Communication and Rhetorical Studies
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Janie Harden Fritz
Aristotle, Baseball, Communication, Ethics, Technology, Tradition
Baseball was once seen as America's pastime, but somehow lost its way. Baseball was inherently American, and stood for more than a game. Yet a number of events caused baseball to fall from grace. Using Ernest Thayer's poem "Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of Republic Sung in the Year 1888" as a frame work, this project identifies three events that caused baseball's fall and three additional events that currently threaten the game, which will be evaluated according to Aristotle's doctrine of the mean. Understanding the game's past and present will help to develop a methodology to apply to threats of the game to ensure baseball's future.
To begin, this project identifies three events that originally caused baseball's fall: the Black Sox Scandal in the 1919 World Series, two franchises moving from New York to Los Angles, and the Labor Strike of 1994. Each event creates distance between the game of baseball and its idealized past. The first chapter also propels the following three chapters by viewing the current threats of the game as three imaginary pitches for Casey with the goal of attempting to change his original fate from the poem, in which he struck out.
Chapter II, Casey's first imaginary pitch, deals with the steroids crisis. The home run era helped to revitalize the game after the Labor Strike, but the success was short-lived. "The Mitchell Report" was first published on December 13, 2007. The report was the culmination of a 21-month investigation of anabolic steroid-use in baseball, and identified 89 MLB players linked to steroids. Although the records and statistics were put into question, the harshest result of this event was that it called into question the ethics of the baseball – with the ongoing suspicion and a lack of trust toward the game, baseball no longer fosters havens of trust. Additionally, the lack of an immediate response by the league showed a delayed reaction, one of deficiency. This is the first strike to Casey in the imaginary at bat.
Perhaps propelled by the Steroid Era, the next event that continues to threaten the game is the sabermetric movement, marked by the publication of Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (Lewis, 2003). Sabermetrics in general attempt to provide new and more technologically driven metrics to better understand the game. Although learning more about the game is good, dismissing old statistics causes people to lose ground and connection to the past. The over-emphasis of sabermetrics shows excess, again causing Casey to swing too early and miss another pitch. The final event that threatens the game of baseball is the implementation of technology, namely instant replay, into the game, which occurred in 2008. The game of baseball assessed the successes of other sports' uses of instant replay, withheld implementation over 20 years later than the NFL, and originally made modest additions to the game. The focus on the past helps to preserve tradition and helps to foster a good connection for the game in the present game. With the third pitch, Casey found the balance between deficiency and excess and hit a home run. The final chapter lists ongoing problems to each of the three events identified in Chapters II-IV, provides a detailed critique of progress as understood through Modernity, assesses the ways in which Aristotle's doctrine of the mean can be used as a philosophical framework to deal with ethical issues, theorizes various uses of this methodology, and finally discusses the ways in which baseball can be preserved for the next century.
The afterward revisits the original poem of "Casey at the Bat" and provides an updated version, "Casey's Hope."
Fazio, M. (2016). Casey's Hope: A Communication Ethics Response to Baseball's Fall and its Future (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/532