Giants-Phillies Championship Series a Treat for Torture Professor

Categories: Sports
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.

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.

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.

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