Results tagged ‘ Election ’

RSBS Presents: Allen’s 2012 Post-Partisan Playoff Preview

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.

-A

The Decided Voter

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:

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.

-A

Tangible Intangibles

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.

-A

RSBS Presents: Candidate, Inc.

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.

Barack Obama

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 Biden

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.

Mitt Romney

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.

Paul Ryan

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.

-A

The Filibuster

What race are you paying more attention to? The AL East? AL Central? Presidential?

Mark
Barrington, IL

_____________________________

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.

-A

Marge, Meet Mitt

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.

-A

Not Just a Punter

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.

-A

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.

Some Happy for Yer Friday

As we enter the beginning of the most exciting time of year (baseball playoffs and football season and an election, oh my!), I think it’s important that we keep in perspective that which brings us the most joy.  Sure, hosting a Guinness keg party while dressed in my Yadier Molina jersey flanked by the Shannon twins is pretty much the happiest day of my life (that hasn’t happened yet but might), I still know that even if all that other stuff falls through, I will always have baseball.

And sometimes, within the game of baseball, we can find something much simpler that pushes the happy button.  I know a lot of folks have been wrapped up in the admirable and impressive play of Mike Trout.  People are just as infatuated with his grace and dominance as I was am infatuated with Stephen Strasburg and all things Strasmas.  It’s the little injections of youthful awesomesauce that often remind us why we love baseball so much.  It is a kid’s game after all.

But sometimes waiting for the next big thing isn’t necessary.  I have found that out this year by following Coco Crisp very closely.  My history with Crisp has been one of hilarity, peppered with some dazzle.  And while his offensive numbers may not hypnotize scouts, enough can never be said about how he plays the game.

He plays hard.  He plays to win.  He’s in on every pitch and he goes balls-to-the-wall.  In fact, I have gotten to the point where I’m watching replays of his relay throws and conducting frame-by-frame analysis on his routes to fly balls.

If I could get to Oakland, I’d rather watch Crisp long-toss than Cesepedes take BP.

Okay, so maybe I’m lyin’ a little bit in that last sentence, but one thing is for certain: Coco Crisp’s defensive play is worth focusing on and if you focus long enough, you’re probably going to see something that puts a smile on your face.  Maybe even an afro.

Happy Friday!

Jeff

¿Que Hora Es?

If there’s one problem that baseball management and the Republican party have in common, it’s in trying to relate to hispanics.  And whether it’s cultural differences, the language barrier or continued attempts to push everyone with a hispanic sounding last name out of the country, the problem won’t be going away anytime soon.

However, we here at RSBS prefer to be part of the solution so we have a suggestion for both the GOP and MLB front offices.  The answer is “education.”  If you don’t at least make an effort to understand the culture and the language, you’re going to find yourself on the wrong end of the bat nine times out of ten.  I’m not saying you need to learn how to merengue or be able to tell the difference between a Venezuelan and Mexican accent, but you should at least have some basic level of understanding.

Now, I realize that with the end of season approaching and the general election in full swing, neither Republicans nor baseball’s movers and shakers have much extra time on their hands.  Luckily, YouTube has once again come to the rescue.  Give it a try and see if you don’t notice your multicultural empathy meter running over within minutes:

It couldn’t be any simpler.  All you need to know is, “¿Que hora es?”

-A

R-Money and Self-Loathing Middle Class

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.

-A

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