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?

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.