It ain’t easy being cheesy …………..
Never too early to start to review the baseball season, but I think that until the official Opening Day of the 31st March , when the vast majority of teams get their schedules underway , there will not be a great deal to discuss . The exhibition Spring Training schedule merely provides the fans in general a chance to see the players up close and personal, as they get into rhythm for the commencement of the regular season and that arduous one and hundred and sixty-two game schedule .
Now while the off-season has been about the formal announcement by Derek Jeter , that 2014 will be his last season in the Major Leagues, brings about an end to the career of one of the best … New York Yankees’ players of the past fifteen years . With Jeter’s announcement , we now see the last remnants of a core of five players , including Derek Jeter, that were part of one of the richest eras in recent New York Yankees’ history. Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada , Andy Pettite and the famed short-stop, made up that core managed by Joe Torre , that won four World Series titles in a seven-year span from 1996-2003 , with six appearances during that times-pan in the Fall Classic. New York’s most recent appearance in the World Series resulted with another win in 2009, with the team being managed by former player, Joe Girardi . The incumbent manager, will seek to resurrect the ball-club’s fortunes in 2014 after a somewhat understated season in 2013 .
Having missed the postseason and with a great deal of off-season drama provided by the ongoing issues of Alex Rodriguez , the New York Yankees will begin their season without the now suspended third baseman as they embark on a Spring Training schedule with something of a newly revamped roster . Major financial commitments were made to several new acquisitions, spearheaded by their signing of Japanese pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka , and that of former Boston Red Sox player Jacoby Ellsbury . How this all pans out for the AL East franchise will be dependent upon the mindset of these newly acquired players and whether or not they gel with their new teammates. From my own perspective , I believe the Yankees on balance to be no better than the third or fourth best team within the division , with the defending divisional champions the Boston Red Sox leading the way , followed by last season’s runner-up in the AL East the Tampa Bay Rays in second place, with the Baltimore Orioles edging the New York Yankees , who are then followed by the Toronto Blue Jays .
While the New York Yankees have a great deal to prove this season , perhaps no two teams, than the Los Angeles Dodgers and their AL counterparts the Los Angeles Angels are under the greatest pressure to succeed this year. The Dodgers’ failure was compounded by a lackluster effort, in the NLCS series against the St Louis Cardinals last season . Between these two teams, they have committed in excess of $360 million in salary obligations for their respective rosters. For Don Mattingly and Mike Scioscia the writing could very well be on the wall if both the Dodgers and Angels fail to show some type of competitiveness over the course of the regular season schedule. For owners, Arte Moreno , Magic Johnson , Mark Walter and Peter Guber , the frustration has to be setting in, having seen their teams fall almost at the last obstacle. Or in the case of the Los Angeles Angels, simply failing to be even remotely competitive within the AL West , where the Oakland A’s are now proving to be a dominant force within the division.
Were it not for Mike Trout, perhaps the only real reason to watch the Angels play , I do not believe that there would be a great deal of interest in the team at all ! Josh Hamilton has become more of an enigma and Albert Pujols in many respects, has suffered through a litany of ailments that were not present in the early part of his career , but such was the willingness of Jerry Dipoto and Arte Moreno to sign the player, when he became a free agent , that they felt that advantages, far outweighed the disadvantages of the two-time NL MVP . This season has to be a bounce back year for both Hamilton and Pujols, considering the financial outlay made to both players this season. The Angels will begin their regular season with a three-game home series against the Seattle Mariners at Angels’ Ballpark , in Anaheim , California , where the Mariners will be parading their $240 million dollar man, in, Robinson Cano . A bold move, for a ball-club with hopes of an ambitious season, but whose last postseason appearance seems like eons ago, with little to show by way of tangible success in the subsequent years . The first game of that three-game set, will be on the 31 March, 2014.
Twelve years and counting, since the Seattle Mariners made the postseason, where a 4-1 series’ loss to the New York Yankees in the 2001 ALCS was the height of their season , beyond winning the AL West that year. How Lloyd McClendon and his staff handles this young team at its core, will be one of the determining factors as to how successful the Mariners will be and whether or not Robinson Cano can be the presumed leader of that group of players.
Jim Leyland has proven to be one of the most successful managers of his generation , by way of his accomplishments, in usually being able to field competitive teams , and mold young players and then turning them into All Stars and MVP caliber stars. A case can be made that he played an early part in the career of slugger Barry Bonds while both were with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Leyland as the well-respected and Bonds as the player, but perhaps, an even better example , was witnessing the rise in prominence and stature of Miguel Cabrera as a player with the Detroit Tigers where for eight years Leyland and Dave Dombrowski rebuilt that ball-club from the ground up and turned the Tigers into a perennial AL Central contender . Two AL Pennants , with World Series appearances in 2006 and 2012 , being the height of his accomplishments with the franchise. Yet, the 1997 World Series , where he took a lightly favored Florida Marlins’ team , that would prevail over the Cleveland Indians, represents the highlight of his managerial career .
While I believe that the Detroit Tigers will prove to be a formidable team within the AL this season , I am not so sure that they will be able to overcome the naiveté shown in recent seasons, when have entered the postseason ! Brad Ausmus may well have succeeded Leyland as the manager of the current team, which has a great deal of talent , headlined by Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander , but it will be interesting to see how they fare over the course of the season with a new manager in tow .
If there has been one particular franchise in Major League Baseball , who has not failed to deliver when it comes to showing levels of mediocrity , then it would have to be the Kansas City Royals . Granted, until last season , that claim could also be shared with the Pittsburgh Pirates , but with the NL Central franchise making the postseason , and having an NL MVP winner in Andrew McCutchen and thereby ending their drought of over two decades of mediocrity of non-postseason appearances. Fans of baseball are now left with the Royals and their twenty-eight seasons of ineptitude , where their last postseason appearance came in 1985 , which resulted in a loss to the St Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
With the team now owned by former Wal-Mart CFO David Glass , who has systematically shown himself to lacking a real trait as an alleged business minded individual as the ball-club , from year to year , has failed with ever-increasing regularity to meet even their own fans’ expectations of any tangible level of success . How they remain a viable concern as a baseball franchise, comes down solely to the fact that beyond being aided by the league’s luxury tax scheme, they have what can be best described as a moderately envious television broadcast contract within their local media market. How Glass succeeded at Wal-Mart , but somehow is unable to show his acumen with the baseball franchise, is something that can be discussed amongst the masses at a later date , with a great deal of objectivity and subjectivity. Suffice to say, in some circles , the Kansas City Royals as an organization might now be looked upon as “Ma and Pop “ business , in comparison to the likes of the Boston Red , Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees .
A third place finish in the AL Central with an 86-76 record still was not enough to be good enough to even come remotely close to obtaining a wildcard berth for the postseason . Once again, he Kansas City Royals would be left on the outside looking in, as another season came to an abrupt waste . Ned Yost and his managerial staff will certainly be looking to enter with this season with a positive attitude as will the team , headed by list of some very good young players , but unfortunately, no real veteran that could be looked upon, as a the presumptive leader of this core group . If the Royals are to succeed this season, then it will certainly have to be with the likes of the James Shields , Eric Hosmer , Omar Infante , Alex Gordon , Mike Moustakas , Jeremy Guthrie and a bullpen led by Luke Hochevar , playing at an optimum level , with their being something of a falloff in the play of fellow AL Central residents the Cleveland Indians , Detroit Tigers , Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox .
Kansas will begin its regular season schedule, with a game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. It will be part of a three-game home series’ opener for the Tigers, as they too embark upon their season schedule.
It does seems inconceivable that a team with the vast resources of the Toronto Blue Jays cannot field a competitive side that is a perennial contender within the AL East. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) , as the parent and holding company is one of the largest sports’ media conglomerates in the world. A number of its brands are well-recognized names within the North American sports’ market. Presiding over the conglomerate as the CEO & President Tim Leiweke , who is ably assisted by several top executives and a Board of Directors and that oversee various parts of the operations of this multi-billion dollar conglomerate.
The Blue Jays for their part, entered last season with high ambitions , having <a href=http://baseball assembled a group of high-priced free agents , were then signed to ludicrous contracts or wherein, having been acquired via a trade their existing contracts were honored. Amongst the players acquired , were Jose Reyes and RA Dickey with a view . of challenging the likes of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees within the AL East for divisional supremacy. The fact that the team failed miserably , beyond the issues of injuries sustained by a number of players, had more to do with the brashness and arrogance of an organization who felt that assembling a high-priced roster was some kind of guarantee of success without their being any sign of leader from anyone of the team roster much less the level of incompetency shown by John Gibbons and his staff . Inasmuch, as a player, being able to hit home runs to all parts of a field may well be exciting, the talents of Jose Bautista are simply being wasted on a team that simply has no chance in hell at present of winning the AL East in its current guise !
What the Toronto Blue Jays lack in leadership and talent, simply cannot be made up, for by splurging capriciously in assembling a group of players, that simply do not gel together as a team, playing in unison. John Gibbons is likely to be given the chance to prove that last season, was merely an aberration, but given the fact that the four other teams in the division are likely to have improved , it is likely that another fifth place finish within the AL East is not out of the realm of possibility for the team. Even more daunting and unbelievable, is the mere fact that other than the New York Yankees’ victories in the 1998 and 1999 World Series. The last back-to-back winners of the title, was in fact the Toronto Blue Jays , who accomplished that feat in 1992 and 1993 , which in fact was the very last time that the ball-club made an appearance in the postseason . When the Blue Jays embark upon their regular season sojourn , I believe that the team will be hard pressed to compete within their division, much less win in excess of eighty games ! They will being that schedule, with a road game series on the 31st March with a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida,.
Ron Gardenhire may well be one of the more under-appreciated managers in baseball , but I now believe it is time for the Minnesota Twins’ manager to step down from his present role ! Success for Gardenhire if nothing else, has come close within his grasp , only to be clutched from him at the last moment. However , in recent years he has been ill-served by the general managers of the ball club and a number misfires in terms of the players drafted by the organization. Currently, serving the Twins in the role as GM is Terry Ryan and his tenure, has now come under closer scrutiny after the departure of fan favorite Justin Morneau , who was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in August of 2013 , by the Twins. Morneau and Joe Mauer were said to be the two figureheads, which the franchise were going to build around for their long-term future. Yet, that would never actually materialize into anything tangible, with both players suffering injuries and never playing more than a few games together, before one, if not both, were felled by an inexplicable malady. Add in the fact that owner , Jim Pohlad , felt it necessary to offer both players outrageously exorbitant contracts at a time when franchise was said to be undergoing some severe financial difficulties. Kind of makes me wonder, how in hell many of baseball’s current ball-clubs can actually exist , given the stupidity of either an owner or a general manager within an organization !
Over the past five seasons, the best finish for the Minnesota Twins has been in 2009 and 2010 , when the ball-club captured back-to-back AL Central divisional titles and made their way into the respective postseasons of both years . Their forays in either case, ended all too abruptly, with the team being outplayed by their opponents. . This season Joe Mauer is back, with a team built around youth , experience and a managerial staff again with Ron Garendhire in charge, hoping to make some inroads into a division has now become extremely competitive with the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians likely to be seen as the prohibitive favorites for the divisional title.
if one can be critical of Bud Selig , in his handling of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bankruptcy procedure filings . Then we should be ” damning ” in his culpable actions, while both Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon placed the New York Mets in an equally precarious situation as the joint owners of the ball-club , surreptitiously used the franchise as vehicle to hide profits gained in the Bernard Madoff “ Ponzi Scheme” , by transferring ill-gotten gains from their investment company Sterling Equities Inc into the coffers of the Mets. Perhaps, I am mistaken , but when I hear the commissioner repeatedly regale us with his idiocy , as to the financial well-being of the game , while the actions of owners such as Frank McCourt , Fred Katz and Fred Wilpon have bordered on being criminal . To my mind, both Selig and the league’s CFO Jonathan Mariner , cannot step down soon enough from their present positions within the league hierarchy ! Bud Selig’s intent, is to formally step down as the commissioner of baseball in 2015, but who knows , at this juncture ?
As to the New York Mets , they will continue to be everything they see in the new York Yankees , but without the organization inwardly , having the guile or intelligence to do what is right, to make that franchise an actual success. Sandy Alderson and J P Ricciardi are being overpaid, while offering up nothing tangible of note since both ascended to their current positions within the franchise. The ball club remains in something of a precarious position as they had to subordinated a great deal of debt, while approaching several financial organizations for additional “cash” to remain financially solvent. Never really a good thing, when the on-field product is lackluster and the attendance levels at Citi-Field can be best described as moderately average . All this, for a ball-club, that is in the nation’s largest advertising market ?
David Wright remains the New York Mets’ player, but there remains really little around him to be truly impressed by, in term of depth of talent . Terry Collins and his staff will have their work cut for them over the course of the season, as they seek to bounce back from a third place finish within the NL East , twenty-two games behind division winners the Atlanta Braves (96-66) .
Picture gallery .
The one thing we do tend to know about New York sports’ fans in general, is that they tend wax on lyrically about the past when their teams are not doing well, in the moment . A case can be made, concerning the Mets also , as it has been considerable period of time since that franchise made the postseason much less, won a World Series’ title, but if you were to listen some of the fans of the franchise , they would have you believe that those events were but, a few years ago. The ball-club’s last postseason appearance came by way of their run in the 2006 MLB Playoffs , before going down 4-3 to the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS . The second of their two Word Series’ triumphs, came in 1986 , in their memorable series’ victory over the Boston Red Sox, but since 2006 the years since, have been lean and not at all too kind, to the organization at all, and deservedly so , considering the ongoing stupidity of joint-owners, Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon. Two individuals, that the game of baseball could well do without , but somehow the league hierarchy would have you believe that the likes of Katz , Wilpon , McCourt and David Glass have been good for Major League Baseball . I beg to differ on so many counts, just as I believe, that Bud Selig’s tenure as commissioner , has been far too long and to the detriment of the game in general ! What thoughts, if any, do you have concerning the points raised in this article? Chime in, with a comment as you see fit.
Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
(1) Carlos Beltran of the New York Yankees is seen here with his wife Jessica Beltran , as he is formally introduced to the convened press at Yankees Stadium in New York . An unrestricted free agent , Beltran was signed by the Yankees shore up their offense as well as providing what they believe are his defensive abilities in the outfield . The player has spent the past few seasons with the St Louis Cardinals where he was productive for NL Central based franchise and now also becomes one of a select group of players to have donned the uniform of both New York based MLB franchises as a player . AP Photo / Hector Rivas …….
(2) From left to right, Andy Pettite , Derek Jeter , Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada . This quartet of players have been together for some of New York Yankees ‘ biggest triumphs and disappointments over the past eighteen years . It now begs the question , will the franchise ever see that type of success again with regard to number of titles won between 1996 and 2004 , with the last of the ball club’s triumphs coming in 2009 with Joe Girardi as the manager ? The four titles won together as teammates prior to Girardi becoming the manager were all achieved under Joe Torre , now an executive within the MLB hierarchy . Getty Images / Richard Moss …..
(3) Mike Scioscia manager of the Los Angeles Angels and Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Both managers will be under a considerable amount of pressure this season to succeed , as a great is expected from within their divisions . AP Photo / Paul Walters …..
(4) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 11: Manager Jim Leyland (10) of the Detroit Tigers gets between umpire Victor Carapazza (85) and Miguel Cabrera (24) of the Detroit Tigers after Cabrera was ejected by Victor Carapazza during in the sixth inning of their game against the Minnesota Twins on May 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tigers defeated the Twins 9-7 . Leyland has been the biggest influence in the stature that has made Cabrera a two-time back to back AL MVP’s having first won the title in 2012 , when also he became a Triple Crown winner . Last season Miguel Cabrera defeated Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels for his second league MVP. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ….
(5) Ned Yost manager of the Kansas City Royals is seen here with team Chairman and owner David Glass . Both will be seeking to make further inroads this upcoming season with a view to perhaps landing the AL Central divisional title or at best a wildcard berth for the postseason . Neither of which has been achieved in several years by the franchise in terms of the divisional title win or the postseason . Getty Images North America / Harper Greene …..
(6) Tim Leiweke CEO and of MLSE , the multi-billion dollar sports’ conglomerate that owns the Toronto Blue Jays as well as several other sports’ brands known to the public worldwide . Getty Images / Todd Richards …..
(7) Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire laughs after CEO Jim Pohlad (not pictured) teased, “We went with a 2-year deal because we’re pretty sure we can get Gardy his 1,000th win somewhere,” during a press conference announcing that the Twins and Ron Gardenhire agree to 2-year contract extension at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn., on Monday, September 30, 2013. At right is General Manager Terry Ryan. Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin ….
(8) New York Mets’ short-stop David Wright is seen here with the team’s Head of Baseball Operations , Sandy Alderson . The executive believes that this season the team has within their sights a ninety -game winning season , which be believes will be enough to secure the NL East divisional title . The franchise has not won a divisional title in several years and it is hard to envisage them doing so given their record within the division over the past eight years and overall . AP Photo /. Billy Irving …… :
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This March 1st