“This energizes it”…”This gives it sizzle” were two of many high-level MLB statements (by Commissioner Bud Selig and Giants exec Larry Baer) after Baseball made the All-Star Game a “game that counts” in 2002. Until then, when that summer’s game ended in a 1-1 tie, it was a pure exhibition. The players and managers loved it that way – part of a three-day vacation requiring minimal effort. A lark, with nothing at stake. Giving the Series-qualifying team from the league that won the game home field changed everything. Fans loved this version, and why wouldn’t they? No more losing interest as the game dragged on toward midnight. However it ended didn’t matter.
How could this revisionism have happened? We can’t alone blame the players and managers, now able to relax, nor some of the team owners on the losing side. The finger should clearly be pointed at the media people. “I never liked it,” said Al Leiter, on MLB-TV. Most of his fellow panelists agreed. Just too much extra work was the unspoken explanation for the negativity.
And if there’s any doubt about a similar problem affecting the political media, we should check in with Jon Stewart, who, with his team on “The Daily Show” spotted the adversity of too many news-gathering players to putting in the work required. That work is mainly fact-checking. As a producer tells it in a newly published book about the show, too many politicians were lying and getting away with while being interviewed on networks like CNN. The pols would lie and, too often, the reporter would respond, “Well, we’ll have to leave it there.” So, “The Daily Show” began making it a practice of holding both the politician and the network (print organizations could have been included) responsible.
Stewart’s line when he heard the “have to leave it there” phrase was: “Don’t leave it there. There is a terrible place to leave it.”
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MLB’s Winter Meetings Dealing Whirlwind
Sorry, Cleveland fans, the Red Sox have established themselves as the team in the AL as the 2017 season approaches. Acquiring Chris Sale from the White Sox can have that kind of heady effect on a franchise. The Sox gave up a potential prize of their own in infielder Yoan Moncada, but Sale gives Boston a top-notch trio of starters in Sale, Rick Porcello, and David Price, plus four other mid-notchers.
The Dodgers are still waiting to pounce from the dealing bushes, but they’ve added late-blooming Rich Hill to their rotation, paying an impressive investment of $48 million over three years
And speaking of paying high for a privilege, the Giants invested $62 million over four years for sought-after closer Mark Melancon.
The Cubs have a new closer of their own, the Yankees have an old one back: the Cubs traded outfielder Jorge Soler to KC for the almost legendary Wade Davis, the Yanks reclaimed Aroldis Chapman with an $86 million five-year contract. The Nationals got into the dealing act by acquiring right fielder Adam Eaton from the White Sox for three well-regarded pitching prospects. The Rockies, meanwhile, picked up former Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who may be asked to play several positions,for four-years, $70 million, and a future high-level prospect. Center fielder Dexter Fowler, who played six-plus years with the Rockies before moving on to the Astros and Cubs, signed a five-year, $17 million-per contract with the Cardinals
We won’t be surprised if Houston’s giving Carlos Beltran a one-year deal turns out to bet the most productive position-player signing of the off-season. Beltran is returning to the team, where, in 1994 (age 27), he made perhaps the most memorable playoff performance ever: 20 hits, eight HRs, 14 RBIs, over just 12 games against the Braves and Cardinals. Sure. He’s 40 now. But we know he can still hit, and from either side of the plate. Matt Holliday, Beltran’s replacement with the Yankees, we suspect,will turn out to be of lesser value.
The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)