As one of the few folks around who actually enjoys the intersections of politics and sports, you'd have thought I already knew this. But it's really true that you learn something new every day (and believe it or not, I have right-wing Attytood naysayer Bird11 to thank for pointing me in this direction, from the comments earlier today). It turns out there's been a wrinkle to the Yankees' remarkable success that doesn't get much attention. While the Bronx Bombers have been very good for a very long time in winning 26 World Series and 40 pennants, their success has not been uniform.
The Yankees do better when there's a Democrat in the White House.
A lot better.
Let's look at the record, as a politician might say. Of the Yankees' 39 completed World Series so far, since they moved Babe Ruth to right field fulltime in the early 1920s, 17 of them were during Republican presidents (Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43). That's pretty good, but their record in those Fall Classics is not so good, just 7-10.
The Yanks' other 22 American League pennants -- before 2009 -- came during Democratic administrations (Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton). Their World Series record during those years? An astronomical 19-3. If I were Hank Steinbrenner, I would have illegally funneled millions to Obama and flown him around on the team's jet.
Babe Ruth's Yankees had a so-so 4-3 record in the World Series, but with the arrival of FDR, the New Deal (and a guy named DiMaggio out in centerfield, of course) they were unstoppable, winning titles (four in a row from 1936 through '39) faster than Roosevelt could pack the Supreme Court. The Truman years were also very good in the Bronx, as the Yankees launched their record run of five straight crowns in 1949 (and kept going one year into the GOP administration of Dwight Eisenhower).
Despite fielding one of the greatest teams ever with Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, etc., the Yankees only won two World Series the rest of Ike's presidency; those years included their only loss to the Brooklyn Dodgers in the '55 Series and ended with their crushing defeat by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Bill Mazeroski's home run in 1960. The arrival of JFK was like Camelot for Mantle and Roger Maris as well, winning in 1961 and 1962 before their last two Series losses during a Democrat's term, in 1963 and 1964.
The Yankees didn't even win a pennant during the Nixon years, and were swept by the Big Red Machine under Gerald Ford in 1976 but came back to beat the Dodgers two years in a row as soon as Jimmy Carter was sworn in, then lost to L.A. in 1981, when Ronald Reagan was in office. Indeed, the Reagan Revolution coincided with the team's longest Series' drought ever, 15 years, but they ruled baseball like a dot-com stock by the end of Bill Clinton's presidency, winning in '96, '98. '99 and '00. When George W. Bush arrived, the Yanks began to tank, beginning with Mariano Rivera's blown save against Arizona in 2001. They lost to Florida in 2003, and then performed about as well as...the Bush administration.
Then came Obama, and here we are, with the Yankee's one win away from their 27the championship. Two things. The most obvious is...why? Who knows? The only "curse" explanation that I've seen is the curse of Richard Nixon, because of George Steinbrenner's felony conviction for illegal contributions to the 37th president. Not buying that. The only person Nixon really cursed in the end was himself (oh, and the American people). Of course, the economy always does better under Democrats, so maybe the Yankees have more cash to buy a title, like when they started getting ridiculous cable TV dollars in the 1990s.
The other question is...is this the final nail in the Phillies' coffin? Absolutely not. You and I have watched this Philadelphia team overcome way too many obstacles over the last two years, so I don't see how a little superstition thing like this stops them. On the other hand, if the Yankees do have more success than the Phillies these next couple of years, don't be shocked if you see me tooling around Philadelphia with a "Palin 2012" bumper sticker. Politics is one thing...but this is baseball!
UPDATE: You see what I did there? There's no stronger curse around than the Curse of Attytood, so don't be surprised if you see more posts with the words "Yankees" and "win" in them. Heh. Wouldn't it be something if the Yankees don't get it done in the age of Obama? Is this the "Change" that he promised?