What are the chances of the head-start Dodgers staying ahead in the NL West until the end of the regular season? A long shot, treat maybe, with 160 games to go. But not many of us would bet against their becoming the first team since the 1984 Tigers to run the table in their division. If it happens, it will be good for Dodger fans, but a downer for followers of the D-backs, Giants, Padres and Rockies. Furthermore, the record book shows teams that go all the way into the fall usually keep winning through the World Series: the ’27 Yankees, ’55 Brooklyn Dodgers and ’84 Tigers are examples; only the ’23 NY Giants failed to follow through on their front-running status, losing to the Yanks, four games to two.
So, when observing a similar game from the political grandstand – that of Congressional team players staying on through season after season – how should we feel about their long streak of victories? John Dingell of Michigan has had 30 straight House terms over a 59-year period; Vermont’s Pat Leahy leads the Senate in straight wins – six – over a 39-year period. Both are hit-to-left members of the Dem team. We lefties should love having them stick around, but, as with baseball managers who overstay their skipper-dom, there comes a time to wish them well – as the Nats and Reds did with Davy Johnson, and Dusty Baker – and send them to the showers.
New approaches are needed in Dingell’s southeast Michigan district, not just because he will be 88 when he retires at the end of the year; the same is true in Vermont, where Leahy – 74 on Monday – has been in office since 1975. Change is needed because long-time members of the Congressional team become so secure in the support they’ve attracted from year to year – in money as well as voters – they lose their early combativeness. Their laid-back stance extends mostly to minor league issues. But their accumulated power can prompt them to take a safe, purposeful pass on major matters as well; decisions crucial to the conduct of our society. Gun control is such an issue. Neither Dingell nor Leahy has fidgeted over the years about straddling any push for meaningful curbs on gun violence, including a ban on assault weapons. They have a lot of company at the senior level in the ducking-away from challenges. NY’s (Where’s) Charlie Schumer leads the look-the-other-way league.
Congressional term limits may be a non-starter, but frequent Congressional turnovers should be sought, whatever the party, wherever long-time incumbents have clearly slipped into a comfort zone.
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Comfortable Cushion: The Tigers, set to pay Miguel Cabrera $292 million over the next 10 years, must be confident that their 30-year-old super-star will not slip into a comfort zone as he moves toward the “down” stage of his career. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if a win-now team like the Dodgers offers Detroit a trading offer it can’t refuse to obtain Max Scherzer during this, his walk year.
Stat Shock: “Obsessed with pitch counts, innings limits and organization-wide game plans, teams have spent three decades trying to protect pitchers’ arms – and they have failed so miserably, they’ve actually made things worse. Research indicates that 25 percent of today’s major-league pitchers have undergone at least one Tommy John surgery. Once considered a last-ditch solution, it’s become as common as the sniffles.” – Bruce Jenkins, SF Chronicle
Translation: When asked to swallow names of teams bursting with 2016 potential (see Wednesday’s Gammons Daily, just one of several sources), we suggest having a grain of salt handy. Salt-able nominees: Cubs, Marlins, Mets, Twins, White Sox. A nice way of saying said teams, non-contenders now, don’t figure to be much better next season.
Heartwarming Exaggeration? “’Oh, he’s going to be good,’ says right fielder Shane Victorino, who has played alongside Grady Sizemore all spring and can’t suppress a grin when talking about him. ‘I only know Grady one way, and that was a guy who was one of the best center fielders in the game. I look at him that way and what he’s doing now, he hasn’t skipped a beat.’ Sizemore, 31, has played in 104 games since 2010 because of assorted injuries that curtailed the end of his time with the Cleveland Indians. He has had seven surgeries, including microfracture surgery on his right knee, and missed the 2012 and ’13 seasons while rehabbing. He’s making a strong case to make the Red Sox’s 25-man roster, batting .310 this spring in nine games and showing flashes of his prime. – Scott Boeck, USA Today
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