Why political bloggers should stick to politics

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I read a lot of political blogs and think a lot of political thoughts. And despite the fact that I often pretend to be a flaming commie, I’m actually a fairly middle-of-the-road guy. I mean, I lean left on many things and I’m pretty far left on a lot of social issues, but I have an inherently small-c conservative disposition and I’m farther right on a lot of other things than you may imagine based on the stuff I stay around here. If there’s a label for guys who would legalize soft drugs and gay marriage and put the screws to big business and the finance industry while simultaneously relaxing or repealing many gun laws and imposing fairly severe budget austerity, I haven’t seen it. Just a political mutt I guess.

But I know this much: for all of my personal political hangups, I don’t presume to know enough about either politics or policy to write intelligently about it for general consumption. No matter how strong my feelings on, say, health care or the budget debate, I won’t lay it on you here, partially because it’s not what you expect when you come here, but mostly because I just don’t have the depth of knowledge or insight to make it worth anyone’s while.

Would that political bloggers feel the same way about sports!  Like, say, Conor Friedersdorf. Who I like an awful lot as a political blogger, but who has an absolute batsh** crazy post up over at the Atlantic about how to fix sports in light of our collectively shrinking attention span. Here’s his baseball suggestion:

Presumably I’ll never persuade purists to eliminate a whole inning. So I’ll offer my next best suggestion: allow managers one opportunity per game to borrow an out or two from a later inning. So it’s the bottom of the third. There are two outs, with men on first and third. Your batter strikes out. And you can decide to borrow an out or two in order to try and drive in those runs… but it’s going to cost you, because once the current inning ends the opposing manager gets to decide at his leisure when to charge you that out or two. Yes, this would make it harder to compare players from different eras. But let’s be honest. Steroids and changing ballparks have already robbed us of that.

I’m not sure what part of “one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ballgame” Friedersdorf doesn’t understand. But given his small-c conservative tendencies, I am rather shocked that he would actually propose with a straight face — at least I think a straight face — something so inherently radical for a sport that values tradition more than just about any institution you could name.

There’s a lot going on in politics right now, Conor. You go take care of that and just leave the sports to us, OK?

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.