Monday, October 20, 2008

Obama's Big Test

No, it has nothing to do with the polls. It has everything to do with character, however:

Barack Obama is on his way to enemy territory this morning by his own admission. He is going to Tampa. What does Obama have against Tampa, you ask? Well, with the Tampa Bay Rays on their way to their first World Series in franchise history, Obama has declared his support for the opposition. Last weekend in Philadelphia, Obama told a crowd, "I am a White Sox fan," he said, "but since the White Sox are out of it, I'll root for the Phillies now." So Obama is rooting "for" the Phillies, which means, if he maintains any modicum of consistency, "against" the Rays, a team filled with young, hopeful, no-name players. Did Obama root for the Empire in "Star Wars?"
I've long been on record as being against politicians pandering to baseball fans. We're smarter than that folks! We see what you're doing! But even worse than a straight pander -- which Obama's statements about the Phillies clearly were -- would be committing a flip-flop pander by going rah-rah on the Rays.

Indeed, given that the Rays eliminated his rooting interest, offering anything other than a cool, polite congratulations to the Rays during his Tampa stop would the most egregiously horrible act an American politician has perpetrated vis-a-vis sports since Nixon fixed the '69 World Series.


Rob said...

Wait a minute! Obama is left-handed?!?

tadthebad said...

Wait a minute! Shyster leans left?!?

Craig Calcaterra said...

Well, a bit. But let's be clear here: I'm calling out my own guy for being a sports panderer and, unless he's really careful, betraying flip flopper too. Because of early voting he already has my vote, but man, if we went down and waved a Rays' banner in Tampa this morning, it would be a rough four years of waking up to his mug should he win.

greg p said...

McCain's a lefty, too, isn't he?

Sara K said...

The only part that bothers me is that he picked the wrong team. Florida is a swing state, for St. Pete's sake. If he's going to pander, at least he could be strategic about it.

tadthebad said...

See! Doesn't Sara kind of prove a point: it's OK to pander if it's my candidate doing the pandering (at least be strategic about it?). That's kind of the sense I got from the post (especially as compared to the tone of last week's post on "Palin the Panderer" and the subsequent reply to Law's comment).

Just a bug in my craw, perhaps. This is why I both love and hate politics. And speaking of which, isn't Philadelphia a bit more important than TB as far as the history of our country is concerned? I say yes. Plus, those fans would really enjoy a championship as it's been 25 years. TB has had a SB and a Stanley Cup in recent years. Not to mention I "hate" Matt Garza and all of his expectorating, joe-cool strutting ways....not that I'm bitter. GO PHILLIES!!!

Anonymous said...


PA is a "swing" state too, with more chance to vote Obama than FL. Especially if my swamp dwelling relatives in Orlando have any say in the outcome.

A lot of seniors, like my sainted Mother, look at Obama and see a kid (even though he's 47). They see McCain as a younger, more vigorous near peer.

Of course, Giuiliani never wavered from his love of the Yanks. Look what it got him.

Sara K said...

PA may be a traditional swing state, but Obama's got a double-digit cushion there right now, compared to a sliver of a lead in FL:

But to address Tad's frustration, it isn't that I think it's ok when Obama panders and not ok when McPalin does; it's that I don't really care when either side does. Sure, it's a vaguely sleazy maneuver, but too small a thing for me to get worked up over. So I snark instead. As for the shameless slant of our pal, Craig Karlmarxaterra, well, whaddaya gonna do? There are probably more Pro-America blogs out there...


tadthebad said...

LMAO, Sara. It's all good. I think it's almost impossible to demonstrate absolutely no slant when you support a particular side side, so my comments were mostly to keep Craig honest, I suppose (not that he really needs it). Although I must thank you for the insight: I had no idea Craig was a marxist! What a shyster. He should really relocate to MA if that's the case, John Kerry notwithstanding.

Can we rally the City of Brotherly Love towards a WS Title against the momentum and inexperience of the TB Rays! Yes we can!

Craig Calcaterra said...

Tad -- I don't hide the fact that I'm pro-Obama, but at least in the context of this post (i.e. limited to the subject of his Phillies comments and hypothetical Rays' comments) I think I was pretty tough on him. If not, let me clarify: Obama's Phillies pander was sad and, per Law's comment to the Palin post -- a worse pure pander than whatever it was Palin was trying to accomplish.

If he were to go all-in and say something like "how bout them Rays!" today, he would probably be history's greatest monster*

*in which case I would have just mailed in an absentee ballot for history's greatest monster.

Matt said...

Lets be clear. Last year Giuliani declared he was rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series (because he's an American League guy).

That was a far bigger pander than if Obama switches to Tampa- which by the way we've seen no evidence of. There is nothing wrong with picking a team when your team isn't in it. Aren't the rest of us doing the same thing.

Also, doesn't Obama get a whole bunch of credit for being from Chicago and not being a Cubs fan. And for calling out Cubs fans a couple months back.

And he's a change agent. Why can't he change teams anyway.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Matt -- there certainly is a lot of nuance and gray area when it comes to this subject. It's the sort of thing only someone like Bill Simmons could suss out thoroughly, although he'd have to take another ten week leave of absence to write it up.

I guess I'm the wrong person to accuse anyone of violating these amorphous rules given that, each December or January, I invariably root for Michigan to win in whatever bowl game it's playing. Sure, I tell myself that doing so only serves selfish Ohio State purposes (i.e. the better UofM looks, the better OSU looks after just having beat them. Again), but there's some actual, honest rooting going on there too.

tadthebad said...

So I'm the one who caused all this bru-haha? No big deal, man.

Go Phillies!

rob said...

You root for Michigan? Even once? Blasphemy!

Craig Calcaterra said...

It's complicated, Rob. I was born in Michigan and lived there until I was 11. My extended family are all Michigan people, and when I was young and impressionable and didn't know any better, I was known to root for Michigan as well.

1985-1990 were transition years in which I still generally rooted for Michigan, but because of geographic dislocation, I didn't see them much.

In the fall of 1990, the Unversity of Michigan wisely chose to reject my application. Ohio State -- either because they saw brilliance, or else because their SAT requirements were much lower, I'm not sure which -- accepted me, and I enrolled in the fall of 1991.

I was warming to Ohio State my freshman year, though I hadn't gone over the edge for the Buckeyes just yet (I was at some heavy metal show up in Cleveland the day Desmond Howard pulled his Hesiman pose during Michigan's drubbing of the Buckeyes). By 1992, however, the transformation was complete, and I have been an Ohio State guy ever since.

Fairweather? I don't think so. I mean, I DO have a degree from the joint, right? At the end of the day, these sorts of things are in the eye of the beholder. Darth Vader didn't view becoming a Sith Lord as a bad thing -- he felt he was being enlightened. And like me rooting for Michigan in the bowl games, he probably missed hanging around Yoda and all of them dudes once in a while, even if he did intend to hunt them down and kill them.

rob said...

As a Red Sox fan living in Ann Arbor let me suggest that it's a sad day when a fan roots for their arch enemy.

I understand the strength-of-schedule argument, but I can't believe that's not outweighed by the're-winning-the-rose-bowl argument.

But of course, reasonable people may disagree.

Christopher said...

This is the most ridiculous post I've ever seen on this blog. EVERY baseball fan I know chooses another team to root for when theirs is eliminated. That doesn't mean they go out and buy a jersey or a cap, or that they permanently change their allegiance. It's simply a way of making the WS more interesting.

If Obama were to claim Tampa allegiance, then it might be something to talk about. But saying he will root for the Phillies now that his team is eliminated is a total nothing.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Christopher -- that's well and good if Obama is having a beer with some friends (or commenting on a blog) and says "ya know, with the Sox out of it, I'm probably rooting for Philly."

But -- and believe me, I love the guy -- the only reason he said that in Philly was to pander, however harmlessly -- to Phillies fans.

Is that a federal offense? Nah, and if anyone actually changes their vote on that basis ought to have their head examined. But it is a pander.