Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Baseball and Politics 

Hello, I'm David, a new contributer to this blog and co-grad student with Tony. I will be posting occasionally, starting with the idea that got me here in the first place.

Not too long ago, an author went on NPR to talk about his book, "How Soccer Explains the World," in which he argues that soccer represents an institution that is much further down Globalization Avenue that just about anything else, and thus can give us some insight into how globalization works and doesn't work. One of the things that he talks about is how Glasgow has two soccer teams, the Irish-Catholic Celtic and the Protestant Rangers. Everytime these two teams play, the Religious Wars following the Reformation are refought. And even though the Thirty Years War (generally regarded as the biggest Religious War) ended in 1648 and the Battle of the Boyne (which garaunteed the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland) was fought in 1689, the Ranger fans still sing songs about being knee-deep in Feinian blood, and the Celtic fans respond in kind. This got me thinking...
Los Angeles has two baseball teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Anaheim Angels. Although I certainly wouldn't advocate singing songs about bashing Orange County skulls, I have to admit that with that book in mind I began to view these two teams differently, as if they represented older cultural divisions that run much deeper that the National League and the American League. I see them now as the Democratic Dodgers and the Republican Angels. The Dodgers wear blue, play in Chavez ravine, and when one thinks of them, one thinks of them, one can't help but conjure images of working-class families, a diverse fan-base from the heart of old Los Angeles. And then the players: Adrian Beltre, Milton Bradley, Cesar Izturis, Jose Lima - all minorities. And even the white players on the Dodgers seem sort of Democratic: Jeff Weaver, Shawn Green, Jayson Werth all strike me as being lefty to some degree.
As for the Anaheim Angels... well, they wear red, play at Edison Field (energy company!), in the middle of Right-Wing stronghold Orange County, a sea of tract-housing, suburbia, over-priced chain restaurants in strip malls and SUVss. But not the okay kind of SUVs, but the really obnoxious kind, like Dodge Durangos. Ever been to the Orange County swapmeet? The redneck is so thick you could cut it with a knife. And this is not to say that the Angels don't have their own minority players; Vlad Guererro is their MVP - but he's always struck me as Colin Powellesque.


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