The Nub

The Bite of Reality in Baseball and on Foreign Fields

(Posted 10/7/14)

How does a 2015 Dodgers rotation of Clayton Kershaw, buy site Zack Greinke, for sale Jon Lester and Max Scherzer sound? And a Yankees’ top foursome of Mashiro Tanaka, David Price, Michael Pineda and James Shields? Pretty strong, especially those LA starters. But, wait: those are conservative estimates as to how the MLB’s two richest franchises will be adding to the pitching part of their rosters. There’s no stopping them if they want to get even stronger through the free-agent-signing route.

That’s the way it’s going to be, allowing for the unlikely possibility the less-wealthy Red Sox and Tigers will try to muscle their way into the bidding. It’s the enduring reality of Baseball’s economic class system. There’s an occasional change – as when the Yanks decided in 2012 to economize to save on the luxury tax. But the reality, the threat, remains, and it will be hard next spring to imagine the Dodgers and Yanks absent from the end-of-season’s playoff teams.

The rich stand their ground in Baseball and the American marketplace. On “Democracy Now” last Friday, journalist-author Jeremy Scahill reminded listeners of militant Islamic reality in the Middle East clinging to their aggressive anti-American stance. Whether known as Al Quaida, ISIS, or, more recently, Khorasan, they are part of the same farm system we’ve been fighting since before 2003. “We empower the threat” those teams represent, said Scahill, “the threat we claim to be fighting.” He gave this example:

“When the Khorasan group popped out of nowhere, and we were told, like, this is the greatest threat—in fact, on NBC News, there was a fantastic—Brian Williams, when he was announcing, you know, the new, latest, greatest threat—trademark—he had a graphic next to him that just said ‘the new enemy.’ And it’s like we could just take a picture of that, and every…two or three months—we can just have Brian Williams there with ‘the new threat.’ It could become an annual holiday in this country where we just celebrate whatever new war is going to give Lockheed Martin and Boeing and all these companies tremendous profits.”

Scahill also reminded his audience of Team USA’s record responsible for the “blowback” in the region: – the torture – waterboarding, force-feeding, etc., the rendition of suspects to “black sites”, the defiling of the Koran and the casual killing of innocent civilians. The anti-U.S. reality in the region is being further solidified these days, he says, by the “collateral damage” resulting from Drone attacks on enemy targets. How often do our mainstream media put those real-world details – including the war industry profit numbers – on the scoreboard? Somewhere between “seldom” and “never.”

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“Overflowing with urgency” – the way one local SF reporter put it – understates the task ahead of the Giants in game four with the Nationals today. The series tide shifted against them in the seventh inning yesterday when Madison Bumgarner tried to throw out Ian Desmond at third base on a bunt play. He threw the ball away, allowing both Desmond and Bryce Harper to score in what would become a 4-1 Nats victory.  Bruce Bochy will send Ryan Vogelsong (8-13) against Gio Gonzalez (10-10) tonight. If there’s a fifth game Thursday, SF will face Stephen Strasburg while relying on Jake Peavy to shift the tide back.

Ahead, But Up Against It: The Cardinals, now also ahead 2-1 in games, face even a more formidable task against the Dodgers. Yesterday’s 3-1 win over the Dodgers leaves the Cards to face two of Baseball’s best pitchers – Clayton Kershaw today and, if necessary, Zack Greinke Thursday in LA. A two-run homer by Kolten Wong in the seventh was the difference yesterday.

Head Game: Managers rarely discuss how the mental makeup of a player influences whether he gets into the lineup. But Buck Showalter told reporters before the game in Detroit yesterday that Derek Norris would be pitching instead of Mike Gonzalez because Norris was the more excitable of the two.   Norris would face less pressure in game three than he would in a possible game four, said Showalter, when he might become “nervous.” As it was, Norris allowed only one hit in six-and-a-third innings. “Bud was the difference,” said Buck.

Numbers Game: Two stats provided by TBS play-by-play man Brian Anderson: Delman Young has played in six straight playoffs on four different teams: Twins, Tigers, Rays, Orioles. Then there’s this impressive number put up by the Tigers’Ian Kinsler: Batting leadoff, almost exclusively during the regular season, Kinsler had 92 RBIs. (He had only a single hit in 12 AB’s in the just-completed series, however.)

The Good Broadcasting News: The TBS trio of Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling and Cal Ripken will handle the ALCS between the Royals and Orioles, beginning Friday. The bad: Joe Buck, Tom Verducci and Harold Reynolds will broadcast NLCS games and the World Series. No knock on the excellent Buck is meant. The three don’t mesh. ESPN Radio offers an alternative (on NLCS games) of Dan Shulman and Aaron Boone


(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.