Friday, May 27, 2016

Spaceman For Governor

You're supposed to sit on your ass
And nod at stupid things man, that's hard to do
And if you don't they'll screw you
And if you do, they'll screw you, too
And when I'm standing in the middle
Of the diamond all alone
I always play to win
When it comes to skin and bone
And sometimes I say things
I shouldn't, like
And sometimes I say things
I shouldn't, like . . .

-- "The Ballad of Bill Lee" by Warren Zevon

Bill Lee is running for Governor of Vermont on the Liberty Union ticket (Bernie Sanders was the Liberty Union's candidate for Governor in 1976)   The former lefty pitcher, not surprisingly, has lefty positions, including legalization and taxation of pot in Vermont, single-payer health care, and paid family leave.  In contrast to Donald Trump, Lee wants to abolish the border between Vermont and Quebec to make travel easier.  He has astutely compared penurious Republicans to pterodactyls: “They have little short arms that never get to their front pockets." He has said that “if things don’t go our way, if we get Trump as president, I’m out of here and I’ll take Vermont with us."

Lee pitched for the Boston Red Sox (1969-78) and the Montreal Expos (1979-82).  When with the Red Sox, he often clashed with manager Don Zimmer, who he dubbed the "Designated Gerbil."  He was known less for his pitching than for his eccentricities, counterculture persona and clashes with management in an extremely button-downed profession.  But he was actually a pretty good pitcher, winning 17 games for three years in a row from 1973-75, and making the All Star team in 1973.  Not bad for a lefty pitching at Fenway Park, a notoriously difficult place for lefties to succeed.  (Lee once asked whether they left the Green Monster there during the games.)  He had a couple of good years in Montreal too, before he was released for staging a one-game walkout to protest the release of his friend, second baseman Rodney Scott.

This isn't his first run for office.  In 1988, Lee ran for president on the Rhinoceros Party ticket under the slogan: “No guns. No Butter. They’ll both kill you.”  His unassailable platform included outlawing the designated hitter, AstroTurf, and domed stadiums. He promised to include Lary Bird in his cabinet. 

This time around, his platform also includes some baseball-related issues such as pushing for steroid users to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and moving the Tampa Bay Rays to Montreal, which he argues would spur economic activity by harvesting trees for bats and by Red Sox fans spending money in Vermont on their way to Montreal for games.

The first line in the Zevon tune comes from Lee's quote:  "Baseball's a very simple game. All you have to do is sit on your butt, spit tobacco, and nod at the stupid things your manager says."  And sometimes he said things he shouldn't, but in this crazy political season, a lot of what he says makes perfect sense.


Post a Comment