Surviving Series and Election Day

Posted Oct. 30, 2009, at 8:36 p.m.

This weekend, when the responsible citizen should, I suppose, be thinking about a personal plan of attack to be executed in the voting booth on Election Day next Tuesday, my mind wanders instead to the World Series — baseball’s last fling before the gods of winter shut things down by commandeering the stage and the microphone and blocking the exits so we can’t flee south.

In late October and early November when politics and baseball collide, baseball wins every time in my cherished corner of paradise. Here where the wind whines constantly, you don’t need a weatherman to tell you which way it blows in such a lash-up.

Sick of being bombarded with advertisements from both sides on ballot Question 1, which concerns overturning Maine’s law allowing same-sex couples to wed, and impatient with the seemingly endless arguments about which campaign is the more heavily funded by which outside interest group, I have joined the hordes in turning to the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees for relief.

When the National League champion Phillies defeated the American League champion Yankees in Wednesday night’s opening game of the Series at Yankee Stadium, I suspect that the hordes probably were inspired more by the magnificent pitching duel between lefthanders Cliff Lee of the Phillies and CC Sabathia of the Yankees than they were by discussions about which side of the same-sex marriage deal God might favor.

Question 2 on the ballot, dealing with cutting the state excise tax that Mainers pay on their motor vehicles, might pose crippling threats to municipal budgets that rely heavily on revenue from that source, as municipal officials have insisted in urging defeat of the proposition.

But the more imminent threat to the state’s Yankees and Phillies fans for the duration of the Series, which moves to Philadelphia tonight, will likely be the bats of sluggers in the enemy camp. Nothing spoils a good night’s rest for a diehard fan of either Series team quicker than an opposition game-winning home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the perpetrator using his last allotted strike to deliver the cruel blow.

I’m guessing that when the Phillies shortstop chucked the baseball into the Yankee dugout in a failed attempt to complete a ninth-inning double play in Wednesday’s Series opener, thus spoiling Lee’s shutout of the Yankees, Maine’s contingent of Phillies fans felt worse than they ever could should school consolidation be dealt a setback in voting on Question 3 at the polls next Tuesday.

A Taxpayer Bill of Rights, proposed in Question 4 on the Nov. 3 ballot, would supposedly give Mainers more clout in influencing tax-and-spend government. But a poll today might show baseball fans to be more interested in influencing the strategy of their team’s bonehead manager wherein it pertains to the use of his bullpen in the late going. Baseball 101 teaches that the manager seated on the living room couch at home and nursing an adult beverage always knows more about such things than the manager pacing the dugout and spitting tobacco juice on the floor.

During baseball’s fall classic, sports fans can be forgiven if the promised change they can believe in turns out to be not a change in Maine’s medical marijuana law, as proposed in ballot Question 5, but a change in baseball’s mindless practice of scheduling games so late in the evening that few adult television viewers — never mind young kids with school-night bedtimes — can stick around to see how things turn out. The late games cannot be good for the cultivation of young fans as future paying customers, but no one in baseball seems hot to remedy the situation.

And so it goes when civic responsibility and baseball share top billing. A proposed $72 million transportation bond issue cannot hope to compete with the perfectly executed suicide squeeze play for our attention. A suggested constitutional amendment will forever lack the pizzazz of a game-saving around-the-horn double play in crunch time.

No matter. Baseball fans, good citizens that they are. will show up at the polls on Tuesday despite the diversion of the World Series. If their sentiments reflect the epitaph of the great vaudevillian W.C. Fields that, on the whole, they’d rather be in Philadelphia — especially if the Phillies have repeated as world champions — who can blame them?

BDN columnist Kent Ward lives in Limestone. Readers may reach him by e-mail at olddawg@bangordailynews.net.

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