Somewhere over the rainbow
Well the baseball season is now entering its final three weeks and the biggest cause for concern to my mind has to be the meltdown by the Tampa Bay Rays . A little over two weeks ago the form of this team was not in doubt and it would have been generous to suggest that they would be on the way to sowing up one of the two available berths for the AL wildcard spots . I went even so far as to suggest, that Tampa needed to secure the division (AL East) to secure a position in the postseason. Yet, who knew that a catastrophe awaited the team , whose play over their last thirty games has simply been abysmal . In the midst of this all , manager Joe Maddon , for from being troubled , remains upbeat and acting as there should be nothing at all to be worried about. For the Rays’ fans , they have to be troubled not only by the demeanor of the manager but also by the lackluster performances of the players and their laissez-faire approach to each game and series over the past three weeks .
Slideshow gallery .
Another loss at home last night (Wednesday) by the Tampa Bay Rays to AL East divisional leaders the Boston Red Sox , may well have added another nail in the coffin for the Rays’ season and quite possibly their postseason ambitions. Seemingly , they have been unable to play themselves out of their slump and there seems to be absolutely no leadership being supplied by anyone on the team’s roster , much less from the manager or anyone amongst his staff . The conclusion that I have come to , concerning the Rays and their fans , is that they are extremely happy with their lot when the team is winning, but simply too afraid to be critical of the organization , when things are not going right . Chalk that all up to the apathy and simple mindset of the fans, and the continued stupidity shown by the local beat writers and television pundits in the locale who cover this MLB franchise . Ideas of grandeur, way above their station and not one clue as how to remedy what ails the ball-club on the playing field or by way of the front office hierarchy .
For a pitching rotation that was deemed to be amongst the best in all of baseball , the Tampa Rays’ staff have performed unevenly throughout much of the year . Matt Moore the pitching staff’s leader in wins , has himself been up and down, in terms of his recent performances . And the rookie, Chris Archer , although he has been something of a pleasant surprise , but it simply cannot be left to the player to be the one, upon whom the management can pin their hopes on. The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, David Price has been somewhat inconsistent and I do not believe that he is fully fit , even after two spells the team’s disabled list. Jeremy Hellickson , another mainstay of the rotation, can guarantee you the quality starts, but only if the run support is also there . Here we go again , as it relates to the Rays , if the offense is not going then the struggles are quantified even more so .
Tampa Bay will resume their current series with the Red Sox , with the final game of the trilogy on Thursday ,where a win is of the utmost importance. With the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles now playing out a highly competitive and controversial series , there is no further room to falter for Joe Maddon’s team. With a three-game series next up for the Rays, against the Minnesota Twins , away at Target Field in Minneapolis , Minnesota . It will be intriguing to see how the team acquits itself against one the AL’s more disappointing teams this season. Ron Gardenhire‘s days with this ball-club must now be numbered and no amount of excuses can be made for the team’s continued failures . . On the mound for the first game of that set, beginning on Friday, will be Chris Archer of the Rays against Kevin Correia of the Twins. Two young starting pitchers looking to make a name for themselves amongst the litany of quality pitching now within the AL .
As the AL East divisional race now plays itself out , with the Boston Red Sox now seem assured of the title , we are left with a three-horse race between the Tampa Bay Rays , Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees , seeking to become one of the two wildcard aspirants from the AL. Throw in the fact, that the Kansas City Royals , Cleveland Indians , Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics are also pursuing those berths , this all adds up for an all too intriguing and suspenseful closure to the regular season , which ends on the .final day of September .
One of the more disappointing stories of this baseball season once again, has to be the continued failure of the Los Angeles Angels. A team , built around the talents of Albert Pujols , C J Wilson and Mike Trout . And here we are, now wondering what has gone wrong for this Mike Scioscia managed team . The prevailing thought now has to be that team owner Arte Moreno and GM Jerry Dipoto will have to reassess the future of the team’s manager , his assistants , as well as several players on the roster and their immediate future within the organization . If Trout can be developed from within the farm system, , then why hasn’t there been other successes from within , rather than Moreno opening up his check book to make a big splash, solely to try and keep up their more renowned in-state rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers ?
Anaheim are now faltering within the AL West and likely to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive year , something that is unlikely to sit well with the owner and many of the team’s primary sponsors . At 70-76 , currently lying third within the division , the Angels are 9 ½ games out of an AL wildcard berth and it would take a calamitous chain of events, as well as the team playing some extraordinary baseball for the Los Angeles Angels to climb into that particular race. Mike Scioscia and his team will travel to Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas to begin a three-game weekend series , starting on Friday against the Houston Astros . Let us just say, that at this juncture, both teams will be playing for pride and a great deal of self-respect, with Jason Vargas of the visiting team taking on Dallas Keuchel of the Astros in that opening series’ game .
I have always maintained that the financial imbalance in terms of the payroll scales within baseball , will be the thing that will ultimately drag it to its knees , along with the ongoing issue of illegal substances being used on a widespread basis ! Purists and fools alike, are now talking about instant replay being introduced within the game , something that has been long overdue , but the MLB hierarchy remains delusional along with the vast majority of the fans, who are of the belief that the game can continue in its present structure. Creative accounting will not stop the hemorrhaging of red ink on the balance sheets of a number of teams . Add in the idiocy of those who lack the knowledge, to know that some of the small market teams around the league , who actually turn a profit , do so at the largess of the MLB hierarchy , by way the asinine luxury tax-sharing scheme . The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees , are the two teams with the highest payrolls in all of baseball , within their combined total salary obligations for 2013 being just under $500 million (a half-billion dollars [$500,000,000]) . For the first time in baseball history the opening day salary of Major League Baseball topped $3 billion ($ 3,000,000,000) , covering all thirty teams in the league. Yet it should come as no surprise, to know that over one-quarter of the teams in within baseball actually struggle to break even on an annual basis.
Continuously, we hear , Bud Selig state, that the financial health of the game remains safe. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the league’s highest-ranking executive lives in a world of delusion.. And need we be reminded, that during the past six years, three teams within baseball have faced the brink of financial ruin , with two in particular ( Cubs and Dodgers) having placed themselves into bankruptcy reorganization (Chapter 11) , after the financial manipulation and mismanagement by their previous owners . All of this under the not so watchful eye of the MLB Commissioner, whose own CFO Jonathan Mariner , shows as about as much financial acumen , as the auditing accountants who oversaw the disastrous failure of the Enron Corporation . There you have it, baseball’s finest at their alleged best, showing all of the oversight of a federal governmental agency and being equally as incompetent .
If to singularly show how asinine the luxury tax sharing scheme (a fraudulent maneuver to my mind ) has become . It is now being widely reported that the New York Yankees whose team payroll for 2013 will be $ 228.835 million , will have to pay a surcharge of $29.1 million to the MLB hierarchy . Yet somehow the now $ 2 billion ($2,000,000,000) concern known as the Los Angeles Dodgers , the only other team in baseball with a payroll exceeding $200 million , will only have to pay $9.1 million back to baseball’s governing body . Somehow, these figures do not add up or make sense , no matter what the formulaic solution might be, in how the league determines the sum to be paid as a tax. Clearly, there seems to be a bent here, in punishing a team unfairly , while simply slapping the wrist of another team, whose payroll is a mere twelve million dollars less than that of the New York Yankees . Questions have to be posed to either Jonathan Mariner or Bud Selig as to the disparity in the taxes paid , with only these two teams having to pay this surcharge , albeit, that they are the only two teams to exceed the $200 million threshold . No formal statement has been forthcoming from Bud Selig or any major executive of the league’s hierarchy concerning this disparity in terms of the Yankees having to pay the aforementioned sum of $29.1 million against that of the Dodgers having to pay just over $ 9 million.
The Yankees’ own fate also seems as their regular season winds down, does seem imperiled. Though of late, they have been on a spirited run, having made up a margin of almost six games on the Tampa Bay Rays over the last six weeks in the divisional standings . A big psychological blow, came for the franchise, when it was announced by manager Joe Girardi that team captain Derek Jeter’s season would come to an abrupt end, with the player being placed on the team’s disable list . Jeter was only able to compete in seventeen games during 2013, the second lowest figure of the player’s now distinguished eighteen-year career. With the team now looking to make even greater inroads into that lead , with it now being down to a mere one game , and with the Red Sox’s lead being now down to 9 ½ games, the upcoming weekend series between New York and their heated rivals the Boston Red Sox , now takes on even greater meaning . That series begins on Friday, with Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees taking on John Lackey in the first of that trilogy of games. With Jeter likely to be in the dugout at Fenway Park , in Boston , Massachusetts, to support his teammates , it will be interesting to see how the Yankees acquit themselves in the series . At the same time , there is likely to be a great deal of speculation raised as to whether or not the front office is likely to take up the option of the $ 9.5 million that would be due to Jeter, were he to return for his nineteenth season in 2014. Teammate, Mariano Rivera , has already stated that this would be his last year , although GM Brian Cashman and senior managing partner Hal Steinbrenner are said to be pressing baseball’s all-time saves’ leader to return for what would also be his nineteenth season in the Majors. Rivera is adamant, that this would be his last season, and that it is now, his wish to spend more time with his wife, Clara and their three children.
The New York Yankees of 2013 , might just be the last remnants that we see of this team, with an aging core of players all in their mid to late thirties . Injuries, off-field controversies , unproductive segments by several high-priced individuals have all added to the drama and ongoing saga of this famed ball-club . Need we also be reminded, that Alex Rodriguez remains a part of this ongoing circus, with the player of late contributing to his team’s drive for the postseason , while seeking to appeal his now two-hundred and fourteen game suspension. That appeal process will take place after the postseason, much to the chagrin of fans and a number analysts alike, who feel that the player has made a mockery of the process , while others believe that it has been Bud Selig who has dropped the ball, in not having sought an expedited , earlier hearing , once Rodriguez made it known , that he would appeal his suspension for contravening baseball’s steroid policy . My own belief on this issue , is that Rodriguez would have been willing to take a ban similar to that of Brewers’ slugger Ryan Braun, whose sixty-five game suspension was in fact negotiated by his agent , Nev Balelo . So for the unenlightened, who felt that this was Bud Selig showing his authority and bringing down the hammer on Ryan Braun, simply think again . The commissioner may create the impression, that he wields a great deal of power, but that power is in fact limited in its parameters , as it has been the MLBPA (Players’ Union) that more of than not, has the league hierarchy and team owners , weak at the knees and falling all over the place like drunken stooges .
Picture gallery .
With the MLB postseason set to begin on October 1st , what if anything are you as a fan, most looking forward to seeing ? Which teams do you feel will prevail in the playoff races, as the regular season now winds down ? By all means , do leave a comment as you deem fit on this article and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .
Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) Rays’ closer Fernando Rodney celebrates the last out after the Boston Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia pops out to end the ball game played between the two teams on Thursday night at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Florida . Tampa would defeat the Red Sox 4-3 to stop their two-game skid . AP Photo /Chris O’Meara ….
(2) Red Sox catcher Mike Napoli , right , breaks his bat during the game , as he grounds out , while Rays’ catcher Jose Lobaton looks on . AP Photo / Chris O’Meara ……
(3) Red Sox DH , David Ortiz homers in the sixth-inning of the game played on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida . Although the Rays won the contest the series was in fact won by the visiting Boston Red Sox . AP Photo / Chris O’Meara ……
(4) Umpire Bill Miller (26) ejects Ron Gardenhire (35) of the Minnesota Twins as umpire Dale Scott (5) looks on during the fourth inning of the game against the Oakland Athletics on September 11, 2013 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The AL Central Twins have been abysmal this season and a non-factor in the divisional race , leading to the speculation that the manager may not be returning to the organization next season . Getty Images North America / Hannah Foslien …..
(5) Los Angeles Angels’ owner Arte Moreno , left , is seen here with the team’s general manager Jerry Dipoto at Anaheim Stadium , Anaheim , California . . With the team now likely to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive season and a lackluster year in the AL West . There is the widespread belief that Moreno must come to a decision , does he retain his general , manager who over the last two seasons has committed to the organization to salary commitments in excess of $ 275 million or does he sever ties with one the league’s longest tenured managers in Mike Scioscia ? All signs point to the latter , with Scoscia likely to lose his managerial position with the Angels . Getty Images / Matthew England …
(6) Mike Scioscia (14) and Collin Cowgill (19) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim show home plate umpire Laz Diaz (63) ,where they claim Cowgill was hit by a pitch during the sixth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on September 9, 2013 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Getty Images / Hannah Foslien ….
(7) Derek Jeter (2) ,right, of the New York Yankees celebrates their win against the Oakland Athletics with teammate Mariano Rivera (42) at Yankee Stadium April 21, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Nick Laham / Getty Images ……
(8) Yankees’ lead managing partner Hal Steinbrenner , left, is seen here talking with the team’s general manager Brian Cashman . At the start of the season the organization sought to lower the payroll to conservative figure of $185 million, but with multiple injuries to Mark Teixiera , Curtis Granderson , Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez , Michael Pineda and Andy Pettite. The decision was made to acquire a number of players to fill the positions made vacant ,with the minimum amount of promotion of players from within the team’s farm system . An aging roster beyond the possible long-term ramifications of Alex Rodriguez’s possible multi-game suspension could prove fateful for the franchise . This off-season the ball-club will be paying to the MLB hierarchy $29.1 million as a surcharge by way of the luxury tax scheme . The Yankees’ NL counterparts the Los Angeles Dodgers , whose payroll of $216.6 million , will be paying $9.1 million by way of the same tax burden . Clearly there is something awry, with how MLB seeks formulates its system with regard the tax scheme . In 2012 the New York Yankees , Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox were all subject to the luxury tax scheme , with the teams in question paying varying sums to the league hierarchy . The scheme is meant to benefit the small-market teams around the league in assisting with their salary commitments. Yet it is commonly believed that a number of ball-clubs systematically abuse the system , with a number of owners pocketing the funds in question . Miami Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria is a prime example of someone who abused that system , in the years prior to 2012, before that organization went on an outlandish spending spree , signing several high-priced free-agents , only for the team to then falter that season finishing with a sub .500 record within the NL East that year. AP Photo/ Peter Matthews ……
(9) MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner , the league’s executive in charge of their financial operations , who oversees much of the hierarchy’s finances and audit protocols . Unfortunately , for baseball under Mariner’s and Bud Selig’s tenure, the hierarchy has failed miserably in overseeing the financial morass that now encompasses the game. AFP / Keith Parsons …….
This week in MLB history
Hot chic pic of the day , actress , Paula Patton .