Three teams – the Angels, click Blue Jays and Dodgers – spent a bundle over the past year to ensure their rebuilt teams would be big-time contenders this season. The Angels, usa we know, prescription added Josh Hamilton to an offense that already included Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. The Jays plucked Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson from the Marlins and R.A. Dickey from the Mets. The Dodgers invested $230 million in the player-galaxy now shining in Chavez Ravine.
Non-aligned fans were amused when all three would-be powerhouses fizzled. The Angels and Jays are still sources of amusement, but the Dodgers have spoiled the fun. Their 27-6 surge over the past month has put them into position to make good on their promise of dominance. Only the scuffling Diamondbacks look to be long-shot spoilers.
There’s similar amusement from left and right over Skipper Obama’s “Go-big” rallying cry containing a promise of a rebuilt economy. Just as the Angels and Jays thought they had the clout to overcome their main division opponents, the Skipper and his team believed they could blow away their opposition, Team GOP. But you can’t make that game plan work unless your team comes together; either that, or key opponents, like hit-to-righters in Congress, fold.
Polls show the Skipper has lost fan support over his approach to the game – an unwillingness to stand up to team excesses that are producing a police state at home and dirty play abroad. And an inability to follow up words with positive action. The diminished confidence in his leadership discourages players as well as fans from staging the rally he seeks. Add to that the intractability of Team GOP – think Oakland in the AL West, or refusal-to-die Cleveland in the AL Central – and you get a feel for what the Skipper is up against.
A pressbox fan, WashPost’s E.J. Dionne, spells out the challenge: “Obama needs to make his case for the specific steps Washington can take to restore shared, robust prosperity. He will have to beat back the forces that would continue to shrink government through a sequester that is making the recovery slower than it should be. (And) this time, he cannot let himself be sidetracked.”
Dionne suggests that the Skipper’s place in the record book hinges on his leading this “Go-big” rally to a walkoff win. Given his already shaky performance and current game conditions, there is a strong sense the effort is running out of outs.
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Statement Games: The Rays edging the Red Sox, 2-1, to return to first in the AL East by a half-game; the Pirates beating the Cardinals, 9-2 to move to within a half-game of St.Louis in the NL Central. The Bucs and Cards have four more games – two today – in this big midweek series. And let’s not forget the Indians, nipping the White Sox, 3-2, on a walkoff homer by Jason Giambi, to remain on the heels of the Tigers..
Big Hurts: Only a rash of sudden injuries can stop the Dodgers from running away with the NL West: that’s hardly news. A strained right forearm that could sideline closer Jason Grilli for a month is bad news for the Pirates as they try to overtake the Cardinals in the NL Central. Persistent foot pain has shelved Albert Pujols indefinitely, all but making the Angels’ demise in the AL West definite. The deal that sent reliever Scott Downs to the Braves confirms LAA’s capitulation.
My, My: The positive difference in the 2013 edition of the Rays can be summed up in two words: Wil Myers. We know about his being TampaBay’s key acquisition when they traded James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals. But did we dream that Myers would be such an offensive force for his new team: a .328 BA, seven HRs, 26 RBIs in 33 games? The Rays, by the way, are 27-8, since Myers was called up on June 18.
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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments to email@example.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)