The Nub

Men with Risky Flair: Bobby V and Mitt R

(Posted: 3/29/12)

Predictables:  Things we know Bobby Valentine and Mitt Romney will do, viagra canada sildenafil sooner or later:  Bobby will ruffle feathers of his bosses and players, viagra Mitt will hit the rhetorical ball all over the place.  The two are linked by their Massachusetts connections and by their play in closely watched contests in their respective fields.  Valentine is in a reported contest of wills with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington; Romney, we know, is front-runner in a Team GOP would-be-skipper competition.

Romney, a spray-to-right swinger in a field of pull-to-right hitters, will likely win because of his more moderate stance.  Valentine, who seemingly wants to snatch Cherington’s role as roster decider, may win his power test in the short run.  Both, however, face jams, owing to their style of play.

The book on Valentine, dating from his time with the Mets (1996-2002), is that his aggressive self-confidence surfaces after success.  When he took the Mets to their last World Series in 2000, he became contentious in his dealings with GM Steve Phillips.  Then, when he didn’t get his way, Bobby gave evidence of losing interest in his job. A late-developing truce notwithstanding, Valentine appears to be asserting himself early with the Sox; he’s clearly aware that he was the managerial choice of CEO Larry Lucchino and not new GM Cherington.  Given Valentine’s flair for flamboyance, most Sox fans surveyed said they’d prefer seeing low-key Tito Francona still running the team.  If the Sox look playoff-bound under Bobby, they’ll warm up to him.  Whether Cherington ever will is problematic.

The right-field fans’ rap against Romney – that he has no “core” – could play to his advantage early in the presidential playoff.  His flexibility on issues – what the boo-birds call “flip-flopping” – will serve him well with typical inattentive voters.  And he’ll have all the paid media he needs to back up his switch-around game.   It’s over the long season, when contradictions become noticeable, that Mitt risks looking unready to be the nation’s skipper.

As Seen From Abroad:  On BBC America the other night, “race and guns” were identified as this country’s prime political problems.  Voter attitudes about them, as much as about the playoff games, might prove decisive next November.   

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Standout Stats from Tokyo Split:  Bartolo Colon, one run, three hits, 6Ks in eight innings; Yoenis Cespedes, .333, one HR, two RBIs; Ichiro Suzuki, .444, one RBI.

Enthusiasm:  On YES the other night, John Flaherty said he spent 10 seconds talking to Blue Jay coach Brian Butterfield.  “’Brett Lawrie…Brett Lawrie…Brett Lawrie,’ is all he said, then added ‘He’s got it all’.”  Lawrie, a third baseman who came to the Jays in the deal that sent Shaun Marcum to the Brewers, is hitting .567 this spring; nine of his 17 hits have gone for extra bases.  He batted .293 after a call-up last September.  Another important stat: Lawrie just turned 22.

Nostalgia:  We can save our sympathy for the A’s, returning to the Oakland Coliseum from Japan.  How is that?  Everybody hates the Coliseum, right?  Wrong.  Here’s what former A’s closer Andrew Bailey, now with the Red Sox, said about it to the Globe’s Nick Cafardo:  “It’s a great place to pitch,  I remember those games against the Giants when we sold out, and you wish it could be like that every night because it was so loud.  Players liked playing there.’’

Bad Brave Report Card:  SI’s Cliff Corcoran on Jason Heyward, whom the Braves hope will have a bounce-back season: “One could write off the .183 (spring) average as bad luck given that he has shown a bit of power, but the plate discipline that was once a huge part of his value seems to have vanished as he has struck out 17 times in 18 games against just three walks.”   

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to dickstar@aol.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper.  Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

The Marlins, and a Possible Anti-Gun Message

(Posted: 3/26/12; e-mail update 3/27)

Politically attentive fans know how difficult it is to keep baseball and politics on separate playing fields.  When Arizona passed its brush-back anti-immigrant law two years ago, cialis sales recipe the D-backs took a hit from the sport’s national fan base because the team’s front office didn’t swing out in protest. When Wisconsin then elected Scott Walker governor and rejected incumbent Senator Russ Feingold, viagra buy unhealthy some of us lost interest in the Brewers, connected as they were to the switch-hitting Dairy State.

The Miami Marlins are the likely guilt-by-association target this year.  Jose Reyes nowithstanding, it will be hard to cheer for a team from the gun-friendly Stand Your Ground state.  The law by that name, making it easy to carry loaded guns in public, was passed in 2005.  Although cases of justified homicide were three times the norm since then, raising little alarm, the one involving Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman last month was different.  It triggered anger in some bailiwicks toward anything to do with Florida. (The Tampa Bay Rays are a special case; they can’t get people to go see them.)

The Marlins’ provocative skipper Ozzie Guillen hasn’t spoken yet about Stand Your Ground.  When he does, the hope here is that he takes a shot at the real villain, Team NRA, the powerful, well-financed gun lobby.  “Guns Save Lives” is a lobbying message many Floridians, including Marlins fans, and especially legislators, have bought.

Prodded by the unflinching Guillen, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria could prohibit the carrying of firearms into his new ballpark. Although a far-fetched possibility, it would be a gutsy political thing to do.  Not only might it turn out to be popular with Loria’s fan base, the move would endear the Marlins to gun-control supporters around the country.

The White Sox fan who is the nation’s skipper has refrained from speaking out against pro-concealed-gun laws in more than 20 states.  But his remark “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon,” may do more to reverse the gun-friendly trend than anything firearms-control people have accomplished until now.  Barring legally concealed weapons from entering all vulnerable ballparks – not just in Miami – could be another major step in a sane direction.

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Hopeful in Miami:  The Marlins’ hopes of making the playoffs have been bolstered by injuries plaguing the Phillies.  Chase Utley is out indefinitely with a bad knee, and Ryan Howard’s torn Achilles isn’t expected to be healed until May.  Miami’s regulars, meanwhile, have stayed reasonably healthy throughout the spring. Two of the team’s starting outfielders, Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison, hurt their ankles, but are expected back in time for the season opener, or soon thereafter. 

Hurtfulness:  A shoulder problem plaguing Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter and is significant enough to put him on the shelf for weeks or months.  His absence can hurt the defending champions, but not as much as the loss for the season of closers Ryan Madson to the Reds and Joakim Soria to the Royals.  Both have been sidelined by elbow injuries. The Reds, with Madson, had been a favorite in the NL Central; KC, with Soria, was considered a strong entry in the AL Central.      

Snap Quiz: Who was the toughest NL player to strike out last season?  Answer: Jeff Keppinger, who played with the Astros and Giants in 2011 (and is a onetime Met).  Now with the Rays, he is batting .351 so far this spring, and though basically an infielder, will be a part-time first baseman for Joe Maddon.  The record book shows (according to the Bradenton, FL Herald) that Keppinger is the fourth hardest player to fan in the last 40 years, and, thanks in part to his getting the bat on ball, has a career BA of .477 with bases loaded.

‘I Believe His Numbers Will Get Better This Season’: How many times have we heard something approximating that statement so far this spring?  Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon said it recently about Detroit center fielder Austin Jackson, based on what he’d seen in Grapefruit League games.  But well before spring training, the press box consensus was that Jason Bay and Adam Dunn would have bounce-back years with the Mets and White Sox.  Bay has had pathetic spring, searching in vain for his once-consistent power stroke.  He was batting .233 after the weekend (in which he had to leave a Sunday game after being bruised by a pitch).  Dunn has done better – .276 and four HRs in 13 games.  Both Bay and Dunn are considered good guys, types who generate gratuitous encouragement from the press box.

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to dickstar@aol.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper.  Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

Stockman, the Mets and the ‘Big One’

(Posted: 3/23/12; e-mail update 3/24)

David Stockman, generic cialis ampoule a hard hitter to right when he played the money game for Team Reagan in the ‘80s, discount viagra has switched his stance.  He’s hitting more to the opposite field now on fiscal matters, swinging out against what he calls “Crony Capitalism” (subject of his upcoming book).  He says the financial play of Teams Bush and Obama has been so ragged, the only hope for fans today is what he calls the “big one”, a banking collapse that far exceeds the rout the country experienced in 2008.  Only then, he says, can effective team rebuilding begin.

Stockman’s view coincides eerily with what many Mets fans are feeling after the team’s favorable settlement in the Madoff-related case: It will take a major disaster for Fred Wilpon and partners to recognize it is time to let the troubled team get off to a fresh start. Whereas Stockman believes Wall Street, through its continued excesses, will bring on the big one in his field, Mets fans this season seemingly have the power to do job for their team themselves..  A widespread stay-away from CitiField would send the message that new leadership is needed to replace those who mismanaged the Mets these past several years. Such a boycott, in response to the poor 2012 team, could result in attendance plummeting to a point where the single-season falloff matches the $121 million lost via empty seats in 2010 and 2011 combined.  That would be a bottom-line big one, big enough, perhaps, for Wilpon, et al, finally to leave.

Just as the Mets renewal game plan calls for fans to keep their would-be attendance money in their pockets, so does Stockman offer a similar plan for all of us in the national ballpark.  Here is how he described it in an interview with USA Today:

 Q: How do investors protect themselves? What about the stock market?

A: I wouldn’t touch the stock market with a 100-foot pole. It’s a dangerous place. It’s not safe for men, women or children.

Q: Do you own any shares?

A: No.

Q: Are you in short-term Treasurys?

A: I’m just in…cash. I have some gold. I’m not going to take any risk.

Q: Municipal bonds?

A: No.

Q: No munis, no stocks. Wow. You’re not making any money.

A: Capital preservation is what your first, second and third priority ought to be in a system that is so jerry-built, so fragile, so exposed to major breakdown that it’s not worth what you think you might be able to earn…OK?  It’s not worth it.

Q: Give me your prescription to fix the economy.

A: We have to eat our broccoli for a good period of time. And that means our taxes are going to go up on everybody, not just the rich. It means that we have to stop subsidizing debt by getting a sane set of people back in charge of the Fed,

Finally, Stockman addresses what he sees as the coming of the big one:

Q: You sound as if we’re facing a financial crisis like the one that followed the collapse of Lehman Bros. in 2008.

A: Oh, far worse than Lehman. When the real margin call in the great beyond arrives, the carnage will be unimaginable.

Stat City (financial division) - NY Times ace Gretchen Morgenson pitching to Bill Moyers on his PBS show:  GM: You know that Glass-Steagall was 34 pages long.  BM:  34 pages?  GM: The act that protected Americans from rapacious bankers for almost 70 years was about 34 pages long.  BM:  And Dodd-Frank is 2,300 pages —  GM: Way too complicated, all kinds of loopholes, right? You know, the more complex a law is the more you can probably finagle around it.

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Sound Familiar?  Why aren’t people more outraged?…Why no outrage at what (is)…going to (be) pass(ed) off as entertainment?   At the very least, sustained outrage will send a message to…do a better job.  Why has anyone bought a ticket for this season beyond the tradition that is opening day?  I’d like to hear a good reason.” – T.J. Simers, LA Times (about the Dodgers)

More from Mike Matheny…on why he’ll let his catchers risk home-plate collisions:  “It’s a play that doesn’t happen that often, but it’s a defining play and it carries a lot of weight with our pitching staff,’’  – quoted by the Globe’s Nick Cafardo

’Best Player Without a Job’:  SI’s Tom Verducci says that’s Johnny Damon.  Agent Scott Boros makes this stat-based pitch for his client, in danger of being unsigned on opening day: “Johnny Damon has played 140 games for 16 years in a row. The reality is there is no one that does that. You’ve got to look at how few games he misses.  He is the Greg Maddux of position players because he can do something over an extended period of time with frequency. That’s why my belief in his value as a player is so great,”

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to dickstar@aol.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper.  Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

The One-Sided Games as Seen from the Pressbox

(Posted: 3/19/11; e-mail update 3/20)

Baseball’s bigs, buy viagra stuff we know, were able to work out a schedule revision permitting the addition of a second wild card team in each league.  They made the complicated change with remarkable speed so as to get the new system started this season.  Yet they tell us now that they can’t arrange for expanded use in 2012 of a video-replay system to insure close plays are called correctly.  Why?  We’re told the umpires are balking; they feel their job-security is threatened.  That sounds like an issue that could be resolved through MLB’s renouncing such a threat through a contract amendment.  Why is that possibility not in play?  One answer:  press box people, by and large, accept what they’re told by baseball and pass the corporate pitch along to the fans.  The adversarial side doesn’t get a hearing.

Fans of Team USA, on the other hand, have gotten used to hearing the adversarial side – that is, our side – of arguments with clubs that aren’t playing ball.  Through the years, the USA side coincided with our strategic interests around the world.  In Latin America, we know, the yanqui game plan has long matched its corporate interests, mainly in oil and food production.  Texaco, Chevron, United Fruit, Dole are among our prominent teams found in the record book.  Last week, Ecuador’s Skipper Rafael Correa said he had enough of predictable one-sided stories favoring “elite” interests.  The imbalance of corporate-owned media coverage, he said has left “the poor (without) anyone” to represent their point of view.  He seeks to even the playing field, at least at election time, by barring news reports that favor one candidate over another.  Journalist groups have gotten a court to block the provision for the time being.

Correa calls the ongoing contest in Ecuador a crucial one; it’s “a battle,” he says, against an elite media “that have destroyed Latin America.”  The contest on the home field here continues.  To gauge which side is winning, think of how often reference to the plight of the “poor” (as distinguished from the “middle class”) appears in our media.                                                            

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The ‘Good Hands’ People: Mets fans might be amused, if they weren’t so forlorn, by Keith Hernandez’s dilemma.  Keith, one of the most interesting color men on the air (SNY), is cherished for speaking his mind about the Mets.  Until now.  He has said repeatedly “strength up the middle is how you win.”  But obliged to mention defensively challenged Daniel Murphy at second base, Hernandez avoids commenting, except to say: “With (coaches) Wally Backman and Tim Teufel tutoring him, Murph is in good hands.” 

Quotation Time:  I remember my name just about every day now, so that’s positive stuff.  It’s interesting how in real life you don’t get hit in the head much.  As long as I’m not getting hit in the head, everything’s good.” – New Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on slow recovery from concussion (as told to the Globe’s Nick Cafardo).

“(Robin Ventura) is a lot like (Joe) Torre, the type of thing where ‘I played, I am in control, you know I am in control, so I don’t have to say it.’  He doesn’t havc to affirm himself.” – White Sox reliever Will Ohman, who played under Torre, Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, Bobby Cox and Ozzie Guillen (to Chi Trib’s Phil Rogers).

More on Matheny:  “(Former catcher) Matheny does not preach to his catchers to tag the runner and get out of the way. He teaches good positioning and to be ready for the impact of the collision.  He said Buster Posey got himself into trouble because he did not position himself well.”  – Cafardo

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to dickstar@aol.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper.  Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

‘Dispensables’ on the Playing Field and in the Workplace

Posted: 3/16/12; e-mail update 3/17)

A Yankee fan who read the references to Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui in the previous Nub was struck by the similarity of their work-related bind to that of public service employees: “Johnny and Hideki were models, best viagra check like public service workers, cialis buy purchase of solid, check middle-salaried job-holders.  Now they’re considered dispensable luxury items.”

Damon is 38, Matsui will be 38 in June; age has eroded their market value (in the $4-5 million range), leaving them unsigned so far for 2012.  For public service workers, what has come to be perceived as a privileged status is hurting them.  For the most part unionized, they are being laid off or subject to salary freezes and cuts in their health and pension benefits,

When Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner, who oversees baseball’s highest-spending team  talks about cutting payroll to avoid paying an imminent post-$186 million luxury tax, the message for players is clear:  young, less-expensive prospects will be given hiring preference over veterans.  Tax-aversion on a national scale has triggered the hit on the public workers.

National Public Radio reported last weekend (on “This American Life”) that 45 of 50 states had balked at including new taxes in their budgets.  In NY, where the end of a surtax on millionaires combined with a higher tax rate for many of them left the budget more than $2 billion lighter, “dire straits” has been the result.  The NY Times used that phrase to describe the “toxic mix” of growing costs and insufficient revenue in local bailiwicks in California, Alabama and Rhode Island as well as its home state.

Connecticut has been spared the widespread hits because Skipper Dan Malloy refused to take the no-tax-increase pledge heard in NY, New Jersey and so many other states. Speaking in NY Skipper Andrew Cuomo’s home base of Albany, fellow Dem Malloy took a rhetorical bow:  “We were only one of a handful of states that actually went (far) down (a taxing-and-cutting) road…  I think all of which actually allowed us to maintain educational commitments to our municipalities, prevented us from doing what just about every state in the nation did last year, and that was to push state obligations (down the line).”   Malloy also worked out a compromise agreement on cuts affecting public service unions, including the state’s team of teachers, something Cuomo could not pull off without bench-clearing acrimony.

In the NPR report, anti-tax agent Grover Norquist, who began his national recruitment campaign in 1985, hailed the way his rally has gone across the country: “We’re winning,” he said.  Based on the stats, he could have said “We’ve won.”

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The Good Word(s):  How are ex-NY players doing this spring so far?  Here’s what Marlins Skipper Ozzie Guillen says about Jose Reyes:  “I don’t know how it was in the past, but Jose brought his enthusiasm, his love for the game…That gets any team going, the momentum going forward. That’s contagious.  And I think that’s a good thing for this ballclub.”  And Giants GM Brian Sabean on Melky Cabrera:  “He’s on a mission.  It’s his contract year.  He’s got a quiet confidence, and he’s all business.”

Reading Terry Collins’ Mind: “I can’t help feeling exasperated.  Sandy Alderson said he was disappointed in how our team finished last season.  Now I have to deal with too many key injuries and too few first-class players.  We couldn’t have stayed out of the cellar last year if Reyes and Carlos Beltran weren’t with us most of the time.  Now they’re gone, and it will be a miracle if Sandy isn’t disappointed again.  And where will that leave me?”

Reading Joe Girardi’s Mind: “So far, so good.  We’re reasonably healthy, have better pitching than the Red Sox and better hitting than the Rays.  The extra wild card means we should be one of at least two teams to make the playoffs from our division. And if either the Rangers or Angels stumble, all three of us in the AL East could make the post-season.  I can’t imagine our losing out.  But if the unthinkable happens, where will that leave me?”

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to dickstar@aol.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper.  Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

Tough Times for a Couple of Crowd-Pleasing Lefties

(Posted: 3/12/12; e-mail update 3/13)

Two tough little lefty hitters – Johnny Damon and Dennis Kucinich – have left the field, viagra generic buy viagra rejected either by their former teams or by fans.  Damon could not get the Rays or Yankees, viagra as well as other clubs, to sign him at a salary he felt he had earned.  Kucinich was forced to the political showers when he lost a one-on-one playoff last week with a Congressional teammate in Ohio.  

Damon may well get an acceptable deal before spring training ends.  He and Vladimir Guerrero – in a similar situation – would provide valuable offensive depth to a number of teams who could come up short in bench strength.  Damon is 38, but he still had enough quickness last season to steal 19 bases in 150 games for the Rays while batting .261.  He also hit 16 home runs.  Someone should snap him up, but that will only happen, apparently, if Johnny and agent Scott Boros back down on his basic asking price.  The Rays paid him $5.25 million last season.  Guerrero, 37, hit .290 with 13 HRs in 145 games for the Orioles.  They paid him $8 million.  In the current down market, it looks as though both Johnny and Vlad will have to accept less than half of their 2011 salaries.

Kucinich has served in Congress for 14 years, just a couple of years short of Damon and Guerrero’s service time in the majors.  But he is remembered by most fans for his at-bats in the Dem team’s ’04 and ’08 contests for the right to run for national skipper.  Fans in Ohio’s left field and beyond cheered him throughout his career, beginning in the late ‘70’s, when was the boy mayor of Cleveland.  A swing-from-the-heels southpaw who consistently batted against big business and its military-industrial affiliate, Kucinich came to be considered a political oddball by many pressbox observers.  One of several exceptions, TruthDig,com’s Robert Scheer, paid him this tribute:

“Kucinich…has been a national symbol of resistance to excessive government power and waste. He also has been a champion of social justice. His has been a rare voice, and one way or another it must continue to be heard.  Simply put, when it came to the struggle for peace over war, Dennis was the conscience of the Congress. And he was always at the forefront in defending the rights of unionized workers who once formed the backbone of a solid middle class and who are now threatened with extinction.”

Team GOP engineered Kucinich’s defeat this year through redistricting: it combined a small part of Dennis’s Cleveland-based bailiwick with that of the strong Toledo base of teammate Marcy Kaptur. After Dennis considered running instead for a vacant seat in Washington state, Kaptur likened him to a non-national-pastime ballplayer, the NBA’s LeBron James, who left Cleveland to play in Miami.

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All About Mo:  Responses to Mariano Rivera’s one perfect spring training inning Sunday – “Any time you can get the ball to Mo, you feel pretty good about it” – CC Sabathia; “He gets tunnel vision and it’s just like him and me in the ballpark.” – Russell Martin; “We will never see anything like him again in baseball” – Eric Chavez; “I just try to get people out and then go home.” – Mo.  

Getting Joey’s Vote:  How straight-talking is Joey Votto, Cincinnati’s star first baseman?  After signing a three-year contract in 2011, he was asked if he hoped to spend the rest of his career with the Reds.  “I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said then.  Now, asked how he felt about new teammates, Ryan Madson, Ryan Ludwick, Sean Marshall, Mat Latos and Wilson Valdez, Votto said he approved of them: then he volunteered a personal prejudice: “I don’t want to play with a bunch of jerks.”   

Getting His ‘Numbers’ Called:  Cubs’ color broadcaster Bob Brenly never called Aramis Ramirez a jerk, but he wasn’t shy about knocking the ex-Cub third baseman.  Among other things, he called Ramirez a “numbers gatherer,” more interested in his own stats than in the good of the team. Ramirez has no interest in confronting Brenly: “He’s a broadcaster. He should just worry about calling the game…”The coaches, the manager, the GM, they should take care of that other stuff.’’

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to dickstar@aol.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper.  Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

The Bad ‘Best Interests’ Game on Both Fields

(Posted: 3/9/12; e-mail update 3/10)

The beginning of a rally?  Baseball’s most prominent player agent Scott Boros is saying what Mets fans have been saying in private for a couple of years.  The team needs new ownership.  Never mind the self-serving part: that Boros believes the Mets should be spending more money as befits a major franchise (from which he and his colleagues would stand to benefit).  It’s a persuasive pitch, cialis check seconded by many members of the media as well as the fans. 

But whatever the argument’s merits, sildenafil sovaldi we’re aware of the immovable obstacle to its getting results: outright release of principal owner Fred Wilpon is unlikely to happen while friend Bud Selig is commissioner.  Selig has been granted imperial power by team owners to act “in the best interests of baseball.”  That means he can get rid of the combative Frank McCourts and Marge Schotts, viagra but protect owners with whom he gets along.  The undemocratic wielding of that power, we learn, is a reflection of the legal game as played under Team Obama.

Speaking for the skipper the other day, bench coach Eric Holder explained why the O-team is able to invoke a national “best interests” rule:  instead of removal of a disagreeable business adversary, the rule justifies both dispensing with “due process” rights of alleged enemy combatants and depriving them – even Americans – of their lives.  Here’s how one pressbox observer, Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, summed up Holder’s radical delivery:

“The President and his underlings are your accuser, your judge, your jury and your executioner all wrapped up in one, acting in total secrecy and without your even knowing that he’s accused you and sentenced you to death, and you have no opportunity even to know about, let alone confront and address, his accusations; is that not enough due process for you?”

Another observer, Esquire’s Charles Pierce, put it more tersely; he called Holder’s pitch “a monumental pile of crap that should embarrass every Democrat who ever said an unkind word about (George W. Bush’s “due process” avoidance game).” 

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Pinstripe Palaver:  During a game on YES the other day, Jack Curry told of Russell Martin identifying the active catcher he admired most: Yadier Molina, of the Cardinals:  “He can receive a low pitch and somehow make the umpire believe it was a strike.  Nobody can do it like him.”  In the broadcast booth with Curry, Kenny Singleton reminding viewers that when Robinson Cano broke in with the Yankees in ’05,   he batted ninth.  Jim Leyland called the Yankees then “murderers row and Cano.” A rare sighting during the same game (Yanks vs. Rays):  Derek Jeter, whose on-field composure is seldom ruffled, berating himself for failing to catch an average runner at first after fielding a ball deep in the hole.  

Win Some, Lose Some:  When Joe Girardi was a YES broadcaster in ‘07, he picked two players with possibly unlimited potential: he was right about Cano, one of the pair.  He was less prescient about the other:: long-gone Mets pitcher Oliver Perez.

Solace:  This figures to be a tough season for baseball fans on both sides of Chicago. The 2011 combined total of 150 wins seems like a reasonable two-team over-under for this season. But things could be a lot worse. One of our teams could be dealing with the Bernie Madoff  fallout, which has paralyzed the Mets.” – Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune

 Woe is Me(ts):  Amid the Mets’ lineup of problems:  Daniel Murphy is a “disaster” at second base (MLB-TV’s  Larry Bowa); Lucas Duda is a “lumbering” right fielder (Daily News’ John Harper).  Hit-to-right opposing batters should be salivating.

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to dickstar@aol.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper.  Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

The ‘Pro-Hypocrisy” Game as Played at Home and Abroad

(Posted: 3/5/12; e-mail update 3/6)

Last week, viagra sale we noted that MLB-TV panelist Eric Byrnes objected to any “sugarcoating” of the damage to baseball resulting from the  Ryan Braun case.  That Braun, discount cialis the NL MVP, avoided suspension because of a drug-test technicality exposed glaring defects in the testing system and prompted suspicions of a punishment double standard.

The TV network, an arm of baseball’s corporate structure, quickly had Byrnes recant, prompting him to say sweetly the decision to grant Braun’s appeal was “good for him, good for the players, good for baseball, good for the fans…”  Truth was lost in the promotional game, lost in the desire to conceal embarrassment from the public. Too often, the media play along with the game, whatever the field.  Behind their deceit: the sense that fans can’t deal with deviousness by the home team, better to delude them into thinking the game is being played down the middle.

A case in point involves dozens of minor-league U.S. political teams abroad playing under private “pro-democracy” uniforms.  The squad in Egypt currently accused, among other things, of engaging in subversive activities against the new Cairo government, is typical of what our pro-dem players are up to:  first, furthering U.S. interests; second (or never), encouraging democracy.   If those interests, often based on access to oil, are safeguarded by a dictator, he will receive our pro-democracy support.  That game-plan, implemented with military and economic aid – i.e., money – has been long established.  Author Thomas Carothers, a pro-dem veteran and Carnegie Endowment exec, makes this corroborating pitch:

“The United States has maintained friendly relations with dictatorships and intervened in other countries’ internal affairs for purposes far removed from the promotion of democracy.  Pro-democracy rhetoric has regularly exceeded reality and has sometimes been used deliberately to obscure a contrary reality.”  –  Aiding Democracy Abroad, Carnegie Endowment

For accuracy’s sake, the game could be called a “pro-hypocrisy” effort; that it is seldom acknowledged on the media scorecard only serves as an insult to savvy fans.    

                                               –     –     –

Marlins Skipper on the Money:  “ Ozzie Guillen has never pretended,” says Timesman Tyler Kepner, “that he went to Miami for a better chance to win: he went because the Marlins gave him $10 million for four years”: “I’ve got three kids, I plan to have grandkids.  I’m not going to take care of my grandkids with rings.  I’m going to take care of them with money.”

Catching the Fever? It’s hard to know what to make of (Ike Davis’s possible valley fever), except by now Mets fans have learned that when it comes to medical news, don’t trust the ballclub’s initial diagnosis, whatever it is.  And expect the worst-case scenario.” - John Harper, Daily News

The Bad-Choice Giants?  San Francisco, we know, added Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan, but passed on Carlos Beltran during the off-season.  Baseball Prospectus’s main statman Jay Jaffe suggests that’s part of a strategic mistake: “When I look at this team, I’m surprised they haven’t been more aggressive in upgrading their offense.  That’s championship pitching.  If they were willing to invest, they’d be the team to beat in the NL West.  They haven’t chosen that route.”

                                                           – o –

(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to dickstar@aol.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper.  Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

The Anger Game on the Diamond and Abroad

(Posted: 3/2/12; e-mail update 3/3)

The skills to be sharpened at spring training: bunting, viagra sale pilule rundowns, check relays, etc.  And, at one of the 30 camps, anger management.  Ozzie Guillen knows his Miami Marlins’ hopes of making the playoffs could depend on Carlos Zambrano keeping his cool.  With quick-tempered Milton Bradley unsigned since last May, Zambrano is baseball’s last explosively angry man; he tangled with teammates, managers and umpires while with the Cubs.  And when he had a ball in his hand, opponents knew enough not to make him mad.

Players, we know, express anger over close pitches, high spikes, etc, but most are wise enough to avoid doing anything risky.  Their anger, mostly for show, only calls attention to what riled them. They know it’s not going to change what happened.  We saw an off-field example last week when the Commissioner’s office stamped its feet over Ryan Braun winning his drug-test appeal. “No matter who tests positive,” said an office statement, “we will exhaust all avenues in pursuit of the appropriate discipline… While we have always respected th(e) process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered…by (an) arbitrator.”  Translation: “We can’t do anything about it beyond making noise, so don’t blame us.”

If the show-of-anger strategy sounds familiar, it could be because it’s in play on the political field as well.  Team Obama and others in the western league are crying foul, and chanting for Syria’s Bashar al-Said to send himself to the showers. Robert Fisk of the UK Independent points out the emptiness of this rally:

 The mighty voices calling for Assad’s departure grow louder every time they refuse to involve themselves militarily in the overthrow of the same man. The more they promise not to ’do a Nato’ on Syria – every time they claim there can be no ‘no-fly’ zones over Syria – they get angrier and angrier at Assad.  Why doesn’t he just go off to retirement in Turkey, end the theater once and for all, and stop embarrassing us all by bludgeoning his country with shells and sniper fire, killings thousands?”

Assad, we know, has Teams Moscow and Beijing watching his back.  Fisk sees a mini-throwback to the cold war unfolding.

How to Win Over Adversaries:  The O-Team has backed up its anger at Egypt for Cairo’s crackdown on U.S. groups promoting democracy.  A threat to withhold our annual $1.55 billion in mostly military aid has gotten postponement of a criminal trial and end to a travel ban involving 16 Americans accused of “hijacking the revolution.”  It’s no surprise that Egypt’s need for our money will cause its on-deck democracy to be called back to the dugout.

                                              –     –     –

In the Dark about Derek:  Bobby Valentine has confirmed that he’s not a Derek Jeter-watcher.  He said this week that Derek was “amazingly” out of position when he made the memorable cutoff in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS against Oakland.  Attentive fans have long marveled at Jeter’s gift for being in the right place (and finding a way to get on base) at the right time.  It has happened too often, Bobby, to be amazing.

Promise or Threat?  “We intend to own the franchise for a very long time.” – Mets owner Fred Wilpon (this week in Florida)

 Under the Radar: KC  just signed a 21-year-old catcher who has played only 39 major league games to a multi-million dollar contract that could run for eight years.  Sal Perez, described by manager Ned Yost as a “rare find…the total package”, batted .331, with 21 RBIs and three homers during a late-season stint with the Royals.

From the E-Mailbag (re our suggestion in the previous Nub that fans like seeing home-plate collisions): “I for one do not need the violence in the game of baseball.  I have trouble watching football when it is gratuitously violent. I like great plays, grace and sportsmanship. You do not need a dangerous collision at home plate for it to be exciting. Just a great throw, a perfect tag and an elusive slide.  Collisions should be penalized.”  – David S, Sleepy Hollow, NY

Closing Toast:  To the underrated month of March – all promise, never dull…and the time of baseball’s return.

                                                 - o -

(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to dickstar@aol.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper.  Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

The Anger Game on the Diamond and Abroad

(Posted: 3/2/12; e-mail update 3/3)

The skills to be sharpened at spring training: bunting, viagra canada pharmacy rundowns, viagra generic check relays, patient etc.  And, at one of the 30 camps, anger management.  Ozzie Guillen knows his Miami Marlins’ hopes of making the playoffs could depend on Carlos Zambrano keeping his cool.  With quick-tempered Milton Bradley unsigned since last May, Zambrano is baseball’s last explosively angry man; he tangled with teammates, managers and umpires while with the Cubs.  And when he had a ball in his hand, opponents knew enough not to make him mad.

Players, we know, express anger over close pitches, high spikes, etc, but most are wise enough to avoid doing anything risky.  Their anger, mostly for show, only calls attention to what riled them. They know it’s not going to change what happened.  We saw an off-field example last week when the Commissioner’s office stamped its feet over Ryan Braun winning his drug-test appeal. “No matter who tests positive,” said an office statement, “we will exhaust all avenues in pursuit of the appropriate discipline… While we have always respected th(e) process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered…by (an) arbitrator.”  Translation: “We can’t do anything about it beyond making noise, so don’t blame us.”

If the show-of-anger strategy sounds familiar, it could be because it’s in play on the political field as well.  Team Obama and others in the western league are crying foul, and chanting for Syria’s Bashar al-Said to send himself to the showers. Robert Fisk of the UK Independent points out the emptiness of this rally:

 The mighty voices calling for Assad’s departure grow louder every time they refuse to involve themselves militarily in the overthrow of the same man. The more they promise not to ’do a Nato’ on Syria – every time they claim there can be no ‘no-fly’ zones over Syria – they get angrier and angrier at Assad.  Why doesn’t he just go off to retirement in Turkey, end the theater once and for all, and stop embarrassing us all by bludgeoning his country with shells and sniper fire, killings thousands?”

 Assad, we know, has Teams Moscow and Beijing watching his back.  Fisk sees a mini-throwback to the cold war unfolding.

How to Win Over Adversaries:  The O-Team has backed up its anger at Egypt for Cairo’s crackdown on U.S. groups promoting democracy.  A threat to withhold our annual $1.55 billion in mostly military aid has gotten postponement of a criminal trial and end to a travel ban involving 16 Americans accused of “hijacking the revolution.”  It’s no surprise that Egypt’s need for our money will cause its on-deck democracy to be called back to the dugout.

                                              –     –     –

In the Dark about Derek:  Bobby Valentine has confirmed that he’s not a Derek Jeter-watcher.  He said this week that Derek was “amazingly” out of position when he made the memorable cutoff in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS against Oakland.  Attentive fans have long marveled at Jeter’s gift for being in the right place (and finding a way to get on base) at the right time.  It has happened too often, Bobby, to be amazing.

Promise or Threat?  “We intend to own the franchise for a very long time.” – Mets owner Fred Wilpon (this week in Florida)

Under the Radar: KC just signed a 21-year-old catcher who has played only 39 major league games to a multi-million dollar contract that could run for eight years.  Sal Perez, described by manager Ned Yost as a “rare find…the total package”, batted .331, with 21 RBIs and three homers during a late-season stint with the Royals.

From the E-Mailbag (re our suggestion in the previous Nub that fans like seeing home-plate collisions): “I for one do not need the violence in the game of baseball.  I have trouble watching football when it is gratuitously violent. I like great plays, grace and sportsmanship. You do not need a dangerous collision at home plate for it to be exciting. Just a great throw, a perfect tag and an elusive slide.  Collisions should be penalized.”  – David S, Sleepy Hollow, NY

Closing Toast:  To the underrated month of March – all promise, never dull…and the time of baseball’s return.

                                                 - o -

(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to dickstar@aol.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper.  Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)