Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and bestow greatness upon those who are deserving of it …

Major League Baseball made their formal announcement for the inductees of the 2016 Hall of Fame class , with Ken Griffey Jr and Mike Piazza leading the list of nominees for the class. Among the list were also, holdovers from 2015 , where the likes of Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds , Mark McGwire , Gary Sheffield and Roger Clemens were the most recognized of the names .

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First time nominees for the 2016 class provided the fans with new names , many of whom like Piazza, Sosa, Bonds , McGwire, Sheffield and Clemens were closely associated with the steroids’ era of the late eighties and through last decade and entering into this decade. While the stoicism of the BBWAA continues to be one where they consider themselves the bastion of all things pure about the game of baseball. What cannot be denied has been the mere fact the Baseball Writers’ Association (BBWAA) has been hypocritical in their addressing and reporting the issues and evidence of the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs within baseball.

While there will be continued claims the players who ran afoul baseball’s archaic rule were not breaking the law, what was paramount once the were rules in place, players simply ignored the rules and a rampant epidemic ensued, with a widespread pandemic use of banned substances at the Minor League Level as well at the Major League Level (MLB) . During Bud Selig’s reign as the Commissioner of baseball , his apathy knew no boundaries as the ball-players eschewed the rules and cheated their way to fame, glory and a great deal of money while defrauding the public and obliterating some of the most hallowed records in the game of baseball. Selig’s successor Ron Manfred appears to be walking the same path as his predecessor and the claims made by Bud Selig , that baseball now has the most stringent testing policy in all of professional sports is as comical as it sounds.

Ken Griffey Jr’s long anticipated Hall of Fame induction was a certainty , as the player’s career and the fact he remained untainted by allegations of steroid use added to the aura which surrounded the long-time Seattle Mariners , Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox standout outfielder and multi-faceted All Star. What seemed inconceivable about Griffey’s balloting, was the fact he failed to garner a unanimous vote with three judges failing to cast a vote in his favor. Only Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver in BBWAA history has garnered more votes, but Griffey leads by way of the percentages received .

Mike Piazza’s career has been well-chronicled and he is considered to be one of the best offensive powered catchers in baseball history. Like Griffey, he was never able to capture that elusive World Series’ ring , though each made postseason appearances at various points of their respective careers. With these modern-day icons entering the Hall of Fame , one now has to ask the pertinent question , at what point will either the BBWAA and baseball”s hierarchy truly seek to address the issue of steroids still being proliferating the game of baseball and when will the Players’ Union (MLBPA) actually seek to themselves address the issue , deal with the underlying problems and educate their members as well as the players at the Minor League Level as to the inherent dangers of misusing steroids and other banned substances? It was never dealt with by former Executive Directors Donald Fehr , the late Michael Weiner or , Wiener’s successor and current union Executive Director Tony Clark .

In 2017, the list of eligible players due to be part of the year’s ballot for induction into the Hall of Fame will once again have the players who failed to obtain the required seventy-five percent of the voted for enshrinement will be once see another crop first-time eligible nominees as well as holdovers . I am inclined to believe those players will not make the cut once again and among the fresh faces on the ballot, it will be difficult to truly suggest a case can be made for several of the players viewed as eligible. The most likely candidates to receive the votes assuring their induction would appear to be Vladimir Guerrero, Jorge Posada , Trevor Hoffman , Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Mussina . Their careers I believe , should assure them of induction, but again, given the pomposity of the BBWAA , nothing is guaranteed or even written in stone.

Far be it for me to suggest the off-season shakeups which took place , with a number of players finding new homes , having declared their free agency and we witnessed the type long-held belief, baseball’s front office executives and owners are nowhere as smart as they believe themselves to be. The Los Angeles Dodgers with their $300 million payroll of last season will enter 2016 , with a newly revamped roster , new managerial staff with Dave Roberts succeeding Don Mattingly as the team’s manager. Less we forget also, Zack Greinke opted for free agency and then signed a six-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks . From my own perspective, while the addition improves the look of their starting pitchers’ rotation, it doesn’t mean the Diamondbacks can be considered legitimate contenders for the NL West. The division I believe remains the Dodgers’ to lose , unless we see the reemergence of the San Francisco Giants , who in 2015 failed miserably in just about every aspect of their game.

This upcoming season in baseball should be an eventful one , with these two divisional powerhouses Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants likely to entertain their fans throughout their seasonal meetings as witnessed last season. These two ball-clubs will begin their regular season schedules with Dave Roberts taking the Los Angeles Dodgers crosstown to meet the Los Angeles Angels in a game to be played at Angels Ballpark in Anaheim, California on 2nd April, 2016. The Arizona Diamondbacks will be play host to the current World Series’ champions the Kansas City Royals , while the San Francisco Giants will play the Oakland A’s at the O.Coliseum , Oakland , California ,.

The talents of Mike Trout are being wasted , while he remains the focal point of the Los Angeles Angels and as good as the Angels were last season , with Trout and his teammate Albert Pujols pounding out hits and home runs with such regularity. You have wonder why Mike Sciocsia and his managerial staff failed to guide the team to the MLB postseason . It was widely felt Mike Sciocsia would have been fired , but instead , it was GM Jerry DiPoto who abruptly left the organization , disillusioned that he was being undermined by the manager as well as not having the total support of Arte Moreno , billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Angels.

Billy Eppler has since succeeded DiPoto as the general manager and the Angels were not major players in the free agency market during the off-season. What we are likely to see from the Angels, are refocused efforts, with an emphasis on youth , with the offense built around Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Personally, I believe the real weakness with the Angels has and will remain their lack of depth among the pitching staff. Their relievers and starters have to be more consistent throughout the season rather than showing a great of inconsistency.

The past two seasons have indicated to us how good the Kansas City Royals just happen to be and their emphatic triumph over the New York Mets was one of the most lopsided World Series played over the last ten years. Terry Collins’ Mets team were never in the running for the NL East based ball-club to win the series. The pitching and hitting for the New York Mets was ineffective and there was never a player on the roster ready to lead by example. In the case of the Royals there was an eagerness about the team and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for the greater good , while playing as a team .

Kansas City Royals’ GM Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost will enter this season looking to fortify their position as the best team in baseball. Kansas’ biggest challenge could come from the likes of the New York Yankees , Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers over the course of their schedule in 2015. Having lost Johnny Cueto to free agency with the pitcher joining the San Francisco Giants , thereby strengthening what will be a very good pitching staff. Moore will will undoubtedly seek to bolster the team’s own pitching rotation during the off-season. Pitchers and non-roster invitees will be invited to Spring Training which is just over six weeks away.

Whatever is now happening with the Cincinnati Reds the blame for the team’s woes this past season are firmly being placed at the door of GM Walt Jocketty and his inability to acquire and draft players capable of creating a team which can compete the NL Central much less within the rest of baseball. The Reds have not a made recent postseason appearance in a number of years and the thought of relevance concerning the organization is whether or not Pete Rose will ever be reinstated or ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame. With Rose’s rejection to be reinstated within baseball, it has all but closed his chances of receiving the game’s biggest honor , beyond winning a World Series , is being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Rob Manfred doesn’t believe there has been enough contrition on the part of the former Cincinnati Reds’ manager and player.

As to the Reds’ continued woes , the managerial staff seems beside itself and while Joey Votto remains the focal point of the team, there is a common belief Walt Jocketty is on the verge of having a fire sale, gutting the roster and simply going with players from their farm system as well as retaining players who are inexpensive in terms of their salaries . The payroll for the Reds this upcoming season will be among the lowest in all of baseball .

Bryan Price will enter his first season as manager of the Cincinnati Reds hoping to imbue the team with confidence and the belief they are are capable of competing with the best the game has to offer. The first month of the team’s schedule should tell us a great deal about the team and whether or not Price has the Reds on the right track. Cincinnati will begin their regular season schedule with a game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday 4th April , 2016 at Great American Ballpark , Cincinnati, Ohio,.

Out with the old and in with the new as Don Mattingly comes into town, expected to do great things in resurrecting the fortunes of the Miami Marlins . Mattingly leaves behind a $300 million payroll team of the Los Angeles Dodgers to now steady a capsized vessel known as the Marlins , where the payroll of the team is now a minuscule. Since 2012 , the struggles of the Miami Marlins have been well-chronicled and a year during which former manager Ozzie Guillen led the team into an abyss while portraying himself as a bigoted buffoon , repeatedly exhibiting the type of behavior often associated with someone who shows a great deal of ignorance . A last-placed finish within the NL East forced the hand of the front office leading to his dismissal and the implosion of the roster during off-season of that year. Many of the high-priced acquisitions were sent packing elsewhere and the roster since then has been completely been completely reassembled along with managerial turnover having been equally indecisive.

The biggest news’ splash made by the Miami Marlins was their decision to sign big league slugger and their All Star player Giancarlo Stanton to a multi-year $325 million deal , making the player among the highest paid individuals in baseball. Stanton for his part has been productive for the franchise and perhaps the sole reason to watch the team play, albeit, they have for the moment still been able to retain their NL Rookie of The Year pitcher Jose Fernandez . Yet, it doesn’t mean GM Michael Hill isn’t willing to listen to offers for their young star , in spite of the often mistimed releases from the front office concerning updates regarding Fernandez.

Heading into this season it will be interesting to see what Don Mattingly and his managerial staff will have to offer this Marlins’ team by way of their managerial ingenuity and what the players themselves will seek to do once on the field. Miami’s biggest obstacle to winning the NL East and securing themselves a postseason berth , will undoubtedly come from the newly revamped roster of the Washington Nationals , who have to be seen as the preseason favorites to win the division as well as quite possibly the NL Pennant . With a new manager in tow , Dusty Baker taking over the managerial duties and Bryce Harper now proving himself the best all-round player in the NL , all signs could very well be pointing to an exciting season for both of these two teams.

For Bryce Harper having come into his own last season, showing prodigious talent and maturity , the player will now seek to have another emphatic season , while trying to impress upon Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo he is worth being offered a long-term deal tying him to the Nationals and the organization’s aspirations of winning a World Series. Scott Boras , Bryce Harper’s agent, will undoubtedly seek to make his client the highest paid player in the game and a multi-year $400 million deal will likely be sought by the agent. Mike Rizzo and the Nationals’ owner , Ted Lerner might not be willing to pay a King’s ransom while the ball-club seeks to remain viable and enlarge its fan-base .This could very well be the year where records within the game are set to be broken. but not necessarily for the right reasons.

An exciting year awaits within baseball, if the teams believed to be good enough can meet or exceed the expectations of the fans and analysts alike . The Kansas City Royals will be hoping to hold unto their crown while seeking to fend off all challengers seeking to dethrone them as World Series champions. Which players and teams do you believe will prove to be dominant this upcoming season ?

Tophatal ….

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Death, taxes and other certainties in life and sports

Death, taxes and other certainties in life and sports

Well, this past weekend the NFL opened their postseason schedule and once again the league simply did not fail to disappoint. If you consider the result of the Arizona Cardinals going into Carolina to face the Carolina Panthers and the Cardinals’ loss to their NFC rivals an aberration, then consider that to be a real disappointment. All season long , Arizona found ways to win, withtheir offense or a resolute defense.

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On Saturday afternoon , Ryan Lindley as the starting quarterback for the visiting team was being asked to lead to the Cardinals in his first postseason contest to a victory, which would have been Arizona’s first in over five years. Their last coming in the 2009 postseason in a high-scoring contest against the Green Bay Packers .

Both Ryan Lindley and the opposing quarterback Cam Newton had their highs and lows in during the game between the Arizona Cardinals and Green Carolina Panthers. Yet you could not help but feel the Cardinals came into this contest as the prohibitive favorites but there was an even greater possibility they could come away from this contest with the defeat. Bruce Arians may well have placed a great deal of faith in his quarterback , but you simply got the feeling Lindley’s postseason inexperience would lead to his and the Cardinals’ own undoing.

You can either love or hate the Dallas Cowboys. America’s Team and the empathy some might have towards the franchise, can be either one of loathing or under-handed appreciation . I have never really been a great admirer of the Cowboys or the larger than life presence of team owner , Jerry Jones ! Sunday afternoon , Dallas had as their guests Matt Stafford and the Detroit Lions in their wildcard match-up .

The Cowboys were seeking their first playoff win in almost six years and it should serve as a kindly reminder, why this franchise has been so overrated during the time-span in question, when each year inexplicably bumbling buffoons continually decide to make the Dallas Cowboys perennial favorites to win the Superbowl or at least be a contender within the NFC. In a season where the NFC was so mediocre and yes I am taking into account the Philadelphia Eagles managed to notch a double-digit tally by way of wins , but somehow as only Chip Kelly can , his propensity to believe that only offense can win games led to the Eagles’ chance and demise in winning the NFC East. I can only conclude the former Oregon head coach simply doesn’t know how to spell the world defense or comprehend its meaning as determined by their statistical standing in the category and their failure to make the postseason.

Dallas came away with their victory over the Detroit Lions and I can’t help but wonder beyond the errant misjudgement by the officials , I believe the Lions were simply overawed by the occasion . Matt Stafford and his teammates all but had this game sewn up and well within their grasp during the latter stages of the contest but they somehow found a way to screw things up without Ndamokung Suh actually contributing to the loss, with his never-ending stupidity. The Cowboys came away the victors and the Detroit Lions , just like the city, were bankrupt of creativity and ideas when it mattered the most. At least they can take heart in the fact their infamous 2008 season still remains intact when it comes to sheer ineptitude .

Dallas will certainly have to raise the level of their play when they face the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of their game to be played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wisconsin, Sunday , 11th January, 2015. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers will take their show on the road when they face a stern test by taking on the Seattle Seahawks . If that Seahawks’ offense gets going, then the Panthers are likely to be on the wrong end of a lopsided loss .

While some may well have their doubts about the Indianapolis Colts because of the inconsistency shown this season , but you simply cannot deny Andrew Luck’s play for the team has been the main reason why the Colts are now in the postseason for the third consecutive year , and the belief he might just be the best quarterback to have been drafted in the NFL since 2008. Now you may well disagree with the statement in question, but simply take a look at the facts as they stand and then decide for yourself.

Luck and his teammates clinically took apart with the ease of a surgeon performing a routine procedure . The Bengals were never remotely in this game and it begs the question, where do Marvin Lewis and the coaching staff now go from here concerning this team ?

In the day’s other AFC contest, the Baltimore Ravens and Joe Flacco put an end to the quest of Ben Roethlisberger seeking a third Superbowl victory to add to his resume’ . The Pittsburgh Steelers may well have won the AFC North , but they were far from being the best team within the division . Statistics may well tend to create the illusion and perception of competitiveness , but when it came to determination , there was none to be found from anyone on the Steelers’ roster during this game . This is likely to be the game played in a Pittsburgh Steelers’ uniform by their defensive player Troy Polamalu after a distinguished career with the franchise.

With a great deal of bravura the signing of Phil Jackson and his being brought in to head the Basketball Operations of the New York Knicks , was meant to herald in a new chapter for the NBA franchise. The legendary NBA coach has a resume’ unmatched by no other coach in NBA history and the feeling was , if Jackson’s presence alone, was enough to reignite the Knicks, then all would be right with the world . Unfortunately, those behind this idiocy, failed to acknowledge there was not an experienced head coach leading the coaching staff and the very fact, beyond Carmelo Anthony the talent level on the roster was extremely poor if not threadbare . As to the feeling Iman Shumpert was an adequate foil to Anthony’s abilities on the team , well let’s just look the facts this season and how that all bears out . Shumpert’s offense and defense are at best , average and the player is not and never will be a game changer on any level .

I can only surmise the choice of Derek Fisher to coach this team was simply one of vanity by Phil Jackson and the fallacy that the ” Triangle Offense “ would still be be effective in today’s game. Jackson may well have not correctly assessed the basketball acumen and IQ of this roster , because plainly put , this Knicks’ team simply isn’t good enough to comprehend the concept, much less put it into effect with any semblance of success. Fisher’s players have already accomplished a season’s first, by being the first team to accumulate thirty or more losses on the season . This may well have not been part of the Knicks’ plans for the year , but clearly things have now gone terribly awry for the franchise and with the lack foresight from anyone within the front office led by Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills .

To understand how inept the New York Knicks have become , consider the fact they are now on an eleven-game losing streak and they seem incapable of winning at home or on the road . With Carmelo Anthony now sidelined by an injury , the chances of the New York Knicks being competitive, much less putting together a winning streak now seems more remote than ever. The team’s last victory, came in a road win over the Boston Celtics on the 12th December , 2014 with the six-point defeat of their conference rivals .

Sunday night, brought even more incompetence from the New York Knicks as they succumbed to the Milwaukee Bucks in a thirteen-point loss (95-82) at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York . Their task will not be any easier in their next game when they face the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum in Memphis , Tennessee ,.

At 5-31 the Knicks’ projected win total for the season will be 15-67 and it is hard to imagine how this organization can take away anything positive out of such a mediocre display and the ongoing optimism being shown by the fans . With the trade deadline due on the 19th February and you get the feeling some drastic moves are likely to be made as the Knicks look to salvage something out of the season while looking to the future . The only asset on the team is Carmelo Anthony and though there have been rumors the player had been approached by senior executives , requesting his waiving of the no-trade clause in his contract and such a move would suggest they are willing to abandon any future hope rebuilding the franchise with Anthony as the centerpiece for their future livelihood. Having signed a five-year $124 million deal , at the start of this year , one could imagine this would not sit well with the Knicks’ fans were the player traded and their being left with almost nothing in return , even if there were some pieces added to the roster seen as a positive sign . The rationale behind the maneuver would still come as a shock , but this has been a mess of the Knicks’ own making , one presided over by the lackadaisical and nonsensical approach to the franchise taken by owner James Dolan . Profitability seems to have been his only concern with regard to the organization rather than the on-court product. Come full circle , the Knicks seem to be back at square one and no real idea what approach they ought to be taking.

The death of ESPN sports’ anchor Stuart Scott at the age of forty-nine , was a reminder of one’s mortality . Scott’s untimely demise cast a giant shadow over the NBA this past weekend , as his association and love of the game was well-known . He befriended many of the game’s top players and his passing was known to be heartfelt not just within the player fraternity , but also among the league hierarchy , general managers and team owners . Anyone who witnessed his 2014 ESPY Award speech after his accepting the Jim Valvano Award had to be taken aback by his humility , eloquence , challenges he met , while undergoing chemotherapy and other medical treatment, as he and his family sought a cure for the diagnosis of his cancer ailment. Stuart Scott became the gold standard for many of the African-American journalists who would later join the broadcast outlet . Yet, his professionalism , personality and passion stood out, as he covered sports in such an unbridled way , leaving us with a number of catch-phrases , which will live on even after his passing.

[youtube.com=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yl_0ieqSi7Q]

Keifer Sutherland presents Stuart Scott with the Jim Valvano Award at the 2014 ESPY’s . Scott’s full speech is seen here in its entirety.

The Winter Meetings are over within MLB (baseball) and teams won’t yet be making any major preparations concerning Spring Training , but a number of players sidelined due to injuries, still in the process of rehabilitation , while looking to the upcoming season . Trades came and went with a number of surprising moves . Nonetheless , baseball will likely enter this upcoming regular season with team payroll commitments topping $ 3 billion ($3,000,000,000) for the third successive season .

The San Francisco Giants coming off their World Series’ triumph , their third in the past five years ,will have a bulls’ eye as a target on their backs , as each of the league’s twenty-nine other teams will be looking take them down , in particular, anyone of the fifteen from the AL . A tough season ahead awaits the Giants, as baseball’s latest dynasty looks to add to its illustrious history . Bruce Bochy and his managerial staff will be looking to add to their legacy , while the team itself, must know the task ahead will be a difficult one . The NL West is likely to be competitive , with the main challenge coming from what will be a somewhat revamped Los Angeles Dodgers’ team.

Meetings between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants this season will have some added flavor to it all , as Don Mattingly and his staff would like to prove the defending World Series’ champions are not the only ” team in town” or the best in the state of California. Did I hear someone mention the Los Angeles Angels , Oakland A’s and San Diego Padres ought to be added into the mix ? That would be great were it not for the fact recent postseason success seems to be lacking for the teams mentioned.

Baseball’s Hall of Fame for 2015 have been announced , with the new additions as well as the hold-overs from years past are on the ballot for the BBWAA’s approval and final voting . The continued hypocrisy shown by the Baseball Writers Association , their ambivalence and dare I say it lack of transparency with their process indicates to me the continued farce of the institution and all it claims to represent. With their being no clear stance being taken by them concerning players associated with the ‘ steroid era’ which still casts a giant smear and shadow over the game indicates to me , much like baseball’s ambivalent and clueless hierarchy the sport definitely needs to be infused with creative ideas and leadership. You simply have to look at the makeup of the senior-most executives in the game’s upper ranks to realize that fact and their current length of tenure .

Several of the names on this season’s Hall of Fame Ballot are certainly credible , but several are tinged with more than controversy ,concerning their possible association and the use of steroids or other illicit substances . Roger Clemens , Barry Bonds , Gary Sheffield , Sammy Sosa , Curt Schilling and Mark McGwire to name but a few , put into perspective what we are likely to witness over the coming years , if their names are reappointed to the list, having failed to be inducted. Randy Johnson , Pedro Martinez , John Smoltz , Nomar Garciaparra , Carlos Delgado , Aaron Boone and Cliff Floyd lead the list of first-time nominees .

Of the newest nominees , I believe the John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez , Curt Schilling are the most likely to obtain seventy-five per-cent of the votes needed to gain their induction into Cooperstown ! Borderline , are Carlos Delgado , Nomar Garciapparra , with the remaining candidates being considered for induction at some point in the future. Now while many decry the fact Pete Rose has not been inducted into the game’s most prestigious fraternity , let us remember Rose failed to acknowledge his misdeeds , lying repeatedly to anyone willing to listen , stating he did not break one of baseball’s most ” cardinal sins” , betting on the game . OK , one can bring up the Black Sox ‘ scandal’ as one of the game’s most stained chapters , yet those directly involved , paid a price , which can never be forgotten , overlooked or wiped from the pages of baseball’s history. It remains an indelible mark and reminder of one of the game’s most sordid chapters and a reason why, the rules are in place to be obeyed and not to be broken , purely for financial gain.

From my own perspective , while I believe the Hall of Fame to be a noteworthy bastion where the greats of the game are eulogized and immortalized in print ! I am not so sure many of the game’s most recent candidates , are really worthy of the accolade of induction. Here is my issue with these individuals , why were they so silent and was the choice their own or mandated upon them by a union (MLBPA) who to this day ,in many ways were just as complicit in the fraud perpetrated on the fans by the steroid cheats. Less we forget also , Bud Selig’s handling of the affair , culpable or plausible deniability , lack of action from the league hierarchy and baseball’s team owners . If you are still looking for common sense and intelligence within this sport , there is none to be found at all , in spite of opinions to the contrary.

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Picture gallery.

Over the past seventy-two hours which of the most recent sporting events stands out the most ? Just state your reasons why and what outcome you would like to see in the future, concerning the points raised within this article.

o_O

Picture and slideshow gallery details below.
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(1) Quarterback Cam Newton (1) and fullback Mike Tolbert (35) of the Carolina Panthers celebrate after Tolbert caught a second half touchdown pass against the Arizona Cardinals during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers defeated the Cardinals to go on to the divisional round of the postseason where they will face the Seattle Seahawks . Getty Images/ Rob Carr

(2) Cam Newton (1) of the Carolina Panthers runs to congratulate Fozzy Whittaker (43 ) after his 3rd quarter touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Getty Images / Robb Carr

(3) Cam Newton (1) of the Carolina Panthers and Ryan Lindley (14) of the Arizona Cardinals exchange words after their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Getty Images North America / Streeter Lecka

(4) Quarterback Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts calls a play at the line against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half during their AFC Wild Card game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts annihilated the Bengals in contest which was not remotely competitive. Getty Images / Andy Lyons

(5) Owen Daniels (81) of the Baltimore Ravens tries to avoid a tackle by Troy Polamalu (43) of the Pittsburgh Steelers during their AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Getty Images /Jamie Squires

(6) Troy Polamalu (43) of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the bench against the Baltimore Ravens during their AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers would fall to the Ravens in their postseason clash . Getty Images / Jamie Squires

(7) Tim Hardaway Jr(5) of the New York Knicks shoots against Beno Udrih of the Memphis Grizzlies on January 5, 2015 at the FedExForum in Memphis. The Grizzlies inflicted the Knicks’ with their twelfth consecutive loss and placing them among the bottom rung of teams with a sub.500 record . Getty Images / Joe Murphy

(8) Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks , pictured in this montage with Phil Jackson Head Of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks . There is mounting speculation the organization might seek to trade the player with their season now asunder and no chance of making the NBA Playoffs . AP Photo / Chris Palmer

(9) San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy , left , celebrates with the team’s catcher Buster Posey after the Giants’ game seven triumph in the 2014 World Series in the series’ finale played against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffmann Field , in Kansas City , Missouri,. This was the third postseason finale series’ win of the past five seasons for the San Francisco Giants . AP Photo/ Mark Powers .

(10) Barry Bonds , left and Roger Clemens , two players whose names have been routinely linked to the use of steroids within the game of baseball . Bonds a seven-time NL MVP and Clemens , himself a seven-time recipient of the Cy Young Award , are both on this season’s Hall of Fame Ballot List , as they were last season . It remains to be seen whether both will be looked upon favorably by the voters from the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) at the time of voting. AP Photo/ Tom Marsh

(11) Pete Rose the all-time hits’ leader in Major League Baseball is seen here with his fiancee’ Kassie (Kim). The former Cincinnati Reds’ player and manager yearns to be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame and even after his act of contrition , apologizing for lying to the league hierarchy , he has yet to receive a reprieve , with his lifetime ban being lifted by MLB . UPI Archives @ all rights reserved

(12) From left to right , John Smoltz , Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling . Quite possibly seen as the three leading candidates to be inducted in Baseball’s Hall of Fame . Randy Johnson a former teammate of Schilling , when the two combined to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to their sole Word Series’ triumph, is also considered a contender for the esteemed honor. AP Photo / John Marshall
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The late Stuart Scott , who died at the age of forty-nine , due to complications from cancer.

We the people, deserve better !

We the people deserve better!

As an avowed fan of the game of baseball , albeit, that I still believe that the MLB hierarchy under the leadership of Bud Selig has been completely incompetent along with the lack of direction and integrity of the MLBPA (Players’ Union) . I do feel that with the recent voting and soon to be induction of into the Hall of Fame of former players Tom Glavine , Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas , quite possibly , the game itself might well be seeing light at the end of the tunnel , in terms of the fans’ acceptance of integrity returning to the sport. It must be said, with the still ongoing spectacle of baseball’s constant battle with the misuse and manipulation of its rules by players, such as Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and the litany of players who in 2013 were suspended by the league hierarchy for their use of a banned substance . The question that has to be asked by the fans, has to be, why the leniency of Bud Selig, when it is clear that the players and the union can simply confound the league and its ongoing incompetency with an appeals’ process, that simply makes a mockery of the system now in place and said to be part of the collective bargaining agreement between the union and Major League Baseball ?

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Baseball has yet to get its finances and house in order, in terms of the ongoing issues that it now faces , yet , the idiocy of Bud Selig ringing another rule change that will allow the use instant replay in 2014, simply addresses an issue that in reality, is meaningless , when the question ought to be, how qualified are the game’s officials and their actual knowledge of the sport they adjudicate ? Now while I do believe that in general, the vast majority of the umpires are quite capable , doubts do come in, when repeatedly , the same officials are making mistakes that in instances , have cost a team a result or that has led to a great deal of controversy, without their being response from Bud Selig’s office on the matter. Managers and players alike, must also bear a certain amount of the responsibility, in such instances and come to a consensus , as to how best address the issue of blown calls and seek to work in conjunction with the officials to deal with the matter succinctly.

Alongside the induction of Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas , baseball will also welcome into its hallowed edifice in Cooperstown , New York, are former managers Bobby Cox , Tony La Russa and Joe Torre . That triumvirate of managers, between them have won a combined eight World Series , several AL , NL pennants and are considered to be amongst the finest managers ever to have been involved in the game at the managerial level. Away from it all, it should come as no surprise as to the obvious names, who were overlooked, in terms of the other nominees considered eligible for induction in 2014. Controversial as the names of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens , Mark McGwire , Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa are said to be . The very fact that their names were on the ballot, can either been seen as an affront to the game of baseball or the willingness in part of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) to let its members vote with their conscience, as to whether not these players are worthy of the game’s highest singular distinction , enshrinement and induction into the Hall of Fame.

One of the more seedier issues to come out of the voting for the class of 2014 , in terms of the players to be inducted in baseball’s Hall of Fame, was the very fact that one particular journalist was said to have offered his vote for sale. That journalist is now known to the public , and though Dan Le Batard has stepped forward and categorically stated that he did not sell his vote to Deadspin.com , but gave it to them free , explaining that his intent was to show how flawed the voting system was said to be and that his fellow members could be induced monetarily to sway their votes. Le Batard , is either that much of an idiot , or having been caught in an all too embarrassing situation , is now seeking to extricate himself from an incident of his own doing.

The sports’ website, still insists that they paid a member of the BBWAA for their vote and one now has to question not only that body’s integrity, but also that of Dan Le Batard and his own character , integrity and alleged honesty . As to what this might possibly mean as to his professional career , the columnist and sometime on air personality with cable sport’s network ESPN , may well have to offer up some type of apology for his actions. It is abundantly clear, Le Batard’s actions, were that of a self-ingratiating individual, simply seeking more notoriety, that he might not have gained elsewhere, unless through making some scandalous allegation. Not that , he has never been known to make such claims, yet in reality, the network and his primary employer , the Miami Herald , are unlikely to reprimand the journalist at this moment in time. Speaks volumes, as to the fact, that sports’ journalism and news’ gathering in general , continues to sink even lower levels, than ever before !

With the BBWAA now taking away Dan Le Batard’s rights to participate in any further Hall of Fame voting for nominated candidates . It begs the question , what will the institution itself seek to do , in addressing the issue of players associated in the steroids’ era that wreaked havoc in baseball , while at the same making a number of these players financially secure in their long-term future. The writers within this organization frowned upon these stories once they began to first surface, believing themselves above the fray and simply wanting to report on the events taking place within the game . At the same time , even the on air television personalities took a somewhat similar stance as their counterparts in the print media , perhaps not wanting to upset the apple cart and their paymasters , the MLB hierarchy. Little else needs to be said concerning the altruism of the BBWAA , their hypocrisy and that of the broadcast networks who cover the game of baseball.

The off-season in baseball , brought about the usual movement of players as a number of marquee free agents sought to move elsewhere , not necessarily for competitiveness’ sake, but more for the opportunity to pad their wallets, monetarily. From my own standpoint, I do believe that Robinson Cano’s departure from the New York Yankees for a move cross-country to join the Seattle Mariners , was actually one of idiocy, rather than a decision made prudently ! Cano, through his representatives at RocNation Sports , stated, that he was never given the respect due for a player of his status. Asking for a reputed $300 million multi-year deal , while also having your agent , Jay-z publicly taunting the New York Yankees as to their unwillingness to pay his client , may well have been the ultimate act of portrayal , as viewed by the Yankees’ organization and in particular by Brian Cashman as the general manager of the baseball club. Cano’s career began with the franchise and over the past three seasons, he has been by far , the Yankees’ best offensive weapon.

The Mariners may well feel, that they have obtained a player capable of making them a far more competitive ball-club in 2014, than they were last season , during which they were fell off the map, in terms of their final divisional standing within the AL West . It will be interesting to see whether not Robinson Cano can provide the sort of impact sought , in order for the Seattle Mariners to challenge the likes of the Houston Astros , Los Angeles Angels , Oakland A’s and Texas Rangers this upcoming season. The fans will be able to get a first look of the newly revamped Mariners’ roster during their Spring Training ….. schedule and then when the team kicks off their regular season schedule with a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim Stadium , in Anaheim , California on the 1st April , 2014.

No doubt, there was a great deal of disappointment amongst a number of teams last season , who were thought to be legitimate contenders for the World Series . It would be fair to suggest, that even with the late spirited run of the Los Angeles Dodgers and their winning of the NL West, comfortably. The team’s failure in making a deep postseason run and gaining what many felt would be an inevitable World Series’ berth , was all to no avail , as they succumbed to a very lopsided defeat in the NLCS in a 4-2 series’ defeat . The final game of that pennant series simply summed up in many respects how conceited that Dodgers’ team and managerial staff were said to be, as the St Louis Cardinals romped to a 9-0 victory .

While the Los Angeles Dodgers were left to wonder what might have been , Mike Matheny and the Cardinals would prove to be no match for the Boston Red Sox in baseball’s showcase finale for the postseason . John Farrell and the Red Sox, strolled to the franchise’s third World Series’ title in the span of nine years, which would be ball-club’s eighth title overall. For Dodgers’ senior managing partners , Todd Boehly, Mark Walter , Magic Johnson and Peter Guber , for all of the money spent assembling a roster of All Stars , under the watchful eye of manager Don Mattingly and his staff . The extraordinary fashion under which that team wilted, either says more to the lack of intestinal fortitude as to the makeup of the team , or the very fact that the players themselves were simply not that concerned and just wanted to rest on their laurels of the regular season. It would be fair to suggest that there will be moves afoot to bolster the roster and undoubtedly an increase in the Dodgers’ already considerable payroll , well above the existing $220 million , as it currently stands .

Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti is under no misconception, as to what is expected of this Dodgers’ team in 2014 . Anything short of a World Series’ title and the fans and pundits in general , will begin to question the mindset of a franchise , still waiting twenty-five years later , after their last triumph in a postseason finale contest.

Say what you will about the New York Yankees , but a postseason without most successful franchise tends to push the ratings down for the a television broadcast of game’s most celebrated event. That being said, the travails of the franchise this past season , have been well chronicled , from the on field woes, to off-field controversies and the ball-club’s inept handling of issues surrounding Alex Rodriguez . The team’s late owner, George Steinbrenner III , must be rolling around in his grave, while viewing the haphazard handling of this fiasco by Hal and Hank Steinbrenner as well as Brian Cashman. As the franchise’s general manager, Cashman has been lauded for a great deal of the Yankees’ success over the past twelve years . Inasmuch, as that may well be the case, this past season , the general manager has shown himself to be completely out of touch on a wide variety of issues concerning the team and the organization in general.

To suggest merely, that the New York Yankees failed miserably in 2013 , would be an understatement. Joe Girardi and the managerial staff , in having to deal with a litany of injuries over the course of the season, but the real issue he faced , was the fact that without team captain Derek Jeter on the field to lead by example , there was simply nothing shown by this team. In the midst of it all, there was Girardi throwing his support behind the beleaguered Rodriguez, whose ongoing litigation case against the league hierarchy (MLB) , also had a the player and his legal representatives seeking to sue the team’s personal physician , but not the ball-club itself .

Alex Rodriguez, has subsequently walked out of the arbitration hearing, covering, his seeking the rescinding of his two-hundred and elven game suspension , rendered by Bud Selig, for what the commissioner believes to be the player’s known association with Biogenesis and that supplement company’s distribution of performance enhancing drugs to several players within the game. Rodriguez , continues to maintain his innocence, calling the league’s case against him a witch-hunt and the gathering of the evidence used against him , as ill-gotten and underhanded. However, under subpoena , Biogenesis ‘ founder Anthony “Tony” Bosch , has continued to maintain that the Yankees’ slugger purchased many of the company’s products knowingly, having them sent to several addresses under assumed aliases. When pressed, to answer those allegations, Alex Rodriguez has proceeded to brush those claims aside and pointing to his legal representatives, Joe Tacopina and David Cornwell to provide the answers. I can only surmise, that the player has no wish to once again be caught in lie , while further embarrassing a ball-club that knows only too well , they have placed themselves in a situation of their own making. Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner failed to heed the advice provided to them in April 2013, by the Yankees’ Chief Legal Counsel and SVP Lonn A Trost that the franchise would be well within their right to terminate the player’s contract and the $43 million still owed to the team’s highest paid player . Take into account the third baseman’s lackluster season and you can simply see why this ball-club failed ,miserably in a so many areas of the game .

With a revamped lineup for 2014 , the Yankees will enter the season , with a number of doubts ,concerning its their pitching and whether or not their latest acquisitions, such as Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann with their sizable deals can gel with what is already an aging roster. Derek Jeter, while providing a great deal of the leadership sought by Joe Girardi, Jeter’s athleticism and productivity is no longer what it once was , when he first came into the game as a short-stop for the ball-club. The team’s season, will be measured by the success they are able to attain , by way of making at least the postseason. In what, is sure to be a tough AL East division, the Yankees might not be even the second or third best team within the division by way of the make-up of their roster, when adjudged against that of the Baltimore Orioles , Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays .

New York’s opening schedule for 2014, will begin with a three game series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, with the opening game on the 1st April, 2014. One down, one hundred and sixty-one to go and therein, lies what is head for the New York Yankees over an arduous schedule .

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Picture gallery .

In 2013 the MLB season reached some great highs and plummeted to some extremely low depths of ineptitude , both on and off the field of play. Yet, it would appear that purists still believe, that there still remains something to be relished about the game of baseball. The MLBPA (union) remains distrustful of the league hierarchy and Bud Selig’s tenure , soon to come to an end, has been an unmitigated disaster as the game’s highest ranking executive . As to the team owners and general managers. Well, their idea of fiscal restraint seems to be very much in line with the continued idiocy of this Presidential administration and both legislative chambers of the US Congress. Unfortunately, with idiots, championing the merits of fiscal hawks, such as Rand Paul , Paul Ryan and Max Baucus . It is easy to understand why the country still remains on a precipice, as it relates to its financial health , along with MLB itself . Surely, the fans and the nation deserves a great deal better from both entities, than we have witnessed at present ? Simply, leave a comment as you see fit on this article and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below.

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(1) Greg Maddux (left), of the Atlanta Braves baseball club and Tom Glavine , right, are two of the former players who will be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame this year . Glavine and Maddux will join a list of illustrious list of Braves’ players enshrined in Cooperstown, New York . The third player joining the pair of Braves’ pitchers will be former Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas . @ copyrighted material … Barbara Germano

(2)KANSAS CITY, MO – APRIL 7: Frank Thomas (35) of the Chicago White Sox bats during the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 7, 2004 in Kansas City, Missouri. The White Sox won 4-3 . Photo by Dave Kaup/Getty Images …

(3) From left to right , Tony La Russa , Joe Torre and Bobby Cox . All three former Major League Baseball managers will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, as part of the 2014 induction class in Cooperstown , New York . AP Photo/ Gail Marshall …

(4) Dan Le Batard, a columnist with the Miami Herald , an on air radio personality in the local sports’ media market , and sometime analyst and provider of content for sports’ cable broadcast outlet ESPN. Le Batard embroiled in a controversy , in which he acknowledges having given his Hall of Fame vote to website Deadspin.com . As a member of the BBWAA (Baseball Writers’ Association of America) the columnist confirmed his actions , but has reiterated that he did so without any monetary gain. Deadspin however , states that money exchanged hands and that the vote took place as part of the 2014 vote process. Getty Images North America/ Paul Harris …

From left to right , Sammy Sosa , Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds . All three players having been on the ballot of the 2014 class of eligible nominees for the Hall of Fame ,but failed to garner enough votes to be inducted into the institution . The trio will once again be up again for the ballot in 2015 along with several other eligible candidates looking to be inducted in Cooperstown . Getty Images / Phil Townsend …..

(6) Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners is seen here with the team’s general manager Jack Zduriencik after the franchise’s high-priced acquisition was formally introduced to the convened press at Safeco Field , in Seattle , Washington ,. Cano signed a ten-year $240 million deal with the Mariners , having been rebuffed by the New York Yankees , in terms of resigning with the New York based franchise. Mark Potter/ UPI Universal ……….

(7) New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi is seen here with GM Brian Cashman as the duo take a moment to peruse a play at the team’s training complex at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida . After a disappointing season in 2013 , the ball-club made several off-season moves seeking to improve the roster . An aging core of players and with the managerial staff not seemingly having enough faith with the players within their farm system . It would appear that the franchise will going to this upcoming season with a group of high-priced staff , as they seek to win their twenty-eighth World Series’ title. Getty Images / Jason Wilson ….

(8) Peter Guber , Stan Kasten , Mark Walter and Magic Johnson of the Los Angles Dodgers . Having purchased the team for a reputed $2.156 billion in 2013 , the ownership group saw the team make the NLCS only for the club fail in their quest to make it to the 2013 World Series . The Dodgers will enter the 2014 season with a high-priced roster and a managerial staff headed by Don Mattingly . Fans and the organization, alike are hoping to succeed in bringing a title back to Los Angeles for the first time since 1988 , when the Dodgers defeated the Oakland A’s in the World Series that year . Getty Images North America / Rafael Fuentes …..
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tophatal …… 2014/01/09

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MLB news

MLB schedule & important dates (2014)

MLB transactions (January 2014) and transactions in December 2013

2013 MLB postseason

This week in MLB history

This date . in MLB history (January 9th)

Eligible candidates for the 2015 Hall of Fame class

Houston We Have a Problem …….

Houston We Have a Problem

by tophatal ….. 07/21/2012

MLB pieces within this site

It never ceases to amaze me as to the disingenuous motives that surrounds baseball ( MLB) and the day-to-day maneuvers and ploys of Commissioner Bud Selig and the league hierarchy ! In approving the sale of the Houston Astros from former owner Drayton McClane to Houston entrepreneur and industrialist , James “Jim “ Crane for what was then a record purchase price of $ 680 million . Lost in all of this was the mere fact that Crane and his partners > were in receipt of a $65 million “ inducement “ that will see the organization be moved from the NL Central to the AL West as part of baseball’s divisional realignment , and the suggestion that this would bring some parity and a legitimacy as to the makeup of the divisions and the two leagues (AL & NL).

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This season , the Houston Astros (34-60) have not been competitive and from an attendance standpoint , the organization’s struggles continue unabated . Brad Mills and his coaching staff have struggled to get this team playing with any great resolve as they look from the basement of the NL Central at the likes of the divisional leading Cincinnati Reds (53-40) and the now surprisingly resilient Pittsburgh Pirates (52-40) . There have been few bright spots , let alone moments for the fans in attendance at Minute Maid Park , in Houston , Texas , to get really excited about . Beyond the play , of Carlos Lee , Jose Altuve , Jed Lowrie , Wandy Rodriguez , J. A . Happ and Brad Norris . It easy to understand why the Astros have continued to struggle in recent years . The ball-club’s last winning season came in 2008 and their last postseason appearance was in 2005 . That year the Astros would make the World Series where they would be swept in four games (4-0) by the Chicago White Sox , in an uneventful and totally lopsided series . In the subsequent years , managerial and player personnel turnover have been a blight to the organization .

The Astros’ front office now led by GM Jeff Luhnow , looks to rebound from those years of ineptitude and abject complacency . And this season during the 2012 MLB Draft , the organization sought to remedy their ills by making a number of judicious draft choices . Those choices along what Luhnow and the managerial staff feels is an exceptional farm system littered with top-flight prospects places the future of the Astros as they view it , in very good standing . From my point of view , I am not so sure because upon their move to the AL West in 2013 the franchise will have to deal with the likes of the monumentally talented Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers . Need one be reminded of the fact that within the AL , teams there are primarily driven by the power of their offense , more than anything else ? That “$65 million sweetener provide by Bud Selig to Jim Crane and the Houston Astros, may well be benevolent but I do not believe that it will serve them well in making up for what will be initially , a great deal of disappointment as they seek to acclimatize themselves with the nuances of the American League (AL) .

Some may well feel that the induction of Barry Larkin and Ron Santo into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York , is long overdue . Both are thoroughly deserving of the honor , and the esteem with which both are held , speaks volumes as to the impact they had on the game . Both players had multiple appearances as representatives at the MLB All Star Game , as well as Larkin having won the NL MVP in 1995 . The list of accomplishments attained by Larkin and Santo over the course of their respective careers is a tribute to the longevity as well as the brilliance of both of these self-assured and accomplished players.

Courtesy of USA Today

‘Ron Santo, Barry Larkin take place among greats’

By Jorge L Ortiz , USA Today

Barry Larkin was elected to the Hall of Fame in his third chance. Ron Santo did not get chosen until 37 years after he played his last game. With their inductions scheduled for Sunday, USA TODAY Sports’ Jorge L. Ortiz takes a look at where both players rank among Hall of Famers at their respective positions.

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Larkin long on numbers, short on games compared to peers

• PHOTOS: Hall of Fame inductees
Defensive prowess was the leading qualification for stardom at shortstop when Barry Larkin arrived in the majors in 1986 with the Cincinnati Reds.
Along with contemporaries such as Cal Ripken Jr. and Alan Trammell, Larkin helped redefine the offensive expectations for his position, ushering in the era of power-hitting shortstops that included Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra and Miguel Tejada.
There had been slugging shortstops before Larkin, most notably Chicago Cubs icon Ernie Banks, who hit 512 home runs but spent the second half of his career at first base and played more games there than at short.
Few have exhibited Larkin’s combination of defensive skill — he was a Gold Glove winner from 1994 to 1996 — and offensive capability at the plate and on the bases. Larkin ranks fourth among Hall of Fame shortstops in both on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.815) and stolen bases (379). Only Honus Wagner tops him in both categories.

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It now begs the question in the upcoming years as the eligibility status is , and will be raised , concerning the players in embroiled image tainted era of steroids within the game , and that knowingly in some areas of the press a number of journalists investigative and otherwise chose to ignore the revelations . What must or will be done with players such as Rafael Palmeiro , Mark McGwire , Roger Clemens , Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa . There is a legitimate claim to be made , that all of the players mentioned have a right to be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame , in Cooperstown , New York . However , their names are integrally and indelibly linked to the most “ corrupt era “ of the sport and knowingly so . Certainly, it has not helped that many of the journalists who covet the game of baseball as well as many of the television analysts and on-air personalities chose to turn a blind eye to the revelations as they came to the fore . Never-mind the fact that so many of the imbecilic fans with their often immature offerings came up with suggestions as to why these players had done nothing wrong and that there were no apparent dangers by their misdeeds . Clearly, when these statements are being made, then it becomes obvious that not a great deal of thought has been put in the uttering in question . For the adjudicators who make the decision as to which nominees , having met the criteria are inducted into baseball’s most hallowed fraternity . The writers of the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) will either show a great deal of favoritism , common sense or quite possibly that they simply do not care who should be enshrined within that institution . Granted, within the Hall of Fame , enshrined within that fraternity , are racists , child molesters , bigots , rapists and dare one allude to the fact characters who if they were playing in the modern era of the game would be thought of as being the “most despicable “ of characters , of questionable moral turpitude ? The Hall of Fame is meant to be about those enshrined , as being of the best of their generation to have played the game and nowhere is it written that the enshrines have to be upstanding citizens .

Baseball on the other hand , has passed itself off as the game that led the nation with its social awareness and the fact it was the nation’s pastime . Racial integration of the baseball simply does not mean , that overnight the sport should or can be looked upon as being a bastion of social awareness or the very fact Jackie Robinson’s or Hank Aaron’s name can be continually and repeatedly used as way to cure the game’s ills . Especially in light of the fact that Bud Selig and the MLB hierarchy remained oblivious as to what was happening in front of their very eyes . And even now , the commissioner remains something of an idiot concerning the issue of steroids ! Should one need to be reminded , it was primarily Selig’s intransigence that led to baseball and softball no longer being events in the Summer Olympics . That was in light of the commissioner and the union (MLBPA) not wishing to acquiesce to the rules of Board the IOC Executive Committee and their call for mandatory testing of the players . Bud Selig’s intransigence led to the fracture between MLB and the game’s international governing body the IFAB ( International Baseball Federation) . And as both now look to heal that relationship , they are jointly petitioning the IOC for reinstatement of both baseball and softball for either the 2016 or 2020 Summer Games . For those under the misnomer that the reason behind the baseball’s exclusion from the Olympics had to do with the lack of competitiveness of the teams and the sport’s popularity , that was solely a lie . It all boiled down to MLB’s grandstanding and wishes to usurp the IFAB’s authority . But then again what else should we have come to expect from an oaf like Bud Selig !

As passionate as I am about the game of baseball , I see no real reason not to include the likes of Bonds , Clemens and Sosa into the Hall of Fame , just as long as it is done under the proviso that a statement is carried denoting that the players in question were embroiled in the steroid era and not just simply a plaque denoting their achievements and nothing beyond that . I mean it is not as if the BBWAA has shown a clear predilection to show that they have even thought of doing that . And were it left to left to the mind numbing stupidity of such on-air personalities as Tim Kurkjian , Buster Olney , Rick Reilly or , Tim McCarver and Joe Buck . I would dare say that their lack of vocal outrage as to how much these players have tarnished the game would not be even raised for discussion ! The BBWAA , like MLB’s hierarchy would like to appear to be , all things , to all of the fans without actually contributing much to the diaspora as it relates to the game . The appropriate line from the movie “ Forrest Gump “ pretty much sums up what both bodies are .. about …. “ stupid is as stupid does” !

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Picture gallery , for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the inclusion of Barry Larkin and Ron Santo’s inclusion into Baseball’s Hall of Fame ? And do you believe that the Houston Astros move to the AL West in 2013 will be of benefit to the AL ? By all means do leave a comment with regard to the points raised within this piece .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Arizona Diamondbacks’ Josh Collmenter , left, kicks the pitcher’s mound after giving up a home run to Houston Astros’ ‘ Justin Maxwell , right, in the second inning during a baseball game on Sunday, July 22, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin …

(2) Houston Astros’ Jordan Lyles (41) tosses the ball in the air and teammate Marwin Gonzalez (9) takes his cap off to wipe sweat away during a seven-run sixth inning for the Arizona Diamondbacks in a baseball game on Sunday, July 22, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(3) Houston Astros’ Chris Johnson (23) gets caught in a rundown between Arizona Diamondbacks’ Lyle Overbay (37) and Stephen Drew , who would eventually tag Johnson out, in the sixth inning during a baseball game, Sunday, July 22, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin …

(4) Former Cincinnati Reds star Barry Larkin wipes his eye as he gives his acceptance speech during his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Sunday, July 22, 2012, in Cooperstown, N.Y. AP Photo/Tim Roske …

(5) Former Cincinnati Reds star Barry Larkin, right, is welcomed by Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar , left, at the conclusion of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum induction ceremony, Sunday, July 22, 2012, in Cooperstown, N.Y. AP Photo/Tim Roske ….

(6) COOPERSTOWN, NY – JULY 22: Barry Larkin poses for a photograph with his plaque at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 22, 2012 in Cooperstown, New York. Larkin played his entire 19 year major league career with the Cincinnati Reds, compiling a .295 average , 2,340 hits, 1,329 runs, 198 home runs, 960 runs batted in and stole 379 bases. He was named to 12 All-Star games and was the 1995 National League MVP. Larkin was also a member of the 1990 World Series championship team . Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images ….

(7) COOPERSTOWN, NY – JULY 22: Barry Larkin and Vicki Santo , widow of inductee Ron Santo, pose for a photo with their plaques at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 22, 2012 in Cooperstown, New York. Larkin played his entire 19 year major league career with the Cincinnati Reds, compiling a .295 average, 2,340 hits, 1,329 runs, 198 home runs, 960 runs batted in and stole 379 bases. He was named to 12 All-Star games and was the 1995 National League MVP. Larkin was also a member of the 1990 World Series championship team. Santo was named to nine All-Star games in his 15 major league seasons, 14 of which he played for the Chicago Cubs. He finished his career with 2,254 hits, 1,331 runs batted in, 342 home runs and won 5 consecutive gold gloves at third base from 1964-1968. Santo passed away on December 2, 2010. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images ….

(8) Cubs’ great Ron Santo seen here at Wrigley Field , the player was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame via the Veterans’ Committee . Santos died in December 2010 from the complications of diabetes . His plaque was presented to his widow , Vicki Santo who was joined on the day family and close friends for the induction . Courtesy of ESPN / Matt Armstrong …….

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British model Peta Todd

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Jim Thome A Real Baseball Hero ?

Jim Thome A Real Baseball Hero ?

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

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Slide show for your perusal.

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

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

Contact …….. rapptu@gmail.com

http://facebook.com/tophata2

http://twitter.com/tophatal

Picture and slide show details below .

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

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

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

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

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Can Baseball Save Itself ?

Can Baseball Save Itself ?

As much as I enjoy the game of baseball I can’t help but wonder when the game’s hierarchy led by Commissioner Bud Selig will actually come to a decision regard the game’s most hallowed records. With the both the all-time home run and single season records having been broken by Barry Bonds and the player himself having been found guilty of perjury and obstruction of Justice by a Federal Court jury with a sentence still awaiting , it remains to be seen what stance will be taken by the league concerning the player’s sentencing and the very fact that those records remain in tact and are still recognized . The game has been tainted by a vast array of controversies over the years but certainly the stigma attached to the “steroid era” will be the one thing that defines this game for years to come . It has been bad enough that Selig showed as much tenacity in going after the players who broke the rules as a Klansman would have an aversion in speaking out against one of his own members . The idiocy of it all, is while icons of the game see their records be surpassed the league hierarchy , team owners and the MLBPA have made out quite handsomely from a financial standpoint while those records were obliterated .

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Hank Aaron the former home run king and the late Roger Maris I feel have been done a great disservice but clearly until with no real action being taken those records now await a new player to come along and surpass those marks . Amongst the active players in terms of the home run tally it now lies in the hands of Alex Rodriguez to take aim at the 762 home runs set by Bonds . For the present it doesn’t appear that the single season home run mark is in imminent danger but it is becoming increasingly clear that once broken by a player , that feat will come under even more intense scrutiny . As time goes by history will judge the feats and the fans as of now can only either show their disdain or approval as the case maybe. The idiocy of it all is that for some players having retired their sole aim after that is to be an enshrinee in Baseaball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York joining the other illustrious Hall of Famers within that hallowed edifice.

Rodriguez isn’t without controversy himself having first lied about his use of performance enhancing drugs only then to come clean in rather contrived interview process that left a lot to be desired and the player coming off as complete embarrassment to the New York Yankees’ organization . And even in light of that contrived apology things are still unclear with his name also being linked to Orlando medical professional Anthony Galea who is under indictment for the illegal transportation and sale illicit substances including HGH , anabolic steroids , oxycodone to name but a few . The Justice Department’s ongoing investigation may well lead to other indictments but given the idiocy of prosecutors in charge of many of these cases I do believe that the taxpayers’ money is simply being wasted on these cases . The Bonds’ episode including the investigation of BALCO has cost an estimated $15-$20 million from start to finish in an investigation that has shown little tangible evidence that the indictments and guilty verdicts levied against Bonds , former track stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery has effectively stopped the misuse of PED’s within the game or sports in general . Case in point , as wide as the net has now been cast by the Justice Department in its investigation there still seems to be the belief by some athletes that they’re indeed above the law.

Money if anything has been the cursory issue as the players here chase after what they deem to be baseball immortality and financial bounty. And as we know with the ever increasing salaries and the mere fact that the owners as well as general managers act as if they’re completely oblivious as to the financial vulnerability of the teams and stability of many of these organizations.

Cyclist Lance Armstrong the seven time winner of the “> Tour de France is now under investigation by the Justice Department and it appears that the tip of the iceberg as there appears to be an onslaught as they now Armstrong within their sights . The cyclist has always denied his use of performance enhancing drugs but with the latest statements attributed to former cycling teammates George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton in their testimony to authorities it appears that the cycling champion’s credibility could now become all the more questionable given the weight of evidence of the testimonies of both Hamilton and Hincapie , whereby they each state that they have seen Armstrong use PED’s. Sooner or later in spite of the denials Armstrong will have to face the facts and tell his own story verbatim to the authorities rather than merely issuing rather terse statements through his legal representatives.

At the start of the season it was felt that the Boston Red Sox would be hanging tough and perhaps walking away with the AL East . Having got off to an inauspicious start through their first eleven games left many wondering if this team would be good enough to be challenging the likes of the New York Yankees and others within the division . Terry Francona and his coaching staff came under a great deal of scrutiny as did GM Theo Epstein after the organization’s big off-season acquisitions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez . Things being what they are , the Boston Red Sox struggled as many questioned the travails of the team and the fact that they were problem areas manifesting itself all over this roster . Slowly but surely as their confidence grew the Red Sox played themselves back into contention .

Now as the month of June approaches it will be interesting to see if the Boston Red Sox can maintain their momentum . The month of May has been if anything a very benevolent one for the Red Sox , having won seven straight and 8 of their last 10 games the team now finds itself a 1/2 game behind the division leading Tampa Bay Rays (25-20). And based on Friday night’s evidence where the team summarily dispatched the Chicago Cubs at Fenway Park in an emphatic 15-5 victory over the beleaguered Cubs .

The series between the Red Sox and Cubs resumes as Francona’s team looks to make that leap over the Tampa Bay Rays and take control of the division. The Rays in an inter-league game take on the Florida Marlins at Landshark Stadium , in Miami , Florida . If anything what has been remarkable about the Red Sox’s within the league has been the play of Adrian Gonzalez as he now leads the league in RBI’s . But this hasn’t been simply about it being a one man show as it has been a collective effort from all the members of this team in one form or another. The pitching is starting to pay dividends and Jonathan Papelbon seems to be back to his customary self . And that if anything has to be an added bonus for the Red Sox and their overly boisterous fans .

There’s still a great deal to play for this season and I’ve no doubt that the AL East as a division is still very much a competitive one . It will most certainly be a three horse race to my mind and in all likelihood the third placed team at the end of the season will be the one to miss out on a postseason playoff berth. The wildcard berth will most certainly come from within the division as there doesn’t seem to be any reason to believe that from within the AL Central or AL West there is contender playing anywhere good enough to be thought of as contender for that playoff spot.

As the months of June , July , August and September approach we will continue to learn a great deal more about the teams and their play . And for the likes of the Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays , they are about to make that AL East all the more enticing as a spectacle to be observed from afar as a discerning baseball fan. As to what the outcome will be is anyone’s guess at this juncture but I know that it will be all the more entertaining to find out over the coming months as we see how things actually pan out.

Inasmuch as I have asked the question within this piece ” Can Baseball Save Itself” I might also add …….. has the league done enough to even assure the game remains safe and a viable going concern ? It’s a question that I think we all seek an answer for but in reality the answer itself has to come from the league hierarchy and not from the fan ! We may well have our own idea on the matter and how we’d like to see things change for the better but as I’ve alluded to earlier it will be left in the hands Bud Selig and his subordinates to lead this game into the direction that needs to be taken.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this topic ? Simply leave a comment or comments as you deem fit on anything you feel to be pertinent to this article .

Alan aka tophatal ……………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Three giants of the game from left to right Roberto Clemente , Willie Mays and Hank Aaron . courtesy of ftl.pinecrest.edu …….

(2) Chicago Cubs’ Carlos Pena (22) walks back to the dugout after grounding out against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning of an interleague baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Friday, May 20, 2011. The Red Sox won 15-5 . AP Photo/Elise Amendola ………

(3) Kevin Youkilis (20) and David Ortiz (34) of the Boston Red Sox celebrate after they scored against the Chicago Cubs on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox have not played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images ……

(4) Kevin Youkilis (20) 20 of the Boston Red Sox hits a two run homer in the fourth inning as Koyie Hill (55) of the Chicago Cubs defends on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox have not played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images …..

(5) BOSTON, MA – MAY 21: Carlos Marmol (49) of the Chicago Cubs celebrates the win with teammate Aramis Ramirez (16) on May 21, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Tonight the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox are wearing replica uniforms from 1918. Before this series, the two teams haven’t played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. The Chicago Cubs defeated the Boston Red Sox 9-3 . Photo by Elsa/Getty Images ……

(6) BOSTON, MA – MAY 21: David Ortiz (34) #34 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates his two run homer in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs with teammate Kevin Youkilis (20) on May 21, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Tonight the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox are wearing replica uniforms from 1918. Before this series, the two teams haven’t played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images …….

(7) Koyie Hill (55) of the Chicago Cubs holds David Ortiz(notes) at third base after tagging out Adrian Gonzalez (28) of the Boston Red Sox on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox have not played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images ……..

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A-Rod An Image To Like Or Still A Creep ?

A-Rod An Image To Like Or Still A Creep ?

Despite all the accolades that Derek Jeter has reaped over the course of his career it has me wondering where as such that places Alex Rodriguez in terms of his career should be as we presume break the now existing all time home run record ? At present he’s the active leader in home runs and all signs point to the fact Rodriguez sees that as his redemption and the chance to prove himself worthy of consideration for the Hall of Fame . A three time winning league MVP and the heir apparent to Derek Jeter as the presumptive leader of the New York Yankees . I somehow think that the player with all of the controversy that has surrounded his career both on and off the field now has to prove he’s worthy of those claims ..

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Rodriguez for his part has said little in public to create any form of controversy in spite of the fact of the paparazzi surveying his every move as his relationship with actress Cameron Diaz seems to be taking on a life of its own . And as he and the team look to make their presence felt within the AL East and show everyone that they’re the team to beat when it’s all said and done. This team on paper is good but how good we’ll just have to wait and see as the course of the season unfolds .

On the face of it I still have my doubts about this team and the very fact that their pitching is still viewed as being suspect . Apart from CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes and closer Mariano Rivera you simply get the impression that the season could be a struggle for them . Within the AL East they still have to deal with their perennial rivals the Boston Red Sox a somewhat resurgent Baltimore Orioles , the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays .

Now we all know that the only thing matters to the Yankees’ organization is winning and their success is built upon that foundation of bringing AL pennants but in particular World Series titles to Yankee Stadium so that the players and organization’s ravenous fans can bask in the glory . There’s a reason why the now late George Steinbrenner bought the team and then slowly built it into a competitive and financial juggernaut . So much so , that the team is now the most valuable professional sports franchise in the world . Even outstripping its closest rival in the league by some $ 850 million . With an estimated value of $1.65 billion and now seated in the nation’s largest advertizing market it’s easy to understand the reason why they’re the most envied and perhaps at the same time most despised team in all of baseball.

As the season progresses there’ll be a lot to assess as it regards this team _______ can they make up for the disappoint of last year’s postseason ? Their failure was magnified all the more with the fact many of the players thought to be the leaders on the team simply underachieved there and during the regular season . If this team is to succeed then Rodriguez will have to step up to the plate front and center alongside Robinson Cano , Mark Teixiera and Curtis Granderson . We all know that the team’s offense won’t tail off but as I alluded to earlier it is their pitching that has become suspect . As Jeter inches closer to the plateau of reaching 3,000 hits and further adding to his legacy of becoming the Yankees’ all-time hits’ leader surpassing another legend of the organization Lou Gehrig . If anything , Jeter , we know will be a bonafide first ballot Hall of Famer further adding to his legacy as perhaps one the team’s beloved players over the course of this organization’s history.

It’d be remiss to think that the Yankees are the prohibitive favorites for the World Series as a number of teams can lay claim to their own aspirations. In amongst the teams I believe who can lay a legitimate claim are the Philadelphia Phillies , Texas Rangers , Boston Red Sox , St Louis Cardinals , Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds . These teams will certainly lay down the gauntlet to the Yankees and look to usurp their ambitions for the season .

Over the course of time it’s my belief that the players embroiled in the steroid era and saga will be judged by the public and press alike as either heroes or felons. They say …”time heals all wounds ” but I firmly believe that the players , their union (MLBPA) , the league hierarchy and the team owners have done the game an even greater disservice by hiding behind this idiotic facade as to a right of privacy ! Cheating in a game inherently built upon its virtue of having been above reproach and now it has become sullied by the sheer stupidity because the miscreants involved in this solely for personal financial gain. Anyone of the belief that the likes of , Rafael Palmeiro , Mark McGwire , Barry Bonds , Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez solely did this as a way excelling further at the game may well be either gullible or in reality enjoyed the spectacle of seeing the players rip these records to shreds further making those feats now seem all the more irrelevant . I’d hate to think that Hank Aaron has in actuality given his blessing in seeing Bonds surpass his all-time home run record ! Somehow I’d like to think that the man himself sees it as a disservice given what he had endure in achieving that feat .

As a fan of the game from my own perspective even with the league’s steroid policy in place I do feel that it’s all too little too late ! The damage had already been done because of the intransigence shown by Bud Selig as the commissioner and that rather inane stance taken by then union Executive Director Donald Fehr . The duo combined showed about as much common sense as could collectively be found inside the entire legislative chambers of the US House of Representatives and Senate ! Doubt my word then simply look at the idiocy we are now witnessing within both legislative chambers of Congress ?

Alex Rodriguez’s legacy is tainted but he obviously believes he can revamp his image and further add to that once bright future many believe that he had . It will be interesting to see the stats put up by the player over the course of this season and how it will have related to previous seasons before his admission that he had in fact used steroid over a period of his career he’d now rather forget . Chances are it will be in line with his usual productivity and thereby giving the New York Yankees a chance to pursue another World Series title .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As a fan how do you see Alex Rodriguez’s legacy as a player ? Do you also believe that upon his retirement he stands a better than even chance of being an inductee into the Hall of Fame ? And overall how do you view the New York Yankees’ chances and their pursuit of another World Series title this season ? Merely leave a comment on the topics raised within this piece and anything else you feel pertinent to the baseball season . And as usual thanks for the continued support as it’s greatly appreciated !

* NB : As a bye-note I’d like to thank the Baltimore Orioles already flaming out this season and already putting their own season to rest . Their humiliating 15-3 loss to the Yankees where Rodriguez mutl-homered and hit his 22nd grand slam of his career placing him second in that category behind Lou Gehrig

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

Picture and slide show details below
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(1) New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter, left, and Robinson Cano celebrate their 6-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles in 11 innings of a baseball game, Sunday, April 24, 2011 in Baltimore. AP Photo/Gail Burton ….

(2) Baltimore Orioles’ Robert Andino, center, reacts after being called out at the plate by New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin (55) on a double by Brian Roberts during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 24, 2011, in Baltimore. Also pictured is Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones (10). AP Photo/Gail Burton …..

(3) New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson follows through on a two run home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 24, 2011, in Baltimore. AP Photo/Gail Burton ……

(4) Mark Teixeira(25) and Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees wait in the on deck circle against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 23, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …….

(5) Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees (L) Derek Jeter (2) (center) and manager Joe Girardi (28) look out from the dugout during the eighth inning of their 15-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 23, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……..

(6) Lou Gehrig (left) is seen here with Vaudeville performer George M Cohan at Yankee Stadium . @ copyrighted material all rights reserved Chip Deffa Productions LLC . …..

(7) A statue of Hank Aaron sits outside of the stadium ahead of the Philadephia Phillies versus Atlanta Braves during their opening day game at Turner Field on April 8, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Streeter Lecka / Getty Images ……….

(8) Singer/actor/activist Harry Belafonte and baseball legend Hank Aaron attend the 2011 Trustees Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement dinner and presentation at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers on February 25, 2011 in New York City. Stephen Lovekin /Getty Images North America ……

(9) Hank Aaron seen here hitting home run 755 which would become a historical feat in the annals of Major League Baseball . Courtesy of Topix Archives Inc .

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