Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Look But Don't Touch

In the bottom of the 5th inning of today's series finale against the Twins, Manny missed a home run by inches, and a fan's too too grabby hands by even less.

Keeping your hands to yourself is something we learn early in life. And generally speaking, people are pretty good at it. But not for not wanting to touch; there are, after all, many smooth and soft and bumpy things out there, just begging to be touched.

But, typically, there are penalties for touching what's not yours to touch. Upon seeing an attractive woman on the street, you can't grab her just because you feel like it, and you can't walk into a museum and run your hands over the art just because you feel like it.

If you did, the penalty would be severe, and rightfully so. As adults, we have to control what we want (or better yet, we should learn not to want certain things; you may want to poop in your pants when you're two, but hopefully not anymore.) And who do you think you are, anyway, diminishing that woman's dignity, or ruining that painting so that countless others cannot enjoy it?

And yes, grabbing a ball in play is definitely the same kind of thing. You shouldn't want to do it at all, and it drives me nuts when it does happen, to the point of advocating draconian (if not Franconian) punishment.

Consider the following. When a fan reaches into the playing field, he's implicitly saying a number of things, each entirely indefensible.

First, he's saying 'I hereby claim ownership of this ball, this ball which I didn't make, buy, or even ever see before two seconds ago, and which nobody offered to give me.'

(A rejection of the Lockean principle that ownership derives from "mixing one's labor" with an object.)

Second, he's saying 'even though the fate of this ball is the intense emotional concern of millions of people, I am going to take it so that only I can enjoy it.'

(A rejection of the utilitarian principle of the greatest good for the greatest number.)

Third, he is saying 'I am claiming this ball as mine at the only moment of its existence that's ever mattered, at that very moment at which all its previous existing moments were aimed.'

(A rejection of natural law ethics, which holds the interruption of teleology to be immoral.)

I think saying these things makes you an asshole.

And there's no stealing a loaf of bread to feed the starving family mitigating factor here. Unless it's a milestone homer, when removed from its context as a ball in play, all it is is a dirty ball. And clean balls aren't expensive. By taking it from the field, just like smudging a painting in a museum, you're making it worth even less.

And for what? So you can look like a jerk on TV, publicly declaring your selfishness? So you can regale your grandkids about the day you interrupted what millions of people were doing for no good reason other than that you felt grabby?

In short, you reach into the field of play to grab a ball, you're saying that having that particular small round leathery thing is more important than the happiness of millions of people.

I think it's pretty obvious what we should do with people like that.


becca said...

How about picking? Am I allowed to pick at balls in play in order to make them better?

Soxlosophy said...

I don't care if nobody else gets that, I'm laughing.

Fenway West said...

great site, I added you to my blogroll

Soxlosophy said...

thanks a lot, fenway west!

Peter N said...

And I too am adding you to my link list. I'd love it if you could add mine. Here's the link, and wow, 23 hits. I saw Manny's shot...if the fan had reached out and touched it, there would have been BIG problems. But with 23 hits, all was well. Here's the link, and thank you in advance. Peter N. GO SOX.

Peter's Red Sox Forever

Peter N said...

Your link is up, sixth from the top. Take care! Peter

Rooster said...

Hey, I agree. Very nice site - great writing! I agree with this post completely. Grabbing a ball that is still in play is equivalent to tripping a runner on the field. You came to the ball park to watch a good game, not interfere with its outcome!

Like Peter and FW before him, I am adding you to my blogroll as well. i'll be back - keep up the good work!

Soxlosophy said...

thanks a lot for the links, peter and rooster, and for the kind words!

Peter N said...

And thank you for adding mine. Now it's down to business...2 of 3 from the Birdies are a must. Have a great weekend...big start for Clay tonight, and us.