Tigers, Giants, discount generic Blue Jays, Brewers, Braves: five of six division leaders, all with $100 million-plus payrolls or (as in the case of the Braves) a few million below that level. We know a sixth leader, the Oakland A’s in the AL West, is a dramatic financial exception; its $77 million payroll is fourth lowest in the MLB. Then there are the big-ticket Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees, Red Sox, etc. still very much in contention for the top division spots. It’s a tribute to Baseball’s minimally curbed free enterprise system, a system likely to endure because of an upper-class insistence on freedom to spend for whatever’s needed to win now.
That attitude is affecting the game in which Team USA hopes to prevent climate change. In the 1990s, a scientific consensus set 36-and-a-half degrees fahrenheit (2-degrees centigrade) as the upper level of warming the world could safely endure. To avoid immediate discomfort, however, our team has delayed cutting greenhouse-gas emissions that speed the upward change. We’re now on a track, says Ezra Klein of Vox, toward a 73-degree level of warming. “That’s a nightmare for the planet…The world isn’t going to sharply cut emissions this year. It isn’t going to sharply cut them next year. And every year we wait the adjustment gets more violent — and more impossible.”
Behind our foot-dragging, says Klein, is political game-playing – based on free enterprise -much like that in baseball: “The structure of the problem doesn’t mesh well with (our) strengths…Major policy changes tend to happen in American politics when the pain of inaction dwarfs the pain of action at that moment. Health-care reform, for instance, was meant to address the pain the uninsured were facing. The bank bailouts and the stimulus were aimed at a financial meltdown happening that second…Tax cuts are so popular because having more money now is way more appealing than having less money now…
“If climate change were an issue like health-care reform or the budget deficit I wouldn’t be a pessimist. ..But climate change has a ‘game over’ quality to it…Once the West Antarctica glaciers slip into the ocean they’re gone…Once the oceans rise and the permafrost melts we have no way to turn back the clock. As tremendous as our mastery of nature often appears, we are outmatched on the geologic scale.”
Team USA’s Climate Change Stance: Self-destruction may be on the horizon; but, heck, it isn’t happening too noticably now.
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More Than Just a Slump? SI’s Cliff Corcoran thinks Justin Verlander’s most recent loss – to Toronto last Thursday – was more than just an off-day. Here’s his take: “There are reasons to believe that these most recent struggles indicate that the 31-year-old’s days of dominance are behind him. In giving up six runs in seven innings in Detroit’s 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays, Verlander allowed five or more runs for the fourth time in his last five starts. The last time that happened was all the way in July and August of 2008, the only sub-par season of his otherwise outstanding career.”
Pacific Idyll: As mid-June approaches, West Coast fans have seldom had it so good, make that double for those who live in the Bay Area: the Giants and A’s own the best records in their leagues – SF, with 42-22, the best in baseball. The Angels have made clear they will duke it out with Oakland for division supremacy. And everybody expects the Dodgers to dog the Giants into October.
As for the Mariners…“I like my team. I like the way they go about their business. They are very gritty. They prepare very well. I’m very pleased with that. We’ve got our warts. We’ve got our challenges. But we do okay.” – Skipper Lloyd McClendon, whose Seattle team has just won eight of nine against the Tigers, Yankees, Braves, and Rays, all but one on the road.
Pinstripe Double Play: Cardinals color man Al Hrabosky wasn’t the first to do it, but with the Red Sox falling 10 games off the AL East pace, he was reminded the other day of the Sox’s key absentee, Jacoby Ellsbury: “The Yankees knew they were getting two for the price of one when they signed Ellsbury; as important as adding him to their lineup was subtracting him from Boston’s.”
Out-of-Control Oriole: The warm, fuzzy feeling we had experienced watching Manny Machado hit and field disappeared over the weekend. His unrepentant bat-swinging that forced Oakland catcher Derek Norris from a game, and his bat-throwing at third baseman Josh Donaldson: that bad behavior transformed him a fun-to-see young player to a less-than-admirable, troubled young man. Machado’s apologies of yesterday change nothing, in our eyes. Let’s hope Buck Showalter succeeds in straightening him out.
(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.)