(Posted: 5/18/12; e-mail update 5/19)
NY Times righthander David Brooks pitched the idea of “fundamentals” in a political column this week. He said Team Obama was hurting in the fundamentals department – the electoral game basics dealing with the economy and attitudes toward government. Most fans are unhappy with the O-team’s stance on both those categories of play.
The first baseball fundamental we learned – one that Brooks disregards politically – is “keeping your eye on the ball.” It applies to both hitting and fielding. If practiced with discipline, buy for sale focusing hard enables a player to “see the ball well” and helps his team win. Brooks says the skipper’s personal appeal has more than compensated for his lack of fundamentals. That clearly overlooks fan support for the ball on which he’s kept his eye: the image of a slugging leader. To the boos of lefties, generic Obama has flaunted his power stroke, ordering: the killing of bin Laden as well as the assassination of suspected terrorists, the increase in drone attacks that take innocent lives, the rendition of detainees denied due process, the shutting down of democratic teams abroad that obstruct his club’s interests. He comes across as one tough, crowd-pleasing skipper.
Comments Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi: “Obama is doing things… extralegal(ly)…that would have liberals marching in the streets if they’d been done by (George W.) Bush.”
WashPost’s Ezra Klein sees the skipper scoring up the middle with a different set of fundamentals: “The primary (ones) are these: Obama is the incumbent. The economy is growing at a moderate pace. There’s no serious third-party challenge. We’re not losing massive numbers of soldiers in a foreign war. And when you look at those fundamentals, the reality is this: Incumbent presidents very, very rarely lose under those conditions…Since 1948, only three incumbent presidents have lost reelection campaigns…(among them) Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush (who) both ran in very bad economies.”
The skipper’s effective execution of both types of fundamentals is, to use Taibbi’s apt words about the Bush/Obama continuity, “kind of a bummer, when you think about it.”
– – –
Stat City: The top team when combining the MLB’s hitting, pitching and fielding categories: the Rangers, by far. Texas is first in hitting, third in pitching and fifth in fielding. That’s a total numerical rating of nine, with three (first in all categories) the top mark. The Dodgers are a distant second, with a rating of 18; they’re second in pitching, eighth in hitting and fielding. The Yankees are an impressive third in fielding, fifth in hitting, but 23d in pitching, the Red Sox first in fielding, third in hitting, but 28th in pitching. The Mets are 25th in pitching, 22d in fielding, but a surprising sixth in hitting.
Inside Story: Why the Reds traded Josh Hamilton to the Rangers (for Edinson Volquez) in 2007. There were two things, writes Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Daugherty: “Thing One was that Hamilton was not popular among his teammates, who resented the coddling he got and the media attention he received, especially on the road. Hamilton’s comeback from a four-year absence due to drug problems was well documented. The extent to which it brought him favorable treatment was less well known…Far more important was the conclusion reached by the team’s medical staff that Hamilton’s durability would always be an issue. And that his potential for relapse would make him unreliable.”
Durability remains an issue as Hamilton approaches free agency. If he can stay healthy the rest of the season, we know the Rangers will have a difficult time matching the offers he’ll receive from a few of the wealthier teams.
– o –
(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)