A friend of mine asked me the other day why I stopped being a Cubs fan five years ago and converted to the White Sox. There were many reasons, but the most important one is that I had grown tired of rooting for a team that didn't seem to care about winning.

I have the same attitude about politics.

The Libertarian Party makes a lot of good points, but I don't think I've ever written anything nice about them because they are so generally clueless when it comes to nuts-and-bolts politics. The party speaks of "moral victories" when one of their candidates scores 3 percent on election day - kind of like my friends and I used to do whenever the Cubs played .500 ball.

Alan Keyes gave us all another Cubs-like experience. Keyes was obviously not in last year's U.S. Senate race to win; he was in it to help expand his national fundraising base and get his mug on TV. The Cubs love to make money and their fans revel in the team's overhyped media exposure, but they never come out on top in the really important category: winning.

Democrat Dawn Clark Netsch ran one of the worst gubernatorial campaigns ever in 1994. It was almost like she didn't really want to win, so I wrote lots of nasty things about that campaign.

I have long despised this sort of loser behavior in politics, and when that great friend of mine finally sat me down five years ago and pointed out how wrong-headed I was in my choice of baseball teams, it was like being hit by a lightning bolt.

It took a little while to act on my new revelation. A baseball team is almost like a religion, and people don't change their religions on a moment's notice.

I became a White Sox fan pretty much by default. I was living in Chicago, and since I wouldn't be going to Wrigley Field any time soon, the Sox were handy. It didn't take me long to fall in love with the Pale Hose, however.

It was a young, scrappy team that zoomed into the American League Division Series in 2000, the first year of my conversion. "The Kids Can Play" was the slogan that year, and, man, could they ever, winning 95 games in the regular season. Their roster was the definition of "clutch," but they didn't have a great pitching staff and were swept in the first round of the playoffs.

No matter, I thought. This is an organization I can root for. A little fine-tuning here and there and we'll win it all.

Some disappointing seasons followed, but I stayed with the Sox. Unlike that other team, the Sox looked like they wanted to win, and management always seemed to be trying to find just the right formula to get them back on top. When the Cubs allowed a dropped foul ball to rattle them to the bone in the 2003 National League Championship series, I knew I could never, ever go back.

Everything came together for the Sox this year, of course, and as I write this the White Sox are in their first World Series since 1959.

I love this team. Our batting average wasn't the greatest, we stranded a lot of men on base, but our overpowering pitching staff baffled the opposition all year and our players found a way to eke out win after win. Yeah, the Sox struggled after the All-Star break, but they never, never gave up, and management kept a cool head and didn't rely on late-season trades for some big-name superstars to come in and bail everyone out. They did it all themselves.

For years, the political candidates who fought their hearts out to win, who found a way to come out ahead even when nobody believed they had a chance, who didn't panic when things started slipping away from them were the ones I've given the most favorable coverage.

Those who are in it for an ego boost, who assume people will support them no matter what, who coast when they should work have always received harsh treatment from me. I simply learned five years ago that I should apply these rules to baseball.

Go Sox.

Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter. He can be reached at (http://capitolfax.blogspot.com).

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