Same time next year , but this year appears to be no different from last season
A month into the baseball season and fans are now exhilarated with the play of the teams and their impressive starts in several cases. With that in mind it should be noted , that there are a number of teams that have fallen short in failing to meet early expectations . Injuries have played their part but none more so than per usual . The New York Yankees have Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson still sidelined , in various stages of recovery , but with no timetable actually set as of yet for their return . Consider the fact , that the five players in question , account for more than $83 million of the team’s annual $227 million payroll for 2013 , which currently are not on the playing field for a team that now has posted a 18-13 (.581) record , good enough for third place within the AL East .
For the Yankees’ fans , I believe that they will continue to rally behind the team , in spite of their off the field issues , as it relates to their still ailing and troubled star Alex Rodriguez . The third baseman is once again embroiled in another sordid affair , in which his name and that of several other Major League players are in engulfed in a further story of illicit banned substances , that have been allegedly supplied to them by a South Florida supplements’ company , Biogenesis , owned by Floridian businessman , Anthony Bosch . The company is at present subject of joint investigation by the DEA , FBI and US Justice Department . Meanwhile, MLB Commissioner , Bud Selig is said to be closely monitoring the ongoing investigation from afar . I liken Selig’s interest in the matter , much as in the same way he monitored the financial misdeeds of Frank McCourt , as he financially ruined the Los Angeles Dodgers , Saul Katz’s and Fred Wilpon’s continued “ idiotic” stewardship of the still financially embarrassed and uncompetitive New York Mets . Need I remind you all, of the ongoing mess that remains the Miami Marlins and the very fact that team owner , Jeffrey Loria still seeks to apportion blame elsewhere for the team’s ineptitude in 2012 , while then seeking to conduct his own “ bargain basement sale “ , in terms of trading away many of the team’s high-priced acquisitions of last season ?
The Miami Marlins, losers of two straight and are 5-5 in their last ten games . It does beg the question , how much more will the fans of this impoverished team continue to tolerate , in spite of the claims by many analysts, that baseball , Major League Baseball , remains a viable option within the state of Florida . Granted , the state does remain a hotbed for excellent talent and the Spring Training (Grapefruit League) home for several teams around the league , as well as their Minor League affiliates . Yet beyond that , for Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays , there has been either a steady decline or sparse attendance for their home games , as well as what appears to be an anemic fan-base .
Having been a one-time supporter of the Miami Marlins , I long shied away in my continued support of the franchise , after the inherent lies perpetrated by the team’s ownership , that has been continually been suborned by Bud Selig and an “ absolutely clueless” hierarchy , that is seemingly supported by the also clueless on air radio and television analysts , and personalities who cover the sport . As to the print media and their idiocy , well let’s just say if those assholes cannot succinctly inform the public of anything worthwhile, as it relates the real underlying issues of baseball . Then under what circumstances, are we to believe that they would be able to explain to us in depth , the reasons behind the continued economic imbalances as well the continued cheating that still runs the gamut of Major League Baseball ?
This season if anything , we have seen a string of great performances from several pitchers within the AL and NL , that has given us a clear indication as to the reason behind the “rise of the pitcher” and less of an emphasis in terms of run productivity . . The Texas Rangers’ starting ace , Yu Darvish came within “ two outs” of pitching what would have been baseball’s twenty fourth “perfect game “ in baseball’s history earlier in this season , in an exemplary display of a controlled pitching performance that was simply scintillating to say the very least . On the receiving end of that 7-0 loss , were the woefully inept Houston Astros (9-24) , whose record this season , is the worst in the Majors , and it is looking increasingly like that this team could very well end up surpassing last season’s mark within MLB for the worst record (55-107) in the game.
Speaking of teams, that are, and will remain inept, beyond the Astros , Miami Marlins. There is a growing belief that the Chicago Cubs , New York Mets and San Diego Padres , simply show no wish to be competitive . The continued excuses , especially amongst the Mets’ fans has become mind numbingly stupid and beyond belief ! No amount of excuses can be made for the ineptitude shown by the front office staff , even after the dismissal of former general manager , Omar Minaya , with the influx of Sandy Alderson and J P Riccardi , to now assume control for all of the executive decisions made , with regard to the acquisition of player personnel , either through the draft or free agency . . The Mets are not even remotely competitive within the NL East this season , and in all likelihood , if Terry Collins and his managerial staff are unable to turn things around . Then, we are likely to see the dismissal of the manager, from his first managerial position within the game .
Wednesday afternoon , the New York Mets will play host to another struggling ball-club , when they take on the Chicago White Sox at Citi-Field , in Flushing , New York . A game , where I expect that the attendance is likely to be somewhat dour , if not anemic ! Taking the mound for the Mets will be Jeremy Hefner (0-3, 4.34 ERA) who faces Jake Peavy (3-1, 3.38 ERA) .. At 12-16 , the Mets are in need of victories , as well as series’ wins , if they are in anyway of having a chance , much less of keeping in close proximity of the division leading Atlanta Braves (19-12) , . who are closely followed by the Washington Nationals , Philadelphia Phillies , followed by the Mets and the barely recognizable Marlins at the foot of the division.
As I alluded to earlier , this season the pitching within the Majors seems to be significantly better than I expected it to be ! In the past few seasons there has been the propensity see a significant rise in home runs and , RBI’s , but one of the more startling statistics that has come to the fore, has been the fluctuation in the number of “walks” from season to season . Either the batters are simply not that good , or the pitching , however cyclical it might well be , is now back at a level where the likes of Yu Darvish , Matt Cain , Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez , Clay Buchholz , Clayton Kershaw and Jordan Zimmerman being dominant this season .
It has been a number of years since the game has seen a player reach one of the pinnacles within the game and that is forty home runs and 40 stolen bases in a season . Seven years in fact , a feat that has only been accomplished four times in the game’s history . Alfonso Soriano , then playing for the Washington Nationals was the last player to achieve that feat in 2006 , which now seems to have become something of a rarity within the game of baseball. Personally , I now find that feat somewhat more enthralling, far more than the single season home run record . Albeit , that the taint and stain now associated with the players that have surpassed Roger Maris’ mark over the past decade and a half , does make the game of baseball all the more tawdry and dare one say , meaningless in terms of Maris’ feat ? It must be said , the “era of steroids “, simply has been a blight , casting a giant shadow over the game today , while the league hierarchy still remains at a loss , how best to address the issue . Meanwhile, the game’s revenues increase exponentially , primarily from the re-negotiation of the television contracts and less from the profitability of the league’s thirty teams.
As to the aspirants , seeking to succeed the reigning World Series’ champions , the San Francisco Giants . It must be said that one of the prohibitive favorites before the season started , might well have been the cash-laden and definitely ambitious Los Angeles Dodgers . Lead managing partners , Mark Walter , Todd S Boehly and Magic Johnson , have simply let it be known “ no expense would be spared “, as the Dodgers seek to bring back a title to the city of Los Angeles and to a ball club simply starved of that success.
It will be a quarter of a century since the Los Angeles Dodgers were triumphant in baseball’s biggest postseason fare. As the 1988 team proved to be successful in defeating their fame instate , rivals the Oakland Athletics 4-1 in a best of seven series finale to the season of that historic finale series . World Series MVP , Orel Hershiser had an “ outstanding series” as mirrored in his stats for several of his electrifying performances for the Dodgers , who were managed by legendary franchise icon Tommy Lasorda .
The Los Angeles Dodgers managed by Don Mattingly is suddenly struggling to get an an injury riddled …. team competent to compete against divisional rivals within the NL West . It`s pretty much safe to say that if Mattingly isn`t able to at least guide the Dodgers deep into the postseason . Then there is the likelihood that GM Ned Colletti will have to consult the front office as to whether or not it would be in the franchise`s best interest to retain Don Mattingly`s services as the team`s manager .
A knock against the was the bravado sown by their fans and owners alike , was in thinking , that merely because of franchise`s monetary resources, backed by a multi-billion dollar television contract and the $125 billion in assets of venture capital firm Guggenheim Partners Inc , parent company of Guggenheim Baseball Properties , owners of the Dodgers` ball-club. With a payroll now exceeding $233.1 million of which , there is now $68.9 million now committed to players on the team`s disabled list . It is easy understand, one of the numerous reasons behind the Dodgers problems this season , specifically as it relates to the team`s play . If there is one thing that we know about this team , it is that from a pitching and from an offensive standpoint the Dodgers are capable mounting a mid-season assault that could very well place them amongst the thick of things within the division as well as the NL overall . From an offensive and pitching standpoint the team does possess the weapons to get the job done , but much of that will be dependent upon the leadership shown by the likes of Matt Kemp , Clayton Kershaw , Adrian Gonzalez , Josh Beckett , Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford , whose combined salaries make up a large part of the financial commitment that the front office has made to the aforementioned players .
Mattingly will lead is players into a three-game series starting on Friday 10th May at home in Dodgers` Ballpark , in Los Angeles California, against the Miami Marlins , led by first-year manager Mike Redmond . This is a series that should tell us a great deal about the apparent directions that the teams are said to be heading in and their overall ambitions over the course of this season.
For the moment the Boston Red Sox (21-13) seem to be riding on the crest of a wave with the best record in the American League . A mark , which they currently share , with the Baltimore Orioles and the Texas Rangers , however , to my mind , the team that has been playing the best baseball over last ten games has to be the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers (19-12) , who over their last ten games , have gone an astonishing 9-1 , best in the Majors , and most certainly by far the best in the American League .
Yet , for all of grit and determination shown there is a common belief that the Tigers lack real leadership quality and the very fact that for all sense and purpose , the team`s manager, Jim Leyland appears to be too laid back a coach . I could very well be wrong in my summation of Leyland , but last season`s World Series` loss to the San Francisco Giants , I believe was a damning indictment of what was said to be wrong with the team and organization , from top to bottom . Add in the laissez-faire approach of the managerial staff and what could be further from the truth ?
The Tigers were brushed aside with the utmost of ease , in a rather embarrassing 4-0 series sweep , in what could only be described as one of the more embarrassing series’ defeat MLB postseason history . For Detroit Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike Ilitch , these are trying times for a franchise that has labored for years and who have not won a title since 1984 , when they defeated the San Diego Padres 4-1 for the last of the ball-club’s four titles that they have won over the course of their history. Bittersweet memories , when you consider also , that prior to last season’s appearance against the Giants , Jim Leyland and the Tigers would also come up short in 2006 , when the team fell to the St Louis Cardinals and the heroics of the diminutive David Eckstein , who was named World Series MVP after his heroic performances for the Cardinals .
In spite of their being three legitimate All Stars on the Tigers’ roster . I am inclined to believe that Miguel Cabrera , the game’s most recent Triple Crown winner , along with Cy Young and AL MVP winner , Justin Verlander and the always prolific Prince Fielder are likely to struggle should they make another return the postseason . Last season’s anemic postseason displays were simply endemic of what appears to be an ongoing problem for the franchise, as a whole . The Detroit Tigers appear to be gun-shy and all too afraid of even their own shadow being cast across a baseball diamond . Your thoughts , on my assumption concerning the Tigers?
The consensus coming into this season, was the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays might possess the best pitching staff in the Majors . Last season’s AL Cy Young winner David Price was said to be confident and the fact he was the recipient of a one-year $10.1 million contract was a boost in confidence for the player and presumed leader amongst the Rays’ pitchers . Instead for Price , his season has been one of indifference , and some shoddy pitching from a number of his teammates , thought to be able to provide Joe Maddon with the biggest weapon that the Rays have in their arsenal and bag of tricks .
Amongst the Rays’ pitching staff , it has been Matt Moore (6-0, 2.14 ERA ) off to a surprising 6-0 start that seems to have caught everyone by surprise and placed him among the best pitchers in the AL as well as the league (MLB) as a whole , with the season barely just over a month old .
Coming off a decisive 10-4 victory over a struggling Toronto Blue Jays’ lineup , the Rays will again play host to the team at Tropicana Field on Thursday evening . Taking the mound for the Tampa Bay Rays will be David Price against R A Dickey (2-5, 5.36 ERA) in what should a fascinating match-up the game’s most recent Cy Young Award winners from the AL and NL , respectively.
Given, the season that Dickey had in 2012 with the Mets , where he was the sole reason to watch that impoverished team play . Now the fortunes of the Blue Jays seem to have taken a turn for the worst and it would appear that even in light of their propensity to make a lavish splash in the off-season with a number of high-priced acquisitions . Someone, may well need to remind GM Alex Anthonopolous that a team cannot be made up from ill-fitting parts, that is completely lacking chemistry as well as leadership both on and off the field of play .
Blue Jays’ manager John Gibbons and his staff will be thoroughly tested throughout the course of this season , and it should come as no surprise if once again , this franchise were to have another failed season .
Picture gallery .
At this point of the MLB season , what if anything, has been the biggest surprise to you as a baseball fan ? And by the All Star Game , do you believe that a number of teams can be ” written off “ as lost causes , in terms of their perceived expectations ? Chime in with a thought on this , and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .
Picture and slideshow gallery details below.
(1) Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Juan Nicasio, front, reacts as New York Yankees’ Vernon Wells , rear, rounds the bases on his two-run home run in the first inning of a baseball game in Denver on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. AP Photo/David Zalubowski …
(2) New York Yankees’ Vernon Wells , left, follows the flight of his two-run home run with Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario in the first inning of a baseball game in Denver on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. AP Photo/David Zalubowski …
(3) Injured Derek Jeter (2) of the New York Yankees looks on from the dugout with teammate Jayson Nix (17) during a game against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium on May 4, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. There does not seem to be a timetable set for the short-stop’s return after complications related to his recuperation , from his leg injury . Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images …
(4) Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria and David Sansome seen here at the inaugural opening the 34,500 seat Marlins’ Ballpark in Miami , Florida built at taxpayers’ expense and now having become something of an elephants’ graveyard for the teams’ home games since its opening in April 2012 . Miami Herald / Hector Rodriguez ….
(5) Yu Darvish (11) is seen in a baseball game played against the Astros , in Minute Maid Park , in Houston , Texas , where he was on the cusp of becoming the twenty fifth player to have thrown a perfect game in baseball history . The Houston Astros were able to derail Darvish’s bid for baseball immortality . AP Photo / Sam Parish ……….
(6) Matt Kemp (27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his three run homerun with manager , Don Mattingly(8) during the fifth inning to trail 5-4 to the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on September 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Mattingly’s contract with the Dodgers at the end of this season and it would appear that Stan Kasten , SVP of Baseball Operations appears to be noncommittal with regard to the manager’s future. After thirty-three games into the season and with a plethora of injuries to several All Stars on the team’s roster . The Dodgers are 13-20 , firmly placing them at the bottom of the NL West . Harry How / Getty Images …..
(7) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Moore has gotten off a fast start going 6-0 with a 2.14 ERA , which places Moore in the upper echelons of the AL pitchers in terms wins as well in MLB as a whole . AP Photo/Mike Carlson …..
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