McDaniel:Legal Beagles Beat Up Opponents, Umps on the Softball Field | Word on the Street
by Douglas McDaniel
Jun 17, 2007 | 350 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Word on the street is Telluride is one of the best places to get into law school.

Not at Harvard. Not even Pat Robertson's Regent University School of Law, where graduate Monica Goodling, now a senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Justice Department liaison to the White House, was inspired to create her own problems.

Sure, Goodling “no longer seems to know what the truth is,” as a critique of her legal work on the web states, but in law school and in the legal system, that seems to be the point. I sympathize.

That’s because the law school I’m referring to (certainly, it’s pre-law, I think) takes place nightly on the softball fields of Town Park, where out of about a half-dozen games we have played, I’m only sure of the outcome for about half of these contests.

The rest of the games are subject to some kind of appeal, due to self-inflicted infractions beyond comprehension.

Surely, lawyers are involved.

Not surprisingly, these disputes have something to do with start times, failure to start times, the lack of sunlight, time, distance, space, a failure to remember, as in keep score … the usual suspects.

Softball and its ancestor, baseball, always serve as a great metaphor for our culture. Sports law, in Major League baseball, is booming, too.

But in small-town Telluride, a place well-populated with lawyers, former lawyers and wannabe lawyers, we are blessed with this combination from the Town Park vantage point of what, exactly, utopia might look like if, for example, everyone on the grounds weren’t practicing Buddhists.

They make a lot of hay about the Colorado Rockies playing at a mile-high ball park and all, but in Telluride softball trumps all of that to the extremes. So players, umps (the poor devils, mere arbiters in the throng of lawyers) and Town Park staffers are occasionally caught up in moments of severe legal extreme and physical distress; or, SLED, if you need a more holistic-slash-psychiatric-sounding term.

During the pre-season meeting of teams, coaches and town Parks and Rec staffers, gave an overview of the rules of conduct, schedules and so on. That’s where the symptoms of SLED begin, according to my study, soon to be mailed off to the New England Journal of Medicine.

At that meeting, we were given a sheet that included the result of a survey which asked players and managers if they were in favor of a full slate of rules changes. Most of these seem to be directed at trying to save time, which is necessary, considering the incredible usage demands being placed on the park. But, as if the rules of the game were some kind of Rubik’s cube vulnerable to amendments, the survey seemed to be open to turning the game into anything else than what it is. Such as soccer.

Fortunately, as far as I could tell, none of the survey’s versions of post-hippie, high-altitude alternative softball were endorsed. And the actual questions of our team’s survey sheet are now buried and dusty in the squad’s bat bag.

But now everything seems to be up for debate, and I’m not just talking about legal interpretations of the infield fly rule. 

Questions remain, such as the score of those inconclusive games, now surely up for debate within some high-level Parks and rec appeal process. That’s OK, at least there is an appeal process. But it’s also worth noting that the legal issues involved have already been fully discussed on the field, during the game, mostly by ourselves and those teams that, while thrashing us, clearly have corporate ambitions in their minds since, after all, they have uniforms.

Maybe softball in Telluride is really a beautiful community metaphor, though, because it does exist in extremes in an idyllic locale where both law and science can be fully studied.

I mean, out in the outfield, I have my own problems. The laws of physics seem to be on hold. The ball seems to fly differently here than anywhere else. Must be the altitude, the air pressure, the weird winds, global climate change, whatever. Answers are certainly forthcoming. I just want to know the score and this: Is the government telling us everything it knows about gravity?
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