Engine, engine , number nine ….

Engine, engine , number nine ….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(6) Atlanta Braves` GM Frank Wren is seen here with the team`s newly appointed manager Fredi Gonzalez . The incumbent succeeded Bobby Cox whose legend looms large over the Braves` organization . Gonzalez took control as the Braves` manager in 2010 and in subsequent seasons there has been a gradual improvement in the team`s play, along with newly acquired players becoming a part of the success . AP Photo /Matt Gray ….
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It was the best of times and the worst of times ……

It was the best of times and the worst of times

With the final week of Spring Training now upon us, teams are looking to prepare themselves for Opening Day of the 2013 season. A number of ball-clubs teams will certainly be look to acquit themselves after something of a disappointing season. Cases could be made that two of the biggest disappointments from a competitive standpoint came by way of the Texas Rangers (93-69) and Philadelphia Phillies (81-81). And with both of these ball-clubs having among the highest payrolls of last season , it is easy to understand why both were considered a major disappointment to their fans and the analysts alike.

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For the Texas Rangers , major upheavals have taken place during the off-season , with the departure of outfielder and slugger, Josh Hamilton for the millions that Arte Moreno and the Los Angeles were offering the player , to add some potency for their offense . GM Jon Daniels and team President Nolan Ryan had a difference of opinion as to how best to deal with a number of player issues beyond meeting what was said to be Hamilton’s ludicrous contract demands. With that taken into account, Ryan was forced to step down by several of the team’s other syndicated partners. Daniels, is now solely responsible for all of the player personnel decisions in conjunction with Ron Washington and the coaching staff.

The fact that Josh Hamilton was allowed to leave may well prove to be fortuitous for the ball club, with the player’s criticism of the organization , when both he and his wife stated that they were made to feel un-welcomed by the team’s hierarchy . Something , I fail to understand , given the Rangers’ support of Hamilton during his sobriety and drug issues as recently as of 2012 , and the admission, that he was once again drinking. However, what had become clear , was that in spite of the vast financial resources now at the team’s disposal , they no longer felt that a long-term five or ten- year contract , rewarding Josh Hamilton in excess of $150 million , would be in their best interest.

With Nolan Ryan, now being forced to step aside , his position within the Rangers’ organization is now , not even in “name only “. President Emeritus, any input or decision-making, even of the slightest, would now have to go through Jon Daniels. Further emphasizing how little power, he now has within the organization. If anything, this is something of a payback , after the power struggle that is said to have taken place , that led former front office executive , Chuck Greenberg, being forced out by Nolan Ryan and his backed supporters. Much of the Rangers’ initial success in the aftermath of the ball-club being acquired by the Ryan led syndication group , can be placed with Chuck Greenberg, a successful corporate lawyer and former sports’ agent. It was at his insistence, and input , that led to major corporate coups, that gave the ball-club to a more stable financial situation of the Texas Rangers on a long-term basis. It should be noted ,that when the Rangers came out of bankruptcy proceedings after the disastrous era under the tenure of former owners, Tom Hicks and Ken Gillette .

Many felt, that this was one of the most disruptive and most incompetent chain of events that had taken place in the franchise’s history. Much of which, all came under the tenure, in which an ever docile MLB hierarchy , led by Bud Selig , stood idly by , while Hicks and Gillette , were simply left to run amok with the Rangers’ finances. Kind of reminds you of the idiocy , that Frank McCourt was allowed to get away with , while almost bringing the Los Angeles Dodgers , almost to ceasing their operations , with the hierarchy of baseball, for a number of months having to guarantee the team’s payroll , because of the ineptitude being shown by McCourt , GM Ned Colletti and former CFO , Peter Wilhelm . And there were idiots within and outside of the game, still trying to claim that the ball-club’s problems were simply minor issues ? How fucked up, was their thinking to begin with ? And what actual, business acumen, did they actually possess, to make such asinine pronunciations ?

Greenberg’s abrupt departure may well have paved the way for Nolan Ryan’s attempt at having a stranglehold on the reins of power within the Rangers’ hierarchy . I simply believe, that this did not sit well, with a board of directors led by Ray C Davis , Bob Simpson , Neil Leibman , Rick George and Courtney Krug , to name but a few of the several wealthy individuals , who ploughed much of their wealth into the acquiring of the franchise . It should be noted , that the Rangers , much as in the same way that the Dodgers have been able to negotiate a rather lucrative television contract , beyond the revenues derived via the MLB Network and baseball overall. With the Los Angeles Dodgers’ reputed deal , said to be worth approximately $7 billion over a two decade period , based on certain initiatives . It has to be said that the Rangers’ $ 3.2 billion dollar-deal , over a similar time-span does seem to have its advantages , as well as placing the franchise in a great position to pursue top-quality free agents almost at will. Which begs the question , if the large market teams can go out and be so aggressive . Then , why the continued belly aching by so many of the small market teams, who feel that they are being disenfranchised , while they simply have their municipal councils eating out of their hands , while they themselves have done a piss poor job at seeking out additional revenue streams for their respective organizations .

I am now , sick and tired of the goddamn excuses , of individuals such as Stuart Sternberg of the Tampa Bay Rays , David Glass of the Kansas City Royals and “ moronic buffoons “ such as , Sandy Alderson and his asinine decision-making as it relates to the woefully inept New York Mets , a franchise , still hemorrhaging red ink , like a female still on her menstrual cycle .

The Rangers for their part, coming off two AL pennant appearances in the past three years , were something of a major disappointment in 2012 . And nowhere was this more self-evident, than on the final day of the regular season of this past year. In a game , in which they needed a victory, to secure not only a playoff berth but also the outright AL West crown for a third consecutive season. Somehow , this team would find a way to simply shoot themselves in the foot , in succumbing to the Oakland A’s in that final game . What might be even more exacerbating, was the very fact that for all but eighteen days, of the entire 2012 schedule , of one hundred and eighty-two days , the Rangers led the division , only to then surrender the lead and their crown to the A’s on that fateful day, in October of 2012. That 4-3 defeat , may well have explained a great deal about the “lack of heart “ of the Texas Rangers , not only as a team, but also something that may well have mirrored the complacency shown by the organization , whose very presence, was seen at times in the conceitedness of Nolan Ryan. “ It’s my bauble, and I will do with it, as I please “ ! Could those sentiments, better represent Ryan , not only as an executive , but also as a player ?

That defeat , led to the Rangers having to meet the Baltimore Orioles in a one game-playoff with the wildcard round , of the newly formatted postseason . Suffice to say, that the dark clouds hovered over Arlington Ballpark, in Texas, as the Orioles dismantled the Rangers 5-1 . No third consecutive return to the World Series , and seeking to avenge losses in 2011 and 2010 . Heartache and tears might be the best way to describe the Rangers after those two gut wrenching series’ defeats.

The Rangers’ preseason apart, Ron Washington, may well be spending a great deal of time now assessing this new-look team , with its acquired free agents and none roster invitees , but you simply have to know , that another season of missed opportunities , are likely seal the fates of a number of members of the player personnel, and quite possibly the manager’s role within this organization. A diminish role for Nolan Ryan, doesn’t exactly sit well, with one of the most prolific pitchers in baseball history , as well as being an outspoken executives.

A Rangers’ team predicated on offense last season , where they were also effective with their pitching , yet at times when it mattered the most, it was nowhere to be seen. Yu Darvish , has been able to establish, that the stories reported as to his being a star, are indeed true. What 2013 holds for the pitcher and the organization remains to be seen. It will be incumbent upon Darvish , as well as the rest of the staff to be at their very best , if the Texas Rangers are to be in with a chance of winning the AL West and making return to the MLB postseason.

Say what you will about the Philadelphia Phillies , but their recent track record in the NL East, up until last season, was quite impressive . However, take away from the years in question, from 2007 through until 2011, and you can see that the ball-club , essentially, fell on the leanest of times. Five years of highs and lows with Reuben Amaro , may well have brought about the franchise’s most recent by way of a series’ title in 2008 , with their defeat of the Tampa Bay Rays . Yet along the way , fans were able to witness the ball-club overpaying for paying for talent and where that still remains a part of the front office psyche. With the return of Pat Gillick in the primary role of a special consultant , advisor and de-facto SVP/General Manager. You would not be wrong to think that Gillick is simply there, to rein in the capricious mindset of Amaro. Take into account that manager , Charlie Manuel , has been repeatedly and heavily criticized for the team’s lack competitiveness in 2012. Injuries asides , a payroll of $174.5 million for last season , should have brought about a great deal more success, than a .500 record of 81-81 , good enough for a third place finish within the NL East , 17 games behind the newly minted divisional champions , the Washington Nationals.

As prolific as the team’s offense has been known to be , last season , with Ryan Howard being sidelined for much of the season due to injuries , and with Raul Ibanez , off to bolster the New York Yankees , and to complement what was already competitive laden offensive team. It must be said, that the Phillies suffered greatly from the loss of both players in 2012 , which was further exacerbated by the inconsistency of the pitching , primary from the relievers , who simply gave up whatever opportunities that were afforded them by the team’s starters . Given that those starters were , Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee , Roy Halladay , Kyle Hendricks , Antonio Bastardo , Vance Worley , Joe Blanton and Jonathan Papelbon , you simply have to question, not only the monetary investment in those players , but also the ineptitude of the performances in 2012.

A win in 2008 , of the World Series, gave the Phillies’ franchise their greatest triumph in recent history. Subsequent years, have seen highs and lows, more lows, I believe, than the rapturous and overwhelming cacophony of success! This season might be the last , in which Charlie Manuel will be afforded to get it right , and failure to do so , could very well lead to his dismissal from the organization , along with several members of his coaching staff . Not to be left out of that equation either, will be the players undoubtedly thought to be superfluous to the organization’s needs . And given the payroll commitment to the players on this roster . I get the feeling, that many of those high-priced individuals who fail to perform up to expectation , may well be customarily shown the door .

As far as I am concerned this asinine quadrennial event cannot disappear fast enough ! The World Baseball Classic , has been imbued upon the fans and public as another form of torture . God damn , and the baseball itself has simply been a frigging embarrassment to watch , in more ways than one ! Take nothing away , from the lesser lights who just happen to be willing participants in this god forsaken mess , but when Team USA waved the white flag of surrender in the double elimination round of the quarter-finals , it was simply time to call it quits ! Every other team , sought to get their best available players for what is said to be the most international team competition , outside of the IBAF sanctioned World Cup. Don’t forget now , baseball is no longer part of the Summer Olympics , as the erstwhile commissioner of the game in North America, sought fit to play both possum and chicken, with an institution singularly as frigging clueless as MLB , when Bud Selig challenged the authority of IOC President Jacques Rogge. If you are being repeatedly being asked as to why , “ you do not have in place a form of on-site and in depth set of testing protocols for illicit substances as well as PED’s “ ? And one of your many responses, is simply viewed as an excuse, when you simply state “ it is a privacy issue “ ! Then what sort of response would you have come to expect from Rogge , in the first place ?

Baseball has been kicked to the curb and it is unlikely to make a swift return to the Summer Games. The sport’s last representation came by way of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Much to the ire and angst of MLB , and the sport’s international governing body , IBAF . Now all that is left for the sport is a cooperative effort with the International Softball Federation , to make one last appeal to Jacques Rogge and the IOC Executive Committee for one final appeal of reinstatement. At the earliest , baseball’s quickest return would have to be at the 2020 Sochi Games , but even that is not a foregone conclusion at this juncture . So, what are we left with? The rather ludicrous and ill-conceived World Baseball Classic , an international team tournament, that has simply been, a sheer and utter mess ! Proponents of this competition have sung its’ praises highly , without realizing that as an organizational endeavor , from a logistical standpoint, it has been a nightmare . Never mind the fact the television ratings for the event and the staged games by way of the North American audiences , have been minuscule at best . I am now beginning to wonder, even if, ESPN as a co-sponsor and broadcaster, will be able to recoup its investment from in this eyesore! From an economic standpoint, with the MLB Network’s coverage , and the fact that we know that Bud Selig has the business IQ , might be marginally above that of Sarah Palin, this event has been simply an utter mess , from its inception.

I won’t go into the details of the 2013 event , other than to let you know that Team USA failed miserably , managing to be knocked out in a double elimination , in the quarter-finals of the competition . Tonight’s championship game will pit the Dominican Republic against Puerto Rico , which will be played at ATT&T/Pac-Bell Park in San Francisco , California . I am sure that there will not only be a large Latin contingent on hand to support both teams , but somehow , the commissioner may well be on hand to try to sell us once again, on what a tremendous tournament this has been . My response to Bud Selig , would be , “ please eat $hit and die “ !

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(1) Philadelphia Phillies shortstop, Jimmy Rollins, right, gestures as he talks with New York Yankees outfielder Ben Francisco , back to camera, before a spring training baseball game in Clearwater, Fla., Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

(2) The ball sails over the the glove of a leaping Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard as New York Yankees Chris Stewart (19) reaches on a throwing error by Phillies third baseman Michael Young during a spring training baseball game in Clearwater, Fla., Tuesday, March 19, 2013. The Phillies defeated the Yankees 4-1 . AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(3) Phillies manger Charlie Manuel, right, speaks during a news conference Thursday as senior vice president and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr . looks on. The two individuals face a daunting task this season as the Phillies seek to rebound after a disastrous season in 2012 , in which the team finished third in the NL East with a .500 record of 81-81 . A major disappointment for a franchise with a $174.5 million payroll in 2012 , which was amongst the highest in all of Major League Baseball . Associated Press/ Carter Mitchell ..

(4) SURPRISE, AZ – FEBRUARY 20: Pitcher Yu Darvish (1) 1 of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Surprise Stadium on February 20, 2013 in Surprise, Arizona. Coming off a sensational season , his rookie season with the Rangers . The starting ace will seek to improve upon last season’s stats within the AL .Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ..

(5) Texas Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg (center), watches as team president Nolan Ryan gives the microphone to general manager Jon Daniels , after Ryan made the prediction that the Rangers would win the World Series in seven games at a Texas Rangers pep rally at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 1, 2010. It was not to be , for the Rangers in the postseason , particularly in the World Series , where they would come unglued in their series’ loss to the San Francisco Giants in a rather lopsided event 4-1 . In what was believed to be something of an internal power struggle , Greenberg was forced to step down , having been relieved of his duties ,with Nolan Ryan , summarily assuming control . However, this past off-season , Ryan, himself , was usurped with several members of the Rangers’ board of executives , said to be dissatisfied with the team President, and his autonomous role and lack of communication with his fellow executives . Now pushed aside, Nolan Ryan , finds himself on the outside looking in, without any real position of power within the Rangers’ hierarchy , as GM, Jon Daniels, now assumes the full control for all managerial and personnel decisions concerning the organization. Dallas Morning News/ Ricardo Echevarria ….

(6) Los Angeles Angels left fielder Josh Hamilton , left, and first baseman Albert Pujols joke around before the Angels faced the San Diego Padres in a spring training baseball game Wednesday, March 13, 2013, in Peoria, Ariz. Pujools , Hamilton and rookie sensation , Mike Trout will be looked upon to provide the bulk of the team’s offense this upcoming season . A season in which , the expectations are extremely high for the team and in particular , for Mike Scocsia and his coaching staff . AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

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Lose Yourself ………

Lose Yourself …………

By tophatal ………

So baseball’s postseason finale has ended and the St Louis Cardinals reigns supreme over the baseball world . For manager Tony La Russa he joins a select band of managers to have won multiple World Series with one team and also having won in both the American and National Leagues . That asides it was a night for rejoicing within the city of St Louis and across the state of Missouri but most certainly for the ardent Cardinals’ fans who happened to have witnessed the team’s game seven triumph 6-2 over the Texas Rangers .

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The Rangers for their part throughout the series had their chances to take the championship when they had it within their grasp. It all came to no avail as Ron Washington’s team simply had trouble putting away with the St Louis Cardinals . The offense during game seven for the Rangers was non existent as Nelson Cruz , Josh Hamilton and Michael Young simply offered nothing by way of productivity when it mattered most . But it would also be prudent to add that the bullpen of the Texas Rangers also played its part in this loss. Two consecutive appearances in the World Series for the Rangers and on both occasions the same end result , a loss for the team. This has to be a tremendous disappointment for the coaching staff , in particular for team president Nolan Ryan , general manager Jon Daniels and the entire front office of the organization .

For David Freese of the St Louis Cardinals he finds himself on the list of Cardinals’ legends who have been named World Series MVP . Certainly the out-fielder as a hometown hero can now look to his future with this organization as being one , where he may well never have to buy a drink again while he remains a player with the St Louis Cardinals . And while the fans now await the decision by the front office and in particular that of general manager John Mozeliak and the De Witt family as the proprietary owners of the ball-club and their willingness to re-sign Albert Pujols who’s now an unrestricted free agent.

Pujols in his postgame interview was quick to point out that all he was concerned with , was relishing the aftermath of the team’s latest —- triumph and his wish to be part of future postseason victories at the highest level of the game. If Freese was seen as the hero of this series for the St Louis Cardinals then most certainly Chris Carpenter cannot have been that far behind . His pitching performances throughout this series almost certainly guaranteed the team making it as far as they reached. Never mind the heroics of the team during the last day of the regular season . And we can all attest to the fact the failings of both the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox still reverberates around the game , most notably so within the front office of the Red Sox . With the departure of their former general manager Theo Epstein to the Chicago Cubs , the promotion of Ben Cherington as his successor and the organization’s decision in not extending Terry Francona’s contract . One can allude to the fact that this is now a time of upheaval within that particular organization. It remains to be seen what now transpires concerning the free agents on this Red Sox roster and the decisions that will be made by the front office executives and coaching staff.

Now with the free agency period for baseball set to commence at midnight Monday 31st October it remains to be seen what moves will be made by the respective general managers and teams around the league as they seek to make themselves better for the upcoming season . We have already seen where the Philadelphia Phillies have chosen not to pick up the options on pitchers Brad Lidge and Roy Oswalt . GM Reuben Amaro Jr. and the coaching staff will no doubt seek to bolster the roster through free agent acquisitions and quite possibly assessing their farm system and prospects .

Courtesy of MLB.com

La Russa announces his retirement as skipper

Steps down after three titles in 33 seasons, 16 with Cardinals

By Joey Nowak of MLB.com

Tony La Russa, the third-winningest manager in Major League history and most assuredly a future Hall of Famer, announced his retirement as a manager on Monday, fewer than three days after winning a World Series for the third time in his 33-year career, the past 16 of them with the Cardinals.

The surprising announcement was made during a Monday morning news conference at Busch Stadium.

“There isn’t one [factor] that dominates [my decision],” La Russa said. “They all just come together telling you your time is over.

“We went through the season and I felt that this just feels like it’s time to end it and I think it’s going to be great for the Cardinals to refresh what’s going on here.”

He said that he’d made his decision to retire in August, informing general manager John Mozeliak at that time. He said he told his coaching staff of his decision on Sunday.

“I’m looking forward to what’s ahead,” La Russa said. “I’m ready to do something different.”

La Russa, 67, steps down with 2,728 managerial victories, ranking behind only Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763). Only Mack has managed in more ballgames. The Cardinals skipper is also the only manager in Major League Baseball history to win multiple pennants in both leagues and the second to win a World Series title in each, as well.

La Russa’s Oakland A’s won the World Series in 1989. Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson won World Series titles with Cincinnati and Detroit. The Cardinals’ championship was their second in the past six seasons.

La Russa said that he did not consider continuing in order to get the 36 wins he would have needed and pass McGraw on the all-time list.

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From my own perspective I cannot see how the St Louis Cardinals can be a success without Albert Pujols within their midst . It would be an economical and competitive suicide on the part of the of this organization. And anyone who believes that to be the contrary would either have to be a complete idiot or simply having come off a highly addictive opiate ! The player is not only the heart and soul of this team but also its vocal leader . The interpretations are there for all to see and as the player goes , so does the rest of this team . If one man is said to mean so much to an organization , then surely one man such as Pujols himself , knows what he means to the St Louis Cardinals ? . As a three time league MVP the player is now laying down a legacy for himself that will surely place in Cooperstown , New York as an enshrinee within the Hall of Fame .

Albert Pujols can now certainly lay claim that he might well be the most popular , if not the best Cardinals’ player to have donned their uniform. As the player lays claim not only to team records but also rewrites the records within the game itself it remains to be seen , what , if any decision will be made as to Pujols’ immediate future . It seems almost inconceivable to think that the player could very well be donning another uniform at the start of the 2012 season . But such are the vagaries of the game that until the league hierarchy , owners and union are all on the same page as to some sort financial constraints then we may well continue to see players simply departing from a team merely because the owners simply cannot meet a player’s financial demands .

As to the future of the Texas Rangers psychologically they may well recover but the indignity of suffering to consecutive World Series’ losses has me wondering how any organization can truly recover something like ! It has been done before but clearly this was not something that either Nolan Ryan or Jon Daniels could have envisaged . The Rangers’ team president was very gregarious with his pronouncement that the team would win the series in six game but never over the course of the World Series had his team simply shown that they had the upper hand over the St Louis Cardinals . And it certainly had to have occured players such as Josh Hamilton , Michael Young , Elvis Andrus , Colby Lewis and Derek Holland that if they were to prevail over their opponents then beating them at Busch Stadium had to be done , and be done with expediently and with malice. The biggest chink in the armor of the Texas Rangers over the course of the postseason but in particular this World Series has been the inconsistency of the bullpen . When it mattered most the players simply failed to deliver , therein now lies the story which sealed the fate of this team. The organization now goes into the offseason looking to shore up this team by whatever means necessary and given the financial resources now at Jon Daniels’ disposal I doubt that he will have any problems seeking the players he believes can make this organization a great deal more competitive ! The first order of business for the general manager has to be whether or not to re-sign Colby Lewis who becomes a free agent in the offseason.

Inasmuch as I have enjoyed this series I have to admit that while enthralling it has been nowhere as scintillating as the press would have us believe . Truth be known , the events as they have unfolded we were simply being led to believe that this would all be one big suspenseful event . Clearly that was not the case ! Game’s five and six may well have been the only games in this series that clearly had us all in awe , whereas the other five games were merely stocking fillers and not much beyond that !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What impressions do you have not only of the MLB postseason but also the regular season as a whole ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit .

tophatal ……………..

Picture and slide show details .
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(1) FILE – In this Oct. 25, 2011 file photo, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa smiles as he answers a question during a news conference, in St. Louis. Three days after winning the World Series, La Russa is retiring. The 67-year-old manager announced his retirement at a news conference Monday, Oct. 31, 2011 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson ….

(2) ST. LOUIS, MO – OCTOBER 30: Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals participates in a parade celebrating the team’s 11th World Series championship October 30, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images …….

(3) Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals participates in the World Series victory parade for the franchise’s 11th championship on October 30th in St Louis, Missouri. Photo by Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images ….

(4) ST. LOUIS, MO – OCTOBER 30: of the St. Louis Cardinals participates in the World Series victory parade for the franchise’s 11th championship on October 30th in St Louis, Missouri. Photo by Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images ……

(5) Third baseman David Freese of the St. Louis Cardinals addresses the crowd inside Busch Stadium on October 30, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. Photo by Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images …..

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MLB news

MLB World Series & results

St Louis Cardinals news

St Louis Cardinals front office

St Louis Cardinals roster depth chart

St Louis Cardinals coaching staff

MLB transactions

MLB transactions post deadline 1st November 2011

Texas Rangers news

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Eminem …………..” Lose Yourself ” . Perhaps this song best represents what went wrong for the Texas Rangers over the course of the postseason ?

It’s All In The Bag ………. Or Is It ?

It’s All In The Bag ………. Or Is It ?

Coming off an improbable season ending to their regular schedule the Tampa Bay Rays now find themselves facing their biggest piece of adversity of the postseason. The team is now down 2-1 in the ALDS and are now in a ” must win ” situation” if they are to go further into the MLB playoffs. Standing in their way just happens to be AL West divisional champions the Texas Rangers .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Monday night’s game was a heart wrenching loss ( 4-3) for the Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida . On the mound for the team , manager Joe Maddon placed his faith in starting David Price . Countering for Ron Washington’s Texas Rangers they had Colby Lewis . Two young pitchers with contrasting styles but both eager to show the fans and their respective managers that the faith shown in them was certainly justified . Throughout the regular season both pitchers showed their sterling presence within the AL and league as a whole . But as we all know once the postseason everything starts afresh and it’s a new set of rules that everyone now plays by with regard to the pitching .

The crux of this game has to be predetermined by Joe Maddon’s team willingness to get their bats popping and not hold anything back. Get a lead , defend it steadfastly and let the chips fall where they may .

From my own perspective I felt that the Texas Rangers had a slight edge in terms of the respective pitching rosters but that by no means can always determine the outcome of a series . The postseason stats might bear this out but as all know anything can happen and usually does during the events that tend to unfold during the MLB playoffs.

Game four today will pit Jeremy Hellickson against David Murphy and clearly the players on this Rays’ roster knows what is being asked of them at this juncture . Win or go home .

Given the heroics of the team throughout much of the regular season and their improbable comeback I would hate to think that the Tampa Bay Rays could bow out of the postseason at this juncture ! They have given their fans a deserving uplift as well as the entire community within the area . Long forlorn and viewed as one the less bright spots on most teams’ regular season schedule this organization has given many of the small market teams around the league reason to hope and pursue success.

The crux of this game has to be predetermined by Joe Maddon’s team to get their bats popping and not hold anything back. Get a lead , defend it steadfastly and let the chips fall where they may .

For me the surprise team to make this postseason has to be the Arizona Diamondbacks and their very vocal manager Kirk Gibson and his experienced assistant staff . From worse to first within the space of one season the Diamondbacks were runaway winners of the NL West . In dethroning San Francisco Giants this young team played itself into contention for a postseason and berth where they now meet the NL Central divisional winners the Milwaukee Brewers led by their manager Ron Roenicke .

Kirk Gibson exemplified during his professional career as a player ….. playing tough and not giving any quarter to an opponent. It has been those instincts that he has instilled into his players that paid great dividends not just merely for the fans but the organization as whole under the ownership group led by senior managing partner Ken Kendrick with GM Kevin Towers taking of care of baseball operations and all personnel decisions.

Having lost game two in their series 9-4 to the Brewers the Arizona Diamondbacks now find themselves down 0-2 in the best of five game series against a Brewers team looking to make the most of their first appearance in the postseason since 2008 .

In a determining game three the Arizona Diamondbacks willl send to the mound Jay Collmenter to face Shawn Marcum of the Milwaukee Brewers . And while the Diamondbacks have struggled to score runs in the postseason this hasn’t been the case for the Milwaukee Brewers with their prolific offense led by Ryan Braun , Prince Fielder and Corey Hart .

It would be unfortunate to see Arizona Diamondbacks be swept out of the series against the Milwaukee Brewers without actually proving to be competitive during the postseason . As we know however , it is not simply what you are able to do during the regular season but how you acquit yourself during the postseason when you are placed under real adversity . And this now happens to the position that Kirk Gibson’s team now finds itself in .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the plight of both the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays ? And do you believe that either of these teams will be able to erase the deficits they face and play themselves back into contention within their respective series ? Simply chime in a with a comment as you deem fit .

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

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Closer Neftali Feliz (30) of the Texas Rangers celebrates with catcher Mike Napoli(notes) #25 after the Rangers defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 in Game Four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 4, 2011 in St Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images ….

(2) First baseman Mitch Moreland (18) dives to touch first base ahead of a sliding Johnny Damon (22) of the Tampa Bay Rays in the sixth inning of Game Four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 4, 2011 in St Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …..

(3) Infielder Sean Rodriguez (1) of the Tampa Bay Rays is congratulated after scoring against the Texas Rangers during Game Four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 4, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

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MLB News

MLB scheduled games 4th October 2011

MLB probable starting pitchers 4th October 2011

MLB results 3rd October 2011

MLB postseason individual player stats batting averages

MLB postseason individual player stats pitching ERA & wins

MLB postseason Team stats cumulative

NB : At the time of posting this article the result of the Rangers Rays’ game wasn’t yet made public .

Finally An Act of Rationale By MLB And In Particular Bud Selig Who Shows That He Might Indeed Have A Backbone

Finally An Act of Rationale By MLB And In Particular Bud Selig Who Shows That He Might Indeed Have A Backbone

I’ve read with a great deal of glee where the MLB —- hierarchy has now chosen to intervene and take over the day to day running of the operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers and not a moment too soon ! Given the financial situation of the organization and wherein the league hierarchy under MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has sat idly by as Frank McCourt has brought the organization to the brink of bankruptcy . In the last eighteen months two major ballclubs have been placed within the bankruptcy in order that they may have a stay from their creditors while being able to reorganize themselves . First off were the Chicago Cubs whose previous owner billionaire commercial real estate developer Sam Zell placed the team into bankruptcy protection in order to stave off creditors of the Cubs’ parent company (The Tribune Group) at the time going after the team to make the debt payments due. And while this maneuver worked it did cause and cost the company financially a great deal of bad PR that it could have well done without. But what might be even more gave glaring, it gave further credence as to the fact how dire the financial situation was for a number of teams around Major League Baseball .

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Courtesy of MLB.com

Selig to Appoint a rep to oversee Dodgers

By Ken Gurnick , MLB.com

LOS ANGELES — Major League Baseball has taken over operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Commissioner Bud Selig announced Wednesday.

“Pursuant to my authority as Commissioner, I informed Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt today that I will appoint a representative to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the Club,” Selig said in a statement.

“I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the Club, its great fans and all of Major League Baseball. My office will continue its thorough investigation into the operations and finances of the Dodgers and related entities during the period of Mr. McCourt’s ownership. I will announce the name of my representative in the next several days.

“The Dodgers have been one of the most prestigious franchises in all of sports, and we owe it to their legion of loyal fans to ensure that this club is being operated properly now and will be guided appropriately in the future.”

McCourt issued a brief statement late Wednesday night that read: “Major League Baseball sets strict financial guidelines which all 30 teams must follow. The Dodgers are in compliance with these guidelines. On this basis, it is hard to understand the Commissioner’s action today.”

In an e-mail message sent to Dodgers employees on Wednesday, McCourt said, “In light of the Commissioner’s announcement today, I ask that you please continue to conduct business as usual with our complete dedication to the game and our loyal fans. Each of you has represented this organization with class, and while this is no doubt a challenging time for all of us, I truly appreciate your efforts.”

McCourt, owner and chairman of the Dodgers, bought the club from News Corp. on Jan. 29, 2004, and the club reached the postseason in four of his seven seasons as owner.

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If one of most renowned teams in baseball has to be forced into bankruptcy through the financial mismanagement of its parent company then what must that forebear for other organizations around the league at the time ? Given the Cubs’ history and perceived financial resources as it was believed to be , this was nothing more than a shot across the bow of the teams who faced much starker situations but who’ve yet to make it known to the public. I’ve heard it said that the hierarchy of the league wouldn’t be prepared to contract teams but that it is utter stupidity by anyone who believes that it can’t , or won’t happen. If it is the league’s wish then it will happen especially in the light of the economic uncertainty and the whole financial mismanagement of teams around the league at present. With the Cubs having been reorganized whilst in bankruptcy protection it was bought by Tom Ricketts and his family (founders of online stock trading company TD Ameritrade) for an unprecedented $ 850 million . Paring down costs to an extent while still trying to remain competitive has been of the highest order for the Ricketts as they seek to make the Chicago Cubs relevant again within the league .

The second such team , with which bankruptcy was forced upon them, were the Texas Rangers who at the time were jointly owned by Texas multi millionaires Tom Hicks and Ken Gillette . Their combined worth an estimated $2.5 billion but somehow they couldn’t make this organization a viable going concern , from a financial or competitive standpoint but yet somehow through their idiocy they managed to offer Alex Rodriguez what was at the time the richest contract in professional sports , a ten year $250 million contract . Rodriguez barely lasted three years with the organization although he managed to win AL MVP award with the Rangers . I can only surmise that Scott Boras as A Rod’s agent at the time , proved what most people may well have known , that in the state of Texas not only are the businessmen dumb but they lack real business acumen also ! Once again through financial mismanagement by an ownership group another team was brought to near extinction and each time MLB Commissioner Bud Selig sat idly by . Having been forced into bankruptcy for failing to meet their financial obligations the team was bought by consortium led by Nolan Ryan and former Rangers’ executive Chuck Greenbeg . A much needed change in fortune has taken place for the Rangers both financially and competitively on and off the field of play but it doesn’t change the fact that the game’s hierarchy and team owners have been less than truthful as to their overall financial plight .

It’s becoming increasingly clear for all who care to take notice that the game isn’t as financially sound as Selig makes it out to be , nor are the owners being financially prudent and fiscally responsible. It’s not just about the economics of the game or the fact of the now overall plight of the economy at but all but the lack of financial oversight and sound business practices that is taking place in almost every aspect of the game. The GM’s around the league have become opulent and ostentatious and it would appear that the owners alike choose not to pare down their expenses but if anything in number of cases pass on those costs to fans through higher priced tickets and in the prices that they pay for concessions and memorabilia . Well now that fans in large part are refusing to meet those demands , it is now becoming clear that the owners and in particular the league hierarchy have seen the light . Unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be the case for Frank McCourt and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office who’ve amassed a debt now close to $1.3 billion collectively and who this past month borrowed in excess of $30 million from the local Fox tv station affiliate in Los Angeles to meet the team’s budgetary expenses for the month. Need one ask what would have happened had the MLB hierarchy chosen not to intervene and bring some sanity back within that organization ? Because clearly the likes of McCourt , GM Ned Colletti and Tommy LaSorda have lost their frigging minds if they think that they can continue to exist in such a way while trying to play down their financial plight !

And although it has been reported that McCourt will seek legal action in US Federal Court to stop the league from intervening and taking over the day to day running of the Los Angeles Dodgers I think that given his recent lack of success in the courtroom and the the financial maelstrom that he has brought within the organization , I find it hard to believe that any presiding judge hearing hearing this case would in fact choose to side with the plaintiff ! If anything the judge might be more likely to side with the defendant in the case given the severe financial problems that McCourt and his fellow executives have placed the organization in.

Now while all of this plays out as a comedic and public spectacle there are also calls for the O’Malley family to once again assume control of the Los Angeles Dodgers . As the previous owners of the ballclub I certainly don’t think that they would want to re-enter the fray of owning the organization once again, on any level, be it for the long term , or short term merely as a custodian ! If anything this situation is best left in the hands of Selig , the hierarchy under his authority . If anything it’d open up his eyes and that of the owners now knowing as such that they could be on the hook for the organization’s debt and mismanagement . One thing I do know, it’s highly unlikely that the Dodgers’ creditors would be liable to write off the vast majority of that cumulative debt as it presently stands as they too have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders and board members . Obviously that’s something that McCourt and his fellow executives didn’t take into account in terms of their own fiduciary responsibilities as it relates to their own consortium of partners in the Dodgers’ ownership. Living big and spending big doesn’t guarantee success if you simply don’t know what the hell you’re doing to begin with !

It’s certainly funny that given the Dodgers’ plight and that of the New York Mets who have their own vast problems from a financial and competitive standpoint but this might be one of the rare times that Bud Selig has chosen to show publicly that he indeed has a backbone ! God knows that this man has cowered his way under pressure and has acted oblivious to many of the problems that he has either created within the game through lax oversight or showing his complete naivete’ ! One only has to look at his handling of the steroid issue and the fact that he was absolutely powerless because he chose to be confrontational not only with the MLBPA but also with the Congress and in particular with two of its most powerful legislative bodies in the House Government & Oversight Reform Committee as Senate Judiciary Committee . You piss off the hand that feeds you in terms of providing you with your sole reason to exist throught antitrust exemption , you often in the end tend to make even more enemies than you actually want or need . Something that not even Selig would now care to openly admit to at this juncture .

Courtesy of The New York Times

Madoff Profits Fueled Mets’ Empire, Lawsuit Says

By Alison Leigh Cowan & Richard Sandomir

A lawsuit brought by the trustee for the victims of Bernard L. Madoff’s multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme contends that the owners of the Mets used the profits from their years of investing with Mr. Madoff to enhance their personal fortunes, enrich a number of family trusts and financially fuel their array of businesses — all in the face of repeated warnings that Mr. Madoff’s investment firm might have been a fraud.

The lawsuit, unsealed in federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan on Friday, says the owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz , their families and their businesses “made so much easy money from Madoff for so long” that despite the many warnings — from within their own inner circle, and by other investors and financial institutions — they “chose to simply look the other way.”

“There are thousands of victims of Madoff’s massive fraud,” the lawsuit states. “But Saul Katz is not one of them. Neither is Fred Wilpon.”

Since Mr. Madoff’s arrest in December 2008, Mr. Wilpon has portrayed himself as a victim of the fraud, one he conceded was carried out by a man who had been his friend for many years. On Friday, in a personal statement and through their lawyers, Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Katz decried the trustee’s legal assault.

“The trustee’s lawsuit is an outrageous ‘strong arm’ effort to try to force a settlement by threatening to ruin our reputations and businesses, which we have built for over 50 years,” Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Katz said.

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If ever there was a cautionary tale to be learned as to the world of sports and how the excess of greed can turn a once beloved spectacle into a crevasse of bungling ineptitude then Major League Baseball would be it. From the cheating , lying and bungling ineptitude of the owners , players , union and the hierarchy itself and their overall unwillingness to act in a proactive manner whenever there is a real problem within their midst. Instead they each tend to act as if there’s nothing wrong at all , until it’s all too late and by then the damage done tend to be irreparable . And when I say damage done it’s not only to the game in terms of its competitiveness , financial stability but also to its very own image and the fact that the vast majority of the fans can and do no longer trust what the game says it stands for or the very people who are entrusted to oversee and maintain its very existence and livelihood .

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Do you feel that the intervention now undertaken by Bud Selig and the league hierarchy will ensure the Los Angeles Dodgers’ long term existence and livelihood. Or do you feel that the Dodgers ought to have been left to their own devices and let them sink or swim dependent upon what they chose to do in order to survive ? And do you believe that in the long term contraction within the game will become more likely in light of the financial problems that are now coming to light concerning a number of teams within the game of baseball ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the matter and as usual thanks for the continued support .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) MLB commissioner Bud Selig (left) watches the 81st MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 13, 2010 in Anaheim, California. Getty Images North America / Michael Buckner ……

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt (R) greets Don Newcombe, former Brooklyn Dodgers teammate of Jackie Robinson, before the game with the St. Louis Cardinals as Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day on April 15, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Getty Images / Stephen Dunn ……..

(3) Cubs GM Jim Hendry (left) is seen here alongside team owner Tom Ricketts at the team’s headquarters at Wrigley Field , Chicago , Illinois , speaking to the convened press . AP Photo / Tom Scott ….

(4) Nolan Ryan team President & lead managing partner of the Texas Rangers is seen here with Chuck Greenberg a former executive with the Texas Rangers . Greenberg a respected sports attorney and agent abruptly left the Rangers’ organization earlier , this year. Dallas Morning News / Michael Ainsworth ……

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

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Los Angeles Dodgers News

MLB Scoreboard 21 st April 2011

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My How Times Fly And Things Change ……………….

My How Times Fly And Things Change ……………….

Was he pushed or did really go of his own free will ? That’s the question that will now be asked as it relates to the upheaval in the front office of the Texas Rangers as managing partner a Chuck Greenberg chose to resign from the organization . One thing is certain Greenberg who along with Nolan Ryan did more instigate the successful purchase of the team beating out billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban and Houston businessman Jim Crane with their successful $593 million winning bid for the bankrupt organization. Having done so, the duo would with their partners seek a cash infusion into the Rangers which includes a two decade $3 billion tv deal that sets up the organization and its immediate future.

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For the Rangers this past season m was something of an unexpected one filled with highs and lows but nothing more surprising than their AL pennant defeat of the New York Yankees (4-2) only then to succumb to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series with some ease 4-1 . The team then in the offseason would lose Cliff Lee through free agency as he would return to the Philadelphia Phillies .

Courtesy of AP Sports & Yahoo

Rangers CEO Greenberg leaving organization

By Stephen Hawkins , AP Sports Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—It didn’t take long for Chuck Greenberg to become a very visible figure for the Texas Rangers, buying the team in a dramatic bankruptcy court showdown and then taking on the role of CEO and managing partner before the team’s first-ever World Series.

On Friday, seven months after his investment group bought the team, the AL champion Rangers abruptly announced that Greenberg was leaving the organization. The move came three weeks before the season opener.

Growing differences between the charismatic CEO, team president Nolan Ryan and board co-chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson had been an ongoing issue out of the public eye.

“In reality, management styles and chemistries sometimes don’t fit together. That was the situation with Chuck and the board and Nolan,” Davis said. “Chuck made a huge contribution and we wish him all the best success in the world in whatever he endeavors to do.”

The ownership group has already bought out Greenberg’s small financial stake in the team. Simpson said Greenberg turned down the opportunity for another position in the group, one “not in the full role that he was enjoying.”

Ryan will add the title of CEO and oversee baseball and business operations, reporting directly to the team’s board of directors. The Hall of Fame pitcher, who finished his 27-season playing career with the Rangers, became their team president in February 2008.

Davis and Simpson, the largest investors in the ownership group, wouldn’t get into specifics about the differences with Greenberg in what was their first formal news conference since taking over the team last year. Neither would Ryan.

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Though the loss of Chuck Greenberg isn’t seen as catastrophic it has to be said that will have taken the baseball world by surprise. GM Jon Daniels has said the loss of Greenberg though felt within the club things will very much go on as before in a positive direction and the success they’re all looking to achieve isn’t a target that is beyond their reach. However, there has to be continuing speculation as to why Chuck Greenberg would make such an abrupt departure from the ball-club. There may well have been some form of internal struggle within the front office as to a power struggle and the shaping of an identity to this team. Nolan and Chuck Greenberg were essentially seen as the faces of the franchise from an image and business standpoint with Ryan’s solid know how , his vast experience within the game and Greenberg’s business acumen and as former attorney with noted law firm Pepper Hamilton LLC and then as a noted sports agent. The two brought a wealth of experience to the team and were it not for them I do believe that the Rangers would now be in the hands of rival bidders at the time Mark Cuban and Jim Crane. And though some have questioned the bidding process overseen by a bankruptcy court judge there was a feeling also that the MLB hierarchy was heavily behind the bid of Ryan and his syndicate partners . As to what this says about the impartiality of the game’s hierarchy in such a process , well as such , it does smack self indulgence if anything ! I can only surmise that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was extremely happy with the outcome .

The task for the Rangers this season is to rebound from the loss in the World Series to the San Francisco Giants . Players such as Josh Hamilton , C J Wilson , Adrian Beltre and Michael Young along with the rest of this roster that they are capable of mounting a serious challenge within AL West in taking on the likes of Seattle Mariners , Oakland Athletics and the Anaheim Angels . The division itself I’ve never really thought of as being extremely competitive given the fact that the teams other than the Angels have tendered to waver as to their consistency . I do however believe that Ron Washington and his coaching staff will be able to get the best out of his team and be just as competitive as last year. If they’re able to do that then there’s the possibility that the Rangers can also be viewed as a serious challenger within the AL and a contender for the World Series itself .

As to Nolan Ryan with the departure of his once former associate it now gives him greater hands on powers with the regard to executive decisions to be made within the organization. And I’ve no doubt that he’ll work closely together with Jon Daniels as it relates to personnel and coaching matters. His relationship with Ron Washington is said to be a close and fruitful one and one should bear in mind that in the midst of last season when Washington’s future was said to be in doubt after the revelations of his cocaine addiction it was Ryan who steadfastly stood by his beleaguered manager. And the rest as they is history as with regard to rest of that memorable season for the Texas Rangers.

This season within the game promises to be a very entertaining one and I do believe that it might well be one of the best in recent years. I don’t believe that there’s a distinct clear cut favorite albeit that the Phillies with that intimidating starting rotation led by Cliff Lee , Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt will prove hard to beat . But as we saw with last year’s postseason you don’t need the mighty swing of an axe to chop down a a really large oak tree as you merely have to chip away at it before it suddenly falls . The proof was simply there for all to witness as the San Francisco Giants knocked down the Phillies’ tree in NL pennant title game . Could it happen again ? I don’t see any reason why not given the right set of circumstances but I’d dare say that Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel isn’t about to let his ; team forget that experience and they’ll no doubt be prepared than they were last year should the same scenario rise once again.

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What thoughts if any do you have on the abrupt departure of Chuck Greenberg from the Texas Rangers ? Do you believe that he went of his own volition or that he may well have been forced out by forces beyond his control ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on this and any other matter as it relates to the upcoming season within baseball .

Picture and slide show details below.

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(1) Yorvit Torrealba(8) of the Texas Rangers high fives manager Ron Washington after scoring against the Cincinnati Reds during the second inning of the spring training game at Surprise Stadium on March 11, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …………..

(2) Josh Hamilton (32) of the Texas Rangers sits in the dugout during the spring training game against the Cincinnati Reds at Surprise Stadium on March 11, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……

(3) Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds hits a double during the third inning of the spring training game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium on March 11, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ………

(4) Texas Rangers part-owner and new CEO Nolan Ryan arrives for a news conference in Arlington, Texas, Friday, March 11, 2011. Ryan has replaced Chuck Greenberg as team CEO. AP Photo/LM Otero ……….

(5) Managing Partner & CEO Chuck Greenberg of the Texas Rangers looks speaks with the media during batting practice against the New York Yankees in Game Five of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 20, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City. According to reports on March 11, 2011, Greenberg will be leaving the Rangers organization as their CEO and managing general partner, with Nolan Ryan expected to become the new CEO. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images …..

(6) Chuck Greenberg (left) is seen here with GM Jon Daniels (center) and Nolan Ryan celebrating after the Texas Rangers defeat of the New York Yankees to win the ALCS pennant in 2010 . The team would go on to lose the World Series to the San Francisco Giants . Sue Walters /AP/ Reuters ……..


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Alan aka tophatal

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Texas Rangers profile

Texas Rangers history

Texas Rangers news

Texas Rangers’ front office

Rangers’ coaching staff

Texas Rangers active roster

Rangers’ 40 man roster & …….. depth chart

Team injury updates

Team transactions

Minor League Affiliates

Rangers’ schedule Spring Training ———— Regular Season 2011

Spring Training Standings AL ——- Cactus League

Team Statistics

Teams Statistics 2010

Rangers Ballpark Arlington , Texas

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Jeny Romero

Selena Silk

Selena Silk

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2 Pac …… feat’g …….. Jodeci ………”How Do You Want It ”

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Hey Did You Know That The MLB Postseason Had Already Started ?

Hey Did You Know That The MLB Postseason Had Already Started ?

It seems no one got the message but the MLB postseason has started but there’s disturbing evidence to show that almost no one seems to be watching the games on broadcast or cable television. What might be even more disturbing is the mere fact that in the ALCS games staged at Yankees Stadium have not sold out and the in game five itself the upper decks of the venerable edifice one could see that those areas were actually deserted. Whether or not that is an indictment of the team or the mere fact that because of the economic climate such a situation was to be expected really does also cast doubt as to how the league hierarchy now markets the game nationally.

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The postseason for MLB is the highlight of a long and arduous season within league and if fans aren’t seemingly interested in watching the televised games but also unwilling to turn up and watch even the New York Yankees. Then that ought to tell not only the fans but also MLB Commissioner Bud Selig that there’s something wrong with the game from the fans’ perspective and how the brand itself is being marketed to the consumer.

Both the ALCS and NLCS match-ups have been every entertaining to watch and with the presumptive favorites in both series now trying to stave off elimination it remains to be seen whether or not the Philadelphia Phillies can erase a 3-1 deficit against the San Francisco Giants . Not to be outdone the New York Yankees seem to have dug a hole for themselves albeit that they were able to come back and show some resilience in game five with a decisive 7-2 defeat of the Texas Rangers at their home venue. The series resumes at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington , Texas __ with the team seeking to eliminate the Yankees by looking to take game 6 in what will have been a memorable series for this Ron Washington led squad. The series lead by the Rangers 3-2 is theirs for the taking should they now desire it enough and make the Yankees’ presence in this postseason come to an abrupt end .

It has to be said that both series has given us tremendous pitching performances with a plethora of All Star caliber players taking the mound. It has been surprising to see the Phillies rotation led by Roy Halliday seemingly being put in their place by a Giants’ rotation led by Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain . Not only that but the lightly thought of offense of the team has suddenly come to light and made the Phillies much lauded offense seem somewhat pedantic. Cody Ross in particular seems to be a star in the making and I do believe that the Florida Marlins may now have some regrets having traded the player away to the San Francisco Giants. But in truth the Giants’ success in this series doesn’t solely rest with one player because it has been a collective effort all round from the team and it’s a credit to their manager Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff . They’ve felt no real undue pressure and have shown that they can play their game while outmatching their opponents .

Joe Girardi and the Yankees know that if they are to play themselves right back into contention then they will have to play aggressively throughout the remainder of the series no matter what. Now a great deal will be made of the fact that their bullpen has been very inconsistent and much of that can be laid squarely on the shoulders of the manager . That if anything has been the team’s Achilles’ Heel throughout much of the regular season and into the postseason itself. Furthermore with the loss of first baseman Mark Teixiera their situation has become somewhat more difficult albeit that Teixiera’s postseason stats aren’t what one would come to expect from the player. But defensively he’s still a player I’ve no doubt that Girardi would prefer to have on the team and that’s with due respect to Lance Berkman .

Now comes the hard part for the Yankees and that’s for them to show that they have the determination to claw their way back and win with a great deal of resolve. I know they tend to look to Derek Jeter to lead by example which is something that has been exemplified by the play throughout much of his career, especially during the postseason . But for this aging veteran now in the twilight of his career it has to be said that the passion once displayed doesn’t always seem to be there. It may well be that in a final year of his contract with the team we may well be seeing the final days of what has been one of the more storied Yankees’ playing careers in recent memory. Now in saying this, one might also ask does Alex Rodriguez have what it takes to step in Jeter’s shoes ? At this juncture the jury I think is still out as to whether or not A-Rod (Rodriguez) is even considered to be a true Yankee by their fans and the fans of the game itself in general. He may well be donned in a “pinstripe uniform” but that doesn’t make him a Yankees’ player where the legacy of donning the uniform essentially means life blood of the organization flows through your veins. His life seems to revolve around the fact that the notoriety and paparazzi catch him in the glare of the spotlight with a Hollywood starlet on his arm. I’d also preface this by saying that one good postseason with the team doesn’t allow you to become a venerable great in the eyes of many when it comes to the postseason and the Yankees’ fans in particular. His achievements will be judged by what he does more so on the field than anything that he’s been known to do off it and that also includes that mystifying suggestion by Rodriguez that he merely experimented with steroids. I think that we all know the answer to that particular question is ……….. which to my mind isn’t printable other than to suggest that the colloquial term for fecal excrement could be used here !

Now if both series as is perceived should play out as is being envisaged bearing in mind how each series now stands . Then we could see both the Rangers and Giants making it to the World Series. and I don’t think that there can be a cut case wherein one could make a definite decision that the Giants will be favored over the Rangers. I do believe that the teams are evenly matched on all fronts and it will come down to the intangibles and the experience shown by both managers and their respective staffs. There’d be something of a story book type ending to this season were either Bruce Bochy or Ron Washington to become the winning manager in the World Series . But as the whole scenario has yet to be played out we as fans will just have to wait and see what is left to absorb as things play themselves out in both series.

From the standpoint of a willing spectator of the MLB postseason I have to say that the league hasn’t exactly done a great job of marketing its showcase event. Overall I do believe that it has done a mediocre job throughout the years and that includes the years when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had us on the edge of our seats as their spectacle played itself out in the Maris home run chase. Now we know how much of a subterfuge that all was given the evidence that has since arisen concerning both players’ involvement in the use of steroids and HGH. Do you think that all parties concerned had and still does have something to hide ?

Baseball’s integral problems as it concerns its popularity and financial state isn’t one that cannot be solved but it would appear that under Bud Selig’s leadership their so called tried and tested formula seems to have met an obstacle that they have no idea how to overcome . If an NFL Monday night game between two marginally attractive teams can still outperform a game wherein baseball’s most storied and most supported team can barely crack a 4 percentile share on the Nielsens’ Ratings nationally then you know that there’s something wrong with the game. Never mind the fact that Yankees’ Stadium was filled to less than capacity for a postseason ALCS game . If that’s not indicative of a problem then can someone please explain to me what is ?

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Picture gallery . By clicking on each frame you can view each picture in its original formatted size.

How do you view the remainder of the MLB postseason being played out and what thoughts if any do you have concerning the fact that viewership and to an extent attendance for some of the championship games are actually down ? Chime in with a comment as you’d deem fit.

😦 * 🙂

For the latest MLB news & views simply click unto the link provided.

MLB News & views …

Alan aka tophatal …………………………… 🙂

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'Karrine-Steffans

Eye candy video vixen Karrine ‘Superhead’ Steffans . I’ll let you decide as to the reason why she’s nicknamed ‘Superhead’.

What’s The Difference Between An Ambulance Chaser , A Congressman , And The Vast Majority Of Owners In Major League Baseball ? Answer …. There Isn’t One As They’re All After Your Money !

Over the past few months, I’ve been watching the developments of the ongoing deal by Texas Rangers’ owner, Tom Hicks’ attempts to sell the team to any interested party willing to pay his over inflated asking price for the organization.

Tom Hicks (right)  is seen here   with  Dallas  Cowboys' owner,  Jerry  Jones.   The  two  were  in  an  attendance  of  a Texas Rangers'  ball  game.   picture  appears   courtesy  of  Associated  Press/ Matt  Greenwald ....................
Tom Hicks (right) is seen here with Dallas Cowboys' owner, Jerry Jones. The two were in an attendance of a Texas Rangers' ball game. picture appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Matt Greenwald ....................

Hicks, as the owner of Hicks Sports Group, is also the owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars as well as the English Premiership soccer club, Liverpool. And through his investment vehicle , he oversees this vast array of sporting interests,as well as his other varied business holdings and investments.

Tom Hicks by all accounts we’re led to believe is a very shrewd businessman who’s well respected by his peers. But in this day and age that’s not really saying a great deal . Especially in light of the shenanigans of businessmen , such as, Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford. The two men in question have been accused of defrauding their clients in excess of $59 billion , in monies that is unlikely to be fully recovered on behalf of their original investors. Stanford at present awaits trial in Federal Court,for grand larceny, wire fraud ,tax evasion and the running of a Ponzi scheme. Madoff , having been found guilty , was sentenced to 125 years in a federal prison by the US Federal Court System in Manhattan,New York City, New York.

Courtesy of Associated Press and Yahoo Sports

Greenberg-Ryan group Rangers finalist

By Stephen Hawkins , AP Sports Writer

Arlington, Texas (AP)—Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks will enter into an exclusive negotiation for the sale of the team to a group headed by Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg that includes team president Nolan Ryan.

Hicks Sports Group said in a release Tuesday night that Greenberg’s group “primarily consists of Dallas-Fort Worth investors,” including the family of Hicks, who would maintain a stake in the team under the proposal. Ryan would remain president of the team.

Greenberg’s group and Hicks will work over the next 30 days to complete the transaction. It then will be forwarded to the commissioner’s office and require approval by 75 percent or more of all owners.

“Our family has chosen to negotiate with the group we believe will be best to protect and ensure the long-term positive future of this franchise,” Hicks said in the release. “Nolan Ryan is the personification of the word trust; he and Chuck worked diligently and relentlessly to get to this point.”

The sale is expected to be for more than $500 million, but Greenberg and Hicks declined to discuss the specifics of the proposal.

“The deal isn’t done yet, but I am confident we can complete this soon and have the Rangers well-positioned for the future,” Greenberg said. “We are committed to stability, continuing to work the baseball plan that’s in place, and doing whatever is necessary to build upon the team’s tradition and bring home a World Series championship.”

Greenberg’s proposal was chosen over bids submitted by former agent Dennis Gilbert and Houston businessman Jim Crane, who just last week submitted a new one after Greenberg and Gilbert had emerged as finalists.

Forbes earlier this year valued the Rangers at $405 million, 15th among the 30 major league teams. Hicks bought the team for $250 million in 1998, from a group that included former President George W. Bush.

The San Diego Padres were sold for just over $500 million this year and the Cubs were bought in October for $845 million in a deal that also included Wrigley Field and 25 percent of Comcast Sportsnet.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig had called Tuesday a “hard and fast deadline” for Hicks to submit a prospective buyer for the team.

Hicks Sports Group this year defaulted on $525 million in loans tied to the Rangers and the NHL’s Dallas Stars, which Hicks has owned since 1996. Hicks has said that was a deliberate move to force lenders to renegotiate terms of the deals.

The group of 40 lenders holding debt from Hicks Sports Group will have to approve the sale of the Rangers
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With the never-ending tales of economic woes that continues to cast its blight across the sports panacea. Baseball it seems has been affected more than most. But then again the same tales of woe that now continue to spread across the nation has also affected the arenas of NASCAR, the NBA , NHL, MLS and golf’s PGA Tour , as well as the LPGA Tour. And with the ongoing Tiger Woods’ saga seemingly taking one unsavory turn, from one moment to the next. It has to be said that the world’s number one golfer and the PGA Tour are in for some very rough and difficult times ahead, without the abrupt departure of Woods’ self imposed exile from the circuit for the foreseeable future.

In happier times Liverpool fans held Hick in high esteem. Not so , now . As he’s burdened the club with a great deal of debt and the competitiveness of the team just isn’t what it use to be . Add in the fact , that the club’s manager, Rafael Benitez’s relationship with Hicks is said to be strained. And the mere fact that Benitez has been told that there’s no money to pursue the purchase of new players. Well , in the end you’ve got nothing but turmoil within the organization.

While baseball has recently ended its winter meetings, wherein the general managers and teams get together, to discuss the state of the game and make the usual customary deals. Free agents , impending free agents and a number of players are either traded , signed or re-signed by the teams. The deals range in value from the outlandish to the minimal. But yet the general managers and in particular the game’s commissioner, Bud Selig and its President of Operations , Bob DuPuy continually fail to address one of the main underlying issues concerning the game. And that is the finances of the clubs within MLB. At the drop of a hat, Bud Selig will continue to tell you that the game’s revenues have increased.
Albeit, that attendances for major league games are slightly down. But in large part the increases come from inflationary elements and the very fact that a number of teams around the league have raised prices , whereas others have decreased some of their ticket prices but increased concession prices , parking and other such sundries. It’s all smoking mirrors.

Hicks speaks of his own aspirations with regard to the soccer club. But yet we’re led to believe that Hicks had a plan in place ?

The maneuvers by Hicks and that of his company in deliberately defaulting on a loan with the Dallas Stars as an entity. While not on the face of it illegal, it does smack of a man who is less than genuine in his business dealings. It gives credence to the fact that in not getting his own way he was quite prepared to place in the franchise and its existence in some jeopardy . The very fact that all three of his major sporting investments are now in a state financial woe. It goes to the question as to the business practices of Hicks and his ownership group.

The Texas Rangers are in financial turmoil, as too are the Dallas Stars. And Hicks’ involvement in the Premiership soccer club based in England , has left the fans there baying for Hicks’ blood and that of his business partner, George Gillett. Having bought the club for $400 million , the club has seemingly had some success but at the same time he’s made the club look a complete mess in its operations. And in terms of success on the field , it has been something of anathema.

Charles   Greenberg,  noted   attorney  and  partner  with  law   firm   Pepper  Hamilton  LLC
Charles Greenberg, noted attorney and partner with law firm Pepper Hamilton LLC. picture appears via Pepper Hamilton , LLC.,

Baseball in all of its various shapes and forms has become a sport about the haves and have nots. Time and time again, I’ve either read or heard people say that the status quo as it now stands is good for the game. But how can that be ? When the minnows of the sport continuously see their best players leave for pastures green and the likes of owners such as Hicks , who with their vast wealth seemingly do nothing in terms of trying to make their teams competitive. It’s not redundant to ask Bud Selig the question …..’what has the tax sharing revenue scheme solved at the end of the day ‘? It’s not as if the smaller teams and their owners have in large part used the money to the benefit of their organizations. More often than not , the money ends up going into the pockets of the owners and their various partners.

Courtesy of Wall St Journal


Creditors Find Hicks Sports Group in Default

By Matthew Futterman, Wall St Journal

Creditors to Texas financier Tom Hicks’s Hicks Sports Group have declared the company in default, a measure that could eventually dislodge the Texas Rangers baseball club and Dallas Stars hockey franchise from his control.

The default notice is the strongest sign yet of the economic perils awaiting the country’s professional sports leagues, where owners have spent lavishly on player salaries. Many owners’ personal fortunes are also on the wane, creating uncomfortable standoffs between the owners and lenders.

In Mr. Hicks’s case, a group of 40 financial institutions and other investors hold $525 million in debt. Galatioto Sports Partners, a New York sports-financing group, holds the largest position, having lent nearly $100 million to Hicks Sports Group.

Mr. Hicks missed a $10 million quarterly interest payment on March 31, triggering the default notice. The teams are unable to fund both their operating expenses and debt service, and Mr. Hicks has declined to continue making up the difference out of his own pocket, according to a person familiar with the matter.
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Baseball for all of its inherent legacies and history, is still very much an archaic sport in terms of its business practices. It states that before a prospective owner is allowed to purchase a team, they have to be on a sound financial footing and that the purchase of a club has to be approved by at 75% of its members. However , what we know to be true, is that the game’s hierarchy rarely conducts an audit as to the financial well being of its teams. How else can one explain them allowing former Chicago Cubs’ owner, Sam Zell, place the team into bankruptcy proceedings, merely to stave of the advances of creditors who were owed money by the Cubs’ former parent company , The Tribune Group ?

Nolan Ryan, President of the Texas Rangers, speaks about his philosophies on the sport of baseball and in particular the art of pitching. Ryan, alongside Charles Greenberg have formed a business syndicate looking make a successful bid in purchasing the team from much beleaguered owner, Tom Hicks and his, Hicks Sports Group.

Now with Hicks in an acrimonious tussle with several creditors with regard to the Dallas Stars and at the same time he’s looking to sell the Texas Rangers to a group made up of noted Pittsburgh attorney , Charles ‘Chuck’ Greenberg and former Texas Rangers’ great, Nolan Ryan. The sooner Hicks is out of the sports franchise ownership business. Then the better off the sport of baseball and hockey is liable to be ! One would hope also that at some point in the future there’s an interested party looking to pursue the purchase of the soccer club ? If only to allay the fears of the fans that the team won’t be driven into the ground by Hicks and placed on the brink of either extinction or bankruptcy.

As to the travails of baseball, while it remains in the hands of Bud Selig. Just expect the same sort of asinine attitude and statements to be put forth by him and the members of the game’s hierarchy. It’s not as if they’d ever have been viewed as being the brightest set of individuals that one would ever be likely to come across, just the greediest , that’s all !

NB: Below is a poll by all mean do take time if you’ve got it , to participate by choosing an answer that best reflects your thoughts on the subject matter. Thanks in advance for your cooperation !