The Nub

The ‘Pro-Hypocrisy” Game as Played at Home and Abroad

(Posted: 3/5/12; e-mail update 3/6)

Last week, sale we noted that MLB-TV panelist Eric Byrnes objected to any “sugarcoating” of the damage to baseball resulting from the Ryan Braun case. That Braun, discount the NL MVP, avoided suspension because of a drug-test technicality exposed glaring defects in the testing system and prompted suspicions of a punishment double standard.

The TV network, an arm of baseball’s corporate structure, quickly had Byrnes recant, prompting him to say sweetly the decision to grant Braun’s appeal was “good for him, good for the players, good for baseball, good for the fans…” Truth was lost in the promotional game, lost in the desire to conceal embarrassment from the public. Too often, the media play along with the game, whatever the field. Behind their deceit: the sense that fans can’t deal with deviousness by the home team, better to delude them into thinking the game is being played down the middle.

A case in point involves dozens of minor-league U.S. political teams abroad playing under private “pro-democracy” uniforms. The squad in Egypt currently accused, among other things, of engaging in subversive activities against the new Cairo government, is typical of what our pro-dem players are up to: first, furthering U.S. interests; second (or never), encouraging democracy. If those interests, often based on access to oil, are safeguarded by a dictator, he will receive our pro-democracy support. That game-plan, implemented with military and economic aid – i.e., money – has been long established. Author Thomas Carothers, a pro-dem veteran and Carnegie Endowment exec, makes this corroborating pitch:

“The United States has maintained friendly relations with dictatorships and intervened in other countries’ internal affairs for purposes far removed from the promotion of democracy. Pro-democracy rhetoric has regularly exceeded reality and has sometimes been used deliberately to obscure a contrary reality.” – Aiding Democracy Abroad, Carnegie Endowment

For accuracy’s sake, the game could be called a “pro-hypocrisy” effort; that it is seldom acknowledged on the media scorecard only serves as an insult to savvy fans.

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Marlins Skipper on the Money: “ Ozzie Guillen has never pretended,” says Timesman Tyler Kepner, “that he went to Miami for a better chance to win: he went because the Marlins gave him $10 million for four years”: “I’ve got three kids, I plan to have grandkids. I’m not going to take care of my grandkids with rings. I’m going to take care of them with money.”

Catching the Fever? It’s hard to know what to make of (Ike Davis’s possible valley fever), except by now Mets fans have learned that when it comes to medical news, don’t trust the ballclub’s initial diagnosis, whatever it is. And expect the worst-case scenario.” – John Harper, Daily News

The Bad-Choice Giants? San Francisco, we know, added Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan, but passed on Carlos Beltran during the off-season. Baseball Prospectus’s main statman Jay Jaffe suggests that’s part of a strategic mistake: “When I look at this team, I’m surprised they haven’t been more aggressive in upgrading their offense. That’s championship pitching. If they were willing to invest, they’d be the team to beat in the NL West. They haven’t chosen that route.”

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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.