(Posted: pre-weekend 6/29/12)
Baseball 101: Where the DH wields an extra lineup bat for AL teams, troche NL clubs must try to add punch with pinch-hitting. The AL’s 142-110 inter-league margin this year reminds us of the edge the differing roles give one league over the other. DH-ing is part of the flow of the game, pinch-hitting a punctuation often prompted by trouble.
Team Obama’s bench coach Hillary Clinton decided to let someone bat for her when a warning against military meddling was needed during the recent electoral tension in Egypt. Clinton had lost her clout early in the Arab Spring by swinging out in support of Skipper Hosni Mubarak, just before Egyptian fans forced him to permanent showers.
Hillary and the O-team are getting their way in Egypt, as regional observers foresaw – a figurehead elected leader while true power resides with the U.S.-financed military. Our role in denying Egyptians the democracy they rallied for is disregarded by most of the mainstream media. It’s a role Team Obama is playing throughout the region, protected at home by shrugs in the press box.
A rare exception appeared in a NY Times report from Bahrein early this week. Correspondent Kareem Fahim, perhaps pinch-hitting for the regular on the beat, summed up in two paragraphs the game that has unfolded there with the U.S. a key player:
“Thousands of Bahrainis rose up 16 months ago, demanding political liberties, social equality and an end to corruption. But the Sunni monarchy, seen by the United States and Saudi Arabia as a strategic ally, and as a bulwark against Iran, was never left to face the rage on its own.
“Thousands of Saudi troops helped put down the uprising and remain in Bahrain, making it a virtual protectorate. The United States, a sometimes critical but ultimately unshakeable friend, has called for political reform but strengthened its support for the government. Last month, the Obama administration resumed arms sales there.”
A more generally accepted press box attitude toward U.S. strategy abroad can be found on the Times’ op-ed page of last Wednesday. Said columnist Thomas Friedman: “We should help any country whose government is working on (an) agenda ( we approve) and…withhold our support from any that is not..”
The scorecard showing Team Obama’s imperial foreign policy and hypocritical pro-democracy stance – in Bahrein, Yemen, Egypt, etc. – is clear, and perhaps defensible to self-involved Americans in a time of war. Indefensible, we submit, is the media game of playing along with policies that warrant questioning rather than cheers.
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Pinched Stats: The team with the most productive pinch-hitters? The struggling Cubs, with a composite BA of .304., 31-for-104. The team on top in use of pinch-hitters: the Brewers with 133 ABs (and 35 hits, for a .263 BA).
Returning Strength: Chances are the Red Sox, winners of 11 of their last 15, will have both Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford back in their lineup two weeks from tonight, July 13. Both are on track to complete their rehab work by then. Chase Utley, the first of three key Phillies to return from the DL (Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard the others) has looked in his first two games as if he’d never left (3-for-6).
Right You Are, Joe: “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us.” The cliché never rang truer than when uttered the other night by Joe Girardi. He had just lose his ace C.C. Sabathia for two turns and ever-reliable starter Andy Pettitte for six weeks. The consensus of MLB-TV panelists (among others): The Yanks have enough offense to hide pitching deficiencies. Robinson Cano, by the way, has hit 10 HRs in June.
A Veteran’s Un-Birthday: “Jeter’s getting old,” said former teammate Paul O’Neill (on YES) the day after Derek turned 38. “Look at him, relaxed on his afternoon off. When Joe Torre gave him a day off in his younger days, he would walk up and down the dugout, making trouble.”
Conundrum? Not Quite: Are the undermanned Mets, five games over .500 at the end of June, doing it with mirrors? Seems like it, but there are is a solid statistical explanation: they lead the majors with 167 two-out runs, and are second best with runners in scoring position and two outs. The Mets’ current opponents the Dodgers have hit hard times without the injured Matt Kemp. They’ve lost nine of 10, and fallen a game behind the surging Giants in the NL West.
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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)