Calvin Trillin, Deadline Poet

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As Elena Kagan's Confirmation Hearing Approaches, We're Reminded of John Robert's Promise to Be an Umpire Calling Balls and Strikes

By Calvin Trillin

Regardless of which laws he likes,

He's only calling balls and strikes.

Of balls and strikes that he has eyed,

The union pitches all look wide.

When criminal defendants try

To throw a strike, it's always high.

Consumers make for easy calls:

Their pitches simply all are balls.

By chance, the pitches that are great-

The ones that nick or split the plate;

The ones deserving of ovations-

Are pitched by cops or corporations.

A left-wing lawyer sharp as Darrow

Will find the strike zone much too narrow.

Behind it, crouching, is the Chief,

Quite confident in his belief:

Regardless of which laws he likes,

He's only calling balls and strikes.

From the Nation's June 7, 2010 issue.