The Nub

Differing Destinations: Free Agents at Home and Abroad

(Posted 9/6/14)

Chris Young, ambulance released by the Mets three weeks ago, is back in the bigs with the Yankees, who signed him as a free agent to a minor league contract last week. The Mets are paying Young $7.5 million for a season in which he hit .205 in 88 games. He’ll pick up a little extra change for arranging to play as part of the expanded September roster with the Yanks. Young may not be having a good year as a hitter; as a negotiator, however, he’s done quite well.

Journalistic free agents James Foley and Steven Sotloff had no negotiating power as freelancers; they went to bat as part-time players in the Middle East, Foley for the (Boston-based) Global Post, Sotloff for Time. Neither outfit publically intervened on their behalf with Team USA after the two were caught in a deadly rundown that ended in their beheadings. Team Obama dared not accept an offer from ISIS to release the pair in return for ransom payments. If it did, the political blasts from hawkish legislators and a bloodshed-biased media would risk leaving the team and its party disabled.

Yet, the O-team knows fans in the national ballpark favor ransoming lives rather than losing them on Middle Eastern fields; they recognize we can score there by launching lethal long balls, but never hope to win. It is clearly because he has gauged the war-fatigue sentiment that the Skipper refuses – despite the tough rhetoric – to join the military-led rally to up the stakes in belligerency. The game is far from over, however, and could go either way.

How the Beheadings Complicate the Game:“(Obama) surely knows that it is precisely at moments like this, when politicians and pundits are demanding vengeance, that presidents are most prone to do ‘stupid stuff.’ He’s staked his foreign-policy legacy on being the president who doesn’t do that. But it is precisely because of this caution and calm that he’s losing political control, even in his own party. And God knows how many beheadings are still to come. – Peter Beinart, Atlantic On-Line

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Wild Card Changes: Seattle slips a half-game ahead of Detroit into second AL WC spot behind Oakland. Milwaukee edges a game ahead of Atlanta into second NL WC spot behind San Francisco. Three tight division races – KC now two ahead of Detroit in AL Central; Cardinals three ahead of Brewers in NL Central; Dodgers two ahead of SF in NL West.

Caught Napping: Brett Gardner, who has been carrying the Yankees offensively, did not get a pass from John Flaherty (on YES) when he sabotaged a double-steal against the Red Sox in the first inning Wednesday night. As Derek Jeter took off from second, “Gardner (on first) was asleep,” said Flaherty. Brett’s late start ended in a double play – his being thrown out at second and Jeter cut down after passing third and failing to get back. Former catcher Flaherty commended Sox rookie catcher Christian Vazquez for his heads-up play in recognizing Gardner’s lack of alertness, and acting on it.

Give-Up Time? After the Yankees lost the first game of the three-game series with the Sox Tuesday night, Peter Gammons (on Gammons Daily) ventured that neither team would make the playoffs this year. He noted it would be the first time both teams missed the post-season since 1993.

In Case You Didn’t Know: “The last time that Washington and Baltimore, which both had major league franchises as long ago as 1901, were in first place on Labor Day (and after) was — never.” – Tom Boswell, Washington Post


(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.