Whether it’s baseball, or politics, there’s still a long way to go

Published 5:23 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2012

One of the unique aspects of politics is how much it has in common with sports. After all, in politics you usually pick a “team” — Republican or Democratic — to cheer for. And not only do you cheer for that particular team, but you also root just as hard for the other team to fail.

Political conventions are a lot like pep rallies, complete with loud music, exciting pep speeches and packed auditoriums or stadiums. And like sports, politics ultimately comes down to the score — whoever has the most votes (or points) wins.

I think it’s just as important to point out another similarity between politics and sports. They’ve still both got “long seasons” ahead of them.

I choose to compare the presidential race with the major league baseball race, because they both reach their ending at a similar time. Baseball’s World Series is always in late October, while the presidential race’s general election is in early November. It might seem like everything is lost today, but there’s still a long way to go and everything can change.

As a Braves fan, it’s been hard to watch the start of this season. As of Tuesday afternoon, when I wrote this column, Atlanta was 0-4 and in last place in the National League East. I’m not sure if Atlanta is quite in the sky-is-falling mode, but I bet it’s pretty close.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that MLB has a 162-game season. Those four games are just 2.5 percent of the year. Now, certainly the 0-4 start could be indicative of the way that the Braves play out the year, but it could also just be a small slump that will later turn out to be just a bump in the road.

I remember one year that the Washington Nationals (hey, there’s those politics similarities again!) got off to a blazing hot start that lasted almost to the All-Star break. However, many pundits pointed out that the Nationals’ start was a lot of luck — they were winning virtually all of their one-run games. Over the long run, the law of averages stated that they should eventually start to lose some of those one-run games…and that’s exactly what happened. The Nationals finished out of the playoffs that year.

Certainly in this day and age, it is difficult to look at anything in “the long run.” We live in a time where we can get instant information, instant feedback, and instant gratification, thanks to technology like computers and smart phones. However, both politics and sports feature an up-and-down season where anything can happen.

After all, just look at the 2008 election. Early on, it looked like the Republicans had no chance to maintain control of the White House. The nominee John McCain was unpopular and many voters thought he was more liberal than conservative. But McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate was a brilliant stroke that not only allowed him to gain ground, but some polls actually showed him as leading the race at that point.

However, that “Palin bounce” eventually cooled down and ultimately Barack Obama was elected president. At this point in time, most polls seem to show that Obama will be re-elected, but it’s important to keep in mind that anything can happen between now and November.

As baseball fan and philosopher Yogi Berra was fond of saying, it’s not over until it’s over. Fans of all political and sports stripes should remember that.

Justin Schuver is the managing editor of The Post-Searchlight. Email him at justin.schuver@thepostsearchlight.com.