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Charles Krauthammer wants the Nats to keep losing

Here's one thing I've never understood: why political columnists so rarely understand that their readers actually turn to them not for political insights, but with the hope that they might receive a few wry and precious musings about the shy pastoral beauty of a baseball game, or a evening's pennant race, or a few gently waving strands of viridian grass caught betwixt cleat and dirt, pointing this way and that, away from the tumult of the future, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

I mean, you guys should just write about sports every day! And then we could write about politics every day! And The Food folks could do nothing but write about rock bands, and the cops reporters could start providing interior design tips, and the movie reviewers could provide weekend forecasts!

I've also long felt that partisans ought enjoy the beautiful and cheery respite from the world at large offered by a never-ending succession of tragic losses to the opposition, and that there's really nothing so great as getting trounced in an election while eating some Cracker Jack. Turns out the political writers feel the same way about sports. Here's Charles Krauthammer, and his recent ode to Nationals losses:

No one's happy to lose, and the fans cheer lustily when the Nats win. But as starters blow up and base runners get picked off, there is none of the agitation, the angry, screaming, beer-spilling, red-faced ranting you get at football or basketball games.

Baseball is a slow, boring, complex, cerebral game that doesn't lend itself to histrionics. You "take in" a baseball game, something odd to say about a football or basketball game, with the clock running and the bodies flying.

And for a losing baseball team, the calm is even more profound. I've never been to a park where the people are more relaxed, tolerant and appreciative of any small, even moral, victory. Sure, you root, root, root for the home team, but if they don't win "it's a shame" -- not a calamity. Can you imagine arm-linked fans swaying to such a sweetly corny song of early-20th-century innocence -- as hard to find today as a manual typewriter or a 20-game winner -- at the two-minute warning?

No, that's true. Baseball fans merely projectile vomit on people attempting to restrain them during fights, have sex in bathrooms, stomp on jerseys, get beaten up by security guards and loudly threatened with tasers, and give massive ovations to admitted steroid users. It's sweet and innocent, really, dancing the Charleston, or dodging shotgun blasts while running bootleg whiskey to a Speakeasy or something.

Sadly, though, the Nats might start to win, which I guess will end some of the calm nights of arm-linked swaying peace and joy for Krauthammer.

Now I'm worried. Even before Strasburg has arrived from the minor leagues, the Nats are actually doing well. They're playing .500 ball for the first time in five years. They are hovering somewhere between competent mediocrity and respectability. When Jesus arrives -- my guess is late May -- they might actually be good.

They might soon be, gasp, a contender. In the race deep into September. Good enough to give you hope. And break your heart. Where does one then go for respite?

Dunno. Maybe WETA can start showing some Lawrence Welk Show repeats?

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 23, 2010; 11:02 AM ET
Categories:  Media , Nats  
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Next: Trent Williams's high school coach weighs in

Comments or hate him, the man is one of the smartest people on the face of the earth (with an IQ approaching 170). Whether you agree or disagree with his views, you gotta respect the guy's intelligence.

Btw Steinz, while you are criticizing writers who write outside their area of expertise...when you get a chance please take Wilbon to task for his columns on racial issues and Feinstein for his columns on gun rights. Both men have demonstrated time and again they are out of their league on those issues.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Barno1 | April 23, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I used to watch Krauthammer every Sunday growing up, and there's no one else who comes close to his closed-mindedness and me first idealism, and I'm not even talking about his politics. This is a man who has the entire universe figured out and deigns to share bursts of his wisdom with us on the matters of the day. He has the air of someone who deeply dislikes other people in general, and dissenting opinions in particular. So, while it's lovely that he's found the perfect way to find a respite from his political absolutism, I treat this article in the same way I treat all his editorials - as inconsequential ramblings of a man with absolutely zero connection to the world in which he finds himself.

Posted by: crashinghero | April 23, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Steinberg didn't you have a huge post about David Gregory's baseball views? How is that ok and this isn't?

Posted by: JDP_ | April 23, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

crashinghero, I'm going to go way out on a limb and predict that you are a liberal. But I'm sure that has nothing to do with the fact that you think he has zero connection to the world in which he finds himself.

As far as him being a me-first guy, I'm sure that's why he became a psychiatrist...because he cares so much about himself and not others.

Posted by: Barno1 | April 23, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Steinberg -- he should stick to politics and leave sports to you! You are an immensely talented writer with a consistently transcendent level of prose...That's why the Post has your wonderful talents on display in the aptly named "Bog". And I must say, you are a fine photographer as well! I understand Shirley Povich got his start running around ballparks taking pix of fans is weird costumes, etc. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: dbunkr | April 23, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

@JDP, I called Gregory and asked him about baseball because he was doing a Nats event, on his own time. I can see where that might seem similar, but I think the better analogy would be Gregory devoting an entire episode of MTP to baseball. Granted, I've also thought it cool when he's thrown in shout-outs to D.C. sports teams in his closing remarks, but that's 40 seconds out of an hour.

Whatever my politics might be, I don't understand when sports winds up on the op-ed page, whether it's George Will or Feinstein or whatever. I mean, there's a sports section, with sports columnists. Sure, it's not rocket science, and anyone can have a valid opinion on sports, but why on earth does it belong on the op-ed page? Feels very self-indulgent to me, no matter the politics involved.

And the whole "baseball is uniquely innocent" stuff drives me absolutely batty.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | April 23, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I think we all want the Nats to keep losing. Oh, just me? OK.

Posted by: mkremnitzer0 | April 23, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I'll take the Bog over Krauthammer.

Posted by: BShea821 | April 23, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I thought Krauthammer's column was great. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and as a suffering DC United fan this season, it has led me to reflect why I am so upset by United losses and not phased by Nationals losses, despite my support for both teams.

And as for the Unique Innocence of Baseball argument driving you batty, Steinbog, read the article again - it's not all baseball, it's specifically Nats baseball.

Posted by: VercengetorixII | April 23, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

This comes across as very "that's my ball!" Play nice, Dan.

Posted by: Tank2 | April 23, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Steinberg, as someone who is related to an op-ed columnist, I'll tell you it's usually not their first or second job (sometimes not their third or forth either). There is very little money made in writing op-eds, and they are always looking for new topics because there's only so many times you can repeat the same ideological opinion on health care, abortion, national security etc. I really don't find it self-serving at all, I think it has much more to do with the fact that they run out of ideas for columns. So they write about the book they're reading, or the holiday that's coming up, or in this case, the sports team they are following--because they are often busy people and this is not their primary job and it's just easier.

Posted by: Barno1 | April 23, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Happy Anniversary Chuckie!

7 years ago... "Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem."

Posted by: DCU_1996 | April 23, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Stein, i've read that first graph 3 times and it's still cracking me up.

Posted by: DC07 | April 23, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Relax Steinny

Posted by: bpoboyle | April 23, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Ah, whatever. I rescind my anger, but am not allowed to delete blog posts, so this will stand.

I don't think actual Nats fans are any less angry than fans of other teams. Maybe less drunk in public. Maybe. But being the laughingstock of baseball has made a lot of them really, really, really unhappy. I found that argument to be absurd.

Also, I hate the argument that baseball is more cerebral than other games. In what way? Watch a double-play and explain what happened; aside from the exact pitch, it's pretty easy. But watch any NFL play, once, without rewinding, and explain it. It's virtually impossible. There's a reason you don't hear about baseball managers working 18 hour days and sleeping in their offices and all that.

But I'm not angry. I'm relaxed. Really.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | April 23, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Ok Stein. I'll bite.

Guy get's handoff...sees hole...runs through it until tackled..BOOM!

Quarterback comes to the line, sees one safety in the box, man coverage on the outside. Throw to receiver in one on one situation. KNOWS THIS ALL BEFORE THE SNAP.

Posted by: right3 | April 23, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I must have drank so much over the course of my life that my brain is no longer capable of comprehending or analyzing such opinions and counter-points. At this time, I have absolutely no idea what is going on or what anyone is talking about.

That is all....carry on....

Posted by: fushezzi | April 23, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Barno, what exactly are you trying to say? Are you related to Krauthammer?

Posted by: mkremnitzer0 | April 23, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I will say this, I disagree with Krauthammer on wanting the nats to lose. I will always argue that regardless of whether you are contending for playoffs or not, regardless of future draft positioning etc, you should always ALWAYS root for your team to win.

Posted by: Barno1 | April 23, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

The Gatsby reference is awesome.

That is all.

Posted by: Reader_Glenn1 | April 23, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

"But I'm not angry. I'm relaxed. Really.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | April 23, 2010 12:14 PM"

That's because you're talking about baseball, and your head is filled with sepia-toned visions of children dancing in pastures, wearing overalls and no shoes, chewing on a piece of straw, with a frog in their pocket. Baseball, that inherently innocent sport of steroid users, gamblers, cheats, and disco-related riots, is obviously the cause of your relaxation.

I feel you, Steinz - it ain't about Kraut playing in your sandbox, it's about him doing so with paeans of baseball as an allegory of a simpler time an inherently diverting "pastime," as if the Nats fans are just content to watch losing season after losing season, huffing off the same 19th-century-vision-inducing hash pipe that Kraut seems to be smoking.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 23, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The United games are like that for me. I always have fun at their games and don't care so much whether they win or lose.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | April 23, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

There's a wheelchair joke in here somewhere.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | April 23, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse


I think it's pretty damn amazing what Krauthammer has accomplished given that he's been paralyzed most his life.

Posted by: Barno1 | April 23, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but he's no Stephen Hawking. Or even Larry Flynt for that matter.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | April 23, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

That was actually pretty funny Poops.

Posted by: Barno1 | April 23, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey Steinberg.. this smacks of the little dog barking at the big dog.

Posted by: Billw3 | April 24, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

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