Is baseball an inherently conservative sport?


The Daily Caller spoke with a bunch of conservative writers who identify themselves as serious baseball fans and asked them “what draws the conservative mind to the sport.”

Among the responders were Fred Schwarz, Daniel Foster and Rich Lowry of National review, Charles Krauthammer and they threw in some older quotes from George Will for spice. The upshot: baseball is slow, it doesn’t change much and, according to Schwarz anyway, “it has
more of a laws-and-not-men vibe, in the sense that penalties or fouls
or violations called by officials play a much smaller role in baseball
than they do in football, basketball, or hockey.”

Not sure I buy that last one inasmuch as every single pitch in baseball entails a judgment call that is subjective in practice, even if it isn’t in theory.  But yeah, I’ve heard all of these things before as I’m sure some of the rest of you have too.

Here’s my thing on baseball and politics: it’s an almost total escape from that stuff.  Sure, there are some political considerations that go into how you feel about labor issues, finances and maybe even PEDs, but as far as the game itself is concerned, politics is almost wholly irrelevant, at least compared to almost any other walk of life.

It’s anecdotal, but here’s an example: While I greatly exaggerate my flamin’ pink liberalness for comedic effect at times, I’m definitely a lefty on most issues. It’s just how I roll. The Baseball Crank, Dan McLaughlin, is about the staunchest conservative who has ever crossed my path in the baseball world. We both get political on Twitter from time to time (he has a far more professional interest in it than I do, however) and I dare say we disagree about 95% of the time when it comes to politics and policy and stuff. Add this to the mix: he’s a Mets fan.

But he’s a baseball fan and I’m a baseball fan. He’s also a baseball analyst whose analysis I agree with approximately 95% of the time. I’ve never met him in person, but I am certain that if he and I went to a ballgame together we’d have a hell of a time. At least if we made a rule not to talk about mosque location theory, tax policy, gay marriage and stuff like that.

Which is to say that I don’t think baseball lends itself to the conservative disposition or the liberal disposition any more so than it does the other. To the extent anyone thinks it does, they’re likely the kind of person who strains to see the political in everything, and those people are freakin’ nuts to begin with.

Like the man said: “it’s our game. The American, Asian and increasingly European game.”  Well, he didn’t say that, actually, but he would today because, while partisans of every stripe like to claim that they’re truly speaking for the masses, baseball is the biggest damn tent there is.

Video: Javier Baez hits go-ahead three-run bomb in NLDS Game 4

Javier Baez
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Cardinals starter John Lackey had a clean first inning in Game 4 of the NLDS on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but Anthony Rizzo opened the bottom of the second a shift-beating single to the left side of the infield and then Starlin Castro reached on a fielder’s choice grounder to short. Kyle Schwarber came through with a single and Jason Hammel followed a Miguel Montero strikeout with a two-out, run-scoring liner up the middle.

Enter young shortstop prospect Javier Baez, who’s filling in for the injured Addison Russell in Game 4 as the Cubs try to advance to the NLCS …

Opposite field. Wind-aided, sure, but it probably didn’t need the wind anyway. What a shot.

Chicago leads the visiting Cardinals 4-2 as the sixth inning gets underway at Wrigley.

Juan Uribe not close to being available for the Mets

Juan Uribe
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Mets infielder Juan Uribe has been sidelined since late September with a chest injury and it sounds like he won’t be available for the NLCS if New York advances.

Mets manager Terry Collins told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York that Uribe has yet to resume baseball activities and continues to experience discomfort.

Uribe was a useful late-July pickup for the Mets and hit .253 with 14 homers and a .737 OPS in 119 total games for three different teams this season, but his postseason role would be pretty limited even if he were healthy.

Rob Manfred wants a new, unnecessary rule to protect middle infielders


Commissioner Rob Manfred is at the Cards-Cubs game this afternoon and the sporting press just spoke with him about the fallout from the Chase Utley/Ruben Tejada play from the other night. Not surprising.

Also not surprising? Manfred’s desire to implement a new rule in an effort to prevent such a play from happening again. Or, at the very least, to allow for clear-cut punishment for someone who breaks it:

Which is ridiculous, as we already have Rule 6.05(m) on the books. That rule — which is as clear as Crystal Pepsi — says a baserunner is out when . . .

(m)A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play:

Rule 6.05(m) Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.

That rule totally and completely covers the Utley-Tejada situation. The umpires were wrong for not enforcing it both then and in the past, but that’s the rule, just as good as any other rule in that book and in no way in need of replacement.

Why not just enforce that rule? What rule would “better protect” infielders than that one? What would do so in a more straightforward a manner? What could baseball possibly add to it which would make plays at second base less confusing rather than more so?

I suspect what Manfred is interested in here is some means to change this from a judgment call to a clear-cut rule. It was that impulse that led to the implementation of clocks for pitchers and batters and innings breaks rather than giving umpires the discretion to enforce existing pace-of-play rules. It was that impulse which led to a tripartite (or is it quadpartite?) means of determining whether a catcher impermissibly blocks the plate or a runner barrels him over rather than simply enforce existing base-blocking rules.

But taking rules out of the subjective realm and into the objective is difficult or downright impossible in many cases, both in law and in baseball. It’s almost totally impossible when intent is an element of the thing, as it is here. It’s likewise the case that, were there a clear and easy bright line to be established in service of a judgment-free rule on this matter, someone may have stumbled upon it once in the past, oh, 150 years. And maybe even tried to implement it. They haven’t, of course. Probably because there was no need, what with Rule 6.05(m) sitting up there all nice and tidy and an army of judgment-armed umpires standing ready to enforce it should they be asked to.

Unfortunately, Major League Baseball has decided that eschewing set rules in favor of new ones is better. Rules about the time batters and pitchers should take. Rules about blocking bases. Rules about how long someone should be suspended for a first time drug offense. Late Selig and Manfred-era Major League Baseball has decided, it seems, that anything 150 years of baseball can do, it can do better. Or at least newer and without the input of people in the judgment-passing business like umpires and arbitrators and the like.

Why can’t baseball send a memo to the umpires and the players over the winter saying the following:

Listen up:

That rule about running into fielders that you all have already agreed to abide by in your respective Collective Bargaining Agreements? We’re serious about it now and WILL be enforcing it. If you break it, players, you’re going to be in trouble. If you refuse to enforce it, umpires, you’re going to be in trouble. Understood? Good.


Bobby M.

If players complain, they complain. They don’t have a say about established rules. If, on the other hand, your process of making new rules is easier than your process of simply enforcing rules you already have, your system is messed up and we should be having a whole other conversation.