Baseball and Politics

Every year, the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics play each other in what is known as “the Bay Bridge Series.” This series brings with it local bragging rights as well as great trash talking between both fan bases. I had the privilege of going to the last game of the series with three good friends. Two of these friends happened to be Giants fans, and I noticed something about the way we talked all throughout the game that made me think about how baseball seems to be more civilized than our political parties.

What I mean is that there seems to be a lack of recognition for the opposing party’s views, achievements and accomplishments. Whenever something is accomplished by one party, it is automatically discredited, demonized and disqualified by the other. There is no recognition that one party actually did something valuable and worthy of affirmation. You don’t have to do much more than turn on the news to hear how terrible the Democrats are or how the Republicans are ruining the country. It is insane the amount of air time that is spent by each party trying to tear the other down. Instead of admitted that your opponent has a better idea than you, or that your colleague in congress may have a better solution than you, politicians are trained to make their opponents out to be the worst representative to have ever walked the halls of the capitol. Baseball, in my opinion, is much more civilized than our political parties. Sure there are rivalries and tensions, but at the end of the day, baseball fans are able to admit who the better player/team/franchise is.

Why I chose to write about this is that it was interesting to observe how not only my friends and I talked to one another about our teams, but the rest of the fans around us talked about the opposing teams as well. Even the occasional negative comment was immediately followed by a recognition of the positive aspects of the other team. For instance, when Madison Bumgarner was up to hit for the first time, the A’s fans around me were trash talking him for insisting to be put in the lineup instead of having a designated hitter. After he hit a booming double to left-center field, the A’s fans around me immediately recognized that Bruce Bochy (the Giant’s manager) had made the right call. Clearly, Bumgarner can hit the ball well.

When Giants fans cheered on Bumgarner when he got the first out of the game, A’s fans didn’t demonize them. Plus the very next batter, Bumgarner gave up a towering home run to Marcus Semien. There are ebbs and flows for every team. Sometimes the A’s are going to be better than the Giants and vice versa. Same with Politics. Sometimes Republicans are going to have better ideas than Democrats. Instead of the Republican and Democratic parties allowing their politicians to vote their consciences’s, it has devolved into voting along the party lines. Which of course means being opposed to everything the other party is for.

Take gun control for instance. Without opening up a giant debate on the issue, I want to merely point out that the majority of Americans who have been polled have supported gun control legislation. With the majority of Americans in support of it, it should mean that politicians are eager to work together to pass legislation. But look what happened. Republicans voted against Democratic ideas and vice versa. Inaction was the name of the game. Baseball fans are quick to admit who has the better team, why can’t politicians do the same with their ideas?

Throughout the game, A’s fans were reminded that the Giants have won three world series rings within the past six years. That is a great accomplishment for any franchise, and A’s fans recognize that the Giants have had great success in recent years. We also remind the Giants fans that the A’s swept them in the 1989 world series, but that is another conversation for another time. My point is that A’s fans are able to admit that the Giants have been a more successful team in the recent years. When we admit this, nobody challenges our fandom. Nobody calls us un-loyal. It is a mere recognition that the A’s organization has not experienced as much success in the past 7 years that the Giants have.

This is where politics differs. If a Democratic senator were to come out and say that his Republican colleague had a better solution to (insert any problem in American society here), then his loyalty to the Democratic party as well as his patriotism would be called into question. When you support someone outside your party, your allegiance is questioned. Why is it that Baseball fans are able to easily admit their teams flaws and opponents strengths and not the people we have elected to represent us? Honestly, I think politicians could learn a lot from baseball fans. If they were to witness the Bay Bridge series, they would realize that an A’s fan can bleed Green and Gold and still admit that his team has not been as good as the Giants in recent years. It is okay to admit that your team isn’t as strong/good/capable as your opponent. Like A’s fans always say, there’s always next season.

The Oakland Athletics were dominate in the early 1970’s. The San Francisco Giants have been dominate in the 2010’s. Both teams have had great runs and dynasties. If Republicans have better ideas then Democrats, that’s okay. If Democrats have better solutions to various problems than Republicans do, that’s okay. Instead of demonizing the opposing party, do like baseball fans do, chalk it up to your opponents strengths and recognize where your team needs to improve. There’s always next season.

– J


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