Bill Klem, the legendary baseball umpire, was once asked what he did when he made a mistake calling balls and strikes. "They ain't nothin' till I call 'em," Klem scoffed.
Klem's seemingly simple statement embraced a deep philosophical view, namely that there is no abstract Truth out there to which an umpire's calls can be compared. Klem was saying that balls and strikes are what the umpire says they are, no more, no less. A pitch is what the umpire calls it. Not everyone shares this view, of course, but it does have its adherents.
This comes to mind because videotape has apparently added a new dimension to this metaphysical debate, which stretches back to the ancient Greeks. The instant replay makes it possible for millions of people to consider an umpire's calls again and again and from many different angles. It is possible to catch a glimpse at least of what appears to be an Independent Truth.
Viewers of this year's American League playoffs and the World Series now in progress have seen several apparent umpiring mistakes. The National Football League has experimented with using videotape replays to overrule officials when the tape shows they have erred.