The Nub

Scary Stats as Playoffs Near in Both Pastimes

(Posted 8/9/14)

Bet City: Here is what the official Nevada-based oddsmakers are saying in the aftermath of last week’s artificial, pharm attention-hyping deadline: the Cardinals, sales reinforced by John Lackey, will overtake the Brewers and finish atop the scramble in the NL Central. The Pirates – although now ahead of the Cardinals – will finish third, behind Milwaukee. The Nationals and Dodgers will win in their divisions; the Giants the best bet for one of the NL wild cards. In the other league, the Angels and Blue Jays (not KC) will be wild cards, the LAAs behind Oakland in their division, the Jays behind the Orioles in theirs. Detroit, we know, solidified its uniquely dominant position in the AL Central by acquiring David Price from cooling-down Tampa Bay.

To indulge in a re-rant, one example of how destabilizing was the faux deadline: The AL East went from a five- to a three-team race in the space of a few days. (The Red Sox, with Jon Lester, Lackey and Peavy, still had a playoff shot, however long). Odds-ly numbers: Tigers, 2-1, over Oakland for AL pennant; Dodgers, 8-5, over Nationals for NL pennant. Tigers, 4-1, to take Dodgers in World Series. (Line provided by

The projections reinforce the challenges facing division-pace-setting Milwaukee, and 10 other teams fewer than five games behind in the wild card races. Along with the Angels, Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Cardinals, there are the Royals, Yankees and Mariners,, Braves and Reds. One team among that group took greatest advantage of deadline-deal-making: the Yankees, who are nevertheless hampered by a thin rotation.

Barring a late surge by the likes of the Marlins, Indians and/or Rays, 13 teams will have no recourse but to embrace the role of spoilers. Most such also-rans in the national political playoffs belong to an underdog Dem team thath faces intimidating numbers at this stage of the midterm electoral races. How disquieting are the projected Dem numbers? Left-leaning New Yorker columnist John Cassidy reported this “bad (let’s call it “challenging”) news” for the Dems a few days ago:

“With less than a hundred days until the midterm elections, the Republicans have a very realistic chance of retaking the Senate (and) overall control of Capitol Hill for the next two years…Election Lab, a model operated by the Washington Post…puts the probability of the GOP takeover at 82 percent…The model constructed by the Upshot team at the Times is less definitive, but it puts the chances of a new Republican majority at 53 percent.”

Lest there be any doubt as to the politics of fans he considered his readers, Cassidy walked off regretful of the message he’d just delivered: “I told you this was likely to depress you,” he said.

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Premature Perhaps, But…Tentative prize for best pre-deadline moves must go to the Yanks’ Brian Cashman. His minimally publicized deals for Chase Headley, Martin Prado, Stephen Drew, etc., have energized the Pinstripers, now a half-game off the wild card. Suddenly great starting pitching hasn’t hurt.

Irresistible: “Those guys are rarely, if ever, available. If that caliber of player is out there, you go get him.” – Oakland GM Billy Beane, on decision to trade for Jon Lester. – (quoted by SI’s Ben Reiter)

Wither the Tigers? Don’t look now, but Detroit lost back-to-back-to-back four-game series to the Angels, Indians and, most recently, to the Yankees. And last night, while they were beating Toronto, Miguel Cabrera went 0 for five, buttressing the sense, felt during the Yankees series, that he’s hurting. It’s not pitching that’s Detroit’s problem. It’s a shaky Cabrera, and, after their clean-up spot generally, the Tigers lineup has no teeth.

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome when addressed to the skipper at 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.