By Tim Todd, turning a sows ear into a Peirce
It appears, then, that the rule for attaining the third grade of clearness of apprehension is as follows: Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object. – Charles Sanders Peirce, father of Pragmatism, gives his Pragmatic Maxim
If it looks like a cart horse, turns like a cart horse, then it’s probably Peter Crouch. I… ok, I really don’t know what he’s talking about and frankly any mention of Peirce makes my throat go dry and my palms sweaty. Have you ever had to read his original texts? Oh god, that just gave me a flashback, I need to call my therapist. – Tim Todd, decidedly not C.S. Peirce who is like some kind of philosophical god and whose works are as impenetrable as a Jose Mourinho back four.
Arsenal played Chelsea for 90 minutes at the Grove and neither team scored. There was a moment of controversy, or two, and in the end Chelsea players celebrated on Arsenal’s pitch because the draw took them one giant step closer to winning the Premier League title. Chelsea did what they had to do to get themselves closer to winning the title, Arsenal didn’t quite do enough to win the game and get themselves into real title contention. Call it whatever you want, call it parking the bus, call it pragmatism, call it weefleflorvin, whatever you call it, Mourinho came to the Grove to get at least a point and got what he wanted.
Thus ends my Pragmatic match report.
I always found it funny that the father of Pragmatism, C.S. Peirce (whose last name rhymes with “curse”, “coerce”, and “nonsense verse”), wrote such impenetrable works. I know, he’s not writing for us, and he’s, like, a polymath supergenius, but couldn’t he have, just once, been like “ugh… ok, here’s my philosophy, for you dummies”?
A lot of philosophers write densely packed and coded works. It’s almost as if they write in such a way as to intentionally obscure the meaning of their work. Like priests in the dark ages, holding onto scraps of knowledge, and keeping that dangerous knowledge away from us proles.
If you think about it, it’s a bit like how the organization who run refereeing in England act, they are the high priests of the Laws of the Game and they aren’t going to let us in on their secret knowledge. PGMOL, or Professional Game Match Officials Limited, organize match officials in England. They pick the officials for games, train the officials, review the officials, keep the officials fit, and lately have started an “information” campaign for the masses, sending out tiny missives of opinion cloaked as information.
PGMOL piped in this propaganda masked as quasi-information to international broadcasters in yesterday’s match between Arsenal and Chelsea. Contradicting their own official on the field but without benefit of explanation and since they simply told the broadcasters what to say, there was no one to question the “ruling”.
Here is what happened on the pitch: Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas collected the ball deep in his own half, spotted teammate Oscar making a run between two Arsenal defenders, and played a perfectly weighted ball 40 yards over the top and into Oscar’s path. Arsenal’s keeper, Ospina, rushed out to collect the ball, but Oscar got there first and flicked over Ospina, the two players collided in the box, Oscar was knocked out, and it took a heroic effort from Bellerin to get back and clear the ball off the line with a diving header.
Here’s what happened off the pitch: all of the commentators were convinced Chelsea should have had a penalty. Some were convinced that Ospina should have seen a red card. And at the end of the match PGMOL released an amazing statement which NBCSports quoted without criticism: ”[PGMOL] say that Michael Oliver may have changed his decision if he saw [Ospina collide with Oscar] again.”
You should watch the replay over on Arsenalist.com. The first thing you’ll notice is that Oscar is offside, clearly offside. The second thing you’ll notice is the collision and Oscar get knocked out cold. The third thing you’ll notice is that referee Michael Oliver doesn’t make a call and that Bellerin does a fantastic job to get back and save the goal.
What I found shocking, however, is how the broadcasters here in America reported that the PGMOL felt that referee Michael Oliver might have overturned his decision if he’d seen the incident again. There was no mention by PGMOL of the clear offside by Oscar. This incident cannot be a penalty because Oscar was offside and yet the NBCSports announcers and PGMOL have essentially said that Chelsea should have won the match by being awarded a penalty.
The other thing I found shocking is that Oscar played for another 30 minutes before going to hospital at halftime. Chelsea should be sanctioned for allowing Oscar to play on after that collision. They risked his life by keeping him on the pitch. I think that the FA need to review the head injury rules and perhaps force a substitution whenever a player is knocked unconscious. I don’t know, I’m grasping at straws here, but something needs to be done before there is a very serious injury.
I’m going to receive calumny from both the Arsenal fans who want me to complain that Arsenal didn’t do better and I’ll also get an earful from the Chelsea fans who want me to “be fair” and call the Ospina tackle the most brutal murder seen in London since the Victorian era. These two sets of fans will cry that I am complaining about the PGMOL, deflecting, instead of calling for Ospina to receive 3 life sentences in Attica.
I don’t care. The broadcast media uncritically aired propagandist opinions by an organization that looks to me to be fighting for its very existence. They threw Michael Oliver under Mourinho’s parked bus, tossed Jose the keys, and watched as he drove off over Oliver’s body.
The media should refuse to uncritically air their opinions. If PGMOL wants to re-referee matches so that they can look like they are “fair”, they should have a spokesman go on television and face questions. They should have their views challenged. But they can’t have people questioning them because then the whole facade falls apart. It’s easier just to throw Michael Oliver under the bus to make it look like they actually want to get the decisions right. It was a disgusting moment and exposed the PGMOL for the self-serving group that they are.
As for the match, I know there are a lot of people sitting around today complaining about Mourinho’s “pragmatic” approach to the game. And I agree with them on one point, Mourinho is pragmatic. He’s pragmatic because he is not as tactically astute as people make him out to be. He takes a simplistic approach to the game, buys the very best players, and tells them to go do it. It’s hardly the stuff of genius to buy the very best players and make them play defense first.
But the thing is, he has every right to play that way. As long as his fans are happy, his players are happy, and his owner is happy, he can play any style of football he wants. It’s the opposition’s job to unlock Jose Mourinho’s team and get the win.
Arsenal tried to do that on Sunday and came up a bit short. Mourinho refused Arsenal the space in the middle of the park which would have allowed the Gunners to attack in a more dangerous area. As a result, Arsenal resorted to playing in long crosses which Terry and Cahill dealt with easily – those two Chelsea defenders are most comfortable when the opponents are playing in crosses for them to head out and least comfortable when nimble attackers are running at them.
I felt Arsenal should have countered with fewer crosses and more attempts to get to the end line and draw the ball back. Arsenal’s three best chances of the match came when their defenders (Monreal, Bellerin, and Koscielny) did exactly that. But Arsenal couldn’t get their shots on target and in the end it looked like a comfortable affair for Chelsea.
I don’t know what else there is to talk about in terms of the match. The Gunners weren’t terrible but just not quite good enough to get the win. It’s not even really disappointing, Arsenal weren’t supposed to win, Chelsea have the far more expensive squad, and the simplistic defense-first tactic is difficult to break down. So, it’s just something that Wenger will need to work on this summer.
In the mean time, Arsenal have a real chance to claim second place and all the glory (money) that goes with it. They also have a chance to win back-to-back FA Cup trophies. In Arsenal’s reality, they should be pragmatic, themselves, and remember to focus on what Peirce called the “conceived sensible effects.”