Urban: Sports and politics are closer than you think

It’s been said that some of our country’s best writers are sportswriters, and that’s certainly the case in many places. Of course, you could easily make the argument that some of our worst writers are sportswriters, and you’d have a strong case there, too.

The problem these days is that it seems like everyone wants to be a sportswriter — or at the very least traffic in the same tired cliches as do some of the truly bad sports scribes. And you need look no further than the recent coverage of the presidential primaries.

Candidates are taking “commanding leads” with “statement victories.” They’re preparing for “gut-check time” and “digging in” for what figures to be a “fight to the finish.”

Aside from being moderately disgusting, it does provide one with the opportunity to play a fun little game in which you try to find a sports parallel for each of the remaining five legitimate contenders vying for control of our great — and often not-so-great — country.

Unfortunately, the easiest call is out. If Rudy Giuliani isn’t the New York Yankees, nobody is. He had a great run under a white-hot spotlight, helped the country through a very difficult time, then took one of the most precipitous nose-dives in recent memory.

So the best baseball-analogous candidate we have left is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the election’s Colorado Rockies. As in, “Who? Where the hell did this guy come from? How’s he still around?” Well, he’s around in part because some crafty backers of Arizona Sen. John McCain voted for Huckabee in West Virginia for the sole purpose of denying former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney the win. Kinda like the Arizona Diamondbacks’ quasi-tanking down the stretch.

Romney? He’s very Tom Hicks, the owner of the Texas Rangers. Spends a ton of money and gets almost nothing in return.

McCain? Tough peg, but let’s go with NBA renegade Mark Cuban. He seems like an odd duck whose moods change with the minute hand on the clock, but in the end, he’s rather amusing. And while he’s been winning a lot lately, he’ll ultimately come up short in The Big One.

Hillary Clinton? Wow. Also a toughie. But it’s been a while since we went the Barry Bonds route in this space, so let’s do it here. Hillary has had some great times and was once much-admired for her ability to block out (ahem) distractions, and she still has blindly loyal fans out there. But there are some nasty skeletons in the back of that closet, and word on the street is that Bill is going to take Kimmy Bell’s lead and go all Mike Honcho in an upcoming Playgirl to make damn sure he never has to hear and “first lady” cracks.

Barack Obama? Easy call. He’s Tiger Woods. Ambiguous in virtually every way, pulling off the difficult task of being nearly impossible to love and nearly impossible to dislike at the same time. He’s got one hell of a smile, too, even if it seems fake most of the time. And one more thing: Tiger wins.

Mychael Urban writes for MLB.com and hosts the weekend edition of “Sportsphone 680” on KNBR (680 AM).

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