Baseball, Politics, and Reason

Here Comes the Curve

Here Comes the Curve

Bruce Robert Coffin here, filling in for Chris Holm who is immersed in editing his latest novel. It might seem as though I’m doing Chris a favor but in reality I have an ulterior motive. The truth is I loved Chris’s last novel, The Killing Kind, now I’m dying to read the sequel, Red Right Hand. Hurry up, Chris!

This week I’m going where nobody in their right mind would intentionally go. Join me, won’t you?

Spring training is in full swing (hit ‘em with a bad pun right out of the gate)(Hey, Dick Cass, since I no longer have NESN maybe you could invite me over to watch a game once in a while, just sayin’). I’ll be honest with you, I am a diehard Red Sox fan. Always have been, always will be. I’ll confess that I have a number of friends who are Yankee fans. Poor misguided folks. But I still love ‘em. Maybe one day they’ll come around.

The love of one’s team is a point of much discord. There’s nothing rational about it. We consider our team the best and we want to see them win. Every time. Sox fans throw around comments like: “Yankees suck” and “Bronx Bums.” Likewise, New York fans quip eloquently: “Sox Suck” and “Beantown Bums.” It gets nasty. As fans (an interesting abbreviated form of the word fanatical) of the game we often get into spirited discussions leading to putdowns and mud slinging. But, when it comes right down to it, what are we really doing? We don’t personally know any of the players. We’ve got no stake in how the game turns out. It’s not like we own these teams. No, the reality is we’re cheering for and spending our hard earned money on a bunch of out of touch grown men, strangers, who are paid millions of dollars, win or lose, to play a game. Period. We buy shirts, pennants, bumper stickers, and hats. Almost seems nonsensical. Almost.

Which brings me to my next point. Politics. The presidential race. The most watched, read about, and bandied about of all the races. The run for the highest office in the land. Leader of the free world. This is big time. The world is watching. And unlike baseball, much is at stake (sorry Red Sox Nation). Our very existence rides on the winner of the brass ring (I read it in the newspaper). Do you realize that our next president might well be charged with nominating not one but several Supreme Court justices? (But that’s a whole different topic for another day). And like baseball, everyone has an opinion. Some folks despise Hillary, some despise Trump, some aren’t quite feelin’ the Bern. I’ve heard some say that they don’t like any of the front runners, that they’d much rather have someone a bit more moderate in the White House. It’s a divisive world we live in. America has many problems. On this point I think most of us would agree.

I keep hearing people say that this country has never been more divided. That it’s getting scary. Really? I have two words for you, Civil War. Hard to imagine a country more divided than one whose citizens would take up arms against each other. And mud slinging? Nothing new here either. Thomas Paine once described George Washington thusly: A man of “grossest adulation,” a “hypocrite,” “incapable of friendship.” In 1800 President John Adams found himself running against his own Vice President, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s campaign referred to Adams as a fool, criminal, and a tyrant. While Adam’s people labeled Jefferson a weakling, atheist, libertine, and a coward. Interesting side note, both men were life long friends before the election, and again following the election… Hmm. Showmanship?

Historically, even First Ladies have gotten in on the action. Martha Washington called Jefferson “one of the most detestable of mankind.” Take that you wearer of support hose!

While all of this muckraking is nothing new to our relatively young country, it is a bit over the top. Our society does seem way too obsessed with so called “reality television.” And I’m not talking about the informative kind, I’m refering to the shows where the only entertainment value comes from watching people get beat down and belittled. The shows whose contestants are labeled the weakest link, or told that they’re fired, or that the food they’ve prepared tastes like garbage. Somehow it’s become the norm to disrespect others and get excited watching it on the tube. Given our fascination with this negative programming, is it any wonder that the front runners of both major political parties are causing many to shake their heads in wonder. If we as a society live for this negativity and mudslinging doesn’t it stand to reason that your choices for president would be representative of this. Moderates don’t rise to the top. Polarization is the name of the game folks. Stand at the far right or far left of every issue and you’ll get noticed. I guarantee it. By both sides.

Moving right along, let’s discuss reason. This may come as a shock but we don’t all get to have our way all of the time. That’s life. If we really want our nation to lead by example we must except this. Compromise is a trait that all of the greatest politicians employed. If we as Americans are no longer willing to compromise, traffic intersections deemed four-way-stops are about to become a lot more dangerous. Hey, I was here first!

And enough with the name calling. Seriously. I disagree in principal with many of my friends and relatives on a variety of issues, but guess what? They’re still my friends and relatives. We can agree to disagree. I’ll not engage in belittling or name calling over difference of opinion. This isn’t first grade. If I were to believe all of the rhetoric of social media pundits, I’d have to conclude that all Republicans, or Rethuglican’s, are wing nuts, lunatics, ideologues, and extremists out to destroy the country. Likewise, at least according to the social media experts, all Democrats, or Demoncats, are moonbats, morons, hacks, and extremists out to destroy our country. Extremist? Hey, can both parties be slandered with the same term? Folks, we may have found common ground here!

This isn’t another attempt to try and tell you what you should be for or against. There’s been far too much of that. I’m not writing this to try and sway your opinions. If you’re passionate about your beliefs, good for you. I get pretty passionate about some of my beliefs, too. All I’m asking is that we take a step back. Stop waving our fists in each other’s faces long enough to recognize that it’s okay to disagree. Our opinions are generally based upon our life experiences. Rarely are those experiences exactly the same. My position on many of today’s issues have changed as I’ve grown older (and not necessarily wiser).

Remember what I said about baseball players? Out of touch millionaires playing a game. Sound familiar?

To those of you who are happy with your party’s front runner I say congratulations and best of luck in November. To those of you who think your party can do a whole lot better I say perhaps it’s time to lead by example.

Go Sox!

About Bruce Robert Coffin

Bruce is a retired detective sergeant with more than twenty-seven years in law enforcement. At the time of his retirement, from the Portland, Maine police department, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine's largest city. Bruce also spent four years working counter-terrorism with the FBI, where he earned the Director's Award, the highest honor a non-agent can receive. He is the bestselling author of the Detective Byron Mystery Series from HarperCollins. His short stories appear in a number of anthologies including The Best American Mystery Stories 2016. Bruce lives and writes in Maine.
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15 Responses to Baseball, Politics, and Reason

  1. Kate Collier says:

    I agree. Go Sox!
    –kate (now returning to editing hell . . .)

  2. Chris Holm says:

    Thanks for stepping in, Bruce! In a way, my tight editing deadline is partially your fault. The response to THE KILLING KIND’s been so overwhelming, my publishing overlords decided the sequel I pitched should come before the standalone they originally wanted. That’s made for a busy year, but I can’t complain. It’s a damn good problem to have.

  3. David Plimpton says:

    Great food for thought, Bruce.

    From a Jungian perspective, the political phenomenon you accurately describe is a manifestation of a time-immemorial psychic condition: projection onto others of our unconscious dark side – the shadow. Many can’t face (bring into the conscious and reconcile in a constructive way) the ugly side of their nature so they project it onto others, often our opponents, victims, the disadvantaged.

    I believe you see it in many forms: baseball/sports, politics, many religious sects, homophobia, racism, ethnicity, extremism, fascism, demagoguery, Islamophobia, Zionism, I could go on.

    What the answer is I don’t know, but when you’re dealing with the unconscious side of our nature, which often connects with the symbols of our world, like flags, pennants, logos, it’s thorny territory.


    The other thing we may be seeing in the political arena is a justifiable (though inappropriately expressed) disgust with the corruption of mainstream politicians of both stripes – both Democrats and Republicans. People are not stupid, and their gut tells them something is rotten in Denmark. But it’s hard to get at or do anything about it, because of the massive power mainstream politicians have accumulated. So people grasp at straws, like some of today’s candidates. Probably a clique, but both major parties have sowed the wind and now they and the American public reap the whirlwind with demagogues and extremists taking advantage. I’ll let readers decide who those individuals are.

  4. Barb Ross says:

    I think most Americans are like the friends and family you describe–a mix of varied political beliefs who manage nonetheless to be civil to one another. The red team versus blue team stuff is fostered by the media and the fundraisers, because it provokes a quick, visceral reaction.

    Anyway, this is what I choose to believe, because otherwise I’d be losing it about now..

    But about the Yankees. No being reasonable there…

  5. A moderate! A moderate! My kingdom for a moderate! (Unfortunately, that may be the price we pay before seeing one in the White House.) *sigh*

    Ever hopeful,

  6. Go Sox, indeed. And Sea Dogs!

  7. Karen says:

    I like how you put the current state of affairs into historical perspective. (Just a side note–it did take Jefferson and Adams twelve years to reconcile. I find their relationship and that period in the history of our country fascinating!)

  8. Peter Murray says:

    Thanks for taking a cut at the screwball being thrown at America. Jefferson’s failings lie in duplicity. Adams’s in vanity. Sort of sounds familiar somehow.

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