On July 14, President Obama took the mound in a Chicago White Sox jacket in St. Louis to throw out the first pitch of the All-Star game.
The lanky southpaw from the South Side threw a dying quail of a pitch that reminded fans: he's a great basketball player.
But presidents can inspire, and on Thursday, Mark Buehrle of the White Sox, who shook hands with President Obama, threw a perfect game: a no-hit, no-walks, no-errors 5-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
This tied the White Sox with the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central Division. The president's team is in a pennant race.
And the president doesn't have to just stay on the sidelines. In Chicago, politics isn't just the chance to do good, but to do some good for your friends.
So this week, I wondered if the president could declare that it's a matter of national security for the White Sox to acquire another good starting pitcher for their pennant run.
I received a bracing analysis from Lior Strahilevitz of the—it may not surprise you to learn — University of Chicago Law School, who says the Supreme Court's 2005 Kelo decision upholds the right of cities to invoke "eminent domain" to transfer property — which, no matter how much money they make, baseball players are — to stimulate economic development.
"Under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution it's not impermissible for the government to try and, say, transfer land from a Motel 6 to owners who want to build a Ritz-Carlton on it," he said. "And you could imagine taking the contract of a really gifted player from a last place baseball team to a first place team like the White Sox as fitting within the same paradigm."
"I think you can make an argument that a really gifted pitcher, Zach Greinke, toiling in front of a few thousand fans in Kansas City, would acquire a lot more attention, many more fans and, frankly, boost the economy on the South Side if he could be thrown into the midst of the pennant race," Strahilevitz said.
Of course someone like Professor Alan Dershowitz — rather famously, a Red Sox fan — and his colleagues at Harvard Law School could file some spurious objection. But Lior Strahilevitz points out the Red Sox are in the American League East. Harvard would have no legal standing.
"I mean, I think as we discussed it so far, we've really confined ourselves to the American League Central Division, so I think I would tell my colleagues at that terrific law school to, you know, mind their own business," he said.