Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine that you’re Carlos Maldonado. It can’t be easy being Carlos Maldonado. It’s tough to make a good first impression, because everyone’s first impression of you is going to be that you’re bad. First of all, the Nationals started the season with three people they’d rather have at catcher than you, and a fourth who has taken your backup job now that you’re on the disabled list. That’s bad. Second, the first syllable of your last name literally means “bad.” That’s also bad. Third, you’re actually pretty bad at baseball for someone who plays baseball for their job. So that’s definitely bad. You must have a very hard time convincing people who you meet that you’re not just a generally bad human being.
Now, let’s say you have a crush on that really cute girl who cleans your uniform. You see her at a bar after a game, and you go up to chat. She asks, “So, what do you do?” You tell her that you play baseball. She says, “Oh, what a coincidence! I clean baseball players’ uniforms! Are you good?” Now you’re in a real bind. You could lie and tell her you’re good because she doesn’t seem to know much about baseball, but you’re a bad lier. You could tell her that you’re bad at baseball, except that you’re bad at self-deprecating humor. You know it’s all over. You turn around and trudge home. Another sad night in the life of Carlos Maldonado.
Now, don’t stop pretending you’re Carlos Maldonado. This time, you’ve decided to quit baseball after being released by every team in the majors, and you’re trying to find a new career as a real estate salesman. You go in for the job interview. The interviewer starts you off with an easy one: “what’s your greatest weakness.” You’re a terrible hitter, everyone knows that. Piece of cake. Next question’s more of a challenge, though: “what’s your greatest strength. Well, you’re capable of fielding, in the same way that a sloth is technically capable of moving. So you say that. But you’re so bad at lying that even this half-truth is immediately detected. Interview’s over. Another night of ramen noodles and loneliness for Carlos Maldonado.
Now, let’s say that somehow you’ve been nominated to run for President. Don’t ask how, this is a thought experiment. You’re at a debate, facing off against the Democrat and the Republican. Wolf Blitzer looks straight at you and asks “how would you prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?” His beady eyes pierce straight through you, as if he knows all your darkest secrets. You freeze. You don’t even know what an Iran is, much less a nuclear weapon. Instinct takes over. “First and third! First and third!,” you shout, furiously patting different parts of your chest and head. No one understands what sign you just gave. You try to run, but security guards block the sides of the stage. So you jump into the audience and charge out the front door, wailing.
It’s election day, and you’re in the ballot box. You’re polling at 0%. You reach up to pull the lever to vote for yourself, but then you see your name, and all you can see is Carlos Bad-donado. That’s you. Bad-donado. You can’t bring yourself to do it. You walk out of the ballot box and go home. CNN Projection: Carlos Maldonado loses the presidency by every vote. Another night of unfulfilled goals and nightmares for Carlos Maldonado.
You can stop pretending now, if you’re not already incurably depressed. If you are, well, you might as well just keep going. The world can always use more people who have deluded themselves into thinking they’re professional backup catchers.