Making Hay While The Sun Shines ………..
By tophatal ……… 05/25/2012 …… 00.35 AM (EST)
The 4th April saw the Opening Day of the MLB (baseball ) season . Having gone through the month and as we now near the end of May it has to be said that there have been one or two surprises around the league . The Baltimore Orioles are still riding high atop of the AL East and the Cleveland Indians for the moment appear to be having the time of their lives within the AL Central .
Slide show for your perusal .
To be fair it’s still early days yet and at this time last season I am quite sure we were also being surprised by not only the play of the teams but also where they stood within their respective divisions . Clearly the managers and their staffs would like nothing better to see their clubs simply maintain their momentum , specifically those who are said to be on a current winning streak . For those firmly rooted at the bottom of the divisions who with no real traction you can be sure that there players who would like nothing better than to see their clubs simply play themselves into contention . Now as crazy as this may of the six teams with the highest payrolls in the game four are currently are in an unaccustomed position , and that is the fact that they’re either currently in last place , or simply mid-table within their division .
Imagine , the onlookers who are now seeing both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees simply looking up within the AL East , while the Baltimore Orioles , Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays vie for the leadership within the division . And if you think that on the “senior circuit” (NL) there doesn’t appear to be problems then simply look at situation of the Philadelphia Phillies . I hardly think that this is what either Charlie Manuel , his coaching staff or GM Reuben Amaro had envisaged for the team ! Now while it would be remiss to suggest that injuries haven’t plagued a number of teams as the season got underway . It seems to have been so acute for the Phillies that it now has their fans wondering whether or not the returns of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will be imminent. That’s notwithstanding the issues that the team currently faces go beyond injuries as their problems seem to be the lack of productivity from their offense and pitching . With the exception of Cole Hamels ( 7-1,2.17 ERA) who leads the NL in wins . Much of the offense this season for the Phillies has been provided by Carlos Ruiz and Hunter Pence .
Not wanting the deflate the balloon any further for the Philadelphia Phillies but apart from their most recent win of the World Series in 2008 , it has to be said that the organization has simply underachieved in spite of the talent and that formidable ….. payroll . It kind of makes you wonder if finances alone are an actual guarantee of overwhelming success ? It works for some , while for others it can actually prove to be a monumental bust . Simply look at the New York Mets as proof of that and their lack of pertinent success over the past decade . And that “white elephant” known as Citi-Field , home to the New York Mets , built at the cost of $775 million is at times so sparsely filled for the team’s home games that it has become one of the most embarrassing topics of conversation in the baseball world . Forgive me for say this , but New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg either had to have been duped by the Mets’ ownership group in financing this venue or he simply felt it was another way of screwing over the city’s residents , while adding to his already dubious legacy as the mayor. It’s not as if he has actually accomplished anything of note during his two terms as the city’s highest ranking executive to begin with ! And somehow the apathetic residents returned him back to office , to serve a third term in office . WTF !
Now while a great deal is being made about the great season that David Wright is now said to be having . Let’s get one thing clear Wright can’t take this team on his back and lead them to where they need to be . As capable as he is , he’s simply doesn’t possess the mindset wherein his teammates will eagerly follow. In other words simply look at him as a meek and version of a Derek Jeter ” wannabe ” . Wright may well be leading the NL in batting average but in no way can one say he’s having the sort of season or showing the sort of productivity we're now seeing from Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Now they are for real and the team is now proving that point .
Now one could start to question whether or not Arte Moreno and Jerry Dipoto can continue to accept the malaise of the Los Angeles Angels . Granted , of late it would appear that Albert Pujols has began to turn things around in terms of his productivity with the Angels have been winners of their last two games but are 5-5 overall in their last ten . Certainly with the the near $330 million commitment made to Albert Pujols and C J Wilson , one would have expected a great deal more from this Angles’ team . Languishing at the bottom of the AL West … Mike Sciocsia players already find themselves 7 games behind the marauding Texas Rangers (27-18) who seem to be on course to repeat as divisional champions for a third consecutive season . This hasn’t been lost on Los Angeles Angels , who have seen the Rangers become the dominant force within the division and one of the preeminent teams within the game. And undoubtedly for Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels , they would like nothing better than making a successful run through the postseason . In 2010 and 2011 , the Texas Rangers fell short at the final obstacle placed in front of them . Ron Washington has to be entirely happy with the play of his team and with Josh Hamilton seemingly knocking the hide of the ball and pitching sensation Yu Darvish , one would have to ask is there a AL team capable of taking down the mighty Texas Rangers ?
Money can’t buy you happiness but it sure as hell has brought a tremendous smile to the faces of the fans of the Los Angels Dodgers and the new ownership group headed by Magic Johnson , Stan Kasten , Peter Guber and the senior executives of the venture capital firm Guggenheim Partners LLC . Mark Walter and Todd S Boehly bring along their financial acumen behind and expertise of their company with assets of over $125 billion . Whereas , Johnson and Kasten now become the face of the franchise , relics of the past remain within the front office with Ned Colletti and Tommy LaSorda still being part of the now infamous reign of Frank McCourt . To my mind given the egregious actions of the former owner I find it hard to believe that Magic Johnson and his partners still feel that both Colletti and LaSorda has something to offer to this organization . Each remained remarkably quiet while McCourt and his ex-wife Jamie McCourt plundered the coffers of the baseball club , and in doing so , it led to the franchise being taken into bankruptcy reorganization proceedings . At the time of the filing the Dodgers were laden with debts in excess of $1.6 billion and assets totaling $700 million . And though franchise was sold for an over-inflated price of $2.15 billion , there is the belief that the final sticker price was simply there to create this charade that the health and wealth of the game is on a sound financial footing . If you believe that to be true , then clearly relate to me where you see that just happens to be the case ?
We all knew that the Chicago Cubs would be a work in progress for the newly installed Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer , as they sought to turn around the fortunes of this once revered ball-club . Stymied by sheer ineptitude manager Dale Sveum and his staff have their work cut out for them over the course of this season . At 15-29 the Cubs now find themselves 10 games behind the division leading St Louis Cardinals (25-19) within the NL Central . Issues abound all over the Cubs’ roster from an anemic offense to pitching rotation that at its best is beyond belief in its sheer ineptitude . And though with the recent retirement of Kerry Wood the salutary applaud for a player who by most expectations simply failed to live up to expectations . Once a bright prospect , having been drafted by the Cubs in 1999 , one can allude to the fact that the highlight of Wood’s career was a 20K strikeout feat that propelled him into the spotlight . Since that revelation , the often player never fully regained the form or promise shown at the beginning of his professional foray in baseball (MLB).
It may well be at the end of this season Epstein and Hoyer in consultation with team owner Thomas “Tom ” Ricketts will seek to make some tough decision as it relates to makeup of the of the roster with many of the high priced …. free agents quite possibly being jettisoned by the organization. And for the engima that just happens to be Alfonso Soriano , it is clear that this is a player who has simply failed to live up to the expectations sought from this once highly productive outfielder. The fact that his career has been on the decline over the past four seasons should be enough an indicator that his contract was bloated and simply ridiculous ! And the very fact that Hoyer’s predecessor Jim Hendry initiated this exercise in stupidity , should tell you all you need to know as one of the endless reasons why the Chicago Cubs remains a laughing stock in all corners of the game .
The Washington Nationals may well be the flavor of the month in terms of the discerning fan jumping on that bandwagon . But simply peruse the team’s record and you can see overall it is not as impressive when you delve deeper . Perhaps it could well be that the four other teams within the NL East have been under-whelming in terms of their play. The Nationals are 5-5 in their last 10 games , 8-5 within the division . The awe and drama has been brought about by the presence of Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg the organization’s top draft picks from 2009 and 2010 , respectively . Now the question one should be asking however , is well these two players still be with the Nationals two or even three years down the line when they both become free agents ? It’s all well and good to try and make the claim that this team is simply playing great baseball and they may well be the surprise ball-club of the season . But let’s get something clear the Nationals have yet to prove themselves as being a legitimate contender in anything but name . I mean this franchise has yet make a meaningful run in the postseason . Apathy amongst the fans never ceases to amaze ______________ these fans would lick a piece of s_#t if it would create the perception that all is well within the game. GM Mike Rizzo plays hardball but come time to renegotiate the contracts of both Strasburg and Harper when Scott Boras , the representative of both players is seated across the table from the general manager . I can assure of this , Rizzo will be the one shitting in his pants because he hasn’t mental approach to deal with a blood-sucking leech like Boras . Anyone who thinks otherwise has never seen this agent at work , bear in mind that of the 22 highest paid players in the game Scott Boras has either negotiated their contracts or still remains their agent in that capacity . Need I say anymore on the matter ?
As the season progresses it will be interesting to see how the teams fare of the schedule . June will bring along a number of games that should tell us a great deal about the direction they intend to be heading in . At this point last season there were a number of things that we were beginning to learn and <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/scoreboard/index.jsp#date=06/02/2011 so … much more . It could be something of a precursor as the latter part of the year post All Star Game . This year’s mid-season showcase will be staged at Kauffman Stadium , Kansas City , Missouri ,. With a great deal at stake for the winning league , it will be interesting to see the preparation , strategies and the makeup of the teams from each league. Undoubtedly , for the managers in question and the fans who vote in large part for the majority of the players that’ll make up the roster the event itself should prove to winner amongst the public and fans alike .
As an avid Atlanta Braves’ fan I have followed their season with a great deal of relish . Fredi Gonzalez seems to have team heading in the right direction , albeit that they’re looking up at the Nationals within the division . The Braves’ third baseman Chipper Jones enters his last season with the organization , seeking that elusive World Series ring . The unprecedented years of success with multiple divisional titles and postseason appearances were gratifying but that lone championship win seems somewhat redundant because so much had been expected.
The team has been built around a young core of players of built around Craig Kimbrell , Jayson Heyward , Michael Bourn , Johnny Venters and the veteran experience of Tim Hudson and Chipper Jones. I say let the chips fall where they may because this season more than any I firmly believe that the Braves can actually make it to the postseason ! The expanded format this season should make the final month of the season extremely interesting. Saturday and Sunday the Braves will host divisional rivals and the Washington Nationals and that if anything should tell us a great deal about the merits , temperament and their undoubted ambitions.
I would like to think that the starting pitchers can lead the team in the mode I believe that they are capable of ! I know that the Atlanta Braves no longer have that formidable pitching lineup that was in essence the admiration of baseball as John Smoltz , Greg Maddux , Tom Glavine and Steve Avery made that starting rotation one of the best ever to play the game .
Misery loves company , and nowhere is this more evident than in witnessing the dire circumstances of the Minnesota Twins . Certainly their record simply bears this out as they are amongst the worst teams …. playing in all of baseball. And certainly with the AL alone the Twins this season are a major cause for concern. Ron Gardenhire and his coaching staff have no answers as to the reasons why this team has been performing so poorly . Team owner Jim Pohlad has become the butt of so many jokes around the league and one could attest to that fact by simply observing the Twins play . Losing has become an “art form “ . It could well prove to be another year of complete ineptitude being borne out again this year as it was in 2011 .
Injuries could once again be used as a crux by the Twins but even that asides cannot hide the fact that this team is extremely bad . Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are seen as the faces of this franchise and and compensated to that effect . But one now has to consider the very fact that neither player has shown that they have the capacity to lead this team to any great height of success in spite of the reverence and esteem in which they are held by the fans at Target Field . Minneapolis , Minnesota . At season’s end the front office will have some serious decisions to make about the makeup of this roster and also whether or not Mauer and Morneau can co-exist as teammates and be productive . It hasn’t happened this season and you simply get the impression the longer this farce continues the more unlikely things will actually change . Gardenhire’s record impressive as it appears to be you simply cannot hide the fact that a great deal more was expected . As to the reasons why the team in recent years has failed ……. well it’s open to a great deal of conjecture and speculation but it is becoming abundantly clear that the Minnesota Twins are now at a crossroads in more ways than one. They can either continue down this road or choose to change course and head in a completely new direction. Whether or not this means the breaking up of this team and perhaps the dismissal of Ron Gardenhire , well it remains to be seen. Should the ball-club fail at least to garner a wildcard berth then to my mind the latter premise mentioned has to become a reality ! Your thoughts on the matter ?
Picture gallery for your perusal .
As the season has progressed what if anything has been the biggest surprise to amongst the teams and the players ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .
Picture and slide show details below .
(1) Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones breaks his bat as he hits a foul ball in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in Baltimore, Friday, May 25, 2012. The Royals would go on to defeat the Orioles 8-2 . AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …
(2) TORONTO, CANADA – MAY 28: Edwin Encarnacion (10) of the Toronto Blue Jays rounds second after a two-run home run against Tommy Hunter (29) of the Baltimore Orioles during MLB action at The Rogers Centre May 28, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images ….
(3) Wilson Betemit ((24) of the Baltimore Orioles strikes out against the Toronto Blue Jays during MLB action at The Rogers Centre May 28, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images …
(4) Gerald Laird (9) of the Detroit Tigers rounds the bases after hitting a home run as Will Middlebrooks (64) of the Boston Red Sox looks on in the fifth inning at Fenway Park May 28, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images …..
(5) Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins (11) slides safely into second base behind New York Mets’ shortstop David Wright in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Monday, May 28, 2012, at Citi-Field in New York. The Phillies won 8-4 . AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek …..
(6) Oakland Athletics Josh Reddick slides safely into third base on a triple as Minnesota Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe loses control in the sixth inning of their baseball game won by the Twins 5-4 , Monday, May 28, 2012 in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Andy King …..
(7) Brian McCann (16) of the Atlanta Braves reacts after grounding into a double play in the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Turner Field on May 28, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images …
Talib Kweli ………… ” Beautiful Struggle ”