Is Division Rooting Really “Flip-Floppery”?
Matthew Yglesias, Heather Hurlburt, and Christopher Beam are all deriding Giuliani as a sports flip-flopper and panderer for stating that he is rooting for the Red Sox to win the World Series. Sayeth Beam:
Giuliani’s situational Red Sox fandom makes Romney’s abortion flip-flopping look forgivable. He might as well have said he’d ask his lawyers. Let this be a lesson: Baseball is the one issue on which you can’t be moderate. Giuliani picked the wrong time to act like one.
Look, I’m loathe to defend Giuliani on anything, but there’s not actual flip-flopping here. Let’s see what Giuliani actually said:
“I will be rooting for the Red Sox because I’m an American League fan, and my tradition has been to root for the American League team, particularly if it’s a team that beats the Yankees. And in this case, you won the division and we lost. Somehow it makes me feel better if the team that was ahead of the Yankees wins the World Series, because then I feel like, well, we’re not that bad.”
I’m not much of a sports fan, but most of the sports fans that I do know tend to follow this chain of logic when rooting in championship games. And I do as well in the few sports that I care about. I am a diehard Kansas Jayhawk fan, and during March Madness, once KU is out, I tend to root for other Big 12 teams to win, especially if that team took KU out. When it comes Super Bowl time, I almost always root for the AFC team to win, due to my past geographic associations with the Patriots and my current association with the Chiefs.
Unlike some pretty bad sports gaffes by other politicians (I’m looking at you, Governor Richardson), I don’t think this falls in the realm of sports team pandering. Look, Rudy isn’t saying that he’s a Red Sox fan here. He’s saying that he’s an American League fan (as a consequence of his Yankees fandom), and so he’s rooting for the AL team (the Red Sox) to win the World Series. That’s an entirely different thing from claiming to be a Red Sox fan.