Pomeranz: The best of October: politics and baseball

Walking into Yorkside on Monday night, wet and weary, a senior saddened by midterm mania, I found on the TV a bit of my lost soul: the World Series. Like millions of my fellow Americans, I love the World Series. Everyone loves the World Series as much as everyone loves anything in this increasingly fragmented country.

As you know, then, the heavens opened in the sixth inning, just after the Rays tied the game. (Formerly known as the Devil Rays, Tampa Bay, having rid itself of diabolical influence, is now part maritime predator and part sunbeam.) The tarp came out to keep out the rain and we began to wait.

While waiting, I recalled the other contest that waits suspended for its three-inning finale: our presidential election. Perhaps you share my feeling that we are now in a sort of rain delay. The presidential election began before the last World Series. All until now is spring training, with the possible exception of the primaries. (I grant that primaries are a large exception, the way that the American League plays baseball with the exception of the designated hitter.) The managers may shuffle their bullpen plans, but the Get Out The Vote machines can’t start getting out the vote until those final 72 hours.

The rain didn’t let up on the poor City of Brotherly Love. Baseball suspended the game, tied, waiting for better conditions. It resumed last night, two days later, as I write this column. By the time this goes to print, the game will have been played. You might flip now to the back of the News to find out whether the Phillies won or whether the Rays have brought it back to St. Petersburg.

Glad to have you back. Some time ago the executives at Fox sold Obama’s campaign half an hour of ad time, in one fell swoop overtaking most state secretaries in importance. His piece did not delay the game, contrary to early reports. It did, however, eliminate the need for pre-game coverage, an idea I rather like. With all due respect to the few excellent and many acceptable sportscasters who drown out our repetitive armchair-analyst relatives (so far as my father is concerned, every layup in the NBA’s last two decades has been a travel), pre-game coverage doesn’t often add much. Every presidential candidate should be required to announce and to analyze at least one World Series game on national television. The same should hold all the way down, so that candidates for governor in flat states like my own must do a regional broadcast of a Twins-Royals game, or maybe AAA playoffs, and candidates for alderman must watch a T-ball game and shout.

To call a baseball game is no less presidential than the million other things we require presidents to do, and much more accessible to most Americans. I mean that with no criticism. We ask our candidates for the highest office in the land to mingle with hoi polloi, doing what we do, eating what we eat, and cursing at the same dumb coaching mistakes we curse at. The harmless rituals and rites of our political game are beautiful, and their beauty justifies them. You get the sense, watching Barry (as his high school basketball teammates called him) shoot baskets, that just maybe you could be him.

Obama’s charming oratory and McCain’s easy town hall meetings are two sides of the same respect for Americans that these two men share. Each seems honorable and ordinary — how remarkable that we afford ordinaries honor! Yet here we are. The original and enduring appeal of Obama’s rhetoric was its assumption — against so much of the Democratic and Republican rhetoric of your and my pre-Obama years — that we are all the same. Obama articulated this very old American insight. Even if they’re too busy, busier even than a Yale senior with pizza and problem sets, I bet there is nowhere that Palin, Biden, McCain and Obama would rather be tonight than watching the World Series.

What a country.

Michael Pomeranz is a senior in Silliman College.

Comments

  • Mae

    Requiring presidential candidates to do play by play (or even color) for a world series is a good idea. We would be able to see how excitable and erratic each is and whether they want to "spread the breaks around". However, there are those who would clearly think that calling a Super Bowl would give us better insight into how muscular each is on defense.

  • L

    Having a candidate call a world series makes sense. It would be more substantive than most of their stump talks.