The Nub

The Power Shift in Culture, Politics and Sports

(Posted 11/18/17)

It is rare during the sporting period this far beyond the World Series that Baseball holds popular sway over its seasonal big brother, pro football. But while most fans are focusing on the likes of AL Most Valuable Player Jose Altuve and AL’ s top vote-getting pitcher Corey Kluber, the NFL is mired in a petty owners’ quarrel, and worse: TV viewership is down just under 20 percent from what it was this time two years ago. And no wonder: half the league’s 32 teams have losing records.

Three MLB teams, on the other hand – the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Twins – broke into the playoffs, with regulars the Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox, Indians and Yankees. Baseball still has too many “nowhere” teams – the Padres, A’s, Braves, Marlins, Reds, and even the White Sox, Mariners, and, as of now, the Royals. But progress is much more evident on the ballfields than the gridiron.

In politics, the Dem team had taken MLB-like control of the electoral field in Alabama, owing to the off-field excesses staining the record of Team GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore. But a similarly embarrassing incident involving a key Dem player, Senator Al Franken, may nullify that control the way shoddy play eroded the NFL’s dominance.

NY Times columnist Michele Goldberg gave this sober argument for how Franken should be treated:

Republicans, never particularly eager to hold their own to account, will use Franken to deflect from more egregious abuse on their own side, like what Trump and Roy Moore are accused of. Women with stories about other members of Congress might hesitate to come forward. That horrifying photo of Franken (appearing to grope the sleeping woman’s breast) will confront feminists every time they decry Trump’s boasts of grabbing women by the genitals. Democrats will have to worry about whether more damaging information will come out, and given the way scandals like this tend to unfold, it probably will.

It’s not worth it. The question isn’t about what’s fair to Franken, but what’s fair to the rest of us. I would mourn Franken’s departure from the Senate, but I think he should go, and the governor should appoint a woman to fill his seat. The message to men in power about sexual degradation has to be clear: We will replace you.

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(The Nub is a team effort produced by Dick Starkey. More are available at

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.