Wednesday, May 02, 2007

When "A" Should Be "Non-A"?

When A should be non-A or, when things should be other than what they are. I have never burdened my readers with a list of things that irritate me but recent sightings have Mike's Eyes reaching for the Visene.

First, there is an awful commercial on TV right now for Chrysler vans which shows a school bus loaded with wild and unruly kids. The lady bus driver flops down the screen to a DVD player on the ceiling and all the kids shut up and watch. A voice-over then says "When the kids get what they want you will get what you want." I wanted to scream at the TV "WANNA BET? I'll get what I want or those little brats aren't going anywhere. You got it backwards idiots!"

The theme of the commercial is, adults should cater to the whims of children and the best way to do that is with a Chrysler van. Yuk! If I wrote that commercial it would show a bus full of well behaved, polite children sitting mannerly in their seats. The bus driver would observe the manners and say something like "Your good behavior will be rewarded by watching this video during the ride." The theme of the commercial would be, the best way to reward your kids is with a Chrysler van. Instead of a commercial which shows adults how to avoid something they don't want, riotous brats, it would appeal to their desire for something they do want, well behaved kids. But I suppose that's why I don't write commercials.

Second, I have seen this a few times while standing in line at retail establishments and thought "How rude." Mrs. Eyes who works in retail, says it drives her crazy. It is the practice of customers who want you to wait on them while they are talking on a cell phone! Mrs. Eyes says she intensely wants to tell them "Please step aside until you are done talking on the phone." Alas, she can't do that. Management would take a dim view of it. Instead, she must stand there, smile and pretend she is not looking at a crude, ill mannered, sniveling, groveling, unwashed, uneducated, mindless chunk of a worthless human being. In short, she must pretend that A is non-A. I have a renewed respect for retail workers.

Lastly, what do you think would be my chances of getting Major League Baseball to get rid of the concepts 'sacrifice bunt' and 'sacrifice fly' and start calling them trades or maybe even concessions? Neither concept is a sacrifice. Both are in fact trades.

In the case of a sacrifice bunt, a runner is on first base with less than 2 outs, the batter bunts the ball, a weak hit so the ball doesn't go out of the infield, forcing the infielders to field the ball and throw him out at first base. This usually enables the runner on first to get to second base which is considered scoring position. The transaction here is the trading of an out in return for a scoring opportunity. It is a trade, not a sacrifice. The greater value is the scoring opportunity. We must remember that a sacrifice is the surrender of a value in return for a non-value, i.e. nothing. If the batter, with no one on base, were to bunt the ball in order to get thrown out at first, that would be a sacrifice. (And a short career)

The same is true of the sacrifice fly. With a runner on third base and less than 2 outs, the batter wants to put the ball in play, preferably to the outfield not caring if the ball is caught because the runner on third will score. The transaction is trading an out for a run scored. The greater value here is the run scored. It is a trade, not a sacrifice. Besides, the batter gets an RBI (run batted in).

There is another similar play in baseball that is not called a sacrifice and properly so. It is when there is a runner on third with less than two outs and the infielders play back. It is said that the defensive team is conceding the run in order to get a valued out. The greater value here is the out. Also, this is just the other half of the fly out trade mentioned above. The defensive team is agreeing to accept the offensive teams' trade of an out for a run scored.

So, the sacrifice bunt should be recorded by scorekeepers and broadcast by announcers as conceding an out for a scoring opportunity. The sacrifice fly should be identified as conceding an out for a run scored.

But some people may object that the first part of the transaction is a sacrifice because the batter is hurting himself by lowering his batting average due to deliberately hitting into an out. Not true. He is trading a slightly lower average in return for playing on a winning team. It's a trade.

Besides, it is wrong to divorce half of a transaction from the other half. If I bought a nice shirt for $40.00, could I say honestly that I sacrificed $40.00? (never mind your taste might move you to do so). Could the shirt maker honestly say he sacrificed a $40.00 shirt? No, you would tell me that honesty requires that I identify the entire transaction as a trade of value for value and no sacrifice took place.

Well, MLB needs to be as honest.


Bradley said...

One minor correction: a "sacrifice" bunt or fly doesn't lower a batter's average. If it's scored as a sacrifice, then it doesn't count as an official at-bat. It's not even a "sacrifice" in terms of the batter's average.

Thanks, and keep it up.

Mike N said...

You are correct. My mistake. I forgot that the sacrifice was not counted as an official at bat.

John Stark said...

"No, you would tell me that honesty requires that I identify the entire transaction as a trade of value for value and no sacrifice took place."

In Richard Dawkins book, "The God Delusion", he calls such a thing "Reciprocal Altruism", which is pretty absurd, but what you get when you don't define by fundamentals.

Mike N said...

"Reciprocal Altruism"? Absurd is correct. That would mean the shirt maker would sacrifice the effort and money required to make a $40.00 shirt and freely give it to me to satisfy my "need" of such a shirt. Then I, feeling guilt over his need of $40.00, would sacrifice that sum to satisfy his need, which was created by my need.

No wonder humans have been slaughtering each other all these centuries. Altruism teaches people not to look at each other as traders of value for value, but as liabilities or threats to one's own welfare, as masters one must serve as soon as a need is presented. It breeds hatred of men for other men. It is an evil morality.