The Nub

All-But-Certain Outcomes Looming in Both Fields?

(Posted:  5/14/12; e-mail update 5/15)

Even this early in the season, sale ampoule the wild card standings tell a lot about where the 2012 pennant races are going.  Three of the top five teams in both the NL and AL are from the Eastern Division.  Combine that with a look at the regular standings and this reality emerges: the Rangers can’t miss making the playoffs, ed one way or the other.  Each of the Eastern Divisions will have at least two teams, click possibly three, in the post-season.  A lot can happen, of course, but it will likely be tough for half of the 30 teams to maintain fan interest beyond early summer.

Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, for one, believes a similar situation exists on the political field in the presidential race.  Here is how he puts it:

“We’re getting stories now about how this election is closer than you’d think, how Obama is in for a “ tight race” or a “fierce fight” with Romney, and how the Republican challenger is “closing in” to a “statistical dead heat.” They’re going to say this, and they may even have numbers to back it up, like (last) week’s Gallup poll showing Obama with just a two-point lead.  But I think it’s a mirage.

“The people who work for the wire services and the news networks are physically incapable of writing sentences like, ’This election is…over.’ They are required, if not by law then by neurological reflex, to describe every presidential campaign as ‘fierce’ and ‘drawn-out’ and ‘hotly-contested.’ But this campaign, relatively speaking, will not be fierce or hotly contested.  Instead it’ll be disappointing, embarrassing, and over very quickly.”

Taibbi may be right about the corporate media, but his electoral view does not sync with that of the majority of political press box observers.
                                                         
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The Bottom Line…on Andy Pettitte’s return performance: the Yankees – as Nick Swisher put it – “got (their) boy back.”  Pettitte’s yielding of seven hits in six innings would be a winning effort behind the Yank offense more often than not.  For the moment, Joe Girardi doesn’t have to look for a fifth starter.

 The Biggest Hurt:  The Dodgers will miss the newly injured Matt Kemp for a week or so; the Red Sox, minus their injured center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, have done no better than 11-14 since his departure with a damaged shoulder.  But we suspect the team with the biggest DL challenge is Tampa Bay, which has no way of compensating for the loss of Evan Longoria, their best hitter by far.  The Rays have managed to play .500 ball (6-6) since Longoria hurt his hamstring May lst.  But if the star third baseman is out until late June, as projected, Tampa Bay figures to have much ground to make up to return to the top of the AL East.

Fortified:  The Nationals have played .500 ball (3-3) since Jayson Werth went down a week ago with a broken wrist. Bryce Harper is filling in more than adequately for Werth.  A remarkable aspect of the Nats’ breakout this season is worth repeating: they have scored nearly half their victories – 10 of 21 – by one run.

Cruz-ial Call.  Terry Francona, on ESPN, with bases loaded, Nelson Cruz at bat in third inning of Angels-Rangers game Sunday night:  When Jered Weaver fell behind 2-and-0, Francona said to viewers “You’re going to see a healthy swing.”  On the next pitch, Cruz hit a game-changing grand slam.

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to dickstar@aol.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper.  Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

About Richard Starkey

Dick Starkey handled media for former NY Governor Mario Cuomo, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and many other office-holders and candidates. He was sports editor of the Paris-based Herald Tribune. Perfect Pitch partner Robert Sullivan was the first to adapt focus groups to politics and has been called by Cuomo and others one of the "best" pollsters in the country.