(Posted: 6/28/13 P.M; e-mail update 6/29)
Even opponents’ fans agree that White Sox play-by-play man Ken “Hawk” Harrelson is the most entertaining baseball broadcaster around. An unabashed home-team supporter, discount nurse the Hawk calls Chisox first baseman Paul Konerko “Paulie”, look delights in saying “He gone” when an opposing batter strikes out, and in cheering “You…can… put-it-on-the-board!” as one of his favorites hits a long fly.
Since broadcasters need the approval of home clubs to get, and hold on to, their jobs, most are loyal to the team and the people who pay them, albeit, with less Hawk-like enthusiasm. That attitude is also evident among press box observers covering the political field; in particular, the much booed play of Edward Snowden. When Snowden went to bat against Team USA and its extensive national security franchise, he gave press people a chance to line up, looking at both sides for the proper balance between privacy and security; it’s a “debate” Skipper Obama himself said was needed. The turns at the plate have not taken place because the press tradition of neutrality was sent to the showers. It happened gradually toward the end of the last century (“We want ‘attitude’ in our news stories, a major managing editor once told us). But the switch occurred in dramatic fashion a decade ago when the corporate media rallied behind the run-up to the Iraq war.
Now the press verdict on Snowden is almost as unanimous – and unquestioning – as it was at the time of “shock and awe.” A telling moment of judgment occurred on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday. Host David Gregory pointed out that guest Glenn Greenwald, of the UK Guardian, had “aided and abetted” Snowden in flashing the story on the world scoreboard. “To th(at) extent,” Gregory said, “why shouldn’t you be charged with a crime?” Let’s rewind to suggest what Gregory should have asked, so as not to tip his pitches to a public in need of fair debate: “Are you concerned that, given your role in this affair, the government will seek to prosecute you?”
A legitimate question that would have spared the host his protest after Greenwald’s challenging reply (Gregory: “I’m not embracing anything”). More importantly, a stance that might have signaled to his press teammates an approach to maintaining the integrity of how they play the game.
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Where We’re At: The Red Sox have been in first place – alone or tied – since the season began, and Thursday night’s victory over the surging Blue Jays suggests they have the talent to stay there for awhile longer, at least. Three happy surprises – John Lackey pitching like a true ace, Jose Iglesias emerging as an offensive force, and David Ortiz hitting “like it’s 2004” (thank you, NESN) – have been key reasons for the success. In the NL West, meanwhile, the streaking Dodgers (six straight) have moved to within two-and-a-half games of second place and just two games behind the Rockies and Giants. And we can’t forget another six-straight streaking team, the Pirates, now tied for first in the NL Central with the Cardinals.
Demotion: Red Sox Skipper John Farrell on why .192-hitting Will Middlebrooks was sent to Pawtucket this week: “This became about Will getting regular at-bats. He’s an important part of us…going forward, and (we need) for him to get back on track.” (quoted by the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber)
Attitude: We surely weren’t alone a month-and-a-half ago when we thought Joba Chamberlain would regret his seemingly trivial, testy exchange with the Yankees’ living icon, Mariano Rivera. “Don’t shush me,” Joba said, after Mariano tried to quiet him during an interview session. The incident ended with Mariano declaring the Yanks a “family,” and Joba insisting he had nothing to apologize for. Now, with Joba pitching shakily – he yielded two decisive runs to the Rangers Thursday night in what had been a 4-3 game – he’s getting no sympathy from people who normally cut him slack. Michael Kay, Paul O’Neill and John Flaherty, on YES, detailed how badly he’d been performing as a middle-reliever, and mentioned what we could hear, the fans’ boos. If the Yankees let Joba go, attitude is likely to be part of the reason.
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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome when addressed to the skipper at email@example.com. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)