Bobby Kasper: We can’t afford to let complacency set in

Bobby Kasper

Bobby Kasper

The Boston Red Sox were 62-28 on July 19, 1978. They were on pace to win a whopping 111 games. Their bitter rivals, the New York Yankees, lagged 14 games behind in the American League East standings, a deficit that seemed too big for any team to overcome. The Red Sox were considered heavy favorites to cruise into the Major League Baseball playoffs and win the World Series.

And if the baseball season were 90 games long, they would have.

Unfortunately for long-suffering fans in Boston, the Red Sox went into a late-summer funk, while the Yankees found their groove. After New York swept a four-game series Sept. 7-10 at Fenway Park, the Red Sox’ seemingly insurmountable lead in the standings had disappeared.

In Red Sox lore, the series has become known as “The Boston Massacre,” the final turning point in a roller-coaster season. The Yankees went on to beat the Sox in a one-game playoff for the division title. They advanced to the playoffs and eventually won their 22nd World Series.

Outside New York, though, the 1978 season is forever remembered for the Red Sox’ collapse. What happened? How could the Sox blow such a large lead?

Nobody knows for sure, of course, but I wonder if complacency didn’t infect the Boston clubhouse that summer. As the wins piled up in early July, perhaps the Sox’ confidence turned into overconfidence, their intensity turned to apathy. It’s possible they thought they had nothing to worry about until the playoffs.

Union members in Minnesota who have followed the political polling may be feeling the same way the Red Sox did in 1978. In the major statewide races, both labor-endorsed candidates – Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken – hold double-digit leads over their opponents, according to the most recent Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.

The poll results are encouraging, but the election season is far from over. And if you think our deep-pocketed opponents – from ALEC to the Koch Brothers – are throwing in the towel, think again.

Labor-endorsed candidates for Minnesota House, meanwhile, are under fire for making progress on issues that matter to working families, like raising the minimum wage, balancing the budget responsibly and removing barriers workers faced in organizing unions. They stood with us, and it’s up to us to stand with them in November.

The ‘78 Red Sox learned World Series aren’t decided in July. We can’t afford to learn a similar lesson about elections. It’s critical that we continue to door-knock, phone bank and talk to our friends and family about the importance of voting for labor-endorsed candidates – and do it up until the polls close on Nov. 4. Click here to find out how you can get involved.

If we refuse to succumb to complacency and, instead, keep up our intensity, I’m confident we’ll be celebrating a victory Nov. 4.

– Bobby Kasper is president of the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, and a member of Laborers Local 563.

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