The Nub

Irresistible/Immovable Game on Both Fields

(Posted 8/16/14)

Even many sit-back ball fans who enjoy sporting violence now accept the new homeplate anti-collision rule; that’s our guess anyway. But there are holdouts, ask even among the players: catchers Jarold Saltalamacchia (Marlins) and A.J. Ellis (Dodgers) disagree with the rule. Ellis dissents this way: “The rule…takes away the game-changing or game-saving play. It’s something we train for, prescription we prepare for, and can be the difference between a win or a loss. It’s similar to… turning a tough double play in the middle. .. I don’t see (it) being taken away.”

We’re intrigued by how the bruising bash has given way often to a homeplate ballet, the catcher dancing aside and whirling glove and ball on to the incoming runner. We’re a long way from the irresistible running force and the stationary immovable object.

That type of violent confrontation is in effect on the political field, where Israel’s irresistible squad contends continually with an un-budging Team Hamas. Hamas’s willingness to sacrifice an endless number of its fans, young and old, rather than yield to what it considers unacceptable peace terms, has put Skipper Obama in a political bind. It’s one Robert Kuttner describes from his Huffington Post press box:

“The Israelis are… dependent on the alliance with the United States, but at the end of the day no American president has been willing to apply necessary leverage over inflammatory Israeli actions on settlements on the West Bank or normalization of civilian life in Gaza. Obama…bemoan(s) his lack of leverage. (In an interview with the Times’ Thomas Friedman), he praised ‘the ingenuity, energy and vision of the Jewish people,’ and quipped that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s ‘poll numbers are a lot higher than mine’ and ‘were greatly boosted by the war in Gaza.’ Obama added, ‘And so if he doesn’t feel some internal pressure, then it’s hard to see him being able to make some very difficult compromises, including taking on the settler movement.’

“All true, but the U.S. has been reluctant to use the leverage it has. In fairness to Obama, no American president has been willing to push the Israel alliance to its breaking point. But once again, this president appears disengaged and weak.”

Behind the extra-inning bind: the remarkably effective electoral clout of pro-Israel fans in our national ballpark.

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A Different NL East: The NL East standings tell a nerve-wracking story for Braves fans. The much-improved Marlins look to be division difference-makers this year, good enough to prevent Atlanta from gaining a wild card. Miami’s final regular-season record figures, as of now, to clinch three playoff spots for NL Central teams, the Brewers, Cardinals and Pirates.

Insecurity-Time: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman elicited some disquieting news for Mets Skipper Terry Collins this week. Collins’ contract runs through next season, so he must have felt reasonably secure. That is, until GM Sandy Alderson replied to a Heyman question about Collins’ future. Terry would be back, Anderson said, hinting, however, that another late-season “collapse” would put Collins’ job in jeopardy. Alderson surely knows that such a collapse would not help his chances of returning. Theo Epstein’s Cubs, in a third year of rebuilding compared to the Mets’ and Alderson’s fourth, trail Sandy’s team by only a few games. Should the Cubs finish with a better record, Jeff Wilpon might say he’s had enough of Alderson’s annual (90-wins-like) optimism.

Buck Knows Hockey: We quoted Rays exec VP Andrew Friedman the other day, saying Baseball’s “economic disparity is only widening.” Orioles Skipper Buck Showalter followed up on the thought, talking Monday about the Yankees adding Brandon McCarthy and the “line change,” Martin Prado, Chase Headley and Stephen Drew, before the non-waiver deadline: “Somebody jumps off the ice and somebody jumps on it. That’s kind of how it is. It’s what they do, God bless them. I’d do the same thing, if I was them, and could do it.” – quoted by Andrew Keh, NY

Lest It Be Forgotten: Amid all the puffery about the naming of new Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, Sporting News’ Jeff Spector deserves an accolade for putting the job in perspective this way: “It’s easy to think of the job as an independent overseer, the person running MLB operations and the ultimate authority on all things relating to the game. The commissioner still has plenty of power, but only so long as he acts in accordance with the desires of his bosses, the owners.”

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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.