In Camelback Ranch, ampoule Arizona, executive vp Kenny Williams is making “bold, superlative pronouncements” about the White Sox playoff chances this season. He has lots of company; similar hope is being expressed in front offices of teams that haven’t had a playoff prayer in years, like the Padres, Marlins and Mets. The puffery puts managers Robin Ventura, Bud Black, Mike Redmond and Terry Collins on the spot – which is fair to all except Black, who has the Dodgers and Giants in his division. What’s missing as usual this spring are close-in, objective looks at how solid Black’s Padres and the other three teams are, and how realistic fans hopes should be.
Beat baseball reporters can’t help but become PR people for the home clubs, especially this time of year. Journalism in general lets us down, less through PR tendencies than through simplifying developments that deserve closer analysis. On the political field, partisan views harden amid a welter of “neutral”information. Fans’ inattentiveness plays into the problem. Two keen pressbox observers offer differing takes, neither encouraging. First, the field as viewed from HuffPost’s left-leaning Robert Kuttner:
“The Republican Party has devised a strategy of hamstringing government and making any remediation impossible…Instead of the voters punishing Republicans, the result is cynicism and passivity, so the Republican strategy is vindicated and rewarded. The media plays into this pattern by adopting a misleading narrative that makes the gridlock in Washington roughly the equal fault of both parties… It’s Republicans who are the blockers. But…the evidence fail(s) to alter the media storyline, and the damage has been done.”
Ezra Klein of Vox uses Obamacare to describe the gridlock in stark partisan terms:
“Imagine what would happen to, say, Speaker John Boehner if he decided that Obamacare was actually a pretty good law. He would lose his speakership and very likely his job. His friends in conservative think tanks and media would back away from him, and many would publicly denounce him. He would cause himself immense personal pain as he systematically alienated his closest political and professional allies. For a lot of people, being ‘right’ just isn’t worth picking a bitter fight with the people they care about. That’s particularly true in a place like Washington… If you’re John Boehner, loathing Obamacare is rational — and the reverse is true for Nancy Pelosi.”
A frustrating game that’s been around for too many extra innings.
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Doubtful Investment? The early line on the Pirates’ pricey (more than $20 million) Korean infielder Jung Ho Kang is that his signing may have been a mistake. Why? The Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook has this explanation: “ Kang has had a lousy spring. Although it’s far too soon to pass judgment on him, his hitting skills — so prodigious in the Korean League — have not shown they will carry over to the major leagues. More and more outsiders are suggesting the team send Kang to Class AAA Indianapolis to find his stroke instead of starting the season with him….“(But) we don’t believe sending him to Indianapolis is the right thing for him,” GM Neil Huntington says. “We think the best way for him to get better is by playing at the major league level. He’s done everything to prove himself at every level but the major league level. The only way he can do that is by playing at the major league level. ”
Why Jays Seem Set to Fly: “Beyond th(eir) expected improvement in the lineup, the (Toronto) pitching staff as a whole should benefit from the presence of (Russell) Martin, both for his pitch-calling and, more objectively, his pitch-framing skills, as well as his effectiveness against the running game. There may not be a rotation in baseball that would benefit from Martin’s skills as much as this one, comprised as it is of a pair of soft-tossing veterans like (R.A.) Dickey and Mark Buehrle.” – Cliff Corcoran, SI
On Rays’ Spring Struggles: “Spring training injuries/illness… have sidelined three of the (Rays’) top five starting pitchers and the lead in their second base platoon…(a situation) subject to change as soon as yet something else goes wrong.” – Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times
(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)