03 January 2012


It is January in a year divisible by four, and you know what that means, sports fans. “The Olympics,” you say? I say “nay. nay.”

Today marks the formal beginning of the 2012 presidential campaign, the greatest show on earth. Now some out there, especially those fans in Iowa and New Hampshire, may suggest that the season really started last summer, or even earlier. As one who believes that the first day of Spring comes in mid-February—when pitchers and catchers report—I sympathize, but, to be brutally honest, the past eight months have just been the Florida Instructional League for the boys and girl.

Now, I may have shocked some of the fundamentalists baseball purists. How dare I compare a mere political campaign to baseball, they wonder? Well, consider this.

I am reminded of the scene in Bull Durham when Crash Davis works with Nuke LaLoosh on his clichés. “You're gonna have to learn your clichés. You're gonna have to study them, you're gonna have to know them. They're your friends. Write this down: ‘We gotta play it one day at a time.’"

Nuke replies, “Got to play...... it's pretty boring.

Crash nods. “'Course it's boring, that's the point. Write it down.”

Thus, Nuke learns to respond with his stump speech clichés. “We have to play them one day at a time.” “I'm just happy to be here and I hope I can help the ball club.” “I just want to give it my best shot and the good lord willing everything will work out.”

Likewise, if you listen closely tonight and in the days to come, you will hear many of the following:

“The final score is the only statistic that matters.” [“Iowa is just one state. Wait ‘til the convention.”]

“We shocked the world today.” Santorum, Bachman, or Huntsman wins Iowa.

“They're in a must win situation.” [“(Insert candidate’s name) is going to have to pull out a win in (insert State) or he’s done for.”]

“Turnovers killed us.” Think Bachman on Concord, NH, or Cain on women, or Perry on “three agencies.”

“They made the big plays and we didn't.” [In every concession speech.]

“There is no tomorrow.” We’ll start hearing this one tonight for every candidate who decides to hang on for New Hampshire.

“This is a hard loss to swallow. I'm looking forward to the challenge. We need to turn it up a notch. We have to stay focused.” Listen for this one every time a front-runner comes in second (or worse.)

“We're just glad to get out of here with a win.” Any winning candidate who does less well than expected.

“We just have to put this loss behind us.” Ditto.

There is one you probably will not hear: "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings." Politically incorrect--it discriminates against dancers and other non-vocally musical artists.

That being said, ready or not, sports fans, here it comes—the campaign of 2012. I have often thought that if we could charge admission for the next year, we could pay off the national debt.

To quote that eminent American philosopher, Charles Dillon Stengel, “You look up and down the bench and you have to say to yourself, 'Can't anybody here play this game?'”

Or, as his disciple, Lawrence Peter Berra, once observed: “It’s déjà vu, all over again.”

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