Rarely do we mix baseball with politics around here. We all have varying opinions on the political landscape, and we use River Ave. Blues to argue over Joba Chamberlain and his role on the pitching staff, not health care and the debate over a public option. Trust me; it’s just better that way.
Sometimes, though, the political stories involve baseball, and winning the World Series certainly brings out some amusing baseball stories from the political realm. So as your work day draws to a close, we’ll just jump right in with one the more amusing pieces The Times has run in a while. Yesterday’s Week in Review section featured a Yankee-related Op-Ed from former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.
Fleischer has been a long-time George W. Bush confidante and is close friends with the former president. Still, he knows who’s responsible for the Yanks’ World Series drought:
It is hard to find a bigger admirer of President George W. Bush than me. I support his policies; I believe in him; he’s a really good guy to be around; and he throws a mean fastball. As his press secretary, I stood by him through thick and thin. But recent events require me to speak out about my former boss: For eight long years, President Bush put a curse on my New York Yankees.
It’s not lost on me, as a lifelong Yankee fan, that the Bronx Bombers won the World Series four times during Bill Clinton’s presidency, the last time in 2000. On Wednesday, they won it again — in the first year of Barack Obama’s administration. Yankee success bookended the Bush presidency and that presents a problem for fans like me.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was standing in the Oval Office when the president secretly put his curse on my team. The 2000 champions paid a celebratory visit to the White House in May 2001. President Bush gathered the players in the Oval Office and was telling them what role models they were when George Steinbrenner, the team owner, suddenly tried to talk over him. “George,” Mr. Bush interjected, “not even the Boss gets to interrupt the president.”
The Boss tried to talk over the President, and the Baseball Gods did not smile upon the Yankees. Or maybe the Baseball Gods didn’t look kindly upon President Bush’s silencing of the Boss. Either way, as Fleischer wrote, “For eight straight years — all of which perfectly coincided with his time in office — the Yankees didn’t win.”
Fleischer notes that the previous eight Yankee World Series wins have come under Democratic presidents and wonders what a G.O.P. Yankee fans is to do. “If you’re a Democrat who wants the Yankees to lose — like the Boston Red Sox president, Larry Lucchino — you need to start voting Republican,” he said. “And if you’re a Yankee fan like me, well, I just can’t bear to say it … ”
Fleischer’s Op-Ed comes on the heels of a House vote on H.Res. 893, congratulating the Yankees on winning the World Series. Usually, these ceremonial bills pass the House with little debate and most are unanimous. Not this one though for baseball brings out the partisan debates like no other.
As you can see from the above map and this roll call list, not everyone in the House voted to congratulate the Yankees. It passed with a vote of 386 for, 17 against, 11 present and 19 non-votes. The nays were a nice mix of Democrats and Republicans from anti-Yankee districts. A few Phillies fans objected; a few Red Sox fans voted no; some Yankee haters couldn’t stomach the bill; and one guy voted against it because the Yankees, well, “just they’re not the Padres.”
“I’m usually rational but when it comes to the Yankees, I take a hard-line position. For those of us in Red Sox nation, it was a sad, sad day,” Bill Delanhunt, a Massachusetts rep, said. “It tells you something about the corrosive nature of money in sports and politics.”
Even Mets fans from the New York delegation to the House who supported the bill heard from their colleagues while 2013 mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner voted for the resolution but did not support it. All in a day’s work for the House.
Just a friendly reminder to play nice in the comments…