As part of this blogs ongoing commitment to supplement the work of ASU we now present a guide to the quotations of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein’s love of baseball is well known and he spent two years playing second base for the Viennese Whirl’s Triple A affiliate the Prussian Panthers.
In the end however it was the philosophy of language that dragged him away from the game, and his many hilarious sayings have delighted scholars throughout the years. What at first seem like the results of badly programed translation software are actually pithy remarks on both life and the game of baseball.Here a just a select few that will be of interest to followers of the nation’s pastime.
"A confession has to part of your new life" Wittgenstein was one of the first commentators to tackle the issue of steroid abuse in sports, and was known to be skeptical with regard to the McGwire/Sosa home run chase. It was Barry Bonds who tipped him over the edge however and almost led to him renouncing the game altogether. "He has to admit to what he has done" he told the Best Damned Sports Show Ever.
"A picture is a fact" Always the first to embrace new technology his passionate campaign to have video replays available to umpires is believed to have begun when what he felt was a legitimate home run was called foul.To make matters worse this was in a game against the Panther’s bitter rivals the Nuremberg Nazis (incidentally replica jerseys of all these teams are available at MLB.de).
"An inner process stands in need of outward criteria" Anyone can think or talk a good game but it’s what you do at the plate that counts.
"I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves." This relates to the time that he attended a Tampa Bay Devil Rays home game.
"If a lion could talk, we could not understand him" Wittgenstein met Hideki Matsui before he moved to the Yankees. He later told a friend that he had spoken to the player for 2 hours without understanding a word he was saying. When it was explained to him (through the use of maps and a power point presentation) that Matsui had actually been speaking Japanese, this led to his ground breaking linguistic theory entitled "Why do Foreigners Talk Funny?"
"If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done" Wittgenstein was a great believer in "small ball", to the extent that he would try to steal base at every possible opportunity, arguing that the successes more than made up for the failures. His coaches did not agree and he was eventually fined by the Panthers for a notorious incident in which he tried to steal second base directly from the dug out.
"Never stay up on the barren heights of cleverness, but come down into the green valleys of silliness" His habit of dressing up as the Duchess of Malfi for day games is another reason often cited for his inability to get into the majors.
"Our greatest stupidities may be very wise" Another attempt to justify his terrible base running.
"Whereof one cannot speak,thereof one must be silent" Wittgenstein hated the commentary for White Sox games and would often cause uproar on his visits to Chicago by throwing his beer glass at the screen whenever he heard Ken Harrelson’s voice.
"There are remarks that sow and remarks that reap" This was the key line in Wittgenstein’s farewell speech to the game of baseball. He felt that it was of far better quality than Lou Gehrig’s "today I consider myself…" and harbored a long standing grudge against Gehrig when it was not so well received (other commentators have alleged that the feud actually began because it had long been Wittgenstein’s ambition to have a disease named after him). Whatever the cause, the matter came to a head at a chance meeting in Buffalo in which Wittgenstein inexplicably berated Gehrig for the collapse of the Great Moravian Empire.
This was to prove the final straw for the authorities and he was officially banned from attending any further games or official events.