The Nub

What Fans in Both Fields Crave: Competition

(Posted 9/15/14)

Yankee fans recall the Septembers, canada salve now a couple of years past, usa buy when the Pinstripers were under playoff pressure: indeed, their assignment was, at the very least, to make the World Series. Anything short of that goal constituted a lost season. The team’s position as the MLB’s richest and most free-spending franchise brought on the burdensome expectations. As of last season, the Yanks had fallen to a distant second place as the MLB’s wealthiest team. While they finished outside the playoff circle for the first time since 2008 (this year will be the second), the pressure to go all the way shifted to the new top-spending club, the LA Dodgers. Which is where the burden of expected success now rests.

As of today, the Dodgers, with their $240 million-plus payroll, headed by star pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Josh Greinke, are scrambling to finish atop their division. But they remain a near-cinch to be among the six NL clubs to reach the post-season. Then, Don Mattingly’s men can suspect with confidence that more than half the baseball world will be rooting against them. Thus, the price of being a well-heeled front-runner.

As the Dodgers of the Democratic presidential race, Hillary Clinton is said by polls to be, not just the choice of Dem team fans, but the overall favorite to win the job as national Skipper in 2016. That’s today, when no one has emerged in her party to offer a challenge. But Hillary, who has preempted the field by deferring a decision on whether to run until next year, is not helping her cause with coyness. Just as most ball fans don’t want to see a Dodger runaway, so key Dem players object to Clinton maneuvering herself into a clear field.

“(The) voters want competition; they want their candidates to have to work for it,” Massachusetts Skipper Deval Patrick said at Dem meeting in Florida the other day. He acknowledged that Hillary is “incredibly strong,” but added: “The problem with inevitability is it’s sometimes interpreted as entitlement.” Would he support her if she runs, he was asked: “I’m going to wait until it’s time to make those kinds of decisions,” Patrick said.

It’s no secret that Hillary risks rallying progressive non-support by linking the importance of income inequality as an issue with the equal requirement of making nice to corporate America.

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Wild Card Realism: The weekend results left three teams in each league vying for the two WC spots: Oakland, Kansas City and Seattle in the AL, the Giants, Pirates and Brewers in the NL. KC and SF still have a shot at their divisions, but the Tigers and Dodgers look solid. Three crushing losses to the Rangers all but ended the Braves’ WC hopes. Orioles, Angels, Nationals have locks on their divisions; the Cardinals, like the Dodgers, seem secure atop theirs. (Last-minute revisions not ruled out)

Braves Talk: “Back up against the wall…It’s not a good feeling”: An understatement from Braves Skipper Fredi Gonzalez after his team was swept by the Rangers, essentially swept out of the NL wild card race. Now four games out of WC contention, Atlanta goes from playing the worst team in the MLB to one of the best, beginning a three-game set tonight with the division-leading Nationals.

Ominous Sound? “We’re going to be OK, guys…. “I promise. Trust me.” The words of Mariners Skipper Lloyd McClendon, after Seattle lost two of three to Oakland over the weekend. Commented Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer: “You know times are rough when you have to reassure an indifferent media.” The Mariners, a game behind KC in the WC scramble, now have the daunting challenge of playing four against the Angels in Anaheim.

Tooling Around: Giants broadcaster Duane Kuyper was talking about what he calls:”seven-tool players”. Those are the ones with five playing tools and two to display off-field: “interview presence and general demeanor.” He said all SF’s call-up prospects “have the seventh tool. Meaning, they aren’t tools.” – quoted by Bruce Jenkins, SF Chronicle

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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.