The outcomes in sports tend to have an appealing clarity: One team wins, the Jacksonville Jaguars lose. Unless there’s a disputed play, a blown call or some history-altering scandal, the scoreboard generally determines the victors and the contest is settled once and for all.
But what if it wasn’t?
In a modest proposal addressed to Rep. Jack Kingston, a Republican representing Georgia’s 1st congressional district, self-described Atlanta Braves fan Paul J. Kaplan suggested that his team take a page out of the GOP playbook. Via Hardball Talk on NBC Sports:
"Like you, I’m sure, I am profoundly disappointed that the Atlanta Braves lost the NLDS last night. And to the Dodgers – a bunch of California liberals!”
“This outrage cannot be allowed to stand. But the system has failed us. We tried to resolve the issue through traditional means: In last night’s game alone, we must have sent batters to the plate at least 40 times. But just because we couldn’t score enough runs, the Dodgers refuse to relinquish the title – and worse, they won’t even discuss it.”
"LA's stubborn refusal to even talk to us about reversing the results of this series is un-sportsmanlike and un-American. But there is an answer: If the Dodgers won't listen to the cries of average Americans like you and me, then Congress should outlaw Major League Baseball until the Dodgers cave…. Just because the Dodgers had more hits, scored more runs, and won more games doesn't make them right. You can help them see that."
“The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart had used the sports comparison before the shutdown began. “Are you familiar with how the world works? Did you see the Giants game on Sunday?” he asked. (See the 4:37 mark here.) “Ok, they lost 31 to 7. And you know what the Giants didn’t say after that game? ‘If you don’t give us 25 more points by midnight on Monday, we will shut down the f@#$ing NFL.’ They didn’t say that. What I’m saying is, wouldn’t it be nice if the United States Congress aspired to the maturity and problem-solving capacity of football players?”
Kaplan’s letter prompted Fox Sports to seek out a response, and the congressman or his staff gamely took a swing at it:
“I agree with you that Republicans and the Braves have much in common. You could say that the Republicans ‘Bravely’ take on tough issues such as defunding Obamacare and trying to curtail runaway spending. And we don’t mind clearing the dugout for a good brawl. We also agree that Dodgers is a fitting name for the Democrats as they often ‘Dodge’ serious issues such as balancing the budget or cutting spending.”
That was as close to a hit as Kingston got. You can read his full response here or here, including his apparent suggestion that maybe the Obamacare game isn’t really over…or maybe that the president and Senate Democrats should bunt. In any case, it’s clear the congressman, who is running for Senate, is more comfortable talking Georgia Bulldogs football.
The scoreboard here reads Kaplan: 1, Kingston: 0.
But the letters, and the shutdown more broadly, serve as a reminder of a line attributed to legendary Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks: “The only way to prove that you're a good sport is to lose.”