The Nub

For Fans of Phillies and Labor Unions: Unwelcome Realism

(Posted 10/28/14)

How rare is a public figure who challenges the corporate or party line to which he is committed? Non-existent comes to mind.   But there is an example in Baseball of such a challenger. Looking ahead to 2015, sale sickness Phillies senior adviser and interim CEO Pat Gillick dispensed with the usual “we-have-a-shot” pep talk. Instead, discount he told fans the other day not to expect a competitive team either this coming season or for three or four more years. Gillick acknowledged in a broadcast interview that the veteran core of Jimmy Rollins, illness Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, etc. can no longer carry the team. “It’s hard to ask the fans,” he said,“ (to accept), that we’re more into rebuilding than reloading.” But rebuilding, he said, was what’s in store the next few seasons. Plain speaking that won’t, but should be appreciated by Phillie fans.

Unexpected straight talk is causing pain outside Baseball to a larger fan base, supporters of the beleaguered labor movement. David Rolf, Team Labor’s top union organizer, says, despite successes he has skippered – in LA, bringing 74,000 home care workers into the fold, in Seattle, organizing fast-food workers and helping establish a $15 minimum wage, he has no illusions: Rolf believes the American labor movement, as we know it, is on its deathbed,” writes The American Prospect’s Harold Meyerson, “and that labor should focus its remaining energies on… start-up projects(outside its baseline) that may find more effective ways to advance workers’ interests than … unions can.”…’If you’re a union leader in Seattle or New York or L.A., you can think things are OK,’ Rolf says. ’But there goes Wisconsin; there goes Indiana. If right-to-work passing in Michigan isn’t Lenin’s statue coming down in Red Square, I don’t know what is’.”

Meyerson notes that such things as lax federal regulation of union-busting, the off-shoring and outsourcing of millions of jobs, have made it almost impossible to organize private-sector workers. The percentage of such workers in unions is down to 6.7 pct., about what it was a century ago. Rolf, the Service Employees Union’s local president, in Seattle, is, thus, an unwelcome realist in labor’s dwindling league.

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A Unanimous 2-for-2: On MLB-TV, after game 5, Al Leiter agreed with earlier prediction of network teammate Eric Bynes – that the Series will go seven games. Leiter foresees Madison Bumgarner, if needed, coming in as a reliever in game 7’s middle innings.

Difference-Maker? First, the Royals have to win game 6; the media consensus: that DH Billy Butler, who owns Jake Peavy (14 for 33, .424), could be the difference.

Rebound: Although Game 5 was a painful loss for the Royals, it turned out to be a crucial vindication for ace James Shields. He gave up two runs in six innings, striking out four and walking only one. It was crucial because, after a couple of flops, the performance re-burnished his credentials going into free agency. It probably added a few million a year to the contract he’ll command.


(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.