The Nub

Pre-Spring Delirium Appearing in Both Pastimes

(Posted: 2/20/12; e-mail update 2/21)

 What is it these pre-spring days that’s spreading delirium in the press box? A case in point – from the Boston Globe:

“If (Johan Santana)…return(s) to form…they (the Mets) have an anchor in the rotation… If some (other) questions are answered – if Jason Bay returns to form now that he’s healthy, sales search if Mike Pelfrey has a year like he had two years ago, purchase if David Wright rebounds from his injuries, and if the younger players begin to step up – they have a chance to be competitive…”

Competitive for fourth place in the NL East, maybe – and that’s a long shot.  Mets people themselves are promising no more than that the team will exceed fans’ low expectations.

On the other field, we’ve seen the frenzied beating of anti-Iran war drums, including the recent “warnings” on multiple media outlets of possible Iranian terrorist attacks here in the U.S.  The drumbeats are much more insistent in the media than from Team Obama.  NBC and ABC have been egregious examples, basing their reports on pure speculation. In the case of ABC, they omitted from a breathless broadcast this statement (that did appear on their website): Federal officials told ABC News that there is so far no specific intelligence of any threat to Israeli interests in the U.S.

Nobody in the world’s Western league discounts the dangerous game Team Tehran is playing.  Progressive veteran lefthander Noam Chomsky is among those who find the game worrisome.  He sees trouble on both sides if the U.S. media hysteria escalates: 

“The (Iranian) regime is doubtless a serious threat to much of its own population…But the primary threat to the U.S. and Israel is that Iran might deter (with nuclear weaponry) their free exercise of violence.  A further threat is that the Iranians clearly seek to extend their influence to neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, and beyond as well.  Those ’illegitimate’ acts are called “destabilizing”.  In contrast,  forceful imposition of U.S. influence halfway around the world contributes to ‘stability’ and order, in accord with traditional doctrine about who owns the world.” 

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Joe Doesn’t Know?  The problem with Joe Mauer, says the Star-Tribune’s Jim Souhan, is that he doesn’t know he owns the world of the Minnesota Twins.  And that he has responsibilities to that world.  Mauer’s slow-healing process last season exposed that ignorance, Souhan says, adding this analysis:

“In terms of conducting himself like a franchise player, (Maurer) has trouble believing he’s that important. Those who defend him say he doesn’t want to be treated any differently than a utility infielder.  In other walks of life, he’d be described as humble and down-to-earth.  As the most important and best-paid ($184 million) player on an ambitious team, he fails to grasp that he is a symbol and a competitive fulcrum, a player whose performance and attitude affects everything from season ticket sales to clubhouse unity to the front office’s long-term planning…

“Joe should recognize that he’s the richest athlete in state history, a man who can elevate or doom the team he cheered for as a little boy.  If he hasn’t figured that out by now, the question is, will he ever?”

Portent:  The leak to the media early last fall about his medication confirmed for Terry Francona what he had been thinking – that his time with the Red Sox was coming to an end.  Francona spoke of that and another signal he received to the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman:  I called (principal owner) John Henry seven or eight times.  Never heard from him.  I have not talked to John since the day I left.  It makes you kind of understand where you stood.”

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper.  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.