You say a baseball blog has no place making a political endorsement? Perhaps. But our view is that the administration of our national pastime has become a public and political issue. Massive public subsidies? Labor strife? These things matter to baseball fans and taxpayers everywhere, and it seems to us that our highest elected official should be someone capable of more than throwing out the first pitch at a new DC stadium.
Conventional wisdom is that George Bush, as former Rangers owner, is the candidate more qualified to address baseball related issues. We don’t think so. Let’s remember that Bush used his political connections (ie, George H. W. Bush’s political connections) to push the state of Texas and the city of Arlington (ie, you the taxpayer) into paying 84 percent of the costs of the Ballpark at Arlington. He then cashed in his (borrowed) $600,000 investment in the team for roughly $15 million.* This is not the kind of public-minded stewardship that gives us much confidence for the future. He was the only owner to vote against the implementation of the wildly popular and wildly profitable wild-card playoff system (a pretty glaring example of his lack of basic business sense, nevermind what it would have meant for this year’s Sox). And of course his most significant contribution to the baseball discussion while in office has been a politically driven campaign against the use of steroids—a campaign that has been handled so incompetently by John Ashcroft’s Justice Department that it has actually inhibited progress between the MLB and the MLBPA on the drug testing issue. (We refer you to our BALCO thread from earlier this year for more on this.)
We admit John Kerry might not be the most hardcore fan. We don’t care. We simply want a president who can look after the public’s interest, a president whom we can reasonably expect to be an impartial arbiter when discussions about the national pastime arise. As a former club owner, and having received so much campaign cash from his former partners, George Bush does not meet that standard. John Kerry does, and he’s got our votes. Both of them.
YF & SF
* Figures according to Andrew Zimbalist.