If there is one thing small government protestors such as the Tea Party Movement are right about, it’s that government gets involved in way too many things. Have you ever looked at the docket for the U.S. Congress? Most of the list is full of bills that rename post offices or are a “Resolution In Honor Of Something That Happened A Long Time Ago.”
At least those bills don’t take up that much time. Sure, legislators spend collectively about 89 hours on each one of those bills assuming that each member of Congress spent more than ten minutes on it (which makes the generous assumption that everyone in Congress showed up). But there are certain things legislators get caught up in that have virtually nothing to do with their jobs. Case in point: baseball.
While undoubtedly government does have a role to play in regulating trade—a category that for-profit sporting events certainly fall under—the U.S. government often spends an unnecessary amount of time looking into sports issues that aren’t really within their domain. Sometime it is within the government’s domain to look at sports issues, such as the recent U.S. Supreme Court antitrust case against the NFL which ruled that the NFL was not a single enterprise but a cooperation of individual franchises who have their own licensing rights.
But one only need to hear the words “Congress” and “baseball” in the same sentence to remember the hearings in 2005 over steroid use in baseball. The incredibly wasteful dog and pony show featured legislators grilling baseball players and coaches, making both sides look like demons and grinding away the last bit of the sport’s dignity to dust. Maybe it was somehow more honorable than sicking the DEA on the trainers who were distributing the drugs and the players who were using them? I still don’t understand why they wouldn’t just be sent to jail like any other drug user under the nation’s broken drug policy. Is it because they’re “heroes?”
At least the laborious Mitchell Report, which took 21 months to complete, was the work of a former U.S. Senator, George J. Mitchell. Imagine if he was on the clock for that.
And now, in light of the Detroit Tigers–Cleveland Indians game which saw Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga robbed of a perfect game due to an incorrect call by first base umpire Jim Joyce, the government has decided to get involved. Michigan governor Jennifer M. Granholm issued a statement declaring that Galarraga pitched a perfect game. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow said an exception should be made. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs noted that he hoped baseball awards Galarraga the perfect game and found the incident to be a “good lesson” for government.
So, more instant replay in subcommittee hearings? I thought that’s what the Daily Show was for. Or, you know, journalism?
As it happens, we can look beyond our borders and find even more responses from politicians. Socialist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez praised Galarraga, a Venezuelan, saying, “everyone knows he pitched a perfect game.” And in a strange, cross-border totalitarian twist to the traditionally dull baseball yarn as recollected by an old-timer, Chavez went on to talk about a game he was pitching against Fidel Castro during which the umpire awarded Castro a walk when Chavez was sure he had struck out the cigar-chomping Cuban leader.
If I were behind the plate, I’d walk Castro too. Better than having to talk to him about it. God, he’d go on forever.
Maybe the most frightening response to the Galarraga perfect game incident comes from the Major League Baseball Commissioner himself, Bug Selig. He has said he’s going to start an examination of the umpiring system, including a possible expansion of the use of instant reply and other “related features” associated with such calls.
And so one of the world’s slowest sports, in light of this call, might just get a little slower.