It’s not the journey itself , but the first step taken that tends to be the hardest …
By Tophatal ……
The first month of the baseball season is now in everyone’s rear view mirror and the divisional tables now, show the teams that are playing with a great deal of resolve . Biggest issue so far on the schedule season, has been the health of so many players already being down injured , with the Los Angeles Dodgers already seeing their starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw being on the team’s disabled list and the team being able to find a rhythm of consistency without having their high-priced starting pitcher and his arm. It is pretty much safe to say that the managerial staff of the team will not solely be reliant on Kershaw, but their entire pitching roster. The team has started off fast, right out of the gate , but now find themselves 2 ½ games behind the San Francisco Giants (21-12) and the Colorado Rockies (21-14) in the NL West . As competitive as the division is likely to be , I do believe that Don Mattingly will be under even more pressure this season, than he was in 2013 , when the team made the postseason only to falter in the NLCS in a lopsided series’ loss to the St Louis Cardinals . Managing partners Magic Johnson , Mark Walter and Peter Guber , along with team President Stan Kasten are likely to believe that baseball’s highest salaried team will be able to get over the hump this season and for the Los Angeles Dodgers to make their first World Series’ appearance in twenty-six years ,
Wednesday afternoon pits the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game , in the nation’s capital, when they face the Washington Nationals at Nationals Ballpark in Washington DC. One the mound for the visiting team, will be seasoned veteran Dan Haren as he faces off against Nationals’ starting ace Stephen Strasburg in a match-up of two of the National League’s top pitchers . Strasburg has been one of the reasons, why the NL East based team has been off to a pleasant start , with the expectations for franchise for this season, said to be high on all fronts. Clearly the disappointments of 2012, left something of bitter taste in the mouths of the fans, as well the organization in general, when a postseason berth , it was felt was clearly within their reach, if not the division itself.
For Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten it will be a homecoming of sorts as he was once a front office executive for the DC based franchise . While the Nationals have sought to bring some relevance back to DC by way of baseball, it must be said that their fortunes have also been tied to fate of the Washington Redskins in recent seasons. The NFL franchise has itself, seen something of a rise back to relevance , but their 2013 season, can be best described as a major disaster , with a lack of competitiveness of the team and the later firing of head coach Mike Shanahan and the front office not willing to extend the contract of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan .
The fact that the Redskins have since hired Jay Gruden to succeed Mike Shanahan , can either be seen as an act of desperation or one of genius , based on Gruden’s alleged success as a coordinator in the NFL , as his career is said to have flourished in that attempt. . This may well be the risk that Bruce Allen and team owner , Dan Snyder feels is relevant, if the Redskins are to succeed after the woes of last season, which saw a last place finish within the NFC East division.
As impressive a start to the season that the Milwaukee Brewers (22-13) have to their calendar , while leading the NL Central . There remains still the ongoing controversy of the team’s All Star slugger Ryan Braun and his return to the game after his league mandated suspension . Braun has slowly played himself back into the consciousness of the public at large, while still looked upon some circles as a pariah and a cheat. As the NL MVP , an award that many feel that Braun should have been stripped of, but the hypocrisy of the BBWAA still remains, along with the sheer gullibility of the MLB hierarchy under Bud Selig . Ryan Braun’s actions, in not only lying to the press and public alike , about his use of a banned substance, spoke to the fact that baseball’s testing protocols, the use of an independent laboratory and a failure of proper oversight , continues to the show that the claims of Bud Selig, that baseball has the sternest testing of all the four major professional team sports, does not pass the test. Though it is still early in the season , MLB is carefully watching the actions of the players , in the aftermath of Alex Rodriguez’s a year-long suspension and the now disgraced player’s actions in seeking to sue baseball’s hierarchy. The MLBPA under its new Executive Director Tony Clark , has done little to suggest that he and his members are acutely aware of their actions as it relates to the use of performance enhancing drugs .
The Milwaukee Brewers own ambitions for this season will be severely tested by their counterparts within the NL Central , perhaps with the exception of the Chicago Cubs , who continue to flounder , even with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer still clueless about what it will take to make the team actually competitive and a legitimate contender within their division much less the rest of the National League . Three years into his tenure and Epstein still has not assembled a managerial staff worth a damn , let alone an on the field product by the way of a team that plays attractive and entertaining baseball . A three-game losing streak and only victorious in four of their last ten games and it is hard to explain how anyone can suggest that the Cubs are in with a chance of being viewed as a viable candidate for the NL Pennant , something that they have not been a part of in several years. Eleven years on, from their infamous pennant series against the Florida Marlins , there are more than goats and idiot named Steve Bartman that have run amok at Wrigley Field , as team owner , Tom Ricketts and his family seem hell-bent on carrying on the tradition of seeing this once revered organization remain the laughing-stock of baseball.
As if to further emphasize the morass of the Chicago Cubs , they succumbed to their crosstown rivals the Chicago White Sox in a game played at US Cellular Field in Chicago , Illinois , on Wednesday afternoon . The two teams will meet again on Thursday with the same venue in play for that contest , which is likely to have the same result based on the evidence of Wednesday . On the mound for the Cubs, will be Jake Arrieta as he faces off against his opposing number Scott Carroll .
It takes a great deal for a baseball club to have three consecutive seasons of losing at least one hundred games . Yet somehow, the Houston Astros have managed to achieve that feat with effortless ease . Coming into 2014, not only were the Astros seeking to avoid further embarrassment., but team owner Jim Crane had begun what is likely to be an ugly legal fight with broadcast partner CSN Houston and the broadcaster’s decision to file for bankruptcy . Crane also names Drayton McClane , the former Astros’ owner in his lawsuit, claiming that the two , sought to hide the gravity of the ball-club’s dealings with the broadcaster and that the duo also, hid many of the financial obligations CSN had with McClane, that allowed the former franchise owner to profit to the tune of some $65 million , prior to the sale of the ball-club. CSN Houston’s parent company Comcast Inc , have stated that the intent will be to file for bankruptcy, because the outlet remains unprofitable, even though the cable outlet has the proprietary broadcast area rights for games of the Houston Rockets as well games for the Astros and several collegiate events.
From my own standpoint , I believe that Jim Crane simply salivated in wanting to own an MLB franchise and the lure of Bud Selig’s tempting offer of $125 million in paid expenses , for the franchise to move from the NL Central West at the end of the 2012 season to the highly competitive AL West was to good an offer to refuse. Due diligence, clearly was not used by Crane in his purchase of the Houston Astros and the team’s record since their move between the two divisions, seems to be just as disastrous as the sale now appears to be , beyond the franchise’s ongoing woes on the field of play .
Thirty-four games into the season and the Houston Astros are now projected to lose one hundred and eight games , winning only fifty-four on their one hundred sixty-two game regular season schedule. It has been that type of futility that the fans have now come to expect while in attendance at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas, along with a pared down team payroll and a proliferation of excuses from Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow . . It should come as no surprise that the Astros’ front office and managerial staff coaching staff continue to believe that the team remains competitive in spite of having a league low team payroll of $44.985 million and one of the worst records in all of baseball. The Astros’ 3-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan was simply another reminder why the baseball club remains a blight on the game and why there has to be a consensus among the owners , union and league hierarchy , that there either has to be a hard salary cap or contraction within the game leading to perhaps the subtraction of at least four teams .
There may well be opponents for contraction within baseball , but with teams such as the Houston Astros , Chicago Cubs , Kansas City Royals , Miami Marlins and of late the Minnesota Twins continuing to be uncompetitive . A decision will have to be made, to the direction that Major League Baseball should take , by using a number of determining factors based on support , a team’s viability without being aided by the luxury tax and finally their competitiveness . League revenues may well be increasing , with much of that coming from the renewing of television contracts , whereby the broadcasters are being asked to pay more for what on the face of it, appears to be a deteriorating on the field product.
If this is the year that the Tampa Bay Rays are to take advantage of what is said to be a weak AL East division, which I do not believe it to be ! Then this would be the season, in which Joe Maddon and his team ought to be taking advantage of their inhabitants within the division . Instead, the Rays find themselves rooted at the bottom of the AL East looking up at the Toronto Blue Jays , Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles , who currently lead the division . Maddon’s team, based on their pitching rotation , is said to be the best in the Majors , though that is clearly not the case now .
The Rays were on the wrong side of a 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida , where Buck Showalter’s players showed why they are leading the AL East . It is games such as this , that Tampa do need to win , if they are to be considered legitimate contenders for the AL Pennant as well as the World Series , a title that the franchise has yet win, but made their sole appearance in baseball’s postseason showcase finale against the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2008 World Series , which resulted in a 4-1 series’ loss . The two combatants will meet again today, with David Price taking the mound for the Rays against the Orioles’ Ubaldo Jiminez . Thursday’s contest should tell us a great deal about both teams , as well as how they are likely to fare over the course of the season.
In the aftermath of the fallout that has taken place within the NBA concerning that particular league’s action in dealing with Los Angeles Clippers’ owner , Donald Sterling with his being banished and fined $2.5 million for his inflammatory racial remarks , which were delivered in private between Sterling and number of acquaintances . It has now become an issue, where the other major professional teams sports will now have to take a deep dark look at how they themselves, deal with the issue of race , and that of their owners’ behavior around and away from their respective sports. Bud Selig, before had to deal with the antics of Marge Schott , the former owner of Cincinnati Reds and her racially insensitive remarks. In truth , Selig, like Adam Silver , was slow to act , given the prior bad acts of Donald Sterling , and the issue of race , in spite of the recent idiocy of the NAACP in wanting to give Donald Sterling their highest civic honor , a Lifetime Achievement Award .
Donald Sterling was well-known to have the views now shown to the public, by the airing of his comments, as they went viral over the internet , and the later interview granted by his girlfriend , V Stiviano . I do believe, that Sterling’s views are his alone and any punishment meted out will not stifle the issue of racism or bigotry and their growing elements within the sports’ environment ! While Donald Sterling’s views, are likely to be shared by a number of his counterparts, within the NBA , NFL and NHL. Yet, they have simply chosen to keep those comments and views to themselves, rather than their being aired in public. Better to be prudent , than making a complete ass of yourself, while tarnishing not only the image of the franchise you own , but also the brand and the image of the NBA. Something that the newly installed commissioner is not going to tolerate, having assumed his position and thereby looking to stamp his own authority on the sport he is likely to preside over for the next decade or more.
Through the first month of the baseball season, what do you feel has been the biggest surprise overall ? Also, do you believe that baseball’s hierarchy, is likely to keep a careful watch on the behavior of their teams owners, in light of the fallout witnessed in the NBA ?
Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
(1) Washington Nationals Adam LaRoche connects for a two-run single against Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Dan Haren during the first inning of a baseball game , Wednesday, May 7, 2014 in Washington. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais …
(2) Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) throw against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, May 7, 2014 in Washington. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais …..
(4) Chicago Cubs’ Head of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein is seen here with team GM Jed Hoyer , with the newly installed executive given charge to rebuild the organization, under the auspices of his superior, Epstein. It has been some considerable time since the Cubs made a postseason appearance and the organization’s record has been abysmal since that last foray . Getty Images / Phil Carson …
(5) Houston Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow is seeking to resurrect the fortunes of the franchise that has fallen on hard times over the past eight years, but a great deal of the ball-club’s recent misfortunes does appear from the continuing indecision of team owner Jim Crane in raising and then paring down the team’s payroll while seeking to make the organization financially viable . AP Photo / Paula Warren
(6) Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (31) delivers to Tampa Bay Rays’ Matt Joyce during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, May 8, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tampa would go on to lose the game 3-1 suffering their third straight loss, all to their divisional rivals the Orioles . AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ….
(7) Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria (3) lines an RBI single off Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, May 8, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Rays’ Desmond Jennings scored on the hit. Catching of the Orioles is Caleb Joseph. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ….
(8) Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig poses with the winners of the Hank Aaron Awards , (best overall offensive performer of 2004), Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants and Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox, before Game 4 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals on October 27, 2004. In the aftermath of the Donald Sterling affair within the NBA , the commissioner may well now take it upon himself to discuss with team owners , concerning their conduct and their issuing of statements with regard to their personal views , when in a public setting, where it directly involves the game and its image . AP Photo / Jason Black ……
MLB schedule 7th May , 2014
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