Horses for courses and bull#hit is for those, who simply love to wallow in it

Horses for courses and bull#hit is for those, who simply love to wallow in it

I can’t but wonder the bull#hit now being espoused by idiots not only in the world of politics but also within the world of sports. Former GOP Vice Presidential running mate Sarah Palin has taken it upon herself to defend the comments made by Curt Schilling , as the former baseball player took it upon himself to describe some Egyptians and Muslim extremists as ” Nazi ” sympathizers. Schilling has become a pitiful individual , bemoaning the fact he wasn’t among the list of final candidates of those inducted into the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame class, while at the same time not being ready to answer for his own misdeeds as a former businessman. It is well-chronicled how the player and his business partners mismanaged their former gaming company , declaring bankruptcy , and then seeking to blame their state of Rhode Island for their incompetency, with the state having backed Curt Schilling and business partners with millions of dollars in financing , as well as a favorable tax breaks.

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As for Sarah Palin, her political career has become something of an ongoing joke , while she continues her stumping of GOP conservative candidates and ideology , also continuing to be paid five-figure sums for public speaking engagements nationwide. With the Presidential nomination cycle now said to be in full swing for both parties , it is easy to understand why those already said to be bored with the idiocy it all entails would rather seek solace elsewhere. Palin and Schilling both noted Republicans, might not typically be representative of what the party is said to be about , but it is clear they’re an embarrassment to what one might be an individual deemed to have some semblance of intelligence.

I doubt that Curt Schilling might feel his statements can be taken out of context, while he provided analysis for ESPN during the coverage of the Little League World Series . How this might have anything to do with a group of children participating in one of the nation’s great pastimes might prove to be more embarrassing for the player as well as the network itself.

ESPN has proven to be a bastion for a great deal of hypocrisy , sexism , misogyny and so much more ,while trying to uphold their own idea of journalistic integrity. The network over the past few years and in recent months, has become an environment of complete stupidity, with the outlandish behavior of several current and now former contributors to the broadcast outlet. From my own perspective , I find ESPN simply another bastion of what is said to be totally abhorrent with the media at present as well as being the microcosm of society enlarge !

If there’s said to be one team in baseball which most likely is under the greatest pressure to succeed, then I believe the ball-club in question would have to be the Los Angeles Dodgers . Take into account coming into this season , in 2013 and 2014 the Dodgers failed miserably in each of the postseasons in question. Don Mattingly , might well be under the biggest pressure to succeed most of all, beyond this multi-million dollar lineup on parade this season. This Dodgers’ team has been extremely impressive with the pitching staff being exemplary , led by Zack Greinke , who over his last eight starts has been extremely impressive. Greinke pitched a gem of a game, going seven scoreless innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers “ downed” the Cincinnati Reds on their way to a 1-0 victory over their NL rivals. Don Mattingly’s players will have as their guests at Dodgers Ballpark the Chicago Cubs for a three-day weekend schedule , beginning on Friday evening with Jason Hammel of the Cubs on the mound to face Clayton Kershaw in one of the day’s more exciting games.

Two of the most disappointing teams of this baseball season to my mind , have been the Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners . It’s pretty much safe to say , both organizations are now looking towards 2016 , rather than seeking to glean anything from the remainder of this calendar year or the remaining schedule. The Phillies possess the worst record in the Majors , having posted a 50-78 mark as of 27th August and the managerial staff without a clue about how to get this team playing with any type of consistency . Peter Mackanin the interim manager has now seen several former stars on this ball-club leave for fields elsewhere as the front office has begun to gut the active roster . Chase Utley and Cole Hamels are no longer with the Phillies and there is now little semblance of the team that won the World Series in 2008 defeating the Tampa Bay Rays with utmost ease .

The Philadelphia Phillies are 4-6 in their last ten games , sitting 21 ½ games behind the first place New York Mets in the NL East and twenty-four games behind the combatants in the NL wildcard race. If that isn’t a clear indicator of how disastrous a season the Phillies have managed to put together , then their fans have to be equally embarrassed by the performances of the players. Players within the farm system are now likely to be given the chance to prove themselves worthy of being part of the starting lineup as the season begins to wind down for Philadelphia Phillies.

Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano might be about the only reason to watch the Seattle Mariners this season. Yet for all of the hype over Cano having signed with the Mariners, his bringing a great deal of productivity and leadership to this Seattle team . On the field, with the exception of the aforementioned players the ball-club has been bereft of competitiveness , while Lloyd McClendon and his managerial staff have simply strayed off the path of their planned strategy for success this season.

Seattle enters its weekend schedule with a three-game set against the Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field in Chicago , Illinois beginning on Friday , 28th August, 2015. Taijuan Walker of the Mariners will be on the mound to face John Danks of the White Sox in this AL contest. With what can only be described as abject failure by the Mariners , GM Jack Zduriencik was fired by the Board of Directors where senior managing partner , Howard Lincoln had the full support of the senior-most executives within the Mariners’ hierarchy for the removal of Zduriencik. This was meant to be the year where the Seattle Mariners would be making a credible challenge within the AL West seeking challenge the recent dominance of the Oakland A’s , a team which this has been nowhere near as competitive as some thought they would be. The two teams remain as cellar dwellers in the division where they have been for much of the season .

A’s manager Bob Melvin is likely to be retained by GM Billy Beane heading into the 2016 season , but the real issues facing the organization has been the very fact senior managing Lew Wolff and Michael Crowley remain at loggerheads on how best to proceed concerning the rebuilding of this once proud franchise. It remains a constant financial struggle for the Oakland A’s to be on par with their peers within the game and the fact they will the miss the postseason for 2015 will only add to that struggle. Oakland will try to make this waning month of August and heading into September , something meaningful for the year. Sonny Gray will take the mound on Friday evening when the A’s face the Arizona Diamondbacks and their starting pitcher Chase Anderson .

The difference between 2012 and now with the Miami Marlins . is not a damn thing, as the ball-club still remains in complete disarray and Jeffrey Loria remains the worst owner in Major League Baseball . His commitment to mediocrity is only exceeded by his ongoing blatant stupidity and that of the ” entire” front office of the organization. Giancarlo Stanton’s thirteen- year $325 million contract might as well have been written a role of toilet paper , considering the play of the team over the course of this season. Mike Redmond was jettisoned as the manager early in the year and Dan Jennings has yet to show his competency in his role for this franchise. Michael Hill made a splash with the Stanton contract and the acquisition of Ichiro Suzuki as a free agent , but beyond that the Marlins have simply been a comedic caricature , so representative of so many teams around MLB , no real plan of action other than continuing to show sheer audacity alongside ongoing stupidity .

Winning with consistency has been the farthest thing from the mind of Dan Jennings’ managerial staff as well as the team over the course of this year . Miami’s victory over what has been a very disappointing Washington Nationals team this season, might well provide a slight respite, but I believe Nationals’ manager Matt Williams believes his players are still capable of obtaining one of the two wildcard berths up for grabs within the NL. Nine games out of that final berth may well prove to be too big a task for the Nationals to overcome during the final month of the season , but the final two games of their three-game home set against the Miami Marlins could make something of a dent in the leads held by the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs .

There can be no denying Nationals’ slugger Bryce Harper is having a sensational year for the team , as he leads the NL in batting average , home runs , on-base percentage , slugging percentage and total OPS .

Bryce Harper has to be seen as the leading candidate for NLMVP and the Nationals’ first MVP Award winner in the franchise’s history . From my own perspective, while I believe the Washington Nationals to be a good team, they are falling way short of expectations. Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg are meant to be the fulcrum of this roster ,with both players sharing the same agent, Scott Boras . As we know the sport’s agent has been among the astute and savvy of the MLB certified agents within baseball. When both Harper and Strasburg due to become free agents, it will be interesting to see what decisions are likely to be made by front office led by GM Mike Rizzo . In 2017 , both of these former number one draft picks by the Nationals will be eligible as free agents and it will be interesting to see if Mike Rizzo and lead managing partner , Ted Lerner will seek to keep both of these formidable All Stars , while paying them both ,what Scott Boras will believe to be fair for his clients.

The AL East divisional race has become something of a cat and mouse thriller, with the Toronto Blue Jays now holding a 1 ½ game lead over divisional rivals the New York Yankees . Hal Steinbrenner , has pretty much stated the division is the Yankees to lose and the team is not ready to give up the race for the divisional title until the very last game of the season has been played. As good as the Yankees seem to be , the division I believe no longer provides the excitement and notoriety fans have usually come to expect. The real issue and their Achilles’ Heel will remain the lack of depth to the team’s pitching rotation and that of the relievers in particular.

New York’s pounding of the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta , Georgia on Friday night , was the Yankees’ largest margin of victory this season and certainly their most productive outing from the team’s offense. A 15-4 victory was just what the doctor ordered for New York and Joe Girardi’s team of stars . Girardi and his players will round out their weekend road series against the Atlanta Braves with Saturday’s game which will have Luis Severino on the mound to face Matt Wisler and then on Sunday Nathan Evoldi will face off against Julio Teheran of the Braves in the final game of the trilogy. .

Picture gallery and by clicking on image within the gallery you can view that picture in a reformatted size along with the accompanying narrative.

The MLB regular season will end on the 5th October with the wildcard round of the postseason beginning on the 6th and 7th October respectively . For the teams prive’ baseball’s postseason foray , this will be the time when nothing else matters other than their zeal to win. What are you hoping to see in the lead-up to the MLB postseason and which teams from the respective leagues do you believe can win the AL and NL Pennant and ultimately the World Series ?

🙂

Tophatal ….

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A legacy … aspiring to be a legend in baseball

A legacy …… aspiring to be a legend in baseball

With the rash of trade maneuvers which have taken place during the off-season within baseball. One has to wonder how and where the teams in question are able facilitate the deals in terms of their finances . Granted , year in and year out were are repeatedly being told by the league’s hierarchy the game has nothing to worry about with regard to their finances. Yet it is difficult to try and justify how the Los Angeles Dodgers in the last two seasons have spent close to half-a-billion dollars ($500,000,000) in payroll to come up short in the postseason twice in sucession. OK, you could point to the fact the team’s owners are well backed financially, with their being owned outright by Guggenheim Baseball Properties LLC , whose parent company just happens to be one of the nation’s largest venture capital firms with asssets exceeding $125 billion ($125,000,000,000). Guggenheim Partners Inc whose lead executives are Todd Boehly and Mark Walter , joined forces with Magic Johnson and Hollywood media mogul Peter Guber to purchase the Dodgers after the franchise was taken out of bankruptcy proceedings in US Federal Bankruptcy Court .

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Now while this whole chapter, may well have been beneficial for the game of baseball. The fact of the matter cannot be denied, the dealings which took place concerning this,was all clouded in a great deal of secrecy , with very little being made known to the public , in spite of the claims of former commissioner Bud Selig , everything was done above reproach. Having Bud Selig make those claims is tantamount to having a fox in a hen-house taking care of the occupants. Selig during his years has simply made sure this game has been presided over by buffoons , while he and the team owners take pride in the fact , apathy remains among the majority of the game’s fans , the print and television media as well as municipal and state agencies. The ongoing imbalances within the baseball beyond the very fact the game is still unable to rid themselves of steroid cheats , has been the fact Bud Selig and his successor Rob Manfred are either afraid to address the issue or choose not to initiate a hard salary cap which is equitable for all thirty teams within the game .

The Dodgers’ meltdown during this past postseason was enough to suggest Don Mattingly and his managerial staff were ill-prepared, complacent and felt it preordained they would waltz their way through the postseason. Perhaps buoyed by the fact they possessed the best pitcher in baseball during the regular season. Clayton Kershaw was meant to lead the Dodgers through their playoff foray. Unfortunately , for the team , their opponents had other plans and the explanations behind the team’s postseason demise bordered upon being comical to downright ridicule of a group of players, who were simply overconfident and had little respect for their opponents .

Don Mattingly and his team will enter into 2015 with a payroll exceeding $260 million and not exactly in a position to try and justify anyone’s belief they can be considered one of the best teams in the National League this upcoming season. With Andrew Friedman coming to head up the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Baseball Operations , it was believed sweeping changes would be made among the player personnel. Friedman saw a need for the change after the abject failure seen during the past two postseason forays for the Dodgers. It would be foolish to believe the front office would accept these failings and not let their angst be known. Magic Johnson may well be the public face of the Dodgers’ organization from an executive standpoint, but Johnson should not be thought of only in the complexity of being one the NBA’s all-time greats, because he has now become an extremely successful businessman and philanthropist , whose corporation runs a gamut of business entities with revenues exceeding $1.8 billion annually. Profits and success are at the forefront of the Dodgers’ desire within this ownership group by just about any means necessary , but after the vast financial commitment made in 2013 and 2014, it became obvious something was missing from the template engineered by the management staff for the players.

Gone from last season’s roster are Josh Beckett , Matt Kemp, Brian Wilson , Dee Gordon and Dan Haren. The most notable acquisition for the team was short-stop Jimmy Rollins, whose presence could add some stability and leadership , which were sorely lacking and missing from those traits last season. I firmly believe , if Don Mattingly is unable to turn things around for the Dodgers this upcoming season , then the likelihood of his remaining would prove to be a disastrous . This season is likely to prove to be very competitive against baseball’s current World Series’ champions the San Francisco Giants . If the Giants are not seen as prohibitive favorites for the NL Pennant in 2015 , then the dominance seen from this ball-club over the past six seasons can only be viewed as bewildering . Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy will be seeking to replicate the success witnessed last season as the franchise won its third World Series’ crown in the past six years.

There is no denying a ball-club such as the Los Angeles Dodgers with a legacy of such famed stars and Hall of Fame players as as Jim Bunning , Gary Carter , Don Drysdale , Sandy Koufax , Pee Wee Reese , Don Sutton and Jackie Robinson to name but a few . The vestiges of those halcyon days are long-gone with the franchise having not made the World Series in over twenty-five years , it begs the question , if the Dodgers are not able make another serious run in the postseason, will they ever succeed winning another title ? What I believe to be sorely lacking on this current Dodgers’ roster is someone willing to assume the role of a vocal leader both on and off the field of play. If the addition of Jimmy Rollins can provide the trait sought then so be it , but it is astonishing to think with such veterans already on this team as Carl Crawford , Adrian Gonzalez , Juan Uribe , Darwin Barney and AJ Ellis . How is it , that a team with such highly paid stars can continue to fail so miserably ? Is it a lack of managerial acumen from Don Mattingly or quite possibly the simple fact, this ball-club was never that good to begin with ?

An undeniable talent, but either the Miami Marlins are over-stretching in their belief that paying slugger Giancarlo Stanton a whopping $325 million will be a cure for what ails the organization can either be viewed as outrageous or an act pure genius on the part of GM Michael Hill and his fellow front office executives . Stanton’s thirteen-year deal averages out at $25 million annually , but it would still not make him the highest paid player in the game . Yet this is somehow the trait so many front office executives believe they need to exhibit. It’s either pay up, or you are likely to miss the boat . In baseball , few players have been able to live up to those live up to or meet the expectations or even surpass them. Simply ask Alex Rodriguez if he feels ,that his accomplishments within the game have not been tarnished by wantoned misuse of performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) ? I am sure New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman must now be ruing the day he re-signed Rodriguez to the second of his two multimillion dollar deals . Twice in a lifetime , two $250 million deals have been “inked” by Alex Rodriguez and not once was an eyelid raised over those contracts , even in the aftermath of the player’s admission of guilt for the use of a banned substance , which begs the question, why is baseball still filled with such apathy and hypocrisy , not just among the fans , but also within the game’s hierarchy ?

One of the decade’s best players found himself a new home during this off-season when Ichiro Suzuki joined the Miami Marlins signing a one-year deal with the hope his presence will prove to an adequate complement to the team’s roster . Ichiro is likely to maintain the productivity we have come to know over the years. The former AL Rookie of The Year and AL MVP is nearing a career milestone as he approaches the 3,000 career hits’ plateau . A first ballot future Hall of Fame inductee , it will be interesting to see how Ichiro will be feted upon surpassing the mark many hitters aspire to reach , but few are seen as legitimate legends of the game. Ichiro Suzkuki is definitely a legend within the Major Leagues and his career bears this out !

This upcoming season, I believe both the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees will live and die by the accomplishments of Giancarlo Stanton and Alex Rodriguez ! Stanton is lucky enough to still be in the infancy of his career, whereas , there is now nothing Rodriguez can now do to remove either the stain or stench associated with his past or his future . Two futile acts of contrition, cannot hide the fact he remains one of the most despised and hated athletes in all of major professional sports , bar none .

I believe it would be fair to suggest, both Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen offer the best hope for baseball, as the faces of the game and its likely saviors, if the sport is to truly prosper and for its long-term future ! Both have been recipients of the AL and NL MVP’s within their respective leagues. Though postseason heroics have been fleeting for Trout and McCutchen , there is no doubt in my mind at some point in their respective futures both are likely to be recipients of a World Series’ ring or a World Series’ MVP for their exploits. Granted , in the past three seasons neither the Los Angeles Angels or the Pittsburgh Pirates have met the expectations sought by their fans or prominent MLB analysts . Respective team owners Arte Moreno and Bob Nutting having willingly spent millions of dollars over the past few seasons painstakingly seeking a championship, but coming up short at various points of the postseason in recent years. This season, will hopefully promise a great deal and bring out the very best in the Angels and the Pirates. Certainly , that will be what respective managers Mike Scioscia and Clint Hurdle hope to obtain from the Los Angeles Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates as they enter the first month of the 2015 regular season schedule beginning on the 6th April .

A confident start could go a long way in determining how good or great their respective seasons are likely to be. If both Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen can reproduce the form shown during last season, then it could also aid their teams to the desired success of possibly winning a World Series’ crown. The Los Angeles Angels will begin their season with a game against the Seattle Mariners at Angels Ballpark in Anaheim , California , whereas , the Pirates will play the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati , Ohio , in the Reds’ home opener .

It is way too early to try and define the careers of Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout ,but if either can remotely live up to a number of their predecessors with either the Pirates or Angels , then there is absolutely no reason not to believe why they cannot go on to have long and distinguished careers within Major League Baseball . In my honest opinion these two great young players are exactly what the game needs , fresh faced and talented individual players who simply excel, while showing a great deal of leadership skills and maturity !

Safe to say , with the ” stain ” associated with the careers of Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez , perhaps the best player in baseball over the past decade might well have been Albert Pujols whose list of career achievements have been well- chronicled . Since being acquired by the Los Angeles Angels his statistics have ebbed and flowed, but at his very best, there was no denying he was one of the most dominating , intimidating and best hitters in the game , while also showing his power as a home-runs’ hitter .

Many of Pujols’ current peers over past eight years have had their fair share misfortune either through their misdeeds or a decline in productivity. Pujols for his part remains an extremely popular player, with a large fan-base , while becoming a highly paid and lucrative marketing tool for a major corporate sponsors. The Angels’ slugger is one of a rare breed within baseball, whose image allows him such privileges in and outside of the game of baseball. Yet, I do not believe this is what defines Albert Pujols as a player or as a human being, because it has been his humanitarianism and philanthropy that has continued to stand out, throughout much of his decade-plus career. As he earnestly strives to win a third World Series’ title and his first World Series’ MVP Award , the sole individual award he has yet to win over the course of his astonishing career.

The common thought remains, if the Angels are to succeed in their goal to win their first World Series since 2002 when Troy Glaus was the hero of the series in their triumph against the San Francisco Giants. Then Albert Pujols , Josh Hamilton , David Freese , Chris Iannetta , Erick Aybar , CJ Wilson , Jered Weaver and Huston Street will certainly have to play a great deal better , while following the lead of Mike Trout, now considered to be the real leader on this team.

This season might well prove to be the last for Mike Scioscia, if the Los Angeles Angels should fail to make the postseason. Inconsistencies over the years have led to gaps in the Angels’ postseason appearances in recent years. Prior to last season’s playoff foray the Angels’ last such appearance came as a participant in the 2009 ALCS where they would fall to the New York Yankees , who would go on to win the 2009 World Series . Heading into this season there are at least six AL teams teams likely to be considered contenders for this year’s ” Fall Classic ” . The Angels are one of those ball-clubs, I believe can make a credible challenge for the AL Pennant , along with the Oakland A’s , Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers , Seattle Mariners and last season’s ” Cinderella Story ” the Kansas City Royals if they can retain a number of last season’s stars and keep their momentum going in 2015.

The four inductees for the 2015 14 Hall of Fame Class were nominees deserving of the accolade. The careers of Craig Biggio , Randy Johnson , John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez not only warranted serious consideration but these four players at one time or another were dominant at certain points during their respective tenures in the game. While there were other eligible candidates for this year’s class , many of those eligible were closely associated with the “steroid era “ of baseball , something Major League Baseball will never entirely escape in spite of the statements attributed to Bud Selig and the very fact the continued misdeeds of the players at the Major League and Minor League Level still has not brought about an abatement of the players’ use of banned substances (PED’s, anabolic steroids , Stanazolol) and a lack of response and a clear line of unison between the league hierarchy and union (MLBPA) leads me to believe, both parties are only prepared to pay the issue mere ” lip service “ as they see fit , when there appears to be outrage on the part of the fans. Not there has been any type of outrage from within the media , covering the game, in particular by the always hypocritical BBWAA (Baseball Writers’ Association of America) .

The years in which Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were laying siege to and obliterating the single season home run record , even when there was possible evidence to suggest, not everything was completely above board , the baseball writers were simply lauding the players’ efforts, as if were actually witnessing history in the making. Now we know Bonds’ 2001 mark was not only dubious but even the seven-time NL MVP still refuses to properly address and explain whether or not at any point during his career he knowingly used a banned substance. To my mind Roger Maris’ mark of sixty-one home runs (61) remains the legitimate record in the baseball annals , along with Hank Aaron’s career home runs’ tally of seven hundred and fifty-five (755). Correct me if I’m wrong , even during the era of segregation and the civil rights’ era , was the sport of baseball ever in such disarray , as it was known to be in this and the past decade ? Answers please ? Or should we continue down the merry road of apathy as constituted and led by Bud Selig and now his successor , Rob Manfred ?

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Spring Training is just around the corner , merely less then six weeks away and the plot-lines within the game of baseball are now being written. Like last season we are likely to see a fair share of controversy being played out both on and off the field of play. So what should the fans expect during the first few months of this upcoming season ? Which players and teams do you believe will be taking away the individual and team honors at the end of this regular and postseason (MLB) schedule ?

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Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) Matt Kemp, center, , once considered a mainstay within the Los Angeles Dodgers’ franchise but during the off-season he was traded to fellow NL franchise the San Diego Padres . Kemp is seen here with Padres’ front office executives , left GM A J Preller and manager Bud Black. . AP Photo / Gregory Bull …

(2) Mark Walter lead managing partner in the ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Getty Images / Mark Powers

(3) Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins . During the off-season the player signed the largest contract in baseball history , a thirteen-year $325 million deal to remain with the franchise . He will be joined by former AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP Ichiro Suzuki , who signed a one-year deal with the NL East ball-club. AP Photo / Paul Ross

(4) Andrew McCutchen , left of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels . These two outfielders are considered to be the two best players in Major League Baseball . Few would consider to the contrary, given their list of accomplishments , since entering the Big Leagues . AP Photo / Mike Potter

(5) Ichiro Suzuki seen here in a New York Yankees’ uniform for whom he played last season , but will enter 2015 as a member of the Miami Marlins, with a view to aiding the team from an offensive and defensive standpoint. Getty Images / Mike Thomas

(6) ) Alex Rodriguez , picture inset , is seen here striking out during a game in 2013 for the New York Yankees . The third basemen sat out the 2014 season for the team , having to serve a league-mandated suspension for violation of the league’s steroid policy . Rodriguez hopes to make a successful return to the ball-club in 2015 with the organization in transition after retirement of Derek Jeter and departure of several players , notably Ichiro Suzuki who joins the Marlins in a one-year deal . Rodriguez’s return also will also place once again among the top-twenty earning players in terms of annual salary and a contract , bearing in mind, he is the only player in MLB history to have signed two deals paying in excess of $240 million for each contract . He is also the top-earning player in league history by way of life-time contract earnings. At this stage of his career , it is not hard to suggest how Alex Rodriguez’s career is likely to be remembered . A two-time league substance abuse offender , dubious career statistics , top career-earnings , the public’s disdain and dislike of him as a player. Getty Images / David Hughes

(7) From left to right , Barry Bonds , Sammy Sosa and Mark McWire . For the decade covering the nineties and the early part of this past decade , the trio were part one of the most inglorious eras in baseball’s history , as they laid siege to the single-season home run record . The figure of sixty-one home runs first held by Roger Maris who hit 61 home runs for the New York Yankees during the 1961 season , is still looked upon and revered as the legitimate record in baseball history . though it was surpassed by Bonds in 2001 with seventy-three home runs. The mark is currently recognized by statisticians for MLB , the Hall of Fame , BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) and Elias Stats Bureau . Barry Bonds also holds the record for career home runs , (762) surpassing the total (755) of Hank Aaron , a Hall of Fame inductee in a game for the San Francisco Giants played against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver , Colorado on 5th September , 2007. . The pitcher who gave up the home run was Ubaldo Jiminez . AP Photo / Emmanuel Ortega

(8) ) Roger Maris who alongside teammate and close friend Mickey Mantle set the season alight in 1961 , where along the way Maris would break the single season home run record with a total of sixty-one home runs . In that same season the New York Yankees would go on to win the World Series defeating the Cincinnati Reds and where Whitey Ford would be named World Series’ MVP . UPI Archives

(9) Baseball legend Hank Aaron and his wife, Billye Aaron , smile as they listen to Hall of Famer Willie Mays reminisce during the dedication of the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum April 14, 2010 at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Aaron’s childhood home, originally built by his father, was moved to the stadium’s “Gaslight Park” and restored in November 2008. The celebration, which included a ribbon-cutting and private reception, was attended by a star-studded roster of Hall of Famers and baseball dignitaries, including Mays, Reggie Jackson , Ozzie Smith , Bob Feller , Rickey Henderson , and Bruce Setter , along with President of Minor League Baseball Pat O’Conner, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Jeff Idelson , MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , and Hall of Fame senior director of exhibitions Erik Strohl . Hank Aaron, in many circles, is still recognized as the all-time career home-runs’ king , having surpassed the mark achieved by Babe Ruth of seven-hundred and fourteen . Aaron’s tally (755) has since been superseded by Barry Bonds . The Braves’ icon , now successful businessman with a themed style restaurant chain and several auto dealerships in the greater Atlanta area , is now , one member of a consortium close to buying NBA franchise the Atlanta Hawks , currently the best team in the league , record-wise . Apex Media-wire photo by Carmen K. Sisson

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Tophatal

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Former MLB Commissioner Allan ‘Bud’ Selig seen on the dais at National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York .

A funny thing happened on the way to the Land of Oz …

A funny thing happened on the way to the Land of Oz …

Tophatal ….

Baseball’s Winter Meetings have yet to take place, but already the big top has been blown off the tent. The meeting of the league’s top executives , ownersand members of the league hierarchy to discuss the vagaries of the game and then to negotiate deals that will see the movement of several players, many of them likely being rewarded with major contracts will be set into motion.

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Over the past five years there can be no denying the Miami Marlinshave been one of the worst performing teams in Major League Baseball (MLB). The very fact that the Marlins have at no time in their history has ever won a divisional title or place higher than second within the NL East should tell you a great deal about the organization, in spite of their having won two NL Pennants and two World Series titles . The last of those postseason series’ coming in 2003 . Since then, things have steadily rolled downhill for the franchise, along with a succession of managers and turnover in front office executives.

The big news’ story of the month within the game of baseball, was the audacious move by the Miami Marlins in signing Mike Stanton to a long-term deal. Stanton signed what is now believed to the largest contract in professional sports’ and quite clearly the biggest in baseball history. Stanton signed a thirteen-year $325 million contract, averaging $25 million a year . Though I do not expect the floodgates to be opened by this deal , it does now place a great deal of pressure on other teams in similar position, looking to sign one of their marquee players. Miami for a number of years has been on the lower end of the payroll scale, albeit in 2013 , they sought to remedy the situation when they splurged on signing some major free agents in an assault on trying to win the NL East that season as well as the World Series title . They failed miserably in both attempts , with then manager Ozzie Guillen providing more entertainment away from the field of play, than was provided by the team during the entire season .

MLB is definitely not known for its financial frugality among its big-market teams and when left idle to their own devices teams in the small-market tend to prove how incompetent they are. The Miami Marlins have become the epitome of that, along with their instate rivals the Tampa Bay Rays and that is with due respect shown to the acumen of former Rays’ general manager Andrew Friedman , whose departure from the franchise to take on the more high-profiled role as a SVP & Head of Baseball Operations with the Los Angeles Dodgers caught just about everyone off-guard including senior executives within the Rays’ organization. With the recent departure of Joe Maddon to become the manager of the Chicago Cubs , Tampa is now left in a quandary. Throw in the departure of their AL Rookie of the Year, pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and you could say it’s back to business as usual for the Rays. Their off-season annual ” fire sale “ is just about to begin.

Now while the Miami Marlins’ fans can only be pleased with the outcome , the signing of Mike Stanton to a long-term deal , the question has to be asked , what type commitment and sacrifices will have to be made by this ball-club? Financial resources for the Marlins are not enormous and we have seen repeatedly the actions of this franchise over the years during their triumphs and letdowns. Jeffrey Loria has proven to be no different from one his predecessors H D Wayne Huizenga, whose ownership the Florida Marlins were well-chronicled. Huizenga’s gutting of the team that won the franchise’s first World Series title left the fans in dismay and utter disgust, has since been repeated by Loria.

As the incumbent owner of the Miami Marlins , I have no real reason to believe Jeffrey Loria will remain a man of his word. Deceit , deception , lies and an un-willingess to show transparency concerning the inner workings of the Marlins along with the alleged brow-beating of the Miami City Council leading to their capitulating , in the ball-club’s wishes to have the city finance the building of Marlins Ballpark , where undue pressure was brought to bear by former commissioner Bud Selig, really does cast a light on how Loria and Major League Baseball likes to conduct its business. Unfortunately, those same character traits are not shared or instinctive with Tampa Bay Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg who continues to whine like a spoiled brat, because he cannot get his own way. Michael Hill and Mike Redmond will now seek to bolster the Marlins’ roster during this off-season , but they will also have to deal with trying to resign a number of their impending free agents as well players whose arbitration rights they might want to expedite quickly.

Mike Stanton had an excellent season in 2014 , where he was one of the most productive members on his team as well as in the NL and MLB overall. His second place finish to Clayton Kershaw in the NL MVP race was of no great surprise, considering the astonishing regular season by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher, who also added the NL Cy Young Award to his trophy case for the third time in his career. I believe their might be at least two more Cy Young Awards waiting in the wings for Kershaw, who has to be seen as the best pitcher in baseball without a doubt. Granted his postseason forays for the Dodgers left a great deal to be desired. The team’s malaise was nothing new and simply part of their DNA over the past two years. Don Mattingly’s players seem to be great during the regular season, but they become a deer caught in headlights once the postseason comes around , as witnessed in 2013 and then again during baseball’s end of season ritual. Let’s just say this Dodgers’ team cannot even hit or pitch their way out of trouble . even if they were being aided by the mishaps of their opponents during the postseason.

As I alluded to earlier the floodgates may not necessarily open up with players being offered overly large contracts, but the Marlins have now set a precedent where it will prove hard for any team not be able to meet a free agents’ requests. With the likes of high-profiled sports’ agents such as Scott Boras , Sam and Seth Levinson of Aces Inc Baseball , Dan Lozano , corporate entities such as LSW Baseball , CAA , the upstart IMG and sports’ management agency Roc Nation Sports, all vying to make deals on behalf of their clients. It is easy to understand why general managers such as Brian Cashman, Brian Sabean , Dave Dombrowski , Billy Beane , Sandy Alderson , Michael Hill and Jerry Dipoto are never operating from a position of power. They will more often than not overpay for a player , rather than actually showing some real acumen.

Having won their third World Series title in the past five years the San Francisco Giants are now seated among the elite dynasties of the game. Make no mistake, this is a dynasty , albeit a quiet and unglamorous one. Brian Sabean might just be the best general manager in the game today. His guile and an eye for talent , his acumen in the free agency market, have not only made the Giants a success , but they have laid down a blueprint that a number of teams are now likely to follow. Furthermore , Sabean is not one to neglect his farm system and then seek to implode those affiliates , as he sees the lower rungs of the organization as a treasure trove of future talent. In the aftermath of their most recent success this franchise will now seek build upon their most recent achievement.

San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy and his entire managerial staff are likely to return for next season , but opportunities may well arise where one or two of his assistants will be offered the opportunity to interview a vacant managerial position. Beyond that, the question now becomes what are the integral pieces to kept on this roster and can the Giants afford to pay what is deemed to be “fair market value”? The fly in the ointment was the outrageous contract signed by Mike Stanton and offered by a team, that two years began shedding their high priced players like driftwood being cast away, because it was of no further use. Miami remains a small-market team, with grandiose schemes and big-market ambitions. They are a baseball team that rarely sell out their home games in a venue , which remains sparsely attended. The flip side of that coin are the San Francisco Giants and their ravenous fans and fan-base nationwide. They have the success and a legacy which has been quietly built upon over the years.

The Giants’ 2012 World Series MVP infielder Pablo Sandoval will be looking to get paid commensurate to his status and in line with the top active contracts active within the organization . As an impending and unrestricted free agent Sandoval knows he can go elsewhere and quite possibly obtain long-term contract making him financially secure. Yet, the thought remains with the player being such a part the team’s postseason success , it would seem idiotic for the Giants to let him go , knowing he is not only a clubhouse favorite but also a leader on and off the field. Beyond that , take into account his productivity and being able to come up with some clutch hitting , it places Brian Sabean in something of a dilemma .

If Sandoval does return to the Giants in 2015, along with the core elements of last season’s roster, then San Francisco have to be seen as a prohibitive favorite for the NL Pennant this upcoming season. Granted, they are likely to face a stiff challenge from the St Louis Cardinals , Washington Nationals , Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates , Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds .

Alex Rodriguez’s return to New York Yankees and their lineup for 2015 cannot come around fast enough for many of the ball-club’s fans . The player’s last appearance in a Yankees’ uniform was uninspiring and simply confirmation that Rodriguez is now past his prime. The Yankees’ third baseman having spent the entire 2014 Yankees’ schedule under suspension will look to reinvent himself on and off the field of play. With the retirement of Derek Jeter after a two-decade long career with the franchise. One could surmise, Brian Cashman sees Rodriguez as the “face of the Yankees” moving forward. I firmly believe the organization erred in not tearing up Alex Rodriguez’s contractas they were quite within their right to do so. Incompetency, in their repeatedly mishandling of the players transgressions , breaking the league’s substance abuse policy, spoke volumes as to the numerous reasons why baseball’s policy has no real teeth to it and the complete lack of leadership from Bud Selig and his successor Rob Manfred. Rodriguez’s contract remains intact , albeit , he lost in excess of $23 million, having not played for the New York Yankees this past season .

Joe Girardi and his staff will certainly look to Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira , Jacoby Ellsbury , Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Brian Robertsand Brian McCann to give the Yankees’ more ‘pop’ to their offense where the team was found wanting last season. The Yankees’ pitching was left somewhere in between the depths of mediocrity and the ‘bowel’of Hades .

The Yankees’ free agents for this upcoming season include veteran Ichiro Suzuki , unlikely to return next season, with Dave Robertson , Hiroki Kuroda , Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew, Heath Bell and Chase Headley are several of the players Brian Cashman will have to make decision upon their possible return to the New York Yankees. Cashman has shown very little faith in the organization’s farm system and he is unlikely to do so for years to come. With their failure to make the postseason and decidedly ignominious finish in the NL East the pressure will be on the front office to do something drastic to bring this franchise back to some semblance of respectability. Last season the acquisitions of Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Ichiro Suzuki were meant place the team at the forefront of the AL but their play nowhere near good enough to remotely place them in control of their own destiny.

With the 2014 payroll commitment of baseball’s thirty teams topping $3 billion ($3,000,000,000 for the second year in succession. The two teams at the top of the heap, were the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees. At a time when the game’s financial disparities so glaring there has been little to suggest baseball has the wherewithal to get its own financial house in order. The team owners and hierarchy have failed miserably in reigning in team expenses and yet owners are either seething because they cannot their own way in trying to deceitfully have municipalities to finance their venues.

Billionaire and millionaire owners unwilling to go out and do what is necessary in showing their real business acumen, to obtain private financing, rather than repeatedly have the public funds being used to finance such endeavors. It will be interesting to see the moves made by teams during this off-season the guile used by agents, seeking to have their clients be rewarded with the best contract possible. The sheer lunacy of MLB and the antics of the players leave a great deal to be desired and it will continue to be that way for the foreseeable future.

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Picture gallery .

With the salaries and contracts now on the rise within the game of baseball and no clear sign from the league hierarchy they show any initiative in reining in team expenses or have any idea how to so. What direction do you believe the game is likely to take and can the executives who preside over the game really deal with the issues which adversely effect baseball ?

Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is seen here with Mike Stanton . The Marlins’ player signed a thirteen-year $325 million deal which will pay him $25 million annually. The deal is the highest paid contract in North American sports’ history . Loria and Team President Michael Hill believed it incumbent the organization retain the Stanton for their viability and long term future. AP Photo/ Matt Holmes ..

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers’ SVP & Head of Baseball Operations , Andrew Friedman is seen here alongside team President Stan Kasten . Friedman whose departure from the Tampa Bay Rays took just about everyone by surprise, has now moved to an organization where the resources of the baseball franchise far exceeds anything remotely close the Rays have at their disposal. With Friedman’s departure also came Joe Maddon leaving to join the Chicago Cubs as their new manager. Matt Silverman succeeded Andrew Friedman as the Rays’ general manager but the ball-club has to name a successor to Maddon . Getty Images North America / Paul Hughes … …

(3) ATLANTA, UNITED STATES : Florida Marlins manage Jim Leyland (L), general manager Dave Dombrowski (C), and team owner Wayne Huizenga with the National League Championship Series (NLCS) trophy after their 7-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves 14 October in game six of the NLCS at Turner Field in Atlanta, GA. The Marlins advanced to the World Series a with the win. AFP PHOTO/Robert SULLIVAN …

(4) Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout left , winner of the 2014 ALMVP and the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher and NLMVP recipient Clayton Kershaw . Both players invariably made the postseason , but their teams failed miserably . Trout and the Angels fell to Kansas City Royals 3-0 in the ALDS . Kershaw and the Dodgers fared no better, losing to the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS where his postseason performances were miserable with the posting an ERA in excess of 7.50 . AP Photo/ Tim Martin …

(5) Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays an AL Rookie of the Year for the franchise in 2011 was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. This seems to be a customary ploy with the ball-club on annual basis , further emphasizing the organization’s lack of resources and the emphasis of year-to-year cost cutting . AP Photo / Matthew Donald … …

(6) Scott Boras a prominent MLB sports agent, seen here in front of the facade of his company Scott Boras Corporation. Boras has negotiated contracts worth in excess of $4.7 billion in the last six years . Feared around the league as one of the most fearsome and ruthless agents in all professional sports. Boras puts the characteristic trait down to the fact he works hard for his clients and to their benefit.. AP Photo / Robin Thomas …

(7) CHICAGO, IL – AUGUST 05: Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees speaks to the media before the Yankees take on the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 5 , 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Rodriguez was forced to miss the entire 2014 season after league mandated suspension . Rodriguez will return to the Yankees’ lineup in 2015 hoping to make a solid contribution for the team. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …

(8) Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates who over the past two seasons has been one of the primary factors in the ascent of the Pirates and top-five finishes in each of the last two years of the NL MVP voting. McCutchen hopes to lead the ball-club to another postseason berth in 2015 and deep run in the postseason playoff schedule. as well as the winning of a second NL MVP Award with the Pirates. Getty Images/ Adrian Parker ….

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Tophatal 11/19/2014

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Shake it off , shake it up and down .

A few light touches makes the scenery all the more appealing don’t you think ?

Losers , winners and mere simpletons ..

Losers , winners and mere simpletons ..

Repeated pratfalls by the NFL and it would seem some fans believe a less than forthright apology by Roger Goodell now rectified the idiotic decisions the commissioner made in light of the league’s handling of the Ray Rice “affair”. Escalating acts of misconduct by the NFL’s players over the years and it would seem that neither league hierarchy , the commissioner or many of the NFL’s apathetic and lame ass fans have learned a damn thing about the league, much less the fact the commissioner is so damn clueless. Theirs seems to be the belief as long as the NFL trudges along providing the fans with a banal on the field product , with a group of pompous and asinine on air prognosticators, the league can survive in its present guise.

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Slideshow.

The players and their union (NFLPA) continue to hide behind privacy rights and the issue of due process , but at a time where the league has seen a rise in misconduct , the Players’ Union has done little to discuss the issue, much less player representatives or union Executive Director DeMaurice Smith have done little to rein in the misbehavior of their players or sought to discuss the issue publicly.

With news coming to light, where certain executives within the Baltimore Ravens organization might well have been privee’ to the taped incident of Ray Rice assaulting Jenay Parker , it begs the question, if the franchise was indeed in receipt of this information , then why was it not passed on to the league head office ? The NFL and the Ravens have been complicit in another unsavory cover-up and an episode which further suggest the ongoing incompetency of the league during Roger Goodell’s disastrous tenure. If to make matters worse, the commissioner is now of the belief in bringing in former FBI Directors Robert Mueller and Louis Freeh , it adds credibility in his seeking to rectify the problems he has long ignored concerning player misconduct. Nothing could be further from the truth , as we have seen in the lackadaisical way , with which the commissioner has failed to show consistency in how he metes out punishment to players guilty of misconduct.

Freeh and Mueller are essentially bureaucrats being brought in as the commissioner suggests in assisting the league to formulate a code of conduct and policy to be followed by all of the NFL’s thirty-two teams . If such a provision was never properly enacted or there was never a firm policy in place , then Roger Goodell is being a mere fool , if he now believes such a policy will be willingly accepted by the union and the players , when there has been a continued mistrust between the two parties all along.

Week three in the NFL offered the fans very little respite with the usual amount of anomalies one would now come to expect , with several teams giving the type of performances they and their fans would rather forget. This was highlighted by the inept display of the league’s worst team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , who were on the wrong side of a lopsided loss , in their 56-14 defeat suffered at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons. Lovie Smith , his coaching staff are now coaching a roster with the worst record in the NFL , with the Buccaneers now 0-3 , having posted this record for the third time in the last six seasons in a start to a regular sixteen game NFL schedule. Where Tampa now goes from here is anyone’s question, with the team showing little signs of life , in terms of competitiveness or any real leadership from the players. The Pittsburgh Steelers will play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which will be a Sunday afternoon game for the two teams in question, part of the week four schedule for the NFL.

A 2-0 start to the season may well have had everyone believing the Buffalo Bills were off to very good start , but they were quickly brought back down to earth as they fell 22-10 to the San Diego Chargers at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park , New York. For the Bills’ new owner , billionaire developer Terry Pegula , this was definitely not the way he wanted to start off his reign as the franchise’s and the NFL’s newest owner. The defeat , brings the Bills back to the pack as they share the lead in the AFC East with the New England Patriots , whose hard-fought victory over the Oakland Raiders was one of the less memorable games in the NFL over this past weekend . New England will look to follow-up with a second consecutive victory , when they face the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium , in Kansas City, Missouri in week four.

It is still early days yet in the NFL season, but I believe not until after week five can we really have a real insight how good the teams are , and the likely direction they will be heading. Granted, one or two teams are already showing signs they are likely to be uncompetitive as witnessed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.Yet, there is every reason to believe the likes of the Buccaneers , Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders will likely struggle over the remainder of the season given their lack of competitive play at this point of their respective schedules.

Kirk Cousins is now providing something of a lovely headache for Jay Gruden and the Washington Redskins’ coaching staff. The Redskins’ backup quarterback is proving to be a more than adept substitute for the usual starter Robert Griffin III , whose first two years in the NFL have proven to be somewhat erratic. Griffin however, is seen as the face and future of the franchise without delving into the financial investment made in the player, who was taken as the number two overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft , where he was drafted behind Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts.

While Washington is rooted at the bottom of the always overrated NFC East , it has to be said other than the Philadelphia Eagles , who have found a way to distance themselves from the rest of the pack within the division, the other three inhabitants are pretty much the best of a rotten bunch of apples.

Jay Gruden will take the Washington Redskins will be at home in week four where they will meet up against divisional rivals the New York Giants who will be led by Eli Manning , as the Giants’ quarterback will be looking to resurrect what was a very disappointing season in 2013 for the player. If the New York Giants fail to gain a postseason berth this season , then there are likely to questions raised, concerning the long-term future of Tom Coughlin , his coaching staff and the ten-year veteran quarterback of the NFL.

With a week to go before the end of the MLB season , several of the divisional races have all been sewn up. The Washington Nationals have clinched the NL East over a very disappointing Atlanta Braves team which did not provide much of the competitive race or competition for the Nationals over the course of the season. Now there seem to be rumors surfacing that GM Frank Wren will be shown the door by Braves’ organization. My own beliefs are , he front office should also be assessing the failings of Fredi Gonzalez and his managerial staff , as well as certain members of the team who failed miserably . At the end of the season, a decision is likely to be made concerning Frank Wren , but it is not likely to be the only changes made concerning the internal makeup of the front office , managerial staff and playing roster going into next season .

Elsewhere, there has to be a great deal of adulation within the state of California , with the knowledge both baseball clubs in the greater Los Angeles area have made the postseason. The Los Angeles Dodgers swept through to an easy defense of their NL West title and now look to make up for last season’s failings in the MLB postseason. The Dodgers’ AL counterparts the Los Angeles Angels made light work within the AL West dethroning the two-time defending divisional titlists the Oakland Athletics , bringing the Angels their first divisional title in five years , their last coming in 2009.

With there now being talk of a possible all Californian World Series’ finale, with the Los Angeles Angels facing off against the Los Angeles Dodgers . I would dare say this would be the sort of showcase finale baseball requires and needs, in light of the failure of the New York Yankees not being part of baseball’s postseason fare. Derek Jeter bows out of baseball after two decades of a career, which can be best summed as being exemplary. By contrast, it has to be said the AL East new divisional champions the Baltimore Orioles come into the postseason , with several notable achievements for the team , but a major blemish to their image, with Chris Davis having been suspended for failing the league’s steroid policy , all of this , from a player who swore blindly he had never once used a banned substance. Personally, if Davis can afford to be tutored by Brady Anderson , whose career was always suspect, given one standout year in an otherwise under-achieving career. There isn’t much else that really needs to be said concerning the accomplishments of both players and the apathy of the Orioles’ fans who believe Chris Davis and Brady Anderson, can be considered genuinely great players for the franchise .

Buck Showalter will take the Baltimore Orioles on the road where they will be the guests of the New York Yankees at Yankees Stadium in New York City, New York , on Monday evening. On the mound for the visiting team will be Bruce Chen as he faces off against Michael Pineda of the Yankees.

In the space of fifteen days the Kansas City Royals have gone from a sure thing, to a team intent on self-imploding as the final month of their season seems to be falling apart at the seams. The Royals are now 1 1/2 games behind of the Detroit Tigers within the AL Central , with only eight games left to salvage their year or otherwise , become part of the wildcard foray, where they are likely to face the Oakland Athletics in the wildcard round of the MLB postseason, In what is simply a one and done contest , such a game between the two teams is not likely to favor the Royals , who would have to face the A’s at the O Coliseum in Oakland, California , with the winners going on to the divisional round (ALDS) of baseball’s postseason fare. Kansas City may well be leading their season series in 2014 , having won five of their seven meetings , but it would take a real betting man to believe Bob Melvin and his staff will allow his players to let the Kansas City Royals run over them , given the A’s recent postseason experiences, for which the last visit for the visiting team their last such foray came two decades ago. Kansas City has been in meltdown mode and their last ten games (4-6) have been ample evidence of that very fact.

The Kansas City Royals will take on the Cleveland Indians as they look to make inroads into the lead of the Detroit Tigers . Brad Ausmus and the Tigers will be remain at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan where their guests will be the lowly Chicago White Sox . That particular match-up should prove to be a lopsided contest if their season series is anything to go by , with the game favoring the home team.

The Boston Red Sox as the reigning World Series’ champions were expected to contend this season not only within the AL East, but also in the American League (AL). Unfortunately. for John Farrell and his managerial staff this was to be a season of more lows than highs , with the team showing no signs of competitiveness or leadership from anyone on the roster. A far cry from last season, when the team swept through the postseason with the utmost of ease and they were barely challenged within the division of having out-gunnned their divisional rivals.

David Ortiz may well have been the World Series’ MVP last season and while his stats for this year have been far from impressive , but the real issue has been , why the falloff from a ball-club which was so competitive and decisive in 2013? One could possibly point to the issue of GM Ben Cherington choosing to assemble a roster which failed to live up to expectations . with several players nowhere near as good as was first thought. How and why AJ Pierzinski was ever thought to be a player with the ability to lead , much less provide the type of productivity sought has to be as bewildering as the acquisition itself by the ball-club. Boston has not only fallen out of contention, but will finish with its worst divisional placing in several years. With no game scheduled for Monday 22nd September, the Red Sox will resume their schedule on Tuesday 23rd September when they play host to the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park in Boston Massachusetts , in a contest between two AL East teams heading in the wrong direction . direction.

If the NFL is said to be rife with incompetence and utter stupidity, then NBA cannot be all that far behind ! It took the utter audacity and bigotry of Donald Sterling to in some ways show what is now going on behind the closed doors of this old boys’ fraternity made of up buffoons among the league’s hierarchy and owners , without delving further into the stewardship of former NBA Commissioner David Stern or his neophyte successor Adam Silver . Having to deal with the damage to its image, caused by the racial insensitivity of the tirade of Donald Sterling , which in some circles was simply being treated rather apathetically by fans ,as merely an owner having the right to freely express himself .

The NBA has since had to deal with the rather nonsensical uttering of two Atlanta Hawks’ executives further reiterating how bigoted and racially intolerant this league just happens to be. And for the idiots trying to suggest because of the makeup of the NBA is largely ethnic based, with a preponderance of the players being minority in their background. It simply cannot hide the fact, Bruce Levenson and Danny Ferry were showing a now obvious side to the league , which both Stern and his successor have failed to address over the years. If both Levenson and Ferry can be allowed to get away with such behavior and then one adds the depraved rants of Rich DeVos into the mix , while trying to negate DeVos’ idiocy with the fact, he might well have donated thousands of dollars to the transgendered and gay causes, it simply cannot detract from the statements made by the Orlando Magic owner concerning a specific demographic within society. This is not a not fictional drama being played out , but real life events , and in many ways , fools are now seeking to excuse such behavior as being acceptable within society , without ever mentioning the words , “ common decency and the respect of others “ .

You have to hand it to Glenn Taylor of the Minnesota Timberwolves who continues to bitch and whine about having to trade All Star power forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers . Things would not have become so farcical for the Timberwolves had either Taylor or Flip Saunders sought to build a roster competitive enough which would have persuaded Love to remain with the franchise . Instead , both executives have continued to take parting shots at the now departed star. As if to further exacerbate the situation, the front office now has to deal with a disgruntled Ricky Rubio,perhaps the only valuable asset left on the roster. The Spaniard has let it be known he is not entirely happy with the direction the franchise is now heading in , with even head coach Flip Saunders seemingly unsure about what his best lineup is likely to be during the exhibition season as well as starting the Timberwolves’ regular season schedule which sees the team with an opening against the Memphis Grizzlies. Saunders as the de-facto GM and head coach will have to make a decision before the start of the season or seek persuade Ricky Rubio to remain with the team , while he seeks to bolster the roster. Easier said than done , as I believe Rubio no longer has any desire to be with the Timberwolves . It certainly will be interesting to see what transpires between now and the start of the season, as the Minnesota Timberwolves seek to placate another disgruntled star.

Rex Chapman come down and take a bow. Having earned over $22 million over the course of your professional career in the NBA , you took it upon yourself in retirement to prove you were nowhere as intelligent as many believed you be . As a former Kentucky Wildcat may well have achieved some semblance of collegiate success , but in the aftermath of that career and the nondescript years in the NBA , you have now brought some unwanted attention upon yourself , being accused and then being charged with nine counts of theft of $14,000 worth of items from an Apple Store and then seeking to pawn those very same items in a pawn shop in Scottsdale , Arizona. Pardon me for saying this , but , how much of an asshole is Rex Chapman and are certain collegiate alumni from Kentucky that frigging dumb ?

While Rex Chapman is no longer a part of the NBA fraternity, the ex-player’s behavior is somewhat typical of the ongoing idiocy one continues to see within the league and player misbehavior. If left to the general managers , owners and league hierarchy to deal with such issues , more often than not the NBA tends to treat the players with kid gloves” . As to those who prescribe to the fact the Justice System has a way with dealing the misdeeds . State Attorney Generals at the state level and then at the county level , tend to seek a plea deal from the offenders who are then offered rather lenient sentences in such instances or if a case should go trial, you tend to have a jury not often aware of the law, even when under the advice being given to them by a presiding judge. Justice for all ? No , justice tends to be given to those who can afford the privilege of being treated with leniency, while the victims have no real rights of recourse.

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Picture gallery.

In light of baseball’s season now almost reaching its culmination, what do you believe have been some of the major highlights of the season ? Secondly, the NFL season is becoming more known for the off-the field issues , rather than for the play on the field . Do you believe the league has been able to deal with these issues appropriately ? Finally , how do you see the NBA season panning out and do you believe Ricky Rubio will be a player for the Minnesota Timberwolves at the start of the season or will he be traded ? Chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the topics raised in this article.

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Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) From left to right , Baltimore Ravens’ executives, team President Dick Cass , GM Ozzie Newsome and team owner Steve Bisciotti . Bisciotti has been critical of the claims being made by ESPN that the franchise had been receipt of the taped evidence showing Ray Rice assaulting his then fiancée Jenay Parker . The Ravens’ owner refutes the allegations but does state he wished he had approached the league earlier to decide whether not the franchise could take action against the player directly, rather than leaving the matter in the hands of the league hierarchy to deal with. AP Photo / Richard Walker …

(2) Tight end Levine Toilolo (80) of the Atlanta Falcons fumbles the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a game at the Georgia Dome on September 18, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images North America/ Kevin C Cox …

(3) Running back Antone Smith(35) of the Atlanta Falcons gets tangled with corner-back Johnathan Banks (27) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a fumble during a game at the Georgia Dome on September 18, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox …

(4) Buffalo Bills’ quarterback EJ Manuel looks to make a play in the game against the San Diego Chargers this past Sunday. San Diego would end up being the victors the in this contest defeating the Bills 22-10 . AP Photo / Paul McGee …. ….

(5) Oakland Raiders defensive end LaMarr Woodley (58) puts pressure on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Foxborough, Mass. AP Photo/Elise Amendola … ….

(6) Deposed GM Frank Wren who o summarily fired by the Atlanta Braves with a six games left in the regular season . Braves’ team President John Scheurholz made the decision in consultation with senior executives within the organization. John Hart will assume the role as interim-general manager until a permanent successor can be found. About the only real bright spot to the season has been the productivity of Braves’ outfielder Justin Upton who led the team in a number offensive categories in 2014 . AP Photo/ Gerry Parsons …

(7) Ricky Rubio (9) is seen here alongside his former teammate Kevin Love (42) . The pair led the Minnesota Timberwolves in a number of offensive categories last season but it was simply not enough for the team to get into the postseason. Love has since been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers leaving the Timberwolves without a proven scorer on the current roster. Rubio has voiced his displeasure in the trading of his former teammate and it is believed he too will seek a trade away from the franchise. Getty Images/ Adam Harris …

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No quick takes just a take …….

No quick takes just a take

The NBA postseason still remains a mess , with the clouds still hovering over a rather unsavory episode that neither the press or the fans fully comprehend . Instead it has been the constant apathy among both parties, that continues to be clear as everyone tries to make sense of Donald Sterling’s comments and the fact the NBA hierarchy chose not to reprimand the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner for his prior actions. This whole incident, has cast a giant shadow over this entire postseason , where the quartet of teams now remaining and now playing in the Conference Finals must now be wondering if there are likely to be any other events likely to overshadow the postseason , as it meanders towards a conclusion.

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With the Eastern and Western Conference Finals now taking shape , it is becoming clear that the defending NBA champions the Miami Heat are going waltz their way towards a third consecutive Finals’ berth , with their opponents the Indiana Pacers , having all but given up in making the series an actual competitive contest . The first game of the Eastern Conference Finals was won by the number one seed, with the belief being that Frank Vogel’s players were ready to avenge last season’s Conference Finals’ loss , but within the space of five days this Pacers’ team has fallen back down to earth and have shown the competitive nature of a docile cat afraid of their own shadow.

Now up 3-1 in their series, LeBron James must now be relishing the fact, that he and his teammates are now five wins away from securing a third consecutive NBA title.

If the contest in the East is said to be lacking in drama, then game three has breathed life into the Western Conference Finals with Serge Ibaka’s presence for the Oklahoma City Thunder and their contest against the San Antonio Spurs. Ibaka’s presence has given renewed energy to the Thunder , who now seek to overcome a 2-1 deficit , where a pivotal game four contest tonight , will tell us a great deal about the makeup of this team and whether or not they are indeed capable of defeating a Spurs’ team looking to make a quick return to the NBA Finals and seeking to avenge last season’s loss to the Miami Heat.

The coaching merry-go-round has begun in earnest with Steve Kerr having shunned the overtures by Phil Jackson to succeed Mike Woodson as the head coach of the New York Knicks . If that situation was not as asinine as it now looks , consider the fact that for the second time in four years Mike Brown has been fired by Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert and that particular organization. I am beginning to feel that Gilbert , has little acumen, when it comes to owning a professional sport’s franchise , much less knowing what it is needed to make that an outright success ! As for this idiocy , that LeBron James would seek to rejoin that franchise to play alongside Kyrie Irving now makes about as much sense as James joining the Sacramento Kings because in being paired with DeMarcus Cousins would make that particular franchise a legitimate contender for an NBA title.

As if the comedic travails of the Cavaliers were not idiotic enough as they now seem to be , in conjunction that with of the New York Knicks , then consider the ongoing idiocy now unfolding within the front office of the Los Angeles Lakers . Anyone now believing that the Lakers would now be a desirable destination for anyone seeking to further their NBA coaching career either has to be delusional or a downright idiot to believe that the franchise under the auspices of Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss has any inherent idea about what they are actually doing. These past two seasons alone, should prove to anyone with an ounce of common sense that a great deal of intelligence is lacking within the alleged acumen of both front office executives. Mike D’Antoni’s resignation and the next fallout with his actions , speaks volumes about the sense of unrest , that there was said to be within the Los Angeles Lakers as a franchise this past season. Beyond the team being uncompetitive , excuses in part could be made for the absence of Kobe Bryant , but the team was lacking heart and there was never any leadership forthcoming from the coaching staff or seasoned veterans on the team’s roster . Buss’ search for a successor to D’Antoni , is now likely to be a long drawn out protracted process that is likely to be speculated upon by an ever-growing circle of fans and observers alike.

Well, so much for the NFL Draft , the expectations thereof and the first round of the process, befitting the idiocy of the hyperbole and drama that surrounds this annual event, now becomes one of the teams now looking to sign their draftees to their rookie contracts. If that was not enough, the one player where a there was said to be great deal of scrutiny of and where he would likely be picked, still draws a great deal of news , for all the wrong reasons . The Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel seems to be drawing as much undesired attention to himself without yet having proven himself worthy of the stories now unfolding .

Manziel’s maturity level was continually questioned throughout this NFL Draft process and it may well have led to what many believed was the justification his being drafted so low . From being thought to be the likely first quarterback taken in the Draft , the player was taken as the twenty-second overall pick by the beleaguered Browns , who were in search of a passer for more competitive than the now departed Brandon Weeden than many of the quarterbacks to have filled the position for the franchise over the past eight seasons . As to why Johnny Manziel would feel it necessary to be seen in Las Vegas at a UFC , albeit , that it was on the weekend , but with the player and his agent trying to suggest, that the party and “Playboy Image” was said be surrounding Manziel was nothing but a creation by the press and his detractors , in no way should be seen as a detriment about his skill-set as a player. Those issues, may well be overlooked, if the rookie can lead the Cleveland Browns to a successful season in 2014. For head coach Mike Pettine and his coaching staff , their futures as well as that of the Browns’ fan-base, will be looking to the young rookie to bring about what they feel to be some long and overdue success to a franchise, that has seen very little success over the past decade.

Johnny Manziel will be given every opportunity to display his craft over the Browns’ preseason where he is likely to share a great deal of the playing time with the team’s likely starter Brian Hoyer . Though on the team’s depth chart , Manziel is likely to be seen as third in that role behind Tyler Thigpen , with a fourth alternative being Connor Shaw. Cleveland’s opening regular season schedule , begins with a week one contest at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania, against their AFC North rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers on the September 7th , 2014. Manziel, as the Heisman Trophy winner , undoubtedly has a great deal of expectation to live up to and without the other added distractions, the player must now prove his detractors that he is indeed capable of leading this franchise to some semblance of success, while also displaying the skill-set we all witnessed during his collegiate career with Texas A&M and his tenure with the program.

I am sick and tired of hearing repeated and the most banal of excuses, about why a team that becomes hamstrung by injuries cannot compete during the MLB season. Unless, that the players lost to the roster represents more than one half of their front-line starters , then there should be no reason for the constant whining of the fans. And therein lies the idiocy recently and claims concerning the under-achieving Tampa Bay Rays and a team that was said to have the best pitching roster within the Majors , as well as being capable of winning ninety to ninety-five games this season. A languid start has seen this team fall short of what many felt that Joe Maddon’s playing staff were capable of achieving at this point of the season , albeit, the Rays compete in one of the most competitive divisions in all of baseball . As contentious as the AL East is known to be , several of the teams there can now be judged and now be said to be under-achieving, including the defending World Series’ champions the Boston Red Sox , who now find themselves rooted at the bottom of the division , eight half games behind division leaders, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Toronto for its part, coming off a rather lopsided victory over the Tampa Bay Rays , were never thoroughly tested at any point , during the game played at the Rogers Center , in Toronto , Ontario , on Sunday afternoon . If the Rays are said to be a flawed team , then this contest against the Blue Jays , gave the fans every reason to see why , with their being mental lapses throughout the game, both competitively , as well as mentally . The two teams are set to meet again on Tuesday afternoon , with Alex Cobb of the Rays facing the Blue Jays’ Mark Buerhle in what should be a very good pitching contest .

Call me naïve, but I have always felt that “spending big “ , does always necessary means a team will , ” win big “ , when it comes to the World Series ! Case in point , has to be , both the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees , as this season’s two biggest spending teams by way of their payrolls. This season alone the two ball-clubs will combine to surpass almost 20 % of the over $ 3.1 billion that will be committed in team payrolls , with several of their players being among the highest paid in the game by way of their annual salaries or the contracts or contract value .If that is not an ongoing indicator about how out of whack the game of baseball has become, by way of the economic imbalances . Then I for one , would like to hear a concise explanation from any baseball fan, who now believes that the game can be self-sustainable with the ever-increasing contracts among the top teams , while their mid and small-market counterparts, are left in their wake !

In 2013, both the Dodgers and Yankees were atop of the spending pile , in terms of payroll commitments , with only the Los Angeles’ based franchise making the postseason , where they fell to the St Louis Cardinals in a rather lopsided NLCS Pennant Series. Out-managed and outmaneuvered by a stealth Cardinals’ team in the series , that Don Mattingly, as the manager of the Los Angles Dodgers, will be under even greater pressure and scrutiny to take this team further into the postseason this year , than he was able to do in 2013. That stinging failure, still lingers deep within front office of the Dodgers, with owners Peter Guber and Magic Johnson among the partners showing their concern , as to the team’s failings this past postseason.

In a division where now, three of the four teams are above .500 , the Los Angels Dodgers find themselves 4 ½ games behind the hard charging San Francisco Giants , who themselves have the best record in baseball with a 33-19 mark . Now in spite of Josh Beckett’s recent superlative outing in pitching a no-hitter in the team’s 6-0 trouncing of the Philadelphia Phillies . I still believe that the Dodgers will be hard pressed to equal their feat of last season , in running away with the NL West divisional title . It will indeed, take a great deal more than the Dodgers’ pitching , of which the rotation is plentiful in terms of their starters , if the team is to be truly successful this season . The effort will have to be collective one , with the offense being the primary emphasis , if Don Mattingly’s players are to obtain their first World Series’ appearance in over twenty-five years , with that feat being accomplished in 1988 , with their 4-1 triumph over the Oakland Athletics .

The Dodgers followed up that victory over the Phillies , with two positive results against the Cincinnati Reds . Those teams will meet again on Wednesday the 28th May at Dodgers’ Ballpark in Los Angeles , California , with Homer Bailey (4-3) taking the mound for the Reds against his NL counterpart Clayton Kershaw (3-1). As the Dodgers go this season, so rests the fate possibly of Don Mattingly’s long-term future with the ball-club , with the likelihood, that the team’s failure might well lead to his ultimate dismissal . However, his leading the franchise to that long-awaited World Series’ triumph would certainly cement his legacy in the annals of Dodgers’ postseason history , as being one of the few managers to have led the ball-club to a series’ victory in baseball’s showcase finale.

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Picture gallery .

The sports’ world is forever in search of stories that will whet the appetite of the fans and generate the debates , discussions , call them what you will. For the most part, without those tidbits to actually to nibble on, there is simply nothing to lure us in and to keep us galvanized on the events taking place at any given moment . What recent events, have piqued your interest in the world of sports and has there been a sports’ story , that you feel that has in some way been over exposed in terms of its coverage ? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit on this and anything else you feel to be relevant.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) MIAMI, FL – MAY 26: Frank Vogel of the Indiana Pacers looks on against the Miami Heat during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 26, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The Pacers face the Miami Heat in a pivotal Game Five , on the brink of elimination from this season’s NBA postseason with a 3-1 deficit now staring them in the face. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …

(2) Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives to the basket over Indiana Pacers forward David West (21) during the second half of Game 4 in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals playoff series, Monday, May 26, 2014, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Pacers 102-90 . AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ……

(3) Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against Kendrick Perkins of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first quarter during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 27, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This series is now tied at two games apiece (2-2) with the Thunder having overcome a 2-0 deficit . Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images …

(4) Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder look on in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 27, 2014 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City,Oklahoma. Getty Images / Andrew D Bernstein ….

(5) Cleveland Cavaliers’ team owner Dan Gilbert ,left, is seen here with Mike Brown , center and team GM Chris Grant . Brown was fired for the second time during his second stint with the Cleveland based NBA franchise . Likewise , Chris Grant was not given a contract extension by the Cavaliers with his being succeeded by David Griffin , who has now has sole responsibility for player personnel decisions as well as seeking a new successor to fill the vacant coaching position. AP Photo/ Gary Mason …..

(6) Johnny Manziel of the Cleveland Browns is seen here on NFL Draft Day , having just been selected by the franchise , where he is likely to be third on the team’s depth chart . Manziel has been the center and focus of news’ media attention in recent weeks , but over the past weekend the player was seen at UFC event in Las Vegas Nevada , in the lead-up to the Browns’ OTA’s (organized training activities) , with many questioning his willingness to be team player and shying away from the constant glare which he seems to seek out at almost every opportunity. Erik Burkhardt , Manziel’s agent , has suggested , it has been the press seeking out his client, rather than the player placing himself in front of the media . In a recent turn of events, a lawsuit has been filed against Johnny Manziel by an unnamed victim . claiming sexual harassment in which the plaintiff is seeking $25 million in damages . Burkhardt claims that the lawsuit is frivolous, without merit and will be challenged within the Florida courts , where the suit was originally filed. AP Photo / Martin Jones ….

(7) Toronto Blue Jays’ Adam Lind celebrates a home run with third base coach Luis Rivera , left, during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim ……

(8) Tampa Bay Rays’ Alex Cobb reacts after getting hit by a ball from Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Reyes during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim ……

(9) Starting pitcher Josh Beckett (61) of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the ninth inning during a game in which he threw a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dodgers won 6-0 . Getty Images North America /Hunter Martin ….

(10) Starting pitcher Josh Beckett (61) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with teammates after throwing a no-hitter during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dodgers won 6-0. Getty Images/ Hunter Martin …….

(11) Starting pitcher Josh Beckett (61) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with teammates after throwing a “no hitter” against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Beckett became the first MLB pitcher to throw a “no-hitter ” this season, joining select group of players to have accomplished the feat in baseball history. Getty Images /Hunter Martin …..

(12) From left to right , seen are Peter Guber , Stan Kasten , Mark Walter and Magic Johnson , who make up part of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ senior managing partner and ownership group for the Los Angeles’ based franchise . The ball-club was purchased for a record-breaking sum of $ 2.156 billion in 2013 , making it the largest purchase in North American sports’ history for a professional sports’ franchise. AP Photo / Matt Peters ….

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Who says that the nation’s greatest ever pastime is dead ?

Who says that the nation’s greatest ever pastime is dead ?

Unofficially, the MLB season has started with a two-game series having already taken place between NL West teams the Arizona Diamondbacks (0-2) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2-0) playing their series in Brisbane, Australia,. For managers Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson . this has been a start to a season, in which , both will be seeking to compensate for poor regular seasons, albeit, that Mattingly was able to lead his Dodgers to the NLCS against the St Louis Cardinals , where the team would fall to the NL Central based Cardinals , in six less than thrilling games , where the overrated Los Angles’ franchise simply fell apart . As to the reason , why this All Star laden team would succumb so easily , can be best summed up by the fact , that there was a great deal of complacency on the part of the players as well as Mattingly and his managerial staff .

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For the defending World Series’ champions the Boston Red Sox , led by manager John Farrell , this past season and their achievements , were nothing short of astonishing. From a last place finish within the . AL East , in 2012, to overcoming the ineptitude showed that season, along with the summary dismissal of Bobby Valentine . The latter, of whom, was simply hired for style over substance.

Farrell was able to lead his team with great deal of aplomb, as they weaved their way through an arduous regular season schedule and then without breaking much of a sweat , romped through the postseason , with a great deal of ease. Now the question becomes for one baseball’s most revered organizations , _____ can they make a successful defense of their title or simply fall by the wayside ? The Boston Red Sox are likely to be the initial prohibitive favorites within the AL East , where the division is likely to be a three-horse race between themselves , the Baltimore Orioles and either New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays, dependent upon which the way the wind is blowing or moreover , dependent upon whom the Vegas odds-makers believe to be the more credible of the two candidates.

As usual the MLB off-season posed a number of questions , of which the biggest had to be , how would the New York Yankees fare in the upcoming season , knowing that this would be Derek Jeter’s last season with the franchise after an two-decade career with the ball-club. A player of his stature, cannot easily be replaced, in spite of the now ongoing debates within baseball circles concerning the player’s career and where he now ranks the all-time greats to have donned a Yankees’ uniform . From my own perspective, I believe Jeter to be amongst the top twenty players in the ball-club’s history and where he might ranks within that number , would be entirely based upon how one might feel about his list of achievements and the era in which he played.

The New York Yankees made a splash during the off-season committing over $300 million to players they acquired to bolster their roster , while having the lost the likes of Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson to free agency. That being said, GM Brian Cashman and senior managing partner, Hal Steinbrenner know that this will be a season upon which they will be judged , with the added pressure the fans will want to send off the team’s revered captain with another World Series’ title , which would be in-fact Derek Jeter’s sixth , with baseball’s most successful franchise .

Coming into this season, with another bloated payroll , once again close to , if not exceeding $200 million , one has to ask how much longer the front office can continue to simply splurge on players , while having no real trust within their farm system having drafted presumed talent, in the hope that they would simply blossom and be productive for the franchise. Granted , the measure of success attained over the years , has somewhat downplayed those assertions to an extent , but in reality , they simply cannot be overlooked. Were it not for the benefits, offered by of the club’s ownership of the YES Network and being domiciled in the nation’s largest ad market . I seriously doubt that the New York Yankees would have achieved the measure of success attained under former manager Joe Torre and most recently with their last postseason triumph in 2009 with current manager Joe Girardi .

Girardi and his players will begin their season, with a series against the Houston Astros on the 1st April ,2014 at Minute Maid Park , in Houston , Texas. The likely starters will be CC Sabathia of the Yankees against Houston’s Scott Feldman . For the beleaguered Astros’ franchise , besides their ongoing off the field issues , their biggest hope has to be to avoid and enduring another loss of one hundred games for a third consecutive season , having been able to achieve that feat in 2012 and 2013 . An ignominious feat, while team owner , Jim Crane claims that his ball-club is in a healthy and competitive state. One has to wonder how that can be, while he seeks to sue broadcast partner CSN Houston , parent company Comcast Inc as well as Drayton McClane , the a Astros’ former owner. More to the point, given the fact that Bud Selig was a conduit for the sale , I have to ask, why Crane also has not focused his attention at the MLB Commissioner, with regard to the pending litigation and the very fact that Selig played a large part in the engineering of the sale of the franchise and its relocation from the NL Central in 2012 to the AL West in 2013 ? Bear in mind, that, Crane and the franchise, received a hearty financial “sweetener” n of $100 million to aid in the purchase and in the Astros’ subsequent move to the AL . Conspiracy theory or not, something, really ” stinks “ , concerning this deal, the actions of Jim Crane and that of the MLB hierarchy , as countenanced by Bud Selig .

I will say this for Detroit Tigers’ , owner , Michael Ilitch, he is certainly not afraid of throwing money at players , he believes to be talented enough to aid his franchise in their quest for a World Series ! Something, that has not been achieved by the ball-club in over two decades. The fact that pitcher , Justin Verlander, is one of the highest paid players in the game as well as one of the highest paid pitchers simply has not deterred the owner , who seeks the advice of the team’s general manager , in , Dave Dombrowski . Now with their Tigers’ two-time AL MVP , Triple Crown King and perhaps the best “pure hitter “ in the game , in slugger , Miguel Cabrera . With the player having reportedly ” inked “ a eight-year $248 million deal , with their still being two years left on his existing contract that will pay him $44 million . One has to wonder, what other maneuvers are likely to be engineered within the Tigers’ front office .

The end to this episode, has not yet come to a satisfactory conclusion within the Tigers’ organization with pitcher, Max Scherzer at first turning down an initial offer of a contract extension , said to be an offer worth six-years and $144 million . Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras said to have found the offer derisory and beneath what he believes his client would be worth on the open market. An agent of Boras’ stature and someone who has come to be the bane of general managers around the league, has simply been the main reason why the sport of baseball has become ” financially imperiled ” . Far too many, idiotic fans, believe that MLB remains on sound financial footing, merely because the game’s revenues have been increasing each season. Inflationary issues asides, a great deal of this, has to more to do with the renegotiated television rights , increased ticket , concession prices and corporate endorsement deals . Yet above all , players’ salaries , contract and team payrolls are on the increase , while the quality of the baseball being played is actually on the decline . Granted, Bud Selig can always point to the fact that game attendances , are at a high , but nowhere near an all-time as associated with the game during the fifties , sixties seventies and early eighties . While we have seen larger venues being built, over the past few years, it has not followed through in creating bigger attendances for a number of teams. Small market teams struggle to attract a fan-base big enough to be actually self-sustaining, without the aid of an assist from the MLB hierarchy . Cases can be justified, with the number of teams assisted by the league’s tax-sharing revenue scheme.

In refusing the Tigers’ offer Scherzer puts himself on the part to become a free agent this off-season and it seems highly unlikely that GM Dave Dombrowski to resume negotiations with either the player or his agent. Scott Boras for his part , as an agent over the past decade , has negotiated contracts totaling in excess of $5 billion , and having negotiated the most contracts of clients such as Alex Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira , Stephen Drew , Kendry Morales , Barry Zito , Jered Weaver , Shin Soo Choo and Michael Bourn , through his successful sports’ management agency the Boras Corporation .

With appearances coming in 2006 and 2012 in the World Series for the Detroit Tigers , with the team failing on both occasions , you would have to go back to 1984 , when the ball-club was triumphant over the San Diego Padres in baseball’s postseason fare . Three decades later and one wonders, if a curse was placed over the franchise after that series’ victory. Here, am I thinking , Wrigley Field , the infamous goat and Steve Bartman might be the only things , that fans can have fun with, when it comes to comedic anecdotes concerning the game ! I guess I was wrong in that context and can only hope that when the Tigers begin their 2014 schedule, with their opening home game against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park in Detroit , it will be the start of something special for the ball-club this season.

As much as it pains me to say this , having watched the Chicago Cubs swoon over the seasons , has brought a great deal emotion and in many respects, a great deal of laughter. In spite of, the club’s history and the many great players , that have passed through the locker room down the years. The continued struggles of the franchise, as they seek to win a World Series and to appease and placate their long-suffering fans and the shedding of the myth of the “goat” has been something of a long running soap opera. Steve Bartman’s infamy and stupidity, in some respects, gives you an indication, why the franchise remains in a quagmire , beyond the sheer conceit shown first, by Sam Zell and the current owners of the Cubs , Tom Ricketts and his family . If Ricketts believes spending $100 million refurbishing and upgrading the ballpark is money well-spent, rather than bolstering the current roster , then it gives you an indication as to where his priorities may well lie , even with Theo Epstein being brought in to weave some magic in heading up the team’s Baseball Operations . Epstein’s tenure with the ball-club at present, two years in and the franchise has been moving at a snail’s pace , showing very little sign of progress either on or off the field of play.

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Catching hell doesn’t do Bartman justice ! A bullet to the head , would have been justified .

Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer will seek to bring back some semblance of success , having worked together before, in a similar capacity , while both were with the Boston Red Sox , where they saw a considerable amount of success together as a pairing, in bringing about the first of that franchise’s three most recent World Series’ titles. The Cubs’ long-suffering fans have been waiting for over hundred years to witness a World Title and but for Steve Bartman’s idiocy during the 2003 NLCS , the common feeling might well have been , this was to be their year . Instead, one moment of lunacy, brought about angst , anger, pent-up frustration , threats to endanger the life of Steve Bartman and ,members of his immediate family. Meanwhile , Moises Alou can only feel hard done by, and wishing that if the ball had been struck with a little less strength , it would have been the Chicago Cubs quite possibly winning out , in that now infamous series against the Florida Marlins and then making their way to the World Series that year . If, only and but , all commonly used words in the English language ,and yet when acquainting them with the Chicago Cubs , memories of Alou’s outstretched arms and Bartman snatching that fly ball from within his grasp, spelt disaster for the franchise in more ways than one .

The Cubs will begin with their season, when they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in their regular season opener , where they will also be opposing the 2013 NL MVP winner Andrew McCutchen, as that team , seeks to take a few more positive steps, after languishing on the outside looking in , having not made the postseason in two decades . Last year, in some respects, was a season of firsts for this ball-club, with a number of players showing a great deal more maturity? Although their postseason foray was not long-lasting, , it was enough give the Pirates a great hope for this upcoming season as Neal Huntington has been finally been given the go-ahead to actually spend some money the roster in acquiring players . A major turnaround , when you consider that for a number of years, team owner , Bob Nutting repeatedly, plead poverty while the ball-club was actually profitable, even if it came by way of the largess of the > baseball hierarchy .

Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle and his managerial staff will have a tough season in seeking to repeat many of the team’s triumphs of last season . Nonetheless , with McCutchen leading the offense and providing his stealth in the outfield as one of baseball’s best defensive players . A great deal is expected of the Pittsburgh Pirates this upcoming season where they are likely to face a stiff challenge from the likes of the St Louis Cardinals , Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers . If the team can simply show some of the form of last season and specifically within their division , then there could very well be a possibility of the ball-club coming away with their first divisional title since 1992 . As I alluded to earlier, the Pirates have spent a long time on the outside looking in and then some !

Exploding salaries and payrolls and the general managers, are expected to work miracles in conjunction with the managers around the league. Moreover, the owners , themselves, many of them are amongst some of the wealthiest individuals in the country or they happen to have been either successful businessmen or quite possibly successful in other chosen endeavors . Peter Angelos a successful attorney and owner of the Baltimore Orioles, not often seen in public , has become something of a recluse. In the past seven years , during his tenure, as the franchise’s owner , I truly believe he and the front office to have been completely negligent in their running of the ball-club ! Granted, a great deal of the idiotic analysis suggested by fans of the team , have merely made suggestions about their draft needs in order to build their farm system for the future and free agent acquisitions , never once questioning the mindset of the owner and the lack of concern or motivation on his part of that of the executives within the front office. Perhaps , it really does come down to the apparent lack of intelligence of the fans and their having little or no damn knowledge as to the inner workings of a business , much less a professional sports’ franchise .

Peter Angelos for his part, may well have left the day-to-day running of the Orioles to his son, John P Angelos , H Russell Souse , Chief General Counsel, Dan Duqutte and former Baltimore Orioles’ player , Brady Anderson . A great deal was expected of the team last season , but unfortunately for Buck Showalter and his staff , the players were not readily equipped to get the job done and garner a wildcard berth . At one point during last season, it looked as if the Baltimore Orioles were capable of actually winning the AL East, but beyond the fascination of Chris Davis and his seeking to <a href=http://mlb.mlb.com/bal/history/uy break the franchise’s single season home run record and the increasing maturity being shown by Manny Machado , there was not a great deal that evolved out of the Orioles’ season during 2013. Their failure in large part, was in simply playing their divisional rivals , tough , during the season and it essentially led to their own undoing . There may well now be a common belief that this season, they are going to be in a position to challenge the might of the might of the Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays , but I do not believe that the team in its present guise is simply good enough to pull off that feat , in spite of their off-season moves !

While Mike Scioscia and Ron Gardenhire look to start their respective seasons, within the AL, for the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins . I cannot help but wonder, with the combined managerial career between the two , all they have to show for that their respective tenures , just happens to be, one World Series’ title , one AL Pennant , several divisional titles and collectively , well over 2000 career wins ( Gardenhire 998 wins and Scioscia 1233 wins) . Yet , I truly believe that both of these well-respected managers, are now past their prime ! Wherein, for owners Arte Moreno and Jim Pohlad , this may well be the season , where should both managers fail to meet expectations, then their careers within the Majors, will come to an abrupt end , with their summary dismissals . It could also mean the end, for general managers, Jerry DiPoto and Terry Ryan . Though, in some circles, it is believed that Ryan will be allowed to remain in his current position, with the Twins, as he seeks turn things around, after the somewhat , recent lean years of under-achievement by his predecessor, Bill Smith . . As the season gets underway, determined by the progress made, we will all be able to judge the fate and outcome of both of these managers. Could a World Series’ win be in the picture for either ? Your thoughts on that and anything else, you believe pertinent to the subject matter, is more than welcome !

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(1) (L-R) NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell and NSW Minister for Arts, George Souris present signed cricket bats to Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers and Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks during the MLB Welcome to Australia Press Conference at Sydney Cricket Ground oon March 18, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Getty Images Asia-Pacific/ Brendon Thorne …..

(2) Diamondbacks manager, Kirk Gibson speaks during the MLB Welcome to Australia Press Conference at Sydney Cricket Ground on March 18, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Getty Images Asia-Pacific / Brendon Thorne …..

(3) Prince Fielder is seen here with Detroit Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski , after the player was acquired as a free agent by the franchise . Two years of somewhat lackluster productivity having signed a multi-year multi-million deal , Fielder was sent packing along with the remainder of his contract to the Texas Rangers , where the player hopes to resurrect his once prolific career . AP Photo / Joel Harper ….

(4) Scott Boras, baseball’s most well-known and sought after agent . As CEO & Chairman of the Boras Corporation . the agent has a clientele list , that boasts some of the most recognizable and well paid players in the game . Being on this side of the business has made Boras an extremely wealthy man , having harbored dreams of playing in the Big Leagues , where his career did not really pan out . American Pathe Inc @ copyrighted material …..

(5) Steve Bartman and Moises Alou of the Cubs battle for a foul ball in the 2003 National League Championship Series . One moment of apparent infamy and stupidity by Bartman on an October night in 2003 , led to threats on his life and that of his family’s being threatened . Photo by Elsa Martinez/ Getty Images ….

(6) Brady Anderson , right, is seen here with Dan Duquette , as both front office executives within the Baltimore Orioles’ franchise discuss a number of team issues . Anderson , a former player with the ball-club was one of the Orioles’ most popular players during his playing career with the organization. AP Photo / Mason Fuller …..

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As the NFL enters week ten of its sixteen week regular season schedule , with the plethora of stories that have made up the season thus far. Perhaps no one story, than the one currently fomenting will have a lasting effect on the league as we know it to be at present . No matter how anyone now tries to spin what appears to have been an unsavory incident between Miami Dolphins’ teammates Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin , there is absolutely no way that one can justify the stance that racial intolerance or abuse should be part of anyone’s work environment . As to this downright idiocy , that a code of conduct amongst a brotherhood was broken by Martin, after he made it public, as to an incident that took place between he and Incognito, speaks to the damn stupidity of former NFL player Damien Woody , that with Jonathan Martin having broken that code , it now makes him “ a marked man “ who is likely . to distrusted by a teammate .

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Personally , I believe Woody to be entirely wrong, due to what appears to be ignorance and the fact , that as an African-American , I seriously doubt that he would have chosen to simply walk away, were a racial epithet directed at him or a member of his family , as appears to be the case with the online evidence of the “tweets” that were directed at Jonathan Martin and his mother in derogatory racial terms . As to those who simply want feel-good stories in a world where we have corrupt politicians , businessmen and violent crimes being perpetrated against women and children , simply add this episode, in another chapter in country spinning out of control , where common decency and respect no longer prevails .

With no formal statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the matter, from an incident, that is now almost a week old. It begs the question, is the commissioner simply an executive, who cherry picks the issues where he feels it is simply another area where he can be seen in a positive image , albeit that the NFL brand is now once again coming under fire for all of the wrong reasons and a great deal more ? In appointing an attorney Ted Wells , to conduct an in-depth investigation , that will seek input from both of the players involved in this matter , as well as head coach Joe Philbin and the Dolphins’ general manager Jeff Ireland . It now remains to be seen, if there will be parameters set, as to whether or not this matter will be given greater latitude by way of an even greater investigation not just solely of the Miami Dolphins’ organization , but also of all of the thirty-one other teams that make up the NFL . Philbin, originally tried to suggest that this was an isolated incident , but clearly the head coach is now at a loss to explain how an environment of racial intolerance was acceptable within the Dolphins’ locker room , with a makeup of players of different ethnic backgrounds . Clearly, the matter was taken seriously enough by Jeff Ireland to suspend Richie Incognito indefinitely , without pay , while the organization now conducts its own in-house inquiry .

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has summoned both Richie Incognito , his agent and that of Jonathan Martin and his own legal counsel to meet at the Players’ Union headquarters to meet and deal with and discuss d this matter in some clarity . To my mind, this is simply the union trying to line up all of its ducks in a row, in order to abate any possible public outrage over the matter that has blown up over the past forty-eight hours ! The NFLPA , has done little to monitor or dissuade the often criminal or outrageous behavior of its members who have often deemed themselves above the law. Need we also be reminded, this is the very same union that has continued to hide behind the matter of it being a privacy issue , as to why they have yet comply with the league’s request with the commencement of in and out of season testing for anabolic steroids as well as human growth hormones , even after a vote ratifying testing to begin . All this in accordance with a promise made to a US Congressional Committee in 2010 , for which this policy has yet to be instituted three years later . Such hypocrisy , not only from the executive committee of the union, but also the entire NFL hierarchy , led by Roger Goodell.

For a league, where the player personnel makeup extends beyond 65% of players, who are of African-American descent, and other ethnic backgrounds. One has to ask , if the so-called family friendly and all-inclusive atmosphere created and marketed towards its consumers by the NFL , has simply glossed over the at times and often overlooked behavior of the players . Player misconduct is one thing, but where racial bigotry has now become part of the environment , not where a fan has been directing racially insensitive remarks at a player , but that of a player directing those remarks at a fellow teammate and directly at a family member . Should we really be now asking , what else has the NFL chosen to tolerate within its own insular world of the male testosterone driven bastion of the league’s locker rooms and practice field environment ?

This season in the NFL, there have been several terrible games that the fans have been subjected to , on not only on Monday Night Football , but also on Thursday night . Tonight, should prove to be no different , with the Washington Redskins (3-5) as the guests of the Minnesota Vikings (1-7) , in what could prove to be a ” make ” or ” break game ” for both teams, with their respective seasons said to be on the line. In what has turned out to be a monstrously bad season within the NFC East , only the Dallas Cowboys (5-4) currently possess a record above .500 . As to what this actually indicates about the division as a whole , can be best summed up by how one views each of the four teams and their respective records and play over the course of this season . Suffice to say , the New York Giants (2-6) , the Washington Redskins , Philadelphia Eagles (4-5) and the divisional leaders , the Dallas Cowboys have given us a perspective as to what truly bad football is said to be about , at this point of the season. It would be terrible to think or witness the fact that a team with a sub .500 record is likely to win the division and a guaranteed berth in the postseason. Yet , this is what the fans could be facing over the remainder of this season , as I simply cannot foresee either of these four teams showing the type of consistency needed to end up with a winning record by week sixteen !

Greg Schiano , head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8) , came in with a blaze of glory , having been hired by general manager Mark Dominik to resurrect the fortunes of the franchise after a dismal 2011 foray , which in the end led to the firing of Schiano’s predecessor Raheem Morris . Now win-less, with an 0-8 record , which they jointly share with the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8) for the worst in the NFL . The countdown is now on to see whether or not the Buccaneers can gain their first victory of the season , as things continue to spiral out of control for Greg Schiano , his coaching staff and the entire team . And I use the word “team ” loosely , as there seems to be no desire from anyone on the roster to show any passion , much less leadership or to be held accountable for what is now turning out to be a truly miserable season by any stretch of the imagination.

The Buccaneers will play host to instate neighbors the Miami Dolphins in a game that will have a bearing on both of their seasons and quite possibly determine the fates of both Joe Philbin and Greg Schiano , and their long-term futures as NFL head coaches in the league .

Early season in the NBA and it would appear, as the Indiana Pacers (5-0) remain the lone unbeaten team in the NBA , sitting atop of the Central Division in the Eastern Conference . On Wednesday night the Pacers played host to the Chicago Bulls in one of ten games that was on NBA schedule for the day. Frank Vogel has this team playing at a high level with Paul George giving the sort of performances that was most notably seen in last season’s highly contested and competitive Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat . While I have no doubt that the Pacers are good enough to make return the postseason this year , beyond their being joined by the defending champions . It is difficult to state, which six teams within the Eastern Conference will join that duo and what that determining order is likely to be !

On Friday evening, Indiana will seek to stretch opening season run to six straight unbeaten games , when they play host to the Toronto Raptors (2-3) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana , Indianapolis,. With the Pacers having the upper hand in the regular season meetings between the two, twee this game is likely to prove to be somewhat uncompetitive . Frank Vogel’s players , but it would be rather impudent to simply think that , because the opponent just happens to be a team with a two-game winning streak , they should be taken lightly , because they have never been part of a competitive season , much less a part of the NBA’s postseason soirees . Chances are, this contest is likely to be close, based on the current disposition of both teams and the mindset of the Indiana Pacers’ players and how they will actually approach the game .

New ownership , same old story , as the Sacramento Kings continue to under-achieve , while their fans remain forever optimistic. From my own perspective, the loss of the Maloof family from the ranks of the NBA owners , should not be seen as that great a loss ! Consider the fact, that they continued to mismanage the franchise and almost brought them to the verge of bankruptcy , speaks volumes as to the lack of oversight that continues to be shown by the NBA hierarchy led by David Stern and his continued abstinence in insisting that the teams are and will remain financially solvent . Either, the NBA commissioner lives in the world of make belief , or he is of the opinion that creative accounting continues to be the best way to inflate the value of the franchises and their profitability .

Sacramento is off to a 1-3 start placing them at the bottom of the standings within the Pacific Division of the Western Conference . For rookie head coach , Michael Malone , beyond having to deal with a completely new hierarchy led by owner Vivek Ranadive , general manager Pete D’Alessandro , special consultant Chris Mullin and Shareef Abdur-Rahim as Director of Player Personnel . It is difficult to see how Malone will seek to navigate the waters of the NBA along with an untested coaching staff and a team led by the talented , but always temperamental DeMarcus Cousins . Already , the mercurial center and his coach are off to rocky start with the two seen clearly angrily gesticulating with one another after Malone sought to substitute the player during a game against the Golden State Warriors that ended in a 87-98 loss to their conference rivals . As to what this say as a precursor for the rest of the Kings’ season , will clearly be determined by the mindset of Cousins and how he views his head coach . Things are obviously not that great in terms of the long-term relationship between the two and it now defies logic as to any reason behind the franchise’s decision to re-sign the player to a four-year $62 million deal . Yet, it was felt by Chris Mullin , Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Pete D’Alessandro to retain the player and make him the centerpiece of any future development of the franchise and its long-term future. Unless DeMarcus Cousins can show signs of maturity as a player , rather than the petulant individual seen in college and repeatedly shown in the NBA when adversity looks him squarely in the eye , then in all likelihood his days in the NBA could very well be numbered as a starter in this league .

It would be fair to suggest that four years into his NBA career , in spite of the hype surrounding a collegiate career with the Kentucky Wildcats that brought about numerous highs and lows . It has to be said that with his being drafted as the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings . It would be fair and enough to suggest that the Kings’ center has simply failed to live up to the perceived expectations and that John Calipari believed that DeMarcus Cousins would prove to be an immediate success in the NBA because of his undoubted skill-set .

In spite of being overwhelmed in the NLCS by the St Louis Cardinals , it now looks as if the Los Angeles Dodgers are prepared to reward manager Don Mattingly with a new contract, extending the current deal , which the manager intends to honor , as he enters into its final year. If the rumors are to be believed Mattingly and his agent Ray Shulte have met with Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti and team President Stan Kasten to hammer out the finite details of a deal , that is likely to make the former New Yankees’ player one of the highest paid managers in Major League Baseball . Kasten’s wish to have Mattingly sign a five-year deal, with the option of an additional year on top of that, shows the intense belief of this front office in their manager and his abilities . In what turned out to be an astonishing year for one of baseball’s more venerable organizations, although the heightened expectations were there , with the expectations that it would be the Dodgers facing off against the Boston Red Sox in the World Series . The team’s failure to cool down the Cardinals’ pitching in the NLCS pennant series , was a clear indicator that there were and remained flaws that were often overlooked , because the Dodgers were a team capable of showing momentary flashes of brilliance. Instead , what was really needed , was in fact a great deal more consistency from the entire team , rather than those momentary showings of brilliance .

With the certainty that Don Mattingly will be retained, along with his managerial staff intact for 2014. The front office, will now look to assess the entire roster and review what they believe their most urgent needs are said to be. The pitching staff was amongst the best in the NL during the regular season , with their starting ace Clayton Kershaw having one of the best years in franchise history as well as in the game’s history , posting figures that were simply astonishing .

With a team payroll that already exceeds $200 million , with only the New York Yankees this past season having a larger salary obligation . This upcoming season could very well be the year where we could witness baseball’s first team with a payroll commitment close to $235 million annually . Certainly , with the ambition of team owners Magic Johnson , Peter Guber , Todd S Boehly , senior managing partner Mark Walter and the financial backing of Guggenheim Baseball Properties LLC and that of holding company Guggenheim Partners Inc , as well the $ 8 billion twenty-year television deal with Time Warner Inc . It begs the question , if the Dodgers simply want the best free agents available , will they simply outbid their opponents at the drop of a hat ?

With Clayton Kershaw as the team’s most urgent priority in terms of re-signing the player to a long-term multi-year deal , rather than losing him to free agency in 2014 . The question remains whether or not Ned Colletti will now make the player the highest paid starting pitcher in the game, with a deal thought to be in excess of $275 million over ten years . The Los Angeles Dodgers currently have some of the highest paid players in the baseball , me with notables such as Zack Greinke and his compensation package in the upper echelons of the starting pitchers in the game . Kershaw and his agent J D Smart will likely seek a deal commensurate with what is being earned by the top pitchers in the game ,albeit that salary arbitration in 2014 , will not prove to be that great a hurdle with Stan Kasten Ned Colletti eager to sign the pitcher to a long-term deal . And if Magic Johnson’s statement are to be believed “ that money will be of no object “ as the Los Angeles Dodgers seek to bring the franchise its first World Series’ title since 1988 . A quarter of a century has passed since that achievement came into being , so next season ought to portend to something special for the franchise , as they seek to make winning baseball’s biggest team prize a reality for this upcoming year . Is this team capable of doing that , given the makeup of their present roster , without seeking to delve amongst many of their prospects within their farm system to bolster that lineup ?

We have yet to know the fate of Alex Rodriguez , as he awaits the date to be set for his arbitration hearing in front special arbitration adjudicator Fred Horowitz . Rodriguez , denies any wrongdoing on his part in what he feels are scurrilous accusations and claims being brought by the MLB hierarchy that he was a customer of the defunct supplements’ company Biogenesis Inc, whose founder Anthony ‘ Tony’ Bosch claims that the Yankees’ third basemen purchased anabolic steroids from the company for his own personal use. The company founder, will be baseball’s chief witness in the proceedings against the player along with what is said to be detailed factual evidence now in the league’s possession . As to the veracity of MLB’s case against Rodriguez , without any evidence for the public to view , this all remains speculative in nature. Yet , to my mind, Alex Rodriguez when questioned on the matter , has sought defer the questions claiming that under advice of counsel (his lawyers). he cannot answer any questions pending a legal matter. Clearly , with the hiring of two noted criminal attorneys , Alex Rodriguez is now seeking another avenue to refute the charges being leveled against him and what better way to do that , than by legal means , in seeking to bring about a civil suit against Major League Baseball as well as the New York Yankees’ chief medical physician . Muddy the waters of the case against you, and then also seek legal recourse with attorneys David Cornwell and Joseph Tacopina as the conduits in pressing ahead with your civil suit in the New York City , US District Federal Court .

Should the arbitration not go in Alex Rodriguez’s favor , one of the more likely premises to arise out of this all, will be that the New York Yankees , will have Rodriguez’s future salary obligations taken off their books , allowing them instant relief and wiping away in one fail swoop the approximately $43 million owed to the player , which would cover the two hundred and fourteen game suspension that the baseball hierarchy leveled as a verdict for Rodriguez’s alleged wrongdoing . With that financial burden taken off the books of the Yankees , it would allow them to pursue their likely target amongst the free agents sought , none other than Carlos Beltran of the St Louis Cardinals, whose postseason productivity has been consistent , as well as his regular season performances , during his career with the Cardinals. A number of front office executives around the league as well as a number of owners are simply dumbfounded that once again the New York Yankees are in a favorable situation , in spite of what appears to the misdeeds of a player known to be disingenuous and most certainly deceitful , given his actions of March of 2010 , when Rodriguez gave his less than contrite public apology for lying about his not having been a user of performance enhancing drugs (PED’S) . Less than two years after that apology, the player’s name was again linked to another establishment and producer of anabolic steroids and other prohibited substances banned under the league’s policy, but no investigation was called for by Bud Selig , even in light of federal prison sentence handed down to now disgraced Orlando , Florida medical doctor Anthony Galea . Which once again begs the question and strains the ongoing credibility and claims now constantly being made by Bud Selig that baseball has the most stringent testing procedures in all of professional team sports . My question for the commissioner , if the claims you are making has any veracity to it all , then where is the evidence and what about the investigative side of the league’s actions ?

The Biogenesis scandal was not uncovered by any work done by league investigators and the league hierarchy itself , who we now know to have purchased a great deal of the evidence said to be in its possession from Biogenesis for use as evidential proof against twelve of the thirteen players suspended this past season . Once again, the bumbling incompetency baseball’s hierarchy and the now less than credible and soon to be outgoing MLB Commissioner, have taken a monumental hit from an image and intelligence standpoint . As if we needed any further proof, that baseball is being ran by a bunch of supercilious buffoons, whose intelligence and credibility have repeatedly come into question over the past decade and a half, without anyone ever being held accountable for the stupidity that has been on display ! Pretty much sums up not only MLB at present , but also the NFL , if those with any discerning interest would care to look at the tenure of Roger Goodell.

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In light of the topics raised in this article , what if anything do you believe to be or find anything disturbing as to the veracity of the content ? Also , are you of the opinion that the NFL can deal with this unwanted story concerning Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins appropriately without their being further damage done to the image the league ? With the New York Yankees quite possibly being in an advantageous position should the suspension of Alex Rodriguez be upheld , with the ball-club not having to pay any luxury tax, are you of the opinion that this situation has become too advantageous for the organization ? By all means do leave a comment on this and anything else you believe to be relevant the subject matter at hand.

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(1) Richie Incognito (68) and Jonathan Martin (71) of the Miami Dolphins . A furor over racially insensitive comments posted by Incognito has created a firestorm within the NFL , that has led for an in-depth investigation to be called for by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ,which will be headed by noted corporate litigator Ted Wells . Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland thought the matter serious enough to suspend Incognito indefinitely without pay , pending the team’s own in-house investigation . Meanwhile , NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has summoned both players to the union’s headquarters to discuss the alleged incident that took place between the two players . AP Photo / Ricardo Gutierrez ….

(2) Damien Woody , formerly a player with the New York Jets , now an ESPN NFL analyst went on record in suggesting that Dolphins’ defensive lineman Jonathan Martin was wrong in making his incident with Richie Incognito public and bringing to attention what apparently goes on inside of NFL team locker room . It is clear that Woody simply does not get it , if he feels that “racism ” and racial bigotry somehow belongs within the environment of the NFL, which he duly failed to acknowledge concerning the actions of Richie Incognito . The former Jets’ player has yet to respond to comments calling for an explanation as to what he meant in stating that Martin was wrong to address the media . However, when pressed on the issue of Richie Incognito’s now viral “tweet” and the player’s depiction of Jonathan Martin and his mother , Woody was non responsive . @ copyrighted material courtesy of ESPN …

(3) From left to right , NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith , center former union president Kevin Mawae and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are seen outside of the NFL headquarters in New York City , New York . The two lead executives are now caught up in a firestorm , which further casts the image of the NFL as an entity that appears to have a code of conduct wherein reprehensible behavior is tolerated and kept out of the media and public’s view. Both Goodell and Smith have failed miserably in dealing with repeated player misconduct and the fact that the league’s athletes now run afoul of the law with alarming regularity on annual basis . The incident now widely being reported in various media formats centers around the behavior of the Miami Dolphins’ Richie Incognito and his racially insensitive remarks about his teammate (Jonathan Martin) and that player’s mother , both of whom were depicted in racially derogatory terms . Getty Images North America / Paul Mason …..

(4) Native Americans protest before the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins game on November 7, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Many of those protestors were not only protesting the use of the word ” Redskins ” and that of its use by NFC East franchise the Washington Redskins , but also the incident now being widely reported in the national media that took place within the Miami Dolphins’ organization . Getty Images North America / Adam Bettcher …..

(5) Robert Griffin III (10) of the Washington Redskins, Adrian Peterson (28) of the Minnesota Vikings and Trent Williams (71) of the Washington Redskins pose for a photo on November 7, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Getty Images / Adam Bettcher ….

(6) Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) looks to gain some yards as he evades the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive lineman Jared Allen . Minnesota gain a well-deserved victory in erasing a double-digit deficit to beat the Redskins 34-27 . AP Photo / Ann Heisenfeldt …

(7) From left to right , Tampa bay Buccaneers’ general manager Mark Dominik , team wide receiver , Mike Williams and head coach Greg Schiano . The Buccaneers are off to a miserable start this season , win-less and bearing an 0-8 record , placing them firmly at the bottom of the NFC East division. The team will play host to instate rivals the Miami Dolphins this Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa , Florida , as they seek to earn their first victory of the season . There are now growing calls for the firing of Schiano as well as the removal of Mark Dominik in his current role with the organization . The Tampa Tribune / AP Photo / Keith Morris …..

(8) ) Indiana Pacers’ Paul George, right, talks with head coach Frank Vogel speaks during a news conference Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in Indianapolis. George has been honored as the NBA’s Most Improved Player . This season the Pacers are off to an excellent start and presently the NBA’s only unbeaten team . They will put that five game start and unbeaten run to the test when they face the Toronto Raptors on Friday night in a match-up of these two East Conference teams . AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(9) Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, left, is walked off the court by head coach Michael Malone after he was called for a technical foul during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. The Clippers won 110-101 . AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli …

(10) Alex Rodriguez ,right , is seen leaving a limousine alongside his lawyer Joseph Tacopina as he arrives at the MLB headquarters for a preliminary meeting with league investigators to answer questions concerning his suspected use of performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) . The player denied any wrongdoing or the accusations that he has once again begun to use any type of illicit substance prohibited by Major League Baseball . Not a far cry from Rodriguez’s original claims in both 2006 and 2008 , before finally admitting publicly in 2010 , that he had indeed used anabolic steroids supplied to him by a family relative , his cousin , Yuri Sucart . NY Daily News / Mark Hall ……………

(11) Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, left, checks on starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, center, during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies Tuesday, July 2, 2013 in Denver. The Dodgers won 8-0 . Mattingly is likely to be rewarded with a lucrative contract extension , a five-year deal , with the option for a sixth , that is likely to make him one of the highest paid managers in Major League Baseball. Likewise , Clayton Kershaw , who is in an arbitration year with the franchise in 2014 , is seeking a long-term deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers , having met informally with team President Stan Kasten , GM Ned Colletti , along with his agent J D Smart to begin the initial talks, concerning a new deal that is likely to make the pitcher the highest paid player in the game in his current role . The Dodgers’ ace also highly favored to win NL Cy Young Award and is also seen an outside favorite to perhaps pull off the ” double ” of also taking home the NL MVP Award to adorn his own personal trophy cabinet , after a tremendous season in 2013 . AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez …

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Related topic on this subject in part : No sleep ’til Brooklyn

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tophatal …………………. 11/07/2013

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Jordan Carver and a montage below of Carver, again.

Nice , real nice !

No news is good news , unless it is happening in the world of sports …..

No news, is good news , unless it is happening in the world of sports ….

With the recent firing of Philadelphia Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel by the front office of that organization , led by GM Reuben Amaro . It should now come as no surprise that the team is likely to be in a rebuilding mode . Lackluster performances throughout much of the season and a number of injuries did not quite render this year as meaningless . Yet the question has to be asked , how damn naïve was Amaro to begin with , in thinking that he could enter the season with a roster of overpaid stars and barely anyone performing at their best ? A team payroll exceeding $165 million and projected payroll for 2014 in the region of $114 million , the ball-club will have a little more wiggle room than anticipated .

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One of the more asinine assumptions I have read concerning the franchise , has been the fact that with their television contract due to expire in 2015 , with Comcast , the ball-club is likely to seek a more valuable deal , accordingly, something similar to the two-decade almost $8 billion deal that the Los Angeles Dodgers now has with Time Warner Cable Inc . Now the last time I looked, the city of Philadelphia may well have been in one of the nation’s largest ad-markets, but there is no way in hell that the franchise will be able to negotiate a deal with Comcast that is likely to net the Phillies remotely anywhere the financial reward they hope to gain .

The person offering his opinion on this all, has no idea as to the integral business template of a concern such as Comcast, who are still having to deal with the difficulties of their loss-making concerning NBC-Universal , the broadcast and film studios outlet bought from industrial giant GE . Consider the fact, that NBC is hemorrhaging red ink by the thankful, in terms of its bottom line . Only an idiot, would now believe that Comcast would be willing to shell out as much as $400 million annually over the next two decades to a ball-club, who this season has shown the competitive zeal of a baby seal , on the cusp of being clubbed to death .

With Ryne Sandberg’s installation as the interim-manager until the end of the season , it remains to be seen whether or not his audition will prove to be successful enough whereby he is offered the position on a full-time basis, and that of multi-year contract. From my own perspective , I do believe that team owner David Montgomery should have also sought the termination of Reuben Amaro’s contract as the team’s general manager . Those who witnessed the press conference announcing Charlie Manuel’s firing , while the former manager was seated alongside the general manager , obviously were able to see the dis-ingenuity of the executive, as he in part blamed the manager also on several issues , none of which , had to do with the fact that the team’s record of 64-77 , that had them languishing third , in the NL East and barely baseball that would prove to be entertaining enough for their fans to eagerly enjoy .

With two weeks to go before the regular season reaches its culmination, the Philadelphia Phillies still lie third within the division and their being of late some resilience being shown , having gone 6-4 in their last ten games. It would be safe to say that this off-season is likely to be a tumultuous one for the organization . The biggest off-season decision, possibly for the Phillies, is whether or to bring back to being back starting pitcher Roy Halladay and of closer Jonathan Papelbon . Both have said successful careers in their chosen roles, but if the truth be known, 2013 has provided us all with an insight into what can indeed go wrong when you have an overpaid star underachieve. While not the most expensive stars on the roster , they are the ones deemed superfluous to the team’s needs.

The Phillies’ issues beyond injuries and the inconsistent play, has been the fact, that there is said to be no vocal leader, with the likes seasoned veterans Jimmy Rollins , Cliff Lee and Chase Utley and Michael Young simply going about , business as usual . Whatever sense of urgency there was said to be, certainly wasn’t being shown under Charlie Manuel and in reality , although this recent ten-game stretch has shown that when this team is ready to play, they can do so. I do believe that it is all too little and far too late . The Philadelphia Phillies are now playing for their self-respect and pride , if nothing else . Sunday afternoon, will see the team face the Washington Nationals at Nationals Ballpark , in the nation’s capital of Washington, DC . Monday, the Phillies will then host their fellow divisional rivals the Miami Marlins in a three-game series , of teams said to be heading in the wrong direction .

For the Philadelphia Phillies and the likelihood of their cash windfall in 2015 , let us get one thing clear , fans are not likely to tune in to see a ball club whose product in 2013 was horrendous , and in 2014 , there is no likelihood or guarantee that Reuben Amaro is likely to show the insight needed to get have the best possible product on the field of play . Amaro has gambled, failed miserably in 2012 and 2013, so should the fans actually expect any different in 2014 , even with stars such as Ryan Howard , Cole Hamels , Cliff Lee and perhaps a number of prospects from the team’s farm system on board ? The Nationals and Atlanta Braves are likely to get considerably better and so too might the New York Mets , if their front office can actually find a way of not aiming the gun at their own damn feet and aiming it instead at their chosen target

The hype certainly was not worth it, , as once again the sport of boxing perpetrated another massive fraud on the public . On Saturday night, pound-for-pound king , welterweight champion Floyd ‘Money ‘ Weather ‘ defended his titles against Mexican fighter Saul ‘Canilo’ Alvarez . The unbeaten challenger, it was said, would give the champion the toughest test, he was yet to have faced in his unbeaten career . Pardon me for saying this, , but since when was it feasible to produce this hyperbole over a challenger whose record is as soft as a newborn baby’s ass ? Much of the blame for this charade, lays with Alvarez’s promoters, Golden Boy Promotions and its proprietor Oscar de La Hoya . The fight’s main card and under-cards were jointly promoted by Golden Boy Promotion and Mayweather Promotions and Entertainment Inc , a company wholly owned by the fighter , that oversees his professional and business interests. Mayweather’s business partner and legal counsel Leonard Ellerbee runs the business side, with the fighter simply making sure that the revenues are simply deposited into his now sizable and growing bank account. This title fight was the second of a six-fight deal with cable outlet provider Showtime Inc (parent company Viacom) , that will net Floyd Mayweather in excess of $200 million over the next eighteen months .

The only fireworks produced in this bout was the explosiveness and rapid succession in which Mayweather was allowed to land his blows, with his challenger simply being able to land a punch of any consequence . If Saul Canilo Alvarez is said to represent what was said to be a new breed and wave of tough up and coming Mexican boxers , then I am sorry, but Alvarez should now be hanging his head in shame, because the tradition of the great Mexican fighters of years past of which this young man wishes to join , will not be happening anytime soon. For twelve rounds the challenger offered nothing of substance, as the champion came away with a majority verdict , something of a farce given the lopsidedness of the victory , that now pushes his record to 45-0 (26 KO’s) . In suffering his first loss , Alvarez will have to revisit the drawing board and assess where he went wrong in this bout. From my own perspective , he simply was not ready for a fight of this magnitude in spite of record which to my mind is nothing more than a damn paperweight ! There are octogenarians and double amputees, who have shown more life than Saul Alvarez was able to exhibit on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Casino Arena & Resort Complex in Las Vegas , Nevada. Sooner or later the Nevada State Athletic Commission will have to start vetting a great many more of these title fights, taking place within the state’s line , particular those involving Floyd Mayweather . They either need to make sure that the title holder is not fighting a cadaver and that the opponent is in fact licensed to fight not only within the state, but nationwide .

As to who Mayweather’s next big money opponent might be , after his clinical and surgical dismantling of his challenger on Saturday night . Well, let us just say, that for twelve rounds of work, the champion will take a home $41 million guaranteed before the anticipated ancillary figures are known , which could very well add a further $45 million to $55 million to his take home pay for this one bout . Premium ringside seats went for high as $25,000 , but that included one’s accommodation and a limousine for the duration of the attendee’s stay in Las Vegas . The PPV (pay per view) figures are expected to top 2.4 million buys, making it the largest in the sport’s history and then weigh in the fact, that to subscribe for the event itself, the consumer was being asked to fork over $59-95 , an extortionate fee . One can now understand why this sport is now not signaling its own death knell, but the very fact that Mayweather’s only regard beyond what he alleges will be his legacy , is simply to ” break the bank ” with each purse he now earns in terms of his fights . He has already surpassed the lifetime earnings of both Mike Tyson and Oscar de La Hoya , two of the biggest names in the sport of boxing over the last two decades and he could be well on the way to becoming the first boxer to earn in excess of half-a-billion dollars ($500,000,000) solely from ring earnings ( estimated career earnings $392 million ) .

Well so much for that high-powered offense exhibited last week by the Philadelphia Eagles in their victory over the Washington Redskins . The team’s week two schedule , a game against the Mike McCoy coached San Diego Chargers has quickly brought Chip Kelly and his players back to earth with a crashing thud . Fans and analysts alike seemed to be overly excited with what many inane idiots were trying to suggest , that this was a new era in the NFL . How quickly they seem to forget and perhaps never seem to learn . For that type of efficiency and consistency , you have a team that is said to be on the same page as the coaching staff . Sunday afternoon and the Philadelphia Eagles may well have proved to us all that reading is fundamental , because everything about Philadelphia in this game suggested that not many of the team learned the playbook . Playing against a Chargers’ team led by quarterback Philip Rivers , the Eagles were made to pay for their errors as they were upstaged at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania .

And as exciting as Chip Kelly’s play-calling may well be, someone should remind the former Oregon coach, that this is not the Pac-12 , where just about no one plays any defense . He is now playing in amongst the big boys of the NFL , where a game strategy is made up offense as well as defense . The Eagles’ veteran quarterback , Michael Vick had a career high day in his team’s defeat, but the Eagles’ defense , it appears may well remained in the locker room , because for a large part of this game they were simply nowhere to be seen .

For the moment the Philadelphia Eagles remain tied atop of the NFC East at 1-1 , but that is likely to end after week two’s results are indeed a matter of record .

For those, who might still have doubts as to how good Aaron Rodgers might just be . Consider the following, the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback through three-quarters of work in Sunday’s game threw for an astonishing 374 yards , but fell a mere twenty yards of having a 500 yards’ career passing day . The opposition in this case just happened to be the hapless Washington Redskins , who have now fallen to 0-2 , albeit that Robert Griffin III , their sophomore quarterback continues to show growth as a player and as a quarterback in the NFL . Unfortunately, for Mike Shanahan , it has been the defense that has let this team down. And the likelihood is , this continues to be the norm , then defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and defensive lines’ coach Jacob Burney , will be abruptly shown the door.

This game may well have cemented the Packers as one of the teams to indeed watch within the NFC alongside both the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks . I am sorry folks , but it is still far too early to be talking about the Dallas Cowboys as a viable contender in spite of the force-fed diatribe of Skip Bayless , Merril Hoge , Ron Jaworski and the team’s owner Jerry Jones .

Speaking of the Seahawks and 49ers , well those two teams put on a stellar display in an NFC match-up that could prove to be a precursor and dress rehearsal for the NFC championship game . If ever there was a time for San Francisco’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick to prove that last season was no fluke , then Sunday’s display by the quarterback may well have a been a real cause for concern for the player’s fans and an even greater argument for his detractors . Pete Carroll’s …. defense simply harried the Kaepernick into making errant plays , while their offense led by opposing quarterback Russell Wilson , simply shredded and picked apart the Niners’ much vaunted defense , in coming away with a clinical and lopsided 29-3 victory . Can the Seahawks now be considered the most balanced and perhaps the best team in the NFL at present ? I will let you be the judge of that , but most certainly, do offer up your own thoughts on that .

The “Manning Bowl “ this past Sunday , provided us with a chance to see a sibling rivalry, in which the elder of the two siblings , Peyton Manning has the upper hand over his younger brother Eli Manning . In Sunday’s third meeting between these two seasoned and celebrated quarterbacks to display their skills before a national audience of millions besides the over 63,000 in attendance at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Aerial display and a rushing offense, provided the fans with over 780 all-purpose offensive yards . Defense seemed to be at a minimum as the Broncos came away with their second victory of the season with a 41-23 victory to put the Broncos atop of the AFC West and Peyton Manning with a 3-0 lead in regular season games over his younger brother . As to Archie and Olivia Manning , they must have been pleased with the performances of their two sons. Whether or not, there was said to be any favoritism being shown by the parents to one son over the other, that is a question, that can be asked of the individuals themselves .

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As exciting as this sport’s weekend was said to be , there were still a great many stories that I could have touched on, but with a limited amount of time and a patronage that quite possibly would not be interested in things such as NASCAR and EPL (English Premiership) soccer , I will simply leave it to the topics covered . So by all means, do leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site as it has always been greatly appreciated!

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Phillies’ starting pitcher Tyler Cloyd seen here delivering a pitch during the first inning of a game played against the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Ballpark in Washington , DC . The Nationals would go on to defeat the Phillies in a lopsided game 11-2 , with pitcher Jordan Zimmerman of the Nationals 1 gaining his eighteenth victory of the season . AP Photo / Susan Walsh …..

(2) The Nationals’ Bryce Harper steals second, as he makes his way to third base during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Ballpark in Washington , DC. Washington would go on to win the game 11-2 . AP Photo / Susan Walsh …

(3) Deposed manager Charlie Manuel, right, is seen here alongside GM Reuben Amaro Jr . Manuel the Philadelphia Phillies’ most successful manager, was fired earlier this month and replaced by Ryne Sandberg as the ball-club’s interim manager until the end of the season . Since his installment, Sandberg has not really fared that much better than his predecessor, having post a 16-13 record . Getty Images / Nick Walters ….

(4) Saul Alvarez, right , of Mexico is here in his WBC welterweight title fight against title holder Floyd Mayweather . The champion would win in dominating fashion with a unanimous verdict and pushing his unbeaten record to 45-0 . A forty-one million dollar payday was the reward for the champion, with the likelihood that his purse could be as high as $ 80 million after budgetary costs are taken into account for the staging of the title bout at the MGM Grand Casino Resort Hotel & Casino Complex in Las Vegas , Nevada . Getty Images North America / Rick Parsons ….

(5) (L-R) Floyd Mayweather Jr. throws a right at Canelo Alvarez during their WBC / WBA 154-pound title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 14, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mayweather successfully defended his WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine titles with a unanimous verdict over his challenger . Getty Images / Ethan Miller ……

(6) Floyd Mayweather Jr. (R) hits Canelo Alvarez in the seventh round of their WBC/WBA 154-pound title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 14, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mayweather won by a majority decision. Getty Images / Ethan Miller …..

(7) Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles attempts a pass to James Casey during the game against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania . The Eagles’ defense were woefully inept as they allowed Philip Rivers and the Chargers back into this contest , as the home team dropped to their first defeat of the season . AP Photo / Matt Rourke …..

(8) Eddie Royal of the Chargers makes it into the end-zone as he evades Nate Allen of the Eagles . AP Photo Matt Rourke ….

(9) Quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers attempts a pass during the game against the Washington Redskins played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wisconsin . Green Bay would defeat their NFC rivals 38-20 to improve their record 1-1 within the NFC North and dropping the win-less Redskins to 0-2 within the NFC East and at the bottom of the division. AP Photo Mike Roemer ….

(10) Peyton Manning (18) congratulates his younger brother Eli Manning after the game between their two the teams met in a scheduled regular season game ____ the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants , on Sunday afternoon . This was the third regular season meeting between the pair of siblings , with the elder Manning having won all three contests . The Broncos defeated the Giants 41-23 to improve their record to 2-0 in the AFC West , while the Giants sit at 0-2 within the NFC East . AP Photo / Frank Franklin II …

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tophatal …… 09/15/2013

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A hard rain is going to fall ….

A hard rain is going to fall ….

Sunday 1st September and baseball will enter the final month of the regular season with two divisional races set , in terms a winner . It would be pretty safe to say, that barring a major catastrophe both the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers look to be certain winners of their respective divisions . For the reigning World Series champions the San Francisco Giants , this has been a lamentable season , where nothing seems to have gone right for Bruce Bochy , his staff and the team . Injuries , inconsistent play from many of team`s top players took its toll on so many of the stars , that it could very well lead to some tough decisions being made in the off-season by GM Brian Sabean .

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For Don Mattingly`s Dodgers , this was a team that I felt would be left for dead a little over six weeks ago . Yet quite the opposite happened , with the Los Angeles putting together an astonishing run , where Los Angeles rolled off forty-two wins out of a possible fifty game stretch , to put themselves back in the hunt for the NL West title . Mattingly could very well come away with this season`s NL Manager of the Year award , if the adjudicators have any common sense . At the same time, the inspiration for this remarkable stretch run , all came down to the call up of Dodgers` outfield sensation Yasiel Puig .

At present the team with the best record in baseball, is by no means a clear indication that they are the best team currently playing . Yet a case, can be made that the two best ball-clubs now reside in the National League .. And beyond all of the ongoing controversy surrounding both Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez , baseball has repeatedly shot itself in the foot, and still carries on , as if nothing had ever happened . Never-mind the utter conceit shown for the fans by the game`s hierarchy and team owners . With Bud Selig continuing to remain the very public face of the game , with a number of rather inane and idiotic edicts , it should come as no wonder why many still remain distrustful of the league hierarchy and its overall leadership.

The AL East, long believed to be the standard-bearer for some of the best baseball to be played, has this season become a complete paradigm , with the painstaking mediocrity shown by John Gibbons` Toronto Blue Jays and the continued perils of Perils of Pauline as portrayed by the New York Yankees , with the continued excuses being made for that team`s woeful ineptitude, alongside Alex Rodriguez`s effusiveness and his wish to be seen as a victim, even in light of the continued evidence showing him to be an habitual liar and a cheat. Within this particular division, for much of this season it has been left to the Baltimore Orioles , Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays to provide the fans with a great deal of the entertainment to found . Yet, bearing in mind, as to what I believe to be a tarnished season within baseball, where there have been very few positives either on or off the field. The fans can only take what is now said to be on offer by the teams within the game, and as things now stand, it is not that great a deal .

The New York Yankees will host the Baltimore Orioles for a weekend series , in which Joe Girardi`s players will be looking to make up ground on the third placed Orioles , who themselves are vying for one of the two AL wildcard berths available for postseason play. Buck Showalter , is sure to have his players prepared for what is likely to be a highly contested series over the next three days. The first of the triumvirate of games will begin on Friday , with the Orioles` Miguel Gonzalez taking the mound against Yankees` starting ace CC Sabathia . AL East division leaders the Boston Red Sox will host the laboring Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park , with Robin Ventura`s players somehow looking to derail the Red Sox`s divisional hopes and what in essence has been a memorable inaugural season for the team’s manager John Farrell. His managerial acumen, has somehow managed to steady the ship with the team`s veterans and younger players buying into Farrell’s managerial style after the disaster witnessed last year under Bobby Valentine. The second-placed Tampa Bay Rays within the AL East , has for much of the season remained in close proximity of the division’s leaders , themselves having held the lead before a momentary lapse, led to their falling from the top of the division. Rays’ manager Joe Maddon would like nothing better than to lead the ball-club to their second divisional title in the franchise’s history , with GM Andrew Friedman having to operate on a somewhat meager budget , as he seeks to make the team competitive .

Tampa currently sits, 2 ½ games adrift of the Boston Red Sox (79-56) and only a half game ahead of their weekend opponents the Oakland Athletics in the wildcard standings. These two teams will meet , knowing that there is a great deal on the line for both ball-clubs , as each vies for a playoff berth. David Price will meet Jarrod Parker at the O Coliseum , in the first of three games to be played at the venerable venue in this series .

With a 6 ½ game lead over their nearest rivals in the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers are hoping to make up for a very poor 2012 foray in the postseason . Jim Leyland will once again seek redemption , by taking the division and then look to meet, whomever their first round opponents may well be . GM Dave Dombrowski has gathered together a team that should be good enough to win the AL pennant , but herein lies the caveat , the Tigers in their present guise know how to win in the regular season but the postseason in recent years has been their Achilles’ heal . The Tigers will play host to the Cleveland Indians in and what should prove to be a very interesting series , with Zach McAllister on the mound for the Indians against Rick Porcello of the Tigers.

Last season’s AL MVP Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and baseball’s most recent Triple Crown winner looks on course to repeat as MVP. Granted , the seasonal home run crown is beyond his reach , with the Orioles’ Chris Davis leading the MLB (league) and AL with forty-seven home runs to his name. If Detroit is to have any real success this postseason , then it will certainly not just come down to the competency of the offense , but also the tenacity shown by the pitching staff led by Justin Verlander , Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello .

I will give credit , where it is due ! And granted, there have been very few positives to come out of this season , beyond the play of a number of very good rookies . Yet in the midst of this baseball season , how can we continue to overlook the poor play and bad teams that still exist within the game ? New York Mets’ fans are probably now hoping that 2014 will be a great deal brighter than a lamentable 2013 season , where the ball-club’s brightest hope rests squarely on the shoulders of their pitcher Matt Harvey . Shuttered for the remainder of the season , because of an arm injury , there was not much that one can really say, was inspiring about the team’s play , beyond Harvey , himself. As to the idiocy of their fans that the team will be competitive next season . That would be like suggesting that after Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMA’s , we can now seriously take her as a talented individual . Anyone who witnessed Cyrus’ somewhat titillating act , will know that beneath the surface, there lies a very untalented individual and yes , the same can be said of the New York Mets.

Given the recent lack of progression of this Mets’ organization on the field of play , even with the alleged front office talents of Sandy Alderson and JP Ricciardi . The real issue with this ball-club , has been the very fact that they hog-tied themselves with some burdensome contracts that are tied to several players who are close to or essentially past their prime or in some cases are no longer with the organization.

As baseball seeks to find its champion for this year , I must admit that overall, this has to be looked upon as a season of disappointment and one wherein, once again, all of the main parties concerned have let another golden opportunity slip from within its grasp to clean up its image . Instead, fans are looking at an issue of instant replay being adopted for 2014 as a positive for the game , without ever acknowledging baseball still remains in a quagmire of deceit , , lies and delusions of self-importance. There seems to be no indignation from the union (MLBPA) as to the dishonor brought to the game by the continued cheating by the players , and not one prominent team owner has stepped into the fray to question how Bud Selig and the league hierarchy have dealt with the issue. Needless to say, things are likely to remain the same, because baseball`s commissioner, is simply averse to any real change , unless it is a change that would begin to show him in some form of a positive light . As commissioner , he chooses not to tackle the issue of the financial imbalances within his sport, while denigrating certain owners as being unimaginative and lackluster. Unfortunately, Bud Selig has never really taken the time to question his own actions in all of this and his own failings as being someone, who has not led with authority .

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The future of baseball on the face of it, does not appear bleak , but if the truth be told, its future is not as bright as some might believe it to be , even with the ascent of a number of young players coming to the fore. Leave a comment on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter and thanks as always for the continued support of this site.

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tophatal ……………………………… 08/30/2013

Picture and slideshow details below

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(1) Miami Marlins third baseman Placido Polanco (30) leaps above third base to catch a throw from catcher Jeff Mathis as Atlanta Braves Freddie Freeman (5) slides safely beneath him after a wild pitch during the fourth inning of a baseball game at Turner Field in Atlanta on Aug. 30, 2013. John Amis / AP Photo ….

(2) Adrian Gonzalez (23) of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated by Yasiel Puig (66 )after hitting a two-run home run against the San Diego Padres in the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium on August 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Jeff Gross /Getty Images North America ….

(3) San Francisco Giants` GM Brian Sabean , who this off-season will have a number of issues to deal with , concerning this Giants` team , their lack of consistency and productivity in 2012 , as well the impending free agency status of a number of players on the roster . AP Photo / Mark Perry ….

(4) Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, center talks with Jose Molina (28) and James Loney (21) in a baseball game against the Houston Astros Tuesday, July 2, 2013, in Houston. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan …

(5) The Detroit Tigers` Torii Hunter (48) is seen here alongside teammate Miguel Cabrera in a game played at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan, against the Oakland A`s on Wednesday , 28th August 2013 . AP Photo /Paul Sancya ………..

(6) MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred , left, is Bud Selig’s right-hand man, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll become baseball’s next commissioner. Selig continues to try and put out fires or the continued embers from past flare ups that he thought resolved . Due to step down in 2014 , there is no clear linear successor to the present MLB Commissioner and with their being calls for an outsider to succeed Selig , it seems unlikely that the hierarchy and team owners are willing to heed those calls at all . Getty Images / Rich Carmichael …….

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Jeny Romero . Comes courtesy of King Magazine

Engine, engine , number nine ….

Engine, engine , number nine ….

The little engine that could and did . Now while all of the rage this season in baseball has been to simply lay siege to the ongoing stories concerning the Biogenesis fallout . Baseball has seen one or two positives by way of the play of the teams . Fans have been fortunate , well at least those in attendance to have witnessed two no-hitters and a near perfect game earlier in the season with the Texas Rangers` ….Yu Darvish . A mere four weeks ago , it was the ascent of the Los Angeles Dodgers as they recovered from an indifferent start , to having risen up the NL West standings, to become the dominant team within the division, with all of the talk being about their rookie sensation Yasiel Puig .

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Well , on the senior circuit of the National League the Dodgers are not the only story to be relished, as the most dominant team in baseball right now, are the Atlanta Braves in the NL East . Some fans have been rather idiotic enough to be talking about the all too momentary ascent of the Pittsburgh Pirates within the NL Central . The team has been far too inconsistent , and wherein at a moment`s notice they are beating teams that they should be defeating, but yet, when challenged by a divisional rival , they seemingly crumble than for no apparent reason, other than being mediocre .

Chasing, a season high fifteenth consecutive win of the season. Atlanta Braves` manager Fredi Gonzalez , has his players playing with a high level of intensity and as a team , nonetheless. Justin Upton seems to be fitting into his role , having been acquired by the franchise in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks . Elder sibling and teammate, BJ Upton , though off to an indifferent start , now seems to be settling in and contributing on the field , while proving to be something of an inspirational leader to the younger players on the roster.

Looking to further extend their lead within the NL East over their closest rivals the Washington Nationals. Atlanta will now look to inflict even further pain upon the beleaguered Miami Marlins, for whom this season has been a total catastrophe and a nightmare for rookie manager Mike Redmond . As to whether or not he remains in his current position along with his managerial staff , will be left to the decision-making team of David Samson, Larry Beinfest and GM Michael Hill. The two teams will meet on Saturday afternoon, at Turner Field (Fulton County Stadium) in Atlanta, and then again on Sunday afternoon, as a finale to their current series.

Undoubtedly, the biggest success this season for the Braves has been their pitching , with their front-line starters leading the way . Mike Minor the team`s leader in wins has been one of the primary reasons behind Atlanta`s efforts along with a supporting cast of Julio Teheran , Tim Hudson , Paul Maholm , Kris Medlen and the mesmerizing NL saves` leader Craig Kimbrel. It would be remiss to merely to suggest that the Braves are simply proficient by way of their pitching alone . The team`s offense have had their moments to shine with Justin Upton spearheading that lineup of power and run productivity .

If the Atlanta Braves are able to withstand the remaining challenges within the their division and the rest of this season . Then it is my opinion that they will have to be seen as one of the clear favorites for the NLCS pennant. They are certainly good enough to win it, but a great deal will be predicated upon team health and whether or not they can keep this current momentum going . Fredi Gonzalez has proven to be a very good manager, although he has been often criticized , as not being tough enough on his players . Yet I believe, that his managerial style is conducive to the current environment and the very fact that he has been able to get a great deal out of this team, seasoned veterans as well as many of the younger players on the roster. Gonzalez I also believe will be amongst the leading candidates for the NL`s Manager of the Year. Others who ought to be considered , Don Mattingly , Clint Hurdle , Mike Matheny, Dusty Baker and Kirk Gibson. These are the only serious candidates worth considering for the award. It may well come down to which of these managers does the best possible job of leading their team into the post-season . And record-wise or not, at present, to determine a winner might just be too close to call.

I will not delve deeper into the issues of Ryan Braun`s suspension and that of eleven of the thirteen possible players named by Bud Selig in the fallout from the latest drug smeared scandal to have hit baseball . Other than to suggest, that if Tony Bosch of Biogenesis and his statements given to the US Justice Department under a subpoena, are to be believed . Then the commissioner and baseball`s hierarchy are indeed hiding something from the fans and the public in general . Bosch, now under indictment for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, stated that as many as sixty players were implicated in a web of deceit , lies and cheating . Yet somehow, MLB can now only come up with only thirteen names. Either my math seems to be off,but there remains forty-seven names still unaccounted for and something that the league hierarchy may not wish to tell us . Your thoughts on that all ?

Baseball this season, has been clouded in scandal , and no matter how one now wishes to address the matter , there are not that many positives that can be taken out of 2013 , even with the stellar play of the game`s up and coming young stars . With a league hierarchy that seems to be non-combative and passive in dealing with scandal . Team owners , who are simply driven by greed and a union that seemingly would rather see the status quo remain , as is . Less we forget also, many of the players who have been non participants in the steroid abuse , yet they have continually remained silent, unless offering up some witticism ,and even when pressed to give a statement . Far too many of them, have simply come up with something that is either hypocritical or simply too banal or idiotic to be deserving of a response . Matt Kemp needs to keep his damn mouth shut and remember that in 2010, he was playing alongside an avowed steroid cheat named Manny Ramirez . Being critical of a former friend , just because you now have displeasure of his cheating and the fact that you finished second to Ryan Braun in the 2011 NL MVP vote , now makes you look as an individual, jealous of that loss. If you can be openly critical of Braun, then why no criticism, of your former teammate , Manny Ramirez ?

As baseball enters the final quarter of its season , what if anything has been the biggest disappointment for you as a fan and what do you feel as brought you the most pleasure overall in terms of the teams` play or that of individual players ? By all means do leave a comment on this article and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter. Do feel free to peruse other baseball pieces and sports` related content within this site by clicking on the links provided below .

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(1) Texas Rangers` starting pitcher Martin Perez , right, is congratulated by catcher Geovany Soto (8) after defeating the Houston Astros 6-1 during a baseball game , Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, in Houston. AP Photo/Patric Schneider …

(2) HOUSTON, TX – AUGUST 09: Yu Darvish (11) of the Texas Rangers talks with pitching coach Mike Maddux during a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 9, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …
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(3) Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor (36) works in the second inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Atlanta, Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013. Atlanta won 9-4 . AP Photo/John Bazemore …

(4) Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman , center, celebrates with his teammates after hitting a three-run home run in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Atlanta, Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013. Atlanta won 9-4 . AP Photo/John Bazemore ….

(5) Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton and Dan Uggla (26) hug after winning 5-0 against the Miami Marlins to keep a 14-game winning streak alive during a baseball game at Turner Field, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013, in Atlanta. AP Photo/David Tulis ….

(6) Atlanta Braves` GM Frank Wren is seen here with the team`s newly appointed manager Fredi Gonzalez . The incumbent succeeded Bobby Cox whose legend looms large over the Braves` organization . Gonzalez took control as the Braves` manager in 2010 and in subsequent seasons there has been a gradual improvement in the team`s play, along with newly acquired players becoming a part of the success . AP Photo /Matt Gray ….
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The sound you hear, is but the brief glimpse of baseball showing and still sowing the seeds of doubt ….

The sound you hear, is but the brief glimpse of baseball showing and still sowing the seeds of doubt

With the recent suspension of the Milwaukee Brewers` …. Ryan Braun . A great many fans within the blogging world, seem to be rejoicing and are of the opinion that baseball seems to be finally coming to its senses, with Commissioner Bud Selig supposedly leading the way. If only that were true at this juncture, because in essence, this agreement, wherein, Braun serves a sixty-five game suspension., means absolutely nothing ,as there was no admittance of guilt for any wrongdoing on his part by way his admitting to the use of a banned substance . Though, we are lead to believe by the MLB hierarchy , that this was in fact the primary reason behind the suspension.

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Ryan Braun`s agent and legal representative, Nev Balelo , worked in close conjunction with the league`s investigators and legal counsel to draw up this agreement as to his client`s suspension. As to any impending suspensions of the other players, known to be associated company founder, Anthony Bosch of Biogenesis . For now, it appears that baseball is now playing with its cards being kept firmly pressed against its chest.

From the very beginning, this situation was poorly handled by baseball`s hierarchy, and we were being given the impression that everything was closely being monitored by Bud Selig`s office and a number general managers and MLB team owners could not be trusted to carry out any kind of working options, that would prove to the public and fans alike, that baseball was in fact getting its act together. Truth be told, baseball takes its lead, by repeatedly tripping over its own feet , as it continues to look for ways to repair over a decade`s worth of damage done to its image and integrity .

This season I believe , will go down as one of the most infamous in recent history , tainted , without any real merit , and that is in spite of the stellar play we have all witnessed from many of the game`s emerging young stars . If last season could be described as the year, that Mike Trout broke unto the scene. Then this year, well at last the second quarter of the first half has been about the exploits of the Los Angeles Dodgers` young rookie sensation Yasiel Puig . Not to be outdone in the American League, there is the Baltimore Orioles` young phenom Manny Machado , a player who seems to be instinctive , with a natural flair for the game . Machado and Puig are likely to be this season`s Rookies of the Year from the respective leagues .

At a time, when baseball is trying to hang unto what remaining nobility, it has, it does not seem strange, that the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) remains as pompous and as sanctimonious as ever. An institution bereft of intelligence and integrity . Yet, somehow from within the bastion of what is an outmoded and archaic organization. The fans and public alike are meant to believe that they are the arbiters of sound judgment when it comes to adjudicating the most celebrated regular season awards . This being the very same institution that during the height of steroid era, simply, either turned a blind eye to wanton cheating , that was taking place within the game. Or their reporting of the events were clouded by their undoubted biases and downright stupidity. It may well be an annual rite of passage for the players to be named the AL and NL MVP . But in light of Ryan Braun winning the award in 2011, when it was known by the league hierarchy that the player was alleged to have failed a drug test and subject of an ongoing investigation . MLB`s leaders felt it prudent not to let the BBWAA know of its findings, and therefore the Brewers` slugger was denoted as the NL MVP recipient for that year .

A full two years after of Braun being awarded the trophy. Second place finisher, Matt Kemp of the Dodgers has voiced his concerns and believes that the Brewers player`s name should be stricken from the records as the 2011 NL MVP. I am inclined to ask at this juncture , does Kemp now feel that he should now be named the recipient of the award ? If Kemp, can now voice his disapproval of Ryan Braun at this moment in time, then why no contempt or criticism of former teammate, and fellow slugger Manny Ramirez ? A two-time violator of the league`s steroid policy, Ramirez never served the mandatory one hundred game suspension mandated by MLB. In fact, upon being notified of the league`s findings at the time , the player immediately announced his retirement from the game . Only to return, first playing in the Far East , then recently signing a Minor League deal with an affiliate of the Texas Rangers . GM Jon Daniels of the Rangers believes the player to be a good fit for the organization and that he will be of benefit to the organization and their postseason ambitions.

For Ramirez, his sojourn in the Minors for the Rangers has been somewhat understated , as he no doubt seeks a call up by the coaching staff at some point in the Rangers` future schedule . When there is said to be this much hypocrisy within the game from some its most high-profiled players , how can anyone take them seriously , much less the game itself ? Never mind that we also have the continued apathy amongst many of the on air radio and television personalities who cover the game of baseball. Not to be left out of this, are the ever endearing anal retentive fans, who one minute call for changes to be made, but somehow cannot be succinct enough to explain the type of changes that they would like to see made within baseball as a whole .

Courtesy of ESPN & Associated Press

Kemp: Ryan Braun should lose MVP

TORONTO — Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who finished runner-up to Ryan Braun in voting for the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player award, thinks the suspended Milwaukee Brewers slugger should be stripped of the honor.

Braun finished with 388 points and 20 first-place votes, to 332 and 10 for Kemp. Major League Baseball attempted to suspend Braun following a positive test that October for elevated testosterone, but the penalty was overturned by an arbitrator who ruled Braun’s urine sample was handled improperly.

Braun agreed Monday to a 65-game suspension for unspecified violations of baseball’s drug rules and labor contract.

Asked Tuesday whether the award should be taken away from Braun, Kemp responded: “I mean, yeah, I do,” pausing and adding, “I feel like it should be, but that’s not for me to decide, you know?”

Kemp said people feel “betrayed” by Braun.

“I’m disappointed,” Kemp said. “I talked to Braun before any of this happened, we had conversations and I considered him a friend. I don’t think anybody likes to be lied to and I feel like a lot of people have felt betrayed. That’s not just me, that’s the whole Brewers organization, a lot of his teammates. I think a lot of people feel that way.”

Jack O’Connell, secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, said the award vote was final.

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Bud Selig for his part , has tip-toed around the issue of this latest fiasco and the apparent stupidity of his office in paying for documentation from the offices of Biogenesis , suggests to me, that he is taking advice of any kind from a litany of like-minded buffoons . It begs the question, can he in all good conscience, believe that a number of the cases he will present against suspected players , can proceed ahead with any real veracity , if in fact a player seeks to challenge the league`s authority and how they went about collecting a great deal of the information now said to be in their possession ?

From my own perspective, Matt Kemp may well believe that he is saying all of the right things , and that if anything , he feels it is something the fans and in general, as well as the public, are likely to agree with his sentiments. As I alluded to earlier, if his criticism of Ryan Bran can be so concise, then why no criticism of Manny Ramirez ? Baseball`s code of silence amongst its players, is no different from that of the Thin Blue Line line of law enforcement and their police officers . You do not `rat ` on your buddies , and you do not level acute criticism of them either . What comes next, after this saga and the apparent friendship between these two prolific players, remains to be seen .

If things cannot get any worse for the New York Yankees (54-48) , then what is now said to be taking place off the field of play for the AL East , fourth placed team , has all the makings of a bad dramatic episode now going hideously wrong . Derek Jeter remains sidelined and the team`s highest paid player , Alex Rodriguez , remains the scourge of the game as well their being a heated , and now some might deem it to be an irreparably damaged relationship between the player and team GM Brian Cashman .

Rodriguez , hoping to finally to come off the team DL , was placed back on that list after it was revealed that he had a slight quadriceps tear . Not so , says the third baseman , revealing that he was ready to play and to contribute in any way that he can to aid the team . Somehow , this might not be the what Rodriguez had envisaged for himself tis season . Yet in light of the fact that his name is the most recognized of those players associated with the Biogenesis scandal. Either Brian Cashman and his fellow executives are looking for either a graceful way to push the player out of the door , or they may well seek a legal recourse to actually send him packing, if Bud Selig is unable to summarily do so, with a long-term suspension . Over the past eighteen months Alex Rodriguez has proven to be more of a thorn in the side of the Yankees` organization than he has been of an asset to the ball-club .

With the Yankees having now acquired their former outfielder Alfonso Soriano from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for cash for right-handed pitcher Corey Black . This could prove to be a harbinger of things to come as it relates to Alex Rodriguez`s immediate and long-term future. Soriano, keen to reassert himself as one of the game`s most prolific and hitters and productive players , had several enjoyable seasons with the Yankees` organization before being traded to the Texas Rangers in February , 2004 , in a trade that would send Alex Rodriguez New York bound . Now having come full circle, the two players will now reunite as teammates , but for how long ?

Earlier in the season Lonn A Trost , CEO & Chief Legal Counsel to the New York Yankees spoke with Brian Cashman as well as with senior members of the Steinbrenner family about the possibility of voiding the four remaining years left on Alex Rodriguez`s contract. The player is owed $104 million , and it was recently noted that he had in fact taken out an insurance policy to indemnify against himself against future loss, in terms of earnings. As to whether or not this constitutes and covers the possibility of his being suspended and how such a claim would be met , without any details being made public . It is hard to envisage how a claim would be honored by an underwriting insurance company. The decision was made to proceed ahead, with Rodriguez still under contract and a member of the Yankees` roster .

On the field of play, the Yankees have been struggling, losers of six of their last ten games and they are now 6 ½ games out of a seeding, for an AL wildcard berth. Too soon to count them out ? Well dependent upon who you might well be listening to . There are those , who believe that the AL East is still up for grabs . While the naysayers, are of the opinion that an aging roster , injuries and inconsistent pitching have been the main reasons for the New York Yankees` woes this season . I believe it is all of the above , along with this constant idiotic belief that they can simply spend their way out of trouble . I guess a burgeoning $235 million plus payroll can at times paint a rosy picture , no matter how dire a situation might be .

A three-game home series against the divisional rivals the red hot Tampa Bay Rays(60-42) , starting on Friday , will pit CC Sabathia against the Rays` Jeremy Hellickson , and could go a long way in telling us whether or not New York has the grit to tough it out and make a fight of the remainder of this season . Anything sort of a series` win against the Rays , and it could very well spell the beginning of the end for the ball-club for the season .

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Picture gallery .

From your own perspective, are you disappointed in the way tat the baseball hierarchy has dealt with this latest scandal (Biogenesis) ? And what are your opinions concerning Matt Kemp`s disapproval of Ryan Braun being allowed to keep is 2011 NL MVP Award ? Do bear in mind, that the Los Angeles` Dodgers` player did not voice is concerns with regard to Manny Ramirez . Finally, your thoughts on the latest drama concerning the always controversial Alex Rodriguez ? Chime in with your comments , as you see fit .

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(1) Matt Kemp , left , of the Los Angeles Dodgers is seen here with Ryan Braun prior to a Spring Training during game against the Milwaukee Brewers Friday, March 30, 2012 at Camelback Ranch-Glendale in Phoenix, Arizona .Kemp has been critical of Ryan Braun and the fact that the 2011 NL MVP award winner remains recognized as the recipient of the award for which the Baseball Writers Association of America have stated that the result will stand . © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2012 …

(2) Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers is seen here signing autographs for the Dodgers` fans . The player has simply been sensational this season for the team , which has seen the ball club rise to second place within the NL West . Much of the credit goes to Puig and his offense as well as times, some sensational defensive plays . Getty Images /Mark Strong …

(3) Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles , has been one of the primary reasons that the third placed Orioles have been in contention within the AL East for much of the season ,albeit that teammate Chris Davis has received the bulk of the team`s headlines for much of the season . Machado is amongst the top offensive players in the AL leading , the league in doubles . AP Photo / Phil Kelly …………..

(4) New York Yankees` GM Brian Cashman , left, is seen here with Alex Rodriguez , as the player answers questions posed by the convened press at the Yankees` headquarters, at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida . Rodriguez was answering questions concerning his then use of anabolic steroids dating back to his playing days between 2001- 04 _______ then playing for the Texas Rangers . A strained relationship between Cashman and the Yankees` third baseman has now cast a great deal of uncertainty over Rodriguez`s future with the New York Yankees` organization. NOAH K. MONROE / THE STAR-LEDGER @ copyrighted material all rights reserved .

(5) Former New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers` manager Joe Torre , now a SVP of MLB Operations, is widely considered to be one of the leading candidates alongside , Rob Manfred to succeed Bud Selig as the next MLB Commissioner . Selig is due to step down as commissioner , as early as February of 2014, when his current contract is due to expire . After a two-decade long career as baseball`s highest ranking executive , Selig`s sometimes confrontational and unconventional style of leadership , has as become the antithesis of what is now needed within the game , in its upper echelons of leadership and management . NY Times/ Jorge Vargas ……

(6) A sense of foreboding as words uttered concerning Ryan Braun by Bud Selig, came back to haunt him . Getty Images North America /Rick Carlson ….

(7) Bud Selig foreground, stands at the dais as he formally makes the announcement that the 2013 MLB All Star Game will be held at Citi-Field , home to the New York Mets , in Flushing, New York . Also pictured are second from the left New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mets` senior managing partner and co-owner Fred Wilpon . AP Photo / Rajiv Singh …..

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Failure to launch, the growing idiocy within sports and amongst the fans

Failure to launch, the growing idiocy within sports and amongst the fans

As Major League Baseball and the NFL find themselves at their lowest points in their recent histories, respectively. I can`t help but wonder, why the vast majority of fans remain so gullible and downright stupid ! In the NFL, in the past ten days we have seen the arrests of Aaron Hernandez for capital murder, with quite possibly additional charges likely to be added to his indictment . A second, New England Patriots` player, Alfonzo Dennard has been arrested for DUI and resisting arrest . To add the league`s already tarnished image , we now have two front office executives from within the Denver Broncos` organization also being arrested for DUI and failure to stop at the scene of an accident . Yet, within the midst of this all, there has been a failed response from the New England Patriots and that of the NFL hierarchy led by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell .

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From my own perspective, since Goodell`s ascent into the league`s highest executive position, I have found his tenure to be an unmitigated disaster ! His lack of communicative skills , autocratic rule and a failure to understand the rule of law are but a few of the reasons why I believe he is ill-equipped to carry out his role as commissioner . Granted , a great deal as changed within the game since he succeeded Paul Tagliabue , but it would appear that the incumbent has failed to learn anything from his predecessor. Meanwhile, the NFL team owners must be decrying the fact that Goodell has remained silent on the current state of affair within the league and recent arrests. Not that the owners such as Jerry Jones , Robert Kraft , Stanley Kroenke , Daniel Snyder , Jeff Lurie or their peers are prepared to speak openly on the growing discord and the behavioral issues of the players within the NFL . It is also asinine of the fans to try to make comparison in terms of percentages of arrests amongst players in the entirety of the league, in comparison to the populace as a whole . The athletes/players are in the public eye and under scrutiny constantly , and with twenty-four a day news cycle. We should expect that at every turn, athletes` movements and decisions are being constantly monitored .Last I looked, hardened or petty criminals, were not subject to the interests of the paparazzi or prime-time news or sports` broadcast outlets . The media , sports hierarchies and agents build up these athletes not necessarily for failure , but somehow the likes of Aaron Hernandez, Rae Carruth , Donte` Stallworth , Josh Brent and Leonard Little have found a way fail and at the same time bring their own images and reputation into disrepute . The NFL and may well continue to survive, but at what cost to its overall image ?

Now while the legal process must be played out concerning Aaron Hernandez , a great deal of conjecture , speculation and debate will begin as to the reasons why Hernandez has been implicated in a homicide and why was it that with all of the player`s prior troubles were all overlooked . This was not done , by the New England Patriots, but also the NFL, but more importantly by Urban Meyer , Jeremy Foley and the University of Florida . Surely, winning , at all costs , does not mean , you take under your wings, a person whose character as a juvenile was already under, suspicion, and question . Yet, these are the things, which are now being ignored at the professional level, as well as at the collegiate level of sports . Granted , one can subscribe to the fact, that everyone is deserving of a second chance and that we as a nation , look to give offenders another chance to redeem themselves . Somehow, this was all lost on Aaron Hernandez , and the athletics department of the University of Florida .

Baseball will now enter the second half of its season as of next Thursday , but it could be said that the first half of its season has been filled with one or two surprises . For a while, it looked as if the Pittsburgh Pirates were looking to surprise us all, by making a spirited run at winning the NL Central . Now, it looks as if Clint Hurdle`s Pirates are about to make that customary swoon into an oblivion, that we have all become accustomed to seeing over the past few seasons . Do I believe that this team has what it takes to take down the likes of the Milwaukee Brewers , Cincinnati Reds and St Louis Cardinals within their division ? Well, dependent upon what we have seen from the Pirates as of late , they may well have a better than even chance . However , given what we have all witnessed from the Pirates over the years , the answer in the end would have to be a resounding and emphatic no !

Funnily enough , Bruce Bochy , the manager of the NL: team for the All Star Game was placed in a position where the Pirates , who as of four days ago , had the best record in baseball , but the players from their team included on in the NL roster , were not amongst the active starters for the mid-season showcase event . Pardon me for saying this, but if having the best record in the league means not a goddamn thing. Then why all of the hoopla over this event, with the downright fastidiousness of the fans calling for players, but with no than thirty or forty games under their belts to be included in a voting process that is simply nothing more than a popularity event ? The only thing that make this whole premise all the more asinine, were if the if the rules applied to the reality show American Idol , were adopted for the mandates needed to be included on the All Star Game rosters . Better yet, why not adopt the rules of Miss USA Beauty Pageant and have the players answer questions of note on specified subjects ? Please note, foreign-born players, would not be subjected to stereotypical and racially motivated questions built around certain biases .

Yasiel Puig has been voted off the island , having not made the roster for the NL team . Now let the inane ranting begin , because fans want to see the young stars grace us with their presence and athletic abilities . Would this be the very same fans , who in spite of the mounting evidence of the past decade plus of rampant steroid use within the game , are now calling for changes to be made by baseball`s hierarchy ? Don`t get me wrong, while I have been impressed with the skill-set shown by Puig , as he has been on a tear with the Los Angeles Dodgers . Let`s not fool ourselves into thinking, were it not for the lackluster production from their more high-profiled stars , the player would not have been called up and become a starter this season . Furthermore , the moment Yasiel Puig goes into a distinct tailspin, do not be surprised if he were to be demoted . With a payroll , now in excess of $230 million . Don Mattingly and his managerial staff can ill-afford to have this season become a monumental bust . And it certainly is not the reason why managing partners and team owners , Mark Walter , Todd Boehly and Magic Johnson spent $2.15 billion to be seen as an afterthought at the season`s end . A roster, filled high-priced stars and the biggest story concerning the franchise this season, just happens to about a young Cuban exile .

Winners of eight of their last ten games , the Los Angeles Dodgers now stand a game and a half behind the division leading Arizona Diamondbacks (48-44) within the NL West , and a further 4 ½ games out of a wildcard berth within the National League. The division itself has been one of the poorer performers in all of baseball throughout much of the season . That is simply because, so many of its inhabitants, have hovered around the .500 mark , in terms of their respective records . If that is not an overall bad indictment of how mediocre the baseball being played has been during the first half of the season . Then clearly , the fans of the teams in question could very well be privileged with seeing a great deal worse during the second-half of the schedule . The Dodgers` next scheduled game will be against the Colorado Rockies at Dodgers Ballpark , in Los Angeles , California , this Friday , between the two divisional rivals .

Away from the Yasiel Puig drama , could there be anything more comedic and disastrous to find out that baseball as once again found itself involved in even more melodrama ? Steroids, rears and raises its ugly head , and again the story is nothing new . Ryan Braun , Alex Rodriguez and Nelson Cruz are three of the central figures involved in the latest escapades of “As The `roids Turn“ . This time fans, to top it all, a two-time drug offender , we should now feel privileged to know has returned to the game . Albeit , that Manny Ramirez , is now playing in the Minors, with a Texas Rangers` affiliate , and to date , Ramirez`s crimes have gone unpunished in true sense of the word . The next time I hear an idiot, calling for changes to be made within the game . The only thing I will be asking , is what fucking changes do you want to see made and by whom ? Because to date , all the said changes made in the game by Bud Selig with regard to a steroid testing policy , still has not deterred players from cheating .Selig has been hog-tied , by the MLBPA (Players` Union ) because of their unprecedented powers ___________ which seems to be something these so-called fans seem to be completely ignorant of, because of their plain stupidity. A fifty-game suspension , a one hundred-game suspension and even the threats of a lifetime ban , have not deterred players from cheating at the Major or Minor League Level and that is in spite of the claims made by Bud Selig .

Braun having met with league investigators concerning his alleged association with Anthony Bosch of South Florida supplements` company Biogenesis , has been totally uncooperative , refusing to answer any questions posed by the investigators . Yankees` third baseman Alex Rodriguez is due to meet at the New York headquarters of Major League Baseball on Friday to answer questions . It remains to be seen whether or not the player will be cooperative or like Braun , he will seek to not answer any questions . Given what we already know about the player , who has yet to suit up for the Bronx Bombers this season . My question is , will he be calling on his now infamous cousin Yuri Sucart , to see if he is willing to once again take one for the team , as in Team Alex . In 2010 , in that rather inane act of contrition, that was very unconvincing. Rodriguez went on to suggest that the steroids he used from 2001 to 2004 , were supplied by his cousin , who obtained the performance enhancing drugs from a pharmacy in the Dominican Republic. In fact all of the statements made by Alex Rodriguez on that day, were a complete lie . Yet in the midst of it all, the press and the New Yankees` front office bought into the tale of remorse and regret of the now disgraced player , never once conducting their own in-depth investigation into the matter. The same must be said of Bud Selig , who in the aftermath of it all , went on to suggest that the matter was close and that he wished Rodriguez well . Yep, that`s baseball`s commissioner for you , a complete bumbling buffoon and one monumental pain in the ass !

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At a time when neither the hierarchies of baseball or football has a real leg to stand on , it does seem strange that fans are now looking for ways to make sense of it all , while also seeking out answers as what can best be done to stop the irreparable damage that has already been caused . Consider the fact of the steps taken by the respective hierarchies over the years on the litany of issues faced . Then ask yourself the following , are either of the sports better off now , than they were perhaps five years or even a decade ago ? Both Roger Goodell and Bud Selig have a great deal of work to do in convincing the fans that they actually know what they are doing and that they are leading their respective sports along the right path ? Your thoughts on this and anything else you may well feel is pertinent to the subject matter ? Chime on in with a comment .

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(1) FILE – In this Jan. 20, 2013 file photo, New England Patriots corner-back Alfonzo Dennard walks along the sideline during the second half of the NFL football AFC Championship football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough, Mass.Dennard has been arrested and accused of driving drunk in Lincoln where he once starred as a Nebraska defensive back. Lincoln police say 24-year-old Dennard was pulled over southeast of downtown Lincoln just before 2 a.m. Thursday, July 11, 2013. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

(2) In a photo provided by the Douglas County (Colo.) Sheriff’s Department, Tom Heckert , the Denver Broncos’ new director of pro personnel, appears in a photo after he was arrested on June 11, 2013, and charged with driving under the influence and careless driving. Another Broncos executive, Matt Russell, was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of driving under the influence. AP Photo/Douglas County Sheriff’s Department …

(3) Matt Russell , the Director of Player Personnel for the Denver Broncos is seen here on Draft Day for the franchise as he and members of the scouting staff and front office personnel go over their draft determinations . Russell is the second of two Broncos` executives to ave been arrested in the past ten days for a DUI . Team owner Pat Bowlem and Head of Football Operations John Elway have yet to determine how both Matt Russell and Tom Hekckert ought to be punished for their alleged offenses . AP Photo / Tim Paul ….

(4) Pittsburgh Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez watches his single that scored a run , off Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Tommy Milone during the third inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, July 10, 2013. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar ….

(5) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez runs after a hit during the first inning in his second rehab game with the Charleston River Dogs in Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Rodriguez was put out on the play. Alex Rodriguez will meet league officials on Friday to discuss is association with Antony Bosch and his supplements` company Biogenesis . The player is said to be one of as many twenty prominent figures in the game named in documents , in which Bosch states he supplied with performance enhancing drugs , as well as, several banned substances prohibited by Major League Baseball. The MLB hierarchy has stated if there is substantive evidence to prove the players` guilt, then they are likely to be banned for as many as one hundred games . Rodriguez , the game`s highest paid player would likely miss the rest of the Yankees` regular season and the postseason . AP Photo/Chuck Burton …

(6) National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) greets NFL Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw (R) as Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig looks on before testifying to the US House Subcommittee on Commerce- Trade and Consumer Protection about the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports on Capitol Hill February 27, 2008 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee also heard testimony from officials from the US Olympic Committee , National Thoroughbred Racing and the US Anti-Doping Agency. Getty Images North America / Chip Smodevilla …..

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tophatal …….

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Hot chic pic of the day Sharon Leal .

There`s a troubling issue that needs to be addressed and it`s not going to dealt with anytime soon

There`s a troubling issue that needs to be addressed and it`s not going to dealt with anytime soon

This year , it would appear that the MLB season is becoming one of controversy , and a great deal of animosity between a number of teams within the game . Look no further than yesterday`s game between the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks . Both teams are now caught up in a rivalry that is now seething with a great deal of childlike immaturity from both teams, with the respective managerial staffs also at odds with one another.

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Dodgers` manager Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson of the Diamondbacks, are two managers who had more than respectable careers at the height of their success. In watching this Los Angeles Dodgers` team struggling over the course of this season , is an exercise in excess , opulence and simple stupidity gone awry . A $225 million team payroll now has me believing that lead managing partner, Mark Walter and h is partners may well have to completely rethink their strategy , as it relates to the team`s play over the remainder of the season .

Looking at the Dodgers all I just happen to see, is a team that is simply bereft of leadership , with not one player on the entire roster simply willing to step up to the plate and assume the mantel of a leader . With the team firmly rooted at the bottom of the NL West , one has to wonder how long a decision is made by GM Ned Colletti and team President Stan Kasten to purge the roster and simply look further afield by way of their farm system by way of available talent . It as become abundantly clear , that with all of the high-priced players that make up the team and overall lack of productivity on all fronts , something drastic as to be done , before the fans themselves start to voice their disapproval .

If the Los Angeles Dodgers are to have any semblance of anything resembling a dignified season , then games and series , such as their upcoming schedule against the Pittsburgh Pirates , will have to be won with te utmost of ease and efficiency . Given the inconsistency of the team , I simply do not believe that is likely to happen at this juncture ! Players such as Matt Kemp , Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier , this season , have simply been a shell of the team we saw from last season , with an explosive offense . This season the offense could be best likened to a damp squib , with the pitching not that far behind .

Well , other than their off the field issues , with both Alex Rodriguez and catcher , Francisco Cervelli , now embroiled in the latest idiocy , that now further tarnishes baseball`s all too disreputable reputation . This year for the New York Yankees seems to be like any other at this time of season for this renowned organization . They are in contention for their division alongside heated rivals the Boston Red Sox . That being said, neither GM Brian Cashman or lead managing partner , Hal Steinbrenner have seen fit to address the latest allegations now surrounding the All Star third baseman or the team`s catcher . I guess that is to be expected , when over the years as the mounting evidence of steroid cheaters and the rumors surrounding their efforts to avoid being caught . In that time , not one prominent owner , general manager has spoken out publicly , decrying the misdeeds of the players . Which begs the question , have they or the players ever really cared what the fans or public ever thought about the level of cheating that has gone on , for well over a decade and a half ? Clearly, that buffoon of a commissioner , Bud Selig , might as well be walking around with either his head shoved up his own ass or buried in the sand .

Truth be known , the apathy and the sudden calls player banishment , is now, all so asinine , when one considers , for better part of seven years , during the mid nineties , when Mark McGwire , Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds were laying waste to one of baseball`s most hallowed records , fans simply did not give a damn . Anal retentiveness and apathy does a have a place within the American way of life ,and sporting landscape , especially , when it comes to the nation`s pastime . The evidence was there , ignored repeatedly , even after a very in-depth investigation had taken place , but yet the fans , major media outlets , as well as baseball`s sports broadcast partners and their self-absorbed broadcasting analysts simply chose to look the other way . Nothing new really , when you consider collectively, their IQ`s would not be enough to gain them membership into MENSA . The current players themselves have simply refused to speak out on te issue , te prolific and wat now appears to be widespread use of illicit substances banned by te game .

Prominent high-profiled players such as Torii Hunter , Albert Pujols , Derek Jeter , Ryan Howard , Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder , have simply refused to say anything on the matter . Could it be that the players` own union , the MLBPA would rather remain mute on this idiocy while trying to paint themselves as pillars of integrity and virtue ? Yet somehow Bud Selig seeks to use players such as this, to be role models and ambassadors for a game , that is now losing its relevance for many and within the fabric of the nation`s social culture . Can we now stop it also , with this all too asinine notion , that baseball remains the nation`s pastime ? It has not been that way in over five decades and counting , even with what baseball`s hierarchy assures us , has been a rising level of attendance for games over the last eight consecutive seasons . What should be of more concern for Bud Selig , is the very fact that his RBI initiative (Returning Baseball to the Inner Cities) has , had the success of a lead balloon .

Three games above .500 and the Tampa Bay Rays`(35-30) inconsistency will become their own undoing this season . Thought to have best pitching rotation in the American League . The pitching has been nowhere near consistent enough to validate those claims , in spite of the outstanding season by Matt Moore .

With David Price now sidelined on the DL , it will be left to Moore , Jeremy Hellickson , Alex Cobb and Joel Peralta to now spearhead what is in essence, an extremely weak pitching rotation , based on the team`s ERA of 4.26 . Yet if te pitching can be adjudged to ave been a major letdown , then the team`s offense has offered little to support the claims of Joe Maddon and his staff that they are capable of challenging for the AL East divisional crown , if not the division at a minimum , then a wildcard berth , while making up for the team`s shortfalls .

Limited resources , a lack of creativity in terms marketing and an unwillingness by managing partner , Stuart Sternberg to search for a wealthy financial backer to finance the organization . It has to be said, that in spite of recent successes of the Rays , from an economic standpoint , were it not for the fact that they are the beneficiaries of the league`s tax-sharing scheme . There is no way in hell , that this ball-club could remain solvent much less competitive enough to field a team in the AL . Miserly support in terms of their home games at Tropicana Field . It would be fair to suggest that Major League Baseball is far from being a viable concern not only within the state , but specifically within the Tampa Bay area . Yet there are those who still call for a state of the art venue to be built for what has always been a poorly supported baseball franchise .

Now one could argue that the Tampa Bay Rays have achieved an astonishing amount of success under the present ownership group led by Stuart Sternberg . By comparison , Sternberg`s predecessor, Vince Naimoli proved to be a lying cheating and conceited individual , who sought to extort money by any means necessary from the state and municipal agencies , while putting out a less than stellar product on the field of play during his tenure as the Rays` owner . In reality , we are now seeing history repeat itself somewhat , with the expectations now being a great deal more , but repeatedly in the last few years the Rays have fallen sort in their and the fans` expectations of winning a World Series title .

This season Tampa`s circumstances , are one where GM Andrew Friedman made the decision to pare down the team`s payroll from a figure of just under $64.1 million in 2012 to what the front office believes to be a feasible and much more manageable figure of $60.8 million . One would consider that to be somewhat miserly, if not paltry , when measured against the teams who consistently maintain a high six or eight-figure salary commitment on an annual basis . Considered to be the face of the franchise for its immediate and long-term future , Evan Longoria is considered to be the Rays` best player as well its highest paid . And though it is my belief, that two or three years down the road the commitment ___ shown to the third baseman could become the Rays` own undoing . It seems almost certain that 2013 will be the final year that the fans will have the privilege of seeing David Price pitch for the team . A one-year $10 million deal , which is on the extremely low side for an AL Cy Young Award winner , starting pitcher , one year removed from winning that award and from what many believe to be the player`s best season with the franchise .

The Tampa Bay Rays , on Friday , will play host to the Kansas City Royals , with both teams seeking to make the best out of this series , while looking to place themselves in a better position from a divisional standpoint and also by way of challenging for a wildcard berth . On the mound for the Royals will be Luis Mendoza (1-4, 4.19 ERA) facing off against Matt Moore (8-2, 3.78 ERA) , in what should prove to be an interesting pitchers’ duel between these two young starters .

From my own standpoint with a great deal to play and ignoring controversies that have now engulfed the game of baseball and the ongoing apparent idiocy of how Bud Selig continues to ineptly handle each scandal that as come to the fore . I for one , would certainly like to see his named successor be someone from outside the archaic hierarchy that presently represents the game at its highest levels . Not only am I sick and tired of hearing this ongoing bilge that the team owners are consummate businessmen . When in reality , nothing could be further from the truth . Captains of industry , they may well be away from baseball , but I have yet to witness a concern being ran so incompetently , where secrecy and lies are perpetrated with such regularity , that Pinocchio and a disreputable congressman or woman would definitely feel ashamed . Yet, there are fans and analysts alike, who choose not to question the autocratic power and rule of Bud Selig , the league hierarchy and te bellicose owners , who make up baseball`s governing body , along with a dimwitted union (MLBPA) , now led by Executive Director Michael Weiner .

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With the baseball season just over one-third of the way through its schedule , has there been anything overall that has been of a complete surprise to you ? Also from a list of the following candidates , whom I believe to be more than capable of succeeding Bud Selig , rather than baseball choosing a successor from within their own ranks. Do you believe that Bob Costas , Hank Aaron , Sean McManus , David Levy , or perhaps someone else of your own choosing would be a better successor ? Rather than an heir-apparent , from within baseball`s inner sanctum be rubber stamped , and supposedly bringing about a transition that will essentially offer the fans more of the same incompetent and inefficiency that MLB has now become more known for .

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Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly , center, yells at members of the Arizona Diamondbacks while umpire Manny Gonzalez holds him back as Jerry Hairston Jr. looks on after starting pitcher Zack Greinke was hit by a pitch during the seventh inning of their baseball game , Tuesday, June 11, 2013, in Los Angeles. Mattingly was one eight individuals ejected from the game and now awaits any punishment deemed appropriate to be rendered by the MLB hierarchy . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers batting coach Mark McGwire, right, yells at Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson after Los Angeles Dodgers’ Zack Greinke was hit by a pitch during the seventh inning of their baseball game, Tuesday, June 11, 2013, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill ……

(3) New York Yankees trainer Steve Donohue , left, checks on catcher Francisco Cervelli, center, as manager Joe Girardi looks on during the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium in New York, Friday, April 26, 2013. Cervelli left the game . AP Photo/Julio Cortez …

(4) Manager Joe Maddon (70) of the Tampa Bay Rays talks with principal owner Stuart Sternberg just before the start of the Grapefruit League spring training game against the Minnesota Twins at the Charlotte Sports Complex on March 11, 2013 in Port Charlotte, Florida. Getty Images North America / J Meric …

(5) Embattled MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , who over the past eighteen months has moved from scandal to the next , never actually dealing with each crisis and solving it effectively . NY Daily News / Paul Carson ……..

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tophatal …… 06/12/2013

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3LW ………. ` No More` (Baby I`ma Do Right)

Troubles ? Yes me too !

< Troubles ? Yes me too !

At diverging ends of the same kaleidoscope within the world of baseball we have two teams , both seeking to achieve the same goals his season . For the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays , this could prove to be a make or break season for both of these esteemed franchises . Both teams are barely playing .500 ball within the league standings with the Dodgers firmly rooted at the bottom of the NL West with a 17-22 record , forty games into the MLB season . For Joe Maddon and the Rays , this season has simply been one of sheer inconsistency , with the team now having lost their AL Cy Young Award winner from 2012 , David Price (1-4, 5.24 ERA ) for what appears to short but most definitely acute period , where he will be sorely missed from the team’s starting lineup, as he will be placed on the team’s DL . Not the sort of start that the fans had envisaged for the ball club coming into the season.

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At the same point last year things were somewhat different for both teams in terms of their standing at the time . Joe Maddon came into the season with what was adjudged to be the best pitching lineup in baseball , with a league leading 3.19 ERA in 2012 , yet this season things are not quite what they should be as it relates to the team’s pitching within the AL . With Price now on the fifteen-day DL , spearheading the lineup of the Rays’ starting pitching , will be Moore (7-0, 2.44) , whose surprising start to the season , has him amongst the top pitchers in the AL as well as within MLB , itself .

If this Tampa Bay Rays’ team is to have any chance of having a successful season , then for all sense and purpose the level of their play will have to be raised from beyond its current . Long considered to be the Rays’ best player and the presumptive leader in the clubhouse . I have always felt that Evan Longoria , undoubtedly a tremendous player , I believe him to be lacking in the skills needed to be viewed as a leader on this roster . A prodigious talent , the Rays drafted the third baseman as their first overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft . In the subsequent years Longoria has proven to be an invaluable asset to the Rays both on and off the field of play . He is now the highest paid player on the Rays’ roster and amongst the highest paid third baseman in the game. Albeit , that he will have a long way to go in order to match the reputed $29 million that the New York Yankees will have to pay the sidelined , and often controversial Alex Rodriguez , the game’s highest paid player on an annual basis . Clearly a case , where reputation rather than apparent talent is a constant reminder why the game of baseball remains devoid of financial expediency amongst the team owners and general managers .

Although the Rays are 6-4 in their last ten games , a two-game losing streak , is clearly representative of the ongoing problems facing Joe Maddon and his managerial staff , as they close out the first quarter of their arduous 162 game schedule . And the team’s most recent game was a narrow defeat suffered at the hands of their divisional rivals the Boston Red Sox , a team that seems to have rebounded under the presence their recently installed manager John Farrell . Joe Maddon will now take his to Camden Yards to face the Baltimore Orioles in a three game series , with the first of those games taking place on Friday , in what is sure to be a highly competitive match-up. Taking the mound will be Jeremy Hellickson (1-2, 5.25 ERA) of the Rays facing off against Jason Hammel (5-1, 4.93 ERA) .

Already 4 ½ games behind the division leading New York Yankees (25-16) within the AL East , the division is likely to become either a three of four-way dogfight , if the Orioles can play themselves into the mix to join the Red Sox , Yankees and Rays as part of this all-our guerrilla warfare that is likely to take place between this quartet of teams over the course of the season . I think that is pretty safe to say , that in spite of the off-season splash made by the Toronto Blue Jays in acquiring Jose Reyes and R A Dickey , that organization is simply bereft of intelligence , overall talent , but above all , managerial acumen !

How this season goes for the Los Angeles Dodgers and what they are able to achieve , could go a long way in determining whether or not Don Mattingly and his managerial staff are retained at the end of this year . With a splash being made after the franchise was acquired for an astonishing $2.15 billion , it has to stated that with an ownership group that includes Magic Johnson , Hollywood mogul Peter Guber , and billionaire venture capitalists , Todd S Boehly and Mark Walters , expectations are understandably high. . Anything short of the MLB postseason will be seen as a major disappointment for the organization but most notably the fans . For a team with one of the largest payrolls in baseball , success for the Dodgers will be measured by the number of World Series titles that this organization believe that they can amass . And for the Los Angeles Dodgers whose last postseason appearance came in 2009 , in the NLCS , which came with a lopsided 4-1 series’ loss to the Philadelphia Phillies .

Almost forty games into their schedule the Dodgers are a ghastly (17-22) , looking up at the San Diego Chargers (18-22) , Colorado Rockies (21-20) , Arizona Diamondbacks (23-18) and the division leading and defending NL West champions the San Francisco Giants (24-17) . With almost $90 million tied up in players on the team’s DL , it is easy to understand why the Dodgers had their woes this season , just prior to the return of Zack Greinke . A case could be made that the team’s failure are simply because of the unforeseen injuries to a number of mainline starters . Yet with a roster that is literally filled with All Stars at several positions , this should not be the excuses one would expect to hear anyone on the coaching staff , much less from a front office executive or the players themselves .

The Dodgers will be tested this weekend , when they begin a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves at Fulton County Stadium , in Atlanta , Georgia , over the next three days. On the mound in the first of the three scheduled games , will be Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers against Paul Maholm of the Braves . If there is another case to be made for Don Mattingly and the team’s woes , then it would have to be the anemic lack of run productivity from the team’s alleged potent offense . With a team ERA of .261 , the Dodgers at this point of the season have a lowly 127 runs batted in (RBI’s) , an NL low and ranking them next to last in the league , just above the woefully inept Miami Marlins . Hard to imagine that being adjoined to this team , given the makeup of the roster and the prodigious talent that makes up the offense . Matt Kemp looks a pale shadow of himself compared to last season , whereas, the always consistent Adrian Gonzalez is simply doing what he does best , and that is to hit and create runs . And this season from an offensive standpoint , Gonzalez has proven to be the Dodgers’ best player , by far .

If these are signs of desperate times, then I would have to say that in spite to a solid start to their season , the Texas Rangers remain under a great deal of pressure to succeed . In two of the last four seasons this organization has stepped unto the game’s grandest stage and simply come up short . In 2010 and 2011 , back to back seasons , the Rangers under manager Ron Washington played in the World Series , and the fact that on both occasions , the manager’s teams were simply no match for the San Francisco Giants or the St Louis Cardinals . Both seasons with then team President , Nolan Ryan in charge , a team that w as built under Ryan’s expressed wishes , with the ambition to garner that elusive title . No expense was spared to lavish millions on players who were thought to be in their prime or on the cusp of meeting that goal. GM Jon Daniels , was merely the puppet , as the marionette Nolan Ryan pulled all of the strings needed .

From my own perspective, I believe that the Rangers will be hard pressed to replicate their divisional success of the past few seasons . Last year , for 157 days of the 182 days that the baseball season on view. It was simply a spectacle for those in attendance for many of the games , many of us were privileged to witness the team`s dominance of the AL West . Yet over the last ten days of their season imploded, as they succumbed to the Oakland A`s on the final day of the regular season, and in doing so , lost their divisional title . Last year , for 157 days of the 182 days that the baseball season was simply a spectacle for those in attendance of the games , many of us were privileged to witness the team`s dominance of the AL West . Yet over the last ten days of their season imploded, as they succumbed to the Oakland A`s on the final day of the regular season, and in doing so , lost their divisional title . That meltdown on the final day of the regular season led to the ramifications , as during the off-season, we saw the removal of Nolan Ryan from his position as team President , albeit that he still retains a minority stake in the franchise as an owner . Ryan relinquished his role in all day-to-day personnel decisions, which will now be left in the hands of Jon Daniels and team manager Ron Washington . The Hall of Fame pitcher , will now be with Rangers in merely an advisory and consultancy role , without any real authority whatsoever .

For the Rangers ,in spite of the doubters , because many believed that a number of their off-season moves including the trade of Josh Hamilton , might well have hindered the progress of the team. Instead , the performances of Yu Darvish , has the fans simply forgetting about the players who left during this past off-season . On Friday the Rangers will play host to the Detroit Tigers for a weekend three game set at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington , Texas . With each team, seeking supremacy within their division, this series should make for an interesting insight into the ambitions of both of these highly respected ball clubs.

It would be correct to suggest that last season Washington Nationals` GM Mike Rizzo , erred , when he made the decision to end the season of pitcher Stephen Strasburg far too early than was needed . With the player being placed on a pitch count, the decision was made that Strasburg would pitch no more than one hundred and ei