Failure wasn’t an option , but it happens and not much can be done about it …


Failure wasn’t an option , but it happens and not much can be done about it …

We’re but a month away as the MLB season begins to wind down and already , several teams seem to have fallen from grace . The AL East’s one-time almost season-long leader the New York Yankees have slipped up allowing the John Gibbons’ managed Toronto Blue Jays to take a half-game lead within the division. Hal and Hank Steinbrenner the familial owners of baseball’s most successful franchise have been vociferous in their support of Joe Girardi and remain of the belief the division is still theirs to lose. From my own standpoint, I believe those statements from the siblings stems from the fact they’re now running scared , knowing there is a great possibility the team will fall way short of the organization’s expectations for the season and it is the winning of the Yankees’ twenty-eighth World Series title.

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New York’s last triumph in the Fall Classic came by way of their lopsided series’ victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009. In the subsequent years baseball has not been necessarily kind to the New York Yankees by way of success or the fact they have repeatedly failed to acquire a player who has actually contributed in any great way for the franchise. The team’s payroll has lessened in recent years , while the operations of the ball-club still remains profitable by way of their baseball operations and the revenues derived from their wholly owned cable network , YES Network . Presiding over this all, are the children of the late George Steinbrenner III .

The patriarch might now be looking down on the team’s season and questioning the decision making of GM Brian Cashman and that of his children as he has witnessed the ball-club’s failings this season . A great deal was expected of this team, but inconsistency seems to be the norm , while there now appears to be no assumed leader on the roster since the retirement of Derek Jeter after his two-decade career with the franchise. What the Yankees wouldn’t give now to have someone Jeter’s caliber leading this team. Unfortunately , the traits needed are not going to be found among the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Jacoby Ellsbury or Mark Teixeira , much less from anyone else on the roster. There has been a great deal of talk about the players within the Yankees’ farm system and which ones are likely to be brought up as the team makes a final push to win another divisional title.

Coming off an 8-6 victory over the Cleveland Indians , the New York Yankees will begin a three- game weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays, with their being a great deal to play for as this series begins in earnest on Friday evening . The Blue Jays currently have a 7-2 lead in their seasonal series with Toronto winning their last encounter 2-0 in a game played at Yankees Stadium , in New York City, New York on the 9th August, 2015. On the mound in the first of this three-game series will be David Price of the Blue Jays, whose starts for his new team have proven to be beneficial for Toronto. Price will be facing Ivan Nova of the New York Yankees.

The most exciting divisional race now taking place might be the one within the AL West where the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels seems to be “duking it out” for divisional supremacy. Houston might just be the surprise team within the AL this season and likely to be viewed as this year’s rendition of the Kansas City Royals . Whether or not the Astros can match the accomplishments of the Royals of last season remains to be seen. For the moment , Mike Scioscia of the Angels faces a tough fight as he seeks to lead the Angels against his managerial counterpart A J Hinch of the Houston . Over their last ten games , both the Angels and Astros have posted pedantic records with their being nothing to suggest the two teams will have enough to truly separate themselves from one another. It might well just come down to which of the two ball-clubs actually wants to win the the division more.

The Houston Astros will be at home to take on the Detroit Tigers in what will likely become a make or break three-game series for the fading Tigers. Jered Weaver and the Angels will have a decidedly tougher weekend series at Kauffman Field as the Kansas City Royals will seek to distance themselves from their closest rivals within the AL Central.

Don’t hold your breath and please do not place a great deal of storage in the NFL preseason schedule . Football may well be back , but there is more drama to be found off the field than there is now said to be anything occurring on it. New York Jets’ presumed starting quarterback for the season , Geno Smith now finds himself sidelined having been cold-cocked , or some are now saying sucker-punched by former teammate Ik Enemkpali. Enemkpali was summarily cut by the Jets and his since found a new home with the Buffalo Bills , where former New York Jets’
head coach Rex Ryan is now the coach of the Bills, a fellow AFC East based franchise. As to what this all now alludes to, in the regular seasonal meetings between the two teams can be best adjudged by whether not the two players will looking across at each other during the contests in question. Bryce Petty , the Jets’ fourth round draft of 2015 will be offered the opportunity to prove his worth and even supplant a player (Smith), who has yet to acclimatize himself to the NFL after two years in his role as a starter on the team.

In their preseason opener the New York Jets were on the wrong side of a ham-fisted 23-3 loss to the Detroit Lions. Let’s just say whether or not Todd Bowles sought to assess his second string and third string players. There was nothing to suggest this Jets’ team will actually perform any better than their fans were privileged to witness last season. Defensively, New York seems to be apoplectic and the offense cannot be considered that much better.

Week two will see the Jets pit their wits against the Atlanta Falcons , a team that will certainly have a great deal to prove to not only themselves but also their long-suffering fans this upcoming season. Matt Ryan has long proven that while in the regular season he is viewed to be competent , where it matters most , the postseason has become an anathema to one more six-figure $100 million dollar quarterback who is overpaid and simply not worth the money . Ryan and his Chicago Bears’ counterpart Jay Cutler , to my mind are now the two most overrated passers currently playing in the NFL , by far.

You cannot put lipstick on a pig and expect to turn it into a sow and anyone who believes Jay Cutler is capable of leading the Chicago Bears to become a leading contender within the NFC this season, most likely is delusional. There is a new sheriff in town with John Fox heading a coaching staff looking to put the Bears back on the competitive map , with a newly revamped roster still built around Cutler as the centerpiece of the offense along with Matt Forte. Fox and the Bears got off to an auspicious start with a 27-10 victory in their preseason opener over the Miami Dolphins. Cutler got some playing time, but the majority of the snaps were taken by his backup Jimmy Claussen in this contest played at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.

If Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears are to prove themselves this season, then they will have to show that they’re the equal if not better than divisional rivals the Green Bay Packers who still remain the class of the NFC North division. Having come off their victory over the Dolphins the Bears will prepare for their next preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts and their stellar quarterback Andrew Luck.

I believe we will not get to see the best of what the preseason has to offer until week three when the coaching staff will be giving more playing time to their front-line playing staff in preparation for the start of the regular season.

So it’s now official. The NBA will begin its regular season eighty-two game schedule on 27th October , 2015. With the New York Knicks failing miserably posting one of the worst records in the franchise’s history and their sheer apathy of some of the most inane NBA fans who continued to drink the Kool Aid and their thinking, that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers would waltz their way through to the NBA title simply indicated how clueless and continually naive the North American sports’ fan just happens to be. I swear if you placed lipstick on a pig, these morons would actually believe it to be a goddamn fucking sow. Just another example of how damn apathetic, they just happen to be.

In the aftermath of David Blatt being out-coached by Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors . I have yet to hear anyone who was a detractor of the Warriors admit they actually got their prognosis wrong, in deliberating the outcome of the Finals . Instead , the excuses were rampant and widespread LeBron James’ apologists came out in their droves of the four-time League and two-time Finals’ MVP. Granted, James’ heroics in the series against Golden State was extraordinary , but clearly the Cavaliers’ roster did not have the depth of their Western Conference adversaries. If that escaped the knowledge of the fans , then clearly the inexperience was also overlooked by their dumb asses. LeBron James is not an on-court coach, but be might just be the best facilitator of his era, of which not much more can be said beyond that.

The Golden State Warriors will begin the defense of their title against the New Orleans Pelicans in an opening night home stand . Kerr’s roster of last season pretty much remains intact with the exception of one or two minor changes and the most recent draft choices . Reigning League MVP Steph Curry will be returning alongside his robust teammate Klay Thompson and the hero from the Warriors’ Finals success Andre Iguodala most certainly will be looking to prove his performances during the series against the Cleveland Cavaliers were no fluke.

I certainly believe Golden State will remain a prohibitive favorite within the Western Conference to make an immediate return to the NBA Playoffs. They are likely to be joined by five time champions the San Antonio Spurs who during the off-season were the main winners in the free agency sweepstakes , landing LaMarcus Aldridge and David West to fortify what already is a formidable lineup for this upcoming season . Gregg Popovich and GM R C Buford continue to amaze with the acumen shown, with Peter Holt showing why he is perhaps the best owner in the NBA. He delegates , allows his executives to make the decisions necessary while giving his wholehearted support to the members of the front office in their carrying out of their duties.

San Antonio also end up leading the charge with regard to social awareness and gender equality , as they currently are the only franchise within the NBA, where a female coaching assistant , Becky Hammon is the only female holding down such a role. Success with Hammon came by way of the franchise’s D League affiliate winning the Summer League title. The NBA failed to capitalize on this , showing why it still remains a bastion of testosterone driven idiocy , with archaic ideas and sexist behavior by not only the league hierarchy , but also among several of the team owners and notably among the players themselves, in spite of the union’s Executive Director , Michele A Roberts, being a female.

If there is one thing I do know, the NBA needs this upcoming season, if this league is to remain vital and a major success, then it has to be an immediate rebound for both the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks after their disastrous seasons in 2014.

For two of the most renowned teams to have fallen so far off the map was not only an embarrassment for the franchises themselves , but it also gives credence to the fact , Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson are being given a pass based solely on past reputation and not by anything intrinsic or tangible being shown as of late. All of the bravura and idiotic naivete’ of both executives having a long-term plan was idiotic and remains asinine.

Last season remains a clear indication of how bad both teams were and their recent draft choices over the past three seasons. once again has proven a point. Not one player chosen has yet to make an indelible mark on the league. Yet fans of both the Knicks and Lakers are meant to believe Jackson and Kupchak actually know what they are doing ? Byron Scott and Derek Fisher may well have had stellar playing careers , having won multiple titles as players , but their coaching acumen has been abysmal in terms of the undoubted failures seen from their teams.

The Los Angeles Lakers will begin their regular season with a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Staples Center , in Los Angeles , California . For the New York Knicks their year-long sojourn within the NBA starts off with a contest against the Milwaukee Bucks , coached by former Knicks’ point guard Jason Kidd .

From my own perspective the NBA will not find its rhythmic heartbeat until we enter the month of December and from thereon-in which team yearns it the most, as they seek to win an NBA title.

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What are you hoping to see as the MLB season winds down and enters into its postseason spectacle ? Also, are you remotely interested in the NFL preseason as a way of gauging the teams’ play ? Finally, what are your thoughts on the NBA and which teams do you believe will be major contenders looking to dethrone the Golden State Warriors this upcoming season ?

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Tophatal ……

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The fault lies in their play, but you could also say the stars …….

The fault lies in their play, but you could also say the stars …….

Inasmuch as I love the game of baseball , I have to admit this might be one of the worst seasons on record in recent history. The AL East is barely recognizable and the level of play in what is said to be the best division in baseball has been truly dire. Defending World Series’ champions, the Boston Red Sox have now become an afterthought as the season has progressed. Say nothing of which, a great deal is being made out of a rivalry between the Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays , which resonates about as much as a rancid piece of cheese that has been left out for days on end, merely sticking up the joint. Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles merely have to play .550 baseball or better to have the division sewn up for themselves and thereby win their first AL East crown in over a decade.

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If the Baltimore Orioles were to falter, then the likely recipients of their fall, would likely be the Toronto Blue Jays , whose play this season has been moderate though not overly inspiring. John Gibbons and his managerial staff , have a team that appears to be on the cusp of achieving something special this season, but a great deal of the success they are seeking will be dependent on the play of many of their seasoned veterans on the team’s roster, as well as the coaching acumen shown by Gibbons and his staff. The Blue Jays will be the guests of the Seattle Mariners when the two teams meet on Monday afternoon, with Drew Hutchinson taking the mound for the visiting team against Felix Hernandez of the Mariners. The game itself could provide us with something of a precursor as to the ambitions of two teams wishing to remain in the midst of the wildcard hunt if not their respective divisional races .

Buck Showalter and his team , will play host to the New York Yankees at Camden Yards , in Baltimore , Maryland on Monday afternoon. For the Yankees, their season now seems to be fading fast , as too are the hopes of team captain Derek Jeter and the team making the MLB postseason. For Joe Girardi , this might well have been a season where injuries may well have played a part in his team’s faltering , but in large part it has come down to the lack of productivity from his pitching staff and the inconsistency of the offense of the players. Jeter in his twentieth and final season with the franchise , may well go down as of the Yankees’ greatest players and given the ball-club’s achievements and their captain’s own astonishing career , it must be said, his departure from the game of baseball will be seen as the end of an era.

Hope springs eternal, but year in and year out the Tampa Bay Rays have simply promised more than they can deliver for their forlorn fans. In spite of the idiocy of some among the Rays’ fan-base, who will continue to make excuses for a front office which now seems devoid of real creativity. The recent trade of All Star pitcher David Price put an end to any chance the Rays might have had for the postseason. Price, being traded to the Detroit Tigers gives the AL Central based team a leg up on their divisional rivals in their chase for the division, while the Rays themselves continue to languish at the mid to lower end of the wildcard contestants .

Six and a half games out of the wildcard placing and the Tampa Bay Rays remain a long shot for one of the two AL berths. Consistency remains the key , but this team has not remained consistent in terms of winning series much less winning games over the course of the season, when needed . All of the enduring optimism from Joe Maddon cannot make up for the fact this remains a very average team in spite of claims at to the depth of their pitching. As good as the rotation may well seem to be, you simply cannot discount how woefully inconsistent their offense tends to be. Whatever leadership is said to be on the team , no one can seem to point to a vocal leader, certainly not Joe Maddon with his ongoing whimsical anecdotes and the same can be said of their all too less than knowledgeable fans. Excuses are now the norm from almost every quarter when it comes to the organization, be it from the local media, the fans or from members of front office and their ongoing cries of either disillusionment, or the simple fact they have become defeatist. Whining from the likes of players such as Chris Archer simply amplifies one of the ongoing issues within the organization and the lack of a competitive spirit.

If there is one manager within baseball who is expected to succeed this season , then it would have to be Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels . With a team that is said to possess one of the strongest lineups in the AL from a batting standpoint, there should be no reason for the Angels to falter this season. Everything Scioscia and his staff have asked for, has been granted by team owner Arte Moreno and GM Jerry Dipoto , along with a six-figure payroll for a team which now has the best player in the game among its lineup. If there are doubters as to the talents of Mike Trout , then I would gladly like to hear the arguments from those who think to the contrary ! ! Albert Pujols may well command the respect of his peers within the game, but the Angels are now Trout’s team for him to lead and his teammates willingly follow his lead.

If the Los Angeles Angels are to have things their own way, then they will have to overcome what is proving to be a very competitive and resilient Oakland Athletics’ team , who are not yet ready to relinquish their dominance of the AL West , much less the defense of their divisional crown. The two teams this season have proven to be highly combative in their seasonal meetings with the A’s currently holding a lead in those contests (6-3) in 2014. The most recent contest between the two divisional rivals, ended with an emphatic 7-1 mauling of the Angels by the A’s at Anaheim Stadium , in Anaheim, California on the 11th June.

Three-and-a half games separate the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Angels within the AL West , but Mike Scioscia’s players seem to be in the driver’s seat in terms of the wildcard berth at present by virtue of a better record than their two closest rivals the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners . Tuesday pits the Angels against the disappointing Philadelphia Phillies , with CJ Wilson on the mound taking on Jerome Williams , when these two teams meet at Anaheim Stadium. The Tigers will face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates with the opposing pitchers being Robbie Ray against Edinson Volquez of the Pirates , in a game being played at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ,. Seattle will square off against the Toronto Blue Jays , with J A Happ looking to improve on his 8-6 record for the season , when he opposes Chris Young at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. All three contests should prove to be interesting and highly competitive given what is likely to be at stake , at this point of the season.

It doesn’t seem so long ago, where fans thought of the Texas Rangers as an organization likely to succeed at the highest levels of the game. Hall of Famer and Rangers’ great Nolan Ryan held sway as a senior executive within the organization , but then wheels on the Texas juggernaut became deflated and then suffered a large puncture. Ryan was made the scapegoat for the ball-club’s ills , but in many respects it was simply the arrogance of the franchise , starting with the front office , down through the managerial staff and several of the players , some of whom are no longer with the organization. GM Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington are now left holding the bag , as the team now wades through a season of sheer mediocrity. The Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies now share the worst records in the entire Major Leagues, a sad indictment of two teams showing little ambition this season.

In all likelihood, this will prove to be Ron Washington’s last season with the Texas Rangers , because it seems highly unlikely he will be asked to return for next season. The team has become listless , uncompetitive , totally lacking in leadership both and off the field of play. Having assumed the contract of Prince Fielder in a trade that simply made no sense whatsoever , the Rangers have now burdened themselves with an unproductive slugger whose prime came and went at least three or four years ago . As to what this indicates about the mindset of Jon Daniels and the ownership group of the Rangers is anyone’s guess , but clearly, this was a catastrophic blunder on the part of the organization in acquiring the player from the Detroit Tigers.

Fielder has been limited to forty-two games this season, having been placed on the sixty-day disabled list(DL) , likely to miss the rest of the season and undergoing neck surgery. Injuries asides, which has plagued the Rangers for much of the year, it has been a lack of leadership all-round which has played its part in the team’s lousy play and record (46-71). If Texas are to now any real signs of life, then their current series against the Tampa Bay Rays which resumes today when the two teams meet at the newly renamed Global Life Park in Arlington , Texas. Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays will face opposing pitcher Nick Tepesch of the Rangers in what should prove to be a riveting pitchers’ duel.

If the Texas Rangers are to avert a disastrous season then series such as the one being played against the Tampa Bay Rays will have to be won decisively and the consistency has to be maintained over the remainder of their schedule. Ron Washington’s long-term future is now intertwined with his team’s play, and if failure is to play a part in the ongoing drama now unfolding, the manager is likely to become a managerial casualty during the off-season along with several other possible candidates around the game of baseball.

Call me naïve, but I believe the NL Manager of The Year is likely to be Matt Williams of the Washington Nationals . Williams seems to have managed to achieve the impossible, having his team play with a great deal of consistency while keeping at bay the Atlanta Braves , Miami Marlins and New York Mets out of contention for the divisional crown in the NL East. In his first season as the manager of the Nationals, it now looks as if the incumbent manager has been able to do what his predecessor Davey Johnson failed in doing and that is getting a team mixed veterans and youth to believe in themselves. A great of the credit has to go to Matt Williams and his managerial staff , the faith shown in the staff by the ownership group and GM Mike Rizzo . The Nationals’ billionaire owner Ted Lerner and his partners are certainly intent on bringing a World Series’ title to the ball-club and are ready to do whatever it takes to achieve the goal.

Matt Williams and the Nationals will be seeking to make their first postseason appearance since the 1981 MLB postseason and the team reaching the NLCS and their 3-2 series’ loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. With a four-game lead over the Atlanta Braves within the NL East and Fredi Gonzalez’ Braves looking nothing like reigning divisional champions, it has to be said Washington now has the division practically sewn up. The high-flying Nationals will take their show on the road, when they meet the New York Mets at Citi-Field in Flushing , New York, in the first game of their three-game series against their divisional rivals. Doug Fister of the Nationals takes the mound for the visitors against Rafael Montero in a pitching contest between two of the NL’s best young pitchers. It will be interesting to see how the season now pans out for the Washington Nationals where star players Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg will be seeking to make their mark over the remainder of the season for the team.

Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper were first round draft picks by the Washington Nationals in 2009 and 2010 respectively, with both players now seen as major reasons why the team is now having some semblance of real success. Yet, until the ball-club itself has made a deep run in the postseason with the pair in question contributing to the success , what we have witnessed so far, are the players living up to the expectations first seen as collegiate players and then within the Nationals’ farm system before their debuts in the Big Leagues. MLB agent Scott Boras will no doubt be making sure both of his clients are likely to be handsomely rewarded when their existing contracts are due to expire. Boras has certainly made his presence known among the general managers around baseball , where he has proven to be a thorn in the side of these front office executives. His zealous representation of some of baseball’s most high profiled and highest paid players by way of their contracts and salaries , has been a major reason why their remains a financial imbalance among the haves and have-nots within baseball .

Some of the individual regular season awards will be hard to decide but I believe we could well see repeat winners for a number of the top prizes. Clayton Kershaw seems to be an odds on favorite to repeat as the NL Cy Young Award winner, and in the AL, the award is being fiercely contested by Chris Sale , Felix Hernandez , Rick Porcello and Jon Lester . League MVP in the AL is Mike Trout’s to lose, albeit, many believed he would have been a worthy winner of the award in 2013, only for the voters to go with Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. Though this season both Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano are staking valid claims as worthy candidates, but Trout’s all-round presence and contributions have greater weight than either of his competitors for the award.

NL honors for League MVP is not a foregone conclusion, but Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Morneau , Yasiel Puig , Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton are making solid claims why they should be atop of everyone’s list for the award. The rookies and their debuts within the AL and NL will simply be about the impressions made and how dynamic they happen to be. Hard to believe however, Derek Jeter during his playing career, having won the AL Rookie of the Year Award , was never afforded the prestige of winning the AL MVP. The AL Manager of The Year Award , I believe will come down to Buck Showalter of the Orioles, Bob Melvin , Ned Yost and John Gibbons, should he be able to pull off of the improbable and lead the Blue Jays to a divisional win in the AL East.

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Picture gallery.

As baseball enters the final third of its season what has impressed you the most in terms of the teams’ play or that of a player’s? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit, on this and anything else you believe to be of importance.

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell , left, is seen here with David Ortiz. This season the Red Sox have been abysmal , showing little competitive spirit within their division ,lying in fifth and last place within the AL East , often described as the toughest division in all of baseball . AP Photo/ Dave Walsh …

(2) A pensive Buck Showalter looks on from the dugout during a regular season game being played by the Baltimore Orioles . Getty Images North America / Steve Jones …

(3) Jays slugger Jose Bautista , right, is congratulated by manager John Gibbons after hitting a walk-off single in the 10th inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday 22nd May 2013 . After a slow start, Bautista is posting better numbers, but the Jays need him to start producing the way he has in the past . This year the Toronto Blue Jays are definitely looking like divisional contenders . within the AL East while seeking to make inroads on the Orioles’ lead within the division . REUTERS/ Mark Blinch ….

(4) Los Angeles Angles’ GM Jerry Dipoto ,left , is seen here with Mike Trout center and team manager Mike Sciocsia . Trout was the recipient of the Jackie Robinson Award as AL Rookie of The Year. Trout has been spectacular for the Angels over the past three seasons leading the team in a number offensive categories. AP Photo / Mark Daniels …

(5) Texas Rangers’ manager Ron Washington left is seen here with GM Jon Daniels . The team has failed miserably this season and with Prince Fielder limited to forty-two games , now on the sixty-day disabled list . The Rangers are mow mired in mediocrity , while having one of the worst records in all of baseball. A great deal of the failure has been attributed to Daniels’ capricious off-season moves via the free agency market and several other far-reaching trades, saddling the team with Fielder’s exorbitant contract . AP Photo/ Jack Marshall …

(6) Washington Nationals’ manager Matt Williams greet Bryce Harper at the end of the game , where the Nationals were victorious in a home contest played at Nationals’ Ballpark in Washington , DC . AP Photo/ Garry Mason …
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On the mound …..

On the mound …..

We are now two months into the MLB season and things are looking rather perilous for a number of teams within baseball , as their seasons are sitting perilously close to being viewed as disastrous. In the AL , both the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays sit at the bottom of their respective divisions. Tampa as of Sunday evening , stood 10 ½ games behind the division leading Toronto Blue Jays , who sat atop of the AL East . Somewhat surprising when you consider that in 2013 the Blue Jays with all of their acquisitions proved uncompetitive and barely challenged within the division or the AL for that matter. A year later and he we are looking at a team that appears to have all the confidence in the world , with pitcher Mark Buerhle leading the AL in a number of pitching categories beyond his own statistics this season.

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Far be it for me to suggest, but this continued belief that the small market teams are still able to compete even when their payrolls are said to be nowhere as competitive as the top teams within the league. Last season, the New York Yankees led the way with a team payroll well in excess of $200 million , and the Yankees failed to make the postseason. This year it is their NL West counterparts the Los Angeles Dodgers and their newly bloated commitment of over . $218 million that leads the way within MLB , paying out over $3 billion in salary commitments for the second consecutive year. . And we are to believe, Major League Baseball can remain solvent , with their teams not failing from an economic standpoint, when seven-figure salaries and contracts have now become like confetti (rice) being thrown to celebrate the nuptials of a newly wed couple , without their being any serious future ramifications for the game ?

The Tampa Bay Rays are losers of seven of their last ten games with seven consecutive losses being part of that tally , with their last victory coming against the Boston Red Sox on the 25th May. The struggles of the team beyond their injuries woes simply stem from the fact the Rays are not afforded a situation where they can go out and obtain the best players available , as they are severely restricted by fiscal constraints . It has been left to the ingenuity of GM Andrew Friedman and the managerial acumen of Joe Maddon in determining how the obtain the best players possible without having to pay above market prices , in acquiring the resources needed. Monday’s 3-1 loss to the Miami Marlins , was a further indication , as to where the Rays are now at and how far they have fallen , without delving further into the ambiguity and apathy now being shown by their lackluster fans, who barely come out in support of the team , when their games are played at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Florida. Joe Maddon and his players will once again be the guests of the Miami Marlins when they are scheduled to meet at Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida, on Tuesday afternoon . On the mound for the Rays will be Chris Archer for the Rays against the Marlins’ Henderson Alvarez in what should be a very entertaining contest between two of the league’s best young pitchers playing today. As to an outcome , I believe that can be best summed up by simply looking at the between these two teams over the past five seasons to perhaps guessing the likely outcome.

It would be fair to suggest that over the past ten years the Kansas City Royals have perhaps been one of the most inept organizations in all of baseball over the last fifteen years. One simply has to look at their record during that time span and the very fact that the Royals have not made the MLB Postseason in over fifteen years, with their last appearance coming in 1985, when they made the World Series and faced the St Louis Cardinals , with Kansas prevailing in that series 4-3 . In the later years , after that triumph, the years have been lean and not exactly kind to this beleaguered AL Central franchise and their now well chronicled history.

It would also be fair to acknowledge, that team owner , David Glass has failed miserably , in steering this organization with any semblance of urgency or seeking to make the ball-club competitive . Instead, it has been this continual idiocy by their fans and media savants alike in suggesting that the development of their farm system will bring about their long-awaited return to success. This season, that has definitely not been the case and last year was just as demonstrative , in their lack of competitiveness within the division and around the AL overall. A 27-30 record has the Royals now sitting just above the last placed Minnesota Twins and having only won four of their last ten games , you simply have to wonder how likely it is that there would be any type of life seen from this team. Ned Yost and his managerial staff have steered through the calm and the storms of uncertainty during his managerial career with this franchise. Yet, is my belief the Royals will continue to be a ball-club not suited to challenging for a divisional title , pennant , or World Series’ title, while David Glass is unwilling to bolster the team’s payroll . For years, they have remained close to being at the bottom rung of teams by way payroll and that appears unlikely to change for the foreseeable future under Glass’ tenure.

A 6-0 triumph over the St Louis Cardinals in a game played at Busch Stadium in St Louis , Missouri, might well have provided some respite for Yost’s players and that series will continue with a Tuesday afternoon contest that sees James Shields taking the mound for the Royals against Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals . A win for the Kansas City is a necessity rather, than dropping another game and then further endangering their season at this point of their schedule. If nothing else, it would be great to provide a certain amount of positivity for their fans , rather than the constant feeling that the effort shown is simply meaningless .

In 2013 the Texas Rangers’ starting pitcher Yu Darvish was simply spectacular and were it not for a late season injury , I firmly believe that he would have won the AL Cy Young Award , rather than the accolade going to the Detroit Tigers’ pitching ace Max Scherzer. The Tigers’ pitcher for his part, chose to turn down the offer from GM Dave Dombrowski , that would have seen the player be awarded a six-year $144 million contract . I get the feeling that Scherzer’s agent might well be cursing his client for not signing on the bottom line of a deal that would have made him one of the highest paid starting pitchers in the Majors . At the same time, you have to wonder whether Scherzer has made a tremendous mistake in turning down that deal. An injury at this point of the season and the likelihood of his value plummeting as a free agent, beyond his perhaps seeking a more lucrative deal.

Scott Boras , one of the premiere agents within the game of baseball , may well feel that he will be in a suitable position to drive a hard bargain in the off-season with the Tigers’ front office , should Max Scherzer remain healthy over the course of the season , while ending up with a winning record . Yet , we all know that the agent is also likely to start a bidding war for his client’s services , as has often been the case in his negotiating ploys with many of the general managers within the game of baseball. . For the moment Scherzer’s $15 million deal will have to be one where the player feels is justified as he seeks garner something more commensurate with a player of his stature .

Since being acquired by the New York Yankees , their Japanese starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (8-1) has been among the best pitchers in the AL , certainly on the Yankees’ pitching staff this season . If nothing else, he could prove to be just as dynamic as his Japanese counterpart Yu Darvish of the Rangers. If there was said to be a weakness with the New York Yankees this season , many believed that it would be their pitching and what many believed to be a sub-par lineup, when measured against the rest of the AL and MLB overall . Tanaka’s seven-year $155 million deal now seems worthwhile, as the team remains in contention within the AL East. Now comes the hard part for the pitcher, can he and his teammates on the pitching rotation , to remain consistent over the course of this season. If they are able to do so, while their offense remains potent , this could all bode well for the New York Yankees as they seek to make a return the postseason and win their first World Series’ title since 2009. Yankees’ short-stop and team captain Derek Jeter would certainly like to end his career on a high note, winning a sixth World Series’ ring , joining distinguish group of players with more than five titles to their name.

The New York in their last game against the Seattle Mariners , in a contest played at Yankees Stadium in New York City , New York , were on the wrong side side of a lopsided 10-2 loss at the hands of Mariners . Losing pitcher David Phelps performed poorly , but the team’s woes went far beyond their pitching , because this loss was a collective one , with the offense nowhere to be seen throughout this entire game. . Joe Girardi’s players can perhaps exorcise that loss, when they take on the Oakland A’s on Tuesday afternoon, with Hiroki Kuroda on the mound to face off against Scott Kazmir of the A’s .

One of the more intriguing pitching contests of the day, pits the Blue Jays’ Drew Hutchinson against Anibal Sanchez of the Tigers , in an AL duel of two of that league’s brightest stars. I would like to think that the Detroit Tigers this season can make up for some weak postseason appearances over the last few years . Certainly , in the aftermath of Jim Leyland’s retirement , the lasting impression I have of the Tigers , is that of their famed former manager placing his teams in a position to win a World Series , but each time , they failed miserably , with many questioning the acumen of Leyland, when in reality, the fault laid with the teams in question .

Brad Ausmus , has now been entrusted with the managerial role of guiding the Tigers to their first World Series’ win since 1984, with this season marking the thirtieth anniversary of that triumph. It will be very interesting to see how this team fares over the remainder of the season , with just about everything on the line including their trying to win the AL Central title , which of late has been the franchise’s personal bauble.

Rare feats within baseball, are things , which excite the fans and MLB analysts alike . A no-hitter , the perfect game , a four home run game , unassisted triple play and hitting for the cycle , are feats which we all enjoy and will continue to applaud , no matter era of the game. Josh Beckett’s, recent chase at perfection, ended with the pitcher capturing the first “no-hitter” of his career. The fact that he achieved that feat against the hapless Philadelphia Phillies should in no way be seen, as the diminishing of that accomplishment achieved at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , was a great day for the player and his Los Angeles Dodgers’ teammates.

Beckett’s later outing was not as relishing as his last , with his losing that particular game to the Pittsburgh Pirates by a narrow margin , with the Pirates eking out a 2-1 victory . The Dodgers’ starting pitcher, was unable to carry out another rarity, with back to back ” no hitters” . With the Dodgers having the biggest payroll in the game and several of their pitchers and players among the highest paid in the game, it is easy to understand why there will be added pressure on the team to succeed, as well as upon the shoulders of Don Mattingly and his managerial staff. The manager has now been given just about every tool at his disposal , with an All Star at almost every position possible ,as they seek to win their first World Series’ crown in over two decades. Say nothing of which , with the recent news of the pending sale of the Loss Angeles Clippers , this franchise is not the biggest news’ story in the City of Angeles now. And with the tailspin of the Los Angeles Lakers and their no longer death defining fall from grace , one has to wonder , who now takes up the slack of providing the biggest story in the world of sports within the city. Oh sorry , I almost forgot , the Los Angeles Kings have garnered themselves a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals , as the Western Conference representatives, where they will meet the New York Rangers , in what might be the most highly anticipated Finals in recent years , in a meeting of two of the NHL’s most popular teams . Anyone interested, in that particular morsel of information ?

Roughly a third of the way through the MLB schedule and there is not really much that we have really learned about the season, so far. We know , there are some very good teams , but also , several franchises that are under-achieving and a number of players who have yet to hit their stride by way of their productivity with the bat or off the mound . One could gauge this point of the season and then look at the same state of affairs in the month June of last year to see how things might well possibly pan out. In reality, that might be something of foolhardy exercise , as it simply cannot account for any number of variables that might possibly take place.

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Picture gallery .

As baseball meanders towards the midpoint of its season , what if anything , do you feel has been missing from the game ? Also which rookie or major star will have the biggest impact on the season and quite possibly lead their team to a postseason berth ? Take the opportunity, to leave a comment on this topic and anything else you believe to be relevant .

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Picture and slideshow details .

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(1) Kansas City Royals Chairman & CEO David Glass is seen here with team GM Dayton Moore as the pair peruse the outfield at Kauffmann Field in Kansas City , Missouri. The Royal have remained uncompetitive over the past decade and have failed to meet the expectations of their fans. As to the organization itself, there appears to be a constant stream of rhetoric and little by way of action in terms of seeking to bolster the team’s roster or actually increase the payroll by a considerable amount . AP Photo / Ken Walker ….

(2) Miami Marlins starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez , right, shakes hands with catcher Jeff Mathis (6) after Alvarez pitched a complete game and the Marlins defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 in an inter-league baseball game , Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …

(3) Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria walks to the dugout after striking out in the fourth inning of an inter-league baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …..

(4) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer throws during the first inning of an inter-league baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ….

(5) Miami Marlins’ Christian Yelich , right, is out at second on a fielder’s choice as Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar , left, throws to first during the first inning of an inter-league baseball game, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ….

(6) New York Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium in New York, Tuesday, June 3 , 2014. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(7) Masahiro Tanaka (19) of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the first inning during MLB action against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 4, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Japanese star is off to an impressive start this season leading the Yankees’ pitching staff in wins , while being among the top pitchers in the AL and a likely candidate for AL Rookie of the Year. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images ….

(8) A jubilant Josh Beckett is seen here being hugged by teammates after he pitched a “no hitter” on the 25th May, as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in a lopsided 6-0 victory in a game played at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania. This was the first no hitter pitched by Beckett of his career and the first in the Majors this season . AP Photo / Eric Temple …

(9) Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly left, speaks with players Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe (right) in the dugout at Dodgers Ballpark , in Los Angeles , California during a game . Mattingly and his managerial staff are under a great deal of pressure to deliver that long-awaited first World Series since their last appearance in the Fall Classic some twenty-six years ago , when the franchise was triumphant in winning their fifth World Series’ title . AP Photo Hector Munoz ….

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They’re now perched at the top of the hill and probably not seen as realistic favorites to successfully defend their World Series title, John Farrell and the Boston Red Sox are being admired from afar by the other twenty-nine Major League Baseball teams , believing they too can do something special this season . However, before that becomes a reality , one has to assess the teams that legitimately have a chance to win the title. Though it has been several years since baseball had a repeat champion , if things play out, as some feel that it could , then a fourth World Series title in eight years is most certainly possibility for one of baseball’s most renowned and revered franchises.

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As usual, the AL East , a division that will remain competitive, with the likelihood instead of the expected two-horse race between the Boston Red Sox and the free-wheeling and dealing New York Yankees , we could also see both the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays also added into the mix. All four franchises are managed by four managers, who have taken teams to postseason play, with differing levels of success. John Farrell , having won in 2013, would like to join a select group of managers to have taken a team to successive World Series and winning both, is quite an achievement .

Buck Showalter , is a manager known to come into a franchise and over a period time has been known to have turn things around. Consider the fact, that prior to the success achieved by Joe Torre during the mid to late nineties with the New York Yankees. It was Showalter, who as Torre’s successor was very much responsible and grooming of several of the players who would be the centerpiece of that success of winning four titles within the space of seven years . The praise has been heaped upon Torre’s shoulders and quietly right so, but it should also be remembered Buck Showalter played a part in the nurturing of those players and the success that would come about.

Joe Maddon may well be seen as one of the best managers of his generation not to have won title , but having won a Manager of the Year Award , I doubt that will be enough for a manager who strives for excellence , while simply seeking the best out of his players. Since his succeeding Lou Piniella in 2006, Maddon’s career with the Tampa Bay Rays, has been extraordinary to say the very least. From humbling beginnings with the incumbent manager , this ball-club with a front office headed by senior managing partner Stuart Sternberg , Matt Silverman and general manager Andrew Friedman , the franchise has operated under the usual premise of frugality and not overspending to acquire players and in keeping the payroll within their means. While there have continued to be issues concerning the franchise and attendance levels for their games at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida , the one constant has been group of about 15,000 hardcore Rays’ fans who have continued to support the ball-club through thick and thin , while Maddon has presided over the team as its most successful manager. With that elusive title, being the one thing prize that the owners would like nothing better to see , than it being on display in the trophy room of the Rays’ headquarters. This could very well be the season, where the players on the Tampa Bay Rays’ roster could very well make it happen.

Baltimore for its part, now has to prove to their fans, that they have finally turned the corner and are back to some semblance of respectability . For much of last season, the team was definitely in contention for a wildcard berth and at times. It seemed that, there might well have been a possibility for the franchise to have won their first divisional title in several years. . If this current Orioles’ team is to have any semblance of real success, then it will be predicated upon the players such as Manny Machado , one of the game’s brightest young stars and that of All Star slugger, Chris Davis repeating the form shown in 2013 , when he led the Majors in home runs , well as being in consideration for the AL MVP , which had a repeat winner with the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera laying claim to the crown for the second time in his career.

While I believe that the Baltimore Orioles are capable of pulling off perhaps a number of game and series’ surprises over the course of this season , I am still not convinced that there is the depth needed or the talent on the roster for the team to prevail . I may well be proven wrong, over the course of the season and we will just have to wait and see, what unfolds over the course of the year. Pitching and a steady flow of both Davis and Machado should prove to be an exciting spectacle to watch for the fans in attendance at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, as they take on their divisional rivals.

Having committed over $300 million to free agency acquisition signings , either Brian Cashman is seeking to prove doubters wrong , with both he and Hal Steinbrenner having a plan of action , in terms of how the New York Yankees will acquit themselves this season . A great deal of talk by the owner , in wanting the reduce the team’s payroll , well below $200 million , in order for the ball-club to avoid paying the league mandated “luxury tax” , does seem to be something of anathema to front office and organization in general . It has been a considerable amount of time, since the franchise’s salary obligations were considerably lower than $200 million . Over the past seven seasons the organization’s commitments in terms of payroll obligations have fluctuated between $192 million to a preposterously ridiculous figure of approximately $218 million , when the Opening Day payroll commitment in 2013, for all of baseball’s teams exceeded $3 billion for the very first time in the game’s history. Yet it remains so asinine that you would have the MLB Commissioner Bud Selig seeking some sort of financial restraint from the MLBPA (union) , when neither the owners or the general managers seem to unable to any show constraint, themselves , when many of the most ridiculous contracts offered , in a great many cases , where many of the recipients in question have barely a year of optimum productivity.

As great as most feel, that the New York Yankees’ hopes are likely to be ” win or go home “ and with the emotions now surrounding the club, as Derek Jeter ends his final season with the organization. It is my belief, that even with that, as a lure for the fans , we are likely to see the team fall short of expectations ! Last season , the Yankees were simply uncompetitive throughout much of the year and though one could put down to the litany of injuries suffered by the team , it still did not hide the fact that an aging core of players , with little managerial ingenuity being shown Joe Girardi and his managerial staff , ultimately ad.c led to their demise , with a fourth place finish in the AL East and missing the postseason completely . The hard part for the players this season, will be to gel as a team, while playing at a consistently high level over the course of their schedule.

There are four teams within baseball that are to my mind , are inept, in terms of the front office decisions being made and the constant wish to pay out lavishly for players , only to see them fall from grace in terms of productivity or simply giving the necessary effort. During much of last season , the vast majority of fans were riding on the coattails of the Los Angeles Dodgers with their star laden team , and their top-heavy payroll created the perception that the team would be a shoo-in for the World Series . Were it, not for the efforts of Yasiel Puig the team would never have made the postseason , much less win the NL West , with such ease . That being said , the Dodgers’ inept play in the NLCS against the St Louis Cardinals exposed the team as being flawed in a number of areas that have not necessarily been critically addressed by Stan Kasten and Ned Colletti , other than to make Clayton Kershaw one of the highest paid pitchers , players and with one of the largest contracts ever guaranteed within the game . I guess having a twenty-year $ 8 billion television contract as well as being backed by an ownership group, whose venture capital and investment firm with over $125 billion in assets , does have its merits and perks !

The two leading managing partners in the Dodgers’ hierarchy , Mark Walters and Todd S Boehly , along with former NBA great Magic Johnson have made it known that “ money will be of no object “ as the ball-club seeks to win their first World Series’ title since 1988 . Hard to believe that it has been that long, since the franchise won baseball’s biggest title and were seated atop of the game of baseball . Where the challenges will come from within the division, as Don Mattingly and his staff lead the team into their 2014 schedule will undoubtedly be predicated upon the play of the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants , two teams with a great deal of ambition for this upcoming season .

I believe that the Dodgers can have a great deal of success , but if the team becomes complacent , as was .noticeably seen with a number of their performances last season , then I firmly believe that they will ultimately fail in their goal of winning another World Series’ title this season !

Over the past five seasons Jon Daniels and the Texas Rangers have come repeatedly close to winning a World Series’ title, only to fail at the final obstacle. Former team President Nolan Ryan is no longer with the franchise , having in part, alienated many of partners in the ownership group with his gregarious antics , as well as seeking to usurp the authority of Daniels as the Rangers’ general manager. . Back to back appearances in the Fall Classic, in 2010 and 2011 , only fall short of their goal , has not stymied zeal of the Rangers’ fans , but at this juncture my question would be , can Ron Washington and his staff take this team any further ? Two attempts have ended with two failures , with their being doubts around the game, as to whether or not the Texas Rangers are simply good enough to win the game’s biggest prize.

The Rangers’ team , on paper looks good , but looking good doesn’t necessarily equate with the results on the field, as borne out by last season and Texas’ colossal failure in the AL West . Granted , it is a highly competitive division , where over the past two seasons the Oakland A’s have been the dominant force , and then some . With some major upheavals in the Texas Rangers’ roster during the off-season and with Jon Daniels and this managerial staff are under a great of pressure to succeed. A great deal of money has been vested in the player personnel over the past few seasons, and even with the apparent postseason appearances in two successive World Series, the end results were definitely not to the hierarchy’s satisfaction . This may well be, the last gasp chance for Ron Washington and certain players on the team, by way of the impending free agency status and pay.

If Texas are to contend within the division (AL West) and the AL as a whole, then players such as Adrian Beltre , Prince Fielder , Shin-Soo Choo , Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus will have to be very productive in terms of the team’s offense , and with the pitching having to be, equally effective over the course of the season . That is where the likes of Yu Darvish , Alex Ogando , Martin Perez , Nick Tepesch and Tommy Hanson will have to be totally consistent in their starts over the course of the season with the equal amount of support coming from the bullpen . Texas will officially begins their regular season with an away series against the Tampa Bay Rays on the 4th April April in a three-game series at the AL East divisional contestant’s venue .

Perhaps I am mistaken , but in assembling a roster , with such players such as Mike Trout , Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton , you would have expected a hell of lot more than a team batting average of .254 which ranked third amongst the AL’s fifteen teams last season . Yet, in the case of the Los Angeles Angels , I cannot believe that this would have been enough to satisfy Arte Moreno , the team’s owner or Jerry Dipoto , the general manager ! The team pitching with an ERA of 4.24 , ranking it eleventh in the American League, was obviously the biggest hurdle for the team managed by Mike Scioscia and his staff .

A third place finish, eighteen games out of first place , behind the Oakland A’s , who ran away with the AL West division for a second successive season and there was nothing at all to show for the Los Angeles Angels. Perhaps, the only bright spot for the franchise, remains the blossoming career of Mike Trout , while more celebrated players such as Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, were either sidelined through much of last season with recurring injuries or simply mediocre productivity over the course of the Angels’ season. It is has been far too hefty a price to pay , with Pujols now beginning to make excuses for his own woes, as well as taking slight , about comparisons being made between he and Trout , in terms of their productivity through their first two seasons within the Major Leagues. Pujols may well be a multiple winner of the NL MVP and one of the most productive hitters the game has seen over the past ten years , but now he is becoming something of a grouch , while a number of fans and analysts alike begin to question the value of the contract signed with the ball-club.

Josh Hamilton, has simply been a non-factor with the Los Angeles Angels since joining the ball-club. While he remains extremely popular amongst the fans, I am not so sure that he is seen as the player with the stature of Albert Pujols or the popularity of Mike Trout ! Over the past two seasons , it has been Trout who has literally led the Angels while holding it together, in some semblance of actually being a team of sorts. Now comes the hard part for the Angels’ front office, with their All Star outfielder now arbitration eligible , do they offer the player a multi-year deal , compensatory to his stature , knowing that he does not become a free agent until 2018 , where undoubtedly, were his productivity to remain consistent , he would likely garner the financial offer that would most certainly make him the highest paid player in baseball. This is something that Arte Moreno and Jerry Dipoto will have to mull over as well as the long-standing future of Mike Sciocsia , whom, in having led the Angels to their only World Series’ crown . In the subsequent years since 2002 , they have not been at all that generous for the Anaheim based franchise .

It is hard to view which of the two franchise may well be the worst, the AL West domiciled Houston Astros , who in each of the last two seasons has managed to lose in excess of 100 games or the forever embattled New York Mets , whose fans continue to be delusional and completely out of touch with reality.

Astros’ owner Jim Crane , apart from owning an uncompetitive franchise, is now in the midst of a litigious battle with broadcast partners CSN Houston . CSN’s parent company Comcast , wishes to take the unit into bankruptcy proceedings , having not been able to find a suitable buyer for the Houston based cable outlet and program provider. Crane’s franchise, also happens to be a minority stakeholder in CSN Houston and possible court proceeding, are likely to further hurt the already troubled ball-club from a financial standpoint , in spite of Crane’s insistence the Astros still remain a viable concern. Personally, I would not take anything that a current ball-club owner has to say about their franchise as the truth , from an economic standpoint or with a grain of salt ! Former Los Angeles Dodgers owner, Frank McCourt suggested that his franchise at the time, was on a sound financial footing. It would not be long after that, we would be made aware as to the gross financial mismanagement that took place under McCourt , with him having contravened several of the league’s most “cardinal rules” , as it relates to the operations of a ball club. Taking the Dodgers into bankruptcy proceedings, with Bud Selig , then intervening somewhat surreptitiously , led to the Dodgers being sold to a consortium led by Mark Walters and Magic Johnson , for the now record figure of $2.156 billion.

I do not envy anyone, who now happens to be an Astros’ fan, because I do believe that this season , we are likely to see the franchise lose one hundred games for a third consecutive season. Something, that I do not believe that has happened within the annals of baseball’s history , or since the one hundred and sixty-two game schedule came into being . Bo Porter , manager of the Astros and his staff , will be hard pressed this season, to make a significant improvement over 2013 , during which the team 111 games (51-111).

Since Terry Collins’ installment as the manager of the New York Mets , there has been nothing to suggest that he and his staff possess the wherewithal to make this team a contender , never mind this continued insistence that Sandy Alderson and JP Ricciardi are on the cusp of turning things around as the lead executives in charge of player personnel decisions. If anything, things have deteriorated for the franchise , albeit , that there have been one or two bright spots , but nothing to suggest overall that the team in its current guise will be able to be competitive against the rest of the NL. That certainly was not the case last season , with the Mets falling to a third place finish with 74-88 record , considerably behind the second placed Washington Nationals (86-76) and the Atlanta Braves (96-66) as the winners of the NL East .

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David Wright will remain the focal point of the Mets , as the franchise’s best player and around whom Sandy Alderson has committed to building a competitive roster , through the MLB Draft , frugal trade , acquisitions and assessing the team’s farm system for a crop of good , young and productive players. What now happens concerning the Mets, as a competitive ball club, will be predicated upon the mindset of the players on the team and whether or not under Terry Collins’ guidance they can get the job done. For far too long, the franchise has remained the unwanted stepchild within the New York based media market, as they looked on enviously of their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees . I think at the end of this upcoming season the Met are liable to be doing the same thing once again , even if the Yankees, themselves, do fail to win the World Series. Your thoughts, on the merits of this piece and anything else you believe to be pertinent, concerning the subject matter.

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(1) Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell , left , is seen here with team owner , John Henry , as they hold the World Series’ trophy. In his first season as skipper of the team , Farrell was able to guide the franchise from a last place finish in the AL East in 2012 , to winning the division , the AL Pennant and World Series’ crown in 2013 by easily defeating the St Louis Cardinals . There is a strong belief within the organization that they are capable of making a successful defense of their title , with Series’ MVP …. David Ortiz making a case for that argument . AP Photo/ Phil Carson …..

(2) Buck Showalter , manager of the Baltimore Orioles is seen here with Dan Duquette (right) , EVP of Baseball Operations for the Orioles’ organization . A disappointing third place finish within the AL East has given both the impetus to make changes within the roster , in an effort to be more competitive within the division this upcoming season . Showalter and his staff hope to make that a reality for the franchise . Getty Images / Parker Hughes ……

(3) Tampa Bay Rays GM Andrew Friedman , seated left , is seen here alongside team manager Joe Maddon as they discuss the team’s prospects for the upcoming season with the convened press at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Florida , home to the AL East based franchise . picture appears courtesy of TBO.com

(4) Derek Jeter , captain of the New York Yankees is seen here the team’s principal manager partner and Chairman, Hal Steinbrenner after the team’s triumph in the 2009 World Series . With Jeter announcing that after a two decade career with the ball club that it is his i intent to retire at the end of the 2014 season . The question now becomes, who will now seek to fill the void , once the short-stop and All Star finally steps down ? Furthermore, in many circles, while the Yankees have turned to ways of old, in terms of their capricious spending , the feeling more than anything else , with the front office and managerial staff of Joe Girardi having very little faith in the development of the players within the farm system , the organization is being forced to take drastic measures in order to bolster the team’s roster . AP Photo / Robert Matthews ……..

(5) New owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, from left, Robert Patton , Stan Kasten , Mark Walter , Earvin “Magic’ Johnson , Peter Guber , and Todd Boehly pose for a photo at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. The $2 billion sale of the team to Guggenheim Baseball Management whose parent company is the multi- faceted capital investment company Guggenheim Partners Inc , in a deal which was finalized on finalized Tuesday . AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes …..

(6) Texas Rangers’ senior managing partner and Chairman Ray C Davis , left , seen here alongside Nolan Ryan and Bob Simpson . All three partners were part of the consortium that purchased the ball-club from then owner , Tom Hicks and business partner Ken Gillette . At the time of the sale , the franchise had been placed into the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings , having failed to make payments to a number of its creditors and also defaulting on a bank loan . Ryan has seen been ousted as the Rangers’ team President , with the role no longer being recognized by the board members . GM Jon Daniels beyond his role as the general manager , also interacts with the senior executives within the organization. Getty Images / Chris Prentice ….

(7) From left to right , Josh Hamilton , Mike Trout and Albert Pujols . If the team is to contend this season within the AL West , then it will be incumbent upon the trio remaining healthy and productive all season long , along with starting pitcher CJ Wilson regaining the form that made him a once dominant pitcher , during his days with the Texas Rangers and then with some of his early form with . the Angels . Mike Sciocsia as the manager , is under a great deal of pressure to deliver this season , with the growing impatience of team owner Arte Moreno now beginning to echo within the franchise , calling for a major shakeup within the organization at the managerial level , as well as, amongst the playing roster . LA Times / Matt Santos ….

(8) Jim Crane owner of the Houston Astros is seen here seated along with the Astros’ Chief Legal Counsel Giles Kibbe , as Crane reads from a written statement of the ball-club’s intent to sue CSN Houston , Comcast Inc. parent company of the affiliated sports’ broadcast outlet and McClane Champions , the holding company of Drayton McClane , former owner of the franchise . The Astros are one of collective of sports’ franchises that have a minority stake in CSN Houston . Partners also include the Houston Rockets of the NBA and the Houston Dynamo of MLS Soccer . The suit has been filed in the US Federal District Court in Houston , Texas , with a trial date yet to be set for the litigation to begin . This all could have serious ramifications for the viewers within the greater Houston , Texas market area , as the defendants Comcast and CSN Houston are seeking to shutter the operations of the local broadcast outlet, due to sever financial losses . Crane’s counter argument , appears to be that Comcast and its affiliate, are seeking to dupe the consumer and its partners , in order to avail themselves of a greater share of the revenues and profits and not the claims of having lost millions of dollars the operations of the Houston based broadcaster. AP Photo / Martin Groves ……

(9) New York Mets’ shortstop David Wright is seen here in dugouts seated besides manager Terry Collins . Wright was withdrawn from the game against the Milwaukee Brewers by his manager , having suffered a slight injury . There has not been a great deal to smile about since Collins assumed the role as the skipper of the Mets as the team has labored under his guidance . Front office executives Sandy Alderson and JP Ricciardi are steadfastly behind their much talked about manager and his record with the franchise and their being a general view that this season will be all or bust for Collins . A failure to win the NL East or gain a playoff berth is likely to lead to his dismissal , albeit, that he signed a contract extension with the organization recently . Such are the inner workings of the New York Mets , the question now being asked , “is there any common sense to be found within the front office , much less amongst the managerial staff ” ? AP Photo / Martin Inglis ………. .

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tophatal ………………….. 03/09/2014

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Somewhere over the rainbow …..

Somewhere over the rainbow

Well the baseball season is now entering its final three weeks and the biggest cause for concern to my mind has to be the meltdown by the Tampa Bay Rays . A little over two weeks ago the form of this team was not in doubt and it would have been generous to suggest that they would be on the way to sowing up one of the two available berths for the AL wildcard spots . I went even so far as to suggest, that Tampa needed to secure the division (AL East) to secure a position in the postseason. Yet, who knew that a catastrophe awaited the team , whose play over their last thirty games has simply been abysmal . In the midst of this all , manager Joe Maddon , for from being troubled , remains upbeat and acting as there should be nothing at all to be worried about. For the Rays’ fans , they have to be troubled not only by the demeanor of the manager but also by the lackluster performances of the players and their laissez-faire approach to each game and series over the past three weeks .

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Slideshow gallery .

Another loss at home last night (Wednesday) by the Tampa Bay Rays to AL East divisional leaders the Boston Red Sox , may well have added another nail in the coffin for the Rays’ season and quite possibly their postseason ambitions. Seemingly , they have been unable to play themselves out of their slump and there seems to be absolutely no leadership being supplied by anyone on the team’s roster , much less from the manager or anyone amongst his staff . The conclusion that I have come to , concerning the Rays and their fans , is that they are extremely happy with their lot when the team is winning, but simply too afraid to be critical of the organization , when things are not going right . Chalk that all up to the apathy and simple mindset of the fans, and the continued stupidity shown by the local beat writers and television pundits in the locale who cover this MLB franchise . Ideas of grandeur, way above their station and not one clue as how to remedy what ails the ball-club on the playing field or by way of the front office hierarchy .

For a pitching rotation that was deemed to be amongst the best in all of baseball , the Tampa Rays’ staff have performed unevenly throughout much of the year . Matt Moore the pitching staff’s leader in wins , has himself been up and down, in terms of his recent performances . And the rookie, Chris Archer , although he has been something of a pleasant surprise , but it simply cannot be left to the player to be the one, upon whom the management can pin their hopes on. The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, David Price has been somewhat inconsistent and I do not believe that he is fully fit , even after two spells the team’s disabled list. Jeremy Hellickson , another mainstay of the rotation, can guarantee you the quality starts, but only if the run support is also there . Here we go again , as it relates to the Rays , if the offense is not going then the struggles are quantified even more so .

Tampa Bay will resume their current series with the Red Sox , with the final game of the trilogy on Thursday ,where a win is of the utmost importance. With the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles now playing out a highly competitive and controversial series , there is no further room to falter for Joe Maddon’s team. With a three-game series next up for the Rays, against the Minnesota Twins , away at Target Field in Minneapolis , Minnesota . It will be intriguing to see how the team acquits itself against one the AL’s more disappointing teams this season. Ron Gardenhire‘s days with this ball-club must now be numbered and no amount of excuses can be made for the team’s continued failures . . On the mound for the first game of that set, beginning on Friday, will be Chris Archer of the Rays against Kevin Correia of the Twins. Two young starting pitchers looking to make a name for themselves amongst the litany of quality pitching now within the AL .

As the AL East divisional race now plays itself out , with the Boston Red Sox now seem assured of the title , we are left with a three-horse race between the Tampa Bay Rays , Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees , seeking to become one of the two wildcard aspirants from the AL. Throw in the fact, that the Kansas City Royals , Cleveland Indians , Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics are also pursuing those berths , this all adds up for an all too intriguing and suspenseful closure to the regular season , which ends on the .final day of September .

One of the more disappointing stories of this baseball season once again, has to be the continued failure of the Los Angeles Angels. A team , built around the talents of Albert Pujols , C J Wilson and Mike Trout . And here we are, now wondering what has gone wrong for this Mike Scioscia managed team . The prevailing thought now has to be that team owner Arte Moreno and GM Jerry Dipoto will have to reassess the future of the team’s manager , his assistants , as well as several players on the roster and their immediate future within the organization . If Trout can be developed from within the farm system, , then why hasn’t there been other successes from within , rather than Moreno opening up his check book to make a big splash, solely to try and keep up their more renowned in-state rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers ?

Anaheim are now faltering within the AL West and likely to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive year , something that is unlikely to sit well with the owner and many of the team’s primary sponsors . At 70-76 , currently lying third within the division , the Angels are 9 ½ games out of an AL wildcard berth and it would take a calamitous chain of events, as well as the team playing some extraordinary baseball for the Los Angeles Angels to climb into that particular race. Mike Scioscia and his team will travel to Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas to begin a three-game weekend series , starting on Friday against the Houston Astros . Let us just say, that at this juncture, both teams will be playing for pride and a great deal of self-respect, with Jason Vargas of the visiting team taking on Dallas Keuchel of the Astros in that opening series’ game .

I have always maintained that the financial imbalance in terms of the payroll scales within baseball , will be the thing that will ultimately drag it to its knees , along with the ongoing issue of illegal substances being used on a widespread basis ! Purists and fools alike, are now talking about instant replay being introduced within the game , something that has been long overdue , but the MLB hierarchy remains delusional along with the vast majority of the fans, who are of the belief that the game can continue in its present structure. Creative accounting will not stop the hemorrhaging of red ink on the balance sheets of a number of teams . Add in the idiocy of those who lack the knowledge, to know that some of the small market teams around the league , who actually turn a profit , do so at the largess of the MLB hierarchy , by way the asinine luxury tax-sharing scheme . The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees , are the two teams with the highest payrolls in all of baseball , within their combined total salary obligations for 2013 being just under $500 million (a half-billion dollars [$500,000,000]) . For the first time in baseball history the opening day salary of Major League Baseball topped $3 billion ($ 3,000,000,000) , covering all thirty teams in the league. Yet it should come as no surprise, to know that over one-quarter of the teams in within baseball actually struggle to break even on an annual basis.

Continuously, we hear , Bud Selig state, that the financial health of the game remains safe. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the league’s highest-ranking executive lives in a world of delusion.. And need we be reminded, that during the past six years, three teams within baseball have faced the brink of financial ruin , with two in particular ( Cubs and Dodgers) having placed themselves into bankruptcy reorganization (Chapter 11) , after the financial manipulation and mismanagement by their previous owners . All of this under the not so watchful eye of the MLB Commissioner, whose own CFO Jonathan Mariner , shows as about as much financial acumen , as the auditing accountants who oversaw the disastrous failure of the Enron Corporation . There you have it, baseball’s finest at their alleged best, showing all of the oversight of a federal governmental agency and being equally as incompetent .

If to singularly show how asinine the luxury tax sharing scheme (a fraudulent maneuver to my mind ) has become . It is now being widely reported that the New York Yankees whose team payroll for 2013 will be $ 228.835 million , will have to pay a surcharge of $29.1 million to the MLB hierarchy . Yet somehow the now $ 2 billion ($2,000,000,000) concern known as the Los Angeles Dodgers , the only other team in baseball with a payroll exceeding $200 million , will only have to pay $9.1 million back to baseball’s governing body . Somehow, these figures do not add up or make sense , no matter what the formulaic solution might be, in how the league determines the sum to be paid as a tax. Clearly, there seems to be a bent here, in punishing a team unfairly , while simply slapping the wrist of another team, whose payroll is a mere twelve million dollars less than that of the New York Yankees . Questions have to be posed to either Jonathan Mariner or Bud Selig as to the disparity in the taxes paid , with only these two teams having to pay this surcharge , albeit, that they are the only two teams to exceed the $200 million threshold . No formal statement has been forthcoming from Bud Selig or any major executive of the league’s hierarchy concerning this disparity in terms of the Yankees having to pay the aforementioned sum of $29.1 million against that of the Dodgers having to pay just over $ 9 million.

The Yankees’ own fate also seems as their regular season winds down, does seem imperiled. Though of late, they have been on a spirited run, having made up a margin of almost six games on the Tampa Bay Rays over the last six weeks in the divisional standings . A big psychological blow, came for the franchise, when it was announced by manager Joe Girardi that team captain Derek Jeter’s season would come to an abrupt end, with the player being placed on the team’s disable list . Jeter was only able to compete in seventeen games during 2013, the second lowest figure of the player’s now distinguished eighteen-year career. With the team now looking to make even greater inroads into that lead , with it now being down to a mere one game , and with the Red Sox’s lead being now down to 9 ½ games, the upcoming weekend series between New York and their heated rivals the Boston Red Sox , now takes on even greater meaning . That series begins on Friday, with Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees taking on John Lackey in the first of that trilogy of games. With Jeter likely to be in the dugout at Fenway Park , in Boston , Massachusetts, to support his teammates , it will be interesting to see how the Yankees acquit themselves in the series . At the same time , there is likely to be a great deal of speculation raised as to whether or not the front office is likely to take up the option of the $ 9.5 million that would be due to Jeter, were he to return for his nineteenth season in 2014. Teammate, Mariano Rivera , has already stated that this would be his last year , although GM Brian Cashman and senior managing partner Hal Steinbrenner are said to be pressing baseball’s all-time saves’ leader to return for what would also be his nineteenth season in the Majors. Rivera is adamant, that this would be his last season, and that it is now, his wish to spend more time with his wife, Clara and their three children.

The New York Yankees of 2013 , might just be the last remnants that we see of this team, with an aging core of players all in their mid to late thirties . Injuries, off-field controversies , unproductive segments by several high-priced individuals have all added to the drama and ongoing saga of this famed ball-club . Need we also be reminded, that Alex Rodriguez remains a part of this ongoing circus, with the player of late contributing to his team’s drive for the postseason , while seeking to appeal his now two-hundred and fourteen game suspension. That appeal process will take place after the postseason, much to the chagrin of fans and a number analysts alike, who feel that the player has made a mockery of the process , while others believe that it has been Bud Selig who has dropped the ball, in not having sought an expedited , earlier hearing , once Rodriguez made it known , that he would appeal his suspension for contravening baseball’s steroid policy . My own belief on this issue , is that Rodriguez would have been willing to take a ban similar to that of Brewers’ slugger Ryan Braun, whose sixty-five game suspension was in fact negotiated by his agent , Nev Balelo . So for the unenlightened, who felt that this was Bud Selig showing his authority and bringing down the hammer on Ryan Braun, simply think again . The commissioner may create the impression, that he wields a great deal of power, but that power is in fact limited in its parameters , as it has been the MLBPA (Players’ Union) that more of than not, has the league hierarchy and team owners , weak at the knees and falling all over the place like drunken stooges .

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Picture gallery .

With the MLB postseason set to begin on October 1st , what if anything are you as a fan, most looking forward to seeing ? Which teams do you feel will prevail in the playoff races, as the regular season now winds down ? By all means , do leave a comment as you deem fit on this article and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Rays’ closer Fernando Rodney celebrates the last out after the Boston Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia pops out to end the ball game played between the two teams on Thursday night at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Florida . Tampa would defeat the Red Sox 4-3 to stop their two-game skid . AP Photo /Chris O’Meara ….

(2) Red Sox catcher Mike Napoli , right , breaks his bat during the game , as he grounds out , while Rays’ catcher Jose Lobaton looks on . AP Photo / Chris O’Meara ……

(3) Red Sox DH , David Ortiz homers in the sixth-inning of the game played on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida . Although the Rays won the contest the series was in fact won by the visiting Boston Red Sox . AP Photo / Chris O’Meara ……

(4) Umpire Bill Miller (26) ejects Ron Gardenhire (35) of the Minnesota Twins as umpire Dale Scott (5) looks on during the fourth inning of the game against the Oakland Athletics on September 11, 2013 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The AL Central Twins have been abysmal this season and a non-factor in the divisional race , leading to the speculation that the manager may not be returning to the organization next season . Getty Images North America / Hannah Foslien …..

(5) Los Angeles Angels’ owner Arte Moreno , left , is seen here with the team’s general manager Jerry Dipoto at Anaheim Stadium , Anaheim , California . . With the team now likely to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive season and a lackluster year in the AL West . There is the widespread belief that Moreno must come to a decision , does he retain his general , manager who over the last two seasons has committed to the organization to salary commitments in excess of $ 275 million or does he sever ties with one the league’s longest tenured managers in Mike Scioscia ? All signs point to the latter , with Scoscia likely to lose his managerial position with the Angels . Getty Images / Matthew England …

(6) Mike Scioscia (14) and Collin Cowgill (19) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim show home plate umpire Laz Diaz (63) ,where they claim Cowgill was hit by a pitch during the sixth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on September 9, 2013 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Getty Images / Hannah Foslien ….

(7) Derek Jeter (2) ,right, of the New York Yankees celebrates their win against the Oakland Athletics with teammate Mariano Rivera (42) at Yankee Stadium April 21, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Nick Laham / Getty Images ……

(8) Yankees’ lead managing partner Hal Steinbrenner , left, is seen here talking with the team’s general manager Brian Cashman . At the start of the season the organization sought to lower the payroll to conservative figure of $185 million, but with multiple injuries to Mark Teixiera , Curtis Granderson , Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez , Michael Pineda and Andy Pettite. The decision was made to acquire a number of players to fill the positions made vacant ,with the minimum amount of promotion of players from within the team’s farm system . An aging roster beyond the possible long-term ramifications of Alex Rodriguez’s possible multi-game suspension could prove fateful for the franchise . This off-season the ball-club will be paying to the MLB hierarchy $29.1 million as a surcharge by way of the luxury tax scheme . The Yankees’ NL counterparts the Los Angeles Dodgers , whose payroll of $216.6 million , will be paying $9.1 million by way of the same tax burden . Clearly there is something awry, with how MLB seeks formulates its system with regard the tax scheme . In 2012 the New York Yankees , Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox were all subject to the luxury tax scheme , with the teams in question paying varying sums to the league hierarchy . The scheme is meant to benefit the small-market teams around the league in assisting with their salary commitments. Yet it is commonly believed that a number of ball-clubs systematically abuse the system , with a number of owners pocketing the funds in question . Miami Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria is a prime example of someone who abused that system , in the years prior to 2012, before that organization went on an outlandish spending spree , signing several high-priced free-agents , only for the team to then falter that season finishing with a sub .500 record within the NL East that year. AP Photo/ Peter Matthews ……

(9) MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner , the league’s executive in charge of their financial operations , who oversees much of the hierarchy’s finances and audit protocols . Unfortunately , for baseball under Mariner’s and Bud Selig’s tenure, the hierarchy has failed miserably in overseeing the financial morass that now encompasses the game. AFP / Keith Parsons …….
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tophatal …………..

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Hot chic pic of the day , actress , Paula Patton .

And then , there was one ………

And then there was one

By Tophatal

At a time when the world of sports is embroiled in the idiocy of steroids and the protocols for testing and specifically that of HGH , steroids and all manner of PED’s . Once again, baseball (MLB) finds itself in a mess, one of its own making. Three major stars of the game find their names linked to a story printed in a local Florida newspaper , Miami New Times, which has now gone national. The story in question, is that of the paper’s reporting that Alex Rodriguez , Nelson Cruz and Ryan Braun are all embroiled in the latest allegations of the three players being linked to a Coral Gables’ based medical concern , which produces synthetic supplements, such as steroids known to be banned by the four major professional team sports in North America . Biogenesis , a company, founded by Anthony Bosch , is at the center of this latest controversy that remains a constant within the game , and for which baseball’s hierarchy led by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig seems to have no answer for .

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The triumvirate of players have all denied their culpability and involvement , but herein lies the issue , both Braun and Rodriguez have been embroiled in their own episodes and the use of steroids . Alex Rodriguez’s own admittance of his use of anabolic steroids between 2001 and 2004 , when he was a player with the Texas Rangers before being traded to the New York Yankees , makes his recent denials , all the more improbable. And with Rodriguez’s performances for the franchise during that time can be best described as being erratic and lackluster . And 2012 most definitely has been a reminder of that , albeit , that the player can now claim that he has been part of a championship winning team in 2009. In the subsequent years, since that triumph, the postseason for the New York Yankees has been something of a complete anathema .

Courtesy of Miami New Times

A Miami Clinic Supplies Drugs to Sports’ Biggest Names ….

See also : The A-Rod files , Every mention of the Yankees’ slugger in Tony Bosch’s records

By Tim Elfrink , Miami New Times

Open the neat spreadsheet and scroll past the listing of local developers, prominent attorneys, and personal trainers. You’ll find a lengthy list of nicknames: Mostro, Al Capone, El Cacique, Samurai, Yukon, Mohammad, Felix Cat, and D.R.

Then check out the main column, where their real names flash like an all-star roster of professional athletes with Miami ties: San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland A’s hurler Bartolo Colón, pro tennis player Wayne Odesnik, budding Cuban superstar boxer Yuriorkis Gamboa, and Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz. There’s even the New York Yankees’ $275 million man himself, Alex Rodriguez, who has sworn he stopped juicing a decade ago.

See also: “The A Rod Files: Every Mention of the Yankees Slugger in Tony Bosch’s Records”

“The Melky Files: All the Mentions of Melky Cabrera in Tony Bosch’s Records”

“The Tony Bosch Files: Nelson Cruz, Yasmani Grandal, Wayne Odesnik, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Yasmani Grandal, Jimmy Goins and Yuri Sucart’s Records”

Read further and you’ll find more than a dozen other baseball pros, from former University of Miami ace Cesar Carrillo to Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal to Washington Nationals star Gio Gonzalez. Notable coaches are there too, including UM baseball conditioning guru Jimmy Goins.

The names are all included in an extraordinary batch of records from Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic tucked into a two-story office building just a hard-line drive’s distance from the UM campus. They were given to New Times by an employee who worked at Biogenesis before it closed last month and its owner abruptly disappeared. The records are clear in describing the firm’s real business: selling performance-enhancing drugs, from human growth hormone (HGH) to testosterone to anabolic steroids.

Interviews with six customers and two former employees corroborate the tale told by the patient files, the payment records, and the handwritten notebooks kept by the clinic’s chief, 49-year-old Anthony Bosch.

Bosch’s history with steroids also adds credence to the paperwork. The son of a prominent Coral Gables physician named Pedro Publio Bosch , he was connected with banned substances when slugger Manny Ramirez was suspended for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy in 2009. At the time, MLB confirmed the Drug Enforcement Administration was probing the father and son for allegedly providing Ramirez with HCG, a compound often used at the tail end of steroid cycles.

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For Ryan Braun , with his legal counsel, now making a statement to indicate their client was simply a consultant for Biogenesis , with a view to endorsing a number of their supplemental products. Far be it for me to suggest , but Braun now suggesting that his involvement the company came purely from a commercial enterprise and as an endorser , does on the face of it seem asinine , but this might be simply be beyond belief . Now comes the hard part , can Ryan Braun’s career be taken at face value , and be seen as above reproach ? A former NL MVP , in 2011 , And while that season , Braun was very productive , 2012 was said to be far more productive for the t player .

Alex Rodriguez will be missing from the Yankees’ lineup for the greater part of the 2013 season , further making their offense not impervious to several weaknesses , as exhibited during the regular and postseason .

The New York Yankees this upcoming season will be hard pressed I believe, to deal with a number of their fellow inhabitants of the AL East . And much that is predicated upon the results of 2012 and their postseason results , which to my mind will be a strong reflection as to the mental makeup of this team for their 2013 schedule . Also when you add in the fact that the team’s short-stop , and on the field inspirational leader , Derek Jeter , will be returning after recuperation , from having suffered a broken right ankle, he during the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers of 2012 . One , could well understand why , this team will be placed under a great deal of pressure to succeed . With an aging core of players , Joe Girardi and his coaching staff , I believe , will not be too sure , as to what his best lineup will be ! Unsure of who is starting catcher will be , he also has to deal with the fact that beyond CC Sabathia , his pitching staff is extraordinarily thin , and one should also bear in mind that closer , Mariano River , as good as we have known him to be , his psyche may well still be up in the air, after last season’s horrendous injury that curtailed his season .

Rivera one of the Yankees’ mainstays during their success in the latter half of the nineties , has proven himself to be one of the truly great pitchers in the franchise’s history. This could very well be, Rivera’s last season in the famed Yankee’s pinstripes, and I am sure that baseball’s all-time saves’ King , simply would like nothing better than to ride out in a “ blaze of glory” , having won a sixth World Series title with the only franchise he has ever played for . Whether or not he and his teammates can recapture the form , that made them such a dominant force within the game , from 1995 through to the early 2000’s, remains to be seen. . I would like to think that throughout much of this season , the Yankees could possibly regain that form of old . Yet , when one bears in mind the collective age and experience of Jeter , Rivera , Hiroki Kuroda , Andy Pettite , Ichiro Suzuki Alex Rodriguez and Travis Hafner . You can’t help but get the feeling , that that this team is now in the last remnants of being truly competitive , while chasing after what appear to be an elusive title that to my mind will be beyond their grasp !

In light of the allegations arising out of the Miami Times’ article, as it relates to Nelson Cruz. No formal statement has been forthcoming from team President Nolan Ryan , GM Jon Daniels or from Ron Washington , who leads the Texas Rangers’ coaching staff. And with Bud Selig and the MLB hierarchy not prepared to take tentative measures of their own to conduct any form of an investigation. It does lead me to believe, that the commissioner , is not prepared to issue a public statement, even with their being a preponderance of evidence to suggest that there is some veracity to the claims being laid out in the article .

There is a great deal of backpedaling on the part of the league hierarchy , more of than not, as to how they set about making a case that they are cleaning up the sport , when the questions are raised ____ ” as to why it is, we have seen a preponderance of players being ensnared over the last two seasons “ than were caught when the findings of the “ Mitchell Report” was leaked to the public , a number of seasons ago. Subsequently , it has been one ” mea-culpa ” after another, with the game and the league hierarchy made to look like complete imbeciles ! Personally , I find it all the more appealing when the game of baseball is brought further on its knees in subjugation , because it has never really truly sought to define itself, much less make any type of effort to clean up its act ! .

The social experiment that came about with Jackie Robinson becoming the first person of color , to be a participant as a player in Major League Baseball , while commendable . History , and baseball historians , tend to gloss over the fact that Robinson was often the subject of some vile racial epithets , not just from opposing players , managers and fans , but also in certain areas of the print media , under the pretense that his abilities were over exaggerated and that his color would be an impediment to his becoming a success in the game . Over time , the game would come to know Jackie Robinson as being extremely talented , a man of principle who served the game well as a great ambassador . And even though with his enshrinement into Baseball’s Hall of Fame , and with their being a day annually which commemorates his introduction as a player , it was still not enough to hide the fact that on the night (11th April, 1974) of Hank Aaron surpassing what was then Babe Ruth’s career and baseball’s home run record of 715 home runs . Aaron was made to feel “ like a man without a country “, as he was vilified and subjected to death threats for achieving such a feat by a number of ignorant buffoons ! Granted , in the immediate moments in which he had surpassed that mark , some fans who ran unto the diamond in Atlanta Stadium , Atlanta Georgia , swathed Hank Aaron in adulation , yet in various circles this feat was viewed as something of an atrocity , with the breaking of a sacrosanct , record which was held by a known bigot at the time .

For the first time in almost a decade, the New York Yankees , will not be the team entering the season with baseball’s highest payroll . That honor , if you view it as such , will belong to the free-wheeling and high spending Los Angeles Dodgers . They will have more than doubled the team’s payroll of last season which stood at , just over $95 million . On Opening Day , 31st March , 2013 , the Los Angeles Dodgers’ payroll will be a new MLB record of $213.245 million , far outstripping their closest rivals , the New York Yankees , by a clear $3 million . As to what this now says about the financial state and the overall economic health of baseball , I will let you be the judge of that ! Suffice to say , that the minnows at the bottom end of the food chain , will be left to fight for the scraps that will undoubtedly be left at the table . And to realize how great the disparity will be , the Oakland A’s will have the league’s smallest payroll at $60 million on Opening Day .

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Dodgers’ $6B-$7B TV deal will widen chasm between MLB’s rich and poor

By Jeff Passan , Yahoo Sports

Everyone knew the number would be big. Major League Baseball hates involving the legal system, and it went to court for the number. A team sold for more than $2 billion because of the number. A management group went on a drunken-sailor payroll escapade anticipating the number.

Now we know the number. Big doesn’t begin to describe it.

Dangerous does.

The Dodgers’ ownership group will have even more reason to smile with their new TV deal. (AP)Over the next 25 years, Fox is going to pay the Los Angeles Dodgers somewhere between $6 billion and $7 billion to televise its regular-season games, barring a last-minute snafu in negotiations, according to Deadline.com. That’s twice the previous record for local TV rights. That’s at least a quarter-billion dollars a year for the Dodgers and Dodgers alone. That’s maxing out at $1.73 million a game for each of the 4,050 scheduled. That’s the final tummy tuck on a body’s worth of cosmetic surgery that could happen only in Los Angeles.

Most of all, that’s the siren that baseball’s new era has arrived, one in which the sport’s best revenue-sharing intentions cannot save it from the self-cannibalizing greed that drives these TV mega-contracts – and drives a wedge between the haves and have-nots harder to extract than sword from stone.

[Also: Royals willing to part with top prospect to land starting pitcher]

When the deal closes, the Dodgers will make more money from local TV alone than 26 franchises take in from all of their revenue streams. Only the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs do better, according to Forbes’ annual franchise valuations, though they’ll soon be joined by the Angels, Rangers and Phillies. The first two have their own $3 billion TV deals; the Phillies are set to cash in on their own that will keep them in the sport’s top stratum.

This goes well beyond the surface concerns about such deals. The justifiable anger toward regional sports networks (RSNs) and leagues for forcing the average consumer to subsidize their absurdity. The way such deals force MLB, to keep its asinine local blackouts in place. (If MLB offers a-la-carte games or allows local broadcasts on the Extra Innings package, the incentive to pay stupid prices for cable channels would wane, and the size of these contracts would atrophy.) And even the possibility of that – of a revolution against cable and satellite, and of these RSNs’ bubble bursting, the prices too big and the consumers no longer willing to support them.

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For the first time in baseball history, team payrolls for Major League Baseball (MLB) , as a cumulative sum , the figure will top $3 billion ($3,000,000,000) for all thirty teams within the league . Financial disparities, or not, the game of baseball has now hit a plateau of unprecedented heights. As to how long his perennial madness will be allowed to go carry on , as teams continue to hemorrhage red ink remains to be seen , but is clear, that something has to be and must be done </b , sooner , rather than later ! If not , then we shall sure see the death knell in a team or several teams either being contracted or being forced to declare bankruptcy , and then ceasing to operate once and for all . Bud Selig can point to the fact that revenues have increased exponentially , but what he cannot point to , is that the game does operate on a level playing field for all , in terms of financial expediency . It should be noted, that teams who have barely eked out a profit , specifically those designated as small market teams, have done so at the largesse of the league hierarchy and that of its asinine tax sharing scheme rather than anything being achieved by way of the “alleged financial acumen” being shown by the general managers , CFO’s (Chief Financial Officers) , and team owners . Personally, I am now sick and tired of hearing idiotic fans point to the likes of , Bob Nutting , David Glass and Stuart Sternberg doing all that they can , to make their teams a real success , when it reality, all that owners like that have done , is to simply look for a handout , while trying to coerce city and state governments to allow them even greater tax breaks, in order that they can operate . Never mind the fact , that due to the complacency and idiocy of the politicians at those specific levels , through their damn naïveté` , they are then left carrying the bag , when their fiscal policies show a budgetary shortfall , and the lame ass fans out there , continue to bitch and whine about their taxes and lack of infrastructure resources within their midst . You simply deserve what you get , in such instances !

It will be interesting to witness how Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly and his staff , manage not only a talented team , but also one that is filled with laden prima donnas and miscreants . Don’t be fooled by the fact that because of the team’s new ownership group led by Magic Johnson , Mark Walter and Todd S Boehly , that everything will be smooth sailing , because over the course of this upcoming season , there is bound to be moments of discontent and blame being apportioned all over this organization. Big things are expected of this ball club once Opening Day comes around . With a $213 million payroll , would you expect any-less ?

The Dodgers’ Opening Day Schedule will see them , begin a three-game home series at Dodgers Ballpark , in Los Angeles , against reigning World Series champions , the San Francisco Giants on the 1st April , 2013, and it should provide the fans of both teams a chance to gauge the possible strengths and weaknesses of both of these ball clubs in the season’s infancy.

Inasmuch , as I love the game of baseball , my biggest concerns are , how will the game continue to address the issue of steroid abuse ? And also , with the league hierarchy, now fully behind the mandatory testing for HGH (human growth hormones) , how will they deal with very first instance of a player , having tested positive ? In reality, as harsh as the penalties appear to be , as designated Bud Selig, they have not in any way proven to be enough of a deterrent, to force players from and to stop cheating , by way of using an illicit substance . Selig can continue speak with a great deal of charm and rhetoric , but at $25 million , as he is being compensated annually. He has simply been a poor executive , whose idea of being innovative , has simply been to throw fecal matter up against a wall , and then go with what sticks , as an idea of innovation ! Should we expect any better from someone who has now held that position for almost two decades ?

What to make of the Chicago Cubs , as they seek to escape another year of infamy and sheer ineptitude ? One year in , and GM Theo Epstein , is still trying make sense of what he has, by way a team roster . Spring Training , with the none roster invitees , acquired free agent veterans and what is said to be a young team at its core with one or two overly priced players should give the front office executive , manager Dale Sveum and the coaching staff , a chance to gauge how good this ball club can be .

A fourth place finish last season in the NL Central with a record 61-101 , where they managed to beat out the Houston Astros (55-107) in not finishing last within the division , is clearly enough of an indicator to let you know how bad the Cubs continue to be . This is a team that is devoid of leadership on the field , and wherein the manager , Dale Sveum , seems to be either consulting a book entitled “ Managing Baseball Teams for Dummies “ revised edition . Or the manager is simply letting his players hold sway, in making decisions as to the team’s play. And with the Astros now making the move to the AL West, are we going to be in with a chance of seeing the Chicago Cubs this season , finish once again on the bottom rung of the NL Central ladder ? These are some of the more interesting stories that we could very well see unfold for the franchise over the course of the season .

One of the more interesting stories now coming out of Wrigley Field in Chicago , is that of owner , Tom Ricketts seeking increase the club’s television revenues . After six decades of their association with broadcast partners WGN , which is in part owned by the Cubs , with the majority stake held by cable giant Comcast. It would now seem that Ricketts will either seek to divest himself of the franchise’s minority stake in WGN , while seeking out new broadcast partners within the local market or quite possibly looking for a commercial tie-in with one of the nation’s larger television broadcast concerns . Given the hefty price that will be sought , I seriously doubt that a local affiliate will tie themselves in with the Cubs , in spite of their vast local following and the fact that the franchise resides in one of nation’s larger advertising markets. If a tentative deal cannot be worked out between the Chicago Cubs and WGN’s parent company , then quite possibly for the first time in sixty years , fans of the Cubs will not be able to view or listen to the teams games within the local market .

With money now being the determining factor, that can sustain the ambitions of a professional sports’ franchise , the Chicago Cubs because of their large following are but one of the few teams within baseball that can still turn a handsome profit ($28.1 million) , even within the midst of a severe economic downturn , without ever having to seek an assist from baseball’s hierarchy. It serves the franchise well, but definitely not well enough , if the franchise seeks to compete on an equal footing competitively and economically with the likes of the Philadelphia Phillies , Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL , much less the rest of baseball.

The months of April , May and June should give us an indication as to how the Chicago Cubs may well fare. By comparison, in 2012 , entering the first week of July , the team was playing sub. 500 baseball posting a mark of 32-52 (.381) , With a projected payroll of $102 million for this season , GM Theo Epstein may well seek to forgo the team’s financial expediency and acquire a number of free agents , if the team is in a divisional or a wildcard contention during the latter part of the season, will . seek to make some bold moves . If not then , the front office will seek to jettison players superfluous to their needs , while taking a look at their top prospects within their farm system .

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Picture gallery .

With players now reporting for Spring Training , and with Opening Day beckoning , in the first week of April, what do you hope to see from the teams this season within baseball ? And also do you believe that the hierarchy still remains in the best position possible, to handle any likely incident that may well occur, as it relates to a player testing positive , for a banned substance ? Chime on this , and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter , right, and Eduardo Nunez laugh during batting practice at a workout at baseball spring training, Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, in Tampa. AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(2) New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi , left, and general manager Brian Cashman talk during a workout at baseball spring training, Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, in Tampa. AP Photo/Matt Slocum …

(3) FILE – In this Oct. 14, 2012, file photo, New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez reacts after striking out during the second inning of Game 2 of baseball’s American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers in New York. When the Yankees re-signed Rodriguez in December 2007 , they expected him to set home run records. Now some in the team’s management hope he never plays again, so much of the $114 million he’s still due can be covered by insurance. Not only is he injured, he’s at the center of performance-enhancing drug use allegations. AP Photo/Paul Sancya …..

(4) Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun waits to hit during baseball spring training Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in Phoenix. The player’s name has been linked to documents suggesting that he may well have been a recipient of PED’s from the Coral Gables’ based medical concern Biogenesis , a company founded by Anthony “Tony” Bosch. Braun’s legal counsel and agent , Nez Balelo , has stated that Ryan Braun was merely paid up endorser of a number of supplements produced and marketed by Biogenesis and in no way was his client a recipient or known conduit for the production or distribution for any illicit substances banned by MLB and its hierarchy . AP Photo/Morry Gash …

(5) Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz , right, talks to pitcher Neftali Feliz (30) during a spring training baseball workout on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in Surprise, Ariz. Cruz’s name has been linked with Coral Gables’ based medical company Biogenesis , producers of nutritional supplements and anabolic steroids . The player has denied any wrongdoing on his part . There has been no formal announcement from within the Rangers’ organization . However , it is being widely reported that GM Jon Daniels will be consulting with manager Ron Washington and team President Nolan Ryan , should there be anything that implicates the player in this latest controversy to hit Major League Baseball. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …

(6) Hall of Fame inductee Jackie Robinson is seen pictured here as a Brooklyn Dodger . On the 15th April , 1947 , Robinson became the first person of color , to play for a professional baseball team in Major League Baseball , and as a part of the then changing times within the social landscape of the country this solemn moment was seen as a “catalyst” for change . Albeit , that it was not universally looked upon in all areas of the social fabric of society. Each year , the date , 15th April ,1947 , is commemorated by MLB and has come to be known as ” Jackie Robinson Day” . The player’s number , #42, has been ” officially retired ” by the league hierarchy . And this year will mark the sixty-eighth anniversary of this now , historical landmark event within North American sports . AP /REUTTERS …. archives …

(7) Hank Aaron seen here as a Milwaukee Brave . Known as Hammerin’ Hank , over the course of his esteemed carer the Hall of Fame inductee , surpassed what was then the all time home runs’ career mark of 715 home runs held by Babe Ruth . Aaron would end his career with 755 home runs , 2997 rbi’s , career batting average of .305 , OBP .374, SLG .555 and an OPS of .929. . That figure would subsequently would be passed on 5th September , 2007 by Barry Bonds and the career home runs’ mark now stands at 762 home runs which is also acknowledged by statisticians the Elias Bureau , long seen as bastion of legitimacy for the game’s most hallowed feats . As to what this would now suggest about the bureau and the fact that the league hierarchy also recognizes this mark , does lead one to be believe that Elias, much like Bud Selig’s office, simply refuses to acknowledge that some of the game’s most hallowed marks are ” tainted” . And with Bonds’ career feats now coming into question, it would suggest that only not even the noblest of intentions cannot now refute , what fans clearly see as the game’s ridicule . MLB.com archives @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …

(8) Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager , Don Mattingly , left, is seen here with managing partner and co-owner , Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson . This season the Dodgers will have the highest Opening Day payroll in MLB history , with a figure of $213.455 million topping their closest rivals the New York Yankees by over $3 million . Cumulative salaries for the league’s 30 teams will exceed $3 billion for the very first time . Johnson has stated , that his mantra will be to …. “win at all costs , with money being of no object ” ! The regular season schedule for the Dodgers opens up with a three-day series against the San Francisco Giants , the reigning World Series champions . AP Photo / Tom Sharpe …

(9) Chicago Cubs’ general manager Theo Epstein , left is seen here with the team’s senior managing partner and owner , Tom Ricketts . The franchise now finds itself in an unenviable position, of having to renegotiate a television rights’ deal with WGN broadcast outlet , which has carried the team’s television broadcasts for six decades . As a minority owner in the outlet , Ricketts now has to deal with WGN’s parent company Comcast , who also just happen to be owners of national television broadcast and media conglomerate NBC Universal Media Inc . Getty Images North America / Philip Moore ….

(10) Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum, right, bumps fists with Matt Garza during a spring training baseball workout, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Mesa, Ariz. The Cubs will have a tough time this upcoming season , in trying to not be the “bottom feeder ” and cellar dweller within the NL Central , having just finished above the hapless Houston Astros (55-107) last season . AP Photo/Morry Gash ….

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Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative ….

Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative

By Tophatal …….

Well , in light of the recent spate of results in baseball , I would have to say that the final four weeks of the regular season will prove to be profound . For all of the talk that the New York Yankees were on the fast track to run away with the AL East by mid- September, and have that division sown up . Consider the fact, that in early July , Joe Girardi’s team had a 7 game lead over their closest rivals within the division. That lead has now been eroded , and the Yankees are in the dogfight of their lives against their main rivals the Tampa Bay Rays and the now resurgent Baltimore Orioles led by their manager Buck Showalter .

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Slide show, for your perusal.

Camden Yards in Baltimore , Maryland , seems to be buzzing again , after years in the doldrums and the fans simply reliving the memories of Cal Ripken in his heyday . Well this season , the moves of the organization during the trade deadline window and the nurturing of the young talent on the roster seems to have worked wonders, with Showalter and his coaching staff having profited greatly from this all. Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos may well have awoken from his deep sleep to finally realize that what he has been missing out on, concerning his ball-club. One of the many highlights to the Orioles’ season has been the play of Adam Jones , Matt Wieters , J J Hardy , Robert Andino and Nick Markakis . Not to be outdone, the pitching staff of the Baltimore Orioles have performed gallantly , and they are being led by Wei Yin Chen , Jason Hammel , Chris Tillman , Luis Ayala and Jim Johnson .

Coming off a recent 6-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Center , in Toronto , Canada. The Baltimore Orioles will now open up a four-game series at home against the New York Yankees . With ever tightening race within the division as well as the suspense as of the AL wildcard aspirations of the teams vying for those two playoff berths . One can well understand why both of these will want to be prepared for the series while looking to be at their very best . . Taking the mound for the Yankees in game one of the series will be David Phelps (3-4, 3.13 ERA) , as he faces off against Jason Hammel (8-6, 3.54 ERA) . Admittedly, with the Yankee having an experienced roster headed by a litany of All Stars , led by such notables as Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez , Nick Swisher , Ichiro , C .C. Sabathia and Robinson Cano . It has to be said, even with such an array of stars and the disparities in the respective teams’ salaries . One would be hard pressed to acknowledge or suggest which of these historical ball clubs , is the one with the more heralded legacy , based upon this season’s play.

What I feel we are liable to witness in this series , will be “ the coming of age” of this Orioles’ team , should they be able to overcome the New York Yankees , winning the series and thereby taking the divisional lead of the AL East. The stakes are high , and as the events unfold at Camden Yards , it will not be for the faint of heart.

With the spate of trade moves initiated by Los Angeles Dodgers’ ownership group , with Stan Kasten and GM Ned Colletti taking the reins in the day-to-day running of the Player Personnel. I have to ask at this juncture, what happens should the team fail to make the postseason ? Clearly, with all of the furor of the $2 billion purchase of the ball club , the fans are now clamoring for more , as the expectations continue to run high for this organization. Don Mattingly , his coaching staff now must be scurrying for answers, as they now find themselves further adrift (4 ½) games of the NL West leading San Francisco Giants (77-60) . Now it goes without saying that given the rivalry of these Californian franchises , bragging rights are up for grabs.

The San Diego Padres recently dealt the Dodgers a rather embarrassing 4-3 home loss at Dodgers’ Ballpark , where it has to be said that the home fans must have felt exacerbated the to see the home team perform so poorly . Aaron Harang had one of those games he would rather forget , and I would dare say , that he and his teammates cannot be looking forward to facing Bruce Bochy’s team . A ball-club that feels unhampered and in no way afraid of staring down the Dodgers , with a view to simply beating them into submission and quietly possibly out of the NL wildcard contention . These two heralded teams will meet in a three-game series at AT&T Ballpark , in Los Angeles , in the first of a triumvirate of games beginning tomorrow night . Taking the mound for the Dodgers will be former Red Sox ace Josh Beckett (6-12, 5.03 ERA) who faces two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (8-14, 5.21 ERA) . With both of these once formidable pitchers now seeking to resurrect their seasons , it has been to be said that this game poses a number of questions , that will undoubtedly be answered not just here in this match-up but also over the course of this series .

The benefits to be reaped from this $2 billion-plus investment by the Dodgers’ consortium, and that of a multibillion dollar television contract that will net the organization $3 billion over the next 15 years , and you can understand why the likes of Magic Johnson , Mark Walter , and Peter Guber , would like nothing to see what amounts to be almost something of an immediate return , as a dividend. As three of the several prominent partners in the consortium that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers , they seek to challenge the long-held feeling that the New York Yankees are not only the “major players around with deep pockets” . Taking into account what Nolan Ryan and the managing partners have been able to achieve in recent years with the Texas Rangers , and clearly the landscape of baseball has noticeably changed once again. There are those who will point to parity within the game, and the very fact that there has not been a repeat World Series champion, since the New York Yankees went back-to-back in winning titles in 1999 and 2000 . In the decade since, not one team has as such , come remotely close to achieving that feat . What is undeniable however , the small market teams will make a foray into the postseason but rarely do they succeed to make it to the “big dance” of baseball’s showcase finale and win it all . This season we are likely to see one or two of the small market aspirants be part of that spectacle but I seriously doubt that they will ultimately have what it takes to succeed !

Now is there anyone now willing to take odds on whether or not Bobby Valentine will be back with the Boston Red Sox in 2013 ? Far be it for me to suggest but with the major upheaval that has taken place within the roster , and the very fact that the manager has lost complete control of the team. I would suggest that the events the led to the unraveling of the Red Sox’s season in 2011 , would pale in comparison to the comedic travesty that has taken place in 2012 ! Team President Larry Lucchino and GM Ben Cherington rushed head first, in the hiring of Valentine without truly acknowledging the fact that it had been almost a decade since the incumbent held a similar position with a Major League ball-club. If these two executives were that desperate, then why didn’t they go out and hire Brad Pitt after his Oscar nominated role in the hit movie “ Moneyball “ ? The folly of the Red Sox front office has been undeniably naïve, with Lucchino , Cherington , Tom Werner and lead managing partner John W Henry , all coming across, looking like the blithering idiots they now appear to be . OK , so in off-loading the contracts of Josh Beckett , Carl Crawford , Nick Punto and Adrian Gonzalez , the organization will have saved themselves in excess of $262 million long-term .

OK , so a quarter of a billion dollars ($250,000,000) is nothing to be joked about but in this day and age when the team owners in baseball and the general managers show about as much common sense as the members of the US Congress , especially the assholes who espouse fiscal responsibility while presiding over the one largest erosion of the middle class wealth , and that of the declining value of the US the dollar. Then one has to believe that not only is the game out of sync with reality but these < bumbling buffoons (owners & general managers) are simply no better than the elected officials within both legislative chambers of the Congress. The Red Sox’s woes are self-inflicted and no one at this moment in time should feel any empathy towards those clowns ! Now while the present looks extremely bleak for the franchise , especially if Bobby Valentine is allowed to mismanage the team, while not having the respect of those players . You have to know that it will be only a matter of time before the front office sees the error of its ways, and just fires the manager. Allowing him return to fulfill his contractual obligations would be a farce, and an insult to the Red Sox fans who have had to endure the indignity of seeing the ball-club fail so miserably . And you thought that going 7-21 in the month of September last was year was bad , with the pretense of the buffoonery shown by the idiots within WEEI decrying the fact the blame laid with Valentine’s predecessor , Terry Francona . Nothing could have been further from the truth because plainly put, the radio broadcast outlet simply goose-stepped behind demeaning of Francona, which was led by the front office, rather than apportioning the blame squarely upon the shoulders of players who failed so miserably. Terry Francona did everything but suit up to play alongside the players , yet they simply failed him at each and every instance. Ah , the Red Sox , at least they had the temerity to win two titles in 2004 and 2007 , before summarily going into a tailspin in 2011 , and then again, this year. Time to send Valentine packing , rather than bringing him back in 2013 ! Chime in with your thoughts on this specific issue if you like .

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Picture gallery .

What thoughts if any , do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? And of the divisional and wildcard aspirants vying for berths in the playoffs , which of those teams do you see failing and which do you see succeeding ?

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi watches the first inning during a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Yankees would go on to defeat the Rays 6-4 . AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ….

(2) New York Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki , of Japan, scores past Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Lobaton (21) on a seventh-inning fielder’s choice by teammate Derek Jeter and error by Rays second baseman Elliot Johnson during a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …

(3) TORONTO, CANADA – SEPTEMBER 5: Adam Jones (10) and Chris Davis 19 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrate a second inning run during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays September 5, 2012 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Brad White/Getty Images ……

(4) San Diego Padres second baseman Alexi Amarista , left, celebrates with center fielder Cameron Maybin after they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 in their baseball game , Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …

(5) San Diego Padres’ Will Venable , right, scores on a double by Chase Headley as Los Angeles Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis misses the ball during the first inning of their baseball game on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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(6) Seattle Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley , left, waits for the ball as Boston Red Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury steals second base in the sixth inning of a baseball game , Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, in Seattle. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson …

(7) SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 05: Manager Bobby Valentine (25) of the Boston Red Sox looks on during the game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 5, 2012 in Seattle, Washington . It has been but confirmed by the front office that the manager will not be returning to the ball-club next season . Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images …

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Aretha Franklin ….. “ Accentuate the positive “

King Kong has nothing on me !

King Kong has nothing on me !

by Tophatal

The Tampa Bay Rays(63-52) now seem to be making a credible run as they seek to chase down the AL East division leading New York Yankees (68-47) . Coming off a decisive 4-1 victory over the beleaguered Seattle Mariners , Joe Maddon’s players are now making believers out of the doubters who may well have felt that this team had been left for dead , a little more than a month ago . Having reeled off seven straight victories , the Rays are winners of eight of their last ten games, which is only second to the Washington Nationals’ run of nine of their last ten games in terms of recent winning streaks .

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Now while there’s still a great deal to play for between now and the end of the 3rd October which happens to be the final day of the regular season schedule of baseball games . The thought has to be , are the Rays in their current guise , capable of erasing the five game lead currently maintained by the Yankees , and thereby secure , only the baseball-club’s third divisional title in its existence , and the first since 2010 . All of this accredited, and deserved success, has come courtesy of Joe Madden and his coaching staff. At the same time , without the ingenuity and fiscal constraint shown by GM Andrew Friedman , I seriously doubt that the organization would be so resilient and steadfast in their approach. The Rays’ general manager has pared down the payroll and has it within a manageable scope for the ball-club , and to the satisfaction of managing general partner and owner, Stuart Sternberg .

With the recent return of the team’s best player Evan Longoria , from the DL , he seemed to be the individual who has provided the “spark” for the team’s recent run . Apart from the offense now once again shining bright. The contributions of B J Upton, Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist, Sean Rodriguez , Desmond Jennings and Carlos Pena , have proven to be fortuitous for the team , as they proceed on with their schedule .

However, with the offense now stepping up to the plate , the pitching staff led by David Price , James Shields , Jeremy Hellickson , Matt Moore , Alex Cobb and closer , Fernando Rodney , have simply sought to prove that this team , will no longer lay down , and remain there . Long gone are those days, when the Rays’ teams of old were the doormats of the AL East , as well as the rest of baseball at large . In recent pitching performances it has been the likes of to the likes of Shields, Matt Moore and Price to keep the Rays within distance of the New York Yankees and the rest of the teams within the AL vying for a postseason berth . There’s no denying that with the AL being so contentious , there are an ever-increasing number of scenarios arising as the teams vying for the divisional leads and wildcard berths up for grabs play themselves into contention.

The Rays , today face the Seattle Mariners in the second of a three game set at Safeco Field , in Seattle , Washington , before embarking on another three game series with against the Los Angeles Angels in Los Angeles , California . Those trio of games against the AL West team will begin on begin on the 16th August , with the first of the scheduled three-set series at Angels Ballpark , this upcoming Thursday. >. First, and foremost , today’s game against the Mariners and the rubber game tomorrow have to be the priority for Joe Maddon’s players , if it is their intent to keep up the momentum and pressure on the New York Yankees .

On the mound today for the Rays will be Matt Moore (9-7, 3.73 ERA) against the seasoned veteran Kevin Millwood (4-10, 4.38 ERA) of the Mariners . Not wishing to be complacent but at this juncture , the Tampa Bay Rays can ill afford a slip-up against a team that has struggled for much of the season . If they can add to their recent tally of victories before embarking on the rest of their West Coast sojourn , then it bodes well for their upcoming series against the Los Angeles Angels . . And for Arte Moreno , owner of the Angels , his team is now locked in a close run battle for the AL West , with the Texas Rangers . The winner of the division , could quite possibly be considered as one of the perceived favorites for the World Series within the AL . These two teams have battled each other feverishly over the course of the season , and with both having that propensity for an explosive onslaught in terms of offensive productivity , you can be sure that when they next meet , we are bound to see a number of exhilarating games .

For the most ardent of Tampa Bay Rays’ fans , I have no doubt they are at present reliving memories during the final month of last season , when the team pulled off an improbable series of wins , with the final triumph coming by way of an 8-7 victory over the New York Yankees , that would ensure the ball-club , the wildcard berth in the postseason . And as short as that foray might have been , it simply exemplified why the Rays remained such a resilient team throughout 2011 . From my own perspective , I believe that the Rays’ players would rather avoid a repeat of that suspense , no matter how exciting have been for the fans in attendance in at Tropicana Field , for that memorable night . The events as they were revealed to the fans, were not only awe-inspiring but when it was revealed that the Boston Red Sox had succumbed to the Baltimore Orioles —- 4-3 , in a defeat that completely deflated the Red Sox fans and their ambitions for the postseason . The thunderous bellows of Rays’ fans being overjoyed and excited, was simply beyond belief. The rest as they say history , and for a Red Sox team that went 7-21 in the final month of their regular season schedule , while still expecting to make the postseason. Well , apart from the complacency and conceitedness shown , it is my belief , that this was a fitting way for Boston Red Sox’s season to end , with an implosion of unbelievable ineptitude exhibited by everyone associated with the organization !

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The AL East as a division , is one that I firmly believe is within the grasp of the Tampa Bay Rays , that is if they have the hunger to overcome the obstacles placed within their way ! Those impediments would have to be specifically the Yankees within the division , and among the wildcard aspirants , the Baltimore Orioles , Oakland A’s , Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels . There is still a great deal to play for , as the final third of the regular season comes into play , and I have no doubt the Rays will seek to position themselves for that stretch run . Chances are , by no later than 1st October we may have an idea who will be within earshot winning the AL East . What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this article ? By all means chime with a comment as you see fit .

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(1) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb throws against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in Seattle. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren ….

(2) Tampa Bay Rays’ Ryan Roberts , right, is tagged out by Seattle Mariners’ Brendan Ryan , left, after Roberts was caught stealing second base in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in Seattle. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren …

(3) Tampa Bay Rays’ B.J. Upton is greeted in the visitors dugout after he hit a two-run home run against the Seattle Mariners in the third inning of a baseball game, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in Seattle. The Tampa Bay Rays would go on to defeat the Mariners 4-1 . AP Photo/Ted S. Warren ..

(4) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – AUGUST 9: Designated hitter Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays bats against the Toronto Blue Jays August 9, 2012 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images …

(5) Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price follows through on a pitch against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012 in Minneapolis. Price picked up his 15th win as the Rays beat the Twins 4-2 . AP Photo/Jim Mone ……

(6) Pitching coach Jim Hickey (48) of the Tampa Bay Rays talks with pitcher Matt Moore (55) and catcher Jose Lobaton (21) during the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field on August 3, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ..

p> (7) New York Yankees’ Nick Swisher , right, celebrates his grand slam with Mark Teixeira during the third inning of the baseball game against the Texas Rangers Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Seth Wenig …

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You Play The Game To Win ………… Herm Edwards Has Never Won Anything

You Play The Game To Win ………… Herm Edwards Has Never Won Anything

By tophatal ….. 6/11/2012 …12:13:03 PM

The season within baseball is now beginning to find itself on a path. And teams are now positioning themselves before the All Star Game which this year will be hosted by the Kansas City Royals . MLB this weekend , provided us with a slew of inter-league games between the AL and NL teams. In addition , to there being a number of surprised performances it should come as no surprise that the Tampa Bay Rays are finding themselves in the midst of things . Joe Maddon and his coaching staff pretty much have the team playing at a high standard . The AL East has always been a very contentious and competitive division , with their being a number of changes in the standings over the past two weeks .

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The Rays currently have a ½ game lead over their closest rivals within the division , with the New York Yankees currently sitting in second place . In addition, as we know with the divergence in the payrolls of these two teams , it simply displays the problems that now besets the game of baseball. Complaints and the idiocy of the claims , there is now parity in sport is not on evidence by what we currently see on display . For those pointing to the different teams that have won the World Series , ask yourself how is it that the likes of the Kansas City Royals , Pittsburgh Pirates , San Diego Padres , Baltimore Orioles have not been a part of baseball baseball’s postseason fare in a number of years ? There are team owners that we know are ambitious to win , while there are others who would rather sit idly by in order to receive monies by way the league hierarchy’s tax sharing revenue scheme. If this is Bud Selig’s idea “of a joke” , then , it’s not working out well , or for the better but it is certainly making the commissioner the butt of jokes around baseball’s fan-base .

Maddon for his part has the team to make a spirited run as they seek their second AL East title . As I stated earlier there are a slew of inter-league games encompassing the league’s teams. The Tampa Bay Rays have been the guests of their state rivals the Miami Marlins . Ozzie Guillen ….. team is in a divisional dogfight against the Atlanta Braves , New York Mets and Washington Nationals within the NL East .

The Rays will look to sweep the series having defeated the 13-4 in-game two of the three game schedule. Sunday taking the mound for the Tampa Bay Rays will James Shields , as he faces off against Anibel Sanchez of the Marlins . Marlins Ballpark since its inauguration has been something of a surprise for the team’s fans as baseball’s newest venue , it is being viewed as one of the finer stadiums in all of baseball .

This third game should tell us a great deal about both and teams their ambitions . A win for the Tampa Bay Rays would increase their lead over the Yankees , who themselves will be hosting crosstown rivals the New York Mets at Yankees Stadium . Jonathan Niese and Andy Pettite will be the opposing starting pitchers in the game . As we know the “Subway Series” has been a rivalry that has long endured within the game bringing together both factions of fans for a rivalry that is almost unparalleled within baseball .

The Rays have been reliant on the pitching and specifically the roster led by James Shields , David Price , Jeremy Hellickson , Alex Cobb and Matt Moore . The team’s offense also has been impressive and this is borne out by their standing within the AL . Of the players that I believe to be the key to the Rays’ success this season , none to my mind will be more important than Ben Zobrist ! Evan Longoria , seen as the team’s best player has become injury prone and far too often it has been to the detriment of the Rays .

Tampa Bay Rays schedule over the remainder of June should prove to be very interesting , with several games where they will match wits with a number of teams seeking to improve their standing within their respective divisions . In large part I believe that GM Andrew Friedman and senior managing partner Stuart Steinberg have done a tremendous job in keeping the Rays competitive and a viable baseball enterprise . That is in spite of the organization having one of the smallest team payrolls in all of MLB (baseball) . Whether or not the Rays can reproduce the form that has seen the team make the postseason repeatedly in each of the last four years remains to be seen . All this in spite of being treated like the “ unwanted stepchild “ who is viewed as being unappreciative of all that has been offered it by the league hierarchy and the imbecilic commissioner Bud Selig ! This being the same commissioner who is said to be working hard to be the conduit for the team owners and general managers/front office executives but who has been extremely critical of the Rays’ ownership and what he believes has been their lack of effort getting a new ballpark. Given the apparent lack of intelligence of this commissioner , could he actually be the worst individual to have served the game in his current capacity ? Let know your thoughts on the question posed ?

The Tampa Bay Rays’ current home venue is the aging Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Florida . Bud Selig has criticized Andrew Friedman , Stuart Sternberg and the governmental agencies of Hillsborough County and Pinellas County and their lack of commitment in the building of a new stadium to house the franchise. I may well be naïve in my thought process but it has been Bud Selig who was quick to assist the New York Mets and New York Yankees in the building of their ostentatious venues to the tune of $2.355 billion , with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaiming that with both venues ( Citi-Field & Yankee Stadium) within his city , it now makes gives locale two world-class venues for the game and the epicenter for best two franchises within the game . Michael Bloomberg is a delirious and delusional asshole as can be evidenced by his political career in the city of New York ! As that city’s highest-ranking political executive , he has proven to be ill effective as the city tries to deal with a mounting budget deficit and his inane edicts.

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Are you a proponent of inter-league games ? What if anything has been the biggest surprise or disappointment you in the first quarter of the MLB schedule ? Chime in with a comment as you see fit .


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(1) MIAMI, FL – JUNE 10 : Pitcher James Shields (33) of the Tampa Bay Rays watches his team from the dugout against the Miami Marlins during the game at Marlins Park on June 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

(2) Outfielder Desmond Jennings (8) of the Tampa Bay Rays gets back safely to first as Gaby Sanchez (15) of the Miami Marlins takes the throw during the game at Marlins Park on June 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …

(3) Shortstop Jose Reyes (7) of the Miami Marlins turns a double play as Sean Rodriguez (1) of the Tampa Bay Rays tries to break it up during the inter-league game at Marlins Park on June 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …

(4) Outfielder Matt Joyce (20) of the Tampa Bay Rays cannot get to a fly ball during the inter-league game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …

(5) MIAMI, FL – JUNE 10: Infielder Ben Zobrist (18) of the Tampa Bay Rays cannot handle the throw at second as outfielder Logan Morrison (5) of the Miami Marlins gets back safely during the game at Marlins Park on June 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(6) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – APRIL 30: Shortstop Brendan Ryan (26) of the Seattle Mariners applies the tag to infielder Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays on a steal attempt during the game at Tropicana Field on April 30, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(7) Rays’ GM Andrew Friedman is seen here with the team’s Gold Glove award winner Evan Longoria (center) and team manager Joe Maddon . The player is currently on the team’s DL , out for a possible 4-6 weeks . AP Photo/ Carl Mason …

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Absolutely Nothing Ever Good Happens After Midnight …… Look At Baseball ?


Absolutely Nothing Ever Good Happens After Midnight …… Look At Baseball ?

By tophatal 06/07/2012 ….. 08:25 PM (EST)

It seems inconceivable that with Johan Santana’s recent feat of pitching a “no hitter” for New York Mets . This was the first time that such an accomplishment had been reached by a pitcher within the organization ‘s history . When one considers the famed pitchers that have pitched for the ball club . Dwight Gooden , Nolan Ryan , Tom Seaver and Pedro Martinez . That quartet is quite astonishing when you seemingly look down the club’s historical statistics that covers the area of individual pitching feats .

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The New York Mets this > season have had their struggles and though the feeling within the front office was that they could contend . The response of Terry Collins’ players has been anything but that and now they have to contend with a resurgent Washington Nationals’ ….. team within the NL East .

Now while the Mets lie ay in third place within the division 2 games behind the Washington Nationals (31-25) , there is little to suggest that the team will be in the hunt during the latter part of the season . And though they have been winners of 6 of their last ten games the only real point of high praise has been the play of the team’s short-stop David Wright . Were it not for the play of Matt Kemp , Andre Ethier and Melky Cabrera , we might now be talking about Wright being a leading contender for the NL MVP .

Sandy Alderson and J P Riccardi have been entrusted by team owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon to rebuild this roster . Granted , the loss of Jose Reyes to free agency , as the player signed a lucrative 7 year deal with the Miami Marlins . Alderson ‘s comments concerning the player were very terse , in light of player seeking go elsewhere . But herein lies the caveat to this all , the New York Mets remain in a grave financial situation and the team’s payroll will undoubtedly have to be pared down . Team President Sandy Alderson and GM J P Riccardi will peruse the roster , make a decision as to what they believe are superfluous to the team’s needs .

The Mets in their most recent game , where they were on the wrong side of a 5-3 loss to the Washington Nationals , at their home venue , Citi-Field , in Flushing , New York . With the MLB schedule over the next two days being primarily Interleague games as the AL takes on the members of senior circuit (NL). On Friday the New York Mets will face their crosstown rivals when they meet the New York Yankees . And with the Yankees now vying for the lead within the AL East , I am not so sure that they are overly concerned in facing their NL rival . Before that series ensues the New York Mets have some unfinished business as the guests of the Washington Nationals at Nationals Ballpark, in Washington , DC,. On the mound for the Mets will be R A Dickey (8-1, 2.89 ERA ) as he opposes Chien Ming Wang 1-1 , 6,43 ERA ) . The Mets’ knuckle-baller leads the NL in wins for the pitchers within the league where he’s followed by Cole Hamels (8-2, 2.81 ERA) .

Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies (28-29) have had their own woes over the course of the season . So much so, that GM Reuben Amaro is now under a great deal of pressure to make some drastic changes . Meanwhile , Charlie Manuel and his coaching staff , themselves , have seen no real cohesion from the players . It has been an abundance of mistimed and error filled performances , that has seen this team greatly underachieve . Amaro , has stated , that if the players are not in contention for divisional honors or at least the wildcard berth by the trade deadline . Then, he will seek to trade players , and seek to rebuild from within , while assessing the minor league system , and that of their draft .

The Philadelphia Phillies prior to their interleague schedule will play host to the Los Angeles Dodgers . Hamels will take to the mound against the Dodgers’ Aaron Harang (4-3, 3.90 ERA) . We can all attest to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rebirth and the storylines over the recent weeks . A new high-profiled ownership group and it would now appea that they are on a far healthier financial footing after the years ineptitude during the tenure of Frank McCourt as the team’s owner. Former NBA great , Magic Johnson and Peter Guber bring along that “Hollywood glitz “ , while the baseball operation’s expertize will be provided by Stan Kasten . If nothing else Dodgers’ Ballpark much like the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California could now become the place to be seen amongst the Hollywood A-Listers “ . Come on down Jack Nicholson , Will Smith , Adam Sandler , David Beckham , Bruce Willis and Leonardo DiCaprio . All are welcome at this juncture as , this team now seeks to write the next chapter in this franchise’s history .

The Los Angeles Dodgers (35-21) are well on the way to become the first team notch 40 wins this season. Their Dodgers’ own interleague foray will be two game series against the lowly Seattle Mariners (25-33) , a franchise that continues to disappoint , while wasting the talents of Ichiro Suzuki and Felix Hernandez . . Why both of this duo All Stars continue endure apathy shown by the ownership group , even while being well rewarded is simply beyond me ! I am thoroughly convinced that both Ichiro and Felix Hernandez could ply their trade elsewhere with a legitimate contender , instead of putting up with the constant mediocrity and the recent lack of ambition shown by the club’s senior executives .

The AL West and the well-meaningful Texas Rangers now find themselves in somewhat of a dilemma . After the ferocious onslaught of the team’s offense in recent games things have suddenly calmed down Elvis Andrus , Ian Kinsler , Michael Young , Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre have suddenly cooled off and the same can be said the team’s pitching , and that is in spite of the Rangers’ talented young starting pitcher Yu Darvish . Team manager Ron Washington and his coaching staff knowing that they have a sizable lead over the second placed Los Angeles Angels , know that they can ill-afford to take their feet off the gas pedal .

Albert Pujols is hitting again and with his recent upswing in his productivity comes the Angels ascent within the AL West . Mike Sciocsia one of the longest tenured managers in the gam e has a team that now looks to have found a consistent rhythm .

Granted , given what we have witnessed with Josh Hamilton during the month of May . It has to be said that the division could very well be up for grabs should the Rangers’ decline continue . As a two-time defending divisional champion as well as the AL Pennant winner , the Texas Rangers sorely want to make a quick return to the World Series and make amends for the losses in 2010 and 2011 . Both team President Nolan Ryan , GM Jon Daniels and the front office having lavished a great deal of money on the player personnel and with countless millions more in resources at their disposal . It is easy to understand why there is urgency about the Rangers , their fans and those within the organization . Some are born to greatness while others have it simply thrust upon them . Many are now wondering which category would best describe the organization .

Now while over the next three days the league (MLB) will offer us a slew of interleague games. A number of purists of the game still hold to the stand that these scheduled meetings devalue baseball , and the match-up that really matters , should be that of the World Series, itself . I hold a completely different view as I believe this gives the fans an even greater opportunity to see teams they don’t often see over the course of the season as their favorites meet their customary opponents within their division and league . This might just be one of the few decisions that Bud Selig may well have got right , albeit that amongst his predecessors , he might well be thought of as the least popular of the commissioners to have presided over the game of baseball .

With the baseball season more than a quarter of the way through its schedule by comparison to this time last year and now , one can see a stark difference in how the teams have performed and their standings.

Over the ensuing three months now left until the end of the regular season it will be extremely interesting to see how not only teams perform but most notably the players also . The team owners , themselves can be entirely happy with their lot , knowing that league attendances are holding steady , while the team values have risen exponentially are said to be extremely overvalued . How else can you explain the extraordinary sum of $2.15 billion paid , in the purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers to a consortium led by the aforementioned Magic Johnson and his business partners . There was a lot to that deal that simply didn’t meet the eye , especially in light of what was said to be the continued interference in the ongoing sale process while the organization was in bankruptcy proceedings in US Federal Bankruptcy Court in the state of Delaware . People seem to forget also that the team’s former owner Frank McCourt pocketed what is said to be in excess of $550 million for his troubles . Do you get the feeling that he’s now smiling all the way to the bank , while baseball’s commissioner is still at a loss as to how and why he failed to act judiciously when things first came to ,light concerning the Dodgers’ problems . Never mind the fact that the journalists who cover the sport showed about as much aptitude in covering the story as they did in skirting the growing evidence in the n egregious misuse of prohibitive substances within the game of baseball . Ken Caminitti , Jose Canseco , Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are but a few of the players embroiled in the game’s most infamous chapter . And yet , little has changed almost two decades later , concerning the use of steroids within the game . Baseball’s hierarchy has more on its plate that it can actually deal with ” and it has been borne out with the recent firing of a senior league hierarchy executive , Jimmie Lee Solomon . Although there has been no formal announcement from the commissioner’s for the executive’s apparent departure of Solomon , and he has refused to offer a response on the matter . Needless to say , there is a great deal more to this story that the fans have yet to be made aware of given the lack any information being made public . Moreover, we wonder why the league remains so secretive ? What do you think ?

Courtesy of USA Today

Major League Baseball fires longtime exec Jimmie Lee Solomon

By Bob Nightengale , USA Today

Jimmie Lee Solomon, one of Major League Baseball’s top executives since 1991, has been fired, according a person familiar with the decision.

The person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the decision, said that Solomon personally told him he was dismissed.

Solomon, an executive vice president, did not return a message for comment, and MLB officials have declined comment.

Solomon’s dismissal was first reported by Baseball America .

Solomon, who once oversaw all of Major League Baseball’s on-field operations, was reassigned two years ago when his job appeared tenuous. He replaced Sandy Alderson in 2005, but his work fell under greater scrutiny due to the quality of umpiring, which included Jim Joyce’s 2010 blown call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game.

Solomon’s responsibilities have been diminished since, while he has overseen the Urban Youth Academies and the Civil Rights Game. He also played a key role last year in a six-year extension of the professional baseball agreement between the minor leagues and MLB.

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As the second quarter of the baseball season has got underway what are you most looking forward to between now and the All Star Game ? And which teams do you now believe are under the biggest pressure to succeed and which of the teams now said to be in contention do you believe will fall back to earth with an almighty thud ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and thanks for the continued support of this site !

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(1) NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 02: Johan Santana (57) of the New York Mets waves to the crowd at Citi-Field on June 2, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. A video tribute was shown to acknowloge Santana’s no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals, the “first no-hitter ” in New York Mets history. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images …

(2) New York Mets’ Johan Santana, bottom left, hugs catcher Josh Thole as teammates rush to congratulate him after pitching the first no-hitter in Mets’ history in a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, June 1, 2012 in New York. Helped by an umpire’s missed call and an outstanding catch in left field, the Mets defeated the Cardinals 8-0 . AP Photo/Mark Lennihan …

(3)New York Mets surround starting pitcher Johan Santana after he threw a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals in a baseball game on Friday, June 1, 2012, at Citi Field in New York. The Mets won 8-0 . AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek …

(4) New York Mets fans and teammates applaud as Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dicke returns to the dugout after being relieved in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, on Thursday, June 7, 2012. The Mets won 3-1 , making Dickey the first pitcher in the majors to reach nine wins this season. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin …

(5) David Wright #5 of the New York Mets slides safely into third base on a triple in the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 7, 2012 in Washington, DC. Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images ..

(6) PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 7: Tony Gwynn (10) of the Los Angeles Dodgers congratulates teammate Elian Herrera (37) who scored on a single by James Loney in the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in a MLB baseball game on June 7, 2012 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dodgers defeated the Phillies 8-3 . Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images …

(7) Josh Hamilton (32) of the Texas Rangers looks on walkiong back to the dugout after stiking out in the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on June 7, 2012 in Oakland, California. The Athletic won the game 7-1 . Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …

(8) Cliff Pennington (2) of the Oakland Athletics steals third base, beating the throw to Adrian Beltre (29) of the Texas Rangers in the six inning at O.co Coliseum on June 7, 2012 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images…

(9) Jimmie Lee Solomon, left, here with commissioner Bud Selig at the 2006 All-Star Game , was with Major League Baseball for 21 years. Solomon was recently fired by the commissioner , though no formal statement has been forthcoming as to the reasons behind Solomon’s firing . The former Head of Baseball’s Onfield Operations , Jimmy Lee Solomon presided over the MLB umpires , and his duties were making sure that the officials were properly qualified and had a sound fundamental understanding of the game and of their overall duties . H Darr Beiser / USA Today @ copyrighted material all rights reserved

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What’s In A Game And A Name ?

What’s In A Name And A Game ?

By tophatal …………….. 4/9/2012

Well lo and behold , both the Boston Red Sox (0-3) and the New York Yankees (0-3) after the first week of the regular season as they remain win-less and neither team looks anything like teams seen at the start of the 2011 foray with ambitions for the postseason . Sitting atop of the AL East are the Baltimore Orioles (3-0) and Tampa Bay Rays (3-0) , who each share a similar record and are unbeaten . The Rays and Orioles are closely followed by the Toronto Blue Jays (2-1) with the Red Sox and Yankees bringing up the rear within the division . Suffice to say , it’s still early day says yet , and with the coming week’s schedule fixed with a number of games that will have each of the residents within the division simply looking further enhance their reputation within the infancy of the season.

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Bobby Valentine , the incoming manager of the Boston Red Sox , having succeeded his predecessor Terry Francona said all of th right things but unfortunately ,what is said for the public’s consumption doesn’t often matriculate into anything meaningful on the field of play and that has been clearly reflected in the results garnered by the team . And what of the New York Yankees who in the space of 72 hours ” were swept” by their divisional rivals in a three game sweep that was so embarrassing and unbecoming of this team . But then again , you’ve a group of highly overpaid and complacent stars who if they had any ” shame “ would proffer up an apology to their fans . Instead , the silence from the players has been remarkably docile to say the very least ! Where’s the god-damn leadership coming from on this roster ? ” Capt America ” aka Derek Jeter now in the latter years of a distinguished career seems out of sorts and the game’s highest paid player in Alex Rodriguez remains a conundrum and enigma wrapped up in a bow , as a present that actually no one really wants .

I am not about to suggest that at this juncture either Bobby Valentine or Joe Girardi have anything to truly worry about but when you have the two teams whose combined payrolls would make a make a number of teams around the league seem rather envious . I can only surmise that there are number of smirks and chuckles to be had as both of these storied franchises for the moment have hit upon hard times ! For the Yankees they now have an coming series against the Baltimore Orioles at the fabled Camden Yards/ Orioles Ballpark , Baltimore , Maryland . Buck Showalter and his team I do believe would like nothing better than to inflict some further pain upon the Yankees ! And at this juncture it might be beyond the realms-of-possibility that the roster could indeed inflict a fourth consecutive defeat upon Joe Girardi’s team may well be on appearance , now look like a deer caught in headlights .

Given what has been on display by the New York Yankees and the fact they’ve lost three straight this game against the Orioles has all the things that Jeter and his teammates would simply like to avoid . The Baltimore Orioles appear confident and it must be noted that during the months of August and September during 2011 they played some of their best baseball during the season. So much so , that they inflicted the loss that denied the Red Sox a wildcard berth in the playoffs .

On the mound for the Baltimore Orioles when they face the New York Yankees today will be Brian Matusz facing off against Ivan Nova . The lineups for the for the teams should indicate that they should be at full strength but as we already know there have been a litany of injury woes around the league this season . And in what is expected to be a sold-out crowd at Orioles Ballpark this game should create deal a lot of interest not simply amongst the local fans but also for a national television audience as the New York Yankees still remain ” the biggest draw ” in the game .

In the New York Yankees’ 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field , St Petersburg Florida . In reality one would have been hard pressed to state that the Yankees could have put up a more inept performance but that would simply take away from the exemplary display offered up by Joe Maddon’s …. players on the day . Jeremy Hellickson was simply outstanding and he was equally served defensively by his teammates and closer Fernando Rodney on his way to gaining his first victory of the season. And while the Rays are on the ascent it would appear that the opposite appears to be norm at present for the New York Yankees . I am not about to suggest that the Yankees’ woes are purely from a pitching standpoint but it is clear that the team’s offense has yet to be sync much show the prolific output on display during 2011 . This is clearly something that needs to be addressed by Joe Girardi and his coaching staff if the Yankees are turn their young season around .

For a team that was so explosive in terms of the results and offense during last season it is hard to understand how and why players such as Mark Teixeira , Curtis Granderson , Raul Ibanez , Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter can simply thus far offer up such mediocrity has now come into question ! It begs the question once again where is the “real leadership” said to be coming from on this team ? All the rhetoric in the world can’t hide one discernible fact , there’s no one at present who’s prepared to step up and be the vocal leader on or off the field for the New York Yankees ! Jeter we once assumed to be the willing commandant , who would lead by example but as of now , that clearly doesn’t appear to be the case ! Your thoughts on the matter ?

In the latter part of this month if not by early May should the New York Yankees not actually be back on track , wherein, they are actually playing with a great deal of resolve , then look for GM Brian Cashman and the ownership (front office) to scrutinize every aspect of this organization in terms of the managerial staff and player personnel . Hank and Hal Steinbrenner did not assume control of this baseball club upon the death of their patriarch George Steinbrenner , to then be ridiculed because they can’t now get the job done but at the same time the tall task in-front of them was the unprecedented success attained by the late owner , no small feat when one considers the achievements of the man !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

If there’s any blame to be apportioned for the New York Yankees’ sorry start to the season , where do believe it to lay ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit on the subject matter and anything else you believe to be pertinent at present concerning the infancy of the baseball season .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Did someone say sweep ? Tampa Bay Rays fans hold up brooms during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Sunday, April 8, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays won 3-0 to complete a season-opening sweep. AP Photo/Brian Blanco ….

(2) Members of the New York Yankees, including Derek Jeter, third from left, watch from the dugout during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Sunday, April 8, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays won 3-0. AP Photo/Brian Blanco ….

(3) Catcher Jose Molina (28) of the Tampa Bay Rays congratulates Jeff Keppinger (7) after his sixth inning home run against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on April 8, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

(4) Infielder Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees fouls off a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on April 8, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(5) Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (58)n of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on April 8, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …
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MLB news

MLB important dates during the 2012 season

MLB schedule 9th April 2012

MLB probable starting pitchers 9th April 2012

Probable roster lineups

It Ain’t Baseball ’til There’s A Damn Screw Up …………

It Ain’t Baseball ’til There’s A Damn Screw Up …………

By tophatal ………

Well with the Spring Training Schedule within MLB off to its usual customary start it will be interesting to see how a number of teams acquit themselves during the month of March before baseball’s official opening day. Granted, we do know that the Seattle Mariners will be taking on the Oakland A’s in a two game series that will actually be played at the Tokyo Dome in , Tokyo Japan . This being an exercise viewed by Major League Baseball as part of its exercise in broadening the global appeal of the game especially within the Asian Pacific Basin . Bud Selig as the commissioner along with the league hierarchy and mlb team owners have long sought to broaden the game on the international landscape.

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Baseball’s World Baseball Classic a tournament instigated by MLB in conjunction with the International Baseball Federation still seems to be a work in progress . And though it hasn’t helped that with the quadrennial tournament in full swing Team USA has had limited success in the international team competition . It now makes me wonder with the dominance of teams such as Cuba and Japan , it now appears that the long held thought that North America and its players were the dominant force on the international landscape . The World Series being what it is doesn’t translate across international borders that well , other than the fact that as a television event to the uninitiated , it gives those viewing the showcase event something of an idea as to how special baseball is amongst the fans domestically and within confines of Latin America .

I’m not one for prognostications at this point of the season to begin with , other than to suggest that the teams seeking to gain some semblance of consistency will use the preseason schedule of gaining confidence while assessing their new assignees ! With the number of free agents who were on the move this off-season and the increases and decreasing of team payrolls what else can now actually be said about the state of the game ? Not much I might hazard , as I seriously doubt that Bud Selig has ever gotten handle on the financial morass that the game continually faces . I mean who else but the commissioner could be in complete denial as to the mess that engulfed the Los Angeles Dodgers and now the New York Mets ? Even Stevie Wonder could have seen this fucking mess coming to the fore but somehow the league hierarchy were either in complete denial or felt that Frank McCourt , Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon had a complete handle on their respective ball-club’s problems .

If anything came as a surprise to the vast majority of fans during the final month of the season . Then it had to be the seismic meltdown by the Boston Red Sox and what that told you about the team and its complete lack of accountability and leadership. I mean how many half-assed Red Sox fans are there who actually felt that the Sox could go 7-21 in the month of September and still make to obtain the wildcard berth and get to the playoffs , much less win the AL East . Say nothing of which , the front office under the leadership of Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino then sought to make Terry Francona a scapegoat for the gutless overpaid players on the roster who simply underperformed when it mattered most .

With the departures of Epstein and Francona respectively , the Boston Red Sox starts afresh as they embark upon their 2012 preseason with a new manager and coaching staff in tow led by Bobby Valentine . And with Ben Cherington succeeding Theo Epstein as the general manager , personnel decisions will be entrusted to the young executive under the watchful eye of team President Larry Lucchino . Not all content with those upheaval the team roster was overhauled with some noted players being jettisoned by the organization . Most notably , there was Johnathan Papelbon who has found a new home with the Philadelphia Phillies with a richly rewarding four year contract . Some may think somewhat overly generous given the player’s failings for his former team last season .

This season for the Boston Red Sox certain players on the current roster will be closely scrutinized by the media and fans alike . Certainly Josh Beckett , David Ortiz , Jacoby Ellsbury , Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia have a great deal to prove . Most notably, the pitching staff whose woes were heightened during that final month of the regular season in 2011.

From an offensive standpoint the Red Sox should still be productive would be predicated upon the players being able to produce the form that they showed in the early part of last season . And amongst the teams within the AL East and baseball as a whole there’s a belief that the Red Sox will still have some issues that they haven’t clearly addressed during the off-season .

If the final month of 2011 proved anything , then it has to be that Joe Maddon is a damn genius ! What he was able to achieve with a staff highly motivated players who simply in terms of financial reward were of no match for the big market teams such as the Red Sox , New York Yankees , Philadelphia Phillies , Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels .

Tampa Bay Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg has made the decision to raise the team’s payroll from $42 million to $67 million this upcoming season . Team GM Andrew Friedman has used his time judiciously in assembling a roster that he believes to be competitive and enough of a challenge to the potential contenders within the AL East.

If there was one move that I felt that the Rays’ organization may well have made a mistake in , well that was in choosing to off-load veteran outfielder Johnny Damon . Not only losing the player’s productivity but the Rays not only also lost a vocal leader but also someone who commanded the respect of the young players on the roster .. And Damon was someone who led by example . If there’s something that I am looking forward to this season with regard to the Rays then it has to be that formidable starting rotation spearheaded by pitchers James Shields , David Price , Jeremy Hellickson and Wade Davis . If they can produce anywhere the productivity I believe them to be capable of then the AL East this season will be come real suspenseful in ways completely unimaginable .

I’ve not placed a great deal of faith in the Justice System as it relates to the ongoing issues concerning baseball ! We have had a dumb ass lab technician completely throw a monkey- wrench in the hierarchy’s case against NL MVP …. Ryan Braun . Only for an idiot like Bud Selig and his subordinate Rob Manfred would choose to question the veracity of the arbitrator’s (Shyam Das) ruling in favor of the player’s appeal of his 50 game mandated suspension in testing positive for a banned substance . . Never mind the fact that the US Justice Department has spent in excess of $20 million of taxpayers’ monies investigating the BALCO ” scandal” and then bringing about subsequent cases against Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens . Bonds having been found guilty on seven lesser counts still awaits sentencing . Clemens on the other hand , still awaits trial but has an ongoing case against his former personal trainer Brian McNamee for slander , defamation of character and libel . Good luck with that “Rocket” as you have thrown almost every member of your immediate family under the bus simply trying to prove your innocence . Andy Pettite sends “his love “ by the way .

Is there nothing that Bud Selig and the MLB hierarchy can do right without shoveling themselves ever deeper into a ditch filled with fecal matter ? And please don’t have the temerity to suggest that the playoff expansion (10 team playoff format) will be good for the game when baseball refuses to deal with the most acute issue it faces ? If the financial imbalance of the teams as it relates to their finances and payroll doesn’t need addressing then it shows the complete stupidity of the hierarchy , team owners and the union (MLBPA) itself ! Ever increasing salaries and the mere fact that many of the top MLB agents in the sport have the owners and general managers and managers cowering like a virgin in a corner on prom-night knowing that her “cherry” is about to get “popped ” ! And the guy doing the “popping” just happens to be the eponymous sports’ agents . I don’t think that I can put it anymore succinctly than that !

It now looks as if the New York Mets are on the brink of being sunk without a damn trace . Yipee ! About damn time ! With a judgment now going against the organization it may force co-owners Saul Katz , Fred Wilpon and the Wilpon family in order to stave off financial ruin , as owners they may well now have to take baseball organization into bankruptcy proceedings (Chapter 11) within US Federal Bankruptcy Court . Federal Court Bankruptcy Judge Jed S. Rakoff has sided with the plaintiffs’ attorney Irving H Picard in a ruling that states the Mets owe $86 million of the initial $386 million sought after first rejecting the original …….. $1 billion claimed by Picard on the plaintiffs’ behalf that is believed to be ill-gotten gains received by the baseball organization over the past decade and a half from the billions of dollars (est. $57 billion [$57,000,000,000]) that are said to have been bilked from clients by former New York financier Bernard Madoff as part of his multi-billion dollar Ponzi Scheme .

Courtesy of The Mercury in conjunction with AP

Judge: N.Y. Mets owe up to $83M to Madoff trustee

By Larry Neumeister , Associated Press

NEW YORK — The New York Mets’ owners must pay up to $83 million to the trustee recovering money for Bernard Madoff investors, a judge said Monday, though he expressed doubt that the trustee will succeed in proving at a trial this month that he’s entitled to as much as $300 million more .

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff issued his four-page ruling to narrow the subject of a March 19 trial in Manhattan that results from Trustee Irving Picard’s effort to force the club’s owners to pay as much as $1 billion into a fund established to repay thousands of investors cheated of billions of dollars during Madoff’s decades-long fraud.

Last year, Rakoff had ruled that the team’s owners wouldn’t owe more than $386 million to other Madoff investors. He made it clear then that they would likely owe up to $83 million but said the trustee must prove that the Mets’ owners “willfully blinded” themselves to Madoff’s fraud to get more.
His ruling Monday determined that the exact amount up to $83 million won’t be left to the jury but will be decided by him in a future written decision, likely after he hears more from lawyers on both sides.
Rakoff rejected a request by lawyers for the Mets’ owners to say Picard wasn’t entitled to more money, a ruling that would have eliminated the need for the trial.
But he said he “remains skeptical that the trustee can ultimately rebut the defendants’ showing of good faith.”

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I’ve long held the position that Katz , Wlipon and the team’s COO Jeff Wilpon have been economical with the truth as it relates to this whole fiasco concerning the Mets and their dealings with Bernie Madoff ! Even when the rumblings as to the egregious actions of the financier were being laid bare , all three executives denied any culpability, even when there was evidence to the contrary . Now come full circle , and it appears that Radoff’s initial ruling as a precursor to the 19th March trial will go a long way in assisting Picard’s case as the trustee of the victims of Madoff’s fraudulent act . Never mind , suggesting the denials by Saul Katz , Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon were built on falsehoods . In the midst of this all , Bud Selig has been nowhere to be found , simply insisting that he has been closely monitoring the situation in conjunction with baseball’s own in-house legal counsel . If that means he has been monitoring this all in the same he has held contention of his stewardship of the Dodgers’ fiasco while Frank McCourt was pillaging the coffers of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Then it would suggest that the commissioner has about as much common sense as someone juggling multiple incendiary devices , namely several grenades ! Well , Selig has always been a dumb ass to begin with so this would be something I could envisage him actually doing ! Kaboom ! Let the mother-##cker blow himself up and do us all a damn favor ! Word !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As a precursor to the official start of the regular season with Opening Day on the 4th April , are you making a keen observation of the Spring Training Schedule of your favorite team as a way of gauging their progress ? Also what do you hope to see from that ball-club ? With the ongoing issue of the New York Mets do you feel that the commissioner’s handling of the situation and that of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been dealt with , with due diligence ? By all means do take time to leave a comment as you see fit . Thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Picture and slide show details for your perusal .
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(1) Oakland Athletics’ Jemile Weeks tosses out Los Angeles Angels’ Erick Aybar during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game Monday, March 5, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Darron Cummings …

(2) Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia watches during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Oakland Athletics Monday, March 5, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Darron Cummings …..

(3) St. Louis Cardinals’ Shane Robinson , bottom, is out at second base as New York Mets shortstop Ronny Cedeno turns the double play during the first inning of a spring training baseball game , Tuesday, March 6, 2012, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The Cardinals’ Skip Schumaker was out at first. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson … ….

(4) New York Mets introduce Sandy Alderson as the team’s new General Manager on Friday Oct. 29, 2010 in N.Y. Seated in the audience at the formal announcement are from left to right , Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon , Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon , senior managing partners who also happen to be co-owners of the baseball organization as well the investment firm also embroiled in a plaintiffs’ civil suit filed against the Mets and Sterling Equities Inc. AP Photo /Kathy Kmonicek …

(5) Boston Red Sox pitcher Clayton Mortensen , left, throws a strike to Baltimore Orioles’ Taylor Teagarden during the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game Tuesday, March 6, 2012, in Fort Myers, Fla. Boston won 5-4 . AP Photo/David Goldman …

(6) Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine , second from right, joins hands with team management during a news conference at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday Dec. 1, 2011. From left to right are Red Sox President Larry Lucchino , General Manager Ben Cherington , Valentine, and majority owner John Henry . AP Photo/Charles Krupa ….

(7) Baltimore Orioles’ Xavier Avery , left, scores off a walk with bases loaded by Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb as Rays catcher Jose Molina , right, heads to the mound in the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game Monday, March 5, 2012, in Port Charlotte, Fla. Baltimore won 3-1 . AP Photo/David Goldman …….

(8) Tampa Bay Rays’ Reid Brignac dives back to first base to beat the throw from Baltimore Orioles pitcher Brad Bergesen to Baltimore Orioles first baseman Wilson Betemit, left, during the third inning of a spring training baseball game Monday, March 5, 2012, in Port Charlotte, Fla. Baltimore won 3-1. AP Photo/David Goldman …….

(9) Manager Joe Maddon (70) of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at the Charlotte Sports Park on February 29, 2012 in Port Charlotte, Florida . Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images ……

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MLB news

MLB schedule 6th March 2012

MLB results 5th March 2012

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Kanye West ………… “Monster”

It Starts From The Top , On Down ………

It’s Starts From The Top , On Down ……………

I think that we can all assume that for any organization the success attained usually comes by way of ownership in terms of a professional sports’ franchise and the lead executives within that organization. Within the area of Major League Baseball (MLB) I think that we can surmise that there are some damn good owners as well some very bad ones amongst the bunch . The same can be said for the general managers and managers themselves . If there’s leadership from up above as well a high degree of intelligence then it usually bodes well for a team .

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In recent years and it would be fair to say that the Tampa Bay Rays have had a reasonable amount of success within the AL East and the postseason as an organization. Team owner Stuart Sternberg along with his managing partner , Matthew Silverman and general manager Andrew Friedman have been the mainstays of upswing in the fortunes of the franchise. But undoubtedly it has been the boldness Friedman and his personnel decisions that cannot be underestimated . The hiring of Joe Maddon as the team’s manager and his subsequent hirees as coaching assistants have simply genius in its strategy and simpleness . And one cannot say enough about the draft choices made by the general manager over the last five years . Suffice to say that those players who have made it to the majors are the envy of the teams around the league .

Undeniably the heroics of this team this regular season brought about a great deal of excitement for the fans within the Tampa Bay area and that loyal following in attendance at Tropicana Field , St Petersburg , Florida got the chance to cheer on their heroes during the postseason . Short-lived as that was anyone who would have suggest during mid August the Tampa Bay Rays would end up being the AL wildcard representative at the end of the regular season may well have been laughed at . The team’s postseason foray for 2011 ended up rather abruptly with the Tampa Bay Rays being summarily dismissed by the Texas Rangers (3-1) in the ALDS . With that loss the front office now looks to next season and what changes they may well deem prudent to become more competitive . What has and will always be the biggest concern for the organization are the financial constraints that they are placed under . When adjudged against other teams around the league the Rays’ situation is not necessarily viewed as an enviable one . But they have managed to survive and be competitive in a league that has now become more to do with spending for the large part rather than genuinely developing talent .

Fortunately for Joe Maddon and his coaching staff with the natural maturity and the progress shown in the development of players such as David Price , Evan Longoria , Alex Cobb , Jeremy Hellickson and B J Upton the organization has been extremely lucky . It has been this sort of development of talent this has made this ball club the envy of the league . The credit for this must undoubtedly go to Andrew Friedman , Joe Maddon and the coaching staff.

The issues that the Tampa Bay Rays face concerning their dire need for a new state of the art facility with Tropicana Field not being viewed as fan friendly have been well chronicled . The issue is treated as a hot potato by the league hierarchy and it has gotten to the stage where MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has berated the organization as well the politicians of both the cities of St Petersburg and Tampa as well Hillsborough and Pinellas County , as to their inaction, in getting a new ballpark for the team. Someone should remind Selig that just because New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg allowed the commissioner to ” fist “ his sphincter and it doesn’t mean that the politicians within both municipalities or for that matter the ownership group of the Rays will allow the same thing to happen to them ! Bloomberg under the subterfuge of seeing two multi million dollar ballparks ( Citi-Field & Yankee Stadium ) built within the city of New York suddenly feels that the municipality becomes the epicenter of the baseball world . That clearly is not the case but you would be hard pressed to convince a New York Mets or Yankees’ fan of that !

This off-season the Tampa Bay Rays will have to contend with the fact that they have yet to reach an agreement with their general manager concerning a contract extension. We know that the Chicago Cubs’ vacancy has now been filled with Theo Epstein accepting the offer from owner Tom Ricketts . Meanwhile , with Los Angeles Angels’ general manager Tony Reagins having resigned his position , it leads to a vacancy within that organization . The team’s multi dollar billionaire owner Arte Moreno is no slouch and will look for a high profiled and competent replacement for Reagins . Moreno , it has been reported , has met with Andrew Friedman twice within the last 48 hours to discuss the Angels’ vacancy with the Rays’ general manager , to gauge his interest . At the same time laying in wait observing this hall has been the ownership group of the Houston Astros . I somehow get the feeling that if Friedman is made an offer that he simply cannot refuse then he will undoubtedly leave this organization and make his way to the West Coast , into the more than welcoming arms of the Angels’ front office .

In spite of the friendship between Andrew Friedman and Stuart Sternberg , the mutual respect between the two will remain. But it can’t have been easy for the Tampa Bay Rays general manager having to cut costs in terms of the player personnel simply to make this ball club not only competitive but also profitable from a financial standpoint. No such hindrances for the organization’s two biggest divisional foes the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees with their multi million dollar payrolls as well having at their disposal as a treasure chest their respective sports programming cable network providers NESN and the YES Network .

As I alluded to earlier the situation facing the Rays become more dire with each passing moment as to their future and that of a new venue. Entering now into the fray is the city of Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer offering up his own assessment of the baseball team’ future. The mayor has let it be known that he feels that the cities of St Petersburg and Tampa have ill served the organization . Either Dyer is a complete asshole or this is simply nothing more than a political ploy on his part . If he feels that luring away the team from Pinellas County to Orange County and the city of Orlando will serve his municipality city well , then so be it . But given the fact , that both the city and county are at this moment struggling to literally stay afloat due budgetary shortfalls speaks to the stupidity of the mayor . If he firmly believes that fawning over sports’ franchise owner and using taxpayer’s monies to fund stadiums as a means of initiating an upturn in the city’s infrastructure while teachers , city employees and first responders are either furloughed or “pink slipped” indicates to that he is simply another political crony willing to prostitute himself out to the highest bidder ! I can only surmise that Bill Foster of St Petersburg and his city of Tampa counterpart Mayor Bob Buckhorn will have a few choice and pointed responses for Dyer when they see fit respond to his comment publicly !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit . Thanks as always for the continued support !

Alan aka tophatal ………………

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Rays’ manager Joe Maddon is seen here alongside GM Andrew Friedman during the 2008 MLB Playoffs . AP Photo / Chris Howard ….

(2) Arte Moreno (left) is seen here with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the Angels’ former general manager Tony Reagins (right). Moreno has met with Rays’ general manager Andrew Friedman to gauge the executive’s interest in joining the Los Angeles Angels in a similar position . @ copyrighted material all rights reserved MLB.com …..

(3) Mayor Bill Foster (R) speaks to the media regarding the two St. Petersburg, Florida police officers killed during a shootout on January 24, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. A deputy U.S Marshal was also wounded. The suspect, 39-year-old Hydra Lacy, Jr., was later found dead in the home where the shootout took place. Getty Images / Tom Boyles …..

(4) Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn talks Tuesday about the teamwork of the many law enforcement agencies, many with representatives behind him, during the four-day hunt for Dontae Morris. Skip Rourke / St Petersburg Times ….

(5) City of Orlando Mayor,Buddy Dyer, looks out from his office unto the horizon of the downtown Orlando area. Dyer was one of the main facilitators in getting a new arena built for the NBA franchise, the Orlando Magic . picture appears courtesy of orlandosentinel/ Jason Arnot ………..

(6) Tropicana Field home to the Tampa Bay Ray since the team’s inception and now viewed an archaic edifice by a number of players and teams around the league . Bud Selig has been highly critical of the ownership group of the Rays . But the commissioner has done little to assist the organization and their ambition of getting a new facility. However , he was front and center in dealing with the Boston Red Sox ownership and the of the New York Yankees’ front office in making sure that there would be no problems in their dealings with the New York City Council (members) by holding countless private meetings with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. St Petersburg Times / Collin Walsh ….

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MLB news

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Tropicana Field , St Petersburg, Florida

Tampa Bay Rays 40 man roster

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Team payroll 2011 & future salary commitments

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Tampa Bay Rays schedule & results 2011

Never Too Late To Apologize It’s All In How You Say It ………..

Never Too Late To Apologize It’s All In How You Say It ………..

You can either choose to be part of the news or simply read about but in no way do you want to be seen to be creating worthless tidbits , simply to have to recant a statement . We tend to see it all the time when it comes to celebrities further looking to parlay their fifteen minutes of fame . Albeit , that now with Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay I am not so sure that he knew by tweeting that Peyton Manning is out for the season be it inadvertently or not this seems to have created a furor that neither Irsay , Bill Polian or Jim Caldwell would really care to address publicly and with any degree of certainty.

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The Indianapolis Colts’ season has now taken on turn for the worse as this team seems to have lost all confidence when it comes to its play on the field . One patron had suggested to me that I was being completely overzealous in my statement when made the claim that the Colts’ season was over before it had began but I think that this patron was simply too naive to think that Peyton Manning would be back and playing under any circumstance for the Indianapolis Colts. The four time league MVP is the heart and soul of this team and has been so since he was drafted by the organization in 1998 as the number 2 overall pick behind Ryan Leaf .

The Indianapolis Colts for their part having brought in Kerry Collins have suffered three successive defeats to their start of the season which now has them firmly rooted at the bottom of the AFC South . Inasmuch as I would like to think that there is hope for the Colts for this season with the play that the team has offered simply isn’t enough to convince me that they are able of containing and steering their own destiny. Now it would remiss to suggest that Peyton Manning’s career with this organization is over but sooner or later the fans and the front office may well have to realize that this era could very well be coming to a close .

All of this talk about a resurgent Chicago Bears’ team came to a quick and abrupt close when they were ceremoniously dragged across the turf by the Green Bay Packers in a decisive 27-17 victory for the defending Superbowl champions. It is pretty safe to say that this Bears’ team still has flashbacks nightmares from their NFC championship game loss (21-14) to the Packers . This time around the Bears’ defense simply couldn’t cope with the passing game of Aaron Rodgers and the play of tight end Jermichael Finley who accounted for the first three touchdown game of his career in the team’s 27-17 win .

Jay Cutler as the quarterback of the Chicago Bears has a lot to be answerable for , especially when one bears in mind his performance during that NFC championship game . There are those who genuinely believe that the player was hurt and that was the reason for his leaving the game. But I would suggest to the contrary because when your team needs you the most that is when as a presumed leader you have to step up to the plate and lead by example.

And as good as we’re led to believe this Bears’ defense is said to be they were clearly exposed by a Packers’ offense simply chomping at the bit. Aaron Rodgers simply carried on from where he left from last season . And it is easy to understand the reason why the team made the player their first round draft choice in 2005 (24th pick first round) by the Packers’ front office and coach Mike McCarthy . With the way that the Green Bay Packers now seem to be performing amongst their divisional and conference rivals . All the talk may well be about the surprising start of the Detroit Lions but until this team led by Matthew Stafford has played full season unscathed and have a winning season then perhaps we may well get to learn something about this organization as a whole . In spite of the added history of the franchise and the apparent direction that they now seem to be taking with Jim Schwartz as the coach working in conjunction with the front office led by GM Martin Mayhew .

The turnaround in the fortunes of the Detroit Lions has coincided with the recent draft choices made by the organization . And clearly with the additions of Nick Fairley , Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson this is a team capable of contending but as I have repeatedly stated until Matthew Stafford is able to play an entire season and at the same be protected by his offensive line then I will continue hold my reservations about the competitiveness of the team .

It is hard to believe that a month ago the Boston Red Sox led the AL East and held a seven and a half game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays within the division . Now as of the 27th September that divisional lead is no longer there with the New York Yankees having won the division and secured a berth in the postseason , we now have an almighty dog fight brewing as the Tampa Bay Rays look to chase down the Red Sox to gain the wildcard berth as the AL entrant into the playoffs. Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona and his coaching staff have to be perturbed by what they are now seeing from his team that has lost eighteen of their last 22 games .

What might be even more distressing for the Boston Red Sox front office has been the very fact they have an outlay of an extortionate amount in salaries to pay for free agent acquisitions that in part have been productive but the overall expectations just wasn’t there . Clearly Theo Epstein , Larry Lucchino and the entire front office cannot be entirely happy with the thought that the team could once again miss the postseason . If ever there was a certainty as to why things started to spiral out of control for the Boston Red Sox then one would have place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the players and their lack of consistency .

As rabid as the Red Sox fans are said to be , I am not so sure that they are willing to tolerate the meltdown of their team especially when one bears in mind that their perpetual nemesis the New York Yankees has won the AL East and now await postseason play. It would certainly burn the fans even more also to know that the Tampa Bay Rays would once again be part of the playoffs.

The fans of the Tampa Bay Rays are all giddy with the very thought that they could be making a quick return to the playoffs when one considers their swift exit from the postseason last year . This time around I am sure that Joe Maddon would like to see his team perform to the best of their abilities with the advent of making the playoffs. The players have hit a rich vein of form that has seen them win five of their last 10 games but also on a two game win streak .

For the younger players on this roster such as Desmond Jennings , Sam Fulds , Alex Cobb , Matt Joyce and David Price this offers these teammates a further chance to show that this simply is not another aberration for the Tampa Bay Rays and their fans. Most certainly this may well have been the season that GM Andrew Friedman had envisaged alongside senior partners Stuart Sternberg and Matt Silverman .

It has been well chronicled as to the financial constraints that the Tampa Bay Rays now finds itself under and this is solely being done at the discretion of the front office as it is the only way for this organization to simply remain viable as a baseball franchise . And when adjudged against the rest of baseball one can see why it is that the ball club chooses take this route . Perhaps in light of the movie ” Moneyball” and the fact that the movie while now receiving critical acclaim it has to be said the box office (grossed slightly under $20 million opening weekend ) expectation doesn’t seem to have met with the expectations of the studio and one bears in mind that it placed second behind a fifteen year old animated classic “The Lion King” .

I am not so sure what to make of the Atlanta Braves’ meltdown within the NL East and the mere fact that they have allowed the St Louis Cardinals to simply erase their lead in the NL wildcard standings . Both Tony La Russa and Fredi Gonzalez are now vying to have their respective teams playing hard down the stretch as the waning days of the schedule winds down . With the St Louis Cardinals losing to the lowly Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves falling to the Philadelphia Phillies the margin between the two teams is now a mere half game as of Monday night. With two regular season games now left on the schedule it certainly will interesting and suspenseful to see how things play themselves out over the ensuing days .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Given what we are now witnessing within the NFL and MLB are there further surprises that you feel could very well occur ? And what thoughts if any do you have concerning the statements made by Colts’ owner Jim Irsay concerning Peyton Manning ? Simply leave a comment on the points raised within this piece and any other points you believe to be pertinent .

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

http://facebook.com/tophatal

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Indianapolis Colts football head coach Jim Caldwell talks about the quarterback situation and the 0-3 start in Indianapolis, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011. AP Photo/Michael Conroy ….

(2) FILE – This Sept. 1, 2011 file photo shows Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on the sidelines in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Cincinnati. At rear right is quarterback Kerry Collins. Colts owner Jim Irsay says there is an “outside chance” Manning might return in December. Irsay used Twitter on Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, to update Colts fans on Manning’s status after remarks he made during a private breakfast with Super Bowl donors. AP Photo/Tony Tribble ….

(3) CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 25: Jermichael Finley (88) of the Green Bay Packers catches a touchdown pass in front of Craig Steltz (20) of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 27-17 . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

(4) Aaron Rodgers (12) of the Green Bay Packers talks with Jay Cutler (6) of the Chicago Bears after a game at Soldier Field on September 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 27-17. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

(5) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 25: Donovan McNabb (5) of the Minnesota Vikings and Keiland Williams (34) of the Detroit Lions talk after the overtime win by the Lions at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 25, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Adam Bettcher /Getty Images ……..

(6) Matthew Stafford (9) of the Detroit Lions is chased by Chad Greenway (52) of the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 25, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Adam Bettcher /Getty Images …….

(7) Carl Crawford (13) of the Boston Red Sox (L) and teammates Jacoby Ellsbury (2) (C) and Josh Reddick (16) [(R)] leave the dugout after losing to the Baltimore Orioles 6-3 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 26, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……

(8) Infielder Ben Zobrist (18) of the Tampa Bay Rays congratulates Reid Brignac (15) after he scores against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on September 26, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Tampa Bay Rays would defeat the Yankees 5-2 . Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(9) Matt Diaz (23) of the Atlanta Braves slides into second base safely under the tag of Jimmy Rollins (11) of the Philadelphia Phillies after hitting a double in the second inning at Turner Field on September 26, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Phillies would defeat the Braves 4-2 . Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images …….

(10) Chris Carpenter , right, of the St. Louis Cardinals high fives Matt Holliday (7) and Albert Pujols (5) after they scored in the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 26, 2011 in Houston, Texas. The Cardinals would go on to lose the game 5-4 to the Astros . Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …….
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So It All Comes Down To This …..

So It All Comes Down To This …..

Well as the MLB season enters its final week several of the divisional races seem to be all but sealed . Albeit , that the divisional wildcard races are still up for grabs the competition there seems to be very boisterous with the teams seeking the final berths within the the leagues are of the greatest importance to these ball-clubs. In the AL what seemed to be an insurmountable lead for the Boston Red Sox over the Tampa Bay Rays has been all but erased but for a mere two game margin between the two teams. The AL East has been sealed with the New York Yankees triumphant making the postseason for the forty ninth time over the course of their long distinguished history .

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Slide show for your perusal .

For New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi this has been a season that pretty much was one that truly tested his resolve and that of his coaching assistants . And certainly when one takes into account all of the drama that has surrounded the season by the team you simply know that it’s back to business as usual for the organization. With GM Brian Cashman yet to sign a contract extension it would appear that this will be situation soon to resolved if if Hank and Hal Steinbrenner know what is best for the New York Yankees. The team itself has performed with the due distinction you would come to expect that has a litany of highly paid and praised All Stars .

Curtis Granderson , Mark Teixeira , Robinson Cano , CC Sabathia , Derek Jeter , Jesus Montero and the ever dependable Mariano Rivera have all contributed to the team’s success this season.

One of the more bewildering issues of the baseball year I do believe has been the disappointment in seeing a number of teams that have simply not lived up to expectations . Now you can spin it anyway that you want by saying injuries do play a part in ball-club’s season but at the same it is incumbent upon those teams , their respective managers and general managers to make sure that the parts in place for those teams to attain the success that they strive for. Instead , I hear repeatedly the excuses that continue to be used repeatedly by fans and purists alike who use that as a crux for their own comfort . I mean if a manager simply cannot get the best out of his players or those teammates simply cannot step up to the plate then it is a clear indication that the team just isn’t on the right track.

At this point of the season last year it would be safe to say that the fans of the game were simply satisfied with what they had seen with the expectations that the postseason would live up to the usual intrigue. The San Francisco Giants as defending World Series’ champions have seen their season virtually slip away due to the team’s inconsistency and the simple fact that the Arizona Diamondbacks came out of nowhere like a buzz saw felling everything in their way and leaving all in their wake. For Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy I am sure that he and GM Brian Sabean had hoped for a more productive season from the team . Most certainly for Kirk Gibson and his coaching staff the fact that the Arizona Diamondbacks seem to be on the cusp of another postseason appearance only adds to the allure and ongoing history of this ball-club. And for the Diamondbacks’ manager there is very reason to believe that he could very well end up being named the NL Manager of the Year .

This young Arizona Diamondbacks’ team bought into everything that Kirk Gibson was selling and their play was simply epitomized by the character shown by Gibson as a player . Certainly Dustin Upton has been everything that the front office had come to expect and a great deal more by way of his productivity this season. But it has been a collective effort on the part of this team that has put this organization back in the postseason. It gives hope to the small market teams around the league with the ambition to succeed where the brevitas is actually also shown by the team owners as well.

Now it goes without saying that although much of the season has eclipsed by the drama off the field of play with ongoing saga of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the fact that beleaguered owner Frank McCourt sought to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in US Federal Court in the state of Delaware. McCourt has remained steadfast in his resolve to retain control of the team albeit that time now appears to be running out . Having received financing in the form of a $150 million loan courtesy of Goldman Sachs which will aid in the funding of the organization’s expenditure until the end of the season. However, while this saga continues there seems to be no clear sign that Frank McCourt has been able to negotiate an amicable agreement with the team’s creditors , whilst in litigation. So much of this could have been avoided had MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the league hierarchy used due diligence in monitoring this situation from the beginning instead of absolving themselves of any responsibility and then choosing to intervene as a face saving image exercise . Now all the talk appears to be the expanding of the postseason with the addition of two teams from each league . If the commissioner really wants to address the real issues facing the game then he had better wake to the real problems that the game now finds itself in rather than creating the premise that this new format would actually be of benefit of the game.

Selig has shown as much insight for the business side of the game as a blind man would feel at ease playing hopscotch in a minefield . And while the ongoing saga continues with the Los Angeles Dodgers let us not forget the fact that the New York Mets now sits on a precipice which the owners simply cannot extricate themselves from at present . Having seen a prospective investor in Wall St hedge fund manager David Einhorn pull out of a deal to purchase a minority stake in the team with a view to then gaining a 51% stake at a later date Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon as the senior managing partners and co-owners of the team .

With the New York Mets and the two principal partners now defendants in a civil suit that seeks the return of $750 million determined as a small part of the monies received by Katz and Wilpon which they say are genuinely derived profits recouped by way of their investments in the Bernard Madoff ” Ponzi Scheme” . Representing the plaintiffs seeking the returns of the monies mentioned is renowned attorney Irving H Picard . The plaintiffs’ case from a prima facie viewpoint is very strong but in reality neither Katz, Wilpon or any other senior executive within the Mets’ organization has sought to openly willing to answer in depth any of the questions sought by Irving Picard. Clearly the longer this maelstrom continues the more acute the situation seems to be for the New York Mets because should the presiding judge in this civil case find for the plaintiffs in this hearing then it will not bode well for the ball-club . The team from a financial standpoint is losing money and that is even with the benefit of that $755 million all purpose built stadium at the taxpayers’ expense courtesy of the city of New York and Mayor Michael Bloomberg who has made sure that this white elephant sits proudly in Flushing New York while the city commission furloughs municipal employees , city wide .

The New York Mets for their part have had a woefully inept season and that is even with the advent of having both Sandy Alderson and J. P. Ricciardi within the front office of the organization. Plagued by anemic pitching but an even more mediocre offense pretty much summed up the New York Mets’ year , albeit that the sole bright spot on the team has been the play of Jose Reyes , the presumptive favorite many believe for the NL MVP this season. Given the financial constraints that will now be placed upon the New York Mets I do believe that in part this team will be gutted with the organization seeking to complement this roster with many of their prospects and players from within their farm system. Certainly there’s a great deal that manager Terry Collins and his coaching staff can work with within this organization

The “crazy train” seems to have left the station as there appears that Albert Pujols , his agent Dan Lozano and the St Louis Cardinals are no closer to agreeing to a contract. The player prior to the start of the season intimated that once Cardinals began their regular season play he would not enter into negotiation with organization. GM John Mozeliak has to make the re-signing of the All Star slugger the team’s major priority entering this offseason. The team can ill afford to lose the player to free agency and signing any one quite possibly at five or six suitors prepared to pay the asking price for this productive first baseman . With the team having resigned Lance Berkman to a one year contract extension the organization has to be cognisant of the fact that the Chicago Cubs , Chicago White Sox , Los Angeles Angels and quite possibly the Texas Rangers could make a bold attempt to sign Albert Pujols. Cubs’ owner Tom Ricketts in light of his team’s abysmal showing this season has made it abundantly clear that he’s willing to spend and spend big in bringing some semblance of success to Wrigley Field .

John Mozeliak knows that he’ll be hard pressed to outbid Tony Reagins , Kenny Williams and Jon Daniels should it come to an outright bidding war. Certainly the owners of the quartet of teams mentioned have the financial wherewithal to lure the Cardinals’ first baseman but at what price within the market place and precedence that could very well be set ? If the statements are to be believed then it could well amount to a contract that would certainly make Albert Pujols the highest paid player in baseball annually and quite possibly lead to largest contract signed by a player in professional sports . Pujols believes he is worth a contract commensurate with his talent and when one bears in mind that Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees will earn in excess of $30 million this year alone , then who can argue with the player’s stance ? Productivity wise , there is very little to choose between the two players and without a doubt both are future bound for Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame having met the criteria for enshrinement . Herein lies the caveat to this all , once the bar is raised that high with the exorbitant salaries that are now being paid then where does that leave the small market teams who simply cannot compete with that sort of financial resourcefulness ? Truth be known , baseball is now on a slippery road to a downward spiral into an abyss and now amount of tinkering with the playoff format can hide the real acute issues that the game of baseball faces . Bud Selig is merely trying to place a Band Aid unto open wound to the abdomen that has been hemorrhaging blood profusely !

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