Baseball is a miracle. How could Alexander Cartwright have foreseen that 90 feet is the perfect distance between the bases, that 60 feet, 6 inches is the perfect distance from the mound to the plate, and that three outs per team per inning over 9 innings is the perfect length for a game? And yet, when Mr. Cartwright, the Father of Baseball, established the rules of the modern game, he created a sport unlike any other -- a perfect blend of speed, strength, and strategy.
Watching my son's team play a doubleheader this past weekend, I reflected on the nature of baseball. The rules are the rules, and they are followed, even though there is a human element that intervenes occasionally (a moving strike zone or a bad call on the bases, for example). Successful teams ignore -- or better, overcome -- the human element and continue to play hard, within the rules, giving their maximum effort.
And the effort is a thing of beauty and grace -- nine players in the field moving as one in a coordinated response to the direct confrontation between pitcher and batter. There is always something happening, and each player must fulfill his individual responsibility while at the same time being part of a team that works together.
This is the value of team sports -- players learn teamwork and individual responsibility at the same time, while learning to play by the rules. The rules don't change in the middle of the game.
Now, if only our elected officials could learn this lesson.
Rules, though they may be unwritten, govern our society. Things like "supply and demand," "if you tax something you get less of it," and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," make a society livable and understandable. Americans are amazingly resilient, and we will adapt to changing conditions, but we cannot change the rules in the middle of the game, and we cannot apply different rules to different people.
Our governor and our president need to remember these truths. Our governor tries to attract business by giving targeted tax breaks, but does not apply that approach to the rest of the state, preferring instead to raise taxes while refusing to rein in spending. Our president will spend hundreds of billions on the financial industry with no accountability whatsoever, but forces the auto companies to jump through impossible hoops, give away ownership, and even then to file for bankruptcy protection. He runs up incredible, unprecedented budget deficits, then decides to raise taxes in the middle of a severe recession. He has decided that he knows what cars Americans "want to buy," just as our governor has decided she knows what energy sources are best for Michigan, cancelling coal-fired plant permits a year or two into the process, dooming us to outrageous energy prices.
That's the irony of what our president and our governor are doing -- they are actually applying the law of supply and demand, but artificially manipulating the supply side of the equation, as I explained previously, and as is evident from the stated purpose of the president's "cap and trade" program (to cause electricity prices to "skyrocket").
It's impossible to play by the rules when our elected officials see rules as something to be gotten around or manipulated, not something to be followed. In baseball, the strike zone varies depending on the home plate umpire. Players understand this, and they will adjust. All they ask is that the calls be consistent and fair.
Is that too much to ask from our president and our governor?