Let’s Play Ball , Batter Up
There may well be a great deal of angst within MLB baseball at present , with many questioning the legitimacy of the rosters for the upcoming All Star Game at Kauffman Stadium , in Kansas City , Missouri . The AL with their litany of stars will take on the elder statesmen of the NL in the game’s midseason showcase event. The questions being posed has very much to do with the “ youth presence “ and the fact that youngsters Mike Trout , Mark Trumbo and Stephen Strasburg are to be participants in the upcoming event . It has been the fans’ choice , that these players are to be included and to my mind it adds a fresh vibrancy needed to the game which over the past decade has been embroiled in far too much controversy , by of baseball’s association to the “steroid era” ! . The young players in question are not tainted by that scourge , while the league hierarchy is still seeking legitimacy as to their actions and many of the mandates that have been put in place .
Slide show gallery .
Trumbo and Trout are having exceptional seasons for the Los Angeles Angels and the duo in conjunction with slugger , Albert Pujols , have to be seen as one of the primary reasons for the team’s ….. resurgence after a sloppy start to the season . And though the Angels are currently 5 ½ games behind the division leading Texas Rangers within the AL West . There is the ongoing belief that there is a great deal still to be played for before the season’s end . Once the teams return after the All Star Break , then it’s back to the routine rigors of the 162 game schedule of the season .
I have no wish to question the veracity of the cases to be made for and against the inclusion of the players given the opportunity to participate in baseball’s mid-season event ! The fans have voted , their voices have been duly heard , and noted . Tony La Russa , having retired , will be the manager for the NL team , while his counterpart for the AL lineup will be the Texas Rangers’ Ron Washington . The Rangers’ manager I have no doubt would like to reverse last season’s World Series debacle when the Rangers fell to the St Louis Cardinals (4-3) . When ones bears in mind that twice in succession the Rangers have been on the wrong end of World Series’ losses , it does beg the question what else can the Texas Rangers do to overcome that one final obstacle ?
This season the Rangers have been on fire , laying siege to their opponents as Saladin laid siege to Jerusalem during the Crusades . Many of the Ron Washington’s team victories have been lopsided affairs , with the offense being so overpowering , leaving nothing to chance , as they have provided more than enough run support for their very impressive pitching staff . Josh Hamilton , the leading vote getter in this season’s All Star ballot is having once again , a formidable season . He has now to my mind , surpassed Derek Jeter as the most popular player in the game ! And that is saying a great deal when one considers Jeter’s legacy , and the esteem with which he is held within the game of baseball . Hamilton for his part , has shown the fans his extraordinary talents with a scintillating display of power-hitting throughout much of the season . Who can forget the player’s 4 home-run dismantling of the Baltimore Orioles on the way to the Rangers’ 10-3 victory over their AL rivals ? The Rangers’ slugger seems intent on joining that rarefied air in terms of MLB sluggers over the past decade .
In the AL as well as across the panacea of the baseball , Josh Hamilton has been among the most prolific offensive players in the game . Not to be outdone by his feats , Yu Darvish has shown us why team President Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels invested the monies that they have done in acquiring the talented Japanese pitcher . Beyond the salary ….. commitment to Darvish the Texas Rangers also had to pay Yu Darvish’s Japanese team (Nippon Ham Tigers) $52 million , a refundable rights’ fee for the privilege of negotiating with the team and player . Had there been a breakdown in those negotiations , then the fee would have to be refunded to the Rangers , within 60 days .
Darvish , this season leads the Rangers’ pitching staff in a number of categories but it has been his amazing knack for “ striking out “ the opposing batters with such regularity that makes him such a formidable pitcher . Throw in the fact , that the team ERA of 3.66 is amongst the best in the AL , and that figures bears up well in the Majors overall .
Once the festivities of the All Star Game is over and done with , it will be interesting to see how the Texas Rangers acquits themselves the second-half of the season . Ron Washington and his players will no doubt like to increase their lead over the Los Angeles Angels within the AL West , rather than letting circumstances beyond their control dictate their fate during the final month of the season .
It takes a great deal of expediency and patience to tolerate a team performing so ineptly , while still being viewed as a potential contender for postseason honors . While not being a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays but as they are the closest professional baseball franchise with regard to my locale . They have been in essence , the team that I follow from afar , albeit that in recent years I have become a die-hard Atlanta Braves’ fan . The Rays in their last ten games are a mind-boggling 2-8 , and if that has not been enough , one of their greatest strengths , their defense , has now become their biggest weakness , alongside some truly atrocious offense .
If Joe Maddon hopes the turn things around for a team now positioned fourth in the AL East with a 41-38 mark , it has to be said that in the second half the season there will have to be an urgency about the franchise . Anything short of a wildcard berth or a divisional crown would be looked upon as a distinct failure . The manager and his coaching staff will most certainly have to get his players playing .650 ball at best if they are to be in with a chance of gaining that AL berth . A minimum of 96 wins has to be viewed as the cut-off point for the teams seeking that berth .
The opportunities have been there for the Rays to take command within the division but repeatedly through their complacency they have let those situations slip from within their grasp . Injuries asides , which tends to stall a team’s aspirations , things have been no n different for the Tampa Bay Rays and their contemporaries within the game . Opportunities have arisen for Desmond Jennings , Luke Scott , Sean Rodriguez , Ben Zobrist , Elliot Johnson , Matt Joyce and Carlos Pena , amongst others who continue to contribute as best they can for the Rays .
Tropicana Field , home to the Tampa Bay Rays , during the month of July will have a slew of games that will pit them against the very best that the AL has to offer . And beginning today the team faces divisional rivals the New York Yankees in a three-game series at home , that will go a long way in determining the apparent direction that Joe Maddon’s players are said to be heading . . On the mound for the Rays will be Matt Moore (4-5,4.19 ERA) as he takes on seasoned veteran Freddy Garcia (2-2, 6.39 ERA) . The lineups for the teams are pretty much set . This season the Rays lead the New York Yankees 5-4 in the number of games played and bear in mind that these two teams will meet each other nineteen times over the course of their respective schedules in five series played at Tropicana Field as well as at Yankee Stadium , New York City , New York . It easy to understand why those series in particular create a heightened interest among both sets of fans , as well as being guaranteed sellouts . The revenues derived from those series will go a long way in assisting the financial resourcefulness of the Rays . Whereas with the New York Yankees , every red cent simply adds to an already profitable bottom line for the franchise .
Picture gallery .
Are you surprised by any of the names on the respective rosters for this year’s All Star Game ? If there is a player who you feel has been slighted by his omission , which star do you believe that to be ? In the case of both the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers do you believe that either of the teams in question will be a part of this season’s playoff format ? By all means do leave a comment as to your thoughts on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .
Picture and slide show details below .
(1) Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout celebrates with teammates after their 10-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in a baseball game in Toronto, Sunday, July 1, 2012. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim …
(2) TORONTO, CANADA – JUL 1: Mark Trumbo (44) of the Los Angeles Angels hits a 2-run home run in the 8th inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 1, 2012 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images …
(3) Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg reacts after giving up three runs to the Atlanta Braves in the third inning of their baseball game on Saturday, June 30, 2012, at Turner Field in Atlanta. AP Photo/David Tulis …
(4) ARLINGTON, TX – JUNE 30: Josh Hamilton (32) of the Texas Rangers is forced out at 2nd but breaks up the double play against Jemile Weeks (12) of the Oakland Athletics on June 30, 2012 at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images …
(5) Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish delivers against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of a baseball game , Sunday, July 1, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/John F. Rhodes ….
(7) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – JULY 1: Outfielder Desmond Jennings (8) of the Tampa Bay Rays scores in the first inning after stealing second base, against the Detroit Tigers July 1, 2012 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images ….
(8) Manager Joe Maddon (70) of the Tampa Bay Rays talks with the media prior to the start of the game against the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field on June 29, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….
Quincy …. Feat’g ….. Kendre` …. “ Stay Awhile “