October 30, 2008

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LONGSHOTS: “Yankees Suck”-like mentality fuels political discontent
by Dave Long

The presidential election finally gets here on Tuesday. It’s been a test of endurance that makes Sunday’s Manchester Marathon seem like skipping across Elm Street — which it certainly is not. And that makes it especially something when you consider it’s been done by a guy in his 70s, where the admirable Senator McCain doesn’t seem to be any the worse for the wear.

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been contentious or really nasty. It has, with a lot more of it coming from the right side of the diamond if you know what I mean, at least in the presidential race (here come the leftist media elite comments). It’s been pretty equal in a second straight embarrassing he-she Senate race between the thoroughly disappointing John Sununu and Jeanne Shaheen. We’ve got real problems and they’re telling us bad things about the other one — but has anyone heard even one thing these two adolescents plan to do? What a great way to vote — because the other one sucks more than I do. Of course, that’s how I voted for President Bush last time — when they almost kicked me out of the voting booth in Hooksett after taking too long deciding between him and Senator Kerry.

It reminds me of the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry when I just said no to attending in person anymore. The mindless “Yankees suck!” mentality had become a huge turnoff as a growing number of fans were taking it to idiotic levels. As long as it doesn’t get out of hand, passion is great. It raises the intensity, gets the competitive juices flowing and rivets attention. A crowd helps a team by giving it energy or by distracting the bad guys (think foul shooting at Duke) and it makes games even better. But fighting in the bullpen amid scary fan unruliness, like in the Pedro-Don Zimmer fight game of 2003, is taking it way too far.

It’s relevant this week because a lot of political discourse these days is like the “Yankees suck!” chant. Thanks in part to flag- waving nitwits like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and unchecked partisanship on both sides, the divide between left and right has grown wider and harsher. For Sox fans it’s like hearing John Sterling saying “Yankees win, theee Yankees win” over and over — which conjures images of a cattle prod and what to do with it. 

But that’s sports — where it really doesn’t matter. In politics it affects our everyday lives. Like the perilous day of the first bailout vote when Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t have the discipline to keep her yap shut in blaming Republicans for the mess. The response from a key voting block of supposedly country-first Republicans? They voted down the bill to show her (so there) — which sent the stock market into a tailspin that cost our 401(k)s $2 trillion (with a t) dollars because they can’t put partisan bickering aside. It’s like warring parents in a divorce who don’t care it’s killing the kids.

It’s the same instinct as in Sox vs. the Yanks, where if you’re for John McCain, Barack Obama pals around with Karl Marx, Saddam Hussein and George Steinbrenner. If it’s Obama you like, then McCain is a senile old fool who went to high school with Babe Ruth. I think even more than the economy and the war (which I say sheepishly, because for those with loved ones in harm’s way there is no other issue) this is the biggest problem in America and I want it to stop. I don’t want or expect everyone to think the same as me. It’s the way we disagree that I disagree with and the level of acceptance that goes along with someone else who thinks differently from them. It’s why I liked Mike  Huckabee, who disagrees but doesn’t vilify. He’s the Derek Jeter of the GOP, on the other side for some, but still likable. That’s the way I think it should be done.

The truth is both are good people and much better candidates than we had the last time. I admire McCain’s toughness, his command of foreign affairs, that he’ll vote against the pressure of his own party when he thinks it’s wrong and was right about the surge. On the downside, he was wrong about starting the Iraq War, his rudderless campaign brings to mind the L.A. Clippers, he hasn’t shown much during the economic crisis, the pick of not-ready-for-prime-time Sarah Palin was solely for political need which flies in the face of his “country first” mantra and I don’t think he can sell it when he really needs to. 

As for Obama, I wonder how he’ll pay for everything. What he’ll slash in the budget, because you can’t pay for it if you don’t. On the good — he’s smart and after eight years of the current administration that really means something to me. I don’t worry about the inexperience factor for two reasons. The first is, I saw what a brilliant guy named Theo Epstein did twice after being given the keys to the Red Sox at 29, what several ready-on-day-one GMs couldn’t do in the previous 86 years. Yes, it’s baseball, but it’s still a $650 million enterprise and it shows sometimes a special one can come along.

And then there is his 18-month campaign. People say he hasn’t done anything, but that’s because they refuse to look at the evidence. He beat a candidate in the primary who started with a 25-point first-quarter lead and a huge edge in name recognition, money and party organization. He and Hillary Clinton (with a little help from GW) were the catalyst for staggering jumps in voter turnout and new people registering to vote. He weathered every storm in an arduous battle with the formidable Mrs. Clinton. He drew enormous crowds in the U.S. and in Europe while commanding attention even Ronald Reagan never got, which says he can sell it. And he inspired the largest fundraising effort in history, which doesn’t happen unless you connect in a unique way. Especially when it comes in in dribs and drabs from a record number of regular people. If you can’t admit that, I suspect you’re like the contentious Red Sox fan who still can’t bring himself to say Jeter is a heck of a player.

As you can probably tell, I’m voting for Barack Obama with Sen. McCain being Alydar to his Affirmed. It’s because he gets that the politics of destruction is a force of division in what is supposed to be the United States of America. Even the most ardent Yankees hater will agree that without the evil empire, the greatest rivalry in sports is no more. So like fans of the Yanks and Sox we’re in this together and need to find a way to get along better. That’s a house that won’t get built until someone drives in the first nail.

And I believe Obama is the one to do it. 

Dave Long can be reached at dlong@hippopress.com. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billy’s Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.


10/23/2008 No ray of hope as season closes in Tampa Bay

10/16/2008 Going to the nines a thing of the past
10/9/2008 C-eeing some interesting stories unfold this week
10/2/2008 "How come?" is the main question of the day
9/25/2008 Observations on baseball in 2008
9/18/2008 If I were a QB, a DB, a stat geek or a soccer mom ...
9/11/2008 After disaster Brady's bunch won't pass on season
9/4/2008 Pats start off with high expectation and some concerns
8/28/2008 A race to the finish to take all month long
8/21/2008 National news items of interest for local folks
8/14/2008 A little of this and that from the good side of sports pile
8/7/2008 Manny happy returns from the Evil Empire
7/31/2008 Manny being Manny - the sequel Part XXXII
7/24/2008 Open the mail bag for some Red Sox questions
7/17/2008 Hall-worthy or not the latest question on Schilling
7/10/2008 Baseball season has actually started
7/03/2008 UL editorial in denial — stop the presses
6/26/2008 Boston turnaround makes NBA green with envy
6/19/2008 Letters from the NBA finals
6/12/2008 A Father's Day letter to dad
6/5/2008 Twenty-one and six are the lucky numbers for the Cs
5/29/2008 Sometimes a bat is just a bat
5/22/2008 Some questions for folks right up there in the front row
5/15/2008 Numbers don't add up to supposed Fenway
5/8/2008 Cavalier attitude nearly derails first meeting with LeBron
5/1/2008 I'm so old,I remember ...
4/24/2008 Sox Line-ups, Celtics and ESPN investigations are in the mail bag
4/17/2008 Show me the way to that All-Star Game
4/10/2008 For C'ing a great time ahead as playoffs arrive this spring
4/3/2008 Bill James and the stats for 2008 — Take Two
3/27/2008 Drowning in the NCAA office pool
3/20/2008 Whether forecast is right or not is the question
3/13/2008 Comment sparks wonder over just what I did
3/6/2008 New hires, new trades in pro sports
2/28/2008 Celtics issues far from black and white in the early days
2/21/2008 Congressional ineptitude muscles in on steroid hearings
2/14/2008 Basketball rounds into form under the cover of Pats football
2/7/2008 A giant win leaves Patriots fans feeling blue
1/31/2008 Foxboro lads earn pats on the back, and old Celtics mystique makes sense
1/24/2008 Mail bag asks about Rice, the hall and wild-eyed liberals
1/17/2008 Peyton manning the fort back home as Pats take on Chargers
1/10/2008 Grumpy old Dolphins are lost at sea on this one
1/3/2008 The primary concern is getting a clear picture
12/27/2007 The annual sports awards close out 2007
12/20/2007 Holiday gifts for the deserving and not so deserving
12/13/2007 Jets land in Foxboro as pat go number 14
12/06/2007 To include or not to include Ellsbury — that is the questione
11/29/2007 Yanked from the sports pages in the Big Apple
11/22/2007 Here's what I'm thankful for at Thanksgiving
11/15/2007 Waiting game leads to a series of random thoughts
11/8/2007 OK — it's week nine and I'm ready to talk
11/1/2007 Finally a little shut-eye for a sleep deprived nation
10/25/2007 A rocky mountain high for Red Sox Nation
10/18/2007 Time to go to the mailbag
10/112007 Who'd more popular, Patriots or Red Sox
10/4/2007 IA weekend chock full of nuts, chokes and great moments
9/27/2007 I hate to say I told you so...
9/20/2007 Media and fan bias shades the severity of sports crime
9/13/2007 All round baseball week starts with a look at leaders
9/6/2007 It's Superbowl or bust for Pats in 2007
8/30/2007 The race is on as baseball enters September
8/23/2007 Spine vs. lack of spine theme for school board debate
8/16/2007 Time for thoughts from the summer mailbag
8/9/2007 Will this three make it big in Boston?
8/2/2007 Trading places all in a day's work for Boston GMs
7/26/2007 Getting out of a slump; an ameteur golfer can feel Sox' pain
7/19/2007 Does second chance guarantee a great outcome?
7/12/2007 Masse still a honeymooner in local baseball culture
7/5/2007 Brown Monster a big Fisher Cat hit
6/28/2007 Rambling along with some random thoughts
6/21/2007 The future is now for the C's come Thursday night
6/14/2007 Homers create bonds among fans for generations
6/07/2007 Sox win by losing two of three this weekend
5/31/2007 Lutz of things to think about
5/24/2007 Down 2-0 M’s for playoff payoff
5/17/2007 Baseballs' conventional wisdom is for the birds
5/10/2007 The Rocket lands in Gotham during Monarchs' playoff break
5/3/2007 Raiders say "No Moss" in fight with talented wideout
4/26/2007 A little history on the ancient Sox and Yanks rivalry
4/19/2007 Lessons to be learned from Robinson, Monarchs and I-Man
4/12/2007 A few questions for the sports gods
4/5/2007 Stanton his case on a variety of current topics
3/29/2007 Sox spring back into action on Monday
3/22/2007 A guide for having fun on NCAA hockey weekend
3/15/2007 The madness of March kicks off on Thursday
3/8/2007 Jumping through hoops after an odd season
3/1/2007 A trip to the mail bag for Hippo Sports
2/22/2007 Six degrees of Muhammed Ali
2/15/2007 Monarchs rule as streak reaches 12
2/8/2007 Talking a good game ahead on all-sports WGAM
2/1/2007 Manning the Super Bowl watch more difficult in '07
1/25/2007 Winning and what else matters in college coaching
1/18/2007 ESPN polls are fanning the flames of national lunacy
1/11/2007 Patriots marching to MIami promised land
1/4/2007 Predictions for 2007
12/28/2006 REcognizing the best on the national front
12/21/2006 Present under the tree for all
12/14/2006 Mailbag open for busines at a time filled with questions
12/07/2006 Lions and Gators and Bears, oh my
11/30/2006 Does Fenway frankness roll to the negative side?
11/23/2006 Turkeys and thanks as the big day arrives
11/16/2006 Green-around-the-gills Celts looking to earn some respect
11/9/2006 Blame game reaches new local low
11/2/2006 A week of highs and lows in sport
10/26/2006 Curses! The U is foiled again
10/19/2006 Time for a trip to the sports mailbag
10/12/2006 U turns Granite Stare around on football
10/05/2006 James' gang riding into town to face the Celtics
09/28/2006 Words to describe a lost Red Sox season
09/21/2006 Football Friday can't stack up to Saturday
09/14/2006 A lesson to be learned in remembering a somber day
09/07/2006 Usual pat choice to win AFC East questioned
08/31/2006 Whining won't yank AL East away from NY
08/24/2006 Spring forward or fall behind for Sox
08/17/2006 Trash talking abounds in the Empire over Sox and Pats
08/10/2006 Monarchs call press conference to crown new leader
08/03/2006 Deadly Fenway duo leave mark on history
07/27/2006 Word of the wise gets lost in sports translation
07/20/2006 Looking beyond the Big Three
07/13/2006 Cream rises to the top of baseball talk at the Dot
07/06/2006 Greetings and salutations toThe Nation at mid-year
06/29/2006 Being dealt is a consequence of the trade
06/22/2006 A year later, Boudreau's cup runneth over
06/15/2006 See dogs and cats battle for a different fan experience
06/08/2006 Not Bad Anymore league makes a comeback
06/01/2006 Luck goes Sox way with Lowell in Massachusetts
05/25/2006 Pitching in to help the Sox trade a few places
05/18/2006 Going to school by cutting Red Sox payroll
05/11/2006 Columnist blows his mind; here are the results
05/04/2006 Yanks stormed Manchester 37 years ago this week
04/27/2006 Regular crowd nowhere to be found come playoff time
04/20/2006 Questions and answers from the mailbag
04/13/2006 Local sports teams spring into action
04/06/2006 Predictable Red Sox season lies ahead
03/30/2006 Analyzing this and that as Pats roster shrinks
03/23/2006 A week of following the bouncing balls
03/16/2006 The beginning of four days of basketball bliss
03/09/2006 Many miss the central point of the story
03/02/2006 Better late than never to jump through local hoops
02/23/2006 Celtic green means raw, not envy as it once did
02/16/2003 An issue that is all black and white
02/09/2006 Nomar curses from the UL's Sullivan
02/02/2006 Super memories from 40 years of watching the big game
01/26/2006 A certain uniformity to the inquiries in the mailbag
01/19/2006 Sudden end to Pats' season leave just one thing to do
01/12/2006 Pats on the back for the football team
01/05/2006 Predictions for Manchester Sports 2031
A lesson for Leo the Lip and nice guys everywhere

Chop House opening is Berra of good news
Event-filled weekend missed en route to evil empire
Hero’s death lays to rest misuse of the word
Saint Theo ascends to new heights in The Nation
Santa sack filled to the brim with sports
Patriots march through injuries toward threepeat
Sports talk should be on the air
Stars shine brightest when winning is in the mix
The Demonization of Johnny Damon
Thirty-seven topics and so little space
Too many holes in Sox for repeat
Trip to the injured list makes it a long weekend for local scribe
Turkeys and giving thanks take center stage this week
Yanked from the edge of your seat