Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Sunday Precedes Super Tuesday

Primary Day Tomorrow:
Clinton, Obama Compete
Will Result Be Decisive?

Yesterday it was the Super Bowl in which, as everyone should know by now, the Giants scored in the last minute to win an upset victory over the favored New England Patriots.

Sunday it was the Super Bowl in which, as everyone should know by now, the Giants scored in the last minute to win an upset victory over the favored New England Patriots.

Those of us who watched on TV recognized that, as far as excitement is concerned, it was the game of a lifetime. The enormous television audience made it one of the most watched shows of all time, although No. 1 is still the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983.

The victory created a level of civic enthusiasm over football unmatched in the 39 years since January 1969, when Joe Namath led the Jets to a surprise triumph over the Baltimore Colts (now the Indianapolis Colts). An expansion football team which replaced the departed Colts is known as the Ravens, in honor of Edgar Allan Poe, who died mysteriously in Baltimore in October 1849 at the age of 40, found on the streets of the city where he was said to have written the cadenced, mournful poem about the black bird who spoke just one word, nevermore. Poe was a genius, writing great poetry in the days when it had to rhyme.

Tuesday is the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries. The largest Super Tuesday ever, with 22 state primaries on one day, is a political novelty which may, or may not, decide or presage the nomination of each party.


  1. Please note
    The PoignantFrog

  2. Henry,

    As always, I found your essay highly interesting. Just one quibble (as I am sure others will point out): Poetry did not have to rhyme back then in Edgar Poe’s time. Leaves of Grass was published in 1855, just 6 years after Poe’s death.

  3. Henry: You're getting cranky, like me, if you're complaining about poetry that doesn't rhyme! Best, Sam

  4. Dick Starkey10:51 AM


    “I’ve been reading The Nub with much delight, and learning from it.”

    - Bill Moyers

    “Politics and baseball. Interesting blog…called ‘The Nub’ on”

    - Boston Globe

    (Posted 2/5/08)

    “No cheering in the press box.”

    That convention among baseball writers - to remain at least outwardly objective in coverage of teams on the field - should logically apply to political writers as well. After all, on this Super Tuesday we recognize more than ever that the primaries are covered like ballgames.

    But headlines alone attest to the tilt toward one of the two teams in the Dem primary race: “OBAMA CLOSES IN ON CLINTON”, “SUPER TUESDAY OUTLOOK: OBAMA’S SURGE”, “HILLARY’S LEAD AMONG WOMEN IS ERODING”, etc. The cheering for Obama, even in Hillary’s home-state media, is a reflection of two things: 1) the conservative animus toward the Clintons; 2) the excitement generated by Obama’s appeal to young people, celebrities and newly energized political bystanders.

    If the analogy to sports holds, the enthusiasm can dissipate quickly with a few key setbacks. Hillary was still ahead in the polls late yesterday and likely will remain so after the votes are counted tonight. She has a projected lead in the delegate race in the 22 remaining states with primaries. Furthermore, she has an experienced, top-tier team prepared to grind out a successful sweep to the political world series.

    All this is not to suggest that Obama will lose in the long run. But, if he is to win, he faces the difficult challenge of maintaining the effectiveness of his inspirational generalities - and high level of avid public response - over the long haul. The challenge is akin to one facing veteran baseball players. In a book of sports writer interviews - entitled (not so coincidentally )“No Cheering in the Press Box”- former NY Timesman Leonard Koppett is quoted as debunking a baseball cliché: “It’s not the legs that go first,” he says in paraphrase. “It’s the enthusiasm…”

    “No Cheering” contains another notion pertinent to sports and politics - the importance of keeping the entertainment level high in order to attract and keep fans. Inspiration can wear thin as a diversion when the message is no longer new; normally inattentive converts can easily then revert to apathy. That will not happen, it says here, to the comparatively hard-core, in-for-the-duration supporters of Hillary. Their candidate will remain on message; her focused mastery of issues will surely make her formidable to the end.

    All the above notwithstanding, Perfect Pitch pollster Bob Sullivan sees Obama coming on and staying strong: “The tide is moving to Barack. America seems to be dealing with the legacy of its original sin by going for Obama.”

    - - -

    The new conventional wisdom in baseball, thanks to the “Schilling Theory” (see Nub of 2/1/08), is that the more stable an original pitching rotation, the better the playoff chances of a team. In the latest issue of Baseball America magazine, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick suggests a supplemental way of determining how well a team will do – check out the top two men in the rotation.

    Crasnick is high on the Arizona Diamondbacks going all the way in the NL because of its top two – Dan Haren and Brandon Webb (W-L total of 33-19 last season). Here is how the top two stack up in the six acknowledged contenders in the AL and NL East: Boston, Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling (29-15); Yankees, Ching-Ming Wang and Andy Pettitte (34-16); Toronto, Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett (26-15). In the NL, Philadelphia, Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer (29-17); Mets, Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez (18-14); Atlanta, Tim Hudson and Tom Glavine (29-18).

    The Yankees come out best in that grouping because of the consistency - and especially the durability - of Wang and Pettitte. The Mets come out worst because of the fragility of Martinez. If nothing else, this exercise might serve to check some of the Mets fans’ unrestrained optimism after the Santana trade.

    - o -

    (More of The Nub, a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey,

    can be found at

  5. Anonymous1:41 PM

    Nice summary of where we are now. Interesting how we are lead, it seems, by the polls, press, tv pundits, into believing there is momentum behind certain candidates. That then seems to become true. Many women I speak to are even as they go to the polls unsure whether they can abandon Hillary, and in the end many will not.

  6. Point of information:
    The Indianapolis Colts were not replaced with an expansion team. They were replaced by the Cleveland Browns who upon moving to Baltimore changed their name to the Ravens (in part some might say, to spite the fact that the Colts upon leaving equine rich Maryland did not change THEIR name). Nevertheless, the current Cleveland Browns organization is itself an expansion team similar to the Houston Texans who occupy the Oiler's (now Tennessee Titans)former home, though choosing another, less politically associated mascot.