What if Jackie Robinson had been like Obama?

obama-and-jackie-robinsonWhen Branch Rickey determined to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, he wisely recruited Jackie Robinson, a stellar athlete in multiple sports, who soon established himself as one of the greats of the game, black or white, and went on to easily earn a plaque in the Hall of Fame. He was an excellent hitter, an excellent fielder, an excellent base runner, and a man of high character. If there was anyone who had sincerely argued that blacks were not qualified to play in the Biggies, he demolished their arguments for good and all.

Alas, Branch Rickey didn’t live long enough to broker the 2008 presidential election, in which a black man smashed through the color barrier in the Oval Office. Rickey, one of the shrewdest men ever to strut the public stage, probably would have sensed that the time was ripe, but I have to believe that he would never have chosen Barack Obama as the man to pull it off.

This thought occurred to me as I watched our totally inept President weasel his way through the Syrian crisis over the past several days. The man is over his head in foreign dealings, dangerously inexperienced, has no idea how to make a plan or execute it, waffles and postures while keeping one eye on his TelePrompter and the other on the latest polls. He has no ideals, no convictions, just a cunning political instinct. Up till now he had an uncanny talent for making himself look good despite all rational evidence to the contrary, but even that has failed him. He is a joke to the rest of the world, and even his most avid supporters at home are finding it impossible to defend him.

Now suppose that a black man with an Obama-like absence of job qualifications had been selected to become the first black major league baseball player. We’ll assume that he, like Robinson, was assigned to play second base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. For convenience, we’ll call this hypothetical baseball pioneer Obama.

His team is playing at home, and on the first play of the game a batter smashes a difficult bouncer that pulls the first baseman off the bag. He successfully fields it, and whirls to throw it to second baseman Obama, who is supposed to cover first on any such play. But Obama hasn’t budged. He is still standing midway between first and second, and both he and the first baseman gawk helplessly as the batter reaches first safely.

On the next play, the batter hits a grounder to Obama, giving him a chance to start a double play by throwing to the shortstop, who has run to cover second base. Instead, Obama throws the ball over the shortstop’s head to the third baseman, so the batter reaches first safely and the runner from first base is safe at second.  The shortstop, not wanting to give the impression that he thinks the first black major leaguer is a screw-up, politely asks him why he threw to third.

“Why, to keep anyone from reaching third,” Obama replies condescendingly.

Both the runners that Obama allowed on base go on to score, but eventually the other team is retired.

Obama bats lead-off in the bottom of the first inning, and hits a fly ball that goes over the head of the center fielder and bounces off the wall. He stands at home plate, watching with narcissistic pride, until his manager screams from the dugout for him to run to first base. Unfortunately, the center fielder, who has some Slavic name like Putin, catches up with the ball, relays it to the infield, and Obama is thrown out before he can get to first.

His next time at bat, Obama is hit by a pitch, and jogs down to first base. His manager gives him the signal to try stealing second, but Obama calls time because he doesn’t understand the signal. He runs over to the dugout. The manager, nearly apoplectic, tells him “I want you to steal a base. That’s why I scratched my crotch. That’s what the signal means.”

Obama trots out to first base again, and as the pitcher begins his windup Obama dashes full speed toward home plate and slides, knocking over the batter, who had timed the pitch perfectly and was about to crush it for extra bases.  The batter gets back up, dusts himself off, and explains to Obama that he was going the wrong way and was supposed to steal second  base, not home. Obama takes offense at this mild rebuke,  and blames it on the man who used to play second base for his team, and was let go to make room for him.

And so it goes, inning after inning. The other team wins by a score of 17 to 2, as the star of that team, Putin, hits three home runs and fields flawlessly.

The Brooklyn home crowd, never well-mannered in the best of circumstances, storms the box seat where general manager Rickey is sitting, strips him naked, tars and feathers  him, and carries him out of the stadium on a pole.

The next day the media unanimously declare that Obama made a brilliant debut.

Author Bio:

Arthur Louis spent more than forty years as a print journalist, with the Philadelphia Inquirer, McGraw-Hill, Fortune magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle, but he is not asking for sympathy. He is the author of two non-fiction books: The Tycoons, and Journalism and Other Atrocities, as well as a novel, The Little Champ. In retirement, he has decided unilaterally that he is a profound political pundit.
Author website: http://bernardgoldberg.com
  • ElvisWasAHero2Most

    Considering what Obama has endured as the first Black president, I’d say him and Jackie have similarities. For instance, Obama has had to keep his cool even while offensive, unprecedented things have happened… birth certificate fiasco, accused of being Muslim, finger to the face by Gov. Brewer, being yelled at by Joe Wilson, Congress has been the historically inactive…. I’d say the two men are alike.

  • pat brady

    WOW, not at ALL racist

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  • Madley

    Why don’t you write about The Republicans being just as nasty, foul and racist as the crowds and players Jackie played against in 1947.

  • Wil

    Tell me Art, is there anything that this President does or talks about that you don’t hate?

    • artlouis

      Good question. I can’t think of any just now, but I know that I will be pleased when his helicopter lifts off on Jan. 20, 2017.

  • Paul Borden

    Small point, Arthur, but the second baseman doesn’t cover first when the first baseman fields a grounder (except on a sacrifice bunt, which usually pulls the first baseman in). That’s the pitcher’s job.

    • artlouis

      Thanks, Paul. Is it too late for me to change that bouncer to a bunt?

      • Paul Borden

        Don’t you hate it when people pick out something that really isn’t the main point you were making, which I think is a good one? Alas, the curse of an old copy editor! What made Jackie Robinson a success was his ability and willingness to sacrifice his own ego, and many times his pride, for the greater good. Our current president would NEVER do that.

        • artlouis

          Yes, Robinson was a MAN

          • Wil

            So,Art: you WANT to invade Syria. You don’t want a negotiated settlement on the chemical weapons. You prefer that Pres. Obama not stop and think about Putin’s suggestion.

            Actually it was when Obama and Putin were at that G20 summit that the two men talked about the best way to handle what was an extremely ‘iffy’ situation. It was, as I understand it, Putin who suggested getting those chemical weapons away from Assad so that they could be destroyed.

            Assad listens to Putin. He knows he can’t beat America militarily so he will comply.

            Iran agrees. Which is good.

            Now, lo and behold, when there is a way to avoid invasion of Syria YOU PEOPLE decide that Obama isn’t a leader. He is the perfect leader in that he has always said: I’m open to suggestions. And he is.

            Barack Hussein Obama is one of the smartest politicians in American history. He knows exactly how to deal with people.

            He doesn’t just JUMP because YOU PEOPLE want him to. Obama is the man!

          • artlouis

            I am afraid that you are kidding yourself about this guy’s supposed virtues. It is far from clear whether we are being scammed by Putin and Assad. You may find that this episode, in which both Obama and Kerry made royal fools of themselves, will leave us looking really bad. My guess is that Assad calculates that he is on the verge of beating the rebels, and that he thought a U.S. attack might divert him from that. With the U.S. pledged to non-interference, Assad can continue on to victory, using conventional weapons, and there will be nothing we can do about it.

          • Wil

            Are you referring to Obama who got what he wanted without a single US military shot being fired? It’s amusing how Obama can turn hawks into chickens and UN haters into diplomats overnight.

          • artlouis

            What Obama wanted was Assad out of there, and his own friends from Al-Qaeda running Syria. (Yes, I know that may be stretching the point.) Instead, he will have to sit by while Assad solidifies his hold on power. The clue should have been that Putin was pushing this. He is not our friend.

          • Wil

            So, you are willing to sacrifice our blood and treasure to get rid of Assad? Well, grab a rifle and get to Syria, I’ll be right behind you.

          • artlouis

            You misunderstand me. I wouldn’t want to sacrifice even an empty Jeep. I am just saying that Obama is not the genius you think.

          • Wil

            I don’t thing Obama is a genius. He’s naivety in thinking he could work with the Republicans, wasted 4 years of his presidency!

          • artlouis

            Please give me an example of how he tried to work with the Republicans. In his first two years, he had both Houses of Congress, and there was no talk then of cooperation. He just rammed through Obamacare and his other favorite atrocities. In 2010 there was a huge shift in the House of Reps., because the people wanted to stop Obama. The GOP is doing what it was elected to do — blocking your hero’s lunatic agenda.

          • Wil

            >The GOP is doing what it was elected to do — blocking your hero’s lunatic agenda.<

            Yes, It's the party of nothing!

          • artlouis

            The GOP is not a party of nothing. It simply has a different plan for the country. But there is no way it can get any of its programs past Reid and Obama. The best they can do is block the damaging proposals that the Dems are pushing. If they can accomplish that, then they should.

          • Wil

            Yes, and that plan is about ‘nothing’!