Given how clueless he comes across as on just about everything else, President Bush gives surprisingly cogent and knowledgeable answers whenever he is asked a baseball question.
Witness his answer in an interview with Politico.com/Yahoo (his first ever “interview with the internet”), when asked which position player and which starting pitcher he would pick first if he were starting a team, everyone was a free agent, and he had an unlimited budget.
I’ll give you three guesses for each player, and I bet you’d be wrong on all six tries.
The President’s answers? Chase Utley and Roy Halladay.
What mades these answers so surprising/unsettling/super creepy for me is that those are exactly the two answers I would have given, and that those are almost certainly not the kind of super big name answers the vast majority of baseball fans or mainstream analysts would give.
Especially Roy Halladay. I mean, he pitches in Canada. Do you think Joe Morgan even knows who Roy Halladay is?
But Utley too. Sure, Utley is a rising star, and he’s coming on strong in a big way this year, but I don’t think we can really say he is a household name yet, at least outside of Philly. Fantasy geeks might pick Utley, but I can guarantee you 99 percent of the mainstream media would pick someone else, and 98 percent of those picks would be Pujols, A-Rod, or Jeter.
But perhaps even more unsettling than Bush giving such intelligent answers is the fact that he actually backs up his answers with not-nonsensical reasons. Seeing Bush support claims with actual logic and reasoning was quite a shock to my system, and I’m not sure if I’ve recovered yet.
Let’s look at the transcript (a video is also available on Yahoo Sports):
Q: Mr. President, I know you’re going to hate this, but I’m hoping that we may twist your arm and talk about baseball for just a moment. (Laughter.) Mr. President, you’re a Major League Baseball team owner again. Everyone is a free agent. You have a Yankees-like wallet. Who is your first position player? Who’s your pitcher?
THE PRESIDENT: That’s a great question. I like Utley from the Philadelphia Phillies. He’s a middle infielder, which is always — you know, they say you have to have strength up the middle — there’s nothing better than having a good person up the middle that can hit. And Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays is a great pitcher. He’s a steady guy, he burns up innings. And I’m sure I’m leaving some other good ones out, but those –
Q: We thought you were going to go A-Rod, Josh Beckett.
THE PRESIDENT: Josh Beckett is good, yes, he’s real good, too. I mean, look, that’s a tough question to answer on the fly like this, Michael.
Here we can clearly see that the president follows the game quite closely. He has some idea that Utley’s marginal value compared to other middle infielders makes him perhaps the most valuable player in the game right now, and that Roy Halladay has been a tremendously reliable starter whose true greatness has been obscured by pitching in Toronto.
We also see that the interviewer has know idea who either player is, the way he is taken aback, and doesn’t really know what to say other than to suggest the two most obvious names known to any person living in the East Coast Bias Zone (in fact, the actual transcript from Politico.com misspells Utley’s name as “Ottley”).
At first I was tempted to assume that Bush must have had the questions in advance and was pre-coached on the answers, as he so often is for actual political issues. But then I realized that no populistic, politically-minded answers-coach would ever tell the President to pick Utley and Halladay.
Whatever else you want to say about our President, you have to give him his due: the man really does know baseball. Now if only he knew anything about anything else.