Looking for a few good men ………

Looking for a few good men

By Tophatal

It’s getting somewhat serious as the MLB off-season reaches its crescendo with a number of teams looking cement their rosters through free agent acquisitions. Nowhere has this been more self-evident than with the upheaval taking place concerning the Los Angeles Angels , with the front office seeking to rid itself of a number of high-priced unproductive players on their roster. Manager, Mike Sciocsia , after what was a tremendously disappointing season , must have been in agreement with the decisions made by GM, Jerry Dipoto , and owner Arte Moreno to make these changes .

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Once a stalwart on the team’s pitching rotation , Ervin Santana was traded to the Kansas City Royals , within the AL Central. And given the issues of that organization over the past few seasons , it would be hard to see how much of an improvement Santana would be able to provide to a team that has labored with so many problems beyond their pitching within the AL . Dan Haren, once a prominent starter with the Angels , was due $15.5 million for the upcoming season , but the decision made by the organization to buyout his contract for a mere $3.5 million, allowing Haren to become an unrestricted free agent. In a turnaround the Angels , then made the decision to trade the pitcher to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Carlos Marmol .

How the Los Angeles Angels seeks to rebuild their roster during this off-season , should give us a clear indication as to the direction they seek to take. Mike Sciocsia’s players were never truly in contention for the AL West throughout much of the season , having fallen by the wayside. Ultimately, that situation would prove fortuitous for the Oakland Athletics, as they prevailed in supplanting the Texas Rangers as the AL West champions in 2012. Far be it for me to suggest, but the Rangers having led the division for one hundred and seventy-eight days of one hundred and eighty-seven days of baseball played over the 162 game schedule. It was simply exacerbating to see the Rangers wilt under pressure as they fell to the A’s in their final game of the season, thereby allowing Bob Melvin and his players to celebrate their first divisional title in several years. That situation, left Rangers’ team President , Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels looking for answers , as to the reasons why the team failed so miserably in 2012. One of the biggest decisions the front office will have to make, concerns the future of outfielder Josh Hamilton. It should come as no surprise that the player will undoubtedly become one of the biggest and most prized marquee free agents during the off-season, should the team choose not to re-sign Hamilton. A long-term deal is being sought by the player , but it appears doubtful that the Texas Rangers would seek to offer the player an eight or ten-year deal , as is being sought. All evidence points to the fact , that anything short of decade long $260 million deal would fall short of what Hamilton seeks. That type of contract would place the player in the upper echelons of being one of the highest-paid players within the game of baseball. It remains to be seen whether or not the Rangers will seek to meet the demands of the player’s agent , whatever those terms might be.

St Louis Cardinals’ hitting coach, Mark McGwire , has informed the organization that he will be leaving the team, vacating his role, to take up a similar position with the Los Angeles Dodgers.We all knew that the Dodgers’ intent was to spend at will , in order to be competitive , and this was borne out in their commitment to trade for the Adrian Gonzalez , Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett , and thereby committing themselves to $265 million owed to the three players. Dodgers’ managing partner, Mark Walter, Head of Baseball Operations, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson and GM Ned Colletti are keenly aware as to what the fans’ expectations were this past season and this upcoming season. Don Mattingly , the team’s manager knows , he has a roster built to win now, but having fallen way short in 2012, questions now abound as to what happens next? Trying to figure out as to what McGwire can offer a team , that once they hit their stride are as talented offensively , as any other team within baseball. Personally, I am not so sure what the former slugger can now seek to pursue from this all, other than to suggest that this is simply a progression for Mark McGwire , as he not only seeks redemption for his past indiscretions , but also some semblance of respectability, as he seeks to move up the managerial ladder.

After a disastrous season in 2012, the Boston Red Sox rid themselves of Bobby Valentine , and hired former pitching coach, John Farrell , at the time , manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. To listen to the explanation of GM Ben Cherington explain the reasons behind Valentine’s firing , was akin to listening to a child claim why he failed to listen to a parent ,when told not to disobey a direct order. In truth, much of the blame for this malaise was not solely because of Valentine’s incompetence , but also, the sheer stupidity shown by Red Sox team President , Larry Lucchino , in overriding the general manager’s decision to hire a manager who was simply “ full of air” , rather than managerial acumen.

One of the big decisions by the organization by the Red Sox was to re-sign DH, David Ortiz , to a two-year extension that will pay Ortiz $26 million , with an additional $ 4 million in incentives , making the deal worth $30 million. The slugger , proved to everyone during 2012 , why it is , that he is one of the franchise’s most productive players over the course of the team’s history, putting up stellar numbers , albeit that he missed several games to due to a litany of injury woes. As to whether or not the Red Sox can see Ortiz season highs in 2013 , wherein we will also more productive numbers from Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, along with several of the other seasoned veterans on this roster. There is no denying that beyond a lack productivity in producing runs, it has been the team’s pitching that has been woeful over the past two seasons. Whether or not, Ben Cherington will seek additional pitching strength, by pursuing a top-flight free agent pitcher to complement a rotation led by Jon Lester and Clay Bucholtz , remains to be seen. However, there is the belief that the franchise’s farm system and top prospects will bear a treasure trove of top-notch pitching talent.

We may not have liked what we witnessed during the 2012 World Series , but there is no denying that Pablo Sandoval and his teammates raided and laid the cupboard bare when they marched through the postseason like a panzer movement of sheer precision , showing grittiness and determination. What might be even more astounding is the very fact that the Detroit Tigers, as the AL pennant winners were so listless , on their way to being swept 4-0 in such a lopsided series. Sandoval was named the Series’ MVP , allowing Bruce Bochy , his managerial staff to come away with the franchise’s second World Series’ crown in four seasons. Giants’ owner Bill Neukom and GM Brian Sabean , I believe will simply be prudent and make the decisions the feel best , in bolstering the team’s roster as they have done so often in previous seasons. There is a reason why the San Francisco Giants were dominant this season , and much of that came by of this team’s determination and their “never say die attitude”. Unfortunately, that was not seen the vast majority of teams within baseball over the course of this season.

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Picture gallery .

What thoughts if any do have concerning the points raised within this article ? And do you believe that the San Francisco Giants can be dominant once again in 2013 ? Or will be there another team either within the AL or NL,that can overcome the current World Series’ champions?

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Picture and slideshow details below for your perusal.
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(1) Ervin Santana (54) of the Los Angeles Angels reacts after he was replaced by a relied pitcher against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 21, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. Jim Rogash / Getty Images North America …

(2) File-This Feb. 29, 2012 file photo shows pitcher Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Angels baseball team. The Los Angeles Angels have agreed to trade Haren to the Chicago Cubs for closer Carlos Marmol . The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday Nov. 2, 2012, because the deal had not been completed yet. AP Photo/Morry Gash ….

(3) Mark McGwire (right) is seen here in the dugout with manager Mike Matheny , far right during a game played at Busch Stadium , St Louis, Missouri during the postseason . McGwire has revealed that he will be leaving his position as the Cardinals’ hitting instructor to take a similar role with the Los Angeles Dodgers . One would assume that the former player , sees this as the next step , in what he hopes will lead to managerial career within the game . AP Photo/ Mark Thompson …

(4) FILE – In this Aug. 14, 2012, file photo, Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, right, talks with, from left, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and first base coach Alex Ochoa in the dugout before a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore. Valentine told NBC’s Bob Costas in an interview Tuesday, Oct. 23, that Ortiz spent more time than expected on the disabled list then returned to it after playing one game when the team made a major trade that signaled it would not compete for a postseason berth. AP Photo/Nick Wass …..

(5) Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti , left, presents Carl Crawford with his new Dodgers jersey, during a news conference at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Friday, Oct. 26, 2012. Crawford was acquired by the Dodgers in August from the Boston Red Sox in a trade, along with players Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto . AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes ….

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Hot chic pic of the day Laeann Moss .

The crack of maple, and then there was the crack heard around the world , Jeter’s ankle just gave out

The crack of maple, and then there was the crack heard around the world , Jeter’s ankle just gave out

By Tophatal

That tingling sensation at the back of your neck are the hairs standing up, and now comes the unthinkable, the New York Yankees’ postseason hopes now appears to be on the line with the injury sustained by Derek Jeter in the ALCS series against the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees’ captain ,Derek Jeter , sustained a season-ending injury, a broken left ankle , that will now see him miss entire postseason schedule . The loss was magnified by the fact that the team lost their series’ opener in a highly sensational game to the Tigers in extra innings.
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For the thousands in attendance at Yankees Stadium in New York City , New York , and the millions more watching on broadcast television , the sight of the five-time World Series’ champion being assisted off the field sent a chilling feeling, as the captain left the game. Jeter’s teammates , to the man , showed their angst in their post-game interviews, stating that they were in complete shock to know that their trusted leader would no longer be part of this series or the remainder of postseason. The game itself, prior to the loss of Derek Jeter, ebbed and flowed over the nine innings before entering into suspense filled ending that went extra innings (twelve) . Tigers’ closer Jose Valverde blew the save opportunity when offered, and it became clear that the Yankees sought to take advantage of the chance to garner a 1-0 lead in this best of seven-game series.

As ALCS games go, this one might be one of the most eventful and thrilling in recent history. Joe Girardi now has to reshuffle his lineup, and with the poor postseason for Alex Rodriguez , somehow you get the feeling that the third baseman might not be the manager’s choice to replace Jeter at the short-stop position. In all likelihood , Girardi will seek to either platoon his available short-stops Jayson Nix or Eduardo Nunez to replace the team’s All Star short stop . Nunez has proven to be the better of two options with far better defensive and offensive skills than his teammate. A game-time decision will be made by Joe Girardi , when the two teams meet today in game two . On the mound for the Yankees , will be Hideki Kuroda (0-0,2.16 ERA) , as he faces off against Anibel Sanchez (0-1, 2.84). The team lineups will be will be announced later on today, prior to the game-time start. The New York Yankees can ill-afford to find themselves in an 0-2 deficit , in this best of seven game series, and going down would lead to a monumental mountain to climb in having to erase such a margin.

Jim Leyland , and Dave Dombrowski have assembled a team for what they believe , is for the long haul , and it should be noted that Miguel Cabrera , Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander , are intent on bringing a championship back to Comerica Park, and the always vociferous Tigers’ fans . In 2011, the Tigers were part of baseball’s postseason fare, where they would fall (4-2) to the Texas Rangers . The team would also be a participant in the 2006 World Series, where they would succumb to the St Louis Cardinals in a thoroughly lopsided series.

Michael Ilitch, the Tigers’ billionaire team owner yearns to see the franchise win a World Series , having had considerable success with the Detroit Red Wings and their multiple —- Stanley Cup titles . If ever the time was ripe for such a scenario , then now would be it , albeit that the ball-club’s sole triumph in the game’s biggest postseason fare came in 1984 , as Alan Trammell , Marty Castillo and Jack Morris , led the Tigers to their biggest postseason victory in the franchise’s history. The Detroit Tigers are celebrating , with Miguel Cabrera coming off a tremendous season , with the acclamation of being the first Triple Crown award claimant in forty-five years, having succeeded Carl Yastremski , in accomplishing that feat.

In the NLCS match-up the San Francisco Giants are playing host to the St Louis Cardinals in their series for the first two games . Game one, will pit Lance Lynn (1-1, 8.10 ERA) of the Cardinals against Madison Baumgartner (0-1, 8.31 ERA) in what is sure to be a highly competitive game.

The two participants in this season’s NLCS are the winners of the last two World Series titles in 2011 and 2010. Both franchises are steeped in tradition and success , and the emphasis in this series will undoubtedly be the pitching, albeit that neither team is said to be found wanting, in terms of their offensive prowess . Should either of the two series go their full distance , then we should be in for an eventful postseason foray , with thrills , spills and whatever else these games will have in store for us all .

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Picture gallery, for your perusal.

Which events of the MLB postseason have been the most surprising by your estimation? And which teams do you believe will be the two participants in the World Series? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit .

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(1) Detroit Tigers pitcher Jose Valverde waits for the ball after giving up a two-run home run to New York Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki , rear, in Game 1 of the American League championship series Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, in New York. Valverde and the Tigers would go on to defeat the Yankees 6-4 in twelve innings .AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(2) New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter reacts after injuring himself in the 12th inning of Game 1 of the American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers early Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in New York. AP Photo/Paul Sancya ….

(3) Trainer Steve Donohue , left, and New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi , right, help Yankees’ Derek Jeter off the field after he injured himself during Game 1 of the American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in New York. AP Photo/Paul Sancya …..

(4) Detroit Tigers’ Alex Avila attempts to catch a pop-up by New York Yankees’ Raul Ibanez in the fourth inning of Game 2 of the American League championship series Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in New York. Umpire in background is Rob Drake . AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(5) Fans seated in the upper deck at Yankee Stadium wait for the start of Game 2 of the American League championship series between the Yankees and Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in New York. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …..

(6) San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence , left, and Marco Scutaro work on some bats during a practice session for baseball’s National League championship series Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, in San Francisco. The St. Louis Cardinals play the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the NLCS on Sunday. AP Photo/David J. Phillip ….

(7) Cardinals closer Jason Motte (right) embraces catcher Tony Cruz as their teammates rush the field after Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. AP Photo/Chris Lee, Post Dispatch ……

(8) Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson speaks at a news conference after Game 5 of the National League division baseball series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, Oct 13, 2012, in Washington. St. Louis 9-7 . AP Photo/Nick Wass ……

(9) St. Louis Cardinals’ Pete Kozma singles in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the National League division baseball series against the Washington Nationals on Saturday, Oct 13, 2012, in Washington. David Freese and Daniel Descalso scored on the play . AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais ….

(10) Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper stands by his locker after Game 5 of the National League division baseball series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, Oct 13, 2012, in Washington. St. Louis won 9-7. There now seems to be a great deal of questioning of the decision made by GM Mike Rizzo to shutdown the team’s starting pitcher —– Stephen Strasburg , and thereby dashing the hopes of the ball-club’s chances of advancing deeper into the MLB postseason. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais ……..

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Rare feats , no feats, and some feats are made for greatness ….

Rare feats , no feats, and some feats are made for greatness …..

By Tophatal

No hitters and perfect games no longer seem to be a rarity in the game of baseball as it now seems to be an ever-increasing occurrence within the game. What baseball hasn’t seen in over four decades, is the accomplishment of the batting’s Triple Crown, last achieved by Carl Yastrzemski during the 1967 . That year, the Yastrzemski led the AL with a .326 batting, average, 44 home runs and 121 RBI’s.

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In 2012, the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera might just be on the cusp on joining a select group of players to have achieved the feat of baseball’s hallowed Triple Crown. Cabrera leads the AL, batting .327 , with 42 home runs and 133 RBI’s as of 29th September , has a comfortable lead over his closest rivals Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton in each of the aforementioned categories . Pitchers may well have had stellar seasons ,but it in large part the fans simply yearn to see the monstrous home runs and offense from the teams. From my own perspective should Miguel Cabrera pull off the feat of the Triple Crown , then most certainly it would make him a presumptive favorite for the AL MVP , of whom his closest rivals are likely to be, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout within the American League ! All three players and their respective teams , the Detroit Tigers , Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers are all involved in either divisional races or for one of the two berths in the revised playoff format for the AL wildcard.

For the Detroit Tigers, having opened up a two-game lead over the Chicago White Sox (83-75) within the AL Central , the team’s biggest goal is the secure the divisional crown and insuring themselves a berth in the postseason. Jim Leyland and his managerial staff this season , have seen their schedule being turned upside down through inconsistent play and a wide variety of other unforeseen problems as the team sought to play itself into contention. GM Dave Dombrowski and team owner Michael Ilitch have seen fit to make this the year where they spent in order to bolster the roster . It would be remiss to suggest that Cabrera has been the sole reason why the Tigers have prevailed this season , but he has been the main impetus behind the Tigers’ resurgence as a contender in 2012.

With only four games remaining on their schedule the Detroit Tigers, the team next face the declining Minnesota Twins (66-92) in a game that has more meaning to the divisional leader, than it does for a Twins’ organization, in a season , where nothing has gone right at all . And from my own standpoint, I’m wondering whether or not the front office will stand by manager , Ron Gardenhire, as he faces another season with a sub .500 record and a team that has simply under-achieved , and not met the expectations sought. Gardenhire , is one of the longest tenured managers in baseball, and he has had considerable success with the ball-club over the course of his tenure , but for the past seven years the returns have been meager. Whatever , the future now holds for the Minnesota Twins , the decisions to be made by the front office will stress whether or not the organization’s faith in Ron Gardenhire will remain.

The Detroit Tigers remain a venerable ball-club with noted accomplishments by the players over the course of their history. It would be a significant achievement, were Miguel Cabrera to attain the Holy Grail of baseball, in terms of the Triple Crown. The first baseman , and slugger, is a mercurial talent with prodigious productivity over the course of his career . This season we have seen noted accomplishments with the perfect games , no hitters , and even a four home run game from the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton , but I believe that those feats , would somehow pale into insignificance given the historical significance and the rarity of such an occurrence with regard to the Triple Crown ! What thoughts if any, do you have with such a premise?

The remaining games should prove decisive in terms of the culmination of the regular season , as it will lay out the final standings , as well as setting up the scenario for the divisional round of the MLB playoffs. . In light of the Tigers’ postseason sojourn in 2011 , which saw the team fall to the Texas Rangers 4-2 in the ALCS , led many to believe that the ball-club simply was not equipped to make a successful attempt to win the World Series . 2012 , might just be the year , where with everything in place , the AL Central team with its All Stars , led by Miguel Cabrera , Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander , could very well make it an eventful and successful year for this esteemed baseball organization. It should prove to be very eventful once the postseason gets underway , commencing on the 5th October, 2012.

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Should Miguel Cabrera achieve the rare feat of claiming the Triple Crown , do you believe it to be a noteworthy accomplishment by the player ? What , if anything are you specifically looking forward to , as the MLB playoffs approach ? By all means , do leave a comment as you see fit , and thanks as always for the continued support of this site !

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Picture and slide show details below.
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(1) Boston Red Sox great, Carl Yastrzemski , the last player to accomplish the feat of the Triple Crown in 1967. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers leads the AL batting standings in each of the categories in question , and could become the first player in 45 years to achieve the feat. Courtesy of Sports Illustrated / Michael Hart ….

(2) Detroit Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez fields an infield pop-up for the out off the bat of Minnesota Twins’ Pedro Florimon in the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012 in Minneapolis. Watching, left, is Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder. Detroit would go on to defeat the Twins 2-1. AP Photo/Jim Mone …

(3) Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera watches his three-run home run off Minnesota Twins’ Casey Fien in the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in Minneapolis. The homer tied him with Texas’ Josh Hamilton. AP Photo/Jim Mone ….

(4) Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, left, and Prince Fielder celebrate after the Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4 in a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in Minneapolis. Both hit home runs in the game. AP Photo/Jim Mone …..

(5) From left to right agent Scott Boras , Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski, Prince Fielder , team owner Michael Ilitch , and manager Jim Leyland . The organization formally announced Fielder as their biggest free agent acquisition , having signed the player to a nine-year $214 million contract in January 2012 . Detroit Free Press / Chris Cowan ……
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All Good Things Must Come To And End …. !

All Good Things Must Come To An End !

Well the ALCS series is now set as the New York Yankees failed to deliver in front of their home crowd at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx , New York City , NY. Far be it for me to suggest their opponents the Detroit Tigers were beaten by far the better team throughout the series , albeit , that it went to a deciding fifth game . Now there are bound to be excuses as always from the rather obnoxious and truculent New York Yankees’ fans as to their team’s demise . But at the end of the day it’s all about putting up or simply shutting the hell up !

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Joe Girardi as the Yankees’ manager along with his coaching assistants and the front office led by GM Brian Cashman can now in the aftermath of the team’s latest failure assess what went wrong for the team in the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers . Clearly for the manager he has to be now weary of the fact that his pitching rotation is not of the quality one would expect of an organization seeking to be perennial contenders each season for the World Series . Beyond CC Sabathia , Ivan Nova and a now aging Mariano Rivera there is nothing to suggest that any other team within the league should really be fearful of .

In light of this latest adversity the New York Yankees as an organization will not stand on ceremony by placing themselves in the mix for any major free agent player during this off season. Money has never never been the problem and I am sure that although Hank and Hal Steinbrenner as the primary owners of the team will be prudent with regard to their spending. But it has been the simple acquisition of players over the years that have failed to live up to the perceived expectations that has at times led to the issues of failure within the New York Yankees’ organization.

As productive as the team has been over the course of the season with its offense you simply knew that when it came down to it , the ” Achilles Heel” for roster would be the lack of forceful pitching from this rotation . In comparison to the rest of the AL in terms of team ERA it does place the team in good standing but overall when adjudged against the league as a whole therein lies the problem for the organization. Now while there’s still unwavering support for the New York Yankees from their legions of fans nationwide there is also a great deal of resentment towards the team and the fact that they are able to buy their way to success .

The New York Yankees can take pride in the fact that Curtis Granderson , Mark Teixeira , Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher bore the brunt of the production in terms of the team’s offense but beyond that there was little if anything to really state that the team has all of prerequisite facets to be viewed as an all-round team. If ever there was an indicator as to how this organization should now be viewed then consider the very fact that the New York Yankees’ highest paid player in Alex Rodriguez will be viewed as the face of this franchise’s latest failure . Unproductive throughout the team’s postseason foray this was borne out in last night’s performances ( 3-2 loss ) at the plate __ the player remains just as conceited as ever ! Not much beyond that can be said beyond that !

In light of the Detroit Tigers’ triumph over the New York Yankees I would like to think that the team’s manager Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski are seen in a new light ! Prior to the start of the season there were calls for Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch to fire both the manager and general manager . Crazy as it might now seem this just goes to show how short lived the memories of the fans can be as they are now lauding both Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland for this season’s accomplishments . Having won the AL Central with apparent ease they now make another appearance in the postseason seeking to add to the organization’s last AL pennant in 2006 and World Series feature . Their last appearance in the postseason finale was in 2006 which ended in a series loss the St Louis Cardinals . The organization has been waiting since 1984 , scene of their last triumph in the World Series .

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New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez walks off after striking out to end the game as Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila heads for the mound and umpire Ted Barrettt looks on, after Game 5 of baseball’s American League division series Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Tigers won 3-2 to win the series. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …

The Detroit Tigers’ roster is filled with several All Stars of which perhaps the most celebrated this season are Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander . But it would be remiss to suggest that this team evolves solely around the duo .

Dave Dombrowski as the primary architect of this roster has made sure that is well balanced with a mix of youth and experience . But it has been the managerial style and guile shown by Leyland and his coaching staff that has brought out the best in the team. And it has clearly reaped dividends for the team on both fronts in terms of their offense and pitching .

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NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 06: A general view of Jose Valverde (46) of the Detroit Tigers as he celebrates after he struck out Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees for the final out of the Tigers 3-2 win during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 6, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images ……

Now all that awaits the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS is a mighty opponent in the Texas Rangers who are looking to make a successful defense of their AL pennant and return appearance to the World Series . And while Ron Washington’s Rangers’ team are not about to take their opponents lightly , I would like to think that this series will be a thoroughly entertaining one from start to finish ! Game one of the ALDS will be hosted by the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington , Texas this Saturday , with games three and four to be played at Comerica Park , in Detroit , Michigan before returning back to Texas for a game five , should there be the need for a fifth finale.

At this juncture while the conjecture and speculation will begin as to what the New York Yankees may well consider to do , in light of the team’s fall from grace , there’s no real indication that there is about to be any seismic changes within the organization . This off-season for the team should prove to be a tenuous one in part as the front office and coaching staff seeks to resolves many of the personnel issues that has brought about their demise .

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

Were you at all surprised by the New York Yankees’ loss in the divisional rounds of this year’s postseason ? Placing yourself in the position as the team’s general manager what changes if any would you seek to make in order to improve the team ? Leave a comment as to your thoughts and anything else you deem to be pertinent concerning the subject matter . Thanks as always for the continued support and patronage of the site as it greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ……….

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Jorge Posada (20) of the New York Yankees walks back to the dugout with his head down after he grounded out in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 6, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images ….

(2) Justin Verlander (35) , Andy Dirks (12) and Jose Valverde (46) (R) of the Detroit Tigers celebrate after the Tigers won 3-2 against the New York Yankees during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 6, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images …..

(3) NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 06: Robinson Cano (24) of the New York Yankees walks out of the dugout dejected towards the clubhouse after they lost 3-2 against the Detroit Tigers during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 6, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images …….

(4) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez walks off after striking out to end the game as Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila heads for the mound and umpire Ted Barrettt looks on, after Game 5 of baseball’s American League division series Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Tigers won 3-2 to win the series. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ……

(5) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez strikes out with the bases loaded as Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila and umpire Ted Barrett look on in the seventh inning during Game 5 of baseball’s American League division series Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Tigers won 3-2. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ……

(6) NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 06: A general view of Jose Valverde (46) of the Detroit Tigers as he celebrates after he struck out Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees for the final out of the Tigers 3-2 win during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 6, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images ……

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You Play The Game To Win …… But Are The Players Really Being Paid To Play ?

You Play The Game To Win …… But Are The Players Really Being Paid To Play ?

Well with the divisional rounds of the postseason of baseball now entering the closing stretch . The anxiety and of the teams left tends to be one angst. So much is now riding on the fate of the St Louis Cardinals , Milwaukee Brewers , Philadelphia Phillies , New York Yankees , Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers .

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The Texas Rangers came through their series against the Tampa Bay Rays virtually unscathed and with a great deal of ease . Something of a major disappointment for the thousands of the Rays’ who witnessed their team’s demise against the AL West champions at Tropicana Field , St Petersburg , Florida on Tuesday . Certainly for Ron Washington making a second consecutive visit with his team to the ALCS has to be a cause for great excitement not only for the coaches but also the fans and entire front office of the Texas Rangers. Certainly for team president Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels their faith in the manager has been more than justified. In the aftermath of last year’s loss to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series the team will certainly look to go one better .

The Texas Rangers currently await the winner of the series now in progress between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees. Both teams were divisional champions of the AL East and AL Central ____ the contest between these titans of the game promises to be an entertaining series . Jim Leyland will seek to get the best out of his team which is led by All Star slugger Miguel Cabrera and odds the on certainty for the AL Cy Young award in Justin Verlander . Joe Girardi as Leyland’s opposing number knows that although his pitching staff might not be the equal of the Detroit Tigers’ rotation but he has to be pleased with the fact that the offense is certainly one of the most productive within the AL .

With series now tied at 2-2 after the New York Yankees’ taking game four to force a deciding game five with a berth in the ALCS at stake . That game will be played in-front of a soldout crowd at Yankees Stadium in New York City on Thursday night. As to the starting pitchers for that series’ finale it remains to be seen as to who those starters will be at this juncture .

We have already seen the implosion of the Boston Red Sox as their season simply erupted into sheer ridicule with much of the blame being apportioned upon now departed manager Terry Francona . Now in the aftermath of it all we are now hearing of locker room unrest disruptive influence of several players . But clearly the front office is doing as much as they can to distance themselves from this fray while the speculation and conjecture takes on a journey of its own . If there is any blame that ought to be apportioned then it should be placed squarely upon the shoulders of these overpaid and under-performing stars on this roster. $167 million can buy a hell of a lot of talent but when those players simply fold up like multiple pieces of wrinkled crinkled paper mache`. During the month of September (7-20) this team performed abysmally and nowhere was this more evident than with their pitching . Josh Beckett , Johnathan Papelbon , Daniel Bard and Jon Lester simply failed to deliver when it mattered most .

The Philadelphia Phillies are being severely tested by the St Louis Cardinals in their divisional series match-up. And with game four (5-3) being decisively taken by Tony La Russa’s team . There now may well be the thought that we are about to see another star laden and high priced team fall by the wayside . And clearly with the St Louis Cardinals forcing a decisive game five to be played at Citizens Bank Ballpark , in Philadelphia places the weight of expectation upon this Phillies’ team managed by Charlie Manuel .

The presumed favorites within the NL the Philadelphia Phillies it was thought would simply sleepwalk their through the season before making the expected postseason foray on their way to the World Series . At this juncture given the apparent complacency being shown by the team I am not so sure that the Phillies may well get through this series unscathed ! And given the pitching rotation of this Phillies’ team led by Cliff Lee , Roy Halladay , Roy Oswalt , Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge . One would feel that a loss this early in the divisional rounds would be considered a monumental upset of the highest order.

7

General view of action as Collin Cowgill (44) of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a two RBI single off starting pitcher Randy Wolf (43) of the Milwaukee Brewers during the third inning of Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6 . Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …….

A series deciding game 5 now awaits at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , this Friday , where everything is on the line for Charlie Manuel and his team. I have no doubt that Albert Pujols , Lance Berkman , Rafael Furcal , Ryan Theriot , Matt Holliday and his teammates would like nothing better than to derail the hopes of the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans .
If that should happen then the repercussions felt within the front office of organization may well cost the Phillies more than they are actually willing to admit . I am sure that GM Reuben Amaro Jr along with the organization’s senior partners David Montgomery and Bill Giles will not be entirely happy knowing that in making an outlay of $167 million in salary commitments for this season alone this team could come up firing blanks when it’s all said done should they not make the NLCS at least . On the other side of the equation sits John Mozeliak as general manager of the St Louis Cardinals knowing that what has been an arduous season could very well end up being one of unexpected triumphs .

Of all the aspirants chasing postseason success and the ultimate prize of the World Series as that final triumph. Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the unexpected success of the Arizona Diamondbacks and their record of last to first this season in winning the NL West . This might not have been on the agenda of GM Kevin Towers or anyone within the front office but with Kirk Gibson’s drive and that of his coaching staff this team has simply played out of their skins in dethroning the San Francisco Giants as last season’s divisional champion .

Now having made their way into the postseason the Arizona Diamondbacks now stand on the thresh-hold of making another foray to the NLCS . In defeating the Milwaukee Brewers at Chase Ballpark in Phoenix , Arizona 10-6 there now must be a game 5 at Miller Park , Milwaukee , Wisconsin to determine the outright winner of this series . At this juncture Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke knows that he cannot longer take anything for granted . Certainly not the players on this team who may well have felt that their march to the NLCS was theirs by divine right. And for the likes of Ryan Braun , Prince Fielder , Mark Kotsay and Yovani Gallardo as well as the rest of members of the roster they know that they are now in for the fight of their lives.

8

Ryan Roberts (14) of the Arizona Diamondbacks runs the bases after hitting a grand slam home run in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……

With as much as there is riding on this series I fully expect there be a great deal of drama between the Brewers and Diamondbacks as both look to make their presence felt during this game. Given what we have all witnessed on the final day of the regular season schedule I would dare say that this postseason looks as if it is about to prolong much of the excitement seen on the day in question . As to which of these teams now makes it to the main finale itself , well that is now all dependent upon their drive shown over the remainder of the postseason itself .

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Picture gallery for your perusal . (By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in its original formatted size)

As a baseball fan are you at all pleased with the events that have taken place so far ? And which team if any has been the major surprise to you as witness the events unfold ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and thanks as always for the ongoing support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal …………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

http://facebook.com/tophatal

http://tophatal

E-mail rapptu@gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Detroit Tigers pitcher Doug Fister speaks to the media during a news conference, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in New York. Fister is scheduled to start against the New York Yankees in Game 5 of baseball’s American League division series on Thursday. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …….

(2) Chris Dickerson (27) , Alex Rodriguez (13) , Robinson Cano (24) , Derek Jeter (2) and Curtis Granderson (14) of the New York Yankees celebrates a 10-1 win over the Detroit Tigers during Game Four of the American League Divison Series at Comerica Park on October 4, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …..

(3) Miguel Cabrera (24) of the Detroit Tigers reacts after striking out in the eighth inning in Game Four of the American League Division Series at Comerica Park on October 4, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images ….

(4) St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (5) fields on-the-hop a single hit by Philadelphia Phillies’ Chase Utley (26) during the eighth inning in Game 4 of baseball’s National League division series on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011, in St. Louis. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …..

(5) Philadelphia Phillies players watch from the dugout during the ninth inning in Game 4 of baseball’s National League division series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011, in St. Louis. The Cardinals won the game 5-3 . AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ….

(6) Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after a pop fly out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6 . Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …..

(7) General view of action as Collin Cowgill (44) of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a two RBI single off starting pitcher Randy Wolf (43) of the Milwaukee Brewers during the third inning of Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …….

(8) Ryan Roberts (14) of the Arizona Diamondbacks runs the bases after hitting a grand slam home run in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……
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The High Flying Tigers And Other Things Happening In The World Of Baseball

The High Flying Tigers And Other Things Happening In The World Of Baseball

If there’s a common consensus at present it could well be that Justin Verlander could very well the runaway winner for the AL Cy Young winner . The player has been on a tear as of late winning six consecutive games ,placing the Detroit Tigers in contention for the AL Central and to viewed seriously as a contender for the AL Pennant . If anything from what I’ve seen of the Tigers as a team this season they are on a mission and for the fans at Comerica Park as well both team owner Michael Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski this has to be have been a long time coming . So much was expected of the team last season and their free fall certainly didn’t help when it mattered most .

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I don’t know if at present there’s a pitcher in the league that is as dominant and foreboding as we’re now seeing from Justin Verlander. Now many may well feel that the Detroit Tigers simply haven’t shown where they’re capable of winning the AL Central and the mere fact that we’ve seen a resurgent Cleveland Indians may well have suggest that the division wouldn’t at all be up for grabs . But at present that has been the case with the top three teams simply not being able to truly separate themselves from the rest of those within the division . The Cleveland Indians leads the division with a 40-35 with the Chicago White Sox 3 1/2 games behind the second placed Tigers . Jim Leyland and his coaching staff know that they will have to lean heavily on their All Star pitching ace as well as the offense led by Miguel Cabrera , Magglio Ordonez , Victor Martinez , Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Inge .

With the All Star Game slowly approaching where it will be hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Ballpark in Arizona , Phoenix . That event should be very interesting given the ensuing political climate within the state at present after the state’s legislature’s passing of their immigration bill ( SB 1070 ). And as contentious as the bill’s passing may well have been the opposition from a number of civil liberties unions as well as the Hispanic community and Latino players within the MLB fraternity promises that this upcoming All Star Game could very well be remembered for the events off the field , as the opposition protesters look to making their voices heard .

I’m not about to suggest that the Houston Astros are having a bad season but the NL ball club seems to be on the cusp of having quite possibly having one of their worst seasons ever . With Drayton McClane having sold the team to Houston businessman Jim Crane , the feeling is that the entrepreneur will assess the whole organization from top to bottom before making a decision whether or not he will retain or bring in his own staff to run the Astros .

In the Astros most recent game against the Tampa Bay Rays it was clear for all to see the numerous problems that the Houston Astros as a team faces . The offense is simply dormant and the pitching simply lacks any real confidence . The Rays offense simpled teed off on Astros coming away with an emphatic 7-2 victory in an intra league game at the Astros ballpark in Houston , Texas.

It is strange to see players such as Hunter Pence , Carlos Lee and Jeff Keppinger are viewed as the present basis for the team but in reality the future of this organization lies in its prospects , draft picks and farm system if the truth be known . A great deal is now being asked of manager Brad Mills and his coaching staff in leading this team to some semblance of respectability within the National League .

The Houston Astros have struggled to make their presence felt within the NL Central in recent years and one it’s hard to view this organization being competitive given the financial difficulties of this organization during the tenure of Drayton McClane and the mere fact that the former owner has simply shown that he has never shown the propensity for winning. It has simply been about garnering the monies afforded it by the rather asinine tax sharing revenue scheme that the league hierarchy has simply sought to dispense to the small market teams around baseball with little thought for actually seeing that the teams in question bolster their rosters as they’re meant to . And one wonders why the game is in such mess from a financial standpoint ? The team owners , general managers around the league are simply far too stupid for their own good with the sports agents simply being way too beguiling for the team owners .

I’m still trying to comprehend how it is that Alex Rodriguez while a player with the Texas Rangers having left that organization in a multi player trade to join the New York Yankees and still some three years after that trade his salary was still being paid for by the Texas Rangers . And as we know Rodriguez at the time had signed what was then the largest contract not only baseball history but also in sports in general , a ten year $250 million contract. Tell me how this all equates with a sound business practice that will actually equate with anything that happens in the real world unless the idiots within the game view themselves as high priced corporate Wall St executives and somehow that’s not how I view the players within MLB , much less the owners whose business acumen we’re suppose to believe in ! I guess that the likes of Frank McCourt , his subordinates within the Dodgers front office along with Fred Wilpon and the ingrates with the New York Mets are to be seen as beacons of corporate affability and sound business judgment ? Cry me a river those of you out there who still believe that the game is still in a healthy financial position !

At some point Bud Selig and his union counterpart MLPBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner seem so intent on merely seeing the status quo remain the same for whatever it’s meant to be worth with regard to the game . And at this juncture what does that actually mean to you ? Some fans are pointing to the fact that there’s said to be competitive parity within the game but let’s get real here , attendances are steadily declining for the vast majority of the teams , with more than half struggling to eke out a financial profit without an assist from the league hierarchy . How is it that the more adept fan out there never really wants to address that specific issue but would rather look at the game through rose colored glasses ?

Much of this season I’ve simply been impressed with the pitching I’ve seen this season and the Cy Young within both leagues is by no means a certainty at this juncture . ERA and wins asides I know that the choice for the adjudicators will be an extremely tough one ! CC Sabathia , Jered Weaver , Josh Beckett and James Shields all appear to be viable candidates within the AL . On the senior circuit there it would appear that Cole Hamels , Jair Jurrjens , Roy Halladay and Tommy Hanson could all be in with a shot if they are able to keep apace with their rivals within the NL .

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What have been your impressions as to the first half of the MLB season and which teams do you believe will in the thick of things at season’s end competing not merely for the divisional titles but also for the wildcard berths ? Also as to the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit .

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) DETROIT – JUNE 25: Justin Verlander (35) of the Detroit Tigers strikes out 14 for a career-high during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Comerica Park on June 25, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Diamondbacks 6-0 . Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …..

(2) Justin Verlander (35) of the Detroit Tigers is congratulated by Manager Jim Leyland #10 after striking out 14 for a career-high during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Comerica Park on June 25, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Diamondbacks 6-0. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images ….

(3) Don Kelly (32) of the Detroit Tigers celebrates with his teammates after scoring on a Miguel Cabrera(24) single in the eight inning during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Comerica Park on June 26, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Diamondbacks 8-3 . Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …

(4) Detroit Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch (left) and team GM Dave Dombrowski are seen here taking questions from the press at Comerica Park , Detroit , Michigan , courtesy of Detroit Free Press ….

(5) Wade Davis (40) of the Tampa Bay Rays is called out by home plate umpire Tony Randazzo as catcher Carlos Corporan (22) of the Houston Astros looks up after the play at Minute Maid Park on June 26, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images ….

(6) Houston Astros’ Hunter Pence reacts after being called out on strikes to end an interleague baseball game in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays, Sunday, June 26, 2011, in Houston. The Rays defeated the Astros 14-10 . AP Photo/David J. Phillip ……

(7) HOUSTON – JUNE 26: Carlos Lee (45) of the Houston Astros catches his breath after hitting a triple in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Minute Maid Park on June 26, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images ….

(8) ST. LOUIS – OCTOBER 19: Houston Astros Drayton McLane is seen during Game Six of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals October 19, 2005 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Astros won 5-1 to win the series 4-2 to advance to the World Series. Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images ………..

(9) Jim Crane the Houston business tycoon and new owner of the Houston Astros . courtesy of AP Photo ….
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It’s Time To Put Up Or Shut Up …………

It’s Time To Put Up Or Shut Up …………

It now becomes a battle and test of wills but somehow the Los Angeles Lakers as two time defending champions will have to prove that they’re worthy of the mantel of being champions . Now down 0-3 in series that most on paper would have the Lakers winning with ease the Lakers now find themselves caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea. The Dallas Mavericks have all but placed that last nail in the coffin of the Lakers during this less than suspenseful series . It’s hard to explain but the Lakers faltering at this juncture has more to do with the mindset and complacency that has beset not only this team but also the organization as a whole. The acquisitions made by the Lakers as an addition this team if anything hasn’t improved the Lakers albeit that they ended up with the second best record within the Western Conference .

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It seems inconceivable that Phil Jackson and the two time —— defending champions could find themselves in such a position . I don’t know about you but until the white flag of surrender has been raised I think that no there’s no way in hell that the Lakers will give up this series without a fight . That being said if Kobe Bryant is the only one prepared to step up to the plate then there’s really not much else to be said concerning the complete ineptitude shown by the Lakers shown throughout this series . Bryant may well be of the belief that there’s still a great deal to fight for but he ought to remind his teammates that they ought to get their fat asses off the sidelines and man the fu_k up !

I don’t know about you but I’ve long held the opinion that boxing is actually on its last legs . I find it ironic that a sport that once gripped the nation has now become nothing more than after thought amongst the vast majority of sports fans . The heavyweight division and the title itself was once deemed the most prestigious individual title in sports now that division as well as the title itself has become a parody and metaphor for that is actually wrong with the sport. Manny Pacquiao may well be viewed as the face of the sport at present but once he retires this sport may as well fold its tent and pack it all up. There are no longer any real legitimate stars that can be viewed as the future of the sport and those who are now coming to the fore in many respect they lack a personality and if anything they lack a great deal of skill. Promoters such as Don King , Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya have made the sport a complete laughing stock as the pre-eminent promoters within boxing . The welterweight title bout that took place this past weekend between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosely which was staged at the MGM Grand Casino & Resort in Las Vegas , Ne was if anything , something of a non- event. For twelve utterly boring rounds these two champions of the sport staged a fight that was simply so boring that I for one thought the fans would have been better off seeing two octogenarians in the ring trading blows . Mosely a three time three division champion fought a lackluster fight and and his Filipino opponent simply was unable to live up to the hype that many have now come to expect from the all action spectacles he’s given us the majority of his long and illustrious career.

Pacquiao won a unanimous twelve round decision and with it his legacy is still in tact as the best pound for pound fighter on the planet. At this juncture I do believe that it would be in Pacquiao’s best interest to retitre as there are no more challenges left for him to attain. A potential blockbuster bout against Floyd Mayweather seems to be a thing of the past and with Mayweather’s ongoing legal troubles I for one seriously doubt that fight will ever take place .

Two no hitters have been thrown within seventy two hours and the latest was attained by the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander in his team’s —– 9-0 shellacking of the Toronto Blue Jays . This has been the second time that Verlander has achieved this feat and if anything he’s proven why it is that he may well be one of the main contenders for the AL Cy Young Award this season. I don’t know about you but I’ve never considered the Blue Jays a team that could compete within the AL East much less the rest of baseball ! They’ve not been competitive in a decade and a half at least and while the feat of that no hitter can be considered an excellent feat . Come on now we’re talking the Blue Jays ! . Watching that team hit is like watching the likes of Mitt Romney , Joe Biden and Tim Geithner explain the inherent problems that plague the US economy. They’re simply too stupid to explain it even in laymen’s terms that anyone could actually comprehend and likewise with anyone who actually feels that the Blue Jays are a team that can be viewed as being competitive.

As to the Tigers’ own aspirations this season within the AL Central I do believe that once again they’ll simply underachieve as they have done over the past five seasons . This team has been way too inconsistent for my liking and I feel that Jim Leyland and his coaching staff I do believe are bereft real ideas as to how best to get the optimum out of this team . GM Dave Dombrowski will no doubt make the appropriate acquisitions at the trade deadline needed to make the Tigers competitive enough to be considered a legitimate contender for the World Series .

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What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on this topic .

Alan aka tophatal ………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant leaves the floor after the Lakers lost 122-86 to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Sunday, May 8, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks swept the series. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …..

(2) Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, right front, and business partner Todd R. Wagner embrace after the Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 122-86 in Game 4 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Sunday, May 8, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks swept the series. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ………..

(3) Teammates rush out as Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander(notes), center right, and catcher Alex Avila(notes) celebrate Verlander’s no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays in a baseball game in Toronto on Saturday, May 7, 2011. The Tigers won 9-0. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese ……

(4) Shane Mosley of the US falls down after being punched by Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines (L) in their bout for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title at the Garden Arena in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 7, 2011. Pacquiao retained the WBO welterweight title by beating Mosley to extend his winning streak to 14 bouts. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS ……

(5) (L-R) Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines throws a right at Shane Mosley in the WBO welterweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 7, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP/Photo Gabriel Bouys …….

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They Came , They Saw , They Conquered ………………..

They Came , They Saw , They Conquered …………….

Well they came, they saw they conquered and the post-game interview by San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich essentially was magnanimous in defeat but clearly couldn’t explain his team’s inauspicious departure from the NBA Playoffs in the first round . A 99-91 defeat on the Memphis Grizzlies’ home-court at the Fedex Forum , in Memphis , Tennesse left the home crowd fans ecstatic as their team will now make their first appearance in a conference semi finals where they will face the high flying Oklahoma City Thunder .

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Now for only the second time since expansion of the playoff format from a five game first round to the best of seven series’ format has a number one seed bowed out the of the NBA Playoffs in the first round. This 4-2 series loss will certainly have its ramifications and repercussions as the Spurs’ management assess and reassess why they failed so miserably . GM R C Burford and Popovich’s coaching staff will certainly have to look at this roster and note where their deficiencies are . Most certainly to my mind the contributions of Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess were minimal at best but what might be even more disturbing was the fact that the Grizzlies man-handled the Spurs with seasoned veteran Zach Randoplh being allowed to shred the defense almost at will . Randolph’s heroics was indicative of what has gone on throughout this series all along with him being allowed to roam free _____ but he was also ably abetted by Marc Gasol , Shane Batter and Mike Conley whose play at the point guard position has developed since his entrance into the NBA . It has been a profound disappointment to me in seeing the San Antonio Spurs bow out of the playoffs but I’ve seen the highs and lows of this organization. Remarkable as this might seem the Spurs have made the postseason for fourteen straight consecutive seasons and have averaged 55 wins per season over that time frame . As an avowed Spurs’ fan it goes without saying that in the aftermath of this series loss the organization will undoubtedly have to make some changes .

As to the Memphis Grizzlies their postseason is now in their own hands and they can essentially write their own story as to their aspirations . This much we do know their season has shown us all what to expect when you have no doubts as to your own will to win . That if anything to my mind was most definitely lacking in the persona of the San Antonio Spurs !

Just when I thought things simply couldn’t get anymore asinine with regard to the NFL lockout it has been reported that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals have rescinded Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s original verdict , which now allows the NFL owners and league enforce the lockout . Never mind the fact that the league hierarchy has gone ahead with the NFL Draft which is being staged at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City and culminates with the seventh and final round of picks this Saturday 30th April , 2011. As contentious and litigious as this episode has become I can’t but help wonder why bother with all the facade being created by the league with the staging of the draft ?

I’ve always maintained that the league created this monster with the alleged labor relates issues and that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seriously underestimated the hierarchy of the NFLPA which has now become a trade association. That being said neither party is without fault here with the asinine stance that each party has taken in being unable to decide how to split the $ 9 billion in revenues that the league has coming into its coffers each season . And as ridiculous as it may sound , neither side wants to be viewed as being the culprit here but in essence this has simply been about sheer greed with little if anything really having to deal with any inherent labor issues ! Question if you can’t find a way to seriously deliberate how best find a solution sharing $ 9 billion amenably then what would that suggest to you about both of the parties involved ? Greed or merely that both the league hierarchy and union are simply too stupid for their own good ?

Andy Dalton welcome to the NFL and you now more likely than not will supplant Carson Palmer in the pecking order for the quarterback position with the Cincinnati Bengals . Given the Bengals’ disastrous 2010 season where Palmer and his teammates were an immense disappointment having been the AFC North divisional champions in 2009, 2010 simply showed how much the team had simply regressed.

Bengals’ coach Marvin Lewis knows that his job is on the line this season and anything short of a divisional title and postseason berth and effectively his managerial career with the organization will come to an abrupt end . As for Andy Dalton this now becomes his team to lead in light of the continued displeasure of Carson Palmer and his wish to be traded . However with the player’s demands having not been met and the continued scenario within the NFL his only option appears to be to proceed with his original announcement that he would retire if his demands were not met . Personally, if this is indicative of quarterbacks coming out of USC and the fact that they have no heart or will a will to win once in the NFL then my advice to Palmer would be ………. “see ya wouldn’t want to be ya and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out ” !

Unequivocably the game of baseball is in a complete mess and this season has simply been indicative of that. If anything it hasn’t been the play of of the teams on the field that have made the headlines but namely the stories off it. Frank McCourt is now prepared to challenge the league’s hierarchy in providing an outside presence to deal with the day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers . McCourt as the team’s owner has if anything been a complete ass in thinking that he can place this organization in dire financial straits but at the same time fails to address the issue as to why he needed to borrow some $30 million from the local LA Fox affiliate to meet the team’s budgetary expenses for the month of April. Frank McCourt has also maintained that the league hierarchy has within their possession documents related to a possible television deal with Fox that woud pay the Dodgers $3 billion over the next two decades . At this juncture it simply means nothing if that document remains unsigned with the deal not physically in place awaiting league approval .

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for his part stated that his greatest concern were the dire consequences that McCourt had placed the organization in . But here’s the caveat, if as such the Dodgers met all of the league’s rules as it concerns the conduct of its business affairs then how is that they’ve allowed McCourt to systematically d to use the Dodgers repeatedly as collateral in many business deals with outside parties not related at all with the game ? Having installed former US Ambassador to Japan J Thomas Schieffer as the league’s representative while the Dodgers undergoes this period of intense scrutiny . I’ve now got to ask what now awaits the team and organization over the course of the their season ?

If anything this is what has been endemic within the game of baseball and the unwillingness of the team owners and the hierarchy itself to be openly transparent in the conduct of their business affairs . And it goes without saying that this conduct has been suborned by the fact that MLB’s antitrust exemption status allows it carte-blanche /free rein as to how they conducts themselves in almost every facet of their dealings both on and off the field of play . And I’m led to believe that the House Oversight & Gov’t Reform Committee weren’t aware as to the league’s conduct over the past decade and a half ? The league has become archaic , its leadership structure as are the team owners , the MLBPA are simply clueless and are a bunch of blithering idiots ! With the New York Mets’ episode yet to be addressed fully by the league do you get the feeling that MLB would rather the respective owners there Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon removed from their executive posts as well ? Where else could one find such mismanagement within the game but in essence the league hierarchy continues to act as if they’re rearranging the life boats on the Titanic thinking that they’re in no imminent danger .

I know that the MLB season is one of 162 games but the way that the Cleveland Indians have been playing as of late you’d be under the impression that they’re now on the cusp of making the postseason. Winners of five of their last seven games the Indians sit atop of the AL East . If anything they’ve been the surprise team within the division with their play and seems to be infectious amongst the younger members on this Cleveland Indians’ roster .

In their game against the struggling Detroit Tigers the Indians simply showed why they have been playing with the resolve that they have shown since the very start of their season . In a fitting way to end the game Indians’ slugger Carlos Santana hit a walk off grand slam to deny the Tigers victory on their way to a 9-5 win over their divisional rivals . And although it’s still early in the season it’s good to see that for now the Cleveland Indians appear to be relevant once again. With that win the Cleveland Indians now share the best record (17-8) in baseball alongside the Philadelphia Phillies . A nice resurgence for a franchise that seems to have been in the doldrums over the last decade but now appears to be back where they and their fans feel that they belong.

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Whether or not you’ve been watching the initial part of the NBA postseason unfold what to your mind has been the biggest surprise or disappointment from your own standpoint ? With regard to the NFL its Draft and everything that now seems to be unfolding how do you envisage this episode finally ending ? From your own perspective do you feel that there’s now time for a real drastic change within the hierarchy of MLB and also do you feel that the owners should be more transparent in their business dealing in and outside of the game when they are as such using their team as any part of a business transaction ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts as to the points raised within this piece .

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) MEMPHIS, TN – APRIL 29: Zach Randolph(50) of the Memphis Grizzlies talks with Greg Popovich after the Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs 99-91 in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on April 29, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images …..

(2) San Antonio Spurs players watch the final moments of their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of Game 6 of a first-round NBA basketball series on Friday, April 29, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 99-91 to win the series 4-2 . From left are Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, Daniel Green, and Steve Novak. AP Photo/Lance Murphey ……….

(3) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, and his fiancee Jordan Jones, left, pose for a picture being taken by the Bengals third round draft pick Dontay Moch, right, after an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ……….

(4) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, left, a quarterback from TCU, and third round draft pick Dontay Moch, a linebacker from Nevada, right, pose with their jerseys during an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ………

(5) Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, left, poses with the team’s first round draft pick A.J. Green during an NFL football news conference, Friday, April 29, 2011 in Cincinnati. Green, a wide receiver from Georgia, will wear number 18 for the Bengals. AP Photo/Al Behrman ……

(6) Gary Guyton (59) of the New England Patriots carries the ball in for a touchdown as Carson Palmer (9) of the Cincinnati Bengals tries to tackle during the NFL season opener on September 12, 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Guyton intercepted Palmer’s pass. Getty Images North America / Elsa Martinez …….

(7) LOS ANGELES – APRIL 29: the San Diego Padres the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 29, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …….

(8) Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Santana watches the flight of his game-winning grand slam off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5. Tigers catcher Alex Avila, left, looks on. AP Photo/Amy Sancetta …….

(9) Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana celebrates as he jumps to home plate after hitting a game winning three-run walk off home run off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5 . AP Photo/Amy Sancetta ……..

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NFL News

NFL Schedule 2010-11

NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

NBA Postseason Schedules

Sunday

Monday

NBA Stats Postseason

MLB News

MLB 29th April 2011

MLB Schedule 30th April 2011

MLB Scoreboard 1st May 2011

Intriguing Questions That Need To Be Asked And Answered In The World of Sports ………….

Intriguing Questions That Need To Be Asked And Answered In The World of Sports ………….

If LeBron James as he’s now stating , having been interviewed by that elder statesman of menial tv journalism, Larry King . Wherein , James stated that the Cavaliers’ organization stands a better than even chance that he’ll remain with the team . The question I for one would like to ask did his mother force him to make such a statement , bearing in mind that it’s been alleged that she (Gloria James) has been having a sexual relationship with James’ teammate Delonte’ West . Could it be that Gloria James will miss Cleveland more than LeBron will ? And two, what does that say about the players of some of the potential teams that are said to be interested in luring James to their organizations ?

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Slide show gallery for your perusal .

In the Bible we’re led to believe that it took God six days to create the Earth and on the seventh day he rested . The question I’d like to ask if it can the “Supreme Being” such a short time to create this world . Then how is it that it has now taken the NCAA in “excess of three years” to conduct their investigation into the basketball and football program of USC ? I mean with all of the evidence that has come to light and the fact that the likes of Reggie Bush , Matt Leinart , O J Mayo , Pete Carroll , Tim Floyd and the US Trojans’ AD Mike Garrett have been less than forthright in answering any questions as to any transgressions concerning the program. Is it a matter of mere perception and we’re completely misjudging what has gone on within the school’s athletics program ? I guess that $1,000-00 paid to Mayo by Floyd , was a mere oversight at the time ? And the fact that Bush’s parents were living in a residence that at the time was way beyond their means was a mere faux-pas and nothing untoward was happening between Bush and an interloper acting on his behalf at the time.

Well the 2010 NBA Finals are upon us and the series commences on the 3rd June , 2010 . The game’s two most storied franchises are set to meet for the the eleventh time in the game’s showcase event. Between them the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have won 32 NBA titles and have made a combined 51 appearances in the NBA Finals. It’d be remiss to suggest that it does make the other teams within the NBA irrelevant because that’s most certainly not the case. But in this era where we’re always being told that there’s parity in sports . The dominance of the Celtics and Lakers of the NBA does make the case for that argument seem somewhat mute. But in reality when either of these two teams are making an appearance in the finals , then it augurs well for the viewing figures for the event and it most definitely brings a smile to the face of David Stern and the entire NBA hierarchy .

As a more than avid fan of the NBA I just hope to see a very entertaining series. But above all I’m hoping that the officials don’t interject themselves into each and every game and event when there’s a tinge of controversy. More than often than not the real reason why a series can be bad or becomes bad isn’t necessarily because of the poor play. But more so, it has to do with the poor officiating. I know that David Stern says that he trusts these officials implicitly . But would he actually trust them with his life or perhaps to be in the accompaniment of his wife or daughters ? I mean if he trusts them that much then he shouldn’t have a problem with a referee spending a night with his wife I would’ve thought ! Squash that , Tim Donaghy suddenly springs to mind .

Apart from seeing future Hall of Famers , in , Kobe Bryant , Ray Allen , Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett . We’ll also get to see the burgeoning talents of such young players as Rajon Rondo, Andrew Bynum and Jordan Farmar . As to whether or not the careers of these players will aspire to be as great as that of their peers mentioned , it remains to be seen over the course of time.

Ben Roethlisberger has returned to the fold and is now allowed once again allowed to undertake team activities with the Pittsburgh Steelers . I for one still feel that the player got off lightly ! But given the fact that he’s said to be on a tight leash and he’s still under a six game suspension that can be lowered to four games should NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell see fit. The scrutiny under which Roethlisberger will be followed will most certainly make him feel as if he’s rat on a wheel undergoing a watchful social behavorial experiment. I just hope that the player understands the implications should he screw up again . There have been players within the NFL who haven’t been afforded a second chance that has been given Roethlisberger. So the slightest inappropriate act on or off the field and he can essentially kiss his career goodbye.

My buddy Sportschump suggested that many of the problems that came to the fore under Goodell’s watch were inherited after his assuming the position of his predecessor Paul Tagliabue . But that was most certainly not the case. From the Plaxico Burress affair , to Donte’ Stallworth to Ben Roethlisberger . All of this has happened under Goodell’s watch and the commissioner hasn’t necessarily always been proactive in his handling of these matters. He at times placates the situation by saying that many of the cases in question should be dealt with after legal ramifications are sorted out. However , under the collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA , he has the power to suspend a player for conduct detrimental to the sport and that includes any matter that might also tarnish the image of the NFL.

My question to Goodell and Sportschump , should “Big Ben” be caught once again, whereby a 20 year old female college co-ed should suddenly find her lips around a certain part of the player’s genitalia. Can we believe Ben if he states ……………” she tripped and fell and her mouth suddenly found itself around my member ” ? More to the point how is it that it is always the fault of the other person in the incident ? Isn’t Roethlisberger mature enough to be now held accountable for his own actions ? Or is this what a football college scholarship now gets you at Miami of Ohio ?

Still no word as of yet but with Terrell Owens seeing his buddy , Chad Ochocinco appear on Dancing With The Stars . Is there now a possibility that “TO” will lean more towards retirement as he remains an unsigned free agent within the NFL ? That’s not to say that his agent Drew Rosenhaus won’t be making overtures on the player’s behalf to see if he can be signed by none other than the Minnesota Vikings. That way the organization and the the team can then have “two of the biggest and most self absorbed narcissists” ever to have set foot within the NFL. Don’t forget now boys and girls , Brett Favre still hasn’t made us privy to the impending decision as to his NFL future and that perceived comeback , “yet again” !

If you think it not audacious situation for Rosenhaus to approach Brad Childress and his coaching staff to quite possibly gauge their interest in the veteran wide receiver. Not so long ago the thinking was that Favre would be the player to put the team over the top and guide them to a Superbpowl . Well one year on and one year older and the Vikings were about as close to the Superbpowl as Sen. John McCain (R-Az) was, in gaining entrance into the White House as the 44th President of the United States. C’mon now , please don’t use the excuse that Brett got ’em to the NFC championship game. Brett also cost ’em an appearance in the Superbowl with his capricious play in the closing stretch of the loss to the eventual Superbowl champions __ New Orleans Saints .

So what do you think is there a remote possibility that we could see that Favre Owens’ tandem gracing us within the NFL as part of the Vikings’ team looking to be not only dominant within the NFC North but also within the entire NFL ? Or will me merely see the return of Favre to the Vikings with Owens toiling away elsewhere within the NFL with some none descript team ?

Well now that we’ve more than got a quarter of the way through the baseball season . A number of teams are trying to jockey themselves into position for the mid-stretch of the season. To my mind this is the one part of the season that will go a long way in telling us the resolve and determination of a team. You simply have to look at the standings to see which teams can be taken for real and which cannot. Sorry Baltimore and Houston but there’s always next year I hope !

I can’t for the life of me understand how two teams such as the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers of the AL Central tend to under achieve. As good as both teams appear to be on paper , up close and personal once they begin to play it’s like looking at an abstract painting and trying to understand what the subject matter is all about. The White Sox are simply are simply an embarrassment and for Jim Leyland and Tigers , I’m not about to suggest that the team is spiraling out of control. But were they an airplane, I’d be looking for the nearest emergency exit just as a precaution.

GM’s Dave Dombrowski of the Tigers and Kenny Williams of the White Sox know that in Leyland and Ozzie Guillen they have two very good managers. But the problems now facing both managers are that their respective teams either aren’t listening as to what they and the coaching staff are trying to instill. Or quite possibly the teams just aren’t as good as first thought. By my way of thinking it has to be the latter but if things don’t change as to both teams’ fortunes . Then quite possibly before at the culmination of the season both managers could very well be fired by their respective organizations. I’m not about to suggest that they should both be deserving of such a fate. But as a last resort that’s always how the executives and owners tend to alleviate the problem to quieten the angst of the fans.

I’m not a big NASCAR or IRL fan but I’ve got to admit that I made the rare peek to watch snippets of the Coca Cola 600 and parts of the Indy 500 . The latter race I’ve been led to believe is said to be “the best auto race in the world” . Someone must be friggin’ kidding if they’ve never witnessed the Monaco Grand Prix from Monte Carlo and the nuance of F1 Grand Prix Racing. OK , so Indy Car has female drivers Danica Patrick and Milka Duno . But unless they’re about to let those ladies race in nothing more than two piece bathing suit , then quite frankly I’m simply not interested ! However, with Dario Franchitti happening to be the victor of the Indy 500 , we all got to see that rather “hot wife” of his Ashley Judd . But good God almighty, was it me but what the hell was she wearing ? I thought it was Franchitti’s mother at first until the cameras drew in for a close up shot . Then I realized she still looks as hot as ever ! ‘nough said !

Ashley Judd please don’t give the legions of male fans around the world such a scare again ! We all love it when you look exceedingly hot and chique`. We’d prefer for you to not to look so dowdy as it belies your sensational looks . As to Franchitti , I can only surmise that once he and his wife returned home all bets were off as to how they’d end up celebrating his second victory of America’s most prestigious race. A great deal of intimacy was no doubt called for I’d dare say ! So we know that Ashley Judd is hot but can someone answer me this, when will Danica Patrick win her next race ? And two, are we ever liable to see her adorning a stripper’s pole ? Because by my way of thinking the circus has but left town with regard to her alleged ambitions within both NASCAR and IRL. Making excuses for Danica Patrick now is very much in a similar vein in excusing why it is that Dale Earnhardt Jr can’t find the winner’s podium but yet he’s being paid an exorbitant amount of money for merely being average at best. Can I get an amen here ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Well these are but a few of the questions that I think in some ways we can find amusing and in some cases serious in the world of sports. What questions if any would you want to pose concerning a certain are of the sporting landscape. It doesn’t necessarily have to be serious at all. So feel free to chime on in with a question and perhaps we can all debate it in the appropriate manner ? Thanks as always for the continued support !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………………………

David Bowie ……………..“Heroes”

So This Was Meant To Be The House That Scott Boras Built ?

So This Was Meant To Be The House That Scott Boras Built ?

While, I can understand ‘uber-agent’ Scott Boras’ reasons for always wanting to do what’s best for his client. I fail to understand how in this day and age, he expects to get ‘premium dollars’ for an ‘aging star’ in, Johnny Damon . Granted, the now former A’s , Red Sox and now New York Yankees’ player still plays with ‘passion’. One has to admit that Damon’s best days are now far behind him. If anything the only tangible value, is that as a veteran, he can teach the younger players what it takes to win. Having experienced those scenarios as a player , firstly with the Boston Red Sox, then as a New York Yankees’ player, there is a still a great deal that Damon has to offer as a player. He may not be as quick in the outfield, as he once was. And his offensive prowess at he plate may no longer be there. But as a passionate student and player of the game, Johnny Damon still has something to offer.

New York Yankees' <strong>Johnny Damon</strong> follows through on his two-run RBI single during the fourth inning of Game 6 of the American League Championship baseball series in New York. A  person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the Atlanta Braves have made an offer to free agent outfielder Johnny Damon. The person spoke Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010,  on condition of anonymity because no agreement has been reached. photo appears  courtesy of  Associated Press/ Elise Amendola ......
New York Yankees' Johnny Damon follows through on his two-run RBI single during the fourth inning of Game 6 of the American League Championship baseball series in New York. A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the Atlanta Braves have made an offer to free agent outfielder Johnny Damon. The person spoke Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010, on condition of anonymity because no agreement has been reached. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Elise Amendola ......

Now the inherent problem for Damon as a player is that his agent Scott Boras is one of the least admired men in sports. Albeit , that he’s one of the most successful and respected sport’s agents in the world of sports. To ascertain Boras’ power in the game, is to know how much he can seemingly control the fate of many of the league’s most aspiring teams. When it comes to dealing on behalf of his clients, Boras possesses and elicits the bravado shown by an all-out predator, looking to devour its prey. His take no prisoner’s mentality has made Scott Boras ‘the scourge of the league as well as many of the fans , coaches and general managers within MLB. The one constant with Boras, is that it’s all about the money and nothing else simply matters. That has been Boras’ mantra throughout the course of his career .


Courtesy of Associated Press and Yahoo Sports

AP source: Braves make offer to Johnny Damon

By Charles Odum , AP Sports Writer

Atlanta (AP)—The Atlanta Braves appear interested in adding Johnny Damon to the top of their lineup.

The Braves have made an offer to the free-agent outfielder, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The person spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because no agreement had been reached.

Atlanta’s offer is believed to be for one year and include deferred money. Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, has said he is seeking at least a two-year deal.

The 36-year-old Damon hit .286 with 24 homers for the New York Yankees last season and likely would bat leadoff for the Braves.

Atlanta added another former Yankees outfielder in December when it acquired Melky Cabrera in a five-player deal that sent right-hander Javier Vazquez to the World Series champions.

Nate McLouth is set as Atlanta’s starter in center field, and is the probable leadoff hitter if the team does not add Damon or another outfielder. Matt Diaz is expected to get most of the playing time at one corner outfield spot.

Braves manager Bobby Cox said last week he envisions Cabrera playing all three outfield spots and possibly sharing a position with Diaz.

Cox said the team is prepared to give 20-year-old outfield prospect Jason Heyward a chance to win a starting job in right field. Heyward made only a brief appearance at Triple-A last season and has fewer than 200 at-bats above Class A.

“Well, there’s no reason not to give him a crack at making it,” Cox said. “If he is too young, that’s fine, too. He can spend some time in Triple-A. But if we think he’s ready and he can help us, then let’s go.”

Heyward (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) has the power potential the Braves need in their outfield. He was voted baseball’s top prospect by Baseball America after hitting .323 with 17 homers and 63 RBIs at three minor league stops in 2009.

“If he makes the team, he’s playing—lefties, righties, everybody,” Cox said.

The Braves’ willingness to give Heyward an opportunity could keep them from engaging in a bidding war for Damon. According to reports, Detroit and Tampa Bay also have interest.

Boras did not return a call to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Braves general manager Frank Wren had no comment on Damon.

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Scott Boras and his client Alex Rodriguez . The Yankee slugger may well be Boras' most high profiled and well known client. But Boras also represents Manny Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixiera , amongst others . And in each case the players in question are amongst the highest paid in the game. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Hugh MacIntosh ..................
Scott Boras (left) and his client Alex Rodriguez . The Yankee slugger may well be Boras' most high profiled and well known client. But Boras also represents Manny Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixiera , amongst others . And in each case the players in question are amongst the highest paid in the game. picture appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Hugh MacIntosh ..................

Power as they say, lies in the hands of the individual who knows how to use it, even when it’s not being used wisely. Boras’ biggest claim to fame, may well be his list of clients and the fact that he’s now twice laid the groundwork and negotiated for his client, Alex Rodriguez to be paid two separate contracts that will pay him gross, in excess of $ 500 million over the course of his career. Firstly , when Rodriguez was with the Seattle Mariners and then left the team as a free agent, to sign what was then the biggest and most lucrative contract in baseball and in all of sports in North America. Rodriguez was signed to a 10 year $252 million contract by the Texas Rangers. The ‘team’ at the time under the ownership of Tom Hicks , aspired to be one of the up and coming and one of the more ambitious organizations in baseball. The fact that Hicks made a ‘big splash’ with the signing of Rodriguez, just goes to show how ill fated the endeavor would turn out to be. ‘A-Rod’ wasn’t complemented by roster that was anywhere near competitive. And nor was the team even good enough to win its division (AL West), much less the AL pennant or World Series. The idiocy of Hicks, not only as an owner but also as a businessman , knew no bounds. His excesses and failures in sports have far outweighed the successes. And it still remains that way to this day.

Damon  and  his   wife   Michelle  at  a  formal   gathering  .  photo  appears  courtesy of  Associated  Press /  Matt Hollingsworth  ..........
Damon and his wife Michelle at a formal gathering . photo appears courtesy of Associated Press / Matt Hollingsworth ..........

The second time around that Boras was again able to deliver Rodriguez with another blockbuster contract , was when the player re-signed with the New York Yankees for another multi year contract that will pay him $275 million over ten years. Again, still the most lucrative contract in all of sports , in terms the salary paid to a player. The fact that when Rodriguez was traded away from the Rangers to sign with the Yankees after four years with the Rangers, alludes to the fact what a poor businessman Hicks was from the outset. He was bamboozled by little more than a slight of hand trick by Rodriguez’s agent, Scott Boras. The agent knew ‘a sucker when he saw one’ and Hicks and the Rangers’ organization took the bait , hook , line and sinker.

Over the course of his career as an agent , Scott Boras has negotiated on behalf his clients’ contracts to be estimated upwards, in excess of $ 2.8 billion. Clearly with that sort of business acumen, along with it comes a great deal of power and influence. And if anything, that has been how Boras has been able to become one of the pre-eminent agents in all of sports and most certainly the most powerful and influential in all of baseball . Consider this also, of the 8 highest paid players in the game , six of those players are in fact clients of Scott Boras ? I’m not suggesting that ‘he has a monopoly on the major stars’ within the game. But he’s now as close to it as one would’ve thought possible.

With Damon now a free agent and still with a desire to play , both player and agent are finding it all the more difficult to gauge the interest of teams who might desire the aging veteran. So much so, that Damon’s demand for a two year $16 to $20 million contract to return to the Yankees must’ve been met with derisions of laughter. If the Yankees were unwilling to re-sign their World Series MVP Hideki Matsui , to anything beyond a one year. Then how in the hell was it that Damon and Boras were expecting Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman to open up the checkbook for anything more ? And even after offering the player’s services for less, Boras was still turned down by the Yankees and Cashman. Clearly there was an impasse there , as to what both parties felt what the player was worth.

<strong> Michelle  Damon </strong>  seen  here in a  photo-shoot   for   Sports  Illustrated .   The  model  and  aspiring part-time  actress  obviously  has  the   ball  player wanting to  show  us  all  that he  can  catch   off  the   field  as  good   as  he's  able  to  do  so  on  the  field. <em> Pretty   good  eh  ? </em>   photo  appears courtesy  of  Sports  Illustrated .................<strong>Michelle Damon </strong> seen her doing an expose'  for   Sports Illustrated.  I can  only assume  that   Damon  is  in  need of  the  money  to   keep  his   wife   in  the  life  of  luxury  to which  she  has  now  become accustomed  to  ?   photo  appears  courtesy of  Sports Illustrated  ....
Michelle Damon seen her doing an expose' for Sports Illustrated. I can only assume that Damon is in need of the money to keep his wife in the life of luxury to which she has now become accustomed to ? photo appears courtesy of Sports Illustrated ....

Now as the list of prospective clients are beginning to thin out as to quite possibly where Johnny Damon may well end up playing this upcoming season. Boras has approached the NL East’s Atlanta Braves and AL Central’s Detroit Tigers to gauge both teams’ interest in his client. As of now , no final public statement has been forthcoming from Braves’ GM Frank Wren or Dave Dombrowski of the Tigers. If Damon isn’t signed by baseball’s start of the Spring Training, then there’s the belief that he may well miss the start of the regular season and then await the call of a team wanting a the veteran – to replace an injured player or to bolster an aspiring team’s roster in need of that veteran presence. There’s also a slight possibility that Damon could return to the team where he first made a name for himself in the majors. And that would be with a return to the Oakland A’s. As to whether or not the fans and the organization would welcome the return of a former ‘prodigal son’ , remains to be seen. But in all likelihood , that scenario remains nothing but a remote possibility. And given the fact that the A’s aren’t known as a team to spend lavishly on its roster, Damon’s asking price would have to come down considerably , if the team were prepared to sign him.

This may well have been the house that Scott Boras built but now even he has to admit that he can now no longer ‘brow beat’ and ‘bully teams’ and ‘their general mangers’ into signing his clients at the premium top dollar rates. Not in these uncertain economic times and that’s even with Boras’ now ill fated assignation that the market can continue to bear whatever the going rate is for top line talent on the open free agent market. It’s my belief, that Boras is as conceited and condescending as he looks, that even he would scare the likes of Rasputin and Sung Myung Moon ! But that may well be taking it too far, as the majority of general managers were already gullible enough to begin with – when they first began to deal with Scott Boras, as an agent. Need I say anything more on the matter ?