The Nub

The Tanking Game Taking a Toll on Both Fields

On YES the other day, Yankees play-by-play man Michael Kay didn’t mince words: “The Padres are tanking,.” he said. San Diego, which tied for last in the NL in 2016, has one of the three lowest payrolls in the MLB this season (along with the Brewers and Rays). The Pods are going with three Rule-5 ($50,000) players on their roster. Opting for a minimal-budget approach that includes players who couldn’t make 40-man rosters elsewhere suggests a willingness to finish low enough to qualify for top-level talent selections next season. In other words: t-a-n-k-i-n-g .now, with eye on the future.


The political variation of tanking is on display as Team Dem talks of Resistance to hit-to-right efforts to hold on to Congressional seats. The talk can’t match the money Team GOP is spending to defend its control of the electoral field. An example: Republicans heavily outspent the Dem team in the Kansas special election last week; the GOP also worked harder on the personal level – dispatching Senator Ted Cruz to campaign in the district and having Trump and VP Mike Pence record supportive phone calls for winning candidate Ron Estes.


Bernie Sanders and/or Elizabeth Warren could certainly have helped lift the Dem vote, if the party had its organizing act together. And Bernie’s apparent reluctance to provide his successful campaign fund-raising list to the team effort is a disappointment. That’s especially true since the Dems, unlike the GOP, have few, if any politically active billionaires free to enrich their team’s coffers anonymously. .


As, spurred by Citizens United, the money-ball continues to bounce toward right field; beyond media hype, progressives have little to cheer about beyond the fading hope that the post-inauguration women’s march marked the beginning of true left-leaning resistance. NY Times columnist Ginia Bellafante noted an aspect of the oversell of such hope in Sunday’s NY Times: ”The age of activism that…Trump’s presidency unleashed has given us as…(a) symbol …of defiance the pink knit hat that women around the world have embraced as a means of communicating their distaste for (his) regressive views.”


Just a guess: greenbacks rather than pink hats will make the difference in Georgia’s special House vote being decided today.

–     –     –

The starters and young and old position players are propelling the eight-straight-win Yankees, but NY Times observer Tyler Kepner calls two barely noticed mid-relievers – Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard – keys to the team’s early success. Entering last tonight’s game with the White Sox, Warren had retired all 20 of the hitters he faced; together the pair had yielded only six hits in 41 at-bats.

Cubs president Theo Epstein, made this reply when asked if he had any player-related insights to offer to the NY Post’s Joel Sherman: “Young, good; old, bad.”


(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. 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.