Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bunning's Beanball

When I was a kid, there was a colloquialism that was still popular in baseball. It may not be in popular use anymore, but Sen. Jim Bunning, R–Ky., could be bringing it back.

The colloquialism is "beanball," which described a pitch that was deliberately thrown at the head of the batter at the plate. Sometimes, pitchers throw what is called a "brushback pitch" as a means of intimidating batters, but those pitches aren't intended to hit batters — and they usually don't unless the pitcher who throws them does not have good control of his pitches.

A beanball, though, is a pitch that is believed to be aimed deliberately at a batter's head, and, whether it hits its target or not, it often results in the ejection of the pitcher from the game and, frequently, suspensions from future games.

Decades ago, Bunning was a major–league pitcher. I don't think he had a reputation for throwing beanballs. He was known for having a repertoire of effective pitches at his command. When he was brought up to the majors by the Detroit Tigers, he was described as possessing "an excellent curve ball, a confusing delivery and a sneaky fast ball," and he used them to accomplish the rarest of feats for a pitcher — a perfect game — in 1964.

In those days, Bunning was believed to have great control over his array of pitches. Now, however, as Bunning, 78, is about to step down as a U.S. senator, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wonders, justifiably, if Bunning is "down to only one pitch: the screwball."

Recently, Bunning — utilizing one of the archaic rules of the Senate — loudly objected to an extension of unemployment benefits, supposedly because the source of funding for it had not been identified.

So, instead of taking steps that could ease, if only temporarily, the suffering facing the nation's unemployed, the door was flung wide open for more political infighting.

"[T]here were many ways in which Democrats could have passed the extension earlier," writes Milbank. "But then they would have missed the satisfaction of fighting with Bunning."

And 21st century Democrats appear to prefer to play the blame game instead of actually doing something about the troublesome problem of unemployment. Consequently, Bunning's objection played into their hands. "Democrats can hardly believe the gift Bunning has given them," Milbank writes.

"The fact is my friends on the other side of the aisle are opposing extending unemployment benefits for people who are out of work," declared Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada — who has not decided to retire, although the voters of his state appear to be on the verge of making that decision for him.

Supposedly, no one in the Senate — not even Bunning — objects to extending the benefits. Bunning says he is making a stand against increasing the deficit. And that has given Democras like Vice President Joe Biden, whose party has had more than a year to encourage job creation but has not done so, an opportunity to say things like, "At a time when so many families are in so much pain we shouldn't be shutting the few valves of relief. ... We should be opening that spigot a little wider not shutting it down."

Hey, guys, would you do me — and the millions of other unemployed Americans — a favor?

When you get finished playing your word games and pointing your fingers, would you authorize that extension before you take your vacation?

We've got bills to pay.

1 comment:

askcherlock said...

Bunning has handed the Jobs Extension bill straight over to the Democrats. In that regard, his antics are a complete success.