A Pitchers’ Duel

In which Will Durst discovers the haunting parallels between political conventions and baseball, with the exception that the food is better at Dodger Stadium than at Staples.

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The competition between Democratic and Republican nominating conventions is a lot like a baseball game, in which the incumbent party is the home team. That’s why they always have “last ups” at the convention World Series. The score is kept in terms of “bounce.” And the Republicans, this election cycle’s visiting team, scored pretty well in the early innings.

But Gore — the Democrats’ ace reliever — came into the game to relieve starter Bill Clinton and immediately pitched a mean change-up: His choice of Joseph Lieberman had the GOP swinging at air. After the Philly circus — complete with the modern version of a minstrel show — the Orthodox Jew knocked the Republicans off their diversity rhythm. But the Democrats played a predictably bland game from there on out: not too much defense, and definitely very little offense. Gore was last up and hit better than his average, but failed to deliver a game-winning homer. The crowd was disappointed, but not surprised. And everyone’s still trying to figure out the score.

Between innings, there was a Triple-A game “dizzy bat” contest, also known as the Reform Party convention(s). Both Buchanan and Hagelin stumbled across the plate in a photo finish, with the winner of the $12.6 million cash prize to be decided in about a week by that dysfunctional One Hour Photo Lab known as the Federal Elections Commission.

Other ways the conventions are like baseball games:

  • Both teams have really ugly mascots.

  • If they don’t win, the manager gets canned.

  • The old boys’ network guarantees the manager always gets another job.

  • You can never find a beer vendor when you need one.

  • All the fans dress funny and wave silly banners for their team.

  • The media writes about it like it’s a life-and-death situation, when it’s really just a game.

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