Almost 46 years to the day after the NFL first staked a claim on Monday night, there’s finally a better matchup on another channel.
Hillary vs. The Donald.
For years, generals and politicians used sports metaphors to explain some of the most consequential issues of our time. So just this once, let’s flip the script. Forget for a moment that the future of America — not to mention civilization — hangs in the balance. Instead, imagine the debate as a sporting event …
Think Trump as Mike Tyson. Announcer: “He’s still looking to land that one big punch. And he’s had it with the fact-checking low blows and policy-question clinches. Hold on! Did he just bite the top of her ear off?”
Or Clinton as the late, usually mild-mannered Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, firing back at critics who suggested she didn’t take her opponent seriously enough: “He is who we thought he was! That’s why I took the stage! Now if you want to crown him, you can crown him! But he is who we thought he was!”
It’s so tempting that a number of political analysts are using sports-writing tools to break down the matchup: offense vs. defense, strengths and weaknesses, how the coaching staffs and training facilities stack up, even how the practice sessions have been going.
No one has posted a point spread yet, so feel free to add your own Mercifully, we’ve also been spared a “Tale of the Tape.”
We’re excluding pro wrestling comparisons, because that’s too easy. Already, billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner and former Trump-confidant-turned-critic Mark Cuban bragged about snagging a front-row seat for what he called the “Humbling at Hofstra.” Trump countered by inviting Gennifer Flowers, who claimed a long-running affair with Clinton’s husband.
And I hear from a lot of people that Trump’s camp lobbied to have close pal Don King replace NBC’s Lester Holt as moderator.
The best comparisons to the Clinton-Trump battle from different sports:
Clinton is serious and prepared. She uses her practice time purposefully. She has experience, a multitude of game plans and knows how to manage the clock. If she was a player, she’d be Peyton Manning. If she was a coach — let’s see: wonky, secretive, willing to bend rules, even got caught recently fudging an injury report — she’d be Bill Belichick. Definitely Belichick.
As a player, Trump would be Brett Favre, a gunslinger who was at his best on broken plays and never saw a throw he wouldn’t make. If he was a coach, he’d be Chip Kelly in his Oregon days, breaking the mold with his house-on-fire offensive attack. Or maybe Steve Spurrier at Florida, less worried about what his opponents might do than whether he could sneak out of a film session and squeeze in nine holes before sundown.
Clinton would be a reliable contact hitter with decent power. She can use the whole field, bunt or move the runner over when called for — in short, Ted Williams. “Teddy Ballgame” did all those things — and still managed to alienate the Boston media and even some fans. Plus, his family chose to have his remains frozen, so — he could still have a comeback worthy of Clinton.
Trump would be Barry Bonds, a threat to homer in every at-bat, but also arrogant, willing to break the rules and unapologetic about it. Like the late-career Bonds, he’d also need an XXL-sized hat.
If they were managers, she’d be Buck Showalter and he’d be Bob Brenly.
Brenly succeeded Showalter as skipper of the Arizona Diamondbacks and in his first spring-training meeting with the team, dropped Showalter’s inch-thick organization handbook on the floor and pulled out a cocktail napkin with his rules scrawled across it. They read: “Be on time. Play hard.”
There hasn’t been so much ego confined in a space about the size of an NBA lane since long-retired titans Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain battled.
Russell was the ultimate defender, always in position and so ready to plug holes his Celtic teammates devised the “Hey Bill” defense; anytime an opponent broke free and headed for the hoop, they simply yelled “Hey Bill.”
Chamberlain was brought a skillset unlike any big man before him. He hogged the prime real estate on the court, drew all eyes to him and scored almost at will. And did we mention his lavish tastes?
As a coach, Clinton would be Gregg Popovich, tailoring his schemes to fit the talent on the floor and eager to use immigrants like Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Trump would be Larry Brown, a his-way-or-the-highway leader who quickly loses interest in failing ventures quickly and thinks the team bus should always be running in case he needs to make his latest getaway.