinking business, I feel duty-bound to point out such things when I notice them.

So, in what might become an irregular regular feature of Soxlosophy, I've decided to introduce the "logical fallacy of the week," a feature that in all likelihood will not be updated every week.

But it's a better name than "logical fallacy of the unspecified time-unit."

Now, strictly speaking, many errors in reasoning which I'll discuss (and by discuss I mean 'ridicule') are not logical fallacies at all, so the name's inaccurate on both fronts. But "the sloppy informal cognitions and ambiguous and misleading assertions of baseball folks of the unspecified time unit" is actually a worse name than 'Pujols' or 'Asdrubal Cabrera'.

For the trial run, I thought I'd start with a valid syllogism like 'modus ponens'- you know, the one that goes

(All) Yankees suck
A-Rod is a Yankee
therefore, A-Rod sucks

and work up some fallacies from there. But I changed my mind.

For what better place to start on the butchering of thought and language as we know it than with Fox's A-team, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver?

So lets take a trip down memory lane to last week's Fox national broadcast of the Sox vs. the Yankees, and with Tim McCarver in a moment, this is Joe Buck.

Buck has this habit of putting the predicate of the sentence in the place normally reserved for the subject, namely the beginning. So, for instance, last week Buck said "overpowered was Varitek by Veras", and "on deck is Ramirez".

And though one might think such Yoda-speak is cute, the habit of saying everything backwards led to the following vacuous statement, our very first "Logical fallacy of the week."

Buck said of Sox starter Justin Masterson after Masterson left the game, "he can only be the loser if he gets a decision."

Spot the f- up? Well, can Masterson be the loser if he doesn't get a decision? Buck seems to be laboring under the mistaken impression that he's saying something, namely "if Masterson gets a decision, he will be the losing pitcher." But he didn't say that. I had to guess that's what he meant. Because what Buck actually said was equivalent to "in order to be the losing pitcher, Masterson must get a decision." Thank God I watch Fox, or else I might not know that getting a no-decision precludes a pitcher from being the losing pitcher.

Thank you, Joe Buck. Thank you.

And then there's McCarver.

McCarver's analysis following a sacrifice fly was that the ball went "high enough and far enough" to drive in the run.

Apparently, there is a height the ball must reach before the runner can successfuly tag up. I did not know that.

But there's more. In light of A-Rod tying Mickey Mantle's career home run mark of 536, McCarver went on to wax sentimental about the Mick. Near to wiping away a reverential tear, Timmy McC said the Mick was "anything but slow, and anything but weak."

Wait, is McCarver saying Mickey Mantle was a communist? Or that Mickey Mantle was addicted to Robitussin? Apparently, according to McCarver, Mickey Mantle was every single attribute there is except slow and weak. And because 'communist' and 'addicted to Robotissin' are attributes, after all, and they are not the same as 'slow' and 'weak,' it sounds like McC thinks that these, among all others, are things that Mickey Mantle was.

The Mick sure was a lot of things to a lot of people.

But if McCarver meant something else, he should have said something else.

Of course, that probably would have been wrong too.

This is Mel Allen. See you next time-unit for another installment of "logical fallacy of the week." In Baseball.


becca said...

Very funny, honey.

the blue state blogger said...

How 'bout that????

Barry said...

I am somewhat inclined to give Buck a break. Spending 3+ hours per broadcast sitting beside a gaping and flatulent anus has to take a toll.