EDITORS NOTE: This article is intended as equal-opportunity satire. Please take it in the spirit in which it is intended.
Baseball's Version of the New Hampshire Primary
With all of this Primary and Caucus noise going on to my North I got to thinking about how the horse race in the New Hampshire Primaries would look if I substituted baseball players for each candidate. Who is the Bernie Sanders of Major League Baseball? Even better, who is the Hillary Clinton? Is there anyone like Trump anywhere?
So, I spent extremely valuable time in my basement wearing my Marvel Comics pajamas with my dog and sidekick Cody watching the primary results and trying to figure out this extremely important philosophical dilemma: who are MLBs version of the current candidates in New Hampshire?
My first thought was to use the New Hampshire Primary as the field that the exercise will be played on. How the politicians did, how they behaved and how the results there have impacted the political landscape and how I can make, regardless of how tenuous, a connection between a Democratic Socialist or a woman or a wild and volatile New Yorker to Bryce Harper or Mike Trout or Pablo Sandoval or who knows who.
Here is what I came up with.
I thought it would make sense to start with the winners. We as Americans love winners and, as we have seen in Iowa and New Hampshire, some times we like losers even more, but winners get center stage and so lets start with them.
Candidate: Donald J. Trump
Businessman - Reality TV star - Crazy Person
* Self-Proclaimed Midas. Everything Trump is "SO GREAT"
Political Leaning: Self Proclaimed Right-Wing Republican - previous Moderate Republican and Social Issues Moderate Democrat
Comp: Alex Rodriguez - Yankees Third Baseman/DH
Campaign Motto: "If you ain't lying, cheating or stealing then you ain't trying and you should get the F*** out of New York and America."
Trump is like Madonna, Elvis and maybe more apt, Stalin. One name conjures vivid thoughts and polarizing opinions and he cannot be confused with anyone else (sorry Elvis Costello but you don't measure up). Trump is bold and volatile, aggressive and often times vulgar and insulting, but he is successful. He doesn't do anything small, nothing is under the radar, its all big and its always "SO GREAT."
To go with Trumps billions of dollars and the success of the Trump Corporation, there have been a multiple of divorces and even more bankruptcies. Wherever the name TRUMP goes, controversy follows and I can't think of a player in major league baseball that fits that description more than Alex Rodriguez.
They both date super models and world-class beauties; they both have shady histories to go with undeniable levels of success. There aren't very many people that love Arod (or Aroid), we all know Trump has his detractors and they are both currently New Yorkers. We'll see how Trump does in South Carolina and the remaining primary contests just like we will see if Arods 2015 was a fluke (enhanced or not) or if he is back. Either way, they are both polarizing and they both go by a single name Arod/Trump - two peas in a very volatile pod.
Candidate: Bernie Sanders
Senator from Vermont
Political leaning - Socialist
* Known for loving Birkenstock sandals, Guns and Cheese.
Comp: Harry Caray - Cubs Broadcaster
Campaign Motto: Anything that you can flail your hands around and about too is a motto they can endorse
Bernie Sanders, at first glance, looks like the goofy grandpa or the senior citizen version of Mad Magazines cover boy. He comes across as the family member that at Christmas may have had too many Egg Nogs or maybe he is just "that way," but he is definitely boisterous. The way he walks with a bouncy trot and his flailing white hair provokes thoughts of the mad scientist creating Frankenstein's monster who is determined to take down Wall Street.
And lets face it, a self-proclaimed socialist from Vermont (a state known for Birkenstocks and cheese) screaming about the big banks and income inequality in his "interesting," staggered speaking style, he is cooking up something spicy.
I am not sure if Bernie Sanders is the happy go lucky Santa Claus or the mad scientist on the edge of sanity. What I do know is that he has struck a cord and the youngsters love him and baseball needs a figure bringing them to the table regardless of how whacky he may be.
This list is suppose to be about finding players that compare to politicians and I tried hard to come up with a good comp for Bernie, but what player would you identify with "Feel the Bern?" I thought about Chris Archer because of the wild hair and his "interesting" personality. I also thought that if I was willing to make an exception to my original rules that an ex-player may be a fair compromise. Politics is about compromise right?
Bernie is 74 years old and there aren't a lot of players roaming the outfield or even DH'ing at that age. That led me to MLB Networks goofy and gaffy ex-player and current contributor Eric Byrnes. I also thought maybe ex-player and current broadcaster Steve Lyons fit. Once he pulled down his pants in front of a stadium full of men, women, and children. Both have an aloof, wild and whacky persona that jives with Bernie. But, in the end, there was only one comparable figure in baseball and I couldn't see selecting anyone else. Baseballs Bernie Sanders is the late, great Harry Caray.
Harry Caray kept a journal every single day in the hopes that his alcohol and food expenditures might be tax deductible. Now thats a politician if I have ever seen one. His mannerisms and the way he sang "Take me out to the ball game" is a classic baseball image and has made him an iconic symbol in baseballs history. I don't think Bernie Sanders will be compared to FDR or seen as iconic, but Bernie is memorable to say the least and will go down in the history books as a rare piece of Americana.
They both have big-rimmed glasses and similar affectations and they both care about taxes while Bernie went to college in Chicago and Harry Caray became a legend there. If they aren't long lost brothers then I will eat my hat.
Candidate: John Kasich
Governor from Ohio
Political Leaning: Center-Right Republican
* Not known for much of anything. Thanks for your vote any way.
"I like what I like and I know what I know. No chasing on this bus. The rest can drive on by. First place is that way and so is Pennsylvania."
"Managers decision - Voters prerogative."
Kasich on the stump is a lot like a crafty-lefty on the bump. He is a normal, low-key guy that has survived in the political arena even though he isn't a flame throwing right-winger or headline chasing opportunist. He won't blow you away with big-time stuff, boldness or aggressive politicking, but he is straightforward, he doesn't pander he he is all about getting things done. Mark Buehrle, Tom Glavine and Jamie Moyer would be proud to be the baseball version of this Ohio Governor.
He had a good night in New Hampshire and got touchy-feely, soft and sensitive in his post-primary speech. It could be characterized as the polar opposite of Donald J. Trump.
With Kasich I decided to go off the map like I did with Bernie Sanders. He is a sharper, less folksy, political version of ex-Red Sox manager Jimy Williams, best known for saying "managers decision" whenever asked about just about everything, but Jimy Williams doesn't quite tell the whole story. He needs a partner to tell the rest.
If I am going to stay on message, as politicians are suppose to do, then a good, second comparable for Governor Kasich is Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto. Both are reserved, patient, and deliberate and the Ohio connection is difficult to pass over. It looks like Kasich might get fed to the wolves in South Carolina just like Votto has been on the barren roster in Cincinnati, but we are talking about 2015 and the New Hampshire primary and both did well.
Candidate: Ted Cruz
Senator from Texas
Political Leaning: Far-Right Wing Republican
* If you want to know a strip club in Montreal or a square dance bar in San Antonio he is the Politician for you. Ty Cobb was hated too ya know.
Comp: Jose Bautista - Toronto Blue Jays OF
Campaign Motto: "Cruz flips on the issues, Bautista flips his bat after the homers. I am NOT Canadian, not that there is anything wrong with that."
When I tried to determine who in baseball is anything like Ted Cruz (after I got over the horror that he could actually be President of the United States) I kept thinking that he was the man in Washington that nobody wanted to deal with. That automatically made me think of Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper, but it didn't quite feel right. Then I remembered how THE DONALD kept slamming Cruz for being a Canadian and it all became clear: Jose Bautista.
Cruz has the Tea Party fire and rage while Bautista has an edge to his game and big time Canadian pop in his bat. Cruz gets into squabbles with everyone while Bautista has had his fair share of shouting matches with opponents himself. As a Tea Party extremist I can't help but wonder when Cruz's bubble will burst and that rings a chord for me when I think of Bautista as well. "When does Bautista's decline begin?"
After Cruz's strong finish in New Hampshire and Bautista's monster season in 2015, these two are riding high, but is it on borrowed Canadian-Flagged wings? Can Bautista convince Cruz to socialize medicine like in Canada? I doubt it. Either way, these two are a spicy pair on both sides of the border.
Candidate: Jeb Bush
Ex-Governor of Florida
Political Leaning: Center-Right Republican
* Known for being the Bush daddy loved more and the voters loved less. Who says boring can't work in Washington?
Comp: Sean Doolittle - Oakland Athletics
Campaign Motto: "I wish I was the wild thing, but lets face it, I am Jeb Bush."
Bush is a legacy candidate and a tricky legacy at that. His father was a one-term president, something very few Presidents have been able to accomplish - losing a second term that is. As history will eventually prove his older brother was one of the worst Presidents we have ever had and even he was able to get elected twice. Maybe his brothers greatest and possibly only accomplishment was that he won an election even though he actually lost. When was the last time a pitcher won a game even though they actually lost? Thats tougher than four strikeouts in one inning.
When considering an apt comparable I could have taken a shortcut and selected Corey Seager, since his brother Kyle currently plays for the Seattle Mariners, or possibly a prospect like Daz Cameron, whose father Mike also played for the Mariners, but family lineage is the only real comparison there. Dee Gordon came to mind. They both have three letter first names, both have a connection to Florida and they both have the family lineage to bolster the case.
That’s three strikes and more than enough to move on to the next candidate, but when you think of Jeb Bush on the stump does Dee Gordon seem even remotely comparable? I don't think so either. If Bush had just finished sixth or seventh in New Hampshire then I could delete him from the article and for America's sake our history books. That’s what Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were hoping for and what Trump is ecstatic didn't.
So, I settled on Sean Doolittle from the Oakland Athletics. Why? Because they are nothing alike at all and if Bush is to win the Republican nomination he will need to convince the rest of America that he is nothing like what we think he is. Doolittle is a left-handed, long bearded, whacky twitter user who throws with velocity and violence and looks like he belongs in a biker gang. Bush is a clean cut, "wanna-claim to be" right-wing politician with tightly trimmed hair and a silver spoon never too far afield. He speaks softly and with the exception of some stumbles (a family trait) says things with a dryness that Doolittle could never pull off. Doolittle has succeeded as a closer while Bush tries and tries and tries to make a run for president, but has never been able to gain traction.
Politics is a fluid business, this has not been the typical political cycle and this is hardly the typical baseball article. If Trump can lie and pander to great success then I can choose Bush's doppelganger based on the theory that there isn't anything comparable about them at all. There is a comments section below - go to town.
Candidate: Marco Rubio
Senator from Florida
Political Leaning: Center-Right Republican
* Known for… known for… known for… hold on, let me check my notes.
Comp: Pat Venditte - Toronto Blue Jays
Motto: "If you missed what I said a moment ago, don't fret, I'll repeat it again and again and then again and Obama is ruining the world, on purpose ya know."
Rubio came barreling out of Iowa with a third place finish that felt more like a victory and then he stumbled and bumbled and repeated himself on the New Hampshire debate stage. He doubled down saying that his message is the message is the message is the message that Republicans need to hear hear hear. What baseball player feels like that or at least repeats themselves all the time? It's tough to find one - so I moved on to another train of thought.
Rubio has flip-flopped on immigration and while he is in the big boys ball game he is still young, still fighting to establish himself and earn his colleagues respect. The player that feels like that to me is Pat Venditte, the dual-throwing left/right hander for the Toronto Blue Jays. Major League baseballs rules keep Venditte down because they don't allow him to switch back and forth, pitching from the left and then the right in the same at-bat. Well, the Republican electorate encourages such behavior, politicians all have to learn the practice and Rubio has done it pretty well.
And what article about baseball and politics could possibly exclude a pitcher that throws with both hands? Left and right, flip and flop and the dozens of puns and political jabs teed up can be summed up in one player - Pat Venditte. Its only fitting that Venditte is a teammate of Jose Bautista in Toronto while Bush and Rubio are both Floridian Republicans. We like synergy when we can find it. Its tenuous I realize, but after the disaster in New Hampshire so is Rubio's campaign.
Candidate: Hillary Clinton
Ex-First Lady, Ex-Senator from NY, Ex-Secretary of State
Political Leaning: Center-Left Democrat
* She is the Forrest Gump of American History. She caddied for Bill Clinton, she watched as Barack Obama passed Health Care reform and could be second fiddle in the Progressive revolution to its leader Bernie Sanders. Nixon was despised; Hillary just kind of rubs us the wrong way.
Comp: David "Big Papi" Ortiz
Motto: "You may not love me all the time, but I hope you like me enough to pledge your money and cast your vote."
Obviously you look at the two of them and the physical comparisons are uncanny. If you were to stand the 5'7" pale skinned Hillary Clinton and the 6'3" Dominican born, dark skinned "Big Papi" wearing all that bling around his neck in a police lineup you couldn't distinguish between the two and the comparisons don't end there. "Big Papi" with his loud and proud, outspoken swagger and Hillary Clinton's "party till you drop, I am gangsta" public persona couldn't be more similar.
The differences between the two are as stark as the similarities are exact (sarcasm there if you didn't notice). They are both large figures that symbolize things that people either love or hate. Whether it be disputed steroid tests, comments about their next contract or complaints about umpires ball/strike calls or how they flip flopped or handled Benghazi or stored their emails, they are what they are for the good and the bad.
They are ours, passionately or reluctantly and we embrace them, or they are the players that the opponent get their blood boiling over. Polarizing isn't always a bad thing, it works for Trump, but it didn't for Hillary in New Hampshire. One thing is for certain; they are both Gangsta and possibly twins separated at birth, a lot like Bernie and Harry Caray. Imagine the four of them in a Karaoke bar after a bottle of tequila and some jalapeno salsa. PAH-TAY time.
Ben Carlson, Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie all received votes in the New Hampshire Primary but they had to be pulled from the field for lack of viable support. In political terms, they are no longer relevant in the race and have or will suspend their campaigns. Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina would have been interesting figures to find a baseball doppelganger. Ben Carson however, would have been a tough one. He is slow and monotonous, but well respected by his supporters and he has some "interesting" views on things, especially for a medical doctor. Imagine the soft and tender Carson in the aggressive, hostile and outright ferocious political environment of South Carolina. That would have been fun and could have been an opportunity for hilarity. I am thinking Pedro Martinez when he hurled Don Zimmer to the ground at Fenway Park. Maybe 26 year-old Robin Ventura when he was beat down by the 114-year-old Nolan Ryan after he charged the mound in 1993.
South Carolina and Nevada are next on the Primary circuit and it will be interesting to say the least. I will try my best to put those races into perspective through the prism and perspective of baseball. For now, I hope you enjoyed your baseball flavored political update. Be sure to vote, but more importantly, make sure you follow me. Priorities people - priorities --> @CJMitch73
Chris Mitchell is a staff writer for RotoExperts.com, a Contributing writer for BaseballAmerica.com, SBNation's MinorLeagueBall.com and FantasyDraft.com. He also hosts two Podcasts: "A Podcast To Be Named Later" and "The RotoExperts Fantasy Sports Show" that formerly aired on the Fantasy Sports Television Network (FNTSY). You can find him on Twitter @CJMitch73.