There have always been competitive ones among us; from brute physical aggression to sophisticated strategic thinking, the ambitious make waves in the fabric of society. For much of human history, competition ended in death, and it ends in death sometimes even today. In recognition of the havoc competition can wreak upon the world, rules of convention were established, both written and unwritten; the written rules we’ve named “laws,” and the unwritten rules we call “decorum.”
Breaking written rules of law, other than those of sporting events, often leads to courtrooms and the production of “reasonable attorney’s fees” in defense of charges of graft, theft, fraud, collusion, conspiracy, bribery, and price-fixing. Breaking unwritten rules of decorum is also a serious business; defending reputation and personal honor against perceived insult used to form the underlying legal basis for dueling – with pistols, swords and presumably rocks if we look back far enough. Today, breaching decorum generally makes people look stupid and foolish and sometimes costs a lot of money.
This brings me to Donald Trump. There are negative things too numerous to mention about Trump, but many if not all of them fall under the category of “breaking the rules of decorum.” He calls names, taunts and teases, questions honesty, insults, dismisses, speaks falsely, and has funny hair. That last item, the funny hair thing; that’s an example of poor decorum on my part.
Proper decorum would normally require that a candidate for President of the United States be spoken of with respect in print; but The Donald’s a stumbling, bumbling monologist who thinks he’s charming and entertaining and has no problem saying false and hurtful things to whip up an audience. For all the ways Trump behaves badly, among the worst is his poor sportsmanship. As a competitor, he’s a whiner and a complainer; in short, though he wears a baseball cap, he’s sore loser.
Good sportsmanship is one of the reasons I like to watch Giant’s baseball. Baseball is a very competitive sport, less physically demanding than some, but requiring extraordinary athletic skill, great stamina, perfect timing and finesse. And like all sports, every player has to follow the rules of sportsmanship, written and unwritten. If manager Bruce Bochy gives the home plate umpire the “stank eye” it’s risky; the umpire, after all, enforces all rules. Mouth-off too much as a manager and the ump will remove his mask, look you straight in the eye and toss you from the field.
But more than that, except on rare occasions, the players all treat each other with respect and more; though baseball is serious sport and business, it’s also just a game and they know it. I always wonder what’s being said on First Base between the First Baseman and the Runner; they often chat and smile.
Giant’s broadcasters Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper, “Kruk and Kuip,” once were players and I can say they absolutely love everything about baseball: the players, the fields, the games, the coaches, the cities, and the fans. You can tell, even now, that they were good sports.
Compare them with The Donald. Kruk and Kuip maintain decorum; they both are red-blooded, competitive American jocks, but also dads, husbands and working stiffs. And here’s the best part, they’re never mean and hurtful. For them, every fan has a good story, whether after catching a foul ball or eating cotton candy. Everything at the ball park makes life feel better. Yes, even the hot dogs.