Results tagged ‘ Politics ’

Applying Some Common Sense

Baseball has rules against corked bats, pine-tarred balls and drugged up athletes.  Simply put, the idea is that these rules keep the game pure and provide neither side with an overt advantage in the duel between offense and defense.  When a batter goes down on strikes, he can’t claim that he needs a corked bat to counteract the pitcher’s pine-tar aided screw-ball.  Similarly, when a pitcher gets jacked for a three-run homer, he can’t lobby for the aid of pine-tar or some “foreign substance” to even the odds against the batters unnaturally sped up cork-filled bat.  As fans and as a sport, we require equality of equipment.  It’s common sense.

So after this past week’s most recent horrific shooting in Colorado, why have we still not come to the conclusion that we need to apply the same common sense to our gun laws?  Look, I have no problem with licensed hunters owning guns with which they can shoot deer and other sport animals.  The key word here is “licensed,” meaning at least subject to the same sort of procedure we require to operate a vehicle.  There also needs to be some sort of sanity rule applied to what constitutes appropriate equipment.

Let’s face it, guns serve only one purpose and that’s to kill.  You can argue that they also represent a deterrent in that their ability to kill can deter someone from doing something.  But the fact of the matter is that even that ability to deter comes from a gun’s ability to kill.  If you’re hunting, there’s a legitimate reason for you to kill.  If you’re a law-enforcement officer, there’s a reason for you to carry a visible deterrent.  But if you’re a 24-year old graduate student, what possible reason could you have for owning “a military-style semi-automatic rifle?”

This latest incident will bring out the usual hand-wringing from liberals and the usual ignorant denials from the NRA and other gun-rights groups but it’s unlikely that it will provoke any change in our nation’s gun laws.  Eventually the furor will die away until the next time someone decides to shoot up a school or movie theater and we have the same pointless debate all over again.

Here’s an easy way for you as a baseball fan to look at it.  How would you feel about Jose Bautista or Prince Fielder being able to use an aluminum bat in games?  These are guys with a record of mashing long home runs with simple wooden bats and you have to figure it would be madness to give them aluminum bats, right?  So why would you allow students, the mentally ill or even just normal everyday people like us access to infinitely more dangerous weapons?

-A

A Winning Strategy

A couple years ago I was out with some friends and even though it was still early in the night, one of the guys started dancing with a relatively unattractive young lady and making overtures to convince her to come with him and get out of the place.  When I say early, it wasn’t even midnight yet and the place was open for another couple hours.  It didn’t make any sense to me because a bevy of beautiful young ladies were still floating around, getting drunk and and seemingly unattached.  I couldn’t understand what was happening because this guy isn’t bad looking, has an interesting job and should be able to do better.

As soon as possible, I pulled him aside and asked what he was thinking.  He listened to my arguments for a moment and, once I had finished, responded with three words: “Go ugly early.”

In retrospect, he had a point.  At the end of the night, all the pretty girls left and the rest of us were still there, desperately and drunkenly hitting on what was left.  His thought was, why delay the inevitable when you can take care of things early and be assured of some sort of result.  It may not be a winning strategy in terms of quality but it seems to work in terms of quantity.

This is why I’m not all that surprised to see the Presidential race already shaping up to be nasty.  I guess if there’s any surprise, it’s that Obama, Mr. “Hope and Change,” seems to have gone there first and seems to be doing so pretty effectively.

Now, I’m actually of the opinion that Obama’s first term has been relatively successful.  His actions and those of his team prevented the recession from deepening into a depression.  Whether you agree with his politics or not, stepping in to save GM prevented catastrophic job loss at a moment when the economy could have crumbled under the weight of all those jobless people.  However, it’s hard to prove a negative so Obama is instead saddled with the weight of continuing economic sluggishness and jobs numbers that just refuse to grow.

But that’s not the story at this point.  Sure, it’s the summer and that means the undecided voters haven’t really tuned in yet.  But it was also summer when the Bush campaign launched its “Swiftboat” campaign against John Kerry and when people finally started paying attention, that had become part of the narrative.  Obama has managed to “Swiftboat” Romney with the tax return issue and if history serves, the issue will still be front and center come September when voters tune back in.

The story becomes even more interesting if you buy into the theory floated by Businessweek earlier this week.  Romney has adamantly refused to release his 2009 tax returns despite calls by some in his own party to do so.  This “lack of transparence” has damaged Romney’s standing but still he holds firm.  Why?  Well, Businessweek’s hypothesis is, maybe Romney didn’t pay any taxes that year!

It makes sense.  The very wealthy took a bath in the 2008 crash but losing a lot one year often means a huge tax break the following year.  So, if Romney’s fortunes took a dive, it’s natural and perfectly legal that he didn’t pay any taxes the next year.  However, try explaining that to the millions of unemployed out there or the sizable number of voters already paying a higher tax rate than Romney in a normal year.  The American electorate is notoriously immune to nuance.  News of Romney not having to pay taxes in 2009, justified or not, could pretty much lock up re-election for Obama.

So, Team Romney sits tight and continues to get battered from all sides.  Maybe they’re playing a Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope and want to wait until the news cycle is in their favor before releasing what might be completely innocuous tax returns.  Or maybe they’re just going to play it this way all the way through to the end.  All I know is that if Obama does win in November, you can chalk part of it up to my buddy’s strategy.  Go ugly early.

-A

Pelosi’s Inscrutable Boehner

We all know people who are absolutely inscrutable.  You study the face but you have no idea what’s going on behind the eyes, what gears are turning inside the head.  It’s maddening.

That’s why I like Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner.  There is absolutely no doubt what either one of them are thinking:

Pelosi – “Oh my god, I’m so happy I think I might cry!”

Boehner – “I will wait until they become tears of sorrow then lick the salt from your face.”

Maybe that’s why I like baseball as well.  Guys get emotional and even when they’re wearing a game face like “Bulldog” Hershiser, it’s not hard to imagine what they’re thinking.  Kind of like these guys:

Napoli – “C’mon, let’s get this guy…..oh my god, we’re all gonna die!”

Doumit – “Die?  I don’t wanna die!  Wait a minute, where are you going!?”

Oswalt – “Not gonna lie, my balls are tinglin’ a little.”

No inscrutability there.

-A

And Upon Further Review…

In football, instant replay makes sense.  Even with a team of seven officials covering each play, sometimes you just can’t be in the right place at the right time to make the right call when 22 guys are flying around at super-human speeds.  What’s more amazing is how often they get the call right despite those circumstances.  When it’s unclear whether or not they get it right, though, instant replay is there to confirm or overturn the call.  The game goes on.

Reviewing close plays in baseball is a little more contentious.  Generally I’m in favor of the evolution of the game, especially in contrast to my friend, Mr. Lung, who would prefer that all baseball players wear wool uniforms and be issued a chaw of chewing tobacco prior to the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.  But official review is one place where I’m not so sure.

The problem is, baseball is already a slow-paced game.  If you open it up to review, even that flow gets messed up.  Even the limited official review capacity that now exists for home runs seems ridiculous.  Either you make all plays reviewable or none at all.  Honestly, although I’m all for baseball’s future facing development, review is not an area where I think that makes sense.

Review does make sense in the American Democratic system, though.  Last week’s Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act proved that.  More surprisingly, John Roberts showed himself to be a model Chief Justice in his Constitutional application and limited justification in the majority opinion.  For me, it’s telling that although most Republicans are angry that the law was upheld, they’re not angry at Justice Roberts.  In fact, he basically made it clear in his decision that although he may not agree with the policy aspects of the law, that it met the necessary threshold to be held constitutional.

That’s one of the beautiful things about our sometimes maddening and often baffling system of government.  Laws get checked at three points by three different bodies and only after that process runs it course does the law go into effect.  Granted, the application of the same system to baseball would mean that individual games could continue indefinitely but that’s why the choice of arbiter is so important.  The Supreme Court doesn’t hear every single case that comes up through the courts or face challenges to every single law passed by Congress.  It only deals with the game-changers, events that can redefine precedent or application or laws that are unclear.

Football is similar.  Coaches choose when to throw the challenge flag and generally save it for events that are unclear, that could change the complexion of the game or that seem completely erroneous to them.  They don’t always win but they at least have the option to challenge the initial ruling.

That’s one of the big areas where review in baseball fails.  Yes, it’s not awful to review homeruns to make sure they were fair or be absolutely certain that a fan didn’t interfere.  I’m sure there are quite a few Baltimore Orioles fans who wish that review had been in place in the 90′s.  But what about that phantom final out of Armando Gallaraga’s almost perfect game?  If Leyland had been able to challenge the ruling, Gallaraga would have had the mark and we wouldn’t still be talking about it.  But, if you start making plays like that reviewable, it’s not long before you have to start making called strikes, check-swings and everything else reviewable, too.  The fact of the matter is, it just isn’t feasible and if you can’t do it right, you shouldn’t be doing it all.

Here’s how I’d call it.  Review: good for football, great for government but bad for baseball.

-A

People Who Look Like Their Reputations

Some folks have the gift of hiding their flaws.  Then there are the rest of us.

Mitt Romney.  So fresh and so clean.  Such a good speaker.  Smooth to the max.  He’s as politician as politicians come: smarmy, creepy and full of s***.

How is Lindsay Lohan still getting work again?

And of course, in baseball, it doesn’t get any more pathetic then Mario Mendoza.  Not only is his career .215 BA and dismal .507 OPS a benchmark for awful, but just look at the guy.  Awkward.  Awkward.  And more awkward.

I don’t know this for a fact, but I would also be willing to bet Mendoza is a mouth-breather.

Hate me ‘cuz I’m crass, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

*Programming Note*

Mr. Krause got married.  YES!  HE GOT MARRIED!  So he’s off with his lovely wife, gallivanting the seven seas or something, til next week.  Until he returns, I’ll be driving the RSBS ship, and I admit, I have had a bit too much to drink.

Bottom of the Ninth in Venezuela

We have good news and bad news over here at RSBS.  The good news is that the people of Venezuela could soon see themselves with an actual government instead of a cult of personality.  The bad news is, RSBS could soon have to find a new baseball loving world leader it can make fun of.  Sure, Fidel is still out there but he’s more of a hermit than a leader these days.  And other baseball-crazy countries seem to have more pressing issues to attend to which means less time to turn their countries into Bolivarian Republics or anything along those lines.  No, I’m afraid that when Hugo goes, the crazy goes with him.

So, RSBS is putting out the call.  Help us find a new world leader (or at least some sort of opinion-maker) who loves baseball but is just a little loose in the cranial wiring.  My first thought was Mitt Romney but since he might possibly be a unicorn, I don’t know as though he’s a viable option.  Hillary Clinton seemed good, too, but it’s hard to play nice with someone who claims to be both a Yankees and Cubs fan.  Granted, that’s still better than Bill Richardson’s claim to simultaneous Red Sox and Yankees fandom.

It might just be that we’ve hit a cold streak.  World leaders love soccer and whatever sport their national team is good at.  Baseball?  It’s just too much of a niche.  But hey, there’s always Japan!

-A

The Filibuster

It used to be a badge of honor to have served in the Armed Forces and even stars like Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio did their time.  Does it bother you at all that this new crop of ballplayers has never served and probably never will?

Daniel
Harrisburg, PA
___________________________________

While serving in our nation’s armed forces may still be seen as a badge of honor for Americans, it does not bother me one bit that modern day baseballers don’t take part.  I haven’t ever taken part either, so why would it bother me that they don’t?

I am a big believer in sticking with what you’re good at.  If you happen to be really good at throwing 90 mph splitters to Big Leaguers, then please, focus on throwing 90 mph splitters to Big Leaguers.  If you’re really good at leading groups of armed men through hostile urban environments, then please, focus on leading groups of armed men through hostile urban environments.

In my opinion, one of the greatest tragedies in baseball history is missing out on the golden years of baseball production from the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Bob Feller and many more.  Think of how much better their already herculean numbers would be had they not taken a break to join the military ranks!

Look, I’m no dummy.  I understand that their collective decision to leave baseball for the armed forces came at a poignant time in history — a time when the entire future of the planet rested on defeating the Axis Powers.  It was either defeat evil incarnate (y’know, the guys killing innocent people en masse) or succumb to the insanity of megalomaniac, intolerant tyrants.

It was also a time before the internet, before instant access, when no one could see what was behind the curtain.  Looking back, one could even say the US Government used such high profile athletes as pawns to get more everyday joes to enlist.  Heck, if Teddy Ballgame is serving, then so should I!

But those days are no more.  It’s hard to keep any sort of secret and when the wars we are fighting are against invisible enemies in caves we can’t see and in countries rich with oil where we probably shouldn’t be anyway, then it’s pretty hard to convince somebody he should give up his talent, his career, his life.

As far as I know, our military isn’t hurting for more participation.  With smart bombs and drones and missiles more accurate than a Greg Maddux two-seam fastball, not to mention the bazillions of taxpayer dollars regulated for military spending, I think it’s best that our Matt Hollidays and Matt Kemps keep their bodies where they belong: in the outfield.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Have a topic you want to see us Filibuster? Send us your Filibuster questions by emailing RSBSblog@gmail.com or by commenting below.

A Rewarding Venture

Apparently, we’ve been going at the problem all wrong.  No, I’m not talking about the Tigers’ inability to hit baseballs to the spaces where opposing teams’ fielders are not.  I’m talking about the quag… quagmi…. quagmi…. really bad situation that is Afghanistan.

See, while we’ve been pushing education for women, community policing and other counter-insurgency tactics, the guys we’re trying to turn them against do stuff like this.  Sure, we do attack with drones and stuff like that but we don’t poison little girls…which would make you think that the rest of the people would run straight into the wide-open arms of Uncle Sam.  But, not so much.

However, there may be another option.  It turns out that maybe we just need to offer more reward money.  I just wish we would have known earlier.  We could have stopped up bin Laden’s finances and then just waited until he turned himself in to collect the award.

-A

Speculators, Mount Up!

Every once in a while my friend Jeffery comes up with an idea that surprises me in its intelligence.  Granted, his “I’m voting for Ron Paul because the gold standard is shiny!” moments tend to overshadow his more lucid thoughts but I’m the type of guy who gives credit where credit is due.  So, when Jeff advocates for the one-year contract, I have to applaud his chutzpah.  Sure, it will never happen for a legion of reasons but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.  Unlike this:

Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it’s right, though.  For instance, paying less money for gas seems like a good idea to most of us.  And oil speculation seems like a bad idea.  But if you take a look at this and this, you might just start to realize that cheap gas doesn’t make so much sense and oil speculation might not be so bad.

Just like traders buying “future” barrels of oil, baseball players’ salaries are simple speculation.  You pay A-Rod a quarter billion dollars because you think he’s going to be able to continue putting up the same numbers for 10 years.  Same goes for Pujols and all these other guys with monster salaries.  You hope that by giving an extended contract, you’re actually avoiding paying less than what the market will say that player is worth and you’ll wind up with a profit.  That’s pretty much “speculation” in its most basic form.  And just like buying future oil, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

For the rest of us, the options are a little more limited.  I don’t have major league skills.  I’m never going to make a million dollars because of my ability to hit a ball or throw a ball or pretty much do anything with a ball.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to speculate.  I’ve even got my eyes on a pretty spectacular opportunity.  Anyone want to throw in on an asteroid with me?

-A

A Tradition that Can’t End Soon Enough

Barack Obama finally came out in support of gay marriage.  I’m not exactly sure why this is news since a majority of the country holds the same position.  By definition, our elected leaders are our representatives and should represent the views that we hold.  Obama’s change of position (which isn’t really all that much of a change if you really think about it) merely puts him on the right side of history and firmly with the majority.

How did we get to this point anyway?  There’s the easy answer that it’s the fault of religion and the myth of “traditional” marriage (which conveniently ignores the other acceptable definitions of marriage laid out by their holy books):

I think it’s simpler than that, though.  People are just afraid of what they don’t know.  Plenty of baseball fans hated Jackie Robinson when he first started playing but 60 years later, the biggest stars in the game are a veritable rainbow coalition.  25 years from now, we’ll be telling similar stories about gay marriage.

Here’s the thing.  Marriage is supposed to be about two people who love each other committing to live and work together.  Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t but the sexuality of the person has nothing to do with their ability to love or make a commitment.  If you want to simplify things even further, here are two examples.  Kim Kardashian had a “traditional” marriage.  This gentleman’s two mothers did not.

Now, would you rather have his two moms as parents or Kim Kardashian?

-A

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