“By all good souls is he abhorred…

…who’d make a Babbitt of the Lord” is the moral of Thurber’s fable, “The Bat Who Got the Hell Out”. This story, about the revival-meeting atmosphere of the Colorado Rockies, is irritating to the point of creepiness, rolling up fatuous pietism, hypocrisy, and flat-out blasphemy, in a wrapper reeking of intolerance and pride, and generallly besmirching two institutions that deserve better (baseball and Christianity).

The idea that a God one might worship should be invoked to give your baseball team (!) an edge over another approaches the arrogance of the “God is my copilot” bumpersticker. The value structure under which a player who solicits a prostitute is fired and $16m of his contract with him, while a manager nailed for drunk driving (which can kill people) just gets to make everyone else act more better is not easy for me to distill out of the Bible. Apparently these guys believe it’s their faith and clean living that explains their amazing run of wins: can we infer that if they go down in the series they all fell off their pompous wagon in Boston dives of the Scollay Square tradition? are any of these millionaires thinking about camels and eyes of needles, or does that apply only to some other false sect? Of course Ty Cobb’s Christian forbearance, generosity, and clean living was the source of his ballplaying chops…

Sheesh; let’s render unto with a sense of fitness and proportion, or we’ll be starting games with “Pray ball!”

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.