Category Archives: Boston Red Sox

The fault lies in their play, but you could also say the stars …….

The fault lies in their play, but you could also say the stars …….

Inasmuch as I love the game of baseball , I have to admit this might be one of the worst seasons on record in recent history. The AL East is barely recognizable and the level of play in what is said to be the best division in baseball has been truly dire. Defending World Series’ champions, the Boston Red Sox have now become an afterthought as the season has progressed. Say nothing of which, a great deal is being made out of a rivalry between the Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays , which resonates about as much as a rancid piece of cheese that has been left out for days on end, merely sticking up the joint. Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles merely have to play .550 baseball or better to have the division sewn up for themselves and thereby win their first AL East crown in over a decade.

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If the Baltimore Orioles were to falter, then the likely recipients of their fall, would likely be the Toronto Blue Jays , whose play this season has been moderate though not overly inspiring. John Gibbons and his managerial staff , have a team that appears to be on the cusp of achieving something special this season, but a great deal of the success they are seeking will be dependent on the play of many of their seasoned veterans on the team’s roster, as well as the coaching acumen shown by Gibbons and his staff. The Blue Jays will be the guests of the Seattle Mariners when the two teams meet on Monday afternoon, with Drew Hutchinson taking the mound for the visiting team against Felix Hernandez of the Mariners. The game itself could provide us with something of a precursor as to the ambitions of two teams wishing to remain in the midst of the wildcard hunt if not their respective divisional races .

Buck Showalter and his team , will play host to the New York Yankees at Camden Yards , in Baltimore , Maryland on Monday afternoon. For the Yankees, their season now seems to be fading fast , as too are the hopes of team captain Derek Jeter and the team making the MLB postseason. For Joe Girardi , this might well have been a season where injuries may well have played a part in his team’s faltering , but in large part it has come down to the lack of productivity from his pitching staff and the inconsistency of the offense of the players. Jeter in his twentieth and final season with the franchise , may well go down as of the Yankees’ greatest players and given the ball-club’s achievements and their captain’s own astonishing career , it must be said, his departure from the game of baseball will be seen as the end of an era.

Hope springs eternal, but year in and year out the Tampa Bay Rays have simply promised more than they can deliver for their forlorn fans. In spite of the idiocy of some among the Rays’ fan-base, who will continue to make excuses for a front office which now seems devoid of real creativity. The recent trade of All Star pitcher David Price put an end to any chance the Rays might have had for the postseason. Price, being traded to the Detroit Tigers gives the AL Central based team a leg up on their divisional rivals in their chase for the division, while the Rays themselves continue to languish at the mid to lower end of the wildcard contestants .

Six and a half games out of the wildcard placing and the Tampa Bay Rays remain a long shot for one of the two AL berths. Consistency remains the key , but this team has not remained consistent in terms of winning series much less winning games over the course of the season, when needed . All of the enduring optimism from Joe Maddon cannot make up for the fact this remains a very average team in spite of claims at to the depth of their pitching. As good as the rotation may well seem to be, you simply cannot discount how woefully inconsistent their offense tends to be. Whatever leadership is said to be on the team , no one can seem to point to a vocal leader, certainly not Joe Maddon with his ongoing whimsical anecdotes and the same can be said of their all too less than knowledgeable fans. Excuses are now the norm from almost every quarter when it comes to the organization, be it from the local media, the fans or from members of front office and their ongoing cries of either disillusionment, or the simple fact they have become defeatist. Whining from the likes of players such as Chris Archer simply amplifies one of the ongoing issues within the organization and the lack of a competitive spirit.

If there is one manager within baseball who is expected to succeed this season , then it would have to be Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels . With a team that is said to possess one of the strongest lineups in the AL from a batting standpoint, there should be no reason for the Angels to falter this season. Everything Scioscia and his staff have asked for, has been granted by team owner Arte Moreno and GM Jerry Dipoto , along with a six-figure payroll for a team which now has the best player in the game among its lineup. If there are doubters as to the talents of Mike Trout , then I would gladly like to hear the arguments from those who think to the contrary ! ! Albert Pujols may well command the respect of his peers within the game, but the Angels are now Trout’s team for him to lead and his teammates willingly follow his lead.

If the Los Angeles Angels are to have things their own way, then they will have to overcome what is proving to be a very competitive and resilient Oakland Athletics’ team , who are not yet ready to relinquish their dominance of the AL West , much less the defense of their divisional crown. The two teams this season have proven to be highly combative in their seasonal meetings with the A’s currently holding a lead in those contests (6-3) in 2014. The most recent contest between the two divisional rivals, ended with an emphatic 7-1 mauling of the Angels by the A’s at Anaheim Stadium , in Anaheim, California on the 11th June.

Three-and-a half games separate the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Angels within the AL West , but Mike Scioscia’s players seem to be in the driver’s seat in terms of the wildcard berth at present by virtue of a better record than their two closest rivals the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners . Tuesday pits the Angels against the disappointing Philadelphia Phillies , with CJ Wilson on the mound taking on Jerome Williams , when these two teams meet at Anaheim Stadium. The Tigers will face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates with the opposing pitchers being Robbie Ray against Edinson Volquez of the Pirates , in a game being played at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ,. Seattle will square off against the Toronto Blue Jays , with J A Happ looking to improve on his 8-6 record for the season , when he opposes Chris Young at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. All three contests should prove to be interesting and highly competitive given what is likely to be at stake , at this point of the season.

It doesn’t seem so long ago, where fans thought of the Texas Rangers as an organization likely to succeed at the highest levels of the game. Hall of Famer and Rangers’ great Nolan Ryan held sway as a senior executive within the organization , but then wheels on the Texas juggernaut became deflated and then suffered a large puncture. Ryan was made the scapegoat for the ball-club’s ills , but in many respects it was simply the arrogance of the franchise , starting with the front office , down through the managerial staff and several of the players , some of whom are no longer with the organization. GM Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington are now left holding the bag , as the team now wades through a season of sheer mediocrity. The Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies now share the worst records in the entire Major Leagues, a sad indictment of two teams showing little ambition this season.

In all likelihood, this will prove to be Ron Washington’s last season with the Texas Rangers , because it seems highly unlikely he will be asked to return for next season. The team has become listless , uncompetitive , totally lacking in leadership both and off the field of play. Having assumed the contract of Prince Fielder in a trade that simply made no sense whatsoever , the Rangers have now burdened themselves with an unproductive slugger whose prime came and went at least three or four years ago . As to what this indicates about the mindset of Jon Daniels and the ownership group of the Rangers is anyone’s guess , but clearly, this was a catastrophic blunder on the part of the organization in acquiring the player from the Detroit Tigers.

Fielder has been limited to forty-two games this season, having been placed on the sixty-day disabled list(DL) , likely to miss the rest of the season and undergoing neck surgery. Injuries asides, which has plagued the Rangers for much of the year, it has been a lack of leadership all-round which has played its part in the team’s lousy play and record (46-71). If Texas are to now any real signs of life, then their current series against the Tampa Bay Rays which resumes today when the two teams meet at the newly renamed Global Life Park in Arlington , Texas. Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays will face opposing pitcher Nick Tepesch of the Rangers in what should prove to be a riveting pitchers’ duel.

If the Texas Rangers are to avert a disastrous season then series such as the one being played against the Tampa Bay Rays will have to be won decisively and the consistency has to be maintained over the remainder of their schedule. Ron Washington’s long-term future is now intertwined with his team’s play, and if failure is to play a part in the ongoing drama now unfolding, the manager is likely to become a managerial casualty during the off-season along with several other possible candidates around the game of baseball.

Call me naïve, but I believe the NL Manager of The Year is likely to be Matt Williams of the Washington Nationals . Williams seems to have managed to achieve the impossible, having his team play with a great deal of consistency while keeping at bay the Atlanta Braves , Miami Marlins and New York Mets out of contention for the divisional crown in the NL East. In his first season as the manager of the Nationals, it now looks as if the incumbent manager has been able to do what his predecessor Davey Johnson failed in doing and that is getting a team mixed veterans and youth to believe in themselves. A great of the credit has to go to Matt Williams and his managerial staff , the faith shown in the staff by the ownership group and GM Mike Rizzo . The Nationals’ billionaire owner Ted Lerner and his partners are certainly intent on bringing a World Series’ title to the ball-club and are ready to do whatever it takes to achieve the goal.

Matt Williams and the Nationals will be seeking to make their first postseason appearance since the 1981 MLB postseason and the team reaching the NLCS and their 3-2 series’ loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. With a four-game lead over the Atlanta Braves within the NL East and Fredi Gonzalez’ Braves looking nothing like reigning divisional champions, it has to be said Washington now has the division practically sewn up. The high-flying Nationals will take their show on the road, when they meet the New York Mets at Citi-Field in Flushing , New York, in the first game of their three-game series against their divisional rivals. Doug Fister of the Nationals takes the mound for the visitors against Rafael Montero in a pitching contest between two of the NL’s best young pitchers. It will be interesting to see how the season now pans out for the Washington Nationals where star players Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg will be seeking to make their mark over the remainder of the season for the team.

Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper were first round draft picks by the Washington Nationals in 2009 and 2010 respectively, with both players now seen as major reasons why the team is now having some semblance of real success. Yet, until the ball-club itself has made a deep run in the postseason with the pair in question contributing to the success , what we have witnessed so far, are the players living up to the expectations first seen as collegiate players and then within the Nationals’ farm system before their debuts in the Big Leagues. MLB agent Scott Boras will no doubt be making sure both of his clients are likely to be handsomely rewarded when their existing contracts are due to expire. Boras has certainly made his presence known among the general managers around baseball , where he has proven to be a thorn in the side of these front office executives. His zealous representation of some of baseball’s most high profiled and highest paid players by way of their contracts and salaries , has been a major reason why their remains a financial imbalance among the haves and have-nots within baseball .

Some of the individual regular season awards will be hard to decide but I believe we could well see repeat winners for a number of the top prizes. Clayton Kershaw seems to be an odds on favorite to repeat as the NL Cy Young Award winner, and in the AL, the award is being fiercely contested by Chris Sale , Felix Hernandez , Rick Porcello and Jon Lester . League MVP in the AL is Mike Trout’s to lose, albeit, many believed he would have been a worthy winner of the award in 2013, only for the voters to go with Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. Though this season both Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano are staking valid claims as worthy candidates, but Trout’s all-round presence and contributions have greater weight than either of his competitors for the award.

NL honors for League MVP is not a foregone conclusion, but Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Morneau , Yasiel Puig , Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton are making solid claims why they should be atop of everyone’s list for the award. The rookies and their debuts within the AL and NL will simply be about the impressions made and how dynamic they happen to be. Hard to believe however, Derek Jeter during his playing career, having won the AL Rookie of the Year Award , was never afforded the prestige of winning the AL MVP. The AL Manager of The Year Award , I believe will come down to Buck Showalter of the Orioles, Bob Melvin , Ned Yost and John Gibbons, should he be able to pull off of the improbable and lead the Blue Jays to a divisional win in the AL East.

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As baseball enters the final third of its season what has impressed you the most in terms of the teams’ play or that of a player’s? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit, on this and anything else you believe to be of importance.

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(1) Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell , left, is seen here with David Ortiz. This season the Red Sox have been abysmal , showing little competitive spirit within their division ,lying in fifth and last place within the AL East , often described as the toughest division in all of baseball . AP Photo/ Dave Walsh …

(2) A pensive Buck Showalter looks on from the dugout during a regular season game being played by the Baltimore Orioles . Getty Images North America / Steve Jones …

(3) Jays slugger Jose Bautista , right, is congratulated by manager John Gibbons after hitting a walk-off single in the 10th inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday 22nd May 2013 . After a slow start, Bautista is posting better numbers, but the Jays need him to start producing the way he has in the past . This year the Toronto Blue Jays are definitely looking like divisional contenders . within the AL East while seeking to make inroads on the Orioles’ lead within the division . REUTERS/ Mark Blinch ….

(4) Los Angeles Angles’ GM Jerry Dipoto ,left , is seen here with Mike Trout center and team manager Mike Sciocsia . Trout was the recipient of the Jackie Robinson Award as AL Rookie of The Year. Trout has been spectacular for the Angels over the past three seasons leading the team in a number offensive categories. AP Photo / Mark Daniels …

(5) Texas Rangers’ manager Ron Washington left is seen here with GM Jon Daniels . The team has failed miserably this season and with Prince Fielder limited to forty-two games , now on the sixty-day disabled list . The Rangers are mow mired in mediocrity , while having one of the worst records in all of baseball. A great deal of the failure has been attributed to Daniels’ capricious off-season moves via the free agency market and several other far-reaching trades, saddling the team with Fielder’s exorbitant contract . AP Photo/ Jack Marshall …

(6) Washington Nationals’ manager Matt Williams greet Bryce Harper at the end of the game , where the Nationals were victorious in a home contest played at Nationals’ Ballpark in Washington , DC . AP Photo/ Garry Mason …
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A little bit of understanding ………

A little but of understanding …

With the end of what can only be described as a truly disappointing postseason finale in the NFL ,where the Seattle Seahawks simply steamrolled their way to victory , with a thoroughly lopsided victory over the Denver Broncos . It is now being left to die-hard fans to adjudge what Peyton Manning’s legacy is likely to be in the annals of NFL history . Certainly, Manning’s postseason forays have proven to be less than stellar, in spite of his lone success with an Indianapolis Colts’ victory in the Superbowl and a Superbowl MVP award to adorn his trophy cabinet. So much was expected of the Broncos’ quarterback and his teammates in this contest, that in the end it proved to be a monumental failure for the team as a whole . As to how, this chapter will be viewed in Peyton Manning’s extraordinary career will come down to how historians are likely to record the game for prosperity.

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With the off-season now beckoning , teams and their front office executives will be assessing their rosters , seeking to address their needs during this break as well as preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft. I am not going to speculate as to who the number one pick in this Draft should be and whether or not the Houston Texans as the aspirant of that pick , will go with the choice of taking Johnny Manziel to resurrect what was indeed a rather disappointing season for a team with far more expectations in 2013 than were realized . Certainly, the Texans’ front office led by GM Rick Smith under the auspices of owner Robert McNair , are fully aware as to what is needed if this organization is to rebound and have a successful in 2014, while seeking to usurp the recent dominance shown by the Indianapolis Colts under the guidance of the quarterback Andrew Luck , Chuck Pagano and his coaching staff, as they have now become the dominant force within the AFC South .

It is far too early, to begin dissecting the prospects within the NFL Draft, much less the moves likely to be made by teams during the off-season! It is best left to the fortnight prior to the week of the 22nd April event as we are likely to see teams jostle for position up and down the Draft Board , seeking to make some notable deals .

The NBA has passed its midway point and is now meandering towards the NBA All Star Break . NBA Commissioner David Stern has now stepped down, handing over the reins of power to his heir in waiting , Adam Silver , who will now seek to stamp his own identity upon the league , as his successor had previously done. Stern’s three-decade long tenure was a memorable one, with a great deal of heraldry , growing revenues , league expansion and the popularity of the NBA around the globe.

If there is said to be a major disappointment within the league this season , then it would have to be the continuing issues of both the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks. Their problems have been well-chronicled for much of the season and I doubt that there can be much more that can be said as to their ongoing problems. If these two franchises are unable to get their respective “houses in order” , then both are likely to miss the NBA postseason . Inwardly, I believe both organizations are in need of a major shakeup, from their front offices , on down to the coaching staff and the teams’ rosters ! Whether or not, that happens , will be greatly determined by the positions taken by Jim Buss of the Lakers and James Dolan of the Knicks.

As defending NBA champions, the Miami Heat are seeking to repeat as the three-time champions , if they are able to pull off that feat this season. Erik Spoelstra and this Heat team as of late, are proving that the makeup of this roster , is simply not as good as the one that won a second consecutive NBA title . Poor rebounding and a breakdown in defensive assignments have seen the Heat post some unexpected losses to teams that they would normally defeat. Dwyane Wade has become an injury riddled player, whose career now appears to be on its last legs, literally. As close as Wade’s friendship with LeBron James is said to be , I truly believe, that if the opportunity came, where team President Pat Riley could off-load Wade from the roster and seek to obtain something equitable in return , in order for the franchise to pursue its ambitions. Winning may well have come easily to Riley as a coach , but in recent years , he has shown himself to be an extremely good front office executive , yet, he is now becoming somewhat of a ruthless almost Machiavellian in character , with regard to his ambition and relentless lust and pursuit, in obtaining success for this Miami Heat franchise.

If to further emphasize my point concerning the Miami Heat’s inconsistency of late, in their most recent loss , on the road to the Utah Jazz, for a great deal of the contest , not only were they outplayed , but the team showed a great deal of complacency . Spoelstra, might well be willing to suggest that the players were simply fatigued by what has already been an exhaustive fifty-game schedule at this point of the NBA calendar . Yet I would suggest to the Miami Heat head coach , that his team is not the only franchise, that has hit a roadblock at this point of the season . If anything , it is at this time, with the regular season, that we tend to see the best of the teams, and the ones in particular, who can handle not only adversity and the competitive obstacles laid in front of them . We are also able to see, how the coaches themselves, are able to handle each major problem that seems to be impeding them .

For the Miami Heat their next game will be on Tuesday evening , when they are the guests of the Phoenix Suns , where they lead their season series 1-0 . It will be interesting to see how the Heat players acquit themselves in that particular contest and whether or not, the ongoing justification that they remain the favorites to be the repeat Eastern Conference champions .

Trouble in paradise or simply, the egos of two individuals playing off one against the other? Whatever, now seems to be happening, concerning the Cleveland Cavaliers, a great deal of what we are now seeing , leads me to believe that things could get a great deal nastier, before it gets considerably better within the organization. Dan Gilbert made the decision to fire general manager Chris Grant , thanking him for his service to the franchise , but sought not to be critical of his now deposed front office executive . Whether or not, this can be seen to appease the Cavaliers’ disgruntled star Kyrie Irving, remains to be seen. Irving, himself , was also critical of the team’s head coach , Mike Brown , who in his second stint , seems to be having a far more difficult time in guiding and handling a far less talented group of players , than when he was in leading this franchise to their lone appearance in the NBA Finals , with LeBron James as that team’s best player . With there said to be growing anticipation that James is likely to opt out of his existing contract with the Heat to “test” the free agency market . The thought of the Miami Heat forward and Kyrie Irving linking up, would prove to be a salivating prospect and make the Cavaliers a formidable opponent, as well as a prohibitive favorite within the Eastern Conference for the NBA title . Inasmuch, as I believe that to be a daunting prospect, there is no way in hell, that I believe LeBron James would consider returning to Cleveland under the present conditions , with their being so much turmoil within the organization, even with everyone seemingly denying any major drama within the franchise.

As of the 8th February the Cleveland Cavaliers had a record of 17-33 , good enough for fourth place within the Central Division of the Eastern Conference . While Irving has been far in a way the team’s most effective player , the issues that have been a continuous issue for Mike Brown , has been the lack of real ball movement when in transition and the complete lack of defensive tact from the vast majority of the players on the roster. Seated twelfth, within the conference, the Cavaliers are four games out of the eighth spot, currently held by the Charlotte Bobcats (22-29) . Any chance of Mike Brown’s team being able to erase that deficit and leapfrog the four teams ahead, is I believe, far too tough a task to ask of this team , no matter how deplorable the play has come within all three divisions of the Eastern Conference.

The Cavaliers will seek to make inroads into that conference lead on Sunday, when they play host to the Memphis Grizzlies at the Quicken Loans Arena , in Cleveland , Ohio,.

With pitchers, now reporting for Spring Training and their teammates likely to join them in the coming days . The start of the preseason to baseball’s season begins on the 13th February and then the one and hundred-sixty two game regular season schedule which officially begins with a two-game series (22nd March to 24th March) being staged in Sydney, Australia, between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks . The major Opening Day schedule however , will not take place until the 31st March , albeit, that on the 30th March there will be a single game being played between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres .

With the Boston Red Sox likely to be seen as the early season favorites to my mind to repeat as the AL East divisional champions . Simply, from the belief, that their opponents within the division enough have not done enough to become remotely close to being as competitive as the reigning World Series champions ! John Farrell showed his managerial ingenuity last season , and to my mind , he is now one of the top-five managers in all of baseball. Fans may well love the homely and at times micro-managerial style of Joe Maddon and what he has been able to achieve with the Tampa Bay Rays . Unfortunately, that remains a franchise who chooses to operate on a shoestring budget , rather than Stuart Sternberg seeking to show some of this alleged financial acumen that is said to have made him tens of millions of dollars as a Wall St investor and commodities’ trader. The continued whining by Rays’ fans, who themselves show very little acumen when it comes to the front office dealings within this organization , is why I will continue to question their intelligence on a wide variety of issues concerning the ball-club and that of the local personalities , who continue to come up with idiotic prognosis, as to needs of the franchise beyond the on-field issues . Tampa remains a second class city, with grandiose ideas, normally afforded to a major metropolitan city. Therein, lies its biggest issue , lack of intelligence amongst its political leaders and most definitely amongst the fan-base !

The Tampa Bay Rays may well prove to be worthy adversaries to the Boston Red Sox over the course of this season , and their season-long contests could prove to be a key indicator as to how the AL East could very well play out. The New York Yankees may well have been making a big splash, with the signings of Masahiro Tanaka , Jacoby Ellsbury and slew of other high-priced free agents . It has proven to be a success and boon for the franchise over the years, and the issues that still remain for the Yankees , will be the effectiveness of their projected starting pitching lineup and whether or not Derek Jeter after a prolonged injury can return to form , and the same can be said of Ellsbury , who was brought in to replace the productivity of Robinson Cano . The loss of Alex Rodriguez is not seen as a major blow ,given his lack productivity in 2013 , but questions will arise should the team start to buckle under the considerable weight of expectations .

The New York Yankees this season , will either sink or swim, by their deeds on the field of play as their season begins . GM Brian Cashman and senior managing partner Hal Steinbrenner will once again have to justify their actions , in once again having the team’s payroll close to or on the verge of exceeding $200 million , when the intent of the front office was to be avoid being subjected to the mandatory luxury tax, for which the Yankees had to pay the league $39.5 million in 2013 . By comparison the Los Angeles Dodgers who had a payroll , a mere $9 million less than the Yankees’ commitment to their players , paid only $9.3 million as part of their obligation to the league , by way of the MLB’s now imbalanced and totally inept scheme. . On Opening Day , I fully expect that the Yankees’ team payroll to exceed $200 million, as it has done for the past four consecutive years .

After an excellent season in 2013, the Atlanta Braves having been the runaway winners of the NL East , the team simply wilted in the postseason . Fredi Gonzalez and the managerial staff were simply too lax in their approach and did nothing to hold his players accountable as they were simply dispatched in divisional round of the MLB postseason . Suffice to say , if you blinked , you would not have missed a great deal as it related to the Braves’ postseason foray .

Fredi Gonzalez and the managerial staff were simply too lax in their approach and did nothing to hold his players accountable , as they were simply dispatched in divisional round of the MLB postseason . Suffice to say , if you blinked , you would not have missed a great deal as it related to the Braves’ postseason foray . A lopsided 3-1 series’ loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the divisional series (NLDS) curtailed the Braves quest for a second World Series title.

The off-season proved to be somewhat fortuitous for Braves’ GM Frank Wren and team President John Scheurholz , as the team benefited a great deal , by way of the players whom sought salary arbitration . Granted , the loss of catcher Brian McCann was to be expected , as there would be no way that the front office would have been willing to match or make the five-year $85 million offer made to the player, which was willingly accepted by McCann’s agent , BB Abbott. The catcher becomes the New York Yankees’ first option at the position as well as providing a much-needed boost in terms of McCann’s productivity .

. Retaining Jayson Heyward , Craig Kimbrell and Ramiro Pena adds to what is already a good lineup and with a bunch of very able prospects upon which Gonzalez and the staff can look over during the Spring Training foray will be of benefit to the team. As usual the Braves have also sought to bring in non-roster invitees , to work them out and that also bodes well for the staff.

The Braves will begin their regular season against the Milwaukee Brewers in what is likely to be a very interesting game , as the Brewers are likely to welcome back their 2011 NL MVP Award winner , Ryan Braun as he suits up for the team for the first time in 2014 in a regular season game , Humbled by his suspension and his act of contrition barely convincing , how Braun conducts himself as a player will go a long way in how and if he is forgiven by the fans, for his web of deceit and lies. Clearly something, the player failed to learn from the outset, as he tried to convince us all that he was innocent of the charges originally leveled against him for using a performance enhancing drug . While , Alex Rodriguez sits out the entire 2014 season , one can’t help but wonder if we will also see a repeat performance from the New York Yankees’ player , reminiscent of his then apology to the convened press in February of 2009 at the Yankees’ training facility in Tampa , Florida .

Last season, as befits the game, there were some very great highs and some exceedingly low, lows . It is hoped that in 2014, the game of baseball, can offer the fans a great deal more than the ongoing issue of steroids and ongoing deniable culpability , of whom I believe can no longer be trusted to tell the truth . They have simply outdone their goodwill , and with the union’s lack of action even with the lack action from Michael Weiner , whose loss to the game was tragic, but his own lack of candor on the issue of PED’s is simply another reason why neither the MLBPA or Bud Selig and league hierarchy can be taken at their word to tackle the issue seriously . Yet, the commissioner with his idiocy , believes the use of instant replay within the game , is a far more pressing issue than addressing steroids and the financial imbalances that affect the game . Common sense , and intelligence has never been prevalent within the game of baseball , amongst the players , owners , general managers , league hierarchy and the game officials .

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(1) EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – FEBRUARY 2: Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) walks on the field after the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl 48 . The Denver Broncos vs the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey Sunday, February 2, 2014. Manning’s performance in the contest was amongst the worst of his heralded NFL career either in the regular or postseason . Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post …

(2) Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and seen in some circles as the consensus # 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Houston Texans have that first pick in the draft and it is unclear whether or not they will draft the talented quarterback or seek to bolster a secondary that was amongst the worst in the NFL during 2013 . AP Photo / Richard Engell ….

(3) Robert “Bob” McNair, left , owner of the Houston Texans is seen here with general manager Rick Smith at Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas . It will he McNair’s final say , that may well be the indicator as to whether or not the franchise drafts Johnny Manziel of Texas A &M. Certainly, drafting the player would create a great deal of excitement within the greater Houston and across the state of Texas . Yet, it is felt that the team’s needs are just as pressing in other areas , without them having to risk that first pick on the mercurial college star, and then having to make a considerable financial outlay for the privilege of making him the number one pick overall. AP Photo/ Arturo Sanchez ….

(4) A bemused James Dolan , owner of the New York Knicks , brushes aside a question from a member of the convened press at the team’s headquarters at Madison Square Garden , New York City , New York . The Knicks are having an indifferent season , with Carmelo Anthony being the only player of note that is said to be productive on the team . Rick Moriarty /. Getty Images …

(5) Mike D’Antoni head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, a team who this season has struggled with injuries , indifferent play from a number of players on the roster. Currently lying in thirteenth place within the Western Conference’s fifteen teams residing there , Los Angeles now remains a long shot to make the postseason , having posted an 18-33 record . AP Photo/ Liam Walsh …..

(6) Kyrie Irving ,left , of the Cleveland Cavaliers is seen here with the team’s owner , Dan Gilbert. Irving of late , has been somewhat vocal , with his concerns and the direction that the franchise is said to be taking . The firing of GM Chris Grant may well have been done to appease and to soothe the ego of the disgruntled star, but unless the front office makes a number of major moves at the trade deadline , then the Cavaliers are likely to squander another season and completely miss the NBA Playoffs, Cleveland Plain Dealer / Getty Images North America / Chris Hansard ….

(7) Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell is seen here congratulating the team’s World Series’ MVP , David Ortiz after the Red Sox’s effortless series’ victory over the St Louis Cardinals in the 2013 World Series . Boston will be looking to make a successful defense of their AL East divisional title , AL pennant as well as the World Series . They will undoubtedly start the season as the prohibitive favorites within their division to repeat as champions . Ortiz for his part will be looking to cement his legacy as one of the franchise’s most popular players of the past twenty-five years . Getty Images / Rob Carr …..

(8) From left to right , New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi , the team’s record signing catching acquisition Brian McCann , senior managing partner and team owner , Hal Steinbrenner . Having made a big splash during the off-season to bolster the roster . New York will go into the season looking reintroduce themselves to their fans and baseball in general . The team will also enter the season with one of the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball at approximately $196.5 million , slightly less than last’s season’s record-breaking $228.5 million obligation , tops amongst all thirty teams , wherein, the Opening Day payroll for baseball’s franchises topped $3 billion for the first time in baseball history. This year should prove to be no different with a number of teams likely to add to their payroll commitments during Spring Training and in the lead-up to . Opening Day on the 31st March (officially). AP Photo / Steven Hines ……

(9) Atlanta Braves’ general manager Frank Wren is seen here congratulating Fredi Gonzalez , the baseball franchise’s newly installed manager , who succeeded the long tenured Bobby Cox , now an inductee in Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York. Gonzalez and his team will be looking to build upon the success of last season , although a lengthy postseason presence eluded the Braves , with them falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS . AP Photo / Chris Pendleton ……

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On the mound , but only briefly ……

On the mound , but only briefly ……….

With baseball’s postseason having come to a successful end , with the Boston Red claiming .their third World Series in the past ten seasons and the club’s eighth overall . The rest of this off-season, now becomes about the individual awards and today the first of those were announced, with the Rookie of the Year honors . In the AL , the recipient was Tampa Bay Rays’ rookie Wil Myers , who after a successful run with the team during the regular and postseason , will be looking to build upon that in 2014, as the Rays pursue another chance at success within the AL East , having fallen short of their own expectations.

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In the NL, the recipient of the NL Rookie of the Award , went to Florida Marlins’ pitching ace Jose Fernandez . The player was one of the few bright spots on a team that was simply abysmal , during which we witnessed the Marlins finish at the bottom of the NL East posting a mark of 62-100 , of which only the Houston Astros (51-111) had a worse record in all of baseball . Fernandez for his part was simply exhilarating over the season showing a great deal of poise and maturity in someone so young, who burst onto the scene with a sense of purpose. Now in the midst of this all, there are likely to be detractors, who may well feel aggrieved that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rookie phenom sensation Yasiel Puig may well have been viewed as an afterthought , given his spectacular debut and being the main catalyst behind the Dodgers’ mid to late season surge that witnessed them winning the NL West divisional crown with a great deal of ease , only to then fail miserably when they faced eventual pennant winners, the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS pennant series.

As impressive as Yasiel Puig was said to be for the Los Angeles Dodgers , it is my belief that the voters for this award , viewed that the NL based franchise was merely best served by not only Puig ,but several of the team’s highly paid stars , on a team that once that they blew the division apart , there was little to suggest that the NL West would still remain competitive , and we also witnessed something of a tail-off in the slugger’s performance , only to then see rare glimpses in the postseason for the team . There is no doubt in my mind that future honors await Yasiel Puig in his career , as he is one of the best young players in the game today. The game of baseball will be best served by players such as Yasiel Puig , Wil Myers , Jose Fernandez , Mike Trout , Bryce Harper , Stephen Strasburg , Andrew Bailey , Buster Posey and Geovany Soto over the coming years. Given the recent controversies that have simply ravaged the game of baseball , as the issue of steroids still remains a part of the landscape , with their little to show by the league hierarchy in stamping out the biggest stain to hit sport over the past two-and a half decades. It is pretty much safe to say , that for all of Bud Selig’s insistence , as long as along as Alex Rodriguez is allowed to make a mockery of the system and baseball itself , then the commissioner will forever be viewed as the executive who failed to show any decisiveness , making several unfathomable and idiotic decisions along the way, that have simply done nothing for the betterment of the game.

In what might not necessarily come as a surprise , but the main favorites for the AL and NL Manager of the Year Awards appear to be Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians and Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates . The Indians’ surprising resilience shown within the AL Central and thereby making the postseason as a wildcard entrant was one of the great stories of the baseball season. And fact that the Cleveland Indians bowed out in the wildcard round of the postseason , should not be seen as a negative, because , what Francona was able to achieve with this team not only caught the fans by surprise, but I would dare say, the vast majority of observers in and outside of the game . It should be noted however , that it was Terry Francona’s managerial guile that did more than anything else to guide the Boston Red Sox to their most recent World Series’ triumphs, prior to John Farrell guiding the team this past season to another notable triumph for this venerable franchise .

Recognizing Terry Francona for the award to my mind would be valid, but I feel an honorable mention ought to be due for John Farrell and what he was able to achieve in his first season with a Boston Red Sox team that was in complete disarray in 2012 , having finished in last place within the AL East, with Bobby Valentine simply showing that his managerial acumen , was really nothing more than a great deal of hot air.

Clint Hurdle was able to guide what was a young team a t its core to a respectable second place finish within the NL Central behind the St Louis Cardinals . It did look as if at one time the Pirates had the division as theirs for the taking , but momentary lapses , caused this young roster to succumb to more pressure than they are you usually accustomed to. On this Pirates’ ball-club, we saw the further maturation of Andrew McCutchen , not just as a player , but also someone, who now appears to be the vocal leader of the team both on and off the field of play . My only thought now concerning the center-fielder , is when he next becomes a free agent , are the Pirates prepared to do whatever it takes to retain the services of the best player this organization has had, over the the past eight years ? Clearly this is a matter that will be on the minds of not only the team’s fans but also Pirates’ owner Robert ‘Bob ‘ Nutting and general manager Neal Huntington . It has been Nutting’s reluctance to actually spend money on this team and seeking out the best possible talent available , that has in large part left this franchise standing curbside,. waiting to achieve something of note. Well after a two-decade long wait , the Pittsburgh Pirates made their first appearance in baseball’s ‘Fall Extravaganza’ and that of its postseason .

If an improvement is to be seen with the Pirates , then this off-season Neal Huntington and this managerial staff will have to work diligently in assessing the needs of the team, by way of the available free agents and that of the organization’s farm system to see if there are players waiting in the wings ready to contribute to and for the team.

To my mind, it appears to be a foregone conclusion in terms of the Cy Young Award Winners winners and who they ought to be this season . Without a doubt, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been the best pitcher in baseball over the past three seasons. Those who have doubts, need only to look at the pitcher’s statistics posted in each the past three years to see the evidence of his dominance. Kershaw is likely to be named the NL Cy Young Award winner , with an outside shot at quite possibly taking the NL MVP Award at the same time , making it a “daily double” . In 2013 , Kershaw was as elusive , as he was dominant during the regular season , with few batter being able to get the better of the Dodgers’ starting ace, who was by far in a way , the best pitcher on a very good pitching roster by way of the perceived talent.

In the AL , the top contenders for the Cy Young appear to be Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers , Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers and Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners . Darvish got off to an excellent start early in the season for the Rangers , before injury took a toll on part of his year , but he was able to rebound and once again show the front office’s faith in signing him. If only the rest of the team were able to show the type of consistency and dedication of the Japanese star, then perhaps the season would not have ” petered out” with such resounding disappointment and so many questions being asked of a number of players on the roster . Scherzer was simply outstanding , as he led the Tigers’ pitching in wins and strikeouts on his way to 21-3 win tally , a best in the American League and the Majors this past season . With the Tigers’ season coming to an abrupt end with the their succumbing to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS in six games (4-2) , it must be said that Scherzer’s winning of the AL Cy Young will not be seen as that great a compensation for GM Dave Dombrowski and team owner Michael Ilitch , after the resignation of Jim Leyland , whose success with the franchise made Detroit Tigers relevant again .

Beyond Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners , until this season , no one really took ,much notice of what the team was aspiring to achieve within the AL West much less the rest of baseball . It would be fair to suggest that Howard Lincoln and the rest of the managing partners that make up the Board of Directors have simply been derelict in their duties in seeking to make this franchise competitive . The Mariners’ record over the past eight years simply speaks for itself and the fact that they have not made the postseason in the twelve years and their 2001 ALCS appearance and a 4-1 series’ loss to the New York Yankees . Now while I have no doubt that the addition of Hisashi Iwakuma’s to the team has been of benefit to the Mariners , it provided nothing more than a simple feel-good story for a franchise bereft of managerial acumen and depth of talent . The team was simply not competitive enough within the AL and within a division , where other than the Oakland A’s and Texas Rangers , one might as well have imagined that the division bore the aforementioned teams playing each other repeatedly rather than the Mariners having to play the A’s Rangers and Houston Astros .

The Cy Young Award within the AL is likely to be a two-horse race in the end between the Tigers’ ace and Yu Darvish , the with Max Scherzer joining teammate Justin Verlander as a recent award winner of baseball’s top pitching award for the Tigers’ franchise .

The MVP Award , long seen as the top individual award in the game of baseball has a noted history , but as of late , one could attest to the fact that with Ryan Braun’s win in 2011 , even with the rumors of the player’s use of an illicit substance and his apology this year for his admitted deceit and lying to the game’s authorities , the fans and the Milwaukee Brewers’ ownership has left an indelible stain on the game . Bud Selig’s handling remains haphazard and completely bereft of anything bordering, on being intelligent. Yet somehow, at this point of the season before the winter season meeting of the owners , league hierarchy and front office executives to hash out a number of issues, as well as gauging the interest amongst teams of the various free agents , their impending status and the likely changes due . Baseball now needs more than ever before, an image at the top of the game, that truly represents best that the sport has to offer.

The AL contenders for the MVP are Miguel Cabrera , the 2012 MVP recipient and Triple Crown winner , Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles , baseball’s only fifty home-run hitter this season and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels . Cabrera hands down , has been as dominant this season as he was in 2012 , albeit that Davis’ season primarily built around that home run tally , did not lead to a postseason berth for the Orioles. Add in the fact that suspicions have continued to surround a player who before this season had never hit more than twenty-five home runs in a season . Trout coming off an AL Rookie of the Year win in 2012 , has been the Angels’ lone bright spot on another under-achieving season .

In all likelihood , this decision as adjudicated by the BBWAA will come down to how they view the year-long performances of Cabrera , Davis and Trout and who proved to be the most consistent . This season, I truly believe that Miguel Cabrera has simply been better than his peers and having led the Tigers into the postseason , of which the same cannot be said of either Chris Davis or Mike Trout .

Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates , Yadier Molina of the St Louis Cardinals and Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks , all had productive seasons for their respective teams. McCutchen, was simply more than the driving force, behind a franchise having made their first postseason appearance since 1992. By far the best player on that Pirates’ roster , he has now become a perennial All Star and now has to be one of the best players in the NL. Molina led the Cardinals in a myriad of offensive categories this season and was one of the primary reasons behind the their successful run in the postseason. Though the World Series’ loss to the Boston Red Sox was definitely a lopsided affair , it should not detract from a splendid season by the Cardinals’ catcher , a player who is now proving to be one of the preeminent players at the position within the game. Paul Goldschmidt provided the excitement needed for a Diamondbacks’ team that simply could not meet the challenge of even remotely being in with a chance being a worthy adversary for the Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL West .

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It will be interesting to see which these triumvirate of players favored amongst the primary NL candidates will walk away as the 2013 NL recipient of the NL MVP award, following in a long line of illustrious winners of the past . As we know, several of those players, now fall into a somewhat unsavory category , of being suspected steroid users or admitted violators of the league’s steroidal policy . Either way, the game this season though smeared by the ongoing legacy of its landscape still being tainted is in need of a breath of fresh air with a new group of players who actually have respect for the game as well as the fans themselves , rather than being self-absorbed narcissists, with a total disregard for the fans . What if anything, do you believe to have been the major highlights of this past year within MLB and what thoughts if any, do you have with regard to next season ? Simply leave a comment, as you see fit on this, and anything you believe pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays who this week was named the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year . In the NL the award went to Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez after both players had fantastic seasons for their respective teams. AP Photo/ John Raoux …

(2) Yasiel Puig (66) of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts as he bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on September 19th, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. The player , though favored by a number of voters within the BBWAA in the NL Rookie of the Year voting , failed to get the votes needed to add the Dodgers’ list of acclaimed players to have won the prestigious award. Getty Images North America / Christian Peterson ….

(3) MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , left, whose handling of the “steroid issue” within baseball, has repeatedly come into question over the past decade. The league’s highest-ranking official will seek to have the suspension of Yankees’ third baseman , Alex Rodriguez , upheld in an arbitration hearing for which a date has yet to be set. Presiding over the hearing will be Frederick Horowitz . Rodriguez has a civil suit pending in Manhattan in the US Federal Court , in which he seeks unspecified damages for libel , slander , defamation of character and emotional distress , brought about by the league’s actions, in seeking to suspend him for misleading statements and his alleged association with Anthony ‘Tony ‘ Bosch of Biogenesis Inc. and the purchase of illicit substances , said to be PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) of from Bosch’s company (Biogenesis) . Rodriguez has denied any wrongdoing on his part stressing that it is nothing more than character assassination by the league hierarchy. He will be represented in his civil suit by noted criminal attorneys Joe Tacopina and David Cornwell . AP / REUTERS / Alex Marshall ….

(4) Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle is seen here congratulating Andrew McCutchen, left, , outfielder with team. Both are in line and seen as presumptive favorites to capture the NL Manager of the Year Award for Hurdle , with McCutchen seen as the likely recipient for the NL MVP . After a two-decade wait the Pirates made it back to the postseason , only to fall at the in the NLDS . GM Neal Huntington and team owner Bob Nutting are hoping for more positive results in 2014 , with both owner and general manager vowing to increase the team’s payroll considerably, after a season of increased attendance and a sellout for a vast majority of the Pirates’ games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,. AP Photo / Mark Edmondson ….

(5) Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers 2013 Cy Young Award winner , who led all starting pitchers in the Majors this season in terms of victories . AP Photo / Eric Schmidt …

(6) Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers , left and Mike Trout , are seen as the two leading candidates in AL MVP race alongside Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles . The Tigers’ slugger is seeking back-to-back wins of the award he won 2012 , during which, he also attained the Triple Crown . Getty Images / Fiona Matthews ….

(7) Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles , who led all players this season in the Majors with 53 home runs the highest total in either league over the past twelve years when in 2001 Barry Bonds hit the single season lead total of seventy-three home runs . Davis , who prior to this past season had never hit more than twenty five home runs in a season , is now created something of a storm , with their now being ever-growing suspicion as to his single season achievement . Getty Images / Chris Hobbs …..

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tophatal ………………….. 11/13/2013

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Wendy Fiore .

We’ll start with the sublime and then move on to the ridiculous . Oh sorry we’re talking baseball , so it remains ridiculous

We’ll start with the sublime and then move on to the ridiculous . Oh sorry we’re talking baseball , so it remains ridiculous

By Tophatal , 2nd April , 2013

So yesterday , marked the official Opening Day as such , for the majority of teams within Major League Baseball . Many of those games just happened to be, noted rivalries between of many of baseball’s most heralded teams. At Yankees Stadium , the New York Yankees’ played host to their heated AL East rivals , the Boston Red Sox . And if the events are anything to go by , then the Yankees , are about to have a long an arduous season . We knew that the team’s pitching was likely to be suspect , but who could have imagined that the offense would be so anemic ?

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For the Yankees’ Opening Day starter , CC Sabathia , I suspect that this was a game , that the left handed pitcher would rather forget . Decidedly more so , given the meager run support , given to the player by his teammates during this game .

With the Yankees not set to play again until Wednesday , when they will resume their series against the Boston Red Sox. Tuesday becomes a rest day , during which Joe Girardi and his coaching staff can assess the damage done , as well as the psyche of his players. Granted , excuses can , and will be made, that the team has a litany of injured players on the DL . Yet in no way , should that really be an excuse for an organization , where losing is simply seen as unacceptable .

One thing that there can be no denying , and it is now, the false bravado of the New York Yankees , and the very fact that their window of opportunity to add the mantel pieces for Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera , in terms of additional silverware by way of a sixth World Series title , is now becoming narrower by the year. This season , will be the last for Rivera , the all-time saves’ leader within baseball and one of the most prolific pitchers of any era in baseball history .

On the mound, on Wednesday for the Yankees , will be Hiroki Kuroda , facing off against Clay Buchholz . Should the New York Yankees start the season at 0-2 , there will be no need to start the alarm bells as of yet , but , should they lose four or five consecutive games open the start of their season , then look for Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi , seeking to make some not so drastic changes , if only stave off the criticism of the front office and their continued failure to develop talent from within their farm system over the past several years . Strangely enough at a time, when senior managing partner and team owner , Hal Steinbrenner sought to pare down the team’s payroll . The franchise simply resorted to what they do best, and that is to simply buy their way out of a bad situation. How else, can one explain the idiocy of acquiring an unproductive malcontent such as Vernon Wells ? Wells is still owed $42 million on the final two years of an extortionate and exorbitant seven-year $126 million deal , originally signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008 . . Chances are , Wells , will simply be counterproductive , or he may well surprise the naysayers by contributing greatly to the Yankees’ fortunes over the course of the season.

Call me naïve , but if you’re looked upon as the presumptive leader on a team , then should it not be incumbent on that player to act accordingly , rather than presenting themselves as something of an immature blowhole ? Evan Longoria has become a bona-fide star within baseball , but I am not so sure that he is simply capable enough handling any real adversity , let alone , leading the Tampa Bay Rays to any tangible success . However, comments attributed to the Rays’ third baseman , in which he came across as an imbecile , in being critical of his former teammates , BJ Upton and James Shields . Longoria tried to suggest that neither player was on board , with the Joe Maddon’s managerial style , or the fact that they knew how to handle the adversity of the team’s consistent misfortune of losing on a regular basis before the franchise’s recent run of success . Unless , I am mistaken , you win and lose as a team and not simply single out players whom you believe to be giving a less than convincing effort .

Evan Longoria is lucky enough to now be richly rewarded by the Rays, having signed a multiyear deal that gives him $105 million and the safety net of six years guaranteed income . Unfortunately, his former teammates were not so lucky , having to go elsewhere to seek their fortunes , because plainly put , the Rays are an organization that will continue penny-pinch in order to remain competitive as well as being financially viable . Something that the franchise has not been able to achieve without the advent of the baseball hierarchy’s archaic and asinine tax sharing revenue scheme , that penalizes teams with payrolls in excess of $150 million , by taxing them on a prorated basis as much as 25% of that nominal figure , which is then disbursed for the league’s small market teams , which is allegedly determined on their fan-base and the market in which they are domiciled , based upon the Nielsen’s ratings and their market research . Which begs the question why was it from 2004 through until 2011 , the Florida Marlins, soon to become the Miami Marlins were afforded this luxury ? When for those intervening years , team owner Jeffrey Loria and his sidekicks , David Sansom , Larry Beinfest and Michael Hills , plead poverty as to the franchise’s resources , only for the ball club to go out on an exorbitant cash spending spree in 2012 on acquiring high-priced free agents , that saw the team’s payroll become a bloated $125 million boondoggle that culminated with a sub . 500 record (69-93) within the NL East and a last place finish within the division that season . This season we will see the Marlins resort back to the ways old with a sparse payroll , which will be amongst the lowest in all of baseball , with a team salary of $44 million in salaried commitments based upon known records .

I don’t believe that this beleaguered Marlins’ franchise will have any tangible success within the NL East this season ! Rookie manager Mike Redmond and his staff will have a hard time to get this team contending with the division and against their heated divisional rivals domiciled there .

As to the Tampa Bay Rays and what the season has in store for Joe Maddon and his players , will rest primarily upon the effectiveness of the team’s pitching and their leadership shown by their 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner , David Price . If he, along with Jeremy Hellickson , Roberto Hernandez , Alex Cobb can spearhead what is said to be the best . pitching staff in the Majors , then there is no reason to believe why they cannot be a major force to be reckoned with . And in spite of the managerial ingenuity shown by Joe Maddon , unless Longoria can show that he has the leadership skills , the Rays could be in for a long an arduous season .

The team’s home opener on Tuesday afternoon , pitted the Rays against divisional rivals the Baltimore Orioles , who under their erstwhile manager , Buck Showalter , will be looking to get the team back to their excellent highs of last season . Joe Maddon’s players in front of a sellout crowd at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Florida would come away on the wrong side , of a rather lopsided 7-4 loss to the Orioles. However , the two teams are scheduled to meet again , twice more in games scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday , at the team’s home venue , in St Petersburg.

It would be remiss, to suggest that Sandy Koufax is not one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history . The former Dodgers’ great statistics speaks volumes to a prolific career and the accolades won . Koufax was given the privilege of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ opening game of their schedule , played against the San Francisco Giants , played at Dodgers’ Ballpark , in Los Angeles California . On the mound for the Dodgers, in this match-up of two well-respected NL West franchises , we had Clayton Kershaw and Matt Cain . Kershaw since his drafting by the Dodgers in the 2006 MLB Draft , his career has been on an upward spiral, from the minors on through ,

In recent seasons , Kershaw has been amongst the very best performing pitchers in the National League , but this oh so early comparison , to a legend , such as Sandy Koufax, is simply asinine , and in many respects, insulting to both players . If Kershaw can maintain the current pace as to the success attained , then there is no reason not to believe why he cannot become a future inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame , but for now , the comparison to the legendary left-handed pitcher becomes nonplussed, and not of any real significance .

Dodgers’ owners , Magic Johnson , Mark Walter , Todd Boehly , Peter Guber , and team President , Stan Kasten , will certainly look to assess the performance of this team over the course of the season . There is no denying , that coming after the failings in 2012 , a great deal more was expected of this high-priced assembly of stars . It’s one thing to accumulate a roster of players , reward them in some cases , with astronomical salaries , but if there’s no cohesion on the field of play , then surely, that will be equated with a lack of success .

For the Dodgers, in 2013 , it will be “do or die “ and according to Magic Johnson , “ no expense will be spared on or off the field of play as this ball club seeks to win a World Series’ title” . Take into account that it has been twenty-five years (1988) since the Los Angeles Dodgers won the last of their five World Series titles . To be a part of that particular equation in 2013 , the Los Angeles Dodgers will have to be a truly dominant team , led by their erstwhile manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff.

Not yet ready to throw out the baby with the bath water , but , if I hear one more damn prognostication about the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates , and the expectations for both ball clubs this season , I am likely to let loose with several bits of profanity ! Has there ever been two more misguided and lackluster baseball franchises , who continue have you salivating with excitement , one minute , only to disappoint the next ? With the exception of the ongoing woes and the misguided maneuvers of the Chicago Cubs , I truly believe that the Pirates and Royals, are now , the two most inept franchises in all of baseball ! simply, look at the records of the Pittsburgh Pirates and that of Kansas City Royals , as evidence of that over the past decade and a half . Not to be outdone mind you , in recent years , it could be said that the Seattle Mariners should be equated amongst these misguided and mismanaged baseball franchises ,

A strong could be made that David Glass , Bob Nutting and Howard Lincoln as the owners or senior managing partner in the aforementioned triumvirate of teams , have simply obfuscated their responsibilities , in seeking to make the Royals , Pirates and Mariners a resounding success financially , as well as competitively . That being made , much of this , all comes down to how the ball club seeks to go acquiring their talent , by way of the MLB Draft , free agency trades or simply promoting from within their respective farm systems . Yet when it is all said and done, it comes back down to money , and about those teams that have it and those that don’t . Are they willing to spend , or are they not willing to do so ? I will leave that for you all to be the judge of that, as it all in reality , comes down to a matter of conjecture and bear analysis by way of the teams’ actions.

In many respects I believe that this season , will be about the teams expected to succeed, being under more pressure to do so, more than ever before , along with their respective managers . Perhaps, the three managers, with the greatest need to succeed will be , Mike Sciocsia of Los Angeles Angels , Charlie Manuel of the Philadelphia Phillies , and Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers . Sciocsia , along with team owner, Arte Moreno and GM , Jerry DiPoto , have once again gone off to the races , having acquired outfielder, Josh Hamilton to go alongside a highly explosive offense headlined by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols and a pitching staff , with a proven ace , in , Jered Weaver. That being said , the Angels’ fall from grace last season within the AL West came as something of a shock , because of the inconsistency of the hitting and pitching at the most inopportune of moments. A repeat of that in 2013 , and their season could simply implode without having put up much of challenge against the rest of their divisional rivals and those primarily within the AL .

Jim Leyland has a great deal going for him as a veteran manager , beyond the respect of his peers and players he has managed over the course of his career. However , what cannot be denied , is the very fact that he and the Tigers have come up too short , more often than we could care to remember. Detroit being manhandled by the San Francisco Giants last season (4-0) in the World Series , was enough to have left us all somewhat squeamish . Pitching awful , offense , simply mediocre , and beyond that , there is not much else that needs to be said , after that sorry chapter .

At some point during this season, we will see the Phillies simply cave , and fall apart. This team is littered with All Stars , but what it appears to lack is a vocal and inspirational leader on the field of play. Clearly , Charlie Manuel cannot be seen as the voice of reason , much less a motivator , when needed . This, is a team, that either flies by the seat of its pants , blowing hot and cold. Injuries asides, they will either sink or swim by the merits of their deeds , on the field of play. With the amount of money sank into the pitching staff , and in particular for Cole Hamels . I would like to think that the Phillies’ front office is likely to get a sizable return on that investment at some point in the season, preferably deep into the postseason ! Squandered opportunities and a lone World Series’ triumph in 2008 , in essence , just happens to be all that the franchise , has to show for the recent success over the past six years . The clock is now ticking for Charlie Manuel and front office executive, Reuben Amaro Jr .

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Picture gallery .

With the first week baseball almost in the books , what if anything do you hope to see in the first five or six weeks of the baseball schedule ? Which teams, if anything , have you been most impressed this early in terms of the season’s infancy? Chime in, with your thoughts, as you see fit .

;)

Slideshow and picture gallery details below .

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(1) In this photo combo of file photos, Jay-Z, left, watches an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Jan. 27, 2013. New York Yankees’ Robinson Cano sits in the dugout during a spring training baseball game in Tampa, Fla., on March 28, 2013. Cano plans to switch agents from Scott Boras to a new company formed by musician Jay-Z’s , Roc Nation and CAA Sports . AP Photo/Reed Saxon, left, and Kathy Willens ….

(2) New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) greets Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (53) at an opening day baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Monday, April 1 , 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens ….

(3) Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia gestures to the pitcher as New York Yankees’ Kevin Youkilis reacts after a seventh-inning strikeout stranding two runners in an opening day baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Monday, April 1, 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(4) New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia .. delivers in the first inning at an Opening Day baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Monday, April 1, 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(5) New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who is on the disabled list, walks gingerly on the field after doing an interview before the Yankees’ spring training baseball game at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, March 26, 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(6) Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) throws out Baltimore Orioles’ Brian Roberts after making a diving stop during the fourth inning of an opening day baseball game Tuesday, April 2, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays would go on to lose the game 7-4 with a rather poor offensive output coming from the Rays’ hitters and inadequate effort from the team’s middle relievers . AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …

(7) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – APRIL 02: Outfielder Adam Jones (10) of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates his team’s 7-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays during the Opening Day game at Tropicana Field on April 2, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …

(8) Baseball Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax is seen here on Opening Day , having just thrown out the ceremonial first pitch to start the Dodgers’ season and their game against reigning World Series champions the San Francisco Giants on the 1st April , 2013 . The Dodgers would go on to defeat the Giants 4-0 , but their in their subsequent game , the roles would be reversed with the visitors exacting revenge at Dodgers’ Ballpark , in Los Angeles , California with a 3-0 victory . Getty Images / Chris Hughes ….

(9) Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw , left, rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the San Francisco Giants during the eighth inning of a season opening baseball game in Los Angeles, Monday, April 1, 2013. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong …

(10) A “near perfect game ” . Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish is greeted by his teammates as he leaves the game after surrendering a hit in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, in Houston. Darvish pitched eight and two-thirds perfect innings before giving up a hit to Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez in the Rangers’ 7-0 win . AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Smiley N. Pool …

(11) Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia (14) shakes hands with Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker at the start of a major league baseball game , Monday, April 1, 2013, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/Al Behrman ….

(12) Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel is seen here congratulating his starting pitcher Cole Hamels during a game . Hamels and the rest of the team’s high-priced pitching staff will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed after the team’s inconsistent showing in 2011 and 2012 . Manuel and GM Reuben Amaro will be under a great deal of pressure as well as certain members of the team for the ball club to succeed this season , as the front office seeks answers for the franchise’s woes as of late . AP Photo / Paul Harmon ………

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Selena  Star

Adult entertainer , Selena Star

Selena Star/

Selena could definitely be the ” teacher’s pet ” . Hey. I wonder if she takes ” dictation ” ? Answers please , if you dare ?

The pain , the joy and then the ineptitude …..

The pain , the joy and then the ineptitude …..

By Tophatal

When all else fails, there has to be a sacrificial lamb , and nowhere does that seem to be more reflected than within the field of sports . A team is failing miserably , it is usually the manager who has to bear the burden of that blame , and that is even in light of these overpaid athletes simply not being held accountable for the ineptitude being shown on the field of play.

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Slide show .

In a deal that has been hastily arranged to soothe the pain , the Boston Red Sox will offload the remaining contracts ($262 million) of Carl Crawford , Nick Punto and Adrian Gonzalez , along with Josh Beckett for James Loney of the Los Angeles Dodgers and peripheral players that will make up this blockbuster trade. I have said it before and I will say it again , the hiring of Bobby Valentine has been the biggest managerial blunder that this franchise has made in its existence . The driving force I believe behind this personnel blunder has been the very fact that with the departure of both Theo Epstein and Terry Francona , this ball-club was caught between a rock and a hard place . The inexperience of Epstein’s successor Ben Cherington as the general manager , and the ineptitude of team President Larry Lucchino has indicated to me that complacency had simply set in within this organization , simply because of profits derived by the Red Sox through their programming operations afforded it by way of NESN .

The Red Sox right from the start knew that their next hire had to be an experienced and known name, to succeed Francona , a manager who guided the Boston Red Sox to two World Series’ titles in 2004 and 2007. In the subsequent years since those close triumphs , it would appear that the Red Sox simply chose to rest on their laurels . That is the sort of complacency that one tends to associate with so many major corporations , once they simply reach a plateau , rather than setting themselves their next achievable goal . And that situation is now being mirrored not just within corporate America but right across the panacea of professional sports. A great deal of the Red Sox’s problems are a carry-over from last season and the sheer ineptitude shown by the team during the final month of the regular season when they failed to make the postseason foray of baseball. That failure , alongside the infighting amongst the players simply laid waste to the exposure of team, that had become so self-absorbed with their own importance, and their condescending attitude towards their fans . And nowhere was this more reflected than with the infantile behavior pitcher Josh Beckett. His own performances for the Red Sox over that time span left a great deal to be desired .

In 2012 , the Red Sox have proven to be so inept and this is borne out in the team’s record (60-66 .476) and the very fact that they have not proven to be competitive within the AL East and specifically against their main rivals within the division , the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays . It has been these failures that have cast a dark cloud over the Red Sox and their continued failure over the course of this season . It should be noted that through this timeframe , the players on the team have added little productivity by way of offense or pitching .

Whatever is now borne out of the remainder of the season for the Boston Red Sox there is no doubt that the season will be deemed a complete failure by the organization’s own lofty standards . The claims being made that this bodes well for their long-term future because their farm system provides them with a source of bona-fide talent as a security blanket . My advice there would be , it may well do that but what of the farm systems of their rivals within the division , such as the Yankees , Rays and Blue Jays ? I for one , do not believe that those systems can be overlooked ! Only an idiot would consider the notion that neither of those teams will not continue to be competitive.

The additions of Adrian Gonzalez , Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford can only make the Los Angeles Dodgers better. Albeit , that Crawford will be lost to the team for the rest of the season , with the outfielder having to undergo season-ending surgery. The immediacy of the moment will not be lost on Don Mattingly , his coaching assistants or the Dodgers’ players. The Dodgers are currently locked into an ongoing battle within the NL West against the San Francisco Giants . And there is no doubt that the winner of the division will be guaranteed a berth in the postseason . However, a wildcard berth will still be up for grabs , and it is here , where we may well see a great deal more intrigue and suspense as the regular season meanders towards its inevitability .

The San Francisco Giants(71-56) currently maintains a two-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL West. With the two team set to meet two more times over the course of remainder of the regular season , starting on the 7th September when the Giants will play hosts to the Dodgers in the first game of a three-game series . The second series’ meeting will be when the Los Angeles Dodgers play hosts at Dodgers Ballpark , in Los Angles , California to close out their regular season and their season series against their divisional rivals in October . The first of those three games will be on the 1st October in what is sure to be a highly anticipated series .

The offensive presence brought by Adrian Gonzalez will undoubtedly give the Dodgers the determination they need to get the job done but that also has to be predicated upon the talents of Matt Kemp , Andrew Ethier and Hanley Ramirez . From a pitching standpoint , the change in environment may well be the boost Josh Beckett needs to regain the form of 2007 when the pitcher finished second in the AL Cy Young standings to CC Sabathia. The season series between the Dodgers and Giants, currently has the San Francisco Giants leading the series 7-5 , with merely remaining in their year-long scheduled series of eighteen games.

The Los Angeles Dodgers with a new ownership group headed by Magic Johnson , Mark Walter , Todd Boehly , Peter Guber and Stan Kasten . Having purchased this renowned ball-club for the staggering sum of $2.156 billion , the new owners know that without the presence of a postseason appearance to culminate their season , the year would have to be deemed something of a distinct failure . The expectations were and still remain high and this blockbuster trade merely signifies that premise . As to what now awaits the fans as the season meanders towards its inevitability creates the intrigue and suspense we have come to expect of the MLB postseason .

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Picture gallery.

Are you at all surprised as to the swiftness of this blockbuster trade between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers ? And do you believe that Bobby Valentine’s position with the Red Sox is still assured ? By all means do leave a comment on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

;)

Picture and slide show gallery below .

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Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington speaks at a news conference before a baseball game between the Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals in Boston, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012. Cherington announced that the Red Sox sent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Josh Beckett and outfielder Carl Crawford to the Dodgers on Saturday, parting with the high-priced stars in a nine-player trade that is the biggest swap in Los Angeles’ history. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer ….

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez watches his three-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill ….

(3) BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 25: Mike Moustakas (8) of the Kansas City Royals connects for a two-run triple in the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 25, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Royals would go on to defeat the Red Sox 10-9 in 12 innings . Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ….

(4) Bobby Valentine #25 of the Boston Red Sox gestures toward the pitcher’s mound in the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park on August 25, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. Getty Images / Michael Hall ……

(5) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez, left, is congratulated by Luis Cruz, center, and Matt Kemp after hitting a three-run home run during the first inning of the Dodgers’ baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …

(6) Francisco Peguero (57) of the San Francisco Giants during his first MLB at bat against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning at AT&T Park on August 25, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The Braves would go on to defeat the Giants 7-3 . Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images ….

(6) Hunter Pence (8) of the San Francisco Giants scores a run against the Atlanta Braves during the fifth inning at AT&T Park on August 25, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images ….

(7) Madison Bumgartner (40) of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at AT&T Park on August 25, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images …

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Hot chic pic of the day . Jernie of King Magazine

And why grown men simply can’t act like men when they’re around Jernie . Damn !

It’s Not Baseball If You’re Not Kicking An Opponents’ Ass

It’s Not Baseball If You’re Not Kicking An Opponents’ Ass

By tophatal

And so the mess in Boston continues, as the Boston Red Sox’s downward spiral into mediocrity goes on unabated . Much of this malaise simply comes from the fact that GM Ben Cherington and team President Larry Lucchino made a monumental blunder in hiring Bobby Valentine . There are many who feel that the choice of Valentine was a judicious one because among the candidates interviewed , he was the best interviewee. For all of the alleged managerial prowess of the incumbent manager, and what we now seen borne out is the very fact that Terry Francona’s successor is making hard work of a task that comes with a great deal of pressure and scrutiny . Valentine has already alienated a number of players on the Red Sox roster and with the departure of Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox , this might further alienate the manager amongst the fans .
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Slide show gallery .

It very hard to see how this team can now resurrect their season if they continue to play such bad baseball . Valentine has continued to display the talents of a manager who is simply out of his depth and this has been exhibited by team in the Red Sox’s record and standing in the AL East . The team’s pitching woes have been well chronicled over the course of the season , as it has been sporadic and all too inconsistent . The Red Sox’s most successive pitching pitcher this season has been Clay Bucholtz (8-2, 5.33 ERA) but the troubling issue beyond the inconsistency has been the numerous injuries to the members of the pitching rotation and position players . But that in of-itself should be enough not assuage anyone’s assumption as to how inconsistent the Red Sox have been . The Boston Red Sox are 4-6 in their last ten games and their schedule is not about to get any easier in the upcoming months .

Tuesday night the Red Sox played hosts to the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park , in Boston , Massachusetts . Taking the mound for host team Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2,6.06 ERA) and Aaron Laffey (0-0,3.00 ERA) of the Blue Jays . Wednesday the two teams will meet again in what will prove to be the series’ decider of a three-game series . Jon Lester (4-5, 4.46 ERA) of the Red Sox steers down Ricky Romero (8-1, 4.34 ERA) of the Toronto Blue Jays , who has been of the AL’s most successful pitchers this season . And among those pitchers it is David Price (10-4, 2.95 ERA) of the Tampa Bay Rays who leads the AL at present and perhaps at this stage of the season might be looked upon as the presumptive favorite for the AL Cy Young .

Should the Boston Red Sox prevail in their game against the Blue Jays , then to close out the month of the June they face the Seattle Mariners (31-43) they are the guests of the host team at Safeco Field , in Seattle , Washington for a four-game series . The lowly Mariners are having one of the worst seasons on record amongst the teams in baseball (MLB) . Inasmuch , as I see the game of baseball being a competitive pastime , one could not attest that the Mariners have sought to be competitive in recent years . This happens to be one of the more poorly ran organizations baseball , where the front office of this team has repeatedly found ways to waste the talents of Felix Hernandez and Ichiro Suzuki , albeit , that the players in question are well compensated . My question is to the fans of the game , would you prefer to support a team that is competitive or simply support an organization who is simply there to make up the numbers ? I was once told that the Kansas Royals were a team on the rise , that they were building towards the future , and that once on the ascent , they would become perennial contenders . That was perhaps one of the most asinine comments I have ever heard concerning the Royals , especially in light of the fact that the organization has not been of relevance as a contender in over a decade ! The Mariners and Royals are very much of a similar vein and it would appear that their respective ownership groups would prefer to keep it that way . If David Glass is said to be such a great owner , then why the hell has he not sought to make his ball-club that much more competitive ? Anyone care to answer that question ? And if Howard Lincoln and the Board of Directors of the Seattle Mariners choose not to steer the organization in the right direction . Then why the hell will they not sell the team , and be done with it ? It is not as if the value of the Mariners is not of considerable value , based on the recent sales of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros . Both of the aforementioned teams were sold for a combined $2.935 billion , with new owners Magic Johnson and his partners purchasing the Dodgers . Jim Crane , Houston based businessman , acquiring the Astros and each of these ambitious ownership groups are seeking to make their acquisitions competitive and more amenable to their respective fan-bases.

The trade of Kevin Youikilis may well not be viewed as prudent but with the promotion of Will Middlebrooks , this could all bode well for the Boston Red Sox . But that may not be enough for a team that has been struggling in terms of OBP (on base percentage) . From my own standpoint , the Red Sox’s issues really stems from the fact the team’s failure to make the playoffs last season still reverberates around the entire organization . In the month of September , the Red Sox players went 7-21 , thereby forgoing the chance to gain the AL wildcard berth that year . If things continue to spiral out of control , as I believe it will for the Boston Red Sox , then there may well be roster upheaval that will be of gigantic proportions . There are a number of players on the roster who are vastly overpaid and unproductive , and that issue has not at all been publicly addressed by anyone of stature within the front office . A far cry from the culmination of last season , when a number of front office executives sought to disparage the reputation of then manager , Terry Francona , while not choosing to hold the players accountable for that now infamous morass .

Aspirations being what they are , I would be pleasantly surprised if the Red Sox were able to play themselves back into contention within the AL East . There appears to be no vocal leadership from anyone on the roster and the from a coaching standpoint Bobby Valentine and his coaching staff are entirely bereft of creativity or ingenuity , never-mind the fact that Valentine is unable to effectively communicate with his players .. Among the impending free agents on the current roster this and next year , of whom the front office could seek to deal in order to pare down salary , while looking to assess their minor league prospects . The front office will have to make decisions concerning Erik Bedard , Daisuke Matsuzaka , Bobby Jenks , David Ortiz , Cody Ross and Aaron Cook . At the same time , with the budding young talent within their minor league system and the fact that Will Middlebrooks has now been called up , there does not seem to be a lot that the ball club can lose by seeking to jettison a number of the aforementioned players and anyone else that they feel would be superfluous to the team’s needs . I am sure that the likes of Bryce Brentz , Anthony Ranaudo , Brandon Jacobs , Kolbrin Vitek , Jose Iglesias and Matt Barnes would like nothing better than to get that call and be told “are you ready for some big time baseball “ ? These are lean times for the Boston Red in wake of their triumphs in the World Series of 2004 and 2007 . In the ensuing years there has been inconsistency , missed opportunities and a great many excuses as to the reasons for the Red Sox’s woes but no one has been willing to be held accountable .

Baseball’s midseason showcase event is merely less than two weeks away and the voting for the All Star Game has been heated with millions of votes being cast for the players in both leagues . Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers is the leading vote getter among all players by a wide margin and it is easy to understand why . He remains one the best all-round players in the league as well as one of the most popular amongst the fans . Add in the fact that the outfielder has been having a sensational season and his team has been one of the more dominant ball-clubs within the game . There really isn’t much more that needs to be added at this juncture .

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Picture gallery .

How do you see things panning out for the Boston Red Sox over the remainder of their season and should they fail to make the postseason do you believe that the manager should be fired ? With the league standings as they are at present which teams do you believe will be vying for a divisional crown and which teams are will be on track for a wildcard berth ? Simply chime in with a comment on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent with regard to the subject matter ?

Picture and slide show gallery details below .

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(1) Boston Red Sox’ David Ortiz, right, is congratulated by teammate Mike Aviles after scoring on a single by teammate Adrian Gonzalez during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

(2) Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia leaps as he makes the force out on Toronto Blue Jays’ Colby Rasmus on a grounder by teammate Jose Bautista in the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Bautista was safe at first. AP Photo/Charles Krupa

(3) Boston Red Sox’ David Ortiz beats the tag by Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie as he advances on a double by teammate Cody Ross in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

(4) Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell reacts in the dugout during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Tuesday, June 26, 2012. The Red Sox won 5-1 . AP Photo/Elise Amendola …

(5) Bobby Valentine , right, is seen here with Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington , having been formally announced the team’s new manager . AP Photo / Brian Ross …

(6) ARLINGTON, TX – JUNE 26: Ian Kinsler (5) of the Texas Rangers is congratulated by teammate Josh Hamilton after hitting a lead off home run in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers on June 26, 2012 at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images …

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If at all interested do take part in the above mentioned poll .

:P

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Hot chic pic of the day Chanta Patton

An Ass By Another Means Or Name Is Still Simply An Ass , Come On Down Bobby Valentine ………….

An Ass By Another Means Or Name Is Still Simply An Ass , Come On Down Bobby Valentine ………….

By tophatal

It’s becoming increasingly clear that all is not well within the Boston Red Sox organization . The ball-club celebrating the centennial of Fenway Park , in the team’s last two games have been anything but competitive . Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine in recent weeks was critical of first baseman Kevin Youkilis , much to the chagrin of player’s teammates , who felt that their manager’s comments were without cause.

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Slide show for your perusal .

From my own perspective I felt that Valentine’s hire was one of rush to fill the vacancy , rather than being one of expediency ! Team President Larry Lucchino and GM Ben Cherington clearly felt that in seeking a successor to Terry Francona was of the utmost necessity and that the individual in question had to have a high profile and a proven track record . Valentine hasn’t been a manager in the “Big Leagues” in a over a decade and his most recent challenges have been well chronicled and best adjudged as having underachieved. In many respects the team that the manager has in inherited , is one that simply isn’t good enough to be thought of a serious challenger within the AL East much less as a contender for the World Series . Much as in the same way the Boston Red Sox struggled with its pitching in 2011 , this .season it once again happens to be more of the same from a pitching staff that just seems to be lacking in confidence .

It’s hard to see how this team can proceed ahead when the manager has sought to be divisive rather than someone who shows some rationale with regard to his management style ! Valentine’s managerial staff has a great deal to prove this season as we have seen the rise in the competitiveness of AL East division residents the Baltimore Orioles , New York Yankees , Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays . In the Boston Red Sox’s most recent game played against heated rivals the New York Yankees saw fit to simply gift wrap the Bronx Bombers a win as part of the three game series at Fenway Park that saw the home fans simply aghast as to how poorly the team played . As I alluded to earlier this team’s Achilles Heel still remains its pitching but is also becoming apparent the offense has become anemic . Beyond Adrian Gonzalez , David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia there seems to be nothing going right for this organization as a whole . Most certainly , the players bear the brunt of the blame but I would say also , Bobby Valentine has done little to suggest that the transition from his successor would be a smooth one . Instead he has sought to make a number of rhetorical statements that in large part have no bearing in fact . He has failed to address his own failings as the manager and the very fact that the shows no real signs of improvement . As the month of April winds down the Boston Red Sox will struggle to make their presence felt . And certainly in the months of May , June and July , things are unlikely to get any easier if this team doesn’t find any traction within the division and over the remainder of the season .

With an additional berth now up for grabs within both leagues as the wildcard format changes for the this season . It has to be said that given the Boston Red Sox’s sojourn in 2011 and the problems that the ball-club had . Another season of indifference and many may well question why it was Bobby Valentine was hired to begin with . From the very outset , I for one certainly didn’t feel that Valentine was the right man for the position but somehow the front office saw fit to make him Terry Francona’s successor.

If Bobby Valentine , who sees himself as big-time manager can barely make it now as a manager of a team whose player at present can be best described as marginal , is unable to even motivate the players on the roster then what makes him believe that as such he is capable of actually leading this organization back to some semblance of resurgence . If this first month of the regular season has been anything to go by then it this team will be beset by problems far more than anyone could ever have envisaged . The one thing that the Boston Red Sox can ill-afford , is to have their season implode even before they’ve even gotten into any type of rhythm . Money asides, we know that for the Red Sox it is not a serious object with the organization having at their disposal the offers of their disposal the NESN and the very fact they can use their in-house broadcast outlet as a a way of writing off team expenditures against the baseball operations . Playing second fiddle to the New York Yankees in terms of team salaries I’ve no doubt that Ben Cherington will put all of the Red Sox resources at the coaching staff’s disposal in order to fully complement the needs of this team. It may well come down to the very fact that this roster will be needed to be shaken up by way of making a number of trades . I am not so sure who they will seek to render superfluous to this organization’s needs .

As the Boston Red Sox now seeks to imply its will upon this season the what moves if any that may well be made should imrpove the makeup of this team as it now exists. Last season , we saw that , then , general manager , Theo Epstein made the moves that he felt would be of benefit to the organization . With the less than exmplarary effort put forth we witnessed how woefully inept the team would be . This off-season Ben Cherington seeking to make his own mark with a number of transactions that as of yet don’t appear to be working out . And while the pressure may well be on the veteran players on this roster , I firmly belive that even greater pressure is resting upon the shoulders of Bobby Valentine to succeed in this endeavor to succeed ! So far , he is not succeeding and creates what on appearance could be a bad omen as to the Red Sox’s future this season . The Boston Red Sox this season will seek to be on an equal footing with the likes of the Texas Rangers , Los Angeles Angels , Philadelphia Phillies , Los Angeles Dodgers and the reigning World Series champions the St Louis Cardinals .

It is hard to see how anyone can view Bobby Valentine as being the right individual to succeed Terry Francona . ! As a manager , he to my mind just now happens to be ” living on borrowed time “ ! Through fourteen games this team has a 4-10 record , now carries a 5 game losing streak and their last victory came by way of a 6-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in mid April . Since then , it has been repeated series’ losses , no heart , and no real leadership on or off the field by way of the coaching staff or the players themselves. However, what might have been more inconceivable was the Red Sox’s 15-9 loss to the New York Yankees . If that game wasn’t indicative of how inept this group of players are now said to be and the mere fact that Valentine’s post-game interview at Fenway Park, clearly showed how out of his depth he now just happens to be as a manager ! Talk of having hit rock bottom and not sinking to depths lower for me , is an indication that Bobby Valentine doesn’t know what the hell he is doing ! Not now , not ever , and only perhaps by way of serendipity could things now change for this beleaguered organization .As of now , I am not so sure that is likely to happen !

The team now embarks upon a three game series against the lowly Minnesota Twins (5-11) before closing out the month of April in facing Robin Ventura and the Chicago White Sox (9-6) at US Cellular Field , Chicago , Illinois . And on the 30th April taking on the Oakland Athletics back at Fenway Park . Care to make a prediction as to how each of those series are liable to end , when one bears in mind how poorly the Red Sox have been playing of late ? Chime in with your thoughts if you so wish ?

Today’s game against the Minnesota Twins will have Jon Lester (0-2, 5.82 ERA) taking on Jason Marquis (1-0, 7.20 ERA) . Not one the face of it the most enticing of match-ups taking place within baseball this afternoon. But I am sure the fans around the country in attendance will most certainly have something to look forward to , one way or another . Lester will have to be at his leveled best to take advantage of a Twins’ offense that slowly seems to be finding its rhythm . But then again when adjudged against the baseball as a whole the Minnesota Twins still remains a pitiful organization . Off to an inauspicious start within the AL Central you simply get the feeling that we are liable to get more of the same from Ron Gardenhire’s ….. team as they struggle to maintain some form of competitiveness throughout the course of their season .

Now while it would be speculative to suggest that Valentine could very well be fired should the Boston Red Sox woes continue , then I certainly wouldn’t think it out of the question that the front office would consider such a maneuver if the incumbent manager is not able to turn things around for this organization . How quickly Larry Lucchino and the front office forget what Terry Francona was able to do for the franchise over the course of his tenure . Placing the blame squarely upon his shoulders was simply unjustified when the players themselves were unwilling to be held accountable for their actions that led to the self implosion during the month of September and their missing the postseason . If such a scenario were to arise again 2012 , then in all likelihood a number of players on this roster thought to be superfluous to their needs would be jettisoned , quite possibly with several members of the coaching staff following as well .

Terry Francona to his credit , has taken the high ground , in choosing not to berate the organization. His two World Series victories in 2004 and 2007 simply brought back credibility to a ball-club that before those triumphs had been starved of success for close a century . In the wake of his departure I would certainly like to think that the Boston Red Sox don’t sink to even further depths of mediocrity ! But bearing in mind the antics of the incumbent manager and what we know he’s all too capable of doing outside his capacity as manager . Well , it leads me to believe that the organization could one again be in for some lean and success starved years !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As to what the season holds for the Boston Red Sox remains to be seen but over the coming months there’s no doubt that Bobby Valentine will be placed under a great deal more scrutiny that he is normally accustomed to . The fans in Boston have already made it clear that they are not about to tolerate his antics or excuses and it is already plain to see that the manager , himself , is already feeling the pressure having now borne the brunt of the outrage of these ever so loyal supporters . What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? By all means do leave a comment as to your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent .

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Picture and slide show gallery details below .

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(1) A fan in a New York Yankees shirt holds up a sign referring to a Boston Red Sox clubhouse incident from last year and new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine in the first inning of a baseball game between the Red Sox and the Yankees in Boston, Saturday, April 21, 2012. The Yankees would go on to defeat their AL East divisional rivals 15-9 . AP Photo/Michael Dwyer ….

(2) BOSTON, MA – APRIL 21: Junichi Tazawa (63) of the Boston Red Sox looks back to first base against the New York Yankees on April 21, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images ….

(3) BOSTON, MA – APRIL 21: Nick Swisher (33) of the New York Yankees watches his hit as Jarrod Saltalamacchia (39) of the Boston Red Sox defends on April 21, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images …….

(4) Clueless ! Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine walks back to the dugout after removing pitcher Alfredo Aceves in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees in Boston, Saturday, April 21, 2012. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer ….

(5) Mark Teixeira (25) of the New York Yankees celebrates in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox on April 21, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Elsa Martinez /Getty Images ….

(6) Manager Bobby Valentine of the Boston Red Sox holds the ball as he waits for Matt Albers to reach the mound in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees on April 21, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images ….

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Who’s To Blame And Who Not To Blame …. Better Yet What Do You Do After That ?

Who’s To Blame And Who Not To Blame …. Better Yet What Do You Do After That ?


I am delirious at present , having watched the excitement and suspense unfold last night in a number of games that closed out the baseball season. And as we are now all aware the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox …. folded like tents being blown away in a sandstorm . God knows , there are about to be some serious repercussions within the city of Boston . And I do believe that the fans will be lambasting not just the players on that Red Sox team but also the coaching staff and front office . There’s every reason to believe that quite possibly because of this Terry Francona could very well end up losing his job in the same manner as his predecessor Grady Little . The city’s flagship radio sport’s talk station WEEI’s switchboard has to be now lighting up with the fans now looking to apportion blame while some may well be seeking some sort of consolation and solace out of this all.

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With the season having ended and the standings reflecting what one might suggest was an unbelievable year . I am not so sure that this postseason can live up to the drama that we may have all witnessed in the last forty eight hours much less over the last month of arduous season. The biggest disappointment for myself was to see the Braves simply wilt under the pressure but at the same time with this young team having endured this sort of pain I can only hope it makes them stronger and more attentive as to what it takes to become champions. Certainly manager Fredi Gonzalez , his coaching staff and the entire front office can feel proud of their accomplishments this year but at the same you can only wonder as to what might have been had they managed to eke out one or two more wins over the course of their season.

Opportunities when they’re thrown your way cannot be wasted and I think that this happened to be the case here with both the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox ! In the case of the Braves it came down to their inexperience and that of the manager’s own intuitive experience and what to expect when placed under pressure and real adversity . The seasoned veterans on the team such as Chipper Jones , Derek Lowe , Tim Hudson and Alex Gonzalez were meant to the leaders for the young members of this team but it simply would not be enough with the advent of the pressure placed upon them . In losing out on the NL wildcard berth with that privilege going to the St Louis Cardinals the Atlanta Braves missed out on making another postseason appearance . Last season their divisional series loss to the eventual World Series champions the San Francisco Giants was enough to suggest that the organization was heading in the right direction under the tenure of Fredi Gonzalez and GM Frank Wren . Now it’s back to the drawing board and the travails of the offseason making deals , acquiring players and winter ball .

Congratulations to Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays for an improbable season and pulling off what has to be said must be one of the truly great finishes to a schedule for any franchise under astonishing circumstances . I certainly hadn’t envisioned this team coming from 7 plus games behind with less then a month to go in the season. But as they say ….” you never what to expect “ and certainly the players began to believe in themselves and what was possible. This was certainly epitomized in the play of the team and in particular by the young players who were thrown into the lion’s den by Maddon and his coaching staff . Clearly the likes of Jeremy Hellickson , Desmond Jennings , Sam Fuld , James Shields , Evan Longoria , B.J Upton and Ben Zobrist never felt under any undue pressure as they simply did all that was asked of them and a great deal more .

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Fans of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate the Rays victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

Now comes the hard part of the Tampa Bay Rays in their divisional series against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington , Texas . And though things might favor the Rangers , given what we have seen from the Tampa Rays during the month of September I firmly believe that nothing is off the table by way of the unforeseen or the unexpected !

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Manager Joe Maddon (70) of the Tampa Bay Rays hugs Sean Rodriguez (1) after the Rays victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

There is no denying that this last month of the season gave the fans more than they could ever have expected . As the scenarios began to unfold , who could have known that the final day of the season would have meant so much to the teams vying for those two final playoff berths . Now comes all of the hard questions …… with the fans and analysts within the genres of sports journalism looking for the answers . It simply won’t just be about the teams who missed out on those playoff berths but also about the ball clubs who simply failed to live up to expectations and to my mind there are many who can be categorized within that area. Big money teams asides and the salaries afforded for those organizations at the end of the day it all comes down to the competitiveness of the teams and their play on the field . But it would be remiss not to suggest the part played by the general managers and team owner who are simply chasing after the glory for their teams by simply looking to spend big with the chance of reaping the rewards that await .

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As the postseason awaits I am not so sure that the thrilling suspense afforded the fans can actually be lived up to ! I mean that’s unless the teams involved give it their all with some thrilling displays of baseball that we could never have thought possible . What thoughts if any do you have about the regular season finales and of the postseason itself ? Chime in with your thoughts and expectations .

Alan aka tophatal …………… https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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ATLANTA – SEPTEMBER 28: Jack Wilson (1) of the Atlanta Braves turns a double play against John Mayberry, Jr. (15) of the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on September 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves would go on to lose the game in extra innings 4-3 to the Phillies . Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images …..

(2) ATLANTA – SEPTEMBER 28: Chipper Jones (10) of the Atlanta Braves paces the dugout after striking out in the 13th inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on September 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images ………

(3) HOUSTON – SEPTEMBER 28: Nick Punto (C) of the St. Louis Cardinals is showered with champagne by Chris Carpenter, right, as they celebrate winning the National League wildcard at Minute Maid Park on September 28, 2011 in Houston, Texas. The Cardinals would defeat the Astros 8-0 to clinch the NL wildcard and deprive the Atlanta Braves of the spot that they held for the last six weeks . Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …….

(4) Carl Crawford (13) of the Boston Red Sox walks in the dugout with first base coach Ron Johnson (50) after a 4-3 loss against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images …………

(5) Manager Terry Francona (47) of the Boston Red Sox argues a call with first base umpire Scott Barry in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images …….

(6) The Tampa Bay Rays celebrate their victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Rays came back from a 7-0 deficit to defeat the New York Yankees 8-7 . Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

(7) Infielder Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays rounds the bases after his bottom of the twelfth inning walk off home run against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

(8) Fans of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate the Rays victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ………….

(9) Manager Joe Maddon (70) of the Tampa Bay Rays hugs Sean Rodriguez (1) after the Rays victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……
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Pick ‘em At Your Peril ……………..

Pick ‘em At Your Peril ………

Well with the baseball season now climaxing in a schedule of games that may well impact the playoff scenario it is extremely hard to believe that after a 162 game schedule it all now comes down to this . The divisional winners are set but we have a quartet of teams now vying for the wildcard berths within both leagues . Those teams are the Atlanta Braves , St Louis Cardinals within the National League with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays within the American League . This all bodes well for the league hierarchy of baseball and in particular for both TBS and TNT who will broadcast the divisional and league championship series before Fox Sports takes over the tenure to televise the World Series , itself.

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At this point the questions now being asked and the reverberations caused , have to be about the meltdowns of both the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox who less than three weeks ago held sizeable leads over their respective wildcard rivals coming into the last day of the season . The troubling fact is that for the managers in question they now have to their teams playing with added vigor because of what’s said to be on the line for both of these ball clubs . For Fredi Gonzalez he knows it is imperative tonight that the team is victorious against the Phillies Phillies in a game to be played at Turner Field , Atlanta , Georgia. For Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa he knows that this is the last chance for his team to make something of what many believed to have been something of a disappointing season as they were favored to win the NL Central . That privilege went to Ron Roenicke and the Milwaukee Brewers and in doing so that could conclude with the manager being named NL Manager of the Year . But I do believe that he could well be challenged for that honor by Kirk Gibson of the Arizona Diamondbacks !

The St Louis Cardinals in their pivotal game face the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park , in Houston , Texas . And there is no one on this Cardinals’ team who does not know the importance of this game and what it means to their season . Certainly for the St Louis Cardinals’ fans they are cheering on the players in the fervent hope that they can make the postseason . Add into this all the intrigue surrounding whether or not this could well be Albert Pujols’ last season with the organization and you can begin to feel the fervor and excitment arising out of this scenario as it plays itself out .

I have said repeatedly when teams such as the Boston Red Sox with their financial wherewithal simply act as if money is of no object as they chase down talent in the search of glory , sooner or later you’re bound be undone by your own avarice . The organization led by GM Theo Epstein and team President Larry Lucchino have the league’s second highest payroll behind the venerable New York Yankees . And inasmuch as that might sour the taste for some fans one cannot be denied is the very fact that when spent wisely no one can argue with the success attained by that organization. For the Boston Red Sox front office the question now being asked is…. how could this all have spiraled out of control so quickly ?

With there now being rumors of discord between Francona and Theo Epstein there is a thought that the same fate that befell his predecessor Grady Little could now await Terry Francona should he and the team fail to deliver . From my own standpoint it has been the inconsistent pitching from the front end of the rotation led by Josh Beckett that has been the primary cause of the Red Sox’s woes . It will be left to Jon Lester pitching for the ball club tonight against the Baltimore Orioles ____ to acquit himself well and the team still into contention for that AL wildcard berth.

If there is one thing that Joe Maddon has going for himself and the Tampa Bay Rays at present then it would have to be the momentum and the hunger of this young team . And granted , there are some seasoned veterans at the heart of this roster but it has been the welcome play of the youngsters on this squad that has brought about this surprising turn of events . The likes of Desmond Jennings , Sam Fulds , Alex Cobb , Sean Rodriguez and Jeremy Hellickson have all contributed to the success of the organization this season . And for Joe Maddon and his managerial staff this has to be one of the most pleasing moments of his distinguished career .

As to what may transpire tonight no one can really say but I am sure that the events as they unfold will have all of us riveted to our screens and for those of us able to witness the events live at the venues in question . I can only surmise that you too will be enthralled by the games as they take place . Trying to determine a winner however might not be as easy as it looks and I for one can only hope that the intrigue will only add to the competitiveness of the games !

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

Which teams do you favor or actually envisage attaining the resepective wildcard berths ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal …………….. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Atlanta Braves’ pitcher Derek Lowe walks off the field after giving up two runs to the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, in Atlanta. The Phillies would go on to defeat the Braves 7-1 . AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton …..

(2) ATLANTA – SEPTEMBER 27: Chase Utley (26) of the Philadelphia Phillies is congratulated by Ryan Howard (6) after hitting a home run against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on September 27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images ……

(3) Allen Craig (21) of the St. Louis Cardinals receives congratulations from Yadier Molina (4) after hitting a three run home run in the eighth inning scoring Albert Pujols (5) and Lance Berkman (12) at Minute Maid Park on September 27, 2011 in Houston, Texas. The St Louis Cardinals would defeat the Astros 13-6 . Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images ….

(4) St. Louis Cardinals’ Yadier Molina, left, slides safely into home plate to score as Houston Astros catcher Humberto Quintero (55) handles the throw during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, in Houston. Molina and Allen Craig scored on a triple by Ryan Theriot. AP Photo/David J. Phillip ……

(5) Manager Terry Francona (47) of the Boston Red Sox walks back to the dugout during the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 27, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Red Sox defeated the Orioles 8-7 . Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……..

(6) Boston Red Sox shortstop Marco Scutaro, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, from left, high-five teammates after a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, in Baltimore. Boston won 8-7. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …..

(7) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – SEPTEMBER 27: Catcher Kelly Shoppach (10) and pitcher Kyle Farnsworth (43) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate their team’s victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 27, 2011 in St.Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

(8) First baseman Mark Teixeira (25) of the New York Yankees takes the throw at first as Johnny Damon (22) of the Tampa Bay Rays gets back safely during the game at Tropicana Field on September 27, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Rays would defeat the New York Yankees 5-3 and now tie the Red Sox atop of the AL wildcard berth standings (90-71) Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……
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Never Too Late To Apologize It’s All In How You Say It ………..

Never Too Late To Apologize It’s All In How You Say It ………..

You can either choose to be part of the news or simply read about but in no way do you want to be seen to be creating worthless tidbits , simply to have to recant a statement . We tend to see it all the time when it comes to celebrities further looking to parlay their fifteen minutes of fame . Albeit , that now with Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay I am not so sure that he knew by tweeting that Peyton Manning is out for the season be it inadvertently or not this seems to have created a furor that neither Irsay , Bill Polian or Jim Caldwell would really care to address publicly and with any degree of certainty.

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The Indianapolis Colts’ season has now taken on turn for the worse as this team seems to have lost all confidence when it comes to its play on the field . One patron had suggested to me that I was being completely overzealous in my statement when made the claim that the Colts’ season was over before it had began but I think that this patron was simply too naive to think that Peyton Manning would be back and playing under any circumstance for the Indianapolis Colts. The four time league MVP is the heart and soul of this team and has been so since he was drafted by the organization in 1998 as the number 2 overall pick behind Ryan Leaf .

The Indianapolis Colts for their part having brought in Kerry Collins have suffered three successive defeats to their start of the season which now has them firmly rooted at the bottom of the AFC South . Inasmuch as I would like to think that there is hope for the Colts for this season with the play that the team has offered simply isn’t enough to convince me that they are able of containing and steering their own destiny. Now it would remiss to suggest that Peyton Manning’s career with this organization is over but sooner or later the fans and the front office may well have to realize that this era could very well be coming to a close .

All of this talk about a resurgent Chicago Bears’ team came to a quick and abrupt close when they were ceremoniously dragged across the turf by the Green Bay Packers in a decisive 27-17 victory for the defending Superbowl champions. It is pretty safe to say that this Bears’ team still has flashbacks nightmares from their NFC championship game loss (21-14) to the Packers . This time around the Bears’ defense simply couldn’t cope with the passing game of Aaron Rodgers and the play of tight end Jermichael Finley who accounted for the first three touchdown game of his career in the team’s 27-17 win .

Jay Cutler as the quarterback of the Chicago Bears has a lot to be answerable for , especially when one bears in mind his performance during that NFC championship game . There are those who genuinely believe that the player was hurt and that was the reason for his leaving the game. But I would suggest to the contrary because when your team needs you the most that is when as a presumed leader you have to step up to the plate and lead by example.

And as good as we’re led to believe this Bears’ defense is said to be they were clearly exposed by a Packers’ offense simply chomping at the bit. Aaron Rodgers simply carried on from where he left from last season . And it is easy to understand the reason why the team made the player their first round draft choice in 2005 (24th pick first round) by the Packers’ front office and coach Mike McCarthy . With the way that the Green Bay Packers now seem to be performing amongst their divisional and conference rivals . All the talk may well be about the surprising start of the Detroit Lions but until this team led by Matthew Stafford has played full season unscathed and have a winning season then perhaps we may well get to learn something about this organization as a whole . In spite of the added history of the franchise and the apparent direction that they now seem to be taking with Jim Schwartz as the coach working in conjunction with the front office led by GM Martin Mayhew .

The turnaround in the fortunes of the Detroit Lions has coincided with the recent draft choices made by the organization . And clearly with the additions of Nick Fairley , Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson this is a team capable of contending but as I have repeatedly stated until Matthew Stafford is able to play an entire season and at the same be protected by his offensive line then I will continue hold my reservations about the competitiveness of the team .

It is hard to believe that a month ago the Boston Red Sox led the AL East and held a seven and a half game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays within the division . Now as of the 27th September that divisional lead is no longer there with the New York Yankees having won the division and secured a berth in the postseason , we now have an almighty dog fight brewing as the Tampa Bay Rays look to chase down the Red Sox to gain the wildcard berth as the AL entrant into the playoffs. Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona and his coaching staff have to be perturbed by what they are now seeing from his team that has lost eighteen of their last 22 games .

What might be even more distressing for the Boston Red Sox front office has been the very fact they have an outlay of an extortionate amount in salaries to pay for free agent acquisitions that in part have been productive but the overall expectations just wasn’t there . Clearly Theo Epstein , Larry Lucchino and the entire front office cannot be entirely happy with the thought that the team could once again miss the postseason . If ever there was a certainty as to why things started to spiral out of control for the Boston Red Sox then one would have place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the players and their lack of consistency .

As rabid as the Red Sox fans are said to be , I am not so sure that they are willing to tolerate the meltdown of their team especially when one bears in mind that their perpetual nemesis the New York Yankees has won the AL East and now await postseason play. It would certainly burn the fans even more also to know that the Tampa Bay Rays would once again be part of the playoffs.

The fans of the Tampa Bay Rays are all giddy with the very thought that they could be making a quick return to the playoffs when one considers their swift exit from the postseason last year . This time around I am sure that Joe Maddon would like to see his team perform to the best of their abilities with the advent of making the playoffs. The players have hit a rich vein of form that has seen them win five of their last 10 games but also on a two game win streak .

For the younger players on this roster such as Desmond Jennings , Sam Fulds , Alex Cobb , Matt Joyce and David Price this offers these teammates a further chance to show that this simply is not another aberration for the Tampa Bay Rays and their fans. Most certainly this may well have been the season that GM Andrew Friedman had envisaged alongside senior partners Stuart Sternberg and Matt Silverman .

It has been well chronicled as to the financial constraints that the Tampa Bay Rays now finds itself under and this is solely being done at the discretion of the front office as it is the only way for this organization to simply remain viable as a baseball franchise . And when adjudged against the rest of baseball one can see why it is that the ball club chooses take this route . Perhaps in light of the movie ” Moneyball” and the fact that the movie while now receiving critical acclaim it has to be said the box office (grossed slightly under $20 million opening weekend ) expectation doesn’t seem to have met with the expectations of the studio and one bears in mind that it placed second behind a fifteen year old animated classic “The Lion King” .

I am not so sure what to make of the Atlanta Braves’ meltdown within the NL East and the mere fact that they have allowed the St Louis Cardinals to simply erase their lead in the NL wildcard standings . Both Tony La Russa and Fredi Gonzalez are now vying to have their respective teams playing hard down the stretch as the waning days of the schedule winds down . With the St Louis Cardinals losing to the lowly Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves falling to the Philadelphia Phillies the margin between the two teams is now a mere half game as of Monday night. With two regular season games now left on the schedule it certainly will interesting and suspenseful to see how things play themselves out over the ensuing days .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Given what we are now witnessing within the NFL and MLB are there further surprises that you feel could very well occur ? And what thoughts if any do you have concerning the statements made by Colts’ owner Jim Irsay concerning Peyton Manning ? Simply leave a comment on the points raised within this piece and any other points you believe to be pertinent .

Alan aka tophatal ……… https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1) Indianapolis Colts football head coach Jim Caldwell talks about the quarterback situation and the 0-3 start in Indianapolis, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011. AP Photo/Michael Conroy ….

(2) FILE – This Sept. 1, 2011 file photo shows Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on the sidelines in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Cincinnati. At rear right is quarterback Kerry Collins. Colts owner Jim Irsay says there is an “outside chance” Manning might return in December. Irsay used Twitter on Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, to update Colts fans on Manning’s status after remarks he made during a private breakfast with Super Bowl donors. AP Photo/Tony Tribble ….

(3) CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 25: Jermichael Finley (88) of the Green Bay Packers catches a touchdown pass in front of Craig Steltz (20) of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 27-17 . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

(4) Aaron Rodgers (12) of the Green Bay Packers talks with Jay Cutler (6) of the Chicago Bears after a game at Soldier Field on September 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 27-17. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

(5) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 25: Donovan McNabb (5) of the Minnesota Vikings and Keiland Williams (34) of the Detroit Lions talk after the overtime win by the Lions at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 25, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Adam Bettcher /Getty Images ……..

(6) Matthew Stafford (9) of the Detroit Lions is chased by Chad Greenway (52) of the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 25, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Adam Bettcher /Getty Images …….

(7) Carl Crawford (13) of the Boston Red Sox (L) and teammates Jacoby Ellsbury (2) (C) and Josh Reddick (16) [(R)] leave the dugout after losing to the Baltimore Orioles 6-3 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 26, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……

(8) Infielder Ben Zobrist (18) of the Tampa Bay Rays congratulates Reid Brignac (15) after he scores against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on September 26, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Tampa Bay Rays would defeat the Yankees 5-2 . Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(9) Matt Diaz (23) of the Atlanta Braves slides into second base safely under the tag of Jimmy Rollins (11) of the Philadelphia Phillies after hitting a double in the second inning at Turner Field on September 26, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Phillies would defeat the Braves 4-2 . Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images …….

(10) Chris Carpenter , right, of the St. Louis Cardinals high fives Matt Holliday (7) and Albert Pujols (5) after they scored in the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 26, 2011 in Houston, Texas. The Cardinals would go on to lose the game 5-4 to the Astros . Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …….
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MLB results 26th October 2011

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MLB Standings 26th October 2010

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The Madness of King George …………..

The Madness of King George …………….

Contrary to popular belief baseball’s hierarchy does not possess all of the answers to what ails the game . If anything Bud Selig , the league hierarchy , teams owners and the union have found a way to make the game itself somewhat of a laughing stock amongst the vast majority of the fans . Those who take the opposite view , simply see the game as being under the premise of the glass being half full .

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If ever there was a cause for concern then it would have to be ongoing continued meltdown of the Boston Red Sox within the AL East as their wildcard lead over the Tampa Bay Rays seems to be melting like butter having touched a hot knife . Red Sox fans are either holding their breath with deep concern or they’re contemplating suicide . This team having lost three straight , including a rather haphazard and totally inexplicable 7-5 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park is now beginning to look like a rudderless vessel at sea. If this were the Titanic then all of the hands on deck would have bailed on this bitch long ago ! At this juncture I don’t know which is more painful to endure , having to watch the Boston Red Sox at play or listen to their fans now bitch and whine on the flagship radio station WEEI . Anyone who knows how passionate the Red Sox fans are will also know that when things are getting tough they can also be some of the most obnoxious fans within the game of baseball , not unlike the fans of their bitter rivals the New York Yankees .

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Baseball fans stand to leave Fenway Park as Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Alfredo Aceves , left, and designated hitter David Ortiz react as they linger in the dugout after they were defeated 6-4 by the Baltimore Orioles in a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

Though the front office doesn’t appear to be panicked into making any foolhardy moves , I can only surmise that team President Larry Lucchino , general manager Theo Epstein will for the moment continue to allow Terry Francona and his assistants to do what they believe to best to get this team back on track . The real struggles for the team does appear to the the inconsistency of their pitching in particular with back end of the rotation and that of the bullpen . But it would be remiss not to suggest that the team’s offense isn’t without its own challenges .

Now in terms of leadership on this team one would expect the likes of seasoned veterans Jason Varitek , Tim Wakefield , David Ortiz , Josh Beckett , Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford to be amongst the players seemingly having the wherewithal to step up to the plate as and when needed . But such has been the inconsistency of the team that it is hard to see how they can now fend off the Tampa Bay Rays without the aid of others within the AL East as that team embarks upon its own schedule down the stretch .

As the season moves into its final weeks this AL wildcard race is now heating up into a suspenseful thriller that now has all the makings of quite possibly becoming an epic battle. It would come as a complete surprise to me were the Tampa Bay Rays able to erase the two game deficit and somehow gain that wildcard berth spot ! I felt that earlier in the month the deficit would be too great a burden to overcome but little had I foreseen that the Boston Red Sox would be able to make such a damn mess of things . So much so , that should they actually derail the ambitions Terry Francona’s team , then I would be the first to offer a profound apology to one patron (SportsChump) who I doubted , when he stated ……. ” that the Rays weren’t about to go away at all ” . And that has clearly been the case here as the Tampa Bay Rays have hung around and caused mayhem amongst the Red Sox organization with their apparent will win to win and stubbornness in refusing to go away quietly .

Well with all of historical feats that tend to take place within the game one can’t deny that Mariano Rivera’s achievement in surpassing the time saves’ record (601) was something special . Indeed in passing Trevor Hoffman’s mark Rivera now adds one more indelible reason why he ought to be enshrined as a first time ballot Hall of Famer . Only a complete idiot would dare to suggest otherwise at this juncture !

As the postseason beckons I would like to think that the individual races amongst the players now becomes a major draw for our attention even more . Would it be intrusive to suggest that Justin Verlander has all but nailed the Cy Young award within the AL ? His closest challenger may well be CC Sabathia but unless the New York Yankees’ ace can do something spectacular then I seriously doubt that he will be able outshine Verlander’s sensational season ! As to the other individual awards those most certainly will play themselves out as the season winds down .

What can actually be said about the College Football Season that hasn’t already been said ? The polls have the usual suspects one might deem fit sitting atop of the tables in question . If anything however, it has been the ongoing divergence of communiques and views as to where certain football programs will end up with regard to a major football conference . So asinine has been the assertion of many of the conference commissioners to suggest that the invites for teams join them is purely being done to create a competitive balance ! The bottom line to this all is the simple one sheer avarice and greed . Never mind the fact that we have the rather gross litany of bowl games that clog up the college football postseason much like traffic simply congests the 405 within the state of California . What is ultimately gained from this all , is simply mutli million dollar payouts that in large part does nothing for the real benefit of the student athlete in spite of the public statements forthcoming from the NCAA and a number of college football coaches alike . When one considers how well these commissioners are compensated it begs the question who’s kidding whom here ?

Courtesy of ESPN & Associated Press

Four BCS commissioners made $1M

WASHINGTON — Four of college football’s six powerhouse conferences paid their top executives $1 million or more, an Associated Press analysis of tax records shows, far eclipsing the compensation of most university presidents.

A review of 2009 IRS returns, the most recent available, shows that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was the highest paid, receiving total compensation valued at $1.6 million, followed by Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford ($1.1 million), Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive ($1 million) and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe ($997,000). The other two commissioners each started in July 2009, so their compensation figures are only for the last six months of the year: PAC-10’s Larry Scott ($735,000), and Big East’s John Marinatto ($366,000).

Those figures include base salary and benefits such as health insurance, as well as other forms of pay such as retirement and deferred compensation. On an annual or prorated basis, only Marinatto made less than the median pay of presidents of the nation’s large research universities, which was $760,774 in 2008, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education survey published last fall.

The new data about commissioner salaries comes at a time when, driven by a series of controversies at major programs, there’s a growing chorus about the problems of enforcing amateurism in college football, saying it may be time to rethink the system as everyone but the athletes are making big money.

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Conference commissioners such as Mike Slive , John Swofford , John Maranatto , Larry Scott and James Delaney have all tried to suggest that these maneuvers in engineering these moves are in the best interests of the collegiate sporting landscape .

With both Pitt (Panthers) and Syracuse now seeking to make the leap from the Big East to the ACC we are seeing seismic shifts in the collegiate athletics landscape . And with each college program’s intent to move there’s no denying that the statements being made by these commissioners has no veracity at all to it . There are moves adrift to lure the Texas Longhorns , Texas A & M , Oklahoma and Oklahoma State but the likelihood of that happening could very well be countered by moves made by a number of tv broadcast networks with a vested interest in seeing thing remain as they are .

From my own perspective it is my belief that things started to go downhill when ESPN sought to align itself with the Texas Longhorns their co creation of a sports network that will provide the sports programmer with exclusive content . The deal between the broadcaster and the Longhorns will net the university $300 million over the next two decades . but that by comparison is a meager sum for a athletics program that derives approximately $70 to $75 million annually in revenues . Mack Brown and the school’s AD Deloss Dodds had no hesitation in negotiating this deal to the benefit of the University of Texas . This is a harbinger of things to come within the environment of collegiate athletics but at the same time this certainly will not abate the express intent of these schools to make the leap from one college conference to another .

If the NCAA under its president Mark Emmert seems to be at a loss to show some sort resonance on this issue albeit that it is the BCS conference commissioners and university presidents who are now dictating what takes place within the NCAA’s midst. Emmert for his part has addressed one sensitive issue that deals with the payment for the student athlete while their collegiate career is in place . The push back began immediately with a number of coaches opposing the president’s initiative for no other reason than they would prefer the status quo remain in tact . As crazy as it might seem if coaches such as Jim Calhoun , Lane Kiffin , Chip Kelly and the potential allegations now surrounding Steve Spurrier of South Carolina can somehow choose to circumvent rules and not be punished directly for those violations then what does that suggest to you about the charade that is now being created as these schools see fit to act in the way that they are doing ? Not all programs are said to be malevolent but then again not all of these programs are always willing to abide by the rules . Now within the world of collegiate sports , if you’re not making money and not winning , then you’re not trying .

Courtesy of WTLX.com

I Hope We’re Not In Serious Trouble !

Columbia, SC (WLTX) – USC Coach Steve Spurrier briefly commented Tuesday on the allegations made by the NCAA against USC athletics.

He made his remarks during his weekly address to the media Tuesday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Monday, USC President Harris Pastides received a letter outlining possible violations the NCAA believes the school made have made between 2009 and 2010. The allegations involved players staying at the Whitney Hotel in Columbia for reduced rent and the actions of the co-founders of a group called Student-Athlete Mentoring FoundationPrevious Coverage: USC Receives “Notice of Allegations” from the NCAA” .

“I hope we’re not in serious trouble,” Spurrier said. “I don’t think that we’re going to be.”

On the Whitney Hotel allegations, Spurrier said he had no knowledge this was occuring.

“Obviously, we wish we’d have known what was happening, but we didn’t,” Spurrier said.

The coach said the situation would have to play itself out over the next several months.

In 1990, when he was at Florida, Spurrier was called before the NCAA’s Infractions Committee because of the alleged actions of his predecessor, so he has been through this process before.

“I don’t think it’s embarrassing to get a letter,” Spurrier said. “I realize these kind of things can happen.”

When asked if the allegations would taint his reputation, Spurrier quickly pointed out that none of the allegations involve him.

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Spurrier is now trying to distance himself from this latest faux-pas but here’s the thing the players in question were being housed in this hotel at a reduced rate and in some cases per gratis , which contravenes NCAA rules . Something of which I know the coach and his coaching staff must have been aware of and knew that this broke the rules but somehow the blame will be apportioned elsewhere by the coach and no doubt the faculty headed by university president Harris Pastides and school AD Eric Hyman . Somehow this atypical hypocrisy and idiocy will never cease to amaze me under any circumstance ! We have come to expect this as being part and parcel of everything that is contemptible within collegiate athletics , as no one is willing to be held accountable for their actions .

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What thoughts if any do you have concerning what appears to disconcerting as to the Red Sox’s misfortunes ? Do you believe that they will be triumphant in obtaining the AL wildcard berth ? Also with the apparent intent of a number of collegiate programs seeking to move to another conference do you believe that the landscape of college basketball and football will be severely disrupted ? Also in light of the proposed moves do you believe that it will be of benefit to those respective sports ? Simply proffer up your thoughts on the topics raised within this article as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ………… https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1) Vladimir Guerrero (27) of the Baltimore Orioles knocks in Nick Markakis (21) of the Baltimore Orioles against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park September 21, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Getty Images / Jim Rogash …….

(2) Baseball fans stand to leave Fenway Park as Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Alfredo Aceves , left, and designated hitter David Ortiz react as they linger in the dugout after they were defeated 6-4 by the Baltimore Orioles in a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

(3) Josh Beckett (19) of the Boston Red Sox regroups as Mark Reynolds (12) of the Baltimore Orioles rounds the bases after hitting a home run at Fenway Park September 21, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images …….

(4) Nick Swisher (33) of the New York Yankees is safe at second base for an eighth inning pinch hit double ahead of the tag from Ben Zobrist (18) of the Tampa Bay Rays on September 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images …..

(5) Manager Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays walks to the mound to make a pitching change against the New York Yankees on September 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images …….

(6) Jorge Posada (20) and hitting coach Kevin Long of the New York Yankees celebrate after clinching the American League East division against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images …….

(7) The big screen at Yankee Stadium congratulates New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera after he recorded his 602nd career save as the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4 in a baseball game on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek ……

(8) New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin (55) congratulates New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera after the Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 in the first baseball game of a double header on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek ………

(9) Jorge Posada (20) of the New York Yankees pushes his teammate Mariano Rivera (42) back towards the mound after Rivera broke the career saves record in a game against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium on September 19, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Rivera recorded his 602 save . Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images …….

(10) University of Texas at Austin President William Powers Jr. , center, Women’s Athletics Director Chris Plonsky , left, and Men’s Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds, right, announce the athletics programs will continue competing in the Big 12 Conference June 15, 2010 in Austin, Texas. Getty Images North America / Eric Schlegel …..

(11) From left to right, Mack Brown, Lynn Swann , Joe Paterno and President William Powers Jr. at the May 16 dinner benefiting The Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved UT Photo / Matt Hempel ……

(12) FILE – In this Sept. 10, 2011, file photo South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier talks his players during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Georgia in Athens, Ga. Spurrier says he follows the rules and doesn’t believe South Carolina will face serious punishment as a result of the NCAA’s allegations regarding his program. The NCAA outlined three potentially major violations in its letter of allegations sent to South Carolina on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. AP Photo/John Amis ……..

(13) : Running back Marcus Lattimore (21) of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates a touchdown run against the Navy Midshipmen September 17, 2011 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. The Gamecocks defeated the Midshipmen 24-21 . Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images …..

(14) Coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks talks with coach Ken Niumatalolo of the Navy Midshipmen after play September 17, 2011 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images ……..

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They Say You Can’t Take It With You Or Ever Return Home …………

They Say You Can’t Take It With You Or Ever Return Home …………

Week two of the NFL season is now upon us and there are one or two intriguing match-ups . That being said perhaps the game that may draw the greatest attention could very well be Michael Vicks’ return to Atlanta where his high flying Philadelphia Eagles’ team are the guests of the Atlanta Falcons , his former team.

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For Vick this will be his first game against against the Falcons who got off to an inasupicious start with an overwhelming 30-12 loss to the Chicago Bears in their season opener . We all have read of Vick’s problems off the field and the fact that he was incarcerated for his crimes , served his sentence and now seems to have accepted back into the NFL with open arms by his peers and the league hierarchy alike . The player himself has gone out of his way in atoning for his misdeeds by working in conjunction with PETA in a number of PSA’s with regard to animal cruelty .

For the Falcons’ fans who may still feel aggrieved at the player’s actions and the very fact that he had if anything lied to them and the organization as to his misdeeds may still not sit well with many of them. But at the end of the day with the player no longer being a part of their staff they have moved and seemed to have found a successor to Michael Vick in Matt Ryan . If nothing else the quarterback knows that he will have to perform at his very best if he is to outduel his predecessor . And given his somewhat error filled and average performance against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field you have to know that he and his teammates will have take their game up a notch or two at least against a hungry Philadelphia Eagles’ team .

Eagles’ coach Andy Reid and his coaching staff they have to be pleased with what they have seen from this team this early in their season . And the coach obviously has to be pleased with his quarterback’s performance , maturity but no doubt his growing leadership skills as well . With the Philadelphia Eagles being viewed as the presumptive favorites not merely for the NFC East but also the conference and Superbowl the bullseye has firmly been placed on their backs as a target . Whether or not this is justified remains to be seen .

Michael Vick seems to have acclimatized himself well with his teammates and there is growing mutual respect between the player , the veterans and even the new draftees on the roster . The player’s breakout return last season may well have provided the Eagles’ fans with a sign of things to come not merely for this season but quite possibly for the future . Clearly the organization’s sights are set on the Superbowl (SBXLVII) and raising the Lombardi Trophy in February 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis , Indiana .

With a plethora of offensive weapons at his disposal Michael Vick will be given every chance to show his prowess and further enhance his reputation as being perhaps the best quarterback playing in the league today. Certainly no expense has been spared with regard to Andy Reid setting about acquiring players for this team as they seek to improve and justify their new found position atop of the NFL. That being said the defending Superbowl champions the Green Bay Packers are not about to give up their crown without a fight. And an anticipated match-up in the postseason should there be one would be seen as one of the highlights of the NFL calendar .

While Vick seems to be excelling this season with the Philadelphia Eagles his two former teammates Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb seem to be having their own struggles as they seek to acclimatize themselves with their respective teams. To say that McNabb underachieved with the Minnesota Vikings in their season opener would be to suggest that Van Gogh could paint a masterpiece with his eyes closed and one hand tied behind his back . Suffice to say that the Vikings front office , coaching staff and their fans cannot be entirely happy with what they witnessed from the veteran so far . Is there room for improvement you may ask ? The jury is still out on that I guess ! Kevin Kolb for his part the newly acquired starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals not only has to prove himself worthy of the faith shown in him by Ken Whisenhunt , the front office but also in the fact he’s signed a lucrative multi year contract with the team . His play this season may well prove to us whether or not this was a prudent decision made by GM Rod Graves .

It is clear that the Philadelphia Eagles will want to send a clear and resounding message to the NFC as well to the rest of the NFL that they ready to take on all comers . And the best way to do that would be to defeat the Atlanta Falcons decisively on their home turf at Fulton County Stadium / Georgia Dome in , Atlanta , Georgia . I expect this game to be a highly competitive one with both defenses being tested . But it may well come down to the offensive prowess shown by the Eagles that could be the determining factor in this match-up in what is sure to be an emotionally charged game.

If you are a Boston Red Sox fan you cannot be entirely happy with what you’re now seeing from this team . Losers in eight of their last ten games the Red Sox’s season appears to be spiraling out of control and with the Tampa Bay Rays now bearing down on them in their rear view mirror there now has to be cause for concern. If last night’s game [9-2] ( loss to the Rays) at Fenway Park against their divisional foes was anything to go by then the Boston Red Sox had better get this show back on the road , rather than now being subjected to a great deal of ridicule . These two teams are now battling it out for the wildcard berth within the AL and it has to be said that at this stage of the season this might just the most suspenseful event happening in baseball at present .

For Carl Crawford the former Rays’ player this has to be one of those situations as to what might have been . But circumstances being what they are the player signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent when it became apparent that his former team could simply not afford him. He was signed to a lucrative 7 year $154 million deal that placed him alongside stars such as David Ortiz , Josh Beckett , Dustin Pedroia , Jon Lester and all of the other highly paid players on the Red Sox roster .

For Terry Francona and his coaching staff it cannot be pleasing to the eye to witness his team fail so miserably through the month of September , thus far. And I am sure under the watchful eye of GM Theo Epstein and the rest of the front office questions are now raised as to why this roster is now wilting under pressure . Suffice to say that when the pressure is brought to bear there are some who can and withstand it and there are others who cannot . At this moment in time deliberations are now taking place as to what guise this takes in the case of the Boston Red Sox. And for Carl Crawford this has been a season where he simply hasn’t delivered the goods as expected when adjudged by that of his teammates from an offensive standpoint .

To simply apportion blame solely one player would be remiss , as it has been a collective effort this has placed the Boston Red Sox in the predicament that they now find themselves in. The team has simply struggled and been errant through their last six or seven series that in that time they have seen their lead amongst the wildcard aspirants simply being whittled down by the Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays.

Now while everyone watches this race between these two teams unfold there’s a lot to be said for who could now be viewed as a favorite and who ought to be deemed the underdog. From my own standpoint I am in apoplexy merely watching the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays play. One minute we are seeming one team find a semblance of consistency only for the next to completely succumb and do the inexplicable . Granted , one could say that this simply mirrors the form of the Red Sox as of late but given the importance of the next three games to be played in their current series now unfolding at Fenway Park , who’s to say what the likely outcome will be in the end ? I am sure that Carl Crawford would not be able to answer such a question succinctly and neither would anyone else from the opposition for that fact .

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With regards to the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit and anything else you feel to be pertinent to the subject matter in question . Thanks as always for the continued support as it greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal …….. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1) Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick throws a pass during practice at their NFL football training facility, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011 in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Alex Brandon ..

(2) Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid speaks during a media availability at their NFL football training facility Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011 in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ……

(3) Michael Vick (7) of the Philadelphia Eagles prays with teammates and St. Louis Rams players after a game at the Edward Jones Dome on September 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Eagles defeated the Rams 31-15 . Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images ……

(4) Michael Vick (7) of the Philadelphia Eagles scrambles as Chris Long (91) of the St. Louis Rams dives for him at the Edward Jones Dome on September 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Eagles defeated the Rams 31-15. Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images ……..

(5) Mike Aviles (3) of the Boston Red Sox kicks the dirt in the ninth inning during a game with Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park September 15, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox lost 9-2. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) …..

(6) Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays and B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate a 9-2 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park September 15, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ….

(7) As rain falls, Boston Red Sox’s Carl Crawford heads back to the dugout after popping out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the second inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011. AP Photo/Charles Krupa ……

(8) Carl Crawford (13) of the Boston Red Sox fouls off a pitch in the second inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on September 14, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images …..

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PSA …… Warning …… Being A Fan of A Team In The AL East Can Cause Serious Damage To Your Health

PSA …… Warning …… Being A Fan of A Team In The AL East Can Cause Serious Damage To Your Health

Well as the final month of the season steadily winds down it would appear that the Boston Red Sox somehow are finding numerous ways of simply derailing their ambitions of appearing in the postseason . From what appeared to be an insurmountable lead over the Tampa Bay Rays a mere fortnight ago that lead has now been whittled down to a mere 3 1/2 games between the two teams for wildcard berth within the AL .

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Granted , the New York Yankees it would appear has the AL East all but sown up I would like to think at this juncture there’s still a great deal to play for between these trio of teams . Certainly for the Tampa Bay Rays their task will not be made any easier , knowing that they will have to face both Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at least eleven more times over the remaining ir 16 games of the season in their exhausting schedule. And that particular scenario will not be lost on either of the Rays’ divisional foes. I would now be looking over my shoulder in constant fear were I Red Sox GM Theo Epstein or team President Larry Lucchino ! The thought that this team could simply place themselves now in such a position where they would have to be fighting for their very survival and having to play second fiddle to New York Yankees cannot be lost either of the two executives . And certainly for senior managing partner John Henry , he has to feel that this would be a tremendous disappointment were this organization to fail in making the playoffs.

From a financial standpoint the postseason is a tremendous bonus for the Boston Red Sox with their loyal rabid fans and the ever present fact that with the NESN as their one of their proprietary revenue streams in televising their games , it makes for a bountiful windfall for that subsidiary of the ball-club. What has plagued both the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays in recent weeks , has been the overall lack of consistency from both teams . Much of this has been due to the fact that neither has been able to find the rythm needed winning games or series with any regularity. And it has been that imposition that has been a cause of concern for Terry Francona , his coaching assistants and also for Joe Maddon and his coaching staff as well for the Tampa Bay Rays.

There is a sense of urgency this season for the Rays as their year has hinged on a great degree of uncertainty as it relates to the financial well being of this team. Pared down salary of the roster and subsequent trades has all but left the cupboard bare but for the belief that the team’s prospects and farm system are bountiful by way of the talent on display there . Most certainly for team GM Andrew Friedman , senior managing partner and majority stake owner Stuart Sternberg this is now the best way forward for the organization.

Recent postseason success for the Tampa Bay Rays would suggest that this team is quite capable of taking up from where it last left off with regard to the MLB playoffs . But if that is to happen we will have to see a much more concerted effort from the perceived leaders of this team .It is not without great reason that Evan Longoria , BJ Upton , David Price , Johnny Damon , James Shields and Matt Joyce are viewed as the players in those roles.

As I alluded to earlier it is imperative for the Tampa Bay Rays to have a successful season competitively both on and off the field of play. Away from the field it come about by way of the profitability of the ball-club. And this is where the guile of GM Andrew Friedman comes into play with his financial acumen and art of making deals that are of benefit for the entire organization . Friedman along with managing partner Matt Silverman are seen as one the driving forces behind the Rays and the success attained by this team. But that success now could be short-lived as the general manager’s ties with the organization is now being debated on numerous levels . Andrew Friedman’s contract with the Rays’ organization expires at the end of the season and if the rumors are to be believed he is at the top of the list of a number teams who are in search of an experienced and successful front office executive . Friedman’s name would be out there alongside the likes of Brian Cashman and Billy Beane , all general managers whose contracts are set to expire at the end of this season.

If the Rays are said to be seeking that silver lining for their season then for the Boston Red Sox and its’ team of high priced stars it would suggest any form of failure would not be looked upon gracefully by the fans who attend Fenway Park with a religious like fervor in support of the Red Sox . To understand the support and passion derived by the fans in their support of the team is to comprehend how it was possible for them to endure the years in the wilderness before the organization was able to reel off two World Series wins in the space of of five years ( 2004 & 2007 ) .

For stars such as Adrian Gonzalez , Carl Crawford , John Lackey , Jon Lester , Jacoby Ellsbury , Dustin Pedroia , Jason Varitek and Josh Beckett to stand alongside what is a very productive offense when it actually gets going . As of late however it has been the pitching and the inconsistency of the team’s bullpen that has been a cause of concern for Terry Francona and his staff .

At the start of the season with the usual aplomb the thought process would be that the Baltimore Orioles would be in the mix with Buck Showalter leading this young talented team . In reality however with an ownership group led by bespectacled owner Peter Angelos and GM Andy MacPhail it has to be said that this organization is simply devoid of competitive ambition on the part of its executives . And this sort of idiocy is simply mirrored around the game by a plethora of owners and general managers . There are purists and alleged insiders within the game who simply believe that the fans ought to endure ineptitude but simply bitch and fucking whine when they’re subjected to the ineptitude of the federal government ! If they can harangue those legislators for their ineptitude then why the hell don’t they harangue the owners and players when they simply fail to meet their expectations ? You know what …………. fuck it let it be and simply take it for what it is …….. the simple dumbing down of America !

A brief but passing mention for the Toronto Blue Jays and the managerial staff . To put it mildly, the day this team seeks to be truly competitive might well be the day when the Rogers Center is actually filled to the rafters . Care to guess the last time that actually happened ?

These final two and a half weeks of the MLB season should tell us a great deal about the ambitions of both the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays . Apart from the what now appears to be an intriguing divisional race between the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers in the AL West I do believe that this upcoming series between the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays could very well settle the outcome as to who the AL recipient will be for the wildcard berth .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What if anything has peeked your interest with regard to the closing month of baseball season ? And which teams of the prospective aspirants for the postseason do you believe will ultimately be triumphant ? Simply chime with a comment as to your own thoughts .

Alan aka tophatal ……… https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 14: Mark Teahen (20) of the Toronto Blue Jays scores a run in the eighth inning as catcher Jason Varitek (33) of the Boston Red Sox cuts off the throw and pitcher Daniel Bard (51) of the Red Sox backs up the play at Fenway Park on September 14, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Blue Jays won 5-4 . Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images …

(2) The Toronto Blue Jays slap high fives after getting the final out against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on September 14, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Blue Jays won 5-4 . Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images ….

(3) Boston Red Sox starter John Lackey hands the ball to manager Terry Francona as he is taken out of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth inning during a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011. The reeling Red Sox lost for the sixth time in seven games as the Blue Jays took a 5-4 win. At right is second baseman Dustin Pedroia. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …….

(4) The Baltimore Orioles bat against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Rays 6-2 . Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …….

(5) Manager Joe Maddon (70 [R]) of the Tampa Bay Rays removes pitcher Wade Davis (40) during the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Rays 6-2. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……..

(6) Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter, left, speaks with right fielder Nick Markakis after a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011, in Baltimore. Baltimore won 6-2. Photo by Rob Carr/ Getty Images ……..

(7) Second baseman Robert Andino (11) of the Baltimore Orioles throws to first base to complete a double play after forcing out B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays at second base during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Rays 6-2. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……….

(8) Johnny Damon (22) of the Tampa Bay Rays waits to bat against the Baltimore Orioles during the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …..

(9) BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 14: Vladimir Guerrero (27) of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates in the dugout after scoring against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Rays 6-2. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……..

(10) Matthew Silverman, left, Andrew Friedman and Stuart Sternberg are overhauling the Rays. photo appears courtesy of New York Times/ Phillip Diedrich ………………
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MLB news

MLB transactions

MLB teams’ DL

MLB Standings 14th September 2011

MLB wildcard standings 14th September 2011

MLB schedule 3 days at a glance 15th September 2011

MLB sortable team schedule

MLB team stats Overall

Team stats by league :

AL team stats

NL team stats

MLB results 13th September 2011

MLB results 14th September 2011

MLB probable starters (pitchers) 14th September

MLB probable pitchers 15th September 2011

Boston Red Sox news

Boston Red Sox schedule

New York Yankees news

New York Yankees schedule

Tampa Bay Rays news

Tampa Bay Rays schedule

MLB Important Dates Postseason 2011 :

September 30th – 7th October Divisional Series

8th October -17th October League championship series

19th October – 27th October World Series

Thrill , Spills And Whatever Else Befalls The Game of Baseball Down The Stretch ……

Thrill , Spills And Whatever Else Befalls The Game of Baseball Down The Stretch ……

It’s now extremely hard what to make of the baseball season and how things seem to playing out . There now seems to be only one divisional race of real intrigue or interest . And that would appear to be the AL East , although there’s still a great deal to be said about the intrigue and suspense taking place within the NL West where a mere two games separate the division leading Arizona Diamondbacks (70-59) from the San Francisco Giants (68-61).

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Slide show for your perusal .

With the always competitive AL East we have come to expect seeing both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees fight for divisional supremacy. So much so , that it comes a surprise when neither team sits atop of the division at season’s end. At this point last season the races were somewhat different in terms of the teams vying for a divisional title as well as a wildcard berth and one would expect it to be the same for this year .

Within the NL Central it would appear that the St Louis Cardinals may well be out of the running for the division as they now sit some ten games behind the Milwaukee Brewers . And as with any ball-club around the league injuries and team inconsistency has played its part in the problems for Tony La Russa’s team . Certainly the manager and his coaching staff have tried to get the best out of this team but if anything it has been the dominant and overpowering play of the Milwaukee Brewers that has simply bewildered the Cardinals throughout the month of August . And with the Brewers now intent on making a postseason run it will be interesting to see what Ryan Braun , Prince Fielder and their teammates are able to achieve over the remainder of the season .

To say that I am surprised by the play of Arizona Diamondbacks this season would be an understatement ! If anything I felt that the NL West would be a division where the duel would be between the reigning World Series champions the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers . If anything there’s more drama to be had off the field concerning the Dodgers than there is to seen on the field in terms of their play . And even if Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw are said to be having exemplary seasons for the team , it has been the odious behavior and idiocy of the organization’s front office executives that has shone more light on the Dodgers that is unfavorable than the ball club would prefer to have. Team owner Frank McCourt has hamstrung the Los Angeles Dodgers in such a way that it would seem impossible that anyone could look upon this organization favorably in terms of it being a viable takeover target . The ball-club’s situation hasn’t been helped by the complete ineptitude shown by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the league hierarchy . Selig’s own lack of real action has to come into question concerning this matter. If anything , it has been all too little , and all too late !

I am not so sure what to make of the Cleveland Indians this season , as they’ve simply lured their fans the public alike into thinking that this was a resurgent team once again. Nothing could be further from the truth as their play or should one lack of play , has led them to simply fall from grace within the AL Central . I’ve no doubt that Manny Acta and his coaching staff have to be disappointed with the effort put forth by this team but if anything I feel that a preponderance of the blame lies with the front office led by GM Chris Antonetti under the auspices of team owner Lawrence Dolan . The organization has sought to pare down salary but at the same time the moves made this season during the trade deadline haven’t at all panned out . The team’s biggest acquisition Ubaldo Jiminez has simply been average this season and in particular during his spell with the Cleveland Indians . But to suggest that it has simply been the pitching that has let the team down would be remiss because from an offensive standpoint , here too ball-club has been nondescript .

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Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (30) of the Cleveland Indians sits on the bench after being taken out of the game during the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images ………….

Now as we approach the final month of the season with there still be a number of teams still vying for some semblance of consistency as their year winds down. Most definitely within the AL and NL we have seen the teams give the best of themselves by way of their play. But at the same time I am very sure that a great many fans have at times been disappointed with their respective ball-clubs and their lackluster effort .

There’s a great deal to be said also for the players in contention for the major individual awards this season. The usual suspects are front and center wherein we could well see one or two surprises amongst the claimants for the Cy Young Award , Rookie of The Year , MVP Awards within both divisions as well as the Manager of The Year . Last season those winners offered up a mirror image on the year as a whole in terms of the performances and that of the divisional winners .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What are your impressions of the MLB season and how do you view things panning out given the fact the waiver deadline will soon be upon us ? Leave a comment as to your thoughts and always thanks for the continued support !

Alan aka tophatal ……………….. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Contact tophatal via these social media services

Facebook.com ………. http://facebook.com/tophatal

Twitter.com ………. http://twitter.com/tophatal

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(1) New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi , left, talks to starting pitcher CC Sabathia during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Athletics won 6-4 . AP Photo/Frank Franklin II ….

(2) Ryan Roberts (14) and Chris Young (24) of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate after a 4-2 victory against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on August 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images ……..

(3) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Juan Rivera , right, scores ahead of the tag from St. Louis Cardinals catcher Gerald Laird during the third inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011, in St. Louis. The Dodgers won 9-4 . AP Photo/Jeff Roberson …….

(4) CLEVELAND, OH – AUGUST 24: Catcher Miguel Olivo (30) and closing pitcher Josh Lueke (31) of the Seattle Mariners celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Indians 9-2 to take the series 3-1 at Progressive Field on August 24, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images ……

(5) Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (30) of the Cleveland Indians sits on the bench after being taken out of the game during the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images ………….

(6) From left to right , GM Chris Antonetti , alongside Cleveland Indians’ owner Larry Dolan and minority stake owner Mark Shapiro , far right . Shapiro remains with the ball-club serving in a role as its President . AP Photo/ Mark Sturridge ……

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MLB news

MLB Standings as of 24th August 2011

MLB Wildcard standings

MLB Schedule 3 days at a glance

MLB results 23rd August 2011

MLB results 24th August 2011

MLB probable starters 25th August 2011

ML team stats : Overall

American League

National League

MLB Team salaries 2011

NB: Written as of 08/24/11 but set for publishing 08/25/11

Tick Tock , Tick Tock , Time Is Now Moving Fast In Baseball ……..

Tick Tock , Tick Tock , Time Is Now Moving Fast In Baseball ……..

Well it’s that time of the year when the eyes of the sports’ world is now peering on baseball’s showcase event. The 2011 All Star Game is set for tonight with the AL taking on the NL with with it comes to the privilige of having homefield advantage throughout the World Series . And given the idiocy of the events that took place in 2002 with the game ending in a tie and Commissioner Bud Selig looking to explain that this was the best possible outcome from an extremely exhilarating game. Somehow I simply hope that that the commissioner has the temerity to show some common sense in determining a fair result . Perhaps the commissioner may well have the players from both rosters spoon each other until they reach that height of ecstasy . Given the stupidity of the many judgments rendered by him over the years I really do believe that it is now for him to hang it up and ride off into the sunset !

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I’ve read a number of pieces questioning whether or not realignment of the divisions would be of benefit to the game , bringing in a much more competitive nature and rivalries within baseball. To me that’s simply dressing up a pig and then asserting that it now looks like a sow ! It’s simply a damn stupid idea that makes no sense at all. The problems within the game have more to do with the financial imbalances and the mere fact that the owners , league hierarchy and general managers haven’t got a God damn clue ! Rather than looking to solve the problem they are ignoring it , and carrying on as usual. And we are now seeing how that is working out for the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets ?

Seemingly it had to take Frank McCourt to create his own web of deceit , lies that would all but bring the Dodgers to the brink of financial disaster (in filing Chapter 11 [ financial reorganization]) before the league hierarchy under Bud Selig sought to act with any real action. It’s a pity that the team hasn’t gone under then perhaps the other idiot owners around the league would perhaps pull their heads out of their ass and begin to address the inherent problems that are now encircling the game beyond the financial strains that no doubt many of them are now facing ! And if anyone is under the impression that the dye has been cast concerning this episode then they are mistaken . One now simply has to preamble over to the mess that’s now unraveling within the New York Mets’ organization . And that is even with the advent of the $200 million cash infusion made by hedge fund manager David Einhorn into the ball-club in taking a minority stake in the team. I can only surmise that principal partners and co-owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon have assured the young Wall St phenom wunderkind that his money is indeed safe . At present the organization and both principal partners are the defendants in a civil suit that seeks to recoup in excess of $750 million as part of the monies received by the New York Mets and the owners’ associate company Sterling Equities Inc which we are told is from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon have plead their innocence stating that they ……… “are victims themselves having lost countless millions”. Though not inconceivable I find it somewhat ironic that two men who co-founded an investment company some three decades ago could have been so easily duped given their alleged financial experience and those the of the executives of Sterling Equities Inc ! But these are merely my own suspicions and thoughts on the matter ! Afterall we can only take them at their word can’t we ? But then again did you know that the Golden Gate Bridge is up for sale at a reasonable price ?

With several marquee players now taking their leave in not playing in the game due to injury we will still see the event with many of its stars on parade. The New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez won’t be participating in the All Star Game with Jeter recusing himself and Rodriguez bowing out due to surgery to repair a torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee. With that said it now remains to be seen how this will be viewed by the fans in general with two of the game’s biggest stars not appearing.

Jeter having come off attaining his 3,000th hit as a player and along with the New York Yankees’ alltime hits’ lead . But for Jeter this simply isn’t about attaining feats but more to do with leading this team to another World Series title . The division within which the New York Yankees reside is now turning into a real barn burner and I’ve no doubt it will be long drawn out dog fight between all of the participants there ! The AL East has always been viewed as perhaps the most competitive of all divisions within baseball. This year I’ve no doubt that the race for the wildcard berth and division will all hinge on the play of the Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays down the final stretch run of the season . It’s pretty much safe to say that both the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles won’t be in the thick of things as far as this divisional race is concerned.

Now it goes without saying that we have seen considerable amount to be pleased about concerning the play of the teams during the season. Earlier on this year I had a rather contentious and often ridiculous interface with a patron who would suggest that the Kansas City Royals are in the midst of a turnaround in terms of their play . Suffice to say that turnaround has yet to come into being and when you consider that the team now resides at the foot of the AL Central with a sub .500 record (37-54) can someone explain to me what signs there are that would suggest that this team much less the organization is really in the midst of a resurgence ?

While I’m sincere in seeing all of the league’s teams do well in the game I have never been one to sugar coat what I see as something delusional when I’m being told that a team is on the rise . The game of baseball has become about the immediacy of here and now ………..“what have you done for me lately ” ? And it is certainly not what you’re about to do quite possibly do in thee , four or five years from now ! If that were the case then the game itself simply wouldn’t be a worthwhile endeavor for the fans to be a willing participant as an observer . The fans want to see their teams do well each season not simply struggle then to fall by the wayside . And then it all comes down to excuses as to what might have been or even perhaps injuries played a part in their demise . Does anyone remember where the team finished at season’s end in 2010 ?

There have been strong suggestions this season we are in the midst of seeing the rise of the pitcher and it has to be said the season being had by Jered Weaver , Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia would has me believing that the AL Cy Young Award won’t be that easy to pick an outright winner . All three are worthy candidates and one would simply be naive at this juncture to suggest that we know who the winner ought to be at this juncture .

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PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 12: National League All-Star Brian Wilson(38) of the San Francisco Giants reacts with teammates catcher National League All-Star Miguel Montero (26) of the Arizona Diamondbacks and National League All-Star Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds after making the save to win the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The National League defeated the American League 5-1. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

Speaking as a fan of the teams within the NL I am hoping that Jair Jurrjens with the season he’s having can rise above the fray and succeed and show that the fans it’s not simply about the Philadelphia Phillies’ pitching rotation this season . The Phillies’ trio of Roy Halladay , Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee have lit up the league with their stellar displays and perhaps unequivocally justifying why they’re viewed as the prohibitive favorites for the NLCS .

As I alluded to earlier if Jair Jurrjens can usurp the Phillies’ trio of aces then perhaps Atlanta Braves can make a go of it this season and make light of the thought that many do not believe that they are good enough to win the NL East . They are now proving that and a great deal more by being competitive not just within the division but across the entire league . Manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff now have this team playing with a great deal of passion and I’d like to think that he’s in with a chance of winning the NL Manager of The Year Award but it would appear with the current play of the Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle would appear to be if not the consensus winner then the clear cut favorite for the award.

We are often told that stars are created because we need them to be there to bring about a sense of security and our passion for the game . And I guess that this indeed true of any individual or team sport ! This year however we have seen the ascent of Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista as their stars have risen into the stratosphere . The two players within the AL have all but a strangle-hold on the offensive categories within the AL . Suffice to say that without the duo in question their respective teams might not even be playing with any sort of the competitive juices to be had . And OK , each year for some reason the Blue Jays start fast right out of the gate only to stumble and fall before the halfway point in the season. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays , their fans and their front office they seem to have forgotten that the season is one of 162 arduous games and that you have to be in it for the long haul .

Both Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista could very well be battling it out at the end of the season for the AL MVP Award if there’s to be any justice within the game , as the duo have stood head and shoulders above their rivals within the American League .

National League’s Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers holds his MVP award following the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. The National League won 5-1 . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …….

With the second half of the season resuming as of tomorrow it certainly will be interesting to see what transpires for the teams said to be in contention for their respective divisions as well as the wildcard berths within both leagues. And as a fan of the Atlanta Braves my greatest wish is to see the team make the postseason and simply acquit themselves as against any prospective opponent that they are likely to face . What happens thereafter all comes down to the breaks that they make for themselves rather than the opportunities offered them by an opponent .

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

This season within baseball what thoughts if any do you have on the events that have taken place ? And how best do you feel that the league hierarchy can deal with some of the problems that they now face ? And what team or teams , player or players have actually surprised you with their performances so far ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal …….. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Contact tophatal @ …….. rapptu@gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) FILE – In this April 26, 2011, file photo former New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez throws a pitch during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. The Milwaukee Brewers acquired former All-Star reliever Francisco Rodriguez and cash from the New York Mets on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in exchange for two players to be named. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta ….

(2) American League’s Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays is tagged out at home plate by National League’s Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves after trying to score on a hit by American League’s Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers during the fourth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. The NL would go on to defeat the AL 5-1 . AP Photo/David J. Phillip ….

(3) PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 12: A general view of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(4) (L-R) National League All-Star Jair Jurrjens (49) of the Atlanta Braves, National League All-Star Starlin Castro (13) of the Chicago Cubs, National League All-Star Brandon Phillips (4) of the Cincinnati Reds, National League All-Star Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds and National League All-Star Jay Bruce (32) of the Cincinnati Reds stand before the start of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……

(5) (L-R) American League All-Star Josh Hamilton (32) of the Texas Rangers stands with American League All-Star Adrian Beltre (29) of the Texas Rangers and American League All-Star David Ortiz (34) of the Boston Red Sox before the start of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images …..

(6) (L-R) Daniel Hernandez Jr. and Joe Garagiola Sr. throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Hernandez is credited with helping to save U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in January and Garagiola was a former MLB player and long time announcer. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ….

(7) American League All-Star Carlos Quentin (20) of the Chicago White Sox swings during an at bat in the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(8) PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 12: National League All-Star Brian Wilson(38) of the San Francisco Giants reacts with teammates catcher National League All-Star Miguel Montero (26) of the Arizona Diamondbacks and National League All-Star Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds after making the save to win the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The National League defeated the American League 5-1. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(9) American League’s Adrian Gonzalez of the Boston Red Sox hits a solo home run during the fourth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(10) National League’s Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers holds his MVP award following the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. The National League won 5-1 . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …….
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MLB News

MLB Standings

MLB Wildcard standings

MLB Schedule 14th July 2011

MLB Probable starters 14th July 2011

MLB Stats

American League Category leaders alongside

Batting Avg —- Adrian Gonzalez

Hits —- Adrian Gonzalez

Home runs —-Jose Bautista

RBI’s —- Adrian Gonzalez

Pitching

Wins —- C C Sabathia

ERA —- Jered Weaver


National League
Category leaders alongside

Batting Avg.Jose Reyes

Hits —- Jose Reyes

Home runs —- Lance Berkman

RBI’s —- Prince Fielder

Pitching

Wins —- Jair Jurrjens

ERA —-
Jair Jurrjens

2010 MLB Awards