Obama Goes Inside Baseball
By Robert Barnes
TAMPA -- Can you root for one team in the World Series while "showing some love" for the other?
That was the political inside baseball that Barack Obama attempted here during his rally at -- where else? -- George Steinbrenner Field, the spring training home of the New York Yankees.
Obama was joined on stage by six members of the Tampa Bay Rays, fresh off their 3-1 victory Sunday night over the Boston Red Sox and now headed to the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Outfielder Fernando Perez and rookie closer David Price introduced Obama, who took note of the Rays' trademark haircut.
"I was going to cut my hair in a Mohawk in solidarity," Obama said. "But my political advisers said they weren't sure how that would play with swing voters."
Obama did not mention that he had, earlier in the month, told crowds in Philadelphia that since his Chicago White Sox were out of the playoffs, "I'll root for the Phillies now.''
Instead, Obama declared: "I've said from the beginning that I am a unity candidate, bringing people together. So when you see a White Sox fan showing love to the Rays, and the Rays showing some love back -- you know we are on to something right here."
But Obama may learn that there are some rivalries in the region as well. Residents of the Tampa Bay area know that the region's two main cities -- Tampa, where the football Bucs play, and St. Petersburg, which the Rays call home -- can get scratchy when either feels slighted.
So Obama might do well to make sure, next time he says "I know they are making Tampa proud," that St. Pete gets a shout-out as well.
And if one more baseball reference could be crammed into the rally, it was. Obama's sound system normally pounds out Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" when the candidate finishes speaking.
Today, it was John Fogarty -- "Put me in coach, I'm ready to play" -- and his baseball anthem, "Centerfield."
Web Politics Editor
October 20, 2008; 3:30 PM ET
Categories: Barack Obama , Battlegrounds
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