Who’s On First , Who’s On Second And What Hell Just Happened On The Mound ?
With MLB (baseball) having made their regular season schedule available to the public it will be interesting to see what arises from all of this . In the aftermath of the 2011 postseason excitement this 2012 season could very well be just exciting one would hope. Granted , with there being a number of player movements over the course of the off-season a number of teams e will be taking something of an unfamiliar guise . Albert Pujols prove to be the biggest mover of them all with last minute acquisition move made by Arte Moreno and the Los Angeles Angels . Not to be outdone Dave Dombrowski and the Detroit Tigers made their biggest move in obtaining Prince Fielder and signing him to a 9 year $214 million contract . How this will sit with his new found teammates remains to be seen but as of now the Tigers and Texas Rangers might well be viewed as the presumptive favorites to be playing for the AL pennant during the postseason .
Slide show for your perusal .
World Series ……. champion the St Louis Cardinals will start the season off with Mike Matheny assuming the managerial role with the retirement of Tony La Russa . With the Cardinals’ front office led by GM John Mozeliak failing to retain the services of Albert Pujols it would appear that the St Louis Cardinals’ defense of their title will be an arduous one to say the very least .
Matheny and his Cardinals’ team will start their schedule with a three game series against their divisional rivals the Milwaukee Brewers . The Brewers for their part with the loss of Prince Fielder will now have start off their season without their NL MVP winner Ryan Braun , with the player having fallen afoul of the league’s steroid and substance abuse policy . The player having lodged an appeal through to the MLBPA (union) which will be heard by the league hierarchy may well be subjected to the mandatory 50 game suspension that will not see the player return to the team until the month of June . Ron Roenicke and his coaching staff will have to adjust without his two most productive players from last season in terms of the Brewers’ offensive output .
One of the things that Commissioner Bud Selig and the league hierarchy have sought to do is to play at least one regular season series outside North America . And this season as precursor to the Opening Day schedule on the 5th April , 2012 , we will see a two games series played between AL teams the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners in the Tokyo Dome , Tokyo Japan , starting on the 28th March , 2012. Both the Athletics and Mariners will have to play at a heightened level if they are to be in with a real chance of being competitive within the AL West this season . In 2011 we saw both teams simply play second fiddle to the presence of the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers , with the latter making a successful defense of their divisional title and then playing their way into the postseason , making their way to the World Series and a subsequent series’ loss to the St Louis Cardinals.
The Texas Rangers no slouches during this off-season made their splash in obtaining Yu Darvish as a replacement to free agent departure CJ Wilson . As to whether or not Darvish’s performances for the Nippon Hams will prove to be as productive as Wilson’s remains to be seen . GM Jon Daniels along with team President Nolan Ryan must have felt it worthwhile to pay the Japanese organization almost $52 million merely for the privilege for the rights to negotiate a contract for the player and then sign him to a five year $62 million deal . . For Rangers’ manager Ron Washington and his coaching staff having twice failed to make successful run for a World Series title in 2010 and 2011 this season has to be a make or break for this team .
As I alluded to earlier the Texas Rangers have to be seen as a presumptive favorite within the AL . Now there are those who feel that Tampa Bay Rays , Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees will also have their part to play in this 162 game schedule for each of the league’s 30 teams. To say the upheaval within the Red Sox front office and managerial staff didn’t come as a surprise and can only be seen as an organization in deep turmoil. Theo Epstein departed to become the Head of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs and with Boston Red Sox not seeking to extend the contract of Terry Francona the fallout was complete. In the aftermath of the Red Sox’s meltdown during the final month of the regular season of 2011 , the finger pointing and the apparent decision from within the organization to attack the repuation of the manager spoke to the lack of class and integrity within the Boston Red Sox’s front office led by Epstein and Larry Lucchino .
Red Sox pincipal partners Tom Werner and John W Henry remained remarkably silent while the eruption took place . But what might be even more telling might have been the returns in terms of the performances of Josh Beckett , John Lackey , Jon Lester and Johnathan Papelbon amongst the team’s pitching staff during the team’s regular season and specifically the month of September .
The AL East could either prove to be truly competitive this season or simply a situation where Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees fall from grace given their issues last season . Bobby Valentine succeeds Terry Francona as the new manager of the team and with there being several roster moves by way of a number of players either seeking free agency . What now appears to be apparent is that Valentine will be placed under a great deal of scrutiny as he seeks resurrect the fortunes of this organization. Joe Girardi . as the manager of the New York Yankees , having seen Brian Cashman not make any major forays into the free agency market but having acquired Michael Pineda in exchange for Jesus Montero will seeks to bolster the fortunes of his pitching staff which proved to be the team’s Achilles’ heel last last season . CC Sabathia , Bartolo Colon , Phil Hughes , Ian Kennedy and A J Burnett simply aren’t going to scare anyone given their proclivity in terms of their performances .
Amongst the NL teams it has to be said that the Miami Marlins may have made the biggest splash of all given their almost $200 million outlay on players in terms of those acquired during the off-season . And with the newly installed Ozzie Guillen as the manager of the team perhaps we will see Guillen and his coaching staff have these players making a successful run at the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves within the NL East and perhaps a playoff berth . And whether or not this season we see an additional wildcard team for the postseason we can only wait to see what transpires in terms of Bud Selig’s machinations as he looks to further transform and add to what he feels will be the perceived drama to be had during the playoffs.
Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria , CEO & President Larry Beinfest , team President David Sansom along with GM Stephen Hill have seen fit to now make the Marlins omnipresent within the market place and show that this organization is relevant once again . With all of the subterfuge and apparent falsehoods in terms of the his team’s financial plight Jeffrey Loria now seems to be an MLB team owner reborn . And suborning this hyperbole just happens to be Bud Selig whose pretense that he cares about all of the franchises within the game must come across to the uninformed as something of a joke but then again there are those within the media and diehard traditionalists who would swear that the commissioner has been the best thing to happen to the game in years . I guess Selig’s tenure makes that of Faye Vincent and Bart Giamatti’s seem filled with more controversy and Machiavellian dealings akin to a walk in the park . The Marlins’ new 37,000 seat stadium inaugural opening and game takes place with the team hosting the Cincinnati Reds on 5th April .
The ongoing investigation by the US Justice Department of the city of Miami and their financing of the new Marlins' stadium could well lead to a rather embarrassing situation for the city commission and lead to some awkward questions for the ownership group of the team and quite possibly for the league hierarchy. Never let it be said that controversy hasn't followed the league when it comes to the stadium issues of the teams within baseball . Simply look at the situation now facing the New York Mets and their $775 million white elephant otherwise known as Citi-Field that has yet have a sellout since its inauguration ? So much so , that as a gimmick by the hierarchy they have seen fit to lower general admission ticket prices for home games at the ostentatious ballpark . Sales pitch or not , with the already well scrutinized problems of leading partners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon the New York Mets have more than their fare share of woes this upcoming season. An already under-achieving team from last season the growing shift of what now appears to be a fire sale that could be underway with rumors of front office seeking to shop their third baseman David Wright .
For all of the talk by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as to what a resplendent edifice the ballpark is said to be and that it would be a major attraction not only for the fans of the New York Met but for all of the fans of baseball , the very fact that under his initiative the Mets’ stadium was public funded has me wondering how much influence was provided by the team owners as well as Commissioner Bud Selig ! With in excess of $2.3 billion being raised by the city of New York to fund not only the Mets’ ballpark but also Yankees Stadium there has to be a great deal subterfuge by the league when they seek to influence public opinion as well as that of state , local and federal politicians for their own self gain.
That situation just doesn’t happen within MLB but also consider the ongoing situation as the Minnesota Vikings ……. front office led by team owner Zygi Wilf seeks to coerce Gov Mark Dayton and the state legislature to fund a proposed $2 billion development of a stadium and surrounding property that would house a new stadium for the NFL franchise . The fact that the state has a $5.75 billion budget deficit and has started to furlough state employees , cutting state budgets , all while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appears on national television making an appearance on the CBS news’ magazine program “60 Minutes “ regaling his interviewer Steve Kroft as to the profitability of the NFL and its $10 billion a year business .
Impact , or not the commissioner when asked how it is that the team owners seek public financing for their venues when the vast majority of them are either multi-millionaires and billionaires were somehow excused by Goodell as nothing to be overly concerned with . And it is no different from the stance taken by Bud Selig when addressing the situation as it concerns the team owners within the game of baseball. The commissioner has been front and center in providing his input in aiding the ownership groups for the New York Mets , New York Yankees and Miami Marlins but somehow left out in the cold has been Lew Wolff and the senior partners of the Oakland Athletics as they seek a resolution of their stadium issue , with no apparent aid in sight from the league hierarchy . Did I miss something here, but isn’t the commissioner in the employ of the team owners and not the other way around ? He’s meant to assist and provide them assistance in whatever manner those owners might deem necessary . But then again if this is what $20 million a year buys as the commissioner , then these assholes (team owners) are deserving of their fate , when they sought to extend the commissioner’s contract for a further two years !
Perhaps it’s me but I feel that when it comes to the so called perceived intelligence and business insight of the executives who oversee the major sports’ governing bodies I get the impression that each lives a damn bubble and that their thought process as it relates to the economic realities within their midst is simply beyond belief ! What might be even further unbelievable is that there are idiots out there who believe that guaranteed contracts paid to many of the top athletes within the within the NBA , NHL and MLB simply isn’t a payment that is guaranteed ! And that was a claim by someone who stated that they worked in the within finance department of a sport’s consortium . Obviously an individual whose financial acumen borders on the insight shown by the likes of former House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-Ny) whose sole role over the last two decades overseeing this committee has been to make the country’s tax laws a living hell for the taxpayers at the lower end of the spectrum ! Hands up , if you now feel that you’re still being screwed over by the federal government as it relates to your income tax ? Need I say anymore on the matter ? Well baseball continues to screw the consumers and fans of the game , albeit that their revenues (estimated $7.2 billion in 2011) on and profits continue to rise exponentially while many of their teams are sub-par with in some cases declining attendance and acute financial issues . Something that the league hierarchy chooses not to truly address in a proactive manner but initiates a rather asinine tax sharing revenue scheme that has simply muddied the waters and wherein those teams at the bottom rung of the ladder still remain mediocre ! If you don’t believe that to be the case then ask yourself this question , when was the last time the likes of the Pittsburgh Pirates , Kansas City Royals , Seattle Mariners or for that matter the Baltimore Orioles play a major part in the postseason ?
Before the regular season itself begins Spring Training will be part and parcel for the regular season precursor . The Cactus League and Grapefuit League will play their part as the teams seek to gain some consistency and rhythm before they embark in their forays over the arduous 162 game schedule .
Picture gallery for your picture .
It’s still early days yet but what are your own expectations as it relates to MLB season ? Which teams do you feel will be a force to be reckoned with this year within each of the two leagues and which divisions do you feel will be the most competitive ? By all means do leave a comment as to your thoughts concerning the points raised within this piece .
Picture and slide show details below .
(1) New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, center, and Theo Epstein right, the president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, meet with reporters prior to a joint appearance Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, at Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Conn. AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb ….
(2) Former Chicago Cubs’ general manager Jim Hendry walks through the concourse of Wrigley Field before a baseball game the Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals Friday, Aug. 19, 2011 in Chicago. The Cubs fired Hendry after another disappointing season said assistant GM Randy Bush who will serve as interim general manager. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said it was time for a “fresh approach in our baseball leadership and our search begins immediately.” The 56-year-old Hendry was named general manager in July 2002. AP Photo/ Giles Miller …. …
(3) ANAHEIM, CA – DECEMBER 10: Angels owner Arturo Moreno stands between Albert Pujols (5) and C.J. Wilson (33) at a public press conference introducing them as newly signed Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim players at Angel Stadium on December 10, 2011 in Anaheim, California. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …. …..
(4) DETROIT, MI – JANUARY 26: (L-R) Haven, Jadyn, (back) Chanel and Prince Fielder (28) of the Detroit Tigers pose after a press conference to announce his 9 year contract with the Tigers at Comerica Park on January 26, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Jorge Lemus/Getty Images ….
(5) WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 17: U.S. President Barack Obama (C) holds up a uniform given to him by the 2011 Major League Baseball World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals while posing for photographs with the team and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House January 17, 2012 in Washington, DC. Noticably absent from the congratulatory event are the team’s former 1st baseman Albert Pujols and former manager Tony La Russa. The Cardinal’s visit to Washington will include a stop at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to visit with patients and their families. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images *** BESTPIX *** ….
(6) Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge (R) speaks as Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin (L) looks on at a press conference in Tokyo on January 16, 2012. Melvin and Wedge announced that the Athletics and Mariners will play for their opening Major League Baseball games at the Tokyo Dome stadium in March. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO _____ Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images ….
(7) (L-R) Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays, MLB commissioner Bud Selig and Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers speak during a press conference honoring Bautista and Kemp with the American and National League 2011 Hank Aaron Award prior to game 5 of the MLB World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. Ezra Shaw/ Getty Images
(8) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg , center, is seen here alongside Fred Wilpon , left , and his son Jeff Wilpon , COO of the New York Mets at the formal groundbreaking ceremony announcing the building of Citi Field home to the Mets . The facility since its inaugural opening has struggled in terms attendance for home games . The organization now faces a bleak financial prospect with mounting losses and are currently defendants in a civil suit in the US Federal Court that seeks to recoup $700 million that was garnered via the “Madoff Ponzi Scheme” . NY Daily News / Paul Costiglio ………..
(9) Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff is seen here alongside MLB Commissioner Bud Selig . Wolff has sought the commissioner’s input and assistance as the organization embarks upon trying to obtain a new venue . What little aid provided to the owner has been negligible at best and it would appear that the league hierarchy are not interesting in coming to the aid of A’s ownership group . AP Photo / Matt Richards ….
Bea Flora’s lovely pair of assets ! .