Baseball and Politics: The Not-So-Odd Couple

Baseball and politics have more in common than most spectator sports do

Here are some similarities between America’s favorite pastimes:

Baseball teams have managers, batting instructors, bullpen coaches, and advance scouts. Political campaigns have managers, communication directors, policy advisors and advance staff.

Pitching staffs have lefties and righties. Politics has leftists and right-wingers.

The baseball season is too long. Political campaigns are much too long.

Major Leaguers change uniforms based on which team gives them the most money. Politicians change policy positions based on which donor gives them the biggest campaign contribution.

Baseball & politics - Woodrow Wilson, 1st Pitch, 1916
Woodrow Wilson throwing out the first pitch in 1916.

Baseball has sports-talk-radio. Politics has conservative-talk-radio (there is also liberal-talk-radio, but it is decidedly minor league).

Baseball players use steroids. Politicians hold hearings about steroid use.

Baseball players thank the Lord after a big win. Politicians thank the Lord in their victory speeches.

Baseball players say that they are playing for the fans, when they are really playing for their next contract. Political candidates say that they are running to give power to the people, when they really want power for themselves (or a job with FOX News).

Baseball has spring training. Politics has non-binding straw polls.

Baseball players wear mitts. Politics has Mitt Romney.

Major League ballparks have astroturf. Manufactured political movements are astroturf.

Baseball has the luxury tax. Politics has the Bush tax cuts.

Baseball teams go to war, batters hit bombs, and bullpens blow up. Controversial politicians are bomb throwers, experienced campaigners are battle tested, and candidates are ambushed.

Baseball has bases. Politicians have their base.

Baseball has farm teams. Politics has farm subsidies.

The World Series ends the first week of November. The presidential campaign ends the first week of November.

Baseball has small market teams and big market teams. Politics has the 99 percent and the one percent.

Politics has blue and red states. Baseball has the Reds and Bluejays.

Baseball is all about the money. Politics is all about the money.

A version of this essay appeared in the Newark Star Ledger on April 29, 2012

Ben Krull
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