I told myself that I wasn’t going to write about politics today. Yes, this blog is all about baseball and politics but with the Republican primaries going on, it seems like all I can do is mock the ridiculousness of the candidates. So, today, I wasn’t going to do this. Then I read about “the incident that almost was” yesterday at Tommy’s Country Ham House in South Carolina.
Yes, I know, the zaniness of Newt and Mitt both scheduling events for the same time at Tommy’s Country Ham House is almost unfathomable. It’s like a British farce without the intelligence. Or the British. Actually, I guess it’s just kind of a farce. I particularly like the fact that Newt seems to be intent on making the contest as high school as possible. The exact quote is, “I have a question. Where’s Mitt? I don’t think they have New England clam chowder on the menu.”
This guy is seriously being considered as the next president of the United States? It’s only a matter of time before he resorts to yo’ momma jokes. “Hey Mitt, yo’ momma’s so stupid, she named you Mitt.” To which Romney will of course reply, “Your name is Newt.” I ask again, these guys are seriously being considered as the next president of the United States?
Anyway, so much for not writing about politics today. I blame the Ham House. And South Carolina.
Ty Cobb was a great baseball player but not a very nice person. Actually, he wasn’t a very nice baseball player either, regularly trying to hurt the competition. The thing about Cobb, though, is that he never pretended to care about other people. Love him or hate him, you could never say that he was a hypocrite. He did everything balls out and that included his racism.
That’s the difference between Cobb and two of the remaining candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. When Cobb said something, he owned it. He was an awful person but he didn’t try to hide behind obfuscations and pseudo-intellectual drivel in an attempt to prove that he actually meant something else.
What is truly amazing is that 50 years after Cobb’s death, Rick Santorum can say he doesn’t want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money” and Newt Gingrich can regularly call Barack Obama “the food-stamp President.” And then both men try to claim that they’re just trying to help black people. I have a feeling that Newt’s phrase “I know among the politically correct you’re not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable…” has a good chance of becoming the new “I’m not a racist but…”
The only thing black that Santorum and Gingrich should be talking about is the space inside their respective heads. Come to think of it, there was an article written about that recently, too. “Abyssal yawns 10 times the size of our universe.” Yep, that sounds about right.
I’m a big believer in the adage that you don’t count your chickens before they hatch. But after prevailing in Iowa and cleaning up in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney sure is starting to look like a full on chicken. This could mean either that a certain influential (and voting) subset of Republicans is making its voice heard. Or, it could just mean that New Hampshire is made up of relatively normal people and once South Carolina gets its say, Romney will again have to face his Santorum problem.
The process kind of reminds me of the recently completed Hall of Fame vote. There are the clear winners, like Barry Larkin and Mitt Romney. But it’s a lot harder to make any sort of conclusion about the other guys, the Ron Pauls and Jack Morris of the world. Did they come close? Sure. Will it be enough to get them over the hump at some point? Your guess is as good as mine. But are they going to keep on going? You betcha’.
McGwire, Paul, Santorum. It’s all part of the messy fun that makes up democracy.
Iowa has given us a reason to be afraid. Very afraid. It’s not just that people refuse to vote for Mitt Romney because he’s….*gasp*….a politician! It’s that in their pursuit of anyone-but-Romney, they bounce from one increasingly insane option to the next. Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich. They’re all crazy in their own way but it’s a generally harmless crazy because they’re ultimately cartoons.
Iowa just gave us a new kind of crazy, a crazy that’s scary because it actually believes what it says. It’s the kind of crazy that gave us the Crusades and the Salem witch trials. It’s a crazy that earnestly stares you in the eyes and tells you that it cares about you while inserting a knife between your ribs and watching the life drain out of you. And it means every word it says.
As America woke up the day after the Iowa caucuses, I’m sure a fair amount of people scratched their heads and wondered who exactly this Rick Santorum guy is. And the truth is, Santorum is still defining himself…although it seems pretty clear that he’s not the sort of guy who’ll just happily let you live your life the way you see fit.
I’m hopeful that the Republican flirtation with Santorum will last about as long as a Pittsburgh Pirates’ playoff run. And considering that the good people of the state of Pennsylvania turned him out by an 18% margin in his last Senate contest, he obviously has some downside. But in the meantime, let’s just try to focus on what Santorum’s presence means to the realm of comedic headlines. (If you don’t get why this headline is funny, go to google, enter “santorum” in the search box and scroll down until you understand.)
A lot of baseball purists hate Bill James. By attempting to intellectualize aspects of a game that had up until then been left to “experts” who used their gut feelings to lead teams in one direction or another, James sought to overturn baseball orthodoxy. These experts/purists/fundamentalists hate James because they no longer get to employ their mystical powers to direct the religion of baseball.
This should hardly come as a surprise, though. Baseball is a uniquely American sport and Americans are uniquely anti-intellectual. It only makes sense that a group of people who disparage America’s professors and other learned people would also disparage someone who tries to apply reason and science to America’s pastime.
But those who hate intellectuals the most are also those who fear them the most. The old school scouts hated James because his emphasis on the quantifiable aspects of baseball undermined their previously hallowed positions as arbiters of all things baseball. They feared losing their previously sacrosanct positions so these high priests of the game had to evolve or risk becoming irrelevant.
Something similar is taking place in the Republican party today. The party of belligerent anti-intellectualism has somehow embraced a self-styled intellectual as their new savior. The truth, though, hides a little deeper in the phenomenon. Newt, intellectual that he claims to be, brings nothing new to the game. He’s merely a priest dressed up in the trappings of an intellectual but he uses this affectation to scare his flock into believing what sounds intellectual to them. Newt is riding high on this image but hopefully his new religion will soon follow the same path as the baseball scout’s “sure thing” and the Contract With America.
When something like this happens:
It’s funny to think that maybe this was happening behind the scenes:
But most likely it’s closer to this:
I predict that within six months Perry’s secret male lover will no longer be able to hold his tongue. Let’s just call it a hunch.
In a stunning turn of events, Herman Cain will not be the next President of the United States. In other news, snorting pixie sticks will not get you high. The one thing that these two items have in common is that a lot of people should have seen it coming before trying it out.
So now it’s Gingrich. Oh right, and Romney. It’s like the longest and most asinine game of musical chairs ever. The only problem is that instead of removing a chair each time, they just substitute a person and make them keep playing. Please, can we just make it stop and give Romney the nomination? I know you don’t like him and I know you are afraid the Mormons are going to steal your children but there’s something to be said for having a candidate who’s actually qualified to run. What’s next, Palin redux?
The real issue is that the Republicans are so adverse to nominating Romney that they treat every new challenger like how MLB treats Kyle Farnsworth. “Well, we didn’t like him before and he hasn’t really done much but he sure looks good on paper. Eh, what the hell. Let’s give him a shot.” And, just like the Republican challengers, you find yourself wondering a month or two later what you possibly could have been thinking. And, of course, like any circle of abuse, you convince yourself that you’ll never let it happen again…
…At least not until next year when you’re looking for a middle reliever (presidential candidate) and notice that Farnsworth (Gingrich) is on the market….