The Nub

The Fun of Engaging in Work That is Play

(Posted 8/23/14)

A year ago in early June, sales here try Durham Bulls (Triple-A) outfielder Rich Thompson broke his foot while making a running catch in Indianapolis. After 14 minor league seasons – with a few intermittent cups of coffee in the Bigs – Thompson’s baseball career was over. He had just turned 34.

Best-selling author John Feinstein tells what made Thompson a ball-playing lifer in his latest book “Where Nobody Knows Your Name.” “I can’t imagine any job being as much fun, try ” he quotes Thompson saying, patient not long before the fun ended. “I love baseball, he said, “but when you have three kids at my age, it gets tough to keep bouncing around.”

We read the account of Thompson’s bounces through the farm systems of Toronto (which signed him in 2000), Pittsbugh, San Diego, Kansas City, Arizona, Boston, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, soon after checking out a book (“Excellent Sheep”) about elite players in our educational system. Author William Deresiewicz, who taught at Yale and Columbia, strikes a contrasting chord in describing the game prize student-prospects get caught up in. He notes that economics, leading to a career in finance, has become the most popular major at Ivy League schools. It’s where the big money is in the marketplace. The allure of a high-income life prompts many to trade away their career dreams for uninspiring-but-remunerative work. It is true, in our experience, of a large number of would-be space scientists, doctors, oceanographers, engineers, – even ballplayers – from all collegiate levels They gravitate, if not toward the major-league financial game, then into related tech-like and insurance work that assure comfortable security.

Deresiewicz deplores the trend: “You can live comfortably in the United States,” he writes, “ as a schoolteacher, or a community organizer, or a civil rights lawyer, or an artist…. You have to live in an ordinary house instead of an apartment in Manhattan or a mansion in L.A.; you have to drive a Honda instead of a BMW… but what are such losses when set against the opportunity to do work you believe in, work you’re suited for, work you love, every day of your life?

The most significant scorebook entry on our wealth-producing, education-fed financial sector is this: economic research, conducted in part by the International Monetary Fund, details harm caused by the widening earnings disparity since the 1980s. The stats suggest the trend has brushed back national growth, and a rally for more income equality, by as much as a third.

Where does the recently retired outfielder fit into the current picture? Rich Thompson has moved into the certified public accounting game, full of work, not play. But it keeps his family afloat – a source of satisfaction, if not “fun.”

–       –       –

Division Races Outlook: NL East – none; Nats are in. AL East – almost none; Orioles close to in. NL Central – three-team donnybrook, Brewers, Cardinals, Pirates. AL Central – two-team scramble, Royals and Tigers. NL West – Dodgers, Giants duking it out. AL West – Angels and A’s, in what may be the tightest two-team skirmish (now that the LAA’s have lost ace Garrett Richards).

Yearning for Yoenis (Not): “We don’t rely on one guy here; have never relied on one guy here. It’s up to us as a group to pick it up some, because we’re putting a little bit more pressure on pitching at this point than we should.” – Oakland Skipper Bob Melvin, on whether the trade of Yoenis Cespedes has affected the team’s suddenly unproductive offense (largely responsible for its 8-11 record, going into last night’s game, a win overt the Angels). – quoted by NY Times’ John Branch

Castillo’s Challenge: The Red Sox can only hope new Cuban signee Rusney Castillo pays a fraction of the early dividends fellow countrymen Yasiel Puig paid the Dodgers and Jose Abreu the White Sox. Puig signed a seven-year deal for $42 million, more than $30 million less than Castillo will receive ($72.5 million) for the same number of years. Abreu has the highest annual pay – $68 million for six years.

The Hitters Have a Friend: Baseball’s traditional strike zone runs from below the shoulders to above the knees. On YES the other afternoon, Michael Kay noted that umpires rarely call what should be a high strike. Color man John Flaherty said such calls have become more frequent since a video system installed at all parks monitors whether a pitch is on or off the plate (but not whether it’s within the strike zone, letting the umpires judge unmonitored). Said Kay; “It’s a good thing they don’t call the high strike more often. It would further reduce scoring at a time when offense has gotten scarce around both leagues.”


(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.)

The Dangers on Both Fields of Disloyal Dissent

(Posted 8/19/14)

It was almost a year ago – Seattle fans surely remember – that Mariners Skipper Eric Wedge turned on the people who ran his team. He said the Mariner front office was “dysfunctional” and that he wouldn’t “hang around” for another rebuilding season after which he would likely be let go. Wedge could not foresee the signing of Robinson Cano, generic salve the in-season additions of Kendrys Morales and Austin Jackson, generic buy plus the emergence of Chris Young and re-emergence of Hisashi.Iwakuma as reliable members of the Felix Hernandez-led rotation. Unforeseen overall was the credible turnaround of the team, order led this year by new manager Lloyd McClendon.

Wedge hoped that his willingness to go public with what he honestly perceived as shortcomings would earn him another managerial job. In that he was disappointed, although he did land a slot at ESPN. The unemployment risk Wedge accepted was trivial compared to that embraced by Hillary Clinton, who, like him, spoke out against her former boss. Her target, we know, was far from sports team executives; it was President Obama, whom Clinton hopes to succeed as national skipper.

Hillary must have felt she could afford to take on the risk because she is the single heir-apparent as Dem-team nominee in 2016. Her hawkish views, she knew, would not be welcomed by many Dem fans, but they could score with supporters of Team GOP. She may be right about the effectiveness of hitting the other way. But her pre-empting the Dem presidential field defies the democratic tradition of competitive elections, especially when a vacant presidential seat is at stake. Such a stance constitutes Hillary’s biggest danger: that, in the words of Bloomberg’s Al Hunt, her evolving positions may well encourage potential challengers” who can build a late rally from a resentful Dem-team base.

A long-shot at the moment, with no viable-looking candidate in sight. But dramatic change in the standings is as much a part of politics as it is of baseball.

                                                        –     –     –

Volatility: Late-August 2014 has emerged as the V-season – V for “volatile.” By their stunning sweep of the Dodgers in LA, the Brewers banished the doubts of many: “We must be taken seriously,” was the message. Similarly, Seattle’s handling of the Tigers, taking the series at home, was a statement: “We’re no fluke.” The Mariners and Tigers are now in a virtual tie for the second AL wild card behind Oakland. The Yankees are three games out in the WC race. The schedule – two games at home against the Mets – suggests Oakland will end its five-game tailspin tonight or tomorrow. The sweep of the A’s put the Braves back in the brink-of-wild-card picture. The Pirates needed to stop their five-game bleeding in the home opener against Atlanta last night. They didn’t, losing, 7-3.The Angels took advantage of a chance to take undisputed lead of the AL West by beating the Red Sox in Boston, 4-2.

Fading: Cincnnati has lost eight of 10 and fallen nine games behind in the NL Central, and five games out in the wild card scramble. Brandon Phillips is back, but the long, continuing absence of Joey Votto has been mortally hurful.

How Long…Can Jim Johnson Hang on with the Tigers? The former Orioles ace reliever gave up three runs (two earned) and two hits in two-thirds of an inning against the Mariners Sunday.

Streakers: Nationals +7, Pirates – 6, Oakland – 5


(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.)


Irresistible/Immovable Game on Both Fields

(Posted 8/16/14)

Even many sit-back ball fans who enjoy sporting violence now accept the new homeplate anti-collision rule; that’s our guess anyway. But there are holdouts, ask even among the players: catchers Jarold Saltalamacchia (Marlins) and A.J. Ellis (Dodgers) disagree with the rule. Ellis dissents this way: “The rule…takes away the game-changing or game-saving play. It’s something we train for, prescription we prepare for, and can be the difference between a win or a loss. It’s similar to… turning a tough double play in the middle. .. I don’t see (it) being taken away.”

We’re intrigued by how the bruising bash has given way often to a homeplate ballet, the catcher dancing aside and whirling glove and ball on to the incoming runner. We’re a long way from the irresistible running force and the stationary immovable object.

That type of violent confrontation is in effect on the political field, where Israel’s irresistible squad contends continually with an un-budging Team Hamas. Hamas’s willingness to sacrifice an endless number of its fans, young and old, rather than yield to what it considers unacceptable peace terms, has put Skipper Obama in a political bind. It’s one Robert Kuttner describes from his Huffington Post press box:

“The Israelis are… dependent on the alliance with the United States, but at the end of the day no American president has been willing to apply necessary leverage over inflammatory Israeli actions on settlements on the West Bank or normalization of civilian life in Gaza. Obama…bemoan(s) his lack of leverage. (In an interview with the Times’ Thomas Friedman), he praised ‘the ingenuity, energy and vision of the Jewish people,’ and quipped that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s ‘poll numbers are a lot higher than mine’ and ‘were greatly boosted by the war in Gaza.’ Obama added, ‘And so if he doesn’t feel some internal pressure, then it’s hard to see him being able to make some very difficult compromises, including taking on the settler movement.’

“All true, but the U.S. has been reluctant to use the leverage it has. In fairness to Obama, no American president has been willing to push the Israel alliance to its breaking point. But once again, this president appears disengaged and weak.”

Behind the extra-inning bind: the remarkably effective electoral clout of pro-Israel fans in our national ballpark.

– – –

A Different NL East: The NL East standings tell a nerve-wracking story for Braves fans. The much-improved Marlins look to be division difference-makers this year, good enough to prevent Atlanta from gaining a wild card. Miami’s final regular-season record figures, as of now, to clinch three playoff spots for NL Central teams, the Brewers, Cardinals and Pirates.

Insecurity-Time: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman elicited some disquieting news for Mets Skipper Terry Collins this week. Collins’ contract runs through next season, so he must have felt reasonably secure. That is, until GM Sandy Alderson replied to a Heyman question about Collins’ future. Terry would be back, Anderson said, hinting, however, that another late-season “collapse” would put Collins’ job in jeopardy. Alderson surely knows that such a collapse would not help his chances of returning. Theo Epstein’s Cubs, in a third year of rebuilding compared to the Mets’ and Alderson’s fourth, trail Sandy’s team by only a few games. Should the Cubs finish with a better record, Jeff Wilpon might say he’s had enough of Alderson’s annual (90-wins-like) optimism.

Buck Knows Hockey: We quoted Rays exec VP Andrew Friedman the other day, saying Baseball’s “economic disparity is only widening.” Orioles Skipper Buck Showalter followed up on the thought, talking Monday about the Yankees adding Brandon McCarthy and the “line change,” Martin Prado, Chase Headley and Stephen Drew, before the non-waiver deadline: “Somebody jumps off the ice and somebody jumps on it. That’s kind of how it is. It’s what they do, God bless them. I’d do the same thing, if I was them, and could do it.” – quoted by Andrew Keh, NY

Lest It Be Forgotten: Amid all the puffery about the naming of new Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, Sporting News’ Jeff Spector deserves an accolade for putting the job in perspective this way: “It’s easy to think of the job as an independent overseer, the person running MLB operations and the ultimate authority on all things relating to the game. The commissioner still has plenty of power, but only so long as he acts in accordance with the desires of his bosses, the owners.”


(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.)


The Speed-Up Effort – on the Ballfield and Political Game

(Posted 8/12/14)

How successful has second-guessing umpires’ calls been this first year of Baseball’s expanded video review system? Well, discount and up to the All-Star break, just over half of more than 600 calls were overturned. The stats vindicate the system, as does the fact that the umpires themselves are happy with it. Yes, tinkering is still needed: the manager killing time on the field while a coach checks the replay delays the game unnecessarily; we suggest (as have others) that the decision to challenge be required within a few seconds of the re-viewing.

On the related matter of speeding up games, players like the Yankees’ Brett Gardner should not be allowed to leave the batter’s box between pitches as often as he does. Gardner and others like him, take roughly 20 seconds to regroup, often more than once. The cumulative time lost is considerable. (Paul O’Neill,on YES) says the batters need the time to figure out what to do next.)

Our national media have speeded up the political game with regard to plays unfolding in the Ukraine. The possible new cold war developing on that field is pitched as the fault of wild-swinging Vladimir Putin and Team Russia. We’ve challenged that call more than once, and will do it again now, through a repeated look by a pinch-hitter, the International Herald Trib’s William Pfaff:

“(The) demonization of Vladimir Putin has been so successful in the American press and public, and its secrecy about the American role in Kiev, has left the public in the United States… convinced that this has all been the result of a Russian strategy of aggressive expansion into Ukraine…(Instead it was) a bungled and essentially American attempt to annex Ukraine to NATO and the European Union, and to undermine the domestic political position of President Putin…. The Ukrainian coup d’état in February was prepared by Washington. Why else w(as) the State Department(‘s) Victoria Nuland…and a number of intelligence people present, in company with the ‘moderate’ Ukrainians programmed to take over the government; (the event to take place) after the planned overthrow of the corrupt (but elected) President Viktor Yanukovych?… One must ask what was accomplished by all this that did not discredit the United States and the EU, and draw towards Ukraine and the American troops today deployed in Poland and the Baltics, and towards NATO itself, the storm-clouds of a useless war?…

“Where we are now (is that) Russia’s reaction is not simply that of an aggressive and authoritarian President Putin — as the West likes to make out — but the hostility of a significant part of the Russian population, which only now has recovered its national self-confidence and ambition. What was the intent of all this? To create an east-west civil war in Ukraine? Why is that in the American interest?”  

The mystery deepens as to why Pfaff’s perspective on the anti-Putin game is not reproduced in the Trib’s parent publication, the NY Times? The explanation, we suspect, is Times support for the self-serving play of Team Obama.

–       –         –

Update: They may be riding an-about-to-burst bubble, but the KC Royals have soared past the struggling Tigers to the top of the AL Central. And they’ve done it without injured first baseman Eric Hosmer, always a power threat.

Key WC-Race Scores: KC 3, Oakland 2 (Royals now a half-game atop their division, A’s three-and-a-half atop theirs); Orioles 10, Yankees 3 (NY now three games out of WC, Orioles atop AL East by six games over Toronto); Pirates 11, Tigers 6 (Pittsburgh now atop WC, half-game ahead of Cardinals, game ahead of Giants); Seattle 11, Toronto 1 (Mariners now game out, Jays two games); Dodgers 6, Braves 2 (Atlanta two-and-a-half games out, two games behind Giants, Dodgers atop NL West by five); Marlins 6, Cardinals 5 (Marlins four-and-a-half games out);

A Non-Saving State of Mind: “’I want to play for 10 years instead of two, (so) I don’t want to do this much now’: ”Nobody here is really programmed to think that way. We’d be happier winning the World Series this year and never playing again. It’s that type of deal. You’re (going all) out…(doing) everything you can do now.” – Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, quoted by Derrick Goold, St.Louis Post-Dispatch

Debunker: Baseball would have us believe the MLB has entered a golden age of parity – many teams spending more to compete for players with the elite clubs. Rays exec vp Andrew Friedman, who felt obliged to trade away David Price, says it’s just propaganda: “I think it’s obvious to anyone who follows the game that the economic disparity is only widening, and it makes it a little bit more challenging in our quest to always balance the present and the future. But we can’t waver from who we are and how we need to do things to have success.”


(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.)

Scary Stats as Playoffs Near in Both Pastimes

(Posted 8/9/14)

Bet City: Here is what the official Nevada-based oddsmakers are saying in the aftermath of last week’s artificial, pharm attention-hyping deadline: the Cardinals, sales reinforced by John Lackey, will overtake the Brewers and finish atop the scramble in the NL Central. The Pirates – although now ahead of the Cardinals – will finish third, behind Milwaukee. The Nationals and Dodgers will win in their divisions; the Giants the best bet for one of the NL wild cards. In the other league, the Angels and Blue Jays (not KC) will be wild cards, the LAAs behind Oakland in their division, the Jays behind the Orioles in theirs. Detroit, we know, solidified its uniquely dominant position in the AL Central by acquiring David Price from cooling-down Tampa Bay.

To indulge in a re-rant, one example of how destabilizing was the faux deadline: The AL East went from a five- to a three-team race in the space of a few days. (The Red Sox, with Jon Lester, Lackey and Peavy, still had a playoff shot, however long). Odds-ly numbers: Tigers, 2-1, over Oakland for AL pennant; Dodgers, 8-5, over Nationals for NL pennant. Tigers, 4-1, to take Dodgers in World Series. (Line provided by

The projections reinforce the challenges facing division-pace-setting Milwaukee, and 10 other teams fewer than five games behind in the wild card races. Along with the Angels, Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Cardinals, there are the Royals, Yankees and Mariners,, Braves and Reds. One team among that group took greatest advantage of deadline-deal-making: the Yankees, who are nevertheless hampered by a thin rotation.

Barring a late surge by the likes of the Marlins, Indians and/or Rays, 13 teams will have no recourse but to embrace the role of spoilers. Most such also-rans in the national political playoffs belong to an underdog Dem team thath faces intimidating numbers at this stage of the midterm electoral races. How disquieting are the projected Dem numbers? Left-leaning New Yorker columnist John Cassidy reported this “bad (let’s call it “challenging”) news” for the Dems a few days ago:

“With less than a hundred days until the midterm elections, the Republicans have a very realistic chance of retaking the Senate (and) overall control of Capitol Hill for the next two years…Election Lab, a model operated by the Washington Post…puts the probability of the GOP takeover at 82 percent…The model constructed by the Upshot team at the Times is less definitive, but it puts the chances of a new Republican majority at 53 percent.”

Lest there be any doubt as to the politics of fans he considered his readers, Cassidy walked off regretful of the message he’d just delivered: “I told you this was likely to depress you,” he said.

–      –     –

Premature Perhaps, But…Tentative prize for best pre-deadline moves must go to the Yanks’ Brian Cashman. His minimally publicized deals for Chase Headley, Martin Prado, Stephen Drew, etc., have energized the Pinstripers, now a half-game off the wild card. Suddenly great starting pitching hasn’t hurt.

Irresistible: “Those guys are rarely, if ever, available. If that caliber of player is out there, you go get him.” – Oakland GM Billy Beane, on decision to trade for Jon Lester. – (quoted by SI’s Ben Reiter)

Wither the Tigers? Don’t look now, but Detroit lost back-to-back-to-back four-game series to the Angels, Indians and, most recently, to the Yankees. And last night, while they were beating Toronto, Miguel Cabrera went 0 for five, buttressing the sense, felt during the Yankees series, that he’s hurting. It’s not pitching that’s Detroit’s problem. It’s a shaky Cabrera, and, after their clean-up spot generally, the Tigers lineup has no teeth.

– 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.)


‘Exciting’ Times (Not) in Baseball and the Ukraine

(Posted 8/5/14)

“Exciting, discount sale ” “Amazing” “Fascinating” – unanimously positive verdicts pitched by MLB-TV panelists on the non-waiver deals completed by last Thursday’s deadline. Well, at one point, Harold Reynolds acknowledged that the flurry of activity “gives us something to talk about.” Still, the annual game-changing spate of deals thrills most fans and media people alike.

Not here. We dissent every year for reasons that are especially relevant this time around: why should anyone except Tigers fans cheer Detroit’s adding David Price and, thus, eliminating the playoff race in the AL Central? And why should the preponderant number of non-aligned fans rejoice in Oakland confirming that the A’s – with the help of Jon Lester – mean, not only to win their division, but to make it maybe to the World Series? Then there are those white flags now flying anew in Tampa Bay and for sure in Boston: how can we feel good about that?

The answer: we shouldn’t. Why? injection of the non-waiver deadline into a largely competitive season serves to destabilize what – especially this year – has featured remarkable balance: 20 teams either single-digits off the pace or atop their division. It was fun until things got exciting, amazing and fascinating.

The “gives-us-something-to-talk-about” rationale applies in the excitable media accounts of the destabilization occurring on the political field in Ukraine. The not-easily-accessed record book reminds us that Team Obama went to bat last year for a neo-fascist-dotted roster of protesters who wanted to move their country toward the West and away from Russia. In the process, they pulled off a right-wing coup, sending their corrupt but democratically elected skipper to the showers. The O-team’s support of the coup ended any chance of a compromise arrangement, backed by Vladimir Putin, whereby eastern Ukraine could maintain its solid ties to Russia while the western part of the country moved closer to Europe. Putin’s long-held fear that NATO would enter his ballpark was thus realized. The pro-Russian rally in the east that ensued – and now continues – was certainly backed by Putin. But, just as certainly, it’s been provoked by our aggressive game.

Stephen Cohen, former professor of Russian Studies at Princeton and NYU, writes (in The Nation) that “little of this is noted in the United States.” He adds: “In a democratic political system, the media are expected to pierce the official fog of (what has become a new cold) war. In the Ukrainian crisis, however, mainstream American newspaper and television coverage has been almost as slanted…as statements from the White House and State Department.”

Underlying those slanted signals: the same type of souped-up glee that greeted the destabilization in Baseball last week.

– – –

More on the Flag-Waving Sox: “(GM Ben)Cherington did a remarkable job beginning the renovations, especially given that there are so few bats on the market this winter. (John) Farrell is right, the players that are here need to win, not promise, because the present is important both to the culture and to the people who pay $135 a seat, $50 for parking and (fancy) prices for concessions. The hunt for good will is not about in house entertainment, it’s about good players and good, competitive teams, and the players they field these last two months have to go from the future to the present…in the Upstairs, Downstairs world of The Olde Towne Team.”– Peter Gammons, Gammons Daily

Troubled Angels: With (Tyler) Skaggs on the disabled list, the Angels lack rotation depth. Just six men have started for the Angels this year, the five currently in the rotation, including (C.J). Wilson (newly returned from the DL) and Skaggs. Their Triple-A rotation is full of frightening ERAs, and the organization as a whole is bereft of pitching prospects. Wilson, who has now posted a 12.50 ERA in his last five starts…The Angels did well to restock their bullpen before the non-waiver deadline, but they failed to add a starting pitcher. If Wilson doesn’t find that groove in his next start, however, they may have to find help via a waiver trade.” – Cliff Corcoran, Sports Illustrated


(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.)


Who Are Future Faces of Baseball and Dem-Team Politics

(Posted 8/2/14)

Here’s what happened when Derek Jeter first came to bat against the Rangers in Arlington last Monday night: resounding applause that prompted Michael Kay of YES to say it almost matched the loudest expression of warmth on the Captain’s season-long farewell tour. “They love him here in Texas as they did in California, sale ” said Kay, “where Angels fans in Anaheim gave him the biggest ovation so far.”

The similar MLB-wide responses wherever Derek has made a final regular-season appearance confirms what is surely a unanimous view: Jeter is the Face of Baseball. A couple of months ago, MLB-TV offered its listeners a chance to vote on whom they thought would assume Jeter’s status when he retires. The Mets’ David Wright won what many considered an embarrassingly run contest. The contest for Dem team skipper nominee in 2016 will be embarrassing to some of us if it yields Hillary Clinton by default. We believe Clinton tarnished her tenure as Secretary of State well before the Benghazi furor. In 2009, we remember, it was she who helped lead our abandonment of Manuel Zelaya, the newly liberal Skipper of Honduras, when a military-elitist junta completed a coup. Coached by Hillary, who, in turn, received signs from her friend and the junta’s P.R. rep Lanny Davis, Team Obama folded.

After first denouncing the coup and expressing support for Zelaya, our Skipper switched his stance, and accepted the sending of the lefthander to the showers. He – and Hillary – went to bat for the military and the hit-to-right elite, many of whom were profiting from the drug trade. The revised scoreboard showed drug-traffic chaos taking over and making of Honduras an international murder capital. The fallout is evident in the exodus swelling our border crisis today.   Clinton’s support for military initiatives, whether in Honduras or Iraq, confirms her hawkishness, just as her unapologetic friendship with for Wall Street tells us about her minimal concern for the 99 percent.

That right-of-center baggage will be visible in the contours of the candidate batbag she carries into the presidential race. It may complicate her hopes for a primary walkoff.

–     –     –

Future Names? Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutcheon, Adam Wainwright are three future Face-of-Baseball possibles that come to mind.   Chances are, however, there’ll never again be the unanimity of support given The Captain for that unofficial honor.

Deadline-Deal Lessons: The insider-consensus on what the last-minute trading scramble tells us: (1) Next year will take care of itself; it’s this year that counts – Billy Beane the prime exponent. (2) Prospects are over-valued, major leaguers under-valued – Dave Dombrowski, among others. The feeling here: pre-deadline series can be decisive. Had the Rays not dropped two to the Brewers, and the Red Sox not been swept by the Jays, action on the dealing front would likely have been more subdued. No surprise that the streaking Jays and Dodgers were quiet.

Upbeat Stand-Patters: Why did Toronto make no move before the non-waiver deadline? Money problems, maybe. But the Jays are unique in surging while three of their stalwarts – Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind – have been sidelined with injuries. Lawrie and Lind are playing rehab games, and should be back in as early as a week to 10 days. Encarnacion, the key member of the trio, isn’t expected until the latter part of the month.

Late Friday Scores: Cubs 8, Dodgers 2; Padres 10, Braves 1; Pirates 9, D-backs 4; KC 1, Oakland 0.


(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.)