Every autumn, a team is declared champion after a grueling season and strange playoff process.
Every four falls, the same holds true in American politics. Before President Taft became the first commander-in-chief to throw out the first pitch, the national pastime was already intertwined with Washington politics. 2016 will be newsworthy for presidential campaigns and nominations, but it will emphasize the strong connection between the election of a president and the crowning of a World Series winner.
In baseball, the goal for all 30 teams is to win the pennant by being the best team in the league. The American League and National League each declare a winner to face off against the other league’s best club. Does this sound familiar? The Republican Party and Democratic Party each nominate a candidate that has done the best job during primary season. The two candidates meet in a final showdown in November that decides the ultimate victor.
The political system to elect a president is reminiscent of how baseball teams fight off elimination in order to be champions, but the candidates for election hold some similarities to certain teams.
One of the league’s frontrunners originated in Canada before moving to Washington, much like Ted Cruz. The Texas senator was born in Calgary but currently serves in the nation’s capital. Likewise, the Montreal Expos packed their bags in 2004 and relocated to the District of Columbia. The Washington Nationals have a solid team, but poor team chemistry ruined last year’s strong start. After a win in the Iowa Caucus, Cruz is trying to avoid the same pitfalls the Nationals hit. Both Cruz and the Nationals have shown an ability to get off to a hot start, but it remains to be seen if they can handle the pressure and win when it matters.
Another Republican, Marco Rubio, is an establishment candidate that represents the party but cannot find any traction to put up a victory. The same can be said of the Chicago Cubs, the team that represents the National League, but falls short every year. Prognosticators are high on both, as Rubio should be able to hold off opponents to receive the nomination, and the Cubs could win their first World Series since 1908. Come November, Rubio and the Cubs may both be victors, eliminating doubt that they can’t win.
The bombastic Donald Trump is the Los Angeles Dodgers of the political field. Both are loud-mouthed and disorganized, preferring to throw money at problems instead of efficiently creating solutions. The Dodgers have fallen short of their lofty goals for the last few seasons and 2016 will likely be no different. For Mr. Trump, anything short of the Oval Office is a failure but, like how the MLB preseason predictions gush over the Dodgers, his poll numbers overstate how well he does in votes.
When the New York Yankees missed the playoffs in 2008, they needed to reinvent themselves and did so by creating a championship team in 2009. When Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama in 2008, she tried to make herself into a winner; this is her first chance at the presidency since. Both are expected to win all the time. The Yankees are the winningest franchise in history, and Clinton is an establishment Democrat with high hopes. However, neither has aged gracefully, and their expected victories might turn into disappointing seasons.
The Kansas City Royals won the 2015 World Series by taking a different approach to baseball than every other team. Bernie Sanders is using the same method to steal the win away from big-market candidates like Clinton. The Royals’ use of sabermetrics and Sander’s progressive ideology both are effective at attracting a young and exciting following. Kansas City proved you do not need the most money to win, and Sanders may repeat as a less-known yet potent quantity.
The 2016 baseball season and election season have a lot in store and there will be no shortage of excitement. Yet, we are still a long ways away from declaring a winner for either race.