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The 500-Year Old Man

Sometimes rabid partisanship can skew one’s thought process. This is true in religion, politics, life and an apt metaphor for all of the above, sports. Several years ago my friend Phil and I were “debating” whether Rafael Palmiero, who had then just hit his 500th home run, should be in the Hall of Fame. This was before the steroids scandal. Phil was “rabidly” in the yea column, because of the cumulative magnitude of the achievement. I, on the other hand, declaimed that Palmiero had never been a dominant player and the simple accretion of stats did not justify recognition of stratospheric achievement.

To illustrate my point, I offered the following example. “If I hit one home run a year and played 500 years, would that justify my admission to Cooperstown?”

Now most sane people would recognize the implicit fallacy in my reasoning, namely that given the current state of medical science, there is no way I would live the requisite 500 years.

My friend, being quite the baseball zealot, flew right past the obvious illogic and began what ultimately became a half hour argument. To summarize his position: “You can’t hit major league pitching.” This led to a lengthy discussion of one’s ability to play at a MLB level and of course ended with the issue being no closer to resolution.

Morals of the story:

  • No matter how strongly you believe in your position, stop and think before you argue.

  • Find the central weakness in the other’s argument and skewer that.

  • Don’t bother me right now, I am trying out for the Mets and at my age time is passing. See me in 450 years and I’ll let you know how it turned out.

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