Football, the Baseball Playoffs, and Politics

By: Bill Whaley
11 October, 2012

You might not know that the chief republican apologist, Rush Limbaugh, of Cape Giradeau, Missouri, began his career as disc jockey, and in 1979 became director of promotions with the Kansas City Royals baseball team. Later Rush took a job in Sacramento, where he combined music and talk show politics. More than anyone else, Rush has popularized simple-minded and sarcastic ad hominem political attacks, appealing to blockheads, while promoting the politics of the rightwing corporate richies and serving as bridge to the hoi polloi. (Even Pro-football would not let Rush invest–due to his bigotry)

What President Obama has discovered and the reason for his current angst and lack of promise-keeping concerns the polarization and fractured Congress. If you’re for it, I’m against it—sort of like the personal motives of pols in Taos. Today, democrats and republicans root for the home team—their party–regardless of what is good for the country. Patriotic political candidates accept donations from abroad while American public relations companies promote the out-sourcing of jobs or wars, paid for by homegrown blood and treasure.

And the agents of propaganda and their proxies in Congress have taken a cue from hometown athletic supporters–especially, as popularized by Rush and simple-minded football fans of the Friday Night Lights. Consider the football culture of Texas and the number of death row inmates, who have been extinguished by cultural prejudices. You can disagree with the generalizing here but see Rush when he attacks folks for merely being “liberal.”

Yet, I might remind you that when the replacement refs screwed up the Green Bay—Seattle game, both right and left came down hard on the NFL, ironically supporting both labor unions and regulation. We want our football games played straight—even if we look away when banks, the Pentagon, or political candidates lie to us.

Romney, according to the record, sequesters the family’s Irish setter on the roof of his car during family outings. Anyone who would vote for a man displaying cruelty to animals like that should apply for an interrogator’s job at Gitmo.

Now comes a more sophisticated game or sport than football or politics: I’m talking about the baseball play-offs and the peculiar combination of tradition and creative thinking that comes—especially–out of the West Coast (like certain artists we know) and how Moneyball’s Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt in the movies) is confounding the experts with this years Bad News Bears Redux. For the Oakland As with the lowest payroll in the biz, last night evened the series with Detroit—despite the presence in the Tigers’ line-up of the first triple crowner in forty years.

And Bruce Bochy (BOE-chee,pictured below) of the San Francisco Giants last night yanked starter Barry Zito, and sent former Cy Young winner, aka The Freak (Tim Lincecum), into relieve and win the game for the G-men against Cincinnati. “Let Timmy smoke.”

So last night Mgr. Joe Girardi of the Yankees sent in Raul Ibanez to pinch-hit for the A-Rod and Raul hit a homer in the ninth and a second in extra innings to win the game for New York over beset Baltimore. A-Rod is a great player but can you imagine pinch-hitting for Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, or Rickey Henderson? Give Joe the Bruce Bochy award for breaking through hidebound tradition and being creative—despite being a Yankee.

Here’s a note and a couple of photos. Despite the curmudgeonly nature of the NFL’s rightwing owners, in San Francisco, Coach Jim Harbaugh and his quarterback Alex Smith (pictured above), know a thing or two about creating and resolving issues on the field. Harbaugh sent second team QB Colin Kaepernick into play during the game against the New York Jets to school Coach Rex Ryan on the use of the college pistol (See Theocratic Tim Tebow), refined by Coach Chris Ault of University of Nevada, Reno (home of godless gaming), Colin’s alma mater. Colin scored and the Jets haven’t recovered.

The West Coast specializes in brains, creativity, and a respect for tradition but not the hidebound kind. We can dance like Muhammad Ali, get behind the rope-a-dope but hit hard like Patrick Willis of the Niners or Buster Posey of the Giants. Meanwhile, we got solidarity—not division in the City of St. Francis. Niner QB Alex showed up wearing a Giants cap and got threatened with a $15,000 fine (later withdrawn) by the NFL (No Fun League). In turn Giant’s manager Bochy wore a Niner cap, saying he appreciated Alex’s support.

In Frisco and Oakland folks have fun. Nobody better exemplifies excellence than the Giants’ Willie Mays or the Niners’ Joe Montana. But when it comes to winning with a smile, we always think of Rickey Henderson and “The Rickey Rally — a walk, two stolen bases and a sacrifice fly — was purist baseball at its best. Scoring runs, after all, is baseball’s bottom line, and no one’s better at it than Rickey.” — Allen St. John, sportswriter, Salon.com. Like Ricky said, “If my uniform doesn’t’ get dirty, I haven’t done anything in the baseball game.”

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