LONGSHOTS: UL editorial in denial ó stop the presses
by Dave Long
While I was reading a front-page editorial in the stateís largest newspaper on Friday it struck me that fans of a particular political party and fans of a particular sports team are exactly the opposite when things go bad. When it happens in sports (not that it ever does around here), callers to talk radio want to kill the players and fire the manager. In politics, no matter how bad it is, they blame it on the other guy even if their guy has occupied the corner office for, oh, say, the last eight years.
I mean after the Red Sox lost to the Yankees in the 2003 playoffs did anyone around here blame the Yanks for winning it by fighting off defeat and delivering when it counted most? Nope ó instead everyone wanted to kill Grady Little, including two college friends I recently saw for the first time since that fateful day. I brought up the subject as an example for something else and they both just launched like it happened two days ago.
But that is not the case in politics, where itís always the other guy, or, whoops, almost forgot, gal. The UL piece I spoke of was about the contrived unity meeting in Unity, N.H., between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and, unlike in his enjoyable weekly column, publisher Joe McQuaid offered the usual dogma regularly seen in his political editorials ó that the other guy basically is the boogey man (my word) and without saying it, implying John McCain is the next Teddy Roosevelt. Though admittedly that could be just me seeing what I see. I didnít really disagree with what he had to say about Obama being a flip-flopper either. He has changed positions a few times.
Of course in politics, one personís flip-flop is anotherís enlightened reassessment. Like Ronald Reaganís flip-flop from a Democrat to a Republican back in the day. Not only a Democrat mind you, a Democrat leading what some on the right see as socialism ó as president of a union, the Screen Actors Guild. Personally, Iíve got no problem with that. Itís like me going from a Yankees fan to rooting for the Sox. I had a good reason. George Steinbrenner was acting like a horseís behind and the ends donít justify the means ó so I dumped him. But that doesnít mean my friends at home donít think Iím not a sports flip-flopper or the Benedict Arnold of sports as my friend Vinny Tenety sees me. Which is the pot calling the kettle black since heís gone over to the dark side in the empire, after growing up a Willie Mays-loving San Francisco Giant. But I digress.
Iím aware editorials are opinions, but what you never see in Joeís editorials is the other side. You know, like Sen. McCain saying he doesnít know much about the economy (and itís a bad time for that), or while exonerated, he was tainted by the Keating 5 scandal. That Obama has inspired maybe a million people to register to vote. Thatís good for all ó right? Or that he engineered an upset on par with ďDewey Defeats TrumanĒ in knocking off Clinton. Thatís because he wants conservatism to win like a defense attorney wants to get his client off. EARTH TO JOE ó the countryís a mess and it happened on the watch of your beloved conservatives. You canít get around that, even if your fingers just canít type the words.
That is unless you think $4-a-gallon gas prices, the largest deficit in the history of human existence, the dollar being at its lowest point since what, the 1970s, mired in an unnecessary war that took our eye off the ball of getting the guy behind 9-11 and an inept Attorney General administering duties with a partisan slant doesnít make the country a mess. Oh, and the GOP was the majority in Congress until 2006, so you canít blame the mess on them. Still ó itís the other guys who are the ones who could REALLY mess things up. Oh ó I get it.
If I wrote like Joe and decided to offer some thoughts on Theo Epstein after seeing him campaign for John Kerry at a rally behind City Hall in 2004, hereís what it might look like: Theo is the Red Sox boogey man. He let Pedro walk to the Mets. That led to terrible signings of David Wells and Matt Clement. He overspent on brittle J.D. Drew, gave Keith Foulke a four-year deal and when the carousel at shortstop stopped, he had a $9 million guy on pace for 35 errors and 24 RBI. Lou Gorman was more of a fiscal conservative because he paid Matt Young only $2.5 million. Yeah, he was a bum ó but he was a bargain.
Itís all true ó but it doesnít give a real accurate picture, does it? It leaves out that Pedro wasnít signed because of fragility concerns and since heís won a whopping 29 games for the $60 million or so heís been paid, Theo was right. It also leaves out Curt Schilling, pulling David Ortiz off the scrap heap, making the brilliant gamble (I vehemently opposed) to trade Nomar for Orlando Cabrera, Dave Roberts and the other guy whose name I canít spell well enough to even Google, but it begins with an M. Thereís a farm system brimming with more starlets than MGM back in the day. And yes, while Dan Duquette had a lot to do with the first one, he did twice in his first four years what an assortment of ďready on day oneĒ general managers brimming with all sorts of experience couldnít do for 86 years ó win the World Series. Thatís a more complete picture of the pros and cons, donít you think?
And since Theo was just 30 and running the product side of a $750 million enterprise for a shorter time than Obama has been in the Senate, itís also a pretty good illustration that having really good judgment is more important than experience, isnít it?
Which brings me to the point of this diatribe. Iím not telling anyone how to vote, or that being president is like running a ball club (which Mr. Bush once did as an owner of the Texas Rangers). Iím saying listen to the pros and cons of all arguments. Donít dismiss those from the other side out of hand ó because you never learn anything new that way. Unfortunately that has been the case of Union Leader political editorials for over 50 years. A group that probably thinks denial is that large river somewhere in Egypt, because they canít bring themselves to face two simple facts. That the person in the hot seat is what matters most, not the political philosophy, right or left. And second, that the conservatives have so screwed things up that, Iím sorry to say, if this were baseball George W. would be Casey Stengel and his administration the 1962 Mets.
A team that won 40 and lost a record 120 times.
Dave Long can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billyís Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM Ė The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.