The Nub

‘Exciting’ Times (Not) in Baseball and the Ukraine

(Posted 8/5/14)

“Exciting, discount sale ” “Amazing” “Fascinating” – unanimously positive verdicts pitched by MLB-TV panelists on the non-waiver deals completed by last Thursday’s deadline. Well, at one point, Harold Reynolds acknowledged that the flurry of activity “gives us something to talk about.” Still, the annual game-changing spate of deals thrills most fans and media people alike.

Not here. We dissent every year for reasons that are especially relevant this time around: why should anyone except Tigers fans cheer Detroit’s adding David Price and, thus, eliminating the playoff race in the AL Central? And why should the preponderant number of non-aligned fans rejoice in Oakland confirming that the A’s – with the help of Jon Lester – mean, not only to win their division, but to make it maybe to the World Series? Then there are those white flags now flying anew in Tampa Bay and for sure in Boston: how can we feel good about that?

The answer: we shouldn’t. Why? injection of the non-waiver deadline into a largely competitive season serves to destabilize what – especially this year – has featured remarkable balance: 20 teams either single-digits off the pace or atop their division. It was fun until things got exciting, amazing and fascinating.

The “gives-us-something-to-talk-about” rationale applies in the excitable media accounts of the destabilization occurring on the political field in Ukraine. The not-easily-accessed record book reminds us that Team Obama went to bat last year for a neo-fascist-dotted roster of protesters who wanted to move their country toward the West and away from Russia. In the process, they pulled off a right-wing coup, sending their corrupt but democratically elected skipper to the showers. The O-team’s support of the coup ended any chance of a compromise arrangement, backed by Vladimir Putin, whereby eastern Ukraine could maintain its solid ties to Russia while the western part of the country moved closer to Europe. Putin’s long-held fear that NATO would enter his ballpark was thus realized. The pro-Russian rally in the east that ensued – and now continues – was certainly backed by Putin. But, just as certainly, it’s been provoked by our aggressive game.

Stephen Cohen, former professor of Russian Studies at Princeton and NYU, writes (in The Nation) that “little of this is noted in the United States.” He adds: “In a democratic political system, the media are expected to pierce the official fog of (what has become a new cold) war. In the Ukrainian crisis, however, mainstream American newspaper and television coverage has been almost as slanted…as statements from the White House and State Department.”

Underlying those slanted signals: the same type of souped-up glee that greeted the destabilization in Baseball last week.

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More on the Flag-Waving Sox: “(GM Ben)Cherington did a remarkable job beginning the renovations, especially given that there are so few bats on the market this winter. (John) Farrell is right, the players that are here need to win, not promise, because the present is important both to the culture and to the people who pay $135 a seat, $50 for parking and (fancy) prices for concessions. The hunt for good will is not about in house entertainment, it’s about good players and good, competitive teams, and the players they field these last two months have to go from the future to the present…in the Upstairs, Downstairs world of The Olde Towne Team.”– Peter Gammons, Gammons Daily

Troubled Angels: With (Tyler) Skaggs on the disabled list, the Angels lack rotation depth. Just six men have started for the Angels this year, the five currently in the rotation, including (C.J). Wilson (newly returned from the DL) and Skaggs. Their Triple-A rotation is full of frightening ERAs, and the organization as a whole is bereft of pitching prospects. Wilson, who has now posted a 12.50 ERA in his last five starts…The Angels did well to restock their bullpen before the non-waiver deadline, but they failed to add a starting pitcher. If Wilson doesn’t find that groove in his next start, however, they may have to find help via a waiver trade.” – Cliff Corcoran, Sports Illustrated

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