The Nub

Batting Practice on a Holiday Weekend

(Posted: 8/30/13)

For awhile, generic online Skipper Obama’s game plan to stage a national end-to-inequality rally seemed to coincide with what was happening in baseball: the two richest teams, generic the Dodgers and Yankees, were playing at par, or worse. That has changed, as we know, but the next two high-payroll teams – the Phillies and Angels – are out of the money as October beckons.

So, still far from perfect, baseball is better balanced, dollar-wise, today than it has been for decades. Little has changed in the national ballpark, meanwhile: stats show the average fan making less now than he was in 2007. Team Obama is feeling the pinch as well. Bench banter in Washington says lack of big bucks is the main reason we’re only adding Syria on a limited, cup-of-coffee basis, to the pricey Afghanistan/Iraq/Pakistan/Libya lineup.

Here, from the record book, is former Team GOPer Ron Paul’s take on our ongoing militaristic bind:: We’re under great threat because we occupy so many countries. We’re in 130 countries. We have 900 bases around the world. We’re going broke…Th(e) idea that the whole Muslim world is responsible for this…is just not true. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda have been explicit. They said we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians a fair treatment, and you have been bombing…and killing hundreds of thousands…Would you be annoyed?

A second pinch-hitter, also taken from the record book, is presidential historian Michael Beschloss, who went to bat this way: The global security domination program that the U.S. has followed since 2003 expresses a militarism, ruthlessness, and disregard of international law that now characterizes the Pentagon. In the absence of resistance by the American political class, this has bestowed upon the American nation an identity that nineteenth-century Prussia once possessed – the nation that was owned by its army.”

Ballpark Religion: Finally, there is lefty Glenn Greenwald, who calls displays of military might at ballgames and other sporting events expressions of “America’s true religion.” Here is his objection: It’s perfectly reasonable not to hold members of the military responsible for the acts of aggression ordered by US politicians, but that hardly means that the other extreme – compelled reverence – is justifiable either.”

– – –

Celebration: The memorable Red Sox “dump” of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers a year ago has, we know, worked out fine for both teams. But late last and early this season, the Dodgers front office was ridiculed when their reinforced team struggled out of the money to the finish line. LAD president Stan Kasten says the deal was a plus from the start. Here is how he put it to the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy: “It helped us on the field and re-established this brand in this marketplace…(Fans) know we were going…to be the best that we can right now.’’

Did the reaction bother him — folks who thought the Dodgers were swindled?

“If I worried about that, I wouldn’t last a day. I remember the words (from ‘Godfather 2’) of Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone in Havana — ‘This is the business we chose.’ Criticism comes along with it.’’

Met-Life Benefits? Who gains from the potential season-long sidelining of Matt Harvey? One of the Mets’ young pitching prospects figures to get an early promotion to the big team: that’s an unspecific beneficiary. If any “name” benefits, the guess here is it will be manager Terry Collins. Even with Harvey, the team would have been hard put to be a true playoff contender in 2014. Without him, the Mets front office, and the team’s fans, will have another “dream-deferred” season to endure. Who better to lead than Collins, after the valor he has shown over the past three losing seasons? A one-year contract extension is likely. Chances are, a year from now, the veteran manager will be in limbo again, waiting to see if he’ll be re-signed. If the 2015 Mets shape up as a better-than-500 club, Collins may well find he’s run out of benefits. 

Mystery Man: Stats on RISP phenom, the Cardinals’ Allen Craig, show him hitting an incredible .392 with men in scoring position over four seasons, but only .254 with a man on first base (per Fangraphs) USA Today tried to get to the bottom of Craig’s run-scoring productivity. Here’s what he said: “It’s always good to keep the ball in the middle of the field…but for the most part, it’s trying to hit the ball hard on a line somewhere.” Thus, the mystery deepens.


– o –

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


Whose Problem? the Turmoils in Leagues Here and Abroad

(Posted: pre-8/23/13)

The Yankees made clear when they rallied around accused cheater Alex Rodriguez last Sunday night that they were willing to give him a p-e-d pass if he can help them make the playoffs.  So much for the theory – pitched here – that the players themselves, sale not the owners or Bud Selig, best sales would decide how seriously baseball should crack down on the game’s illegal drug-users.

If the sport’s Suits are smart, they will keep to their current game plan, which fans, despite their booing of the A-Rods and Ryan Brauns, seem to be tolerating.  As we’ve noted, players making multi-millions from long-term contracts, get the equivalent of a slap on the wrist when suspended for only a year or a year-and-a-half.  Baseball’s best bet:  let the players finally decide that they’ve had enough of the drug-abetted inequities and ask for penalties as harsh as “one-and-done” life suspensions.  That will be the only way to insure that cheaters don’t take away the livelihoods of clean players. Not our problem.

We do have a problem – at least our Skipper does – involving what to do about the chaotic play in Egypt and the Middle East, another league entirely.  There, teams of Islamic fundamentalists are causing most of the turmoil.  Watching from the International Herald Tribune press box, Paris-based historian William Pfaff says the problem is, as in baseball, for Islamic players, not us, to solve. He warns that the Skipper has “out of colossal ignorance and lack of prudence gone to war against (those teams)…which (he) thinks he is going to conquer, with his drones and…supposed mass omniscience.

“(In fact, Team USA knows) everything except the essential facts. These are that Islamic fundamentalism will fail because theocracy cannot survive in the (present-day) world. This already is being demonstrated in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.  Despite that, Islamic society will in the end settle its own history — which may prove only another tragedy. The other fact is that an arrogant and foolish United   States, as exists today, can only harm itself by interfering, and thus become part of the tragedy.”

                                                 –     –     –

Watchable Matchups:  A challenging weekend for the top two teams in the AL East: the Red Sox, one game ahead of TampaBay, must deal with the Dodgers in LA; the Rays will tangle in NY with the red-hot Yankees, who are fast becoming serious wild card contenders (only three-and-a-half games out).

Whither the Cy Young Winner:  David Cone (on YES) on R.A. Dickey:  “His fingernails, not his knuckles, are the secret…R.A.’s lost a few miles from his fastball and the wrinkle on his knuckler isn’t quite so pronounced… He’s still a tough customer.”

Wild Card Update (excluding division leaders):  AL – TampaBay, Oakland, Cleveland; NL – St,Louis, Cincinnati, Arizona

Decline:  August, not T.S. Eliot’s designated April, looked until yesterday to be the cruelest month for two former Red Sox stars.  Outfielder Jason Bay, cut from the Mariners at the end of July, was released a week later when he went unclaimed.  And Daisuke Matsuzaka was released (at his request) Tuesday by the Cleveland Indians, then had to wait and worry before being picked up Thursday by the Mets.  Bay never regained the form he reached with the Sox in 2009, when he had 36 HRs and 119 RBIs in 151 games.  On the strength of that season, the Mets gave him a four-year, $66 million contract, only to see him lose his stroke and suffer a series of (mainly concussion) injuries.  The Red Sox paid Dice-K more than $50 million over six seasons after a pricey purchase of him from a Japanese team in late 2006.  He wound up winning 50 games in that period, but never came close to matching the 18-3 season he had in 2008.  He was 4-4 with Cleveland’s triple-A club in Columbus, Ohio this year.  Unlike Bay, now 34, who had an unproductive partial season with Seattle – .204, 11 HRs, 20 RBIs in 68 games – Dice-K, 32, figured to catch on with a team like the Mets, one of many in need of pitching over the last several weeks of the season.

– o –

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


(More of The Nub, a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey,

Reforms and Their Failure Jeopardize Jobs on Two Fields

(Posted: 8/16/13)

“One and done?” said Kenny Singleton during the Angels-Yankees game on YES the other night.  “How about twice and done?”  The subject: what should Baseball’s permanent-suspension penalty for illegal drug-taking be?  Singleton thought the second, best salve more lenient option sounded about right.  We suspect team owners and Bud Selig feel that way, medicine too.  They don’t want to see attractions like Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez leave the field for good; not if they can get away with a second-chance arrangement and satisfy fans that a modicum of integrity has been maintained.

The guess here is the fans are less interested in the question than Selig and the owners, who are concerned, mainly, with appearances.  It’s the players, many of whose livelihoods are at stake, who should cast the deciding vote on the severity of penalties.

At a public appearance not long before his death a few years ago, former players union leader Marvin Miller clashed with fellow panelist Jim Bouton on the drug-taking issue. Miller argued that drug tests should be barred, since they infringed on the privacy rights of union members.  Former player Bouton said he favored any measures that would expose cheating teammates: Their illegally enhanced skills, he said, “might cause me to lose my job.”

Thousands of Corrections jobs no longer needed in the criminal justice field will be the trade-off when imprisonment-reducing decisions taken Monday are implemented.  One of two federal decisions will stop harsh sentencing of low-level drug offenders; the other will bar police in New York from the practice of targeting members of the city’s minority communities.  A judge ruled the practice – stop-and-frisk, which often resulted in jail time for minor drug infractions – was unconstitutional racial profiling.

The two-year-old team that rallied opposition to stop-and-frisk – called Communities United for Police Reform – received $2.2 million in organizing money from a George Soros-financed foundation.  If ballplayers are serious about cleaning up their sport, they need to mount the kind of unified attack on cheating that worked to defeat stop-and-frisk.

Until that happens, within or without the union, Baseball’s probity will always be suspect.

–     –     –

Tightening:  The Pirates, Cardinals and Reds are now closer than ever to each other after the Cards edged the Bucs, 6-5, in 12 innings Thursday, to win two of three in the series.. St.Louis also won in extra innings (14) Tuesday, coming from behind then as it did today. Pittsburgh has lost five of six, but still leads the Cardinals by two games in the NL Central.

Select Stat City:  No surprise that the NL West’s runaway Dodgers are third among 30 teams in pitching, and fourth in hitting.  What is a surprise: they are in the bottom five in fielding with more errors – 87 – than all but three other teams.  Atlanta, 13th in hitting and 14th in fielding, is nevertheless the runaway team in either league, 13-and-a-half games ahead of the Nationals in the NL East at playing time tonight.

Pinstripe Menace?  Commenting on the reinforced Yankees surge – four straight and five of six – during Orioles-D’backs game Wednesday night, Baltimore play-by-play man Gary Thorne saw this ahead in the AL East homestretch: “It’s going to get nasty.”  The Yanks are three back of the Orioles, who trail Oakland and TampaBay in the wild card race.

Re: video replay in 2014:  It’s far beyond about time.


– o –

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


Playing the Stickler Game on Both Fields

(Posted: 8/13/13)

During the Yankees-White Sox series last week, case YES color man John Flaherty flashed his stickler credentials. “(Bret) Gardner should have slid into home plate, generic ” he said, sovaldi after a close play that went against the Yankees (incorrectly). “And he seemed to slow up going around third.” When a Vernon Wells pop fly dropped for a hit in right field and Wells made it only to first base, Flaherty said “Wells couldn’t have run very hard; he should have made it to second.” A replay indeed showed Wells, thinking he had made a sure out, loafing to first.

Since almost all game broadcasters depend on team approval for their jobs, tell-it-like-it-is types are part of a small, gutsy team; one we now know includes the former Red Sox/Tigers/Padres/Tampa Bay/Yankees catcher nicknamed “Flash.” Many of Flaherty’s colleagues in booths around the leagues disregard sloppy execution when it isn’t noticeable to the average fan; they consider it more of a courtesy than a cover-up.

We who are political fans know the cover-up game too well to remain oblivious to Team USA misplays. Some of us remember the insight credited to an Australian journalist more than a half-century ago: “truth,” he said, is the first “casualty” of war. Team Obama’s consistent omission of acknowledging the deaths of dozens of innocent bystanders during drone strikes – noted in a BBC dispatch from Yemen mentioned in our previous blog – is its way of skirting the war-on-terror truth.

More directly embarrassing to the Skipper lately is his bobble in late June when he dismissed Edward Snowden as a “29-year-old hacker” reacting to whose whistleblowing was not worth damaging relations with Russia and China. The replay of that today, given the Snowden-based cancellation of the skipper-to-skipper confab in Russia, has provoked booing worldwide. The Skipper’s latest pitch that the swashbuckling Snowden upended “what could have been a thoughtful, fact-based debate” is laughable, given that, since March, Team Obama stonewalled that debate, first on privacy, then on security grounds. The mishandling of the play on tell-it-like-it-is Snowden, meanwhile, has changed him from turncoat-fugitive to patriot, in the eyes of many in the media and international grandstand.

The current scorecard in the lengthening war-on-terror game shows the Skipper swinging wildly with elegant prepared statements disconnected from what is happening on the playing field.

– – –

KC Stat City:  The Royals, as of early Monday, ware 18-5 since the All-Star break. The more significant stat, however, is this season-long number: 49-2 when leading after eight innings. The key to that numerical success and, therefore, to the team’s overall performance is closer Greg Holland. The 27-year-old righthander has struck out 74 in 46 innings, using mainly a high-90s fastball. His ERA is 1.57.

 Rise and Fall (Gently): Holland’s rise as a star finisher coincides with Mariano Rivera’s impending departure. Times columnist Harvey Araton suggested Monday that Tigers Skipper Jim Leyland would take the recently scuffling Rivera “in a heartbeat” if Mo decided to continue playing: “But that’s not happening,” said Araton. “Rivera will continue saying goodbye with class. Lifers like Leyland will come to shake his hand. This 2013 season of Yankees discontent is likely to end…with an official fall from grace – for all but their closer.”

Wild Card Update (division leaders excluded): AL – TampaBay, Baltimore, Oakland. NL – St.Louis, Cincinnati, Arizona.

Streakers: Texas + 9, Houston – 7, TampaBay – 5

– o –

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


Changes Not for the Better in Both Pastimes

(Posted: 8/9/13)

The early-August unraveling in the NL East – the Braves running away from the pack – has dampened spirits of non-Atlanta fans two months before the end of the regular season. In the AL East, usa click similar dismay afflicts Yankee fans, as their team, suddenly devoid of pitching and hitting, fades from the playoff race. The flurry over the Biogenesis Boys figures to affect only the Rangers, now without slugging right fielder Nelson Cruz.

Acceptance by the Players Union of penalties resulting from the Biogenesis illegal-drugs scandal has been deemed a “step in the right direction” by Baseball and much of the media. That proposition unravels as well when one considers the wrist-slap the penalties amount to: players making multi-millions over several years must forfeit a fraction of their salaries for maybe a year after which all is forgiven.

Unraveling, too, is the persuasiveness of Team Obama’s pitch about the effectiveness of drone strikes. Those strikes have been stepped up in response to Al Quaida threats of attacks on U.S. facilities. The Skipper has defended use of drones as being less lethal to non-combatants than are conventional means of attack. But a BBC report from Southern Yemen quoted eyewitnesses as saying close to 30 innocent bystanders – including several children – were killed in a series of drone-plus conventional air raids first launched at the end of last month. Several Al Quaida operatives were reported killed in the raids, but neither the U.S. nor corporate media mentioned the civilian losses or any apologies for what happened. The BBC quoted an official sympathetic to Team Obama saying the use of drones was Al Quaida’s “best recruitment tool.”

The vagueness of Team Obama’s intelligence concerning the Al Quaida threat, which led to the closing of embassies and evacuation of U.S. personnel in the broad Islamic ballpark, prompted this comment from Comedy Channel’s Stephen Colbert:

“Without any details, I’m not even sure how panicked I’m supposed to be. At least during the Bush years I could look at (a color)chart and know that my sphincter tightness was orange.”

– – –

Shuffle: The mid-week four-game sweep by Detroit demoted Cleveland from first-place contention in the AL Central to wild-card challenger behind TampaBay, Baltimore and Texas. The Rangers, who swept the Angels, moved into a statistical tie with Oakland, which lost three to Cincinnati.

Failures Behind a Fade: The other night, Michael Kay on YES laid out the stat-story behind the Yankees’ fade from post-season contention: he posted the cumulative W-L record of decisions resulting from the previous five starts of C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte. It came to a stunning 1-10 (with Pettitte recording the solitary win). Sabathia pitched well in his sixth outing – against the White Sox Wednesday night – but came away with no decision.

For Starters, a Standing Down: Sabathia – 9-10, 4.73 – is only one of several usually reliable standout starters to let down their teams this season. Matt Cain, who was supposed to help lead the Giants to a post-season defense of the world championship, has gone 7-7, 4.47; Cole Hamels, one of the Phillies’ erstwhile big three, is 4-13, 3.81; the 2012 Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, 9-11, 4.49., is a key reason for disappointment in Toronto. Stephen Strasburg, 5-9, 3.01, was counted on to lead the Nationals to World Series, or, at least, to the playoffs. Barring a miracle, that’s not going to happen to any of the above-mentioned underachieving teams.

Streakers: Atlanta +13, Detroit +12, Pittsburgh +5, Miami -5, Colorado -5


– o –

The Nub is a team effort, skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments

to are welcome, and only they can be addressed

by the skipper. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)


Fans Booing Baseball-Type Inequality in Their Lives

(Posted: 8/5/13; e-mail update 8/6)

Inequality scored a predictable win at Baseball trade-deadline time: the rich Yankees and Red Sox spending the most, tadalafil find filling gaps they felt hurt their playoff chances – hitting, which the Yanks supplemented with Alfonso Soriano, and top-of-the-line pitching, the Sox’s pricey addition of Jake Peavy. The playoff-conscious hotbed that is the AL East also saw the Orioles stretch their comparatively modest budget to deal for Houston’s Bud Norris, reinforcing a starting rotation that had earlier added the Cubs’ Scott Feldman. TampaBay, the division’s impoverished franchise, had to settle for one key acquisition, that of White Sox reliever Jesse Crain. In the NL West, the dominant Dodgers spent (what for them was) chump change to obtain Ricky Nolasco from Miami; the Rangers, over in the AL, had millions more than their rival A’s with which to take on another Cub starter, Matt Garza.

It is true that teams have moved closer to parity, thanks in part to terms of the MLB’s new basic agreement. But when the Yanks can afford a payroll nearly $2 million more than that of their division-rival Rays, and the Dodgers $125 million more than their nearest competitor, the D-backs, the even $$$ playing field is a long way off.

Fans in the national ballpark can hardly be blamed for despairing over inequality in working people’s incomes, as seen from the bleachers; they’ve been observing – and living with it – for so long. Times lefty Eduardo Porter believes that Skipper Obama has not responded forcefully enough to that despair. He can only lead an effective rally for change, Porter says, by dramatizing, in part through stats, conditions that have those fans primed to start throwing things on to the field:

“The United States ranks among the bottom third of (advanced) nations in terms of outlays on social programs — unemployment insurance, day care and the like — to help families deal with economic stress. You would think Americans must be tiring of their lack of progress. The disposable income of families in the middle of income distribution shrank by 4 percent between 2000 and 2010… In Australia, by contrast, it increased 40 percent. Middle-income Germans, Dutch, French, Danes, Norwegians and even Mexicans gained more ground. And indeed Americans are tiring of it. Over half — 52 percent — say that the government should redistribute wealth by taxing the rich more, according to a Gallup poll in April, the highest share since Gallup first asked the question in 1998. So there is reason to believe that a more forceful campaign against inequality than Mr. Obama has articulated so far would resonate. The United States is a rich country. Perhaps someday soon it will start behaving like one.”

– – –

Team Stats Update: Tigers, Pirates, Orioles lead, respectively in hitting, pitching, fielding categories. The Cardinals, second in hitting, fourth in pitching and fifth in fielding, are the one team to make the top five in all aspects.  

Definition of ‘Clutch’: Noted on MLB-TV the other night: the Cardinals’ runners-in-scoring-position (RISP) success – hitting close to .333, roughly 60 points ahead of nearest competing team – means this: failure in the succeeding 131 ABs with men on second and/or third, would still leave them atop both leagues in RISP.

Wild Card Leaders: AL (excluding first-place teams) – Tampa Bay, Cleveland; NL – St.Louis, Cincinnati. Nearest challengers: AL – Texas; NL – Arizona

– o –

(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Commentsabout blog issues and requests for updates are welcome when addressed to the skipper at Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)


Terry Collins, Larry Summers and the Waiting Game

(Posted: 8/2/13)

While contending teams like the Red Sox, sovaldi sale Tigers, Orioles and Diamondbacks made deadline moves this week with an eye to the playoffs, the Mets stood pat, looking ahead to next season.  Key players – Matt Harvey, David Wright, Zack Wheeler – will be among those returning.  Whether Skipper Terry Collins will be asked back – he, who has had the thankless task of leading a woefully undermanned team for three seasons, is still under consideration.

Collins is unique among the 30 MLB skippers.  Like Jim Leyland, Dusty Baker, Terry Francona, Davy Johnson and Bob Melvin, he has managed more than two teams; unlike them, he never led his charges – the Angels, Astros or Mets – into the post-season.  Given that record, his age – 65, as of early next season – and the young team expected to play at Citifield in 2014, Collins’ Metsian managerial future is in doubt.

Where the cold stats of Terry’s 12 years as skipper add up to a less-than-brilliant career, the intangibles of his growing, adjusting and earning more and more respect through the years, are easily overlooked.  The record book of performance in the political field can often be a murkier read altogether.  That’s particularly true as it pertains to former Treasury Secretary (under Clinton) Larry Summers, an early key member of Team Obama assigned to play ball with Wall Street.

Players and execs in the financial league, and the Skipper himself, hailed the job Summers did during the meltdown losing streak at the end of the last decade.  His name has been mentioned now as a leading candidate to replace Ben Bernanke as head of Team Fed Reserve.  Many in Main Street pressboxes are booing that possible play.  The contentious game means Summers, like Collins, has to sweat out whether he’ll be chosen for a job he covets, or whether he’ll lose out to current Fed bench coach Janet Yellen, whom many consider a preferable alternative.

TruthDig’s Robert Scheer, a lefty power pitcher aiming to stop Summers, threw the record book against him:

“Nearly all the income gains of the past 10 years have continued to flow to the top 1 percent.  The average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40 percent since 2009, but the average American earns less than he or she did in 1999. And companies continue to hold back on hiring those who have been out of work for some time.

“That’s because Obama, following Summers’ advice, adopted the save-the-bankers-first philosophy of his predecessor, with outrageous publicly funded bailouts of the same financial conglomerates that had put the economy into a deep tailspin. It is a policy that continues to this day, with an outlay of $85 billion a month by the Federal Reserve to purchase toxic assets from the banks’ books in the hopes that they will reinvest that largess. But as the president’s jobs critique (has) noted, they haven’t.”      

Obama defended Summers at a clubhouse meeting with Dem members of the Congressional team on Wednesday.  He is still in the running and should remain so into next month, when the Skipper is expected to make his decision.

–     –     –

Handy Hanley: When asked who was most responsible for the Dodgers’ last-to-first surge, Don Mattingly didn’t hesitate: he pointed to Hanley Ramirez, injured in the pre-season World Baseball Classic; he returned permanently to LA’s lineup on June 19.  A few days later, the Dodgers began the 27-7 run that propelled them into command in the NL West.  Ramirez is batting .374, with 11 HRs and 35 RBIs.

Yasiel Puig, .364, 10 HRs, 23 RBIs in 50 games, another major spark in the Dodger fire is much more than just a hitter.  “He’s and old-school right fielder,” said John Flaherty, on YES, the other night.  “Roberto Clemente,” suggested colleague Kenny Singleton, after Puig almost ran down and uncatchable fly ball and, on the same play, came close to throwing out a stunned base-runner.

Discredit Where Due:  Last spring, we said the Braves and Nationals were a “lock” to make the post-season from NL East.  It’s now clear we were half-wrong.  On the other hand, we have in the past described the now-venerable version of Davy Johnson as a “deer-in-the-headlights” manager.  We’re been proven more than half-right on that one.

– o –

(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments about blog issues are welcome when addressed to the skipper at  Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)