Of Baseball and Politics

"The future ain't what it used to be," said Danny Williams in his address to the well-heeled crowd at the annual spring dinner of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce on April 28, 2016. He was, of course, quoting the great Yogi Berra of major league baseball fame.

I like baseball. I once travelled all the way from Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories to Toronto to see my Blue Jays play the Detroit Tigers in September 1992. I took along a copy of my favourite baseball poem Casey at the Bat in hopes that it wold bring good luck to the team. These were the heady days just before the Jays won their first World Series against the Atlanta Braves. I knew the batting average of all the players, whether they swung to left or right field, their pitching strength, and their earned run averages. In those days fans at the Skydome loved Cito Gaston, the Blue Jays manager. he gave them what they desperately wanted--a winning team and great times at the ballpark. Pride shone in every face. It didn't last long but it felt like forever. That's baseball.

Baseball and politics have a lot in common.

In 2010, after seven years as manager of the province, Danny Williams had a fan base that was the envy of every other province in the country. He took on the Ottawa team managed by good guy, Paul Martin. Out of spite, Danny tore down the Ottawa team flag to intimidate his opponent. Everybody cheered and Danny assured us that we had won the World Series of the oil stakes. Money rolled in.

A few years later, he took on another Ottawa team managed by bad guy Steven Harper who used every trick play in the book to weaken Danny's fan base. In response Danny developed the ABC strategy to ensure that no one cheered for Harper and his team. In the end the game went into extra innings and both teams collapsed in exhaustion.

Danny resigned as Team Newfoundland manager in December 2010. Many of his heavy hitters followed him out the door. But before leaving Danny assured us that we could now hold our heads high. We felt good about ourselves.

"We are a have province," he said, in his final speech at the St. John's Board of Trade in September 2010. "Our fiscal house is in order and a model to the rest of the country."

As often happens in baseball and politics, replacement managers like Cathy Dunderdale and Paul Davis played a patchy game and no pennants came our way. New star players like Ed Martin (of Muskrat Falls fame) cost a small fortune but in the end the team fell farther into the murky doldrums of mediocrity.

Then in 2015, an upstart named Duhwyte had the b....(nerve) to suggest that he should be our manager. In terms of personal and managerial achievement he had received the Bowl of Hygeia--the very pinnacle of pharmaceutical achievement--fittingly the award depicts a serpent wound around a chalice of life-giving medicine.

He used terms like "resilience, excelling on the world stage, no lay-offs, healthy, happy communities and a winning team." "Sunny ways" was already being used by the Ottawa squad. Duhwyte's players quoted trite slogans. "A failure to plan, is a plan to fail," they said. And "If you can't listen, you can't learn."

It was all for "a stronger tomorrow," said Duhwyte. "We'll start by rolling back the HST increase." The result: a game winning home run.

His words were a sham. A shameless scam. A perverted shakedown quickly became a field of screams.

"I never said most of the things I said," said Premier Duhwyte recently, quoting Yogi Berra.

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