On the eve of THE season, sales site let’s look at the likely division leaders: In the NL, malady Dodgers-Giants, Cardinals-Reds, Braves-Nationals; AL, Angels-Rangers, Tigers-Detroit, and…all five teams – Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, Red Sox, Yankees – in the East. Such pre-season parity has surely never happened before If the probable close competition plays out, the AL East will not only provide a riveting playoff-seeking spectacle, it could break the division’s collective attendance records. Fans love a fair fight.
The scorecard of a recent Pew survey of news fans suggests that print media teams are losing support because of a perceived lack of fairness. Roster cutbacks in newsrooms have led to “less complete” coverage of gamesmanship in the public arena. Half the readers surveyed have noticed the uncovered bases, and feel they are not getting all sides of stories; that is, the balance and depth that convey a sense of fairness are missing.
Broad fan support for economic fairness led to passage 100 years ago of the 16th Amendment establishing an income tax. Team GOP and its Dem opponents, fans on the left, center, and right, and 42 of 48 states rallied for tax-us ratification. Why? Both sides saw the need to pitch for more pocketbook equality, one team in the hope of narrowing the rich/non-rich gap, the other hopeful of quieting the growing national outrage.
The outrage persists today. One clue as to why the news media haven’t amplified the boos can be found in this Pew scorecard stat: public relations players outnumber journalists by close to 4 to 1. The New Yorker’s Jill Lepore sees related imbalancing trends at work:
“Since the 1970s, almost all (tax) talk has been about cuts, which ought to be surprising, because more than 90 percent of Americans receive social or economic security benefits from the federal government. Americans, though, find it easier to see what they pay than what they get – not because they aren’t paying attention but because the case for taxation is seldom made. Damning taxes is a piece of cake. It’s defending them that’s hard. ‘Taxes are what we pay for civilized society,’ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said nearly a century ago. No one’s said it better since. And that, right there, is the problem.”
– – –
World Series Preview? Scanning MLB.Com’s list of projected opening day lineups, our votes for the most impressive go to the Tigers in the AL, the Nationals in the NL. The Tigers will go with Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, Andy Dirks, Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila, Omar Infante and Justin Verlander. The Nationals lineup is equally deep with Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos and Stephen Strasburg. Biggest Achilles heel in the two-team field: the Tigers’ lack of a true closer.
Subtext: No AL Central team figures to beat the Tigers. But the battle for second place between the Indians, Royals and White Sox should insure that division fans don’t become bored.
Reality Time: Paraphrasing veteran outfielder Ryan Sweeney, before being cut by the Red Sox, on the possibility rookies who hit well pre-season will be overmatched when they make the major leaguer roster: “They’ve been hitting against number 87; now they have to face the real thing.” (quoted in the Boston Herald)
Lobbying: Who could possibly replace Tim McCarver, retiring as Fox broadcaster after this season? Former pitchers Ron Darling and John Smoltz are two obvious candidates. Either would be an excellent choice, as, we believe, would Diamondbacks color man Bob Brenly, an ex-catcher like McCarver (whom the Cubs broadcast team let get away).
– o –
(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.)