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Friday, 30 May 2008
A Baseball Analogy

For all those who follow baseball with a passion, the current political drama of the 2008 Presidential Electoral campaign offers numerous and obvious points of coincidence. The one that comes most to mind is that of the brilliant “rookie” switch-hitter, Barack H. Obama whose eloquence, demeanor, and campaign achievements in more than two dozen primaries has made him a veritable slugger of Babe Ruth dimensions.  

Yet as the season has lagged on and is about to enter the doldrums of June and July, it is clear that the rookie has not simply fallen into slump but has begun to hit an astounding number of ground balls that have been fielded and converted into classic double-plays by that outstanding team in the field rivaling that great trio from the old World Champion Chicago Cubs team of 1902-1910, Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance.

Newspaper columnist and Chicago native, Franklin Pierce Adams(1881-1960) who frequently wrote for the New York evening Mail and New York Tribune under the pen-name FPA, and was perhaps best known for his newspaper column, "The Conning Tower," and appearances on the radio show Information Please expressed the dismay of many New York fans who were forced to acknowledge the powerful Chicago Cub infield trio with his poem Baseball’s Sad Lexicon….. ..


These are the saddest of possible words:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double --
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."

For the past two months however, Obama has been mired in a terrible slump marked not so much by strike-outs as by his increasing propensity to hit into double plays fielded by his former teammates, the peerless fielding stars of the D.P. art,  “Pfegler-to-Farrakhan-to-Wright. Whenever he has managed to smash a line drive, it has been caught by roving outfielder and ex-All Star team mate, Bill Ayres (Champion pinch hit batter of the Viet-Nam League).   

Baseball is full of such stories of ex-teammates who haunt a former star player that was traded to another team or left of his own free will to follow his quest for stardom and a much bigger salary. The old teammates frequently tell stories of how the great star was once a “regular guy” who shared with them with the same enthusiasm and gusto all the same familiar pleasures of wild nights on the town, fast women, chewing tobacco and the slick tricks of the trade that could turn a hit into an extra base with the proper use of your spikes flying into the face of the second baseman or the use of an illegal extra weighted bat.

 Now that the old hometown team-mate is an “allstar” and shadowed by the press and t.v., he has had to tread the straight and narrow path, pretending that, while his old gang may occasionally resort to such illicit and morally reprehensible tricks, he must reject all such ploys because, as a role model for American youth, he has to be above all such deception and suspicions. It hurts of course to disappoint the home town fans who still delight in the use of the spitball, hidden balks, dangerous baserunning, the weighted bats, and the disruptive behavior of the fans themselves to unnerve the opposition, but everyone knows today that these techniques no longer work before a huge crowd and  nationally televised game. If the baseball analogy holds true going into the World Series, we are likely to witness a repetition of Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s poem, “Casey at the Bat” , The San Francisco Examiner - June 3, 1888. (Substitute Obama for Casey)

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.


From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted some one on the stand;
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.


With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said "Strike two!"

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!"
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.


The sneer has fled from Casey's lip, the teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.

Posted on 05/30/2008 9:56 AM by Norman Berdichevsky
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