The Nub

MLB Apathy and New Skipper Have Some of Us Reeling

If any MLB fans cared, they would be primed to boo the effort of the U.S. team preparing to compete next month in the fourth World Baseball Classic. But, fans, like most news consumers, take their cue from the Media. And the Media, taking its cue from the apathy towards the Classic expressed from top to bottom in U.S. Baseball’s hierarchy, considers the world competition an annoying disruption in the sport’s pre-season preparation.

The consequence: U.S, teams haven’t come close to winning the international test of proficiency in their national sport: the Americans finished a distant forth to two-time champion Japan in 2009’s 16-team playoff: In the most recent (2013) Classic, won by the Dominican Republic, Team USA finished out of the money for the second in three tries. Will this year be any different? It’s doubtful because our assemblage of major leagues can’t match the national pride of Dominicans, Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, Japanese, South Koreans, and even teams brought together by the Netherlands.and Italy.

We noticed the contrast in the two sports – baseball and politics: where the response to one dismal performance was an MLB shrug, and to the other – well, the Media has embraced the term “reeling” to describe (its) reaction to our new voluble president. The reality is left-of-center news sources are continually dumbfounded – er, reeling – because that sells. To the Midwest-centered mainstream Media, Skipper Trump’s occasional flummoxing statements are simply his flexing his presidential muscles. Only when members of his own national team react to his comments will he have a problem.

For the moment such a setback hardly seems imminent, especially since the Skipper is competing only with the liberal Media and not the Dem team, which, if you haven’t noticed, seems to have left the field.

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The Japanese team reportedly has the most formidable WBC roster, but the U.S. squad includes more star players than in the past. Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt, SF’s Buster Posey, Baltimore’s Adam Jones, Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, KC’s Eric Hosmer and Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutcheon – all returnees from previous Classics, head the position-player list. Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer, Oakland’s Sonny Gray and Cleveland’s Andrew Miller are part of a solid pitching staff that also includes Detroit’s Michael Fulmer, Houston’s Luke Gregerson and Toronto’s J.A. Happ and Marcus Stroman.

Among notable absentees: players with the Dodgers, Red Sox, and both New York teams.

-o-

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

 

Desire for Dominance Playing Out on Both Fields

If Baseball worried about income inequality, we know which team would be most worrisome. The LA Dodgers have made the post-season four years in a row; that is, every year since wealthy new ownership was in charge from beginning to end of the team’s performance. The Dodgers may not match the Braves’ 14 straight (1991-2005) playoff record or that of the Yankees’ 13 consecutive successes – 1995 to 2007 – but we wouldn’t bet against them. The Cubs may turn out to match the Dodgers in resources and playoff successes, in which case Baseball would have two reasons to worry. Then there are the nearly always potent Red Sox. If MLB truly cared about equality, there would be much to keep it be concerned..

We know the fear about dominance in the political field has now concerns presidential power as well as money. If there’s a consolation for opponents of the Trump Team, it’s in the hope of a term terminated after four years. In the meantime, along with the kind of money that helped make the T-Party so effective, progressives need to find a leader. In a NY Times interview Sunday, Harry Belafonte, an ally of Martin Luther King, Jr., noted that the civil rights movement dissipated when its leaders a half-century ago moved into government, leaving the community behind. Today, meanwhile, he sees a “liberal community (that) has compromised itself out of existence, (a passive)black community, and a “strangely silent” Labor movement. Whether new leadership will emerge, he’s not so sure: “Takes a lot of courage and a lot of power to step into the space and lead a holy war.”

On a less negative note,, Belafonte does see value in what our new president represents: Instead of thinking of ourselves as part of a generous nation, he reminds us “we have a parallel history that is not so (admirable).”

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Available: Two not-excessively priced NL outfielders: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates; Jay Bruce, Mets. ’17 Salaries: McCutchen, $14 mil, Bruce, $13 mil. ’16 BA’s, HRs: McCutchen, .256, 24; Bruce, .250, 33. Ages, both 30. Both are signed through 2018.

N.B. Pirates have announced McCutchen will be switched from center to right field this season to allow Starling Marte to shift from left field to center.

-o-

(Comments to dickstar@aol.com)

For a Baseball Fan on Super Bowl Weekend

No guarantee, but tomorrow, in advance of pro-football’s climactic event, Red Sox fan Jonathan Schwartz usually devotes much of his Sunday disc jockey show to taped accounts of interesting baseball moments. Noon WNYC, in the New York area, on line via The Jonathan Channel.

Meanwhile…

The Braves, Rockies and Twins, three of the five top teams in MLB’s farm system rankings (at two, three and five), are on the rise. The ratings say they can assure fans they will soon be playoff-competitive after long doormat-level dry spells in their divisions. As such, they’re much like supporters of currently bumbling Team Trump: “It will pass,” said a GOP legislator about the travel-ban flap a few days ago. That reality is bad news for progressives and for the news media whose readership and audiences have soared during the first two weeks of Trump-time.

The cabinet appointees will settle into their jobs, and some of us will grudgingly acknowledge that the absence of the familiar revolving-door Ivy League business people is not unwelcome. What is troubling, however: the likely departure over the next four years of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who turns 83 next month, and of ”swing-seat” occupant Anthony Kennedy, who will be 80 in July. Then there are the 15 (nerve-wracking for Democrats) competitive Senate seats at stake in 2018. The Dem team needs to win nine of them to regain control of the Upper House. A tall order, even if Team Trump finds itself embattled.

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The Dodgers and Rangers are one and three on the MLB top-five list. The Dodgers have replaced the Red Sox in the number 1 spot. The Sox are now rated sixth. Phillies, Pirates, Brewers, Astros fill out the 10 highest rated teams. Mets and Yanks? 15th and 17th, in that order.

Something to cheer about: arrival of the year’s first baseball month. Welcome, February.

-o-

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