The Nub

‘Frontier Justice’ Unstoppable in the National Ballpark

(Posted  6/21/14)

A month ago we noted that the Pirates’ Charlie (‘Brush-Back’) Morton had hit eight batsmen in eight games – after leading the 2013 season in that department with 16 HBPs in 20 games. Morton, leading again, drugstore now has hit 16 batsmen in 17 contests.  Anyone catching games on TV with even modest frequency knows that the more targeted grudge game of winging opposing batsmen is alive and well. A dramatic example unfolded in Arizona Tuesday night.  Rookie reliever Evan Marshall was instructed to hit the Brewers’ Ryan Braun, reviled by D’backs Skipper Kirk Gibson for his performance during his PED. spectacle.

Neither Gibson nor Marshall would admit to the deliberate drilling, but the pair bumped knuckles in the dugout after the pitcher was ejected. “Marshall had no choice but to follow his manager’s orders,” said MLB-TV’s Mark DeRosa.  “He knew if he didn’t, he’d be back in Triple-A.  The knuckle-bump confirmed what happened was no accident.”  D’backs GM Kevin Towers has publicly said he expected his players (and presumably his manager) to “protect” each other.   That’s the standard line skippers use for allowing the drilling war to go on, season-after-season.  The stance of Baseball people is that nothing more – besides warnings and ejections – can be done to stop the dangerous practice.

If the attitude sounds familiar, it’s because we encounter it often in the gun-violence game.  Take the case or Elliott Rodger, the 23-year-old Californian who went on a shooting spree a month ago.  After stabbing three men to death in his apartment, he shot and wounded 13 and killed three.  The commentary afterward centered on mental illness and poor police work instead of – in the words or The Nation columnist Richard Kim – Rodger’s “unfettered access to the guns and ammunition needed to commit this atrocity.”  Grudging credit must be given the NRA for using its lobbying – that is, financial – clout to stop passage of rational gun policies.

The immediate blame?  Well, Kim notes that the “The push  for gun-law reform in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre has not only vanished at the federal level, it’s been reversed in many states.”    Until defeatist fans in the national ballpark rally their legislators, the game will remain lost.  As of now, both fans and Congressional players are displaying the same what-can-you-do? stance about gun violence they maintain about ballfield “frontier justice”.  We therefore shouldn’t be surprised by this headline (noted by Kim) in the satirical scorecard, The Onion:

“’NO WAY TO PREVENT THIS’ SAYS ONLY NATION WHERE THIS REGULARLY HAPPENS.”

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Assessing the Sudden Scramble: On  MLB Now this week, panelists were talking about Baseball’s “regression-to-the-mean” time, when teams playing over their heads start coming back to earth.  The Giants, Tigers and Braves were  mentioned, albeit, tentatively.  There was unanimous agreement that the Dodgers were asserting themselves as the NL West team to beat, an example of ascension to the mean. The consensus on the surging KC Royals: they’re for real, and the Tigers may have an authentic challenger in the AL Central.  Little was said about the emerging likelihood the AL East will be an old-fashioned Yankees-Red Sox scramble.  Acknowledged by all: mid-season deals could be decisive in a few of the divisions.

Petey Praise:  It isn’t often that Dustin Pedroia publicly tips his hat to the opposition. But he did so Thursday night in Oakland after the A’s beat the Sox, 4-2.  “They’ve got a great team,” were his seldom-heard words.

Making It Simple:  Paul O’Neill, on YES, quoting a pitching coach on his former team, the Reds: “A hot hitter is more dangerous than a good hitter.  If a good hitter is hot, walk him.”

Friendly Fire:  You know a team is struggling (all right, “bad”) when its play-by-play announcer takes shots at obvious shortcomings.  The other day, in a telecast, Gary Cohn noted why a Padres shortstop bobbled a ball hit by Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.  “He rushed because he thought Ruben could run,” Cohn said to partner Ron Darling.  “He can’t.”

Late Friday Scores: Oakland 4, Boston 3; Arizona 4, Giants 1; Padres 6, Dodgers 5; Brewers 13, Rockies 10; Angels 7, Rangers 3

Streakers: Phillies +5, Giants – 6

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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.