CBS 2 School: The Politics Of Baseball

The 2 Teachers

The 2 Teachers, Dan Larsen and Andy Conneen (Credit: CBS)

Rarely do we combine baseball and politics. Who would want to? Baseball is, after all, America’s pastime. We play and watch baseball to get away from all of that other stuff. Right?

Sorry, but you would be wrong. Baseball and our political self have so much in common. Just look at this year’s teams playing in their respective championship series.

Take the Philadelphia Phillies. Philadelphia was home to our constitutional convention back in 1787. Our Founders created a limited government in order to protect individual liberty. Republicans have appealed to this narrative in hopes of ousting a Democratic Party now labeled as reckless big government spenders. Republicans this midterm cycle have also appealed to more and more fillies. A number of high profile Republican races include notable female candidates. Conservatives have struggled in the past to overcome a gender gap. Now their stable is full of high profile fillies.

The New York Yankees have dominated post-season play for as long as we can remember. Kind of like how New England elites have dominated our political process. This too is changing. Yankees have won it all in the past but less likely this year. Conservative southerners are increasingly playing a decisive role in our national political agenda. Expect new teams and new players both in the World Series and our political arena.

The San Francisco Giants continue to surprise baseball fans everywhere. They shouldn’t. The Giants are one of the most celebrated baseball franchises in history ever since their glory days in Brooklyn. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, represents San Franciscans. Like the baseball team, she was underestimated when she first assumed the leadership role. The giants, however, in today’s political atmosphere are those independent expenditure groups. Big money is being poured into today’s campaign independent from the candidates. It is a new day in political fundraising.

The Texas Rangers may be the big story in baseball this year. They are also a lot like the big story in today’s politics. The Lone Star state has always played by different rules. Today’s rule breakers most definitely are the Tea Partiers. Our two-party system usually polices itself. Yet in this midterm cycle independent voters have clearly wandered away from both Democrats and Republicans. They are ranging toward any party platform they can trust. Tea Partiers claim an agenda determined to bring back common sense and fiscal responsibility. The traditional parties do neither.

Phillies, Yankees, Giants and Rangers? We love baseball but we also love politics. This post-season our baseball teams have a lot to teach us about our politics.

In 2005 the Montreal Expos moved and became the Washington Nationals. The sports editor for the Washington Post has documented this story in an excellent book entitled: National Pastime: Sports, Politics and the Return of Baseball to Washington D.C. (2006). Little did the author know how redundant his title sounds.

Wasn’t Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals going to be that transformative pitcher? Not a good season for the transformative players inside the Beltway.

Sure do love baseball. Just like my politics.