So Ted Cruz has bitten the dust and Trump seems unstoppable. How in the name of all that’s sane has this come to pass? How did so many salt-of-the-earth sorts of Republicans finally climb aboard the Trump bandwagon, folks who initially would rather have elected Josef Stalin than this epitome of the brash, crass New Yorker? Why? Why, people, why have you done this?
Because of the Mickey Mantle Effect.
Bear with me.
When Roger Maris hit those 61 homeruns in ’61, back in the halcyon days of my youth when no one had ever heard of performance enhancing drugs, it must not be forgotten that one of the big reasons Maris climbed the heights to asterisked stardom was because the big-league hurlers were not about to resort to the usual tactic of pitching around a power hitter and letting him walk. If they threw too many pitches outside the strike zone, and Maris gets a base on balls the next guy in the order was Mickey Mantle who hit 54 homers that year. So Maris got a lot of good pitches to swing at thanks to Mantle.
Can you see where I’m going with this? The reason that Trump has gotten so many delegates is because the guy behind him in the lineup was Ted Cruz— a terrible alternative for all those Republicans who didn’t get the memo that God had chosen him personally. No, they mistook the chrism of God’s anointing for plain old ooze, and decided they’d rather deal with a blowhard than a televangialist.
I find it incredibly consoling in this interminable campaign season where acres of mud have been slung and America has become a laughing stock, to cast my mind back to ’61 when you could get a pack of baseball cards for a nickel, a fireball for a penny, when kids actually played outside, and no one had ever heard of a reality show. In short, when America was truly great.
When did it all go wrong? In a reunion movie of Leave it to Beaver that played in 1983, Wally said it all: “I think it started going downhill when the Yankees traded Roger Maris.”