The Crimson Batter and the White House

It’s the fifth inning. Boston is 4-0 as I write these words. Mark my words: the Sox will make it. And if the Sox make it into the Series, then I have a strange feeling that Kerry will take the White House with ease. It’s only a working theory and I have nothing sizable to go on other than the Massachusetts connection. But for the love of baseball and for the love of the nation, suffuse all your good juju into the Sox, baby. Let’s take this nation back. Preternaturally. This will be Mass’s year.

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  1. It’s more than just a Massachusetts connection, even if you can’t quite put a finger on it. For a while now, I’ve been developing this theory that the Red Sox are to the Democratic party as the Yankees are to the GOP. I too can’t quite flesh it out with a proof, but it strikes me as true in a very real sense.

    The corollary to this theory is my belief that no one should root for the Yankees. Beyond representing support of the Right, it also strikes me as rooting for wealthy or powerful people; they just don’t need it, and even if they did, why would you want to give it to them?

    But then, I live in Massachusetts and embrace the liberal reputation Bush ascribes to the state as a whole, so perhaps this theory is just me. All that said, go Sox!

  2. Brian: I think you hit the nail on the head. Here in the Bay Area, I eschew the 49ers in favor of the Raiders as my local football team in choice — the reasoning being that, football being a savage game, it requires no holds barred thugs to win (although the Raiders have been in bad shape of late and they were even recently forced to trade Rice away).

    The point: No genuine person could possibly root for a patrician sportsman or team, unless there are glaring exceptions (Tiger Woods comes to mind) or underdog sympathy has been stored up only after repeated losses — in which case, from an empathic standpoint, the bloated turkey deserves to win.

    Barring these obvious emotional factors, it comes down to pure reason. Which makes me wonder why Immanuel Kant never bothered to whip up some sort of philosophy over partisan sportsmanship.

  3. Guys, guys–this would be a lot more convincing if the Sox weren’t actually, you know, one of the richest teams in the league! Only in comparison to the Yankees could they be taken for underprivileged strivers. The ‘Fesser will have my head for this, but doesn’t the studied, almost concocted quality of the Bostons’ (as my man Ernie Harwell would call them) anti-elitism–the hairdos, the mudded helmets like stage props–give you just a little pause? Don’t get me wrong, I’m for the Sox. But their we-ugly schtick sometimes strikes me as a little bit much. (Spoken, by the way, by someone who didn’t pay an iota of attention to baseball until last week and may well be uninformed in some regard.)

    Also, Ed, I think loyalty in sports comes down to history. Loyalists of other teams can rail all they want, but if the team you were born and bred to love starts handing out fat contracts Yankees-style, I just don’t think you should be expected to apologize for them or disavow them–*that* would seem to me not “genuine”–and it would make the team less fun for others to hate! I’ve stood by the Tigers through near-historical badness, and I’ll stand by them if they start outspending the Yankees and collecting pennants like crackerjack prizes.

  4. Just to clarify my position, though I did say that supporting the Yankees is “like rooting for wealthy or powerful people,” my point wasn’t really about money. That really wouldn’t make a lot of sense, because if the Sox aren’t really that poor in comparison to the Yankees, Kerry certainly isn’t poor either.

    It’s just that the Yankees have had it so good and are so pretty and … oh, I don’t know, there’s just something very creepy about them in a Stepford Wives kind of way. The ugliness of the Sox might just be shtick, but it’s hardly wholly ironic. When you look at Derek Jeter (either in his shampoo commercials or on the field) standing next to any of the Sox (excluding, perhaps, Johnny Damon, who actually knows he looks good and intends to keep it that way) it’s clear that the Sox are just embracing a grittiness that has always been there, which I kinda like.

    Perhaps it’s nothing more than a gut reaction, but I can’t see how supporting the Yankees can give anyone any pleasure. The Sox just make me feel good to live in Boston and like following baseball, and the Yankees don’t make me feel good about anything. And that’s basically how I feel about the respective political parties I’ve assigned them in my theory (subsituting US for Boston and politics for baseball, of course).

  5. OGIC: Three factors in response to your argument.

    1. How respective team represents their home town. I think what Brian’s trying to get at is that the Yanks’ haute couture is a pisspoor match with the variegated steading known as New York at large. This has been a problem since 1957, when the Brooklyn Dodgers were lured to Los Angeles and the quintessential NYC-within-NYC team was lost, thus creating a gargantuan chasm between classes, forcing the Yanks to choose between two immutable options: to pomade their hairs and dry clean their suits; or to opt for a more down-to-earth quality. As we all know, they chose the former, failing in all regards to appeal to the self-respecting baseball appreciator planting himself in front of a television unit in Brooklyn with a bottle o’ suds and a few grunts. (And why did New York so willingly give up the team that launched Jackie Robinson? The conspiracy broadens.)

    The Sox, meanwhile, have boldly expressed their camaraderie with their brethren, even when it comes across aloofly. Steps such as the aforementioned humorous commercials, a certain swagger reminiscent of the golden days of Babe Ruth, and of course the quintessential underdog quality that Sox fans are actually more adamant about than the team.

    2. Fashion. Granted, baseball as a whole has a comparatively limited fashion spectrum with American football — a sport that more actively encourages its players with protective jet eye lining and testosterone-induced dives into the ground. It involves a fashion pardigm where the players resemble overgrown versions of the kids in “The Lord of the Flies.”

    Not so with baseball. Baseball’s very limitations force its players to meet the regulatory standards of the MLB, while selecting specific hues with which to stand out. The Red Sox, beyond deliberately mispelling the plural of footwear, have opted for red and white. The colors are more vibrant within the limitations and are thus laudable. The Yankees, meanwhile, have opted for a more conservative blue and white. (With pinstripes, no less!) This creates a subtle impression that the Yanks are aligned with the NYSE and thus “not of the people.”

    3. Loyalty in sports. Like politicians, sports teams and figures can be disavowed at any time. (And I suspect this will happen to the Sox should they win the World Series.) Sure, this is hypocritical, unfair, and highly irrational. But with sentiments running high, what more could be asked for at the given moment? As we’re all aware, it’s a pivotal race we’re talking about.

  6. Plus, have you noticed how the very logo for Yankees seems to have become synonymous with the American flag? Like its overused and abused counterpart, it’s turned into some kind of symbol for what it means to have “American pride.” Just as I can’t stand the American flags plastered all over the huge bumpers of SUVs to show how much everyone uncritically supports anything that the current administration does in the name of America, I cringe at the ubiquity of the overlapping NY I see everywhere. When I lived in Northern California last year, I began an unsuccessful search for a Red Sox cap in any sports store I could find. What did I find? Caps for every Californian team (as one would expect) … and Yankees caps.

    It’s one thing for a New Yorker to be a Yankees fan. But when being a Yankees fan became the mark of a true patriot, that’s when I started associating the Yanks with Republican rhetoric.

  7. But America is filled to the gills with Yankee-hating patriots! Seriously, I’ve never had a sports bias I felt more comfortable expressing, and expressing anywhere–even in NY, you’re more than likely to have a sympathetic Mets fan within earshot. Would it were so with the bad, bad Colorado Avalanche!

    I do think if the Red Sox hang on tonight–and they’d better, as several of my dearest friends’ happiness depends on it–celebrations will break out from sea to shining sea.

  8. And they did it!

    And, Mr. Sawyer, as much as I appreciate your comments (and the corresponding post on the Olive Press), I hope you’re aware of the extant tomfoolery here, eh? 🙂

  9. Er … yes, Ed. Extent tomfoolery well understood. Sometimes it just feels good to willingly take things a little too seriously. Basically, it’s just all too convenient for me to combine two of my deepest wishes into one ball and call it a Serious Theory.

    At any rate, phase one is now complete (the World Series is just gravy). Now, I really would like to see Kerry in the White House. I’d even embrace votes by Yankee fas, of which I’m sure there will be many.

    Thanks for the fun.

  10. I don’t know that I will have the OGIC’s head for anything, except as a spot for the toque I plan to present her when she comes south for some hockey. I agree that the spectacle of the team with the 120m payroll crying underdog against the team w/ the 180m payroll is more like Francis and Peewee than David and Goilath. However, and this is a major however, the stylistic issue OGIC criticizes I think represents a significant part of their appeal: there is not a “hairdo” — there is an array of distinctly terrible hair. This is a departure from the Cowboy Upness of last year, which put the marginal Kevin Millar on center stage, and resulted in antics with clippers more resonant of a high school lacrosse team, and was almost wearisome even before the end of the 2003 series. You have the improbable Jheri reset of Pedro, Manny’s subtly different hommage to Topsy, Damon’s ever changing mane and beard (look for many babies resembling Damon to appear early next summer around NE), Bellhorn’s unapologetic mullet, and a skinny white dude, all of 2 when _10_ enjoyed its theatrical release, rocking cornrows. Not to mention Ortiz’ Dominican Abe Lincoln look, or the Antarctic Pimp getup he was sporting postgamne. No defined culture, like, say, the 79 “Family” Pirates, but a but a team. E pluribus, as they say, unum.
    I should also take this chance before I clamber off the soapbox to assert the disconnect between the overlapping N and Y, and the US of A. Some say Yanks logo swastakasque, in fact. Someone in the blogosphere was railing against Steinbrenner’s cynical appropriation of 9-11, but I can say with some confidence, the Yankees are not America’s team. Here in South Carolina, Sox hats outnumber Yanks roughly 6-1, and the support is more anti-Yanks than pro Sox– there are broad swaths of the flyover district where “Yankee” is still a bad word. Add to that the huge cultural, radio and cable hearths of the Braves, Cubs, and Cardinals, and it is very difficult to make the Yankees = America statement. I hope that the Red Sox help Kerry, but I can’t promise I would choose that if I could make one wish for the next two weeks. In any event, wouldn’t take nothing for my journey.

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