The Nub

Pouring Out Pre-Season Cold Water

A few days before the 20002 World Champion LA Angels began a gradual downward curve, more than 100,000 east coast marchers took part in what was becoming a desperate losing game of their own: challenging a Team USA-spurred “run-up” to a war with Iraq. How solidly did the media join the run-up effort? Well, the march occurred on a Saturday; the NY Times grudgingly acknowledged it the following Thursday.

The Angels, then one of the MLB’s richest teams in a weak division, took six AL West titles over the next 12 years, but by the end of 2014, they had plenty of financial competition – from the Rangers and the AL West, and the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox and Tigers in the MLB, as a whole. Despite a lineup that included Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, the Angels, with an unproductive farm system, sunk to third place in 2015 and next-to-last in their division last year.

The anti-war movement in late 2002 and early 2003 had to rally game-changing support without either the help of financial angels or the vocal backing of shallow-bench elected officials.. The most prominent speaker to address marchers in D.C. that January was Jesse Jackson. Under the circumstances, anti-war sentiment could make only minimal impact by the time the war began in early March of ’03.

That experience suggests how difficult will be the touted task of taking on Team Trump as did the T-Party in the first and successive years of Barack Obama’s Skipperdom. Journalist/author Jane Mayer cited this from a book by Harvard’s Theda Skocpol on the role of T-Party-aided money: “The Tea Party movement was a ‘mass rebellion… funded by corporate billionaires, like the Koch brothers, led by over-the-hill former GOP kingpins like Dick Armey, and ceaselessly promoted by millionaire media celebrities like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.”

Progressives today have neither access to big money, nor the expectation of help from a Dem team dependent for leadership on the likes of Chuck (Make Noise, Not Waves’) Schumer. To be remembered with trepidation, too: It was the “liberal media” that cheered Team Bush into the most grievous of recent “dumb wars.”


Productive Vagabond: Brandon Moss, who has played for six teams over a 10-year period – the Red Sox, Pirates, Phillies, A’s, Indians and Cardinals – will be joining the seventh, the Royals, on a two-year deal this coming season. Moss, now 33, hit 28 HRs for the Cardinals in 2016. He is expected to DH most of the time with KC.

Back to Sleep: The All-Star game, revised to be a simple exhibition and no longer to decide which league wins home-team advantage in the World Series, won’t be played until mid-July. But already, press-box pundits are expressing regret for what has been lost. The other day, two members of an MLB Now panel talked of the opportunity the nothing-at-stake contest will afford for a late-innings nap. It should be noted that the players union was complicit with Commissioner Rob Manfred in the decision to free its members from any serious effort the previous arrangement may have required.


(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. 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.