10/22/08 4:49 PM ET
Presidential hopefuls support Series
McCain, Obama take part in Fall Classic broadcast
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Senator Barack Obama is a Democrat from Illinois who loves the Chicago White Sox and Senator John McCain is a Republican from Arizona who roots for the Diamondbacks.
That's why it makes sense that both candidates have reached across the stadium aisle to offer bipartisan support for the Grand Old Game's premier event, the Fall Classic.
McCain and Obama each recorded inspirational quotes from American icons, including Martin Luther King Jr. and former presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, about the game of baseball as a beacon of hope through some of America's most difficult times. They'll be shown before tonight's 8 p.m. ET broadcast of Game 1 on FOX.
But don't think for a second that Obama and McCain aren't spending time vetting the different 25-man rosters, debating the leadership of managers Joe Maddon and Charlie Manuel, and urging their constituents to figure out a way to tap into baseball to get an edge in the electoral vote.
Case in point: Florida and Pennsylvania, the home states of the Rays and Phillies. Both are considered important battlegrounds in the election, and both are very close.
As of a few hours before the first pitch of Game 1, Real Clear Politics had Obama leading the Sunshine State by a poll-average 1.5 points, the slimmest margin he enjoys among all 50 states. Obama was a bit more comfortable in the important, largely blue-collar Keystone State, with a poll-average cushion of 11.4 points.
So you can bet your lapel pin that Mr. Change We Can Believe In and Mr. Country First have noticed that the World Series will be played in packed stadiums in the centers of major cities in these states.
Obama appeared at a rally in Tampa with several members of the American League champion Rays, including left-hander David Price, who had saved Game 7 of the AL Championship Series mere hours earlier.
Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, grew up in Scranton, Pa., so he's most likely rooting for the Phillies. He certainly didn't score points with the cowbell crowd of Tropicana Field when he referred to the team as the "Devil Rays" in a recent stump speech.
And while McCain is down in most polls, his significant advantage in Washington experience paid off with a good old-fashioned zinger, according to today's USA Today.
"On a lighter note, McCain teased Obama on baseball's World Series, saying his rival backs the Philadelphia Phillies while he campaigns in Pennsylvania and the Tampa Bay Rays while campaigning in Florida," the paper wrote.
"The GOP nominee, a fan of the Arizona Diamondbacks, professed neutrality and assured voters in Bensalem, Pa., 'I'm not dumb enough to get mixed up in a World Series between swing states.'"
If you're looking for any historical connection between the results of World Series in election years and who took the Oval Office, it's a bit confusing.
For example, in 2004, the last World Series in an election year, Massachusetts democrats got to watch their beloved Red Sox win a title for the first time in 86 years, but days later they saw their own senator, John Kerry, lose the presidency to George W. Bush.
In 2000, Democrat Al Gore won New York handily but lost the overall election to Bush despite the fact that the Yankees and Mets battled it out in the Subway Series.
In 1992, America didn't even win the World Series -- the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Atlanta Braves in six -- but a young governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, took the White House.
What does it all mean?
Hard to say, but rest assured that you can sit down tonight with the refreshments of your choice, watch what should be a great World Series as it plays out before all of America, and then make your decision and vote a week from next Tuesday.
And there's no debating that.
Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.