The Nub

Ike,Bibi at Opposite Ends of Aggression Game

(Posted 6/12/14)

Ike Davis has cooled off since he hit .326 with a .408 on-base percentage in May.  But the Pirates are still happy they landed him from the Mets in late April.  And many Mets fans regret the team gave up on a proven power hitter and one of only seven Jewish players on current MLB rosters. The other six: Ryan Braun of the Brewers, check the Red Sox’s Craig Breslow, ambulance the Astros’ Scott Feldman, the Tigers’ Ian Kinsler, and two players on the DL – the Twins’Sam Fuld. and KC’s Danny Valencia. The Mets are 28th in team hitting, and fourth from the MLB’s bottom in HRs. Davis showed in 2012 that he was a legitimate HR threat, going long 32 times for the Mets. Ike’s father, former major leaguer Ron Davis, complained early this year that the Mets put too much pressure on his son when he struggled at the plate last season. Mets fans have particular reason to complain now: after displaying what many considered over-aggressiveness in dealing Ike, the Mets’ have played a weak, ineffectual game in reinforcing their hitting-challenged team.

There’s always aggressiveness somewhere on the political field.  Many fans of Team Israel are complaining about the bold tactics of Skipper Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu toward Palestinians.  The boos of  left-leaning spectators were pitched in print the other day by the Tel Aviv-based newspaper Haaretz:

“It is unacceptable, in the 21st century, for a state that purports to be a permanent member of the free world to keep another nation deprived of its rights. It is unthinkable, simply unthinkable, for millions of Palestinians to continue to live in these conditions. It is unthinkable for a democratic state to continue to oppress them in this way. It is unthinkable that the world stands by and allows it to happen. ..  This is the truth, even if it’s bitter. America and Europe have kowtowed to Israel enough. Unfortunately, to no effect.  From now on, the world must speak a different language and perhaps it will be understood. After all, Israel has proved, more than once, that the language of power and punishment is its main language.”  ( Gideon Levy)*

Despite polls showing most Americans oppose Netanyahu’s aggressive stance on settlement-expansion on Palestinian turf – and his disregard for U.S. opposition – Team Obama continues, however grudgingly, to play ball.  Why?  The remarkable clout of the pro-Israel lobby in Congress.

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P.S.  One MLB team is managed by a former Jewish player: the Tigers, whose currently embattled first-year skipper is Brad Ausmus.

Wednesday Happenings: Among Ausmus’s many worries: Justin Verlander’s tailspin.  Verlander fell to 6-6, losing to the White Sox last night, yielding seven earned runs in 5.2 innings.  KC, with its fourth straight win, moved to within two games of the Tigers.  First-place Detroit is now only three-and-a-half games ahead of last-place Minnesota in the AL Central.  Ex-Yankee Phil Hughes is pitching like Mashiro Tanaka for the Twins.   Hughes led his team to a second straight over Toronto while Tanaka pitched another gem, this time against the Mariners.  In the NL meanwhile, the NL East gained a new leader – the Nationals have pulled a game ahead of the Braves.

 The Throw:  Veteran writer Joe Sheehan was in the stands in Anaheim Tuesday night when Oakland left fielder Yoenis Cespedes memorably cut down the potential winning run at home plate. Here is part of his description (of a play that preceded an eventual LAA win):

 The last that baseball had been spotted, it was on the ground somewhere between a frustrated Cespedes and a lot of very happy people wearing red. Now, maybe a second later, probably not three, it was chasing down Howie Kendrick like a drone. I hadn’t seen Cespedes collect or release the baseball, but I was watching the end result of those efforts, and as I did, my jaw released towards the sticky concrete of section 125.  The drone baseball overtook Kendrick and settled into the glove of Derek Norris, who seemed to be as surprised as anyone by the presence of a baseball in his world. Norris had little to do but to tag Kendrick, and he did so with such aplomb — ‘no, seriously, where did this come from?’ — that he nearly ran afoul of the new rules governing plate blocking.  A video review acquitted Norris and kept the go-ahead run off the board.” – Gammons Daily

What Comparative Team Stats Suggest: If team hitting/pitching/fielding rankings provide solid clues as to which teams look to be playoff-bound, and which not, here is the current outlook: the widely favored Cardinals are the only team in the top five of two of the three categories: pitching and fielding.  The one team in the bottom five of all three categories: the surprising White Sox, whose vulnerabilities may prevent them from staying as competitive as they now are.

Late Wednesday Scores: Oakland 7, Angels 1; Yankees 4, Mariners 2;  Nationals 6, Giants 2; Rockies 8, Braves 2

Game-Pace Picker-Upper?  A distinguished panel headed by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, including journalists George Will and David Brooks and others, discussed Why Baseball is the National Pastime, in Washington, not long ago.  The panelists agreed the pace of the game needed speeding up.  One simple suggestion from Will: “Eliminate batting gloves.”

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*Quoted in NY Times-published International Herald Tribune, not in Times’ U.S. editions.

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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  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.