It Is With Baseball, So It Is With Life
By Tony Logan
"As it is with baseball, so it is with life." Sports fan
or no, few can doubt the prevailing wisdom of this tried baseball
axiom. Baseball, with all of its attendant risks, rewards,
successes and failures, is a distillation of life in all of
its manifold aspects. Whether being played out in Davenport
in April or Yankee Stadium in October, compelling life lessons
abound. Lessons which may be ignored only at great peril to
This Wednesday's National League Championship Series (NLCS)
game six at Chicago's Wrigley field vividly underscored this
message in excruciating fashion. For those cave dwellers unfamiliar
with the outrage, the Chicago Cubs - who last won the World
Series during the William Howard Taft Administration - were
five outs away from clinching a coveted, elusive berth before
a spillover crowd ranging from Wrigley Field to several blocks
Nursing a 3-0 lead in the game and a 3-2 lead in the overall
series, the Cubs had their best pitcher on the mound as an
attentive nation tuned in for the history- making climax.
Florida Marlins second baseman Luis Castillio lofted a lazy
foul ball into medium left field. Cubs left fielder Moises
Alou drew a bead and closed in on the popup as it drifted
toward the stands. In what subsequent photos would show was
a sure fire catch in the making, Alou reached in to the first
row to routinely snag the out.
But history didn't happen. A diehard Cubs "fan," sitting
in the first row, gleefully leapt out of his seat, caught
up in the excitement on the moment, and swatted the ball from
Aloe's grasp. Ball three. Castillio breathed new life, reached
base on a walk, which opened the door for a single, which…
you know where this story ends.
As ever, this episode provides a compelling life lesson…
this time for Democrats. Not because Chicago is a Democratic
town, or because we lost (?) a close campaign in 2000, or
even because we're beginning to feel like the lovable losers
of Addison Avenue. The lesson, stripped of its veneer is:
discipline, discipline, discipline. For the Democrats to prevail
in this or future election cycles, we cannot, in the excitement
of the moment, swat the ball away.
Few would argue that the now-vilified fan did not have the
"right," as an American and a baseball fan, to make a play
for the souvenir. Indeed, had the Cubs been engaged with the
Padres on a Wednesday afternoon in May, Cub supporters would
little note the obnoxious fan. But the Cubs were in the NLCS.
The stakes had never been higher. And so it is for the Democrats.
We find ourselves facing Bush's money-fueled juggernaut,
an increasingly-anxious electorate, and a supine, if not openly
hostile media. And how do we respond? Bloody, internecine
warfare, of course: the Shriver-Kennedys join forces to rally
California voters to vote for the Republican candidate, providing
the Gropenator with timely, desperately-needed political cover
from sexual assault charges; the Democratic Leadership Council
publicly decries the incipient grass roots organizational
efforts of Howard Dean as, "…our worst nightmare;" and, finally,
vying for the Biggest Dunderhead on the Verge of Retirement
award, Zell Miller issues a 'kick and tell' memoir purposefully
named: No Longer A National Party: The Conscience of A
Conservative Democrat. Sounds like somebody needs a nap.
(You'll notice I haven't even mentioned the squabbling among
the nine Democratic presidential candidates. This is part
of the rough and tumble of a typical primary campaign, which,
while regrettable, is an irrepressible reality of the political
How often we've chuckled at the old Will Rogers saw, "I
belong to no organized political party…I'm a Democrat." Well
the old Plainsman would be amused today to see that his ironic
commentary has become a hard and fast rule. We Democrats seem
to be favoring the circular firing squad as the chief means
of enforcing intellectual purity in our party ranks these
The Republicans, on the other hand, have seemingly mastered
the art of mindless compliance. Each top-down Rovian edict
- no matter how wrong-headed or oppressive - is carried forth
by the rank and file in a chorus of doctrinaire unanimity.
Policies as inimical to democracy as non- bid, sole source
contracts to heavy campaign contributors are universally advocated
from the Whitehouse down to the precinct level, in lock-step.
Even an episode as morally repugnant as Rush Limbaugh's drug
dealing is universally spun - straight-faced - as an indictment
of Democratic values.
And yes, Dear Reader, our party's deficiencies are sometimes
glaringly spelled out on these very pages of the Democratic
Underground. Somewhere in a remote part of Karl Rove's brain
is a verbatim recollection of every internet slam against
Dean… or Kerry… or Clark… you get the picture. Like the Happy
Idiot at Wrigley Field, we feel great while we're making the
play, scoring the points, going for the jugular, because it's
our right to do it. But in the end, our transitory joy could
become a slow, agonizing death for the party's nominee, whoever
he or she might be.
Here's a concept that even despondent Cub fans can agree
on. For the next twelve months, let's just pay for our season
ticket, sit back and enjoy the game, and let our players win