Infallible like the Pope

You cannot call that an infield fly!” But the umpire can. Blown calls are part of the game, and part of life.

Would I be so “philosophical” if the call had gone against my team? Of course not.

“You can’t do that!” But the umpire can. He’s “infallible.” Like the Pope.

And as Dan Dennett has written, having a team can be meaningful and gratifying (or galling, Braves fans?) if you don’t forget it’s only a game.

I am a Red Sox fan, simply because I grew up in the Boston area and have happy memories of Ted Williams, Jimmy Piersall, Carl Yastrzemski, Pudge Fisk, and Wade Boggs, among others. My allegiance to the Red Sox is enthusiastic, but cheerfully arbitrary and undeluded. The Red Sox aren’t my team because they are, in fact, the Best; they are the Best (in my eyes) because they are my team.

Same here. I grew up in the St. Louis area and have happy memories of Lou Brock, Curt Flood, Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver, and Mike Shannon, among others. The Cards went all the way last year as a wildcard, if they do it again it’ll be even wilder. 12 in ’12! So, would they then be the “best”? Yes. Just not on paper.

That says something about paper, just as blown calls show something about Popes, imperfection, and human fallibility. You don’t have to be the absolute best to play the game, or to win.

What really matters about the game, as Mr. Rice said, is how you play it. And just for the record: with or without that blown call, Atlanta did not play it well last night.

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