From Out of the Past

Published: October 15, 2012

By Jim Lichtman
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October is my time of the year for one reason – baseball playoffs followed by the World Series. The critical difference between baseball and politics: baseball is played according to specific rules, and when violations occur they usually get called on it. It’s also a game based on merit. Politics – well, you get the idea.

In honor of America’s past time, this week’s commentaries will consist of the best of baseball-related stories from the past. Adding some additional color, all quotes this week will come from my favorite philosopher “Yogi” Berra. First up, from November 2009, “The Answer to the Health Care Debate.”

Hold on to your hats, folks, I’m getting ready to be brilliant.

I have the answer to the health care debate.  No, really!

Last Saturday, the House narrowly passed its version of health care reform.  Now, we all hold our breath as it goes to the Senate and then back to the House and… let’s skip past all the parsing and get right to the strategy.

There’s only one group of individuals capable of getting results; one group of professionals who understand what it takes to bring this thing in.  That’s right, I’m talking about the2009 World Champion New York Yankees!  What’s needed most in this debate is conviction, and with the Yankees we’ve got the best conviction money can buy.

We pay them say, $100 Million.  (Trust me, with billions on the line, it’ll be worth it!)

Okay, a few rule changes and Congress can do this: 1) No separate House and Senate bills or committees; 2) Just one joint session; and 3) Pelosi and Reid come out. (Sorry guys, this calls for calm and resolute, not cranky and pompous.  They can safely watch from the owner’s box with the Steinbrenner family.)

We bring in Joe Girardi to manage the debate.  Nine innings. Republicans, Democrats, each get three outs. We even hire Joe Buck and Tim McCarver to do the play-by-play for all the fans watching on C-SPAN.

Outside, on the steps of the Capitol, McCarver talks to right-hander, Andy Pettitte.

“Andy, you just finished wrapping up the series with the Phils.  Can you guys really turn around and pitch to Congress?”

“We made a commitment to it,” Pettitte says. “We realized we might have to come back on short rest, but we felt we’d be able to do it.  Gotta go, Timmy.  Gotta warm up.”

“Joe,” McCarver asks Girardi, “how are you going to play the Yankees in a joint-session of Congress?”

“We base our decisions on a lot of preparation,” Girardi says. “We don’t do anything where we just pull something off the wall with the intent of it working. The one thing about baseball, and in life [is that] every decision is not going to go according to plan, and you have to deal with it and you have to answer for it.

“Defensively, we’ve got Teixeira at the door, so nobody gets up and leaves. The doors will be locked.  A-Rod, of course, plays the hot-corner if any player from either party cracks wise.”

“Can you tell us who you’re going to start?” McCarver asks.

“I don’t like to give anything away, Timmy, but what the heck, we’re talking about Congress, here, not the Phillies.  We plan on starting with CC [Sabathia].  If we need to pull him in the mid-innings, I’m not afraid to go to the pen.  Joba’s [Chamberlin] ready, if I need a righty, and I’d probably use Andy, if necessary.  Of course, Mariano’s [Duncan] our closer.”

“How would you handle Representative Joe Wilson?”

“I’ve heard he can be tough, but frankly, if we can shut down Ryan Howard, I think we can take care of Joe Wilson.  We’re really out here for the fans and I think that if we can maintain focus and stick to playing our game, we can get this thing, what is it, healthcare, we can get a good healthcare bill passed this time.”

“Do you really think that Sabathia has the stuff that can handle Senators like Graham, Kerry, Feinstein, and McCain?”

“I don’t know what McCain’s average was, but CC had a 3.37 ERA this year.  He’s also six-foot-seven and weighs 290.  No, Timmy, there’s no question in my mind that our guys can execute.  But I do have one question?”

“What’s that, Joe?”

“When it’s over, do we get some kind of, you know, equivalent to a World Series ring?”

“I don’t think so, Joe.  But if you guys can bring this health care thing in for a successful vote, I think Congress should maybe think about awarding you guys a Medal of Honor.”

“What’s that like?”

“Well, it’s kind of a gold star with a blue ribbon.  You wear it around your neck.  It’s not bad.”

“Gotta go, Timmy, Billy Joel just started singing the National Anthem.”



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