Have you noticed the frequency of the word “tanking” in Baseball conversations this hot stove season? In its current appearance the word is connected to the apparent player-recruitment strategy of the Houston Astros. The word – denoting a strong suspicion – could have been applied to the KC Royals some years ago, to the Tampa Bay Devil-Rays early in the last decade. They were suspected by some observers of deliberately not trying to finish higher than at the bottom of the season’s standings. The idea (allegedly) was to take advantage of the MLB draft procedure whereby teams chose prospects in reverse order of their finish the previous year. Whether they “tanked” or not, those teams accumulated enough high draft choices to reach playoff-caliber – even World Series – level.
The Stats: Tampa Bay – World Series 2008, playoffs 2010, 2011, 2013; KC – World Series 2014, 2015; Houston – playoffs 2015.
There are not-trying signals of tanking on the political field as it affects as many as 17 million struggling fans in the national ballpark. Those fans are living within 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Medicaid expansion money is available to help them cover health costs. But states are not required to accept the money; they can choose to tank – not to try to make life easier for their residents in need. Nineteen refused to offer at the government’s pitch. The lineup: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine , Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin. Three state teams – Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming – are on deck, and may decide to step to the plate. Also, Louisiana, with a newly elected Dem team Skipper, will begin accepting the Medicaid expansion money next year.
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All About Connections: “(Dave)Roberts was recommended to the Dodgers by Josh Byrnes, a Dodgers vice president who worked with him in San Diego. He was a longshot candidate behind front-runner Gabe Kapler, the Dodgers’ innovative minor league director, but he became the co-leader after an outstanding first interview. Roberts later won the(manager’s) job in ensuing interviews with Dodgers ownership, who liked the idea that he could lead the team with a combination of Andrew Friedman’s numbers and old-school baseball senses.” – Bill Plaschke, LA Times
An Appreciative Plug: Bartolo Colon will turn 43 next May, an age at which most players, especially pitchers, have retired or are planning to do so. Colon, who just finished a two-year, $20 million stint with the Mets, has given no indication he thinks he’s finished. Averaging 200 innings per his two Mets seasons, Colon went 29-26, and was injury-free. Teams looking for a workhorse, take note.
(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)