Striking out for glory , three strikes, you’ll never believe it ……

Striking out for glory , three strikes, you’ll never believe it

By Tophatal

Well, the MLB preseason has commenced and Opening Day saw a glut of games to start the season, preseason that is. And over the next seven weeks we’ll get to the league’s teams set about finding a rhythm while looking to get their free agent signees and none roster invitees acclimatized to playing something akin , to competitive baseball . The biggest talking point, may well be whether or not teams such as the Washington Nationals , New York Yankees, Oakland A’s , Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers can get over last season’s failings , as things played out during the regular and postseason .

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While I have no wish to see the idiocy of 2012 paraded in front of me by Bud Selig and the league hierarchy, the conclusion has to be , the sooner the commissioner steps down , the better off the game of baseball will be. And quite reasonably , I believe that the majority of the game’s fans are of the belief, that Selig has performed poorly over the course of his almost two decade career. And the commissioner as always , has continued to sing the praises of the game and its economic strengths. Am I mistaken ? How can a franchise with a $ 60 million payroll expect to compete competitively with the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees , who between them will have a combined payroll of almost $410 million for the upcoming season. Somehow, I get the belief that the schleppers at the bottom rung of the payroll ladder will be feeding from the cast-offs left by their more resourceful peers .

Far be it for me to suggest, but with Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers having won the AL MVP in conjunction with baseball’s first Triple Crown winner in four decades , after what was said to be a highly debatable vote . The question remains , can Cabrera rebound and prove in 2013 , that last season was not an aberration ? At the same time, AL MVP , runner-up , Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels can further excel, after leading the Angels in so many offensive and defensive categories in 2012. Now while I don’t begrudge Cabrera his win of the AL MVP , I did feel that so much of what Trout did for his team was simply brushed aside . That being said , the Angels , failed miserably , when so much more was expected of this ball-club from last season .

Angels’ owner , Arte Moreno and GM , Jerry Dipoto , did not stand pat during the off-season, as they sought to bolster the roster with the biggest free agent acquisition on the market , with Josh Hamilton signing a multiyear deal with the Los Angeles Angels’ organization in December of 2012. Say what you will , but Mike Sciocsia , the Angels’ manager will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed , as one of the longest tenured managers , active in baseball. The team’s last postseason forays have been and came in 2009 , when the franchise went to the ALCS and in a 4-2 series’ loss to the New York Yankees. However, the franchise’s most triumphant moment came in 2002 , with the Angels’ triumph over the San Francisco Giants in a thrilling 4-3 series’ victory over the NL pennant winners of that season. I get the feeling that Jerry Dipoto and Arte Moreno are getting extremely impatient , especially when you take into account that over the past three seasons the franchise has spent in excess of $500 million payroll commitments , to get a meager return in that time-frame .

Josh Hamilton for his part , after a tremendous start to the season with the Texas Rangers , simply cooled off offensively , causing many to believe that the outfielder simply didn’t have the temperament to lead. The player’s acquisition by the Angels , after what was something of a protracted negotiation process with Rangers’ team President Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels . At the end of the day, a long-term deal was never a consideration for the Rangers , who felt Hamilton , apart from being injury prone, the player , repeatedly had problems concerning his sobriety and drug dependency issues. And with his acquisition by the Los Angeles Angels, it did not take Hamilton all that long to alienate his former supporters by being overly critical of the Rangers’ fan-base and their lack of loyalty to that ball-club.

If the Angels are to succeed in 2013 , then , the team’s offense will certainly have to be far more productive than they were in 2012 , and the pitching and defense will have to be top caliber , if they are to have any semblance of success as a cohesive unit .

Considered to be among the favorites, this upcoming season within the AL for the pennant as well the World Series . I do believe for the Angels this season , all roads leading to the title will have to go through either the Texas Rangers or the Detroit Tigers . Those two teams given their balance , I believe could and should be contesting the AL pennant in 2013. And while there are proponents out there for the always competitive New York Yankees , I am not so sure that the famed franchise , given their aging core roster , will be fully equipped to take down the might of either of the aforementioned teams.

If the Angels are to succeed in 2013 , then , the team’s offense will certainly have to be far more productive than they were in 2012 , and the pitching and defense will have to be top caliber , if they are to have any semblance of success as a cohesive unit .

Considered to be among the favorites, this upcoming season within the AL for the pennant as well the World Series . I do believe for the Angels this season , all roads leading to the title will have to go through either the Texas Rangers or the Detroit Tigers . Those two teams given their balance , I believe could and should be contesting the AL pennant in 2013. And while there are proponents out there for the always competitive New York Yankees , I am not so sure that the famed franchise , given their aging core roster , will be fully equipped to take down the might of either of the aforementioned teams.

As an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves , with the retirement of future Hall of Famer , Chipper Jones , it will be interesting to see which of the players on the roster will now assume the role of the leader of this team . GM Frank Wren and team President John Scheurholz have seen fit to be prudent in their off-season acquisitions and that was most the case with organization acquiring BJ Upton and his younger sibling Justin Upton via a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks .

Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff will be looking to have his team prepared for the regular season , and most certainly they will be using their preseason schedule to assess the makeup of their roster , with that of their none roster invitees , and budding prospects they deem ready to be part of their everyday lineup. The ball club has gotten off to an inauspicious start having lost the first two games of their preseason schedule. Game one was 2-1 loss to the Tigers , with a subsequent 8-3 defeat at the hands of the Yankees. The team on Sunday , will play the Pittsburgh Pirates , in a game staged in Bradenton , Florida .

Going forward a great deal will be expected of this team , and most certainly from the Upton brothers , as they join a select group of siblings to have played in MLB at the same time , either as teammates or as opponents . That asides , the infancy of the season, should provide us with little to gauge the overall the competitiveness of the teams , at the start of their schedules.

If the baseball gods are watching over the game this season , then hopefully they will be watching the minnows within the game . As I alluded to earlier, they are the bottom feeders , who are simply left to either feast or famine , by way of the scraps left at the table . There are those who would suggest that baseball has real parity by way of the postseason and the participants there each season . From my own perspective , nothing could be further from the truth , because in essence , the majority of the entrants tend to be some of the high salaried teams we have grown accustomed to seeing .

The Atlanta Braves’ regular season schedule will begin on the 1st April , 2013 when the team will play host to the Philadelphia Phillies , in a two game series at Fulton County Stadium /Braves Ballpark in Atlanta , Georgia,.

I don’t believe that it is necessary to delve any further into problems of Alex Rodriguez and the fact that the team’s hierarchy seem completely devoid of any intelligence and how best to deal the third baseman’s continued off-field issues. Beyond that, an aging roster , a pitching staff where other than C C Sabathia , there is little to suggest that this pitching staff will be good enough to win AL East outright, and make it to the postseason . From an offensive standpoint , we know that the team will be good enough , and they will be led by Curtis Granderson , Mark Teixeira , Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter , the Yankees captain .

The Yankees’ stiffest opponents within the division could very well be provided by the Baltimore Orioles , rather than either the Tampa Bay Rays or Boston Red Sox. As the ball club seeks to reinvent itself from being a high-spending opulent franchise , the organization now seeks to be frugal. The franchise will have pared down their payroll of $197 million in 2012 , the franchise have in fact increased its payroll for 2013 to approximately $210 million for this season and roughly $3 million behind the free-wheeling Los Angeles Dodgers and their commitment of $213.455 million.

The fact that the Yankees have given up that title , in terms of team salaries , does come as a surprise , but it will not negate the fact that the franchise will this season pay in excess of $60 million in terms of baseball’s “ luxury tax”, which each season , several teams within the league pays as a surcharge , for exceeding $150 million threshold , that kicks in for the ball-clubs above the aforementioned figure. The accumulated figure is then split amongst the franchises deemed as being among the small market teams within the game. The fact that this is the sort of idiocy deemed necessary from an economic standpoint for Bud Selig to suggest that this is the best way to create a level playing field is somewhat akin to trying to make the claim the commissioner is fully cognizant as to irreparable harm caused by abusing steroids . The commissioner , continually remarks that the game has seen marked improvements in how it polices itself while seeking out the offenders within the game who continue to cheat by using banned substances to aid them in their on-field achievements . The mere fact that there are no signs of abatement and former Red Sox pitching ace Curt Schilling , states that he was asked by the then management staff , headed by Terry Francona , to use banned substances to aid him , in his recuperative measures, while injured . Well , it would further suggest that in part , that either front office executives and team owners simply didn’t give a damn . or the mere fact that the league hierarchy itself , would knowingly turn a blind eye to such an incident. Care to offer up your thoughts on this all ?

From my own perspective , I find Curt Schilling to be a self-serving conceited and absorbed asshole , who remains a publicity seeking whore of the highest order ! As to the player himself and the idiots who believe him to be a candidate worthy of being enshrined in the Hall of Fame , please get a goddamn clue ! Why further taint that already tarnished institution any further ? Beyond that , I have nothing else further to say !

With the latest realignment which now sees the move of Houston Astros from the NL Central to the AL West . I am not so sure that the AL’s newest franchise will fare any better than they did last season , when the team ended with a league worst 55-107 record in 2012. The move to the AL West was seen as a “sweetener “ for Astros’ owner Jim Crane who purchased the franchise for $775 million, from then owner , Drayton McClane . The fact that Bud Selig seeks to once again favors the owners who in part have played their role in ruining a game that generations have come to love . Much of his however, has been led by the sheer ineptitude shown by the commissioner , the league hierarchy and the self-absorbed union and its Executive Director Michael Weiner , who in his short time, in that position , has made the limited achievements of his predecessor, Donald Fehr seem like a landmark for labor issues within the realms of sports , which in reality , and anyone who has been able view Fehr’s legacy , will know, that he has done little for the sport , and as he has recently continued to do so , in a similar role , with the NHLPA (players’ union) and their recent three-month long labor stoppage within the NHL , which saw that body realize a loss of $800 million in revenues during its lockout . Beyond that , what else can anyone say ? The relevance of the NHL ranks up there alongside fecal matter on being placed upon a wall and deemed to be art . Fuck that piece of crap and fuck the NHL ! What a joke of a sport from top to bottom !

Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow , Bo Porter and his coaching staff , I firmly believe will be in for an arduous task to get this team prepared for the regular season ! Even with their preseason foray , I still believe that the Astros will struggle even within this environment , as a precursor to their regular season schedule . The chances of the Houston Astros even coming close to challenging any of the habitants within the AL West , given the all-round proficiency said to be on view , will be remote at best. The team’s best player J D Martinez , will have to go a long way reproducing the form exhibited in 2012 , but clearly the franchise believes that the player to be the face of the organization for years to come . Martinez and his teammates will have a great deal prove if they are to be taken seriously as a legitimate contender within the AL this season .

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Picture gallery . (By clicking on a frame you can view that picture in new formatted size)

With baseball’s schedule now in its infancy by way of the Spring Training Schedule , these games cannot necessarily be seen as a precursor to regular season itself , but it may well provide us with one or two surprises by way of players one could expect to see as being dominant throughout much of 2013. Your thoughts on this and anything else you believe relevant on the subject matter ? Do chime in with your thoughts , and thanks as always for your continued support of this site as it is greatly appreciated !

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(1)Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper waits to take batting practice during a spring training baseball workout in Viera, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. The young Nationals’ phenom hopes to reproduce the form shown for the team of last season , as they seek to fortify their position within the National League . AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack …

(2) New York Mets non-roster invitee outfielder Marlon Byrd (6) slides in with a run past Washington Nationals catcher Chris Snyder (7) on an RBI single by Jordany Valdespin during the fourth inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, in a game played between the two NL East residents . AP Photo/Julio Cortez …

(3) Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly , left, and Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura talk before an exhibition spring training baseball game in Glendale, Ariz., Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. AP Photo/Paul Sancya …

(4) Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham , left, tags Los Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier out trying to steal second base in the second inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game in Glendale, Ariz., Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. AP Photo/Paul Sancya

(5) Detroit Tigers’ Prince Fielder , right, greets third baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) after his home run during the third inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, in Lakeland, Fla. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall…

(6) Los Angeles Angels’ Mark Trumbo , left to right, Mike Trout , Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton pose for photographers during photo day before a spring training baseball workout Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, in Tempe, Ariz. Angels’ manager Mike Sciocsia and GM Jerry DiPoto are hoping that the acquisition will provide more potency to the team’s lineup as well as their defensive capability as they hope to mount a more successful challenge within the AL West this season , which sees the arrival of the Houston Astros as the division’s newest arrival . AP Photo/Morry Gash …

(7) Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran throws during the first inning of a baseball spring training exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall …..

(8) Pittsburgh Pirates’ Clint Barmes , right, celebrates with Gaby Sanchez , left, after hitting a home run during the fifth inning of a baseball spring training exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla. The Pirates would defeat the Braves 9-2 . AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall …

(9) Newly acquired Braves’ outfielder BJ Upton is seen here with the team’s GM Frank Wren . The player an unrestricted free agent , was signed to a five-year $72.5 million deal , that sees him joining his younger sibling Justin Upton , who was> acquired in a multi-player trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks during the off-season by the ambitious Atlanta Braves . The franchise might now posses one of the best outfields in all of Major League Baseball if you care to peruse the team’s depth chart and everyday lineup . AP Photo/ Chris Morrison …

(10) From left to right , Braves’ GM Frank Wren , Justin Upton , center , and the team’s manager , Fredi Gonzalez . With the pairing of the siblings , the Upton brothers will join a select fraternity of brothers to have either played as teammates or as opponents over the course of baseball history . Upton gifted athlete and prodigious talent , will undoubtedly make the Atlanta Braves a great deal better, as a defensive unit and his productivity , by way of his offense should prove to be an added bonus for the team this upcoming season . AP Photo Chris Morrison …..

(11) Houston Astros’ new manager Bo Porter , right, with owner Jim Crane , answers questions during a news conference, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, in Houston. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan …

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Alchemist ……. ” Hold U Down ”

Don’t look now but there’s trouble in paradise ….

Don’t look now but there’s trouble in paradise

By Tophatal

It’s not yet time to strip down the inner workings of the New York Yankees, but with the current furor now encircling this storied franchise and the fact that they are now on the cusp of being unceremoniously dumped out of the ALCS for this season. The one question, we may well choose to ask, is how could this all have happened so rapidly? Losing Mariano Rivera in the middle of their season obviously was a serious enough blow that the team never truly recovered from , and that is even with the installation of Rafael Soriano to take over the closer’s role for the franchise. And as great as Soriano has been , Rivera’s departure has dealt the New York Yankees a great blow.

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If the questions that abound concerning the Yankees, that have permeated throughout their season beyond the inconsistency of the team’s pitching woes . Then, it would have to include the poor performances of Alex Rodriguez throughout this season. That notwithstanding, having to fight all the way down the very last day of the regular season to barely hold on to the AL East, the ball-club found themselves in the postseason. The team dealt with the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS , having won the series 3-2. As I alluded to earlier, the New York Yankees now find themselves on the cusp of bowing out of the ALCS , as the Detroit Tigers have simply made a mockery of Joe Girardi’s players. One could point to the fact that with the loss of Derek Jeter in game one of the series against the Tigers against the Orioles , the team would face an uphill battle for the rest of the series. To compound it all, his loss for the entire postseason, has in essence, ripped the “heart and soul” out of this team. Where Jeter would lead by example , his teammates more often than not, would follow. Now there is simply no one on this roster that is prepared to assume the mantle of being the vocal leader amongst his peers. Alex Rodriguez, perhaps the team’s most naturally gifted player doesn’t wish to assume the role , nor can he be considered a team player , much less a good teammate . Yet somehow, in spite of his accomplishments , and the fact he remains not only the Yankees’ highest paid player. Rodriguez’s ten-year $275 million contract , has now become a boondoggle for the New York Yankees, from which they can never truly escape.

Game three of the ALCS, saw both Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher being demoted from the lineup in a pivotal series’ game. With both demoted players on the sidelines , the decision to include Brett Gardner and Eric Chavez , was meant to be a boost for the franchise. Unfortunately, someone forgot to mention that in the script to the opposing Tigers’ players , as the reigning AL Cy Young and MVP winner, Justin Verlander , seemingly pitched his team to victory . Now down 3-0 to the Detroit Tigers , can we all now admit, that this Yankees’ team simply hasn’t lived up to the perceived expectations ?

The fourth game in this best-of-seven series is unlikely to see the return of Alex Rodriguez or Nick Swisher to the Yankees’ starting lineup. Joe Girardi, simply hasn’t got that many options for a team that has simply been woefully inept in this series from a pitching and offensive standpoint. And simply looking at the team’s postseason stats in the ALCS and one could see why Joe Girardi has been perturbed by his players’ display, in terms of their hitting and pitching. Beyond C C Sabathia, during this postseason, there has been little that one could possibly describe as being positive about the Yankees’ pitching. As to the team’s offense, well, let’s just say now comes and can described as being anemic at best, mediocre at its very worst. Matt Scherzer of the Tigers will be looking to seal New York’s fate when he takes the mound against C C Sabathia, tonight at Comerica Park , in Detroit , Michigan.

In light of what is likely to be the demise of the New York Yankees during the postseason, the rumors have started that the front office will seek to offload Alex Rodriguez , by shopping the player to any interested party seeking acquire the player and assume the bulk of his remaining contract. The local Tampa Bay area CBS television affiliate WTSP Channel 10, through their sports’ anchor ,Dave Wirth, reported that GM Brian Cashman sought to gauge the interest of the Miami Marlins, and that the front office has spoken Marlins’ GM, Michael Hill. Both parties have categorically denied that there has been any maneuver made along those lines. It is believed that the Yankees’ organization are prepared to offer Alex Rodriguez in exchange for the Marlins’ relief pitcher Heath Bell. As to what this might suggest as to the possible desperate measures now being sought by Brian Cashman , speaks loudly to the fact that the team’s third baseman is now proving to be a disquieting cancer within the team’s locker room and having a deleterious effect upon the whole organization.

From my own perspective , I have always felt that Alex Rodriguez was a singular minded individual , who cared nothing for his teammates and whose sole emphasis when it came to the game of baseball was the financial gain and the acclaim ! Well he now has both , having been the only player in baseball history to sign two salary packages totaling in excess of $ 500 million (half-a-billion dollars) . Also bear in mind, he is now the active home runs’ leader in Major League Baseball (MLB) , as he focuses on, and looks to surpass Barry Bonds’ home runs’ career mark. Less we forget also, Rodriguez still has the scourge of his admitting to the use of steroids during his career , and for which some six months after his admitting that use , his named was linked to incarcerated Orlando medical professional, Dr. Anthony Galea, now serving time (5 years) for transporting illicit drugs across state and international borders, and then knowingly , prescribing and selling those very same products to the public as well as some very prominent professional athletes . Begs the question even light of his less than contrite apology 2010 , why did the New York Yankees still choose to support the player ? Greed , no less, as that can be the sole reason for their stance. A lesser player, would have been thrown to the wolves by the ball-club. Apathy and hypocrisy, knows no boundaries within the realm of sports , but more so within the game of baseball.

It would not be remiss to suggest that Alex Rodriguez has greatly under-achieved this season when adjudged against other third basemen within the AL as well as the rest of baseball . Undoubtedly, he is still a very skilled player , but one simply gets the impression , if he could get by, giving the least effort necessary , he certainly would. And that if anything, has been one of the main criticisms of Rodriguez as a player. Clearly, that has been the case since he joined the New York Yankees via a trade from the Texas Rangers in 2004 . Eight years later , the Yankees have profited greatly from a financial and competitive standpoint to have Alex Rodriguez within their midst , but at the same time , while with the organization he has proven to be an even greater distraction rather than that ever reliable asset sought in the mold of his teammate , Derek Jeter. Brian Cashman , and to a lesser extent the Yankees’ players have sought to present the organization as a singular unified union , all seeking the same goals. This season they have simply fallen short of those goals, and one has to wonder what if anything has set about the chain of events that has seen this team simply fall apart , when in other seasons , we would never have witnessed such discord within this franchise . What thoughts if any, do you have on the matter?

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Picture gallery.

Do you now believe that it would be in the New York Yankees’ best interests to trade Alex Rodriguez ? And if so, which team would be the best fit for the player? Also what has been the biggest failure of this baseball team over the course of this season? Do take time to leave a comment on this article and on anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1)New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez watches Game 4 of the American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, in Detroit. AP Photo/Paul Sancya …

(2) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez reacts with Andruw Jones before Game 4 of the American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, in Detroit. AP Photo/Paul Sancya ….

(3)Detroit Tigers’ Delmon Young hits an RBI single in the first inning during Game 4 of the American League championship series against the New York Yankees Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, in Detroit. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …

(4) DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 18: Nick Swisher (33) of the New York Yankees reacts after he struck out in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers during game four of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 18, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …

(5) Alex Rodriguez (2) (2L) of the New York Yankees talks with Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman (R) before a game against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on July 2, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Getty Images North America / Nick Laham …

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