Presented by Fisher Investments: Debate Snapshots; Mitch vs. Amy; Quote of the Week

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Good morning, it’s Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. Yes, Friday the 13th, a day when superstitious people exhibit extra caution. It’s also the day of the week when I pass along an uplifting quotation. So, I’ll try and combine the two, and use my favorite sport to do it.

In the great baseball movie “Bull Durham,” veteran catcher Crash Davis (played by Kevin Costner) tells fireballing and naïve young pitcher Nuke Laloosh (Tim Robbins) to “never screw with a winning streak.” Actually, Crash uses a verb of Anglo-Saxon origins instead of the word “screw,” but you get the point. So did Nuke, which causes him to do less screwing, so to speak. You see, the young pitcher has hooked up with Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), but he’s finally having success on the mound and, taking Crash Davis’ advice to heart, he stops seeing Annie, at least in the biblical way.

This upsets our heroine, as we’ll see in a moment. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

* * *

Debate Snapshots: 10 Candidates, 10 Strategies on Display. Phil Wegmann and Susan Crabtree have this assessment.

Did Mitch McConnell Recruit His Opponent?  A.B. Stoddard is unimpressed by the establishment-backed Democrat challenging the Senate majority leader.

Poll: GOP Could Rebound in Orange County and New Mexico. Susan reports on the findings.

Fact-Checkers Rely Heavily on Media Reports for “Truth.” Kalev Leetaru has this analysis.

Ranked-Choice Voting Could Help Dems -- and the Nation. David Daley explains his support for a system intended to produce nominees who better reflect the majority preference of the electorate.

How Oberlin’s Bias and Bloat Fueled a $33 Million Blunder. RealClearEducation editor Nathan Harden laments the rise in influence wielded on college campuses by student life coordinators, diversity deans, and student affairs officers.

American Energy Security and Climate Change. In RealClearEnergy, Jim Webb & Jim Nicholson argue that improvements in technology mean oil and natural gas can be part of the energy/climate change solution. 

How to Succeed in Tennis Without Really Trying. In RealClearBooks, J. Christian Adams reviews Roger L. Simon’s novel “The Goat.”

* * *

Annie Savoy knows more about baseball than she does about adult relationships. Crash Davis knows a lot about both. This is not necessarily a blessing. Crash knows enough about baseball to know that he’s not going to The Show, as least as a player. He knows enough about life to realize he’s jealous of Nuke Laloosh’s romance with Annie. A showdown is brewing, which Nuke precipitates by telling Annie that Crash told him never to mess with a streak, which Nuke has interpreted (as Crash intended) to rule out sexual congress with Annie.

Before I continue, two points: I’m writing about these characters in present tense, as though they were not only alive but contemporary. All I can say in that regard is that, to me, they are. Second, if you haven’t seen this movie and are having a little trouble following this, rent it tonight on Neflix or wherever. It’s wonderful. Now, back to our story, in which our love triangle tightens as Annie Savoy confronts Crash Davis.

Crash: I never told him to stay out of your bed.
Annie: You most certainly did.
Crash: I told him that a player on a streak has to respect the streak.
Annie: Oh, fine.
Crash: You know why? Because they don't happen very often.
Annie: Right.
Crash: If you believe you’re playing well because you're getting laid, or because you're not getting laid, or because you wear women's underwear, then you are! And you should know that.
Annie: I want you.

For those who haven’t seen the movie, or who saw it so long ago that you don’t remember what happened next, I’ll leave it there. But here’s my Friday-the-13th point: While baseball players may seem notoriously superstitious, it’s not because they are excessively spiritual or because there is anything eerie about their sport. It’s because the game is so hard. Anything that bolsters a player’s sense of self-efficacy helps put him in the right frame of mind to play well.

It’s ritual more than superstition. As baseball writer Josh Rohrer noted in an essay on this topic, players and managers -- and even fans -- “stick with whatever is working to ensure the delicate balance of karma is kept positive.” To my way of thinking, “karma” in this instance is very nearly a synonym for “confidence.”

Players cross themselves, point to the heavens, eat chicken before each game, refused to change socks, go unshaven, point the bat toward the pitcher -- any manner of things. Joe DiMaggio touched second base with his foot at the end of every half inning as he ran in from centerfield. Does that seem compulsive? Well, you might say that Joe’s obsessions never let DiMag down. He had an amazing career from start to finish.

Then again, there’s the approach used by another great Yankee. Babe Ruth played the game, as he played life, without over-thinking things. Asked once if he had any superstitions, the Babe replied, “Just one. Whenever I hit a home run, I make certain I touch all four bases.”

And there’s your quote of the week. 

Carl M. Cannon  
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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