The Nub

‘Who We Are’: Whether Yankees Or Team USA

A scene at the close of Baseball’s Winter Meetings last Thursday:  Yankees GM Brian Cashman departing empty-handed, ailment looking, generic buy in the words of MLB-TV’s Brian Kenny, help like a “game, gritty underdog.”  Far from the usual way Pinstripe People are perceived.  The Yanks’ won-loss record at the meetings, 0-2; that’s zero and a big two.  They lost closer David Robertson to the White Sox and starter Brandon McCarthy to the Dodgers.  How could this happen?  How could the sport’s second richest team, with a $200 million-plus payroll, be outspent in competing for two key players.  “This is not who we are,” groan Yankee fans.  In this new era of expanding financial clout, that may no longer be the case.

Similar words were spoken by the nation’s Skipper and others in DC after disclosure of the Senate report on torture.  What we did, Obama said, was “contrary to who we are.” In Atlantic on-Line, author and CUNY Professor Peter Beinart, says the Skipper has taken a wild swing, and missed on the facts. Beinart provides details from the record book:

“In times of fear, war, and stress, Americans have always done things like this. In the 19th century, American slavery relied on torture. At the turn of the 20th, when America began assembling its empire overseas, the U.S. army waterboarded Filipinos during the Spanish-American War. As part of the Phoenix Program, an effort to gain intelligence during the Vietnam War, CIA-trained interrogators delivered electric shocks to the genitals of some Vietnamese communists, and raped, starved, and beat others. America has tortured throughout its history. And every time it has, some Americans have justified the brutality as necessary to protect the country from a savage enemy… After 9/11, while George W. Bush was announcing that God had deputized America to spread liberty around the world, his government was shredding the domestic and international restraints against torture built up over decades, and injecting food into inmates’ rectums. Those actions were not ‘contrary to who we are.’  They were a manifestation of who we are. And the more we acknowledge that, the better our chances of becoming something different in the years to come.”

A shameful Team USA tradition we prefer to overlook.                                        

–       –       –

Head Count:  With the White Sox’s signings of Melky Cabrera, Chase Headley and Jed Lowrie, roughly two-thirds  of what are generally considered the 35 “name” free agents are off the board.  The still-available dozen or so include:: Max Scherzer, James Shields, Jake Peavy, Sergio Romo,  Ryan Vogelsong, Edinson Volquez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Nori Aoki, Michael Morse, Stephen Drew,  Ichiro Suzuki, Dan Uggla.

Lesson of the Matt Kemp Trade:  Every player can be traded, no matter who he is. Now that long-tenured (Derek) Jeter and (Paul) Konerko have retired, and Jimmy Rollins is on the cusp of being dealt — coincidentally — to the Dodgers, baseball’s longest-tenured players with one team are Chase Utley and David Ortiz, who debuted with, respectively, the Phillies and the Red Sox in 2003. After just 12 years, Utley (36) is likely not long for Philadelphia, and Ortiz, at 39, is likely not long for baseball.  Had Kemp played out his contract in Los Angeles, he would have been a Dodger for 14 years, but his trade represents a reminder that players who remain with one team for anywhere approaching that length of time are significant outliers. The business of baseball has changed.” – Ben Reiter, Sports Illustrated

                                                                             – o –

(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  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.