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This Day in History: The World Series imitates the Electoral College

On this day in 1960, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeat the New York Yankees to win the World Series. Bill Mazeroski hit a home run in the 9th inning of Game 7! He clinched the title for the Pirates, but it had been a close call.

Why tell a baseball story on a history page such as this one? Believe it or not, the series teaches us something about our Constitution.

The Pirates barely eked out their World Series win, and they won it only because of that final home run. What a great series, right? The Pirates won 4 of 7 games. Such a showing is sufficient to earn the championship, as we all know.

But did you realize that, during the course of the 7-game series, the Pirates scored only 27 total runs to the Yankees’s 55 runs? Does anyone ever stop to think about that?

The team that scores the most runs can still lose the World Series.

As any baseball fan knows, that’s simply how it works. Teams earn the championship by winning the most games during the series, not by scoring the most runs over the course of several games. Rules could be established to change this situation, but such rules would not accomplish the stated objective of the games: Awarding the championship to the best overall team.

Consider what could happen if the rules were revised. What if we said that a team could win the World Series by scoring the most runs throughout the course of seven games?

Such a revision might allow a team to win the World Series by having one great game and several really poor games. Maybe a team would rely too heavily on a player who hits well against a particular pitcher. Excellent performances throughout the World Series would not be required to earn the championship. A few, stellar performances could be sufficient. But don’t we want our champions to be more well-rounded than that?! We want them to do well in a variety of circumstances. We want them to win at home or away. We want them to persevere over the course of seven intense games.

Isn’t all of this just like the Electoral College? Didn’t the Founders have similar goals in mind as they designed the country’s presidential election system? Presidential candidates must get the most states’ electoral votes, not the most individual votes. The Founders did not want presidential candidates to win simply because they could accumulate high vote totals in a few big states or large cities. They wanted the most well-rounded candidate to win the presidency. The system they created forces candidates to win in a variety of locations nationwide and among many different types of voters.

Funny, isn’t it? It turns out that the 1960 World Series teaches us why the Electoral College is important.

For more information, please check out my book: Why We Need the Electoral College

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