August 1, 2005

Caught Stealing

Baseball players and politicians have more in common than giant heads.

Aaron Zamost

Washington insiders are constantly looking to baseball for help with their talking points. Bush's nomination of John Roberts is a "home run." John Kerry "struck out" in the second presidential debate. Now that the Nationals have taken up residence in Washington, you can expect sports imagery in politics to take third from first on a bloop single to right. It's dangerous territory for politicians, who are often so removed from everyday life that their attempts to appear sports-relevant frequently bust—see previous political references to Green Bay's "Lambert" Field (John Kerry, 2004), the "Brooklyn Dodgers" (Bob Dole, 1996), and "Mike McGwire and Sammy Sooser" (Ted Kennedy, 1998).

But a baseball player is just as likely to put his cleats in his mouth as a politician. So, just as politicians should stop pretending to understand baseball (except maybe for W, who after owning the Rangers for five years actually—and I'm being serious here—sounds like he knows what he's talking about), baseball players should stop pretending to understand politics, even when they're testifying before a House Subcommittee. Gelf has compiled evidence that baseball players are stealing from the political playbook; here are three of our favorite batting stances:

Rafael Palmeiro
"I have never..."
The Revisionist Historian: The speaker takes out a word, or alters a definition, and pretends that nothing's changed.


Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary

I speak for the President... If someone in this administration leaked classified information, they will no longer be a part of this administration—Oct 7, 2003

George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States

If somebody committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration—July 18, 2005


Rafael Palmeiro, First Baseman, Baltimore Orioles

I have never used steroids. Period—March 17, 2005

I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period—Aug 1, 2005
Bill Clinton
"...Never. Ever. Period."
The Flip-Flopper: The speaker changes positions completely, to adopt the opposite of his initial remarks. The flip-flopper is frequently followed by the requisite "but I'm really sorry about it."


Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States

I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky—Jan. 26, 1998
Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate—Aug. 17, 1998


Pete Rose, Second Baseman, Cincinnati Reds

I've been saying for 10 years that I didn't bet on baseball. Why am I going to change my mind now?—Nov 30, 1999
I did bet on baseball—Jan 6, 2004

The Circumscriber:
The speaker may or may not have retracted his prior statement, even though everyone thinks he has.


Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States

We did not—repeat, did not—trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we— Nov 13, 1986
A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions tell me that's true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not— March 4, 1987


Mark McGwire, First Baseman, Saint Louis Cardinals

[On steroid use.] Never—March 23, 1998
If a player answers no, he simply will not be believed. If he says yes, he faces public scorn and endless government investigations—March 17, 2005

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Article by Aaron Zamost

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