One of the gifts my old man gave me is a love of baseball and I played a lot of ball growing up.
In those days the umpires were often kids only slightly older than me, they didn't get paid much and usually the calls weren't based on right and wrong as much as what would get them home sooner.
Even at that tender age the instincts that would serve me as a reporter kicked in.
"Just because he's an ump," I would complain to myself, "doesn't mean he can change the rules of the game."
Those days come back to me as I watch the mess that is the impasse in Washington right now.
A group of lawmakers, morally opposed to the President's Affordable Care Act, is holding up the funding of big pieces of government by continually tying health care reforms to the spending package.
The President, unwilling to part with what is arguably his biggest accomplishment in office, says the two issues are mutually exclusive and he won't negotiate.
So the beat goes on. Or doesn't.
It is well within the rules of the game in Washington to seek support for something by offering support for something in the other guy's bin.
That's called compromise. That's called governing.
But tying up the purse strings of government until changes are made strikes me more like the kid who stubbornly holds onto the ball because he wants to play shortstop and not right field.
My dad taught me that when the game is over and you lose then you walk down the line, stick out your hand and say "good game."
All of this is just a preview of what could be a much bigger and much more dangerous fight, that over the raising of the debt ceiling.
An impasse there could affect the full faith and credit of the American dollar, still the stabilizing standard in the world economy.
That would do more than stop the game. That would close the refreshment stand and most likely the gas station across the street too.