The Nub

Jim Bouton and Senator Bernie: Rally Activists

Around the time the Mitchell Report on Baseball’s steroid problem appeared in 2007, best sickness former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton discussed the issue with former players union head Marvin Miller at a public meeting in New York City. Miller said he opposed the drug-testing of players, generic medical then under consideration, on privacy protection grounds. Bouton endorsed the testing idea in terms seldom, if ever, heard until then: “I’d worry that teammates on drugs would take my job,” he said.

That simple bread-and-butter idea, expressed by a pro-union former player, gained enough support through repetition to soften the resistance of the Major League Players Association. A strong testing system soon went into effect. A similar suggestion, based on widely felt economic need, has caused the faintest of stirrings on the political field. Bouton’s counterpart, Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders, is saying, hoping, over and over again, that the people will rally behind a would-be national Skipper who not only feels their pain, but will swing hard to ease it.

Sanders would like fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren to lead that rally, but recognizes that she has firmly decided against it. He says he would do it, but only if sufficient campaign money can be raised: “I’d want to do it well…It’s important for millions of people who share the same set of beliefs…To do it well, we would have to (attract) millions of people saying, ‘you know what? Enough is enough. We are going to take on the billionaire class’.”

The message could resonate, but not without a viable messenger. For progressives, long-shot Bernie is the only one in sight.

In Wednesday’s NY Times, columnist Mark Bittman calls the bread-and-butter message one of “human rights and well-being.” He hints at a useful role for Sanders: “No one seriously believes that Hillary Clinton will ever put the interests of Main Street before those of her donors…At least, not until she’s pushed and hard.”

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The Ranking Game: Nationals, Dodgers, Cardinals, Tigers, Angels, Giants, Orioles, Red Sox, Mariners, Royals: That’s the early power ranking, 1-10, posited by Sports on Earth’s Anthony Castrovince. We print it because it provides a perfect dart-throwing target. We don’t see the Orioles in the top 10, nor do we see the Cardinals as high as number three. We do believe the Orioles and Red Sox have as good a chance to win their division, as do the Blue Jays and the Yankees. No argument here on the Nationals and Dodgers being at the top of the team-power heap. The Nats could win as many as 100 games.

The Extreme East: The two eastern divisions figure to represent extreme opposites from a competitive standpoint: the Nationals running away with the NL East; while, as indicated, at least four of the five teams in the AL East vying for the top spot.

Appreciation: Talking on MLB Now about the competitive NL West in the upcoming season, Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino paid this tribute to the Giants, after noting the financial and talent depth of the Dodgers: “When you play against San Francisco, you know there is grit that won’t go away.”

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. 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.