“If you don’t think life imitates sports, canada you’re not reading The Nub”
– Bill Moyers
“Politics and baseball. Interesting blog…called ‘The Nub’ on perfectpitcher.org.”
– Boston Globe
(Posted: 3/25/18; update 3/26)
The other day, sales the Cardinals and Nationals engaged in a brush-back war in which there were three stung casualties. When one of them, Nats’ shortstop Ian Desmond, was hit by Cards’ pitcher Miguel Batista, the skirmishing threatened to become serious. “They hit us, we hit them,” was the message from Jim Riggelman and Tony La Russa, after calm returned and no one was hurt. “That’s the way the game has always been played” they said, in effect, “and there doesn’t seem much can be done about it.” Neither manager, nor anybody connected with the sport, is happy with the tit-for-tatting, but no one has devised a satisfactory way of stopping it.
A crucial question surrounding the real brush-back war in Libya is similar: Does Team USA have any alternative to playing the (intervention) game? Some pressbox scorers say unless the team is prepared to intervene anywhere there is injustice – against friends as well as adversaries – we should not be involved. Our stance looks like one of political self-interest otherwise. The Politico’s Michael Kinsley suggests an additional reason to be wary: “Inevitably, there will be…’collateral damage’,” he says. The estimated death toll in Libya, attributed primarily to Team USA, is already in the hundreds and rising.
Yale Prof. Stephen Carter, writing in the Daily Beast, offers another compelling caveat concerning our role in the war, detailing its cost and the disproportionate size of our burden:
“Although the media keep reporting the Libyan war as though the U.S. is some sort of junior partner, the truth is the other way around. It is an American war, with a bit of support from other players. Here the data are instructive. Remember the opening salvo of the war, those 124 cruise missiles launched against the Libyan air-defense systems? According to the headlines, they were fired by American and British warships. Indeed they were. The Americans fired 122. The British fired two…Although the Defense Department insists that…the allies will begin to take the lead, flying most of the sorties, it is not clear whether they have the money…The Libyan war is likely to cost well in excess of $1 billion a week. Nobody else can afford it. Thus, the longer the war drags on, the more likely it is to become an all-American show.”
Avoidance would be the obvious sensible alternative were it not for the lesson learned during the Rwanda massacre in the 1990’s. Katha Pollitt recalled that lesson this week in The Nation: “President Clinton said his biggest regret was failing to prevent the (Rwandan) genocide. Military action against Qaddafi may be a bad idea—another Iraq-like ‘cakewalk’—but people of good will can still see it as preferable to standing by as Qaddafi butchers the rebels, as he promised to do.”
Beyond blocking a bloodbath, say skeptical observers, what is Team USA’s ultimate goal (if any) in Libya? Are we playing toward an (unacknowleged) endgame in which Qaddafi will be sent to the showers or allowed to keep pitching? Is there a valid alternative to Qaddafi? Such unanswered questions make this telling point about the Libyan playing field: Whatever the outcome, the action there leaves Skipper Obama with scant hope of looking like a winner to many fans in his home ballpark.
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Springtime for Melky: We’ve mentioned before how the addition of ex-Yankee Melky Cabrera and ex-Met Jeff Francoeur will make the Kansas City A’s a value-added attraction in the NY area. Melky has been a pleasant surprise to A’s manager Ned Yost this spring, batting .479 (as of Friday). He signed for $1.25 million, less than half of his previous salary, for a chance to play every day. Says Yost: “(Melky) was serious about bouncing back. Money was secondary compared to prove to baseball that he’s the player he once was and what everybody thinks he can be. My thinking (was): This guy can help us. (Sure enough), he’s looking petty darn good.”
Jays Finding Joy in Jo-Jo: The chirping in the Blue Jays nest concerns lefty Jo-Jo Reyes, a throw-in last summer in the trade of shortstops Alex Gonzalez and Yunel Escobar. Reyes has emerged as the likely replacement in the rotation for the forearm-injured Brandon Morrow. Reyes blanked the Yankees for six innings in his last start; (he tired in the seventh, being lifted after walking two who eventually scored).
Buck Shot: Buck Showalter may think – as he said in a published interview – that Theo Epstein is overrated as a GM because he has a $200 million player budget with which to deal for the likes of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. But Brian Cashman has nothing negative to say about his fellow GM: “I’ve learned a lot from the way the Red Sox have gone about their business and I’ve tried to incorporate those things here, too…to our benefit.” Epstein says Showalter is right about the advantage a GM with big bucks to spend has over competitors. But he points out it’s the Red Sox farm system that makes possible deals like the one for Gonzalez.
‘Sickness’: The off-field Mets story – about huge financial losses – is getting more prominent play than the team’s exhibition play in Florida. That’s okay with most Mets players, as Jason Bay told the Globe’s Nick Cafardo: “In a sick kind of way it’s easier for us…It takes a lot of the focus from here…I think until it makes its way into the clubhouse — and it really hasn’t yet — it hasn’t been an issue for us.”
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