The Nub

The Police-State Dilemma in the National Ballpark

(Posted: 12/19/11; e-mail update 12/20)

Baseball fans, physician made aware of our security state during regular patriotic displays at MLB games, cheap have a recent reminder in the case of Bradley Manning. Manning is the army private accused of leaking government secrets to the world through WikiLeaks. His future depends, click not on whether he broke the rules of the military game, he did, but whether what he did caused provable harm.

Because Manning helped expose governmental deceit and casual killing of civilians by our military, he is considered a hero by many in the national ballpark, a traitor to others. The differing views are similar to those expressed when a Yankee fan tried to go to the Stadium rest room four years ago during the “God Bless America” interlude. His objection to being stopped by a guard was hailed by some, denounced as unpatriotic by others.

The connection of both cases to 9/11 is obvious: Team USA’s anti-terrorism defensive alignment has been both expansionary and effective. Though an understandable response to a real danger, on one level, it can be dangerously intrusive to the lives of spectators everywhere, on another. The government’s curbs on domestic rights and liberties and its repudiations of international law multiply as post-9/11 seasons go by. Billy clubs and pepper spray, we know, were part of the police arsenal when, with Homeland Security guidance, they challenged the protests of several Occupy Wall Street teams.

 Still, most of us welcome the security as much as we deplore the police excess. Some may join public outcries against the increasing use of police-state tactics in the traditional home-base of freedom of expression. Ball fans have a more modest approach at their disposal: ask Bud Selig, as well as local teams, to shut down the practice of seventh-inning flag-waving. We can argue that now, more than 10 years after 9/11, it is time…particularly since the military-tinged displays are as unpopular with fans as the police-state aura they impose. After that we can see about sending the pre-game “Star Spangled Banner” to the showers.

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Farewell Time for Familiar Names? J.D. Drew, Magglio Ordonez, and Jorge Posada are three unsigned “fading stars” the Sporting News says have likely ended their oft-brilliant major league careers. SI’s Cliff Corcoran lists 23 non-tendered players (including Eli Whiteside re-signed by the Giants) who should sign major- or minor-league contracts before spring training. The Orioles’ Luke Scott and the Giants’ Jeff Keppinger are two of the other comparatively notable names on the list. Former Met and recent Ranger Endy Chavez is not listed – nor is Jason Varitek – but Endy agreed to a one-year contract with the Orioles over the weekend.

Love Affair: New Cardinals manager (and ex-catcher) Mike Matheny on why Buster Posey is surely underwhelmed at the suggestion he play some first base for the Giants next season: “Once you fall in love with the position of catcher, it’s hard to play anywhere else.”

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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.