Thursday, October 21, 2004

No, No Astros : Not in an Election Year

Understand that I have nothing against the Houston Astros. I'm what you call a "casual" baseball fan; I haven't attended a Major League Baseball game since my student days in Montreal. (And given the status of Olympic Stadium as a concrete park with a garbage bag for a roof, I don't blame the Expos for leaving this year.)

But about the Astros. Now that the Boston Red Sox have gotten into the World Series (and I'll admit it was a pretty good comeback) I feel that, if Americans truly love Major League Baseball, they'll root for the St. Louis Cardinals instead.

Not because Houston cheats or has lousy players (or even super-spectacular players that it's fun to hate). But because it's an election year.

If Houston wins tonight, then the World Series boils down to a team from Texas (the home state of the Republican candidate for President) against a team from Massachusetts (the state represented in the Senate by the Democratic candidate).

Never mind that George W. Bush is likely to root for the Red Sox because he owned the other team from Texas. Never mind that John Kerry is believed by most people to be a casual sports fan at best.

If the Astros get in, I can think of at least 3 blogs (and six major news outlets) who are likely to drag the World Series into Campaign 2004, trying to link the election results to the World Series results. And you can certainly bet that party insiders on both sides would see such an outcome as yet another battleground to further their candidates' interests.

And that would be a shame.

The activity of baseball is a thing that unites Americans. They may not play it, but they understand it. It's a game that doesn't have the battle mentality that football or soccer or hockey has, and it encourages athletic activity without the anti-personal aggression (such as the tackle or body check) that characterizes the other sports.

Politicizing the World Series would further divide a population in need of unifying symbols after the harshness of this campaign. Which is why I'll be rooting for St. Louis tonight: to keep Baseball out of the hands of the political hacks and into the hearts of the American people.

UPDATE: St. Louis 5, Houston 2. Thank you, Lord.