(Posted: 5/25/12 – pre-Memorial Weekend)
A plaintive question from an NYU professor: “Why don’t you write about the Mets anymore? he e-mailed. “They’re too poignant, sildenafil unhealthy ” was our answer. They’ve turned out to be barely respectable; they even reached five games over .500 early this month. But, given their lack of dollars and therefore depth (where would they be if David Wright went down?), either on the bench or in the bushes, they are fated to fade to the bottom of the NL East pack. Contending teams get prior claim to our attention.
Team Romney, like the Mets, seemed to sacrifice serious contention in the contest for national skipper when engulfed in the bloodletting GOP playoff. Mitt didn’t lack money, only an airtight defense. But Romney is rising while the Mets fight a likely losing battle to stay where they are.
Many Mets fans are finding solace in the struggles of the wealthy Yankees. As they were last year and in 2010, those fans substitute anti-Yankee for pro-Mets sentiment. Team Romney’s rise results from a similar hitch: many swinger fans have developed a stronger bias against Obama than a positive feeling for Mitt. That has to do with the hazards of incumbency when times are hard, as well as with race, and the pervasiveness of anti-skipper messages paid for by right-wing PACS.
Those messages can win over the inattentive through their frequency. A Team Romney rally extolling the boons of private equity firms like Bain Capital and of a free market unhampered by government is a current example. It was abetted this week by Times righty David Brooks. He pitched the idea that firms like Bain “forced a renaissance that revived American capitalism” while “sheltered government-dominated sectors of the economy – especially education, health care and the welfare state (presumably including Social Security, Medicare and other safety net strands) operate (as they always have).”
Polls indicate that pitch, promoting a dynamic basepath to private profit against the stolid general benefits long provided by government, is having an effect. The observation of Michael Harrington, author of “The Other America,” comes to mind: “You tell working class Americans,” he said (in paraphrase), “that the deck is stacked in favor of the capitalists, they won’t say how do we change the system, but how do we get to be one.”
That’s the offense Team Obama has to overcome, burdened by the skipper’s record of complicity with the very game he’s attacking. TruthDig lefty Robert Scheer cites the record book: “Although Obama is to be applauded for questioning Romney’s legacy, his motives seem to be…opportunistic…After all, Obama has had three years to regulate the unbridled power of private equity funds and he has done nothing in that regard.”
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Penny Wisdom? An irony that may have occurred to some Mets fans: The team could have reduced payroll by $15 million instead of $50 and had the dollars, presumably, to re-sign Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Chris Capuano. The addition of those three, while not assuring a playoff spot, would likely have made the team competitive enough to come close through ticket sales to cover the extra $35 million outlay.
Streakers: Reds + 6, Cubs – 9
Pre-Holiday Picture: The Reds, perhaps fired-up by their recently promoted flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman, have replaced the Cardinals atop the NL Central. That they dominated the Yankees and Braves, back-to-back, suggests the Reds are authentic challengers for the division crown. Cincinnati is 26th of 30 in team hitting and 14th in fielding. It’s the Reds’ pitching (fifth) that has generated their surge.
Continental Drift: Two of six divisions have no sub-.500 team: the AL and NL East.
Malaise: The Twins’ Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau will make a combined $36 million this season (Mauer $23, as part of an eight-year $184 deal, Morneau $13.3 million – six years, $80 million) . Those are controversial numbers, given the plight of their last-place team, as Minneapolis Star-Trib columnist Jim Souhan makes clear:
“In the prime of their careers, the longtime friends have become symbols of athletic fragility and franchise decline. Where once Mauer looked like a Hall of Fame catcher and Morneau the model for a Target Field statue, they now concern themselves with such mundane goals as ‘staying on the field.’ Their reduced production has nastily dovetailed with rising salaries and the opening of a new ballpark, turning what just a couple of years ago ranked as one of baseball’s sweetest stories into a cautionary tale concerning long-term contracts.”
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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Commentsto firstname.lastname@example.org are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)