It was the best of times and the worst of times ……

It was the best of times and the worst of times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How High Would You Like My Boot To Go With Your Celebratory Ass Kicking ?

How High Would You Like My Boot To Go With Your Celebratory Ass Kicking … ?

By tophatal ……..

Well it’s that time of year again and the Spring Training schedule will soon be upon us both Citrus and Grapefruit Leagues take shape as the teams ready themselves for games and then regular season schedule set to begin on 4th April , 2012 . Given the fact that the end of the regular season in 2011 was exhilarating , this year has a great deal to live up to and then some. Granted , with the idiocy in recent weeks with the overturning of Ryan Braun’s 50 game suspension by arbitrator Shyam Das , whose decision is binding . I’d dare say that baseball is now in need of a real PR uplift ! But then again, when the game is actually mired in controversy I sincerely doubt that the MLB hierarchy would know how to be proactive !

Suffice to say Bud Selig and Rob Manfred are either two of the stupidest senior executives in all of sports or this is simply what we should now come to expect from the commissioner and his now almost two decade tenure as the game’s highest ranking executive . I’d say the latter myself , given Bud Selig’s lack of intelligence and those who have countenanced his leadership. Can you here me on air baseball analysts at ESPN , Fox and TNT ? Keep on kissing and worshiping the porcelain chamber that the commissioner continues to defecate and urinate in , as you’re all deserving of that to no end !

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Ah , PR and the game of baseball , I would say that now becomes an oxymoron because the commissioner , team owners and the MLBPA (union) have done the game a great disservice in spite of the year end and postseason heroics of 2011. And 2012 will need a number of great highlights throughout to keep the fans enthralled if it’s to be the equal or surpass the events of last year.

It says a great deal when as an organization you have all the financial resources available but somehow as owner the parent company somehow appears to be disinterested or simply wants to maintain the status-quo in keeping things just as usual . The Seattle Mariners owned by the multi-billion dollar gaming company Nintendo Inc of Japan . However the ball-club is overseen by a managing partnership presided over by Howard Lincoln , Chuck Armstrong , Minoru Arak awa and John Ellis . GM Jack Zduriencik in conjunction with Eric Wedge as team manager are handed the reins to run the AL West team as best they can . Suffice to say , it’s hard to see how an organization that hasn’t been a part of the postseason in a number of years can be considered even anywhere near legitimate contender within AL much less the rest of baseball is as perplexing as trying to elicit interest in the campaign of Rep Ron Paul (R-Tx) . He may well say all of the right things but no one seems to be interested the congressman at all . In politics , it’s never been about the campaign or ideology but how damn well deep your pockets are in order to actually be heard and then some ! Paul’s campaign treasure chest is minuscule in comparison the leading Republican Presidential nominee candidate Mitt Romney . And as we can see , the former Massachusetts’ governor is about as clear as many of the underlying issues as Stevie Wonder would be in a room full of naked strippers . Romney’s insight on so many of the issues are like that of a male who suffers from ED when in the presence several voluptuous females premature ejaculation tends to be the next step on that roller coaster . Oops !

In 2011 the Seattle Mariners finished so far behind the pace within the division that by the midway point of year end they were already a non-factor factor as a contender within the division. And it’s not hard to understand why this team performed so miserably , that beyond pitcher Felix Hernandez there was very little to be interested in beyond the performances of the starting pitcher and the always consistent …. Ichiro Suzuki . All-round the Mariners struggled right across the board from its pitching to the offense and so much more .

The projected starting pitching rotation will be headed by Hernandez alongside Jason Vargas , Hisashi Iwakuma , Kevin Millwood and Hector Noesi , with the projected closer thought to be Brandon League .

Ichiro Suzuki , a former AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP has been his consistent self throughout much of his career . A batting champion , hits’ leader and some might say the best hitter within the AL . And that is now with due respect to both the AL batting champion in 2011 …… Miguel Cabrera and the accomplishments of the players within the AL .

Now if the Mariners are to show any signs of real competitiveness within the AL West against the likes of the Los Angeles Angels , Oakland Athletics (A’s) and Texas Rangers then the team’s overall performance will have to greatly improve beyond what was shown last …. season and when adjudged against the rest of the MLB . The offense of the Mariners alongside Ichiro , will have to come from the likes of Dustin Ackley , Franklin Gutierrez , Justin Smoak , Chone Figgins and Brendan Ryan . And that is going to be no small task when one considers what was added to the offenses of the Angels and Rangers in particular .

For Eric Wedge and his coaching staff he can now go about in preparations judging the roster along with the none roster invitees to gauge what he will have at his disposal this season . Chances are the manager will want to no doubt improve upon last season’s 65-97 mark that saw the Seattle Mariners with one of the worst records in all of Major League Baseball (MLB) . And unfortunately this now seems to be mirroring the Mariners’ ambition and appetite as it relates to the game over the past few seasons . It has been over a decade since the organization made a postseason appearance back in 2001 when they lost in the ALCS (4-1) to the then rampaging …… New York Yankees . For the Bronx Bombers however, their foray in the 2001 World Series would come to an untimely end against the Arizona Diamondbacks in a memorable series .

As a fan of the game I have become attuned to the idiocy and apparent apathy of the fans who’ll simply accept the mediocrity and mundane when it comes to their teams ! They claim to be passionate but show as much discourse when their teams are being routed and beaten like a damn pinata , only to excuse it all by saying well we’re looking to improve over the course of time ! How stupid can those fans actually be ? And that has clearly been the case with the Seattle Mariners’ fans over the years as they have seen players come through their system only have success elsewhere , while team remains in the doldrums . Safeco Field home to the Mariners during their heightened years of consistency , once held sway to yearly attendances that were amongst the highest within the league but as of late and that hasn’t been the case with the team averaging 23,411 per home game in 2011 . That figure was amongst the lowest of the 30 ball-clubs within Major League Baseball this past season . My standpoint , if you’re not going to be passionate about your team but continue to accept their mediocrity then you’re simply not a fan at all , merely a curious observer whose intent is to accept what’s being served upon a platter by that organization especially when it is an inferior product ! Apathy clearly does make the heart grow fonder , and nowhere is that more prevalent than within the game of baseball !

Now I know that the Mariners are averse to spending money on players the way that New York Yankees , Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers are known to have done . But Christ almighty, when you have a multi-billion dollar corporation such as Nintendo as an owner , you have to admit that they are in essence poorly serving their fan-base if they are not willing to spend even a nominal sum to obtain the best talent available on the market ?

I get the feeling that with this being Ichiro’s final year with the Seattle Mariners , as he can become a free agent in 2013 . It may well be now or never for the organization in terms of making a successful run at making the MLB postseason . I certainly don’t believe that this team is simply good enough to challenge the likes of the Los Angeles Angels , Texas Rangers within their division , much less the likes of the Tampa Bay Rays , Yankees , Red Sox , Detroit Tigers or the Toronto Blue Jays for that matter and that’s not based on last season’s standings at all ! It simply comes from the fact that this organization shows that continually they have no passion or ambition to be successful and that it is in spite of the claims of Howard Lincoln , Jack Zduriencik and even the team’s manager Eric Wedge . Much like the French , during WWII by mid-season the Mariners may well be raising the white flag of surrender as they often have done over the past decade ! This organization is spineless as it is gutless and it seems to the prevalent not amongst their front office but also amongst their fans as well members of the roster . I may well be proven wrong this season as it relates to the Seattle Mariners but I seriously doubt it ! A kick in the ass would be kindest thing that could be done to this organization and that still wouldn’t be enough to motivate this team or their long-suffering fans !

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As a fan of the game are you hoping to see the Seattle Mariners have some semblance of success or do you believe that this team will fade by mid-season and simply finish at the back of the pack not only within their division but amongst the AL teams and all of baseball ? Also do you believe that quite possibly by the trade deadline we could see Ichiro being dealt elsewhere should the front office get an inquiry from a AL or NL contender ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it greatly appreciated !

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(1) Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki , from Japan, throws during spring training baseball Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 in Peoria, Ariz. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …..

(2) PEORIA, AZ – FEBRUARY 21: Pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (18) of the Seattle Mariners poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Peoria Stadium on February 21, 2012 in Peoria, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(3) Manager Eric Wedge of the Seattle Mariners poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Peoria Stadium on February 21, 2012 in Peoria, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …….

(4) Ichiro Suzuki (51) of the Seattle Mariners poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Peoria Stadium on February 21, 2012 in Peoria, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …

(5) Jesus Montero (63) of the Seattle Mariners poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Peoria Stadium on February 21, 2012 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) ….

(6) Pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) of the Seattle Mariners poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Peoria Stadium on February 21, 2012 in Peoria, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……..

(7) Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (51) of the Seattle Mariners is flanked by CEO Howard Lincoln (L) and COO Chuck Armstrong as he receives his Gold Glove Award prior to the Seattle Mariners’ home opener against the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field on April 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Getty Images North America /Otto Greule Jr ….

(8) Ichiro Suzuki (51) of the Seattle Mariners is presented with career stolen base number 400 by President & C.O.O. Chuck Armstrong (L) and GM Jack Zduriencik prior to the game against the San Diego Padres at Safeco Field on July 1, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. …….

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In The Words Of Steve Urkel …… Paraphrase ….. Did They Just Do That ?

In The Words Of Steve Urkel …… Paraphrase ….. Did They Just Do That ?

I simply don’t get ! I just don’t get at all , how is it that an abomination can continue to take place and the fans are subjected to such diatribe both on and off the field of play ? I look at the Seattle Mariners and I can only think that the fans are gluttons for punisment ! This is a team that for all sense and purpose shouldn’t be playing in the major leagues but for some reason here they are stinking up the joint and there’s nothing to suggest that they are about to improve anytime soon .

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It is hard enough to believe that talented players such as Ichiro Suzuki , Felix Hernandez , Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda whose talents are simply being wasted on this team and in large part by the organization . Eric Wedge may well have had a well chronicled career as a manager but this might well be his finest hour in terms of the sheer ineptitude and effort being put forth by himself and his coaching staff . To suggest that this team is bad would be an understatement to say the very least as they have simply underachieved in almost every aspect of the game from their offense , to their pitching to their defense . Suffice to say if there’s a worse team in the league at present based on their play then I have yet to witness it .

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” So Carl you’re saying I can’t have sex with Laura unless the Mariners start winning ” ?

Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik has simply squandered what acumen he’s said to have in terms of the moves made in assembling this team. And granted the front office led by Howard Lincoln as its senior partner is answerable to a board of directors who to my mind would rather endure the mediocrity knowing full well that they can somehow profit from it all from a financial standpoint. The league hierarchy of baseball continues to reward underachievement by way of the luxury tax sharing scheme for the small market teams . But somehow fans of the game simply don’t want to discuss this as they would rather continue to see the obvious imbalance while suggesting that’s just the way that things need to be done.

The Seattle Mariners reside in the AL West where let’s suggest say the baseball being played there isn’t of the highest caliber . You would be hard pressed to remain awake while the Texas Rangers , Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics lay siege to each other as they seek divisional supremacy. It is hard to believe that the Mariners are on a 10 game losing streak and are now 13 games behind the division leading Texas Rangers ( 56-42). The more one looks to assess the strengths of the Mariners it is the more one asks how is it that this has been allowed to happen ? Certainly as I alluded to earlier there has been nothing to suggest that the ownership is ambitious and wants to win but yet the fans who are asked to attend the games at Safeco Field are continually asked to endure this debacle while everything thing seems to be falling asunder . Needless to say Eric Wedge will continue proffer up statements that the team is giving the fans their best effort possible as they seek a real sense of purpose . I personally am not buying it and I seriously doubt that a genuine baseball fan would as well !

There’s simply very little reason to believe that the Mariners are capable of competing within the division and acquitting themselves with any real dignity . They have an upcoming series against the Boston Red Sox . And if anything their task becomes tougher as the Red Sox would like to increase their lead over their rivals within the AL East . It will be interesting to see how the team acquits themselves against the division leaders and whether or not Eric Wedge gets the best out of his players .

For much of the season there have been highs and lows for Seattle Mariners , perhaps more highs and than lows . And this certainly has been borne out by the team’s record of 43-54 a mere one game lead over A’s who are rooted at the bottom of the AL West.

7

Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (51) of the Seattle Mariners is flanked by CEO Howard Lincoln (L) and COO Chuck Armstrong as he receives his Gold Glove Award prior to the Seattle Mariners’ home opener against the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field on April 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Getty Images North America / Otto Greule

There’s a great deal to take away from this all as we can learn something about the plight of the Seattle Mariners because there are a number of teams around the league that are in a similar state . The problem is many of their fans would rather not acknowledge that fact and simply have their heads up in the clouds simply hoping for something better and that the change is just around the corner. And for that venerable patron who’s so wrapped in his own little world do remember to pray for your Kansas City Royals as I think that divine intervention may well be the only way to help their sorry ass out ! Have you seen them play lately ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

There is no denying that the Seattle Mariners are having an abysmal year but in your mind what are the primary cause for the organization’s sub-standard play this season ? Do you believe to be the players or the very fact that over the past few years the owners have failed to address the needs of the team overall ? Do leave a comment as to your thoughts on this subject matter .

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

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) Jaleel White (aka Steve Urkel) seen here in a scene from the hit sit-com “Family Matters” alongside Reginald Veljohnson (aka Carl Winslow) ….

(2) Toronto Blue Jays’ Mike McCoy, right, celebrates as he crosses the plate to score the game-winning run in front of Seattle Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo during eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday July 21, 2011, in Toronto. The Blue Jays defeated the Mariners 7-5 . AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn ….

(3) TORONTO, CANADA – JULY 21: Ichiro Suzuki (51) of the Seattle Mariners runs to first during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays July 21, 2011 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Brad White/Getty Images ….

(4) TORONTO, CANADA – JULY 21: Doug Fister (58) of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays July 21, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Brad White/Getty Images ….

(5) Edwin Encarnacion (10) of the Toronto Blue Jays slides safely into second avoiding the tag of Dustin Ackley (13) of the Seattle Mariners during MLB game action July 20, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Brad White/Getty Images ….

(6) New manager Eric Wedge (R) of the Seattle Mariners is introduced to the media by Executive Vice President & GM Jack Zduriencik at Safeco Field on October 19, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. Otto Greule / Getty Images North America ….

(7) Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (51) of the Seattle Mariners is flanked by CEO Howard Lincoln (L) and COO Chuck Armstrong as he receives his Gold Glove Award prior to the Seattle Mariners’ home opener against the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field on April 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Getty Images North America / Otto Greule ….

(8) SEATTLE – JULY 16: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) of the Seattle Mariners throws out Elvis Andrus (1) of the Texas Rangers on a ground-out at Safeco Field on July 16, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images …
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What’s Happening In The World of Sports … ?

What’s Happening In The World of Sports … ?

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

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Slide show for your perusal .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

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

Picture and slide show for your perusal .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Slide show for your perusal .

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

Courtesy of AP Sports & Yahoo

Rangers CEO Greenberg leaving organization

By Stephen Hawkins , AP Sports Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

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

Picture and slide show details below.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Jeny Romero

Selena Silk

Selena Silk

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

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