By Larry Ceisler, Publisher, PoliticsPA
What’s the end game?
In politics and baseball, that’s always the most relevant question.
For the former, the answer is simple, even if achieving it can be complex. Do right by your constituents and get reelected.
For me, the latter has become more difficult to discern.
I grew up idolizing Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski. I couldn’t have been prouder in the summer of ’71 – the first full year in Three Rivers Stadium, the first all-black starting lineup, the fourth World Series victory.
I still followed the Killer B’s closely, even after I moved to Philly in the mid-80s. But after many years – between Pittsburgh’s moratorium on meaningful baseball and that irresistible 1993 Phillies team – I somehow became a fan of the Fightins’.
There was no immediate payoff. No bump in the polls. But five or six years ago, guys like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard stole the City from the Eagles. The games got more meaningful. The crowds got more enthusiastic. And the fans got younger.
I’ve been to three games at PNC Park this summer and see the same process taking root there.
And suddenly, for the first time in decades, a regular season series between the two Keystone State teams that bookend James Carville’s Alabama actually means something.
I’ve got allegiances to both teams and season tickets in both ballparks (the two most beautiful places in the country to watch a game). I’m not the only one seeking some kind of political consensus this weekend. Plenty of former Philadelphians call Luke Ravenstahl “Hizzoner.” Plenty of Yinzers are now drinking Yards.
So who should we root for this weekend?
For intra-Pennsylvania political junkies and sports fans, the ultimate end game is a postseason that features both Keystone State teams. That means rooting for Pittsburgh – whose best shot at October is to win the NL Central – this weekend in Philadelphia. It means pulling for the boys from PNC in CBP.
The Phils – the owners of the best record in baseball and the best starting rotation in years – can pack their bags for the playoffs right now.
The Pirates – the keepers of two decades of losing baseball, survivors of biased umps and near-conspiracies against baseball – need all the help they can get.
Of course, if the end game becomes a reality, the Phillies and Pirates could meet in the playoffs. And in that case, it’s going to be difficult to trot out that old “vote my conscience” boilerplate.
Larry Ceisler is founder and principle of the public relations and issue advocacy firm Ceisler Media and the publisher of PoliticsPA.com.