Wednesday, October 27, 2004

All-American Baseball Values

Tonight, under the first total lunar eclipse ever seen during a World Series game, the Red Sox may well break the curse that has kept them from championship since the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918.

Ordinarily I’m a National League loyalist; I blame the American League and its designated hitters (along with Astroturf) for drugs, violence, high real estate prices, bad movies, the rise of illiteracy, and the decline of moral values in this country. I may not believe in their responsibility, but it makes a good rant.

However, I have powerful inducements to cheer the Red Sox. For more than a decade, I’ve been a fan of Curt Schilling’s elegant ferocity on the mound. This post-season he’s been playing with a ligament stitched up before each game -- and with his white leggings gradually turning scarlet as the wound reopened. And of course both he and Red Sox manager Terry Francona used to work for the Phillies. I also have a sentimental feeling for the Red Sox, based on my family’s historic links to the Bay State and the large numbers of dear friends who are Bostonians.

Then there’s the curse. I have a sense of solidarity with those who feel themselves profoundly, unjustly unlucky. So their status as perennial losers also argues that I should keep cheering the Red Sox.

Yet are not greater issues at stake here? If the Red Sox win, are we doomed to four more years of mad-cowboy disease with the former owner of the Texas Rangers in the White House?

Election Fun Fact: Presidential Candidates and the World Series

Is there any correlation between who wins the World Series and which political party wins the White House every four years?

Since 1908 (the World Series was not played in 1904), when the National League team won the World Series during a presidential election year, the Democratic candidate won five times and the Republican three times.

When the American League team took the World Series, Republicans grabbed the White House eight times and Democrats seven times.

So a slight edge goes to the Democrats when a National League team wins, and a tiny edge to Republicans with an American League victor. That may be fitting given that Republican George W. Bush once ran the American League Texas Rangers.

Now, this article was published four years ago, before the Yankees beat the Mets in five tight games -- with at least one bat thrown. The outcome then confirmed the trend: the Republicans and the American League win together.

I’d like a split decision: the Red Sox to win, George W. Bush to lose decisively. And if it comes down to choosing one or the other, I’d rather see Curt Schilling hobble home with a scarred ankle and no World Series ring than see four more years of the most corrupt and incompetent administration since Warren G. Harding.

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