Awesome Comparisons: American Presidents And Baseball Figures (Vol.5)
Jimmy Carter- John Francis “Phenomenal” Smith
Count Jimmy Carter among the ranks of those that consider his presidency a success. Of course those ‘ranks’ consist of one person- Jimmy Carter. Double digit inflation, an energy crisis, the Iranian hostage situation and an inability to work within his own party were among several factors contributing to the perception of a “Carter malaise.” Not to be outdone by himself, his retirement has consisted of several failed diplomatic efforts-in 2004 he declared a Venezuelan recall election “fair” even though evidence suggested extensive fraud. He proved his transition into senility was complete when he declared himself the founder of the Tea Party in 2010. “Phenomenal Smith” was also naïve about his own talents and accomplishments. The cocky starting pitcher declared that he was so good that he did not need his teammates to win. In 1885 the Brooklyn Grays decided to reprove his brash behavior by intentionally committing 14 errors en route to an 18-5 trouncing by the St. Louis Browns. Smith went on to have an unphenomenal career- he finished with a 54-74 record after pitching for seven seasons.
Ronald Reagan- Harry Caray
Ronald Reagan started his entertaining career in 1932 when he was hired by the University of Iowa to broadcast their homecoming game against Minnesota. Two years later he was giving accounts of Cubs games via telegraph (Caray worked for several teams but is most remembered for his days with the Cubs). The most famous tale of his broadcasting career came in 1934, when the telegraph wire went dead and Reagan was forced to come up with a fictional play-by-play. He did so impeccably, though admitted that hitters acquired an uncanny ability to hit foul balls until proper communications were restored. In 1988 Reagan was featured in a video tribute during a toast to Caray, joking “It’s not often the president of the United States has trouble getting a word in edge-wise.” The following year he honored his youthful craft when he joined Vin Scully in the booth for the first inning of the 1989 All Star Game.
George Bush- Juan Marchial
The 1992 election was no different than any other. It was hard-fought, mean-spirited and full of erroneous accusations. Among them was the unthinkable charge that Bill Clinton, ever the southern gentleman, had been unfaithful to Hilary with a porn star name Gennifer Flowers. Despite the divisive election, Clinton and Bush would later become close friends and teamed up to do relief work after Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Johnny Roseboro, the former Dodgers catcher, showed tremendous grace in forgiving his greatest foe, Juan Marichal. In a 1965 game at Candlestick Park, Giants starter Juan Marichal had hit two Dodgers batters. Koufax refused to retaliate, simply offering the symbolic gesture of throwing a pitch very high over the head of Willie Mays. When Marichal came up to bat, he felt that Roseboro was going to take deal with retaliation himself as Roseboro was returning pitches precariously close to Marichal’s head. Marichal did what any person would do when a baseball lightly grazes an ear- he hit Roseboro directly in the head with his bat. Against all odds (or perhaps under the coercion of the MLB,) Marichal and Roseboro became close friends and would autograph photos of their altercation. Marichal even spoke at Roseboro’s funeral in 2002.
Bill Clinton-Johnny Roseboro
George W. Bush- Yogi Berra
In 2000 Bush joked that some in the press corps believed that Berra was a speechwriter for Bush. Indeed both men have done irreversible harm to the English language. From Bush’s “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” to Berra’s “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” these two men have provided the type of one-liners that are the stuff of dreams for late night comedians.
Note: Bush’s presidency does not reflect Yogi’s HOF career (at all), just his anecdotes
Barack Obama- Tim Beckham
Obama and his charisma gave the nation extremely high expectations. Unfortunately, he did not live up to his potential and is so far labeled a “bust”. Tim Beckham was the first overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft and was supposed to be more than awesome. The 5-tool SS has struggled to hit for average or power in the minors, and for the second time has recently been suspended for violating policy by smoking the reefer. You can bet the stressed out “bust” of a president could share a joint with Beckham right about now.