The Nub

Diversity and its Place in the Parallel Pastimes

(Posted: 12/29/12)

Among our holiday blessings was “My Baseball Years, discount sale ” an essay the great Philip Roth wrote in the mid-seventies. In it, he says baseball provided him with a patriotism not “grounded in moral virtue and bloody rage” (thanks to Hitler), but in pride for our racial and ethnic diversity absorbed though playing and observing the national game. (The blacks he saw were in the bleachers at Ruppert Stadium in Newark).

New York City’s Skipper Mike Bloomberg enhanced that sense both of blessedness and of pride in our different cultures living together peacibly. He did it by denouncing what he called the NRA’s “paranoid vision” of a “violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe.”

Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner elaborated on the “we’re-in-this-together” theme, paying tribute to Skipper Obama on Bill Moyers’ public TV show earlier this week. “Obama has done an astonishing job,” he said, “of reminding us that government is a good thing, and that we share responsibility for one another because without that shared responsibility our own lives are destroyed.”

Kushner, author of the screenplay for “Lincoln,” also indirectly reproached lefthanders for their impatience with Obama, who, like our 16th president, has chosen to move ahead with caution: “The job of the president is both to make the compromises necessary to actually have things happen in a democracy, which means compromising at a slower pace than anybody would necessarily like. At the same time he has to keep telling us where we’re going, what we’re trying to arrive at.” Kushner noted that Obama has done that on, among other things, gay marriage – “We knew in 2008 he supported that issue, but as the first black president he couldn’t act right away.”

Although he wrote ‘Angels in America’, Kushner did not talk to Moyers about baseball. He did, however, express his passion in this way for what we consider our parallel national pastime: “All of the various fields of human inquiry — theology and philosophy and morality and psychology meet rather beautifully in politics. And sometimes I wonder if politics isn’t…the taking of all of the(m) and (giving) them meaning.”

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Elsewhere Yankees: Two former Yanks – Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez – brought us baseball-related holiday cheer this week by signing with the Indians and Mariners. Swisher, who received a four-year, $56 million deal, will give the Indians needed offensive punch as they and new manager Terry Francona try to stay close to competitive with the Tigers in the AL Central. The signing of Ibanez – one year, $2.75 mil – gives Mariner fans a sign of hope that Seattle has no intention of being AL West pushovers in 2013. The Yankees, despite their budgetary-constraint approach this post-season, still figure, we believe, to be the AL East team to beat. They’ll have a solid group of returning regulars while the Blue Jays and Red Sox, with new managers, will need time to meld their mix of new faces. 

More Than Also-Rans: Since the Orioles, with Buck Showalter, and the Rays, with Joe Maddon, are obvious capable-of-surprise teams, the AL East is likely to be the one division with five of five potential playoff contenders.

Boston Brightener: The most significant addition of the past week may belong to the Red Sox. In acquiring All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan from the Pirates – for expendables Mark Melancon, Ivan DeJesus, Jr., Jerry Sands and a minor leaguer, the Sox have locked in a solid one-two back end to their bullpen. Hanrahan is expected to compete for the closer role with incumbent Andrew Bailey. A nice decision for Skipper John Farrell to weigh.

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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.)

Tracking the Clout of Money in Baseball, Guns in Politics

(Posted: 12/22/12)

At this holiday time, buy case baseball fans should be thankful for a small favor: the number of elite teams – the ones backed by big money – has more than tripled in the past decade, online from the four $100 million-plus-payroll teams, nurse headed by the Yankees and Red Sox, in 2002, to 14, as of the end of 2012.  The list, based on official end-of-season payrolls, and including Toronto, with its post-season spending burst: Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels, Tigers, Giants, Rangers, Dodgers, Cardinals, Cubs, Mets, White Sox, Twins, Blue Jays. The teams constitute just under 50 percent of the major league universe.  Can we foresee something approaching parity in the near-future?  That’s probably a pipe dream, given the market disparity separating teams like the Pirates, Rays and A’s from the big guys, and the unwillingness of owners to act aggressively to level the financial playing field.  But, who knows?  Strange things are happening in baseball.

Whether the long-time aversion that exists among politically powerful firearms supporters to accept meaningful curbs on gun sales is also in the who-knows category.  That unwillingness persists for the moment despite the post-Newtown rally to impose such limits.  National Journal’s Charlie Cook has the numbers and political stances, suggesting why, despite Skipper Obama’s going to bat, we can’t expect meaningful gun-control progress to result from the latest outcry:

“Although it’s easy for liberals on cable shows to predict that the mass killing in Newtown will lead to a dramatic tightening of gun laws, the simple arithmetic of the House and Senate suggests that action will be very difficult…Only 15 of the 234 Republicans who were elected to the House last month are in districts also carried by President Obama, presumably the more-liberal districts and more likely to be open to tighter gun laws; 219 House Republicans represent districts won by Mitt Romney…94 percent of (them)…in…districts most likely to be pro-gun…

“In the Senate, Susan Collins of Maine is the only one of the 14 Republicans up for reelection in 2014 in a state won by Obama…None of the (other 13) is likely to face much pressure to vote against the NRA.  Conversely, Democrats have six incumbents up for reelection in states that went (heavily) for Romney, meaning defections could be quite high.   Maybe the public outcry is so great that Congress will move on gun control, but considering the makeup of the House and Senate, the odds look tough.”    

On Self-Involvement:  The UK Guardian’s George Monblot reminds us of how blind we are to the violent deaths of children in countries like Pakistan, where we are complicit:  “Most of the world’s media, which has rightly commemorated the children of Newtown, either ignores Obama’s murders or accepts the official version that all those killed are ‘militants’. The children of north-west Pakistan, it seems, are not like our children. They have no names, no pictures, no memorials of candles and flowers and teddy bears. They belong to the other: to the non-human world of bugs and grass.”  (The record book shows that, as of last August, 178 children in Pakistan and Yemen were killed by our Drones alone.)

‘Shining the Light’ for Chavez: At Riverside Church in Manhattan last night, several hundred people of all faiths and many nations gathered to pay a prayerful tribute to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as he battles a recurrence of cancer in a Cuban hospital.  Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark served as unofficial spokesman for Team USA.  He said he believed Chavez would have a bigger positive impact on the future of Latin America than Simon Bolivar.                                                        

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Dealing Differences:  While we congratulate pitchers like Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson for the generous contracts they and their agents negotiated – the Tigers agreeing to pay Sanchez $80 million for five years, the Cubs signing Jackson for $52 million for four years – we’re bewildered when a top-grade catcher like A.J. Pierzynski has to settle for a single-year $7.5 mil pact with the Rangers. The disparity tells us how profound is the short supply of pitchers who can rack up innings, if not gaudy W-L records. Sanchez is only 48-51 after seven seasons, but he’s averaged a little over 195 innings the last three seasons; Jackson, 70-71 after 10 seasons, averaged 196 over the last three.  Pierzynski’s deal illustrates how well fellow catcher Russell Martin did in getting $17 mil for two years from the Pirates.  A.J. batted .278 with 27 HRs for the White Sox this season while Martin’s numbers were .211 and 21.  They played close to the same number of games – 135 for Pierzynski, 133 for Martin.  That A.J. will be 36 next season compared to Russell’s age of 30 may partially explain the sizable difference.

Turf Talk:  The buzz in Toronto is that the Blue Jays are hopeful of persuading Rogers Centre’s owners to replace the field’s artificial turf with natural grass.  It was a tough sell in the past because the Centre, as a multi-sports facility, would have to cut ties with other sports – like pro football – that chew up the grass.  The Jays were not a big enough draw to justify allowing the change to happen.  With the addition of R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, etc., the team’s inability to attract capacity crowds is no longer an obstacle. 

The Inactivity Game:  Leading the Hot Stove League in doing nothing so far to upgrade (tied with the Mets): the 2011 World Champion and 2012 NLCS finalist St.Louis Cardinals.  The Cards have signed journeyman reliever Randy Choate as their only free agent and been quiet on the trade market.  The White Sox have been mysteriously inactive, as well, but their three-year contract to Jeff Keppinger was mildly significant.  

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

Ichiro and the Political Hope Palpable Behind His Signing

(Posted: 12/18/12)

 The days of Ichiro Suzuki’s big salary deals may be over, canada nurse but his re-signing with the Yankees last week made a minor splash despite its modest terms. Ichiro got a two-year contract that will pay him $13 million total. What makes the pact notable is its uniqueness: GM Brian Cashman had been adhering to single-year contracts, canada looking ahead to 2014 when he hopes to have brought the Yanks payroll down under the then-luxury tax threshold of $189 million. 

 The Yankees exceeded last season’s tax threshold by $45 million and paid a penalty of $19 million. Over the past decade, the Yanks have had to fork over a total of $224 million in taxes, a figure that clearly prompted the Steinbrenners to end the team’s extravagant ways. The latest version of what is formally known as a “Competitive Balance” agreement was ratified a year ago. The connection between taxes and competitive balance should certainly please fans with a left-leaning political stance. The rally for tax-supported social programs to reduce the type of economic inequality that has roiled baseball was sent to the showers in Washington more than two decades ago. The need for increased taxation has reemerged as an issue in the fiscal cliff game now in late innings.

National Journal’s Ron Brownstein reviews the record book and looks ahead at how the issue may play out:

“Many of the defining aspects of the modern Republican Party were set during (a) 1990 budget collision between President George H.W. Bush and Democratic congressional leaders. To reach agreement with Democrats who controlled both the House and the Senate, Bush accepted a deficit-reduction plan that raised income-tax rates—breaking his ‘read my lips’ tax pledge from the 1988 presidential campaign. In protest, Newt Gingrich, then the House minority whip, quit the talks and led a rebellion that ultimately persuaded nearly half of Republicans in the chamber to abandon Bush and oppose the deal.

“Bush’s budget package established the foundation for further deficit reduction under President Clinton in 1993 and 1997. Those agreements fueled the 1990s economic boom and produced three consecutive balanced budgets in Clinton’s second term. But it was Gingrich’s revolt in the name of inviolate principle, not the elder Bush’s flexibility in the face of divided government, that left a lasting imprint on the GOP.”

Many on Team GOP now see that imprint must change if the party is to regain national dominance. Brownstein puts it this way: “The GOP isn’t likely to recapture the White House anytime soon unless it can appeal beyond (its) base to voters (especially nonwhite ones) who don’t believe that the solution to all problems is to cut taxes and spending.”

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, re Newtown: “There is a certain reality that if you have a gun in your home the chances that it’s going to be used against you or against a family member (are dangerously good).”

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How Do Mets Fans Feel About Trade of R.A. Dickey? Stunned disbelief? Despair? Mild Approval? Our random survey revealed a surprising none-of-the-above reaction. It was – is – indifference. Fans who shrugged saw it this way: The Mets can as easily finish fourth or fifth in their division without R.A. as they could with him. “We weren’t going to CitiField anyway.” Our take: Badmouthing under-performing players is one thing the Mets have been adept at. Badmouthing a current CY Young Award-winning member of the team, which they did last week – abetted by the local media – is a new tactical low, much worse than Fred Wilpon’s demeaning of David Wright in 2011. Its Wilpon-like classlessness reflects badly on GM Sandy Alderson, who has been a welcome change to what went before…until now. ChiTrib’s Phil Rogers lets Alderson off the hook: Paraphrasing him about the deal: “It’s what doormat teams have to do.”

P.S. Defecting Mets fans who can’t bring themselves to switch to support the Yankees now have an attractive option: Root for the team with players who, as Mets, won the NL batting title – Jose Reyes in 2011 – and the Cy Young last season: the Blue Jays.

Guess Which Team? “The ______________ are not-ready-for-prime-time players… That’s where this organization is right now, like it or not. And the only way I see to change it, short of an ownership or upper-management change, is by winning.” Answer: The Mets? No, it’s the Mariners, as described by Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone.

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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.)

Union Players Absent When Needed in Anti-Union Game

(Posted: 12/15/12)

The presence of Justin Verlander at rallies opposing Michigan’s passage of a right-to-work law this week would not have stopped the state’s GOP legislators from playing their anti-union game. But if he, clinic or other of his Detroit teammates, had shown it would have been an overdue symbol of labor solidarity from the Major League Players Association. 

 Amid his success in organizing the players, the late Marvin Miller never managed to involve his members in solidarity actions with embattled unions across the country. When Miller took charge of the MLPA in 1966, the percentage of union jobs in the country was close to three times what it is today. The approximate current figure is 11 percent, of which more than half the jobs covered are in the public sector.

 “What (the Michigan lawmakers) are really talking about,” said Skipper Obama during a visit to the state this week, “is giving you the right to work for less money.” Michigan is the 24th state to pass right to work; Indiana passed the law earlier this year. Unions are hard-put to survive without mandatory dues-payment systems; the opting out by defecting workers diminishes collective-bargaining clout. If the unions don’t survive, job- and economic security are lost. Unsteady, no-benefits unskilled work for anywhere from the minimum to $20-25 an hour (if one is lucky) becomes the norm.

 Since major leaguers at the lowest salary level make $480,000 a (short) year, it is unsurprising that they and their much-better-paid teammates find it hard to relate to the plight of other union/working people. It was the role of Miller, Donald Fehr until 2009, and Michael Weiner now, to encourage pro-labor activism on the part of player-members.

 Labor is hoping for such support as it seeks to raise the floor for wages and working conditions at all job levels. Times economics columnist Eduardo Porter says the erosion of union jobs and the spread of no-benefits, low-pay work combine to impose a stark challenge to all of us:

“Either we build an economy in which most workers can earn enough to adequately support their families or we build a government with the wherewithal to subsidize the existence of a lower class that can’t survive on its own.”

So far, he notes, “We are doing neither.”

Delivering a sobering class-based pitch with a whimsical windup, New Yorker’s Louis Menand suggests why our education system plays into the anti-union trend: “Americans have an egalitarian approach to inequality: they want everyone to have an equal chance to become better off than everyone else.”

On Gun Politics and the Connecticut Shooting: Good Luck, Mr. President

“We’ve been through this too many times…And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

– Skipper Obama

“I think we have to be realistic that we live in a world at times when bad people want to commit bad acts and are willing to give their life; in return, it’s very difficult to try to stop that.” – – NJ Gov. Christie

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 $tat City: $230, $180, $145 – Those are the approximate millions three of the four California teams will be spending on their 2013 player payroll. The addition of Josh Hamilton this week pushed the Angels’ salary total up $25 mil to the $180 mil level. The defending champion Giants made do with a $2 mil signing of extra outfielder Andres Torres, putting them at $145 mil and ending Nick Swisher-to-SF speculation. The Dodgers, of course, are in their $230 mil stratosphere after signings of Zack Greinke and Ryu Hyun-jin.

Late Signings: The Tigers, perhaps worried that the addition of James Shields could make KC a division challenger, gave Anibal Sanchez an $80 mil contract for five years. That’s far from a staying-put discount. The Yankees on the other hand, signed Ichiro Suzuki for $13 mil for two years, something of a bargain even though Ichiro will be 40 at the end of next season. The Red Sox persuaded Ryan Dempster to sign for two years, after upping an offer from $25 to $26.5 mil. 

Apostasy: Maybe one reason (however remote) that Kevin Youklis rejected a two-year deal with the Indians, choosing instead a single year with the Yanks, has to do with what new Cleveland manager Terry Francona had to say about him: As quoted by SI’s Cliff Corcoran, in connection with Youk’s early reputation as the “Greek God of Walks,” Francona said: “I’ve seen him in the shower. He’s not the Greek God of anything.”

Apt New Name for the Mets? Considering familiar hot stove stories: “They are _________ to sign R.A. Dickey to an extended contract. They are __________ to spend much money on free agents. They are _________ to offer anything of trade value – except Dickey. They are __________ to be remotely competitive in their division.” What else but the New York Unlikelys.

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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.)

 

 

 

Touted Rookies: Myers, Meyer and Elizabeth Warren

(Posted: 12/11/12)

All aboard for Idaho Falls, sildenafil Burlington, ampoule NC, sales Wilmington, NC, Nothwest Arkansas, Omaha: that’s the minor league route followed by new Tampa Bay Ray Will Myers, one of two prospective rookies of the year.  The other, in the political field, is Red Sox Nation’s own Elizabeth Warren, who stopped at Washington, DC. , Houston, TX,  Newark, NJ, Austin, TX, Ann Arbor, MI, Philadelphia….

Just traded by KC for James Shields, among others, Myers, now 22, was tabbed a future star when the Royals signed him in 2009.  He had – has – a righthanded power stroke that produced 37 HRS and 109 RBIs between Double and Triple A last season. Until Sunday, Myers was the most sought-after minor leaguer in the majors, his name mentioned as the key to possible KC deals for R.A. Dickey, Jon Lester and Ryan Dempster, as well as Shields.

Unlike Myers, Warren rode along a slow track toward the political big leagues, wading through academic backwaters.  She started strong, winning a scholarship to George Washington University, at 16, after being named Oklahoma’s top high school debater. Then, married at 19, she followed her husband to jobs in Houston and Newark, studying at local colleges.   Warren began attracting scouts after graduating from Rutgers Law School in Newark in 1976.   She began developing an expertise in the laws surrounding personal finance and soon was playing her way into the academic majors, Penn and Harvard.

Where Myers will have to fight – despite his “can’t miss” status – to win a place on Tampa Bay’s 2013 roster, Warren, we know, has won a battle that earned her election as Massachusetts’ first female U.S. Senator.  Her baseball knowledge was shaky during the early innings of the campaign.  Barely a month before the election, however, she said, in response to a question, that Bobby Valentine deserved a second year as Red Sox manager.  Her willingness to respond, when opponent Scott Brown took a pass, was clearly appreciated by the voters (even if they didn’t agree that Valentine should be kept on).  Warren, now Team Obama’s number one consumer advocate, is expected to bat high in the order on the Senate Banking Committee lineup.

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My, Mey:  Competing with Myers for acclaim as next season’s top rookie will be a pitcher with a similar name – Alex Meyer, of the Twins.  Drafted originally by the Red Sox in 2008, he elected to go to the University of Kentucky instead.  The Nationals drafted him three years later, then traded him to the Twins for Denard Span last month.  The 6’9” Meyer struck out 139 in 129 innings of A-ball last season.  The Twins were willing to give up Span because they believe Meyer is mature enough to make the jump to their bullpen this spring.  A third touted rookie pitcher will be under the most pressure.  He is the Tigers’ Bruce Rondon, a 22-year Venezuelan fireballer, whom Jim Leyland hopes will become his closer after a single season in the minors in this country.

 Who Would’a Thought?  No sooner did press box people note that Angel Pagan ($40 mil for four years from the Giants) and Shane Victorino ($39 mil for three years from the Red Sox) were the big dollar-winners during last week’s winter meetings, than those deals were dwarfed by the Dodgers and Zack Greinke.  LA gave Greinke $147 mil for six years, a record multi-year contract for a pitcher.  Still, Angel and Shane deserve credit for being surprisingly good negotiators.  Honorable mention to Marco Scutaro, who re-signed for $20 million for three years with the Giants, three years despite his age, 37.

The ‘Anytime’ Man:  We won’t be surprised – their demurrals notwithstanding – if the Yankees sign A.J. Pierzynski to fill the hole at catcher left by Russell Martin.  Why?  A.J. has a fan in Joe Girardi.  When Joe was doing color for YES a few years ago, a broadcasting colleague suggested that Pierzynski was a disruptive influence wherever he played.  ”A.J. can play for me anytime, “ Girardi countered.

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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.)

Over the Hot Stove: a Twin-Pastime Potpourri

Posted: 12/8/12)

Surprising Departures: a Southerner and Two Yankees.  Team GOP’s righthander with an extreme delivery, tadalafil discount South Carolina’s Jim DeMint, troche has opted for free agency.  He says he’s leaving the Senate for, tadalafil among other things, the chance to make more money, which he will at the Heritage Foundation.   When the Yanks didn’t seem eager to have them back, workhorse catcher Russell Martin and reliable veteran infielder Eric Chavez both moved on. Martin accepted a two-year $17 million offer from the Pirates, Chavez a $3 million one-year contract with the Diamondbacks.  It is possible Brian Cashman could have signed both for close to the $12 million he has offered Kevin Youklis. Meanwhile, we know that, among the Yanks’ needs are an experienced catcher like Martin and useful utility man like Chavez.

DeMint, who gave the Tea Party clout on Team GOP, went into a slump after early successes.  Salon’s Steve Kornacki traces the downward arc of the senator’s influence: “The success of DeMint-type candidates altered the behavior of Republicans who weren’t previously far-right conservatives, intimidating them into acquiescing to the Tea Party’s demands for constant confrontations with President Obama in the 112th Congress – confrontations that accomplished little policy-wise while taking a serious political toll on the party. Fear of the Tea Party base that DeMint represents ruined several high-profile Republican candidates in 2012.”

Snap quiz:  What do Bill Clinton, Josh Hamilton, John Kerry, Zack Greinke, David Petraeus, Kyle Lohse have in common?  Answer:  They’re picked on the basis of far-out media speculation to fill open positions in both fields. 

Press box pundits know there’s nothing easier than pitching ways of spending other people’s money or political capital.  So, Times-men Tom Friedman and Joe Nocera, to name two of the many observers bird-dogging Team Obama, breezed through a lineup of personal selections for the skipper’s future coaching staff.  Friedman likes John Kerry over Susan Rice at State.  Bill Clinton is Nocera’s choice to succeed Hillary as head of Obama’s foreign affairs bench. Our comment: the skipper appointing Bill Clinton to State would be like John Farrell naming Bobby Valentine his bench coach in Boston.

Baseball insiders say Greinke will likely go to the team that can best afford him, the Dodgers, and that Hamilton may well wind up remaining with the Rangers. Nothing’s sure, they add.  Oh, and Lohse looks -– possibly – to be a perfect fit with the Angels.  Nick Swisher, even outsiders know, is still looking for a new baseball home.

Road Trip Report:  While in Paris last week, we thought of the Mets fans’ mix of envy and resentment toward their Yankees counterparts.  That’s how Team Obama, through government-media teamwork, views France.  Skipper Francois Hollande’s (democratic) som rattles us reflexively, and his refusal to play the economic austerity game incenses his European neighbors.  French residents we spoke to on our visit were hopeful, if tentative, in their support for the still-new lefty leader: “We’ll see if he can make his game plan work,” the consensus sentiment.  The plan involves new taxes on the rich and big business and a possible takeover of slumping industries.  It safeguards one of the world’s best national health care programs, and, despite a resistant jobless rate, the country’s material well-being in general.  The heavily taxed French, thus, can shrug off any neighborly criticism, recalling it was a German who coined the widely quoted tribute to their good life: “Happy as God in France.”  Of course, God would be happier if, amid the abundance, France did not fall short in one essential area: regrettably, it lacks baseball.  

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The A-Rod Lesson:  With the news that Alex Rodriguez needs another hip surgery… he is on his way to claiming two of the worst valued contracts in baseball history, as well as providing another cautionary tale about paying players as they age through their mid-30s… Over the past two seasons Rodriguez has been paid $60 million to play in 221 games and hit 34 home runs — which ranks 90th in baseball.  He is due $114 million over the next five years. Then again, this is a…normal aging pattern… Over the past four years combined, only four players that old have hit 25 homers: Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, Raul Ibañez and Alfonso Soriano, who is the only National League elder to stay that productive over these four seasons.  Still, baseball clubs continue to pay out big money for ‘legacy players’  as they age through their 30s….” – Tom Verducci, SI

 A Revised Inequality Game? The Yanks, we know, will have three legacy players from their golden ‘90’s period: Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera.  As of now, it looks as though they’ll allow budget constraints to influence their other 2013 roster choices.  Whether or not it occurred to the front office, that approach could serve to ease the transition of Mets fans, away from the tainted and adrift team in Queens to a new allegiance in the Bronx.  Since we all have to live on a budget, the constrained Yankees are newly accessible to fans averse to teams that benefit from perceived financial inequality.

P.S. Nothing can accelerate the defection of Mets fans more effectively than to have Wilpon heir apparent Jeff assuring the media, as he did Wednesday, that he and his father were “not going anywhere”; that is, fans should not cling to a hope that they would sell the team, making possible, at last, change for the better.

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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.)