The Nub

The Speed-Up Effort – on the Ballfield and Political Game

(Posted 8/12/14)

How successful has second-guessing umpires’ calls been this first year of Baseball’s expanded video review system? Well, discount and up to the All-Star break, just over half of more than 600 calls were overturned. The stats vindicate the system, as does the fact that the umpires themselves are happy with it. Yes, tinkering is still needed: the manager killing time on the field while a coach checks the replay delays the game unnecessarily; we suggest (as have others) that the decision to challenge be required within a few seconds of the re-viewing.

On the related matter of speeding up games, players like the Yankees’ Brett Gardner should not be allowed to leave the batter’s box between pitches as often as he does. Gardner and others like him, take roughly 20 seconds to regroup, often more than once. The cumulative time lost is considerable. (Paul O’Neill,on YES) says the batters need the time to figure out what to do next.)

Our national media have speeded up the political game with regard to plays unfolding in the Ukraine. The possible new cold war developing on that field is pitched as the fault of wild-swinging Vladimir Putin and Team Russia. We’ve challenged that call more than once, and will do it again now, through a repeated look by a pinch-hitter, the International Herald Trib’s William Pfaff:

“(The) demonization of Vladimir Putin has been so successful in the American press and public, and its secrecy about the American role in Kiev, has left the public in the United States… convinced that this has all been the result of a Russian strategy of aggressive expansion into Ukraine…(Instead it was) a bungled and essentially American attempt to annex Ukraine to NATO and the European Union, and to undermine the domestic political position of President Putin…. The Ukrainian coup d’état in February was prepared by Washington. Why else w(as) the State Department(‘s) Victoria Nuland…and a number of intelligence people present, in company with the ‘moderate’ Ukrainians programmed to take over the government; (the event to take place) after the planned overthrow of the corrupt (but elected) President Viktor Yanukovych?… One must ask what was accomplished by all this that did not discredit the United States and the EU, and draw towards Ukraine and the American troops today deployed in Poland and the Baltics, and towards NATO itself, the storm-clouds of a useless war?…

“Where we are now (is that) Russia’s reaction is not simply that of an aggressive and authoritarian President Putin — as the West likes to make out — but the hostility of a significant part of the Russian population, which only now has recovered its national self-confidence and ambition. What was the intent of all this? To create an east-west civil war in Ukraine? Why is that in the American interest?”  

The mystery deepens as to why Pfaff’s perspective on the anti-Putin game is not reproduced in the Trib’s parent publication, the NY Times? The explanation, we suspect, is Times support for the self-serving play of Team Obama.

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Update: They may be riding an-about-to-burst bubble, but the KC Royals have soared past the struggling Tigers to the top of the AL Central. And they’ve done it without injured first baseman Eric Hosmer, always a power threat.

Key WC-Race Scores: KC 3, Oakland 2 (Royals now a half-game atop their division, A’s three-and-a-half atop theirs); Orioles 10, Yankees 3 (NY now three games out of WC, Orioles atop AL East by six games over Toronto); Pirates 11, Tigers 6 (Pittsburgh now atop WC, half-game ahead of Cardinals, game ahead of Giants); Seattle 11, Toronto 1 (Mariners now game out, Jays two games); Dodgers 6, Braves 2 (Atlanta two-and-a-half games out, two games behind Giants, Dodgers atop NL West by five); Marlins 6, Cardinals 5 (Marlins four-and-a-half games out);

A Non-Saving State of Mind: “’I want to play for 10 years instead of two, (so) I don’t want to do this much now’: ”Nobody here is really programmed to think that way. We’d be happier winning the World Series this year and never playing again. It’s that type of deal. You’re (going all) out…(doing) everything you can do now.” – Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, quoted by Derrick Goold, St.Louis Post-Dispatch

Debunker: Baseball would have us believe the MLB has entered a golden age of parity – many teams spending more to compete for players with the elite clubs. Rays exec vp Andrew Friedman, who felt obliged to trade away David Price, says it’s just propaganda: “I think it’s obvious to anyone who follows the game that the economic disparity is only widening, and it makes it a little bit more challenging in our quest to always balance the present and the future. But we can’t waver from who we are and how we need to do things to have success.”

-o-

(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.