Maybe they go five-for-five. Maybe they hit a walk-off. Maybe a diving stop followed by a double play wins the game. ESPN’s “Top Ten” has lots of different kinds of highlights. Point is that there are as many ways to have a great debate as there are great baseball days.
Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina both had great debates, because they did everything they did very well. “Five tool” players rarely use them all in one game, but Fiorina and Rubio did. To them, the laurels.
Scott Walker got in one towering homer, to mix a metaphor, by putting the first harpoon into the Great White Whale of Hillary’s server and the consequences of its compromise to national security, Walker strategically positioned himself to remind GOP audiences again and again that “from the first debate forward I have pursued this issue and I will not let it go. Not now. Not as your nominee. Not as president.” The details on NATO, troop deployments and missile defense were stellar.
Chris Christie came back from an injury and played well. John Kasich entered the majors for the first time and turned a lot of heads — a lot of heads. Ted Cruz, relegated by the moderators to pinch hitting, nevertheless sent screamers into the holes, and folks noticed. Gentle Ben Carson, well he charmed. Teams need bench coaches as well.
Trump, well he is Earl Weaver. You may have to look that up. But it’s true.
Mike Huckabee and a lot of others have the feel about them of being on their farewell tours around the league. Lots of applause. But he’s not building a team around him or others.
Then there is Jeb. The enigma. The guy who is supposed to be batting clean-up; he’s being paid to bat clean-up, but he isn’t hitting. Most of Jeb’s answers, to quote the immortal Bob Uecker in “Major League” we’re “juuust a bit outside.”
The former Florida governor has a combativeness deficit. He is at ease and shines in extended, substantive conversations about complex subjects, but his runway is long, and his DNA-deep civility restrains him in the debate platform setting. His wit — real and quick — was on the DL. And to wrap up my overextended metaphor, he was one for four with a walk and an error on Thursday night.
But it’s a long season. Opening day is fun. But it is just opening day.
This column was originally posted on WashingtonExaminer.com.