The Nub

Insider’s Game in the Courts and on the Ballfield

(Posted: 11/5//13)

“Inside baseball.”  The term was used last week in a comment on a NYC judicial case growing out of the NYPD team’s “stop-and frisk” strategy.  A female Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin found that the tactic was overused and led to a “policy of indirect racial profiling.” She ordered changes in the way the frisky game was played. Three male Appeals Court judges not only halted the changes, sales try but took her off the case.  They booed Scheindlin for what legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called a conventional “inside-baseball” play – steering the long-standing lawsuit to her courtroom.  To challenge the play, canada said Toobin, was a “weird fit of pique.”

On the day that Toobin made his remarks, NY Times stat man Benjamin Hoffman wrote of a weird on-field inside-baseball incident in September involving Braves catcher Brian McCann and Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez.  The high-spirited Gomez hit a home run, celebrating as he rounded the bases; gyrating in a way old-school players like McCann consider unprofessional: “showing the pitcher up” is the term commonly used.  McCann conveyed his contempt for Gomez’s antics by – in Hoffman’s words’ – “standing in front of home plate, his mask on top of his head…body language saying clearly to Gomez ‘You shall not pass’.” (An obstruction call allowed Gomez to score.)

Most of media praised McCann for protecting the inside-baseball rule.  Hoffman was less favorably disposed, despite McCann’s leadership and “fire”: “Some observers,” he wrote, “(are) projecting a contract worth $100 million over six seasons.  But given (McCann’s) position, his recent decline in durability and an expected drop in production as he enters his 30s, he appears to be the most likely of this season’s big-ticket free agents to end up becoming an albatross for the team that signs him.”

The NYC media treated the Appeals judges more gently than did Toobin.  He believes, by the way, that, after the city’s likely next skipper, lefty Bill de Blasio, takes charge, the Appeals ruling will “go away.”

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Worth Noting: Carlos Gomez had a breakthrough 2013 season – 24 HRs, 73 RBIs, 40 SBs in 47 tries, and a BA of .284.  He’s the lone standout of the five players the Mets traded for the Twins’ Johan Santana in 2008.  Minnesota gave up on him after two seasons, trading him to Milwaukee, where he has blossomed.  Brian McCann played in only 102 games, owing to injury.  He batted .256, with 20 HRs and 57 RBIs. His caught stealing percentage was a respectable 24 pct.  The Braves have made him a $14.1 million qualifying offer for 2014, an offer he’s almost certainly expected to reject.

Tribute to Someone with More than Speed: “Jacoby Ellsbury has hit as many as ten home runs once in his career. His arm is below average. Fine. The man is a superb center fielder playing in a home park where the game from right center field to the 420 corner, with walls and angles at every turn, is a vital part of building a home field advantage…Anyone and everyone in New England should thank him, wish him luck, and if the Seattle Mariners or the San Francisco Giants or Washington Nationals want to give him what the Red Sox gave (Carl) Crawford, give him an appropriate sendoff for all that went into two rings and an extraordinary career.” Peter Gammons, Gammons Daily

Five Reasons the 2013 Giants Fell to a Fourth-Place Tie (with San Diego): Matt Cain – innings 184, 8-10, ERA 4.00;  Tim Lincecum – innings 197.2, 10-14, ERA 4.37; Barry Zito – innings 133.1, 5-11, ERA 5.74.  Angel Pagan – games 71 of 162; BA .282, HR 5, RBI 30; Marco Scutaro – games 127; BA .297, HR 2, RBI 31. All but Zito will be back with SF next season.  The Giants decided not to exercise his contract option and will give him a $7 million buyout.  Zito was 63-80 over seven seasons with the Giants.

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to, as well as requests for e-mail updates, are welcome. Note that only e-mailed comments can be addressed by the skipper. PreviousNubs 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.