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.
What’s your biggest fear?
St. Charles, IL
Right now? Oh, that’s easy…
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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.
What race are you paying more attention to? The AL East? AL Central? Presidential?
I suppose that since this is a baseball blog, I should probably say baseball. And, I am keeping an eye on the AL Central, even if the maddening inconsistency of the Tigers has driven me into a self-protective shell. When it comes to politics, though, I just can’t keep myself away.
This is a big year for politics. It’s not just Romney and the Republicans in an attempt to repeal everything that Obama accomplished his first term. It’s also an opportunity for Americans to tell the Tea Party that they don’t represent America. A resounding defeat for Romney could finally show the Republicans that they need to remove the Tea Party cancer that eats at the GOP and their ability to effectively govern.
This past week showed once again how out of touch Romney is and why his Tea Party hijacked presidency would be disastrous. The contrast between Romney’s hasty statement regarding the events in North Africa and Obama’s studied response just illustrates once again which man provides real leadership.
That being said, it’s interesting to note the similarities between the presidential campaign and the baseball season. Both of them last much of the year and it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen until pretty late in the game. Two months ago the Pirates looked like they actually had a shot at making the playoffs. Six months ago it still wasn’t clear who the Republican nominee would be. However, at this point, with less than two months to go before everything is settled, the pieces have started to shake out and the picture has become a little more clear. Or at least we have a clearer idea of who the winners won’t be. Trying to say with any certainty who will still be standing on D-Day is nearly impossible.
I guess the difference for me is the drama. Yes, baseball has plenty of drama but the stakes are limited. Whichever team wins the Series retains their title as champion for one year. The world doesn’t change, except for the world of that team’s fans. An American president can change not only the course of the nation but also of the world. And it only happens once every four years. Now that’s some drama.
Still, I’d really like to see the Tigers end this White Sox charade once and for all. As for the AL East, screw the coasts.
Remember Marge Schott? Despite owning a team that won the World Series and being one of the first women to own a baseball team without inheriting it, she’s still best known for her racist slurs and comments on Hitler’s domestic policies. MLB eventually pushed her into selling the team in an effort to end what had become a huge embarrassment to the game.
Now, Mitt Romney hasn’t yet come out in favor of Hitler’s domestic policies and, although his church has some interesting views on minorities (as do most religions), he hasn’t yet had a George Allen moment. However, he illustrated this week why he isn’t ready to be President.
It’s interesting that Romney’s snafu took place on September 11. The thing that still stands out in my mind about that day in 2001 was the sense of unity afterward. Sure, it didn’t last, but for a few weeks we truly were all “just Americans.” We rallied around our country in its time of need and banded together to support each other.
Compare this with Romney’s response to the killing of US Ambassador Chris Stevens this past week. Instead of rallying behind the President, the country and the diplomats standing in harm’s way, Romney offered the following statement:
It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.
Now, aside from being patently untrue and misleading, a fact which Romney was made aware of and still refused to recant, it was also hardly the time or place to make such a statement, while the attacks were still ongoing and it was unclear how many people had died. It’s also telling that the statement was made without having all the facts and contained blatant lies. Granted, unapologetic lies have become a mainstay of the Romney-Ryan campaign but when it comes to Americans serving and dying for their country overseas, there’s simply no excuse for slandering them and their Commander-in-Chief.
It’s still possible that Romney could win the election. It’s also likely that he will continue this line of attack. But it’s essential that American voters see Romney for who he really is, just like MLB eventually had to do with Marge Schott.
My entire family votes Republican. I am not kidding. With the exception of me and my siblings, my entire extended family pretty much votes a straight ticket. This makes sense for about half of them since that’s the military half of the family. Republican administration=increased defense spending=job security. But the other half are blue collar workers, many of whom saw their union jobs either shipped south of the Mason-Dixon line to right-to-work states or out of the country all-together. Clinton may have been the one who signed NAFTA but the idea behind it, and the resulting job losses across the rust-belt, were all Republican initiatives.
The point is, it doesn’t make much sense for a paper-mill worker like my dad to be voting Republican. I can kind of understand why a millionaire former baseball player like Curt Schilling now shills for the GOP. Tax breaks and loopholes keep his nest-egg more ostrich-sized while the rest of us deal with our quail egg savings. And if you think any part of the middle class will come out ahead under a Romney/Ryan administration, you need to pull your head out of the sand.
You know, this story could be told much more easily via pictures. Let’s try that.
Serendipitous truth in advertising:
R-Money – rapper, Mormon, Republican candidate for President:
Now, why exactly is anyone from the middle class or any fiscal conservative planning to vote for this guy? I guess I should just ask my family. Chances are, they’ll be doing so.
What would MLB do if it turned out that Melky Cabrera was “legitimately” using PEDs? For the same matter, what if Barry Bonds came out and told us that he had been using the “cream” and the “clear” but it was legitimate so we didn’t need to worry about it? I’m pretty sure that the fans and MLB would call bullsh*t on both of them.
By now I’m pretty sure you know where I’m going with this since you couldn’t swing a cat this week without hitting some news about Clay Aiken‘s long-lost father, Todd. (Ok, fine, they spell their names differently but how funny would that be?) And with both sides of the debate more than willing to weigh in, once again the Presidential race turned away from the economy and back towards the Republican’s seeming fetish for pushing away women voters.
Getting back to the original question I posed, of course you’d laugh at Cabrera or Bonds’ statements (speaking of which, what is it with the Bay Area??). Whether it was “legitimate” or not, violating the League’s substance abuse policy means you have to face the consequences. Sure, some guys, like Bonds, Sosa and McGwire, benfited from Bud’s willingness to look the other way as long as the money kept rolling in. But the way things stand now, a violation is going to get you fifty games, just like Manny and Melky. Except for when it doesn’t. Yes, I’m looking at you Ryan Braun and your technicality.
Whether or not you get away with it, there is no such thing as “legitimate” or “illegitimate” PED use just like there’s no such thing as “legitimate” or “illegitimate” rape. And it’s important to keep in mind here that although PED’s may tarnish someone’s legacy or hurt a team in the playoff hunt, rape destroys a person’s life, no matter what Mike Huckabee or Todd Akin say. It has nothing to do with “legitimate” or “illegitimate.” It’s plainly and simply unacceptable.
A couple years ago I was out with some friends and even though it was still early in the night, one of the guys started dancing with a relatively unattractive young lady and making overtures to convince her to come with him and get out of the place. When I say early, it wasn’t even midnight yet and the place was open for another couple hours. It didn’t make any sense to me because a bevy of beautiful young ladies were still floating around, getting drunk and and seemingly unattached. I couldn’t understand what was happening because this guy isn’t bad looking, has an interesting job and should be able to do better.
As soon as possible, I pulled him aside and asked what he was thinking. He listened to my arguments for a moment and, once I had finished, responded with three words: “Go ugly early.”
In retrospect, he had a point. At the end of the night, all the pretty girls left and the rest of us were still there, desperately and drunkenly hitting on what was left. His thought was, why delay the inevitable when you can take care of things early and be assured of some sort of result. It may not be a winning strategy in terms of quality but it seems to work in terms of quantity.
This is why I’m not all that surprised to see the Presidential race already shaping up to be nasty. I guess if there’s any surprise, it’s that Obama, Mr. “Hope and Change,” seems to have gone there first and seems to be doing so pretty effectively.
Now, I’m actually of the opinion that Obama’s first term has been relatively successful. His actions and those of his team prevented the recession from deepening into a depression. Whether you agree with his politics or not, stepping in to save GM prevented catastrophic job loss at a moment when the economy could have crumbled under the weight of all those jobless people. However, it’s hard to prove a negative so Obama is instead saddled with the weight of continuing economic sluggishness and jobs numbers that just refuse to grow.
But that’s not the story at this point. Sure, it’s the summer and that means the undecided voters haven’t really tuned in yet. But it was also summer when the Bush campaign launched its “Swiftboat” campaign against John Kerry and when people finally started paying attention, that had become part of the narrative. Obama has managed to “Swiftboat” Romney with the tax return issue and if history serves, the issue will still be front and center come September when voters tune back in.
The story becomes even more interesting if you buy into the theory floated by Businessweek earlier this week. Romney has adamantly refused to release his 2009 tax returns despite calls by some in his own party to do so. This “lack of transparence” has damaged Romney’s standing but still he holds firm. Why? Well, Businessweek’s hypothesis is, maybe Romney didn’t pay any taxes that year!
It makes sense. The very wealthy took a bath in the 2008 crash but losing a lot one year often means a huge tax break the following year. So, if Romney’s fortunes took a dive, it’s natural and perfectly legal that he didn’t pay any taxes the next year. However, try explaining that to the millions of unemployed out there or the sizable number of voters already paying a higher tax rate than Romney in a normal year. The American electorate is notoriously immune to nuance. News of Romney not having to pay taxes in 2009, justified or not, could pretty much lock up re-election for Obama.
So, Team Romney sits tight and continues to get battered from all sides. Maybe they’re playing a Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope and want to wait until the news cycle is in their favor before releasing what might be completely innocuous tax returns. Or maybe they’re just going to play it this way all the way through to the end. All I know is that if Obama does win in November, you can chalk part of it up to my buddy’s strategy. Go ugly early.
Some folks have the gift of hiding their flaws. Then there are the rest of us.
Mitt Romney. So fresh and so clean. Such a good speaker. Smooth to the max. He’s as politician as politicians come: smarmy, creepy and full of s***.
How is Lindsay Lohan still getting work again?
And of course, in baseball, it doesn’t get any more pathetic then Mario Mendoza. Not only is his career .215 BA and dismal .507 OPS a benchmark for awful, but just look at the guy. Awkward. Awkward. And more awkward.
I don’t know this for a fact, but I would also be willing to bet Mendoza is a mouth-breather.
Hate me ‘cuz I’m crass, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Mr. Krause got married. YES! HE GOT MARRIED! So he’s off with his lovely wife, gallivanting the seven seas or something, til next week. Until he returns, I’ll be driving the RSBS ship, and I admit, I have had a bit too much to drink.
We have good news and bad news over here at RSBS. The good news is that the people of Venezuela could soon see themselves with an actual government instead of a cult of personality. The bad news is, RSBS could soon have to find a new baseball loving world leader it can make fun of. Sure, Fidel is still out there but he’s more of a hermit than a leader these days. And other baseball-crazy countries seem to have more pressing issues to attend to which means less time to turn their countries into Bolivarian Republics or anything along those lines. No, I’m afraid that when Hugo goes, the crazy goes with him.
So, RSBS is putting out the call. Help us find a new world leader (or at least some sort of opinion-maker) who loves baseball but is just a little loose in the cranial wiring. My first thought was Mitt Romney but since he might possibly be a unicorn, I don’t know as though he’s a viable option. Hillary Clinton seemed good, too, but it’s hard to play nice with someone who claims to be both a Yankees and Cubs fan. Granted, that’s still better than Bill Richardson’s claim to simultaneous Red Sox and Yankees fandom.
It might just be that we’ve hit a cold streak. World leaders love soccer and whatever sport their national team is good at. Baseball? It’s just too much of a niche. But hey, there’s always Japan!