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Why political bloggers should stick to politics

Apr 6, 2011, 5:30 PM EDT


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?

  1. Kevin S. - Apr 6, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    Craig, that’s more or less libertarianism. If “putting the screws to big business” means stuff like “making GE pay taxes,” it’s not being a pinko commie, no matter how much the right says it does.

    • Ari Collins - Apr 6, 2011 at 6:07 PM

      And now we’re discussing politics, which is probably NOT what Craig wanted, but the putting the screws to big business is the opposite of libertarianism. The rest of it is fairly libertarian, but economic regulation of any kind is generally out.

      • Ari Collins - Apr 6, 2011 at 6:12 PM

        Generally speaking, in America, libertarianism believes in no regulation of the economy and no regulation of our personal lives, conservatism believes in no regulation of the economy but regulation of our personal lives, liberalism believes in regulation of the economy but no regulation of our personal lives, and… is there anyone who believes in total government control of the economy and our personal lives? Big Brother, maybe?

      • Kevin S. - Apr 6, 2011 at 6:17 PM

        Again, depends on how you mean “putting the screws to big business.” Heavy regulation wouldn’t be libertarianism, but a broader tax base with limited, if any, exceptions would be, and that would hit big business pretty hard.

      • eurobrat - Apr 6, 2011 at 10:53 PM

        The one place where I’ve met people who believe in both the regulation of economy and personal lives is in my home country of Poland–conservative Catholics who also believe in a socialist-style society. It’s not as common in America, but in other countries there is often a strong connection between the belief in a traditional religion and a powerful government.

      • Ari Collins - Apr 6, 2011 at 11:52 PM

        Thanks for that info, eurobrat. It’s always been really interesting to me how different European politics are than American. Those two spectra of economic and social regulation give you a grid with four squares, and it’s nice to know that SOMEONE is in that fourth square.

        And Kevin, you make an excellent point on the libertarianismness (WARNING: DO NOT TRY THIS WORD AT HOME, SINCE IT DOES NOT ACTUALLY EXIST) of taxes vs. regulation, and it’s very possible that’s what Craig meant, but, in my admittedly limited experience, libertarians tend to ultimately want such a small government that they wouldn’t be taxing businesses much (if at all) anyway.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 7, 2011 at 7:44 AM

        Yeah, I’ve myself found that distinction between what I consider libertarianism and what people who call themselves libertarians believe. Of course, now we have the Tea Party re-packaging conservatism as libertarianism, even though they’re all about meddling in people’s personal lives, so I feel like I can’t just use the label and expect people to understand what I mean anymore.

  2. spudchukar - Apr 6, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Batsh** Crazy isn’t hyperbolic enough for this lunacy. Plus it reeks of managerial interference, when what fans want is the game to be decided on the field. I don’t even want to hear the rationale for eliminating an inning/innings. For some time now the Atlantic Mag has continually disappointed me, and this icing on the cake. Give me Harper’s and pie.

    • paperlions - Apr 6, 2011 at 6:11 PM

      TLR disagrees strongly that fans want the game to be decided on the field…he KNOWS that they want to be wowed by his masterful moves and decisions that snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

      • spudchukar - Apr 6, 2011 at 11:33 PM

        Another myth espoused.

  3. jkcalhoun - Apr 6, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Don’t let Bud read that. 2012 isn’t here yet.

  4. cur68 - Apr 6, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    What about we just put the players on the clock or something if all they want is to speed things up? Like you got 15 seconds to throw the next pitch, be back in the batter’s box, have a chat on the mound etc. That way the players decide the game but they gotta move a bit quicker when it comes to adjusting themselves (for which they should be fined; your groin is YOUR problem Mr. Petit, so please let go of it while the camera is on you) and deciding on what happens next. Works for football and basketball, don’t it?

  5. Jonny 5 - Apr 6, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    Oh my. Borrow an out from a later inning? Spoken like a true politician. Is your Blogger friend running for office? Lol. Mutt? Mutts are ALWAYS the smarter dog. Take pride in it.

  6. conorfriedersdorf - Apr 6, 2011 at 11:40 PM


    Thanks for the post. You’re probably right that my baseball idea is ultimately a bad one – basketball and tennis are really the only sport I follow enough to discuss them with any level of confidence.

    But however poor my specific suggestions are for rule changes, I’d hoped at least some of the responses to my piece would be about the general mechanism I suggest for making rule changes generally. In any case, I appreciate the kind words and the link.

  7. ta192 - Apr 7, 2011 at 1:37 AM

    Fascinating proposal, but one that is too destructive of one of the game’s very basic elements to be considered seriously. But I did come up with a strange idea to liven the game up some…
    My Brother and I were discussing the NEW aluminum bats, and we both came up with the same idea; replace the DH (restore P batting in the AL) and allow the pitcher to use the OLD style aluminum bat during their turn at the plate (both leagues). Keep the whacko ideas coming…

  8. kolfax - Apr 7, 2011 at 2:49 AM

    The thought of politicians or political bloggers interjecting their thoughts on changing the rules of any sport is revolting.

    If politicians or political bloggers were allowed to set the rules in baseball: Teams would be allowed to accuse, debate, bicker and stall to no end. Do overs would be allowed, so players could do what they intended, not what they did. The game would be subject to a 60/40, member’s only, approval to pass and ratify each game as a good game.

    How long would it take for a baseball season umpired by politicians to be completed? Anyone’s guess, but my gut feeling is that the season certainly would not be finished in under six years.

    The results of politicians social engineering in baseball: Dilbert’s world. Recommendation for politicos: Do nothing, but buy a good seat, stay sports irrelavent and for the love of baseball, enjoy the game.

    I kept this short because, as we all have been told, our collective attention span isn’t what once was and thankfully, should it ever be again.

  9. kellyb9 - Apr 7, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    Baseball is more popular than ever. My biggest issue with football is that they keep “amending” the rules. Don’t change a thing.

  10. umrguy42 - Apr 7, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    Craig, I think if you also favor a strong national defense, then you can classify yourself as a “Dennis Miller liberal” :p

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