The growing pains of a Major League Baseball team

The growing pains of a Major League Baseball team

With baseball’s off-season now in full swing and the San Francisco Giants rejoicing in their third triumph in the World Series in the past five years. The question now becomes can this franchise build upon the foundations of that success and win several more ? Bruce Bochy has proved himself to be the best manager in baseball and the best of this decade. No one else even remotely comes close to his achievements and the same can said of GM Brian Sabean .
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There was no denying the San Francisco Giants success has been built upon drafting well and making sound decisions when it came to the various trades by the organization over the past three years. It has been Sabean’s success in conjunction with the managerial staff , which has brought about the success by the franchise. This ball club has never been one , which made a big splash by overspending on a marquee free agent. The long-term commitments made to players such as catcher Buster Posey have been worth every penny and Posey has rewarded the Giants with his productivity and skill behind the plate.

Buster Posey and World Series’ MVP, pitcher Madison Bumgarner were not only the mainstays of the Giants during the regular season, but during the postseason, both players were front and center in San Francisco’s success as the postseason built up full steam, leading to their success of being triumphant triumphant over the Kansas City Royals . With a number of players now about to become free agents or in arbitration with the San Francisco Giants , Brian Sabean and the front office will have to use all of their guile in trying to re-sign several of those free agents by offering increased financial rewards or other meaningful incentives.

One of the players the Giants will look to re-sign , has to be their 2012 World Series’ MVP Pablo Sandoval who this postseason was timely with his hitting, but also offered up a great deal of leadership and intangibles for the Giants. His loss would be seen as part of doing business, when money seems to be driving force in the game. Sandoval and his agents at SPS Sports Group will be looking to negotiate a contract for their client commensurate to his standing and his worth to the team. Six years $140 million might prove to be too be expensive a deal for the Giants to undertake , but at the same time do they really want allow a player of Pablo Sandoval’s ability to leave , while he is still productive? Along with Sandoval among the Giants’ impending free agents are Ryan Vogelsong, Jake Peavy, Sergio Romo , Mike Morse and Tony Abreu , with the feeling Brian Sabean will also look at the players in arbitration before making any major moves during this off-season as the wheeling and dealing begins during the Winter Meetings of the baseball executives.

A thrilling seven-game World Series which was among the most watched postseason series over the past decade, had the nation gripped as the suspense began to unfold. The upstart Kansas City Royals got close to pulling off the improbable, but their postseason inexperience was the only reason for their failure. Ned Yost and his managerial staff had the team playing with a great deal of zeal , but the Giants proved to be the better team in this Fall Classic . Royals’ owner David Glass has long spent his years shying away from spending money on the team . Granted, the Royals played great baseball this season , but consider the fact under the owner’s leadership, during his tenure the franchise failed miserably until this season.

Alex Gordon , Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer have been the focal point of the Royals’ success, proving themselves specialists with the short ball and building the rapport that made them the all too appealing underdogs of the postseason . Dayton Moore the general manager will be asked to convince several of the core members of the Kansas City Royals that it is worth remaining with the ball-club rather than seeking to go elsewhere . Free agency has a way of turning the possible future of a team upside down and it has been the repeated case for this particular franchise over the past eight years.

James Shields , Josh Willingham , Luke Hochevar, Scott Downs and Billy Butler will be among the free agents looking to be paid a king’s ransom this upcoming season, while there will also be those players in arbitration with the Royals whose contracts are likely to be a bone of contention between Moore and the players’ agents.

It will be interesting to see how Dayton Moore seeks to make the Kansas City Royals competitive this upcoming season and whether or they will be keep up the momentum achieved in 2014.

If I’ve said it once I’ll say it again show me an idiot who believes the New York Mets are able to compete and I will show you fan devoid of intelligence ! Repeatedly over the past four seasons this franchise has failed their fans miserably and the excuses continue as where , when and how they are likely to win the NL East , NL Pennant and the World Series. Consider the fact the Mets have not won a pennant in almost decade and their last appearance in the Fall Classic was a forlorn affair in their loss (4-1) to the New York Yankees in 2000. The front office now led by Sandy Alderson and JP Ricciardi have continued to stumble their way meaningless trades d and draft classes that have not produced a player worth a damn and now there’s talk of a farm system that will likely produce a ready to make an assault on the NL and the rest of the baseball . Matt Harvey the pitcher who spent last season on the team’s disabled list will the player manager Terry Collins hopes can provide a real presence for Mets. This upcoming season is likely to Collins’ last in charge as the manager of the ball-club , because he has not really shown the acumen to lead the New York Mets .

Granted the NL East was a pitiful division in 2014, with the division winner the Washington Nationals being the only team with a record above .500 at the end of the regular season . If that is not an indictment of how bad the play within the division was said to be , then clearly those who believe the Mets have something to offer, are clearly delusional.

David Wright , long seen as the best player the New York Mets’ to have benn on their roster continues to be consistent but unable to lead the franchise to where the fans believe they ought to be. Team owners, Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz , and COO Jeff Wilpon have been negligent not only in their fiduciary duties but also in their executive roles for the organization. Financial institutions may well have come to the Mets’ aid to bail them out of their self-inflicted financial but woes but they are far from being out of danger. Unfortunately, the negligence of baseball’s hierarchy led by Bud Selig and his successor Rob Manfred have been negligent in their duties of monitoring the actions of the New York Mets after the Bernie Madoff ” fiasco” .

Free agents notwithstanding , the issue for the New York Mets will become how to deal with replenishing their roster for the upcoming season. It is widely believed they will seek reacquire Jose Reyes now with the Toronto Blue Jays but also jettison the players they believe superfluous to their needs.Addition by subtraction, might well be viewed in some circles as the best move forward, but I believe the biggest benefit to the Mets could be the hire of a new manager rather than retaining Terry Collins for another season.

I cannot say, I was surprised by the departure of Andrew Friedman from the Tampa Bay Rays to join the Los Angeles Dodgers as the Head of Baseball Operations has simply shed a light on the continued problems within the game and its financial imbalances . Friedman’s jump to a bigger team was then followed by Joe Maddon as he joined the Chicago Cubs to become the franchise’s new manager. Now comes the hard part for Friedman , can he work in environment where there seems to be more money awash with the Dodgers , than there appears to be common sense within the organization ? A quarter of a billion dollar payroll has been a boondoggle for a baseball club that has failed miserably for the past two seasons, first in 2013 and then this past year. Don Mattingly appears to be in over his head , as he tries to massage the egos of several high-priced and overpaid stars on the Dodgers’ roster.

The best pitcher in baseball in 2013and again in 2014 has become anathema in the postseason. Clayton Kershaw can be mesmerizing during the regular season ,but this postseason showed him to have frailties no one might have envisaged as the Dodgers stumbled . Yet the real struggles for the Dodgers during the postseason wasn’t just the weak pitching but the lack of hitting , where fingers could be pointed up and down the roster. Where the Dodgers now go from here will ultimately be down to the decisions and direction Andrew Friedman makes .

A patron of this site has repeatedly suggested fans of the Tampa Bay Rays are knowledgeable about the team and its flaws, but when pressed to answer questions such as why annually it has been about cost cutting as the Rays have pared down salary in each of the past five seasons. He has not been to succinctly come up with a reason why Stuart Sternberg has not seen fit spend money on the talent needed to make this ball club competitive. Instead , Sternberg has continued to whine as to not being given any assistance in the building of a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays. Stuart Sternberg is no more an astute a businessman as Sarah Palin could be described as a ” voice of reason” when espousing the Conservative view of the world and the domestic issues affecting the country. The Rays’ owner has become conceited arrogant and a complete ass ________ and not far behind are the fans of the organization, who have no idea as to the real issues the ball-club continues to face. Maddon’s departure it is said , continued to circled around the lack of direction and the failure to obtain financing for a new stadium to replace Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida,. The on field talent remains to be a topic of conversation, as the debate will arguably be about , which player the Rays can or cannot afford to retain at the end of this off-season . A definite increase in the Tampa Bay Rays’ payroll has to be sought beyond the fact the organization has yet to hire a new manager , although the interview process has began , with their being an alleged interest in Raul Ibanez , but it remains to be seen whether not Ibanez is keen on the idea of making the move from player to become baseball’s latest manager.

A five-year $25 million deal, has secured Joe Maddon’s financial future but his professional future with the Chicago Cubs under the reins of Cubs’ President of Operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer could be less secure. In the four years since the duo became senior executives within the organization we have seen the club struggle relentlessly, as the ” curse of the goat continues. Dale Sveum’s firing could not have come about quick enough as the Cubs’ last place finish (73-89) within the NL Central was a more than a vague reminder why this club remains the laughing stock within Major League Baseball and around the world of sports. One hundred years of infamy , mediocrity and owners who have remained completely clueless. Tom Ricketts and his family are bereft of any intelligence since assuming control of the Cubs, even with the hiring of Theo Epstein. And Epstein might well have inherited a mess , but five years into his tenure there have been few signs of progress concerning the Chicago Cubs and that is a clear reflection of their record this past season .

Starlin Castro remains a tremendous and unbridled talent . In the right environment , he can definitely thrive , but I seriously doubt his remaining with the Chicago Cubs will ultimately lead to success unless , he is surrounded with the talent likely to bring out the best in the player. Castro remains the face of the Cubs’ franchise and in my opinion a multiple All Star for years to come ! He is by far , one of the most exciting young players in the game and one of the most electrifying short-stops in the NL and baseball. If the Cubs are to compete against the likes of the Cincinnati Reds , Milwaukee Brewers , Pittsburgh Pirates and St Louis Cardinals within the NL Central , then Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will have to work more than a few miracles beyond the thought Joe Maddon can best cure what ails the organization. More financial resources as seen with this ball club has been no guarantee of success as seen with their missteps in their trades in recent years and a number of their recent draft classes.

The return of Alex Rodriguez to the game of baseball and specifically to the New York Yankees after the retirement of Derek Jeter and his two-decade career. GM Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi are intent on welcoming Rodriguez back with open arms as the Yankees seek to reinvent themselves and enter a new chapter of their history. The infamous third baseman’s suspension and his well chronicled web of deceit and lies have left Alex Rodriguez’s legacy tarnish and his reputation in tatters. No matter how many philanthropic efforts he now becomes part of , it will never satisfy the wish of fans to have seen him banished from the game permanently . The weakness of the league hierarchy and the all too powerful MLBPA (union) backing a player who has repeatedly lied over the years concerning his use of a banned substance as prohibited by MLB. Last season proved to be a mediocre year for the New York Yankees with their pitching and offensebeing woefully inept. Joe Girardi could not get the best out of an aging and overrated pitching staff without delving into the fact Carlos Beltran , Ichiro Suzuki and CC Sabathia are now well past their prime. Unfortunately, when an organization has no faith in their scouting staff much less the farm system itself , it sends the right and wrong questions about the ball-club and the assumptions we have seen with the Yankees.

In his time with the New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez has achieved some success winning a World Series title in 2009 along with two AL MVP Awards , but one can’t help ask, was this all achieved without the assistance of a banned substance? Rodriguez has been quick to point an accusing fingers at others for his own missteps. Personally, I believe Alex Rodriguez will be unable to regain the “form” which made him one of the most prolific players in baseball over the last decade and a half .Personally, I believe Alex Rodriguez will be unable to regain the “form” which made him one of the most prolific players in baseball over the last decade and a half . Rodriguez will be returning to a ball club looking for some semblance of leadership and he somehow is expected to assume the mantel of Derek Jeter, but those will be a tough pair shoes to fill and footsteps to follow.

Personally, I believe Alex Rodriguez will be unable to regain the “form” which made him one of the most prolific players in baseball over the last decade and a half . Rodriguez will be returning to a ball club looking for some semblance of leadership and he somehow is expected to assume the mantel of Derek Jeter but those will be a tough pair shoes to fill and footsteps to follow.

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In what way do you feel baseball was best served with the ascent of Kansas City Royals and how do think it will impact the game this upcoming season ? Which teams in your opinion will have the most to lose without making a bold move in order to be competitive ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site !

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(1) World Series MVP , pitcher Madison Bumgarner is seen here alongside San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy . The two appeared at the press conference after the team’s game seven victory over the Kansas City Royals in this season’s World Series . It was the third victory for Giants in the past five seasons of the Fall Classic . All three series’ victories were managed by Bochy , making him the most successful manager of the past decade and franchise’s most successful manager. AP Photo / Keith Davis …

(2) 2012 World Series’ MVP Pablo Sandoval who is eligible to become a free agent this off-season and likely to be one of the most sought after players during the off-season. The leading candidate to sign the player appears to be the Boston Red Sox , Sandoval and his agents are not able to renegotiate a new contract with the 2014 World Series’ champion . Getty Images/ Tony Charles …

(3) Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost , right, celebrates with Mike Moustakas after the Royals’ 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels in 11 innings during Game 1 of baseball’s AL Division Series in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. Moustakas hit a home rum in the 11th inning. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi … ….

(4)Flushing, New York 9/30/13 Mets Manager Terry Collins talks to media at a press conference as GM Sandy Alderson looks on at Citi Field on Sept. 30, 2013 Paul J. Bereswill …

(5) Teammates , pitcher Matt Harvey and third baseman David Wright are seen here at Citi Field , in Flushing , New York . The two players are All Stars with the franchise , but have failed to lead the ball club into a deep postseason run . Getty Images / Harry How …

(6)Starlin Castro whose season with the Chicago Cubs has been sensational while being the best player on the team’s roster in 2014. AP Photo/ Chris Gordon …

(7) Tampa Bay Rays’ lead managing partner Stuart Sternberg is seen here with members of the press . Sternberg has seen the departure of manager Joe Maddon and general manager Andrew Friedman . Matt Silverman has since succeeded Friedman as general manager , but the organization has yet to hire a manager for the ball club. AP Photo /Chris James …

(8) New York Yankees’ Joe Girardi is seen here with the team’s third baseman Alex Rodriguez who will make his return to the team this upcoming season , where they hope to make a return to the postseason and win their twenty-eighth World Series’ title. AP Photo / Ron Carter …
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Fallout , what fallout ?

Fallout, what fallout ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below.

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

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

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

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

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

(6) New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Giardi will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed in 2015. The team has not won a World Series title since 2009 and failed to make the postseason in 2014 , finishing a disappointing and distant second in the AL East , twelve games behind division winners the Baltimore Orioles . This season the manager and front office executive will be looking to Alex Rodriguez to provide some semblance of leadership as well leading the offense which was among the weakest in the AL , as well as MLB overall . UPI / Mark Taylor … ….
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The crack of maple, and then there was the crack heard around the world , Jeter’s ankle just gave out

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

By Tophatal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery, for your perusal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Issues , Issues , Issues ……. Oh No ….

Issues , Issues , Issues , Oh No …

By tophatal

Difficult as it may now seem when a player under-achieves after one or two outstanding seasons . Questions questions arise as to how or why things go wrong . Two-time NL CY Young winner Tim Lincecum has been struggling this season , and this has become a worrisome problem for the San Francisco Giants and the managerial staff of Bruce Bochy . ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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Lincecum’s statistics (2-8, 6.19 ERA, 83 K’s, 41BB’s) reads like a horror story and it easy to understand why . The pitcher’s confidence may well at an all-time low or his mechanics are not completely in n sync . Those issues can be tweaked but at what cost to the Tim Lincecum overall and his future performances ? Matt Cain after his recent ‘ no hitter’ may well be viewed as the ace on the team’s roster . Cain has benefited greatly from his teammate’s presence with the Giants , and that was clear for everyone to see when the ball-club claimed their most recent World Series in 2010 and their 4-1 series’ triumph over the Texas Rangers .

This season within the NL West the Giants have seen the Los Angeles Dodgers race out of the starting gates and surge to a lead within the division . And for the San Francisco Giants as the month of June comes to a close , it will be interesting to see how the team acquits itself . Bruce Bochy’s players in their next game are the guests of the Oakland A’s at the O Coliseum in Oakland , California . On the mound as the opposing pitchers will be Tim Lincecum of the Giants facing Jarrod Parker (3-3, 2.82 ERA) of the A’s.

At 38-32 the San Francisco Giants find themselves four games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL West . A defeat of the Oakland A’s would certainly bode well for the Giants and certainly closing out the series of interleague games against the A’s places the team in an enviable position . Don Mattingly and the Dodgers have their issues at present , with a team that has been losers of their last three games , and winners of only four of their last 10 . Mattingly also has to contend with the fact that he has several key players on the DL , most notably the team’s best player Matt Kemp . A fit and productive Kemp , assists the Dodgers a great deal as they look to open a new chapter in their illustrious history , having been acquired in a multi-billion deal . The new ownership group led by Mark Walter and Magic Johnson , seeks to make the franchise relevant once again .

For the San Francisco Giants we will now get to see what this team is actually made of as the first half of the season plays lf itself out for their fans . With the All Star Game scheduled to take place in the month of July with the festivities being staged at Kauffman Stadium , home to the Kansas City Royals , Kansas City , Missouri ,. It should prove to be interesting to see whether or not the Giants can play themselves into contention during the second half of the season . A great deal will be dependent on the team’s pitching as well as their offense but the greatest scrutiny will be placed upon Tim Lincecum and whether or not he can regain the form that made him a back-to-back Cy Young winner in 2008 and 2009 . Lincecum , along with Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong form a formidable trio starting pitchers for the Giants . Melky Cabrera , Buster Posey , Angel Pagan , Pablo Sandoval and Ryan Theriot have played their part this season , with the feeling that if the pitching isn’t able to provide a boost for the fans then most certainly the offense might be able to do so .

There is no denying that we have seen a number of outstanding pitching performances this season , with a perfect game and a number of no-hitters to wet the fans’ appetites . And while New York Mets’ pitcher R A Dickey ( 11-1, 2.00 ERA, 103 K’s, 3 CG & 14 GS ) has been sensational . It has to be said that the remainder of the season could prove to be just as intriguing if the pitchers of AL and NL are able to keep up the a momentum while trying to silence the bats of some of the most prolific hitters in the game from the respective leagues ( AL & NL ) . The game of baseball needs as much excitement as can be achieved without the ongoing controversy that simply engulfs the sport at present . Bud Selig appears to be bereft of intelligence with regard to so many issues as it relates to the game . While commanding a staggering $24 million in salary a year , there are so many teams struggling to remain viable , albeit that their values have escalated in recent years . Moreover , that has to be pleasing to the team owners and MLB hierarchy , alike . However , it does not address the graver issues that the “small market teams “ have , in terms of trying to compete with the likes of New York Yankees , Boston Red Sox , Philadelphia Phillies , Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels in terms of team payrolls . In addition, for the commissioner who appears to so oblivious , as to the acute needs of so many teams within the game , he plays lip service , in order to create an environment of peaceful accord . Nothing could be further from the truth because as of late we have seen the idiocy whereby Bud Selig chooses to obfuscate his responsibilities , while also choosing to ignore the rule of law because a verdict is not to his liking (Braun’s 50 game suspension being overturned). ====================================================================================================================================

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Do you believe that Tim Linceum will be able to regain the form that made him a repeat winner of the Cy Young Award in 2008 and 2009 ? Which of the leagues do you believe will be favored for the upcoming All Star Game ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit . 😛

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(1) San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum throws against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of an inter-league baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. AP Photo/Eric Risberg …

(2) OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 22: Manager Bob Melvin (6) of the Oakland Athletics takes the ball from Jerry Blevins (13 ) taking him out of the game as catcher Kurt Suzuki (8) looks on in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants at O.co Coliseum on June 22, 2012 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

(3) OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 22: Gregor Blanco (7) of the San Francisco Giants gets caught in a run-down between second and third chased by Cliff Pennington (2) of the Oakland Athletics in the six inning at O.co Coliseum on June 22, 2012 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ….

(4) OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 22: Manager Bruce Bochy (15) of the San Francisco Giants looks on from the dugout in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on June 22, 2012 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ….

(5) Manager Bruce Bochy (15) of the San Francisco Giants argues a call at home plate with umpire Larry Vanover (27) in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on June 22, 2012 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …..

(6) Tim Lincecum (55) of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on June 22, 2012 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …. =========================================== ===================================================================================

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MLB results 22nd June 2012

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Death , Taxes , And The Fact That The Houston Astros Cannot Hit ….

Death , Taxes , And The Fact That The Houston Astros Cannot Hit ….

By tophatal ….. 06/13/2012 …………. 11:35 PM (EST)

Well last night , in between “Skyping” with an Army buddy stationed in South Korea , and watching a baseball game on television (ESPN) it suddenly struck me that we now have one more certainty to life . And that would be that the Houston Astros are not only one of the “ worst performing teams offensively “ , in the NL but they might be , one of the “very worst “ in all of baseball .

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The Astros were the guests of the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park , San Francisco , California in a sellout game televised before a national television audience . Taking the mound for the Giants was starting pitcher Matt Cain , who this season has been outperforming the team’s two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum .

San Francisco Giants players celebrate after pitcher Matt Cain pitched a perfect game during a baseball game against the Houston Astros in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 13, 2012. Cain pitched the 22nd perfect game in major league history and first for the Giants, striking out a career-high 14 and getting help from two spectacular catches to beat the Houston Astros 10-0 . AP Photo/Jeff Chiu …

Considering the pitching feats this season , with “ no-hitters” and a “perfect-game” you simply knew it would be only a matter of time before another pitchers’ name would be recorded in the record books. Last night would be the night in question , as Matt Cain out-dueled his counterpart A J Happ . Cain pitched a complete game of hitless ball, on his way to the first perfect game of his professional career . For the woefully inept Houston Astros I do not believe that this will sit well the team’s front office and in particular team owner Jim Crane . The Houston businessman spent $775 million for this ball-club in 2011 and has seen a poor return on that investment since acquiring the organization from Drayton McClane .

With that 10-0 defeat of the Houston Astros , the San Francisco Giants inched themselves one game closer the NL West leading Los Angeles Dodgers (39-23) , who were hosting crosstown rivals the Los Angeles Angels in an interleague game at Dodgers Ballpark , Los Angeles , California.

Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff , have to be entirely pleased with what they witnessed from their pitching ace , especially in light of the problems , that Lincecum has faced this season . It would be an understatement to suggest that Tim Lincecum has not lived up to expectations but such as been the inconsistency of the player that it is hard at present to justify the Giants’ decision to reward the player in his recent deal with the organization . There was a compelling reason for GM Brian Sabean to sign the player to a long-term deal , rather than quite possibly lose him to free agency . There are very few players of Lincecum’s caliber pitching in the game today , and though this season appears to be a down year for the pitcher . There is no denying that at his very best , Tim Lincecum must be considered one of the best starting pitchers in game .

For the Houston Astros it is very hard to see where this team now goes from here , as the only way is up. The Astros already find themselves 7 games behind the division leading Cincinnati Reds (33-27) within the NL Central . And with only the ” languid “ ; Chicago Cubs beneath them within the division , I would have to say that the Astros should be thankful their problems parallel those of the Cubs ! God knows , these two NL teams are bringing the game of baseball into disrepute .

Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer may may well have been brought by team owner Tom Ricketts in to reverse the fortunes of the Cubs but as we have seen this season that is not going to be happening anytime soon . To say that this will be a work in progress for Epstein and Hoyer would do the term a travesty . Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum and the coaching staff have simply been unable to get this team playing with a modicum of consistency . Having posted a mark of ( 20-40 ) the Cubs are only marginally better than baseball’s worst team the San Diego Padres (20-41) from a record’s standpoint . As things now stand , I do not envisage that things are likely to get better for Bud Black , his coaching staff and the team for that matter . The roster is so flawed in an all aspects of the game . GM Josh Byrnes has an extremely tough task ahead of him as he tries to disseminate the good from the bad amongst the playing personnel . The payroll ($55,244,700) for the organization is amongst the lowest in baseball (MLB) . Problems abound for the San Diego Padres beyond the playing field , with their being growing uncertainty concerning as to the ownership of the team . Jeff Moorad and John Moores , as the senior managing partners , it is rumored have a very lukewarm relationship . Moores is now interested divesting himself of his majority shareholdings in the team , and there is said to be several willing and prospective buyers for that stake . Final approval however , would have to come from the league hierarchy led by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and team owners within the game .

Matt Cain , Phil Humber and Johan Santana this season have joined a select band of pitchers to have achieved one of the game’s “ hallowed feats” (no hitter & perfect game) . Over the remainder of the season, we may well perhaps see one or two more players actually achieve that distinction or come close to it . Between now and the MLB All Star Game (10th July) , baseball’s midseason showcase event , there is still a great deal to play for , with a number of teams seeking to position wildcard”> themselves for the second-half of the season .

A scoreboard recognizing a perfect game thrown by San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain against the Houston Astros is displayed in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 13, 2012. Cain pitched the 22nd perfect game in major league history and first for the Giants, striking out a career-high 14 and getting help from two spectacular catches to beat the Houston Astros 10-0 . AP Photo/Jeff Chiu …

While I am in no doubt that the final month of last season , wherein , some of the most amazing baseball was being played in the climax of the schedule , and specifically the final day of year . Those of us who witnessed those events would no doubt like nothing better to see that situation repeated once again at the culmination the 2012 MLB regular season schedule . In all likelihood , that premise will not play out , in a way to heighten our expectations even more so but just about anything is possible if the teams are still competitive at that point of the season .

Certainly , if the teams can provide with that sort of suspense , then it bodes well for the postseason and the games to be played in the divisional rounds , league championship series and the World Series . Given what we have witnessed from the postseasons of 2011 , 2010 , 2009 , 2008 , 2007 and 2006 , respectively . Is there really much more , that we the fans could possibly ask for ?

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As the MLB season has progressed which teams and players have been the biggest surprise to you ? What thoughts if any , do have concerning the plight of the Houston Astros and their continued struggles ?

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Picture and slide show details below for your perusal . .
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(1) San Francisco Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco catches a fly ball hit by Houston Astros’ Jordan Schafer during the seventh inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 13, 2012. Giants pitcher Matt Cain threw a perfect game , striking out 14 in San Francisco’s 10-0 victory over Houston. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu ….

(2) Home plate umpire Ted Barrett waits as San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain warms up before the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 13, 2012. Barrett was behind the plate Wednesday night when San Francisco Giants’ right-hander Matt Cain pitched a perfect game against the Houston Astros in a 10-0 victory. He also was the home plate umpire when David Cone threw his perfect game for the New York Yankees in a 6-0 win over the Montreal Expos on July 18, 1999. It makes Barrett the first major league umpire to call balls and strikes for two perfect games. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu …

(3) San Francisco Giants players celebrate after pitcher Matt Cain pitched a perfect game during a baseball game against the Houston Astros in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 13, 2012. Cain pitched the 22nd perfect game in major league history and first for the Giants, striking out a career-high 14 and getting help from two spectacular catches to beat the Houston Astros 10-0 . AP Photo/Jeff Chiu …

(4) Houston Astros’ Brett Wallace walks to the dugout after striking out against San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain, Cain’s 14th strikeout, during the eighth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 13, 2012. Cain pitched the 22nd perfect game in major league history and first for the Giants, striking out a career-high 14 and getting help from two spectacular catches to beat the Houston Astros 10-0. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

(5) A scoreboard recognizing a perfect game thrown by San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain against the Houston Astros is displayed in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 13, 2012. Cain pitched the 22nd perfect game in major league history and first for the Giants, striking out a career-high 14 and getting help from two spectacular catches to beat the Houston Astros 10-0. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu …

(6) J.A. Happ (30) of the Houston Astros talks to Chris Snyder (18) (right) after giving up a home run against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on June 13, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images …

(7) Joaquin Arias (13) of the San Francisco Giants (right) scores a run ahead of a tag from Chris Snyder (18) of the Houston Astros (left) during the second inning at AT&T Park on June 13, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images ….

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Nas feat’g Amerie ………. “Rule “

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This Isn’t Your Mother’s Idea of Fun …… That’s Why It’s Baseball ……….

This Isn’t Your Mother’s Idea of Fun …… That’s Why It’s Baseball ……….

By tophatal …….

It’s never too early to talk baseball especially as the Spring Training schedule winds down and with it being a precursor to Opening Day on the 4th April 2012 . That being said , unofficially MLB does kick off its regular season with a game between Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners at the Tokyo Dome , Tokyo Japan on the 28th March , 2012.

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A number of publications I’ve read leading up to the start of the season seem to be making their own prognostications as to their final season standings and the teams they believe to be in the playoff hunt and for the World Series , itself . Sports Ilustrated and Baseball Today , both well-respected publications are there no doubt simply to inform while at the same time create an avenue for debate and conjecture amongst the fans . If nothing else it beats listening to the inane rants of Joe Buck , Joe Morgan and former ESPN analyst , now manager of the Boston Red Sox , Bobby Valentine . I’ve no doubt that each means well by way of their observations but let’s get real , does anyone really take them seriously ?

Valentine assumes his role as the manager of the Red Sox in th aftermath of last season’s debacle , with the team missing the postseason and there being talk of a lack commitment on the part of the players. No leadership , no accountability and the front office then led by Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino seeking to apportion blame squarely upon the shoulders of the organization’s former manager . Less we forget Terry Francona brought this organization two World Series titles in the space of 5 years ( 2004 & 2007 ) where before they actually went without the sniff of the series for over a century .

This season Valentine leads somewhat of a reconstructed team looking to make up for last season’s mind numbing failures in the final month of 2011. The Red Sox went 7-21 before imploding and missing the playoffs . The pitching as well as the team offense was an eyesore for those who witnessed the calamity and debacle first-hand . This season for the fans in attendance at Fenway Park they can only hope for something better , well at least from my perspective that’s what I think that they hope to witness !

Now the talk this season specifically within the NL may well be how good the San Francisco Giants will be . It’s my firm belief that alongside the Miami Marlins , Philadelphia Phillies this Giants’ team may well have one of the best starting rotations within the league . Brian Sabean , Bruce Bochy and the coaching staff knows that this team merely has to play solid baseball to perhaps have the AL West all to themselves . If there is to be a credible challenge coming from anyone within the division it might prove to be from the Arizona Diamondbacks or quite possibly the Los Angeles Dodgers . But given the uncertainty that faces the Dodgers and the very fact that a formal n announcement has yet to made as to who will take control of the team as its new owner . That sort of scenario I don’t believe plays out well for a team , the coaching staff , much less the fans of the organization ! At the same time I certainly don’t believe that Ned Colletti , Peter Wilhelm or anyone else within the front office of the Dodgers now has any damn credibility whatsoever . Not in light of these executives simply allowing Frank McCourt and his ex-wife , Jamie McCourt run amok while plundering the coffers of the organization . So much for the accountability of the owners within baseball as such , being held to a higher standard ! The actions of McCourt and those of Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz do leave a lot to be desired but then again simply look at the idiots upon whom the game has been entrusted to as custodians ? The day the game sees fit to rid themselves of Bud Selig , the better off they will be !

With the return of catcher Buster Posey the Giants gets instant offense as well as one of the best defensive catchers in the game. And Posey alongside teammates …. Pablo Sandoval , Aubrey Huff and Melky Cabrera should prove to be all that Bochy desires from the team over the course of the season . At the same time the two-time NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum , Matt Cain , Madison Baumgartner , Ryan Vogelsong and Brian Wilson will make sure that the San Francisco Giants remain relevant throughout this season .

The Diamondbacks as good as they were last season the one thing reason why I believed they came up short was simply through inexperience . That being said with a manager like Kirk Gibson , whose tenacity knows no bounds and he is liable to have this team fighting all the way to the very end . If the pitching staff led by Ian Kennedy can produce anywhere near the sort of form shown last season then they will give their opponents a great deal more than they can actually handle in 2012 .

From an offensive standpoint Justin Upton has to be viewed the consummate leader of this team . Besides from his all-round ability as a player he brings with the type of maturity not often seen in a player this young . Both Upton and teammate Chris Young are the focus of the team’s offense and they will be relied up to lead Diamondbacks with their prowess if the Diamondbacks are to have a genuine chance of making the postseason .

With the wildcard format expanded for this year with an additional team from each league being part of the playoffs it will be interesting to see whether or not the ball-clubs who missed out on that opportunity from 2011 will be able to acquit themselves even better in 2012. Certainly seeing the likes of the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox fail so miserably in their endeavors it’s hard to see how they could do any worse this season . But then again who really knows at this juncture ?

While Barry Zito still remains part of the Giants’ pitching roster with his outlandish salary providing no respite for the organization . I have to ask myself and those of you out there what the hell was Brian Sabean thinking to begin with ? I can only surmise that Zito’s agent Scott Boras had some compromising pictures of the Giants’ general manager perhaps doing something inappropriate with a farm-yard animal . Because that has to be only explanation possible to make such an outlay for a player who failed to live up to that exorbitant contract ! Seven years $126 million and as of yet Zito has offered absolutely nothing at all to the organization . And as crazy as this might seem this isn’t the only Boras’ client who just happens to have been overpaid because of an idiotic general manager and owner simply being duped by an agent . And there are fans within this forum who are of the opinion that these owners and general managers are some of the most astute individuals within the game with the business acumen to match . In what frigging universe is that still proving to be true ? Your thoughts ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? And are your expectations for the upcoming season ones which will far exceed those of 2011 ? By all means simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on this and anything you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Colorado Rockies’ Jordan Pacheco (22) slides safely into home plate past the tag-attempt by San Francisco Giants catcher Hector Sanchez , left, on a ground ball by Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki . during the third inning of a spring training baseball game on Saturday, March 24, 2012, in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez ….

(2) San Francisco Giants first baseman Buster Posey makes a play on a ground ball by Colorado Rockies’ Eric Young Jr. during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game Saturday, March 24, 2012 in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez …

(3) San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws to the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a spring training baseball game , Friday, March 23, 2012 in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez … ……

(4) SURPRISE, AZ – MARCH 12: Starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the spring training game at Surprise Stadium on March 12, 2012 in Surprise, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images … ….

(5) SCOTTSDALE, AZ – MARCH 01: Pitcher Barry Zito (75) of the San Francisco Giants poses during spring training photo day on March 1, 2012 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

(6) San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey celebrates his solo home run with teammate Aubrey Huff, center, during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday, March 14, 2012, in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez …..
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Buju Banton & ……. Wayne Wonder ……. “Movie Star”

Horses For Courses And A Great Deal More ……..

Horses For Courses And A Great Deal More ……..

I don’t know whether or not to laugh or simply groan now when I get sight of NBA Commissioner David Stern . It’s simply become so asinine to hear the game’s highest ranking official opine on what he believes to be the NBPA’s lack of good faith in the lockout deliberations . David Stern’s opposition to the union possibly de-certifying is the main reason for the league hierarchy filing suit in US Federal Court while at the same time seeking the intervention of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to act as intermediaries in a government mandated mediation with a judge presiding over the whole deliberation process and then having the right to deliver a binding agreement on both parties. This is something from which neither side can view as a victory should such a scenario arise . David Stern may well be a good poker player but the cards he’s now holding simply do not favor the league or the team owners .

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Should the league vote de-certify which is not against the law it simply lessens the leverage that the NBA feels that they have other union in the negotiation process. It’s something that I’m sure that Executive Director Billy Hunter and union President Derek Fisher saw worked out favorably for the NFLPA during their long drawn out lockout process . The commissioner’s bone of contention all along has been their stance that they now have to rein costs and above salary expenditure . Given the idiocy of that statement and the very fact that teams and the general managers have splurged ostentatiously in signing players to exorbitantly outrageous contracts . And pardon me for saying this but when you see Rashard Lewis as the second highest paid player in the NBA last season earning in excess of $22.5 million has me wondering in what god damn world is where you’re paid to not to get results and be productive ? Other than those mindless idiots within the House and Senate I can’t think of any perhaps more undeserving of that type of reward for the least amount of return ! Mind you as I say this , I should point out that much to my surprise I recently found out that the commissioner himself is handsomely rewarded in terms of his annual compensation package. If the rumors are to be believed then David Stern is earning in excess of $20 million not including incentives . That’s the sort of money one would expect to see a highly gifted athlete or a titan of corporate America to be compensated with. But somehow this portly sized former legal mind is now decrying the fact that the salaries of the players are now far too high . Am I missing something here ? And did hell suddenly freeze over ?

Though this NBA stoppage by comparison to the NFL’s 135 day holdout is meager in its length the closer this entrenchment remains unresolved the more discontent there’s bound to be between the two parties . Never mind the ever growing resentment of the brooding NBA fans. With the preseason team training camps due to commence at the beginning of September it remains to be seen who’s about acquiesce to the others’ will. With the prominent team owners such as Dr Jerry Buss , Mark Cuban , James Dolan , Peter Holt , Mikhail Prokhorov , Michael Jordan , Dan Gilbert and Wyc Grousbeck all for the moment standing firmly in support of David Stern , I fully expect that should the lockout be prolonged more than they envisage then the support could very well be
threatened .

Many of the most recent owners such as Dan Gilbert in making the purchase of the Cleveland Cavaliers was fully financed by way of multi faceted loan instruments. And one should consider that the issues facing the Cavaliers in particular after the departure of LeBron James meant less revenues at Quicken Loans Arena and meager attendances for the team’s home games .

I am not about to castigate the team owners or for that matter the league hierarchy of the NBA as well as the union . From my own perspective I do believe that all of the parties are equally to blame . Given that Derek Fisher , Billy Hunter and David Stern were all aware that their existing collective bargaining agreement was due to expire on the 30th June it’s somewhat asinine that the groups in question sought to start their deliberations once the agreement had expired. Clearly there seems to be little if any common sense being shown from the lead individuals concerned . Billy Hunter whose passion as a lawyer is encapsulated around his struggles during the civil rights’ era. But here it appears to not about what’s viewed as being right but simply a matter of greed and how best to split the revenues from a $4.5 billion piece of the pie . The revenue stream as it now stands favors the players on 53.5 % to 46.5% ratio that the league seeks to lessen that would be equitable in its disbursement . Something of which the union simply does not favor as they feel that the league hierarchy has been decidedly less than truthful in showing real transparency as to their finances.

It will be very interesting to see what transpires over the ensuing weeks as the two sides seek to reach some sort of a compromise . If anything I fully expect this lockout to go on for an extended period of time . Billy Hunter made that situation abundantly clear when he commented that he does not expect there to be fully scheduled season for 2011-12. If that’s not of an indication as to how steadfast the NBPA seeks to be then clearly David Stern has misjudged the resolve of the union and it members .

As the races now appear to be tightening up within NL West and NL Central I can’t help but wonder what might happen should both the St Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants fail to make the postseason. And for both Tony La Russa and Bruce Bochy this certainly test their managerial acumen as they seek to get their respective teams playing with a great deal of resolve over the final months of the season.

The respective divisional titles are up for grabs as it would appear that the wildcard berth will come from the NL East in the form of the Atlanta Braves possibly gaining that spot. If nothing else teams in the midst closely ran races with the Cardinals now duelling with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Giants now finding themselves in an allout brawl with the Arizona Diamondbacks . One wonders if it would come as a surprise were either the St Louis Cardinals or San Francisco Giants to come up short after this ardous season. Certainly the moves made by the Giants was indication of their resolve in looking to successfully defend merely not only their divisional crown but also their NL pennant as well as looking for a return to the World Series and duplicating last year’s feat . The San Francisco Giants over the Texas Rangers was indeed a long time coming and something the Giants’ fans simply yearned for.

That taste of success now has the Giants simply wanting more and it will be very interesting to see whether or not between now and the end of the regular season the reigning champions will still be on that path to repeating last season’s triumph. With the addition of Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants roster . For Bruce Bochy and his assistants knowing that they’ve some added potency on the offense gives the organization something they felt that they needed. There’s no denying that the team’s biggest strengths have been their pitching led by two time NL Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum . But if anything the real surprise amongst the roster has been the play of seasoned journeyman Ryan Vogelsong . If nothing else this season has been an aspiring ascent into the big leagues for the pitcher .

The Arizona Diamondbacks for their part with the play of Justin Upton has this team playing with a great deal of resolve. Given the change of ownership the changes both on and off the field now seems to have been paying dividends not only for the organization but also for the fans in attendance at Chase Field in Phoenix , Arizona . There has been a gradual uptick in attendance and with the play > of the team has many thinking that the organization now in a resurgent mode could now be on the cusp of doing something special. GM Kevin Towers along with the managing partners now know with the resurgence of the organization they have something to build upon . It has been a long time coming for the Diamondbacks given that their greatest triumph came back in 2001 with their surprising defeat of the venerable New York Yankees .

If anything one also should commend the job being done by Kirk Gibson and his coaching staff in getting the Arizona Diamondbacks to play with such zeal. He could very well end up being the NL Manager of the Year when it’s all said and done .

Given the ordeals faced by the St Louis Cardinals over the past few days it’s hard to see how one can’t but have some empathy with the team. Granted with the five game suspension of Yadier Molina and the events surrounding Albert Pujols being hit by an errant pitch it has me wondering now whether or not we’ll see the best or worse of this team !

The Milwaukee Brewers for their part with a thriving Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun have many thinking that after last season’s surprising divisional triumph by the Cincinnati Reds there’s time for some fresh infusion of blood in terms of another NL Central divisional winner . If not the St Louis Cardinals then why not the Milwaukee Brewers under the leadership of their managing general partner Mark Attanasio ?

Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke , his assistants and GM Doug Melvin have assembled a roster that is intent on acquitting themselves with a great deal of vigor and bring the fans back to Miller Park , Wisconsin with a sense of purpose . This Milwaukee Brewers’ team is very much a credible one but it remains to be seen what sort of steely resolve they are prepared to show over the remainder of the season .

If the Brewers are to prevail then it will have to be a concerted all-round effort with both Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder leading the way . There’s a great deal that is at stake and it goes without saying that given the vagaries of this game where one misstep can be the difference between success and failure I can’t help but feel that the players on this team may well feel ………. that now is their time .

In light of what you are now seeing happening with the divisional races at present in baseball which teams do you feel have been the biggest surprise over the course of this season ? And from within the NL Central and NL West which of the teams do you see actually triumphing in the end in terms those races ? Simply chime in with a comment as you would deem fit .

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

Contact tophatal …………….. rapptu@gmail.com

http://twitter.com/tophatal

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) NBA commissioner David Stern speaks to reporters after a meeting with the players’ union, Thursday, June 30, 2011 in New York. Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday, the sides could not close the enormous gap that remained in their positions. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer …..

(2) NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher, right, NBA union chief Billy Hunter, left, and LA Lakers’ Theo Ratliff arrive at a midtown hotel for a meeting with the NBA, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011 in New York. One month after the lockout began, and three months before the season is scheduled to start, representatives for the NBA owners and locked-out players return to the bargaining table. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer …….

(3) Wyc Grousbeck the senior managing partner of the ownership group for the Boston Celtics . Courtesy of Getty Images / Olin James …

(4) SAN FRANCISCO, CA – AUGUST 4: Hunter Pence (3) of the Philadelphia Phillies gets an RBI single against the San Francisco Giants in the ninth inning during a MLB baseball game at AT&T Park August 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Phillies won the game 3-0 . Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ……

(5) SAN FRANCISCO, CA – AUGUST 4: Jeff Keppinger (8) of the San Francisco Giants gets his throw off completing the double-play avoiding the slide of John Mayberry (15) of the Philadelphia Phillies in the seventh inning during an MLB baseball game at AT&T Park August 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Phillies won the game 3-0. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ……..

(6) Jason Marquis (21) of the Arizona Diamondbacks is taken out of the game in the fifth inning by manager Kirk Gibson against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 3, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The D’backs would go on lose the game 8-1 against the San Francisco Giants . Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images ………

(7) Pablo Sandoval (48) of the San Francisco Giants slides in safe at home on a ball hit by Orlando Cabrera(notes) in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park on August 3, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images …….

(8) St. Louis Cardinals players Rafael Furcal, right, and Albert Pujois celebrate after they defeated the Florida Marlins 7-4 in a baseball game in Miami, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011. AP Photo/J Pat Carter ….

(9) Matt Holliday(7) of the St. Louis Cardinals rounds third after hitting a three run home run off Clay Hensley(32) of the Florida Marlins during a game at Sun Life Stadium on August 4, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images ………

(10) MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 03: Casey McGehee (14) of the Milwaukee Brewers steps on home plate to score after hitting his second home run of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park on August 3, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers defeated the Cardinals 10-5 . Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images ……..

(11) MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 03: Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers has words with Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals at first base at Miller Park on August 3, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images ……

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Who’s Minding The Store ………….. ?

Who’s Minding The Store ?

I really like to understand how it is that with the financial uncertainty that still swirls around the Los Angeles Dodgers that Newscorp through its Fox subsidiary would see fit to loan Fank McCourt of the Los Angeles Dodgers $30 million to meet the organization’s expenses in terms of paying the team’s salary and that of the other anciliary employees . With the league hierarchy of baseball having brought in C Thomas Schieffer a former Texas Rangers executive as well as being the former US ambassador to Japan to oversee the day to day operations of the Dodgers I would be under the impression that given the Dodgers’ ongoing financial difficulties the league would want to make sure that McCourt would be able to guarantee the repayment of any loan taken out by him to meet the team’s expenses. Not only that but given the fact that Frank McCourt and his now ex wife Jamie McCourt between 2004 through to 2009 had borrowed in excess of $100 million from the team without there being any record to indicate that this sum had been repaid . Now should he be unable to meet the team’s payroll over the coming month there is an even greater chance in all likelihood that the league may well have no other option but to seek the sale of of the Los Angeles Dodgers but first they would have ask McCourt to completely relinquish control of the team.

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Clearly there’s something still amiss concerning the Dodgers , their finances and the mere fact that it has taken MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and his associates within the league hierarchy to even intervene in this situation leads me to believe that their business acumen and what we’re told are sound business practices are complete and sheer utter stupidity . From business standpoint I sincerely doubt that the vast majority of the owners around the league as well as the general managers would know the actual difference between a baking sheet and a balance sheet !

As this ongoing saga continues the less faith I have in the game’s integrity and that of the league hierarchy ! Bud Selig has become a clown of inconceivable magnitude and the fact that given the idiocy of the actions of the executives within the Dodgers’ organization most notably GM Ned Colletti , CFO Peter Wilhelm and Frank McCourt , whose own actions have been so egregious and clearly premeditated I cannot understand how it is that there seems to be no punishment of the owner for his misdeeds other than the mere fact that the league has essentially taken control of the organization. There is a great deal that McCourt has chosen not to be made public and at the same time it would appear that the league wants to cover up many of its own ineptitude in the handling of this situation. Frank McCourt states that the league hierarchy all along has had within their possession a $3 billion television contract deal that would supply the beleaguered organization with all the revenues needed to meet its financial obligations . However , in light of that all the Dodgers prior to this all Frank McCourt had stated that the Los Angeles Dodgers were never in any financial danger but records simply do not bear that out with there being multiple loans taken out by Frank McCourt using the team as collateral .

The league has a mandate that no team can have a debt ratio of more than 10 ten times its earnings but clearly with the Dodgers have contravened the rules in this instance. Bud Selig for his part has yet to make it fully public as to full extent of the problems of the Los Angeles Dodgers but clearly given the wide and varying reports by from various news sources the severity of the problems were so extensive that McCourt was simply being economical with the truth. Now it remains to be seen how long Schieffer will be overseeing the Dodgers’ operations and whether or not the team will in fact end up being sold. Frank McCourt’s ex wife Jamie McCourt has made a request of the judge who presided over her divorce proceedings to seek the court to enforce the sale of the organization . The judge may well not proceed with such an adjudication given the situation at present wherein the league has taken control over the organization. But it would not surprise me that the league’s own legal counsel could well seek out potential buyers for the Los Angeles Dodgers. However , with McCourt stating that he would fight tooth and nail to retain control of the team even if it meant taking legal action against MLB this situation could become a great deal more contentious were the two factions to enter into litigation.

At some point during the season we are liable to see several teams’ fortunes wane in terms of their performances .
Races within the divisions are steadily heating up but it’s still far too early to state what the outcomes will be with regard to where the teams will be at the culmination of the regular season .

Now as we enter the month of June and with the All Star Game set for 12th July to be hosted at Chase Field in Phoenix , Arizona it will be interesting to see what manner the protests will undoubtedly take in terms of the response to that state’s newly enacted law to enforce the state’s unpopular enforcement of the legal right of police officers to request a suspect to prove that they are a legal resident and not an illegal alien. As popular as this law may well be in the eyes of many it certainly has become very unpopular amongst many Latin American players within MLB. And the very fact that the ACLU and La Raza have chosen to closely monitor the actions as the state legislature and Gov Jan Brewer seeks its strict enforcement . I’ve no doubt that this issue as volatile as it has become should be dealt with at the Federal level of the government but given the inactivity and the partisanship within the Senate , Congress and the mere fact that no Presidential administration has seen fit to tackle this matter head on. I am really beginning to think that the mind numbing idiocy shown by the all levels of the government are completely at a loss to actually explain fully what their policy is with regard to illegal immigration !

DHS Chief Janet Napolitano who oversees the INS has been ambiguous at best in explaining the administration’s policy . Insofar as I think that the laws of the land have to be strictly adhered to , there has to be some latitude given to how a state can deal with problems that they deem acute within its own borders. I certainly don’t believe that Bud Selig ought to be forced to take a stance because a number of players oppose this statute no matter what their ethnicity. And even light of Carlos Santana making his outrageous statements at a ball game at Turner Field in Atlanta , Georgia , clearly shows how volatile this issue has become. However, someone ought to remind Santana that the state of Georgia has seen its own fair share of what he deems to be racial injustice as during the Civil Rights’ era within the state and in particular the city of Atlanta were one of the major epicenters of African American defiance as to the racial injustice that swept the South and across the nation at the time.

Given the history of the game and presumed journey that it has taken over the course of its history there’s no denying that baseball as far as it has come socially and economically there are still a number of issues that remain to be resolved. Jackie Robinson’s entry into the MLB opened up the game for all minorities but bear this in mind the game at the time though inclusive when Hank Aaron broke the alltime home run record he was being vilified the torrents of racial abuse , racial epithets death threats directed at the Hall of Famer would give the impression that in surpassing Babe Ruth’s feat was seen as an abomination by those who felt it beneath them to see an African American break one of sport’s most hallowed records. Now in this modern day and age it is not about the intolerance but what there is to be learned by all parties concerned.

It would appear in the aftermath of the game collision between Scott Cousins of the Florida Marlins and the San Francisco Giants’ catcher Buster Posey . Giants’ GM Brian Sabean had a few choice words for the Marlins’ utility player and the fact that he felt that Cousins’ actions were unsportsmanlike . Many would disagree with Sabean’s view of the incident but when one takes into account what this loss means for the San Francisico Giants and their season then you can understand the general manager’s ire . Having lost Posey for the year and the players productivity it lessens the possible chance of the Giants quite possibly making the postseason either as a division winner or the wildcard entrant within the NL.

The Giants on a three game win streak but have lost 6 of their last 10 games over that span . For manager Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff the loss of Posey has to be a tremendous disappointment for the team . And it goes without saying for the fans they cannot be pleased with the loss of a fan favorite . While the debate goes on as to whether or not the league hierarchy needs to do more to protect catcher when at home plate protecting his position from a base runner heading home . I for one believe that the catcher knows of the imminent dangers that are presented in such a scenario . It has become one the traits of the game and there is not much that can be done to avoid such instances as both the catcher defending the plate and the player heading for home know of the prevailing dangers .

Collisions within baseball are part of the game just as much as fighting has become a part of an NHL . From my own perspective it would simply make no sense in changing the rules to supposedly make the game safe for its participants . What might need to be done is the for officials in such instances prior to the game to advise both coaching staffs that there is a need for their players to be aware that no unsportsmanlike conduct will be tolerated on the field . Safety has to be a priority which of course the players and managers are obviously aware of but with hindsight there becomes the issue if what we know to be right from wrong . The collision between Cousins and Posey wasn’t a premeditated act as both players were simply doing what would be normally asked of them . It goes without saying however that the game’s hierarchy may well now begin to monitor such instances to see if there is a flagrant act on the path of a player when such an instance arises between the catcher and an opponent at home plate.

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

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

Alan aka tophatal ………………………

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Frank McCourt the beleaguered owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers who could be close to losing control of the team either through its forced sale by the courts or from an unsolicited bid by a group of investors. courtesy of LA Dodgers . …

(2) Jamie McCourt arrives with her attorney, Dennis Wasser for a non-jury divorce trial at Los Angeles County Court August 30, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The trial, being presided over by Judge Scott M. Gordon in California Superior Court, is to decide whether Frank McCourt is the sole owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team or his estranged wife and former Dodger CEO Jamie McCourt still has ownership stake in the team. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images North America ….

(3) Hall of Fame player Ernie Banks (left) is seen here with Carlos Santa (center) and Oscar winning actor Morgan Freeman at Turner Field in Atlanta , Georgia which commemorated the annual Civil Rights’ Game . The rocker would give a passionate but totally unwarranted speech that in part denigrated the state of Georgia with his insipid remarks calling the state and its occupants racists . AP Photo/ Chris Myles …

(4) Brian Sabean, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the San Francisco Giants, watches batting practice before Game Three of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs between the Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies at AT&T Park on October 20, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Getty Images / Justin Sullivan ….

(5) Catcher Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants, the National League?s rookie of the year in 2010, suffered a leg fracture and torn ligaments when Florida’s Scott Cousins barreled into him at home plate in the 12th inning of the Marlins-Giants game May 25, 2011. Courtesy of ABC News ……

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NB : It is being reported that former MLB players Orel Hershiser and Steve Carlton have formed to a consortium in conjunction with billionaire Ron Burkle to make a formal offer to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers should the league see fit to put the organization up for sale.

Take Two …………. Say What ?

Take Two …………. Say What ?

Former NFL running back Robert Smith who’s now a college game day analyst for ESPN on the network’s show College Game Day was discussing the improprieties surrounding his alma-mater Ohio State . A running back for four years with the school the player excelled with the program before becoming a highly prized and productive player in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings .Now to my mind if there’s anyone who could provide the public with inner workings of that program then it would be Robert Smith . A highly intelligent individual who if he hadn’t become a player in the NFL I have no doubt that he would have become a medical professional , as the player studied medicine at Ohio State with a view to becoming a pediatrician specializing in neo natal medicine.

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Smith in his analysis suggested that as the NCAA is in effect powerless and has no legal powers to to negate the actions of the schools or players and that perhaps the best thing to do would be for the Federal government to be involved with the IRS being given additional powers to investigate any wrong doing where there is monetary gain that’s not reported as income by any students athletes at the collegiate level. He further suggested that state agencies as such could not be truly thought to be impartial in such an endeavor as there would most certainly be a conflict of interest were they placed in a position where they would have to conduct an investigation into a state ran university. Though I don’t fully agree with Smith’s premise I do fully understand that he too like many other fans of collegiate athletics are completely angered and dissatisfied with the malfeasance that is now rampant within collegiate athletics , seemingly at all levels. You have the ongoing situation with Ohio State itself , wherein the actions of Jim Tressel are merely written off as a mere child being caught with his hands in the cookie jar and the punishment exacted upon him by AD Gene Smith at the insistence of university President Dr E Gordon Gee comes across as nothing more than a slap on the wrist .

Another player on the 2010 team is wide receiver Ray Small who in a recent interview went so far as to suggest that a number of Buckeye players had been selling memorabilia and that the coaching staff were fully aware of their actions. However , Small would recant the statement saying that his statement had been in fact been misconstrued by the journalist conducting the interview. Small would state that he and no one else that he knew of had in fact sold their memorabilia for financial gain. I can well understand the change in the player’s statement after his statements had been reported in the college’s own in-house news publication , much to the annoyance of his former teammates . Smalls we would later be advised had failed a drug test and was thrown off the team in late 2010 causing him to make a none appearance in the Buckeyes’ postseason. Insomuch as this is nothing new, what we are finding out is the very fact that the actions of Small is very much widespread. The player himself stated that he knew his actions contravened NCAA rules but he simply didn’t care . And should anyone be surprised by the player’s claims at this juncture ?

My own view is that any form of intervention by the government never serves a real purpose merely because the government cannot be trusted to act with any expediency let alone with any real sign of competence. Be it the Justice Department , IRS or for that matter any a governmental committee which in this could be either the House Oversight Committee or Senate Judiciary Committee . The idiocy of this all however may well be a statement attributed to Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe who suggests that the NCAA and the schools can adequately police themselves but the real problems stems from the actions of sports agents , boosters and other outside influences. Unfortunately Beebe completely ignores the actions of Tressel and the lies he told not only to the faculty but also to journalists and members of the public. And for certain ESPN analysts to suggest that Jim Tressel is still a man of honesty and integrity is akin to suggesting that the late Osama bin Laden would somehow seek a peaceful resolution in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Jim Tressel is no more a man of integrity or honesty as his most actions all along have belied those statements . Tressel’s less than contrite apology and the idiocy of both Smith and Gee in not firing the coach smacks of their own and innate stupidity ! If anything, their actions have been simply about greed and the very fact that because of the financial gain because of the countless million brought into the football program by Tressel because of his notoriety over the course of his tenure and the team’s success derived thereof.

The chances are that we will never see any of the suggestions made by Smith could ever come to fruition merely because both the NCAA , BCS and major college conferences would rather keep the status quo as is !

Am I mistaken here in thinking that the unfortunate injury suffered by San Francisco Giants’ catcher Buster Posey in a collision with the Florida Marlins Scott Cousins during the game in which the Marlins would defeat the Giants 7-6 . That in ofitself isn’t the real story but the real issue is now the number of fans who are now stating that they feel that baseball’s hierarchy should be doing more to protect its catchers . Well considering that MLB simply has never done enough to protect the players in lieu of the steroid era . I mean, who here is of the opinion that during that period in which Commissioner Bud Selig the MLBPA knew of the inherent dangers from the abuse of steroids and the health concerns in the aftermath of its abuse . Cardiac problems , neurological disorders and the obvious harm to the reproductive system but somehow this isn’t something that the league hierarchy , union or the team owners would actually care to address. And we now have idiotic fans wanting to protect a catcher because of the inherent dangers posed to him during a game ? Granted the injury to Posey , a broken leg and the fact that he will be lost the team for the rest of the Giants’ season . But there are far more grave dangers that the players face during a game beyond a home plate collision . Anyone yet within baseball’s hierarchy care to address those issues as of yet ? I guess not !

The San Francisco Giants are on a three game losing streak and are 5-5 in their last 10 games but lead the NL West by two games over the Arizona Diamondbacks (25-24). Now it goes without saying that the loss of Posey to the Giants will be a tremendous to this team as he provides a great deal of offense . Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff will most certainly be looking to boost the moral of the team with the loss of their All Star catcher . Curiously enough with the loss of Posey I do feel that the Giants are still capable of winning their division but at the same time it will come down to how prepared they are in terms of their mindset.

The likes of Aubrey Huff and Aaron Rowand as seasoned veterans on the Giants will now have to assume the mantel of being the leaders for this team if they are to really fare well over the course of the season. If they can show the leadership which I believe that they can , then they they can claim the division outright . I certainly don’t believe that the wildcard entrant will come from the NL West or NL Central for that matter ! That scenario more likely than not will arise from the competitiveness within the NL East . That division with teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies viewed as the presumptive winners of the NL pennant as well as the division will be in a tight race with the Florida Marlins and Atlanta Braves is liable to become highly contested three horse race. At present a mere 3 1/2 games separate those three teams atop of the division with the Phillies (31-19) holding a one game lead over the Marlins with the Braves in third place .

The month of June could very tell determine how these teams will fare. It promises to be a very exciting nonetheless.

On much more somber note I found it heartwarming to read that former Giants’ slugger Barry Bonds has made a magnanimous gesture in stating that he’s prepared to meet all future expenses in the education of Giants’ fan Brian Stow’s children. If you remember Stow was the victim of a heinous assault by three assailants at Dodgers Stadium in a game earlier this season between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants . One assailant is now in custody and the LAPD through Police Chief Charlie Beck
has asked for the public’s assistance with any information that will lead to the apprehension of the remaining suspecrs in this ongoing investigation. The three remaining suspects , two men and a female are believed to be of Hispanic origin. The suspect in custody is a known felon to the LAPD who also happens to be a member of one of the most prominent Hispanic gangs within the city of Los Angeles . Giorgio Ramirez a convicted felon has a long and varied arrest record . I’ve no doubt that the city Los Angeles DA’s office will prosecute those responsible to the full extent of the law given the viciousness and barbarity of this crime .

Hopefully, this will be something of a wake up call to the league hierarchy , the team owners and in particular the fans . This sort of violence cannot be tolerated under any circumstance but that in ofitself might not be enough to deter a repeat action of this magnitude. The victim’s family has filed a lawsuit against the Dodgers’ organization seeking compensatory and punitive damages in light of the assault on Brian Stow. As to what course such a legal matter may well take remains to be seen given the present circumstances of the Dodgers and their financial well being. There are some fans in the game who feel that it would be in the team’s best interest to settle the matter out of court rather than there being a trial but as I alluded to earlier we can only speculate as to the outcome of this matter for now .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

Alan aka tophatal …………………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) ESPN College Football analyst Robert Smith seated right discusses the Big 12 with his co-host. ESPN/ABC …..copyrighted material all rights reserved ….

(2) University President E Gordon Gee, Jim Tressel (center) and AD Gene Smith (right) on the podium as they address and take questions from the convened press . It is now being reported that the once embattled coach has since resigned his position as coach of Buckeyes’ football team . AP Photo/Gene J Puskar ….

(3) Former Buckeyes’ wide receiver Ray Small discusses his own improprieties as a players with Ohio State . His interview with ESPN was conducted in conjunction with the network’s magazine program Outside The Lines . Small offered plenty of evidence of misdeeds but would not openly name names as to the cast of characters involved. However in light of an earlier interview given to a school campus journalist it’s hard to know what is in fact the truth and where the lies come into play. courtesy of ABC/ESPN …..

(4) Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe whose opinion it is that the NCAA and major conferences are quite capable of policing themselves without any outside intervention by the federal government or state governmental agency. Somehow Beebe has overlooked the actions Tressel and that of senior executives of the Fiesta Bowl . Political donations that have contravened state federal laws as well as in some cases payments made to a numerous escort agencies that were found to be the committee’s way of payment for the hiring of prostitutes allegedly for entertainment purposes. AP Photo/Chris Carlsson …..

(5) Florida Marlins’ Scott Cousins, top, collides with San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) on a fly ball from Emilio Bonifacio during the 12th inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Cousins was safe for the go ahead run and Florida won 7-6. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez ….

(6) San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) is carried off the field after a collision with Florida Marlins’ Scott Cousins during the 12th inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Cousins scored the go-ahead run on the play as Florida won 7-6. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez ……….

(7) Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks (23) leaps overt San Francisco Giants’ Pat Burrell (5) to turn a double play on a ball hit by Cody Ross during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Milwaukee. AP Photo/Morry Gash …

(8) San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez throws during the third inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Milwaukee. AP Photo/Morry Gash ….. ……….

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