Bull Durham

After sitting in the stands for a doubleheader between the Pirates and the Nationals, one becomes keenly aware that the only thing that works in DC is professional baseball.

Everything pretty much to the west of the functionally unimpressive Nationals stadium can be summed up by the scene in Bull Durham where veteran minor leaguer Crash Davis coaches his coach to scare the underperforming Durham Bulls.

The coach takes an arm full of bats and throws them into the shower/locker room and reels off this little gem to the scared young ballplayers.

“You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? (quick snap turn to assistant coach Larry) Larry!”

Larry “Lollgaggers”

Coach (disgustedly) “Lollygaggers”

Baseball is a game in which the rules and the field are close to perfection. During a doubleheader, one is treated to many routine ground balls, fly outs and close to 600 pitches. After awhile one comes to the inescapable conclusion that the people who laid out the field, made up the rules, the equipment and the stadiums did so with the game in mind. The product. Over the decades and generations, fads and trends come and go but the game lives on because it is bigger than the players, owners or, yes, even the fans.

Granted someone has to play and watch the game and it has become a very large business, but baseball simply works. Just watch how close so many routine infield ground outs are. How close strikes and balls really are. How much a fastball moves.

So when steroids or a designated hitter or aluminum bats are inserted into the game, the game changes. Dramatically. Headquarters thinks that the designated hitter rule’s only true value to the game is its demonstration of its devaluing of the game. Translated – it shows that it is unnecessary and actually weakens the game. Think Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan would throw that hard on the inside part of the plate if they had to stand in the batter’s box in the next inning? Ryan probably would – he was just that mean.

Your reality changes when you have to stand in the box and be two feet from where a 95 mph fastball is about to be thrown with tremendous precision.

So when a team plays with the “joy and verve” (Annie Savoy quote about the Durham Bulls) that the Pittsburgh Pirates have, the world is better. The Pirates have not had a winning season in 18 years. Yes, in a row. For me, that’s B.C. Before Children.

Now, everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – in baseball knows that in order to WIN in baseball you need two things. Just two. Say it with me….pitching and….right, defense.

Every playoff season, the television and radio audience is treated to the former players who call the games and say “you know, it’s going to come down to pitching and defense.” For some reason it’s never “defense and pitching”, they always say the word pitching first and then say defense. Pitching and defense. Pitching and defense. Peanut butter and jelly. Bacon and eggs. Speeding and ticket. Drunk and stupid. No secrets here.

Government and….3…2….1…..spending.

In August, the federal government will have $300 billion in bills it has said it would pay. The problem is revenue is only expected to be about $170 billion. Ooops.

Now, the people who spend their days actually trying to get elected to solve the nation’s problems and/or prevent them in the first place have not balanced a budget but 12 times since 1940. No one player or team is at fault here – which is the genius of that game.

The Senate has not passed a budget in over 800 days but apparently the guy who chairs the committee whose sole job is to pass a budget for the federal government to operate thinks, okay…okay, believes that the people in America who actually pay federal income taxes need to pay $2,000,000,000,000.00 more. Annually. We need to pay more every year according to the people who are afraid to pass a budget for the last two years.

Lollygaggers.

Let’s see, we are short $130,000,000,000.00 next month, right? Okay. So it’s decision time. The President said to those of us who already eat our peas that we need to “eat your peas.” We eat right, exercise, pay our taxes, employ people, drive not more than 10 miles over the posted limit and get tipsy when the Pirates, Steelers or Penguins win but in the comfort of our homes in which we are paying our mortgage.

Yes, we eat our peas. The problem for the Lollygaggers is that come August they have to decide between paying the mortgage and making the people who voted for them eat peas. Had we not gone so disastrously into debt to pay for government operations, we would not have to decide between paying the bank and funding basic operations.

A balanced budget requirement would solve this problem. Like pitching and defense in baseball, taking in more than you spend in government works.

But like Nuke Laloosh, the gifted rookie pitcher Crash Davis is training for the Show, the lollygaggers like striking out their opponents. Older, wiser Crash teaches him to pitch ground balls. Why? Strikeouts are fascist and ground outs? They’re more democratic.
The Pirates ERA has dropped considerably because their pitching coach is having them pitch to contact which creates more ground balls and fly outs. Now, they are winning.
Democracy, like baseball, is a beautiful organism when the basic rules are applied.

The problem in DC is that the basic rules are ignored, thrown out or amended into a state of complexity that demands stasis for mere survival. In baseball, it’s called lollygagging.

It’s time to get back to basics. Pitching and Defense. Spend less. Pay off debt. Diet and exercise. No more continuing resolutions. Pass a budget. Stop policing every corner of the world. Incentivize manufacturing. Wealth creation is good. Greed is bad. Greek yogurt good. Greek fiscal model bad.

He chose universal health care in a massive recession. They said “wrong choice”

They said “listen” and he said, “yeah, to me….eat your peas.”

And they said “Next”.

Larry?

Lollygagger.

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Chris Saxman

About Chris Saxman

Father of four, small business leader, retired politician, and Executive Committee member and former Chairman of an international trade association, Chris Saxman delivers strategy and insight as a political coach and keynote speaker. Contact Chris.

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