Op-ed: It ain’t baseball

  • By Bob Franken
  • Saturday, November 7, 2015 4:45pm
  • Opinion

Dyed-in-the-wool baseball fans are again counting the days until February. Now that the World Series is over, we must wait until the players report for spring training. All we have in the interim is hiring, firing, trading and some others sports to fill the gap — football, basketball, hockey, soccer, curling. Oh, there are a bunch of holidays, most notably Black Friday. Then there are the first presidential primary elections, which means nonstop campaigning. The beautiful reality of baseball refreshing itself is far away through the harsh fantasies of candidate promises.

The two parties are making a mockery out of “If you build a field, they will come.” This field of candidates is hardly a dream, and if it were, it would be a bad one. In baseball there are rules, lots of them. In politics, there is only one: play dirty. In baseball, it’s not at all common for athletes to dump on the play-by-play announcers for any errors. In the campaign, as we’ve seen, those who report and moderate the beanball toss are to blame for everything. That’s how it seems, anyway.

It was funny to watch as the various candidate organizations tried to take over the coverage of their nutty encounters. Funny in a pathetic kind of way — even more hilarious because the lineup couldn’t agree on just what it was that they’d change.

There was some talk in the Republican team, the Reds, about combining their major and minor leagues into one big contest, finding room on their stage, somehow, for all 15 of them. As it stands now, they only have to bat .0025 to play in the bigs. The others, the ones who barely show up in the standings, are consigned to the undercard or oblivion.

That’s a good news/bad news situation for the Sweathogs. It’s good, because very few see how you do. It’s bad because very few see how you do. If anyone.

The Democrats obviously don’t have that problem. Their lineup has been winnowed from six, which was pretty winnowed to begin with, to three: The queen, the crusty old guy and the kid jumping around for attention. Actually, Mr. Grumpy has been doing quite well, meaning the queen was not amused. Even the troublemakers from the other team tried to throw at her head, she batted their high hard ones out of the park. Her biggest problem now is to not look cocky as she circles the bases and panders to the base.

Of course, she also has to keep her wary eye on those playing sandlot pickup games in that big sports arena on Capitol Hill. Their game is similar to rugby, where they pretend the point is to move the ball, but it’s really to hurt each other. What’s so interesting about those contests is that each participant is a team of one. The only common goal on the GOP’s side is to inflict as much pain as they can on that guy who lives in the big White House up the street. Actually, you have two units … on the House side everyone pummels everyone else; in the Senate you just have a bunch of geezers talking a lot. In truth, some are young, some are female. But somehow in the Senate, they all become geezers.

In Washington, the joke among disgruntled sports fans (rarely do you find gruntled sports fans in Washington) is that the best season is the off-season. That’s when the teams’ PR champs take over to convince everyone that next year will be better. Of course, next year comes, and it’s not any better. Unfortunately, in politics there is no offseason. And this one is just getting revved up. Next year opens in February in Iowa, and then goes forever. It doesn’t end until November. Then it immediately starts up again. One other thing: Everybody loses.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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