How baseball bridged the political divide

(CNN)For 10 heart stopping innings, Americans finally had something to draw them together rather than drive them apart.

A World Series game seven for the ages offered some rare relief from the most bitter presidential election in recent memory.
The Chicago Cubs, in carrying off their first title since 1908 when Theodore Roosevelt was president, finally proved that no curse is forever and offered a few moments of hope fulfilled and optimism — two qualities badly lacking from this grimmest of presidential races.
And the Cleveland Indians, falling just short of their NBA brethren in a championship year for their city, at least offered some distraction for Ohioans assailed by a divisive swing state election campaign.
    The notion of baseball as a metaphor for life has become a little trite over the years. But this World Series transfixed the country, harkening back to an earlier America where political divisions were less pronounced, before media splintered along ideological lines and the proliferation of personal screens in every pocket made cathartic and unifying national cultural moments so rare.
    And the final night played out in the critical battleground state of Ohio, making the moment all the more poignant by creating a unified space days before the election.
    But even the nerve-jangling night in Cleveland did not completely escape the fury of an election cycle that at last is in its final days. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took out hard hitting political ads during the broadcast.
    That's not surprising since the presidential race is heading into the equivalent of its own game seven — a presidential race that could be decided on election night with polls tightening.


    If Trump and Clinton were seeking an omen from Wednesday night's thrilling showdown, there was something for both of them.
    For Trump, it's proof that lightning can strike — after all many Cubs fans thought that the Cubbies were fated never to win again.
    For America to elect a president with no previous political experience would seem to require a stunning long shot of similar proportions.
    Clinton might seek inspiration from the Cubs' status as the pre-season favorite who prevailed through a long season to win it all.
    Just as she was the prohibitive front-runner for her general election clash against Trump, so were the Cubs singled out by a majority of and ESPN baseball experts during spring training as the World Series favorite.
    The Democratic nominee has warm memories of going to Wrigley Field with her father as a kid. But her allegiances became a political issue when she morphed into a Yankees fan when she ran for the Senate seat from New York.
    Critics at the time complained her switch was symptomatic of a politician who chases popularity over principle.
    Clinton took to Twitter after the Cubs victory.
    "They did it! 108 years later and the drought is finally over. Way to make history, @Cubs. #FlyTheW -H," Clinton said — no doubt with an eye to emulating her childhood team by making her own history on Tuesday.

    Warning for Clinton

    But there's also a warning for Clinton in looking for omens. The last Democratic nominee to see his team break a decades-long curse ended up losing a close general election. That happened to John Kerry after his Boston Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino and won the World Series in 2004.
    Trump has yet to react to the Cubs victory, perhaps because he has history with the Ricketts family, which owns the team. In February, the billionaire lashed out at the Ricketts for contributing to his rivals in the Republican primary, tweeting "They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!"
    He later told the Washington Post editorial board that he would take out ads "telling them all what a rotten job they're doing with the Chicago Cubs."
    More recently however, the Ricketts family has come on board, backing Trump through a super PAC.
    Another top politician who couldn't help but comment on the Cubs was the most famous fan of the crosstown White Sox — President Barack Obama.
    The President jabbed Cubs devotees over how long it took them to win the World Series trophy.
    "I was watching something on television, they explained that the last time the Cubs had won, Thomas Edison was alive and they hadn't even invented sliced bread yet," Obama said Thursday in Florida during a rally for Clinton. "So you know the expression 'this is the greatest thing since sliced bread?' This is actually, for Cubs fans, the greatest things since sliced bread!"
    But there's one parallel between the fabulous game seven in Cleveland that no one wants to see mirrored after this painful presidential election: extra innings.