The dawn of a new day or back to the trouble and strife that we have seen in recent years ?

The dawn of a new day or back to the trouble and strife that we have seen in recent years ?

Three weeks into the MLB season and several teams around the league are off to promising starts , where, others are simply struggling to find some semblance of consistency and rhythm to their games. Now while the watch is on, as Los Angeles Angels’ slugger and two-time NL MVP , Albert Pujols veers towards hitting his five hundredth home run in Major League Baseball , a feat managed by a select few within it game . It is easy to understand, why this particular achievement is still revered within baseball. Granted, in recent years, with the advent of the steroid era, hitting home runs at a pace not often seen in baseball has actually not only stymied the game but also has the fans now wondering which players are “said to be clean” and which are or can be viewed as “cheats” . Pujols, I believe will be considered to be among the former of the two categories mentioned , but that is not to say, that there have not been doubters out there concerning his achievements , with their being speculation, because of the recent injuries suffered by the player , often viewed in some circles as a precursor in the rampant use of steroids. The player has never tested positive at any point in his career to date and hopefully, he never will.

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If Pujols and his Angels’ teammates are to succeed this season, then the team will have to put up a much more spirited effort, than has been seen over the past two seasons. Mike Scioscia and his staff are under a great deal of pressure to show that they are capable of making it a contest within the AL West in particular , where the Oakland Athletics have been the dominant team within the division over the past two years as the two-time defending champions . For Angels’ team owner, Arte Moreno , these past four years, have been particularly frustrating, unnerving, having spent capriciously in assembling a roster , that simply has not lived up to expectations. Moreno and GM Jerry Dipoto , will certainly have to assess the setup within the franchise at the end of this season, starting off with the managerial staff and the player personnel in particular , which has not gelled and played as a cohesive unit.

With a record of 8-8 (.500) as of the 19th April , the Los Angeles Angels currently sit third within the AL West behind divisional leaders the Oakland A’s (11-5) , second placed Texas Rangers (10-7) , beneath them the Seattle Mariners (7-9) and the last placed Houston Astros (5-12) firmly entrenched at the bottom of the divisional standings. I would like to think that the Astros in particular can avoid another sub-par season , but having gone three years of consecutive 100 game losses . It does beg the question , why should this year, be any different from the three of the past , covering 2011 , 2012 and 2013 ?

Coming off an 11-3 loss to the Oakland A’s would suggest that the season will be a long and arduous one for Bo Porter and his Astros’ managerial staff , as they look to overcome their problems of the past. The team , has continued to play poorly and the results, have simply mirrored that fact . Things are unlikely to change, when the two teams meet again on Saturday afternoon at the O Coliseum, in Oakland, California , the second of their triumvirate of contests of this weekend schedule of games in the Majors. In the case of the Los Angeles Angels , they are the guests of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan , where they will look to follow-up their 11-6 victory over the Tigers in Friday’s game .

Undoubtedly, Albert Pujols’ career will merit, his being inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Seen as one of the most prolific and productive players of his generation , Pujols has not left anyone in doubt that since his entry into the Majors , his talents cannot be doubted. In some circles the belief now seems to be , that mantle has now been passed to the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera , and a case for that can definitely be made. However, Cabrera has yet to reach the plateau of having been a World Series’ winner , unlike his Angels’ compatriot , who has tasted that success twice with the St Louis Cardinals .

Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers, have a great deal to prove this season, after recent postseason failures , had many questioning the toughness of the team. With Jim Leyland having stepped down from his position as manager if the team , his successor, Brad Ausmus has been entrusted by GM Dave Dombrowski and owner , Michael Ilitch to make another attempt at securing a world championship for one of baseball’s most venerable franchises . While I believe the Tigers to be a very good team during the regular season , and Cabrera’s exploits have been well chronicled , about have the exploits also of pitcher Justin Verlander . However, with the recent rise in the profile of Max Scherzer and his winning of the AL Cy Young in 2013 , there seems to be the common belief that the Tigers cannot be discounted this season. That may well be the case, with their dominance of the AL Central , but I believe that Terry Francona and the Cleveland Indians could make that premise all the more interesting this within the division and when these two combatants meet.

The AL East this season , is liable to be as competitive as ever , with the Boston Red Sox looking to make a successful defense of their divisional title that they won with ease in 2013, under newly installed manager John Farrell . The noticeable difference between Farrell and his predecessor Bobby Valentine , was the professionalism and attention to detail, because, with Valentine , the attention to detail , was sorely lacking , with the then incumbent manager, choosing to apportion blame elsewhere for his and that of the team’s failings in 2012 , that led to a last place finish within the division and their missing the postseason altogether.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington during the off-season, made a number of changes to last season’s team adding and subtracting as he saw fit , while not seeking to over commit the ball-club financially by tying up too much money , solely in one player. That may well have been the primary reason why Cherington saw fit not to re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury to a long-term contract . Granted, Ellsbury was able to secure a deal , by signing with the New York Yankees for what now seems an extraordinarily exuberant contract , that to my mind overvalued a player , who over the past two seasons has spent a great deal of time on the disabled list. One might be able to suggest that Jacoby Ellsbury played a major role in last season’s playoff success for the Red Sox , as they went on to win their third World Series’ title in the past eight years. Yet, the feeling now seems to be, the Yankees’ gain, is not seen as a major loss to the current world champions. That could well prove to come back and haunt the team, should Ellsbury rebound and have a very productive season for his new team . So far, the player is off to a somewhat slow start, but manager Joe Girardi believes that his All Star will be able to provide a great deal of productivity for the team from an offensive and defensive standpoint throughout much of the season.

It is my own personal opinion that Ellsbury was brought in to supply the New York with the leadership sought upon Derek Jeter’s retirement ! That trait, certainly was not shown player by Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, CC Sabathia , Alex Rodriguez and now belatedly by Alfonso Soriano . Granted, Teixeira’s popularity among the fans , makes him a natural, but his repeated bouts on the team’s disabled list in recent years , makes it suspect that he could be an ever-present feature on the team for an entire season ,while remaining productive to that end. Jacoby Ellsbury does possess some of the traits shown by Jeter , but he lacks the all-round appeal, that one believes would have the fans convincingly believe that he can assume the role of leader on this team . GM Brian Cashman and the Yankees’ organization , simply did not prepare for this day , Jeter’s impending retirement and at the same time , it should be noted, that there has been little faith shown by the managerial or front office staff in the farm system in seeking the development of the players at the AAA or AA levels within the organization. Anyone who seeks to state that to be the contrary , should simply look at the makeup of the team’s present roster and their active players .

It remains to be seen how Girardi and his staff handle this season and the expectations from this team, by way of the fans , who undoubtedly are hoping that the Yankees may the postseason and excel , making their way to another World Series’ triumph, which would in fact be their twenty-eighth overall .

I am not so sure that having a $220 million plus payroll , can always place you, in a position, to be an outright success ! Clearly, that was not the case last season for the Los Angeles Dodgers and their manager Don Mattingly. In what was said to be an expectantly dominant season ended with a whimper as they succumbed to the St Louis Cardinals in a rather lopsided and way too uninteresting NLCS Pennant series . The only real excitement provided by the Dodgers in 2013 beyond the play of their now troubled rookie Yasiel Puig , was the team’s mid-season run , where they went 42-8 during a fifty-game stretch , the longest such streak in the Majors last season. One would have expected a great deal more from a team, where almost at every position , there was an All Star caliber player on the Dodgers’ payroll for their everyday lineup ? I believe however , complacency within the front office , became contagious on the field of play , as well as among the managerial staff , which ultimately led to the Dodgers’ eventual demise during the postseason .

In 2014, Mattingly and his staff will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed and should he prove to be unsuccessful , then it is my belief that team President Stan Kasten will likely be given the go ahead by lead owners , Mark Walter , Todd Boehly and Magic Johnson to let go of the team’s likeable and well-respected manager ! This organization is need of success now and winning the World Series remains their ultimate goal, but simply playing at being winners , with certain members of the ownership group making bold statements , that plainly were unattainable , only continues to make the organization , one of ridicule ! . Bear in mind , it has been over twenty-five years since the Dodgers won the last of their World Series , with the intervening years their having failed miserably to add to that legacy . As likeable as Tommy Lasorda remains , his time has come and gone , and simply hanging unto his anecdotes about the Dodgers’ once mighty greatness, means absolutely nothing today , where the attention span of some fans, barely lasts more than five minutes, if that , at all .

A team ERA , of 2.40 and the Atlanta Braves , lead baseball in that specific category , rather surprising, when you consider, there were some suggesting, that the Tampa Bay Rays , St Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees , Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers were all said to have better starting rotations. The loss of Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen to what seem to be long-term injuries , has the Braves’ DL looking like a triage unit. However, Braves’ pitching coach Roger McDowell has been able to work miracles , using a patch-work rotation to start the season , much to the surprise of the Braves’ fans and the general onlookers who are keenly interested in the game of baseball . Whether or not, the NL East division leading Atlanta Braves (12-6) can keep up that momentum, with the pitchers leading the way, remains to be seen. Yet, certainly, through the month of April thus far , this team has been the most impressive in the Majors by far in terms of their pitching , and the stats certainly do bear this out in terms of the statistics that really count , Fredi Gonzalez’s pitchers have excelled, while his hitters have been almost as productive .

Having taken two out of three in their recent series , a triumvirate of games played against the New York Mets played at Citi-Field , in Flushing, New York. Fredi Gonzalez and his team had to have been impressed with the performances, in many of the contests in question, as well as in the 4-3 loss to their divisional counterparts. Next up for the Braves , will be a three-game home series at Turner Field in Atlanta , Georgia , where their opponents will be the Miami Marlins (9-10) , whose season so far can be best described as understated and uninspiring . The first of those games will be played on Monday afternoon , with Tom Koehler taking the mound for the Marlins against Julio Teheran of the Braves , in what is likely to be a very good pitching contest , between these two starting pitchers.

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What do you hope to see unfold, over the coming months of the schedule within baseball? Which teams and players, have impressed you the most, with the season still in its infancy? Leave a comment as you see fit on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject .

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Albert Pujols (5) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim gets ready to field the ball during the sixth inning of the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on April 20, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Angels 2-1 . Also pictured , is the Tigers’ Torii Hunter . Pujols sits two home runs away, from reaching the plateau of five hundred career home runs , with a select few players having achieved that milestone. Getty Images North America / Leon Halip ….

(2) Los Angeles’ GM Jerry Dipoto is seen here with team owner Arte Moreno at Angels’ Ballpark , in Anaheim, California . The duo will have a number of decisions to make during the season and offs-season as it relates to the lineup , should the team not be doing well during the season. At the same time , there are likely to be rumblings , as many might now believe it time for the organization to actually dismiss manager , Mike Sciocsia and several members of his managerial staff . AP Photo / Adam Ross ……..

(3) Detroit Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski is seen here with the team’s newly installed manager Brad Ausmus , who succeeded the now retired Jim Leyland . Ausmus takes over a team that has been dominant in the regular season over the past five years , but has failed to win a World Series’ title in spite of two appearances in baseball’s postseason finale over the past six years , first in 2006 and then again in 2012 . AP Photo/ Mark Patterson ……

(4) Seen here from left to right, are the Boston Red Sox’s team President Larry Lucchino , GM Ben Cherington , Bobby Valentine and team owner, John W Henry . Valentine’s tenure with the ball-club lasted merely a year , with the then beleaguered manager apportioning blame elsewhere for his own managerial incompetency and also stating that he was never truly given the backing of the front office to make changes as he saw fit with regard to the team’s lineup in 2012, with the club failing to make the postseason ending up with a last place finish in the AL East , that season. Getty Images North America / Mark Hughes ……

(5) Boston Red Sox manager , John Farrell is seen here with 2013 World Series’ MVP , David Ortiz , having signed a contract extension with the Red Sox, that will the DH now become a fixture with the team over the next several seasons . Ortiz was the ball-club’s top offensive performer in the postseason and was simply explosive in the World Series itself against the St Louis Cardinals . Also pictured far right is GM Ben Cherington . Getty Images North America / Phil Robinson …..

(6) Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers is seen here with team manager Don Mattingly . After a stellar season in 2013 for the team , the manager and organization are hoping that the player can reproduce the productivity shown during the season . AP Photo / Paul Mercer …..

(7) Aaron Harang of the Atlanta Braves who leads the team and the league with season low ERA of < .70 has gotten the the Braves off to a very good start , with the team leading the NL and the Majors with a team low 2.40 ERA . This has been one of the contributing factors in the team having one of the best records in all of baseball at this point of the season . AP Photo/ Ian Mitchell …..

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It ain’t easy being cheesy ….

It ain’t easy being cheesy …………..

Never too early to start to review the baseball season, but I think that until the official Opening Day of the 31st March , when the vast majority of teams get their schedules underway , there will not be a great deal to discuss . The exhibition Spring Training schedule merely provides the fans in general a chance to see the players up close and personal, as they get into rhythm for the commencement of the regular season and that arduous one and hundred and sixty-two game schedule .

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Now while the off-season has been about the formal announcement by Derek Jeter , that 2014 will be his last season in the Major Leagues, brings about an end to the career of one of the best New York Yankees’ players of the past fifteen years . With Jeter’s announcement , we now see the last remnants of a core of five players , including Derek Jeter, that were part of one of the richest eras in recent New York Yankees’ history. Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada , Andy Pettite and the famed short-stop, made up that core managed by Joe Torre , that won four World Series titles in a seven-year span from 1996-2003 , with six appearances during that times-pan in the Fall Classic. New York’s most recent appearance in the World Series resulted with another win in 2009, with the team being managed by former player, Joe Girardi . The incumbent manager, will seek to resurrect the ball-club’s fortunes in 2014 after a somewhat understated season in 2013 .

Having missed the postseason and with a great deal of off-season drama provided by the ongoing issues of Alex Rodriguez , the New York Yankees will begin their season without the now suspended third baseman as they embark on a Spring Training schedule with something of a newly revamped roster . Major financial commitments were made to several new acquisitions, spearheaded by their signing of Japanese pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka , and that of former Boston Red Sox player Jacoby Ellsbury . How this all pans out for the AL East franchise will be dependent upon the mindset of these newly acquired players and whether or not they gel with their new teammates. From my own perspective , I believe the Yankees on balance to be no better than the third or fourth best team within the division , with the defending divisional champions the Boston Red Sox leading the way , followed by last season’s runner-up in the AL East the Tampa Bay Rays in second place, with the Baltimore Orioles edging the New York Yankees , who are then followed by the Toronto Blue Jays .

While the New York Yankees have a great deal to prove this season , perhaps no two teams, than the Los Angeles Dodgers and their AL counterparts the Los Angeles Angels are under the greatest pressure to succeed this year. The Dodgers’ failure was compounded by a lackluster effort, in the NLCS series against the St Louis Cardinals last season . Between these two teams, they have committed in excess of $360 million in salary obligations for their respective rosters. For Don Mattingly and Mike Scioscia the writing could very well be on the wall if both the Dodgers and Angels fail to show some type of competitiveness over the course of the regular season schedule. For owners, Arte Moreno , Magic Johnson , Mark Walter and Peter Guber , the frustration has to be setting in, having seen their teams fall almost at the last obstacle. Or in the case of the Los Angeles Angels, simply failing to be even remotely competitive within the AL West , where the Oakland A’s are now proving to be a dominant force within the division.

Were it not for Mike Trout, perhaps the only real reason to watch the Angels play , I do not believe that there would be a great deal of interest in the team at all ! Josh Hamilton has become more of an enigma and Albert Pujols in many respects, has suffered through a litany of ailments that were not present in the early part of his career , but such was the willingness of Jerry Dipoto and Arte Moreno to sign the player, when he became a free agent , that they felt that advantages, far outweighed the disadvantages of the two-time NL MVP . This season has to be a bounce back year for both Hamilton and Pujols, considering the financial outlay made to both players this season. The Angels will begin their regular season with a three-game home series against the Seattle Mariners at Angels’ Ballpark , in Anaheim , California , where the Mariners will be parading their $240 million dollar man, in, Robinson Cano . A bold move, for a ball-club with hopes of an ambitious season, but whose last postseason appearance seems like eons ago, with little to show by way of tangible success in the subsequent years . The first game of that three-game set, will be on the 31 March, 2014.

Twelve years and counting, since the Seattle Mariners made the postseason, where a 4-1 series’ loss to the New York Yankees in the 2001 ALCS was the height of their season , beyond winning the AL West that year. How Lloyd McClendon and his staff handles this young team at its core, will be one of the determining factors as to how successful the Mariners will be and whether or not Robinson Cano can be the presumed leader of that group of players.

Jim Leyland has proven to be one of the most successful managers of his generation , by way of his accomplishments, in usually being able to field competitive teams , and mold young players and then turning them into All Stars and MVP caliber stars. A case can be made that he played an early part in the career of slugger Barry Bonds while both were with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Leyland as the well-respected and Bonds as the player, but perhaps, an even better example , was witnessing the rise in prominence and stature of Miguel Cabrera as a player with the Detroit Tigers where for eight years Leyland and Dave Dombrowski rebuilt that ball-club from the ground up and turned the Tigers into a perennial AL Central contender . Two AL Pennants , with World Series appearances in 2006 and 2012 , being the height of his accomplishments with the franchise. Yet, the 1997 World Series , where he took a lightly favored Florida Marlins’ team , that would prevail over the Cleveland Indians, represents the highlight of his managerial career .

While I believe that the Detroit Tigers will prove to be a formidable team within the AL this season , I am not so sure that they will be able to overcome the naiveté shown in recent seasons, when have entered the postseason ! Brad Ausmus may well have succeeded Leyland as the manager of the current team, which has a great deal of talent , headlined by Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander , but it will be interesting to see how they fare over the course of the season with a new manager in tow .

If there has been one particular franchise in Major League Baseball , who has not failed to deliver when it comes to showing levels of mediocrity , then it would have to be the Kansas City Royals . Granted, until last season , that claim could also be shared with the Pittsburgh Pirates , but with the NL Central franchise making the postseason , and having an NL MVP winner in Andrew McCutchen and thereby ending their drought of over two decades of mediocrity of non-postseason appearances. Fans of baseball are now left with the Royals and their twenty-eight seasons of ineptitude , where their last postseason appearance came in 1985 , which resulted in a loss to the St Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

With the team now owned by former Wal-Mart CFO David Glass , who has systematically shown himself to lacking a real trait as an alleged business minded individual as the ball-club , from year to year , has failed with ever-increasing regularity to meet even their own fans’ expectations of any tangible level of success . How they remain a viable concern as a baseball franchise, comes down solely to the fact that beyond being aided by the league’s luxury tax scheme, they have what can be best described as a moderately envious television broadcast contract within their local media market. How Glass succeeded at Wal-Mart , but somehow is unable to show his acumen with the baseball franchise, is something that can be discussed amongst the masses at a later date , with a great deal of objectivity and subjectivity. Suffice to say, in some circles , the Kansas City Royals as an organization might now be looked upon as “Ma and Pop “ business , in comparison to the likes of the Boston Red , Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees .

A third place finish in the AL Central with an 86-76 record still was not enough to be good enough to even come remotely close to obtaining a wildcard berth for the postseason . Once again, he Kansas City Royals would be left on the outside looking in, as another season came to an abrupt waste . Ned Yost and his managerial staff will certainly be looking to enter with this season with a positive attitude as will the team , headed by list of some very good young players , but unfortunately, no real veteran that could be looked upon, as a the presumptive leader of this core group . If the Royals are to succeed this season, then it will certainly have to be with the likes of the James Shields , Eric Hosmer , Omar Infante , Alex Gordon , Mike Moustakas , Jeremy Guthrie and a bullpen led by Luke Hochevar , playing at an optimum level , with their being something of a falloff in the play of fellow AL Central residents the Cleveland Indians , Detroit Tigers , Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox .

Kansas will begin its regular season schedule, with a game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. It will be part of a three-game home series’ opener for the Tigers, as they too embark upon their season schedule.

It does seems inconceivable that a team with the vast resources of the Toronto Blue Jays cannot field a competitive side that is a perennial contender within the AL East. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) , as the parent and holding company is one of the largest sports’ media conglomerates in the world. A number of its brands are well-recognized names within the North American sports’ market. Presiding over the conglomerate as the CEO & President Tim Leiweke , who is ably assisted by several top executives and a Board of Directors and that oversee various parts of the operations of this multi-billion dollar conglomerate.

The Blue Jays for their part, entered last season with high ambitions , having <a href=http://baseball assembled a group of high-priced free agents , were then signed to ludicrous contracts or wherein, having been acquired via a trade their existing contracts were honored. Amongst the players acquired , were Jose Reyes and RA Dickey with a view . of challenging the likes of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees within the AL East for divisional supremacy. The fact that the team failed miserably , beyond the issues of injuries sustained by a number of players, had more to do with the brashness and arrogance of an organization who felt that assembling a high-priced roster was some kind of guarantee of success without their being any sign of leader from anyone of the team roster much less the level of incompetency shown by John Gibbons and his staff . Inasmuch, as a player, being able to hit home runs to all parts of a field may well be exciting, the talents of Jose Bautista are simply being wasted on a team that simply has no chance in hell at present of winning the AL East in its current guise !

What the Toronto Blue Jays lack in leadership and talent, simply cannot be made up, for by splurging capriciously in assembling a group of players, that simply do not gel together as a team, playing in unison. John Gibbons is likely to be given the chance to prove that last season, was merely an aberration, but given the fact that the four other teams in the division are likely to have improved , it is likely that another fifth place finish within the AL East is not out of the realm of possibility for the team. Even more daunting and unbelievable, is the mere fact that other than the New York Yankees’ victories in the 1998 and 1999 World Series. The last back-to-back winners of the title, was in fact the Toronto Blue Jays , who accomplished that feat in 1992 and 1993 , which in fact was the very last time that the ball-club made an appearance in the postseason . When the Blue Jays embark upon their regular season sojourn , I believe that the team will be hard pressed to compete within their division, much less win in excess of eighty games ! They will being that schedule, with a road game series on the 31st March with a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida,.

Ron Gardenhire may well be one of the more under-appreciated managers in baseball , but I now believe it is time for the Minnesota Twins’ manager to step down from his present role ! Success for Gardenhire if nothing else, has come close within his grasp , only to be clutched from him at the last moment. However , in recent years he has been ill-served by the general managers of the ball club and a number misfires in terms of the players drafted by the organization. Currently, serving the Twins in the role as GM is Terry Ryan and his tenure, has now come under closer scrutiny after the departure of fan favorite Justin Morneau , who was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in August of 2013 , by the Twins. Morneau and Joe Mauer were said to be the two figureheads, which the franchise were going to build around for their long-term future. Yet, that would never actually materialize into anything tangible, with both players suffering injuries and never playing more than a few games together, before one, if not both, were felled by an inexplicable malady. Add in the fact that owner , Jim Pohlad , felt it necessary to offer both players outrageously exorbitant contracts at a time when franchise was said to be undergoing some severe financial difficulties. Kind of makes me wonder, how in hell many of baseball’s current ball-clubs can actually exist , given the stupidity of either an owner or a general manager within an organization !

Over the past five seasons, the best finish for the Minnesota Twins has been in 2009 and 2010 , when the ball-club captured back-to-back AL Central divisional titles and made their way into the respective postseasons of both years . Their forays in either case, ended all too abruptly, with the team being outplayed by their opponents. . This season Joe Mauer is back, with a team built around youth , experience and a managerial staff again with Ron Garendhire in charge, hoping to make some inroads into a division has now become extremely competitive with the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians likely to be seen as the prohibitive favorites for the divisional title.

if one can be critical of Bud Selig , in his handling of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bankruptcy procedure filings . Then we should be ” damning ” in his culpable actions, while both Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon placed the New York Mets in an equally precarious situation as the joint owners of the ball-club , surreptitiously used the franchise as vehicle to hide profits gained in the Bernard Madoff “ Ponzi Scheme” , by transferring ill-gotten gains from their investment company Sterling Equities Inc into the coffers of the Mets. Perhaps, I am mistaken , but when I hear the commissioner repeatedly regale us with his idiocy , as to the financial well-being of the game , while the actions of owners such as Frank McCourt , Fred Katz and Fred Wilpon have bordered on being criminal . To my mind, both Selig and the league’s CFO Jonathan Mariner , cannot step down soon enough from their present positions within the league hierarchy ! Bud Selig’s intent, is to formally step down as the commissioner of baseball in 2015, but who knows , at this juncture ?

As to the New York Mets , they will continue to be everything they see in the new York Yankees , but without the organization inwardly , having the guile or intelligence to do what is right, to make that franchise an actual success. Sandy Alderson and J P Ricciardi are being overpaid, while offering up nothing tangible of note since both ascended to their current positions within the franchise. The ball club remains in something of a precarious position as they had to subordinated a great deal of debt, while approaching several financial organizations for additional “cash” to remain financially solvent. Never really a good thing, when the on-field product is lackluster and the attendance levels at Citi-Field can be best described as moderately average . All this, for a ball-club, that is in the nation’s largest advertising market ?

David Wright remains the New York Mets’ player, but there remains really little around him to be truly impressed by, in term of depth of talent . Terry Collins and his staff will have their work cut for them over the course of the season, as they seek to bounce back from a third place finish within the NL East , twenty-two games behind division winners the Atlanta Braves (96-66) .

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The one thing we do tend to know about New York sports’ fans in general, is that they tend wax on lyrically about the past when their teams are not doing well, in the moment . A case can be made, concerning the Mets also , as it has been considerable period of time since that franchise made the postseason much less, won a World Series’ title, but if you were to listen some of the fans of the franchise , they would have you believe that those events were but, a few years ago. The ball-club’s last postseason appearance came by way of their run in the 2006 MLB Playoffs , before going down 4-3 to the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS . The second of their two Word Series’ triumphs, came in 1986 , in their memorable series’ victory over the Boston Red Sox, but since 2006 the years since, have been lean and not at all too kind, to the organization at all, and deservedly so , considering the ongoing stupidity of joint-owners, Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon. Two individuals, that the game of baseball could well do without , but somehow the league hierarchy would have you believe that the likes of Katz , Wilpon , McCourt and David Glass have been good for Major League Baseball . I beg to differ on so many counts, just as I believe, that Bud Selig’s tenure as commissioner , has been far too long and to the detriment of the game in general ! What thoughts, if any, do you have concerning the points raised in this article? Chime in, with a comment as you see fit.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Carlos Beltran of the New York Yankees is seen here with his wife Jessica Beltran , as he is formally introduced to the convened press at Yankees Stadium in New York . An unrestricted free agent , Beltran was signed by the Yankees shore up their offense as well as providing what they believe are his defensive abilities in the outfield . The player has spent the past few seasons with the St Louis Cardinals where he was productive for NL Central based franchise and now also becomes one of a select group of players to have donned the uniform of both New York based MLB franchises as a player . AP Photo / Hector Rivas …….

(2) From left to right, Andy Pettite , Derek Jeter , Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada . This quartet of players have been together for some of New York Yankees ‘ biggest triumphs and disappointments over the past eighteen years . It now begs the question , will the franchise ever see that type of success again with regard to number of titles won between 1996 and 2004 , with the last of the ball club’s triumphs coming in 2009 with Joe Girardi as the manager ? The four titles won together as teammates prior to Girardi becoming the manager were all achieved under Joe Torre , now an executive within the MLB hierarchy . Getty Images / Richard Moss …..

(3) Mike Scioscia manager of the Los Angeles Angels and Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Both managers will be under a considerable amount of pressure this season to succeed , as a great is expected from within their divisions . AP Photo / Paul Walters …..

(4) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 11: Manager Jim Leyland (10) of the Detroit Tigers gets between umpire Victor Carapazza (85) and Miguel Cabrera (24) of the Detroit Tigers after Cabrera was ejected by Victor Carapazza during in the sixth inning of their game against the Minnesota Twins on May 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tigers defeated the Twins 9-7 . Leyland has been the biggest influence in the stature that has made Cabrera a two-time back to back AL MVP’s having first won the title in 2012 , when also he became a Triple Crown winner . Last season Miguel Cabrera defeated Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels for his second league MVP. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ….

(5) Ned Yost manager of the Kansas City Royals is seen here with team Chairman and owner David Glass . Both will be seeking to make further inroads this upcoming season with a view to perhaps landing the AL Central divisional title or at best a wildcard berth for the postseason . Neither of which has been achieved in several years by the franchise in terms of the divisional title win or the postseason . Getty Images North America / Harper Greene …..

(6) Tim Leiweke CEO and of MLSE , the multi-billion dollar sports’ conglomerate that owns the Toronto Blue Jays as well as several other sports’ brands known to the public worldwide . Getty Images / Todd Richards …..

(7) Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire laughs after CEO Jim Pohlad (not pictured) teased, “We went with a 2-year deal because we’re pretty sure we can get Gardy his 1,000th win somewhere,” during a press conference announcing that the Twins and Ron Gardenhire agree to 2-year contract extension at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn., on Monday, September 30, 2013. At right is General Manager Terry Ryan. Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin ….

(8) New York Mets’ short-stop David Wright is seen here with the team’s Head of Baseball Operations , Sandy Alderson . The executive believes that this season the team has within their sights a ninety -game winning season , which be believes will be enough to secure the NL East divisional title . The franchise has not won a divisional title in several years and it is hard to envisage them doing so given their record within the division over the past eight years and overall . AP Photo /. Billy Irving …… :

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The Silly Season ……. Well It’s Baseball Isn’t It ?

The Silly Season ……. Well It’s Baseball Isn’t It ?

By tophatal ………

The MLB postseason and many fans were in awe of the St Louis Cardinals fifth World Series title as they defeated the two time defending ALCS champions , in the Texas Rangers . Now with that in mind the offseason now enters its silly phase as the plethora of MLB sports agents and general managers around the game seek to sign many of the high profile agents that will the prized possession of any team seeking to bolster their respective rosters .

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Both the St Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers have their issues to deal with concerning a number of impending free agents on their payrolls. Most notably for the Cardinals they will seek to retain their All Star first baseman Albert Pujols . For GM John Mozeliak , he and the front office must be at their wits’ end as to how best to maneuver themselves while not wanting to burst the bank or simply alienate the faithful Cardinals’ fans who passionately attend the games at Busch Stadium in St Louis , Missouri . Pujols’ agent Dan Lozano we’re told is not intent on giving the organization a home team discount by way of the the long term contract being sought by his client .

It’s hard to determine what Pujols is said to be worth where stats simply dictate everything about the game rather than the intangibles that a player brings . We know that Alex Rodriguez is the highest paid player in the game but by way of postseason productivity the Yankees’ third baseman simply isn’t in the same class as the Cardinals’ three time MVP . And while both have resumes` that will undoubtedly see one , if not both enshrined in Baseball’s Hall of Fame . For for the moment it is all about the here and now . Granted, with Rodriguez’s admitted guilt , as to his use of anabolic steroids , I am not so sure that the BBWAA will still be kind to the player at the time of his meeting the Hall’s eligibility criteria.

Having now seen the team in consecutive seasons come up short in the game’s postseason finale it has to be hard on Texas Rangers’ team president Nolan Ryan as well as general manager Jon Daniels to have seen the team flounder in the way that it has . The bullpen of the Rangers came up short when it mattered most during the postseason I am quite sure that the coaching staff and general manager will do what’s best to bolster the ballclub’s rotation . Jon Daniels knows however that the team can ill afford to lose starting pitcher C J Wilson . And though the player is not amongst the most highly paid pitchers the game but his performances this season has undoubtedly been the envy of some the general managers and managers within the game , seeking to bolster their pitching rotations.

The Texas Rangers are not starved for cash but herein lies the caveat with regard to the team and the thought process that may well be involved . Do they reward a player simply based upon a year and a half of stellar productivity or do they allow C J Wilson to seek his future elsewhere ? There’s no doubt in my mind that the pitcher played his part in the team’s success this season from a pitching standpoint .

So many teams fell by the wayside not only during the regular season but also during the postseason . But such has been the waywardness of these teams and the proclivity of the team owners , managers and general managers to simply overpay for moderate talent , that it has me wondering when will baseball’s league hierarchy simply wake up to the fact that they cannot continue down this route while seemingly think that they’re in a good enough position to carry down this route . One simply has to look at the egregious behavior of Frank McCourt the team’s front office while running or should I put that more aptly ruining the Los Angeles Dodgers ? The beleaguered owner simply ran amok by plundering the coffers of the ballclub while apportioning blame elsewhere for his own malfeasance . And I hear assholes simply espouse the fact that through their own experience of having insight into the game they can tell you that the issues that a number of teams face is not that all severe . Have you ever heard any such fucking bullshit in your life ? Is it any wonder that the MLB hierarchy and the owners are simply looked upon as buffoons and simpletons ? If only Bud Selig had a fucking brain to begin with !

The Detroit Tigers who won the AL Central with limitless ease only see their postseason foray derailed in the ALCS by the Texas Rangers have now made the decision that they will not be bringing back seasoned veterans Magglio Ordonez and Ozzie Guillen . Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski alongside Jim Leyland made that bold choice to jettison both of these seasoned veterans in order to assess what they now have within the organization by way of their overall talent. The team also looks as if it will retain Delmon Young while looking to simply go younger while having Justin Verlander as the fulcrum of this organization.

We are all aware no doubt as to the seismic meltdown during the final month of the Boston Red Sox’s season as they went 7-20 during the month of September and thereby costing the organization the wildcard berth in AL . In the aftermath of that all Terry Francona did not have his contract extension taken up by the front office while general manager Theo Esptein seemingly resigned his position with the organization to accept an offer from Tom Ricketts to become the Head of Baseball of Operations for the Chicago Cubs. The Red Sox have since promoted Ben Cherington to succeed Epstein but the new incumbent will now have to assess the roster and look to get rid of the “dead weight” on this team . It would be a safe bet to suggest that John Lackey , Johnathan Papelbon , Erik Bedard and David Ortiz might well have played their last games of their careers for this organization . If anything the real issues behind the team’s downfall in the latter part of the season was the complete lack of leadership and activity from the players who were deemed to seasoned veterans . Josh Beckett who simply failed to deliver when it mattered most still finds himself being handsomely being handsomely rewarded by the Boston Red Sox . It remains to be seen what moves will be made by the front office during the offseason.

Epstein have engulfed himself in assessing the needs of the Chicago Cubs has already made several moves within the front office , having hired Jed Hoyer and to become the general manager and Jason McLeod as the assistant general manager of the ball club. Both individuals are former front office executives with the San Diego Padres . With those hires , Theo Epstein has assigned himself with a group of like minded executives whose beliefs are building from within , in terms of player personnel . Along with the hiring , Epstein has since fired the Chicago Cubs’ manager Mike Quade , a decision that in reality shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone , given the team’s dubious record (71-91) this past season within the NL Central .

During the winter months when the agents and general managers seemingly keep in contact with each other while seeking to make the moves that will best benefit their clients , agents such as Scott Boras , who if anything has become the bane of the managers , owners and general managers within the game. Suffice to say , that Boras will be able to dupe many of these executives and lure them into overpaying for a number of his clients.

The Philadelphia Phillies by their own estimation had a season that if anything completely show what complacency can do to a team . Now in the aftermath of Charlie Manuel’s players wilting like a shrinking violet in the NLDS to the St Louis Cardinals . It is back to the drawing board the manager and GM Rueben Amaro Jr as they once again seek to assess the flaws on this roster . The organization has seen fit not to extend the contracts of both Brad Lidge and Roy Oswalt .

If C J Wilson is said to now be the most prized free agent pitcher on the market during the offseason , then the curiousity factor surrounding Japanese player Yu Darvish could really pique the interest teams such as the New York Yankees , Chicago Cubs , their crosstown rivals the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels could all very well be interested in both Wilson and the Japanese major league player.

I know that the intent of baseball is to seek a competitive balance and one could attest to the fact that the game now has that , but that clearly is not the case ! . There hasn’t ever really been parity within Major League Baseball because the league hierarchy in conjunction with the MLBPA (union) would rather not see that scenario arise . Instead , Bud Selig with his rather idiotic notion that divisional realignment would be the best way forward for the teams . If the commissioner simply can’t rein in the egregious behavior of owners such as Frank McCourt , Bob Nutting , Jeffrey Loria , David Glass , Lew Wolff and Fred Wilpon . Owners who have simply at the largess of the commissioner have acted like chickens running around the their coop without an idea as to what the hell they’re meant to be doing . This has now become the “silly season” as it relates to the offseason as we’re invited to observe the maneuvers of the teams after their season finale .

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What thoughts if any do you have concerning the offseason as the teams around baseball seek to make their moves in order to bolster their rosters ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit .

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(1) FILE – In this Dec. 13, 2000, file photo, then-Boston Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette smiles during a news conference at Fenway Park in Boston. A person familiar with the deal say Duquette has signed a three-year contract to become the Baltimore Orioles’ president of baseball operations . The person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Orioles haven’t announced the deal, says Duquette signed the contract Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

(2) FILE – In this Sept. 23, 2011, file photo, Cleveland Indians’ Jim Thome bats against the Minnesota Twins in a baseball game in Cleveland. Thome and the Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a $1.25 million, one-year contract. AP Photo/Mark Duncan ….

(3) Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers , left, shakes hands with manager Kirk Gibson during a news conference after Gibson was named permanent manager of the team Monday, Oct. 4, 2010, in Phoenix. Hired as the interim manager after a midseason shake-up, Gibson was given the permanent job Monday, signing a two-year deal with a team option for 2013. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin …..

(4) Justin Verlander (35) of the Detroit Tigers throws a pitch against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 13, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Verlander has been named Player of the Year and American League Outstanding Pitcher during the 2011 Players Choice Awards by Major League baseball players on November 3, 2011. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images ….

(5) Baseball player Albert Pujols speaks during the dedication of a 10-foot, 1,100-pound bronze statue of the St. Louis Cardinals slugger Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011, in Maryland Heights, Mo. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson ….

(6) National League baseball players who won Gold Gloves for the 2011 season are shown during spring training in 2011, at various locations. In the top row from left are Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips and Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. In the bottom row from left are Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco, Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Gerardo Parra, Los Angeles center fielder Matt Kemp, and Los Angeles right fielder Andre Ethier. AP Photos ….

(7) Yu Darvish of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters is seen here pitching for the team. The player who’s now an unrestricted free agent is thought to be someone who will one of the more highly prized free agent pitchers this off-season . AFP/Getty Images/ Toshifumi Kitamura ….

(8) Texas Rangers’ starting pitcher C J Wilson , whom , the organization may well allow to test the free agency market rather than re-sign the player to a long term contract . AP Photo / Chris Blackwell ……

(9) General Manger Mike Rizzo , Bryce Harper (34) of the Washington Nationals and Scott Boras talk to the media during a press conference at Nationals Park on August 26, 2010 in Washington, DC. The young phenom was drafted by the organization in 2010 and signed to an extraordinary deal negotiated by his agent , Scott Boras . The uber-agent also happens to have Harper’s teammate Stephen Strasburg as a client . The pitcher like Harper was a number one overall pick by the Washington Nationals in 2009 Greg Fiume/ Getty Images North America …..
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Hot chic pic of the day Teresa Noreen . If you’re running on empty then this is surely one way of filling yourself up with some vitality ! For more of Teresa simply click on the adjoining link shown . Just like J-Cole I simply can’t enough of this hot chic !

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Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall , Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and we now know why .

One Size Doesn’t Necessarily Fit All …….. !

One Size Doesn’t Necessarily Fit All

Well it’s finally here as MLB’s showcase event for the 2011 season with the commencement of the World Series . The prospective seven game series will be televised nationally by Fox and their hope is that the games will be a major lure for the prospective audiences even they just happen to be a passing observer. The two rival teams are the AL pennant winner the Texas Rangers who will be the guests of the St Louis Cardinals who in defeating ( 4-2) the Milwaukee Brewers garnered their seventeenth NL pennant over the course of the franchise’s storied history .

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The Texas Rangers coming off their second consecutive ALCS pennant and return to the World Series hope that a return in light of their World Series disappointment of 2010 in losing to the San Francisco Giants will be one of redemption . With that loss the front office led by team president Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels looked to learn from the mistakes made and at the same time revamp the roster in order to make them more competitive this season . The Texas Rangers were the runaway winners of the AL West with there being little opposition in any coming their opponents within the division .

The opposition provided by their opponents during the ALDS and NLCS was futile for want of a better word . However, this match-up against the St Louis Cardinals could well prove to the test that the Rangers so desperately need . From my own standpoint I hope that this will one of the better postseason finales of recent years ! On the mound for the St Louis Cardinals will their starting ace Chris Carpenter who faces off against C J Wilson .

St Louis Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa like his opposite number Ron Washington has been part of the postseason but unlike the Texas manager he has had the pleasure of winning a World Series title . In fact the Cardinals’ manager is one a select band of MLB managers to have won a world championship in both leagues. If anything the St Louis Cardinals may well be viewed as the underdogs in this series as the AL pennant winner seem to be the prohibitive favorites for the world championship. A win could very well play its part and perhaps be the determining factor as to whether or not the St Louis Cardinals will be able to retain their highly prized impending free agent Albert Pujols . GM John Mozeliak and principal managing partner William O DeWitt know that securing the player to a long term deal that isn’t exorbitant and beyond the means of the organization . There is no denying that both teams in MLB postseason are looking to make this series an exciting thrill packed event , as to whether or not it turns out that way remains to be seen.

As much I can understand the need for the NFL to expand the broad base and global of the sport of football , it is now becoming more ridiculous with the league hierarchy’s thinking that staging a regular season game now on annual basis is in the best interest of the game. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell along with the team franchise owners heightens the game to even more astonishing peaks . This upcoming Sunday the Chicago Bears are guests of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when the two teams meet at Wembley Stadium , in London , England .

With the NFL now having offices in Canada , South America , Europe , Far East Asia and an office in the United Kingdom , with the UK itself being one of the NFL’s most prominent consumer markets outside of North America. Herein lies the caveat , with the global economy now unstable it seems somewhat out of the norm to believe that the league still feels that they can continue down this path . Granted , the NFL is a multi billion dollar industry and though they recently returned to the workplace after their league imposed stoppage. The signs are that the league hierarchy and team owners feel that the North American consumer market has peaked , reached its maturation and saturation point.

This NFC matchup brings together two teams vying for divisional supremacy , albeit that the Chigaco Bears (3-3) are looking up at the Detroit Lions (5-1) and Green Bay Packers (6-0) who sit atop of the NFC North . Coach Lovie Smith’s team have to be of the opinion that if they are to contest the division , then a win against the Buccaners would place them in good standing . Jay Cutler , Brian Urlacher , Julius Peppers and Matt Forte as the season veterans on this team they ill be looking to show the form that had the Bears on the cusp of making their way to the Superbowl last season , only to be upended in the NFC championship game by the Green Bay Packers , the eventual winners of the Lombardi Trophy.

Raheem Morris and his coaching staff having rebounded from their 48-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers , in week 6 they rebounded in taking down the New Orleans in a highly competitive divisional game (26-20) during which the Buccaneers prevailed .

Josh Freeman of the Buccaneers is proving to be a real leader and one of the young up and coming quarterbacks within the NFL . He’s proving to be a hero in more ways than one and his last minute come from behind heroics are at times reminiscent in some ways of John Elway at his very best . The player’s stats in this one particular category already bears this out , much to the delight of his teammates and in particular to Raheem Morris and the coaching staff . In many ways this will be a game that will give even more credence as to whether or not the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can improve on last season’s showing and mount a legitimate pedigree wherein one could view them as viable contenders for the this postseason and beyond .

GM Mark Dominik in conjunction with Raheem Morris , the scouting department and coaching staff have been prudent in their draft picks in recent years , making the team far more athletic and with the players being held accountable . Something that one couldn’t actually subscribe to when it came to Morris’ predecessor Jon Gruden . And Raheem Morris’ predecessor was never one to be known as someone who’d actually developed talent over the course of NFL career . Now please don’t throw the name of Rich Gannon into the ring as some evidence of that as the player simply found himself in an environment where he could flourish with the Oakland Raiders at the time and it wasn’t as if he wasn’t already a known commodity to begin with ! But therein lies the myth concerning Gruden and his presumed prowess as a developer of NFL talent !

Both the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have stout defenses but as of late that hasn’t necessarily been the case with both having seen their secondaries exposed . That being said both teams have to get that facet of their game back on track as well as being more efficient from an offensive standpoint .

The Buccaneers will be seeking to get their offense off and running when they take centerstage at Wembley Stadium against their NFC opponent . As to what the fans in London should expect , remains to be seen . But clearly the NFL league hierarchy believe that this annual staging of a regular season game abroad will further broaden the brand’s (NFL) appeal on a global basis . Get the feeling that no matter how much money the league will have in its coffers it well never be enough ?

Well now that the NBA finds itself in the midst of league hierarchy mandated lockout ____ the league itself along with the NBPA (union) sought to go through mediation via the FMCS a federal government agency . The mediator just happens to be George Cohen , who initially presided over the initial hearings of the NFL during their prolonged labor stoppage . Commissioner David Stern and union his counterpart Billy Hunter are still at an impasse . To furthermore emphasize the diverging stances being taken the union’s executive committee led by their president Derek Fisher have unequivocally stated that they are not prepared to acquiesce to any of the league’s demands without there first being concessions from the NBA, itself .

With the NBA preseason having been postponed and the regular season schedule set to start in November it is now becoming abundantly clear that the entire regular season schedule is now in jeopardy . The league has estimated that losses accumulated will be in excess of $35-$40 million per month . That does not include losses to local authorities and the business closely tied into the local communities once the season begins in the NBA . There are those who suggest that those figures are vastly overstated but when you consider that the league itself has lost in excess of $450 million cumulatively over the past two seasons it is easy to understand the concerns of the league hierarchy and the team owners . However, to my mind these very same owners and the league itself , in pleading poverty have overlooked one thing , and that is that they have continued to spend capriciously over the past five years while not looking to rein in their costs. At the same time the avarice of the union seems to know no boundaries with some outrageous demands on their part .

So contentious have been the deliberations that you have also had high profiled players such as Dywane Wade , LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in no large part questioning the character of the commissioner . It is now becoming increasingly clear that the league and union are not only on a collision course but in the aftermath of this wreckage there could very well be one , if not two franchises that could end up biting the dust should this lockout be a prolonged over several months , if not longer .

The mayor of Sacramento , Kevin Johnson , himself a former NBA professional is seeking to retain the Sacramento Kings within his city . But with a burgeoning municipal deficit , as well his having to reduce the city’s workforce it seems something of a futile exercise on Johnson’s path to try and keep the franchise within the city , while supposedly seeking assistance from businesses within the local community. Those very same businesses are feeling an economic crunch just like the rest of the country and it the population en mass . And the thought of the mayor seeking to use public funds in conjunction with private financing smacks of incompetence , given the issues he faces already within his city !

Owners such as Dan Gilbert , Mikhail Prokhorov , James Dolan and Jerry Buss for now may well be showing their support for the commissioner but I can’t help but wonder what happens when the league itself , now sees the stoppage entering into its second , fifth or six month !

The Sacramento Kings as a franchise has been hemorrhaging red ink incessantly over the past three years , with there being no real signs of abatement. The team is owned by the Maloof family with Joe and Gavin Maloof primarily overseeing the franchise’s business in conjunction with general manager and team president Geoff Petrie . And with the Kings’ ownership group merely playing a waiting game for the present with the city of Sacramento , while seeking out the opportunity to relocate the club . I for one , now feel that not unlike the acrimonious split that took place between the city of Seattle and the Seattle Supersonics we could very well see history simply repeat itself. I mean , David Stern was duplicitous in that instance with his backing of Clay Bennett and his partners leaving the city with the franchise to relocate in the city of Oklahoma , forming the Oklahoma City Thunder . The city of Seattle may well have felt that they got the better end of the deal with a $25 million payoff but they now have a white elephant on their hands with the venue which housed the Sonics at present now vacant .

The NBA lockout now has surpassed 100 days in its length but with no real sign of an accord in sight . However the cities of Memphis and Oklahoma are said to seeking a legal recourse against the league in light of potential financial losses they may well suffer if this stoppage goes on much longer . Oklahoma is home to the Oklahoma City Thunder where they’re housed in a multi million dollar facility owned ( Chesapeake Energy Center ) by the municipality . The Memphis Grizzlies are housed in the Fedex Forum in Memphis , Tennessee .

If either municipality should proceed ahead with any legal action action against the NBA , then in all likelihood they may well seek outside legal counsel in any prospective proceeding . My only personal thought on this matter would be for the two municipalities to proceed with that the proposed legal action jointly in US Federal Court in the state of Delaware ,. Given the fact that amongst the thirty NBA teams they are several multi billionaires amongst the throng of franchise owners within the NBA with now a number of them pleading poverty with regard to their respective franchises . Adam Silver the deputy commissioner of the league , one the mainstays of the NBA’s committee working on behalf of the hierarchy along with David Stern and Peter Holt , the owner of the San Antonio Spurs. representing the sport’s governing body in these deliberations . I have always maintained that no matter what the sport happens to be at the professional level municipal and state governmental agencies should not be held hostage by leagues such as the MLB , NBA , NFL , NHL , NASCAR or for that matter MLS (soccer) in assisting those governing bodies building state of the art facilities when rarely do they get anything tangible back in return . Does anyone truly believe that the city of New York is in a healthy financial state given that its mayor Michael Bloomberg fast-tracked the deals that benefited both the New York Mets and New York Yankees in aiding them to build their respective stadiums ( Citi-Field & Yankee Stadium ) ? Built at a joint cost of $2.355 billion with much of the funding coming by way a bond issue , multi faceted loans from a number major financial institutions and certain increases service fees levied upon residents and business within the locale .

For the Steinbrenner and Wilpon family as the proprietary owners Yankees , Mets and New York City government — _____ to say that they have screwed over the residents within the Bronx and Flushing would be an understatement to say the very least ! But at the same much of this can be easily laid to rest squarely upon the shoulders of US Congress and Senate , with regard to the statute (antitrust exemption & special tax privileges) that gives the governing sports’ bodies such latitude as a sport’s franchise .

With the Tampa Bay Rays’ demise in the postseason falling to the Texas Rangers it looks as if the apparent fallout that a number of Rays’ fans would fear to see could come into being . The team’s general manager Andrew Friedman has met publicly and privately with Los Angeles Angels’ owner Arte Moreno . The Angels are without a general manager after the abrupt resignation of Tony Reagins at the culmination of the regular season after the team’s subpar year .

Andrew Friedman’s contract has expired and it doesn’t appear as yet that an agreement on a renewal had been reached between the Rays’ general manager and the ownership group led by Stuart Sternberg . If the senior managing partner knows what is good for not only himself and baseball club then it would be to sign the organization’s architect of the most heralded successes of the past five years . Not only was Friedman behind the hiring of Joe Maddon as the successor to Lou Piniella but also for some the Tampa Bay Rays’ astounding successes in their draft choices since he assumed the team’s lead front office executive in charge of personnel matters.

Amongst the ranks of the general managers within the game Andrew Friedman would have to rank up there alongside the likes of Brian Cashman , Theo Epstein , Jon Daniels , Kenny Williams , John Mozeliak , Frank Wren and Dave Dombrowski as being amongst the best of the best of the GM’s in MLB .

With the growing uncertainty as to the impending future of the ballclub this could very well be one of the first few nails in the coffin leading to the upheaval of the Tampa Bay Rays if they cannot continue the momentum attained under Andrew Friedman , should the premise arise of with him leaving the this organization. The fans may well applaud the plays of Evan Longoria , Desmond Jennings , David Price and James Shields but were it not for Friedman I seriously doubt that the fans in attendance at Tropicana Field would have seen this team come to fruition , much less there being a ball-club to support . If the Rays’ most loyal and fervent supporters want this organization to remain viable then they ought to make their voices heard , and let Stuart Sternberg know he would be ill advised to allow his young general manager to leave .

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In light of the points raised within this piece what thoughts do you have ? And are you of the opinion that sports’ franchise owners should not hold state and local city municipalities hostage when it concerns arena and stadium issues ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit and once again thanks always for the continued support as it greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ……………..

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Rafael Furcal(15) and Matt Holliday (7) of the St. Louis Cardinals go after the hit by Ian Kinsler (5) of the Texas Rangers in the ninth inning during Game Two of the MLB World Series at Busch Stadium on October 20, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. The Rangers would go on to defeat the Cardinals 2-1 . Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ….

(2) Michael Young (10) of the Texas Rangers celebrates in the dugout after hitting an RBI sacrifice fly ball to take a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning during Game Two of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 20, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. The Rangers won 2-1. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images ……

(3) Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith answers a question during a news conference at the Oval cricket ground, London, Friday Oct. 21, 2011. The Bears will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at London’s Wembley Stadium on Sunday. AP Photo / Tom Hevezi …..

(4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Kellen Winslow, left, shares a joke with coach Raheem Morris during a team training session, Bagshot, west of London, Thursday Oct. 20, 2011. The Buccaneers will face Chicago Bears at London’s Wembley stadium on Sunday. AP Photo/Tom Hevezi …..

(5) Peter Holt, the owner of San Antonio Spurs, speaks to members of the media after NBA labor negotiations at Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers on October 20, 2011 in New York City. Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver announced that talks have broken down and no further meetings are scheduled. Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images …..

(6) Rays’ GM Andrew Friedman greets a fan at the front of the St Petersburg government center in downtonwn St Petersburg. Rumors are rife that the general manager could well leave the organization and accept the formal offer from the Los Angeles Angels’ team owner Arte Moreno to succeed Tony Reagins . St Petersburg Times / Ray Massey ….
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NB: This article was written on 20th October 2011 and published on the 10/21/2011 after game two had ended .

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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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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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As to what the postseason now holds for the fans we can only wait and see but as an avid fan of the game I sincerely hope that we can be provided with the excitement we have come to expect with some truly competitive series throughout the divisional series , pennant championships and the World Series itself !

What have been the highlights for you as a fan of the game and what do you hope to see during the MLB playoffs ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals slides into third base as Blake DeWitt (9) of the Chicago Cubs waits for the throw during the game played at Busch Stadium on September 24, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images …..

(2) Rafael Furcal (15) of the St. Louis Cardinals moves out of the way of a wild pitch by <a href="http://baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=marmoca&t=p=&year=2011"&gt; Carlos Marmol (49) of the Chicago Cubs which allowed the game winning run to score in the ninth inning at Busch Stadium on September 24, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images ……

(3) Geovany Soto (18) of the Chicago Cubs walks off the field as the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate a walk off victory at Busch Stadium on September 24, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images …….

(4) Manager Kirk Gibson (23) , center, of the Arizona Diamondbacks and coach Alan Trammell (3) , left, congratulate players Alberto Castillo (33) and Henry Blanco (12) following their 15-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants during of a MLB game at Chase Field on September 24, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images ….

(5) The lights go out at Chase Field and also on the San Francisco Giants’ season . Manager Bruce Bochy (16) of the San Francisco Giants talks with umpire Gary Darling as their game with the Arizona Diamondbacks is interrupted by a twenty-minute power outage in the seventh inning of a MLB game at Chase Field on September 24, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images ….

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It’s Not My World But It’s The One That I’m Enjoying At Present ….. !

It’s Not My World But It’s The One That I’m Enjoying At Present ….. !

Well due to the fact of Hurricane Irene depriving me of the chance to travel up to the nation’s capital for the formal unveiling and dedication of the MLK monument on the Mall in Washington , DC , my weekend was spent at home. With the girlfriend having traveled off to the West Coast for a family emergency , for myself it would be one where I would be left to my own devices . That meant scouring the sports pages to peruse what was happening in the world and how it all pans out in terms of the environments there .

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In baseball the divisional races seem to be taking on a life of their own , with some simply being up for grabs while other are all but over bar the shouting . Certainly the wildcard races haven’t really left us with a great deal of intrigue at all. Although there’s the idiocy within the local market here that the Tampa Bay Rays will somehow be able to overcome their six game deficit to the New York Yankees and gain that AL wildcard berth . One could attest to the fact that the teams are looking to play themselves into contention and in some cases out of contention .

With the recent moves made by teams concerning their postseason ambitions it’s clear that a number of teams that are of of the belief that they can make a run at their divisional foes . That now seems to be the case with the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers within the AL Central . With the respective managers Mike Sciocsia and Ron Washington leading the charge for both the Angels and Rangers .

If anything for the Los Angeles Angels the play of Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver have been stellar , as have been the rest of the team . It’d be remiss of me to suggest that the Rangers are good enough to run away with the division make a return to the World Series after last year’s escapades .

While Michael Young is viewed as a player who’s said to be in the declining years of a productive career , this season if anything , Young has proven to be the catalyst for this team not only by his presence but also his veteran leadership. And while Elvis Andrus , Adrian Beltre` and Josh Hamilton are seen as the star players on this Texas Rangers’ roster , were it not for Michael Young I seriously doubt that the team would be leading the AL West and playing with such command .

One of the major stories during this baseball season has been that of future free agents Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers and Albert Pujols of the St Louis Cardinals . Both players whose contracts expire at the end of the year are seen as the most desirable unrestricted agents coming to the market in 2012. The thirty one year old Pujols …” the face “ of the Cardinals and perhaps that organization’s second best player when one considers the Hall of Famers associated with the team over the years. Albert Pujols has made it abundantly clear to the front office and GM John Mozeliak that it is his wish to remain a life long St Louis Cardinals’ player. Pujols remains the one constant and draw on this team and while there’s no denying that many of the team’s active records and historical records could well be surpassed by the player . The off-season deliberations between Albert Pujols and the organization could be very interesting indeed. The All Star slugger wants to be compensated befitting a player of his worth and whether or not that is a seven year or ten multi million dollar deal remains to be seen. Many prognosticators are suggesting that the player may well be looking for a deal that is northwards of $200 million over eight years .

Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals scores a run against Michael McKenry (55) of the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium on August 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …….

Averaging out at $25 million a year one doubts that the St Louis Cardinals would seek to financially hamstring themselves to such a long term commitment . But then again the team salaries seem to be escalating for the big market teams while those mid to small market ball-clubs seem to be struggling to remain amongst the fray. If Pujols were unable to commit to an offer from the St Louis Cardinals then it would appear that there would be a number of teams vying for Albert Pujols’ services. Amongst those thought to show an interest would be their divisional rivals the Chicago Cubs who’ve long needed some star appeal and real offensive productivity within that ballclub. The team itself having seen the upheaval with the firing of GM Jim Hendry by team owner Tom Ricketts are now looking for a change of direction both on an off the field of play.

Prince Fielder five years younger than Pujols , is seen as a player whose best years are ahead of him, as the 27 year old first baseman on the Brewers’ team . The Milwaukee Brewers have seen their years of highs and lows within baseball with little postseason success in recent years . It has been a cautionary tale for this organization and the present ownership group after they assumed control from the Selig family.

This season we have seen the Brewers simply smash their way to success leaving all else in their wake , especially within the NL Central . They’ve distanced themselves from the St Louis Cardinals and now have an eye on the postseason, as they prepare for the divisional series. For Fielder , Ryan Braun , John Axford and the players on this roster who’ve made hay while the sun shines this has been much more than a fortuitous year for the ball-club. Team owner Mark Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin have a major decision on their hands as they seek to make an offer that doesn’t do irreparable financial harm to the organization.

The pay structure of the Milwaukee Brewers has to be held in check given the limited resources of the ball-club as a whole . Prince Fielder knows that he has a choice to make at the end of the year that will provide him with long term security no what the outcome of the choice made by the player or front office . What may well matter is the financial weight of the contract offered to the player in terms of its worth . Are the Milwaukee Brewers in a position to make Prince Fielder the highest paid player on the roster and what might be the seismic shot sent across the bow of the game ? How will that decision be viewed by the general managers and team owners around the league ?

I am not so sure that Prince Fielder can be deemed a person said to be worth in excess of $20-$25 million a year no matter what length the period of the contract offered to the player . But herein lies the idiocy of the game today , a player such as Vernon Wells this year will be paid in excess of $26.5 million for an unproductive and lackluster season with the Los Angeles Angels .

Having not taken much interest in the NFL preseason I have to admit that the latest results have not really come as a great surprise ! . Certainly if the teams are said to be seeking consistency during these preseason games then for the San Francisco 49ers their games if anything have been an indication of the sheer ineptitude in terms of the play offered by the quarterbacks on the team .

Team general manager Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh may well have hastily made the decision to announce that his regular season starter would be Alex Smith .

For those of us who have witnessed the productivity of Smith over the years , we can all attest to the fact that the player has had his moments but when it has mattered most he has struggled to show any real command or the trust of his teammates . In the preseason once again, it has been more of the same from the five year veteran and it is becoming extremely hard to understand how it is that the player was taken first overall in the 2005 NFL Draft .

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Alex Smith (11) of the San Francisco 49ers roles out to pass against the Houston Texans during an NFL pre-season football game at Candlestick Park August 27, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …..

From my own perspective given the travails of the 49ers during the preseason I do believe that this team will struggle over the course of the regular season ! For Jim Harbaugh , his coaching staff and in particular quarterbacks’ coach Geep Chryst this will be a year during which their mental psyche will be tested by the play of Alex Smith. It has been the player’s inconsistency but more so the fact that during his time in the NFL at no point of his career has the coaching staff remained constant. The staff of the Forty Niners has been changed more often than that of a newborn baby’s diapers on a daily basis. If Geep Chryst can keep things simple not only for Smith but also his primary backup Josh McCown then there’s no reason to believe why the team cannot be competitive over the course of this season . But as of now that remains a big “if “ in the minds of not only the fans in general but quite possibly also the Forty Niners’ coaching staff , themselves.

With the off-season moves made by the 49ers and the draft choices it would be easy to suggest that the team is back on the road to being competitive within the NFC West . Although the division may well seem ripe for the taking , with teams such as the Arizona Cardinals , Seattle Seahawks and St Louis Rams all vying for overall supremacy. I do feel that NFC West has and always remain a division where there’s more uncertainty bound to happen than any fan could hope to wish for. It has been the inconsistency of the teams over the past few years that leads me to believe that trying to predict an outright winner of the division is akin to playing “three card Monty” !

Alex Smith will have to justify the faith shown in him by Jim Harbaugh this season , if not then I can see his NFL career coming to an abrupt end with him being jettisoned by the organization. Given the fact that he was so highly touted and taken as a number one overall pick , I am now beginning to wonder what it was that the front office saw in the player that originally that convinced them that he had the makings of NFL quarterback ? Anyone care to hazard a guess and provide us all with an answer ?

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What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this article ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and as always thanks for the continued support !

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

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(1) TORONTO, CANADA – AUGUST 28: Desmond Jennings of the Toronto Blue Jays of the Tampa Bay Rays during MLB game action August 28, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Rays would go on to defeat the Blue Jays 12-0 . Photo by Brad White/Getty Images …..

2 Home plate umpire Jeff Nelson looks on as Jose Bautista (19) of the Toronto Blue Jays walks off after striking out during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays August 28, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Brad White/Getty Images …….

(3) ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 25: Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals flips the ball to first base at Busch Stadium on August 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Pirates 8-4 . Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ……

(4) Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals scores a run against Michael McKenry (55) of the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium on August 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …….

(5) MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 28: Corey Hart (1) of the Milwaukee Brewers is congratulated by Prince Fielder (28) after scoring a run during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park on August 28, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers would go on to defeat the Cubs 3-2 Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images …….

(6) MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 28: Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers catches the baseball from Zack Grienke (13) as Starlin Castro (13) of the Chicago Cubs dives back to the base at Miller Park on August 28, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers defeated the Cubs 3-2. Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images ……..

(7) SAN FRANCISCO – AUGUST 27: Chris Culliver (29) of the San Francisco 49ers returning a kick off gets tackled by Shiloh Keo (31) of the Houston Texans during an NFL pre-season football game at Candlestick Park August 27, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Texans won the game 30-7 . Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …….

(8) Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers looks on against the Houston Texans during an NFL pre-season football game at Candlestick Park August 27, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …….

(9) SAN FRANCISCO – AUGUST 27: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers roles out to pass against the Houston Texans during an NFL pre-season football game at Candlestick Park August 27, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …..
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NB : In the Forty Niners most recent preseason game they suffered a decisive 30-7 loss to the Houston Texans .

Monte Carlo Or Bust For The St Louis Cardinals ………….

Monte Carlo Or Bust For The St Louis Cardinals ………….

As the St St Louis Cardinals face an uphill battle looking to slowly erase the lead held by the Milwaukee Brewers within the NL Central . I can’t help but wonder what needs to be done by this team in order for them to even have a remote chance of achieving that feat. Granted , in Tony La Russa the organization has one of the most respected managers in the game today and his resume speaks for itself. Along with his coaching staff , La Russa has made this team a formidable threat but unless they actually win this division outright then it will become increasingly clear that the St Louis Cardinals are likely to miss the postseason .

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The team now sits four games behind the NL wildcard leading Atlanta Braves and it has to be said it would take a monumental collapse by the Braves that would allow the St Louis Cardinals to be even with a chance of claiming that berth. The team’s strength has been its pitching and offense . And leading the charge throughout much of the season has been Lance Berkman whose career has been resurrected playing for the Cardinals this year.

GM John Mozeliak know that at the end of this season the organization could very well lose their All Star first baseman Albert Pujols to free agency having not been able to get the player to sign a contract extension that met with both parties’ liking. It is not that the fact that the Cardinals are without the financial resources . Pujols, himself , did not want to go into the season having to negotiate a new deal knowing full well that he would somehow be unable to dedicate his efforts full time on the field of play. Various sources, none of which have been fully established make the claim that the player wishes to be compensated to a deal in accordance with his stature . If that means Albert Pujols seeks a long term contract of 6 years at a cumulative figure of between $120-140 million over that specific period , then it could well be a harbinger of why the negotiations were curtailed between the player’s agent and the Cardinals’ front office . Some may opine that Albert Pujols isn’t worth that sort of money at this stage of his career but I would suggest that the St Louis Cardinals without the player would not be competing at a high level within the NL Central or for that matter be considered a legitimate contender for postseason honors . His productivity alone speaks for itself and the mere fact that he’s the main draw for the fans , there at Busch Stadium adds to his value for the organization .

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ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals heads to third base after a fielding error by the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2 . Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …..

Over the remainder of the season it will be interesting to see how the St Louis Cardinals fare as they make a final push towards either winning the division or obtaining a wildcard berth and entry into the playoffs . Given the history of the franchise’s career in the playoffs you have to admire the success attained by the organization . Albert Pujols has played his part in that success with the organization’s most recent accolade in winning the 2006 World Series in defeating the Detroit Tigers Angels .

With Albert Pujols having been on the DL in recent weeks much of the heavy lifting has actually been by Lance Berkman who seems to have been rejuvenated and showing why he was such a productive player while with the Houston Astros . Berkman along with Matt Holliday , Yadier Molina , Ryan Theriot and Albert Pujols have tried to keep this team in contention with the Milwaukee Brewers from an offensive standpoint. And as productive as the team has been it has been their pitching that has also kept them in close proximity of the divisional leader. Chris Carpenter has been his usual workman life self over the course of this season but like any other pitcher in the league he has had his problems. That asides , he and the rest of the pitching rotation have held their own as needs be , over the course of the year thus far .

It will be interesting to see what changes are liable to be made should the St Louis Cardinals decide to bring up any of their top prospects from the minors . Certainly the organization has some very keen and good young players willing to show that they are ready to take the next step up at the major league level. And it bodes well for the organization at large in that respect and that decision no doubt remains in the hands of Tony La Russa and John Mozeliak . They may well think along those lines should it become more apparent that they are not likely to overtake the Milwaukee Brewers within the NL Central but one never knows as La Russa tends to march to the beat of his own drum in making such decisions. Certainly the St Louis Cardinals’ fans would like to see players such as brought up from the minors merely for them to get a taste of the majors at the big league level. It would be a boost in confidence for those players and most definitely something that they crave for and would appreciate all the more .

Certainly the likes of Zach Cox , Shelby Miller , Oscar Taveras , Joe Kelly and Matt Adams would love the opportunity to display their skills at the top level , and given the chance the organization would be ripe beneficiaries of that situation .

While the Cardinals are no doubt looking to gain ground on the Milwaukee Brewers , the team itself will see this season as one where they have to do something special if they are to have a inkling of a chance to retain the services of Prince Fielder . They have ridden the crest of the wave on the player’s shoulders over the course of the year and while Ryan Braun has contributed greatly to the Brewers’ efforts it has been Prince Fielder who has been the spur for the organization.

Brewers’ manager , team owner Mark Attanasio and general manager Doug Melvin know that that their All Star slugger while appreciative of the organization’s efforts wants to compensated for his efforts. It was felt that at the trade deadline quite possibly a number of teams might have pursued the player with regard to a possible trade. That scenario never materialized and the Milwaukee Brewers were the better for it , and it remains to be seen what efforts will be made by the front office will be made to retain the player at season’s end. Certainly with the sort of money that’s being rumored that the player’s agent is said to be seeking for his client _____ the thought of an seven or 8 year deal north of $175-$180 million does not seem out the realms of possibility. Not many teams within baseball are awash with that sort of money or who are likely to make that sort of long term commitment to player. But such are the vagaries of the game , where it is now the players and agents who can hold sway over the financial future of an organization , where the general managers and team owners are having to make decisions as to their long term viability and financial security in large part .

Ron Roenicke along with his coaching staff know that their biggest beyond winning the division is to have the team playing at a consitently high level down the stretch run of their season . And most certainly they will be looking for players such Braun , Fielder , Casey McGhee , Rickie Weeks , Yunieski Betancourt , alongside the pitching staff led by Zach Greinke , Shaun Marcum , Yovanni Gallardo and John Axford to shoulder the burden in hopes of securing a playoff berth for the organization.

Postseason success for the Milwaukee Brewers has been fleeting at best and the ball-club’s history simply has been littered with highs and lows . But it has been the players associated with this club over the years that if anything has fans feeling some empathy for organization . Whether or not the tide is about turn remains to be seen but I am sure that there are a number of fans out there that will be intrigued to see if the Brewers in their present reincarnation can actually do what has not done by the club in over two decades and that’s a return to the World Series —– then , winning it .

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By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in its original formatted size.

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

Do you feel that the St Louis Cardinals will make the postseason or are you of the opinion that they will have their hopes dented by their divisional rivals , the Milwaukee Brewers who will deprive of them of winning the NL Central ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the subject matter or anything else you feel pertinent with regard to the events happening within the game of baseball at present .

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

Contact tophatal at ……… rapptu@gmail.com or via

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Picture and slide show details .

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(1) ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals heads to third base after a fielding error by the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2 . Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …..

(2) Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a single his second of the night against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ….

(3) Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers returns to the dugout after striking out against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ……

(4) Mark Kotsay (25) of the Milwaukee Brewers hits an RBI double against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ….

(5) Starter Yovani Gallardo (49) of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts to giving up a solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ……

(6) St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, right, argues with first base umpire Greg Gibson, right, after Gibson threw La Russa out while arguing a call during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011, in St. Louis. Gibson called the Brewers’ Josh Wilson , who scored later in the inning, safe at first and the Brewers went on to win 5-1 . AP Photo/ Jeff Roberson …….

(7) Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, right, and general manager Doug Melvin watch batting practice during a spring training baseball workout at the team’s practice facility Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Morry Gash ……..

(8) St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, left, and general manager John Mozeliak talk during spring training baseball Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010, in Jupiter, Fla. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson ……..

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