The additions of Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers’ already rich roster, buy purchase and Matt Thornton to the Red Sox relief corps, remind us of why this is baseball’s screw-up season.The home-free trading permitted prior to the July 31 deadline skews whatevercompetitive balance exists at the halfway mark. Those who cheer the “excitement”the one-sided deals inject into the sport’s dailyness are sheep, led by the media’simpatience for a change of pace in their coverage.
That most fans shrug at the pastime’s annual misplay is insensitive, given thesudden new insecurity imposed on the many others who root for the Yankees, Rays, Orioles, A’s, Phillies Reds, Pirates, Giants, Rockies, D-backs, etc. Or on Clevelanders, skittish at the thought the Tigers will acquire the closer to close out the AL Central race. Indifference generally is mindless; we have a duty (damn it), a right to get riled up when game-changing errors are made by those in charge.
Team Obama has been following a traditional, insulting game plan in the world ballparks that, we believe, warrants an all-fields rhubarb. The other day, a Long Island lawyer challenged our razzing the O-team for remaining outside the baseline on whether to challenge the military coup in Egypt: “Isn’t it in our interest,” he wrote, “to insure that Egypt remains on friendly terms with Israel?” While conceding that point, we said, it was not the play we mainly resent: “It is the pro-democratic uniform we wear,” we said, “while upsetting how the game is played.”
The corporate media prefer to go along with the deceit, ignoring the now-familiar signals: our Yanqui-style O-team believes in democratic elections, only if the winner is willing to play ball. That would be almost tolerable, if, in the spirit of Ty Cobb, the Skipper says bluntly, “We don’t expect everyone to like it, but that’s our game; get used to it.” Isn’t candor better than refusing to own up to something the world has figured out.
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Unminced Words: Let’s be straightforward about this: the naysayers who wish tonight’s All-Star Game was nothing more than an entertaining exhibition are way off base. They’ve been consistently wrong on the subject since Bud Selig decreed that league home-field World Series advantage would be at stake. Selig made the game matter. We should be grateful any time we can watch professional teams play, as most of us play: to win, and to have it count.
Reality Bites: It’s hard not to root for the Phillies, who, despite key injuries, have stayed in the NL East mix with a 48-48 record at the break. You don’t lose players like Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard, and then last week, Ben Revere, and not feel the hurt at multiple levels. Still, Charlie Manuel, anything but a pie-in-the-sky skipper, believes in his team. Phillie Inquirer columnist Bob Ford prefers unpopular realism. Here is his nutshell assessment: “Once the Phils lost Halladay and then Howard, their chances of contending went with them. It is too long between starts for Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, and there are too many empty at-bats in the middle of the lineup.”
Paging Pagan: When the Giants gave Angel Pagan a four-year, $40 million contract last winter, the consensus was they overpaid for a fairly good player who had bounced around. In his absence since a May 28 injury, the Giants’ season has taken a bad bounce: they’ve gone 15-28 without Angelpatrolling center field. Despite a successful three-of-four weekend against the Padres, SF seems to be missing Pagan’s fire.
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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments to email@example.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)