[T]his appreciation for diverse views may also come in handy as a diehard Mets fan serving alongside her new colleague-to-be, Yankees fan Justice Sotomayor — who I believe has ordered a pinstripe robe for the occasion.
—President Barack Obama, May 10, 2010
Elena Kagan has been nominated to serve as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. And Elena Kagan is a Mets fan.
Let’s be nonpartisan about this. Let’s celebrate that the president’s choice to be one of nine members of the highest court in the land has already shown Amazin’ judgment. Let’s hope that if confirmed she disbars Paul Schrieber from ever umpiring again.
Can Supreme Court justices do that? She’s a Mets fan whose robe will definitely not be pinstriped. It will be Mets black, with blue and orange undertones. Constitutional parameters notwithstanding, she can do what she wants.
Bill Clinton came to Shea Stadium to retire Jackie Robinson’s number. He kept coming to coming games after he left office. The George Bushes were related to one of the Mets’ original directors, G. Herbert Walker. The first George Bush threw out of the first ball of the 1985 season to Gary Carter. The second George Bush appeared on the Shea Goodbye DVD recalling attending Spring Training at St. Pete with Uncle Herbie in 1962.
This is nonpartisan. This is about the Mets being a part of the lives of the last three presidents. Now a fourth has done more than go to a game. He’s got a Mets fan potentially making nation-altering decisions. She’s already decided to be a Mets fan, which is pretty good. We as a nation can take our chances from there.
Barack Obama is a White Sox fan. He graduated from Columbia University in 1983. I’m reading a biography of him right now that fails to include an anecdote about how, as a senior, he and a friend decided to break the tension of studying for finals by hopping on the 1 downtown to the 7 at Times Square and heading to Shea Stadium to see Tom Seaver early in his second go-round as a Met, not on Opening Day, but on a chilly April night when there were only 4,000 people in attendance. It’s not included, I’m guessing, because it never happened, but I’d like to think it did.
“It was a makeup doubleheader,” the president recalls in my fantasy passage. “Tickets were cheap, which was good, because we didn’t have much money, being students and all. Yet nobody minded that we sat in those orange seats that were always empty on TV. We could only stay for a little of the second game — had to get back to the apartment to study.” Obama, in my dream bio, would then go on to mention how he met Seaver at a White Sox alumni function when he was an Illinois state senator and how Seaver remembered tripling that night more than he remembered pitching a shutout. Then, turning serious, Obama recalls the perfect form form for which Tom Seaver was known (“I used to watch him on the game of the week in Hawaii and I loved how he used his legs”) and how he adapted late in his career when he didn’t have his fastball, and how we, as Americans, can take a lesson from that.
Barack Obama never said any of that. Never went to a Mets game while attending Columbia as far as I know. Too bad. All presidents should go to Mets games. If Ronald Reagan were still alive, he could urge Jeff Wilpon to tear down that wall in left. If Franklin Roosevelt managed the Mets, we’d have nothing to fear from seeing Gary Matthews and Frank Catalanotto soak up at-bats because he would institute a New Deal and trade them both. If William Henry Harrison had managed the Mets…oh wait, he did — reincarnated as Salty Parker (and again as Mike Cubbage).
Republicans, Democrats, Whigs, whoever. Now is the time for all good Mets to come to the aid of their country. And vice-versa.
A Supreme Court justice may be a better fit for the Mets than a president. The Mets exist mostly because of the brilliant mind of a lawyer named Bill Shea. Supreme Court justices are supposed to be shielded from the day-to-day nonsense of political bickering. We like to sit quietly in our chambers and contemplate the great issues of the day, like why is Oliver Perez still here? And let us not forget the note Justice Potter Stewart’s clerk delivered to him on October 10, 1973, one Stewart shared with Justice Harry Blackmun:
V.P. AGNEW JUST RESIGNED!!
METS 2 REDS 0.
The Mets would go on to win the game and the pennant. Spiro Agnew would be replaced by Gerald Ford, who would replace Richard Nixon. Nixon went to Mets games as he lived out his political exile in New Jersey. In July 1990, he told Larry King the Mets were going to the World Series: “The Mets will make it because of pitching.” Like Nixon versus Kennedy, the Mets finished second. Still, he did shake Tom Seaver’s hand at a reception for major league All-Stars in 1969.
“Oh,” Nixon greeted him, “you’re the young man who won for the Mets even when they were losing.”
A good Tom Seaver anecdote helps every president look good. Failing that, putting a Mets fan on the Supreme Court is a step in the right direction. Good luck to Elena Kagan, one of ours. If she’s confirmed by the Senate, and her gavel happens to slip and conk Sonia Sotomayor on her Yankee-lovin’ noggin during some future oral argument, well, let’s just chalk that up to a lack of pine tar on the handle.