It breaks your heart
It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring,
when everything else begins again,
and it blossoms in the summer,
filling the afternoons and evenings
and then it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.
You count on it,
Rely on it to buffer the passage of time,
To keep the memory of sunshine and high skins alive,
and then just when the days are all twilight,
when you need it most, it stops ...
and summer is gone. -- A. Bartlett Giamatti, "The Green Fields of the Mind"
Bart Giamatti's ode to baseball is not just a reminder to those of us who love our national pastime with a passion that hope always springs eternal for us fans whose teams didn't make the playoffs.
It is likewise a reminder that after that the last out in the World Series we will once again be left to face a nation beset by political scandal, executive ineptitude and natural disasters compounded by man-made disasters, and enmeshed in an immoral and economically motivated war costing thousands of innocent lives.
There is no denial that baseball periodically has its own problems, ranging from steroids to a commissioner who sees his office as an owner protectorate. In contrast, Giamatti saw his role as preserving the integrity of the game; the game survives. Fortunately, from the gambling addiction of a Pete Rose to a Rafael Palmeiro in steroid denial to the greed of an Alex Rodriguez, those are easily overshadowed by the genuineness of a Cal Ripken Jr., a Manny Ortiz, a Tony Gwynn, a Jamie Moyer in their love of playing the game as it should be played.
When one contrasts the problems baseball faced this past summer, however, they pale when contrasted with the events and occurrences that have been swirling outside the stadia.
We have seen the president and the Republicans constantly on the defensive while the Democrats have managed only to meekly challenge the administration's ineptitude. President Bush has shown this ineptitude in turning his back on Cindy Sheehan and her simple question of why her son had to be sacrificed in a war with no end; in his inability to marshal the vast resources of the federal government to alleviate the suffering of the Gulf victims of Hurricane Katrina; in his insistence that he has the ability to bring democracy to a Middle East country that has resisted such a concept for centuries; and in the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice whose only real qualification is her longtime friendship with the president.
At the same time, we have seen the Republican leader of the House of Representatives fight money laundering charges; the Republican leader in the Senate fight off allegations of dubious stock transactions; and skyrocketing gasoline prices, a growing immigration problem, impending inflation and a domestic program in complete disarray.
Yet, as domestic and political disarray prevails, hardly a discouraging word has been heard from the Democratic Party, which recently occasioned Ralph Nader to ask:
"Democrats in Congress had the power to block John Roberts from becoming the next Supreme Court justice. Did they? They did not.
"The Democrats in Congress had the power to block Christopher Cox from becoming the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Did they? They did not.
"The Democrats in Congress had the power at least to block Condoleezza Rice and Alberto Gonzales. Did they? They did not.
"The Democrats in Congress have the power to propose impeachment proceedings against George Bush for the fabricated, illegal, boomeranging war in Iraq. Will they? They will not.
"Almost every major progressive leader in America understands this. They understand that the Democratic Party is gone.
"But you know what? If Hillary Clinton is nominated in 2008 by the Democrats to run for president, they will support her. They will support her even though she is a corporate Democrat who opposes us on the war in Iraq, on real universal health insurance, on the swollen, wasteful military and corporate welfare budgets, on a national living wage -- on all the issues we care about.
"They will abandon their principles, their constituents and the lessons of history -- and support her, as they supported John Kerry in 2004 even though he was a corporate Democrat in the Hillary mold -- who stood four-square against us on the war, on the military budget, on national health insurance, on a national living wage."
Liberals and progressives who have become totally disillusioned with the Democratic Party might well prepare for the 2008 elections not by focusing so much of their energy on the White House but by following baseball's tried and true formula for winning ball games -- get on base, move the runners along and then simply and successfully score by reaching home.
A.V. Krebs is director of the Corporate Agribusiness Research Project, PO Box 2201, Everett, WA 98203. He publishes a free email newsletter, The Agribusiness Examiner. Email firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.electricarrow.com/CARP/.