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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Nas …. “God’s Son ”

The Killer Elite ….

The Killer Elite

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

o_O

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Horses for courses ……..

Horses for courses …..

We have already reached the midpoint of the baseball season and there have been one or two surprises along the way. Some very good pitching performances, exclaimed by three no-hitters and the less than threatening offenses of a number of teams . Add in the fact, the same old stories seem to be repeating themselves by way of the Houston Astros and I am beginning to wonder if this season is likely to be anything special at all !

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Slideshow .

The Astros, alongside the Philadelphia Phillies , now have to the two worst records in all of baseball and there has been little to suggest that the teams in question have the acumen to solve their on and off the field woes. Ryne Sandberg who succeeded Charlie Manuel to become the Phillies’ fifty-second manager in the franchise’s history , has inherited an aging roster of stars who now seem to be past their sell by date. To say the very least Philadelphia and the coaching staff have their work cut out for them over the remainder of their season. With several of the players on the team’s roster among the highest paid players in the league, it is hard to imagine where the organization will seek to go from here, but there now seems to an opinion, a long overdue “fire sale” is likely to place, with several of the players being jettisoned in order for some of the younger players being called up from within their farm system. Sandberg succeeded Charlie Manuel as the Phillies’ manager , but in the aftermath of the team’s failure in 2013 , it was clear that the front office and GM Reuben Amaro Jr had to make a change at the managerial level. A great deal of the blame does lie with Amaro and his failure in seeking to bolster the Phillies’ roster over the past five years.

Having won the World Series in 2008 with a lopsided series’ victory over the Tampa Bay Rays ,the Phillies’ fortunes in the later years can be best described as a ball-club repeatedly under-achieving. . Coming off a 6-2 drubbing from instate rivals the Pittsburgh Pirates , Ryne Sandberg will not take his players on the road as they face the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Ballpark , in Milwaukee , Wisconsin,. As losers of nine of their last ten games, it is easy to understand why the Philadelphia Phillies have been so woefully inept. The issues on this team covers just about every facet of their game , from top to bottom ., including the lack of leadership coming from the managerial staff , much less the seasoned veterans on the team.

We have often been told the NFC East remains the best division in the NFL and the same claims are continually being made about the AL East . That is not something as a baseball fan, I am ready to I subscribe to ! Granted, there are some very good teams within the division and the very fact Derek Jeter enters his final season with the New York Yankees makes the expectations within the division and for the Yankees that much greater.The Yankees for their part have been inconsistent with their being few bright spots on the team during the season, but what cannot be denied has been the outstanding performances of their rookie pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka during this season. . The pitcher has all but blown the hinges off the door leaving batters bewildered on his way to a league leading result in wins among rookie pitchers and starters in general. If that were not enough he just might be the best pitcher on the Yankees’ starting roster and that is with due deference to Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia , who now seem to spluttering through their schedule.

Joe Girardi and the New York Yankees are a mere 3 ½ games out of first place within the AL East, in a division led by what appears to be a steadfast Toronto Blue Jays’ team, the equally resilient Baltimore Orioles , to be followed by the third placed Yankees and rounding out the quintet of teams, are the Boston Red Sox and the last placed Tampa Bay Rays.. Jeter and the Yankees , coming off a hard-fought 9-7 victory over the Minnesota Twins , will have to remain consistent if they are to have any chance of winning the division much less guaranteeing themselves one of the two wildcard berths available within the AL.. . Monday , the Yankees will be pitted against the Cleveland Indians as they take to the field, with Shane Greene on the mound for New York against Cleveland’s Justin Masterson in a game to played at Progressive Field in Cleveland , Ohio,.

While many of us wish Derek Jeter all the best, as he winds down an astonishing career , it is my belief that he and the New York Yankees are unlikely to win the World Series , garnering him a sixth World Series’ ring. The Yankees are good but they lack the “killer instinct” of teams from the past and Joe Girardi , in spite of his managerial experience seem to be lacking the resolve in getting his players to buy into his managerial philosophy for this season..

Two-hundred million dollars can buy you many things , but in the world of baseball , it has been unable to garner the Los Angeles Dodgers a World Series title in either 2012 or 2013 . It is pretty much safe to say, managing partner , Magic Johnson might now be feeling a little peeved to see his team having squandered the chances offered them in the last two years. It seems like an eternity since the Dodgers made an appearance in the World Series ,but in 1988 , was the last time the ball-club tasted success in calling themselves world champions. This season is proving just as difficult for Don Mattingly and his team as they see the resurgence of the San Francisco Giants within the NL West , as the league’s highest payroll team struggles to find an identity and prove themselves to be one of the best teams in all of baseball.

A half game may well now separate the Dodgers and Giants at the top of the division with San Francisco having played two games less than their divisional rivals over the course of season , so far. Yet, based on what we have seen , is there anyone truly convinced that the Dodgers are indeed the equal of the recent two-time winning World Series’ champions? These two teams possess the pitching staffs to a great deal of damage within the NL as well as the rest of baseball, but consistency will be the key for both as they set to contend for the NL West divisional crown.

Los Angeles took care of the Colorado Rockies with relative ease in an 8-2 win in a game played at Coors Field on Sunday evening , while the Giants made light work of the San Diego Padres in their 5-3 victory in an away game on the same day . The Dodgers and in particular Don Mattingly and his managerial staff are under a great deal of pressure to succeed. Winning the World Series remains the priority of one baseball’s most revered organizations and the chase for that elusive crown. Two of this season’s three no-hitters were achieved by Dodgers’ pitchers Josh Beckett and Clayton Kershaw , two of the team’s best pitchers on a very impressive starting lineup.

Not really shocked, but there comes a time when you simply have to look at the work of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and ask the question how successful would he have been, were he afforded the luxury of having the resources of $200 million payroll ? Unfortunately , this remains a pipe-dream among the A’s and their fans because Lewis Wolff is not the type of owner to make such a lavish outlay while seeking success. At the same time, this gives us an eye on one of the many issues that still plagues the game of baseball and why neither, Bud Selig or MLB’s CFO Jonathan Mariner has any real idea how to create a level playing field, in terms of the financial fairness within the game and the teams’ payroll structure.

On Tuesday the Los Angeles Dodgers are the guests of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit ,Michigan , when Hyun Jin-Ryu of the Dodgers takes to the mound against Justin Verlander in a crucial contest for both teams.

Not really shocked, but there comes a time when you simply have to look at the work Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and ask the question how successful would he have been, were he afforded the luxury of having the resources of a $200 million payroll ? Unfortunately , this remains a pipe-dream among the A’s and their fans because Lewis Wolff is not the type of owner to make such a lavish outlay while seeking success. At the same time, this gives an eye on one of the many issues that still plagues the game of baseball and why neither, Bud Selig or MLB’s CFO Jonathan Mariner has any real idea how to create a level playing field , in terms of the financial fairness within the game and the teams’ payroll structure.

Having the best record in baseball does not always equate with success at the end of the season when it comes to baseball’s postseason . At present the Oakland A’s have the privilege of being viewed as the best team in the game with their league leading fifty-six wins (56-33) as of the 7th July,2014. Oakland has simply been laying waste to their opponents all season long and their 5-0 clubbing of the San Francisco Giants was further evidence of how good this team just happens to be. Never mind the issue of the Giants being one of the best teams in the NL and having seventh best record in baseball with only the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels having a better record over their last twenty games.

A’s coach Bob Melvin and his managerial staff have given the players the momentum needed but it remains to be seen if the team will be able to take the lead and deliver the victories needed as they seek to win their first World Series’ title since 1989 when they triumphed over when they defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-0 . They would reach baseball’s postseason finale again in 1990 ,only to fall to the Cincinnati Reds in the seven game series in a whitewash.

Baseball’s mid-season showcase event , the MLB All Star Game is not that far off on the horizon and already fans and media analysts alike, are questioning those who were snubbed and those who made it onto the rosters of the AL and NL teams. In my opinion, with the voting being no more than a popularity contest , very little credence can really be given to the veracity of the claims, as who is fitting to become an All Star and who is not. Does anyone really want to see players from the two worst teams in baseball, being given what . is something of a dubious honor ? Can playing on the last placed team within the AL or NL really be a cause, upon which one can say that is a mark of success ? Therein lies the idiocy of the claims by baseball writers, fans and members of the league hierarchy, that every team should be given the honor of having player be a part of All Star roster.

Mike Trout may well be the best all-round player in the game today and he is certainly the player who many believe will be the face of baseball for years to come, and deemed the player most likely to succeed Derek Jeter as being the face of this game for next decade or more. Baseball needs a fresh influx young stars able to attract the fans after two decades of constant betrayal of the fans , with the never-ending cheating , lies , deceit, hypocrisy of the league hierarchy , owners , general managers , MLBPA (Players’ Union) and the general apathy of the fans willing to excuse the behavior of the steroid cheats that have made baseball such a joke !

MLB has long sought to paint itself as America’s pastime but it has not been the case for several decades and it has been the incompetence of the league, in addressing the most serious of issues, leading to the constant ridicule and lack of leadership at all levels within the game. Ryan Braun was welcomed back with open arms after the 2011 NL MVP remained in denial while being complicit in a web of deceit and lies that any asshole with an ounce of common sense, could have seen through. But for the incompetency of the league’s own testing protocols and that of the sheer stupidity of the laboratory who presided over Braun’s results , the player’s suspension would have been far more serious, rather than the slap on the wrist received. With the Milwaukee Brewers once again competitive within the NL Central , it will be interesting to see what might be made should Braun and the Brewers make the postseason and quite possibly winning the World Series, itself. Scorn or not, such a premise would lead to the game being once again questioned as to its veracity.

Fifty home runs in a season is something of a rarity but during the steroid era , that feat was something of a regular occurrence , with the likes of Mark McGwire , Sammy Sosa , Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds making a complete mockery of that particular record. This year we are unlikely to see the fifty home run mark surpassed but the siege on that particular mark always seems to be an interesting topic of debate as well as something of a spectacle to watch. Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion and Giancarlo Stanton lead the way in baseball’s home run race this season , having just passed the halfway mark of the baseball schedule. Barry Bonds may well hold the single season home run mark, but in many respects in the eyes of the purists within the game , the mark they feel deserves recognition is the legendary statistic of Roger Maris’ of sixty-one home runs . I do not believe that anything else needs to be said concerning the matter !

Baseball’s mid-season showcase event , the MLB All Star Game is not that far off the horizon and already fans and media analysts alike are questioning those who were snubbed and those who made it onto the rosters of the AL and NL teams. In my opinion with the voting being no more than a popularity contest , very little credence can really be given to the veracity of the claims as who is fitting to become an All Star and who is not. Does anyone really want to see players from the two worst teams in baseball being given what is something of a dubious honor ? Can playing on the last placed team within the AL or NL really be a cause upon which one can say that is a mark of success ? Therein lies the idiocy of the claims by baseball writers, fans and members of the league hierarchy, that every team should be given the honor of having player be a part of All Star roster. The contests between the AL and NL in recent years have proven to be very entertaining with their being so much at stake for the winning league . Interest will certainly be peaked with this being the last All Star contest where Derek Jeter is a participant . How he bows out will be one of the highlights of the season , no matter the result.

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Picture gallery.

There remains a great deal to play for over the second half of the season, but for now, we have been intrigued to witness the stories that have unfolded at the midpoint of baseball’s schedule. What highlights have piqued your interest and which team or player has proven to be the most exciting to watch? On a final note, who do you believe will prove to be the biggest disappointment of the year among the ball-clubs and stars given their status at the start of the year? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and thanks for the continued support as always !

🙂

Picture and slideshow gallery below .
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(1) Houston Astros’ Chris Carter , left, is congratulated by Carlos Corporan (22) following Carter’s solo home off of Texas Rangers relief pitcher Aaron Poreda in the eighth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. The Astros would defeat the Rangers 8-3 in a rout . AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …

(2) Houston Astros starting pitcher Brad Peacock and first baseman Jon Singleton talk with manager Bo Porter (16) as Peacock is pulled in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …

(3) Philadelphia Phillies’ general manager Reuben Amaro Jr is seen here with team manager Ryne Sandberg ,who in his first year as the team’s manager has seen the Phillies do so poorly while struggling to remain competitive within the NL East and the NL in general . An aging roster and several highly paid players are the primary reasons for the poor results witnessed this season . All signs are pointing to the fact , Amaro will seek to revamp the roster during this upcoming off-season and the likelihood will be , he will seek to trade several players superfluous to the team’s needs while promoting younger members from within their farm system. AP Photo/ Martin Davis …

(4) New York Yankees Derek Jeter, left, bumps fists with Masahiro Tanaka during introduction ceremonies before the baseball game against the Houston Astros on day Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Houston. Tanaka enters his first season with the Yankees as team captain Jeter enters his twentieth and final season with the franchise . AP Photo/Pat Sullivan ….

(5) From left to right , Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly , senior partner Magic Johnson , Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees and Dodgers’ CEO and senior managing partner Mark Walter are seen here at Dodgers’ Ballpark in Los Angeles California prior to a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees in 2013. Rivera who retired in 2013 as all-time saves’ leader and a five-time World Series’ winner had a historic career with the Yankees’ franchise. He is likely to be a Hall of Fame candidate in Cooperstown , New York having met the eligibility requirements. Getty Images North America/ Greg Parsons …. .

(6) Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin ,left is seen here with general manager Billy Beane as the two talk with the convened press at the O Coliseum in Oakland, California . The A’s are off to another impressive start to the season and lead with the AL West, while heading into the All Star mid-season break. Both the manager and executive are hoping that the team can have an equally successive start to the second half of the season with the ultimate goal being an appearance and the capturing of a World Series’ crown for the fifth time in A’s history . AP Photo / Dave Wilson …

(7) Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels is often seen in some circles as the best player in the game and the face of baseball for next decade. The player now at the forefront of an Angels’ offense that seems to be in control . AP Photo/ Kelly Richardson …

(8) Alex Rodriguez , left , of the New York Yankees and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers . The two players have become the “face ” of the steroid era over the past eight years. Each has faced a league mandated suspension, with the Yankees’ third baseman now sitting out the entire 2014 season after baseball’s hierarchy enforced their ban of the player for the year. Braun and Rodriguez have won four League MVP Awards over the course of their respective careers and are among the highest paid players on their respective teams ( Brewers and Yankees) . AP Photo / Harry Patterson ….

(9) Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins leads the NL in home runs this season but it remains to be seen whether or not he is likely to surpass the fifty home runs for the year . The Marlins are trying to supplant both the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals atop of the NL East. AP Photo / Chris Mendez …..

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Something cheerful about a female shaking her assets .

It was a year that we were told, was meant to be special ….

It was a year that we were told, was meant to be special

The MLB season has begun in earnest with several teams showing their mettle , while others are already beginning to show signs of wear and tear . If that isn’t enough the game of baseball , still has to deal with the fact that with several players sidelined with injuries , the fans still have to view the prospect of seeing their teams under-achieve or in some cases over-achieve .

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Slideshow .

Right out of the gate the Atlanta Braves started out fast , albeit that as of late things have cooled down somewhat for Fredi Gonzalez and the team , who were on a three game win streak as of 21st April , 2013 . Seizing the day, for the franchise has been the play of the Braves’ newest player , Justin Upton , who along with elder sibling, BJ Upton , were brought in to bolster the offense of the ball-club . Justin Upton leads the Majors and NL in home runs .

As the Atlanta Braves remain atop of the heap within the NL East standings , it should come as no surprise that the Miami Marlins remain a club that is seemingly spiraling out of control , heading nowhere fast , without their being any signs of leadership on or off the field of play. Rookie manager, Mike Redmond and his staff have been entrusted to manage the team . From within the front office , executives, Larry Beinfest , David Sansom , GM Michael Hill , and team owner , Jeffrey Loria have taken it upon themselves to take a back seat having gutted the roster , and having plead economic woes as to the reasons why and the team’s misfires of 2012 , as the ultimate excuse . All somewhat asinine , when at the start of last season , the Marlins moved into their $575 million new Marlins Ballpark , situated in downtown Miami, with those very same executives informing the public and fans that this would all be the dawn of a new era . Alas , it has been more of the same , with the same ongoing mediocrity , which is currently on display with this team , firmly exhibited by their anemic 4-15 record within the NL East , which is by far the worst in the Majors this season.

Next up for the Marlins will be an away game against the Minnesota Twins (8-7) which will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis , Minnesota , which will be part of a double-header to make up for a postponed game from Monday afternoon . On the mound in game one for the Twins will be Kevin Correia facing Ricky Nolasco . Game two , will pit Jose Fernandez of the Marlins against Mike Pelfrey . A series that in many ways reflects two franchises that are so alike , while in many respects , are also somewhat different, as how they each seek to battle their own adversities .

While the season remains in its infancy , what cannot be denied, are the litany of injuries that seem to be hampering the teams , their aspirations and no doubt , progress over the course of the season . It is hoped that those players will be able to contribute to their respective ball clubs upon their return .

From my own perspective , at this point of the season and the teams as such not yet hitting a real rhythm of consistency , it will be somewhat difficult to gauge how good or bad the ball clubs are actually doing . One could surmise that by looking back at this point last season < and the events that unfolded at the same point , could prove to be fruitful. Yet that in of itself, is by no means a clear indicator of what we should expect by season’s end or at any point during 2012 . One of the things I do believe that will be prevalent , will be that the fans will remain ever vigilant as to the exploits of the players , particularly when it comes to any single season mark that may well be under threat !

The single season home run mark which currently stands at 73 , a figure held by Barry Bonds does seem to be out of reach of today’s Major League sluggers and rightly or wrongly , the record will always be looked as being somewhat “ tainted “ , in spite of continued innocence being plead by Bonds, as to his unknowingly ingesting a banned substance . And the same can and should be said of the career home run record , also held by Bonds . A player who now seems intent on gaining his acquittal of perjury , and who no doubt , looks to be enshrined in Cooperstown , New York , as an honored member of baseball’s Hall of Fame . While Bonds does have his detractors , there are many fans out there who continue to support the player , in spite of the allegations and charges that were leveled against him . And to my mind , Barry Bonds in some respects remains one of the most admired , as well as one of the most despised players in the game’s history

In 2001 , when Bonds set the mark for the single season home run mark . Many felt that having obliterated the previous mark set by Mark McGwire , this would in fact put an end to the scurrilous and some might say unwarranted rumors concerning McGwire’s own accomplishments in that endeavor. However , what we do now know , was in fact that Mark McGwire was not without his own demons as well lacking as lacking in candor as to his honesty . The former St Louis Cardinals and Oakland A’s slugger , is now a hitting instructor on the staff of the Los Angeles Dodgers . As to how one might view this latest turn of events in the former slugger’s career , can either be looked upon with a great deal of disdain or ridicule , dependent upon whether or not you are an admirer of the player. Your thoughts if any , on this all ?

Baseball’s hierarchy led by Commissioner Bud Selig , have never spoken openly public on the fact that both the career and single season home runs’ record remains intact and validated on their books . A fact that is further acknowledged and emphasized by the Elias Stats Bureau , a bastion allegedly for what is said “ to be pure “ as it relates to the game’s most heralded statistics .

I have always maintained that while Bonds , McGwire and Sammy Sosa were laying waste to the single season home run mark , it simply diminished the feat of Roger Maris when he broke the sixty home runs’ plateau for a season , when in 1961 , he surpassed the record (59) held by Babe Ruth . Somehow baseball’s sordid and dirty little secret was allowed to simply ran the gamut of highs and lows , with the print and television media simply looking to absolve themselves from reporting anything suspicious as it related to the era that would become known as the “ steroid era” . In truth , not much has changed from the mid-nineties when the feats of the aforementioned players were being lauded as being superhuman and , a marvel for the baseball fans to watch in astonishment.

Consider the fact that even today , with what Bud Selig claims to be the toughest drug testing protocols in all of professional sports , we still have players running afoul of the league’s testing policy , having tested positive for a wide array of banned substances . It is even more prevalent at the Minor League Level , where in the last two and a half years , over one hundred and thirty players have been suspended in accordance with the league’s mandated edicts . A stunning figure , no matter how one chooses to make an argument favoring or opposing the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) and other illicit substances .

Bonds’ record breaking single season home run feat would come off a hit , from opposing pitcher Dennis Springer of the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game played at Candlestick Park in San Francisco , California on the 7th October , 2001, between the San Francisco Giants and their famed NL counterparts .

The 2001 season itself, filled with its infamy cannot be overlooked in terms of the accomplishments within the AL and NL that year . Bonds would come away with the NL League MVP for the season with his AL counterpart , Ichiro Suzuki winning the AL crown as well as the Rookie of Year honors . Ichiro , would have a spectacular rookie season with the Seattle Mariners , while going on to simply fulfill the promise first shown as a player within Japanese Leagues . Now with the New York Yankees and looking to aid that franchise in whatever way he can . It has to be said , that perhaps at long last , the fans of the game can see the player perform at the highest levels possible as well as quite possibly being a regular postseason contributor to the Yankees’ current and future aspirations .

The teams making up the 2001 postseason gave us an array of teams with varying degrees of success throughout the regular season . . Aspirants seeking to make their presence felt were the New York Yankees , perennial contender , along with the , Cleveland Indians , Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s . From the senior circuit (NL) , we had the Arizona Diamondbacks , Atlanta Braves , Houston Astros , and St Louis Cardinals . And the postseason foray would in part, play out like a fictionalized Hollywood thriller , with the Arizona Diamondbacks having an improbable run through the postseason , where they would meet the high-flying New York Yankees in the World Series .

A triumphant Diamondbacks’ team managed by Bob Brenly having won the franchise’s only World Series’ title . They would subsequently fall from grace , with their being a some major upheavals amongst the managerial and playing staff in the subsequent years .

A triumphant Diamondbacks’ team managed by Bob Brenly having won the franchise’s only World Series’ title . They would subsequently fall from grace , with their being a some major upheavals amongst the managerial and playing staff in the subsequent years . Sharing the World Series MVP honors were pitchers , Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling , two of the game’s most renowned pitchers in recent history . Both players having retired , they now await their eligibility for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame . In or out , for both , Johnson and Schilling as for enshrinement in Cooperstown ?

From my own perspective I do feel that the 2001 baseball season was unique in its very own way , but the tragedy of 9/11 struck home , to cast an irreversible shadow over the entire postseason , albeit , that the nation was unified in a common cause for the greater good . Yet , were it not for the atrocities committed on that fateful day in September , one seriously doubts also that it was in that very same year that Barry Bonds cast his own dubious shadow over the game , leaving his legacy I believe completely in question !

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Picture gallery .

How do you view the 2001 season , during which Barry Bonds’ feat that in many respects cannot be completely overlooked , in spite of the triumph of the Arizona Diamondbacks ? Less we forget also , that September , baseball came to a complete halt , after the tragedies that took place on September 11th , 2001 . Chime in with your thoughts on the season , as you deem fit , and thanks as always , for the continued support of this site !

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) DENVER, CO – APRIL 23: Evan Gratis (24) of the Atlanta Braves celebrates his solo home run with third base coach Brian Snitker (51) during the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

(2) Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton swings to hit a single in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Atlanta. AP Photo/David Goldman …

(3) Miami Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo , right, visits pitcher Jose Fernandez after he walked Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer in the first inning in the first game of a day/night double-header , Tuesday, April 23, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minn. AP Photo/Jim Mone …

(4) From left to right , Miami Marlins’ front office executives , Larry Beinfest , Jeffrey Loria and David Sansom , seen here at the franchise’s ballpark discussing team issue’s . This season looks as if tit will be another lamentable year of indifference and mediocrity for the Marlins , with the team now firmly rooted at the bottom of the NL East after a disastrous start under rookie manager Mike Redmond . AP Photo / Arthur Moore …

(5) Barry Bonds blasts home run number 73 on his way to the single season home run record in 2001 . The former San Francisco Giants’ player also holds the career home runs’ mark (763) having broken Hank Aaron’s feat of 755 . Courtesy of San Francisco Chronicle @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ……

(6) Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling , right , are seen here with the Word Series trophy , after the Arizona Diamondbacks’ expected 4-3 series’ triumph over the New York Yankees in 2001. Johnson and Schilling were voted joint World Series’ MVP for their efforts in the postseason , with Bob Brenly guiding the franchise in his rookie season to the Diamondbacks’ first , and only World Series . Courtesy of MLB.com ….

(7) The Diamondbacks’ Luiz Gonzalez and his late game heroics is seen here hitting the winning RBI off Yankees’ reliever Mariano Rivera , that would give the franchise their first World Series , in 2001 . AFP/Photo/ Barry Young …

(8) A draped banner during game seven of the 2001 World Series , bringing the nation together in its national pastime , uniting us all after the horrors and the grief of 9/11/2001 . Getty Images / Ron Carter …..

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By Tophatal 04/23/2013

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MLB news

News from around the league

MLB standings

MLB wildcard standings

MLB schedule 23rd April

MLB results 22nd April

MLB probable starting pitchers 23rd April 2013

This week in MLB history

This day in MLB history chronologically

Deep pockets , but barely comfortable with their lifestyle

Deep pockets , but barely comfortable with their lifestyle

Tophatal

Well we’re a little over four months away from Spring Training , but already, the baseball world is a abuzz with the trade moves and talks of other potential moves , and the news that the active home run king , Alex Rodriguez will have to undergo hip surgery and will likely miss the entire Yankees’ Spring Training schedule with the New York Yankees as well as the first two months of the regular season.

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Slideshow .

Given the fact that Rodriguez had a horrendous season in 2012 , of which his postseason might amongst the most historically low of his postseason career . As we know the Yankees bowed out of the postseason unceremoniously , without ever really showing any determination on the part of their players. Team owners , Hank and Hal Steinbrenner , have made the predetermination that the team’s salary will have to be pared down by 2014. Furthermore , with the team making the decision also to sell a minority stake (25 %) in their cable broadcast outlet YES Network to Fox Sports for a reputed $175 million . I would hate to think that this famed franchise has suddenly hit upon hard times financially . However, this unlikely to happen , as the ball-club has become one sports most profitable financial concerns . GM Brian Cashman , has seen fit to renegotiate the contracts of Andy Pettite signing the left-hander to a one year deal for $11 million , along with all-time saves’ leader , Mariano Rivera , to bolster an ailing and aging pitching roster that was headed by CC Sabathia.

Rumors are now rife that the New York Yankees are not prepared to stand pat, with regard to their roster lineup , with Brian Cashman still seeking to move a number of players he feels are superfluous to the team’s needs. And amongst the players who are now liable to be on the way out are Nick Swisher . Salary commitments for the team in 2013 will be approximately $168.3 million , with a quite possibly that figure moving lower , as the front office seeks to pare down the payroll , while promoting and bringing up players from within their farm(minor) league system , something I believe, that they will do , but not to the extent expected by a number of analysts and fans alike.

With Alex Rodriguez missing from the lineup , it will be incumbent upon the likes of Mark Teixiera , Curtis Granderson , Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter to be the mainstays of the Yankees’ offense for the upcoming season , as they were for a number of games during 2012. We have always known the New York to be an aggressive and active free agent player in recent years , but it remains to be seen the type of steps that will be taken by Hank and Hal Steinbrenner in conjunction with Brian Cashman. It has been a considerable time since the franchise has chosen to build their roster from within their farm system , as more often than not , in order to solve a problem they often sought to throw money at any issue that seems to have arisen.

Across town , the New York Yankees , have seen the New York Mets’ fall from grace and their season of sheer ineptitude in 2012. Granted , the team has seen the rise in the profile of their knuckle ball pitcher RA Dickey, their 2012 Cy Young award winner within the NL . Dickey’s astonishing season was capped with that win, and being the team’s best pitcher , as well as leading the NL in a number of pitching statistics . That if anything, had to be viewed as one of the few bright spots to the Mets’ 2012 foray.

Sandy Alderson , Paul DiPodesta and J P Ricciardi were brought in , in 2012 , to bring back some semblance of respectability to the New York Mets . And while one, has to accept the difficult predicament the franchise had been placed in , due to the complete mismanagement presided over by COO , Jeff Wilpon , team CEO Fred Wilpon , and SVP Saul Katz, it should be noted that no excuse should be sought as to the willful neglect , and heinous mismanagement that almost brought the baseball club to the brink of insolvency , and almost having to seek bankruptcy reorganization.

Having lost , $41 million last season and with the New York Mets projected to lose a great deal more in 2013 , it would appear that the front office of the organization has not learned from their mistakes of before . Within the past forty-eight hours the team has reached an agreement to offer a eight-year $138 million contract to third baseman , David Wright . Perhaps , I am mistaken , but what does this suggest from a baseball franchise that still has liquidity problems and who in April of 2012 were said to be seeking investors to buy a minority stake in the baseball team ? One such investor was billionaire venture capitalist David Einhorn , who initially wanted to purchase a 25% stake in the ball club for a reputed $250 million , with a view to increasing his stake at a later date , and also with a view , to seeking two seats on the board of directors of the franchise. Both Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon were said to have baulked at the idea, of having Einhorn , as a board member , because in essence all the Mets were said to be seeking at the time was a silent partner to provide the team with a cash-flow and clear their liquidity problems . Needless to say, Einhorn , none too pleased, having been rejected in part , bought a smaller stake in the franchise only to relinquish that stake several months later , when he could make no leeway in , increasing his investment. And I am to now believe that because Sandy Alderson and Paul DiPodesta have been brought in to provide the New York Mets with some stability , things are likely to get better ?

As I alluded to earlier , the team is an utter mess , and from a managerial standpoint , Terry Collins and managerial staff were, and are , still out of their depth . One patron , presumably a Mets’ fan suggested the way to lure fan interest would be to lower ticket , and concession prices for specific games, as well as for the vast majority of the games played at the now cavernous Citi-Field , in Flushing , New York, and the palatial home to the Mets. Built at a cost of $765 million , with the use of public funds , this massive edifice, which was referred to, as one of best baseball’s best venues, by New York City mayor , Michael Bloomberg. Now a year later after the franchise’s inaugural game , the New York Mets remain a hapless organization lacking financial and managerial leadership. Bloomberg, being the bumbling oaf he just happens to be , rarely visits the venue , even in the midst of the still questionable business dealings of Fred , and Jeff Wilpon , and business partner Saul Katz. In the midst of this all , Commissioner , Bud Selig , has remained extremely quiet about the apparent misdeeds of the Mets’ ownership group. Well , what else should we now expect , after Selig’s asinine handling of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ sale , and the rumors that suggested that the multi-billion bid lodged by the Magic Johnson syndicate group , was the only one favored , of the seven original offers , said to have been placed with US Federal Bankruptcy Courts, in the state of Delaware ? Connivance on the part of the MLB hierarchy , or simply the commissioner doing what was at the time said to be in the best interests of the game of baseball ? I’ll let you be the judge of that !

From my own standpoint , I certainly do not believe that David Wright is worth anywhere near the $140 million commitment that will be made by the New York Mets ! And while it could be said, that in the first half of 2012 , he was said to having a solid season , during the second half of the year , the player in essence was nowhere to be seen from a productivity standpoint .

To my mind the New York Mets seek to make David Wright, their answer to the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter . But herein lies the real issue as it relates to David Wright , he has never shown himself to be a leader , of the Mets as a vocal leader , much less , actually lead by example , much as in the same way , Jeter , is actually known be. The franchise is simply settling for a rather poor man’s version of the Yankees’ short-stop , in the hope of catching lightning in a bottle. The issues of the Mets also goes way beyond their financial vulnerability , and from what I have read by the patrons within this forum who have tried to parlay their knowledge of the team, in reality , few if any have chosen to look beyond the player personnel issues to really try to succinctly explain the team’s present predicament . At the center of this mess , is the fact that the core of his roster, is aging , and with an ailing and overpaid , Johan Santana, it easy to understand the idiocy of the situation surround this franchise . The left-handed starter, beyond his no-hitter , in 2012 , offered the Mets , little if anything , by way of productivity , and the fact that they are burdened by his exorbitant contract shows that not much thought was placed in terms of financial expediency by then general manager , Omar Minaya. And even in the aftermath of the former executive’s stupidity financial expediency still has not raised its head within the Mets’ organization. Much like the asinine stupidity now being shown by the Obama administration and the US Congress’ handling of the nation’s debt crisis , there is no fucking common sense to be found whatsoever !

I certainly don’t see the New York Mets competing with any real urgency this upcoming season , within the NL East , as I view the franchise not so much in transition , but still, in a state of turmoil. They are e at least two to three years away , from where they need to be , and Terry Collins has yet to show that he has the managerial acumen to lead that team deep into the postseason , much less to a World Series’ title .

As one door closes , another one opens , and therein now lies the opportunity for the Tampa Bay Rays to make good , after the departure of BJ Upton to the Atlanta Braves as a free agent. Once again the merry-go-round begins , concerning the franchise , as they seek to “ penny pinch “ , simply in order to field a competitive team for the 2013 season. At this juncture it is hard to say what the makeup of the Rays’ roster will be for the upcoming season. GM Andrew Friedman , principal managing partner , Stuart Sternberg and the team’s manager , Joe Maddon, will have to make several decisions as it relates to a number of players on the current roster and whether or they are superfluous to the franchise’s needs.

One maneuver that the management of the Rays have sought to do , has been to secure the long-term future of Evan Longoria , by signing the player to a 6 year $ 100 million deal that becomes effective in 2016. If one takes into account the Longoria’s current contract , he will net an astonishing $136 million in salary , which does not include endorsements , of which the player now makes a sizable sum, as negotiated by his agent and legal representative , Paul Cohen . Given this situation, it was easy to understand, why there was very little chance , that B J Upton would have been resigned by the ball club, as there was little room for anymore financial maneuvers ,in allowing the franchise to retain both players .

Now while the Tampa Bay Rays , have made no real major moves , they have been available to avail themselves of one or two players in recent days . James Loney , a cast-off from the Los Angeles Dodgers was signed to a one-year deal by the organization, and he no doubt brings with him , it is hoped , some much-needed offensive fire power , to add the Rays’ somewhat inconsistent arsenal of noteworthy hitters. And though during 2012 , it was said to be the inconsistency of the hitting , that is said to have let the team down , it was the pitching of the Rays was in essence , the ball club’s real strength throughout the vast majority of the season. Leading the way in that endeavor , was the team’s very first Cy Young Award winner , David Price . The gutsy left-hander , along with James Shields , Jeremy Hellickson , Joel Peralta , Alex Cobb , and Matt Moore , who led the way for the team, in terms of its pitching.

In recent weeks there have been rumors suggesting that the Rays would be quite willing to part with their young pitcher Jeremy Hellickson . Having established himself in 2011 , as a middle reliever , it was not until 2012 that Hellickson became a full-time starter , and giving Joe Maddon on of the best starting lineups in all of baseball, and with it the statistics to match. Shields is also said to be a prime target for a number of teams said to be in the market for a bonafide starting pitcher.

Now, while I understand that the Rays would like to see their payroll drop significantly to where it will be an estimated commitment of $54.2 million for 2013. By comparison the payroll for 2012 , was a nominal $64,173,500 for last year . I believe that Andrew Friedman would be willing to listen to several hard offers , if it meant, he would be able to obtain some relatively good prospects for the aforementioned players mentioned ! The likelihood that both Hellickson and Shield could be now prime departures , while creating a great deal of disappointment amongst the fans, it should be noted that given the organization’s limited resources and the lack of a real marketing plan by the front office. This whole scenario for the Tampa Bay Rays while repetitive , it is becoming more acute with each passing season. I have always felt that Stuart Sternberg and Matt Silverman , simply have not shown enough ingenuity in seeking out an outside partner or rich benefactor, to either become a silent partner or a majority stakeholder of the organization , thereby insuring the Rays’ long-term future . And year in and year out , the same old question is also raised as where will the Rays play? Will it be in the city of St Petersburg , at the somewhat archaic venue of Tropicana Field , or at a new locale across the Gandy Bridge, in the downtown area of Tampa ? The bone of contention between the municipalities of St Petersburg and Tampa , as to who would serve the needs of the Tampa Bay Rays , though the battle has not been drawn out into an open conflict . It is now slowly brewing into something that could prove to be unsavory. Never mind the fact , that the county governments have also been drawn to this debate .

Personally , I am of the opinion that until the governmental agencies in question, have addressed their own fiscal dilemmas. I do not believe that public funds should be used to satisfy the egos of millionaire or billionaire sports’ franchise owners ! There’s this asinine belief that such instances serves the public’s best interest , of which there has yet to be any factual proof that such instances, a community does really profit from such an endeavor. Simply look at the naïveté shown by the city of Miami, after they were cajoled and coerced into building a new stadium to house the Miami Marlins.

In the aftermath of that franchise’s woefully inept 2012 foray , the ball club has begun a “fire sale” , jettisoning themselves some of their high-priced free agents that they had acquired prior to the start of this past season , and during the trade deadline . The city of Miami , is now under federal investigation by the US Justice Department , as to their actions in the vote that took place concerning the financing for the Miami Marlins’ Ballpark . Marlins’ executives have remained mute concerning any questions directed towards them concerning this issue , and Commissioner , Bud Selig , has directed all questions concerning this episode , to be dealt with by the league’s legal counsel (attorneys ). And does anyone believe that either the cities of St Petersburg or Tampa , have learned anything from that episode ? I will let you be the judge of that !

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Picture gallery .

This off-season, we will see a lot of positive moves being made by a number of teams . Meanwhile, there will be one or two transactions that will have been suborned by team owners and their front office executives alike , that will actually have the fans completely befuddled, as to, what the hell , were they think by way that particular trade ? They sale that baseball’s off-season , just happens to be their “ silly season” , with the teams making rather asinine trades , purely as a way of chasing after success without there ever being truly any thought being put into a great many of these moves . In some cases , large financial commitment might well be made , which could in effect handicap a franchise long-term . Whereas, in other cases , it may well be that “one small deal” that simply opens up an opportunity that presents itself for a player , to truly show his worth , while being able to lead a franchise to tangible success. Over the past five years which particular trades , do you believe has been of true benefit to a team or a number of teams ? Simply chime in with a comment on this or anything other topic you believe pertinent to this article . And as always , thanks for the continued support of this site , as it is greatly appreciated !

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MLB related links : Nats in Haren to one year deal

Pagan, Napoli , kick off action in Nashville

Mets GM meets with “several” clubs about Dickey

A Rod, needs hip surgery , will be out until June

Angels’ list of targets doesn’t end with Greinke

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Picture and slide show gallery details below .
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(1) FILE – In this Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 file photo, New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez throws out Detroit Tigers’ Andy Dirks in the second inning during Game 1 of the American League championship series in New York. The New York Yankees said Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, Rodriguez will have surgery on his left hip and will miss the start of the season and possibly the entire first half. AP Photo/Paul Sancya ….

(2) New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman answers questions concerning third baseman Alex Rodriguez at the baseball winter meetings on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. Rodriguez will have surgery on his left hip and will miss the start of the season and possibly the entire first half, the Yankees said Monday. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey ….

(3) FILE – In this April 25, 2012 file photo, New York Mets’ David Wright is greeted by teammates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in New York. WFAN radio is reporting Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, that Wright and the New York Mets have agreed to a $138 million, eight-year contract that would be the richest in franchise history . AP Photo/Seth Wenig …

(4) National League Cy Young Award winner R. A. Dickey, of the New York Mets, answers questions before speaking at Lipscomb University on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. The 38-year-old Dickey is the first pitcher who relies predominantly on a knuckle-ball to win the Cy Young Award. The player, it is being reported , is now being “shopped around” by the Mets’ organization as they seek to lower their present payroll . AP Photo/Mark Humphrey …

(5) Outfielder, B.J. Upton (L) and infielder Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays watch their team against the Texas Rangers during Game Four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 4, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Getty Images/ Andrew Marsh …

(6) (L – R) Saul Katz, CEO of the Mets, Fred Wilpon, president of the Mets, Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon, chief operating officer of the Mets pose for a photo during Alderson’s introduction as the general manager for the New York Mets on October 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Andrew Burton / Getty Images North America ….

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

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MLB news & news by teams

MLB schedule important dates

MLB transactions (December 2012) & November transactions

MLB team salaries (2012)

Top paid players in baseball

Top paid third basemen in baseball

Miami Marlins news

New York Mets’ news

Tampa Bay Rays news

This week in baseball history

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MLB standings divisional 2012

MLB standings wildcard

2012 MLB postseason

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Hot chic pic of the day , singer , Rihanna Fenty .

Fu#k you Bud Selig , and the rest of the lying mother-f##king cronies of the Miami Marlins !

Fu#k you Bud Selig , and the rest of the lying mother-f##king cronies of the Miami Marlins !

Tophatal

It never ceases to amaze all of these pious idiots who try to suggest that the game of baseball has a redeeming quality about it ! Case in point , two prominent players (Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon) at the MLB level were given a mandatory 50 game suspension for deliberately running afoul of the league’s steroid policy. Yet at the minor league level of the game in the past thirty months , 186 players have been reprimanded by the league hierarchy in terms of the mandates that cover the policy in the illicit use of steroids and PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) .

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Slideshow for your perusal .

Fast forward today , and at a time when baseball should be applauding the achievements nominees for the season’s individual awards , and we are now surrounded by a moribund organization conducing their “own fire sale “ after a season of abject failure . I don’t believe that there can be any other way to explain away the abysmal showing of the Miami Marlins , after a year of high expectations , and of the monies spent on acquiring free agents by the truck load , as orchestrated by front office executives , GM Michael Hill , SVP David Sansom and team President , Larry Beinfest. Never-mind the fact that the hiring of Ozzie Guillen , was meant to send a message to the team’s fan-base that they were about to enter big-time once again. Need we also be reminded that the ball-club had opened their new state of the art 43,500 seated Marlins Ballpark , in downtown , Miami , built at the cost of some $575 million , at the taxpayers’ expense. Somehow , with a great deal of coercion by Bud Selig, and the Marlins’ front office , the city of Miami were dumb enough to fast-track the proposal , that would lead to a quickly expedited vote for the financing of the aforementioned venue. Clearly, not a great deal of thought was made when the city’s mayor Tomas Regalado and the city council thought that it would be appropriate to build the venue , with the view, that it would enrich the locale and also bring an economic boost to a blighted downtown area of Miami. If anything it has done the complete opposite, as this season the eighty-one home games of the Miami Marlins , were sparsely attended over the course of the team’s schedule.

A last place finish in the NL East with a record of 63-99, barely missing the mark of losing 100 games during 2012. This was the sort of ineptitude that the impoverished Marlins’ fans were asked to endure as Guillen spent more time making a complete ass of himself , both on and off the field of play, over the course of the season. Michael Hill, David Sansom and team owner, Jeffrey Loria , tried to maintain that degree of composure often seen in a con-man when under investigation by law enforcement , as they go about conducting an investigation into a fraudulent criminal act. . Mark my words , what was foisted upon the fans of the Miami Marlins this season , was a willful act of fraud , that it has been so egregious and unconscionable that no amount of excuses can now be made to appease the fans ,much less allow Loria and his fellow executives to obfuscate their responsibilities . As for this simplistic and damn well asinine belief, that baseball has parity . Those who believe it , are clearly delusional , and damn well don’t know any better !

Courtesy of MLB.com


Miami close to dealing JJ, Reyes, Buehrle to Toronto

Marlins would get at least seven players, nearly $160 million in payroll flexibility

By Joe Firsaro , MLB.com

MIAMI — When the Marlins hired Mike Redmond as manager last week, it opened a pipeline with the Blue Jays.

The two organizations didn’t waste much time tapping into each other’s resources.

On Tuesday night, Miami was reportedly working on a blockbuster trade with Toronto, sending off five established veterans, including Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes, while shedding nearly $160 million in payroll commitments.

Heading to Toronto would be Johnson, Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck. In return, the Marlins would receive shortstop Yunel Escobar, second baseman Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, left-hander Justin Nicolino and catcher Jeff Mathis.

Miami also would acquire outfield prospect Jake Marisnick, who played for Redmond at Dunedin, and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani. The trade was not officially announced as of Tuesday night, but players like Johnson were informed that they were being dealt.

“I enjoyed my time in Florida,” Johnson told MLB.com. “Thank you, fans, for everything. You always supported me, and I appreciate that.”

The blockbuster deal comes a year after the Marlins underwent a rebranding — with name and uniform changes — and made major roster additions. Bolstered by revenue generated from their retractable-roof ballpark, the Marlins were the talk of last year’s Winter Meetings, signing Reyes, Buehrle and Heath Bell for a combined $191 million.

Now, all three will be gone.

Bell was the first to be sent out, when the former three-time All-Star closer was traded to the D-backs on Oct. 20 for Minor League third baseman Yordy Cabrera.

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One could see that the Marlins would bail on their season , as the defeats kept mounting up through the greater part of the year , with their being little evidence shown that Ozzie Guillen and his staff could extricate themselves out of those problems, while leading the team back to some semblance of normalcy . I have never been a great admirer of Guillen as a manager , or as a matter of fact as a human being ! He is if anything , a person who is simply bellicose , verbose and disrespectful to others , while simply believing that his behavior is called for , whatever the environment just happens to be . The fact that this hire was simply looked upon as a matter of marketing the manager to the Latino community , which makes up a prominent demographic of the Marlins’ fan-base , and it shows that the front office’s only concern was to appeal to that part of the South Florida community. Now one could question the managerial acumen of Ozzie Guillen , albeit that he guided the Chicago White Sox to a World Series championship in 2005 , with a rather lopsided series’ victory over (4-0) the Houston Astros . In the aftermath of the White’s Sox triumph , the relationship between Guillen and the team’s general manager , Kenny Williams , and team owner, Jerry Reinsdorf , would sink to new depths of sheer animosity . In part , much of this was down to the fact Ozzie Guillen sought a new long-term contract, which at the time the White Sox’s front office were unwilling to acquiesce to . Guillen would be vocal with his indifference towards both Reinsdorf and Williams , often being derogatory of both front office executives.

The fact that Ozzie Guillen’s tenure in Miami came to such an abrupt end , with the decision being made to fire the manager after such a disastrous season , can only be slightly less embarrassing than Bobby Valentine’s equally inept tenure with the Boston Red Sox. And as we have now witnessed , Valentine would seek to apportion blame elsewhere for the team’s poor showing and his lack communication with the Red Sox players . If that is not a recipe for an unmitigated disaster , then what is ?

With the departure of Ozzie Guillen , a replacement was found in Mike Redmond a first-time manager and former player with the Marlins. Beyond the recent fire sale with the jettisoning of $165 million in salary commitments , with departure of Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck, in exchange for Yunel Escobar , and Yunel Escobar , second baseman Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, left-hander Justin Nicolino and catcher Jeff Mathis.

Miami also would acquire outfield prospect Jake Marisnick , who played for Redmond at Dunedin, and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani . The trade was not officially announced as of Tuesday night, but players like Johnson were informed that they were being dealt. As to how this will now sit with the Marlins’ who expected to see Reyes be one of the lynch pins on the Marlins’ roster alongside Giancarlo Stanton , has a number of fans wondering what the hell is now going as the roster has been systematically shredded and decimated to the degree that there are those who feel that this franchise has taken a step backwards . From a public relations’ standpoint this situation now becomes a complete nightmare for the Miami Marlins’ organization. Jeffrey Loria will have a hard time trying to sell this scenario , that the organization is now heading in the right direction, after these proposed moves .

For this once proud franchise , this has been the third such instance where the ball-club has seen fit to jettison players as a face-saving exercise and with regard to paring down salary . H D Wayne Huizenga , the franchise’s very first owner , with the Marlins’ having won the first of their two World Series crowns , would seek to deplete the roster in aftermath of their historic win in 1997 . The backlash against the incumbent owner was widespread and undeniably venomous and seething with rage. Huizenga would subsequently sell the franchise , and bow out of owning the team altogether . To parallel those moves , Jeffrey Loria , followed the same path , claiming financial hardship for the ball-club and the claims that the Marlins were hemorrhaging red ink all over the balance . Many felt that Loria’s claims were disingenuous and totally filled with falsehoods . The Marlins’ triumph in 2003 over the heralded —- New York Yankees , brought pandemonium on the streets of South Florida , and a great deal of enjoyment amongst the ball-club’s supporters at the time. Yet once again, the bloodletting began , with the front office deciding to simply jettison themselves of players they felt were superfluous to their needs .

Many of you will know, that I was once a firm advocate and an avowed supporter of the Miami Marlins , and having witnessed this franchise through their highs and lows , I became disenchanted with the disingenuous-ness of the organization ! Deceitful acts of the management, of the ball-club, lies , deceptive practices, and their business dealings with their corporate sponsors , but above all with the fans general public alike , caused me to disavow my support of the ball-club. The memories which I have of the franchise are fond ones , but they were then to be outweighed by the acts of egregious malfeasance , which all seemed to be suborned by the MLB hierarchy , as well as by several owners within baseball’s fraternity . If there is no clear leadership or oversight being shown , then what hope is there for the game of baseball , when there is a complete lack of integrity being shown by the overseers of the game ? Answers please ?

Do you believe the actions of the Miami Marlins in this instance , are good for the game ? Or do you feel that this was simply the act of brazened opportunists who were simply looking to absolve themselves from a major mistake ? By all means , do leave a comment as you see fit on this , and anything else you feel pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) This photo combo made from file photos shows Miami Marlins players, from left, pitcher Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, and pitcher Josh Johnson . Miami traded the three players to the Toronto Blue Jays, a person familiar with the agreement said Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. The person confirmed the trade to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams weren’t officially commenting. The person said the trade sent several of the Blue Jays’ best young players to Miami. AP Photos ….

(2) Miami Marlins new manager Mike Redmond, center, shows off his new jersey as president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest , left, and vice president & general manager , Mike Hill assist during a baseball news conference in Miami, Friday, Nov 2, 2012. AP Photo/Jeffrey Boan …

(3) FILE – In this April 6, 2004, file photo, Florida Marlins catcher Mike Redmond celebrates his team’s 4-3 win over the Montreal Expos after a baseball game in Miami. The former major league catcher was hired as manager of the Miami Marlins on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, to replace Ozzie Guillen, who was fired last week after a last-place finish. He spent the past two years managing Class A teams in the Toronto Blue Jays’ system. AP Photo/David Adams ……

(4) FILE – This April 10, 2012 file photo shows Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen listening to a question during a news conference about comments he made about Fidel Castro , at the Marlins Stadium in Miami. Guillen has been fired after one year as manager of the last-place Marlins, whose promising season began to derail in April when his laudatory comments about Fidel Castro caused a backlash. The Marlins announced the firing Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ….

(5) (L-R) Florida Marlins team President David Samsom , former City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz , MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Florida Marlins baseball team’s new stadium on July 18, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The park is scheduled to open in 2012 and the team intends to change its name to the Miami Marlins prior to the completion of the ballpark. Getty Images North America /Marc Serota …….

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Change you can believe in

Change You can believe in

by tophatal

In 2008 a young Democratic senator changed the course of political history by becoming the first African-American to ascend to the mantel of holding the highest political office in the nation . In the four years since Barack Obama’s ascension to the US Presidency , dependent upon your point of view , one could either determine that things have taken a turn for the worst or one’s lot in life has gotten a great deal better . I am not saying anything beyond the fact , that I still hold down a job and for the moment , I do not have the US government banging down my doors , claiming that I owe them money . Kind of makes me feel all giddy , until I realize we are now back in another fu#kin g election cycle , with two idiots aspiring to hold the office of President of the United States of America (POTUS) !

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Slide show .

Somehow , the expectations for the Miami Marlins this season , would be that the team was seen challenging for divisional supremacy within the NL East , having committed almost $200 million in acquiring ….. All Star caliber talent. In came Ozzie Guillen , to succeed Jack McKeon as the manager of the new look Miami Marlins , along with Guillen’s personally appointed coaching staff and a list of undisclosed requirements , which GM Michael Hill and team President Dave Sansom acquiesced to .

Through 97 games, the Miami Marlins (45-52 , .464) now find themselves fourth in the NL East standings , with only the lowly Philadelphia Phillies ( 44-54) , seated beneath them . One could simply ask , how could things have gone so wrong , so fast for this overly ambitious organization ? Having moved into baseball’s newest venue , the Marlins’ cavernous $575 million state of the art edifice was seen as a major South Florida attraction not just for the most ardent baseball fan but also as a major attraction for tourists seeking to take in a sporting event .

Ozzie Guillen outlived his usefulness with the Chicago White Sox ,albeit that he led the baseball club to their most recent World Series’ triumph in 2005 . However , a tumultuous relationship with White Sox general manager Kenny Williams , Guillen’s belligerent behavior towards the local press , and his berating of team owner Jerry Reinsdorf , led to a parting of the ways . No love lost between the parties involved , it was time for a change anyway ! If there is one thing that is abundantly clear , then it is with Ozzie Guillen , what you see , is what you get , warts and all . I mean his expletive laden rants during pre and postgame interviews have now become part and parcel of the game , as well as being part of Guillen’s shtick . Anyone who believes to the contrary clearly knows nothing about the Marlins’ manager .

This season just about everything that could go wrong for the Miami Marlins , has in essence gone wrong . Inconsistency right throughout every facet of the team’s play now exists . Neither Guillen, nor any member of his coaching staff has a cure for what ails this team . Now that discontent has set in , the front office seeks to apportion blame elsewhere , with there now being grumblings of an impending “ fire sale “ , of which Miami Marlins are said to be interested in , shipping out Hanley Ramirez as well as pitcher , Heath Bell . If the kitchen sink is also thrown out as well , as the ball club looks to bail on their impoverished season . Then for what it is worth , I say why not ! It is not as if this team was assembled with a specific goal in mine to begin with . Team owner Jeffrey Loria , is bereft of intelligence and for want of a better word , he is a lying piece of fecal matter ! Not to be outdone in the owner’s misdeeds , has been the very fact that the city of Miami remains under investigation by the US Justice Department , as to how it went about in its financing of the Miami Marlins Ballpark . Suffice to say , that city of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado remains tight-lipped as to the dealings that went on . Needless to say , the ever gullible Bud Selig firmly stands behind the actions of the city’s council members and that of the Miami Marlins’ executives . Selig’s own behind the scenes maneuvers in this all , cannot be overlooked . At the same time , given the recent ineptitude shown by US Attorney General Eric Holder’s office and that of his subordinates , I for one am not expecting much to come out of the Justice Department’s investigation ! I will call it , like I see it !

At present there are said to be several teams said to be interested in acquiring Hanley Ramirez’s services . Amongst the franchises said to be showing interest are the Oakland A’s , Boston Red Sox , Detroit Tigers , Los Angeles Dodgers and also the Chicago White Sox . It would appear that A’s general manager Billy Beane might hold the inside track in acquiring the Marlins’ outfielder but if the rumors are to be believed , then the Red Sox’s wish to off-load Carl Crawford in exchange , could be all the “sweetener” the Marlins might need to make a deal . That being said , both Crawford and Ramirez have greatly underperformed over the course of this season . If hitting on or just above the Mendoza Line were an art form , then both Crawford and Ramirez would be the “poster children” for the feat this season .

Everything about the Miami Marlins and the way that this team was constructed says “condescending” and capricious . Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking , that this was not coming , as there was little evidence to suggest at the start of this season to suggest that the Marlins should be seen as a favorite within the National League (NL) for the NL pennant , much less the World Series . Just because you dress a pig , up as a sow , doesn’t make it a sow . And similarly , that was the case with the Miami Marlins as they sought to become the New York Yankees of the NL .

As the flaws have risen , and have been exposed as to how inept the Miami Marlins just happens to be . It would appear that there is no one being held accountable on Ozzie Guillen’s staff , much less the manager himself . And for a team with a payroll < of just over $118 million , which ranks seventh highest of baseball’s thirty teams. It begs the question when will the general managers and team owners within the game , get into their thick skulls that they have created mayhem within baseball from an economic standpoint ?

Ineptitude might be seen as an excuse for the Marlins’ woes when you also take into account how mediocre the team’s pitching also happens to be . And to think , I once supported this ball club with my hard-earned cash by attending games when they played at Landshark Stadium , formerly known as Joe Robbie Stadium , home to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins . God , thank you for letting me see the error of my ways ! Now if you could perhaps see fit , in letting the Atlanta Braves at least gain that NL wildcard berth or perhaps win the NL East , then I would be eternally grateful . That is not too much to ask , at this juncture is it ?

Whether or not we now see a glutton of trades being engineered by Michael Hill of the Marlins’ front office remains to be seen . This much is clear , what started out as a season of promise for the Miami Marlins , has now become one big monumental nightmare . There is a great deal of blame to be apportioned everywhere within the Marlins’ organization . The problem being , there is absolutely no one looking to be held accountable .

At this point last season the Miami Marlins’ woes were already in evidence by way of their standing and the results during the month of July . Not much has changed beyond a bloviated payroll and a still inept organization . What more could the Miami Marlins’ fans ask for ? Your thoughts on the matter as you now see it ?

If the Miami Marlins are said to be floundering like a capsized vessel at sea . Then what should we make of the present situation for both the New York Mets (47-50) and Philadelphia Phillies (44-54) ? Don’t get me wrong , they say “ money cannot buy you happiness “ . Then , what the hell are the aforementioned teams buying with their cash ? I love fast cars and motorcycles , and I would like to think I know something about inner workings of both ! Hell , if you get me in a showroom and show me either a Lamborghini Murcielago or a Ducati 750 cc or a Ducati Imola Desmo . Then as sure hell , whatever you are selling me had better be what I am about to get . In the case of the fans in attendance for the games played by the Mets and Phillies at Citi-Field , Flushing New York and Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia . Then whatever is being sold by those organizations , is not as advertised . Suffice to say , someone is lying if that is purported to be baseball or for that matter , both are said to be very good NL , much less MLB teams .

The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies combined , have a payroll in excess of $268 million and a glut of players on their respective teams that have simply underperformed . Needless to say , once again managers , Terry Collins and Charlie Manuel on appearance , both seem to be completely out of their depth. Manuel may well have guided the Phillies to a World Series’ triumph in 2008 but in the subsequent years they have greatly under-achieved . And for Mets’ manager Terry Collins his tenure with the franchise has been filled with highs and lows . If it were not for the behind the scenes drama of the club’s ongoing financial problems , then we would be overlooking their on-field woes . R A Dickey may well be having a tremendous individual season , and the likes of Johan Santana and David Wright have had their moments . In reality , beyond the aforementioned players there is little to point to that can be looked upon as being a distinct positive for the New York Mets , this season .

Something is about to give with regard to the Phillies , as I simply do not believe that either Charlie Manuel or GM Reuben Amaro can be allowed to remain with the organization should they fail to make the postseason ! Amaro has simply shuffled the deck chairs on the Titanic as it relates to the Phillies’ foray this year . Inept would be a term of endearment to describe how abysmal this team has been over the course of this season . And if I hear one more excuse , as to injuries being the ongoing plague for the team over the course of the year . Then I would point to the fact , that the Phillies’ in-state rivals the Pittsburgh Pirates (54-42 , . 562) are doing far more with even fewer resources now afforded that team . How about them apples ? Stop with the whining , and see the Phillies for what they currently are , a team lacking in confidence and seemingly bereft of creativity on the field of play !

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By clicking on a frame you can view that picture in its new formatted size .

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In light of the trades that have taken place within the last 48 hours and the none-waiver trade deadline fast approaching . What transactions do you believe are liable to take place ? Also , from your own viewpoint where do you believe the blame lies with the bottom now falling out of the Marlins’ season ? Chime in with a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Former Miami Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez, right, hugs Marlins’ president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest , after a news conference where Ramirez spoke about his trade, Wednesday July 25, 2012 in Miami. The Los Angeles Dodgers have worked out a multi-player trade to acquire the former NL batting champion from Miami, the second big deal in as many days for the disappointing Marlins. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee ….

(2) Former Miami Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez speaks during a news conference where he talked about his trade, Wednesday July 25, 2012, in Miami. The Los Angeles Dodgers have worked out a multi-player trade to acquire the former NL batting champion from Miami, the second big deal in as many days for the disappointing Marlins. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee ….

(3) Detroit Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez , right, lifts the cap off Omar Infante during batting practice before a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Cleveland. Sanchez and Infante were acquired from the Miami Marlins in exchange for 21-year-old righty Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers. AP Photo/Tony Dejak ………..

(4) (L to R) Florida Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest , Ozzie Guillen , Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Florida Marlins President David P. Samson attend a press conference to announce Guillen as the new manage at Sun Life Stadium on September 28, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Getty Images North America / Mike Ehrmann ….

(5) New York Mets catcher Mike Nickeas and Washington Nationals’ Adam LaRoche (25) watch LaRoche’s two-run home run off of Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) in the sixth inning of a baseball game , Tuesday, July 24, 2012, at Citi Field in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek …..

(6) FILE – This May 28, 2012 file photo shows Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels throwing against the New York Mets in the second inning of a baseball game at Citi Field in New York. Hamels and the Phillies have agreed to a $144 million , six-year contract that prevents the 2008 World Series MVP from becoming a free agent after the season. A person familiar with the trade told The Associated Press about the deal on condition of anonymity because there has been no official announcement. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek, File ….

(7) ” Change We Can Believe In “. Oh really ? Well better the devil you know than the one you don’t . Wait a minute four more years of this , over Mitt Romney ? Is there a desert island I can get to , before November 2012 ?

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Nobody’s Seen Troubles Like Me ………..

Nobody’s Seen Troubles Like Me ………..

Well at the halfway point of the MLB season and the high-spending …. Miami Marlins are in the midst of a crisis of confidence and they appear to be in such a rut , that not even team manager Ozzie Guillen and his coaching (managerial) staff can explain team’s fall from grace to their long-suffering fans . The build-up for the season was well chronicled , with Guillen replacing a long-time favorite in Jack McKeon . That alongside the high-profiled off-season acquisitions and ball-club’s move into a new all-purposed built 37,000 seat , $575 million stadium , and it was felt that this would be the season for the Marlins to make a preemptive strike as they seek to become relevant once again within the NL East as well as within the NL.

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(1) St. Louis Cardinals’ David Freese (23) scores from second on a single by Rafael Furcal as Miami Marlins catcher John Buck (14) applies the late tag in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 8, 2012, in St. Louis. The Cardinals won 5-4 . AP Photo/Tom Gannam
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With the mid-season break in session as the 83rd All Star Game is set to take place tonight at the home of the Kansas City Royals , and Kauffman Stadium , Kansas City , Missouri . The Miami Marlins has only one representative for the NL roster for the game itself but unfortunately due to injury , Giancarlo Stanton will not be game time participant in tonight’s event . With so much at stake for the winning league , home-field advantage certainly adds spice to the World Series .

After tonight’s game , players will return to their respective teams to resume the second half of the MLB schedule . For the Miami Marlins that will mean trying to claw their way back up the NL East standings , having posted a 41-44 mark to close out first half of the season . And for the Marlins that will mean an arduous schedule over the remainder of the month of July . That begins with a three-game series’ home stint against the Washington Nationals . As the Marlins have continued their plummet into the depths of mediocrity , the surprisingly stealth Nationals have proven to be one of the major surprises of this season within baseball. A contrast in styles as the Miami Marlins have sought to be lugubrious , their divisional rivals have simply sought to be understated , while going about their business in a professional manner . I am not about to suggest that Ozzie Guillen hasn’t an answer for what ails his team but if they are to resurrect their season , then he and his coaching had better be ready with a quick remedy . If not , then all of that capricious spending will have been for nothing .

Already nine games out of first place , as the Washington Nationals have pretty much flirted with leading the NL East for a large part of the first half of the season . Perhaps the only team with the division with an equally inept showing has been the under-achieving Philadelphia Phillies (37-50) . Enough has been written about the travails the Phillies and the very fact that GM Reuben Amaro is already considering , bailing on their season , with the thought of trading the team’s pitching ace Cole Hamels and the remaining years on his lavish contract .

If the Philadelphia Phillies should fail to make the postseason , then it is my firm belief that there will be some major upheavals beyond the player personnel and the managerial staff . As I firmly believe that Reuben Amaro will have to be shown the door ! You simply cannot have an organization with a $175 million payroll flailing in the wind like novices lost at sea . But such has been the sheer complacency and gullibility shown by the front office , that they simply have no one else to blame but themselves .

The Miami Marlins’ fate lies within their own hands , and will not be built around the missteps of others within the division or the NL as a whole . That being said , GM Michael Hill and team President Larry Beinfest went about their task acquiring players with a penchant of picking up any big named individual , merely for creating the perception of being the NL’s answer to the New York Yankees . And when you choose to go that route then you sure as hell better have the financial resources in place to make the claims that you have been making not just within your own territory but also on a national level . So far on appearance , this has been somewhat of a monumental failure on the part of the Marlins’ organization .

As I alluded to earlier , the Miami Marlins will begin a three game series against the Washington Nationals at Marlins Ballpark , Miami . Florida . Baseball’s newest venue has been graced with a number amenities meant to be family friendly as well as a lure for all fans of the game . In spite of that , attendance for Marlins’ home games this season have seen something of an upswing but perhaps not to the levels that might have been expected by the Sales and Marketing Department . Friday’s game will pit Jordan Zimmerman of the Nationals against Josh Johnson in a match-up that pits two of the better pitchers in the NL . That may well not be enough to safe guard the Marlins’ season as they seek to reestablish themselves as a legitimate contender for the MLB postseason .

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a make-or-break season for the Miami Marlins ! Anything short of a postseason berth must be considered a failure for a ball-club that bet big as they sought to roll seven or snake-eyes . They have so far come up with nothing at all to show that their luck will actually change . And the often vocal Ozzie Guillen has suddenly become lost for words as his players continue to greatly under-achieve . No one has seen troubles like Guillen has in recent years having alienated himself with his former the Chicago White Sox and most certainly a mere two months earlier he drew the ire of the Cuban community of Miami with his rather ill thought statements showing his admiration for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro . Long live the revolution . Or , in the case of Ozzie Guillen, …. “ oh sh#t I have opened my mouth again , and filled it with a great deal of my bull#hit “ .

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Picture gallery .

How do you see things panning out for both the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies as both teams embark on the second half of the baseball season ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .
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(1) St. Louis Cardinals ‘ David Freese (23) scores from second on a single by Rafael Furcal as Miami Marlins catcher John Buck (14) applies the late tag in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 8, 2012, in St. Louis. The Cardinals won 5-4 . AP Photo/Tom Gannam

Miami Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez (2) scores on St. Louis Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz’s throwing error after stealing third as starting pitcher Joe Kelly waits for a throw in the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 8, 2012, in St. Louis. AP Photo/Tom Gannam …

(3) ST. LOUIS, MO – JULY 8: Manager Ozzie Guillen (13) of the Miami Marlins argues a call with umpire Manny Gonzalez #79 against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 8, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

(4) Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins hits a home run in the third inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on July 1, 2012 in Miami, Florida. June 30, 2012 – Source: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images North America …

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