Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

If the health care debate were a sport

February 9, 2011 by Donald Applestein Esq.


Last month a federal judge in Florida ruled that it was unconstitutional for Congress to enact a health care law that requires Americans to buy insurance. The ruling evened the score at two to two in the lower courts, as conflicting opinions make their way to the Supreme Court. Underscoring the partisan nature of the conflict, the two judges who ruled in favor of the law were Democrats; the two who ruled against it were Republicans...

BOBBY: Welcome back ladies and gentlemen to the sudden death playoff game in the United Baseball League. I’m Bobby Broadcaster and you’re on the E-SPAM cable sports network. With me today is my good buddy, Sid Sidekick. Sid, it’s great to be working with you again. Well fans, after more than 8 months of back and forth battles during the regular season, it all comes down to this: a do or die contest between the Gainesville Govs and the Chattanooga Challengers.

SID: We’re in the Challengers’ new Independence stadium where we have a capacity crowd of about 300 million fans who are screaming and yelling themselves silly and waving their teams’ towels: the Govs’ fans with red towels and Challengers’ fans waiving the blue ones.

BOBBY: The crowd seems pretty well divided and emotions are running high, but there’s also a sizable group who are quietly sitting on the sidelines.

To bring you all up-to-date, it’s the bottom of the ninth and the score is tied 2-2. Boy, this is as exciting as it gets. Sid, do you remember a game as exciting as this?

SID: No, Bobby I can’t.

BOBBY: How did we get to this point?

SID: Well, each run was scored on disputed calls. The Challengers’ scores came from hits by Floyd Florida and Vick Virginia – the Challengers’ ace right- hand hitters. The Govs scored on Denny Detroit’s hit. And again, on Lenny Lynchburg’s homer. Both Gov batters are well-known switch hitters – meaning they can hit right-handed or left-handed. Today, both were hitting left.

BOBBY: Now, the Challengers’ Slammin’ Sammy San Diego is at bat and the ump just made the call which the Challengers’ are disputing. The Challengers’ manager threw his pink polka dot flag out and the home plate ump has to review it on instant replay with the League’s Super Commissioner (SC). These reviews can take forever, so it could be some time before we get a ruling. Yes, Sid, what is it?

SID: Well Bobby, since this gets kinda technical, why don’t we bring in the former head ump, Ken Barbie, the Super Commander of the UmpS (SCOTUS) to explain how umps make these difficult calls.

BOBBY: Good idea Sid. Ken, fill us in.

KEN: OK Sid. There’re really three issues an ump should consider.

  1. First, is what we call “standing.” What that means is, does the batter have the right to be up at bat. Is he in the right batting order? Does he have his protective gear on? Does his bat meet the league’s standards?
  2. The second issue is, is it the right time to make a call – what we umps call “ripeness.” For example, if the pitcher hasn’t yet thrown the ball, we said that it is not “ripe” for the ump to make the call.
  3. Finally, the ump has to decide if the pitch was within the rules – is it OK with the League’s constitution?

SID: Ken, that’s terrific – thanks.

KEN: Not a problem Sid. That gives us a lot better understanding of this technical area. Sid, I’m glad I can help clear things up.

SID: Back to you Bobby.

BOBBY: Thanks Sid. Well, wouldn’t you know, as soon as I say that these reviews take a long time, here comes the ump back from the reviewing booth. He’s approaching home plate and the crowd is suddenly silent – you could hear a pin down. OK, he’s at home plate and he’s switching on his mike. Here we go fans…..

Photo: Flickr user Mr. Usaji


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