The Nub

The Nub

"If you don't think life imitates sports, you're not reading The Nub”
                                                                                                             -  Bill Moyers

“Politics and baseball.  Interesting blog…called ‘The Nub’ on perfectpitcher.org.”
                                                                                                               - Boston Globe

Why Some Work in Both Fields Is Not Getting Done

“This energizes it”…”This gives it sizzle” were two of many high-level MLB statements (by Commissioner Bud Selig and Giants exec Larry Baer) after Baseball made the All-Star Game a “game that counts” in 2002. Until then, when that summer’s game ended in a 1-1 tie, it was a pure exhibition. The players and managers loved it that way – part of a three-day vacation requiring minimal effort. A lark, with nothing at stake. Giving the Series-qualifying team from the league that won the game home field changed everything. Fans loved this version, and why wouldn’t they? No more losing interest as the game dragged on toward midnight. However it ended didn’t matter.

How could this revisionism have happened? We can’t alone blame the players and managers, now able to relax, nor some of the team owners on the losing side. The finger should clearly be pointed at the media people. “I never liked it,” said Al Leiter, on MLB-TV. Most of his fellow panelists agreed. Just too much extra work was the unspoken explanation for the negativity.

And if there’s any doubt about a similar problem affecting the political media, we should check in with Jon Stewart, who, with his team on “The Daily Show” spotted the adversity of too many news-gathering players to putting in the work required. That work is mainly fact-checking. As a producer tells it in a newly published book about the show, too many politicians were lying and getting away with while being interviewed on networks like CNN. The pols would lie and, too often, the reporter would respond, “Well, we’ll have to leave it there.” So, “The Daily Show” began making it a practice of holding both the politician and the network (print organizations could have been included) responsible.

Stewart’s line when he heard the “have to leave it there” phrase was: “Don’t leave it there. There is a terrible place to leave it.”

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MLB’s Winter Meetings Dealing Whirlwind

Sorry, Cleveland fans, the Red Sox have established themselves as the team in the AL as the 2017 season approaches. Acquiring Chris Sale from the White Sox can have that kind of heady effect on a franchise. The Sox gave up a potential prize of their own in infielder Yoan Moncada, but Sale gives Boston a top-notch trio of starters in Sale, Rick Porcello, and David Price, plus four other mid-notchers.

The Dodgers are still waiting to pounce from the dealing bushes, but they’ve added late-blooming Rich Hill to their rotation, paying an impressive investment of $48 million over three years

And speaking of paying high for a privilege, the Giants invested $62 million over four years for sought-after closer Mark Melancon.

The Cubs have a new closer of their own, the Yankees have an old one back: the Cubs traded outfielder Jorge Soler to KC for the almost legendary Wade Davis, the Yanks reclaimed Aroldis Chapman with an $86 million five-year contract. The Nationals got into the dealing act by acquiring right fielder Adam Eaton from the White Sox for three well-regarded pitching prospects. The Rockies, meanwhile, picked up former Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who may be asked to play several positions,for four-years, $70 million, and a future high-level prospect. Center fielder Dexter Fowler, who played six-plus years with the Rockies before moving on to the Astros and Cubs, signed a five-year, $17 million-per contract with the Cardinals

We won’t be surprised if Houston’s giving Carlos Beltran a one-year deal turns out to bet the most productive position-player signing of the off-season. Beltran is returning to the team, where, in 1994 (age 27), he made perhaps the most memorable playoff performance ever: 20 hits, eight HRs, 14 RBIs, over just 12 games against the Braves and Cardinals. Sure. He’s 40 now. But we know he can still hit, and from either side of the plate. Matt Holliday, Beltran’s replacement with the Yankees, we suspect,will turn out to be of lesser value.

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The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

 

Fidel Castro: Leader Who Loved Baseball While Defying Team USA

“He was a terrific baseball guy”: former Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Clyde King remembered Fidel Castro that way. It was against a Fidel team that he and the Dodgers competed well before and slightly after Cuba’s Castro-led revolution in 1959. Under Fidel, baseball was nurtured as the country’s seemingly most popular pastime; it was played at least semi-professionally in several leagues throughout the island-nation that has refused to play ball with Team USA for nearly 60 years. At ballparks across the still-proud Communist country, admission is either free or accessible at token cost. “SPORTS IS A RIGHT,” say signs near outfield scoreboards. Sandlot games are evident, too. In a Havana playground some years ago, we saw teenagers engaged in a lively stickball game, one that could have been played here, except for one variation: batters had to walk the bases, not run them, when advancing on a ball in play.

Cuba was taken out of play economically when we Yanquis imposed a trade embargo on the island after Castro chased dictator Fulgencio Batista in ’59. Since then there has been no hiding the hardship resulting from the many minimal salary levels set by the government that keep natives struggling unless their services involve tourists; struggles that also have them experiencing food markets and clothing shops sparsely stocked, the best\ home-grown edibles exported. Still, ever-defiant Cuba managed to develop superior medical and educational systems; and with economic equality the rule, everyone living on low incomes benefit at key levels. (We are over-educated,” said urban planner Mario Coyola, about the disappearance of appropriate jobs for the annually large crops of college graduates.”)

The New York Times, no friend of Cuba’s through the Castro years (or of any Latin American country resistant to Yanqui control) Sunday published this grudging tribute to Fidel: “Fidel Castro’s impact on Latin America (looks to) last indefinitely. The power of his personality remains inescapable.”                                                              

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Some of the prominent Cuban expatriates playing in the MLB now: Jose Abreu, White Sox; Yoenis Cespedes. Mets free agent; Aroldis Chapman, Cubs FA; Jose Iglesias, Tigers; Kendrys Morales, Blue Jays; Yasiel Puig, Dodgers;

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(More of The Nub, a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey, can be found at perfectpitcher.org)

(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

 

Connecting the Numbers in Both Pastimes

Playoff Crystal Ball 2017: Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers, Yankees, Giants, Nationals, Rangers, Cardinals, Cubs. Presidential Primary Record Book 2015-16: Team GOP Candidates – Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, Lindsay Graham, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Jim Gilmore. Dem team candidates (originals, who stayed in field, even briefly): Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley,

What We Know About the MLB: There are wealthier teams – many shown above – and small-market clubs like the Rays, Twins, Brewers, Padres. Two venerable billionaire owners, Mike Illitch of the Tigers and Ted Lerner of the Nationals, are willing to spend whatever it takes to see their team win a World Series in their lifetime. Overall: half the MLB clubs have little (or no) chance of qualifying each year for the playoffs.

What We Know About Political Party Politics: Would-be candidates who have a personal war chest or can rally support to raise one will run if they see an opening. As listed above, 18 members of Team GOP were in that category. The Dem team had a single well-heeled candidate and one outlier who rallied support. The lesson: when the presidency is open, Team GOP can attract a broader roster of candidates with a greater chance than limited opponents of repeating what just happened.

Organizing Outlook: This year’s losing team must recognize that, more than ever, the progressive game is “all about money.”

Blanked:”(Owing to losses at four levels, including most state power bases), we have just witnessed the political equivalent of a baseball shutout.” – John Nichols, The Nation

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Versatility: The Braves, fresh from signing two over-40 pitchers Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey, have added a versatile position player. He’s infielder-outfielder Sean Rodriguez, who batted .270 and hit 18 HRs for the Pirates last season. Atlanta will pay him $11 million in a two-year deal. Rodriguez will be 32 next season.

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

Surveying a Hurtful Time on Both Fields

It hurts to acknowledge the off-season has not been a good time for most ball fans: for one thing, there’s no way of imagining a team will emerge to compete with the Cubs in 2017. And, since that’s so, all other NL teams will be playing at a disadvantage discouraging to their fans.

Discouraged, too, are news-hungry lefty fans looking for stories that don’t involve the home team’s future national Skipper. Our scorecard of articles in Saturday’s NY Times, for example, showed that between half and a third of stories in the paper’s first two sections were about Trump.. Headlines of 21 of them sported the Skipper-elect’s five-digit name.

President Obama can’t be enjoying the media prominence his successor is receiving. But he has expressed confidence that the work he’s done will not be forgotten. Vox’s Ezra Klein examines how realistic such optimism will turn out to be:

“One way to think about (Obama’s belief that much of what he’s accomplished will survive) is to look at the Bush baseline that structured Obama’s administration. Obama ran against Bush’s two wars (Iraq in concept, Afghanistan in execution), and while both are technically over, neither has completely ended. Obama ran against the Guantanamo Bay prison, but it remains open. Obama ran against the Bush tax cuts, but he ultimately made most of them permanent…Trump and congressional Republicans will, similarly, find themselves working from the Obama baseline. Take Obamacare — as much as Republicans loathe it, they know it’s delivering insurance to more than 20 million people, and many of those people are their own constituents. They admit openly that they can’t repeal it without some kind of replacement.”

That revision, when it comes, will clearly take many months, if not years, to complete.

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Cold-Stove Stuff: The most sought-after free agent: Carlos Beltran. Why, economy: he can be signed to a short-term contract, and be as productive as most expensive long-termers. Decision-time for Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion: he can accept an $80 million, four-year offer from the Blue Jays, or look to do better elsewhere.

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

 

Hot Stove Distraction Needed Amid Post-Election Gloom

Seldom have lefty fans needed Baseball’s hot-stove distraction as they do in this post-election season. For the moment, tadalafil fans in Atlanta are most to be envied. The Braves have just added two former Cy Young pitchers to their starting rotation. The newbies, viagra generic Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey are 43 and 42, respectively. But both, we know, are innings-eaters and welcome as entertaining performers. Colon went 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA last season , filling in for the Mets’ injury-depleted starters. Dickey had an off 10-15, 4.46, year, with the Blue Jays; he figures to do better in the Braves’ new ballpark outdoors.

Progressives are hopeful the new President-elect does better than their fellow fans fear. He has promised to protect Social Security and Medicare, as well as key parts of Obamacare. And he might even succeed in normalizing relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. So much for the hopeful news. The future Skipper is unlikely to address the inequities associated with Wall Street, a style of play that ironically helped lead to his election. NY Times’ official scorer Gretchen Morgenson tracked that game this way from her pressbox vantage point:

“There are many facets to the populist anger that swept Donald Trump into the White House. A crucial element fueling the rage…was this: Not one high-ranking executive at a major financial firm was held to account for the crisis of 2008. As millions of foreclosures and job losses followed, the failure to go after fraudsters confirmed the suspicion that the powerful got protection while those on Main Street were kicked to the curb.”

Trump, she also noted “directly tapped into such misgivings when he said ‘the system was rigged.”

If entertainment is what we’ll need, it may be in short supply. But Dave Chappelle, on Saturday Live ,gave us this early slow droller of what’s possible:

“My black friends said ‘That’s it, I’m out, I’m leaving the country. You coming with us?‘ “I said I think I’m gonna wait and see how the tax breaks work out.”

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The Mets’ Neil Walker has joined Philies pitcher Jeremy Hellickson as the only player to accept their teams’$17.2 million qualifying offer to remain with their clubs for the coming season.

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

 

One of Two Losing-side Teams That Were ‘Whupped’

The Cleveland Indians, viagra usa who lost the deciding Series game by a single run, could have cited this consolation, credited to the late Nobel author William Faulkner: “They may have killed us, but we haven’t been whupped.” The Dem team allowed itself to be whupped by clearing the basepaths for a single chosen player in the presidential playoffs.. That W-L record of the player, Hillary Clinton, suggests why so many angry voters opted for Trump: she was an insider, ready in their eyes to pitch with a familiar repertoire/ The party made the fatal mistake of putting her at the center of the doomed inside game.

Lost in the year-and-a-half of campaign name-calling was the shallowness of the Dem bench. Skipper Obama’s dominating presence made his fading party feel secure. The fact that two veteran players – Indiana’s Evan Bayh and Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold – were called out of retirement was a bad-but-ignored sign. Only when both quickly became early favorites to reclaim Senate seats, then lost, did reality begin to set in. The Dem Senate team is left with a meager group of potential game-changing players, including two progressives – 67-year-old Elizabeth Warren (Ma) and Jeff Merkley, 60, of Oregon. No one has emerged yet as a player with leadership potential on the Dem House team.

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Key Transactions: Braves sign R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon to one-year deals; Phillies acquire Howie Kendrick from Dodgers for Darin Ruf; Blue Jays sign Kendrys Morales, let go by KC;

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

Stat City Results – Some from the Bottom of 9th – on Two Fields

Some random sightseeing around Stat City: Mike Trout, viagra generic who many favor to be named AL MVP, cialis sale led in only one offense stat: walks. He drew 116 BBs in 150 games. D’back Paul Goldschmidt was second – 110 in 158. Josh Donaldson was third – 109 in 155. The Pirates’ Starling Marte had most outfield assists – 17 in 114 games. The White Sox’s Adam Eaton was a distant second – 15 in 157.

Scanning the U.S. Senate playoffs, Real Clear Politics scoring gives Team GOP nine of 15 key races. Tentative bottom line: the Dem team gains two seats, four short of winning back control of the Upper House from the GOP.   Dems (apparently) win Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. Team GOP’s apparent victories: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio.

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Transaction Talk: Two key 2016 Mets – Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker – are expected to walk away from qualifying offers. The Cubs and Orioles have not made one-year retainer offers to Jason Hammels andt Matt Wieters. Mark Trumbo has declined a Baltimore qualifier. The Dodgers have traded catcher Carlos Cruz to the Mariners for former Yankee pitcher Vidal Nuno. Two new manager signings; Tory Lovullo to D-backs, Bud Black to the Rockies.

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

Serious Games and Dismay on Two fields

Playing a serious game with the NY Times’ lead headline yesterday, best viagra here is our brush-back variation: “IN POLL, FANS EXPRESS DISGUST WITH MLB’S TV POLICY.” The fans in question, by our reckoning, live on the East Coast; they have no option but to stay up until midnight or after to catch the end of climactic season-ending contests. Yes, we’re talking in particular about the seventh game of this year’s World Series. It ended a few minutes before 1 a.m., eastern time, when surely half the regional fan audience had been denied season-ending drama: “for the ages,” was the popular description (especially of Cubs fans).

Clearly, no way to treat a huge chunk of the fan base. Similar widespread dismay is evident in the more serious political game in which the two opposing players are winding up the win-or-go-home week with what the media tell us are petty personal attacks instead of persuasive policy performance. Whatever the truth, Hillary should be vehement in rallying teammates on behalf of issues that resonate: concern about inequality, inferior education, lack of livable wage jobs, a federal itch to play with fire in overseas ballparks, etc. Trump, if he were well advised, and listened) could try to pitch a comprehensible, far-out way to “make America great again.” As it is, Donald threatens to make America a scary place.

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The Times’ Richard Sandomir quoted this tribute of Joe Buck’s for his World Series partner, John Smoltz: “He knows how to deal with (tense) moments with a glove in his hand or a mike in his hand. At no point d(o) things get too fast for him.”

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

On Chi-Town’s Possible Champions and National Skipper

The verdict – as fans know – is just about unanimous: the young talent-laden Cubs will be winning for years to come. Their still-possible 2016 world championship is just the beginning. Theo Epstein and his staff have done a remarkable job of top-level recruitment. (Doesn’t Kyle Schwerber look like a budding Babe Ruth?). Thus, viagra buy the good news for Cubs fans. The challenge the other 29 clubs face – especially the 14 in the NL – is daunting; worse yet, viagra canada the Cubs’ dominance could discourage fan interest around both leagues.

The challenge facing the other owners and Commissioner Rob Manfred is to resuscitate hopes of an even playing field; that is, find a way to raise the competitive level of the rest of the teams.

On the political field, the take-home-pay gap separating well-educated, mostly white, members of the work force and their less-advantaged counterparts is a looming headache for the next president (a Chicago-area girl). A rise in the minimum wage would help. But one obvious way of narrowing the gap has been largely ignored by the likely new Skipper. Except for strong pro-union statements on Labor Day, Clinton has been restrained in her courtship of an organized blue collar work force. Two reasons for her possible discomfort: her six years as a member of Walmart’s board of directors; and, despite her current pro-union stance, lukewarm supporting labor leaders say they’d prefer that Bill Clinton’s close union advisers not be returned to the White House.

The two-field guess here: Hillary will weather the late e-mail storm and win with a narrower margin than anticipated a week ago. The Indians, with Corey Kluber, their ready-if-needed unconcealed weapon, will deny the Cubs their championship this year, a crown that will come in 2017 or ’18.

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(More of The Nub, a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey, can be found at perfectpitcher.org)

(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

Brief Look at Sudden Positive Turn of Events for Underdogs

The Indians have given fans in Cleveland what they’ve earned: their team returning home and avoiding the possibility of seeing a Cubs sweep in Chicago. The Tribe did it with their scintillating 1-0 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley last night: thank you, discount cialis Coco Crisp, Josh Tomlin, Andrew Miller, etc.

On the political field, FBI director James Comey gave Team GOP and the Trump campaign what they think they deserved: disclosing, months after clearing Hillary Clinton of criminal wrongdoing in her use of e-mails, that a new trove of e-mails has been uncovered in the case.

After a thorough sifting, the new batch seems likely to show nothing damaging. But the temporary furor may affect voting in House and Senate races, nudging some GOP candidates to victory and keeping the party in control of the upper chamber. For the moment, however, Hillary’s lead going into the presidential election in a week-and-a-half looks safe.

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)