More baseball analogies from Capitol Hill.

Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
Nov. 9 2005 4:31 PM

Out to the Ballgame

More baseball analogies from Capitol Hill.

John Roberts, Sept. 12, 2005, opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee: "Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. … I will remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat."

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, Oct. 28, 2005, press conference to announce the indictment of Scooter Libby: "I know baseball analogies are the fad these days. Let me try something. If you saw … a pitcher wind up and throw a fastball and hit a batter right smack in the head ... you'd want to know why the pitcher did that. ... And then you'd make a decision as to whether this person should be banned from baseball, whether they should be suspended, whether you should do nothing at all and just say, Hey, the person threw a bad pitch."

The New York Times, Nov. 2, 2005: "[The trial] revealed what many say were the hallmarks of [then-U.S. Attorney Samuel Alito's] stewardship of the office: modesty, a straightforward style, common sense and, in baseball jargon, good pitch selection."


Harriet Miers: "Dear Mr. President: It's very disappointing how my nomination turned out, but I think in some ways it's kind of like in baseball. It takes a really, really great manager to know when it's time to take a struggling pitcher out the game and replace him (or her!) with a righty from the bullpen. And also when the time is right not to, even if she's getting hit hard enough to be booed by both teams' fans. Whatever gives our team the best chance to win is 'cool' with me!!! Fondly, Harriet"

Scott McClellan: "You're asking about the Democrats threatening to filibuster Judge Alito's appointment? Let me put it this way: bases loaded, two outs, and Judge Alito's standing at home plate with a bat in his hands. Waiting for a pitch. Every American deserves a chance to swing for the fences. But Sen. Leahy wants to keep on throwing over to first, checking the runner. The Democrats know that runner's not going anywhere with second base occupied! We have the liberal senator from Massachusetts, bench jockeying ad infinitum from the dugout. Senator Reid strolls out to the mound, brings all the infielders in for a conference. What kind of strategy is this? Intentionally walk the judge or bring the heat! You don't have to be John Roberts to know that's what Abner Doubleday intended."

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.): "What the Bush administration is effectively trying pull here is a radical infield shift. Think about it: They want to replace the moderate Justice O'Connor—a center fielder, if you will—with yet another man on the right side of the field. So to speak. But what if someone bunts or pulls the ball down the third base line? Is Justice Stevens to be expected to cover shortstop, third base, and left field, all at the same time? At 85 years of age?"

President George W. Bush: "Now, why are we still in Iraq? Let me, uh, let me see if I can explain this using baseball, uh, terms. You see, there's no timetable in baseball. You don't just pick up your bat and ball and go home after a few hours just because you want to, even if you're winning by 10 runs or something. Because it might just be the third inning. Or the ninth. I mean, I think we're much closer to the ninth than the third, probably. But you can't just call it a game because you've set up some arbitrary timetable. I know there are a lot of fair-weather fans out there who leave in the seventh inning, or when their team is losing, or has a big lead. But most Americans know how important it is to stay through to the end. Because the game has to be over before it's over—you know, when the fat lady sings. And that means nine innings. Unless there's bad weather, in which case it's only five."

Jeff Alexander is on the editorial staff of the New York Review of Books.

Matthew McGough is a screenwriter and the author of Bat Boy: Coming of Age with the New York Yankees.  His Web site is



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