Keep it sweet but not necessarily stupid , because it’s baseball
Baseball (MLB) enters its final month of the regular season in September , with a number of divisional races still undecided. Teams said to be in the drivers’ seat will have to play at the highest level possible until the end of the season if they are to win those divisions outright. Likewise, it will be the same for those ball-clubs seeking to gain a wildcard berth in what is now beginning to look like very tight race within each league , the AL and NL.
Of the more surprising races, it is the AL Central where the Kansas City Royals might well be the most exciting team to watch since the All Star Break and their rise up the division to now lead the swooning Detroit Tigers . For the defending divisional champions this has been a season of missed opportunities in spite of certain injury issues and the retirement of former manager Jim Leyland , which should in no way detract from the work done by Brad Ausmus and his managerial staff in succeeding the well-respected manager. However, in light of that fact, it has to be said Ausmus’ inexperience might well be one of the reasons with the indifference seen in the Tigers’ play this season. Justin Verlander has not been totally dominant, Max Scherzer has not reproduced the form that led to his being named the AL Cy Young Award winner in 2013 . Certainly, the rest of the pitching staff , have failed to deliver as and when needed.
The Detroit Tigers’ offense led by two-time reigning AL League MVP and Triple Crown King , Miguel Cabrera while having his usual productive season might well be on the outside looking in, when it comes to the regular season individual awards as Mike Trout seems on the verge of succeeding the Tigers’ slugger as this year’s MVP. Statistically , there has been little to choose between the pair , but Trout’s all-round play and defensive capabilities have edged Cabrera this season. Besides, Mike Trout has led the Los Angeles Angels to what might be their best season in the AL West in a number of years , as they seek to replace the Oakland Athletics as this year’s AL West divisional champion. No mean task, considering the success of the A’s in 2012 and2013 within the division. If the Tigers are to have any chance of securing a place in the postseason their best bet, remains winning the division because the likelihood of a wildcard berth places them in a precarious situation because of the competitiveness of the teams vying for the two berths available in the American League.
Coming off a 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees at Comerica Park in Detroit Michigan , Brad Ausmus and his team will again face their opponent on Wednesday in a resumption of their series, as the Yankees seek to make ground on the Baltimore Orioles who lead the AL East. Mike Sciocsia will lead the Angels in a home game against the Miami Marlins at Angels’ Ballpark in Anaheim, California. A lopsided and thoroughly deserving victory on Tuesday afternoon gives credence to why Sciocsia’s team has been so dominant this season against their opponents from both leagues. Henderson Alvarez of the Marlins will seek to avert another loss by the visitors as he faces Hector Santiago of the Angels.
There is no denying the Chicago Cubs have remained in a never-ending slump that has become synonymous with sheer misery for their fans. A century of mediocrity cannot adequately explain the woes of the baseball franchise , even with their infamous NLCS series against the Florida Marlins in 2003 . While Steve Bartman’s name will forever live in infamy but the apportioning of blame on one idiotic Cubs’ fan was not the only reason for the team’s demise in the series. The Chicago Cubs repeatedly had chances to close out the series in game’s six and seven, but their ineptitude was there on show for their fans. Eleven years later, it were as if nothing has been learned by the organization, even with a change in ownership .One can seek to debunk a myth or myths, but in the case of the Cubs, what you see is what you get.
Tom Ricketts and his family have sought spend millions to bolster this ball-club’s roster over the years, all to no avail, while bringing in wunderkinds Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein to head the Cubs’ front office . This season for the franchise has nothing short of disastrous as they seek to dig themselves out trouble within the NL Central, where they currently find themselves firmly rooted at the bottom of the division while having one of the worst records within the National League as well as baseball in general. Rick Renteria and the managerial staff of the Chicago Cubs will be certainly looking to assess the members of the team as the season winds down, while also assessing the younger talent within their farm system. Inasmuch, as Theo Epstein was very much the architect of the Boston Red Sox’s success and their two World Series’ wins in 2004 and 2007, an immediate turnaround was never on the cards for Cubs after the years of mismanagement and neglect by a succession of front office executives . Epstein and Hoyer, now seems to be adding to the mess rather than trying to clean it up.
The financial resources for the Chicago Cubs remains vast, beyond a loyal fan-base , sellout crowds for home games played at Wrigley Field , ownership of their own cable sports’ broadcast network and resources of Tom Ricketts and his family. Chicago may well be winners of seven of their last ten games with a four-game winning streak , but the fact of the matter remains this is not a team built for consistency and long-term success. The Cubs’ most recent victory over divisional rivals, the Cincinnati Reds another , team languishing and with no chance of challenging within the NL Central, will see them face the Reds on Wednesday afternoon , before closing out the series at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio on Thursday afternoon. Wins are imperative for the Chicago Cubs in each of the contests in question and it will be interesting to see how Jacob Turner will fare when he faces Mat Latos of the Reds today , in one a series of games on the MLB schedule for the 27th August .
If there was a miscue then I must have missed it all, as the Philadelphia Phillies and their season spins completely out of control. Ryne Sandberg was brought in to bring a sense of semblance , consistency but above all real passion for the game. It was clearly lacking last season with Charlie Manuel , whose final year in charge was simply a body mess with the carnage of 2013 strewn all over Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania . A team that has failed to produce , while having a bloated payroll , is once again exhibiting the very same traits , even with something of a revamped roster . Sandberg has been unable to change the identity of this team, while several of the veterans on the roster have become all too complacent and nonchalant in their play .With almost $170 million committed this season in salary commitments , which ranks the Phillies with the fourth highest team payroll in all of baseball , with only the Los Angeles Dodgers , New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers with larger commitments. The question has to be, what is the mindset within the Phillies’ front office as led by GM Reuben Amaro Jr ?
The Philadelphia Phillies will play host to the Washington Nationals , who hold a comfortable lead in the NL East over their rivals within the division . For Sandberg’s last placed team remains on a precipice waiting to be nudged over and another defeat is likely to make the scenario a reality . On the mound for the home team will be Kyle Kendrick facing off against Doug Fister of the Nationals . A game which will likely tell us a great deal about the ambitions of the two teams right now . From my own standpoint, I believe Reuben Amaro will have to gut the team and simply start afresh jettisoning a number of the high-priced impending free agents rebuilding from the ground up abandoning what has been organization’s belief in paying an exorbitant salary merely to keep the services of a player. Ryan Howard , Cole Hamels , Cliff Lee , Jimmy Rollins and several others in this lineup, have not performed up to expectation, while being rewarded a ridiculously idiotic sum for their menial returns on the season.
Robinson Cano’s departure from the New York Yankees led many to believe the player would be doomed in seeking to make the Seattle Mariner his destination in 2014. Yet for all of the criticism leveled at Cano, his being used as a pawn in a rather idiotic game cat and mouse with the Yankees’ front office by his agent Jay-z , founder of the upstart sports’ management agency RocNation Sports ,may well have worked out for the best. It does seem as if Cano , RocNation and the Mariners are indeed happy. Robinson Cano wanting to be rewarded with a multi-year , six-figure deal rumored to be $300 million over ten years was somewhat impudent but in the end , his contract with the Mariners does seem to reflect the player’s worth to the team . He certainly has not disappointed over the course of this season while he remains in the upper echelons of the AL batting statistics and is likely to seen as a viable candidate for the AL MVP this season.
The Mariners remain in the playoff hunt and merely need to play consistent baseball over the remaining thirty-one games of their regular season schedule to tie up one of the two available spots in order to be an AL wildcard entrant . Though the team was on the wrong side of a 12-4 shelling at the hands of the Texas Rangers , Lloyd McClendon and his managerial staff realize they merely have to seek a collective effort from the players to get the job done. Robinson Cano, wasn’t simply brought in solely to provide an offensive bat, but also to lead the team as a seasoned veteran. With an off-day on Thursday , the Seattle Mariners will have as their guests at Safeco Field the Washington Nationals in the first of a three-game series beginning on Friday 29th August . Taking the mound for Seattle will be Felix Hernandez against Jordan Zimmerman of the Nationals, in what is likely to be a highly competitive pitchers’ duel between the two starting aces.
Twenty-game winners were common place in baseball and this season it seems that for the first time in several years MLB might be without a starting pitcher reaching a win total of twenty games or more at the end of the regular season. The last time a starting pitcher failed to reach the plateau in question was in 2009, when the Cy Young Award in the AL and NL went to Zack Greinke and Tim Linecum , respectively. This season the leaders in the respective leagues, Max Scherzer in the American League , while reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw leads the National League. Kershaw remains heads and shoulders above any other pitcher in baseball at present and has been for the past two years without a doubt. He has proven to be dominant enough and it is with good reason why the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office have seen fit to reward him with such a lucrative contract making him one of the highest paid players in baseball, in terms of salary and contract value . By contrast Justin Verlander might well be having something of a less productive season than we are accustomed to seeing from the Tigers’ starting pitcher, but he and Felix Hernandez remain among the best pitchers in the American League and have been for several years. However, this season, what we have seen in terms of the pitching in baseball , may well come down to lack of run support provided to the pitchers and the tendency of middle relief and closers to become more of a tool within the game, sometimes leading to lessening of the results for the starters.
There is a very good reason to believe Clayton Kershaw could very well be a back-to-back winner of the NL Cy Young Award , again with the Dodgers’ pitcher being the best player on the team’s pitching staff and best player on the team by far , without delving in into his salary . Kershaw will be looking to win the award for the third time in of his career , having won in 2011 and 2013 . The AL candidates from this season are likely to be taken from among these list of pitchers , Chris Sale , Felix Hernandez ,Max Scherzer , Rick Porcello, Scott Kazmir, David Price and Greg Holland .
This weekend’s schedule within baseball will be highly interesting with games and series likely to be pivotal to the teams’ seasons . It was pretty much the same issue at this time last season within the game . Your thoughts on baseball and what are you hoping to see over the remainder of the season?
Picture and slideshow details below.
(1) MLB’s thirty teams entered the start of this season with a view to be part of the playoff picture with their ultimate goal, being to win the World Series. Last year’s champions the Boston Red Sox have struggled in 2014 , currently lying at the bottom of the AL East division without a chance of making the postseason.
(2) Ned Yost manager of the Kansas City Royals has his team riding high within the AL Central having led for a greater part of this month having held unto the lead without a great deal of difficulty during August . Yost and the team will be looking to win a divisional title and make the playoffs for the first time in almost two decades. AP Photo/ Mark Watson …
(3) Detroit Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus is seen here with Tigers’ assistant and infield coach Omar Vizquel have seen the team lose sight of their seasonal goal in winning the AL Central and gaining a postseason berth . The team is now fighting for a playoff berth among a list of very competitive AL wildcard candidates . Getty Images/ Chris Horner …
(4) Chicago Cubs’ Head of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein ,left, is seen here with the team’s owner Tom Ricketts . Once again the Cubs have struggled with their being little sign of competitiveness shown by the team this season . Chicago finds itself rooted at the bottom of the NL Central. AP Photo/ Cathy Hurst …
(5) Ryne Sandberg manager of the Philadelphia Phillies is seen here in the dugout speaking with team pitcher Cliff Lee , foreground. An inauspicious season , high payroll and diminishing returns has led to an inept year for the franchise . Matt Glover / UPI …
(6) Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners who spent the first seven years of his career with the New York Yankees , but left the team in December of 2013 to join the Mariners, signing a ten-year $240 million deal . This season Cano has been productive for the team , leading them in several offensive categories . AP Photo / Sean Williams …
(7) Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is having another spectacular season for the team and leads the NL in ERA and wins . The player is seeking to win a third Cy Young Award , joining a select group of players with three or more wins of baseball’s top individual pitching honor . AP Photo / Mel Whittaker …
(8) Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox might just be the best thing about the ailing AL Central franchise this season . A possible candidate for the AL Cy Young Award , it is unlikely that he will win the award playing on a team with a losing record , while being uncompetitive throughout this season. Matt Hart/ UPI …
(9) Max Scherzer , left and Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers are seen here at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan , during a regular season game . With the addition of David Price to their roster the Tigers now have three AL Cy Young Award winners in their lineup . Currently engaged in a series with the New York Yankees , the team does need to win the series to keep up the momentum, while leading the list of AL wildcard candidates. AP Photo/ Richie Curtis …
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