Which type of “security” would ballplayers, generic and all of us, prefer – protection against enemies, or against struggling to survive late in life? Answer: both types. Chances are that question never occurred to the 1,200 players chosen in the MLB draft. Yet, hundreds of them will never make it to the bigs. At some point, members of that group will have to consider what kind of financial sacrifice will be entailed if they keep at it, and fail to get to the show. Baseball, to its credit, upgraded an outmoded minor league pension plan in 2008, insuring that ex-players will receive retirement benefits as of age 65. The plan pays a pittance compared to its major league counterpart, which provides $34,000 annual coverage after just 43 days in the majors. Minor league pensions rise from $14 monthly at Class A or lower; the amount is multiplied by years of service to $18 in Double-A, and $22 monthly in Triple-A. Not a lot, but not bad, considering that pensions are becoming a thing of the past in the business world.
We know that in recent years financial security plans – publicly and privately funded – have come under siege. The record book shows the turning point occurred in 1993, when the Clinton health plan was the target of political debate; the same type Obamacare would face two decades later. Righthanders , at first willing to compromise, finally refused to give the plan a pass. Why? A rally mobilized by hardliners to stop dependence upon publicly funded security plans.
Vox’s Ezra Klein quotes a game-changing memo from Team GOP strategist William Kristol that triggered the rally: “Passage of the Clinton health care plan, in any form, (Kristol wrote) would guarantee and likely make permanent an unprecedented federal intrusion into and disruption of the American economy — and the establishment of the largest federal entitlement program since Social Security.”
If Republicans let any version of Clinton’s bill pass, Kristol said (as summarized by Klein), the political consequences would be grim. “It will relegitimize middle-class dependence for ‘security’ on government spending and regulation. It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government.”
Team GOP’s successful resistance to progressive programs since that rally can be traced, in part, to erosion of the middle class and to the diminished clout of liberal Dems. That resistance is now dedicated to weakening late-life survival programs while reinforcing acceptance of militancy as the primary meaning of “security”. .
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Hot Seat to Fire: We suspect it was the success of five start-of-season new managers – Jeff Bannister (Rangers), Kevin Cash (Rays), Chip Hale (Diamondbacks), A.J. Hinch (Astros), Paul Molitor (Twins) – that figured into the decision to fire Padres manager Bud Black from his job yesterday. The team’s new GM A.J. Preller had expressed impatience with the performance of his made-over team, which has lingered around the .500 mark (current record 32-34). Four of the five above-noted teams have winning records. Black’s successor Dave Roberts joins two other in-season replacement skippers – the Marlins’ Dan Jennings and the Brewers’ Craig Counsell.
What’s Been Going on With…James Shields? He’s been having a (barely noted in the East) good season with his new club, the Padres: 7-0, 3.60, a striking 104 Ks in 87+ innings. And how about…Billy Hamilton? He has a stolen base for every seven AB’s – 31 (of 35)//210. He’s flunked the on-base test, however, and been relegated to the bottom of the Reds’ lineup. Filched five Sunday night in a game the Cubs’ Jon Lester started. Batting only .224.
Troy Tulowitzki’s Got Company: Time for an overdue shout-out for two emerging infield stars with the Rockies – third baseman Nolan Arenado, 24, and 26-year-old second baseman DJ LeMahieu. Tim Healy of Sports on Earth does the honors: “Arenado, who was the Rockies’ second-round Draft pick in 2009, made it to the majors two years ago and has since won two Gold Gloves… He’s come around with the bat, too…rank(ing) third among Major League third baseman in home runs and slugging percentage. The Cubs selected LeMahieu in the same round of that ’09 Draft, then traded him to Colorado in December 2011. Since establishing himself as the Rockies’ starting second baseman 25 months ago, LeMahieu, too, has become one of the best defenders at his position…winning a Gold Glove last season. LeMahieu’s… level of (hitting) production (seems) real…If the season ended today he’d be third to only Dee Gordon and Paul Goldschmidt for the National League batting title.”
Streakers: , Pirates + 5, Phillies – 7, Red Sox – 7, Giants – 5
(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)