The Killer Elite ….

The Killer Elite

Well, baseball season (MLB) is almost upon us , with certain position players due to report to their respective teams within the next few days. For a number of franchises , this off-season has proven to be dramatic, suspenseful and dare one say, even exhilarating ? The MLB Postseasonprovided us with several stories and theplot-lines came thick and fast , so much so,that not even the script writers of Hollywood could have provided us with more drama. Who could’ve foreseen the Kansas City Royals blowing the frames off the doors, as they brushed aside their postseason opponents with a great deal of ease , only to succumb to the wily experience of Bruce Bochy, his managerial staff and the players of the San Francisco Giants , in dramatic fashion of an intense seven-game thriller of a World Series. A perfect ending to the 2014 MLB regular and postseason. Some might say, the Cinderella Story of the Royals would have been the perfect ending, but it was not to be, simply because the lack of postseason experience on the Royals’ roster of last season.

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With baseball’s Winter Meetings taking place in the aftermath of the Fall Classic, deals were being made with an alarming speed and regularity. Topping them all , was Giancarlo Stanton’s record- breaking deal with the Miami Marlins. Leaving many flabbergasted and surprised by the contract’s value and length , never-mind where the financial resources might be coming from, considering the Marlins’ menial attendance record for the Marlins’ Ballpark, in Miami , Florida and the fact, since its inception, it has been rarely filled to capacity. That asides, should Mike Redmond and his coaching staff not have this team not in a position to win the NL East or actually gain a postseason berth. The common thread of thought, appears to be the front office led by Michael Hill will be quick to pull the trigger on dealing Stanton elsewhere, rather than having to bear the brunt of a $25 million payout, in the first year of the deal.

From my own standpoint, I believe the Miami Marlins will be hard-pressed to make a serious enough challenge against what appears to be not only something of a revamped Washington Nationals’ lineup , but also on paper, what might be the ” deepest” roster in the entire National League (NL). It will be interesting to see how these two NL East teams are likely to fare over the course of their regular season series in 2015. If the Marlins are to have any semblance of success this season, then Giancarlo Stanton and his teammates will have to be playing their very best baseball right out of the starting gates on Opening Day of the regular season schedule. A one hundred and sixty-two game arduous slog, will prove to be a matter of attrition, stealth and a great deal tenacity on the part of the players and managerial staff, as things begin to play out.

Rob Manfred has succeeded Bud Selig as the MLB Commissioner and as the highest-ranking executive within the game. Whether or not Manfred can succeed where his predecessor repeatedly failed, will be dependent upon how he deals with the issues that have bedeviled baseball and the league hierarchy’s often contentious relationship with the MLBPA (Players’ Union) . The union’s recently elected Executive Director , Tony Clark is a former player whose career in the Majors could be deemed passable. Clark’s predecessor, Michael Weiner’s death cut short his tenure in an executive role, leaves the newly elected union leader as the players’ voice in the collective bargaining agreement for all issues involving the game, beyond the union’s own failure to deliver their concise formal statement on the matter of steroid abuse and the still prevalent deliberate misuse of performance enhancing drugs at the Major League Level and especially within the Minor League , where it now seems to rampant, but widely reported by the mainstream media, whose priority just seem to be the events as they unfold at the Major League Level. Yet, they would have the fans believe, their reporting of their so-called facts, has never been clouded or simply a white-wash, when it comes to the truth or their un-avowed bias of their reported stories .

Coming off his first win of the AL MVP, of which in the future I am sure there will be others, Mike Trout will be looking to cement his position as not only the best young player in baseball, but also the best player to have been drafted in the game since 2009 , the year he was taken by the Los Angeles Angels. Trout in his brief career in the Majors to date, has now become the best player on the Angels’ starting lineup, which has been devoid of leadership. Some might believe it to be an astonishing statement, when you consider the fact, there are experienced veterans on this team, where Albert Pujols , Josh Hamilton and C J Wilson are the most recognizable names. The fact remains however, Mike Scioscia and his managerial staff have not put the Angels in a serious position win the World Series in spite of their most recent appearance in the 2014 postseason . The Angels’ missteps there were well-chronicled and something of a major disappointment to their fans after the team’s triumph in succeeding the Oakland Athletics as the AL West divisional champions.

This season might prove to be a horse for a different course as I expect the A’s to rebound back after a disappointing sojourn in 2014 ! If there is one thing I do know, it is not to underestimate a general manager such as Billy Beane , whose portrayal by Brad Pitt in the hit movie ” Moneyball” has just about everyone convinced they could become a great front office executive in Major League Baseball. Separating fact from fiction, we all know what Beane has been able construct and quite remarkably succeed in repeating, and that is to make the A’s competitive team in spite of a cash-starved ownership group and the very fact , Bud Selig has somehow refused to come to the organization’s aid in assisting them to obtain a new baseball stadium. Though somehow , the former commissioner was front and center when Citi-Field, Yankees’ Stadium and Marlins’ Ballpark took shape at the expense of the taxpayers within the cities of New York and Miami , where the final cost exceeded for all three venues exceeded $2.3 billion ($2,300,000,000). Never let it be said, Selig doesn’t know how to maneuver his way around the corridors of power, while making so many political dignitaries at the municipal , state and federal level look like complete morons. Personally, I don’t believe it to be that difficult a task whether or not it’s a Democrat or Republican, whose largesse is being sought. Simply look at the idiocy of the political bickering now taking place at the national level and the continued partisan discord between both parties and then ask yourself, why you would be willing to trust a congressional member from either party , let alone someone at the municipal or state level ? Add in the fact, Bud Selig’s, greatest accomplishments as commissioner could be written on the back of a first class stamp and be posted to the North Pole , addressed to Santa Claus, for all of the use that would do. Yet I digress, as Claus based on a fable, has been far more successful in bringing joy to many , than anything accomplished by Selig during his tenure as the lead executive in Major League Baseball.

Mike Trout has more than repaid the Angels’ faith in him, which has resulted in a contract commensurate to his talents. Trout’s maturity is there to be seen and he has most definitely become the face, voice and undoubted leader of this team. As to whether or not his teammates are now willing to follow his lead can be best judged by your perception of their overall performances during the 2014 postseason, where Trout I believe, led by example, but there was no one else around willing to assist their teammate.

Angels’ GM Jerry Dipoto has to be wondering , if not second-guessing himself as to whether or not it was prudent investing over $300 million of team owner Arte Moreno’s money into acquiring Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Moreno is known to be a shrewd businessman with a keen eye for detail and seeking out deals, which will more than maximize a return on that particular investment. Having made his name showing a keen eye for an investments specifically in the world of sports and broadcasting. One thing becoming abundantly clear at this juncture and it is, with each passing season where Mike Scioscia comes up short, he one step closer to becoming the next managerial casualty in the world of baseball. If Scioscia fails this season, then he is likely to become one the first casualty of an ongoing policy which has become the norm not just in baseball but in professional and collegiate sports. The dismissal of a coach or manager, as the case maybe.

The Angels will begin their regular season schedule with a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners , with the first of those games on 5th April, 2015 at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington,. However, before Los Angeles embarks upon their regular season schedule, they have their Spring Training Schedule and the chance for Mike Scioscia and his staff to assess their non roster invitees as well as their newly acquired players from this off-season. Chances are, several players will play their part in contributing to Angels’ endeavors over the course of their schedule.

For the third straight season the Los Angeles Dodgers will enter the year with the highest payroll in baseball. Several of the players on the roster are among the highest paid players in the game by way of their salaries and contractual compensation. With the franchise having failed miserably in the postseasons of 2013 and 2014 , each time falling to their nemesis the St Louis Cardinals, most notably in the NLDS last season.

Magic Johnson has been the front officeimage of the Dodgers’ organization, but now with Andrew Friedman having been brought in to oversee the franchise’s Baseball Operations, it does appear Johnson will have to take a back seat to to the new front office executive as he looks to create a resurgent and competitive on field product this upcoming season. That tall order has led to the departures of Matt Kemp , Josh Beckett and several other players during the off-season as Friedman looks to provide Don Mattingly and his staff with the tools needed for the Dodgers to win their first World Series title since 1988 .

While I believe the Dodgers to be a good team, they are far from being a great team and that is what is needed in the postseason if the franchise is to make it their ambition to win a world title. NL MVP and Cy Young winner in 2014 Clayton Kershaw , teammates Zack Greinke , Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig will have to show a great deal more than what was witnessed during 2014, especially during the postseason.

Don Mattingly and his team will begin their regular season with a home game at Dodgers Ballpark in Los Angeles California against the San Diego Padres on the 6th April, 2015. For Matt Kemp, it provides the player with the chance to renew old acquaintances with former teammates, as he gets the chance to play at the stadium where some of the most famous exploits of his career took place. Padres’ GM A J Preller and team manager Bud Black will be looking to make this team worthy challengers to the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants this season within the NL West , which I believe will be one of the toughest divisions in all of baseball this upcoming season.

Where would we be without some drama being provided by baseball’s most illustrious ball-club? This season will be the first time in over two decades , where the now retired Derek Jeter will not be part of the New York Yankees’ opening day lineup. Major changes have taken place within the organization , among the playing staff, with several players departing , while the Yankees seek to reshape the roster, which at its core, is still one, with several players at the twilight of their careers . It cannot have escaped anyone’s notice, in the midst of this all, Alex Rodriguez was welcomed back into the fold, but I feel that the player, while being closely scrutinized, he likely to make another misstep and as before, then look to apportion blame elsewhere for his own misdeeds, as so often been the case over the past eight and a half years. If nothing else, Rodriguez has been more consistent off the field with his repeated lies than he has been on the field for the Yankees during the time-span in question.

The New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman has continually been afforded the means necessary to craft a team, he believes capable of winning a World Series, but last season’s disastrous showing had more to do with disjointed performances and an aging roster riddled with injuries throughout the year. Out the window it appears, has been the notion of paring down payroll to a manageable size , because clearly Cashman , Joe Girardi , the managerial staff and ownership place no faith in the organization’s farm system. Granted, a number of players made appearances at various points during last season, having been promoted up from AAA, but I believe, it had more to do with Cashman being at a loss, not willing to splurge and taking something of conservative approach. Now it all comes down to, which player on the roster can Joe Girardi look to , in providing the leadership necessary for the Yankees to be successful this upcoming season ?

The New York Yankees have a great deal of money tied up in players , such as Alex Rodriguez, C C Sabathia , Masahiro Tanaka , Mark Teixeira , Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran . Salary commitments for the New York Yankees in 2015 will top $210 million , which pales into comparison to the monies being paid out this year ($267 million) by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Inasmuch, as many try to point out there is parity within the game of baseball, there is nothing at all to really bear this out, because in essence, what it all does come down to more than anything else_______ talent on the field of play and extremely good managerial skills. Overlooking that premise and simply using the analogy of parity suggests pragmatism and laziness on the part of those watching the game. However, it should be noted, of the participants in last season’s postseason, several were among the top paying teams in all of baseball.

I certainly do not believe Alex Rodriguez can or will provide the leadership sought by Joe Girardi ! Among the players on the team, where the trait needed for team success to become a reality, the most likely candidate would appear to be Jacoby Ellsbury, a player ,whose career with the Boston Red Sox was well-chronicled, albeit, his last season and a-half with the franchise was more injury riddled, with a noted decline in his productivity . Last season , there were glimpses of Ellsbury back to almost his very best and providing the leadership sought which will surely be missed with the retirement of Derek Jeter ! The Yankees will kick off their regular season schedule with a three-game home series’ opener against divisional rivals the Toronto Blue Jays , beginning on the 6th April, 2015. The AL East , where both teams reside, will likely prove to be another competitive season, with the Baltimore Orioles looking to fend off the challenge of their their divisional foes in defense of the divisional title , while also seeking to steer away the rest of the AL and their NL opponents in 2015.

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What are you hoping to see come out of the first two months of the MLB season ? Also, at the half-way point of the schedule which teams and players do you believe will have made something of a statement as to their intent ? Merely leave a comment as you see fit on the questions raised and anything else you believe relevant to the article.

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(1) San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner , left, and manager Bruce Bochy stand by the trophies after their 3-2 win against the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 of baseball’s World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. Bumgarner’s scintillating postseason displays were just one of the many reasons why the Giants prevailed in a drama driven and thrilled packed World Series . AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

(2) Oct 29 , 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; MLB commissioner Bud Selig (right) presents San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (left) , chief executive officer Larry Baer (middle) and general manager Brian Sabean with the Commissioners Trophy after game seven of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium . Charlie Neibergall/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

(3) Howie Kendrick (47) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is congratulated by teammate Albert Pujols (5) after driving in the game winning run in the tenth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 4-3 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 28, 2014 in Anaheim, California. Far right , is Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout. rtfied;a222) Getty Images North America / Lisa Blumenfeld

(4) Mike Trout (27) celebrates with Mike Scioscia (14) of the Los Angeles Angels after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. Getty Images / Jamie Squire

(5) Giancarlo Stanton is seen here hitting a home run off Jonathan Pettibone during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies . The Marlins’ slugger signed a $325 million contract with the franchise, making it the most expensive deal in baseball history and the most expensive in any of the four major professional team sports in North America . AP Photo / Alison Fisher

(6) A pensive looking Alex Rodriguez looks up from the dugout to the scoreboard during a game . The New New York Yankees’ third baseman has not played in regular season game for the ball-club since the latter half of the 2013 season . Having sat out all of last year due to a league mandated suspension, Rodriguez will be returning to a team , missing two of its most popular players after the retirement of Derek Jeter and the departure of Ichiro Suzuki who during the off season signed a one-year deal with the Miami Marlins . It remains to be seen whether or not Alex Rodriguez can contribute to a team lacking leadership and a great deal of productivity in terms of overall offense. AP Photo / Keith Slocum

(7) New York Yankees’ teammates Derek Jeter , left and Jacoby Ellsbury leave the field after a game between the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels . Jeter’s retirement after a two-decade long career with the organization , leaves a tremendous void and vacuum, with their now being viewed as what is likely no real on-field leadership. Ellsbury might be seen as the ideal replacement for such a role. but there doesn’t appear to any signs from management or the front office as to whether or not Jacoby Ellsbury will succeed Jeter as the captain of the New York Yankees . A role of stature which has only ever been held by five players during the franchise’s illustrious history during the past four decades. AP Photo / Keith Wallace
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It’s the silly season and we’re having fun …

It’s the silly season and we’re having fun …

MLB’s off-season has proven to be a .folly of sorts, with teams now spending at will , capriciously on free agents who are likely to be overpaid for their alleged productivity. Many of these franchises will be looking to position themselves for the arrival of Spring Trainingand the regular season which begins on the 4th April , 2015. Reigning World Series’ champions the San Francisco Giants will enter the season having won their third title in the past five seasons, with both Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean back to lead this roster as they seek a fourth win of baseball’s most prestigious prize.

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San Francisco wasted no time in re-signing their World Series MVP pitcher Madison Bumgarner whose postseason exploits were simply scintillating and beyond the perception of the most ardent fans of the game. Bumgarner in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals was a one-man wrecking crew bewildering the Royals’ hitters, leaving them dismayed and completely perplexed .

Heading into 2015, San Francisco will be without another of their postseason heroes with 2012 World Series’ MVP Pablo Sandoval having been allowed to leave the team as unrestricted free agent . Sandoval signed a very lucrative contract joining the Boston Red Sox where he is likely to be hitting in the Red Sox batting order ahead of DH David Ortiz. GM Brian Sabean may have felt it prudent to eschew Sandoval’s financial desires , instead choosing to take his chances with a projected lineup of Buster Posey , Hunter Pence , Travis Ishikawa, Gregor Blanco, Brandon Crawford , Joaquin Arias and a number of players likely to be promoted from their minor league system as the club seeks to bolster an offense that wasproductive throughmuch of the regular and postseason.

There may well have been doubters of Sabean, who made the decision allowing the departure of Pablo Sandoval , but the mercurial general manager has been quick to make a number of moves likely to improve the lineup for the upcoming season. One would be hard pressed to question the moves of an executive, thought to be among the best general managersin all of baseball. Brian Sabaen’s record speaks for itself. San Francisco is likely to be a considerable favorite to win the NL West division in spite of the likely moves being made by the Los Angeles Dodgers under their new Head of Baseball Operations & SVP Andrew Friedman.

Friedman’s departure from the Tampa Bay Rays caught off, just about everyone by surprise, including his former fellow executives , the fans and analysts around the game. Add in the fact, the team’s manager Joe Maddon also made an abrupt departure to take a similar position with the Chicago Cubs and one might suggest the franchise got hit with a ” double-whammy ” . Matthew Silverman has succeeded Andrew Friedman and the ball-club hired former hometown hero Kevin Cash to succeed Maddon as the team’s new manager. How this will all be viewed by the Rays’ fans will now be open to a great deal of conjecture and debate. Cash is a first time manager with no managerial experience, though he does have playing experience with an eight-year career in the Majors having played one season with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2005.

Having spent in excess of half-a-billion dollars ($500,000,000) by way of salary commitments over the past two seasons. It is understandable, that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ executives felt it necessary to take a fresh look at the direction this ball-club was taking. In explicably, they had the best pitcher in baseball, but Clayton Kershaw’s postseason productivity had to be considered a monumental disaster. The team may well have pinned their hopes on Kershaw this past postseason, but the player was nowhere to be seen with his ERA among the highest of the starting pitchers during the 2014 playoffs’ foray. It would be easy to suggest the Dodgers’ pitching was their Achilles’ Heel, but that would be the farthest thing from the truth their offense being almost anemic and pedantic during this Fall.

It is my belief Don Mattingly and his managerial staff did little to provide his players with any impetus or the desire to win, relying merely on the fact a jigsaw puzzle of ill-fitting pieces made up of highly overpaid stars would be enough to get the job done. It will be interesting to see whether not Andrew Friedman will be able to keep the team’s payroll for the upcoming season at a manageable level and by that I mean lower than the $200 million threshold , where baseball’s luxury tax kicks in ,with team, then having to pay a penalty for going above the aforementioned figure.

Money would be of no object, where the Dodgers’ is almost half that of the value of several teams within baseball and then you add in the fact , the organization has a two-decade $3 billion ($3,000,000,000) television deal , which reaps this organization $150 million annually. Not bad for a ball-club, whose lastWorld Series’ triumph came as far back as 1988. Magic Johnson, Mark Walter , Todd S Boehly , Peter Guber and several other partners are intent on making this franchise the most recognized within the game. Certainly , the Los Angels Dodgers’ name still resonates within the game of baseball , but that is all it has been able to do , because success remains hard to come by, with an uncompetitive brand on the field of play, especially with regard to their two most recent postseason appearances.

Bold moves might not be necessary, but there has to be a shakeup in the Dodgers’ roster, if they are to be seen as credible challengers this upcoming season. Dan Haren, Dee Gordon, and Hanley Ramirez have since departed from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ roster and there is the belief that several otherswill meet the same fate as those jettisoned this off-season. Pitcher Josh Beckett having pitched a “no-hitter” for the team during the regular season in a 6-0 thrashing of the Philadelphia Phillies achieved little of note in the aftermath of the achievement. A free agent in 2015 , it seems highly unlikely he will be making a return to the Dodgers unless it is at a reduced salary , bearing in mind he was paid $15.75 million in the final year of his original eight-year deal signed with the Boston Red Sox.

I’ve often been told how insightful the fans of the Tampa Bay Rays are said to be, but to my mind, I find the fans of the this ball-club eternally optimistic. For whatever reason, year in and year out, repeatedly , I am told this franchise can survive on their meager pickings and a fan-base that in reality , is no more than an average of 15,000 hardcore fans and that is in spite of the reported attendance levels for the team’s home games at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida,, In what can only be described as another down year for this organization. The Tampa Bay Rays finished a distant fourth behind the AL East division winners the Baltimore Orioles , nineteen games out of first place . If that wasn’t a sign of how deplorable the team’s season was said to be, then consider the fact, they missed gaining a wildcard berth within the AL by eleven games . Inasmuch, as Joe Maddon and his coaching staff tried to motivate the team, the talent or level of play simply was not good enough to make a sustainable challenge over the course of the season.

The Rays are never really going to be able to compete with the likes of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees , Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers , Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs , much less teams considered to their market equivalent in terms of size. Furthermore , pointing to the fact the Rays are profitable without acknowledging the fact they are able to eke out such gains by way of an assist from the league hierarchy , indicates the complete lack of knowledge among this team’s fan-base. Yet, in spite of it all, the success attained by the Rays cannot be overlooked. Now comes the hard part, with the loss of such assets as Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon , how will this organization seek to rebound and reacquaint themselves to former heights of glory achieved ? Matthew Silverman comes in with a clean slate , but having to fill an extremely large pair of shoes left by his predecessor Andrew Friedman. Kevin Cash faces an even more daunting task , having to follow in the footsteps of the club’s most beloved and successful manager , Joe Maddon. This upcoming season might be the toughest this organization has had to face on record. Upheavals aside, the ball-club has reverted to ways of old , as they jettisoned players during and prior to the off-season, seeking to pare down the team’s payroll.

You can tell a great deal about an organization , when they are on the verge of losing their perhaps their best player. So, it was with the New York Yankees , as Derek Jeter’s career came to an uncompromising end. No postseason heroics or the raising of another World Series’ title, just a disappointing year for the player and the ball-club as Joe Girardi came up with a litany of excuses for a lackluster year-long performance by a team of undeserving players . Granted, the Yankees finished second in the AL East, yet, it was simply fitting the division’s champions, the Baltimore Orioles fell at the very first hurdle, when they succumbed to the Kansas City Royals in the championship series’ of the postseason, losing emphatically 4-0 in the ALCS. Emphasizing how poor the play just happened to be in the AL East, all season long.

A payroll of just over $200 million , much of it misspent , brought about lackluster returns, with Brian Cashman and members of the front office at a loss to explain what went wrong last season. An aging core of players who failed to deliver, with the likes of CC Sabathia , Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner , Alfonso Soriano , Brian McCann , Hiroki Kuroda, Shane Greene , Mark Teixeira and others were said to be a core unit, this ball-club could rely on, to bring back some semblance of success, Instead they performed like a damp squib, lit to celebrate an event , but they simply fail to light up that event and make it a success. In the aftermath of it all, Brian Cashman is now said to be counting on the return of disgraced Yankees’ star Alex Rodriguez to resurrect the fortunes of this franchise in 2015. I liken that premise, of trying to place a square peg into a round hole ! Nothing about Rodriguez’s return to the game, will be of benefit to the sport, much less to the benefit of the organization. Idiotically, Cashman , Hank and Hal Steinbrenner stood idly by, as the player lied repeatedly, about his wantoned use of steroids, but they failed to reprimand the Rodriguez , leaving it instead , to a bumbling and incompetent hierarchy, first led by Bud Selig , who has handed over the reins to the equally inept , Rob Manfred ,succeeding his predecessor as the new incoming Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

What has become abundantly clear, is the very fact, the Yankees’ managerial staff and Cashman have no implicit faith in their farm system and the talent said to be on display within the lower rungs of the organization. The franchise has now become overly reliant on buying its way out of trouble rather than seeking to groom the alleged talent within its ranks. This off-season , we are likely to see an influx of new faces and a completely new lineup when the team takes to the field in their first regular season game of 2015. That contest, will be their home season opener against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankees Stadium , in the Bronx, New York City, New York on the 6th April , 2015,.

There is no denying , as a professional sports’ franchise owner and businessman Jerry Reinsdorf has tasted success at the highest levels. His ownership of the Chicago Bulls during the well-chronicled era of Michael Jorda’s dominance of the NBA and their six NBA titles highlighted one of the brightest eras of the NBA’s history. Yet, the forlorn years of his ownership of the Chicago White Sox has brought that particular baseball franchise one championship , coming in 2005, when the team defeated the Houston Astros with in an easy 4-0 sweep of the then National League franchise. In the subsequent years things have not been so beneficial for the White Sox or their long-suffering fans. Since that historic second World Series’ win, the Chicago White Sox have made only one other postseason appearance , where they made it to the ALDS in 2008, only to suffer a series’ defeat (3-1) at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The White Sox organization has seen some major upheavals by way of the player personnel staff, managers and general managers over the past decade and a half. Through the midst of it all , the one bright spot has been knowing they have succeeded, where the Chicago Cubs have failed so dramatically in achieving> and that is to win a world championship. One hundred years and counting, the “monkey” has yet to come off the neck or shoulders of the downtrodden Cubs’ franchise. 1908 was the year the Chicago Cubs were anointed champions of the baseball world and there still seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for the Wrigley Field faithful.

The White Sox, this off-season have begun to spend lavishly , acquiring free agents as if they were an endangered species , with GM Rick Hahn now overseeing Baseball Operations for the ball-club. . Adam LaRoche , Zack Duke, Melky Cabrera and David Robertson have joined the staff of the Chicago White Sox. There is a clear thought process behind these maneuvers , and it may well be Hahn feels the window of opportunity for the Detroit Tigers is rapidly closing with their failure to make a spirited run to win a World Series’ title. The Tigers’ recent postseason failures have proven to be a bitter and ” hard pill to swallow for team owner Michael Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski, but the owner and executive continue to toil on.

With Dombrowski not being able to come to contractual terms with Max Scherzer , it would appear that the pitcher’s time with the Detroit Tigers could be coming to a close. Scherzer wants to be paid like a superstar based on his award winning 2013 season , but one of year stellar production is not the basis to be given a multi-year, multimillion dollar contract. Wisdom suggests calmer heads may well prevail, but yet in the world of baseball, logic tends to be thrown right out the damn window, as exhibited with the recent idiocy by the Miami Marlins and their signing Giancarlo Stanton to the most lucrative contract in baseball history and professional team sports’ history in North America.

Perhaps , only in the NBA and baseball, where the players’ contracts are guaranteed, do we tend to see this type of financial extravagance , while idiots try and suggest, both sports are being well-ran by their respective hierarchies and where financial expediency is actually being shown in both sports .

A meeting of the minds, has yet to happen, with the overwhelming presence of the NBPA and MLBPA sending the unions into conniptions, each time the words ” mandatory salary cap” are mentioned . I have always maintained, you can tell a great deal about a business or a sports’ enterprise simply based upon the trust between the two parties , the union, who represent the employees and governing bodies as the employers. If there is continued mistrust, then the likelihood , is that entity is in dire trouble, even when there is said to be millions of dollars being reaped , annually. Profits may well go a long way, but it clearly does not represent common sense or intelligence, being shown . Ask yourself this question, in spite of the popularity of the NFL, how is it, they repeatedly have so many pratfalls, many of which, are self-induced ? Have you been able to come up with an answer ?

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This upcoming season in baseball, which teams or players do you believe will provide the most excitement ? Also, do you believe the dominance of the San Francisco Giants can be quelled successfully by an NL opponent over the course of the year ? By all means, leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site, as it’s gratefully appreciated !

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Picture gallery and slideshow details below.
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(1) San Francisco Giants’ catcher Buster Posey left , is seen here with World Series’ MVP Madison Bumgarner , as the two celebrate the team’s Game 7 , 3-2 win , a victory over the Kansas City Royals , The series’ victory gave the Giants their third World Series’ triumph over the past five years and fifth overall . The Giants will enter 2015 without Pablo Sandoval , the ball-club’s 2012 Series’ MVP , who joined the Boston Red Sox during the off-season . AP Photo / Andy Addams …..

(2) Giants’ pitcher Madison Bumgarner celebrates in the locker room after his team’s 3-2 Game 7 triumph over the Kansas City Royals. Bumgarner’s exploits this postseason placed him in the upper echelons of baseball’s postseason pitching history , with a number eye dazzling feats. The player was signed to a five-year contract extension by GM Brian Sabean securing their young star on very exceptional pitching rotation in 2015. quite possibly the best in the NL and MLB overall. AP Photo / Ezra Rodriguez ..

(3) Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington(left) is seen here with the team’s newest acquisition , slugger Pablo Sandoval . The Red Sox also acquired Hanley Ramirez from the Los Angeles Dodgers as an unrestricted free agent, signing both players to lucrative deals . Cherington hopes the duo will be able to provide the Red Sox offense with some additional firepower this upcoming season . Getty Images/ Alexander Hough …

(4) Chicago Cubs’ general manager Jed Hoyer ,left, is seen here with Joe Maddon as he is formerly being introduced to the convened press at the Cubs’ official press meeting, announcing Maddon has succeeded Dale Sveum as the club’s sixtieth manager in franchise history. The former Tampa Bay Rays’ manager left that organization after several successful years , taking the franchise from worst to one of the most competitive teams in baseball during his tenure. However, there seems to be some change of discord and the lack of leadership being shown within the front office , leading to Maddon’s abrupt departure along with the team’s former GM Andrew Friedman who joined the Los Angeles Dodgers to become their Head of Baseball Operations. Also pictured , Cubs’ President & SVP Theo Epstein. AP Photo / Michael Holmes …

(5) Los Angeles’ manager Don Mattingly looks on at his pitcher Clayton Kershaw as the pair , along with members of the coaching staff and trainers are in the dugout during a game played at Dodgers Ballpark in Los Angeles, California ,. The team made it to the 2014 MLB Postseason where they swept aside in the NLDS with consummate ease by the St Louis Cardinals . It was the second year in succession where the club had fallen to their NL rivals . Kershaw performed miserably throughout the postseason along with his teammates. With Andrew Friedman being hired to take over all personnel decision making and the lateral promotion of Ned Colletti , lead managing partner Mark Walter was adamant , sweeping changes had to be made. Several players have since been released by the ball-club , including Josh Beckett and Hanley Ramirez . More moves are expected to me made in the coming weeks . The Los Angeles Dodgers have at least four players on their current roster who will be earning in excess of $20 million this upcoming season , among the highest tally of the league’s thirty teams . Getty Images/ Hugh Davidson ….

(6) Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn (2nd from the right) introduces Jeff Samardzija , David Robertson and Melky Cabrera on Tuesday , Dec. 16, 2014 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago , Illinois,. Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune

(7) Detroit Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski ,left, is seen here alongside Prince Fielder , center and team owner Michael Ilitch after the team formally introduced the player to the convened press at Comerica Park in Detroit Michigan , on 26th January, 2012. The player was signed as a free agent by the team, after Fielder chose not to re-sign with the Milwaukee Brewers. Prince Fielder’s tenure with the Tigers was short-lived and he was traded to the Texas Rangers where the AL West based team will assume the remainder of his existing contract . AP Photo/ Xavier Harris …

(8) February 17th , 2009 , Alex Rodriguez followed by GM Brian Cashman and Derek Jeter on their way to the press conference where A-Rod admitted using Steroids. With the retirement of the Yankees’ short-stop at the end of the 2014 season , Cashman hopes the beleaguered and still despised Rodriguez will be able to provide the team with the impetus needed to have a successful season . During his league imposed ban, Alex Rodriguez has chosen not to offer any public interviews to discuss his suspension , choosing instead, to prepare himself mentally and physically for the long haul of a one and hundred and sixty-two game schedule of the regular season . The player’s cousin , Yuri Sucart was recently indicted in US Federal Court alongside Anthony ‘Tony’ Bosch , (founder of Biogenesis) for running an illegal drug ring , along with the transportation and selling of steroids and other illicit drug paraphernalia . Getty Images / Tate Reynolds ….

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I can feel the burn just as much as she does ! So , what’s not to like ?

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Audrey Bitoni reveals more than natural beauty, she’s got a nice rack ”
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Fallout , what fallout ?

Fallout, what fallout ?

After one of the most eventful postseasons in recent baseball history MLB has anointed their World Series’ champion for the 2014 season , with the San Francisco Giantswinning their third title in the past five seasons,defeating the Kansas City Royals . For manager Bruce Bochy , his third title and a dynasty in the making , or should we subscribe to the fact the Giants have been the best team in baseball since 2010? When it has mattered most the ball club have shown their resiliency on the road and proven themselves to be one of the greatest franchises in recent postseason history. Where the Giants stand alongside such great and dominant teams of the past will likely ignite a debate of conjecture and a great deal of bias. Baseball has changed immensely over the past three decades and undoubtedly the managerial acumen and play must be taken into account when trying to assess the achievements of the San Francisco Giants.

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Slideshow.

Brian Sabean has proven himself to be a general manager with a great deal of acumen assembling a roster which has been competitive all season long. While the Giants may well have failed to win the NL West division , you simply cannot deny they were by far a better team than divisional champion the Los Angeles Dodgers , who once again proved that a quarter billion dollar payroll($250,000,000) counts for absolutely nothing, when there happens to be no team leadership or managerial leadership to be found within the organization. ,

The Dodgers’ front office where there has been a recent upheaval with GM Ned Colletti being given a lateral move or deemed in some circles a demotion , with Andrew Friedman being brought in the franchise’s operations where he will in fact become Head of Baseball Operations . It begs the question , what now becomes of the hierarchical order , where there now seems to be more executives than there are actual real decision-makers among the managerial staff of this team ? Also, how much latitude will now be given to Friedman, if one his main duties will be to hire a new general manager , while given the full authority in making the decisions affecting all personnel moves concerning the playing staff?

First order of business for Andrew Friedman beyond the hire of a new general manager if thought to be necessary , will be the projected lineup of the Dodgers for next season . With several players having performed poorly , a number of them highly overpaid , the feeling has to be a number of the players in questionare likely to be traded. Josh Beckett and Hanley Ramirez are two of the players I believe will be placed on the trading block along with Carl Crawford. The trio are not the only team members likely to be jettisoned, but it may well be the place to start, as Andrew Friedman looks to pare down the team’s payroll and then assess the talent within the Dodgers’ farm system for players he believes can contribute to future of the Dodgers as they seek competitiveness and consistency.

This off-season will prove to be one , where a number of general managers around the game of baseball will be seeking to make the type of deals likely to make their teams competitive. While the Kansas City Royals proved themselves competitive during the postseason , my own feeling the reasons why they came up short against the San Francisco Giants , had more to do with their lack of postseason experience among the playing staff . All of the momentum shown during the wildcard game , ALDS , ALCS and the World Series could not hide the fact Ned Yost’s acumen could not make up for the lack of playoff experience and veteran leadership needed.

Lawrence Baer and his fellow partners who make up the ownership group of the San Francisco Giants will have been entirely happy with what they have witnessed this season from their team. A series’ victory , appreciation of the Giants’ value , profits and the likely rise in attendance levels going into next season . Brian Sabean will likely make one or two moves to bolster the team’s roster heading into the upcoming season but if he can keep his core group of players intact , there is no reason to believe why the San Francisco Giants cannot be seen as a presumptive favorite to quite possibly repeat as World Series’ champion. If there are said to be any issues for the Giants in their retention of several players , it may well come down to the fact they will have to deal with the contract negotiations of team members in arbitration seeking a substantial pay raise . World Series’ MVP , Madison Bumgarner , Gregor Blanco , Sergio Romo and Pablo Sandoval , I believe should be offered deals commensurate with their talent, but given the wiles of baseball and the economic imbalances that continue within the game, it is hard to envisage how Sabean is likely to retain all of the players in question .

Larry Baer might well seek to increase the team’s payroll in 2015 , seeking to fall in line with a number of their main competitors ,but I am inclined to believe the team owner and their partners will simply follow the template set by their celebrated general manager Brian Sabean. After-all, the executive’s success can be considered the modern-day blueprint as to how to get the best out of the resources at one’s disposal. The proof has been there for all to see in the last five years .

One of the biggest disappointments of the 2014 season was the failure of the Atlanta Braves to compete within the NL East and not making the postseason . The firing of Frank Wren as the Braves’ general manager was not a great surprise but the retention of Fredi Gonzalez might well have been the biggest surprise of all , as I felt Gonzalez was negligent in his managerial duties along with his managerial staff !Hard to believe , that other than the Washington Nationals whose win of the division was made to look extremely easy , with the Nationals being the only ball-club with a record over .500 within the NL East was simply exacerbated by the mediocrity of the within.

Atlanta and the New York Mets (79-83 [.488]) shared the same final mark with their second placed finish and it begs the question how bad the play within the division much less the rest of baseball over the course of last season ? Fredi Gonzalez was extremely lucky he was retained as the Braves’ manager , but I guess team President John Scheurholz and general manager John Hart believed the manager could not be faulted for the team’s failure and poor play during 2014 . The Braves’ $112.9 million payroll was somewhat middling in comparison to many of their National League rivals and the ongoing economic imbalances which still exist.

Jason Heyward and Justin Upton are said to be two of the players the Braves are seeking to “shop around” during the off-season and the Winter Meetings of the executives , is likely generate a great deal of interest in the duo , players who are seen as being very productive at their very best . Another player likely to be seen superfluous to the Braves’ needs could be BJ Upton whose year with the team was very much understated and less than impressive. Upton the elder sibling of Justin Upton has failed to live up to his five-year $72 million contract , since being acquired by the Atlanta Braves from the Tampa Bay Rays.As an avowed fan of the Atlanta Braves if there is to be a player moved by the ball-club this off-season , I would prefer to see BJ Upton moved , as I believe it would be far more preferential to keep Jason Heyward and Justin Upton , simply because there is more of an upside to their respective careers , than a faltering veteran such as BJ Upton.

If there is one thing to be said about the New York Mets , it is, that their fans continue to make excuses for the team’s failings over the past six seasons . Team owners , Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz , along with COO Jeff Wilpon have continued to show their lack of initiative and for the well-being of the franchise in spite of their financial burden having been lifted . If you consider being bailed out by a number of financial institutions meaningful , because the owners sought to hide behind their willful negligence in their handling of the team’s finances as being prudent. Then I can only imagine , there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of intelligence among the fan-base or within the inner workings of this organization ! Sandy Alderson and JP Ricciardi are still trying to figure out how to fit a square peg into a round hole, in terms of the make up of the team’s roster. Not so long ago praise was being heaped upon the shoulders of pitcher Matt Harvey , but with his falling back to earth, rather than the earlier promise being shown , the fans and media alike within the city are now throwing their weight behind their crop of young and upcoming players within their farm system .

Harvey spent the entire 2014 season on the sidelines , due to an injury and the pitching staff though passable did not do enough to ignite the team or make them competitive enough within the NL or baseball in general. The real issues with the Mets laid in the fact their offense was simply inept and downright pitiful.

Terry Collins as the manager of the New York Mets may well have been given a reprieve because of the team’s second place finish in a rather mediocre NL East division in 2014. With talks of Sandy Alderson , said to be pursuing a list of marquee free agents as well as possibly reacquiring Jose Reyes , it begs the question beyond also assessing the farm system, what else is the front office executive prepared to do to make this ball-club truly competitive? New York kicks off their regular season schedule with a game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Ballpark in Washington , DC in the Nationals’ home opener on the 6th April, 2015,.

Fool me once , shame on you , fool me twice , shame on me . A third time and I think we get the picture ! Alex Rodriguez will be allowed that privilege of doing so once again and likely the MLB hierarchy will only be too delighted in proving to be complete imbeciles, allowing the disgraced third baseman to fool the fans of the game once again . With the retirement of Derek Jeter after his two-decade career as a New York Yankees’ player. The game of baseball , specifically the Yankees’ organization are now looking to Rodriguez to pick up the pieces of a team which last season was flawed and in complete disarray. As a player , Alex Rodriguez has never provided the leadership sought on the field of play, let alone away from the field, carrying himself with any type of decorum. Instead, his persona has been one of a conceited individual , hiding behind deceit , lies and blaming others for his own misdeeds and then using his legal representatives to create the facade of his being racially targeted for his using of banned substances as prohibited by Major League Baseball (MLB). The fact that the press sought to ignore this , while Rodriguez’s own supporters and lawyers sought to use this a pretext in his now well-chronicled complaints , defending himself in his arbitration appeal of his suspension, points to his character or lack thereof and a weakened hierarchy and an all too powerful union (MLBPA) who assisted in providing the player with his legal representation.

Baseball under the leadership of Bud Selig has continued to shoot itself in the foot , in its own ass, as well as making complete fools of the fans, while trying to point what they deem to be improvements in the game. The use of modern technology to right the wrongs of umpires who either have no comprehension of the game or the fact they’re overweight , not athletic and archaic monoliths, only points to the fact baseball remains in a damn time-warp of its own choosing. While Bud Selig may well be stepping down in his role as commissioner. his successor Rob Manfred doesn’t exactly exude confidence or seems to be a prudent choice as successor of the now departed Selig. The team owners wanted an ” insider” and as usual, what they sought , they actually got.

The New York Yankees while not being part of the MLB postseason will seek to make a big splash during the off-season , looking to acquire players , while painstakingly eschewing the idea of an organization wanting to be financially prudent. New York was the first baseball franchise to exceed the $200 million barrier in terms of an annual payroll obligations, when they reached the mark for the very first time in 2008 . In the subsequent years the Yankees’ payroll has continued to increase until 2013 when the Los Angeles Dodgers overwhelmed everyone with their gargantuan and all too bloated salary commitments, far outstripping their closest rivals . Alex Rodriguez’s return to the game in 2015, will once again make him the highest paid player in baseball in terms of contract value and base salary , albeit , his almost year-long suspension , saw the player lose in excess of $23.5 million in salary . What Rodriguez is now able to offer the New York Yankees at this stage of his career will be predicated upon whether or not they and the fans believe, he is still capable of hitting of thirty-plus home runs in a season , while maintaining a batting average close to .300 or above . A tall order for a player who hasn’t reached that plateau in quite a while

This upcoming season, I believe the New York Yankees are likely to struggle , simply because at its core this will still remain an aging team , with several of the players now past their prime, with no upside to be seen. Injuries are likely to plague the roster , much as it had done in 2014 , and with their being very little suggest that any of their players at the AAA Level are yet ready to be productive at the Big League Level. It simply suggests the Yankees will revert to ways of old and simply spend their way to success , with GM Brian Cashman leading the charge .

There seems to be this apathy among fans when they try to suggest there are “classy organizations” in baseball. If that were the case , we would actually have the general managers and owners questioning the direction of the league hierarchy and the constant haranguing of baseball’s image because of the players’ misuse of banned substances. Instead , they have chose to remain all too docile, while the players themselves , specifically those are seen as face of baseball , remain all too silent. MLB now has a pathetic image , in spite of a terrific postseason and one of the best World Series in recent history. Unfortunately, those thrilling moments cannot hide the fact, the game is still plagued by steroid cheats ” , and with a union which would rather defend the rights of the players who have knowingly sought to subvert the image of baseball purely for financial gain and acclaim. The pretext offered by the likes of Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro , Curt Schilling , Ryan Braun , Manny Ramirez and Roger Clemens , Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez , has gone a long way in creating a forlorn image and perception for baseball’s fans , while the postseason can be thrilling , one mere suggestion of cheating, simply knocks the game back on its heels , leaving the fans in great dismay. As to what comes next , we will have to wait and see what the 2015 season has to offer.

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Picture gallery .

In the aftermath of a thrilling postseason in baseball, , what do you hope to see this upcoming year from within the game ? Do you also believe MLB can escape any major controversy over the course of the season concerning the conduct of the players ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below.

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(1) World Series MVP Madison Bumgerner of the San Francisco Giants celebrates after the team’s thrilling 3-2 victory in game seven of the World Series to clinch the Giants’ third title in the past five seasons under manager Bruce Bochy . AP Photo / Chris Elliot …

(2) Larry Baer , San Francisco Giants’ senior managing partner is seen here holding the World Series’ Trophy alongside Brian Sabean , right , after the team’s triumph in the 2014 World Series over the Kansas City Royals . Getty Images North America / Paul Mayhew …

(3) Andrew Friedman is seen here alongside Los Angeles Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten . Friedman, left the Tampa Bay Rays to accept the position as the Dodger’ Head of Baseball Operations where he will oversee all player personnel decisions, being directly answerable to Kasten and other senior executives within the Dodgers’ ownership group. AP Photo/ Matt Turner ….

(4) New York Mets’ manager Terry Collins may well have received a lucky reprieve after the team’s surprising second place finish in a very mediocre NL East division this past season . Division champions the Washington Nationals were the only team to finish with an above . 500 record . Yet they fell in the postseason in the NLDS without putting up much of a fight. AP Photo/ Sarah Miles ….

(5) Alex Rodriguez is seen here in the dugout alongside New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi ,left , as the two discuss team strategy. Rodriguez missed the entire 2014 season having fought to be reinstated after being given a year-long suspension for a violation of baseball’s substance abuse program , a claim which Rodriguez denied. His return to baseball is seen as a the last chance for the player to resurrect his career and a possible chance of enhancing his prospects of being a future Hall of Fame inductee . .AP Photo/Andrew Matthews …

(6) New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Giardi will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed in 2015. The team has not won a World Series title since 2009 and failed to make the postseason in 2014 , finishing a disappointing and distant second in the AL East , twelve games behind division winners the Baltimore Orioles . This season the manager and front office executive will be looking to Alex Rodriguez to provide some semblance of leadership as well leading the offense which was among the weakest in the AL , as well as MLB overall . UPI / Mark Taylor … ….
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Alive And Kicking In Kansas Or Not ………. But Dorothy And Toto Are Still Popular

Alive And Kicking In Kansas Or Not ………. But Dorothy And Toto Are Still Popular

There’s no reason to think that the mindset of an organization is about to change merely because the ownership makes certain pronouncements . The idiocy of this all is that nothing has changed with the Kansas City Royals . Merely because within the AL Central they sit mid table with an under .500 record (22-28) simply means nothing . Based on the team’s most recent form and the fact that this cannot simply find any consistency much less form in their play , consistency some observers feel that the team and organization simply aren’t warranted of any criticism. Well I say this, if abject futility is something that you feel a team is obliged to offer their fans then you simply can’t understand the premise of objectivity much less being subjective .

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Slide show for your perusal .

In their most recent game played against the Texas Rangers played at Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington , Texas . The Royals were simply out-matched and outplayed by a Rangers team that got the better of the Kansas City Royals and made this team look less than ordinary. I’ve no doubt that team owner David Glass wants the best for this team given the organization’s history but at this juncture I for one feel that this team is so far off from where they need to be that they won’t be challenging for any postseason honors anytime soon ! The Texas Rangers’ offense in this game simply was on fire hitting back to back to back to back home runs and the Royals starting pitcher Sean O’ Sullivan was made to look ordinary at best in the Royals’ 10-1 loss to the Texas Rangers .

At this juncture there’s not much more to say concerning the Royals other than to suggest that their time may well come but it certainly won’t this season or anytime soon . And that’s in spite of their minor league system , draft choices or their top 10 prospects that the organization obviously has a great deal of faith in. Now I might add that although baseball has seen a gamut of financial mismanagement from its hierarchy on down to the general managers and team owners . Please someone tell me how the hell that this travesty within the game can be allowed to continue ? But yet there are those who carry on as if baseball is in a healthy financial state ?

Is it me but the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista is making a mockery of the season in terms of having hit 20 home runs in a mere 50 games for the Blue Jays this season . If Bautista keeps up this pace then quite possibly the single season home run record could very well be in jeopardy . Granted , Barry Bonds’ 73 home runs is still looked upon as being tainted but herein lies the odyssey of this all MLB simply as well as Elias Sports Bureau recognizes this as being a legitimate statistic that’s duly recognized. Can’t say that I blame either organization because as things continue and the records are assailed they will still come under a great deal more suspicion !

In their last ten games the Boston Red Sox (28-22) are 7-3 and are a mere .03 of a percentage point behind the New York Yankees (27-21) within the AL East . The division itself now seems to be a three horse race with the Tampa Bays Rays also making their presence felt , that the AL East is liable to be so competitive and contentious that you’d be hard pressed to pick an outright favorite within the division at this juncture . Each of the three teams in question have been playing at a high level and the mere fact the teams also have their flaws makes the season within the division all the more suspenseful from the fans’ standpoint .

Adrian Gonzalez has had a terrific season thus far for the Red Sox and their initial start to the season now seems to be something of the past . Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona has to pleased with what he’s now seeing from his team and in particular now with Carl Crawford having hit his stride as a Red Sox player. GM Theo Epstein may well have had his doubters when he acquired both Crawford and Gonzalez but the general manager knew that having the duo would make this team a great deal more formidable. All that’s now needed is for their pitching to be far more consistent over the course of the season .

As the first half of the season I’d like to think that the second half will provide us with a great deal of suspense as things play themselves out ! The upcoming All Star Game being played at Chase Field in Phoenix , Arizona could very much be surrounded in a great deal of controversy with the state legislature having passed into law the state’s immigration bill ( SB 1070) which provides law enforcement with the power to request a suspect provide identification as to their immigration status. Now one might take umbrage at that proposal but Gov Jan Brewer (R-Az) felt the need to address this issue knowing full well that the passing of that law would have its consequences amongst its detractors as well as its supporters . With certain provisions in the bill having been struck down by the Appellate Courts at the request of President Obama of which task had been undertaken by the Justice Department . This new bill still gives statewide law enforcement the right to question a suspect as to their immigration status . Something of which many believe should be an issue dealt with by the Department of Homeland Security through the Immigration & Natural Service .

This immigration bill obviously hasn’t sat well with the Hispanic players around the league and I would certainly like to think that the players would be willing participants in the All Star Game but at the same time I understand that they may not favor the enactment of this law within the state of Arizona . This much I do know furor surrounding this emotional issue isn’t about to die down anytime soon , as both sides feel that they have something to prove . The Obama administration may well feel that the state of Arizona has overstepped their boundaries but I do feel that successive Presidential administrations down the years have simply shied away from having a comprehensive immigration bill on the books as a statute. Make of it what you will but simply ask yourself who benefits from the idiocy we are now seeing on both sides of political aisle ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

To the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have on those mentioned and how do you see the season panning out within Major League Baseball ? Simply chime in with a comment as you’d deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ………………………………

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) Kansas City Royals’ Jeff Francoeur (21) tosses his bat after striking out against Texas Rangers relief pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama in the eighth inning of a baseball game on Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Arlington. Francoeur went 1-for-4 with no runs in the 10-1 Rangers win. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ….

(2) Texas Rangers’ Mike Napoli (25) is greeted at the dugout by Ian Kinsler, right, and the rest of the team following Napoli’s solo home run off Kansas City Royals’ Sean O’Sullivan in the second inning of a baseball game on Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ……

(3) Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Sean O’Sullivan (37) walks to the back of the mound as Texas Rangers’ Mitch Moreland, rear, rounds the bases following his solo home in the second inning of a baseball game on Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …..

(4) Toronto Blue Jays Aaron Hill swings at a ball from Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Harrell as catcher Ramon Castro and home plate umpire David Rackley look on during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Sunday May 29, 2011. The Blue Jays would defeat the White Sox 13_4 . AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young ….

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(5) Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista watches his three-run home run hit during the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Toronto. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese …..

(6) Detroit Tigers’ Andy Dirks, right, scores against Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek from first base on a double by Brennan Boesch in the first inning of game two of a baseball double-header Sunday, May 29, 2011 in Detroit. AP Photo/Duane Burleson……

(7) Adrian Gonzalez (28) of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by teammate Carl Crawford (13) after Gonzalez scored in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs on May 22, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Before this series, the two teams haven’t played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. Elsa Martinez / Getty Images North America …

(8) Digger Phelps throws the ceremonial first pitch prior to the start of the Chicago Cubs’ baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Chicago. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ……

(9) Chicago Cubs starter Randy Wells wipes his face after Pittsburgh Pirates’ Ronny Cedeno’s three-run home run, during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Chicago. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ….

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NB: Can someone remind Digger Phelps that the Chicago Cubs play baseball and not college basketball ! His thoughts during his rendition of ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame ‘ and the thinking that Cubs could overcome a 10-0 deficit with three innings to go against the Pirates simply shows what an asshole this guy is at times ! The Cubs would actually be blanked 10-0 at Wrigley Field by the Pirates .

As of 28th May when this piece was originally written the MLB standings having changed .