Donald Trump and now Aaron Boone? What’s going on?
A well-known businessman, who spent considerable time on TV after he had made his money, was elected president — in case you’ve been living in a hole somewhere for the last year or so — despite not having any experience whatsoever as a politician.
Then, recently, the New York Yankees, who expect a championship every year and aren’t fond of learning curves, went out and hired someone whose playing claim to fame as a Yankee came with one swing 14 years ago. After his playing career ended, Boone entered the broadcast booth where he talked about the game.
Like Trump, Boone was beamed into the leaving rooms of those who paused to watch the program that featured him.
And now, like Trump, Boone must do some quick on-the-job training, becoming a modern-day manager.
Now, I don’t expect Boone to attack other players, managers or umpires on Twitter, the way the president has done when he unloads written salvos against anyone who dares to defy or annoy him.
What I’m wondering, though, is how did these men get their jobs? Since when is experience doing a high profile job no longer necessary? What made Trump and Boone the choice of the Electoral College and the best candidate to make the Yankees greater again, respectively? These Yankees, after all, were surprisingly great this year, falling one game short of the fall classic.
One word may answer that question: television. Somehow we have gone from the comical notion, years ago that “I’m not a doctor, I play one on TV,” to the reality of “I know better because I seem that way on TV.”
Long ago, in 1960, when Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy were running for president, TV helped sway voters, particularly those who watched an important debate. So, I suppose, it seems like a logical extension to imagine that TV helped fast track the careers of people who spent time sharing their thoughts, tag lines and observations with us through that same medium.
Sports and reality TV have commonalities. A sport is the ultimate live, unscripted event, where people offer off-the-cuff thoughts and analyses on fluid action. Each game and each moment can bring the unexpected — a triple play, an inside-the-park home run or a hidden-ball trick — that requires an instant reaction.
Similarly, albeit in a different way, the reality TV that brought Trump to the top of the political heap gave him a chance to respond to changing situations, offering a cutting analysis of the potential, or lack thereof, for people on his show.
While viewers watch these familiar faces and hear their voices, people can become convinced of the wisdom and abilities of these TV stars who become spokespersons and champions for their own brands.
So, does Trump offer any insight into Boone? The new Yankees manager may find that second-guessing other people is much easier than making decisions himself and working as a part, or a leader, of a team.
Trump has bristled at all the second-guessers. While he’s familiar with the media scrutiny, Boone, too, may find it irritating that so many other New Yorkers are absolutely sure they know better when it comes to in-game decisions that affect the outcome of a Yankees contest.
Perhaps what Boone and Trump teach us is that selling your ideas or yourself on TV has become a replacement for experience. TV experience has become a training ground for those selling their ideas to the huddled masses yearning for a chance to cheer.