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.
Who should throw out the first pitch if the Nats make the Series?
In a city known for its hot-winded bureaucracy, I can definitely see this scenario as something DC suits would fight for. I mean, who wouldn’t welcome the public relations boost that would come with leading the charge in Washington’s first World Series since 1933?
The problem is, I wouldn’t want any currently serving politicians out there on the mound. Obama, a clumsily outspoken White Sox fan with an awkward delivery, would not be a good choice considering the pending presidential election and his penchant for wildness. And asking a former president such as George W. Bush, a man who can certainly hold his own on the baseball diamond, would also be a bad choice considering the awful PR that would go with it.
The first pitch in the World Series should be by someone who is just as much a part of the spirit of Nationals baseball as the players and coaches and front office. It should be someone with great leadership skills. Someone who is adored regardless of political affiliation. Someone who is dead.
It should be Teddy Roosevelt.
Since the Expos became the Nationals, fans of this ill-fated franchise have had little to cheer for… except for Teddy Roosevelt. And yet despite leading the charge during the Spanish-American War, despite conquering an elusive elephant whilst on African safari, and despite surviving a bullet shot from John Schrank’s gun, the stuffed man still cannot find a way to sit atop the Presidents Race podium.
The very least DC could do is give him the first pitch.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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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.
The closer we get to the election, the more the rhetoric heats up. Both sides fling out unbelievable claims trying to sway the “undecided” voter who somehow gets to decide every election. Both parties try to get propositions and amendments on the ballot as well in an effort to get normally apathetic voters out to vote and hopefully, by extension, then also vote for that party’s guy. It’s a cynical tactic, especially when you realize that these “tactics” affect real people.
I think that’s why I appreciated the letter Minnesota Viking’s punter Chris Kluwe recently wrote in support of Baltimore Raven, Brendon Ayanbadejo. His second point is particularly important as it brings up something that should hit close to home for any baseball fan. Yes, while we generally prefer that our sporting heroes don’t remind us of the difficult realities faced by many people and while many of us prefer to use sports as a means of escape, sports and the athletes who play them have a unique ability to reach a mass audience and to change social norms. Jackie Robinson wasn’t just a baseball player. He was the death knell of Jim Crow. Hopefully guys like Kluwe and Ayanbadejo can do the same to this insane war on human rights being waged right now in the US.
P.S. I can’t wait to hear Baseball Serendipity’s response to this one. If it’s anything like last time, we’ll all be in for a treat.