The Nub

Playing the Indifference Game in Both Pastimes

(Posted: 10/29/13)

The hot stove season won’t start until the World Series ends, sale prescription but already there are signs of a heated Dodger-Yankee spending race to stock their 2014 teams.  The Dodgers have already signed Cuban second baseman Alexander Guerrero to a four-year $32 million contract.  The Yankees, find meanwhile, patient have leaked a plan to spend $300 million to shore up a roster they hope will be headed by Robinson Cano.  It shapes up as a return to Yankee-dollar-dominance days with a sharing twist: the Dodgers are already on what was a uniquely NYY field.

This post-season reminds us there’s no guarantee that rich teams and their pricey reinforcements will make it to the Series.  But they do have a better-than-fair shot – witness the Dodgers and Tigers – at making  the playoffs. Baseball, thus, must accept this top-weighted inequality as the price it pays for what is a largely free-enterprise system.  Fans of the top-tier teams don’t care about the dollar disparity separating the rich from the less-so.  Nor should they.  Unaligned fans, however, might reasonably have an interest in a fairer arrangement.

The not-caring stance on the political field is familiar to most of us: we can’t summon strenuous objection to widespread government wiretapping, since we have nothing to hide.  In the same way, we find it hard to critique Team Obama’s rough-and-tumble game abroad, the lethal effect it is having on opposing clubs and their fans. The Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart elaborates on the indifference:

Part of the reason America is struggling as a superpower: (many of us) don’t give a fig about…  anyone else…(We) believe in the nation as the sole legitimate source of authority in international affairs.  And that’s true when defending our nation’s prerogatives…NSA spying on foreign leaders is only the latest example. In Colorado, they’re now issuing drone-hunting licenses so Americans can shoot down any airborne spy planes that trespass their property.  And yet there’s scarcely any sympathy…for the Pakistanis and Yemenis who are upset that the U.S. sends drones over their countries, though those drones regularly kill people…This isn’t American ’exceptionalism’ – the belief that the U.S. is fundamentally different, and better, than other nations. It’s what the international relations scholar John Ruggie has called American ’exemptionalism’ – the belief that America need not play by everyone else’s rules.”

Fans who don’t belong to either the indifferent or exemptionalist teams, can fume and put their complaints in writing.  But indignation, their default stance, produces a familiar double play – ineffectiveness and frustration.  Meanwhile, we know that like-minded elected players, are, with few exceptions, pursuing a strategy of silence.

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Coming Through:  No sooner did Joe Buck say John Farrell’s offense wasn’t getting enough from the bottom of the Red Sox order last night, then numbers six, seven, and, especially eight, came through last night.  With the score tied, rookie Xander Bogaerts singled in the seventh, Stephen Drew walked, then David Ross hit the crusher, a base-clearing double.  That put the game away, 3-1.  The Cardinals still had nine outs left.  But the combination of superb starter Jon Lester and remarkable reliever Koji Uehara didn’t give them a chance.

Punditry: Miracles can happen, but, clearly, it will take a miracle for the Cardinals to take games six and seven from the Red Sox at FenwayPark.  The Sox haven’t been in the habit of losing back-to-back games at home this season.  And, with Mike Napoli back in the lineup as DH, double-losses are much less likely than they were in St.Louis.

Tee Time:  If the Cardinals lose, chances are the decision skipper Mike Matheny will rue  most came in game four.  It was when he called on reliever Seth Maness to pitch to Jonny Gomes with the score tied, 1-1, and two men on in the sixth.  Maness had yielded a run in a third-of-an-inning in game one, and blown a save in game three.  Now he threw a pitch to Gomes that was – in his words – “up, right down the middle, on a tee for him.” Gomes, we know, didn’t miss it.

Monster:  David Ortiz, with an unbelievable Series BA of .719, (quoted on Fox): “I was born for this.  Before I was born, I was hitting in my mother’s belly…”I’m just swinging, not thinking.  I try not to let myself think.”

Beards Came Later:  Times Baseball columnist Tyler Kepner summing up what Red Sox GM Ben Cherington accomplished during the last off-season: (He put together) “a team that could play to its talents and have fun doing it, with reasonable contracts and minimum long-term risk.”

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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. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)



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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.