The Nub

Corruption: A Mark on One Field, Menace on Another

Veteran Daily News columnist Bill Madden surprised many of us not long ago by saying he didn’t give Mike Piazza a Hall of Fame vote, sale and why: “I always had suspicions that Piazza used steroids and those suspicions were heightened when a number of players told me he was a user.” Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised; it’s a fair guess that during Baseball’s dark steroids period in the 1990’s and beyond, nurse many players who cheated avoided detection.

We know that cheating in general, undetected by the authorities, tends to be irresistible to many when it can lead to personal gain. That applies outside baseball most devastatingly on the political field involving elected officials. New York has been named among a dozen other states that lead the nation in political corruption. Much of the shady enrichment in politics is legal, coming through vote-buying financed by corporate lobbyists.

Calamitous as is broad-based corruption in our national ballpark, it comes nowhere near matching the c-game playing out abroad with dire consequences. Author Sarah Chayes of the Carnegie Endowment provides first-hand accounts of what’s at stake in several parts of the world; she tells the alarming stories in her recent book, “Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security.” Appearing on BBC America, Chayes noted the link between violent jihadists ISIS in the Mideast and Boko Horam in Nigeria and pervasive state corruption. The violence starts, in large part, as a reaction to obvious, arrogant dishonesty in the seats of power. she says.

Chayes saw corruption first-hand in Afghanistan, Egypt and Tunisia, as well as Nigeria. Of what’s happening in that afflicted African state, she writes: “For security reasons as well as ethical ones, the United States should stand by its anticorruption rhetoric, applying sanctions and other leverage against members of what many have called Nigeria’s most kleptocratic administration ever.”

Similar efforts are clearly needed in our own ballpark, where the purposeful pass allowed by officials in charge has been a nationwide source of despair.

                                                     –       –       –

A Softening on Mike: Bill Madden amended his stance on Piazza to say that, if the catcher needs a vote on his last chance to get into Cooperstown, he – Madden – would give it to him.

Sorry, St.Louis: No surprise about the overwhelming consensus of who will be the 2015 World Series winner. The talent-loaded Nationals are the choice. The NL Central consensus vote – for the Cardinals – seems shaky to us. That division, like both the AL East and Central, looks, from our box-seat, to be up for grabs.

Overlooked by Some of Us: Among a list on MLB Now of underrated performers in 2014, a list that included the somewhat familiar names of Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes and Mets first baseman Lucas Duda, was an interesting unfamiliar one: reliever Ken Giles of the Phillies. The 24-year-old rookie righthander struck out 64 batters in 46 innings on his way to a 1.18 ERA. Now we know why the Phils feel free to peddle Jonathan Papelbon.

-o-

(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.