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The Fall Classic

Red Sox-Yankees and Bush-Kerry are more closely related than you think.

12:00 AM, Sep 8, 2004 • By BILL WHALEN
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Of course, there are two problems with the concept of the Red Sox as hopelessly outclassed underdogs. First, the "workingman's" club has major-league baseball's second highest team salary. And, second, the "Evil Empire" isn't looking all the evil these days.

In the other recent oddity of this election year, the baseball team that's supposed to embody all things Republican--wealth, arrogance, inequality in the workplace--has seen its fortunes slide as those of Bush-Cheney ascend. The Yankees have gone a piddling 22-17 since the night of Kerry's flubbed toss. That includes a 22-0 loss--the worst in the franchise's history--last week, on the same night the Arnold Schwarzenegger wowed the crowd at Madison Square Garden.

Does Bush benefit from a collapse in the Bronx? In the long run, no. The last time the Yankees won the World Series was four years ago, 12 days before Election Day 2000. Three times in the 20th century--1976, 1964, and 1960--the Yankees lost a World Series in a presidential election year. Those were also winning years for the Democrats.

One thing we do know is that the two baseball rivals will settle their differences well before the two candidates. The Yankees and Red Sox play six times over the final two weekends in September. Bush and Kerry will meet three times, at most, in October. Odds are the two candidates won't engage in a bench-clearing brawl, as did the two baseball teams on the afternoon before Kerry visited Fenway Park. Then again, the presidential stakes aren't as high.

Just ask any Red Sox fan. They belong to a party that's been out of power since 1918.

Bill Whalen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he follows California and national politics.