Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Giants-Phillies Championship Series a Treat for Torture Professor

Posted By on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 8:25 AM

click to enlarge giants_baseball_torture_hat_p148068073542315759qz14_400.jpg
Yesterday, we decided to put the San Francisco Giants slogan, Giants Baseball: Torture, to the ultimate test. We contacted Professor John Yoo, primary author of the infamous 2003 "torture memos." When it comes to defining torture -- or explaining it away -- he ought to know.

Yoo returned our messages. He didn't produce 90 pages of text, as he did for the '03 memo. But he did give Giants baseball the same assessment as "interrogation techniques" that don't lead to, say, organ failure: 

Responding to an e-mail hoping to "talk Giants baseball," Yoo answered:

I'm a die-hard Phillies fan, grew up in Philadelphia.  I've lived through

decades of terrible Phillies teams.  I am looking forward to the Phillies and

Giants meeting in the playoffs.

When we asked if Giants baseball constitutes torture, he responded:

Whatever Giants' fan think they are enduring, it is nothing compared to

Phillies' fans and their decades of losing teams.

From this brief interchange, we learn two things. First, Yoo is a happy man right now, as the Giants and Phils square off in the National League Championship Series starting Saturday in the City of Brotherly Love. Second, Yoo's baseball logic is far easier to cut through than his legal argumentation.

click to enlarge John Yoo appears to be giving the Phillies less credit than they're due
  • John Yoo appears to be giving the Phillies less credit than they're due
Within the lengthy torture memos (you can read it all here and here), Yoo simultaneously paints a broad definition of what the government is entitled to do -- and an incredibly narrow definition of what constitutes "torture." 

Yoo's legalistic arguments are difficult to refute, either emotionally or factually. His baseball opinions, however, are considerably easier to contend with.

That's because, twice within Yoo's lifetime, the Phillies have won the World Series -- in 1980 and 2008. This oversight by Yoo is odd; the team's '08 title and National League Championship last year would appear to vindicate long-suffering fans -- not embitter them.

Yoo's memory regarding the Phillies' historical ineptitude -- and how it stacks against the Giants' -- is also questionable. Since he was born in 1967, let's say he's been following the team since 1976.

In addition to the team winning a title when he was 13 -- the height of eigth-grade baseball fandom -- the team made the Series in 1983, too. In fact, he mid-70s Phils were remarkably good -- winning 100 games in '76 and '77 and 90 in '78.

click to enlarge Not attending a game with John Yoo anytime soon
  • Not attending a game with John Yoo anytime soon
Since the bicentennial, the Phils have treated their fans to 14 losing seasons. The Giants, however, have finished below .500 17 times. The Phils have won the National League East nine times. The Giants won the west five times.

So Yoo's bold assertion -- "Whatever Giants' fan think they are enduring, it is nothing compared to

Phillies' fans and their decades of losing teams" -- simply does not ring true. Philly's reputation as a loser team was built up in a long-bygone era; the team made only two World Series between 1915 and 1979, losing in '15 and '50. Since that time, however, the Phils have been no worse than many other teams -- and, frankly, better than the Giants.

You can't avoid the observation: John Yoo's baseball logic is tortured.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF

and @SFWeekly 

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • SF Pride Parade 2015
    A sea of spectators gathered along Market Street on Sunday, June 28 for the SF Pride Parade. Photographs by Calibree Photography.
  • Trans March 2015
    The San Francisco Trans March celebrated its 12th year, along with the Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage, which was voted in favor of gay marriages across the nation, on Friday, June 26, 2015. Photographs by Michael Ares.