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In the past couple of weeks, as my favorite team has closed in on a World Series berth for the first time since the Loma Prieta earthquake and I’ve tried to keep up with a busy practice, I’ve given a lot of thought to the similarities between law and baseball. Nine years ago — the last time I gave this much thought to baseball (the San Francisco Giants won 103 games that year) — I became convinced that the law was really an outgrowth of baseball, and that we could all learn a lot from studying baseball (as a disproportionately high number of lawyers do, to distraction). I say this not because the most senior partners at the Am Law 100 firms take a vow of poverty next to mediocre Major League shortstops, but because I — and most other sane people — would rather hit a home run than answer an interrogatory or take a good deposition. Chipper Jones on his worst day — when he grounded into a series-ending double play that gave the Giants a National League Divisional Series win over the Atlanta Braves — probably has more fun than most lawyers on their best day. Of course, not all of my colleagues in the legal profession care about baseball. I remember years ago a former associate of mine told me she was leaving San Francisco to teach constitutional law at an Eastern law school and would get to teach a First Amendment seminar. “Wow, that sounds like fun!” I exclaimed. “You’re gonna get paid to teach the First Amendment! That’s like getting paid to play baseball!” “Better, for me,” she deadpanned. Me, though, I love the First Amendment, but if I could handle a curve ball from a pitcher as well as I can write a brief, I’d be wearing baseball pinstripes, not Nordstrom’s pinstripes. Give me first base, not a first amended complaint, any day. I usually talk to my kids about baseball, not my job. Why does baseball hold such allure for some lawyers? Are there some fundamental similarities between law and baseball that can teach us some deep inner truths about either, or both? Let me suggest a few: � Both offer an organized way to resolve disputes between parties or cities. (Beware, however, the intersection between the two, such as when supposedly grown men litigate who caught Barry Bonds’ 73rd home run.) Los Angeles and San Francisco need not maintain standing armies — the Giants and Dodgers (or Angels and Giants this year) will do. � Both baseball and law have judges who call ‘em as they see ‘em and, occasionally, err. — See, e.g., Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000) � (Supreme Court selects President who got fewer votes than his opponent after error-plagued Florida election); compare St. Louis v. Kansas City (1985) (umpire Don Denkinger misses call at first base in ninth inning of sixth game of World Series and ends up determining the outcome of the World Series). � Both have winners and losers, and occasionally in both, the winners deserve to lose and the losers deserve to win. � Justice is blind. So are many umpires. � Both baseball and law consume inordinate amounts of time, although here baseball has it all over litigation. Baseball has tried, unsuccessfully, to reduce the time of the average baseball game, which consumes more than three hours. But even with the Trial Delay Reduction Act, it still takes more than a year to resolve most cases. Which profession would you rather be in? � Both exalt history, precedent and trivia to degrees unmatched in any other profession, sport or business. If you can’t cite precedent, you get laughed out of court. Likewise, if you don’t remember the last time the Giants won the World Series, you can’t truly appreciate baseball or the current fortunes of the local nine. (In both cases, think back to 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education, and the Giants last won the World Series. As a fervent believer in equal education and the Giants, it’s been a long wait for both. and “all deliberate speed” has been way too slow.) I could list several other similarities between law and baseball, maybe even do a Letterman-style Top 10 list, but you get the point. I like my job a lot, but if I could play like Barry Bonds or Kenny Lofton, I’d be singing, along with John Fogarty, “Put me in, coach, I’m ready to play, today, centerfield.” Karl Olson plays litigation partner for Levy, Ram & Olson in San Francisco. He is the proud owner of seven Giants caps and a veteran of 20 Lawyer’s League softball seasons.

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