The Nub

Deadline Deals Obscured by Team USA’s Would-Be New Skipper

Baseball’s insiders believe that, before Monday’s non-waiver deadline, the Dodgers will have added one of the two prize “Chris” starters – Sale of the White Sox or Archer of the Rays – and/or, ace reliever Wade Davis of the KC Royals. The Marlins and Giants have been the biggest pre-deadline upgraders so far, Miami dealing for Padres starter Andrew Cashner and Pods’back-of-rotation newcomer Colin Rea, the Giants snagging Twins All-Star – and former Yankee – infielder Eduardo Nunez. Skipper Bruce Bochy called the addition of Nunez a “depth” deal.   The big reinforcement deals by big-market teams are presumably yet to come.

Vox birddog Dylan Matthews sees candidate for Team USA Skipper Hillary Clinton as the equivalent of Baseball’s prize purchase on the political field. And he identifies a supportive President Obama – who turned hawkish at times, while staying on good terms with Wall Street – as the key to making it happen:

“Obama was elected in large part on a promise to tack away from the liberal hawk tradition exemplified by Clinton and her advisers. In some sense, he has done that… But… the dovish wing of the Democratic Party (never) fe(lt) like the battle was won. American robots were still raining death from the skies — and a liberal president, a president elected because he opposed the Iraq War when it counted, whipped up the legal rationales to support that appalling practice…(So progressives’) anger is understandable… It’s especially understandable as he and the entire Democratic Party prepare to fight for the election of someone who promises a markedly more militaristic approach to the Middle East…Even if doves accept Clinton as the lesser of two evils, this is a regrettable situation if you consider reducing American violence abroad a crucial goal.”

Surely aware of the anti-war sentiment expressed at the Convention, Hillary wisely devoted little of her acceptance speech to promising further foreign interventions.

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Snap Quiz: Name the two closest division races? Answer: Orioles-Blue Jays (AL East), half-game apart. Giants-Dodgers (NL West) one-game separation.

Unexpected Advice: NY Times columnist Tyler Kepner on why the Yankees should seek an alternative to vying for a playoff spot in the ALWest: “Clawing their way to contention is entertaining, but unless the Yankees have a real shot at the World Series, it is ultimately hollow. The (Aroldis) Chapman trade was a start. Now the Yankees must keep building.”

Late Friday Scores: Nationals 4, Giants 1; Dodgers 9, D’backs 7; Red Sox 6, Angels 2; Rangers 8, Royals 3; Twins 2, White Sox 1


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

‘Be Very Afraid’ Week Playing Out on Both Fields

The week of the Baseball season we deplore: a familiar complaint to attentive fans. The non-waiver trade deadline arrives Sunday; with it, sildenafil this message to supporters of mid-market teams: Be afraid, best be very afraid. The Dodgers can add White Sox ace Chris Sale, the Cubs have already dealt for Yankees star closer Aroldis Chapman, etc. By next Monday, several seemingly playoff-bound teams could be far from secure. The modestly financed Orioles, Royals and Pirates are three vulnerable clubs. And won’t it be a shame if the White Sox concede their promise by becoming sellers?

It’s still too early to know which of the wealthier teams, besides the sure-bet Dodgers, will enrich their rosters, turning pleasant surprises into false springs for a few deserving clubs. Love or hate this week, we’ll all be watching as the unfair deal-making proceeds. A similar focus – and fear – attends the Dem team’s political campaign kickoff series in Philadelphia this week. Despite conciliatory speeches by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, a steely segment of Bernie supporters resist joining the Clinton bandwagon, and do it in noisy fashion. Meanwhile, Hillary’s people – abetted by the media – work to distract public attention from the WiKi Leaks disclosure of the Dem team’s efforts to sabotage the Sanders campaign during the primary. Meddling by the Russians is the unconfirmed story they are peddling.

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On Cut-Up Chris Sale and His Uniform-Scissoring Caper: “Sale (will likely) apologize before Thursday’s scheduled start against the Cubs and move on, preferably with the Sox, where the best bargain in baseball hopefully remains the rest of his career. Keep in perspective that Sale broke no laws and (beyond damaging vintage uniforms) did no harm to anything but his reputation, which hardly affects how hard he throws a baseball. Forgiveness will come quickly with the next quality start. Forgetting will be easy, too, once Sale channels all that rage into a 97-mph fastball. – Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh

Late Monday Scores: Reds 7, Giants 5; Rangers 7, A’s 6; Angels 6, Royals 2; Yankees 2, Astros 1

Streakers: Orioles +5, Braves – 5


(More of The Nub, a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey, can be found at

The Doubt and Worry Game in Both Fields

The playoff races are far from over, buy but once-optimistic Yankees and Mets fans have reason to worry about their teams’ prospects. Behind growing doubts – resentment that respective front offices couldn’t see and remedy obvious shortcomings: injury-prone veterans on the AL team, best a shortage of hitting on the NL club. And the most telling lack in both places: minimal minor league depth ready to serve as useful reinforcements in case of key injuries.

Fans of the two NY teams aren’t alone in their frustration. The Orioles clearly need starting pitching, and the White Sox and Mariners are two examples of teams whose inconsistent play makes them ever-longer shots as the homestretch approaches.

The complaint about some teams’ lack of sufficient preparation for the playoffs-seeking grind has a familiar ring – similar to what Team GOP is hearing about its presidential convention. “Inexcusably disorganized” was the verdict of many delegates and media people. And too many speakers spent more time berating their candidate’s opponent than cheering their own choice. On the other side of the field, the Dem team has its own “insufficiently prepared” problem. At least one respected poll shows Hillary Clinton losing ground with voters over what is perceived as transparent deviousness. The Atlantic’s Ron Fournier cites “trust” as the key issue:

“The number of Americans who say they trust her steadily declined and hit a low point with (last week’s) New York Times poll. Sixty-seven percent of voters said she is not honest and trustworthy, more than the 62 percent who said the same of Trump. Just 28 percent of voters said they had a positive view of Clinton, according to the Times, compared with 33 percent last month. Asked if her email practices were illegal, 46 percent of voters said yes, compared with 23 percent who said using a private server was improper but not illegal. An ABC/Washington Post survey suggests a majority of voters think Clinton should have been charged with a crime. The collapse of her credibility was totally predictable, and totally avoidable. That makes Clinton’s actions particularly galling to Americans like me, who would never vote for Trump but who don’t want to condone her conduct… Clinton is still more likely than not to be the next president. But it didn’t have to be this close.”

A Clinton victory can be less close if she wins over disappointed Bernie Sanders supporters; that effort – if there is to be one – got off to a slow start last night when she chose Senator Tim Kaine, a banker-friendly Virginian as her running mate.


Brandon Crawford on Sabermetrics: I don’t know how they calculate…I don’t know what to do better. Like I know if my average is low, to get more hits. It’s a pretty simple fix…you know what you have to do. With defensive runs saved and all the sabermetric stats, I don’t know, I just want to make the plays.” – quoted by Tyler Kepner, New York Times

Notable Late Friday Scores: Cardinals 4, Dodgers 3; Seattle 2, Toronto 1; Kansas City 3, Texas 1; Houston 2, Angels 1

Streakers: Cardinals + 5, Giants – 6



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

Key Numbers in Both Fields for Placement in Scorebook

Stat City: Well into the season’s second half, buy it’s time to comb through the numbers to identify – confirm, sildenafil in many cases – the genuine playoff-likely teams. Of the six division leaders – Orioles, Indians, Rangers in the AL, Nationals, Cubs, Giants in the NL – only one, the Giants, have finished in close to all MLB’s statistical top 10 teams in hitting, pitching and fielding. SF is sixth overall in pitching, ninth in fielding and 11th in hitting. The Nationals, first in both pitching and fielding, are 19th in hitting, giving them a composite 21 points, second best among the six.

Surprise: The statistical best is a surprise team, finishing with 18 points – second in hitting, fifth in fielding and 11th in pitching. It’s the Marlins, who have joined the NL wild card race with the Dodgers, Mets, Cardinals and Pirates. In the AL, the Blue Jays, with best statistical balance, are the unsurprising threat to either win their East division or earn a wild card. Lots of excitement ahead involving 19 of the 30 teams: Baltimore, Boston, Toronto, the Yankees, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, the White Sox, Rangers, Astros and Mariners in the AL, Nationals, Marlins, Mets, Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates, Giants and Dodgers in the NL. There could be shrinkage and possibly even an all-but-pre-clinching burst of wins and deals between now and the end of the month.

Iffy-ness:The outlook on the political field in the crucial competition for control of the U.S. Senate is sized up this way by usually reliable Charlie Cook, skipper of the Cook Political Report: the Dem team, defending 10 seats, can be expected to hold on to nine of them (the race for the Nevada seat, which Harry Reid is vacating, is seen as a toss-up).   Team GOP seems set to keep 17 of 24 seats they now hold (with seven toss-ups). If the eight total GOP/Dem toss-ups are split, the Republican team would lose three seats, which would leave them with 51, a one-seat majority in the new 2017 session. The political prognosis is clearly iffy, but Cook’s scorecard is the most coherent available. Note that, if Cook’s card is off by one and the new Senate score comes in at 50-50, control of that chamber will go to the team whose candidate is elected National Skipper.

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Test-Time in DC: Every couple of years, at least one of the teams that makes it to a league championship series says, ‘Things didn’t go the way we figured at all. How did we get here?’ That’s when clubs talk about destiny and magic…Are the Nationals, who have been so resilient so far, one of those teams? You never have to wait long for the next examination — this time, here come the Dodgers.” – Tom Boswell, Washington Post

The Sport’s Least Attractive Slot?: Buck Showalter never got called up to the majors as a player. He then managed in Triple-A for four years. “Managing at that level,” he told author John Feinstein, “is the worst job in baseball. Why? Because no one wants to be there.”

Notable Late Monday Scores: Oakland 7, Astros 4; Mariners 4, White Sox 3; Angels 9, Rangers 5; Kansas City 7, Cleveland 3

Streaker: White Sox – 5


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


The Money Game Skewing Both Fields

Our favorite moment during the All-Star Game festivities came when Joe Buck asked AL manager Ned Yost whether he was playing to win or to give everyone on his team a chance to play: “Playing to win, canada ” Yost said with a semi-snarl, adding he wouldn’t feel bad for the players who would have to sit out. He didn’t say it would be “for a good cause,” but that was his message. He knows from recent experience how important home-field advantage is in the Series, if nothing else, as a confidence-booster..

We enjoyed less the performance of Commissioner Rob Manfred. He has a wants-to-be-liked manner, with a hint of nervousness to his near-constant smile. Although we welcome his support for Bud Selig’s innovations -All Star Games that count and the World Baseball Classic – we regret his seeming lack of interest in carrying out his predecessor’s efforts to even the sport’s financial playing field. Manfred’s unwillingness to address the edge wealthy teams have this time of year suggests he sees nothing wrong with their using their abundant cash to outspend less-well-heeled competitive teams. Thus do they solidify playoff status before the non-waiver trade deadline, leaving the others to languish. (Case in point: the Red Sox and their deal this week for All-Star Padres pitcher Drew Pomeranz.)

It’s no secret there was languishing on the political field when would-be 2016 Dem presidential candidates not named Hillary Clinton were discouraged from running against her. The party’s idea early was that Hillary alone had the money (as well as the name) to match-up against whoever the Team GOP candidate turned out to be. Bernie Sanders, we know, refused to languish; his impressive fund-raising effort almost foiled the support-Hillary plan, denying Clinton an early coronation.

The pro-Hillary strategy did, however, keep her fellow Dem opposition limited to Sanders and three fringe candidates. Lots of other good people couldn’t take on the financial burden to compete. The party has an option to open its part of the presidential field in future years: insist that all Dem candidates agree to participate in the public campaign funding program; that is, risk an even primary battle before one of them takes on the big money that business interests will make available to Team GOP candidates.

There’s just a chance that the public has had enough of billions instead of savvy deciding who will dominate the race for Team USA leadership.

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Consensus Wisdom: How they do over the next two weeks will determine whether teams flirting with .500 can be taken seriously in August and September. Those teams: Yankees, White Sox, Royals, Mariners, Cardinals, Pirates.

Candor: Pirates GM Neal Huntington risked hurting the feelings of one of his starters earlier this week: He said he probably made a mistake in exchanging players in a pre-season deal with the Mets. Huntington traded second baseman Neil Walker to the Mets for lefty starting pitcher Jonathon Niese, who has been something of a disappointment, despite respectable 7-6, 5:13 stats. “We should have asked for minor leaguers instead,” he said, in a moment of rare GM candor.

Notable Late Friday Night Scores: Padres 4, Giants 1; Dodgers 13, D-backs 7; Astros 7, Mariners 3; Oakland 8, Toronto 7;

Streakers: Red Sox +5, D-backs – 5


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

Bases That Should Be Cleared on Both Fields

As the end-of-July non-waiver trade deadline approaches, sildenafil we remember a few seasons ago hearing a Baseball insider make this comment on TV: “This is the most exciting period of the season.” What a stupid thing to say, we thought: non-waiver time is when tight pennant races built up over four months can be shattered. The perpetrators: teams wealthy enough to add prime players unloaded by clubs no longer in contention. Exciting, yes, as long as still-competitive, modestly financed teams are not about to be knocked out of the playoff race. By whom? big-spending clubs, of course, like the Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers, Yankees, et al.

Comissioner Rob Manfred should restrict roster moves to waiver deals, whereby the weakest teams get first shot at useful players marketed by the stronger clubs. No more non-waiver trades and the threat to early-season competitive balance. Manfred should also follow-through on a plan to scale back another competition-skewing arrangement: the September 1 roster-expansion period, with its glut of extra players and game-slowing lineup changes.

Baseball has the cash-clout to insure that press accounts of how the game is run will be favorable. The other day, MLB Now host Brian Kenny worried on air that teammate Joe Magrane’s calling Coors Beer bad-tasting and “watery” would trigger an explosive front-office reaction. Positive stories are, unsurprisingly, the sport’s preferred diet.

The saddest aspect of the political propaganda we Americans must ingest in the mainstream news media is this: we’ve become numb to its one-sidedness. One of the latest examples that should elicit an outcry, but doesn’t, is the fable concerning NATO and Russia. In 1989, some of us remember, NATO, led by Team USA, made this promise to the new Soviet-free Russian republic: after adding East Germany to its team, NATO would never expand its military mini-empire farther east. Despite the promise, NATO has since added 12 countries, moved up to the Russian border, and is talking of addiing the Ukraine and Georgia to the club. (One way it could be described in financial terms: the military/industrial team on the move.)

“More than a half-century later,” says “Women for Peace” co-founder Media Benjamin, “the time has come to spread the word about the dangerous mischief NATO is causing on Russia’s border… With the UK (leaving) the European Union, there may be a new opening for change…Germany and France (reportedly) are now recommending a less aggressive posture for NATO. America too, could do its share to make good on the UN promise to ’end the scourge of war’ by ratcheting down the hostilities towards Russia and working for the abolition of NATO…(The situation is clear): it is time to rethink NATO.” (Common Dreams)

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Second-Half Outlook: The Red Sox, we know, have the finances and the deep farm system to earn favorite status in the AL East, despite the sidelining of closer Craig Kimbrel. The Yanks’ taking three of four from the Indians suggests the AL Central is a crap-shoot. Cleveland needs Michael Brantley to get healthy in a hurry, and a late-inning relief corps to match that of the Yankees. The Tigers can – and probably will – spend to upgrade their way into the homestretch picture. But no one, we’ve learned, should count the defending champion Royals out. If the Astros had gone 17-7 in April instead of the reverse, they’d be 11-and-a-half games ahead of the Rangers in the AL West. We wouldn’t bet against Houston now, although Yu Darvish is scheduled to join Cole Hamels at the top of the Rangers rotation in a week or so. Meanwhile, the over-.500 Mariners remain in the AL playoff mix.

The NL picture is simplified by the Nats, Cubs and Giants being all but set to win their divisions. The injuries-decimated Mets reduce the league’s probable playoff competitors to the Dodgers, Cardinals, Pirates, and the soon-to-be Dee Gordon-reinforced Marlins. The Baseball world will be watching to see if the Giants win their fourth straight alternate-year World Series. Their record at the moment – best in the two leagues – says it very well could happen.


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



The Skewed Match-Up: Baseball and Patriotism

With the season’s halfway point behind us, canada only two of the six MLB divisions have four-team races: the AL East and Central. The Central remains the most uniquely competitive: all four contenders above .500. The East is close behind – only seven-and-a-half games separating the first-place Orioles and fourth-place Yankees. The league’s most intriguing team: the West’s Houston Astros; they went 7-17 in April and are now 47-40, and only six-and-a-half games behind the front-running Rangers. The Astros have gone 18-6 since June 11. In the NL, the Cubs’ surprising 5-14 tailspin has pushed the Giants to the best record in the MLB, and a six-and-a-half game lead over the Dodgers. SF and the Cubs look to be the league’s sure division winners, the Nats, Dodgers, Mets, Cardinals, Pirates and Marlins high in the playoff scramble.

While watching the White Sox bash the Yankees on pre-Independence Day, a group of us tried to avoid bashing our home team (USA) and to get into the spirit of the cap-and uniform-spangled occasion. Someone suggested a round-table survey of how each of us – male and female – felt about the patriotic outpouring; that is, our personal pride, or lack thereof, in America’s place in the world.. After predictable expressions of gratitude for the near-unique “freedom” that underlies our national playing field, the focus shifted to the way Baseball makes militarism the center of the celebration. “It’s wrong to celebrate what is a bullying willingness to intervene with force abroad,” said a Sox fan. The group agreed that togetherness on the home field – a peaceful melting pot – would be a more appropriate focus: “This Land Is Your Land,” instead of the “Home of the Brave”, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” instead of “God Bless America.”

The headlines a few days later about Hillary Clinton’s “negligent” use of sensitive e-mails as Secretary of State served as a doubly uninvited reminder: first, of her support for boots-on-the-ground belligerence in Libya, and, secondly, her earlier lockstep backing of George W. Bush’s misguided war in Iraq. While Clinton’s missteps are unlikely to hand the presidency to her equally hawkish opponent, they will buttress his number of supporters: voters who deeply dislike her, and move to Donald Trump out of what the New Yorker calls “a misplaced form of hope.”

For the moment, Hillary’s less-than-enthusiastic fans can console themselves with this thought, provided by the NY Times’ Gail Collins: “She can win without doing anything,” (but will thereby risk winding up) “the lesser of two evils.”

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Outlook Doubtful: Couple of seasons ago, Mets broadcaster and sometime-ace starter Ron Darling, said that, in his prime, he would have traded his successful career (136-116, 13 seasons), even-up, to have ahead of him the future greatness that awaited Matt Harvey. That was before Harvey succumbed to Tommy John surgery, bounced back for awhile, and now…faces an uncertain future. The NY Post traced the careers of 10 pitchers who, over the last few years, had their careers interrupted by the thoracic condition Havey is experiencing. In nearly every case, they never returned to pre-thoracic form.

His Game: Early this week, against the Cubs, the Reds’ Billy Hamilton scored from second on a passed ball straight to the backstop, topping out at 22.8 miles per hour as he ran. Later, he doubled on a pop fly that landed just beyond the glove of the second baseman…“I look back at (my wild running) sometimes, and I’m like, ‘I’m stupid’,” Hamilton said. “It’s stupid, but it’s my game.” – quoted by Zach Buchanan, Cincinnati Enquirer

Notable Late Friday Night Scores: Giants 6, D’backs 2; Dodgers 10, Padres 6; Mariners 3, Royals 2

Streaker: Blue Jays +7


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