GIVAT SHMUEL, Israel, March 21, 2016 — With Spring Training now in full swing in both Florida and Arizona, consider last year’s pre-season.
Harper. Werth. Scherzer. Fister. Zimmerman (x2). Strasburg. Gonzalez. Papelbon.
At the start of Spring Training 2015, these were the names of the Nationals’ stars who were going to bring a World Series title to Washington D.C. In fact, after the Nats signed ace pitcher Max Scherzer in the offseason—the team’s most talented and outspoken star—Bryce Harper told reporters, “To be able to have a guy like Scherzer come in. I just started laughing. I was like, ‘Where’s my ring?’ You know what I mean? It’s stupid. It’s absolutely stupid how good our staff is.”
Not everyone was impressed with Harper’s bravado. As ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” host Michael Wilbon put it, “Here we go, of course. They’re the ’27 Yanks. You know, we’ve seen this movie. Two years ago … they came in, everybody said, every baseball expert we had on … best team since 1927. They didn’t get to the playoffs. Now, they got back to the playoffs last year, this most recent season. They lost … Management has done everything they can to put a great team on the field. Now it is up to these fellows … it’s up to them to make good what looks great on paper.”
Wilbon’s message to Harper—that it was up to him and his teammates to “make good what looks great on paper”—was lost on the 2015 Nats. Instead of a season-ending image of the Nationals hoisting the World Series trophy, the indelible last image we have of the playoff-missing 2015 Washington Nationals is this one
That would be Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon choking the aforementioned Harper during a dugout scuffle.
The message: Legacy building on paper is easy. Legacy building on the playing field is hard. So hard that not only will trying to do it irresponsibly and lazily lead to failure, but it might even lead to utter implosion.
This is a lesson all teams should be paying close attention to as they prepare to embark on the 2016 MLB season. It is also something Barack Obama should consider as he ends his run as President of the United States.
As many pundits have pointed out, few, if any, Presidents have been so concerned for their legacy from day one in office than Barack Obama. And just in case we weren’t sure what to make of his accomplishments, at least in the field of foreign policy, President Obama, with the help of The Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg, more or less told us how we should feel about his successes and failures in an interview last week titled “The Obama Doctrine.”
For those of you who have not had the hours of free time to read about the President waxing poetic on how his presidency has changed the world I will sum it up for you in a few brief points.
All good things were thanks to his ingenuity, level-headedness and courage to fight back against the American military and intelligence establishment.
All of his failures were the faults of France, England, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Congress, President Bush, The US Intelligence Community, the Pentagon and others.
As The Atlantic’s David Frum put it in his spot-on summary of the Goldberg article, “the dominant theme of these interviews is that we, all of us, have grievously let down the president,” and adding that, “Goldberg records only one major self-criticism by the president: Obama admits he does not make sufficient allowances for how unreasonable other people are.”
That is, if only we would all just get out of his way, President Obama could have been the 1927 Yankees of the American political world. On paper, he looks like a President who has accomplished nearly everything he has set out to, such as passing ObamaCare, signing a nuclear deal with Iran, making American foreign policy more subject to the wills and desires of the international community and reopening an embassy in Cuba.
Now in the twilight of his Presidency, Obama has set out to cement what he sees as the final touches on his masterpiece of leadership. To that end he looks to appoint another Supreme Court Judge (if he can get around those damn Republicans in Congress), close Guantanamo Bay (if he can get around those damn Republicans in Congress) and, as Secretary of State John Kerry made known this week, the administration will try one more time to ram a horrible deal down the throats of the Israelis to create a Palestinian State.
It would appear that Obama has had a change of heart regarding the Israel issue since the Goldberg article was published. Just a few weeks ago, Rob Malley, US National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East, told reporters “the prospect of a two-state solution is not in the cards for the time that’s remaining” on the President’s term. Now, just months later, and just a week after the Goldberg article was published, John Kerry told reporters in Paris, “that the Obama administration is ‘looking for a way forward’ to bring about creation of a Palestinian state, [saying that] that Palestinian statehood is ‘absolutely essential.’ and added that ‘There’s not any one country or one person who can resolve this. This is going to require the global community, it will require international support.’” Translation: the international community must help the US pressure Israel to accept any deal, no matter how disastrous, so that President Obama can add Middle East peace broker to his on-paper legacy.
With the Washington Nationals playing just a few blocks from the White House, perhaps it would behoove the President to go talk to some of the players about their failures last season. Perhaps they could teach him that despite having a great-looking legacy on paper, it is what you do on the playing field that counts.
And as history will most likely bare out, President Obama’s policies over the past seven and a half years will result in complete and utter catastrophe on the world’s playing field as time goes on. Some have already blown up in his face, such as his failure to combat both Assad and ISIS in Syria. Others, such as the Iran Deal, are a ticking time bomb, set to explode after he leaves office.
In any case, perhaps the President could, instead, ride out the rest of his term trying to fix some of the egregious blunders and missteps that have truly marked his time in office before he lands the entire Western world in a Jonathan Papelbon chokehold they cannot escape from.