The Nub

The Dangers on Both Fields of Disloyal Dissent

(Posted 8/19/14)

It was almost a year ago – Seattle fans surely remember – that Mariners Skipper Eric Wedge turned on the people who ran his team. He said the Mariner front office was “dysfunctional” and that he wouldn’t “hang around” for another rebuilding season after which he would likely be let go. Wedge could not foresee the signing of Robinson Cano, generic salve the in-season additions of Kendrys Morales and Austin Jackson, generic buy plus the emergence of Chris Young and re-emergence of Hisashi.Iwakuma as reliable members of the Felix Hernandez-led rotation. Unforeseen overall was the credible turnaround of the team, order led this year by new manager Lloyd McClendon.

Wedge hoped that his willingness to go public with what he honestly perceived as shortcomings would earn him another managerial job. In that he was disappointed, although he did land a slot at ESPN. The unemployment risk Wedge accepted was trivial compared to that embraced by Hillary Clinton, who, like him, spoke out against her former boss. Her target, we know, was far from sports team executives; it was President Obama, whom Clinton hopes to succeed as national skipper.

Hillary must have felt she could afford to take on the risk because she is the single heir-apparent as Dem-team nominee in 2016. Her hawkish views, she knew, would not be welcomed by many Dem fans, but they could score with supporters of Team GOP. She may be right about the effectiveness of hitting the other way. But her pre-empting the Dem presidential field defies the democratic tradition of competitive elections, especially when a vacant presidential seat is at stake. Such a stance constitutes Hillary’s biggest danger: that, in the words of Bloomberg’s Al Hunt, her evolving positions may well encourage potential challengers” who can build a late rally from a resentful Dem-team base.

A long-shot at the moment, with no viable-looking candidate in sight. But dramatic change in the standings is as much a part of politics as it is of baseball.

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Volatility: Late-August 2014 has emerged as the V-season – V for “volatile.” By their stunning sweep of the Dodgers in LA, the Brewers banished the doubts of many: “We must be taken seriously,” was the message. Similarly, Seattle’s handling of the Tigers, taking the series at home, was a statement: “We’re no fluke.” The Mariners and Tigers are now in a virtual tie for the second AL wild card behind Oakland. The Yankees are three games out in the WC race. The schedule – two games at home against the Mets – suggests Oakland will end its five-game tailspin tonight or tomorrow. The sweep of the A’s put the Braves back in the brink-of-wild-card picture. The Pirates needed to stop their five-game bleeding in the home opener against Atlanta last night. They didn’t, losing, 7-3.The Angels took advantage of a chance to take undisputed lead of the AL West by beating the Red Sox in Boston, 4-2.

Fading: Cincnnati has lost eight of 10 and fallen nine games behind in the NL Central, and five games out in the wild card scramble. Brandon Phillips is back, but the long, continuing absence of Joey Votto has been mortally hurful.

How Long…Can Jim Johnson Hang on with the Tigers? The former Orioles ace reliever gave up three runs (two earned) and two hits in two-thirds of an inning against the Mariners Sunday.

Streakers: Nationals +7, Pirates – 6, Oakland – 5

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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 dickstar@aol.com. 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.