In defense of Roberts as "umpire"

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In response to this earlier comment about John Roberts, a lawyer from Ohio writes:

"Actually, I like the analogy.  Remember in the old days, then the American League umpires all wore their huge bulky chest protectors outside and the National League umpires had smaller ones on the inside of their shirts?  It was said that the AL umpires called more high strikes and had a higher strike zone because they could not get down as low as the NL umpires.  Maybe it was true, maybe it wasn't.  But that was the perception among the players, the ones most affected by the strike zone.
 
"Likewise, I remember in 1997 when Eric Gregg, a very fat umpire, called an outside strike for Livan Hernandez in the ninth inning against the Braves.  From looking at the camera, the ball was a good foot off the left side of the plate.  But since Gregg was already pretty shaded to the left, it looked good to him.
 
"Judges, like umpires, do call balls and strikes.  But like umpires, if they are too shaded to one side of the plate, they will call balls as "strikes" on the side they shade to, and will call strikes "balls" on the other side.  It is clear on which side of the plate Roberts shades.  And I don't know why no Dem followed his umpire analogy to its logical conclusion."

The late Eric Gregg, who died four years ago, after a stroke at age 55:
Gregg-Umpire.jpg


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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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