One major league ballplayer spoke out when Dee Gordon was suspended last week for drug use: Justin Verlander said the news was “killing me.” It remains to be seen if there are enough players union members who feel as pained about the still-prevalent cheating problem as the erstwhile Tigers ace. Enough, that is, to succeed in demanding tougher punishment of offenders. Gordon will be sidelined without pay for 80 games. Panelists on MLB Now Friday scoffed at what they considered a tap on Gordon’s wrist. On SNY during the Giants-Mets game that night, ex-pitcher Ron Darling said the suspension should be season-long and the offending player’s contract voided. “When the player returns after a year, he’s paid the minimum salary until he and the club agree on a new contract.”
It will be a surprise if the players take any remedial action, much less the tough kind Darling recommends. There is so much predictable talk of “love” for the offenders on the part of front offices and even teammates. “Let’s not upset a good thing,” seems to be the attitude, just as it is in non-Baseball life. Thomas Frank, who said in his 2004 book “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” that the Dem team had embraced the wealthy and deserted the working class, now says the problem has gotten worse. In his most recent book, “Listen, Liberal”, Frank suggests that former Treasury Secretary (under Bill Clinton) Larry Summers typifies how Dems have lost touch with their struggling teammates. He quotes Summers, early in Obama’s Skipperdom, saying “inequality has probably gone up (because) people are being treated closer to the way they’re supposed to be treated.”
Summers was speaking around the time the new president had installed NY Fed chief Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary and Summers himself as head of the National Economic Council. Obama’s economic team was dominated by people – including Geithner and Summers – who had ties to Goldman Sachs’ former co-chair Bob Rubin. It was a Democratic roster of major Wall Street-connected players.
The question now is whether Hillary Clinton, if she becomes next Skipper, will follow Obama’s lead and recruit from a similar roster? Or will she heed the concerns of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and, in Warren’s words, acknowledge that “personnel is policy.” And that it’s time for her Dem team to swing hard in a different direction.
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Syndergaard’s ‘Sin’: It didn’t take long for the opposition to find a chink the arm-or of Mets fireballer Noah Syndergaard: 12 of 13 runners have stolen bases, exposing his weakness in holding them on. Reds runners went five-for-five against him last week; and, on Sunday, the Giants went three-for-three. Syndergaard is reluctant to develop a slide step lest it disrupt his delivery. Madison Baumgarner, who shut out the Mets for six innings Sunday, sees the adjustment as a necessity: “You’ve got to do it,” he says. “It’s no fun when you’re giving guys 90 feet.”
Who Is This Guy? The one unfamiliar name among the nine on MLB’s early season Fantasy team belongs to a journeyman catcher on the Diamondbacks. He’s Wellington Castillo, who has bounced around the majors for parts of seven seasons, with the Cubs and Mariners, before landing last year with the D-backs. So far this season, the 29-year-old Castillo has hit six HRs in 20 games and is batting a respectable .282. The rest of the Fantasy lineup: Mark Trumbo, 1B, Jose Altuve, 2B, Nolan Arenado, 3B, Trevor Story, SS, Bryce Harper, Starling Marte and Mookie Betts, outfielders, and Chris Sale, pitcher.
Streakers: Tigers + 5, Yankees – 5
Slow Start: As of this morning, only 13 of 30 teams have winning records. Cubs, at 18-6, have best mark, Braves, 6-19, the worst.
(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)