Team Clinton Faces Fielder’s Choice

Feb 21, 2008 7:26am

What happens when a baseball team near the end of a season goes 0-10 and each is loss is by an ever increasing lopsided margin?

New strategies are employed during the losing streak to try and win — change the batting order, bring new players in, yell at the team, change up the practice schedule. Many, many things are done to simply try to stop accumulating losses.

But the longer the losing streak goes on, the worse it gets. Teammates begin questioning themselves and each other. Coaches are questioned and berated. Team members begin speaking out to the sports media about whose fault it is. And errors on the field increase as folks lose confidence . It is a seemingly inevitable losing death spiral.

When the losing team finally faces the situation and looks in the mirror in the midst of a streak like this, it is confronted with a key decision.

Either the team decides it still has a chance to get in the playoffs (even if that is improbable) and it looks for the first available opportunity for a victory, and throws the entire kitchen sink at the opposing team.

Or the team decides in this moment of key decision that the playoffs aren’t likely, and it begins to plan for the next season.  In doing this the team rests key players, begins to rebuild positive connection and communication among all players and coaches and the league.  The team finishes the season on a more positive, uplifting note so fans and other teams can remember the team fondly, even if it ultimately didn’t fulfill its dream of victory.

After losing overwhelmingly in Hawaii and Wisconsin this week to Barack Obama, this is exactly where Hillary Clinton and her campaign team find themselves.  And the key moment coming up is today’s debate in Austin, Texas (or, possibly, in a few more days, at the Feb 26 debate in Ohio). 

So she and her team have, I believe, two avenues to choose between:

1 — either they believe the can still salvage the season and make the playoffs, and thus I would see this being reflected in a take-no-prisoners and throw-the-kitchen-sink attacks at Obama in the debates, or

2– they understand the season is lost, and begin to make nice, and not be perceived as sore losers.  And thus end the season so it can be remembered positively by voters and the Democratic party.

The tone and substance of how Hillary Clinton conducts herself in tonight’s debate will answer which choice the team has made at this time.  (Though Clinton’s inability to congratulate Obama on his Wisconsin victory may tell us which avenue they are headed towards).  If not, the next debate in Ohio may give us a firmer picture — since tonight’s debate in Austin may simply be too soon for the Clinton team to understand the stark reality of the situation.

Play Ball!

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