Let’s take a swing at the most intriguing questions involving potential free agents: Will Nelson Cruz and James Shields re-up with their present teams, levitra the Orioles and Royals? Both have indicated they’d be happy to stay put, advice but with substantial raises. The Orioles paid Cruz $8 million this season, a unanimously acknowledged steal. He can make double that over several seasons – he’ll turn 35 in July. Shields, soon to be 33, has been making a little over five-and-a-half million per under terms of a seven-year contract signed with Tampa Bay. The guess here is that KC would welcome a deal paying him double – $11 million and change – for another seven years.
We’re talking – that is, speculating about – small-market teams and big money. The question with which each player is likely to grapple: Will I – should I – sign at a discount to stay where I am? The answer is seldom “yes”, as it was with Dustin Pedroia and the Red Sox. Orioles and Royals fans are surely hoping Cruz and Shields spring a surprise and go the Pedroia route.
Observers in Europe wonder if a surprise isn’t brewing as Team ISIS barnstorms through Iraq, Syria and, perhaps, beyond. The fear is that Israel will be drawn into the ISIS orbit because of the Islamic State’s support for the Palestinians. The International Herald Trib’s William Pfaff has speculative questions of his own about what could happen:
“If the Palestinians were to rise again against Israel, would the ISIS come to its aid? Would the Palestinians accept such aid? (If provoked), would Israel make full-scale war…against the Palestinians, in view of the declared intention of the Palestinian Authority to seek U.N. membership and pursue Israel before the International War Crimes Tribunal? What would President Obama’s position be in such an eventuality? Has this been considered in Washington? Would the United States, which has given a commitment to defend Israel against any attack, conduct an intervention with American ground troops? Amid those “ifs”, Pfaff blames Team USA political players and the media for pressuring the Skipper to take us into a war for which – because of our earlier meddling – we are largely responsible. Obama “will suffer most dramatically,” he says, “but American citizens will suffer, too, and the battered people of the Middle East most of all.”
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Winged: With ace pitcher Adam Wainwight admitting that his right arm “doesn’t feel great” and the team and Baseball’s best catcher Yadier Molina out with a strained oblique muscle, the Cardinals are flying into the best-three-of-five leg of the NLCS on one wing. On MLB-TV yesterday, Cliff Floyd said, having suffered oblique strains in his career, “I consider Yadier’s season over.” Molina flew with the Cardinals to San Francisco for today’s game. But A.J. Pierzynski has been added to the Redbirds roster, a sign the team suspects Yadi won’t be back.
The Looking-to-the-Future Trap: Royals GM Dayton Moore, on taking the long view of a team’s development: “You can’t do that; you have to be involved day-to-day. If you’re doing your job, you’re focused on making the team better now. Thinking about the future is a distraction.” (MLB Now Interview)
Rare Bouquet: Umpires seldom get their due, but, on TBS Saturday night, Ron Darling gave plate umpire Marvin Hudson his: “Marvin Hudson is a conservative umpire who makes his calls by the book,” Darling said early in the second KC-Orioles playoff. “He doesn’t expand the strike zone as other umpires do.” Later, Darling noted that Hudson’s calls had been “consistent” throughout the game.
Heard on the East Coast: Two avid baseball fans discussing the current round of playoffs – “I don’t even know who’s playing,” said one, sadly. “I know,” said the other, “but I’ve lost interest because most games end after midnight.” Memo to MLB: Would insisting on 7p EDT starts that cater to millions more fans mean too big a loss of /TV money? It would certainly make the sport’s spectator-demographic level younger.
(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome when addressed to the skipper at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)