baseball, enlightenment, humor, philosophy, politics, quote, riff

Riff on a Yogi Berra Quote

Some of the many humorous quotes (mis)attributed to Yogi Berra may be trenchant expressions of genuine wisdom, not just funny malapropisms.  Consider Yogi Berra’s Law.
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In Yogi Berra’s Washington Post obituary, the subtitle “American philosopher” is well-chosen.  While some of the quotes attributed (or misattributed) to Yogi Berra may just be funny malapropisms, some strike me as quirky ways to say something important, akin to Zen koans.  One of his gems is widely applicable and especially relevant to a world on the brink of ecological and/or political collapse.  It deserves a special name.  It is also so widely quoted that 2 versions are common, as indicated below:

Yogi Berra’s Law
The game ain’t over til it’s over.
It ain’t over til it’s over.

Yes, the original context was baseball.  With 2 outs in the bottom of the 9-th inning, the home team may be trailing.  Yogi rightly admonishes both the home team (to resist despair) and the visitors (to resist complacency).  A lot can still happen with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9-th inning.  I prefer the shorter version of the law because it is more explicit about the law’s generality.  “It” could be almost anyhthing.

My current context for heeding Yogi Berra’s Law is the imminent inauguration of Donald Trump as POTUS.  At best, this event marks the start of 4 long and nasty years in the US.  At worst, this event might combine with trends elsewhere (in China, Europe, and Russia) to start a new Dark Age.  To consider the worst case is prudent, not alarmist.

Mindless repetition of platitudes like

  • It can’t happen here.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
  • It is always darkest just before the dawn.

is no substitute for the eternal vigilance that Jefferson said is the price of liberty.  (There are other prices.)  I resist the complacency of those platitudes; I also resist despair and continue (in my own small way) to be a citizen rather than just a complainer.

In a late inning in the biggest game of my lifetime, the Enlightenment is trailing.  That sucks.  But 2+3 is still 5 and Yogi Berra’s Law is still true.

12 thoughts on “Riff on a Yogi Berra Quote

  1. I just hope the passion and activism push-back doesn’t loose steam by the next election cycle in 2018. The judiciary is a Constitutional stop gap but that may be tenuous especially if there are more Trump judicial appointments. Republicans seem intent on lock-step following and blind to principle. So a closer Congressional minority differential or Dem majority is our best hope. But that means voter turnout. And that means young people staying active and not getting complacent. Which brings to mind another Yogi quote: “If the people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them.”

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Complaining isn’t bad citizenry; it’s patriotic. Complaining means you care.

    I could have had the most memorable photo of all time when I was a kid but Yogi dissed me. My buddy’s father (a loyal Yankees fan) took my buddy and me to a Tribe vs Yankee game. After the Tribe’s loss (of course), we went to the back of the old Memorial Stadium to where the Yankees’ locker room was. Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner came out together and chatted briefly with my buddy’s dad (he thought he had the answer to the Yanks’ pitching woes, which he felt obligated to instruct them on). Just when they both had agreed to take a picture with us, Yogi came strolling out. I held out my baseball for him to sign and asked him to join in the photo and he said… “Sorry kid. Too tired,” and walked straight on the bus without even looking at me. Still, even without Yogi I got a great photo and signed baseball with Billy and George out of it so I’ve always taken his diss “with a grin of salt.”

    Great post, as always, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks.

      Maybe I can think of something that is still short while being more explicit than JUST in my “just a complainer” phrase. The folks who complain w/o actually doing anything are the ones that irk me.

      Too bad Yogi brushed U off. But calling pitches and squatting to receive them really is tiring. Especially for a philosopher. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m old but not quite that old – He was one of Billy’s coaches at the time, not the catcher. 🙂

        I hear you about complaining without action – however, your blogging is your action, IMO. At least that is how I view my blogging/complaining about things important to me at my site: my very own public forum for protestation and call to action.

        Liked by 1 person

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