Who says that the nation’s greatest ever pastime is dead ?
Unofficially, the MLB season has started with a two-game series having already taken place between NL West teams the Arizona Diamondbacks (0-2) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2-0) playing their series in Brisbane, Australia,. For managers Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson . this has been a start to a season, in which , both will be seeking to compensate for poor regular seasons, albeit, that Mattingly was able to lead his Dodgers to the NLCS against the St Louis Cardinals , where the team would fall to the NL Central based Cardinals , in six less than thrilling games , where the overrated Los Angles’ franchise simply fell apart . As to the reason , why this All Star laden team would succumb so easily , can be best summed up by the fact , that there was a great deal of complacency on the part of the players as well as Mattingly and his managerial staff .
For the defending World Series’ champions the Boston Red Sox , led by manager John Farrell , this past season and their achievements , were nothing short of astonishing. From a last place finish within the . AL East , in 2012, to overcoming the ineptitude showed that season, along with the summary dismissal of Bobby Valentine . The latter, of whom, was simply hired for style over substance.
Farrell was able to lead his team with great deal of aplomb, as they weaved their way through an arduous regular season schedule and then without breaking much of a sweat , romped through the postseason , with a great deal of ease. Now the question becomes for one baseball’s most revered organizations , _____ can they make a successful defense of their title or simply fall by the wayside ? The Boston Red Sox are likely to be the initial prohibitive favorites within the AL East , where the division is likely to be a three-horse race between themselves , the Baltimore Orioles and either New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays, dependent upon which the way the wind is blowing or moreover , dependent upon whom the Vegas odds-makers believe to be the more credible of the two candidates.
As usual the MLB off-season posed a number of questions , of which the biggest had to be , how would the New York Yankees fare in the upcoming season , knowing that this would be Derek Jeter’s last season with the franchise after an two-decade career with the ball-club. A player of his stature, cannot easily be replaced, in spite of the now ongoing debates within baseball circles concerning the player’s career and where he now ranks the all-time greats to have donned a Yankees’ uniform . From my own perspective, I believe Jeter to be amongst the top twenty players in the ball-club’s history and where he might ranks within that number , would be entirely based upon how one might feel about his list of achievements and the era in which he played.
The New York Yankees made a splash during the off-season committing over $300 million to players they acquired to bolster their roster , while having the lost the likes of Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson to free agency. That being said, GM Brian Cashman and senior managing partner, Hal Steinbrenner know that this will be a season upon which they will be judged , with the added pressure the fans will want to send off the team’s revered captain with another World Series’ title , which would be in-fact Derek Jeter’s sixth , with baseball’s most successful franchise .
Coming into this season, with another bloated payroll , once again close to , if not exceeding $200 million , one has to ask how much longer the front office can continue to simply splurge on players , while having no real trust within their farm system having drafted presumed talent, in the hope that they would simply blossom and be productive for the franchise. Granted , the measure of success attained over the years , has somewhat downplayed those assertions to an extent , but in reality , they simply cannot be overlooked. Were it not for the benefits, offered by of the club’s ownership of the YES Network and being domiciled in the nation’s largest ad market . I seriously doubt that the New York Yankees would have achieved the measure of success attained under former manager Joe Torre and most recently with their last postseason triumph in 2009 with current manager Joe Girardi .
Girardi and his players will begin their season, with a series against the Houston Astros on the 1st April ,2014 at Minute Maid Park , in Houston , Texas. The likely starters will be CC Sabathia of the Yankees against Houston’s Scott Feldman . For the beleaguered Astros’ franchise , besides their ongoing off the field issues , their biggest hope has to be to avoid and enduring another loss of one hundred games for a third consecutive season , having been able to achieve that feat in 2012 and 2013 . An ignominious feat, while team owner , Jim Crane claims that his ball-club is in a healthy and competitive state. One has to wonder how that can be, while he seeks to sue broadcast partner CSN Houston , parent company Comcast Inc as well as Drayton McClane , the a Astros’ former owner. More to the point, given the fact that Bud Selig was a conduit for the sale , I have to ask, why Crane also has not focused his attention at the MLB Commissioner, with regard to the pending litigation and the very fact that Selig played a large part in the engineering of the sale of the franchise and its relocation from the NL Central in 2012 to the AL West in 2013 ? Bear in mind, that, Crane and the franchise, received a hearty financial “sweetener” n of $100 million to aid in the purchase and in the Astros’ subsequent move to the AL . Conspiracy theory or not, something, really ” stinks “ , concerning this deal, the actions of Jim Crane and that of the MLB hierarchy , as countenanced by Bud Selig .
I will say this for Detroit Tigers’ , owner , Michael Ilitch, he is certainly not afraid of throwing money at players , he believes to be talented enough to aid his franchise in their quest for a World Series ! Something, that has not been achieved by the ball-club in over two decades. The fact that pitcher , Justin Verlander, is one of the highest paid players in the game as well as one of the highest paid pitchers simply has not deterred the owner , who seeks the advice of the team’s general manager , in , Dave Dombrowski . Now with their Tigers’ two-time AL MVP , Triple Crown King and perhaps the best “pure hitter “ in the game , in slugger , Miguel Cabrera . With the player having reportedly ” inked “ a eight-year $248 million deal , with their still being two years left on his existing contract that will pay him $44 million . One has to wonder, what other maneuvers are likely to be engineered within the Tigers’ front office .
The end to this episode, has not yet come to a satisfactory conclusion within the Tigers’ organization with pitcher, Max Scherzer at first turning down an initial offer of a contract extension , said to be an offer worth six-years and $144 million . Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras said to have found the offer derisory and beneath what he believes his client would be worth on the open market. An agent of Boras’ stature and someone who has come to be the bane of general managers around the league, has simply been the main reason why the sport of baseball has become ” financially imperiled ” . Far too many, idiotic fans, believe that MLB remains on sound financial footing, merely because the game’s revenues have been increasing each season. Inflationary issues asides, a great deal of this, has to more to do with the renegotiated television rights , increased ticket , concession prices and corporate endorsement deals . Yet above all , players’ salaries , contract and team payrolls are on the increase , while the quality of the baseball being played is actually on the decline . Granted, Bud Selig can always point to the fact that game attendances , are at a high , but nowhere near an all-time as associated with the game during the fifties , sixties seventies and early eighties . While we have seen larger venues being built, over the past few years, it has not followed through in creating bigger attendances for a number of teams. Small market teams struggle to attract a fan-base big enough to be actually self-sustaining, without the aid of an assist from the MLB hierarchy . Cases can be justified, with the number of teams assisted by the league’s tax-sharing revenue scheme.
In refusing the Tigers’ offer Scherzer puts himself on the part to become a free agent this off-season and it seems highly unlikely that GM Dave Dombrowski to resume negotiations with either the player or his agent. Scott Boras for his part , as an agent over the past decade , has negotiated contracts totaling in excess of $5 billion , and having negotiated the most contracts of clients such as Alex Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira , Stephen Drew , Kendry Morales , Barry Zito , Jered Weaver , Shin Soo Choo and Michael Bourn , through his successful sports’ management agency the Boras Corporation .
With appearances coming in 2006 and 2012 in the World Series for the Detroit Tigers , with the team failing on both occasions , you would have to go back to 1984 , when the ball-club was triumphant over the San Diego Padres in baseball’s postseason fare . Three decades later and one wonders, if a curse was placed over the franchise after that series’ victory. Here, am I thinking , Wrigley Field , the infamous goat and Steve Bartman might be the only things , that fans can have fun with, when it comes to comedic anecdotes concerning the game ! I guess I was wrong in that context and can only hope that when the Tigers begin their 2014 schedule, with their opening home game against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park in Detroit , it will be the start of something special for the ball-club this season.
As much as it pains me to say this , having watched the Chicago Cubs swoon over the seasons , has brought a great deal emotion and in many respects, a great deal of laughter. In spite of, the club’s history and the many great players , that have passed through the locker room down the years. The continued struggles of the franchise, as they seek to win a World Series and to appease and placate their long-suffering fans and the shedding of the myth of the “goat” has been something of a long running soap opera. Steve Bartman’s infamy and stupidity, in some respects, gives you an indication, why the franchise remains in a quagmire , beyond the sheer conceit shown first, by Sam Zell and the current owners of the Cubs , Tom Ricketts and his family . If Ricketts believes spending $100 million refurbishing and upgrading the ballpark is money well-spent, rather than bolstering the current roster , then it gives you an indication as to where his priorities may well lie , even with Theo Epstein being brought in to weave some magic in heading up the team’s Baseball Operations . Epstein’s tenure with the ball-club at present, two years in and the franchise has been moving at a snail’s pace , showing very little sign of progress either on or off the field of play.
Catching hell doesn’t do Bartman justice ! A bullet to the head , would have been justified .
Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer will seek to bring back some semblance of success , having worked together before, in a similar capacity , while both were with the Boston Red Sox , where they saw a considerable amount of success together as a pairing, in bringing about the first of that franchise’s three most recent World Series’ titles. The Cubs’ long-suffering fans have been waiting for over hundred years to witness a World Title and but for Steve Bartman’s idiocy during the 2003 NLCS , the common feeling might well have been , this was to be their year . Instead, one moment of lunacy, brought about angst , anger, pent-up frustration , threats to endanger the life of Steve Bartman and ,members of his immediate family. Meanwhile , Moises Alou can only feel hard done by, and wishing that if the ball had been struck with a little less strength , it would have been the Chicago Cubs quite possibly winning out , in that now infamous series against the Florida Marlins and then making their way to the World Series that year . If, only and but , all commonly used words in the English language ,and yet when acquainting them with the Chicago Cubs , memories of Alou’s outstretched arms and Bartman snatching that fly ball from within his grasp, spelt disaster for the franchise in more ways than one .
The Cubs will begin with their season, when they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in their regular season opener , where they will also be opposing the 2013 NL MVP winner Andrew McCutchen, as that team , seeks to take a few more positive steps, after languishing on the outside looking in , having not made the postseason in two decades . Last year, in some respects, was a season of firsts for this ball-club, with a number of players showing a great deal more maturity? Although their postseason foray was not long-lasting, , it was enough give the Pirates a great hope for this upcoming season as Neal Huntington has been finally been given the go-ahead to actually spend some money the roster in acquiring players . A major turnaround , when you consider that for a number of years, team owner , Bob Nutting repeatedly, plead poverty while the ball-club was actually profitable, even if it came by way of the largess of the > baseball hierarchy .
Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle and his managerial staff will have a tough season in seeking to repeat many of the team’s triumphs of last season . Nonetheless , with McCutchen leading the offense and providing his stealth in the outfield as one of baseball’s best defensive players . A great deal is expected of the Pittsburgh Pirates this upcoming season where they are likely to face a stiff challenge from the likes of the St Louis Cardinals , Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers . If the team can simply show some of the form of last season and specifically within their division , then there could very well be a possibility of the ball-club coming away with their first divisional title since 1992 . As I alluded to earlier, the Pirates have spent a long time on the outside looking in and then some !
Exploding salaries and payrolls and the general managers, are expected to work miracles in conjunction with the managers around the league. Moreover, the owners , themselves, many of them are amongst some of the wealthiest individuals in the country or they happen to have been either successful businessmen or quite possibly successful in other chosen endeavors . Peter Angelos a successful attorney and owner of the Baltimore Orioles, not often seen in public , has become something of a recluse. In the past seven years , during his tenure, as the franchise’s owner , I truly believe he and the front office to have been completely negligent in their running of the ball-club ! Granted, a great deal of the idiotic analysis suggested by fans of the team , have merely made suggestions about their draft needs in order to build their farm system for the future and free agent acquisitions , never once questioning the mindset of the owner and the lack of concern or motivation on his part of that of the executives within the front office. Perhaps , it really does come down to the apparent lack of intelligence of the fans and their having little or no damn knowledge as to the inner workings of a business , much less a professional sports’ franchise .
Peter Angelos for his part, may well have left the day-to-day running of the Orioles to his son, John P Angelos , H Russell Souse , Chief General Counsel, Dan Duqutte and former Baltimore Orioles’ player , Brady Anderson . A great deal was expected of the team last season , but unfortunately for Buck Showalter and his staff , the players were not readily equipped to get the job done and garner a wildcard berth . At one point during last season, it looked as if the Baltimore Orioles were capable of actually winning the AL East, but beyond the fascination of Chris Davis and his seeking to <a href=http://mlb.mlb.com/bal/history/uy break the franchise’s single season home run record and the increasing maturity being shown by Manny Machado , there was not a great deal that evolved out of the Orioles’ season during 2013. Their failure in large part, was in simply playing their divisional rivals , tough , during the season and it essentially led to their own undoing . There may well now be a common belief that this season, they are going to be in a position to challenge the might of the might of the Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays , but I do not believe that the team in its present guise is simply good enough to pull off that feat , in spite of their off-season moves !
While Mike Scioscia and Ron Gardenhire look to start their respective seasons, within the AL, for the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins . I cannot help but wonder, with the combined managerial career between the two , all they have to show for that their respective tenures , just happens to be, one World Series’ title , one AL Pennant , several divisional titles and collectively , well over 2000 career wins ( Gardenhire 998 wins and Scioscia 1233 wins) . Yet , I truly believe that both of these well-respected managers, are now past their prime ! Wherein, for owners Arte Moreno and Jim Pohlad , this may well be the season , where should both managers fail to meet expectations, then their careers within the Majors, will come to an abrupt end , with their summary dismissals . It could also mean the end, for general managers, Jerry DiPoto and Terry Ryan . Though, in some circles, it is believed that Ryan will be allowed to remain in his current position, with the Twins, as he seeks turn things around, after the somewhat , recent lean years of under-achievement by his predecessor, Bill Smith . . As the season gets underway, determined by the progress made, we will all be able to judge the fate and outcome of both of these managers. Could a World Series’ win be in the picture for either ? Your thoughts on that and anything else, you believe pertinent to the subject matter, is more than welcome !
Picture gallery .
Picture and slideshow gallery details
(1) (L-R) NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell and NSW Minister for Arts, George Souris present signed cricket bats to Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers and Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks during the MLB Welcome to Australia Press Conference at Sydney Cricket Ground oon March 18, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Getty Images Asia-Pacific/ Brendon Thorne …..
(2) Diamondbacks manager, Kirk Gibson speaks during the MLB Welcome to Australia Press Conference at Sydney Cricket Ground on March 18, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Getty Images Asia-Pacific / Brendon Thorne …..
(3) Prince Fielder is seen here with Detroit Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski , after the player was acquired as a free agent by the franchise . Two years of somewhat lackluster productivity having signed a multi-year multi-million deal , Fielder was sent packing along with the remainder of his contract to the Texas Rangers , where the player hopes to resurrect his once prolific career . AP Photo / Joel Harper ….
(4) Scott Boras, baseball’s most well-known and sought after agent . As CEO & Chairman of the Boras Corporation . the agent has a clientele list , that boasts some of the most recognizable and well paid … players in the game . Being on this side of the business has made Boras an extremely wealthy man , having harbored dreams of playing in the Big Leagues , where his career did not really pan out . American Pathe Inc @ copyrighted material …..
(5) Steve Bartman and Moises Alou of the Cubs battle for a foul ball in the 2003 National League Championship Series . One moment of apparent infamy and stupidity by Bartman on an October night in 2003 , led to threats on his life and that of his family’s being threatened . Photo by Elsa Martinez/ Getty Images ….
(6) Brady Anderson , right, is seen here with Dan Duquette , as both front office executives within the Baltimore Orioles’ franchise discuss a number of team issues . Anderson , a former player with the ball-club was one of the Orioles’ most popular players during his playing career with the organization. AP Photo / Mason Fuller …..
This day in MLB history March 31st
MLB Milestones : Possibly occurring this season : 2000 to 2500 hits’ plateau
Wins pitching : 150 – 200 wins
Innings pitched : 1000 – 2000 and 3000 innings
The always delectable Bria Myles ! More of Bria for your perusal .
Gotta loves those “lady lumps” !