The Nub

Blame Game: Involving Red Sox Nation and Our Team Abroad

(Posted 5/20/14)

Red Sox Nation can’t be satisfied that the 2013 champions are still struggling to stay around .500.   It’s late May, buy illness after all, sales sale and precedent set only two seasons ago suggests  it’s a crucial time for the home team.  On May 1, 2012, the Sox were at .500 after a rocky April under new manager Bobby Valentine.  They promptly lost seven of eight, and, by the end of the month, it was clear they wouldn’t see .500 again.

It took awhile, but team President Larry Lucchino acknowledged what everyone suspected from the start: it was he and owner John Henry who pushed new GM Ben Cherington into hiring Valentine. To say that Bobby’s bumptious leadership was not embraced by the team is an old story.  What what we know in retrospect is that Lucchino and Henry deserve the brunt of the blame for what happened.

There’s been a comparable problem plaguing Team Obama as it skirts a far-off  playing field. In this case, however, it’s the man with Lucchino/Henry-type power – that is, the Skipper himself – who bears responsibility for a series of disastrous misjudgments.  Paris-based birddog William Pfaff describes the problem in the context of Team USA’s series of “dubious wars” launched against Vietnam and Iraq, among others:

“Now we have a threat of war with Russia to save an American-sponsored coup d’etat in Ukraine.  This seems the work of officials closely associated with the right-wing Project for a New American Century…It seems odd that they have found a home in the Obama administration, customarily attacked as liberal. In foreign policy the administration is not…The Project for a New American Century was founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, well-known right-wing luminaries…(It constitutes) probably the most important and influential policy bloc in the American foreign policy debate… Now they have given us a crisis with Russia, via an American-incited coup d’etat in Ukraine that has run aground. It would appear (because of clownish security failures the night of the coup itself) to have been run out of the U.S. State Department’s Office of European and Eurasian Affairs, directed by Mr. Kagan’s wife, Assistant Secretary of State for these regions. (Why not the CIA, which at least is competent in such affairs, which Mrs. Kagan – otherwise Victoria Nuland — demonstrably is not. Did the CIA decline so foolish an adventure?)…

“It is hard to imagine how Barack Obama’s radical-conservative advisors convinced him to throw the United States once more into the battle to acquire Ukraine for Team West, at a moment when success would humiliate Vladimir Putin at the moment when he had carried off a triumphal Winter Olympics, and when the Russian president was being unprecedentedly cooperative with the U.S. in searching for solutions to the Iran nuclear issue, and to the appearance of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war.  Vladimir Putin’s reply to the Kiev coup was, of course, to seize Crimea. No one at the Project for a New American Century, or in Ms Nuland’s office, seems to have thought of that.”  – International Herald Tribune                                                                                   

(Note that the International Herald Tribune is published by the NY Times, which continually omits making Pfaff’s provocative reports available to stateside readers.)

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Blame Game Extra: The Lucchino-Henry debacle may have been instructive to once-meddling owners like Miami’s Jeffrey ay Loria and Baltimore’s Peter Angelos..  Both have given their baseball people more autonomy in recent years, a practice most other owners have been wise enough to follow.

It May Be Early, But…

What’s Happened to the Red Sox? (One man’s view):  “They don’t have the electricity they did a year ago.” – John Kruk (on ESPN)

What’s Happened to the Pirates? (One man’s view):  “They’re losing games this season they used to win a year ago.” – Paul O’Neill (on YES)

Snaking Back to Life: The Diamondbacks, fresh from their first home series win – over the Dodgers – have won 10 of 16, and buoyed by the addition of Tony La Russa to the front office, are now within hailing distance of the NL West pack.  Of course, some observers, including Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, think a shakeup is coming, with GM Kevin Towers and Skipper Kirk Gibson the targets.  If true, the pair is on notice that a prolonged turnaround could be their only  job-saving play.

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  (The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments about blog issues are welcome when addressed to the skipper at dickstar@aol.com.  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.