NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

November 2, 2013

Politics can learn a thing or two from sports

Bill Plante
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Big Freddy was humming something off key that sounded vaguely familiar when I joined him for morning coffee.

“Are you ailing?” I asked.

“I am humming take me out of the ball game,” Freddy said as he closed his morning newspaper.

“Everybody but you celebrating the Sox win? Did you bet on the wrong team” I asked.

“I don’t bet on baseball -- there are too many ways to lose,” Freddy said.

“Well, if you had bet on the Sox you would have won big time,”I said.

I hope you’re not going to tell me you don’t like baseball. It’s un-American not to like baseball.”

“No,” Freddy said. “I like all sports, win or lose, because they shape the characters of players, and remind the fans of what it takes to be a winner.”

“Talent and perseverance,” I said. “Keeping you head in the game until the last out,” I added.

“And plenty of money by the management,” Freddy said.

“Hope springs eternal, but what’s really involved as far as management is concerned is talent, derringer do, and money. You can’t get the one without the other, and, bottom lines, we need sports.

“They’re escape hatches for all kinds of troubles -- speaking of which the way the country is split up down and sideways on so many things we’d have a revolution without sports.

“How else would we be able to escape from whatever? You want evidence, look at the crowded stadiums.”

“Escaping?” I asked.

“Escaping,” Freddy said. “Sports are where you can let off steam for whatever’s bothering you, and there’s a lot of that going around all the time.

“There are the never say die fans for particular sports, players, or teams. But there are other kinds of fans for games played well, no matter who wins.”

“Too bad that doesn’t happen in politics,” I said.

“Point taken,” Freddy said. “Politicians are players, but politics is not a game, it’s a substitute for warfare, and just about anything goes. You could say that some sports are too, but they have rules and referees.

“The heart and soul of partisan politics is not how parties play the game, it’s whether they win or lose.

“When it comes time for national elections it’s making the other side look bad whenever, however, and with whatever it takes while making their own sound like the second coming.”

“Fairness is what’s in the eyes of beholders.” Freddy said. “There are those who are far sighted on certain things and those who are not. Political strategies are shaped by that.”

“They come in two categories. One is to market what they’re peddling, and the other is making the opposition look bad with whatever it takes.”

“Well so do athletic strategies,” I said.

“Yes, but players who muck up their plays too often get yanked then and there,” Freddy said. “Pitchers are benched when they lose control, and managers get canned when they lose too many games.”

“As with the Sox two years ago,” I said.

“The whole deal is unmatched in baseball history. They were the worst of the lot, and this year they’ve been sensational.

“They’ve made the season seem too short as much by the way they’ve done it as by the number of wins.

They’ve been class all the way, and win or lose in the games ahead, what they have done will live forever.”

Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and a staff columnist.