The Nub

Breaking from the Game Plan in Both Fields

(Posted 10/11/14)

This unusual exchange occurred in the TBS booth during the final game of the Angels-Royals ALDS matchup last Sunday:

Play-by-play man Brian Anderson (completing a promo for a comedy called “The Big Bang Theory”): “It’s funny.”    

Color man Joe Simpson: “You’re funny…at least, usa check I think you are.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

BA (after seconds of dead air): “You caught me by surprise there, patient Joe. Couldn’t think of anything to say. Guess I’m not funny, after all.”

JS: “You’ve gone down a notch.”

The byplay gave us a kick: two pros being themselves, not afraid to break from their baseball-reporting assignments, to tell us – through impromptu wit – that they have a personal friendship,

Matt Vasgersian and John Smoltz, covering the Nats-Giants series for MLB-TV, candidly conveyed a similar rapport: When Smoltz fumbled for a descriptive word Monday night, Vaspersion found it for him. Said Smoltz: “We’ve reached the point where you know what I’m thinking before I do.”

Those moments came to mind when the political media booed VP Joe Biden for breaking from his talking points at Harvard, and, being himself, said what most of us already suspected: that Team Obama’s biggest problem in meeting the chaotic challenge embroiling the Middle East is getting allies to play ball…with, not against us.

Wednesday’s NY Times pitched one example: the O-team’s supposed ally Turkey refuses to aid embattled Kurds across the border in Syria because the Kurds at home have long been hostile to the government in Ankara. Then there is the conundrum of whether rebel groups we’re supporting in Syria are more interested in overthrowing Bashar al- Assad than in defeating ISIS? And what do we do about Iran and Lebanon-based Hezbollah, fighting on Assad’s side against the rebel groups supposedly on ours? As for the Arab nations formally allied with the U.S., they’ve made clear, informally, that they have no stomach for provoking ISIS.

The Skipper’s former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta injected an interesting complication into the already complex mix: Obama’s reluctance to ignore the war-fatigue rooted in the national ballpark. Polls show fans yearn for peace, while the mainstream media reinforce calls for a military rally. The Skipper, it would seem, favors competing like the Cardinals and Giants rather than the Dodgers and Yankees; that is, staying outside the baseline until crunch-time forces them into the center of the diamond.. Obama is finding, however, that he has no choice; he can’t go against our history of what some call intervention, others meddling. For the moment, the global dominance game is our destiny, much as the World Series is apparently that of teams from St.Louis or San Francisco.

–       –       –

If Offense Counts: last night’s result notwithstanding, only one team in the final four has clout: the Orioles. As such, the O’s figure to make it to the Series title. Of course, that assumes the Cinderella Royals – five straight post-season victories – don’t achieve the crowning feat (even if it’s just the AL pennant) of their magical season.

Efficiency: MLB’s Dan Plesac (a former reliever), on KC’s set up man Wade Davis: “Ned Yost has a lot of animals on his team, but Davis is a ‘gorilla’.” Wade’s line last night: six batters faced in two full innings; no hits, no runs, four strike-outs.

Get Me Mikey: “They need Michael (“Mikey”) Morse,” John Kruk, doing color on ESPN Radio, said the other night. Kruk was remarking on the lack of righthanded punch in the SF lineup. Morse, on the DL since September 19, is scheduled to return to the Giants roster for the NLCS. He hit .279 – .293 against righties – with 16 HRs and 61 RBIs in 131 games.

Buildup in St.Louis: “Free agents leave, stars retire, trades are made. Previous core players such as Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Carlos Beltran David Freese and Allen Craig — among others — are gone. No problem. The Cardinals keep winning. They develop prospects and put them with proven veterans and key acquisitions. And then the team that wears the Birds on the Bat goes out and stamps the franchise logo on the October playing fields where championships are won.” – Bernie Miklasz, St.Louis Post-Dispatch

Fallout in LA: “The Dodgers were an incomplete $240-million team and it showed in the division series. Is (GM Ned Colletti’s) job safe? Hard to know, but when Guggenheim Baseball took over, it inherited Colletti and elected to keep him. Its leaders may figure he’s had his chance.” – Steve Dilbeck, LA Times

“Hanley Ramirez has almost certainly played his last game in a Dodgers uniform – and maybe his last as a shortstop for anyone. Unproductive discussions regarding a contract extension with the Dodgers died months ago and are not likely to be resuscitated.” – Bill Plunkett, Orange County Register


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