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

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

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

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Slideshow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery.

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

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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

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

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

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

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

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

Savor The Moment Baseball Is Here

It could take time but there’s the distinct feeling that this baseball season could be one to savor given the uncertainty that now surrounds both the NFL and NBA . MLB Commissioner Bud Selig knows that with the advent of the NFL quite possibly shutting down for the upcoming season and the uncertainty of the NBA but no firm commitment shown by either the league hierarchy and that of the NBPA led by Executive Director Billy Hunter , its President Derek Fisher , its executive committee and player representatives . The NBA has indeed been working continuously with the union to avert any possibility of their own labor dispute .

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Slide show for your perusal .

The NBA itself no doubt wants remain relevant and if anything given the grave financial problems concerning a number of teams around the league the last thing they now need is a stoppage at this juncture.

Inasmuch I hate to say this, I do feel that the big market teams will once again prevail as the season progresses . The success achieved by the likes of the New York Yankees , Boston Red Sox , St Louis Cardinals , Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies has in part more to do with not only the talent assembled on the field of play but more to do with the financial resources at these teams’ disposal . Granted we’ve seen the Washington Nationals delve into the free agency market to acquire Jayson Werth but in reality the seven year $119 million contract signed by the player I believe had more to do with making a splash by the organization than that of them actually being able to contend within the NL East .

The Nationals haven’t been a force to be reckoned with in eons and I seriously doubt that this season things are liable to change albeit that they’ll have both Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg there to lure the fans back to Nationals Ballpark . If the Washington Nationals are to prevail then they will have to contend with the likes of the Atlanta Braves , defending divisional champions the Philadelphia Phillies as well as the New York Mets and Florida Marlins . I’m not so sure that the Nationals are capable of making the jump from an also ran to a contender !

With no team to support and the mere fact that I no longer have any faith in the ownership group of the Florida Marlins I find myself merely now observing the game as a fan of the sport showing no real passion for any team in particular ! The local team within this locale are the Tampa Bay Rays and as the defending AL East champions I think that this will be a season of highs and lows for the team . We’re all no doubt aware of the of the upheaval within the organization as it relates to the departures of Carl Crawford , Rafael Soriano , Carlos Pena and , Matt Garza to name but a few as part of the cost cutting exercise by the front office led by GM Andrew Friedman . Principal managing partner Stuart Sternberg apart from being in the midst of a financial expediency plan merely for the franchise to survive , now has to deal with the city of St Petersburg and the city’s intent to hold the Rays to their lease agreement at Tropicana Field .

The organization is looking for a new venue but they and the municipality can’t agree on how best to come to an amicable arrangement that would be mutually beneficial for all of the parties concerned.

A new facility would be no guarantee for a team that struggles to have an element of tangible following . Anyone who’s of the belief that a fanbase of 15,000 hardcore fans will legitimately guarantee competitive and financial success really needs to take a look at what’s happening within the game of baseball . Having won two divisional titles within the AL East , an appearance in the World Series the recent success of the Rays has been heartwarming for the loyal fans of the organization.

I do believe that they can compete but I believe their season will be predicated upon the coaching talents of the coaches and in particular manager Joe Maddon . As astute a manager as he is , his work this season will be his toughest yet as he now has to coach a young team albeit that he the additions of seasoned veterans Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez on this roster I simply believe that they will struggle in large part to contend with the likes of Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees , Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays within their division.

While I’m under no illusion that the game itself is all about the consistency of the players and how they’ll fare over the course of the regular season . Whereas last season the team’s strengths were in its pitching and in particular their defense . And if they’re to replicate that success then they’ll have to replicate that success and play to their inherent strengths. If anything it will be these situations that will test the fortitude of the Rays and in particular that of Joe Maddon because this most definitely will be the sternest test that he’s faced over the course of professional managing career. Having won an AL pennant and an appearance in the World Series with the subsequent loss the Philadelphia Phillies , success this season for the Rays will be measured by posting a winning record during the season. Anything less than that I believe would be considered to be a failure !

As to the season itself what can we expect of the San Francisco Giants as they look to make a successful defense of their title ? Will they be able to regain that form can it through the regular season and into the postseason ? Or will we merely see a team that struggles in that endeavor to repeat ?

Of the teams that I believe will be amongst the contenders this season I look to the Philadelphia Phillies and that pitching rotation which on the face of it just might be the best there is the game of baseball . Clearly GM Rueben Amaro and Charlie Manuel felt that this was the best way possible for the team to make another successful run with a view to repeating their success of 2009 . The New York Yankees for their part with their payroll and talent that on appearance ought to be good enough to make the postseason may well have their problems because there’s serious question as it regards their pitching , as it remains their Achilles’ heel . If they can’t turn things around on that score then I can’t see this simply relying on their offense alone to see them through.

Amongst the other AL teams that I view as contenders unless the Texas Rangers are able to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke then it could well be one and done . There may well be others contenders within the AL but much of that will be predicated upon their wish to play with real determination. The Minnesota Twins have simply proven that once they get to the postseason they become like a deer caught in headlights and I don’t believe that I could put it anymore succinctly than that !

Now while Spring Training is now upon us and many fans will be pursuing to see their teams as they are at play in the Citrus and Grapefruit League. The preseason itself may well not be much of an indicator as to what we’re expect during the regular season but it should give us something of a way to gauge the teams and their quest to make the postseason . If nothing else it’ll be interesting to see how the players that’ve been acquired by new teams will fare and acclimatize in a new environment . How they fare may well also go a great way in telling us how their respective teams will ultimately do . This season within the game of baseball will certainly be one to savor and the expectations there will undoubtedly be high.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the MLB season and how do you view problems that many of the teams face ? Also in light of the fact that there appears to be lingering rumors that there could very well be team contraction within the game do you believe that it will be ultimately beneficial to the game as a whole ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the topic raised and other thoughts that you might have on the upcoming MLB season.

Alan aka tophatal ………………..

Picture gallery and slide show details
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(1) Washington Nationals second baseman Jerry Hairston Jr., right, greets Washington Nationals Jeff Frazier (72) after Frazier hit a third inning solo home run off New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia in the Nationals 10-8 victory over the Yankees in their spring training baseball game at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., Saturday, March 5, 2011. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …..

(2) Washington Nationals Bryce Harper is shown at the plate in the seventh inning of the Nationals 10-8 victory over the New York Yankees in their spring training baseball game at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., Saturday, March 5, 2011. Harper was one for two in the game. He had an eighth inning single. AP Photo/Kathy Willens ……

(3) Clearwater , Fl : of the Philadelphia Phillies of the Tampa Bay Rays during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Bright House Field on March 6, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……..

(4) Jimmy of the Philadelphia Phillies of the Tampa Bay Rays during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Bright House Field on March 6, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

<p (5) Pitcher Wade Davis (40) of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Bright House Field on March 6, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ………..

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Eye candy …………………… Polish model Ewa Sonnet

An eyeful of Ewa is better than a handful of nuts don’t you think ?

Ewa

Titillating Ewa and her play things .

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Method Man feat’g ……. Mary J Blige ………….. “I’ll Be There For You /You’re All I Need ”
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The Winds Of Change Are Not About To Happen Anytime Soon ….. Count On It

The Winds Of Change Are Not About To Happen Anytime Soon ….. Count On It

If money is the root of all evil then how is that MLB just can’t deal with its problems which inherently comes down to the fact that Commissioner Bud Selig and the owners can’t come up with something that’s beneficial to all of the teams within the game ? I mean what idiot truly believes that the league’s tax sharing revenue scheme actually works ? The league in essence forces teams with a payroll in excess of $150 million to pay a luxury tax that’s deemed appropriate by the league hierarchy. The New York Yankees whose payroll for the 2010 season was in excess of $205 million and the tax levied by the league was in excess of $60 million which was shared amongst the small market teams around the league. As to the overall amounts paid by teams such as the St Louis Cardinals , Los Angeles Angels , Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies it doesn’t really go that far when one realizes that there isn’t any profit sharing by the MLB and monies derived by sales of league paraphernalia isn’t divided up amongst the teams equally. Calls for a hard and fast salary cap falls on deaf ears within the league hierarchy and team owners because they simply don’t want it and they’d rather the status quo remain the same.

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Slide show .

For many teams much of their revenue is either derived by ticket sales , concessions at home games and via fees charged within their local television market. As to Bud Selig and the game’s hierarchy that this is the most equitable way of formulating a system that is of benefit to the teams I’m under the impression that they’re taking their charge by seeing how the the Congress , Senate and the President’s Cabinet conducts its business. There money is spent like it’s being printed on a daily basis and truth be known it actually is and at the same time the government is borrowing so much money that they’ll never to pay down the national debt much less the ever increasing interest as its appreciates. Now we have this convoluted mess after this latest spending bill in which the House appropriated $1,000,000,000,000 ($1 trillion) in order that it can operate for the upcoming fiscal year. We’ve been told repeatedly that the government will eliminate ‘earmarks’ otherwise known as ‘pork barrel’ spending . And much of this latest bill signed into law by President Barack Obama is filled earmarked projects which he himself , House Majority Leader-designate John Boehner (R-Oh) , Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv) have categorically stated that they would rid the Congress of earmaks themselves and nothing at apparently has changed . by way of those statements .

Clearly much like the idiocy that now happens within the game of baseball when it comes to showing an alarming rate of stupidity there is no difference between Congress and that game’s hierarchy. Of this $ 1,000,000,000,000 there was $8 ,000,000,000 ($ 8 billion) earmarked for pet project of these congressional members . Sixty six hundred (6,600) projects all-told and you’d not be surprised to see how some of this money is spent and what it’s being spent on. Suffice to say that if you’ve an avowed interest in how bat fecal matter affects agriculture then there’ll be something of interest there for you. Or that there’ll be a museum built in the state of Iowa to commemorate the visit made there the late Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev . And here I was under the impression that there was about to be wind of change within Congress ? Not so fast as that’s not about to happen when the incoming designates for the Congress are seated in the next term. And for those of you out there who are of the belief that Tea Party backed designates who’ll assume their seats in the next session of Congress will change things, consider this not one of the candidates in question have come out openly and voiced their disapproval at this latest betrayal of the public’s faith in the current lawmakers seated in both congressional houses. Oh yeah they’ll be a party of change alright can we say more of the same in terms of changes that’ll take place ? Simply put, out with the old and in with a new clique of bloodsucking vampires and miscreants ! .

Baseball for all of its alleged virtues and competitive spirit is not unlike Congress and the federal government , as there too we see a great deal idiocy , wantoned waste of money and not much by way of intelligence or creativity when it comes to dealing with its own financial well being . How else can one explain where its own Commissioner Allan ‘Bud’ Selig has earned in excess of $ 45 million alone in the last three years but yet two teams, the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers were on the brink of bankruptcy and financial collapse because of the financial mismanagement of both teams. The Cubs were placed into bankruptcy filing by then owner Sam Zell merely to avoid having team’s parent company’s (The Tribune Co ) creditors go after the club for monies owed by The Tribune Company . In the case of the Rangers that was because then owner, Tom Hicks’ sporting interests again mishandled , mismanaged and wasn’t willing to acquiesce to the wishes of his creditors in making the payments for the financing agreed to under the terms of the original contracts. The debt amassed by Hicks’ sporting interests tallied into hundreds of millions of dollars . And when the financiers chose to appraise the assets in question with a view to selling them off, he felt aggrieved that they were under-priced and that he would be unable to either retain or in some way make a profit from their sales. I guess those people there in Texas who were of the belief that Hicks was a great businessman may well now have to rethink their position . The Dallas Stars , Texas Rangers and Liverpool FC of the English Premiership League are no longer baubles that he can parade around to friends and acquaintances as part of his once large sports’ empire.

The intransigence now being shown by Selig , MLB hierarchy , team owners and the MLBPA (Players’ Union) could very well lead to the game’s own death knell . As glorious as one feels that the triumphs are for the World Series champions each year, consider this , each off-season the upheavals that take place as teams vie for the free agents out there on the open market or via trades that tend to take place the more ludicrous the demands are . At the same time small market teams can merely watch as they see their big market counterparts and rivals simply feast at the table with an open checkbook and unabated appetite. Somehow the so called level playing field and parity that fans out there try and equate with baseball appears to simply be a misnomer. And those small market teams in the end merely tend to give up and do what they simply do best and that’s to groom their young talent and then in a few years after they’re salary arbitration eligible they will either trade them away for the most part or retain them short term in the hope that they might catch lightning in a bottle.

I can’t help but wonder if during this upcoming season should things not be going right for a team like the jsp?c_id=was”> Washington Nationals , will we see them off-load their big money signing Jayson Werth ? After-all who in their right mind signs a player to a seven year $126 million contract when there’s nothing to suggest that he’s at all the answer to the organization’s most dire needs ? As good as Werth is presumed to be does anyone believe that his acquisition alone will make the Nationals an immediate contender within the NL East right away ? GM Mike Rizzo , team owner Ted Lerner and his partners have spent voluminously to acquire Werth, young phenoms such as Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg in the hope that change is in the offing . Get the feeling that the one constant in that division the Philadelphia Phillies are about to let that happen given their own recent outlay for Cliff Lee ? I didn’t think so !

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

Many of the pieces I’ve read about baseball here within a number of sites are by fans who are openly enamored with the game on the field of play but when it comes to the off the field issues as it concerns the game’s viability rarely do I read any commentary whatsoever on those issues. I get the impression that they feel it is of no intrinsic value or that they simply don’t understand the business side of the sport and how it relates to the game overall and their own way of life . When baseball chooses not to deal with many of its issues it’s usually the fans who in the end will end up suffering . The only change that has ever really taken place within the game was the social change engineered at the time stave off racial stereotyping as to the game’s openly racist ardor. Since then there’s been very little to suggest that things have changed for the better in terms the hierarchy showing any common sense as it relates to its future and the financial viability of a number of its teams. Simply look around and tell me what you see that would suggest to you that things are about to change within the game from that particular aspect ? Chime on in with your own thoughts on this matter and any other concerning the game as you view it and its future .

NB: The tax levied by the league isn’t based at the threshold but as a percentage of the gross payroll salary paid by the team within that fiscal year.

Alan aka tophatal ……………………… 🙂

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Nicole

Eye candy …………. Nicole Pankey .Don’t hate simply appreciate.

It’s My Party I’ll Cry If I Want To …Laugh If I Want To ………….. Oh To Be A Nationals’ Fan …….

It’s My Party I’ll Cry If I Want To …Laugh If I Want To ………….. Oh To Be A Nationals’ Fan …….

What can you say about a baseball team whose high point of their year has been the call-up of their young pitching phenom ? The furor that surrounded the call-up of Washington Nationals’ pitcher Stephen Strasburg was met with such hype and expectation that one would have believed that the Nationals were actually the reigning World Series champions , rather than the perennial cellar dweller rooted to the foot of the table in the NL East .

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Courtesy of MLB.com

Mr. Precedent! Strasburg fans 14 in debut

Nats edge Pirates in right-hander’s electrifying first start

By Bill Ladson MLB.com

Washington — Making his Major League debut after 11 sensational Minor League starts, Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg pitched seven innings of two-run ball against the Pirates on Tuesday, earning the win and striking out 14 in the Nats’ 5-2 victory.

Delwyn Young’s two-run home run with two outs in the fourth was the only damage against Strasburg.

A sellout crowd of 40,315 saw Strasburg allow just four hits, and his 14 strikeouts established a club record. The 14 strikeouts by Strasburg in a Major League debut were one shy of the all-time mark of 15 set by Karl Spooner in 1954 and J.R. Richard in ’71. Even more amazing was that he struck out no more than nine batters in a game when pitching in the Minor Leagues.

Strasburg, who did the job without looking at scouting reports, threw 94 pitches, 65 for strikes, and didn’t walk a batter. The righty retired his final 10 batters, striking out his last seven.

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In front of an almost sellout crowd and with legions following the game on television , Strasburg proved to everyone who witnessed his performance that he’s as good as advertised. The pitcher’s performance at Nationals Park in the nation’s capital , was one to savor . And their 5-2 victory over the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates might just might be what brings some semblance of respectability to this team . In attendance were just over 40,000 fans cheering on Strasburg , as he pitched a “gem of a game” , striking out fourteen batters , allowing just four hits and two earned runs, in what can be best described as the pitcher’s introduction to the big leagues.

It’d be remiss to think that this one performance will be something that makes the team an immediate power to be reckoned with. But if this is any indication of what Strasburg will be bringing to the Nationals and the game of baseball in particular. Then the fans around in the league are going to be in for something special. As for the fans of the Washington Nationals the this augurs well for theirs and the team’s future. Of which has to be said that the fortunes of this team hasn’t been filled with pleasant memories or anything that borders on the team being successful. Team President , general partner Stan Kasten and majority stakeholder Ted Lerner knows in that
acquiring Strasburg as the overall pick from the 2009 MLB Draft . They knew that the player would be at least one part of the major building blocks needed to make the team all the more competitive and a force to be reckoned with. Strasburg as the overall number one pick of 2009, has risen up the ranks with a great deal of speed. Much of it some might say is undue pressure because of the team’s predicament and that the fans aren’t really coming to the ballpark in droves. The arrival of Strasburg to the league and in particular for the Nationals’ home games will now make that all the more of a reality. Beyond the Nationals , Capitals , Wizards and Redskins . By way of a fan based sporting endeavor there isn’t a great deal to be had on the professional level when it comes to sports entertainment and attending a game in the nation’s capital.

For the coaching staff of the Nationals led by team coach Jim Riggleman and the sending up of Strasburg from their AAA affiliate . This will augment what is a good pitching staff but not a great one. And statistically on both sides of their ball-game the Nationals have some real work to do. If they can show any sort of semblance wherein Strasburg’s appearance can jump start their season . However, they’ll need to work very hard on improving that rather mediocre mark of 28-31 record that has placed them some 6 1/2 games back of the division leading Atlanta Braves (34-25) in the NL East .

They say that when the sun starts to shine it tends to shine brightest on the meek and the most deserving. Of that I’m necessarily sure ! But if we can believe that to be true then God has made sure that the vestiges of his greatness shone brightly upon the Nationals’ organization. In this year’s MLB Draft __ once again the organization was able to pick up the best player in the draft , in high school sensation , Bryce Harper . GM Mike Rizzo was never in any doubt that Harper, an offensive minded catcher was the pick of the litter of a very good talent pool of collegiate and high school players. However, Rizzo has stated that he’d like to see the player converted to either a first baseman or a center fielder for the team’s outfield. Harper , College of Southern Nevada was taken number one overall ahead of pitcher James Taillon out of The Woodlands High School , Texas, chosen and taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates .

Now while we can all commend the Nationals on a job well done. I hearken back to when there was this much furor being supposedly made over another great pitching phenom. In fact there were two of them on the very same team. And “that team” too was an NL representative and much was expected from both Kerry Wood and Mark Prior of the Chicago Cubs . Suffice to say , the Cubs haven’t been the same since those lukewarm days shall we say ? In reality, even when Cubs’ fan Steve Bartman was amidst of the team’s most infamous incident , things still didn’t change for the better for the team or the organization . A leprechaun’s pot of gold, a four leaf clover and a cross bearing St Christopher’s name and the Chicago Cubs would still have been mired in the midst of mediocrity. That’s how bad things were and have become for the team.

Now I’m quite prepared to look at the glass empty or half full as the case maybe concerning the Nationals. But bear this in mind one stellar outing doesn’t a great pitcher or player make. We’ll no doubt get to see Strasburg real sense of character and determination when he has to face real adversity in pitching under pressure. A home game against the Pirates at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. for all sense and purpose he might as well have been pitching against a varsity team or a girls’ softball team. It’s not as if the Pirates are known for the competitive play or offensive presence to begin with ! Let’s see how Strasburg contends with such teams as the Braves, St Louis Cardinals , Los Angeles Dodgers Philadelphia Phillies and the San Diego Padres . Then we’ll see whether or not he’s got the mettle to withstand all of the rigors and nuances of major league baseball. I for one am not yet ready to anoint Strasburg as the “second coming” of Nolan Ryan . Give him four or five years and then we’ll see how those stats will compare. For the time being let those who choose to laud Stephen Strasburg continue to do so. I wonder if his career were to suddenly go south because he couldn’t get command of his pitches and find the strike zone. I’m inclined to believe that those who were calling him “great”, “magnificent” and “spectacular” , might just be willing to then call him a complete bust !

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Picture gallery for your perusal. Click on an individual frame in order to view the picture in
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What thoughts if any do you have on the rather impressive first outing of Strasburg in the majors ? And how do you see him performing in years to come ? What also , if any are your thoughts on Bryce Harper and what do you believe the game has in store for not only both of these players but also the impending future of Washington Nationals as a baseball team ? Do you believe that within five years they will be able to contend for a National League pennant or quite possibly a World Series title ? By all means chime on in with a comment on this and any other thoughts that you might have on the game at present . I’ll look forward to responding to your comments in due time . As always thank you for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………………….. 🙂

Nas ……………………Made You Look