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.
The idea behind insurance is that you pay a premium and if things go pear-shaped, there’s a safety net there to catch you. It may not pay everything but it will pay enough that you won’t be ruined. This is true for vehicles, this is true for health care and this is true for the guy who got his crotch insured.
The thing about insurance is that it works best with larger economies of scale. Sure, there are the one-off specialty policies for Bruce Springsteen’s voice or Tina Turner’s legs but the vast majority of insurance policies cover things like health care or vehicle damage. The larger the pot, the lower your premium because the risk gets spread out. That’s why Obama made the “individual mandate” the centerpiece of his health care legislation.
For me, this is the most frustrating aspect of the legal challenge to the legislation. The main challenge lies in the interpretation of the Commerce clause of the Constitution but, like many clauses in the Constitution, this can and has been interpreted many different ways. Pretty much it just depends on how the Court feels the day it votes. And if the court is feeling especially conservative the day it decides this portion of the case, the “individual mandate” disappears.
The problem with the mandate disappearing is that the young and the stupid who think that they are invincible no longer have any pressure to purchase insurance, shrinking the pot. This has two effects. Number one, the pot now contains a greater percentage of people with existing or possible health problems meaning the risk has gone up and the premiums along with it. The second problem is that when one of these young and stupid people ends up in the hospital, the system is forced to eat the costs because they didn’t have insurance. What that really means is that your premiums go up again because the cost of that hospital stay has to be payed by someone.
Like it or not, the law evolves. Prohibition came and went. The Dred Scott decision embarrassed the nation and then was rectified by the 14th Amendment. The point is, it’s a living thing and has to be to cope with the realities of a new era. Baseball did away with the dead ball era, expanded multiple times and even now finds ways to adapt to new conditions. The law does the same as social mores change and our needs evolve. Right now, we need a health insurance system that works and until you can show me a viable option, the individual mandate is the only realistic path.
The Court’s decision is still weeks away and the debate is not going to die out anytime soon. I don’t expect the mandate to survive but as health care costs continue to spin out of control, that decision may end up coming back to haunt the Roberts’ Court like Dred Scott did Justice Taney. Meanwhile, the rest of us might just have to check in with The Boss and see how we can go about insuring at least a body part or two.
George W. Bush may be the president with the most direct link to baseball but Obama appears ready to give W a run for the money, especially through his Supreme Court nominees. We all know about Justice Sotomayor’s role in ending the 1995 MLB strike and we also know that the president stands by his White Sox, even while halfway across the country. But now we find out that new Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, has an appreciation for sport in her past as well. However, it hasn’t come without controversy.
Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal had an old photo of Kagan playing softball on the front page which immediately led to public outcry. Outcry? Why, because that implies that she drinks or something?
Nope. Instead it turns out that all female softball players are gay, a fact I wish I had been made aware of before. Now I’m always going to wonder about that softball player I hooked up with in college. Did she know that she was a lesbian?
Either way, we face an important moment. No, I don’t mean the nomination of the first gay Supreme Court Justice. Clarence Thomas already covered that. What I mean is, what can we tell about Kagan and her policies from this picture?
Well, the first thing we notice is that she’s a righty. I guess she could be a switch-hitter but we don’t even want to open that can of worms. She also has a decent stance and she’s choking up on the bat a little to shorten the swing. All in all, I’d say it looks like she knows what she’s doing.
Which is good news because it means Obama also knows what he’s getting into. If Reagan had known about Robert Bork’s infamous balk that lost his team the circuit court softball league championship in the summer of ’87, he might have thought twice about nominating him to the court so fresh on the heels of such disaster. The bad blood from that alone probably cost him the votes of a couple senators who had money (and more) riding on the game.*
*Although possible, RSBS has no proof of Bork’s softball shenanigans. Or Ted Kennedy losing his man-ginity to Jesse Helms as a result of that balk. However, we can assure you that Bork most certainly was not ratified by the senate and never sat on the Supreme Court. Although who knows what happened in an alternate universe……?
For the Matt Drudges, Satanic She-Worms and Jabba the Huts of the world, President Obama’s controversial decision to seat an inexperienced left-leanin’ lawyer to the world’s highest court is not going too well. Indeed, dear readers, the rip-roarin’ has already commenced with character-bashing slander at the ready: “she has no experience!”… “she’s part of the Chicago machine!”… “She’s ugly! You sure that ain’t Gary Dell’abate!?!”
I am not sure that she is not Gary Dell’abate.
She has no experience. So what? Does she have what it takes? Does she have the balls to — wait, never mind.
As is the case with baseball, experience doesn’t always guarantee success.
Mike Leake never pitched a game in the minors and yet he has a record of 3-0 right now, one of those wins coming against the sCrUBS (which nets him extra points ‘cuz I say so).
Don Denkinger never had any experience being completely retarded for one single World Series play yet he managed to get the job done in 1985.
And let me remind you of a fella who didn’t have any managerial experience whatsoever: a man, who as a player achieved a lifetime batting average of .219 with 32 homers and 112 RBI. That man’s name is A.J. Hinch and that man manages the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Arizona Diamonbacks are… um… the D’backs are…
Pay no attention.
We’re all in this US American mess together.
Hate me ‘cuz it’s trendy, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Ah, summer! A time of year that seems to bring out the worst in everyone. According to statistics the RSBS interns just delivered, the number of drunken brawls increases by 46.7% during the summer while the number of rational decisions made dips precipitously to less than one out of every three decisions. But don’t just rely on our statistics. Take a look at the anecdotal evidence, too.
Carlos Zambrano’s ejection the other night, which was quickly followed by a 6-game suspension, highlights the upward trending number of ejections in Major League Baseball over the past few weeks. And if you think Zambrano’s tirade was ugly, just wait until Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity really get going on Sonia Sotomayor. The higher the temperature goes up, the hotter people’s heads get and the more likely they are to explode.
Maybe that’s why we should learn a lesson from the always even keel Brits. For instance, take a look at Eugene here. Do you think he’s going to shove Simon if he doesn’t make it to the next round? Will he verbally abuse the other two judges? Despite Eugene’s special set of issues, I’m thinking no.
Either way, happy Friday!
It’s not often that the fates see fit to dish up a tidbit that hits on everything that makes the RSBS heart tick. So when one of my brothers sent me a link to this story today there was no other option but to bring it to you all. The nomination of a Justice of the Supreme Court is always a momentous occasion but when the judge may have also single-handedly saved baseball, well, that’s more than momentous. Monumental, perhaps?
I think the phrase that really gets me, though, is this one: “she deliberated for just 15 minutes before making a decision that, in the President’s words, ‘saved baseball.'” 15 minutes and she saved baseball? How could you not confirm this person?
Now, I understand that it’s important to step back and review her entire body of work. We don’t need a stealth Clarence Thomas or Alito clone on the bench. And the fact that she’s a Yankee fan is particularly worrisome. But knowing that she might have saved baseball? That’s clutch. That’s Kirk Gibson in the ’88 World Series, that’s what that is.
Now, if Obama can pull this one off and then somehow manage to get the NCAA to replace the BCS with a playoff, I think we might have to start channelling Stephen Colbert and asking, “Obama: great president or the greatest?”
-Photo from NY Times