The Nub

The American Game as Played in Both Ballparks

(Posted: 3/26/13)

Playing Catch-Up Baseball after two weeks on the inactive list: The World Baseball Classic was “largely a success, tadalafil levitra ” said a glum Bob Costas, doing play-by-play of the tournament’s championship game in rainy San Francisco. The game itself – won by the Dominican team over Puerto Rico – encapsulated why the third renewal of the WBC proved to be a disappointment. Touted teams like defending champion Japan, troche as well as Venezuela, and the USA – especially the USA – were eliminated before the final. As it had in the two previous tournaments, Team USA lacked fire. The problem as we see it is no secret: American players, aware that their MLB teams would prefer they not risk injury in the Classic (as happened to Mark Teixeira and Hanley Ramirez), must resist competing with the abandon of their more zealous international opponents. Their careful, contained U.S. game is geared to the people who provide the paychecks. It’s the American way.

The same is true on the political field. If you’ve ever wondered why members of the Dem team in the Congressional division compete so lamely against an extremist, corporate-controlled Team GOP, Ralph Nader provided an answer in The Nation. He wrote about it after talking to many of the players themselves: “The Democrats are so beholden to their own big-money contributors that they can’t fight on issues that they know have overwhelming public support…Instead of confronting Republican (opponents) with the vicious Ryan budget and their (pro-privileged) voting record, the Democrats display open defeatism.” The money game, as played in a different ballpark.

The Game as Seen from Europe: “The question now raised on both right and left in the United States is whether the Republic itself can survive its suffocation by political money that blocks any legislative…action not bought and pre-paid by self-serving interests on one side or the other ?” – William Pfaff, International Herald Tribune

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Golden Boys of Spring: Two 22-year-old minor leaguers – one with the Dodgers, the other the Red Sox – have had eye-opening pre-seasons. Yasiel Puig, a Cuban to whom the Dodgers gave a seven-year, $42 million contract and has only have played 23 games of A-ball, is one; Jackie Bradley, Jr., who started the 2012 season in Class A, is the other. Puig has torn up the Cactus League, as of Monday batting .527, 29 for 55, with three HRs, 11 RBIs and an on-base/slugging pct.(OPS) . of 1.363. Up to yesterday, Bradley has batted .423, 22 for 52, with an OPS over 1.000. Both are outfielders and both have a shot at beating the odds and making opening-day rosters.

Theo Epstein, on the Temptation to Sign Free Agents: “Forbidden fruit. We just didn’t have the patience to make it across the gap (in Boston) without giving into temptation. … Free agency is where you get your worst return on investment. It’s really that simple. The draft and the international market, that’s where you get your best return, dollar for dollar. And free agency is the worst return on investment. We knew that but we did it anyway. It was a negative lesson.” – quoted by Joe Posnanski, NBC Sports

A Loss on Lohse: The wrongs and rights of super-agent Scott Boros: He was wrong about the big-money contract he thought he would get for Kyle Lohse. After averaging $12 million per for the past two years with the Cardinals, Lohse had to settle for $11 mil per for three years with the Brewers. Boros is right, however, about the new free-agent compensation system diminishing the attractiveness of players like Lohse. Under the new system, teams that sign a player who declines the offer of a one-year $13 million deal from their current club, forfeit a first-round draft pick. The Brewers will lose the number 17 pick overall because of the Lohse signing.

Historic? “If we’re lucky, the Dominican Republic made history (last)Tuesday night… After a brief celebration that followed the last out: the Dominicans walked across the infield and met the Puerto Ricans by the first-base line — near the Puerto Rico dugout — and gave them handshakes and hugs. What an even more beautiful baseball world it would be if every Major League Baseball postseason series, if not regular-season series, ended with such a show of respect and sportsmanship. What a legacy for the Dominicans and the Puerto Ricans if the postgame handshake becomes a baseball tradition, and generations could forever mark the 2013 WBC final as the moment when class took root in the game.” – Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments to dickstar@aol.com 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.