Tonight’s foreign policy debate promises a healthy dose of the Middle East and what each candidate thinks the other one should do or should have done with respect to places like Libya, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Romney will hammer Obama on Benghazi, completely ignoring the reality of the situation and the fact that a President should not be micromanaging things like security at a small consulate. Obama will talk about energy independence while choosing to continue ignoring our infatuation with the Saudis and their oil despite that country’s status as serial human rights abusers and traffickers in persons.
It’s too bad we can’t focus on some of the good things. Like the baseball diplomacy program that uses MLB players as ambassadors to baseball crazy countries in Latin America and attempted to use the game to thaw relations between the US and Cuba. Or how about the exchange programs where female American athletes travel all over the world to teach basketball and soccer clinics to young women in other countries?
We aren’t going to hear about any of that tonight. But we should.
The long delay during game 3 of the NLCS left a void that simply could not be filled by the WNBA playoffs. And then when it became apparent that the Tigers would have to postpone their opportunity to bring this year’s edition of the Evil Empire to a close, I had to face reality. No baseball for the evening.
However, this left me a little time to follow up on my favorite instant meme from Tuesday night’s debate: Binders Full of Women.
It’s amazing how in less than a day we’ve gone from:
all the way to:
Rain may have halted baseball for one evening but it can’t stop the internet. Or Mitt Romney and his binders.
Man, that sure turned into a dogfight. Seriously, just a few days ago it seemed like everything was decided and then, BAM, everything’s back up in the air again. The thing is, we could really be talking about a few different things right now. It could be Jayson Werth’s walk-off homer in DC to force a game 5. It could be the two different series going to decisive game 5’s in spite of teams jumping out to a 2 games to none lead in both. Or it could be the Vice Presidential debate where Joe Biden and Paul Ryan slugged it out like a couple of prizefighters.
In the end it really doesn’t matter which one you choose because no matter what, it was highly entertaining. Me, I love Joe Biden so it was great to watch him come out swinging. He didn’t win in a knockout but if you were scoring at home, it’s pretty safe to say he took the match on points. Which may not be so surprising since this is who he was going up against:
Uh, dude, 1990’s Will Smith wants his outfit back. The Fresh Prince of Hot Air, if you will.
But getting back to the entertainment aspect, the same goes for the playoffs. There was drama all over the place and if the next round is half as entertaining as the play-in games and the Division Series, we’re in for some good baseball. I love October, almost as much as Paul Ryan loves backwards hats.
This year there’s a good chance that the American elections and the World Series will end within a week of each other. And since nothing says America like baseball and apple pie, that’s good news. More than that, both of them have the chance to be doozies this time around. Baseball had it’s first play-in wild card game. The Presidential election has it’s first candidate who wears magical underwear. The whole world has turned upside down but luckily we just get to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Normally I’d spend quite a bit of time here explaining how we get to the end and who goes where. I’d predict the Yankees and Orioles while waxing rhapsodic on the Giants and Reds. I’d try to compare each one to a major figure in the two parties and then slowly whittle both sides down until we had a final face off. Somehow I’d work both Paul Ryan and Joe Biden in there, trying to set Biden’s propensity for off-the-cuff remarks (“He’s clean AND articulate!”) against Ryan’s propensity to rearrange the truth into a freakish facsimile of itself (“Yeah, bro, I totally ran a marathon in less than three hours despite having to stop to rescue a small child and his kitten from a burning tree”).
But not this year. This year is different. This year is already set. This is the year that Willard Romney and Barack Obama throw down for all the marbles. And this is also the year that my Tigers and Jeff’s Cardinals meet again for a rematch of the 2006 World Series.
That’s right folks, although it may not seem probable or even possible, you heard it here first. The World Series this year will be a Red State Blue State phantasmagoria. Justin Verlander vs. Adam Wainwright. Jim Leyland vs. the guy who replaced Tony La Russa. Prince Fielder vs. not-Albert Pujols. Triple Crown winner and likely MVP Miguel Cabrera vs. anyone stupid enough to actually throw to him. It’s a matchup for the ages.
So, how does this match up with the Presidential race, you ask? Well, like this:
Barack Obama, like the Cardinals, is the incumbent, and both find themselves in much shakier positions than when they last won. The Cardinals are playing with a ragtag team and no longer have master strategist La Russa at the reigns. Meanwhile, Obama is playing on a field that tilts a different direction each week depending on jobs reports and the unemployment rate. The Cardinals come in on the high of winning the inaugural Wild Card play-in game while Obama has been surfing the wave of Bin Laden’s death. But both of them have come crashing back to earth in the last few days with Obama’s performance in the first debate and the Cardinals’ dropping game one of the Division Series at home. But you’d be stupid to count either one out just yet.
Willard “Mitt” Romney, just like the Tigers, almost made it to the finals last time but fell just short in the end. And both of them seem to be getting hot at just the right time. The Tigers finally found that next gear they had been missing all year as they sped past the White Sox and then took a quick 2-0 lead over the A’s in the Division Series. Willard seemed to do the same as he used an excellent debate performance to make up ground in the polls. Sure, he may not have been anyone’s top choice coming out of a field that included a man whose name is now synonymous with the “frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex,” but he did pull it out in the end (no pun intended) and now has the parties elites linded up behind him (again, no pun intended). Similarly, the Tigers probably didn’t top anyone’s list limply sliding out of an impressively putrid AL Central (seriously?) but here they both are.
But, the answer you’re all dying to know is, “Who wins?” And it’s a tough one to call. On the one hand, I’d love to see my Tigers finally pay pack the Cardinals for ruining our run in 2006. On the other hand, although I realize there aren’t that many differences between the Republicans and Democrats, I really don’t think that Romney’s indebtedness to the Christian right and the Tea-Party are good for our country’s future our for our role as a leader in the international community. As I’ve said before, it’s great to have your team win but what happens in politics affects not just us but the rest of the world…
…which is why I will celebrate with a heavy heart when the Tigers win the World Series. I’ll cheer my Tigers during the first week of November but I’ll grieve for my country in the second.
Don’t hate me because I called it right last time. Hate me because I’m right this time.
I know I’ve already talked about it but at this time of year, we hear a lot about the “undecided voter.” Here’s the thing, though. This is what an “undecided voter” really looks like:[youtube http://youtu.be/ArC7XarwnWI]
I don’t know about you but I prefer not to leave my future in the hands of that guy.
You know whose hands I don’t mind leaving my future in? This guy:
Hopefully there are no undecided voters when it comes time to vote Miggy for MVP.
Although both political candidates and baseball teams have spent hundreds and thousands of hours working on strategy and trying to put together the perfect roster to bring home a win in November, there’s just no way they can prepare for the intangibles, what Donald Rumsfeld would call the “unknown unknowns.” For the sports teams, there’s always the specter of injury as well as the impossible to predict quality of “getting hot at the right time.” In politics, the things that keep campaign managers up at night include supposedly off-the-record comments and the fickleness of the “undecided voter.”
Guess that means it’s time to spend another couple hundred hours on strategy.
Just like baseball teams and really any other sports franchise, politicians also are enterprises. They may not be incorporated in quite the same way and maybe the legal terminology is different but look at the facts. They have to build a brand around a name. They want to figure out how to get you, the consumer, to spend your hard-earned cash on whatever it is they happen to be peddling. They have no trouble floating with the winds of whatever fad has taken the country by storm at a certain point in time. The sad fact of the matter is that Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith never really existed except for in our collective imagination.
But this is where it gets fun. Sure, it’s easy to compare different sports franchises with different companies, expounding on their similarities and noting the token differences. But if politicians are corporations, too, how do they stack up against their private sector counterparts?
Well, luckily for you, RSBS is here to fill you in. Since we don’t have enough time to go down the list and match up every politician with the business that he most resembles, we’re just going to use the four most important politicians of the moment, the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. So, without further ado, RSBS presents: Candidate, Inc.
We begin with the sitting president and initiator of one of the most formidable marketing campaigns of recent memory, Barack Obama. His meteoric rise from being born to a single mother to Chicago neighborhood organizer to President of the United States is the American Dream personified. It hasn’t always been easy and six months ago it seemed that his run had finally come to an end. But somehow he used his rivals’ mistakes and his own impressive skills to claw himself back from the edge of ruin. Sound familiar? It should because it’s pretty similar to the same path taken by one of the companies he saved, General Motors.
Joe hasn’t always had an easy ride, even if it’s sometimes self-inflicted. But the man just keeps coming back. Severe stutter as a child? Bounces back. Wife and daughter die in a car crash? Bounces back. Makes vaguely racist remarks about a fellow candidate? Bounces back. Sure, he may not have ended up being number one but vice-president ain’t too shabby neither. And Joe has his moments. Remember when he managed to drop an f-bomb on national television? Or when he basically called the Republicans the reincarnation of Southern plantation owners? You may not always love him and he may not have come out on top but the man has something. Kind of like the Ford Motor Company.
Moving to the other side of the aisle, we have the scion of a wealthy and well-connected political family who just can’t seem to figure out what that all means. Sure, he’s ambitious and it’s obvious that he’ll go to all sorts of lengths to win. But what does he really do? What does he really stand for? Does he attend NASCAR races to see fast cars driving in circles or to hang out with the team owners? He’s kind of like Kodak. Like Kodak, he had all the keys to success but then he couldn’t figure out how to reinvent himself when the paradigm shifted. He was successful as governor mainly because he worked with the other party and even adopted some of their policies. And you know what? It worked! But then his digital camera moment came along, the Tea Party, and despite having all the advantages, he just can’t seem to put it together. The way things are going now, Romney appears set to follow in Kodak’s tracks. I’m pretty sure losing the presidential election would hurt just about as bad as being dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
And finally we come to the baby of the group, the newcomer who in the past two years pretty much has come to define what “Republican” means today. The “Paul Ryan Budget” plan, the championing of causes close to the hearts of the Tea Party faithful, his anointment as heir apparent and placement on the presidential ticket. It’s an amazing valuation for a young and relatively unknown congressman. In fact, it reminds me a lot of another brand that rode to national prominence based on similar parlor tricks. However, when you ask how Enron‘s stock is faring today, the best you can hope for is a look of awkward questioning as the other person hopes you’re just joking. It turns out that it was all just smoke and mirrors. Paul Ryan? Pretty much the same thing.
In today’s political landscape where corporate cash injections pretty much determine the course of events, it makes sense that the candidates themselves would have to begin acting like corporations in order to succeed. But since that mindset has become the de facto organizing principle for everything from baseball teams to high schools, chances are we should probably just get used to it. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to figure out what kind of businesses we’re dealing with.