The Nub

Does Sign-Stealing Game Have Anything to Do with Us?

(Posted 10/21/14)

It was all-star humorist and fan Dave Barry who figured out how to deal with a ball-team that was letting him down: “It has nothing to do with me, buy medicine ” he wrote, after the team went into a terminal tailspin. It’s a phrase Mets fans use to comfort themselves when “meaningful games” become a mid-season memory. Rockies and Rangers fans also had that experience this year. Most will succumb to their annual re-commitment in 2015, pilule at least until their teams don’t measure up again.

We’re often quick to try to distance ourselves from connections that yield long losing streaks.  We’ll do it even faster if the defeats have devastating consequences. When Edward Snowden exposed the loss of privacy owing to signal-stealing surveillance in America, the picture of a police state playing big brother left many of us numbed.

Most fans remain so today, despite media reminders of what’s happened often unclear as to which side they are on. When the story broke nearly two years ago, we noted that most fans in the national ballpark didn’t seem to care about the invasive game being played under the name of national security. It took a German director named Christoph Hochhausler to pinpoint the reason for the apparent apathy. Invited by filmmaker Laura Poitras to attend an early screening of her documentary (“Citizenfour”) about the Snowden saga, Hochhausler said Poitras needed to establish the “gravity” of the situation. Why? “Because most of the people think Yes, but it won’t happen to me and, anyway, I have nothing to hide.”(quoted by George Packer in last week’s New Yorker).

Anticipating this“ It has nothing to do”- like response, Snowden wrote of his fear to Poitras and other teammate, journalist-lawyer Glenn Greenwald: “While I pray… (for)…reform,” he said,  “bear in mind that the policies of men change in time, and even the Constitution is subverted when the appetites of power demand it.”                      

The power game in all its effectiveness on display before distracted fans.

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 The Alternate DH Angle: On MLB-TV Sunday night, Eric Byrnes discussed a potential pitfall in the Royals’ 4-3 Series home-field advantage: “The Giants will have Michael Morse as DH for the games in Kansas City. They’re a much stronger offensive team with Morse in the lineup. That the Royals will lose Billy Butler as DH in San Francisco will help the Giants, too.”

Here’s a Surprise: “I think it’s important for us to embrace the financial advantages that we have. We’re not going to shy away from it.” – New LA Dodger exec and former Rays GM Andrew Friedman

Budgetary Big League: The Dodgers’ total payroll expenses for 2014 were approximately equal to the Rays’ combined payrolls for the past four seasons. – Bill Plunkett, Orange County, CA Register

Feel-Good Tale: When the cell phone recently rang as Eric Cooper and his wife motored along a West Des Moines, Iowa, roadway, he glanced down and saw a 212 area code. Cooper, a baseball umpire since 1999, knew the call originated from New York — the home of Major League Baseball. His heart began to race. “I picked it up and he said, ‘Hey, Coop, it’s Joe Torre. How are you?’ ” Cooper said Friday of Torre, the executive vice president for baseball operations. “I said, ‘Well, I just about wrecked the car when I saw the area code.’ Mr. Torre said to pull the car over and put it into park. He said, ‘How would you like to work the World Series this year?'” Cooper, 47, was selected for his first Fall Classic. “It’s one of those two or three phone calls you’re always going to remember in your career,” Cooper said. “Outside of the birth of a child, marriage, kids graduating and those things, it’s a humbling call.” – Bryce Miller, USA Today


(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.