There’s A Target Out There Somewhere But The Twins Are Not It !

There’s A Target Out There Somewhere But The Twins Are Not It !

By tophatal …..

If there was a disappointment for me last year , then it was seeing the Minnesota Twins’ season implode in 2011 . Finishing with a 71-91 mark in the AL Central it seemed as if the Twins simply weren’t competitive enough to face the all too dominant Detroit Tigers . And though the Tigers’ foray into the postseason was one that simply wasn’t a pleasant experience and it has to be said for all sense and purpose the question I am now asking and will continue to ask ………. is there a keen sense of ambition on the part of the ownership group led Jim Pohlad , who succeeded his late father , Carl Pohlad , into the position as senior managing partner ? =======================================================================================================

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The two big profile names on the Twins’ roster , Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer , the faces of this ball-club . But but that simply doesn’t add to the fact that without the production of Michael Cuddyer I sincerely doubt that anyone would have taken any interest in this team . If there was one thing that was uniquely transparent with regard to the Minnesota Twins , it was the pitching rotation and their inadequacies left a great deal to be desired . And with the loss of Cuddyer to the Colorado Rockies as a free agent in December , 2011 , it now begs the question as to who will step up to the plate for the team in 2012 ? .

For manager Ron Gardenhire and his coaching assistants this season will be a true test of the manager and what he now brings to the table along with his associates . Gardenhire and the Los Angeles Angels’ …. Mike Scioscia are now two of the longest-serving managers in baseball (MLB) .

If the Twins are to survive this season < A then it will be down to Joe Mauer , Danny Valencia , Justin Morneau and Denard Span to get the offense going if they are to prevail at any point during 2011. And while the organization goes through their preseason schedule , wherein , Gardenhire assesses the roster which includes their none roster invitees . This should as such give the fans an indication as to the approach to be taken by the organization as a whole .

Now a lot of people might contend that Twins’ GM Terry Ryan overpaid in retaining Joe Mauer in light of the player’s injury prone season in in …. 2011 . But it simply has been last season that was a concern in term of productivity from the catcher for the general manager but also what appears to be a steadily declining attendance level at Target Field in Minneapolis , Minnesota . Ryan , having held the general manager’s position for the ball-club previously from 1994-2007 , only for Bill Smith to be brought for a four tenure , with the Pohlad’s then returning to Terry Ryan after four years of what may well have deemed abject failure during Smith’s tenure.

If I were an ardent fan of the Minnesota Twins my biggest worry would be the health issues as it relates to the team’s two biggest players ! There’s no doubt in my mind that Mauer and Morneau are the “heart and soul” of this organization. Without either , and there’s a better than even chance that this team is liable to be on the wrong side of a losing season ! I would also like to see a return to form of Francisco Liriano , a starting pitcher who a little more than five years ago was one of the premiere pitchers in the game . Now you simply can’t be sure what to expect of the all too inconsistent Liriano . Now it’d be remiss to suggest that injuries were not the main cause as to what has plagued the seven-year veteran but I also believe that there’s a lack of confidence with the player. And if he’s not able to overcome that then in all probability we will never see a return to form of the once respected player. Your thoughts on the matter ?

Ron Gardenhire , a former AL Manager of the Year knows that this season may well be his last chance to accomplish the feat of winning a World Series title as a manager . Long considered one of the best managers in the game it seems almost inconceivable that at each and every opportunity offered , his teams simply have come up short . And one only has to look at the teams that have simply denied the Twins a shot at the World Series in recent years .

Considered a small market team the Minnesota Twins along with the other franchises categorized within the area are not always able to retain talent , more often than not . So it came as something of a surprise to my mind when they sought to offer Mauer the contract offered by the Twins’ front office , which essentially made him one of the highest paid players in the game but also the highest paid catcher in baseball ! Given the rigors of playing the position and the very fact that nowadays the longevity of the catchers in today’s game is rarely beyond a decade or more . And as a productive as Joe Mauer is said to be what the Twins and specifically Gardenhire expects from the player , is maturity , and the ability to lead . Defensively , on this team he provides that and a great deal more . I don’t know that Mauer is willing to step away from playing the position as catcher to perhaps answer a need of the Twins to play elsewhere on the team. The organization does have two alternatives at the position in Ryan Doumit and Drew Butera at the position .

Joe Mauer is the draw on this Twins’ roster but I seriously doubt the fans are looking to simply seem him play center-field or first base when it is at as a catcher that he has made his name . As to the player’s own aspirations it’s clear that the hometown hero would like to bring a title to an organization that has been long starved of one . At some point in the not too distant future that premise could very well arise but it’s my belief that the team is still a long way of from where it needs to be in order to challenge the likes of the Boston Red Sox , Tampa Bay Rays , Detroit Tigers , Texas Rangers and New York Yankees within the AL , much less the perceived contenders within the NL .

As I alluded to earlier , with the Minnesota Twins being viewed as a small market team , it is easy envisage some of the realities that the organization faces. Financially , the Twins cannot compare to the likes of the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins as two of the more high profiled teams within the NL in terms of salary structure and it is abundantly as to who they lag behind amongst their AL rivals . Terry Ryan knows that he cannot match the resources available to the Red Sox and Yankees , as each has the largesse of their own respective sports’ cable programming outlets as a financial treasure trove ( NESN & YES Network ) . Having the outlets as a wholly owned subsidiary allows both organizations to essentially write-off any losses by their baseball operations and underwrite against those losses against the sports programming revenues . Something that the likes of the Minnesota Twins simply cannot afford in today’s game by making acquiescing to the outlandish demands made by the agents on behalf of their clients . Anyone of the believe that the Twins could simply make the outlay that the of Yankees have done in offering Alex Rodriguez that now ” infamous” $275 million 10 year deal ? Less we forget this is now being the second such deal that the player has signed over the course of his professional career . To my the vast majority of owners and general managers are simply too damn stupid for their own good and who show as about as much business acumen said to can be found , as the idiots who presently sit on the Senate Banking & Finance Committee !

The issues that faces a number of teams within MLB is not merely about reining costs but general managers , team owners and the league hierarchy working in conjunction working in conjunction of MLBPA (union ) led by its Executive Director Michael Weiner as to how best to address issues the game faces . I’m not so sure that the tete`-a-tete` . Nothing ever productive seems to come to light but somehow Bud Selig and his idiocy tends to put either a poignant spin on a story even when there’s a stench so vulgar that it simply defies logic ! . If the commissioner’s testimony to the to two congressional committees concerning the facts as he knew them to be , concerning the prolific and rampant use of steroids within baseball . Then how do you view Selig as the game’s highest ranking official as it relates to his complete gullibility and ignorance ? And when addressed on the escalating salaries within the game and whether or not he felt there was a need for a mandated salary cap ____ Bud Selig appeared to be dumbfounded in terms of rendering an answer . It never ceases to amaze me as to the gullibility of the man and furthermore his actions in the fiasco surrounding the overturning of Ryan Braun’s 50 game suspension shows how naive he just happens to be ! . And to think that the owners and league hierarchy offered him a four-year contract extension but yet somehow this appears to be justified in $20 million a year salary that this official attains from baseball ! Did I miss something here when there are at least at least 7 players at the top end of the salary scale who earn as much as the commissioner annually ? Never mind the fact that there are several teams at the lower end of the spectrum that can barely afford to spend in excess of $40 million annually but yet Bud Selig ignores that all without the assistance of the league . At some time either the fans will see the commissioner for what he is or as usual show complete apathy as they have tended to. Only then choosing something so trite when there are more acute issues that they have overlooked that in reality they should have shown more interest in !
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Do you believe that the Minnesota Twins are capable of being a credible contender within the AL Central this season and quite possibly challenging for a postseason berth ? And given the choice , who would you like to see succeed Bud Selig as the commissioner of baseball ?

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(1) Minnesota Twins third baseman Danny Valencia catches Baltimore Orioles Mark Reynolds , right, in a rundown while trying to steal third in the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game in Fort Myers, Fla., Friday, March 16, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

(2) Minnesota Twins pitcher Carlos Gutierrez walks back to the mound with a fresh baseball as Baltimore Orioles Robert Andino , left, heads home on his solo home run in the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game in Fort Myers, Fla., Friday, March 16, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …….

(3) Catcher Joe Mauer (7) of the Minnesota Twins throws the ball back to the pitcher against the Boston Red Sox during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Hammond Stadium on March 5, 2012 in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(4) Infielder Justin Morneau (33) of the Minnesota Twins fouls off a pitch against the Boston Red Sox during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Hammond Stadium on March 5, 2012 in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …….

(5) Minnesota Twins starter Francisco Liriano delivers in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday, March 8, 2012. Liriano threw three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out five in the Twins’ 1-0 loss. AP Photo/Charles Krupa ……..

(6) Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, right, argues a batter-interference call by home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth , left, during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., Monday, March 19, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa ….

(7) Twins’ GM Terry Ryan has been entrusted with resurrecting the fortunes of the organization . AP Photo /Mark Webster ….

(8) Jim Pohlad senior managing partner of the Minnesota Twins . Pohlad assumed control of the team upon the death of his father , noted Minnesota businessman Carl Pohlad . Courtesy of the Minneapolis Post / Chris Harper ….

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Jim Thome A Real Baseball Hero ?

Jim Thome A Real Baseball Hero ?

So over the course of the season much had been made of the Derek Jeter watch was on and his march towards 3,000 hits and the feat achieved by the player. With that being said while Jeter and his teammates tussle with their venerable rivals the Boston Red Sox for supremacy atop of the AL East . For me what has been interesting witness is the march of Minnesota Twins’ Jim Thome as he makes himself bona-fide Hall of Fame candidate. His stellar career has been something that the fans of the game can truly appreciate . Albeit the season for the Twins has been a tremendous letdown within the AL Central .

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There hasn’t been much for Ron Gardenhire and his staff to be truly appreciative of even with the recent —- record of the team within the division . Bill Smith the team’s general manager has been appreciative of what Jim Thome has brought to the team apart from his contributions. If anything the player sees himself as tutor to the younger members of this organization and that if anything shows what the seasoned veteran has been about and what he simply represents as a player.

Injuries have plagued the Minnesota Twins this season and with the front office seeking not to make any trade deadline moves the loss of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer over the course of the year simply meant that the team would not make much of a challenge within the division .

The AL Central remains a close and suspenseful thriller between the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers . Both teams are playing some solid baseball but if anything of late the Indians have been very inconsistent in terms of their play and they now know they are in for a real challenge if they are to have any chance of making the postseason . Given the history the history of the Indians in terms of the baseball playoffs there is a great deal on the line for the organization. The Detroit Tigers for their part under Jim Leyland along with his coaching staff know that this is perhaps their best chance obtaining a postseason berth and adding to the Tigers’ history in that endeavor . GM Dave Dombrowski having assembled a team that’s built for a run at the World Series . Leading the way for the Tigers is their Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander along with Brandon Inge and Miguel Cabrera . The race within the division now rests on the play of both teams down the home stretch run .

As to what’s now expected over the ensuing months I would very much like to see Jim Thome hit that landmark of 600 home runs ! Given the talent of players who have now reached that mark this only adds to the legacy of the player’s esteemed career. Now granted , there will always be controversy surrounding Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds the all-time home runs leader. The distinction of the 600 home run plateau much like the landmark of Jeter reaching the 3,000 hits’ mark is not lost on the players and its importance in terms of that legacy of becoming a member of the Hall of Fame .

It certainly will be interesting what will be made as the writers make their adjudications concerning the players eligible for the Hall of Fame. Undoubtedly Thome’s name will be amongst those eligible upon his retirement and meeting the criteria of set forth by the committee adjudicating and then voting on the nominees due for enshrinement.

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What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this article ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and thanks once again for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated .

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

Contact …….. rapptu@gmail.com

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(1) Jim Thome (25) of the Minnesota Twins reacts to striking out against the Chicago White Sox in the second inning on August 7, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ….

(2) Jim Thome (25) of the Minnesota Twins looks on during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians on August 6, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The White Sox defeated the Twins 6-1 . Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ….)

(3) Jim Thome (25) of the Minnesota Twins strikes out to end the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the ninth inning of the game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 4, 2011 in Anaheim, California. The Angels won 7-1 . Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images …..

(4) Tsuyoshi Nishioka (1) of the Minnesota Twins speaks to members of the media as manager Ron Gardenhire (L) and general manager Bill Smith (C) look on during a press conference December 18, 2010 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Getty Images / Hannah Foslien …..

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Tick Tock , Tick Tock , Time Is Now Moving Fast In Baseball ……..

Tick Tock , Tick Tock , Time Is Now Moving Fast In Baseball ……..

Well it’s that time of the year when the eyes of the sports’ world is now peering on baseball’s showcase event. The 2011 All Star Game is set for tonight with the AL taking on the NL with with it comes to the privilige of having homefield advantage throughout the World Series . And given the idiocy of the events that took place in 2002 with the game ending in a tie and Commissioner Bud Selig looking to explain that this was the best possible outcome from an extremely exhilarating game. Somehow I simply hope that that the commissioner has the temerity to show some common sense in determining a fair result . Perhaps the commissioner may well have the players from both rosters spoon each other until they reach that height of ecstasy . Given the stupidity of the many judgments rendered by him over the years I really do believe that it is now for him to hang it up and ride off into the sunset !

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I’ve read a number of pieces questioning whether or not realignment of the divisions would be of benefit to the game , bringing in a much more competitive nature and rivalries within baseball. To me that’s simply dressing up a pig and then asserting that it now looks like a sow ! It’s simply a damn stupid idea that makes no sense at all. The problems within the game have more to do with the financial imbalances and the mere fact that the owners , league hierarchy and general managers haven’t got a God damn clue ! Rather than looking to solve the problem they are ignoring it , and carrying on as usual. And we are now seeing how that is working out for the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets ?

Seemingly it had to take Frank McCourt to create his own web of deceit , lies that would all but bring the Dodgers to the brink of financial disaster (in filing Chapter 11 [ financial reorganization]) before the league hierarchy under Bud Selig sought to act with any real action. It’s a pity that the team hasn’t gone under then perhaps the other idiot owners around the league would perhaps pull their heads out of their ass and begin to address the inherent problems that are now encircling the game beyond the financial strains that no doubt many of them are now facing ! And if anyone is under the impression that the dye has been cast concerning this episode then they are mistaken . One now simply has to preamble over to the mess that’s now unraveling within the New York Mets’ organization . And that is even with the advent of the $200 million cash infusion made by hedge fund manager David Einhorn into the ball-club in taking a minority stake in the team. I can only surmise that principal partners and co-owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon have assured the young Wall St phenom wunderkind that his money is indeed safe . At present the organization and both principal partners are the defendants in a civil suit that seeks to recoup in excess of $750 million as part of the monies received by the New York Mets and the owners’ associate company Sterling Equities Inc which we are told is from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon have plead their innocence stating that they ……… “are victims themselves having lost countless millions”. Though not inconceivable I find it somewhat ironic that two men who co-founded an investment company some three decades ago could have been so easily duped given their alleged financial experience and those the of the executives of Sterling Equities Inc ! But these are merely my own suspicions and thoughts on the matter ! Afterall we can only take them at their word can’t we ? But then again did you know that the Golden Gate Bridge is up for sale at a reasonable price ?

With several marquee players now taking their leave in not playing in the game due to injury we will still see the event with many of its stars on parade. The New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez won’t be participating in the All Star Game with Jeter recusing himself and Rodriguez bowing out due to surgery to repair a torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee. With that said it now remains to be seen how this will be viewed by the fans in general with two of the game’s biggest stars not appearing.

Jeter having come off attaining his 3,000th hit as a player and along with the New York Yankees’ alltime hits’ lead . But for Jeter this simply isn’t about attaining feats but more to do with leading this team to another World Series title . The division within which the New York Yankees reside is now turning into a real barn burner and I’ve no doubt it will be long drawn out dog fight between all of the participants there ! The AL East has always been viewed as perhaps the most competitive of all divisions within baseball. This year I’ve no doubt that the race for the wildcard berth and division will all hinge on the play of the Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays down the final stretch run of the season . It’s pretty much safe to say that both the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles won’t be in the thick of things as far as this divisional race is concerned.

Now it goes without saying that we have seen considerable amount to be pleased about concerning the play of the teams during the season. Earlier on this year I had a rather contentious and often ridiculous interface with a patron who would suggest that the Kansas City Royals are in the midst of a turnaround in terms of their play . Suffice to say that turnaround has yet to come into being and when you consider that the team now resides at the foot of the AL Central with a sub .500 record (37-54) can someone explain to me what signs there are that would suggest that this team much less the organization is really in the midst of a resurgence ?

While I’m sincere in seeing all of the league’s teams do well in the game I have never been one to sugar coat what I see as something delusional when I’m being told that a team is on the rise . The game of baseball has become about the immediacy of here and now ………..“what have you done for me lately ” ? And it is certainly not what you’re about to do quite possibly do in thee , four or five years from now ! If that were the case then the game itself simply wouldn’t be a worthwhile endeavor for the fans to be a willing participant as an observer . The fans want to see their teams do well each season not simply struggle then to fall by the wayside . And then it all comes down to excuses as to what might have been or even perhaps injuries played a part in their demise . Does anyone remember where the team finished at season’s end in 2010 ?

There have been strong suggestions this season we are in the midst of seeing the rise of the pitcher and it has to be said the season being had by Jered Weaver , Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia would has me believing that the AL Cy Young Award won’t be that easy to pick an outright winner . All three are worthy candidates and one would simply be naive at this juncture to suggest that we know who the winner ought to be at this juncture .

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PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 12: National League All-Star Brian Wilson(38) of the San Francisco Giants reacts with teammates catcher National League All-Star Miguel Montero (26) of the Arizona Diamondbacks and National League All-Star Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds after making the save to win the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The National League defeated the American League 5-1. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

Speaking as a fan of the teams within the NL I am hoping that Jair Jurrjens with the season he’s having can rise above the fray and succeed and show that the fans it’s not simply about the Philadelphia Phillies’ pitching rotation this season . The Phillies’ trio of Roy Halladay , Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee have lit up the league with their stellar displays and perhaps unequivocally justifying why they’re viewed as the prohibitive favorites for the NLCS .

As I alluded to earlier if Jair Jurrjens can usurp the Phillies’ trio of aces then perhaps Atlanta Braves can make a go of it this season and make light of the thought that many do not believe that they are good enough to win the NL East . They are now proving that and a great deal more by being competitive not just within the division but across the entire league . Manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff now have this team playing with a great deal of passion and I’d like to think that he’s in with a chance of winning the NL Manager of The Year Award but it would appear with the current play of the Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle would appear to be if not the consensus winner then the clear cut favorite for the award.

We are often told that stars are created because we need them to be there to bring about a sense of security and our passion for the game . And I guess that this indeed true of any individual or team sport ! This year however we have seen the ascent of Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista as their stars have risen into the stratosphere . The two players within the AL have all but a strangle-hold on the offensive categories within the AL . Suffice to say that without the duo in question their respective teams might not even be playing with any sort of the competitive juices to be had . And OK , each year for some reason the Blue Jays start fast right out of the gate only to stumble and fall before the halfway point in the season. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays , their fans and their front office they seem to have forgotten that the season is one of 162 arduous games and that you have to be in it for the long haul .

Both Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista could very well be battling it out at the end of the season for the AL MVP Award if there’s to be any justice within the game , as the duo have stood head and shoulders above their rivals within the American League .

National League’s Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers holds his MVP award following the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. The National League won 5-1 . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …….

With the second half of the season resuming as of tomorrow it certainly will be interesting to see what transpires for the teams said to be in contention for their respective divisions as well as the wildcard berths within both leagues. And as a fan of the Atlanta Braves my greatest wish is to see the team make the postseason and simply acquit themselves as against any prospective opponent that they are likely to face . What happens thereafter all comes down to the breaks that they make for themselves rather than the opportunities offered them by an opponent .

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

This season within baseball what thoughts if any do you have on the events that have taken place ? And how best do you feel that the league hierarchy can deal with some of the problems that they now face ? And what team or teams , player or players have actually surprised you with their performances so far ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

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

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) FILE – In this April 26, 2011, file photo former New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez throws a pitch during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. The Milwaukee Brewers acquired former All-Star reliever Francisco Rodriguez and cash from the New York Mets on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in exchange for two players to be named. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta ….

(2) American League’s Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays is tagged out at home plate by National League’s Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves after trying to score on a hit by American League’s Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers during the fourth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. The NL would go on to defeat the AL 5-1 . AP Photo/David J. Phillip ….

(3) PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 12: A general view of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(4) (L-R) National League All-Star Jair Jurrjens (49) of the Atlanta Braves, National League All-Star Starlin Castro (13) of the Chicago Cubs, National League All-Star Brandon Phillips (4) of the Cincinnati Reds, National League All-Star Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds and National League All-Star Jay Bruce (32) of the Cincinnati Reds stand before the start of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……

(5) (L-R) American League All-Star Josh Hamilton (32) of the Texas Rangers stands with American League All-Star Adrian Beltre (29) of the Texas Rangers and American League All-Star David Ortiz (34) of the Boston Red Sox before the start of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images …..

(6) (L-R) Daniel Hernandez Jr. and Joe Garagiola Sr. throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Hernandez is credited with helping to save U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in January and Garagiola was a former MLB player and long time announcer. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ….

(7) American League All-Star Carlos Quentin (20) of the Chicago White Sox swings during an at bat in the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(8) PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 12: National League All-Star Brian Wilson(38) of the San Francisco Giants reacts with teammates catcher National League All-Star Miguel Montero (26) of the Arizona Diamondbacks and National League All-Star Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds after making the save to win the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The National League defeated the American League 5-1. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(9) American League’s Adrian Gonzalez of the Boston Red Sox hits a solo home run during the fourth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(10) National League’s Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers holds his MVP award following the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. The National League won 5-1 . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …….
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American League Category leaders alongside

Batting Avg —- Adrian Gonzalez

Hits —- Adrian Gonzalez

Home runs —-Jose Bautista

RBI’s —- Adrian Gonzalez

Pitching

Wins —- C C Sabathia

ERA —- Jered Weaver


National League
Category leaders alongside

Batting Avg.Jose Reyes

Hits —- Jose Reyes

Home runs —- Lance Berkman

RBI’s —- Prince Fielder

Pitching

Wins —- Jair Jurrjens

ERA —-
Jair Jurrjens

2010 MLB Awards

What’s Happening In The World of Sports … ?

What’s Happening In The World of Sports … ?

Well now that the MLB season is slowly progressing towards its halfway point and with the league’s midseason showcase event due in July with the All Star Game being hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field , in Phoenix , Arizona. It well be interesting to see how the teams come into the break in terms of their overall form .

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The standings at present reflect that Philadelphia Phillies seem to be intent on running away with the NL East . They currently hold a 5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves within the division and though it’s way too early to suggest that they will be playing for the NLCS during the postseason but it would appear that the only thing that can derail the Phillies’ season would be their own complacency . Within the NL Central and NL West it would appear the races there are too close to call between the top two teams within each division . Tight races tend to add a great deal more excitement to the season and there’s no doubt in my mind that’s what the fans really yearn . And that is liable to be the case at present within both of the divisions in question .

Within the AL it’s business as usual within the AL East where the Boston Red Sox are now prepared to show that their recent form isn’t merely an aberration. On a two game winning streak and winners of nine of their last ten games the Red Sox now look as if they’re look distance themselves from the rest of the division. Their 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field was certainly a hard fought win but that’s simply the mindset of what now is the most competitive division within baseball. This division to my mind will most certainly provide the wildcard entrant for AL without a doubt unless there’s a monumental meltdown by the runner up to the winner of the AL East.

As was the premise with the NL Central and NL West well once again here too the races may well be too close to call within the AL Central and AL West . What we can be certain of within both divisions is that the teams won’t be giving up until the divisions are mathematically out of their reach in terms of winning or possibly attaining that lone wildcard berth .

Now as much as I know that Commissioner Bud Selig the league hierarchy in conjunction with the team owners have proposed expanding the playoffs’ format by adding two more teams within each league . I certainly believe that the hierarchy’s biggest issue is to deal with the financial problems now engulfing a number of teams within the league rather than adding to the playoffs and further elongating the season far more than it needs to be. I mean it’s not as if Selig has actually shown the propensity for being proactive on any issue unless he’s dragged kicking and screaming , then being forced to make a decision. Simply look at the morass created by Frank McCourt with the Los Angeles Dodgers ? If that’s not enough of an indication to show mind numbingly slow Selig was in acting , given the fact that it had been widely reported that the franchise was financially troubled . Then clearly Bud Selig along with the owners and league hierarchy were in fact so naive but perhaps even more so , too damn stupid for their own good .

I’m not about to try understand the fascination with Ricky Rubio and the fact that the player now says he’s ready to play in the NBA . Granted , having been drafted in 2009 by the Minnesota Timberwolves , the player sought to forgo joining the organization and play an additional two years in Europe where the financial inducement there was far greater than the front office could have offered with a rookie contract. Team owner Glen Taylor and GM David Kahn now feel that the player having made the decision to join the team can provide them with the form and maturity that simply belies his age.

In the aftermath of a horrendous season the Timberwolves now have to deal with the disatisfaction of their incumbent coach Kurt Rambis and the mere fact that neither Glen Taylor or David Kahn have assured their beleaguered coach that he’ll be asked to return next season. With there not being a plethora of viable candidates out there to succeed Rambis should he be relieved of his duties . I would have thought that the the general manager and team owner would want to reassure the coach that his job is safe. Furthermore , with the NBA Draft due to take place on 23rd June I certainly would have thought that a coaching upheaval would be the last things that this franchise now needs . But herein lies the idiocy of how the Timberwolves have simply acted , as if in a vacuum and perhaps one of the reasons why they’ve simply had little success over the last five years. Beset by rather asinine personnel decisions made not only by Kahn but also his predecessor Kevin McHale this organization has never gained any traction in terms of success .

With the Minnesota Timberwolves having the number # 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft it will be interesting to see the decision made by the organization. As such there isn’t a genuine consensus number one pick but the thought is that the two most desirable players could well be Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams . From there , it’s anyone’s guess as to what format will be then taken in terms of the players taken in this Draft .

As the NFL work stoppage has already entered its ninetieth day I can’t help but wonder what the optimism amongst the team owners , league hierarchy and players appears to be about ! Hell, both sides have already alienated the vast majority of fans to begin with . And no amount of public statements coming from both sides concerning the progress now being made can simply hide the fact that what we have are two groups of greedy fucking bastards ! The average salary of an NFL player is $1.9 million per year with the median salary $770,000 and the average career span being approximately three and a half years . I understand that the players are entitled the highest possible salary available to them given the inherent risks of the game . But herein lies my question do they try and identify themselves with the fan out there ? I’ve heard a number of players during this stoppage state their issues are no different from that of any employee in the work place . Personally, I seriously doubt that the working fan who attends an NFL game can actually identify with the likes of Tom Brady , Peyton Manning or even Reggie Bush for that matter when their salaries run into the millions each season . Whereas as the average salary nationwide is approximately $44,000 per year , one can well understand that fan can hardly identify with a player who’s compensation package , endorsements notwithstanding can easily exceed $15 million a year.

From a fan’s standpoint , at this moment in time I couldn’t really care if the NFL starts on schedule as planned on the 8th September 2011 . Once this dispute came into being with a stoppage the NFL simply lost me and many others as long term fans . I’m of no doubt that they will however do their utmost to lure us all back with some form of inducement that we might too unbelievable to turn down . It has already began with a number of teams around the NFL in many cases offering deep discounts on for the purchase of season tickets and game day tickets in a number of instances .

So the US Open golf tournament is underway and all of this without the game’s biggest draw in Tiger Woods . The stage is set at Congressional Golf Club in Bethseda , Maryland for any one of a number of players to step into Woods’ shoes and show the fans they can become the main draw for the event . From my own standpoint the moment made the announcement that he wouldn’t be participating in the second Major of the season I simply knew that the tournament could either become a monumental disaster from spectators yearning for excitement . As it now stands the leaderboard for the tournament midway through two rounds isn’t exactly awe inspiring . Rory McIlroy leads the event with an eight stroke lead at -11 (11 under par). And to think that a patron stated that the player’s meltdown in the year’s first Major The Masters was simply because he wasn’t good enough . I guess when your knowledge of the game borders on the level of Palin’s knowledge of jurisprudence and the number of members seated on the US Supreme Court I guess you simply have to take that for all it’s worth ? Sitting solely in second place is Y. E. Yang at -3 , in third place is Robert Garrigus at .-2.

There is still two more rounds to be played in this tournament but if McIlroy is able to keep his composure with the pressure bearing down on him then it is my belief that he can win this tournament and cement his credentials as one of the best young players on the PGA Tour . Having already established himself on the European Tour as well as a member of a winning European Ryder Cup team the future bodes well for the young Irishman . In an earlier article I had intimated that I firmly believe that the US Open could be won by a foreigner as I felt that the US born players have now simply become too disinterested in their national championship and in large , the Majors themselves . With there being vast sums at stake on the Tour schedule and total prize money in excess of $ 225 million it begs the question are they actually interested in winning or merely cashing a check for a top twenty finish ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

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

Picture and slide show for your perusal .

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(1) Philadelphia Phillies’ Ryan Howard (6) celebrates with teammates after hitting a solo home run against the Florida Marlins in the fifth inning of a baseball game on Thursday, June 16, 2011, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 3-0 . AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr ….

(2) PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 16: PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 16: during the game against the at Citizens Bank Park on June 16, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 3-0. Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images ….

(3) Outfielder B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays steals second base as shortstop Marco Scutaro (10) of the Boston Red Sox is late with the tag during the game at Tropicana Field on June 16, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(4) Pitching coach Jim Hickey (48) of the Tampa Bay Rays talks with pitcher David Price (14) during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on June 16, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Red Sox would go on to defeat the Rays 4-2 Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(5) Spanish basketball player Ricky Rubio gives a press conference on June 17, 2011, at the Nou Camp Stadium in Barcelona, to announce that he was leaving the Catalan team to make his debut in the NBA next season at Minnesota Timberwolves.
AFP PHOTO / JOSEP LAGO /Getty Images …

(6) Head coach Kurt Rambis of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts to a play against the Houston Rockets during a game on April 13, 2011 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images …

(7) T’wolves’ GM David Kahn (foreground) and the team’s owner Glen Taylor answer questions from the convened press at a team press conference. picture appears courtesy of espn.com/ ap/photo/ Martin Geshell ……………….

(8) Tom Brady and Peyton Manning shake hands after an NFL game . The two celebrated quarterbacks are amongst the highest paid players in the NFL . Getty Images/ Jim Rogash ……

(9) BETHESDA, MD – JUNE 17: The handwritten scores of Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland in the press room during the second round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 17, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images ……

(10) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland swings from the bunker on the ninth hole during the second round of the 111th US Open at Congressional Country Club on June 17, 2011, in Bethesda, Maryland. TOPSHOTS/AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON ….

(11) Y. E. Yang, of South Korea, watches his drive from the fourth tee during the second round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament in Bethesda, Md., Friday, June 17, 2011. AP Photo/Eric Gay …..

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Sports News in general

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Coach Kurt Rambis

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2011 US Open Leaderboard

It’s The Results That Matter …………………

It’s The Results That Matter

Well the baseball season is slowly unfolding and as it to be expected the highs and low of the season are to be expected . The Minnesota Twins it appears is on its way to becoming synonymous with mediocrity within baseball for this season . It will be interesting to see if the team does indeed end up with the worst record in baseball at season’s end. And for Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire this can’t have been what he expected for his team and the very fact that their All Star catcher Joe Mauer was lost to the Twins for a prolonged period. The Minnesota Twins for their part have made Target Field in Minnesota something of an elephant’s graveyard with the mediocre play and lack of the real cohesion as a team .

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It would appear having got back to winning ways of sort in defeating the Texas Rangers —- 8-1 one would have thought that victory would enough to provide the Twins’ fans with some form of relief but nothing could be further from the truth. The Minnesota Twins are languishing at the bottom of the NL Central with a 25-39 record , some 10 games behind the division leading Cleveland Indians (34-28). Having won 8 of their last ten games the Twins continue to struggle and one would be hard pressed to believe that over the remainder of the season they could prove to be serious challengers not just for the division but also for a wildcard berth within the AL .

The month of June will tell us a great deal as to the directions that a number of teams will be taking . From a personal standpoint although I just can’t see the Twins making any sort of change that would have me believing that they can actually turn things around . This team appears to be lacking in confidence and I doubt that Gardenhire and his coaching staff can now coax this team to play with any level of consistency in spite of their last ten games. This has been a season thus far that I believe that the Twins’ fans and players would rather forget as they simply move systematically back and forth in terms of an uneven season .

The CONCACAF Gold Cup has started and no doubt Team USA under the management of coach Bob Bradley was hoping to see the team show some improvement as a sign that they are heading in the right direction in lieu of the FIFA —- World Cup (2014) in Brazil in 2012 . The team is off to an inauspicious start in Group C having played three games , winning one , a draw and a rather embarrassing 2-1 loss to Panama . If anything this result shows that Bradley faces a stiff challenging a team that will have the right traits not only to qualify for the World Cup but also have some semblance in winning the Gold Cup.

Viewed as a pre tournament contender and favorite alongside Mexico the team still stands a good chance of making out of the group qualifying rounds before the format of the tournament then becomes a knockout competition . Starved of an out and out attacker with formidable goal scoring talent this has simply been the Bradley’s biggest lament . In the tournament the team’s joint top scorers are Clint Dempsey are Clarence Goodson with one goal apiece . I have always maintained that the real problem with the game of soccer resonating amongst the large majority of the fans here comes from the very fact that it is merely viewed as a recreational pass-time . And even though MLS a divisional endeavor is up and running the league itself still struggles to create any form of a seismic rumble amongst fans . Granted with the number of international stars acquired to add some glamor to the league it really hasn’t helped given the fact that the likes of Thierry Henry , David Beckham and Maicon Santos are either players who were unable to establish themselves domestically in their respective countries or in the cases of Henry and Beckham their best is simply now a thing of the past.

This Gold Cup was obviously viewed as a precursor for the upcoming World Cup and with Bradley obviously wanting gain some semblance of consistency instead he now has a team that is bereft of creativity and ideas in light of this rather humiliating 2-1 loss to Panama a team that seven times out of ten they should beat handily .

The team now faces a stern test in their next game to be played with Group C against Guadeloupe on the 14 th June . A win is a necessity if they’re to not only qualify from the group but also gain a favorable match-up in the knockout phase of the competition . It remains to be seen whether or not Bradley will be able to regroup his players and have them ready in time for the match .

At the start of the NBA season it seemed that in large part the vast majority of fans were already prepared to anoint the Miami Heat as NBA champions even before the season had started . With the acquisitions of Chris Bosh and LeBron James to add alongside Dwyane Wade it appeared that all the Heat had to do was to simply waltz their way through their schedule and lay waste to the opposition during the postseason . Well as stories go this was a script that was still being written for the drama that would be played out in the NBA Finals .

The Dallas Mavericks may well be viewed as the underdogs coming into this series but if anything only a fool would actually have felt that way and there’s a reason why Vegas simply lured the suckers in with the odds favoring the Heat . Up 3-2 in the best of seven game series and with the final two games being on the Heat’s home-court of AAA Arena , Miami , Florida in order to close out the series . The Heat players in particular James and Wade knew exactly what was on the line for them not only in terms of the team players but the franchise as a whole . Team President Pat Riley and team owner Micky Arison’s master plan had been put into effect. An assortment of role players to surround their trio of superstars and all that had to be completed would be the defeat of the Mavericks to justify the whole experiment and season as a whole .
If only the Heat players and in particular James , Wade and Bosh had left their enormous egos at the door ! Instead we saw how complacent all three had become and the classness of their demeanor throughout much of the series . And for Erik Spoelstra one has to wonder whether or not some of the blame will be layed at his door beyond that of the players and in particular the triumvirate of superstars ?

Contempt and ignorance when it manifests itself in a team , then more often than not it tends to lead to disaster and it became a reality for the Miami Heat as their hold on what they believe to be rightfully theirs was taken right out of their presumed grasp by a Mavericks’ team that simply hungered for the title even more so than their opponent . Dirk Nowitzki along with Jason Terry and JJ Barea simply showed why at times it’s great to see the good guys actually win ! The trio led the team by example and outplayed the Heat when it mattered most and by securing the deciding game six victory 105-95 the Dallas Mavericks would secure the organization’s first NBA title . And for the victorious team owner Mark Cuban this had to be the most relishing moment in his tenure as the owner of the basketball club .
Perhaps the most heart warming moment after the Finals had ended was in knowing that seasoned veterans Jason Terry , Nowitzki and Jason Kidd could finally acknowledge that they can indeed now be looked upon as being champions .

Dirk Nowitzki justifiably so , was named Finals MVP with his stellar play throughout the postseason and the Finals itself . On the flip side of the case that will now be made ……….. was the hyperbole over the Heat simply worth it considering how lackluster this team’s performances were ? We had James and Wade mocking Nowitzki’s illness prior to game 6 and even if it were meant in jest it showed how lacking in class the duo were ! Pretty much sums up how best to describe a bunch of self absorbed athletes who simply believe that the entitlement mentality and adoration makes them the persons that they are ! From my own perspective I am thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle of seeing the Heat being hoisted on their own petards in front of their home crowd . It makes that defeat all the more embarrassing not just for the fans but the whole organization as a whole . Perhaps after this James and Wade will have at least learned some civility rather than the odious behavior that they’d shown throughout much of the regular and postseason. The results matter but so too does the demeanor under which a team carries themselves during a sporting event and that simply wasn’t shown here with the Miami Heat. Decorum was never within their sphere as they simply strolled around without any deference to anyone at all !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

Alan aka tophatal ……………………

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JUNE 11: Arthur Rhodes (53) of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the eighth inning of their game on June 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rangers 8-1. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images …..

(2) Delmon Young (21) of the Minnesota Twins singles against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of their game on June 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rangers 8-1. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images …….

(3) Ben Revere (11) of the Minnesota Twins steals second base as shortstop Elvis Andrus (1) of the Texas Rangers catches the ball during the fourth inning of their game on June 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rangers 8-1. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ………..

(4) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JUNE 11: Alexi Casilla (12) of the Minnesota Twins hits an RBI single while Mike Napoli (25) of the Texas Rangers defends home plate during the fourth inning of their game on June 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rangers 8-1. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ….

(5) Clarence Goodson (21) of Team United States celebrates his goal against Team Panama during the CONCACAF Gold Cup Match at Raymond James Stadium on June 11, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. Getty Images / J Meric ……..

(6) Jozy Altidore (17) of Team United States advances the ball against Team Panama during the CONCACAF Gold Cup Match at Raymond James Stadium on June 11, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. J Meric / Getty Images North America ….

(7) Team Panama celebrates their victory over Team United States during the CONCACAF Gold Cup Match at Raymond James Stadium on June 11, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images North America ……

(8) Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban carries the NBA Championship basketball trophy as he leads the team off the jet after their arrival at Love Field in Dallas, Monday, June 13, 2011. The Mavericks beat the Heat to win the championship. AP Photo/LM Otero ….

(9) “I am not a pussy . ” LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat looks on dejected against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …..

(10) Tyson Chandler (right) of the Dallas Mavericks attempts a shot against Miami Heat in the Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. AFP PHOTO / POOL / David J. Phillip ……

(11) TOPSHOTS : Dirk Nowitzki(notes) (R) of the Dallas Mavericks shoots before Chris Bosh(notes) (L) of the Miami Heat during Game 6 of the NBA Finals on June 12, 2011 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT ….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

Alan aka tophatal ………………………………

Picture and slide show details .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Time To Put Up Or Shut Up …………

It’s Time To Put Up Or Shut Up …………

It now becomes a battle and test of wills but somehow the Los Angeles Lakers as two time defending champions will have to prove that they’re worthy of the mantel of being champions . Now down 0-3 in series that most on paper would have the Lakers winning with ease the Lakers now find themselves caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea. The Dallas Mavericks have all but placed that last nail in the coffin of the Lakers during this less than suspenseful series . It’s hard to explain but the Lakers faltering at this juncture has more to do with the mindset and complacency that has beset not only this team but also the organization as a whole. The acquisitions made by the Lakers as an addition this team if anything hasn’t improved the Lakers albeit that they ended up with the second best record within the Western Conference .

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Slide show for your perusal .

It seems inconceivable that Phil Jackson and the two time —— defending champions could find themselves in such a position . I don’t know about you but until the white flag of surrender has been raised I think that no there’s no way in hell that the Lakers will give up this series without a fight . That being said if Kobe Bryant is the only one prepared to step up to the plate then there’s really not much else to be said concerning the complete ineptitude shown by the Lakers shown throughout this series . Bryant may well be of the belief that there’s still a great deal to fight for but he ought to remind his teammates that they ought to get their fat asses off the sidelines and man the fu_k up !

I don’t know about you but I’ve long held the opinion that boxing is actually on its last legs . I find it ironic that a sport that once gripped the nation has now become nothing more than after thought amongst the vast majority of sports fans . The heavyweight division and the title itself was once deemed the most prestigious individual title in sports now that division as well as the title itself has become a parody and metaphor for that is actually wrong with the sport. Manny Pacquiao may well be viewed as the face of the sport at present but once he retires this sport may as well fold its tent and pack it all up. There are no longer any real legitimate stars that can be viewed as the future of the sport and those who are now coming to the fore in many respect they lack a personality and if anything they lack a great deal of skill. Promoters such as Don King , Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya have made the sport a complete laughing stock as the pre-eminent promoters within boxing . The welterweight title bout that took place this past weekend between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosely which was staged at the MGM Grand Casino & Resort in Las Vegas , Ne was if anything , something of a non- event. For twelve utterly boring rounds these two champions of the sport staged a fight that was simply so boring that I for one thought the fans would have been better off seeing two octogenarians in the ring trading blows . Mosely a three time three division champion fought a lackluster fight and and his Filipino opponent simply was unable to live up to the hype that many have now come to expect from the all action spectacles he’s given us the majority of his long and illustrious career.

Pacquiao won a unanimous twelve round decision and with it his legacy is still in tact as the best pound for pound fighter on the planet. At this juncture I do believe that it would be in Pacquiao’s best interest to retitre as there are no more challenges left for him to attain. A potential blockbuster bout against Floyd Mayweather seems to be a thing of the past and with Mayweather’s ongoing legal troubles I for one seriously doubt that fight will ever take place .

Two no hitters have been thrown within seventy two hours and the latest was attained by the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander in his team’s —– 9-0 shellacking of the Toronto Blue Jays . This has been the second time that Verlander has achieved this feat and if anything he’s proven why it is that he may well be one of the main contenders for the AL Cy Young Award this season. I don’t know about you but I’ve never considered the Blue Jays a team that could compete within the AL East much less the rest of baseball ! They’ve not been competitive in a decade and a half at least and while the feat of that no hitter can be considered an excellent feat . Come on now we’re talking the Blue Jays ! . Watching that team hit is like watching the likes of Mitt Romney , Joe Biden and Tim Geithner explain the inherent problems that plague the US economy. They’re simply too stupid to explain it even in laymen’s terms that anyone could actually comprehend and likewise with anyone who actually feels that the Blue Jays are a team that can be viewed as being competitive.

As to the Tigers’ own aspirations this season within the AL Central I do believe that once again they’ll simply underachieve as they have done over the past five seasons . This team has been way too inconsistent for my liking and I feel that Jim Leyland and his coaching staff I do believe are bereft real ideas as to how best to get the optimum out of this team . GM Dave Dombrowski will no doubt make the appropriate acquisitions at the trade deadline needed to make the Tigers competitive enough to be considered a legitimate contender for the World Series .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

Alan aka tophatal ………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant leaves the floor after the Lakers lost 122-86 to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Sunday, May 8, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks swept the series. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …..

(2) Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, right front, and business partner Todd R. Wagner embrace after the Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 122-86 in Game 4 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Sunday, May 8, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks swept the series. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ………..

(3) Teammates rush out as Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander(notes), center right, and catcher Alex Avila(notes) celebrate Verlander’s no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays in a baseball game in Toronto on Saturday, May 7, 2011. The Tigers won 9-0. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese ……

(4) Shane Mosley of the US falls down after being punched by Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines (L) in their bout for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title at the Garden Arena in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 7, 2011. Pacquiao retained the WBO welterweight title by beating Mosley to extend his winning streak to 14 bouts. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS ……

(5) (L-R) Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines throws a right at Shane Mosley in the WBO welterweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 7, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP/Photo Gabriel Bouys …….

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MLB News

MLB Scoreboard

MLB Scores & results 7th May 2011

NBA News

NBA schedule Sunday 8th May 2011

They Came , They Saw , They Conquered ………………..

They Came , They Saw , They Conquered …………….

Well they came, they saw they conquered and the post-game interview by San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich essentially was magnanimous in defeat but clearly couldn’t explain his team’s inauspicious departure from the NBA Playoffs in the first round . A 99-91 defeat on the Memphis Grizzlies’ home-court at the Fedex Forum , in Memphis , Tennesse left the home crowd fans ecstatic as their team will now make their first appearance in a conference semi finals where they will face the high flying Oklahoma City Thunder .

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Slide show for your perusal .

Now for only the second time since expansion of the playoff format from a five game first round to the best of seven series’ format has a number one seed bowed out the of the NBA Playoffs in the first round. This 4-2 series loss will certainly have its ramifications and repercussions as the Spurs’ management assess and reassess why they failed so miserably . GM R C Burford and Popovich’s coaching staff will certainly have to look at this roster and note where their deficiencies are . Most certainly to my mind the contributions of Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess were minimal at best but what might be even more disturbing was the fact that the Grizzlies man-handled the Spurs with seasoned veteran Zach Randoplh being allowed to shred the defense almost at will . Randolph’s heroics was indicative of what has gone on throughout this series all along with him being allowed to roam free _____ but he was also ably abetted by Marc Gasol , Shane Batter and Mike Conley whose play at the point guard position has developed since his entrance into the NBA . It has been a profound disappointment to me in seeing the San Antonio Spurs bow out of the playoffs but I’ve seen the highs and lows of this organization. Remarkable as this might seem the Spurs have made the postseason for fourteen straight consecutive seasons and have averaged 55 wins per season over that time frame . As an avowed Spurs’ fan it goes without saying that in the aftermath of this series loss the organization will undoubtedly have to make some changes .

As to the Memphis Grizzlies their postseason is now in their own hands and they can essentially write their own story as to their aspirations . This much we do know their season has shown us all what to expect when you have no doubts as to your own will to win . That if anything to my mind was most definitely lacking in the persona of the San Antonio Spurs !

Just when I thought things simply couldn’t get anymore asinine with regard to the NFL lockout it has been reported that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals have rescinded Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s original verdict , which now allows the NFL owners and league enforce the lockout . Never mind the fact that the league hierarchy has gone ahead with the NFL Draft which is being staged at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City and culminates with the seventh and final round of picks this Saturday 30th April , 2011. As contentious and litigious as this episode has become I can’t but help wonder why bother with all the facade being created by the league with the staging of the draft ?

I’ve always maintained that the league created this monster with the alleged labor relates issues and that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seriously underestimated the hierarchy of the NFLPA which has now become a trade association. That being said neither party is without fault here with the asinine stance that each party has taken in being unable to decide how to split the $ 9 billion in revenues that the league has coming into its coffers each season . And as ridiculous as it may sound , neither side wants to be viewed as being the culprit here but in essence this has simply been about sheer greed with little if anything really having to deal with any inherent labor issues ! Question if you can’t find a way to seriously deliberate how best find a solution sharing $ 9 billion amenably then what would that suggest to you about both of the parties involved ? Greed or merely that both the league hierarchy and union are simply too stupid for their own good ?

Andy Dalton welcome to the NFL and you now more likely than not will supplant Carson Palmer in the pecking order for the quarterback position with the Cincinnati Bengals . Given the Bengals’ disastrous 2010 season where Palmer and his teammates were an immense disappointment having been the AFC North divisional champions in 2009, 2010 simply showed how much the team had simply regressed.

Bengals’ coach Marvin Lewis knows that his job is on the line this season and anything short of a divisional title and postseason berth and effectively his managerial career with the organization will come to an abrupt end . As for Andy Dalton this now becomes his team to lead in light of the continued displeasure of Carson Palmer and his wish to be traded . However with the player’s demands having not been met and the continued scenario within the NFL his only option appears to be to proceed with his original announcement that he would retire if his demands were not met . Personally, if this is indicative of quarterbacks coming out of USC and the fact that they have no heart or will a will to win once in the NFL then my advice to Palmer would be ………. “see ya wouldn’t want to be ya and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out ” !

Unequivocably the game of baseball is in a complete mess and this season has simply been indicative of that. If anything it hasn’t been the play of of the teams on the field that have made the headlines but namely the stories off it. Frank McCourt is now prepared to challenge the league’s hierarchy in providing an outside presence to deal with the day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers . McCourt as the team’s owner has if anything been a complete ass in thinking that he can place this organization in dire financial straits but at the same time fails to address the issue as to why he needed to borrow some $30 million from the local LA Fox affiliate to meet the team’s budgetary expenses for the month of April. Frank McCourt has also maintained that the league hierarchy has within their possession documents related to a possible television deal with Fox that woud pay the Dodgers $3 billion over the next two decades . At this juncture it simply means nothing if that document remains unsigned with the deal not physically in place awaiting league approval .

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for his part stated that his greatest concern were the dire consequences that McCourt had placed the organization in . But here’s the caveat, if as such the Dodgers met all of the league’s rules as it concerns the conduct of its business affairs then how is that they’ve allowed McCourt to systematically d to use the Dodgers repeatedly as collateral in many business deals with outside parties not related at all with the game ? Having installed former US Ambassador to Japan J Thomas Schieffer as the league’s representative while the Dodgers undergoes this period of intense scrutiny . I’ve now got to ask what now awaits the team and organization over the course of the their season ?

If anything this is what has been endemic within the game of baseball and the unwillingness of the team owners and the hierarchy itself to be openly transparent in the conduct of their business affairs . And it goes without saying that this conduct has been suborned by the fact that MLB’s antitrust exemption status allows it carte-blanche /free rein as to how they conducts themselves in almost every facet of their dealings both on and off the field of play . And I’m led to believe that the House Oversight & Gov’t Reform Committee weren’t aware as to the league’s conduct over the past decade and a half ? The league has become archaic , its leadership structure as are the team owners , the MLBPA are simply clueless and are a bunch of blithering idiots ! With the New York Mets’ episode yet to be addressed fully by the league do you get the feeling that MLB would rather the respective owners there Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon removed from their executive posts as well ? Where else could one find such mismanagement within the game but in essence the league hierarchy continues to act as if they’re rearranging the life boats on the Titanic thinking that they’re in no imminent danger .

I know that the MLB season is one of 162 games but the way that the Cleveland Indians have been playing as of late you’d be under the impression that they’re now on the cusp of making the postseason. Winners of five of their last seven games the Indians sit atop of the AL East . If anything they’ve been the surprise team within the division with their play and seems to be infectious amongst the younger members on this Cleveland Indians’ roster .

In their game against the struggling Detroit Tigers the Indians simply showed why they have been playing with the resolve that they have shown since the very start of their season . In a fitting way to end the game Indians’ slugger Carlos Santana hit a walk off grand slam to deny the Tigers victory on their way to a 9-5 win over their divisional rivals . And although it’s still early in the season it’s good to see that for now the Cleveland Indians appear to be relevant once again. With that win the Cleveland Indians now share the best record (17-8) in baseball alongside the Philadelphia Phillies . A nice resurgence for a franchise that seems to have been in the doldrums over the last decade but now appears to be back where they and their fans feel that they belong.

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Whether or not you’ve been watching the initial part of the NBA postseason unfold what to your mind has been the biggest surprise or disappointment from your own standpoint ? With regard to the NFL its Draft and everything that now seems to be unfolding how do you envisage this episode finally ending ? From your own perspective do you feel that there’s now time for a real drastic change within the hierarchy of MLB and also do you feel that the owners should be more transparent in their business dealing in and outside of the game when they are as such using their team as any part of a business transaction ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts as to the points raised within this piece .

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) MEMPHIS, TN – APRIL 29: Zach Randolph(50) of the Memphis Grizzlies talks with Greg Popovich after the Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs 99-91 in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on April 29, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images …..

(2) San Antonio Spurs players watch the final moments of their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of Game 6 of a first-round NBA basketball series on Friday, April 29, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 99-91 to win the series 4-2 . From left are Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, Daniel Green, and Steve Novak. AP Photo/Lance Murphey ……….

(3) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, and his fiancee Jordan Jones, left, pose for a picture being taken by the Bengals third round draft pick Dontay Moch, right, after an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ……….

(4) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, left, a quarterback from TCU, and third round draft pick Dontay Moch, a linebacker from Nevada, right, pose with their jerseys during an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ………

(5) Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, left, poses with the team’s first round draft pick A.J. Green during an NFL football news conference, Friday, April 29, 2011 in Cincinnati. Green, a wide receiver from Georgia, will wear number 18 for the Bengals. AP Photo/Al Behrman ……

(6) Gary Guyton (59) of the New England Patriots carries the ball in for a touchdown as Carson Palmer (9) of the Cincinnati Bengals tries to tackle during the NFL season opener on September 12, 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Guyton intercepted Palmer’s pass. Getty Images North America / Elsa Martinez …….

(7) LOS ANGELES – APRIL 29: the San Diego Padres the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 29, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …….

(8) Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Santana watches the flight of his game-winning grand slam off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5. Tigers catcher Alex Avila, left, looks on. AP Photo/Amy Sancetta …….

(9) Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana celebrates as he jumps to home plate after hitting a game winning three-run walk off home run off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5 . AP Photo/Amy Sancetta ……..

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NFL News

NFL Schedule 2010-11

NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

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Sunday

Monday

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MLB 29th April 2011

MLB Schedule 30th April 2011

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