Let’s take a brief break from covering people leaving the Supreme Court and potential replacements, and focus on somebody who is not going anywhere any time soon. In a sports-centric interview with the Philadelphia Daily News, Justice Samuel Alito goes into some depth about his love for the game of baseball and the Philadelphia Phillies.
You know it’s a good interview if I’m covering a right-leaning Justice who likes the Phillies. It’s not easy to write with tears in your eyes. But Alito makes it worthwhile by showing us a little bit of his personal life:
On the shelves are a Phillies cap, several framed pictures depicting various Phillies players, autographed baseballs, a book on the 1950 Phillies Whiz Kids and other Phillies-related memorabilia.
Justice Alito’s work couldn’t be more serious. The decisions he participates in have an enormous impact on the country. Baseball is his escape. And the Phillies have always been his favorite team.
Well, Alito is far more respectable than the last Phillies fan who graced these pages.
We’ve noted that baseball is such a natural fit with the judicial process. Alito also gives us the scoop on the favorite teams of other SCOTUS Justices:
Unfortunately I had a bet with Justice [Sonia] Sotomayor about the outcome of the World Series. She’s a Yankees fan. Justice [Antonin] Scalia is a Yankees fan. So we had a bet, cheesesteaks vs. Nathan’s hot dogs, and I had to provide Nathan’s hot dogs.
Justice [Stephen] Breyer is a Red Sox fan and Justice [John Paul] Stevens is a Cubs fan. He claims to have been present when Babe Ruth called his shot [in the 1932 World Series] at Wrigley Field. [Smiling] Although about 200,000 people claim to have been in attendance at that game, I trust him that he actually was.
What about John “The Umpire” Roberts? Meh, he probably just roots for a well-played game.
Alito also has some thoughts on the great baseball debates on our time. What would he do if he had a Hall of Fame vote?
Should steroid users be allowed into the baseball Hall of Fame? It’s a judgment call, so how would Justice Alito handle it?
I don’t know that there’s any other sport where statistics have the same meaning that they do in baseball. Everybody knows about 60 home runs or 714 home runs or hitting .400 or winning 20 games and all that. So when you have a whole era in which it seems pretty obvious now that a lot of players were using illegal substances and as a result have elevated statistics, it undermines something that’s very important to the game….
I guess if I were a voter I would probably not vote for a player who was known to have taken steroids. I’ve thought that maybe what baseball should do as far as the statistics are concerned is create a separate category for that era. It’s a little unfair because I’m sure there were players who had remarkable performances during that time who did not take steroids. So it’s unfair to tar them with things that other people did. But it’s hard to tell, so maybe they should just have a separate category of statistics for the 1990s or however you want to bracket that era.
Is that an argument for a living Hall of Fame?
Most surprisingly, Alito is not locked into the traditional method for evaluating baseball players. Apparently Alito is trying to embrace the sabermetric revolution:
My son is a very rabid baseball fan. He’s really into the sophisticated baseball statistics. He does computer programs, analyzing everything. My wife accuses us of talking only about baseball. [Laughing] Once the season begins, she gets tired of hearing us….
I’m very interested in [sabermetrics] and I’m attracted to it. I can’t say I really understand it all that well. But it makes a lot of sense to me. I guess it has its limits. But the nature of baseball just lends itself to a statistical analysis.
Any Justice that understands that RBIs are a useless and terrible statistic is okay in my book.
Q&A with Justice Samuel Alito, a Supreme Phillies fan [Philadelphia Daily News]
Earlier: Female Phillies Fans are Easy