It's October, so I'm ready for baseball. This is probably sacrilege for real fans. They've been watching since March and know the background of each team, who deserves the wild card, who has home-field advantage, all that stuff. They say things like, "It's a six-for-four playoff shootout, with the division rivals playing each other down the stretch." I say things like, "I'm going for the Yankees. Are they in it?"
Even though I love baseball, the season is just too long for me. I scan the sports pages and wait until it's been narrowed down to a few teams, then pick whoever appeals and give my 1/2 hearted attention to the last few Playoff games. Then I get serious about the World Series. I can hear about all the preliminary stats, injuries and steroid stories from the color guys in the press box during the games that count. I'll know all the details by the end of game one, and buy my sweatshirt with pride. My team is fighting for the trophy and I've become a fan.
The real series that piques my interest is happening over on the editorial page. The day after any election, the new season starts for me. I listen to the debates, follow the players, and read every op-ed piece that I can find. Sports blogs have nothing on political blogs, and I follow them all, weeding out the nut jobs, and gaining insight from the old coaches watching from the side lines. I take it personally when a support staffer quits the team; I worry about the mind games going on in the dugout, as new game plans are introduced. I know about Hillary's RBI's and Mitt's home runs, Obama's wild card entry and Fred Thompson's 7th inning rally. Brownback and Huckabee, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden are players whose positions I'm familiar with. I recognize a stance, a pitch and a base hit when I see it.
The Iowa and New Hampshire Caucuses are the spring-training games that get my heart racing. Healthcare, education, and the war in Iraq are the pitches I want to see hit out of the park.
For some, the political season is just too long. They lose interest in the games played months and months before the series really starts. I do understand. After all, when this series ends around Halloween, my teams have another whole year of tryouts, trades, new uniforms, and hot-box plays. But I love it! It gives me plenty of time to watch them in action, see who goes for the high fly ball, or misses the grounders. I will know which of my players has heart.
One baseball player said, "I just try to go out and do the best that I can and help this team win. If things fall right we have a chance to make the playoffs." That applies in both dug-outs. Both are participating in great old American contests. "I'll root, root, root for the home team...if they don't win it's a shame!" I will follow the games for what seems like forever to some, and start sizing up the new standings the very next day.
I may be a latecomer to the baseball season. But I'll support my new team with heart and soul. Someone else may be a latecomer to the political game. By then there will be the casualties of the season, and they'll be choosing from the players with the most endurance, who made the fewest errors on the field. Actually, with all my expertise, I'll end up picking from the same roster they do. Either way, it'll be fun to see who gets the MVP award.