The Nub

Varying Impact of Strikeouts on Hitters and a Political Player

(Posted 4/6/14)

Snap Quiz: Which three big-name hitters are among the current major league strikeout leaders? Answer(s): Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, look 42 Ks in 32 games (tied for lead with Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte); Mike Trout of the Angels, sildenafil 39 Ks in 31 games, the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez, 39 Ks in 33. We know all three are at least on the verge of being considered truly great. Which explains why so little attention is paid to the wild-swinging imperfection in their games. 

Skipper Obama, with the handicap of having eluded potential greatness, has been a lot less fortunate than those three. Maureen Dowd who called him a “whiffer” in the Times last week, is one of many press box observers focusing on the strikeouts piling up during this second year of Obama’s four-year contract extension. Bloomberg.com’s Al Hunt and International Herald Trib’s William Pfaff have kept count of both strikeouts and errors: “…Obama envisioned building a foreign-policy legacy in his second term: a nuclear deal with sanction-strapped Iran, an end to U.S. involvement in conflicts overseas, and a successful pivot to Asia, including a trans-Pacific trade pact. Fifteen months after his second inaugural, those goals look more problematic, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have created new crisesAssad is getting stronger, even as the administration says he must leave power. (Meanwhile)…the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is barely on life support.” (Hunt)

 “Mr. Obama permitted the neo-conservatives in his (or Hillary Clinton’s?) Department of State, together with the Congressionally-sponsored ’democratization’ NGOs dispatched to the former member-states of the Soviet Union, to become NATO recruiting agents… In Ukraine, opponents of President Victor Yanukovych were convinced that…Putin would accept (or be intimidated into tolerating) a pro-NATO coup d’état. He has not. It is another very serious reason Washington’s European allies as well as those in Asia have lost their confidence in the Obama administration. It will be a struggle to deal with the consequences.” (Pfaff)

His fans in the national ballpark thought the Skipper would be a player-manager. Instead, he has been content to hit – and singles, at that – in rhetorical batting practices. Dashed, too, was his supporters’ hope that, at least, he would be a take-charge dugout leader. Obama, we know, has delegated to his coaches the sensitive roles of watching the national security and economic baselines. The strategic damage they have caused will be difficult to undo between now and November. After the electoral playoff then, a Dem defeat can consign the Skipper to what seems to be a comfort zone – hunkering down as the final innings play out. Given the consistency of his laid-back leadership, the hope that Team Obama can mount a late rally seems as realistic as a two-out-in-the-ninth, bases-empty comeback while behind by several runs. For the moment, the Dems must believe in miracles.

While not miraculous, the other-than-whiffing play of Stanton, Gomez and Trout has been heaven-sent for their teams and fans. The BA-HR-RBI numbers: Stanton, .283-10-37 (first overall in HRs, RBIs); Gomez, .291-8-20; Trout, .293-6-19.

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An ‘Only’Look at the Leagues: As of today, only one, the AL Central, has a single team (Detroit) above .500. Only the NL East boasts four of five teams above .500. The AL East has the smallest disparity – one-and-a-half games between first and last place. NL West the largest disparity, 10-and-a-half.

Late Results: Six walks in an inning, the first such Yankee debacle since 1990, handed the Angels a 4-1 win in Anaheim last night. Other late scores: Seattle 4, Oakland 2; Colorado 8, Texas 2; San Diego 6, Kansas City 5

Streakers: Giants +6, Braves -7, KC -5

Not So Fast, Bud: Bud Selig has every right to publicly celebrate the positive steps he’s taken to improve Baseball. But there are times he should be embarrassed for some of his statements. Last Friday, in Denver, for example, he high-fived himself for helping the Wilpons retain control of the Mets when their economic survival was at stake. He said – just before the Mets lost three of four to the Rockies – that he still had a “lot of faith in” the Wilpons, as well as in Sandy Alderson (whom he pushed for team GM). We’ve suggested often that many – if not most – Mets fans consider Fred Wilpon a disaster. Former co-owner Nelson Doubleday warned that Wilpon would give unqualified son Jeff player-transaction power, to the detriment of the team. One of Alderson’s best moves has been to keep the son under wraps. But Jeff, whose occasional public visibility leaves fans twitching, is heir to ownership of the team. The future is therefore cloudy at best…and Selig is ultimately responsible. 

 P.S. Also, pre-the weekend series at Coors Field – before the near-sweep in Denver and the loss last night to the Marlins – SI’s Cliff Corcoran gave this tough assessment of the team Alderson has put together in this, his fourth season as Mets GM: “A lousy, overachieving Mets team wandering into the lion’s den.”

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 (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.