When you are in a particular ball park for no reason other than the fact that it is on your “Ballparks Yet to See” list, and the visiting team you are watching was dictated by the fact that this was a convenient date to visit that particular ball park, who do you root for? Like most of the rules we study in law school, the rule for this situation initially appears to be fairly simple, but as we apply the rule to different factual hypotheticals spun by the professor, we see that it is rather complex.

Back when I lived in New York in the 70’s I had a friend who said that he liked to watch baseball because it was a beautiful game, but he did not care who won. I suppose that kind of aesthetic approach could work for art. You can admire a Picasso and a Pollock and say they are both aesthetically pleasing without having to think about who would win if they were to duke it out (my money is on Pollock). But as far as baseball is concerned, he is full of shit. You have to have a rooting interest in the game.

So what do you do when Cleveland is playing Minnesota, as was the case when I watched a game at Progressive Field (just testing whether you have learned the stupid names for parks. In case you have not, and I don’t blame you, that is The Park Where Cleveland Plays) last Friday night. I don’t particularly care about the Clevelands, and it seems kind of mean to have anything against poor Minnesota, but the default rule is simple: You root for the home team. This is dictated both by common courtesy and by the song:

Root root root for the home team

If they don’t win it’s a shame.

Footnote (I can’t figure out how to make this program create a footnote, so you will have to pretend that when I write “Footnote” you are reading a footnote). At Cleveland when the song was appropriately sung before the bottom half of the seventh inning, the aesthetically unpleasing scoreboard (more about which you will read in another post) commanded something like “Sing on Key.” This command was supposed to be a plug for Key Bank, but it was offensive to those of us who feel we are entitled to belt out the song even if we are incapable of singing on key. The fact that the Indians have a politically incorrect name should make them more sensitive to those who are differently abled, and proud of it. I recommend that Cleveland adopt a policy of inclusiveness, which might lead them to say something more like, “Key encourages all to sing, irrespective of their sex, race, creed, color, sexual preference, or singing ability.”

Back to the rule. The obvious exception to the rule is if the team is playing the Red Sox, or if you happen to be at a game at Yankee Stadium. This corollary to the rule is dictated by the moral imperative, which holds that:

Red Sox = good

and

Yankees = bad (make that evil)

Since good is better than evil, the default rule must give way when the outcome dictated by the default rule would either lessen the amount of good in the world or increase the amount of evil.

Now here is where we play law professor, and spin hypotheticals that test your ability to apply the rules. In a couple of weeks we will be visiting The Park Where Pittsburgh Plays and they will be playing the Dodgers. We have no rooting interest in the Dodgers (except that Orel Hershiser was a Dodger and I have had the Me and Orelpleasure of playing poker with him), but my wife does, since she was born in Los Angeles. I am not sure this counts, because she was born in 1955, and the Dodgers didn’t arrive for a few more years, but I suppose what matters is not that the team was there when you were born, but that it was there when biology says you are ready for imprinting with loyalty to a baseball team (I will check this with the Human Genome Project and report back as to where that particular allele is located), and that probably came a bit later. So do we root for the Pittsburghs or the Dodgers? If this were an SAT exam, we could create an analogy question like:

Red Sox is to Scott as

Dodgers is to Terry

Although it isn’t quite the same, because nothing is like loyalty to the Red Sox, in the interest of humoring the wife, we will say that it is. So the Preserving the Marriage Rule trumps the Home Team rule, and we will root for the Dodgers.

Here is a more difficult hypothetical. Assume that you are at The Stadium Where Texas Plays and the Yankees are visiting. This appears to be a simple situation where our default rule, root for the home team, is further supplemented by our corollary, root against evil. But further assume that the Red Sox are in a battle for the Wild Card with the Rangers and a Yankee victory over the Rangers would help the Red Sox secure the Wild Card. Do you then root for the Yankees? You are right if you thought that this is a trick question, for there is no dilemma at all. If you are going to support the triumph of evil to achieve a short-term worldly goal, you have lost all moral perspective and there is no longer any hope for humanity. Go Rangers!

Having established the Rooting Rules, we bring this post to an end.

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