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Friday, March 30, 2007

Part 6 of History of Infield Fly Rule

by Tony D’Amato

Lefty Leibniz, hotshot reliever for the Hanover Huns, famously proclaimed after chug-a-lugging seven straight steins of Erfahrung Extra-gewichtig Pilsner in a local tavern that this was the best of all possible worlds. Some time later he was brought in from the bullpen to face the Paris Polysémiques. It was the bottom of the ninth, the score was tied, there was one out, and the Sémics had the bases loaded with Denny "the Dip" Diderot hugging third, "Jay-Jay" Rousseau cheating off second, and "the Baron" Montesquieu hanging a wide lead off first. Tensions reached the boiling point. The batter, Voltaire, muttered curses at Leibniz in pidgin French. Leibniz shrugged them off, pumped, shook, and heaved. Voltaire swung for the seats but only managed to pop the ball up high over the mound. The umpire was yelling something as Leibniz allowed the ball to bounce, then deftly flipped it to the third baseman who sidearmed it to second, apparently executing a double play. The umpire yelled "Infield fly--one out only." "What do you mean?" Leibniz yelled back. "Can't you count up to two?" Meanwhile Diderot took advantage of the distraction to run home, scoring the winning run. The ebullient crowd burst the barricades. Leibniz threw a tempestuous tantrum, screaming that the Infield Fly Rule was the single most idiotic thing in the entire world except his colleague Spinny Spinoza.

Making his way through the melée, Voltaire approached Leibniz and asked whether he would prefer an alternative world that was exactly like the present one except without an Infield Fly Rule. Leibniz immediately realized that if he said yes, he would be admitting that the present world is not the best of all possible worlds. Immediately he switched to his second argumtative defense: shaking his fists and cursing Voltaire in exceptionally low German.

Later, rejoicing over the victory in the clubhouse, Voltaire recounted to Diderot what he had said to Leibniz. Diderot said excitedly:

“Your interpolation defeats absolutely the claim of Leibniz that our world is tops of all possible worlds, and to boot by his own suspenders. In consequence the rule of the infield fly has this day destructed this imposter in the baseball as well as in the logic. Name of a name! It is incroyable that I will not include this item in the encyclopedia during which I am developing.”

But by the next morning, Diderot forgot his promise to Voltaire. Thus, a major counterfactual disproof was left out of what was to become the world's most famous encyclopedia. It is exhumed here for the very first time.

Earlier posts:
Part I
Part II
Part III

Part IV

Posted by Administrators on March 30, 2007 at 06:11 AM in Legal Theory | Permalink


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