Baseball season is finally here. Compared to football and hockey, watching baseball is a pretty serene and calming activity.
One of the late George Carlin’s funnier and non-profane skits concerned comparing the differences between baseball and football. “In baseball you play on a diamond, in a park. In football you play on the gridiron, at the stadium, sometimes called War Memorial Stadium. … In football you are concerned about ‘downs.’ In baseball, you discuss who’s ‘up.’” And so forth.
So as I think of the lighter side of sports, I am drawn to how it would be if we measured baseball against one of our other major sports in the country, presidential politics.
Even if you count the spring training and the playoffs, a baseball season only lasts about eight months. Presidential campaigns have been going into a lot of extra innings, and now pretty much stretch to almost two years long. If you count the campaign pre-season, you could make a good argument that the season is almost four years long.
The number of players on a baseball team is regulated by the leagues. In presidential politics, who knows how many men and women might want to play on the team? More on that in a moment.
In baseball you have a commissioner who runs everything, and what he says is pretty much law. In presidential politics there really are no rules. Ok, maybe there are somethings like election laws, but do they really mean anything? While politicos talk endlessly about who is doing what in Iowa and New Hampshire, there seem to be more significant “primaries” going on for the benefit of folks like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson.
In politics, of course, there are really only two teams, the Republicans, wearing red, and the Democrats, wearing blue. Every now and then some independent sets up a team in the presidential league, but they never win and they usually fade away after the election.
For the 2016 season we have two very different teams for the blue team and the red team. Like in baseball, every team starts with a 0 wins, 0 loses record, hoping to win the World Series. But it comes down to the quality and strength of the players on the respective rosters. And unfortunately, money – lots and lots of it; which I guess is like baseball. Like in baseball, not all teams are equally talented. So let’s take a look at the two 2016 presidential team rosters.
The Reds (Republicans)
They sure have a big roster. It is also more diverse than past cycles. But why are all those people trying to make the team? Let’s look at the line-up.
Ben Carson – he is certainly a smart doctor, but his mouth will lead him to being cut from the team.
Ted Cruz – he is certainly a smart lawyer, but his mouth will lead him to being cut from the team.
Mike Huckabee — seems like a nice guy, sort of like a team’s bullpen catcher. Not likely to get in the game.
Rick Santorum – as they say in baseball, he’s had his cup of coffee in the big leagues, but it’s time to find another line of work.
Sarah Palin – she doesn’t really expect to play on the team, but doesn’t want to be forgotten.
Donald Trump – he will tell you that he really wants to play on the team, and he really means it this time, unlike when he (later) admitted in effect that he lied about wanting to run for governor. What he really wants to do is to buy the team, but not for too much, and when he doesn’t get it, he will bad-mouth the new owner.
Jeb Bush – pedigree sometimes work in baseball. Think the Fielders or the Bonds, for example. And in politics, we’ve had the Adams, the Harrisons, the Roosevelts, the Bushes. Jeb has his own record, and may well make the team, as long he bats right, hits right, plays right field.
Chris Christie – professional sports, perhaps more in football than in baseball, are littered by potential superstars whose activities ruined their chances of making it big. Christie won’t make the cut.
Marco Rubio – lots of potential. A switch-hitter – see immigration, gang of eight. Young and may have trouble with fast balls. But likely to survive through the season.
Bobby Jindal – can only hit singles to right field. Won’t make the cut.
John Kasich – seasoned veteran who could very well make the team.
Mike Pence – owners don’t like players who alienate the fans.
Rick Perry – got cut from the team last cycle because of his own unforced errors. But he has been working on his swing and may get another look.
Scott Walker – has a strong record on the farm team, but big league pitching is a lot harder to handle. We’ll see.
Rand Paul – hotheads usually don’t make the team.
John Bolton – likes to throw the bomb. In the wrong sport here.
Bob Ehrlich – minor leaguer who won’t make the cut.
Mark Everson – who?
Carly Fiorina – in a league of her own. Previous record doesn’t look too good.
Jim Gilmore – why?
Lindsay Graham — an interesting character, sort of like Bob Uecker, which may open up beer commercial opportunities.
Peter King – only in it to aggravate Cruz. So why is he sitting on the bench?
George Pataki – had a decent minor league career, but no one remembers or cares.
The Blues (Democrats)
They don’t seem to have enough players to fill out their roster. Whatever happen to their minor league system? Either in 2016, or in the cycles after that, the blue team is going to need to figure out how they can build some strength on the bench.
Bernie Sanders – hits left, throws left, plays left field, over toward the foul line. Can’t hit for power.
Elizabeth Warren – hits left, throws left. A fan favorite, but that’s not a reason to add her to the team.
Joe Biden – belongs in the hall of fame. But when you’re in the hall of fame, you don’t come back to play.
Jim Webb – minor leaguer without much promise.
Martin O’Malley – minor leaguer with some promise, but will need to wait until the star playing in front of him retires.
Lincoln Chaffee – traded himself from the red team.
Hillary Clinton – the team is counting on her. Lots of talent. Lots of unforced errors. Is there enough to carry the team?