by Tophatal …..
Well the divisional and wildcard races are now heating up within baseball (MLB) , and it has come in the wake of some spectacular play by the teams within the AL and NL . While a number of the divisional races appear to be suspenseful , there are others that on appearance appear to be over .
Slide show .
Since July 3rd , the Atlanta Braves(66-47) are a staggering 25-9 within baseball , the best mark of all the teams , and in achieving that mark, they have narrowed the margin between themselves and the NL East leading Washington Nationals (71-44) . That lead is now down to a mere four games , albeit that the Braves have played two games less than their divisional rivals at this point . This may bode well for Fredi Gonzalez’s team , if they can continue to maintain the momentum that the players now appear to have . The Braves will play host to the San Diego Padres (51-65) at Turner Field , in Atlanta , Georgia .
Today’s game will the first of a four-game series to be played between these two NL rivals. Taking the mound for the Padres will be Eric Stults (2-2, 2.72ERA) who will face off against Mike Minor (6-8, 4.95 ERA ). Now while many of the recent plotlines in the past few weeks concerning the Washington Nationals have emanated from within front office , the thought process being used that GM Mike Rizzo will indeed shutdown the team’s starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg . I might preface this by saying , I do not believe that Rizzo means to go ahead with the proposal. Not with the franchise being this close winning their first divisional , with the added bonus of a playoff berth as well. The idea if for the player , having pitched 160 innings for the year, he would not play a part in the team’s postseason ambition were they still to remain at that point. Strasburg has so far, pitched 133.1 innings , posting a 13-5 mark , with a 2.90 ERA.
It would appear somewhat asinine , that this premise is still being pressed ahead with by either the Nationals’ management , much less the front office executives . With so much at stake , it does give the perception that the ball-club is giving up on their season. Now, while Mike Rizzo is alluding to the fact , that it is their intent to safeguard their investment in Stephen Strasburg and his long-term future with the franchise. It remains my belief that they lost the issue, long ago , when in early 2011 the player had to be placed on the DL , then having to undergo (Tommy John) surgery on his pitching elbow. In the eyes of the Nationals’ fans this may or not be sending the right or wrong message as the organization’s ambitions. Your thoughts and the matter and what you believe to be behind this issue?
The Atlanta Braves are a welcomed story to baseball this season , a franchise that is littered with a legacy of excellence . This season , the feel-good story for the ball-club has been the fact that Chipper Jones , while having an excellent season , has let it be known that this will be his eighteenth and final year within the game . Take into account , that the Braves are the only franchise that he has played over the course of his professional career , having been drafted by the Braves in the 1990 MLB Draft . Jones’ record of achievements speaks highly as to the level of consistency that he has maintained with the Braves’ franchise.
I would like to think that with his veteran experience , Chipper Jones can lead this team with a great deal of resolve as they seek a second World Series title . Well chronicled , have been the stories of the ball-club’s successive NL East divisional titles and the dominance of that division. However , while Bobby Cox presided over a great deal of that success, it has been that with all of the postseason appearances , the franchise’s sole victory in the game’s showcase finale came in 1995 , with the series’ defeat (4-2) of the Cleveland Indians . The acclaim accorded with that team for the success attained still resonates within the ball-club that included a long list of illustrious luminaries among its ranks of the great Braves’ players .
This season, it has been Jones leading the team where it matters most in terms of the Braves’ offense . Along with Martin Prado , Michael Bourn , Freddie Freeman , Jason Heyward , Jones and Dan Uggla , the organization will be looking upon these players to spearhead the Braves onslaught from an offensive standpoint . From my own perspective, if there is a cause for concern for the Atlanta Braves , comes the mere fact that I do not believe that there is enough depth to the team’s pitching roster . If this can be rectified , then there is no reason to believe why they cannot contend with the rest of the NL , between now and the end of the regular season.
Over the past six weeks the NL West has become something of a nightmare for the Los Angeles Dodgers (62-53) . From being the high point of the baseball season news’ related cycle, with the organization having been sold for an astonishing $2.15 billion , and with the exploits of Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp being lauded . The team now finds itself locked in a battle of wills with divisional rivals the San Francisco Giants (63-52) . Granted, with the Dodgers having acquired Hanley Ramirez , as the failing Miami Marlins have begun what now appears to be a cyclical “fire sale” , the waywardness of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the moment , now seems to be back on track because of Ramirez’s recent contributions .
Not so long ago , it looked as if the Dodgers would be romping away with the division but in the space of six weeks a five game lead has been whittled down , erased , and with the Giants now holding a one game lead over their rivals. I am not so sure that , were the Los Angeles Dodgers to fail to make the postseason, after all of the euphoria in the change of ownership , of the now despised Frank McCourt , to a consortium led by Magic Johnson , Todd Boehly , Mark Walter , Stan Kasten and Hollywood and casino mogul Peter Guber . Let us just say , the despondency of the Dodgers’ fans would be something to observe as they seek to make sense of this free-fall.
The postseason means a considerable financial windfall for a franchise and for a ball-club such as the Dodgers that can mean untold millions of dollars , when a team goes deep into the postseason schedule. And even with the business acumen of Mark Walter and Todd Boehly , it will be the baseball ingenuity of Stan Kasten, that could very well determine the success that the Dodgers achieves, and which plays a part in their long-term future . What now may well provide us with the envisioned finale to this duel , between the Dodgers and Giants, might well be how these two teams now fare in their head-to-head match-ups , beyond the remaining games on their respective schedules .
Picture gallery .
The anticipation of when the two teams next meet , will be a topic of conversation among each ball-club’s fans , when the San Francisco Giants will be the guests of the Dodgers in a three-game home series at Dodgers’ Ballpark . The first of the trio of games will be on Monday 20th August ,2012 (10:00 PM, EST). There is no doubt that the series will be riveting , with so much being at stake for both teams. Chances are whoever seeks to gain the initial advantage, will the ones who will be in the drivers’ seat. Your thoughts on that premise, and how you determine the outcome of the series?
of the divisional and wildcard races now taking place , which teams do you believe will be triumphant? And which ball-club do you believe has the most to lose? By all means do leave a comment as to your thoughts .
Picture and slide show details below .
(1) New York Mets pitcher Jon Rauch (60) celebrates with catcher Rob Johnson after the Mets defeated the Atlanta Braves, 6-5 , in a baseball game , Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, at Citi Field in New York. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ….
(2) New York Mets’ Andres Torres is out at second base as Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla attempts to get the double play during the fourth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, at Citi Field in New York. Mets’ Rob Johnson was safe at first. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ….
(3) NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 11: Jason Heyward (22) of the Atlanta Braves celebrates with teammate Chipper Jones 10 after defeating the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 11, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Braves defeated the Mets 9-3 . Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images ….. ……
(4) PHOENIX, AZ – AUGUST 12: Miguel Montero (26) of the Arizona Diamondbacks can’t hold on to the ball as Cesar Izturis (6) of the Washington Nationals slides safely into home as Home Plate Umpire DJ Reyburn (70) looks on at Chase Field on August 12, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images ….
(5) Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg wipes rain from his brow in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, July 20, 2012, in Washington. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster ….
(6) Matt Kemp (27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates as he runs home following his three run home run in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies on August 8, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Getty Images North America /Stephen Dunn …..
(7) Shane Victorino (8) and Hanley Ramirez (13) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after the game against the Colorado Rockies on August 8, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers won 6-4 . Getty Images /Stephen Dunn ….
(8) Matt Cain (18) of the San Francisco Giants hits an RBI single against the Colorado Rockies during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 11, 2012 in San Francisco, California ….. Jason O Watson / Getty Images ….
(9) Buster Posey (28) of the San Francisco Giants disrupts a double play attempt by DJ LeMahieu (9) of the Colorado Rockies during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 11, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Getty Images / Jason O Watson ….
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