Friday, August 06, 2004

Weekend stress: Nomar and Kerry

So Alaska was all fun and games, right? Not quite. Catching a bit of SportsCenter (on mute) in a bar on Saturday night, I found out that No-mah, a man so iconic among Red Sox devotees that idolatry of the fidgety shortstop is regularly lampooned on SNL, has been traded, apparently for a glazed donut and yesterday's coffee. Though not entirely unexpected, the trade still left me traumatized, which not even knocking off a few burly Alaskan dudes at the pool table could assuage. Then, on Monday, I caught the USA Today headline: Kerry receives no post-convention bounce in the new poll, and actually lost ground to Bush. I spent much of my 9 mile hike that day brooding over this strange turn.

Now, I hadn't seen Kerry's speech, and only read the text in the NY Times on Friday. The text was awful, full of convoluted Kerryisms and no real punch. Not knowing the general reception of the speech, I had feared the worst: Kerry whiffed on Thursday.

Reading all the week's news after the fact was comforting (and provides more perspective than incessant daily news munching). Kerry's speech seemed well-received; he delivered those clunky lines quickly and forcefully. For another thing, bounce or no bounce, the fundamentals remain strongly in his favor, as polling guru James Zogby points out. And he did shore up his soft support and made a stronger pitch to the undecideds, as Ruy Texeira showed. So it's still Kerry's race to lose. By my count, Kerry's got 237 safe or leaning electoral votes to Bush's 168. Kerry can win basically just by poaching either Ohio or Florida, while Bush really needs to run the table.

And with the release of the anemic job growth numbers today, Bush is really in bad shape. Whenever he touts the economy, from now until the RNC, the news stories will point out that the economy's lost a lot of steam. Then, immediately after the RNC, another jobs report will be issued. If the September job report is sub-100,000, it'll take some crazy Al Qaeda plot to get the Chimp re-elected. Couldn't shake the stress, but at least JFK remains in solid shape.

As for Nomar, maybe he was so disgruntled he had to go. But it's still sad to see your favorite player traded. He's been in decline since the wrist injury suffered in 2001, and is playing horribly on the field this season (last in zone rating and defensive efficiency) and so I understand the baseball decision. I just wished Epstein picked up Matt Clement for him.