Why the Economy and the MLB Need a Second Half Comeback

More than 100 days into the baseball season with the All-Star break behind us, it is time to think who's going to win the pennant. For division leaders, there is reason for confidence.

Since the first All-Star game in 1933, two of three teams in the lead at the break went on to win their league or divisional pennant.

Americans love underdogs and comebacks. My research into the baseball reference site reveals that since 1933 100 teams have come from behind to win a pennant.

Yes, about half of those teams were at the break just 2.5 games back or less. Those are not the teams we remember. The teams of legend are the 14 teams who came from 7.5 or more games back.

But baseball's greatest glory goes to three teams -- the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals, the 1978 New York Yankees and the 2006 Oakland A's. They were respectively, 10, 11 ½ and 11 games behind at the All-Star break.

And this year? I have always had a sweet spot for my South Side Boys -- the Chicago White Sox. And I was born just 90 miles south of the Miami Marlin's incredible park. Both teams seem hopelessly far back.

The MLB break has me thinking about the parallels to our economy. Your paycheck. Your business. Your family. As well as mine.

Millions are stuck financially despite our fantastic prosperity in this country; corporations are sitting on an unprecedented $2 trillion in cash as of 2011. How can the rest of us get unstuck?

In my recent essay for the Haas Institute's Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California-Berkeley, "Realizing Possibilities of The Connected Economy," the suggestion is that the answer is not in building more incentives for the 1 percent.

Yes, this country has been remarkably prosperous. Since 1790, our real per capita GDP has increased an average of 1.7 percent a year. To be sure there is a lot more to prosperity than the value of all good and services, or the Gross Domestic Product.

There were just two interruptions in the fantastic increases in our GDP -- The Great Depression and The Great Recession.

We lifted ourselves out of the Great Depression as George Stiglitz powerfully argues by "rewriting the rules" of our economy. Prosperous banks and industries working under the right rules, along with strong unions, created the world's first mass middle-class.

Those who a generation before were dismissed as unfit for democracy, those immigrants and the sons and daughters of immigrants became the foundation of the great American middle-class.

Thinking about our current mess, in an April 2015 report from Columbia University, "Putting Families First," Dorian Warren suggests a few big steps to move us forward: addressing climate change, caring for the elderly, drawing on the talents of the emerging majority of color, and sharing prosperity to rebalance our economy.

Hidden behind the reports policy recommendations is a critical point. Our economy will only move forward when those who the most prosperous rely on daily for their good lives prosper as well.

It is these workers who grow the food we love to eat, who serve us at restaurants, who make us feel at home at our hotel during yet but another business trip, who take care of our kids when we can't be there.

We will not move forward until these workers -- so many of whom are non-white - are fully embraced. It is not enough to just condemn Donald Trump racist ramblings. We need to as well condemn the more subtle 'dog whistle' racial politics made famous by George Bush's Willie Horton ad.

We need as PolicyLink so vividly describes an "all in Nation" where strong communities of color are enabled to move forward to enrich everyone. The back -- those hourly wage earners in service jobs -- can strengthen an embattled older white middle-class.

There is plenty of money in the economy. And if we get the economy back on track, we can expect the real per capita GDP to more than double over the next 40 years.

The Los Angeles $15 wage standard will in the years to come serve as a beacon of what is possible. It will move a stunning 40 percent of wage workers forward.

With money in their pockets, these workers will spread prosperity across their struggling African-American and immigrant communities and across Southern California.

So in the second half of the baseball season I will be rooting for the White Sox and Marlins. And in the years to come, I will be rooting for care-givers, food servers, hotel maids and everyone else who makes the good life possible to finally move us all forward.

Mark Gomez is the founder of The Leap Forward Project at the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. He is an OpEd Project fellow with the Center for Global Policy Solutions.