Is baseball an inherently conservative sport?

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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.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉