Today the Oregon State baseball team failed to win a regional series in the NCAA tournament.
After leading 5-0 in the deciding game against Dallas Baptist, Dallas Baptist scored eight unanswered runs and won 8-5.
After watching the loss on ESPN, I found myself more disturbed than seemed reasonable. After all, it was just a baseball game.
But sometimes I find deep philosophical meanings in sports events, as evidenced by "Deep thoughts about Arkansas' missed pop-up that cost a World Series championship."
In this case, it was the first pitch thrown by OSU reliever Joey Mundt in the seventh inning that cost the Beavers a trip to the NCAA Super Regionals, one step closer to the College World Series.
That pitch came with the bases loaded. Dallas Baptist's Andrew Benefield hit a grand slam home run. Since Dallas Baptist had scored two runs in the previous inning, that changed a 5-2 OSU lead into a 6-5 deficit.
And that, as the saying goes, was the ball game. One misplaced pitch. One good swing. Game over for Oregon State, since they didn't score again while Dallas Baptist added on another two runs.
On a post-game walk around our neighborhood I had a thought about why the OSU loss bothered me so much. It wasn't so much the failure to win, but what led up to the loss.
The parallels with the troubles Democrats are having in Congress leapt out at me as I walked along.
Oregon State lost its first tournament game. After Trump was elected, Democrats were powerless in Washington D.C. until they took back the House in 2018.
Oregon State then won three games in a row in the regional tournament. In 2020 Democrats won the presidency, narrowly held onto the House, and eked out a 50-50 tie in the Senate after two surprising wins in Georgia Senate races that went to a run-off election.
It looked like Oregon States was going to win after taking a 5-0 lead into the sixth inning. Progressives like me were looking forward to Democrats passing important voting rights, infrastructure, climate change, and other legislation with their 51-50 lead in the Senate (Vice-President Harris breaks 50-50 tie votes.)
All Oregon State had to do was preserve its lead and they'd make it into the Super Regional. All Senate Democrats had to do was eliminate the filibuster on a 51-50 vote and they'd be able to pass groundbreaking legislation that would markedly help the country and world.
Oregon State's hopes were dashed by one grand slam home run swing. Last weekend Joe Manchin (D, West Virginia) dashed most of Democrats' legislative hopes when he said he'd never vote to abolish or weaken the filibuster and opposed the For the People voting rights act.
To build on these parallels, it looked to me like the Oregon State pitchers failed to be aggressive and confident as they tried to to preserve the OSU lead.
Walks were common, as was getting behind in pitch counts. The game was there for Oregon State to win, but Dallas Baptist kept taking advantage of OSU mistakes until the grand slam put them ahead for good.
Likewise, Republicans are going all out to pass voter suppression laws in states they control, while Democrats are frittering away what likely is their only opportunity to get major legislation through Congress before the GOP likely takes back control of the House, and perhaps the Senate also, in 2022.
It wasn't so much that Oregon State lost that bothered me so much. It was the fact that the game was so winnable, yet OSU failed to win it.
As one of the commentators said, coaches don't get upset when their pitcher allows a batter to get a hit. That's going to happen. What drives them crazy is when walks put batters on base without needing to get a hit.
In the same vein, I don't expect Democrats to win every vote in Congress. What irks me is Democrats like Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema essentially giving Republicans wins by balking at doing away with the filibuster that requires 60 votes to pass a bill in a 50-50 Senate.
There's no way ten Republicans are going to support a voting rights act, immigration reform, climate change legislation, or an infrastructure bill paid for by raising taxes on giant corporations.
So Democrats are akin to a pitcher walking batter after batter until runs are scored without the other team having to get a hit. (This benefitted Oregon State today, but not enough to win the game.)
Nonetheless, both baseball and politics are unpredictable. That's part of what makes them so fun to watch. Just when you think you know what is going to happen, it doesn't. Something else happens.
Democrats may surprise me and succeed in passing major legislation in Biden's first term.
And given the excellent overall play of the Oregon State baseball team this year, I won't be surprised if they make a strong run in the 2022 College World Series tournament.
Just not this year.