If The Sox Can Beat Yankees, Kery Can Beat Bush
By Harvey Wasserman
In the greatest comeback in sports history, the Boston Red Sox have done the impossible---and so can John Kerry.
As all the world knows, the fabled Red Sox were down three games to none in a seven game series. That meant they had to win four in a row.
It had never been done before. In fact, no big league baseball team down three-zero had ever come back to even a series by winning three to tie, let alone taking four to win.
But the Red Sox did it. Cursed for the ill-fated trade of Babe Ruth to the Yankees back in 1920, the Red Sox haven't won a World Series since 1918.
Red Sox history is filled with horrific moments of terminal frustration. A 1986 ground ball slipped through the rickety legs of an inappropriate first baseman after they had the Mets beat. There've been endless last-minute losses to the Yankees. Bizarre twists of fate have cursed them, year after year.
Whatever it took, the Red Sox, who usually had very good teams, managed to lose the Big One.
The same kind of plague seems to have followed the Democrats, at least since 1968. After the torments of the Vietnam War and the ill-fated turmoil of the Chicago Convention, the Democrats seemed plagued by a Sox-like curse of their own. They put Jimmy Carter in the White House, only to have his presidency turn weird with a bizarre hostage crisis in Iran. They put Bill Clinton in the White House, only to see his already disappointing second term turned into a right-wing impeachment over Oval Office sex.
And then came the ultimate Red Sox moment, the theft of the 2000 election. In the years since the ball rolled through Al Gore's legs, grassroots rage over the Bush coup has been tinged with a Sox-like sense of despair. With Team Bush using the 9/11 tragedies to plunge the country into war, they have pushed the Constitution, the natural environment, common decency and too much more to the brink of extinction. To us Red Sox fans, they looked like the Yankees---slick, rich, unbeatable.
That despair deepened in the first weeks of the Kerry campaign. Both the organization and the candidate seemed inept and ineffectual. Another dreadful loss seemed inevitable.
But then came the debates. Trailing badly---like three games to none---Kerry suddenly emerged as an actual adult: calm, well- spoken, gracefully presidential. Bush showed himself to be the stereotypical frat boy: arrogant, clumsy, brutish, out of touch. Because he apparently believes himself to be anointed by God, he cannot admit to even a simple error.
In short, he gave Kerry his opening. Against all odds, the Democrats are staging a Sox-like comeback, and are starting to look like winners.
The election is far from over. The odds are still even at best.
But Team Kerry is playing great late-inning hardball. They are smooth, well-funded (the Red Sox do have the second-largest payroll in baseball) and on target. The Bushies have mishandled the economy every bit as thoroughly as the situation in Iraq, and Kerry has figured out that he can combine his attacks on both.
The Sox won game seven with a barrage of home runs. But in game six the series turned on two controversial calls by the umpires. In a break with tradition, the men in black twice pooled their points of view and correctly awarded the Red Sox a contested home run and a controversial putout at first. Getting a fair shake made all the difference.
Likewise, the Democrats have wisely filled the field with lawyers to guarantee the fair outcome that was denied in 2000. If this election goes into extra innings, Team Kerry may get the electoral justice Al Gore did not.
Whatever the case, the Red Sox have done what looked impossible. If they keep swinging for the fences, there's no reason the Democrats can't do the same.
HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US, available from http://www.harveywasserman.com, was written in Massachusetts, where the author was born a Red Sox fan.