Iowa Caucus Degenerates into Confusing Night of Mixed Sports Metaphors; Commentators Undecided Whether Obama’s Victory is a Slam Dunk, a Ground Rule Double or an Opening Round of 69
Finishing Second to Surprise Victor Mike Huckabee, a Shaken Romney Compounds Humiliation with the One Thing Worse than a Bad Sports Metaphor – a Dumb Sports Metaphor: “It’s the first inning of a fifty inning game.”
Barack Obama brashly points to arena's short left field porch, an indication of where he promises to deposit next Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.
DES MOINES (Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service) — For two intense, bitterly-fought hours, Iowans caucused in steamy gymnasiums, libraries and basements scattered across the state’s frozen tundra. By 9 PM Central, the final numbers were in, but as veteran observers know all too well, victory is not decided on the field, but in the confusing, contradictory and ever-shifting post-game analysis.
“It’s not about winning per se, it’s about beating the spread,” said Dr. Phil Dick, a Duke political scientist. “Huckabee posted very impressive numbers. I don’t know how many predicted he’d be able to rise above foreign policy, current events and advances in science post Copernicus – about which he knew next to nothing – not to mention his association with Chuck Norris – the guy’s a waxwork with a comical dye job for god sakes -- and trounce Romney by nine points, basically just by sounding and looking like a scout leader you’re pretty sure won’t molest the kids. It was one hell of a hail mary. Though he’ll have to connect on another blind heave if he’s to beat McCain in New Hampshire next week. I wouldn’t bank on it.”
Romney by most counts took a stiff right to the chin.
“Actually, Romney is more 1988 Oakland A’s than Pipino Cuevas circa 1980 getting his knees buckled by a second round haymaker from Tommy Hearns,” said Dick. “The A’s were heavily favored to beat the Dodgers, until Kirk Gibson hits his walk off dinger against Dennis Eckersley. I’m not saying that Romney is going to lose in five, but his inability to string together a coherent sports metaphor is not a good sign. The first inning of a fifty inning game? In a softball beer league, maybe, if someone dropped a bottle of valium in one of the kegs.”
For a candidate who relishes in sports metaphor (“after 9-11 we’ve got to take the offensive,” etc.), Rudy Guiliani took some hard rhetorical hits. “Rudy got a facial,” observed Marv Albert, who was on hand to make the call. “He was completely dominated on both ends of the floor. A pathetic showing.”
Thompson’s surprisingly strong showing exceeded expectations. “No one knows how he did it,” said MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann. “It’s not like he had a game plan, or did anything special. Essentially he just managed to stay awake and on his feet. It was sort of like vintage Frank Tanana, after he lost his fastball. Guys moped back to the dugout stunned, wondering ‘how did this asshole just get me out with an 82 mile an hour fastball?’” Another pundit likened Thompson’s finish to tripping over a hash mark and landing on a loose football. “The question is: does Thompson advance the ball or does he just sit on it and lie motionless under the pile, which, by the way, is how several of his exes have described his somewhat, uh, distracted approach to love-making.”
McCain secured what amounts to a wild card berth with a respectable fourth place finish. Since the Wild-Card System began in 1970, only eight wild-card teams have advanced all the way to the Super Bowl (most recently the Seahawks in 2005). The smart money is on McCain losing in the second round and narrowly avoiding serious injury.
On the Democratic front, most agree that Obama’s eight point victory over both Edwards and Clinton marked the emergence of a genuine phenomenon.
“It’s only one game, but Obama’s a guy that has the potential to completely change the position, ala a Magic playing the point at 6’9,” said ESPN’s Scoop Jackson. “Then again, maybe it’s just a foretaste of things to come later, like Jordan torching the Celtics for 63 points in the 86 playoffs, only to lose the game and the series. Or a young Tiger firing an opening round 69, only to shoot a second round of 78. Or maybe he winds up a rookie phenom who tears his rotator cuff and is selling used Chevys a year later. Or maybe, just maybe – we’re speculating here – he’s Nancy Kerrigan to Hillary’s Tonya Harding. If I’m an Obama scheduler, I’m keeping him clear of skating rinks, underground garages, trailer parks and Bill – especially when Bill’s skulking around trailer parks looking for some easy low-rent pussy.”
Hillary’s stunning setback – she finished third – reminded many of recent Yankees teams, with their big payroll and star power, but with little to show in the post-season.
“To put it in perspective, Hillary was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple with two outs in the ninth with the team down a run,” said CBS analyst Jeff Greenfield. “Over the next couple of days, many of Hillary’s senior staff will survey the wreckage and realize they’ve signed on with the wrong team. Unfortunately it’s not baseball, you can’t just fire the manager and bring in some nominally competent hack, like a Bob Lemon, and turn things around. You’re basically fucked.”
“Edwards finished a respectable second, just edging out Hillary, which in itself puts one in the win column,” said Greenfield. “But looking at the big picture, as a candidate he’s somewhere between Amos Otis and Mookie Wilson: solid, energetic, likeable. But he’s not a franchise player.”
The rest of the pack – Dodd, Biden, Richardson, Kusinich on the Dem side, Tancredo and Hunter on the GOP side – were statistically insignificant -- essentially ninety seconds of garbage time in a losing effort, though insurgent candidate Ron Paul beat expectations, like a third round draft pick who wins a starting position on the offensive line.
“Interpreting the outcome of the Iowa caucus – and all the early primaries that follow – is just not possible without a solid grounding in sports metaphor,” explained University of Pennsylvania Professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who studies various forms of campaign communication. “I tell students that a post-graduate degree in political theory is not enough; you need to spend less time in the library and more time listening to Joey from Brooklyn bitching about the Rangers’ inability to keep the puck out of their end of the ice. Then, when some pundit talks about Obama riding Hillary into the boards, you not only know what he – or she – is talking about, you can counter with an obscure reference to Eddie Giacamin or Gump Worsley (goalies of yore), make an impression and one day, who knows, parlay your sports background into a network analyst gig. If not, there’s no shame in being the only caller to WFAN able to draw parallels between Isiah Thomas and Herbert Hoover.”
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