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Teach Your Children Well

June 27, 2015

“It’s a father’s duty to give his sons a fine chance.”

– George Eliot, from Middlemarch

It’s been a busy week for news.

We started the week on the heels of hatred, terror and death in Charleston reminiscent of the Colonial South. No sooner than the unspeakable crime happened, people were talking past one another on race relations and the Second Amendment. And then there was the Confederate flag. Nobody who fought in America’s Civil War has been alive since the 1950s, but somehow, people still cling on to the South’s symbol and express strong feelings about its importance to South Carolina’s future.


Civil War veterans greet each other at an event held fifty years after the end of the war. (Public domain photo)

Barack Obama once again spurred the rage of gun rights advocates when he spoke about the role of guns in our society and the political difficulties in trying to find a new way to reduce violence. Yesterday, out of step with his inner-Muslim, he sang “Amazing Grace” with Christians remembering their loved ones slaughtered in their church by a kid with a gun.

This week’s Supreme Court rulings were also at the top of the news. Thursday, they finished their part in the nationwide debate over Congress’ proof-reading mistakes. The Republicans have committed themselves to re-engage the fight over the future of healthcare, while President Obama declared that the ACA is here to stay. SCOTUS issued another blockbuster on Friday, when they ruled that all states must allow same-sex couples to marry and that they must also recognize same-sex marriages from other states.


I enjoy reading Hippie Cahier’s blog posts. Check it out – you may too. This photo is from her blog post that celebrated the talk about removing the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s capitol grounds and raises a toast to her friends’ new legal rights to marriage.

Since I don’t watch the cable news stations, I can only imagine how awful their endless loops of exaggeration and manipulation are these days.

In the much smaller world of baseball, there was a lot of internet buzz buzz about two catches. One in Chicago and the other in Toronto.

I first heard about the catch in Chicago on one of my evening commutes while listening to the Oakland A’s game. There was something about a fan catching a foul ball while holding his baby in his arm. That sounded like fun. Then, I started hearing about it from people and seeing internet headlines. Finally, after JG sent me a link with his thought that it belonged here on Ram On, I took a look for myself. In case you have not seen it, here it is.

The guy who caught this ball was celebrated all around the internet. He was a star. Here’s what he gets on Ram On:

Cubs fan report card

Believers in restorative justice might say everything turned out okay. Wrigley Field’s security guys paid him a visit and talked to him about fan interference rules, but left him alone after that. Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodgers fielder who was trying to catch the ball when this guy made his move said that he was pleased the fan wasn’t thrown out of the game. And it’s no surprise that the Cubs defended their fan. Lastly, the fan, proud of himself and pleased with his catch, nonetheless realized that they could have booted him for his deed. He said that he was relieved that they didn’t, as certainly that would have ruined his big day. So, all the direct parties seem to be happy with the resolution.

I wonder how the SCOTUS would rule on this. As we have learned before, it’s not easy to predict. And without the benefit of oral arguments, who really say? I won’t let that stop me.


There you have it. In a 9-0 consensus, the highest court in the land would call the batter out. It’s a simple read from MLB rule 3.16 and everyone, including MLB themselves, got that right. And in a 5-4 split, the Supremes would have required Wrigley Field’s security folks escort the fan back out to Clark and Addison Streets. “It’s just deserts,” they might explain to the young father and the child he’s charged with teaching.

I think the fan’s interference was a case of “cuteness wins.” A young father made an amazing catch with baby in his arm and wife at his side. Just how grouchy can one be to not see the fun in this? What are the consequences for the fan’s decision to prevent the Dodgers’ player from catching a baseball and why do they matter? Well, of course there’s nothing here. It’s just baseball, after all.

But as long as we have the game, let’s follow the rules and have some constraint. The fact is, that’s not really MLB’s way. More and more, MLB encourages fans’ participation. They’ve created an environment where these are the types of things that make the “fan’s experience.” They work overtime to keep our wallets open. They have all sorts of ideas, from sending people in costumes to run around the field in between innings, to goading fans to kiss one another while the camera puts their images on the big screen in center field, to encouraging them to stuff the ballot box with their votes for the meaningless All-Star game. Leniency was built in to this matter’s conclusion. The Cubs fan is just a guy who failed his chance to exercise self-constraint and follow the rules, but MLB gets the overall failing grade.

Here’s the catch in Toronto. Now, this is my kind of catch.


  1. It’s definitely been quite the week for news. Such big decisions from SCOTUS. Ended the week on a positive note. Well, perhaps everyone doesn’t feel happy with the decisions, but I’m pretty pleased. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an amazing week! Love did indeed win, and I do admit that when I heard the rulings, my jaw dropped both times. SCOTUS, way to surprise me in a really good way!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. When I first saw the 6-3 ruling, I thought I was reading someone’s prediction or pro forma. I had to re-read the introduction paragraph to make sure I wasn’t getting it wrong.


    • I think that when Roberts saw there were five votes in favor of upholding ACA, he decided to stick with the majority so he could write the decision. It’s not unheard of for justices to do that, particularly Chief Justices who want to preserve the reputation of what they see as their court. Unfortunately, he didn’t come to the same conclusion about the same sex marriage case. The stunning thing to me is in the read of the dissents — how fundamentally they misunderstand the role and nature of the Supreme Court and how ignorant they are of the hypocrisy they demonstrated in their dissents. To read Scalia’s dissent is to question why he serves on a body he so clearly loathes.


      • Yes, Scalia seems to hand-cuff himself and the rest of the court.

        As for Roberts with ACA, I’d like to think he’s thought through the case on its merits. It’s possible that I’ve misread that, of course. The notion of his concern for his court’s legacy and relevancy seems to be a common thought.


  4. Bruce,
    I received your package last week. Thank you for the cards, I really appreciate that.


  5. For years, Andrew Sullivan has been writing an argument that Obama has very quietly, very subtly put together an impressive run as President when confronted with the opposition party he has had to deal with. I can no longer list all of the accomplishments he achieved, but the reality is that he has achieved far more than Americans really understand. From the end of the war in Iraq (which, sadly, seems to be coming back to life) and the war in Afghanistan, to ACA, and the legalization of same sex marriage, to presiding over a slow and steady economic re-birth after the Great Recession. Yes, he has not been perfect. To me, one of the biggest issues has been his refusal to hold the financial industry truly accountable for the harm caused by their actions. And the other is that he has, at times, been too soft, too weak, too unwilling to lead from the front. But Andrew Sullivan has written beautifully about how this fits into Obama’s view of the long game. Success in today’s world takes time and Obama has always kept his eyes on the long-term prize rather than looking for short-term victories. I think it is that approach that has so befuddled his enemies and his critics, and many of his supporters. We no longer live in a country where the long-term is what matters. We need instant gratification. In some respects, the positive events of this week point to the wisdom of Obama’s long game. Barring a catastrophe in the next two years, historians will look back and marvel at these eight years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t read Sullivan anymore. No particular reason, other than he fell off my routine. I’ve seen others make the same argument, however.There are indicators to support the conclusion.

      We can see how Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Robert Dole, Nelson Rockefeller, Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and G. H. W. Bush would also be stymied by legislators from the past ten to fifteen years. I suppose it’s not reasonable to expect more from Obama. (Still, there have been so many disappointments along the way.) I don’t know that we can expect much more from the next president, no matter which party or candidate is elected. This is a grim view, I know. However, I just don’t see that the current cast of R’s in the House or Senate will change their approach.


  6. Forgot to add … regarding the guy catching the foul while feeding the baby … I completely agree with your grades and am disgusted that this guy is somehow being celebrated.


    • Watch the game and enjoy the company of your family, friends and other fans in the stands. Let the guys in the uniforms catch the ball.


  7. Maybe a baseball analogy is appropriate here, Bruce. The game isn’t over until the last ball is thrown, right. The bottom of the ninth can be a game changer, and certainly Obama has proven that. The opposition has broken every rule and refuses to play fair, and yet— SCOTUS is winning the game. May he continue to do so. —Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As long as that “win” doesn’t mean that TPP passes.


  9. Pretty darn fine…


  10. kdk permalink

    Nice to see that SCOTUS got it right (er, left) with their decisions.

    I like your Report Card — seems like a handy device for appraising almost any manner of bold but questionable behavior, like others’ goofy driving or the performances of candidates once the Presidential debates come around. And save for “soft catching hand”, seems like the same categories might work across other topic areas pretty well. Perhaps we’ll see the Report Card again?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello kdk – The Ram On Report Card. Now that’s an idea. This fellow at Wrigley Field was just begging for it. It was the kindest way I could think of to remind that letting the players complete their plays is the right thing to do and a rule. Thanks for checking in.


  11. Ah, I smiled during this post, despite the fact that there are some heavy-hitting issues in here. I most liked your report card. Like you, I’d shout, “Yer OUT!”


  12. Hi Bruce, What an incredible week it was!
    The Supremes got it right and I could not have been happier. Like you, I avoid the cable news, but Jon Stewart revealed some of the ridiculous comments heard there.
    Hope you are well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Laurie,

      Always good to hear from you. I hope all is well with you (and your campaign).

      All good out here.

      (Jon Stewart seems to boil things down to the essence.)

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I can’t help but wonder if your title of your post is inspired by the Crosby, Stills and Nash song. Is it? I hope they put away the Confederate Flag forever. I understand there was a ceremony for removing it. I don’t quite understand that, but I’m just happy it’s down now.


  14. What a week it was. The biggest one for me was the legalization of same-sex marriages. As the parent of a transgender teen who has only ever dated girls (same sex) or been interested in girls since the 5th grade, I didn’t realize how deeply it would touch me to hear that decision. Now my Tara can marry whomever they want, if a lifetime commitment is the plan one day. It feels good. One less thing to be distressed about.


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