What do Harper, Ignatieff and Layton’s favourite baseball moments say about their characters?
During election campaigns, it’s a time-honoured tradition for the media to analyze every scrap of data that it gets from party leaders for any possible nuance or hint of understanding (including the absurd ritual of analyzing their handwriting; we’re still waiting for that one this time around). In honour of the Jays home opener on Friday, the Toronto Star asked both Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff about their favourite baseball games ever. What do their picks say about them?
According to the Star:
Harper: “When Joe Carter hit his game-winning home run off Mitch Williams to win the 1993 World Series for the Blue Jays.”
A classic moment, for sure. Also politically smart: it’s an olive branch to Toronto from the Prime Minister of Calgary, and it’s something that most voters alive today remember as a moment of pride. As sports references go, it’s way better than Harper’s line about Wilfrid Laurier and the Winter Olympics. All in all, Harper’s selection for “best game ever” says he was once moved to experience actual emotion, something that will kill in the women’s demographic—but read that quote again and try not to hear the sounds of gears whirring as Harper accesses the right file in his database.
Ignatieff: “I actually watched—on a crackly, black-and-white TV—Don Larsen pitch his perfect [1956 World Series] game, and Yogi Berra running right up to the mound like that.”
Oh, Michael. The Liberal leader has spent five years battling the accusation that he’s an out-of-towner, and when asked to name his favourite baseball game he names a Yankees game? In 1956? On top of that, the Star quotes him as saying since his time at Harvard—*headdesk*—he’s been a Red Sox fan. But hey, points for originality and for sounding like a flesh-and-blood person. The problem is the reference is obscure enough to anyone who isn’t a baseball fan that it still sounds like Ignatieff can’t help but tell us he’s the smartest guy in the room. We get it already.
The Star either didn’t ask Jack Layton or didn’t run his answer, but The Informer asked Layton what his favourite ball game memory was, and on this issue if nothing else, Layton agrees a little bit with Stephen Harper. Layton cited the Jays World Series win as well, but what he really remembers is the way Toronto poured out on to Yonge Street to celebrate the win afterward. “I grabbed my saxophone, which I had just started to play, and we met a guy playing that song—‘na na na na, hey hey hey, good bye’—and I learned to play it that night with him.” The crowds streaming past would, Layton says, occasionally break in to “O Canada” as well.
Layton manages to give an answer that is both human-sounding and actually Canada-specific, we’re tempted to give him the pennant for this one. Too bad for the NDP nobody actually votes for which politician has the best baseball answer.