Time For Change ……

Time For Change …

Baseball has entered the last complete month of its regular season and there is a great deal on the line for several teams . The likelihood is that there will be major changes within several of the organizations either from a managerial standpoint or among the front office. We already know the Miami Marlins will see a change in ownership with the Sherman group coming in led by Bruce Sherman , Derek Jeter and Michael Jordan . Jeter and Jordan give more visibility to the ownership group because of their high profiles .,instant visibility and name recognition . Yet, I am not so sure that will be enough to turn around an organization which his has been mismanaged and starved of resources by outgoing owner Jeffrey Loria .


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Within the NL East the Miami Marlins have played themselves out of contention for the divisional title and while their hopes are faint for a wildcard berth , they remain in the hunt for one of the two positions on offer. Fans have been salivating over the season attained by Giancarlo Stanton and his having hit a franchise record fifty-four home runs. Sixty remains out of his reach and while this is all admirable for the player , I don’t believe he will be taking home the NLMVP for this season . I believe it would be a great disservice to the other leading candidates who have contributed to a winning season for their teams who have been in the hunt throughout much of the season. The same cannot be said for the Miami Marlins at any point during this season . Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff are likely to be retained but I do believe Derek Jeter will be looking to bring in his own people to run the front office. Jeter’s role will be to oversee the overall operations with the new general manager reporting to him directly.

The Miami Marlins will be in action over the weekend as they continue their current series against the Milwaukee Brewers at home. With very little to play for other than pride , it is imperative the Marlins round out their regular season on a high note.

Say what you will , but I do believe seven years is more than enough for a Big League Manger to try and turn an organization around . The New York Mets have been a complete bust with the triumvirate of front office executives , Sandy Alderson , JP Ricciardi and manager Terry Collins at the helm. The trio have gotten to the stage, where they might be even funnier than The Three Stooges and The Marx Brothers. Comedic pratfalls being one thing, but the level of incompetence seen with the Mets over the past seven years has sunk to a new low. This team has been far from being competitive and there has not been one saving grace to suggest they have been worth watching at any point during 2017. Their fans are not only opinionated . but also clearly delusional and obnoxious as always. The Mets have several free agents at the end of this season as well as players set for arbitration and it will be interesting to see the decisions made by Sandy Alderson as they will undoubtedly make changes.

An injury-prone and non-productive David Wright is of no use to the New York Mets and it is unclear why he remains part of the Mets roster . Wright’s best years are behind him , certainly not ahead of him and it is hard to envisage who is meant to be the leader on a team of highly overpaid players . Granted , the Mets don’t have a payroll which ranks alongside the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees their crosstown rivals . Yet clearly the organization believes they rank up there alongside teams of that caliber, having not shown anything of note this season much less over the past five seasons. Another failed year and the idiocy of continually suggest they have prospects when many of them since 2010 haven’t stepped up to the plate , leads me to believe this organization and their fans are just eternal optimists.

Terry Collins will lead the team into action on Saturday when the New York Mets will face the Atlanta Braves at Sun Trust Park in Atlanta , Georgia . The opposing pitchers will be Jacob deGrom of the Mets as he goes up against R A Dickey , the knuckle-baller who once played for the Mets. This game isn’t critical for both teams but it should prove to be interesting just as many of their regular season meetings have been this season. If this is to be Terry Collins’ last season with the Mets , then his departure can’t come about quick enough along with the dead weight of players who have under-performed over the course of this season. The same can be said for Sandy Alderson and JP Ricciardi .

For Dusty Baker a great deal of weight has been placed upon his shoulders ever since he assumed the role as manager of the Washington Nationals succeeding Matt Williams in the position. With stars such as Bryce Harper , Gio Gonzalez , Stephen Strasburg and Daniel Murphy on the roster , it was assumed it would plain sailing for the ball-club . Instead near misses and a lack consistency prevailed with regard to their postseason ambitions . Washington has seen the rise of the Chicago Cubs with the end of their one hundred and ten-year drought . I get the feeling Baker and the entire Washington Nationals’ organization wouldn’t mind being in the driver’s seat while being called World Series champions.

The Washington Nationals have not made a postseason appearance since 2014 when they appeared in the NLDS losing to the San Francisco Giants in four games . In the three subsequent yeas the ball-club is eager to make another return to the postseason. A commanding lead in the NL East , the Nationals will be there and everything suggests they will be among the favorites for the NL Pennant . . Baker and his team are in the midst of a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers being played at Nationals Ballpark in Washington , DC. Game two of the current three game series takes place today , Saturday 16th September , 2017. It will be interesting to see what Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper are able to do in this series against the Dodgers. Dusty Baker and his managerial counterpart Dave Roberts are different stages of their managerial careers , but both are under a great deal of pressure to succeed.

While I wasn’t surprised by the sale of the Miami Marlins , the price paid by the new owners was simply ludicrous and outrageous. The Marlins are not a big market team and their accessibility by way of marketing revenues is nowhere as great as baseball’s hierarchy would have us believe. Bruce Sherman and business partners may well have paid $1.2 billion for the team , with Jeffrey Loria’s original asking price being in excess of $2.1 billion , but even in this day and age of wealthy owners within the game of baseball. Unless that ball club is competitive , profitable and a perennial contender then there’s no way in hell they’re worth the type of money now being banded about within the game. The only thing driving these upward trends within baseball’s economics remains the television deals and marketing which MLB continues thrive off.

Baseball’s players are some of the highest paid athletes in the world , but their names are not among the most widely recognized or the most marketable , while being able to attract major commercial sponsors. Mike Trout might well be considered the best player in baseball , but beyond North America the two-time ALMVP is not universally known across the planet. It is indicative of one of the many reasons the sport hasn’t really resonated around the globe even in light of the miserably mundane World Baseball Classic which elicits about as much excitement as watching paint dry on hot Summer’s Day . From Bud Selig to Rob Manfred , baseball and its hierarchy is still figuring out to make the game more widely accepted across the globe.

At this stage last season it was difficult to foresee what was about to happen as the postseason approached . It certainly wasn’t the case where there were many believers in the chances of Chicago Cubs pulling off the impossible , changing the course of the club’s history with their improbable run to the 2016 World Series . Once again they have all but sealed the deal , leading the NL Central as they look to round out the season with another divisional title. Having just ended their weekend series against the St Louis Cardinals with a decisive 4-3 home victory , Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon will now take his team on the road to face his old club the Tampa Bay Rays in a nostalgic visit to Tropicana Field , St Petersburg , Florida on Tuesday 19th September .

While Chicago’s fortunes have risen , the same cannot be said for the Tampa Bay Rays since Joe Maddon’s departure from the organization. The Rays remain in a state of disarray and for manager Kevin Cash things have not come easy for himself and his managerial staff . This team lacks confidence even with the leadership of Evan Longoria at the helm of the roster and the continued lack of self-confidence is no longer bewildering . Rays’ front office executives Brian Auld and Matt Silverman will have their work cut out for them this off-season as they will undoubtedly have to make some changes up and down the team. The penny-pinching , continues as team owner Stuart Sternberg continues to gripe over the reticence of the local governmental authorities to build them a new stadium at their expense.

There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of support coming from Rob Manfred as Stuart Sternberg vies to have a new stadium built. A stark contrast to the efforts of the Miami Marlins, New York Mets and New York Yankees. It seems when you have the ear of baseball’s hierarchy , as it actually counts for something, rather than continually being seen and treated as if you are at the bottom of the food chain. Sternberg is unwilling to put up any of his own money as a sign of good faith to even get the possibility of the project started . Furthermore , there is no evidence to suggest even with the new venue the Tampa Bay Rays’ fan-base of a paltry 23,500 would be able to continually support such an extravagance, with the stadium likely to take years to pay for itself were it to be publicly financed.

Kevin Cash’s position is not necessarily in jeopardy, but how his team looks next season is going to be far more different than the opening day roster of 2017. Make of it what you will , but these are the continued dire times for the Tampa Bay Rays who have been plodding from season to season over the last eight years without a real plan for growth and stability. It might well be another four or five years before the Rays make another return to the postseason. This is an organization devoid of leadership a t all levels within the ball-club and it shows. Evan Longoria has long been considered the franchise’ s best player , but he has never really led by example . Pretty much sums up what to expect from professional sports’ franchises within the Tampa Bay area in general .


Picture gallery . By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture while also reading the accompanying narrative.

This MLB postseason could very well be a very interesting one if the teams thought to be in the hunt play to their full potential . As for those on the outside looking in , they simply have to look at their issues and make the changes necessary .

Tophatal ……… 09/16/2017

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Losers , winners and mere simpletons ..

Losers , winners and mere simpletons ..

Repeated pratfalls by the NFL and it would seem some fans believe a less than forthright apology by Roger Goodell now rectified the idiotic decisions the commissioner made in light of the league’s handling of the Ray Rice “affair”. Escalating acts of misconduct by the NFL’s players over the years and it would seem that neither league hierarchy , the commissioner or many of the NFL’s apathetic and lame ass fans have learned a damn thing about the league, much less the fact the commissioner is so damn clueless. Theirs seems to be the belief as long as the NFL trudges along providing the fans with a banal on the field product , with a group of pompous and asinine on air prognosticators, the league can survive in its present guise.

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The players and their union (NFLPA) continue to hide behind privacy rights and the issue of due process , but at a time where the league has seen a rise in misconduct , the Players’ Union has done little to discuss the issue, much less player representatives or union Executive Director DeMaurice Smith have done little to rein in the misbehavior of their players or sought to discuss the issue publicly.

With news coming to light, where certain executives within the Baltimore Ravens organization might well have been privee’ to the taped incident of Ray Rice assaulting Jenay Parker , it begs the question, if the franchise was indeed in receipt of this information , then why was it not passed on to the league head office ? The NFL and the Ravens have been complicit in another unsavory cover-up and an episode which further suggest the ongoing incompetency of the league during Roger Goodell’s disastrous tenure. If to make matters worse, the commissioner is now of the belief in bringing in former FBI Directors Robert Mueller and Louis Freeh , it adds credibility in his seeking to rectify the problems he has long ignored concerning player misconduct. Nothing could be further from the truth , as we have seen in the lackadaisical way , with which the commissioner has failed to show consistency in how he metes out punishment to players guilty of misconduct.

Freeh and Mueller are essentially bureaucrats being brought in as the commissioner suggests in assisting the league to formulate a code of conduct and policy to be followed by all of the NFL’s thirty-two teams . If such a provision was never properly enacted or there was never a firm policy in place , then Roger Goodell is being a mere fool , if he now believes such a policy will be willingly accepted by the union and the players , when there has been a continued mistrust between the two parties all along.

Week three in the NFL offered the fans very little respite with the usual amount of anomalies one would now come to expect , with several teams giving the type of performances they and their fans would rather forget. This was highlighted by the inept display of the league’s worst team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , who were on the wrong side of a lopsided loss , in their 56-14 defeat suffered at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons. Lovie Smith , his coaching staff are now coaching a roster with the worst record in the NFL , with the Buccaneers now 0-3 , having posted this record for the third time in the last six seasons in a start to a regular sixteen game NFL schedule. Where Tampa now goes from here is anyone’s question, with the team showing little signs of life , in terms of competitiveness or any real leadership from the players. The Pittsburgh Steelers will play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which will be a Sunday afternoon game for the two teams in question, part of the week four schedule for the NFL.

A 2-0 start to the season may well have had everyone believing the Buffalo Bills were off to very good start , but they were quickly brought back down to earth as they fell 22-10 to the San Diego Chargers at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park , New York. For the Bills’ new owner , billionaire developer Terry Pegula , this was definitely not the way he wanted to start off his reign as the franchise’s and the NFL’s newest owner. The defeat , brings the Bills back to the pack as they share the lead in the AFC East with the New England Patriots , whose hard-fought victory over the Oakland Raiders was one of the less memorable games in the NFL over this past weekend . New England will look to follow-up with a second consecutive victory , when they face the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium , in Kansas City, Missouri in week four.

It is still early days yet in the NFL season, but I believe not until after week five can we really have a real insight how good the teams are , and the likely direction they will be heading. Granted, one or two teams are already showing signs they are likely to be uncompetitive as witnessed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.Yet, there is every reason to believe the likes of the Buccaneers , Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders will likely struggle over the remainder of the season given their lack of competitive play at this point of their respective schedules.

Kirk Cousins is now providing something of a lovely headache for Jay Gruden and the Washington Redskins’ coaching staff. The Redskins’ backup quarterback is proving to be a more than adept substitute for the usual starter Robert Griffin III , whose first two years in the NFL have proven to be somewhat erratic. Griffin however, is seen as the face and future of the franchise without delving into the financial investment made in the player, who was taken as the number two overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft , where he was drafted behind Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts.

While Washington is rooted at the bottom of the always overrated NFC East , it has to be said other than the Philadelphia Eagles , who have found a way to distance themselves from the rest of the pack within the division, the other three inhabitants are pretty much the best of a rotten bunch of apples.

Jay Gruden will take the Washington Redskins will be at home in week four where they will meet up against divisional rivals the New York Giants who will be led by Eli Manning , as the Giants’ quarterback will be looking to resurrect what was a very disappointing season in 2013 for the player. If the New York Giants fail to gain a postseason berth this season , then there are likely to questions raised, concerning the long-term future of Tom Coughlin , his coaching staff and the ten-year veteran quarterback of the NFL.

With a week to go before the end of the MLB season , several of the divisional races have all been sewn up. The Washington Nationals have clinched the NL East over a very disappointing Atlanta Braves team which did not provide much of the competitive race or competition for the Nationals over the course of the season. Now there seem to be rumors surfacing that GM Frank Wren will be shown the door by Braves’ organization. My own beliefs are , he front office should also be assessing the failings of Fredi Gonzalez and his managerial staff , as well as certain members of the team who failed miserably . At the end of the season, a decision is likely to be made concerning Frank Wren , but it is not likely to be the only changes made concerning the internal makeup of the front office , managerial staff and playing roster going into next season .

Elsewhere, there has to be a great deal of adulation within the state of California , with the knowledge both baseball clubs in the greater Los Angeles area have made the postseason. The Los Angeles Dodgers swept through to an easy defense of their NL West title and now look to make up for last season’s failings in the MLB postseason. The Dodgers’ AL counterparts the Los Angeles Angels made light work within the AL West dethroning the two-time defending divisional titlists the Oakland Athletics , bringing the Angels their first divisional title in five years , their last coming in 2009.

With there now being talk of a possible all Californian World Series’ finale, with the Los Angeles Angels facing off against the Los Angeles Dodgers . I would dare say this would be the sort of showcase finale baseball requires and needs, in light of the failure of the New York Yankees not being part of baseball’s postseason fare. Derek Jeter bows out of baseball after two decades of a career, which can be best summed as being exemplary. By contrast, it has to be said the AL East new divisional champions the Baltimore Orioles come into the postseason , with several notable achievements for the team , but a major blemish to their image, with Chris Davis having been suspended for failing the league’s steroid policy , all of this , from a player who swore blindly he had never once used a banned substance. Personally, if Davis can afford to be tutored by Brady Anderson , whose career was always suspect, given one standout year in an otherwise under-achieving career. There isn’t much else that really needs to be said concerning the accomplishments of both players and the apathy of the Orioles’ fans who believe Chris Davis and Brady Anderson, can be considered genuinely great players for the franchise .

Buck Showalter will take the Baltimore Orioles on the road where they will be the guests of the New York Yankees at Yankees Stadium in New York City, New York , on Monday evening. On the mound for the visiting team will be Bruce Chen as he faces off against Michael Pineda of the Yankees.

In the space of fifteen days the Kansas City Royals have gone from a sure thing, to a team intent on self-imploding as the final month of their season seems to be falling apart at the seams. The Royals are now 1 1/2 games behind of the Detroit Tigers within the AL Central , with only eight games left to salvage their year or otherwise , become part of the wildcard foray, where they are likely to face the Oakland Athletics in the wildcard round of the MLB postseason, In what is simply a one and done contest , such a game between the two teams is not likely to favor the Royals , who would have to face the A’s at the O Coliseum in Oakland, California , with the winners going on to the divisional round (ALDS) of baseball’s postseason fare. Kansas City may well be leading their season series in 2014 , having won five of their seven meetings , but it would take a real betting man to believe Bob Melvin and his staff will allow his players to let the Kansas City Royals run over them , given the A’s recent postseason experiences, for which the last visit for the visiting team their last such foray came two decades ago. Kansas City has been in meltdown mode and their last ten games (4-6) have been ample evidence of that very fact.

The Kansas City Royals will take on the Cleveland Indians as they look to make inroads into the lead of the Detroit Tigers . Brad Ausmus and the Tigers will be remain at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan where their guests will be the lowly Chicago White Sox . That particular match-up should prove to be a lopsided contest if their season series is anything to go by , with the game favoring the home team.

The Boston Red Sox as the reigning World Series’ champions were expected to contend this season not only within the AL East, but also in the American League (AL). Unfortunately. for John Farrell and his managerial staff this was to be a season of more lows than highs , with the team showing no signs of competitiveness or leadership from anyone on the roster. A far cry from last season, when the team swept through the postseason with the utmost of ease and they were barely challenged within the division of having out-gunnned their divisional rivals.

David Ortiz may well have been the World Series’ MVP last season and while his stats for this year have been far from impressive , but the real issue has been , why the falloff from a ball-club which was so competitive and decisive in 2013? One could possibly point to the issue of GM Ben Cherington choosing to assemble a roster which failed to live up to expectations . with several players nowhere near as good as was first thought. How and why AJ Pierzinski was ever thought to be a player with the ability to lead , much less provide the type of productivity sought has to be as bewildering as the acquisition itself by the ball-club. Boston has not only fallen out of contention, but will finish with its worst divisional placing in several years. With no game scheduled for Monday 22nd September, the Red Sox will resume their schedule on Tuesday 23rd September when they play host to the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park in Boston Massachusetts , in a contest between two AL East teams heading in the wrong direction . direction.

If the NFL is said to be rife with incompetence and utter stupidity, then NBA cannot be all that far behind ! It took the utter audacity and bigotry of Donald Sterling to in some ways show what is now going on behind the closed doors of this old boys’ fraternity made of up buffoons among the league’s hierarchy and owners , without delving further into the stewardship of former NBA Commissioner David Stern or his neophyte successor Adam Silver . Having to deal with the damage to its image, caused by the racial insensitivity of the tirade of Donald Sterling , which in some circles was simply being treated rather apathetically by fans ,as merely an owner having the right to freely express himself .

The NBA has since had to deal with the rather nonsensical uttering of two Atlanta Hawks’ executives further reiterating how bigoted and racially intolerant this league just happens to be. And for the idiots trying to suggest because of the makeup of the NBA is largely ethnic based, with a preponderance of the players being minority in their background. It simply cannot hide the fact, Bruce Levenson and Danny Ferry were showing a now obvious side to the league , which both Stern and his successor have failed to address over the years. If both Levenson and Ferry can be allowed to get away with such behavior and then one adds the depraved rants of Rich DeVos into the mix , while trying to negate DeVos’ idiocy with the fact, he might well have donated thousands of dollars to the transgendered and gay causes, it simply cannot detract from the statements made by the Orlando Magic owner concerning a specific demographic within society. This is not a not fictional drama being played out , but real life events , and in many ways , fools are now seeking to excuse such behavior as being acceptable within society , without ever mentioning the words , “ common decency and the respect of others “ .

You have to hand it to Glenn Taylor of the Minnesota Timberwolves who continues to bitch and whine about having to trade All Star power forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers . Things would not have become so farcical for the Timberwolves had either Taylor or Flip Saunders sought to build a roster competitive enough which would have persuaded Love to remain with the franchise . Instead , both executives have continued to take parting shots at the now departed star. As if to further exacerbate the situation, the front office now has to deal with a disgruntled Ricky Rubio,perhaps the only valuable asset left on the roster. The Spaniard has let it be known he is not entirely happy with the direction the franchise is now heading in , with even head coach Flip Saunders seemingly unsure about what his best lineup is likely to be during the exhibition season as well as starting the Timberwolves’ regular season schedule which sees the team with an opening against the Memphis Grizzlies. Saunders as the de-facto GM and head coach will have to make a decision before the start of the season or seek persuade Ricky Rubio to remain with the team , while he seeks to bolster the roster. Easier said than done , as I believe Rubio no longer has any desire to be with the Timberwolves . It certainly will be interesting to see what transpires between now and the start of the season, as the Minnesota Timberwolves seek to placate another disgruntled star.

Rex Chapman come down and take a bow. Having earned over $22 million over the course of your professional career in the NBA , you took it upon yourself in retirement to prove you were nowhere as intelligent as many believed you be . As a former Kentucky Wildcat may well have achieved some semblance of collegiate success , but in the aftermath of that career and the nondescript years in the NBA , you have now brought some unwanted attention upon yourself , being accused and then being charged with nine counts of theft of $14,000 worth of items from an Apple Store and then seeking to pawn those very same items in a pawn shop in Scottsdale , Arizona. Pardon me for saying this , but , how much of an asshole is Rex Chapman and are certain collegiate alumni from Kentucky that frigging dumb ?

While Rex Chapman is no longer a part of the NBA fraternity, the ex-player’s behavior is somewhat typical of the ongoing idiocy one continues to see within the league and player misbehavior. If left to the general managers , owners and league hierarchy to deal with such issues , more often than not the NBA tends to treat the players with kid gloves” . As to those who prescribe to the fact the Justice System has a way with dealing the misdeeds . State Attorney Generals at the state level and then at the county level , tend to seek a plea deal from the offenders who are then offered rather lenient sentences in such instances or if a case should go trial, you tend to have a jury not often aware of the law, even when under the advice being given to them by a presiding judge. Justice for all ? No , justice tends to be given to those who can afford the privilege of being treated with leniency, while the victims have no real rights of recourse.

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In light of baseball’s season now almost reaching its culmination, what do you believe have been some of the major highlights of the season ? Secondly, the NFL season is becoming more known for the off-the field issues , rather than for the play on the field . Do you believe the league has been able to deal with these issues appropriately ? Finally , how do you see the NBA season panning out and do you believe Ricky Rubio will be a player for the Minnesota Timberwolves at the start of the season or will he be traded ? Chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the topics raised in this article.

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Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) From left to right , Baltimore Ravens’ executives, team President Dick Cass , GM Ozzie Newsome and team owner Steve Bisciotti . Bisciotti has been critical of the claims being made by ESPN that the franchise had been receipt of the taped evidence showing Ray Rice assaulting his then fiancée Jenay Parker . The Ravens’ owner refutes the allegations but does state he wished he had approached the league earlier to decide whether not the franchise could take action against the player directly, rather than leaving the matter in the hands of the league hierarchy to deal with. AP Photo / Richard Walker …

(2) Tight end Levine Toilolo (80) of the Atlanta Falcons fumbles the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a game at the Georgia Dome on September 18, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images North America/ Kevin C Cox …

(3) Running back Antone Smith(35) of the Atlanta Falcons gets tangled with corner-back Johnathan Banks (27) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a fumble during a game at the Georgia Dome on September 18, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox …

(4) Buffalo Bills’ quarterback EJ Manuel looks to make a play in the game against the San Diego Chargers this past Sunday. San Diego would end up being the victors the in this contest defeating the Bills 22-10 . AP Photo / Paul McGee …. ….

(5) Oakland Raiders defensive end LaMarr Woodley (58) puts pressure on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Foxborough, Mass. AP Photo/Elise Amendola … ….

(6) Deposed GM Frank Wren who o summarily fired by the Atlanta Braves with a six games left in the regular season . Braves’ team President John Scheurholz made the decision in consultation with senior executives within the organization. John Hart will assume the role as interim-general manager until a permanent successor can be found. About the only real bright spot to the season has been the productivity of Braves’ outfielder Justin Upton who led the team in a number offensive categories in 2014 . AP Photo/ Gerry Parsons …

(7) Ricky Rubio (9) is seen here alongside his former teammate Kevin Love (42) . The pair led the Minnesota Timberwolves in a number of offensive categories last season but it was simply not enough for the team to get into the postseason. Love has since been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers leaving the Timberwolves without a proven scorer on the current roster. Rubio has voiced his displeasure in the trading of his former teammate and it is believed he too will seek a trade away from the franchise. Getty Images/ Adam Harris …

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Saying goodbye to an icon ……

Saying goodbye to an icon …

Well, as baseball continues to wind down its regular season schedule and play the biggest stories at the start of the season and still ongoing remains the winding down of Derek Jeters’ career with the New York Yankees . Jeter and his teammates have put up a solid front ,but it now appears he and the team are likely to miss the postseason for the first time since 2011, having not been part of baseball’s postseason fare in either 2012 or 2013.

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Though Joe Girardi and his managerial staff have guided the team to a respectable placing within the AL East , a second place finish to the likely divisional winners the Baltimore Orioles will be considered a major disappointment , as too will their failure to gain an AL wildcard berth where the team remains 4 ½ games out of the wildcard spot and where Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners are the two leading candidates. With twenty-one games yet to be played in the schedule before the end of the season, it will be interesting to see what the New York Yankees are capable of achieving between now and the culmination of the year. Inconsistencies all round, have been one of the things to plague this New York team along with a string of injuries throughout the season. It should also be noted the pitching staff have failed to live up to the preconceived notions many might well have had, in spite of the impressive debut of Masahiro Tanaka , their Japanese import signed to a major deal at the behest of Hank Steinbrenner . All well and good, until you realize , Steinbrenner’s alleged intent was to have the team’s payroll for this year to be considerably lower than the $200 million , for which Yankees now have the second highest payroll in all of baseball behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and their near $250 million in salary commitments.

Coming off a three-game series’ loss (2-1) to the Kansas City Royals the New York Yankees will now take on their perennial rivals the Tampa Bay Rays in a three game series to be played at Yankees Stadium in New York City , New York , beginning Tuesday , 9th September with the final game of the series on Thursday , 11th September.

Derek Jeter , continually the vocal leader of the New York Yankees, ever since he was made the captain of the team, for this season he has been his resolute self with his all-round play. To define the shortstop’s career , is hard to put into words , a five-time World Series’ champion , multiple All Star, Gold Glove winner , AL Rookie of the Year , but never a winner of the AL MVP. Try figuring that one out in terms of the decisions made about on the scale of the recipients of the award and the reasoning why he has never won the most recognized regular season award bestowed upon a player. I can only surmise the voters from the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) failed to recognize the name of Jeter on the ballot or they chose not to vote for the player for some reason ! Derek Jeter may not be leading the team in hits or batting average or runs batted in , but he has the respect of his teammates, managerial staff but more so the organization and what he has meant to the Yankees’ history and legacy.

Whether or not Jacoby Ellsbury will be seen as the heir-apparent to Derek Jeter in providing the New York Yankees with the type of leadership sought, but Ellsbury has provided the Yankees with the type of performances and play expected of the former Boston Red Sox player. The only question one might have concerning one of the Yankee’ high-priced free agent acquisitions , will be his resilience and health issues , in not being able to remain injury-free all season long during his career. If Ellsbury can continue to show the style of play exhibited this season, then the New York Yankees are likely to have some success in the future. For now, their season will be one, where they will have to play at a consistently high level while seeking end on a high note. With Alex Rodriguez not returning to the New York Yankees until the 2015 season , Brian Cashman might have to think long and hard about the future makeup of the roster .

The 1992 MLB Draft was quite lucky for the New York Yankees and the successes down the years in terms of the development of Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada guaranteed a great deal of the success during the mid to late nineties , when the franchise had unprecedented success in terms of their AL East divisional titles , AL pennant successes , World Series’ appearance , with four championship titles coming during the reign of Joe Torre as the Yankees’ manager. .

Jeter’s retirement , with this being his last season of a two decade long career , when, he made his debut for the ball-club during the 1995 season, with his first game being against the Seattle Mariners in an 8-7 loss in the contest on 29th May , 1995 played at the Kingdome in Seattle, Washington . Jeter can consider the events there, placed him on the path in becoming one of the New York Yankees’ greatest players , where his lists of accomplishments now place him among the pantheons of the game as well as one of the most respected players in Yankees’ history.

It is hard not to be extremely critical of the Houston Astros as a baseball franchise and their record over the past four years . It has left great deal to be desired , while team owner , Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow remain in complete denial about the lack of competitiveness of the team as well their financial predicament . The firing of Bo Porter was of no great surprise, but this asinine belief that their young players would lift them out of their continued doldrums, can only be put down to the lack of insight shown by the protagonists of this baseball club and the incompetence shown by Porter and his managerial staff during his tenure .

Of late the Astros might be showing some resilience having gone 7-3 in their last ten games among the best in the Majors , but consider the fact they are 24 ½ games out of first place within the AL West and 15 ½ games out of the wildcard berth simply, is an indicator about how bad this team just happens to be. Houston’s recent defeat of the Oakland A’s at O Coliseum in Oakland , California ,on Sunday, would have provided a boost for the Astros and interim manager Tom Lawless , as he has been given the task of managing the team until the end of the season.

The Houston Astros will now go on the road to face the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field , where Robinson Cano will be further looking to enhance his status as a legitimate AL MVP candidate for this season , while the Mariners look to guarantee themselves a wildcard berth for the postseason . A three-game series between the two teams will begin as of Monday afternoon . The first game of the series, will pit Brad Peacock of the Astros against Felix Hernandez of the Mariners in what is likely to be to a very good pitchers’ duel. Houston will need to be at their very best over the remainder of their schedule simply to avoid another one-hundred loss season as their fans have been accustomed to, in three of the last four years .

As great a manager as Ron Washington has been for the Texas Rangers and the dour year for the team , his personal resignation, having come as a shock to the organization and fans of this franchise. Washington has not given a detailed pubic reason behind his abrupt resignation, other than to say it is for personal reasons. GM Jon Daniels reluctantly accepted the manager’s decision and thanked him for his contributions to the baseball franchise during his tenure.

However , in light of Ron Washington’s personal demons and his well-chronicled battle with regard to substance abuse and addiction to cocaine , one could speculate the manager has fallen back into a cycle of substance abuse, even after previously taking a leave of absence from the baseball franchise for a stint in rehab. Baseball’s hierarchy , somehow believe there is a need for mandatory drug testing of the players for banned substances , but they have failed to make their managers and coaching staffs of the teams part of the collective bargaining agreement that covers the players through the deal reached with the MLBPA . One has to ask why neither Bud Selig or his recently named successor Rob Manfred did not feel that the managers within baseball should be covered by such an edict ?Clearly , a case where the league hierarchy believe the managers can do no wrong, but the players have to be held to a much higher standard in terms of a code of conduct . That would not be so comical, given, Selig and the owners’ systemic failings in dealing with the now decade-plus era of steroid cheats and baseball’s lack of understanding and acting with some voracity in going after the players in question.

There may well be a great deal of respect for Rob Manfred and his deftness in dealing with the labor issues within baseball , but in terms of his being seen as a “new broom” called in to clean house , there is likely to be the still idiotic pratfalls seen with Manfred’s predecessor Bud Selig, as the incoming commissioner has been as Selig’s side for several years.

Out of the divisional race within the AL West and no hope of gaining a wildcard berth , all that is left for the Texas Rangers this season is nothing more than respectability and a sense of urgency. Having the worst record within the game of baseball , simply gives us all an indication to how bad this season has been for the Rangers without Ron Washington’s resignation being added to the storyline for this dire year . Texas’ quest is now to give their fans something to believe in , while leaving the ownership to make a decision in which direction their managerial search will now take in terms of finding successor for Ron Washington. Tim Bogar has been given the job of interim manager until the end of the season, but it is my own belief the Rangers’ front office will seek a more high profiled replacement for the recently departed manager! ! Bogar and the team will begin a three-game home stand against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday , and it is likely this series could prove decisive for the Angels as they seek to dethrone the reigning AL West champions the Oakland A’s and win their first divisional crown since 2009 when they made the postseason, only to fall to the New York Yankees in the ALCS in six games, losing the series 4-2 , with New York going on to win their twenty-seventh World Series’ title, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies .

Taking the mound for the Rangers in the first of the three-game series against the Angels will be Colby Lewis as he faces off against Hector Santiago in this all divisional contest which currently favors the Los Angeles Angels in the season series.

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Picture gallery .

With Derek Jeter’s career coming to a close , do you believe his accomplishments place him among the all-time greats in New York Yankees’ history or has the hype and persona which has surrounded the player made him a bigger personality ? Also, what do you believe the future of Houston Astros and Texas Rangers will be after such a disastrous year within Major League Baseball?

Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) New York Yankees’ team captain Derek Jeter receives a standing ovation from the crowd prior to the game against the Kansas City Royals played at Yankees Stadium , in New York City, New York , on , on Sunday , 7th September ,2014 . The Royals blanked the Yankees 2-0 to keep a slender lead over the Detroit Tigers within the AL Central , providing MLB with the tightest divisional race in all of baseball. AP Photo /Kathy Willens …

(2) Kansas City Royals’ second baseman Omar Infante’s miscue allows Derek Jeter to reach second base on a hit by Martin Prado who reached first base on the error by Infante during the game played on Sunday afternoon at Yankees Stadium in New York City, New York . AP Photo / Kathy Willens …

(3) New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi ,left, is seen here with one of the team’s 2013 acquisitions ,catcher , Brian McCann and the team’s senior managing partner Hal Steinbrenner . McCann was signed to a five-year $85 million deal making him one of the highest paid players at the position in baseball. Getty Images North America / Maddie Meyer …

(4) Jacoby Ellsbury of the New York Yankees who was acquired by team as a free agent , after Ellsbury was not re-signed by his former team the Boston Red Sox . AP Photo/ Martin Dennis …

(5) HOUSTON, TX – APRIL 22: Houston Astros manager Bo Porter (16) , left and general manager Jeff Luhnow wait near the batting cage prior to the start of the game against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park on April 22 , 2013 in Houston, Texas. Luhnow fired the Astros’ manager this season (2014) after another disastrous year by the team with them showing no real signs of competitiveness on any level within the AL . Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

(6) Texas Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels is seen here with Prince Fielder (center) and former team manager Ron Washington . Washington offered his resignation to the franchise, offering little by way of an explanation other than to suggest the reasons for his decision were personal . Fielder has seen very little playing time and offering little by way of productivity for the Rangers, having spent a great deal of time on the DL this season . To further exacerbate the situation the Texas Rangers remain on the hook for the majority of Fielder’s remaining contract , which does not expire until 2021 . AP Photo / Philip Trent …

(7) New York Yankees’ legends , top row from left to right , Yogi Berra , Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth , Joe DiMaggio , Elston Howard, Micky Mantle , Thurman Munson , Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter . Upon his retirement there is likely to be a very contested debate about where Jeter will rank among the all-time Yankees’ greats. The one thing which cannot be denied is that Jeter has been among the most successful players of his era among the New York Yankees. Archives UPI /Getty Images …

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Horses for courses ……..

Horses for courses …..

We have already reached the midpoint of the baseball season and there have been one or two surprises along the way. Some very good pitching performances, exclaimed by three no-hitters and the less than threatening offenses of a number of teams . Add in the fact, the same old stories seem to be repeating themselves by way of the Houston Astros and I am beginning to wonder if this season is likely to be anything special at all !

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Slideshow .

The Astros, alongside the Philadelphia Phillies , now have to the two worst records in all of baseball and there has been little to suggest that the teams in question have the acumen to solve their on and off the field woes. Ryne Sandberg who succeeded Charlie Manuel to become the Phillies’ fifty-second manager in the franchise’s history , has inherited an aging roster of stars who now seem to be past their sell by date. To say the very least Philadelphia and the coaching staff have their work cut out for them over the remainder of their season. With several of the players on the team’s roster among the highest paid players in the league, it is hard to imagine where the organization will seek to go from here, but there now seems to an opinion, a long overdue “fire sale” is likely to place, with several of the players being jettisoned in order for some of the younger players being called up from within their farm system. Sandberg succeeded Charlie Manuel as the Phillies’ manager , but in the aftermath of the team’s failure in 2013 , it was clear that the front office and GM Reuben Amaro Jr had to make a change at the managerial level. A great deal of the blame does lie with Amaro and his failure in seeking to bolster the Phillies’ roster over the past five years.

Having won the World Series in 2008 with a lopsided series’ victory over the Tampa Bay Rays ,the Phillies’ fortunes in the later years can be best described as a ball-club repeatedly under-achieving. . Coming off a 6-2 drubbing from instate rivals the Pittsburgh Pirates , Ryne Sandberg will not take his players on the road as they face the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Ballpark , in Milwaukee , Wisconsin,. As losers of nine of their last ten games, it is easy to understand why the Philadelphia Phillies have been so woefully inept. The issues on this team covers just about every facet of their game , from top to bottom ., including the lack of leadership coming from the managerial staff , much less the seasoned veterans on the team.

We have often been told the NFC East remains the best division in the NFL and the same claims are continually being made about the AL East . That is not something as a baseball fan, I am ready to I subscribe to ! Granted, there are some very good teams within the division and the very fact Derek Jeter enters his final season with the New York Yankees makes the expectations within the division and for the Yankees that much greater.The Yankees for their part have been inconsistent with their being few bright spots on the team during the season, but what cannot be denied has been the outstanding performances of their rookie pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka during this season. . The pitcher has all but blown the hinges off the door leaving batters bewildered on his way to a league leading result in wins among rookie pitchers and starters in general. If that were not enough he just might be the best pitcher on the Yankees’ starting roster and that is with due deference to Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia , who now seem to spluttering through their schedule.

Joe Girardi and the New York Yankees are a mere 3 ½ games out of first place within the AL East, in a division led by what appears to be a steadfast Toronto Blue Jays’ team, the equally resilient Baltimore Orioles , to be followed by the third placed Yankees and rounding out the quintet of teams, are the Boston Red Sox and the last placed Tampa Bay Rays.. Jeter and the Yankees , coming off a hard-fought 9-7 victory over the Minnesota Twins , will have to remain consistent if they are to have any chance of winning the division much less guaranteeing themselves one of the two wildcard berths available within the AL.. . Monday , the Yankees will be pitted against the Cleveland Indians as they take to the field, with Shane Greene on the mound for New York against Cleveland’s Justin Masterson in a game to played at Progressive Field in Cleveland , Ohio,.

While many of us wish Derek Jeter all the best, as he winds down an astonishing career , it is my belief that he and the New York Yankees are unlikely to win the World Series , garnering him a sixth World Series’ ring. The Yankees are good but they lack the “killer instinct” of teams from the past and Joe Girardi , in spite of his managerial experience seem to be lacking the resolve in getting his players to buy into his managerial philosophy for this season..

Two-hundred million dollars can buy you many things , but in the world of baseball , it has been unable to garner the Los Angeles Dodgers a World Series title in either 2012 or 2013 . It is pretty much safe to say, managing partner , Magic Johnson might now be feeling a little peeved to see his team having squandered the chances offered them in the last two years. It seems like an eternity since the Dodgers made an appearance in the World Series ,but in 1988 , was the last time the ball-club tasted success in calling themselves world champions. This season is proving just as difficult for Don Mattingly and his team as they see the resurgence of the San Francisco Giants within the NL West , as the league’s highest payroll team struggles to find an identity and prove themselves to be one of the best teams in all of baseball.

A half game may well now separate the Dodgers and Giants at the top of the division with San Francisco having played two games less than their divisional rivals over the course of season , so far. Yet, based on what we have seen , is there anyone truly convinced that the Dodgers are indeed the equal of the recent two-time winning World Series’ champions? These two teams possess the pitching staffs to a great deal of damage within the NL as well as the rest of baseball, but consistency will be the key for both as they set to contend for the NL West divisional crown.

Los Angeles took care of the Colorado Rockies with relative ease in an 8-2 win in a game played at Coors Field on Sunday evening , while the Giants made light work of the San Diego Padres in their 5-3 victory in an away game on the same day . The Dodgers and in particular Don Mattingly and his managerial staff are under a great deal of pressure to succeed. Winning the World Series remains the priority of one baseball’s most revered organizations and the chase for that elusive crown. Two of this season’s three no-hitters were achieved by Dodgers’ pitchers Josh Beckett and Clayton Kershaw , two of the team’s best pitchers on a very impressive starting lineup.

Not really shocked, but there comes a time when you simply have to look at the work of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and ask the question how successful would he have been, were he afforded the luxury of having the resources of $200 million payroll ? Unfortunately , this remains a pipe-dream among the A’s and their fans because Lewis Wolff is not the type of owner to make such a lavish outlay while seeking success. At the same time, this gives us an eye on one of the many issues that still plagues the game of baseball and why neither, Bud Selig or MLB’s CFO Jonathan Mariner has any real idea how to create a level playing field, in terms of the financial fairness within the game and the teams’ payroll structure.

On Tuesday the Los Angeles Dodgers are the guests of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit ,Michigan , when Hyun Jin-Ryu of the Dodgers takes to the mound against Justin Verlander in a crucial contest for both teams.

Not really shocked, but there comes a time when you simply have to look at the work Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and ask the question how successful would he have been, were he afforded the luxury of having the resources of a $200 million payroll ? Unfortunately , this remains a pipe-dream among the A’s and their fans because Lewis Wolff is not the type of owner to make such a lavish outlay while seeking success. At the same time, this gives an eye on one of the many issues that still plagues the game of baseball and why neither, Bud Selig or MLB’s CFO Jonathan Mariner has any real idea how to create a level playing field , in terms of the financial fairness within the game and the teams’ payroll structure.

Having the best record in baseball does not always equate with success at the end of the season when it comes to baseball’s postseason . At present the Oakland A’s have the privilege of being viewed as the best team in the game with their league leading fifty-six wins (56-33) as of the 7th July,2014. Oakland has simply been laying waste to their opponents all season long and their 5-0 clubbing of the San Francisco Giants was further evidence of how good this team just happens to be. Never mind the issue of the Giants being one of the best teams in the NL and having seventh best record in baseball with only the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels having a better record over their last twenty games.

A’s coach Bob Melvin and his managerial staff have given the players the momentum needed but it remains to be seen if the team will be able to take the lead and deliver the victories needed as they seek to win their first World Series’ title since 1989 when they triumphed over when they defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-0 . They would reach baseball’s postseason finale again in 1990 ,only to fall to the Cincinnati Reds in the seven game series in a whitewash.

Baseball’s mid-season showcase event , the MLB All Star Game is not that far off on the horizon and already fans and media analysts alike, are questioning those who were snubbed and those who made it onto the rosters of the AL and NL teams. In my opinion, with the voting being no more than a popularity contest , very little credence can really be given to the veracity of the claims, as who is fitting to become an All Star and who is not. Does anyone really want to see players from the two worst teams in baseball, being given what . is something of a dubious honor ? Can playing on the last placed team within the AL or NL really be a cause, upon which one can say that is a mark of success ? Therein lies the idiocy of the claims by baseball writers, fans and members of the league hierarchy, that every team should be given the honor of having player be a part of All Star roster.

Mike Trout may well be the best all-round player in the game today and he is certainly the player who many believe will be the face of baseball for years to come, and deemed the player most likely to succeed Derek Jeter as being the face of this game for next decade or more. Baseball needs a fresh influx young stars able to attract the fans after two decades of constant betrayal of the fans , with the never-ending cheating , lies , deceit, hypocrisy of the league hierarchy , owners , general managers , MLBPA (Players’ Union) and the general apathy of the fans willing to excuse the behavior of the steroid cheats that have made baseball such a joke !

MLB has long sought to paint itself as America’s pastime but it has not been the case for several decades and it has been the incompetence of the league, in addressing the most serious of issues, leading to the constant ridicule and lack of leadership at all levels within the game. Ryan Braun was welcomed back with open arms after the 2011 NL MVP remained in denial while being complicit in a web of deceit and lies that any asshole with an ounce of common sense, could have seen through. But for the incompetency of the league’s own testing protocols and that of the sheer stupidity of the laboratory who presided over Braun’s results , the player’s suspension would have been far more serious, rather than the slap on the wrist received. With the Milwaukee Brewers once again competitive within the NL Central , it will be interesting to see what might be made should Braun and the Brewers make the postseason and quite possibly winning the World Series, itself. Scorn or not, such a premise would lead to the game being once again questioned as to its veracity.

Fifty home runs in a season is something of a rarity but during the steroid era , that feat was something of a regular occurrence , with the likes of Mark McGwire , Sammy Sosa , Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds making a complete mockery of that particular record. This year we are unlikely to see the fifty home run mark surpassed but the siege on that particular mark always seems to be an interesting topic of debate as well as something of a spectacle to watch. Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion and Giancarlo Stanton lead the way in baseball’s home run race this season , having just passed the halfway mark of the baseball schedule. Barry Bonds may well hold the single season home run mark, but in many respects in the eyes of the purists within the game , the mark they feel deserves recognition is the legendary statistic of Roger Maris’ of sixty-one home runs . I do not believe that anything else needs to be said concerning the matter !

Baseball’s mid-season showcase event , the MLB All Star Game is not that far off the horizon and already fans and media analysts alike are questioning those who were snubbed and those who made it onto the rosters of the AL and NL teams. In my opinion with the voting being no more than a popularity contest , very little credence can really be given to the veracity of the claims as who is fitting to become an All Star and who is not. Does anyone really want to see players from the two worst teams in baseball being given what is something of a dubious honor ? Can playing on the last placed team within the AL or NL really be a cause upon which one can say that is a mark of success ? Therein lies the idiocy of the claims by baseball writers, fans and members of the league hierarchy, that every team should be given the honor of having player be a part of All Star roster. The contests between the AL and NL in recent years have proven to be very entertaining with their being so much at stake for the winning league . Interest will certainly be peaked with this being the last All Star contest where Derek Jeter is a participant . How he bows out will be one of the highlights of the season , no matter the result.

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Picture gallery.

There remains a great deal to play for over the second half of the season, but for now, we have been intrigued to witness the stories that have unfolded at the midpoint of baseball’s schedule. What highlights have piqued your interest and which team or player has proven to be the most exciting to watch? On a final note, who do you believe will prove to be the biggest disappointment of the year among the ball-clubs and stars given their status at the start of the year? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and thanks for the continued support as always !

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Picture and slideshow gallery below .
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(1) Houston Astros’ Chris Carter , left, is congratulated by Carlos Corporan (22) following Carter’s solo home off of Texas Rangers relief pitcher Aaron Poreda in the eighth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. The Astros would defeat the Rangers 8-3 in a rout . AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …

(2) Houston Astros starting pitcher Brad Peacock and first baseman Jon Singleton talk with manager Bo Porter (16) as Peacock is pulled in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …

(3) Philadelphia Phillies’ general manager Reuben Amaro Jr is seen here with team manager Ryne Sandberg ,who in his first year as the team’s manager has seen the Phillies do so poorly while struggling to remain competitive within the NL East and the NL in general . An aging roster and several highly paid players are the primary reasons for the poor results witnessed this season . All signs are pointing to the fact , Amaro will seek to revamp the roster during this upcoming off-season and the likelihood will be , he will seek to trade several players superfluous to the team’s needs while promoting younger members from within their farm system. AP Photo/ Martin Davis …

(4) New York Yankees Derek Jeter, left, bumps fists with Masahiro Tanaka during introduction ceremonies before the baseball game against the Houston Astros on day Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Houston. Tanaka enters his first season with the Yankees as team captain Jeter enters his twentieth and final season with the franchise . AP Photo/Pat Sullivan ….

(5) From left to right , Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly , senior partner Magic Johnson , Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees and Dodgers’ CEO and senior managing partner Mark Walter are seen here at Dodgers’ Ballpark in Los Angeles California prior to a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees in 2013. Rivera who retired in 2013 as all-time saves’ leader and a five-time World Series’ winner had a historic career with the Yankees’ franchise. He is likely to be a Hall of Fame candidate in Cooperstown , New York having met the eligibility requirements. Getty Images North America/ Greg Parsons …. .

(6) Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin ,left is seen here with general manager Billy Beane as the two talk with the convened press at the O Coliseum in Oakland, California . The A’s are off to another impressive start to the season and lead with the AL West, while heading into the All Star mid-season break. Both the manager and executive are hoping that the team can have an equally successive start to the second half of the season with the ultimate goal being an appearance and the capturing of a World Series’ crown for the fifth time in A’s history . AP Photo / Dave Wilson …

(7) Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels is often seen in some circles as the best player in the game and the face of baseball for next decade. The player now at the forefront of an Angels’ offense that seems to be in control . AP Photo/ Kelly Richardson …

(8) Alex Rodriguez , left , of the New York Yankees and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers . The two players have become the “face ” of the steroid era over the past eight years. Each has faced a league mandated suspension, with the Yankees’ third baseman now sitting out the entire 2014 season after baseball’s hierarchy enforced their ban of the player for the year. Braun and Rodriguez have won four League MVP Awards over the course of their respective careers and are among the highest paid players on their respective teams ( Brewers and Yankees) . AP Photo / Harry Patterson ….

(9) Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins leads the NL in home runs this season but it remains to be seen whether or not he is likely to surpass the fifty home runs for the year . The Marlins are trying to supplant both the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals atop of the NL East. AP Photo / Chris Mendez …..

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Something cheerful about a female shaking her assets .

When Father Time Comes Knocking, You Can’t But Fail Not To Answer …..

When Father Time Comes Knocking, You Can’t But Fail Not To Answer

There comes a time when you become the elder statesman within your sport, there are calls and suggestions that you retire , or because of injuries suffered , you are no longer productive enough within your chosen profession. This baseball season will see the retirement of baseball’s most popular , with Derek Jeter having announced that 2014 will be his last in a New York Yankees’ uniform . The Yankees’ shortstop has graced the stage for almost two decades as a player having won five World Series’ titles with the franchise , several individual awards by way of the Golden Gloves , and an AL Rookie of The Year Award , but surprisingly never an AL MVP . That asides, when he plays his last regular season game , which will be a game against the Yankees’ venerable adversary , the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston , Massachusetts , we are likely to see one of the most emotional days in recent baseball history .

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I believe that Derek Jeter’s retirement will leave a huge vacuum within the game of baseball and most certainly a huge void on the current New York Yankees’ roster , where he has been the captain of the team for at least the past six seasons. He will depart from the franchise as a leader in several offensive categories but more than anything else , perhaps one of the most beloved and well-respected players in that franchise’s history . As to where he might rank amongst many of the great players to have worn the Yankees’ Pinstripes will now become a matter of great conjecture and debate across the panacea of the game amongst fans, baseball purists and historians alike .

Prior to Jeter’s retirement , the only other player I believe that was held with such high esteem within baseball within the past ten years , who left the game under what, were thought to be his terms, was that of Ken Griffey Jr , the famed outfielder , and son of Ken Griffey Sr . Injuries robbed the former Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners’ player of some of the best years of career , but he left the game with a batting average that one would deem respectable , along with some spectacular highlights as to his phenomenal athleticism in the outfield . Before, there was Torii Hunter and Mike Trout , there was Ken Griffey Jr, simply amazing the fans and analysts alike with his power and fielding . Perhaps only Bo Jackson showing his phenomenal prowess , might well have been Griffey’s equal at a time when the game was a joy to watch and before the “dawn “ of the “steroid era” and the advantages it provided hitters and pitchers alike .

While LeBron James continues to prosper within the NBA , currently making a mockery of many of his peers , perhaps with the exception of Kevin Durant , of whom, many believe may well be James’ closest rival as the best player in the league. Another player , who currently sits on the sidelines while his team labors under the rigors of an arduous season , while failing to live up to expectations. The question now has to be asked , was it really worthwhile for the Los Angeles Lakers to have offered Kobe Bryant that ridiculous two-year contract extension that will pay Bryant $48.5 million over the next two years , ending 2015 ?

As of the 4th March , 2014 the Lakers possessed the worst record in the NBA’s Western Conference and the team was simply uncompetitive under Mike D’Antoni’s coaching and the guidance of his coaching staff . From my own standpoint, coming into this season, I did not see this Lakers’ lineup as being a championship caliber team or a roster capable of winning their division , much less the Western Conference itself ! An aging Steve Nash at the point guard position , is simply not the answer for a team that sought someone who should be more productive, never mind Nash’s ongoing ailments and the fact that he has played a mere handful of games for the team this season . The alternatives for D’Antoni at the position , has been threadbare, along with any type of real productivity.

With Nash intimating that this is likely to be his last season in the NBA , the two-time League MVP , will bow out of the NBA with a list of accomplishments that belie his age , with the one missing notable achievement being an NBA title and championship ring. Steve Nash had a solid career, wherever he played , prior to his arrival with the Los Angeles Lakers at the beginning of last season. One now wonders what might have been, were Nash a part of the team prior to last season , when indeed, the franchise needed a player of his caliber ?

A recent seven point loss at home to the New Orleans Pelicans has pretty much summed up the woes of the Lakers’ season and the very fact that Mike D’Antoni’s coaching has become listless and uninspired , along with the play of this team. One could make excuses, that without Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers are a mere shell of a team. Yet, with Bryant on court , this lineup would simply struggle against many of their peers not just within the conference but across the league as a whole. The team’s record, now reflects a clear indication of they are and have become, and that is even with the advent of GM Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss thinking ahead with regard to the litany of free agents that will hit the market with the front office seeking to maneuver and place itself in better position with regard to its cap space .

For Kobe Bryant , now a seventeen-year veteran of the NBA , he is at the tail end of a career , that has seen him win every individual honor and team honor possible for a player within the league . Now a five-time NBA champion, the possibility of his now winning a sixth title, has seen that window of opportunity greatly reduced. Athletically, he is considerably slower than five years ago , with the explosiveness of his game, is no longer there. The question now becomes, without another marquee name beside him, can Kobe Bryant lead the Lakers to another title? Pau Gasol , has been a willing foil , assisting the All Star guard, but he too has become an aging veteran in the league , and again no longer the player, he was , three years ago . It is my belief that the upcoming season, will be Bryant’s last in the NBA, before he too , chooses to ride off into the sunset under his own steam , rather than being forced out by the team’s hierarchy !

Next up for the Lakers on their schedule , will be a game against their divisional rivals and inhabitants of the Staples Center , the Los Angeles Clippers . With their season series tied at one game apiece (1-1) , this third contest between the two teams , should prove to be very interesting, as Doc Rivers and his players seek to strengthen their grip on the Pacific Division within the Western Conference.

One game above ,500, at 30-29 , the Brooklyn Nets are lucky enough to be playing in a rather uninspiring division of the Eastern Conference . Currently, three game behind the Atlantic East leading Toronto Raptors (33-26) , perhaps the ” surprise”: team of the Eastern Conference this season. It would be fair to suggest, that this Jason Kidd coached Nets’ team , have been a great disappointment this season . . GM Billy King and team owner , Mikhail Prokhorov have simply sought to abandon any type of sound business principles and simply assembled a roster of high-priced players , with an aging core of veterans , in Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to surround the talents of Deron Williams , Brook Lopez and the “highly overrated “ Joe Johnson , whose contract and salary this season is one of the NBA’s biggest travesties and a clear reason why David Stern , the league hierarchy , team owners and general managers have no concept of fiscal responsibility .

What has been abundantly clear, is that the $110 million payroll of the Brooklyn Nets , the highest in the NBA this season , is further proof , that simply assembling roster of high-salaried players , is by no means a guarantee of success. The Nets found that out to their cost last season , with the team failing to make it deep into the NBA Playoffs , as hoped for, by then head coach Avery Johnson and interim replacement P J Carlesimo . The Nets failed to make it beyond the first round , falling to the Chicago Bulls in the best of seven=game series. Complacency, on the part of the players and a complete lack of leadership led to their demise.

If the NBA season were to end today, the Brooklyn Nets’ projected first round opponent, as the number six seed within the Eastern Conference , would see them meet the Toronto Raptors , currently holding down the third seed in the East. The Raptors lead their season series over the Nets 2-1 , and the likelihood of this Dwane Casey coached Raptors’ team overcoming Brooklyn, does seem a real possibility with the Toronto based franchise seeking to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2008 . For Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, after long and illustrious careers in the NBA , this may well be their last chance at combined postseason glory . The duo, were part of the Boston Celtics’ most recent triumph , when a Doc Rivers’ coached team were triumphant over the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals with a 4-2 series’ triumph. If the Nets are to have a successful postseason foray, then the leadership abilities of both Garnett and Terry will be called upon , beyond Jason Kidd’s own postseason experience as an NBA champion with the Dallas Mavericks and their triumph over the Miami Heat in 2011 .

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, are likely, future Hall of Fame bound players, given the body of their respective accomplishments as members of the Boston Celtics. Yet, at this stage , with both in the twilight of their careers, it says a great deal about both players and their ambition to go out as champions

Tim Duncan , already a four-time NBA champion, with the San Antonio Spurs , has an astonishing body of work as a player . His relationship with head coach Gregg Popovich , is like that of a father, proud of his first-born son. Duncan has been described as the greatest power forward in NBA history , something that Hall of Fame inductee Karl Malone may not be entirely in agreement with . Yet, you cannot deny that ” Mr. Fundamental” , as he is often known around the NBA, has simply made the position his own , in terms of his accomplishments. Yes, at present, there may well be, power forwards currently in the NBA, who show more athleticism than Duncan and are far more productive , but were you to ask a vast majority of fans would they take any power forward over Tim Duncan when a game is on the line , many of those individuals would definitely not have to think long and hard before coming to a decision .

Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves may well be the best player at the position, currently playing in the NBA , but as he continues to toil away with the Timberwolves , you simply get the feeling that in the end , it will be all for nothing . The Timberwolves’ front office appears to be lost and aimlessly heading nowhere , with their being little to show by the franchise in terms of any tangible success this season.

San Antonio comfortably sits behind the conference leading Oklahoma City Thunder (46-15) , one and a half games adrift , in second place. While, the talk within the conference and league wide, may well be whether or not Kevin Durant can succeed LeBron James and the League MVP . Gregg Popovich has the team concentrated on locking down that second seed and if possible , seeking to erase the Thunder’s conference lead in the coming weeks, as the regular season schedule winds down. If nothing else, one of the prime objectives also, has to keep the Spurs’ starting lineup injury free down that stretch as the last thing wanted , would be for Popovich to enter the postseason without one of the primary starters. Point guard , Tony Parker is currently out of the lineup due to a persistent recurring injury. With the Frenchman being sidelined, it gives the opportunity for Patrick Mills , Danny Green and Manu Ginobli to share the workload, while making up for the loss of the loss of Parker’s productivity , until he is ready to make a full return, to his normal starting duties.

On a four-game win streak and 8-2 in their last ten games , San Antonio appears to be rounding into the right form, as they look to wind down their schedule. . Tim Duncan, the omnipresent force and leader on this team , may well be now looking to the future as all of his career goals have been met. At best , he may well no more than one year of play left within him, as an arduous eighty-two game schedule can take its toll on the human body. Add in the fact, that the seventeen-year veteran of the 1997 NBA Draft , has been one the NBA’s mainstays during that time and it certainly gives credence , that were he to make this his last season in the league , there would be a great deal of applause for one of the great careers in recent NBA history. The accolades and achievements alone , will certainly stand the test of time , for one of the most celebrated and revered players in San Antonio Spurs’ history.

Would it be fair to suggest that during this past Superbowl , Denver Broncos’ quarterback , Peyton Manning might well have had one of the worst days of his already illustrious NFL career ? No one could have foreseen the Broncos being on the wrong side of a rather lopsided and embarrassing 48-3 defeat , suffered at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. That being said, the preseason meeting between the two teams should have been something of an indicator , even if both combatants fielded their second and third stringers throughout much of that game. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks came away triumphant in Superbowl 48 (SBXLVIIII) , while John Fox , his revered quarterback , Peyton Manning and the team are at a loss for words to explain an inexplicable and humiliating defeat .

Is Manning, now five-time League MVP, too old to be playing in the NFL at this stage of his career? Or more to the point, does he still possess the skill-set that have many speaking of him as the greatest quarterback ever to have played the game ? From my own personal standpoint, I believe at best , the quarterback has maybe no more than one or two years left in him, before he should simply “call it quits ” ! It is one thing to play the game because of your unbridled passing for football, it is another however, when all of your mistakes are magnified and placed under the microscope , with many now beginning to question your ability to play the game at the highest level , as has been the case with Peyton Manning.

Manning’s legacy, now has lost some of its shine , as some are likely to suggest, one Superbowl victory in three attempts , is a ‘ poor return’ , for someone who’s said to be the best passer in the game’s history. Then again, Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly went to four successive Superbowls with the Buffalo Bills and those four defeats , might well be what he is now best remembered for , rather than his career , and the records he attained while playing for the Bills. In the end , it all comes down to one’s opinion , as to what we believe to be great and what apparently is not so great .

What now happens with Peyton Manning, is now entirely in his hands , not John Fox’s , or John Elway’s , who as Head of the Broncos’ Football Operations , knows that with his incumbent quarterback , that is the best hope for the franchise to obtain a third Superbowl victory. The Broncos, may well seek to draft a quarterback in the latter rounds of this upcoming draft , while grooming that player for the future. Under Manning’s tutelage, that passer is likely to learn a great deal about the game, more so, than from any quarterbacks’ coach currently coaching in the NFL.

It seems somewhat ironic, that as I write about this topic, a decision, is made, by the Broncos to sever ties with one the franchise’s best players in its history. If the rumors are to be believed then today, John Elway cut defensive back Champ Bailey , saving themselves several million dollars under the cap , and maneuvering the franchise to either acquire a corner-back via free agency to draft one that specifically meets the team’s needs. The analogy of a “shut-down ” corner-back has been often used to describe players such as Deion Sanders and Nnamdi Asomugha , yet when I look at both of the players in question , the one thing that comes to mind , that neither was ever renowned for , was their alleged ” toughness ” , “willingness ” to ” make ” or take a hit , much less tackle an opposing offensive player. I may well be wrong, in my summation of both, but I seriously doubt it! Bailey for his part , has put together a Hall of Fame caliber worthy career , that places him amongst the upper echelons of the players to have played the position .

Pat Bowlen , owner of the Denver Broncos and John Elway will have a number of decisions to make this off –season in the lead-up to the NFL Draft. The disappointment of the postseason , with the only respite was having won the AFC West ahead of a now resurgent Kansas City Chiefs and the same can be said of the San Diego Chargers . It now makes the upcoming season all the more intense , because a great deal more will be expected of the franchise and their fans in attendance at Sports Authority (Mile High Stadium) Field in Denver , Colorado. The window of opportunity for the franchise to make it a reality , to win “now” , will prove to be all the more difficult , for Peyton Manning and several of his veteran teammates on the Broncos’ roster . The loss of Champ Bailey ,notwithstanding, business decision as it may well have been, , where this now leaves the franchise might well be gauged in some ways by the decisions made last season in preparation for their year . Their draft class proved to very good and their acquisitions were more than adequate, in meeting the needs sought. If that can be replicated this off-season, then there is no reason to believe why the Denver Broncos cannot make a return to the postseason. As to where they then go from there, will obviously be predicated upon the play of their renowned quarterback.

In the NFL much like the NBA and MLB , athletes actually playing past their prime is not actually unheard of . For many it comes down to their love of the game and their wanting to prove their doubters wrong. I believe that in the cases of Derek Jeter , Kobe Bryant , Champ Bailey and Peyton Manning , it has been more to do with their passion for the game more than anything else ! All are undoubtedly great athletes in their own right and with the likely retirement of Champ Bailey , we are now left to savor what else the remaining triumvirate of players will offer the fans .

Boxer Bernard Hopkins , currently seen as the linear champion within the light-heavyweight champion will seek to make another defense of his WBA and IBF titles when he meets Beibut Shumenov (14-9) at the DC Armory in Washington , DC on the 19th April , 2014. You may well think the proposed bout is nothing out of the ordinary , but consider the following , the champion is forty-nine years of age , fast approaching his fiftieth birthday on 15th January , 2015. His less experienced opponent , thirty year old Shumenov , from Kazakhstan , was five years old when Hopkins fought his first professional bout . Since then , Hopkins has won titles at the middleweight division , unifying it as an undisputed champion , moved up to the light-heavyweight division , won , lost and regained the title within the weight category and he now seeks to unify that division , all as he approaches his fiftieth birthday. Say what you will, it is either the “ Elixir of Youth” or “Father Time ” that either makes or breaks athletes who seek to be active at the later stages of their professional lives .

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What are your thoughts on the merits of this post ? By all means , do take time to offer up a comment on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) New York Yankees’ captain Derek Jeter is seen here congratulating teammate Alex Rodriguez after the team’s triumph in Game Six of the 2009 World Series . The Yankees would go on to be triumphant in winning the series with complicit ease in defeating the Philadelphia Phillies , in bringing about the franchise’s twenty-seventh World Series title . Jeter made the announcement prior to the New York Yankees’ Spring Training schedule , that 2014 , his twentieth in Major League Baseball would be his last season as a professional baseball player . AP Photo / Marcus Howe …..

(2) NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 11: Derek Jeter (2 ) (R) and Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees look on from the dugout in the ninth inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on August 11 , 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images ….

(3) Ken Griffey Jr , left is seen here alongside his father Ken Griffey Sr in the dugout of a game played against the Kansas City Royals at the Kingdome in Seattle , Washington , that would prove to be historic . The event would be the first time that a father and son played in a Major League Baseball game where they were suited up on the same team , in this case the Seattle Mariners . Courtesy of MLB.com MLB properties ….

(4) Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach Mike D’Antoni is seen here court-side with Kobe Bryant during a game played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California . The team has struggled this season , with Bryant sidelined due to an injury. Without him , it has brought about a telling perspective as to how much the player is missed when he is not on the court alongside of this teammates to provide the bulk of their offensive productivity . Bryant currently believes that the Lakers stand an outside shot of gaining a playoff berth within the Western Conference as the NBA season winds down with the final games of the schedule due to be played on 16th April, 2014. For Los Angeles that final game will be played against the San Antonio Spurs . Getty Images / Stephen Harper ………..

(5) Lakers’ teammates Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash , who between them have over a combined thirty years of NBA playing experience. The two guards have been limited to the number of games which they have played together this season , for the franchise , leading to their abysmal divisional and conference record . AP Photo / Mark Anderson ….

(6) Brooklyn Nets’ teammates Kevin Garnett (2) and Paul Pierce (34) of the Brooklyn Nets are seen her during a game played at Nets’ spacious home venue the Barclays Center , in Brooklyn , New York . Along with Jason Terry , the three former Boston Celtics’ players were brought in to provide some much-needed experience on a Nets’ roster that was lacking in leadership as well as defensive capabilities . Yet the team’s season has been in different , with a great deal of inconsistency being down by the team as a whole, leading to the belief that a postseason appearance , not beyond the franchise , is likely to be a short run , because of a lack of consistency being shown . GM Billy King has sought to “right the ship” , having traded Jason Terry to the Sacramento Kings , but yet the results still remain indifferent . It is likely that at the end of the season , the decision will be made not to retain either seasoned veteran , of Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce as the front office seeks to rebuild the roster around the talents of their All Star players , Deron Williams and Brook Lopez in the build-up for the 2014-15 NBA season . With a $110 million payroll , the highest in the NBA this season and with the franchise obligated to pay the “mandatory luxury tax” under the league hierarchy mandate. That sum will be in excess of $72 million and likely to lead to another financial loss for the second consecutive season for the Brooklyn Nets’ franchise . Billionaire team owner , Mikhail Prokhorov is willing to spend money in order to bring the Nets their first NBA title , but at what cost to his own financial acumen ? Getty Images North America / Erica Price ……

(7) San Antonio Spurs’ All Star and power forward Tim Duncan is seen here with head coach Gregg Popovich . Having won four NBA titles together in tandem as head coach and player , the two are seeking to emulate feats achieved by Michael Jordan , along with Phil Jackson and again of Jackson with Kobe Bryant in having won four or more titles together , as a head coach and player tandem. A fifth title eluded the pairing of Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich last season , when the team failed to take a-hold of their NBA Finals ‘ series against the Miami Heat , leading to a decisive game seven loss and leading to the Heat’s third title in the past seven seasons. Getty Images / Harry How ….

(8)Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) talks with head coach John Fox during practice Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Florham Park, N.J. The Broncos are scheduled to play the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 , in East Rutherford, N.J. What should have been a triumphant event for the duo of head coach and quarterback , ended up being a somber occasion after the Broncos’ humiliating loss to the Seahawks . AP Photo/ Garrett Jeffries …..

(9) Defensive back , Champ Bailey of the Denver Broncos speaks to the convened press prior to the Superbowl . The twelve-time Prow Bowl selection was cut by the Broncos after a stellar career with the franchise . Seen as business issue with the team avoiding a $10 million cap hit , Bailey made it clear that he has no intention of retiring and would like resume his NFL career elsewhere this upcoming season . A round pick , seventh overall by the Washington Redskins in the 1999 NFL Draft , the defensive player would prove to be effective in his rookie season with the Redskins . AP Photo/ Vince Gallagher ……

(10) Bernard Hopkins , not due to turn fifty until 15th January ,2015, will be making a defense of his IBF and WBA light-heavyweight world titles on the 19th April against Beibut Shumenov , from Kazakhstan , in what will be Hopkins’ second defense of his IBF belt . This will be the fighter’s thirtieth world title fight at either the middleweight and light-heavyweight division . Bernard Hopkins made twenty consecutive defenses of the middleweight title , unifying the division and become the last undisputed champion in any weight category of professional boxing in the past decade. Ring Magazine / Ronny Mercer @ copyrighted material … ……

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tophatal ………………. 03/06/2013 —- 10:54 AM

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I think she’s missing some type of exercise equipment , but I could , very well be wrong . Nah !

Bowing out in style, bowing out gracefully or simply bowing out, because the game has now become uninteresting?

Bowing out in style, bowing out gracefully or simply bowing out, because the game has now become uninteresting ?

In the lead-up to the start of the exhibition season in baseball , known to the most devout of fans as Spring Training . The biggest story of the early preseason has been the announcement by Derek Jeter that the 2014 baseball season will in fact be his last . He brings to an end a glorious two-decade long career that has seen the New York Yankees’ shortstop having won a slew of awards as being anointed as a five-time World Series champion as well as having a World Series MVP award . Certainly , Jeter would like nothing better than to win a sixth series’ ring in his final season, with the only franchise he has ever played for. Last season , he witnessed the retirements of two former teammates , in Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera who along with catcher , Jorge Posada , made up a core quartet , that were part of four World Series’ triumphs for the franchise during seven-year span , all under the watchful eye of then manager , Joe Torre , who this season was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York . Undoubtedly, Jeter along with Rivera and Pettite will be future bound Hall of Fame inductees having met the criteria needed.

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A great deal will be expected of this New York Yankees’ team after the usual flurry of acquisitions made by the franchise during the off-season , with the organization committing in excess of $400 million on the players acquired by general manager Brian Cashman to bolster the roster , managed by Joe Girardi and his staff .

New York is likely to enter this MLB season with the largest payroll of any team entering the official Opening Day schedule on the 31st March , 2014 . Consider the fact, that for the very first time in 2013, payroll commitment for baseball’s thirty teams topped $3 billion ($3,000,000,000) for the very first time in baseball history . As to what this might suggest , when it comes to teams showing financial expediency can be best summed up by the ongoing idiocy of baseball’s luxury tax sharing scheme which has not really served any real purpose , other than for the hierarchy to penalize the high spending salaried ball-clubs around the Major Leagues. From my own standpoint, I firmly believe that financial expediency will remain the last thing on the mind of baseball’s hierarchy, in spite of the official comments coming out of the league’s headquarters based in Manhattan , New York . The MLBPA is far too powerful a union to take on, with the owners simply cowering far too often in their wake. While the Players’ Union (MLBPA) itself , has a new successor to Michael Weiner as its Executive Director, there is no doubt in my mind, they will continue to always negotiate from a position of power ! Former player , Tony Clark now succeeds Weiner , who lost his battle with lymph node cancer , with his death coming as a shock to many around the word of baseball , with his tenure being such a short one.

The New York Yankees made a big splash in signing of Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka , making him amongst the highest paid starting pitchers in the game, with an astronomical seven-year $155 million contract , that also places him amongst the highest paid players on the Yankees’ payroll for this season . Were it not for the year-long suspension of Alex Rodriguez and his $29 million due for this season , Tanaka’s pay of $22 million still places him behind the annual salaries of both CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira . . With the team having missed the postseason , with a lackluster end to their season , falling way behind both the AL East divisional champions the Boston Red Sox and the second-placed Tampa Bay Rays . It will be extremely difficult to suggest that Tanaka’s acquisition along with that of Jacoby Ellsbury , Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran will be enough to see this team possibly leap-frog both of their divisional rivals , while also posing a serious enough threat to the rest of the AL this upcoming season . Last season, injuries alone , were not the sole excuse for the Yankees’ on field failures. Several of their games were lost due to their complacency and a lack of leadership coming from anyone on the field of play , while team captain , Derek Jeter spent a large part of the season on the team’s disabled list with two prolonged spells .

Pitching will have to consistent all season long for the New York Yankees , in a division , where the makeups for the rosters of the Baltimore Orioles , Toronto Blue Jays , Rays and Red Sox will have a dearth and considerable depth to the lineups of the aforementioned teams. CC Sabathia is likely to be the Opening Day starter for the Yankees, a role which fits the veteran nicely. Hiroki Kuroda , Masahiro Tanaka can presumably be, switched around as the number two or three starters in the rotation , to be followed by Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova , as the case maybe . The reliever’s role now becomes all the more trickier for Joe Girardi, as Yankees will no longer have Mariano Rivera to close out games , be it for the last 2 1/3 innings or slightly longer . Rivera’s retirement along with his record-breaking 652 regular season career saves and another forty-two in postseason play , makes him the most dominant pitcher in history in that specific role. A staple for the New York Yankees that they are now likely to miss more than Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild would care to willingly admit .

Robinson Cano’s departure from the New York Yankees to join the Seattle Mariners may well be questioned, as I believe that the player is likely to struggle within an organization that has not made the postseason in several years and whose last divisional title came in 2001 . It begs the question, has Cano simply become a mercenary , albeit that his agent , Jay-z of Roc Nation Sports, sought the best for client, in terms of what he believed was Robinson Cano’s worth ? The player himself , indicated that he felt disrespected by the New York Yankees , and the negotiation process led by Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner as they made a vain attempt to re-sign the player to a lucrative contract . The Yankees have and will move forward , while Cano, by mid-season, could very well be pondering if he made the right decision to leave the New York Yankees to join an organization , merely struggling to remain relevant within the AL West , as it has so often done over the past eight years .

If there is one thing that we do know about Derek Jeter and his persona , it is that he is a gritty and very determined player. Few players have been afforded the privilege, of becoming the captain of the New York Yankees during that proud franchise’s history . The last such player of note, to be given that role, was Don Mattingly , who currently manages the Los Angeles Dodgers . Mattingly’s , own career with the Yankees was filled with highs and lows , but he became a fan favorite with his heroics on the field of play , with his candor , when dealing with the press and the fans alike, away from the diamond. Jeter is likely to go down as one of the most celebrated players in recent Yankees’ <a href=http://m history and franchise history overall , while not necessarily being considered one of the top five or six players ever to have donned the Yankees’ Pinstripes. Yet , a debate is likely to begin amongst the fan-base of the Yankees and amongst the purists and MLB analysts everywhere as to where he ought to be ranked amongst the likes of Lou Gehrig , Joe DiMaggio , Mickey Mantle , Babe Ruth , Phil Rizutto and perhaps, Mattingly, himself. That may well be a debate, that is likely create arguments and counterarguments, concerning a very much heated topic among the protagonists and contraries .

While Derek Jeter claims that now is the right time for him to step away from the game, to devote more time to his charitable and philanthropic efforts , be with his family and by his own words, start a family . It has me wondering, Jeter’s wish may well be to leave on a high note, but I can’t help but wonder, if the player has simply not become disenchanted with the game of baseball and the never-ending controversies, that have come to encapsulate baseball in recent seasons , leaving a number of fans also disenchanted and simply distrustful of the league hierarchy led by Bud Selig . Jeter has never openly discussed the issue of steroids within the game , which is very much line with many of his peers , albeit , that the likes of Albert Pujols and David Ortiz have seen their names brought up as a topic of debate concerning the issue. Pujols has come out and suggested, that if the league wants to test him ‘ then they can’ , as he has never and would never use an illicit substance in order to assist his game . The slugger’s career in baseball since his entry in to Major League Baseball when drafted by the St Louis Cardinals in the 1999 MLB Draft . In the ensuing years he has become one of the most prolific players of this era .

Derek Jeter’s first exhibition game for the New York Yankees will likely see a major turnout , in terms of the legions of fans, wishing to bid him farewell . He has become one of a handful of role models that the game of baseball can actually point to and say “ he has done things the right way” . A case like that, cannot be made for Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa , Mark McGwire , Jose Canseco , Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Braun. Such has been the dismay within the sport and the very fact that Bud Selig remains clueless , on how best to address one the biggest continued stains on the game, since the “Black Sox “ scandal over nine decades ago. Granted, racism , segregation ran the gamut through baseball and while many lauded Branch Rickey and his “ social experiment “, with the introduction of Jackie Robinson unto an integrated team , it should be noted that Robinson was not the first person of color , ever to play in the Major Leagues. Moses Fleetwood “ Fleet” Walker would break the “color barrier” . be it ever so briefly , but therein lies how history seeks to rewrite the annals of the game , to paint the type of picture that appears to be more socially responsive .

Fleetwood    Walker

A historical account is given of Moses Fleetwood ” Fleet” Walker of his being the first player of color to have played in the Majors , some six decades head of Jackie Robinson’s first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 .

The regular season home opening series at Yankees Stadium will likely see a full house with the press in full attendance , print and television media alike , along with credentialed representatives from farther afield , as this story will be of international importance wherever baseball is known to be played and with the Yankees having legions of fans across the globe. That initial three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles starting on the 7th April will prove to be a historic event in the milestone of Derek Jeter’s career and that of the New York Yankees. Subsequently , the Boston Red Sox will come to town and the two teams’ season long series should prove to be eventful, much like their it annual meetings have proven to be over the past two decades . This is perhaps the greatest rivalry within baseball, with so many of these contests having additional meaning for the soon to be retired Yankees’ shortstop. In recent history , perhaps the most memorable contest between the two teams took place series and what is now known as perhaps one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history and also the biggest meltdown by a team leading a series , with their needing one game for victory and a berth in the World Series.. That classic 2004 ALCS contest between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees still has reverberations within both organizations , as it led to the Red Sox’s resurgence under Terry Francona , with two World Series in the span of five years and then with another in 2013 , under newly installed manager John Farrell .

As the season meanders towards its postseason finale , it will be interesting to see whether or not the New York Yankees will be in contention for a divisional title within the AL East or perhaps a wildcard berth as they chase down unprecedented forty-first AL Pennant and twenty-eighth World Series’ title . The month of September should prove to be climactic for all of the league’s thirty teams , but perhaps more so for the Yankees and all that this season is likely to mean for the franchise and the career of Derek Jeter.

How appropriate is it, that what is likely to be Jeter’s last regular season game will be played at Fenway Park in Boston on the final day of the season , when the New York Yankees will be the guests of their most famous rivals the Boston Red Sox ? Nineteen regular season meetings on annual basis , has a great deal going for it , and if the two teams should somehow also be contesting the AL East on the final day. Then look for the heroics to come from Jeter and his teammates, as they seek to send him out in style. That may not prove to be the case however , as it is my firm opinion that the Red Sox are likely to prevail once again this season and repeat as divisional champions. They proved to be far too dominant for their rivals within the AL East as their season long series against the Baltimore Orioles ( 8-11) , New York Yankees ( 13-6) , Tampa Bay Rays ( 12-7) and Toronto Blue Jays ( 11-8)would prove to be as evidence in those contests.

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Picture gallery .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this article and how do you view the career of Derek Jeter as a player with the New York Yankees ? Your comments are more than welcome, so chime in, with a thought as you see fit.

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter speaks with Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindal , a managing partner within the New York Yankees’ organization . Jeter met with the convened press at the Yankees’ Spring Training facility at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa , Florida where he confirmed that this season would be his last in Major League Baseball , having played his entire two-decade long career with franchise . AP Photo / Chris O’Meara ….

(2) New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter gestures during a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. Jeter has announced he will retire at the end of the 2014 season. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …

(3) New York Yankees part owner and co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner listens as shortstop Derek Jeter speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. Jeter has announced he will retire at the end of the 2014 season. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ….

(4) New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman responds to a question about shortstop Derek Jeter after a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. Jeter has announced he will retire at the end of the 2014 season. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …

(5) TAMPA, FL – FEBRUARY 19: Joe Girardi, Manager of the New York Yankees speaks after Derek Jeter spoke at a media availability after announcing that the 2014 season will be his last before retiring at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 19, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images …

(6) Jacoby Ellsbury is seen here with New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi after the player was formally introduced to the convened having been acquired as a free agent . Ellsbury coming off a World Series’ win with the Boston Red Sox last season , hopes to be productive for his new team spearheading on offense that will also include Mark Teixeira , Carlos Beltran , Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki . AP Photo / Chris Evans …

(7) Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees poses for a photograph with, from left, general manager Brian Cashman, Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost , President Randy Levine , managing general partner and co-chairperson Hal Steinbrenner , Assistant General Manager Jean Afterman and manager Joe Girardi as he introduced to the media during a news conference on February 11, 2014 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Tanaka signed a seven-year $155 million contract that will see him be a part of the Yankees’ pitching rotation that will include CC Sabathia , Hiroki Kuroda , Ivan Nova and David Phelps . Jim McIsaac / Getty Images …..

(8) Derek Jeter is seen here during the 1996 World Series played against the Atlanta Braves . Coming off his Rookie of the Year Award in 1995 , in his second year as a Major League player he would be in the first of his four World Series’ triumphs with Joe Torre as the Yankees’ manager . Atlanta would succumb to the Yankees in a lopsided series’ loss to the AL Pennant winners of that season . AP Photo / Marcus Shaw …..

(9) A historical account is given of Moses Fleetwood ” Fleet” Walker of his being the first player of color to have played in the Majors , some six decades head of Jackie Robinson’s first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 .

(10) Roger Clemens ,(left) and Barry Bonds , two of the most celebrated players of their generation and long seen as the “faces” of the steroid era within baseball . Bonds a seven-time NL MVP remains the all-time career and season home runs’ leader . Clemens is himself a seven time Cy Young Award winner with over three hundred career wins and over 4000 strikeouts on his career resume’ . Both players were on the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot , but failed to gain the necessary votes for induction into Cooperstown . In 2015 their names will once again be up for submission , but it is highly unlikely that either will be voted in . UPI / Matt Simmons ……….

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The crack of maple, and then there was the crack heard around the world , Jeter’s ankle just gave out

The crack of maple, and then there was the crack heard around the world , Jeter’s ankle just gave out

By Tophatal

That tingling sensation at the back of your neck are the hairs standing up, and now comes the unthinkable, the New York Yankees’ postseason hopes now appears to be on the line with the injury sustained by Derek Jeter in the ALCS series against the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees’ captain ,Derek Jeter , sustained a season-ending injury, a broken left ankle , that will now see him miss entire postseason schedule . The loss was magnified by the fact that the team lost their series’ opener in a highly sensational game to the Tigers in extra innings.
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For the thousands in attendance at Yankees Stadium in New York City , New York , and the millions more watching on broadcast television , the sight of the five-time World Series’ champion being assisted off the field sent a chilling feeling, as the captain left the game. Jeter’s teammates , to the man , showed their angst in their post-game interviews, stating that they were in complete shock to know that their trusted leader would no longer be part of this series or the remainder of postseason. The game itself, prior to the loss of Derek Jeter, ebbed and flowed over the nine innings before entering into suspense filled ending that went extra innings (twelve) . Tigers’ closer Jose Valverde blew the save opportunity when offered, and it became clear that the Yankees sought to take advantage of the chance to garner a 1-0 lead in this best of seven-game series.

As ALCS games go, this one might be one of the most eventful and thrilling in recent history. Joe Girardi now has to reshuffle his lineup, and with the poor postseason for Alex Rodriguez , somehow you get the feeling that the third baseman might not be the manager’s choice to replace Jeter at the short-stop position. In all likelihood , Girardi will seek to either platoon his available short-stops Jayson Nix or Eduardo Nunez to replace the team’s All Star short stop . Nunez has proven to be the better of two options with far better defensive and offensive skills than his teammate. A game-time decision will be made by Joe Girardi , when the two teams meet today in game two . On the mound for the Yankees , will be Hideki Kuroda (0-0,2.16 ERA) , as he faces off against Anibel Sanchez (0-1, 2.84). The team lineups will be will be announced later on today, prior to the game-time start. The New York Yankees can ill-afford to find themselves in an 0-2 deficit , in this best of seven game series, and going down would lead to a monumental mountain to climb in having to erase such a margin.

Jim Leyland , and Dave Dombrowski have assembled a team for what they believe , is for the long haul , and it should be noted that Miguel Cabrera , Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander , are intent on bringing a championship back to Comerica Park, and the always vociferous Tigers’ fans . In 2011, the Tigers were part of baseball’s postseason fare, where they would fall (4-2) to the Texas Rangers . The team would also be a participant in the 2006 World Series, where they would succumb to the St Louis Cardinals in a thoroughly lopsided series.

Michael Ilitch, the Tigers’ billionaire team owner yearns to see the franchise win a World Series , having had considerable success with the Detroit Red Wings and their multiple —- Stanley Cup titles . If ever the time was ripe for such a scenario , then now would be it , albeit that the ball-club’s sole triumph in the game’s biggest postseason fare came in 1984 , as Alan Trammell , Marty Castillo and Jack Morris , led the Tigers to their biggest postseason victory in the franchise’s history. The Detroit Tigers are celebrating , with Miguel Cabrera coming off a tremendous season , with the acclamation of being the first Triple Crown award claimant in forty-five years, having succeeded Carl Yastremski , in accomplishing that feat.

In the NLCS match-up the San Francisco Giants are playing host to the St Louis Cardinals in their series for the first two games . Game one, will pit Lance Lynn (1-1, 8.10 ERA) of the Cardinals against Madison Baumgartner (0-1, 8.31 ERA) in what is sure to be a highly competitive game.

The two participants in this season’s NLCS are the winners of the last two World Series titles in 2011 and 2010. Both franchises are steeped in tradition and success , and the emphasis in this series will undoubtedly be the pitching, albeit that neither team is said to be found wanting, in terms of their offensive prowess . Should either of the two series go their full distance , then we should be in for an eventful postseason foray , with thrills , spills and whatever else these games will have in store for us all .

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Picture gallery, for your perusal.

Which events of the MLB postseason have been the most surprising by your estimation? And which teams do you believe will be the two participants in the World Series? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slide show details below.
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(1) Detroit Tigers pitcher Jose Valverde waits for the ball after giving up a two-run home run to New York Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki , rear, in Game 1 of the American League championship series Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, in New York. Valverde and the Tigers would go on to defeat the Yankees 6-4 in twelve innings .AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(2) New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter reacts after injuring himself in the 12th inning of Game 1 of the American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers early Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in New York. AP Photo/Paul Sancya ….

(3) Trainer Steve Donohue , left, and New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi , right, help Yankees’ Derek Jeter off the field after he injured himself during Game 1 of the American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in New York. AP Photo/Paul Sancya …..

(4) Detroit Tigers’ Alex Avila attempts to catch a pop-up by New York Yankees’ Raul Ibanez in the fourth inning of Game 2 of the American League championship series Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in New York. Umpire in background is Rob Drake . AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(5) Fans seated in the upper deck at Yankee Stadium wait for the start of Game 2 of the American League championship series between the Yankees and Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in New York. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …..

(6) San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence , left, and Marco Scutaro work on some bats during a practice session for baseball’s National League championship series Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, in San Francisco. The St. Louis Cardinals play the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the NLCS on Sunday. AP Photo/David J. Phillip ….

(7) Cardinals closer Jason Motte (right) embraces catcher Tony Cruz as their teammates rush the field after Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. AP Photo/Chris Lee, Post Dispatch ……

(8) Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson speaks at a news conference after Game 5 of the National League division baseball series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, Oct 13, 2012, in Washington. St. Louis 9-7 . AP Photo/Nick Wass ……

(9) St. Louis Cardinals’ Pete Kozma singles in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the National League division baseball series against the Washington Nationals on Saturday, Oct 13, 2012, in Washington. David Freese and Daniel Descalso scored on the play . AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais ….

(10) Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper stands by his locker after Game 5 of the National League division baseball series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, Oct 13, 2012, in Washington. St. Louis won 9-7. There now seems to be a great deal of questioning of the decision made by GM Mike Rizzo to shutdown the team’s starting pitcher —– Stephen Strasburg , and thereby dashing the hopes of the ball-club’s chances of advancing deeper into the MLB postseason. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais ……..

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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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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

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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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Enabled And An Embarrassment ……………….

Enabled And An Embarrassment ……………….

I’m sorry but I’ve always felt that the MLB hierarchy along with the team owners and MLBPA have been the main culprits and protagonists behind the facade of the whole steroid debacle that still blights the game . The argument now still harkens to the fact that certain players due for future eligibility for the Hall of Fame will unquestionably debated over by the BBWAA . One such player will undoubtedly be New York Yankees’ slugger and third baseman Alex Rodriguez .

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The player currently on the team’s DL looking to recuperate before returning to the active roster and contributing down the stretch run of the Yankees’ season . Alex Rodriguez has always courted controversy both on and off the field of play. And it should come as no surprise that he might well be one of the most despised players in the game of baseball currently playing. There may well be some sort of animus towards Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens . There’s no denying that the aforementioned duo in spite of their legal problems are as hated any player could possibly be over the last two decades.

Barry Bonds awaits sentencing having been found guilty in his Federal trial of committing perjury and obstruction of justice . Clemens for his part having seen the judge declare a mistrial in his proceedings due to the stupidity of the prosecuting attorneys with the judge declaring a mistrial should be under no illusion that the Justice Department will be allowed a second bite at the apple. The player’s lead defense attorney Rusty Hardin may well feel his client is being wrongly prosecuted , victimized and vilified . But Roger Clemens has done little to suggest that he has if anything been totally honest throughout this whole episode . The allegations notwithstanding , his testimony to Congress and the members of the House Oversight Committee led many to believe that all the player sought to do was to absolve himself of any perception of guilt by painting others as lacking integrity or simply attacking their credibility. And while one can’t certainly question that assertion of Brian McNamee , the player’s former personal trainer what cannot be denied was the testimony given by Clemens’ former teammate Andy Pettite which if anything was very succinct and considerably more believable than the whole assertions made by the seven time Cy Young award winner. .

Courtesy of The New York Times

Alex Rodriguez to Be Asked About Poker Games

By Michael S Schmidt ,

Once again, officials for Major League Baseball want to meet with Alex Rodriguez . This time, though, it is not about performance-enhancing drugs. In the coming weeks, baseball officials plan to question Rodriguez about reports of his participation in illegal poker games.

The officials announced Wednesday that they would ask for the meeting after Star Magazine reported that Rodriguez “played in an underground, illegal poker game where cocaine was openly used, and even organized his own high-stakes game, which ended with thugs threatening players.”

Under the rules that govern baseball players, Rodriguez will have to truthfully answer baseball’s questions. If he acknowledges that he played in underground games or if officials uncover evidence that he did so, he could face a suspension.

The report Wednesday came a month after Major League Baseball opened its own investigation into Rodriguez’s ties to gambling. The investigation was prompted by a Star Magazine report in June that said Rodriguez had participated in a high-stakes illegal poker game with the actors Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

“We take this very seriously and have been investigating this matter since the initial allegation,” said Pat Courtney, a spokesman for Major League Baseball. “As part of the investigation, the commissioner’s office will interview Mr. Rodriguez.”

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Alex Rodriguez is now said to be embroiled another controversy of his own making and circles around the player having been warned by Bud Selig and several members of the league’s hierarchy over his involvement in high stakes poker games as well as possibly gambling on various sports’ events . It is not known whether or not beyond Alex Rodriguez any of his Yankees’ teammates are involved in this latest incident . Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman it has been noted has spoken directly with the player repeatedly on this issue but it all appears to have gone unheeded. There’s no doubt in my mind that the New York Yankees’ hierarchy under Hank and Hal Steinbrenner cannot be too pleased with this latest controversy surrounding the player. It’s one thing that Rodriguez is the highest paid player in the game but his demeanor and lack of contrite action in lieu of his now public apology after his admission of steroid use , has left many wondering if Alex Rodriguez really gives a damn . In reality the player will do whatever it takes to paint himself in a positive light when all is said to be against him.

If one remembers during his very public apology at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa , Florida two years ago for his admitted steroid use , he looked to apportion blame elsewhere by blaming in part his cousin , Yuri Sucart . Now in light of his latest faux pas it remains to be seen what punishment if any will be levied against the player either by the league or for that matter by the New York Yankees , themselves. Certainly, if nothing is done by Bud Selig then one would expect Brian Cashman or the duo of Steinbrenner brothers to act. If Alex Rodriguez believes he can simply flout many of the game’s most sacred rules then it says a great deal about the disrespect that he has for the games’ very tenets . And his situation certainly hasn’t been helped that he has been enabled , coddled and allowed to be treated as an enfant-terrible much to the disdain of many purists of the game. Some may well delight in this fact as they believe that a superstar ought to be treated differently from his teammates ________ but baseball is not about any one individual it is in essence a team sport. While while Rodriguez’s career stats speaks for itself and the very hallowed marks that he hopes to surpass I can’t help but wonder what else the player will now do to further sully his reputation and that of the game !

Alex Rodriguez’s name has repeatedly come up in the Justice Departement’s investigation and subsequent indictment of Orlando medical professional Dr Anthony Galea but somehow the player has yet to be questioned by the governmental agency or anyone from the league hierarchy on the matter. Galea had been indicted on grand larceny , the sale and illegal transportation of PED’s across state lines , international borders , also of anabolic steroids and other prohibitive substances. The doctor also had amongst his clients at his Orlando medical facility a number of prominent sports’ stars amongst of which Alex Rodriguez and Tiger Woods were said to be clients of his . The golfer hasn’t confirmed that he has been approached by the Justice Department but issued a statement through his agent Mark Steinberg that he would willingly cooperate with any ongoing investigation by the department. Rodriguesz for his part has simply refused to answer any direct questions concerning his name being associated with Galea, instead seeing it as a none issue given his prior act of contrition in terms of the apology offered . But such has been the idiocy of the claims that MLB has cleaned up the image of the game and its association with the steroid era , in part when we know that Alex Rodriguez can continue to make a mockery of the image of baseball.

The talk is that steroids because there were embroiled and became a part of the game one shouldn’t at all see it as a detriment of baseball . I say bullshit, given the fact that not one person who views this all as a none issue even cares to discuss the health ramifications from the misuse and abuse of steroids and other PED’s . Renal failure , psychological issues are nothing to gloss over but somehow this is all ignored when this issue is discussed and I might say not with a great deal of clarity as to the real inherent dangers . Just as asinine might be the very fact that no one at first within the NFL was actually willing to admit to the cause and effect of chronic head trauma after repeated concussions during the games. Now all of a sudden the MLB hierarchy as well as the MLBPA are on board as to the dangers in the abuse of steroids within the game. It would appear that neither Bud Selig nor his minions or for that matter Michael Weiner as the executive director of the union would openly care to discuss this matter .

As a player I’ve always admired the abilities of Alex Rodriguez but his candor and lack of contrition as to his misdeeds has me wondering why the public and fans should continue to put up with his stupidity. Sooner or later Bud Selig and the other bumbling oafs of the league hierarchy and team owners ought to pull their heads out of each others’ ass and actually do something right ! If it has to take the government and in particular the Justice Department under tenure of AG Eric Holder to do what needs to be done by league itself . Then it simply shows how gutless the MLB hierarchy , team owners and MLBPA are said to be ! We may well admire these players from afar but who in this day simply condones cheating and feels that it’s actually appropriate within a game that purists believes to be so pure ?

Granted , this game his been tainted by issues that one would deem to be far more serious , such as racial bigotry during the segregation of baseball and the immediacy of its aftermath during the integration of the game when players such as Jackie Robinson , Larry Doby , Willie Mays and Hank Aaron carved out long lasting stellar carreers . And if one remembers when Aaron surpassed what was at the time Babe Ruth’s home run record the player was subjected to death threats , torrents of racial abuse prior to and after the event of achieving the feat. And there are historians who woud now choose to gloss over such events as something of a none issue and to be put to rest.

For a player of Alex Rodriguez’s alleged stature he had done little to suggest that he should be viewed as the heir apparent to Derek Jeter once his career comes to an end with the New York Yankees . Having become the team’s all-time hits’ leader Jeter’s career is now winding down. A multi All Star , Golden Glove winner and as we all know 5 World Series triumphs over the course of his career and what has been an exemplary example of how it ought to be done. There are players within the game of baseball they tend to exemplify something good about the sport . Derek Jeter , Albert Pujols , Ken Griffey Jr , Paul Molitor and Ozzie Smith who to my mind played the game of baseball with such effervescent zeal and infectiuos appeal. Watching those individuals play simply brings to my mind why it is about the sport can be so thrilling . Unfortunately when I now see Alex Rodriguez that becomes a none event as I simply despise everything that he’s said to stand for !

As I alluded to earlier the player (Rodriguez) has been coddled , emboldened and led to believe that he’s above the game , beyond reproach and that’s further indemnified by the lack of action by the game’s hierarchy ____ in particular by New York Yankees even in the aftermath of the player having been warned already by an official from the commissioner’s office about his gambling . It now begs the question if baseball simply cannot police itself appropriately then who if anyone can rein in and force the league and its players to act with some semblance of decency rather than further indulging the sport into a downward spiral of indignity .

For the New York Yankees’ immediate future and the contributions of Alex Rodriguez as the team strives towards the postseason . They currently sit one game behind the division leading Boston Red Sox within the AL East . If anything it is their lead amongst the wildcard aspirants that indicates the Yankees will ease their way in the postseason. While Rodriguez has had something of an indifferent season it has been the contributions of Curtis Granderson , Mark Teixeira , Bartolo Colon and CC Sabathia that if anything has typified the usual things we have somehow come to expect of the New York Yankees . Love them or hate them you simply cannot ignore them because in doing so it may well be to your disadvantage. Joe Girardi may well be overlooked as one of the better managers within the game and granted he has at his disposal the best that money can buy .It’s the New York Yankees’ way and that’s not likely to change this or or anytime soon !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What action or actions if any do you feel appropriate should be taken against Alex Rodriguez if these allegations are proven to be true ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts if any on the points raised within this piece and anything else you believe to be pertinent .

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

Contact tophatal ……. rapptu@gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below.

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(1) CHICAGO, IL – AUGUST 03: of the New York Yankees of the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 3, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Yankees defeated the White Sox 18-7 . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ….

(2) Derek Jeter (2) of the New York Yankees ducks away from an inside pitch as A.J. Pierzynski (12) of the Chicago White Sox gloves the ball at U.S. Cellular Field on August 3, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …….

(3) Mark Teixiera (25) of the New York Yankees greets teammates Russell Martin(55) and Brett Gardner (11) as they score runs in the 7th inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 3, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …..

(4) Alex Rios (51) of the Chicago White Sox misplays a fly ball in center field as teammate Alexei Ramirez (10) runs out against the New York Yankees at U.S. Cellular Field on August 3, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……..

(5) CLEVELAND, OH – FILE: Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees reacts after the end of the second inning of a game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on July 6, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. It was reported that Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez is to undergo knee surgery, and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. The player now subject of MLB inquiry resulting from his alleged involvement in several high stakes poker games . This has been the second such incident concerning the player this season and he’d been warned by an official from the league hierarchy to curtail his actions with regard to gambling . Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images …..

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MLB News

MLB Standings

MLB Standings wildcard

MLB Results 3rd August 2011

MLB schedule 3 days at a glance 4th August 2011

New York Yankees news

New York Yankees trade deadline transactions

New York Yankees’ active roster

New York Yankees team stats

Hitting : /Offense – BA

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Tick Tock , Tick Tock , Time Is Now Moving Fast In Baseball ……..

Tick Tock , Tick Tock , Time Is Now Moving Fast In Baseball ……..

Well it’s that time of the year when the eyes of the sports’ world is now peering on baseball’s showcase event. The 2011 All Star Game is set for tonight with the AL taking on the NL with with it comes to the privilige of having homefield advantage throughout the World Series . And given the idiocy of the events that took place in 2002 with the game ending in a tie and Commissioner Bud Selig looking to explain that this was the best possible outcome from an extremely exhilarating game. Somehow I simply hope that that the commissioner has the temerity to show some common sense in determining a fair result . Perhaps the commissioner may well have the players from both rosters spoon each other until they reach that height of ecstasy . Given the stupidity of the many judgments rendered by him over the years I really do believe that it is now for him to hang it up and ride off into the sunset !

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I’ve read a number of pieces questioning whether or not realignment of the divisions would be of benefit to the game , bringing in a much more competitive nature and rivalries within baseball. To me that’s simply dressing up a pig and then asserting that it now looks like a sow ! It’s simply a damn stupid idea that makes no sense at all. The problems within the game have more to do with the financial imbalances and the mere fact that the owners , league hierarchy and general managers haven’t got a God damn clue ! Rather than looking to solve the problem they are ignoring it , and carrying on as usual. And we are now seeing how that is working out for the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets ?

Seemingly it had to take Frank McCourt to create his own web of deceit , lies that would all but bring the Dodgers to the brink of financial disaster (in filing Chapter 11 [ financial reorganization]) before the league hierarchy under Bud Selig sought to act with any real action. It’s a pity that the team hasn’t gone under then perhaps the other idiot owners around the league would perhaps pull their heads out of their ass and begin to address the inherent problems that are now encircling the game beyond the financial strains that no doubt many of them are now facing ! And if anyone is under the impression that the dye has been cast concerning this episode then they are mistaken . One now simply has to preamble over to the mess that’s now unraveling within the New York Mets’ organization . And that is even with the advent of the $200 million cash infusion made by hedge fund manager David Einhorn into the ball-club in taking a minority stake in the team. I can only surmise that principal partners and co-owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon have assured the young Wall St phenom wunderkind that his money is indeed safe . At present the organization and both principal partners are the defendants in a civil suit that seeks to recoup in excess of $750 million as part of the monies received by the New York Mets and the owners’ associate company Sterling Equities Inc which we are told is from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon have plead their innocence stating that they ……… “are victims themselves having lost countless millions”. Though not inconceivable I find it somewhat ironic that two men who co-founded an investment company some three decades ago could have been so easily duped given their alleged financial experience and those the of the executives of Sterling Equities Inc ! But these are merely my own suspicions and thoughts on the matter ! Afterall we can only take them at their word can’t we ? But then again did you know that the Golden Gate Bridge is up for sale at a reasonable price ?

With several marquee players now taking their leave in not playing in the game due to injury we will still see the event with many of its stars on parade. The New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez won’t be participating in the All Star Game with Jeter recusing himself and Rodriguez bowing out due to surgery to repair a torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee. With that said it now remains to be seen how this will be viewed by the fans in general with two of the game’s biggest stars not appearing.

Jeter having come off attaining his 3,000th hit as a player and along with the New York Yankees’ alltime hits’ lead . But for Jeter this simply isn’t about attaining feats but more to do with leading this team to another World Series title . The division within which the New York Yankees reside is now turning into a real barn burner and I’ve no doubt it will be long drawn out dog fight between all of the participants there ! The AL East has always been viewed as perhaps the most competitive of all divisions within baseball. This year I’ve no doubt that the race for the wildcard berth and division will all hinge on the play of the Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays down the final stretch run of the season . It’s pretty much safe to say that both the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles won’t be in the thick of things as far as this divisional race is concerned.

Now it goes without saying that we have seen considerable amount to be pleased about concerning the play of the teams during the season. Earlier on this year I had a rather contentious and often ridiculous interface with a patron who would suggest that the Kansas City Royals are in the midst of a turnaround in terms of their play . Suffice to say that turnaround has yet to come into being and when you consider that the team now resides at the foot of the AL Central with a sub .500 record (37-54) can someone explain to me what signs there are that would suggest that this team much less the organization is really in the midst of a resurgence ?

While I’m sincere in seeing all of the league’s teams do well in the game I have never been one to sugar coat what I see as something delusional when I’m being told that a team is on the rise . The game of baseball has become about the immediacy of here and now ………..“what have you done for me lately ” ? And it is certainly not what you’re about to do quite possibly do in thee , four or five years from now ! If that were the case then the game itself simply wouldn’t be a worthwhile endeavor for the fans to be a willing participant as an observer . The fans want to see their teams do well each season not simply struggle then to fall by the wayside . And then it all comes down to excuses as to what might have been or even perhaps injuries played a part in their demise . Does anyone remember where the team finished at season’s end in 2010 ?

There have been strong suggestions this season we are in the midst of seeing the rise of the pitcher and it has to be said the season being had by Jered Weaver , Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia would has me believing that the AL Cy Young Award won’t be that easy to pick an outright winner . All three are worthy candidates and one would simply be naive at this juncture to suggest that we know who the winner ought to be at this juncture .

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PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 12: National League All-Star Brian Wilson(38) of the San Francisco Giants reacts with teammates catcher National League All-Star Miguel Montero (26) of the Arizona Diamondbacks and National League All-Star Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds after making the save to win the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The National League defeated the American League 5-1. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

Speaking as a fan of the teams within the NL I am hoping that Jair Jurrjens with the season he’s having can rise above the fray and succeed and show that the fans it’s not simply about the Philadelphia Phillies’ pitching rotation this season . The Phillies’ trio of Roy Halladay , Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee have lit up the league with their stellar displays and perhaps unequivocally justifying why they’re viewed as the prohibitive favorites for the NLCS .

As I alluded to earlier if Jair Jurrjens can usurp the Phillies’ trio of aces then perhaps Atlanta Braves can make a go of it this season and make light of the thought that many do not believe that they are good enough to win the NL East . They are now proving that and a great deal more by being competitive not just within the division but across the entire league . Manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff now have this team playing with a great deal of passion and I’d like to think that he’s in with a chance of winning the NL Manager of The Year Award but it would appear with the current play of the Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle would appear to be if not the consensus winner then the clear cut favorite for the award.

We are often told that stars are created because we need them to be there to bring about a sense of security and our passion for the game . And I guess that this indeed true of any individual or team sport ! This year however we have seen the ascent of Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista as their stars have risen into the stratosphere . The two players within the AL have all but a strangle-hold on the offensive categories within the AL . Suffice to say that without the duo in question their respective teams might not even be playing with any sort of the competitive juices to be had . And OK , each year for some reason the Blue Jays start fast right out of the gate only to stumble and fall before the halfway point in the season. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays , their fans and their front office they seem to have forgotten that the season is one of 162 arduous games and that you have to be in it for the long haul .

Both Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista could very well be battling it out at the end of the season for the AL MVP Award if there’s to be any justice within the game , as the duo have stood head and shoulders above their rivals within the American League .

National League’s Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers holds his MVP award following the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. The National League won 5-1 . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …….

With the second half of the season resuming as of tomorrow it certainly will be interesting to see what transpires for the teams said to be in contention for their respective divisions as well as the wildcard berths within both leagues. And as a fan of the Atlanta Braves my greatest wish is to see the team make the postseason and simply acquit themselves as against any prospective opponent that they are likely to face . What happens thereafter all comes down to the breaks that they make for themselves rather than the opportunities offered them by an opponent .

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This season within baseball what thoughts if any do you have on the events that have taken place ? And how best do you feel that the league hierarchy can deal with some of the problems that they now face ? And what team or teams , player or players have actually surprised you with their performances so far ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

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

Contact tophatal @ …….. rapptu@gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) FILE – In this April 26, 2011, file photo former New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez throws a pitch during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. The Milwaukee Brewers acquired former All-Star reliever Francisco Rodriguez and cash from the New York Mets on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in exchange for two players to be named. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta ….

(2) American League’s Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays is tagged out at home plate by National League’s Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves after trying to score on a hit by American League’s Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers during the fourth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. The NL would go on to defeat the AL 5-1 . AP Photo/David J. Phillip ….

(3) PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 12: A general view of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(4) (L-R) National League All-Star Jair Jurrjens (49) of the Atlanta Braves, National League All-Star Starlin Castro (13) of the Chicago Cubs, National League All-Star Brandon Phillips (4) of the Cincinnati Reds, National League All-Star Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds and National League All-Star Jay Bruce (32) of the Cincinnati Reds stand before the start of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……

(5) (L-R) American League All-Star Josh Hamilton (32) of the Texas Rangers stands with American League All-Star Adrian Beltre (29) of the Texas Rangers and American League All-Star David Ortiz (34) of the Boston Red Sox before the start of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images …..

(6) (L-R) Daniel Hernandez Jr. and Joe Garagiola Sr. throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Hernandez is credited with helping to save U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in January and Garagiola was a former MLB player and long time announcer. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ….

(7) American League All-Star Carlos Quentin (20) of the Chicago White Sox swings during an at bat in the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(8) PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 12: National League All-Star Brian Wilson(38) of the San Francisco Giants reacts with teammates catcher National League All-Star Miguel Montero (26) of the Arizona Diamondbacks and National League All-Star Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds after making the save to win the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The National League defeated the American League 5-1. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(9) American League’s Adrian Gonzalez of the Boston Red Sox hits a solo home run during the fourth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(10) National League’s Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers holds his MVP award following the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. The National League won 5-1 . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …….
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MLB News

MLB Standings

MLB Wildcard standings

MLB Schedule 14th July 2011

MLB Probable starters 14th July 2011

MLB Stats

American League Category leaders alongside

Batting Avg —- Adrian Gonzalez

Hits —- Adrian Gonzalez

Home runs —-Jose Bautista

RBI’s —- Adrian Gonzalez

Pitching

Wins —- C C Sabathia

ERA —- Jered Weaver


National League
Category leaders alongside

Batting Avg.Jose Reyes

Hits —- Jose Reyes

Home runs —- Lance Berkman

RBI’s —- Prince Fielder

Pitching

Wins —- Jair Jurrjens

ERA —-
Jair Jurrjens

2010 MLB Awards

Slow But Steady , Slow But Really Steady

Slow But Steady , Slow But Really Steady

It has been really interesting as of late to watch the way things have unraveled within the AL East . And as many prognosticators believe the division may well be the most competitive in all of baseball it goes without saying that the reasoning is very much justified . As an ardent admirer of the game I have a certain fascination with the team that is local to Central Florida. And that happens to be the Tampa Bay Rays who over the last two years , have been twice a winner of the division , an ALCS Pennat winner and made their sole appearance in the World Series in 2008 which ended in sadness with the team losing to the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 in the best of seven series . At the helm as the team’s manager has been Joe Maddon the organization’s most successful coach.

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Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida , is home to this young organization that has had its fair share of highs and lows over the course of its history . For Maddon and his coaching staff , they have essentially been great tutors of which much of that tutelage has come to fruition in seeing the giant steps made in the progression of young stars on the roster . Perhaps none more so than Evan Longoria , Matt Joyce and the team’s two pitching All Stars David Price and James Shields . It’d be remiss however to suggest that the aforementioned trio are the sole cause for the team’s success this season but with the addition of Johnny Damon and reliever Kyle Farnsworth the Rays have proven to a formidable challenge to the likes of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees .

New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter returns to the dugout after being thrown out at first base to end a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, July 7, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Rays won 5-1. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …

The Rays have been very lucky with the fact that their pitching has held up well and the mere fact that there now seems to be a great deal of confidence throughout their starting five as well as the relievers would suggest that they are quite capable of giving the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees a real run for their money down the closing stretch of the season . I firmly believe that if the team is within two games of the lead coming into the month of September then all bets are off as to the division being anything but a two horse race between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees as it now appears to be !

With the All Star Game scheduled this upcoming week the Tampa Bay Rays’ schedule becomes ever so important. The team is a mere four and a half games behind the division leading New York Yankees (51-14) but only a 1 1/2 games behind the second placed Boston Red Sox (51-35). The Rays are coming off a resounding 12-5 shellacking of the Minnesota Twins. If the team can continue with that sort of the momentum then their upcoming series of games against their divisional rivals the Red Sox and Yankees should prove to be very interesting. The New York Yankees host the Rays at Yankees Stadium for home series of three games before the midseason break and the festivities surrounding the All Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona .

First up for the Tampa Bay Rays will be to rein in the New York Yankees , the winners of seven of their last ten games and riding on an offensive that has been very potent indeed . Leading the way for the Yankees has been first baseman Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson in the team’s onslaught. But need we remind ourselves that this team also has the likes of Robinson Cano , Nick Swisher and . Alex Rodriguez all of whom are capable of providing the New York Yankees with the much needed offensive weaponry that any team would enviable of having . .

Now while much of the focus has been the Derek Jeter watch as he makes his way to the 3,000 hits plateau as he is now but three hits away from reaching that milestone and become the organization’s all time hits leader . The fifteen year veteran now sits atop of the mountain and will now be instantaneously be immortalized by the Yankees’ fans . Jeter has already surpassed Yankees’ legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig but if anything this modern day icon and the face of the game to most and in particular the Yankees’ fans. One has to admit that the player is now winding down his illustrious career .

If the Rays can get to the pitching of the Yankees of which I believe is the team’s Achilles Heel then quite possibly they can win this series , cut the deficit that Bronx Bombers has over the other residents within the division. I think it’s pretty safe to say and that Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays are out of the running for the wildcard spot within the AL in terms of a postseason berth !

The contributions of Damon to the Rays this season cannot be underestimated as he’s provided a steadying presence to the team and the younger players I believe are thoroughly appreciative of that fact ! As for the Tampa Bay Rays’ fans their hometown hero has given them something to believe in with the advent of the ongoing financial woes of the organization. Say what you will but team owner Stuart Sternberg , GM Andrew Friedman and the associated partners have remained steadfast that for now the team will remain within this locale . But it appears that with each passing moment the likelihood of the Rays remaining within the area is unlikely as no common ground can be found between the two opposing factions.

Surprisingly enough the Tampa Bay Rays were once again winners in MLB Draft garnering a number of top collegiate prospects further enhancing the reputation of the scouting and coaches within the Rays’ organization of which the Baseball Operations is headed by Gerry Hunsicker . And it should come as no surprise as to the reasons why the Tampa Bay Rays have been so successful down the years with draft choices . Though this past season the team had to release fan favorites Carl Crawford , Rafael Soriano and Carlos Pena because of budgetary constraints it has to be said the organization hasn’t lost sight of what got them to where they are today.

The Tampa Bay Rays for their part have continued to surprise many but there’s a growing belief that what we’re now seeing are the waning moments of a ball-club that is in transition of moving out of the area , as the fans lament what they believe to be a double standard in terms of baseball’s hierarchy of merely leaning towards and assisting those who essentially are financially more well to do. From top to bottom the organization of the Tampa Bay Rays is a well ran operation with a farm system that’s the envy of many organizations around the league. The one stumbling block of the Rays has been the financial constraints because the ownership group is limited in its resources. I will always continue to maintain that a ball club cannot exist on a meager fan base of no more than 15,000 hardcore fans ! That seems to be bearing true as of today, with the Rays averaging no more than 19,000 fans per home game at Tropicana Field this season . In a number of cases the fanbase is simply outmatched with the arrival of either Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees and there we will see the attendance rise to as high as perhaps 25,000 to 30,000 in attendance . Hardly conducive when the away team is actually drawing far more supporters than the hosts of a scheduled home series but such are the vagaries of the game as it relates to the Tampa Bay Rays.

I certainly do believe that the Rays’ organization is now clutching at straws in the belief that an accord can be reached where they will remain in Central Florida ! It has now become abundantly clear with the financial worries of both Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties that neither county government can facilitate the financing needed to build a new venue for the team. Both county administrations are facing acute financial difficulties of their own having to furlough employees , slash budgets and a slew of sundry maneuvers has many questioning whether or not a multi million dollar facility is the right thing to do in order to facilitate the whims and wishes of a multi millionaire baseball team owner . It is not as if Stuart Sternberg or any of his senior partners have shown good faith by even suggesting that they are prepared to assist in the financing of a new venue. Any statement forthcoming , be it from Sternberg , Andrew Friedman or Matt Silverman for that matter , has essentially been about the need of a new venue rather than how best to cooperate in working together in making such a scenario happen.

As many of you know my disdain for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig knows no boundaries ! I find him to be obnoxious , a buffoon , an ignoramus and someone who is now completely out of touch as to the realities of the game and its numerous problems ! Rather than trying to be of assistance to the Tampa Bay Rays in attaining a new venue , he has seen fit to be critical of the organization’s endeavor even going as far to suggest that they will never stage an All Star Game until they have built a new venue that is to his liking and that of the league hierarchy’s . Suffice to say if the fans in the area haven’t seen that as the nail in the coffin to the organization’s efforts it has been heard loud and clear by the officials who sit on the boards of both county commissions in Hillsborough and Pinellas County . I don’t believe that Selig could have put the situation anymore succinctly than that , thereby laying to rest what now may well be a futile exercise on the part of the county governments of each ___ as well as the Tampa Bay Rays. The local sports talk radio hosts and print media may well hold out hope that things may well change but they are facing an uphill battle in their thinking that a venue can and will be built at this juncture .

It would indeed be sad to see the Tampa Bay Rays leave the area but facing a reality that the area cannot sustain a franchise that in essence hasn’t a long history or pedigree of success . Never mind the fact that this is simply a first or second generation of supporters who are now loyal to this franchise . The vast majority of the teams within the game have a long history of support that is steeped in the loyalty of its fans and with familial ties . But here with the Rays the success though only recent cannot hide the fact that there is a glaring and stark reality to this organization’s history. Its first decade under Vince Naimoli has more to do with it being a comedy of errors , with an owner who essentially saw this team as his own personal bauble and fiefdom for him to reign over like a king. Success never manifested itself to any degree and the organization came to be known as a laughing stock around the league .

Now even with its recent successes the Tampa Bay Rays still finds itself bedeviled by worries about its financial security more than anything else . With a payroll amongst the lowest in the league the coaches and front office will have to get by on a squad of good if not great players , their future prospects and as I alluded to earlier a farm system that is amongst the best in the league .

Should the organization in the ensuing years leave the vicinity of Central Florida then the death knell of the game at the major league level within this area will have clearly sounded. Spring Training is all that the area will then have to cling to and that in of itself may not be such a bad thing after all. The teams who make the area their home during the preseason bring with them a burgeoning legion of fans and snow birds into Central Florida all looking to give support to their teams and aid the area with their income and making creating something of a vibrant economy during their time here . Now in spite of that fact it doesn’t lessen the blow that a Major League team now finding success may well have to leave its locale merely because the league hierarchy in its infinite wisdom has been about as helpful in their cause to remain as one could consider Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might be in assisting in a peaceful settlement of the Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiations . Whereas Bud Selig was front and center in assisting the New York Mets and New York Yankees in the facilitating and building of their respective venues ( Citi Field & Yankee Stadium) he has been nowhere to be seen in assisting the Tampa Bay Rays in their endeavor to have a new venue built. But given the fact that as odious as the commissioner is , I can’t help but feel that the fans are now having the last laugh as things have gone to spiral out of control for himself and the league hierarchy as they now try to sort out the ongoing mess of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which will undoubtedly be followed by the web of intrigue and malfeasance that has taken place within the New York Mets organization . . Here’s to you Bud , you ingrate and piece of crap !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this piece ? And how as such do you view the race now taking place within the AL East ? Simply chime on in with your comments as you deem fit .

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

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) Ben Zobrist (18) of the Tampa Bay Rays bats against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 7, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images ….

(2) New York Yankees fans hold up the number of hits Derek Jeter has, during his at-bat in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, July 7, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Jeter grounded out to end the game as Tampa Bay won 5-1 . AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek ……

(3) New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter returns to the dugout after being thrown out at first base to end a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, July 7, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Rays won 5-1. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …

(4) Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth is congratulated by catcher John Jaso at the end of the Rays’ 5-1 win over the New York Yankees in a baseball game Thursday, July 7, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek …..

(5) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JULY 6: Johnny Damon (22) and Kelly Shoppach (10) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate a two-run home run by Shoppach against the Minnesota Twins in the second inning on July 6, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images …..

(6) Casey Kotchman (11) and B.J. Upton(2) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate after defeating the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 7, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images ……..

(7) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JULY 6: Sean Rodriguez (1), Evan Longoria (3) and Casey Kotchman (11) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate a two-run home run by Rodriguez against the Minnesota Twins in the eighth inning on July 6, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rays defeated the Twins 12-5. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ….

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MLB News

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MLB Results 7th July 2011

MLB Schedule

MLB Probable pitching starters 8th July 2011

MLB teams’ DL

Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays history

Tampa Bay Rays news

Tampa Bay Rays active roster

Tampa Bay Rays team DL

Tampa Bay Rays team stats

Rays’ coaches

Tampa Bay Rays front office

Historical team records

Rays all time leaders

Single game records

Single season records

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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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MLB News

MLB Standings Divisional

Team stats

Individual player stats ——— showing season leaders

MLB Scores Sunday 24th April

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New York Yankees —— Team schedule

New York Yankees news

New York Yankees history

New York Yankees’ front office

New York Yankees coaching staff

New York Yankees active roster ____ depth chart ___ 40 man roster

Team stats

Historical team records —-New York Yankees

For Whom The Bells Toll ……….. It Tolls For Thee !

There’s not a great deal happening in the world of sports at present and with the Opening Day of baseball (MLB) set for this Thursday beyond that there isn’t a great deal to actually have the sport’s fan greatly enamored. The NBA regular season is slowly approaching the final straight and there too a number of teams are striving to gain some form of momentum in order to have themselves playoff ready for the postseason .

For Whom The Bells Toll ……….. It Tolls For Thee !

There’s not a great deal happening in the world of sports at present and with the Opening Day of baseball (MLB) set for this Thursday beyond that there isn’t a great deal to actually have the sport’s fan greatly enamored. The NBA regular season is slowly approaching the final straight and there too a number of teams are striving to gain some form of momentum in order to have themselves playoff ready for the postseason .

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Slide show for your perusal

With the NBA postseason set to commence in the second week or third week of April (April 16th), it’s easy to understand why these teams contending for a playoff berth would want to hit form of consistency that sets them on the right track as the playoffs approach . My own thoughts are that the teams looking to make a postseason berth are going to have to raise the level of their game as the playoffs approach.

A work colleague of mine brought up the subject of the NFL labor dispute and the lockout and made the statement that how is that all of a sudden the league now sets to paint the NFLPA in a dark light bearing in mind that they were the ones who sought instigate the lockout because the Executive Committee of the union were unwilling to acquiesce to a number of conditions that league proposed ? With Neil being a labor relation’s lawyer I found it somewhat surprising that he raised that point ! One of the sticking points now appears to be the league’s wish to have a comprehensive drug testing policy as it relates to PED’s and in particular HGH . For some reason I was under the impression that the league already had what they’d deemed to be a comprehensive drug testing policy but obviously it’s no better than the policy that MLB hierarchy has in place . Now if this is one of the real sticking points said to be many that the league and the union are said to be far apart on then it this lockout suddenly becomes not merely about money but a great deal more.

I know that the league (NFL) does test for certain prohibitive substances , namely marijuana , anabolic steroids and certain other illicit opiates but if they weren’t already testing for HGH then this is the question I’ve got to ask what the hell is going on within the NFL and their own credibility as it relates to the use of HGH ? Given the fact that we’ve all seen the dangers of abusing steroids and in particular a number of these opiates how is it that they’ve continued to not address the issue of HGH being used by the players . I know that it’s use has to be closely scrutinized by a medical professional. But herein lies the caveat if it’s only now that the league hierarchy under NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is prepared to address this issue then clearly there’s something that the NFL and owners weren’t prepared to make public unless they’re prepared to use it as leverage against the union. At the same time in the midst of this all Tennessee Titans’ owner Bud Adams issued a public statement saying that it is his belief that a 2011-12 season will commence on time . Unless Bud Adams is actually fully aware of some upcoming turn of events then clearly the league feels that they now hold the upper hand in any proposed return to the table concerning resolving the labor negotiations.. I’m not so sure that now appears to the case as I do believe that Goodell and the owners have been out-maneuvered by the NFLPA headed by Executive Director DeMaurice Smith .

Courtesy of NFL.com

NFL wants its players tested for human growth hormone

By Steve Wyche of NFL.com

The NFL believes now is the time to include human growth hormone testing in its banned substances policy and is pushing players to add it to a collective bargaining agreement — whenever one is reached.

The NFL and NFL Players Association discussed the policy before the union decertified March 11 and league owners imposed a lockout March 12, but no details were provided regarding where things stood.

News of the league’s insistence on HGH testing being part of the new CBA was first reported Thursday by FoxSports.com.

Adolpho Birch, the NFL’s vice president of law and labor policy, said Friday that the league has pushed for HGH testing since 2008, but with the opportunity to re-cast terms of a labor deal, it has become a priority. The NFLPA had resisted it in the past because of HGH testing methods and the reliability of results.

Blood testing remains the most reliable means to detect the presence of HGH, and that has been the sticking point — not both sides’ desire for fair play, Birch said.

“In terms of the policy, we’ve always been in lockstep with the players,” Birch said. “It’s an important tool in deterring — that’s maybe the most important part — and detecting those who are using (HGH). It helps the public understand what they are seeing is legitimate and that it’s not the result of artificial means. It’s equally important to players to know that someone hasn’t gained an artificial advantage over them.”

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Click on the link shown to read the article in its entirety.

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At this juncture the whole labor dispute nonsensical and personally with each passing day with the damage being done to the image of both parties , I now feel that the fans couldn’t give a sh_t how things turn out. It’s not as if the league or players have ever had the fans’ best interests at heart any time during their deliberations !

With the trial of Barry Bonds now hitting its stride it’s amazing to see to read or hear about the testimony now be given by the number of witnesses subpoenad to appear at the trial by the prosecution in this case the US Justice Department and the attorneys representing the People of the US. With Jason Giambi having testified that he was a recipient of steroids from Bonds’ former personal trainer Greg Anderson and Bonds’ former mistress Kimberly Bell testifying that in her time spent with the MLB slugger over the course of their relationship the player got considerably bigger. I can only surmise that apart from Bonds’ rigorous training regimen that she was trying to allude to the fact the player was using something illicit to spurt his growth or could it be that she was also taking about the size of his member ? And as absurd as this case has become I do believe that we’re going to hear a great deal more than goes from the sublime to the ridiculous !

The longer this charade goes on as to the money being spent on this case the more I continue to question the asinine stance of the MLB hierarchy under the tenure of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , in particular the owners within the game , managers and the MLBPA under then Executive Director Donald Fehr who now holds a similar position with the NHLPA . If the NHL and the sport of hockey hasn’t gone through enouhh problems as it is ther Players’ Union hires Fehr to become their Executive Director ? Are they fu_king mad ? The game is still in a financially tenuous position and it’s not as if Gary Bettman as the NHL Commissioner has actually got them now heading in the right direction as of now is it ?

As it now stands the legacy of the game throughout the nineties and into the early part of this decade has been irrevocably damaged and harmed ! With the advent of the regular season about to start as of tomorrow I can’t help but wonder what the teams , owners , union , fans and the game’s hierarchy hope to see when in large part the fans are still being reminded of the inane stupidity of the league hierarchy’s lackadaisical approach to the steroid issue . Bud Selig and his then counterpart Donald Fehr and the union as a whole were complicit in perpetrating this fraud upon the public and wherein the teams and players had a financial windfall. Were this a white collar crime committed I can assure you that the FBI , Justice Department and dare I say it the idiots within both Congress and the Senate would be asking that there be indictments of all of the guilty parties concerned ! But instead those blowholes have remained mind numbingly silent , even with those odious and sleep inducing Congressional hearings that took place and was overseen by the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and the House Committee on Energy & Commerce . What was achieved by those hearings dependent upon one’ s views ranged somewhere between the idiotic with the grandstanding by those congressional committee members and the idiotic statements and testimony given by the league hierarchy and the players subpoenad to testify !

The one thing I for one question now is given what we may or may not know to be true is how the public view the records attained by players during the steroid era and how they ought to be viewed by the fans and public in general ? God knows the single season home run record as well as the home run record ought to have an asterisk placed at their side . I don’t state this as a damning indictment of Bonds alone . But I do feel if that he’s now to be viewed as the face of the steroid era along with Jose Canseco and several other players whom we all know to be associated with the illicit use of steroids amongst other substances banned by the game then we also ought to question silence maintained by players such as Derek Jeter , Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine who’ve often been viewed as what’s right within the game but with their avowed silence on the issue , has to have the fans thinking up to a point whether or not they condoned the actions by their fellow players ? I mean even the most menial and lowly of the low within the union (MLBPA) as well as the marquee names have profited greatly from the era having seen their salaries rise not merely based on potential alone but from the stats that were achieved during the era . And with the idiot general managers then willing to pay exorbitant salaries to players while being lassoed in by uber-agents such as Scott Boras , Arn Tellem and Leigh Steinberg making the players immeasurably wealthy beyond their wildest dreams . It now begs the question what credibility does the game of baseball really have as to its legitimacy in being viewed as the nation’s favorite pastime as well as the integrity of its players , managers and the league hierarchy itself ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As the NFL labor dispute continues to meander along whatever route it presumably takes how do you as such view the situation as a discerning fan of the game ? Do you also feel that the league’s stance with regard to them wanting to instigate a test for HGH via blood testing is the proactive thing to do by the NFL ? Or do you feel that a the federal laws in place as it relates to the use of steroids is enough of a deterrent to the players as a whole ? And what thoughts if any do you have with regard to the recently commenced federal trial of former San Francisco Giants’ slugger Barry Bonds ? Simply leave a comment on your thoughts as to the points raised within this piece and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter as you’d deem fit .

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award finalists Nnamdi Asomugha (R) of the Oakland Raiders and Israel Idonije (2ndR) of the Chicago Bears pose with the Peyton family, Connie Payton (2ndL), wife of former Chicago Bears great Walter Payton, and her children Brittney (3rdL), Jarrett (3rdR) and Adolpho Birch (L) during a press conference at the Super Bowl XLV media center on February 4, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. The Green Bay Packers will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Getty Images North America Inc / Doug Pensinger ……..

(2) Birch (center) seen here with officials of the NFL and local dignitaries in Arlington , Texas prior to this past season’s Superbowl played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers . AP Photo Chris Morgan ………

(3) DeMaurice Smith (R), NFLPA executive director, arrives with NFL Players Association Spokesman George Atallah (L) and Kansas City Chiefs player Brian Waters (C) for an extra day of negotiations at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building March 4, 2011 in Washington, DC. Representatives from the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players’ Association (NFLPA) continue to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement between players and owners during a 24 hour extension in negotiations. Brian Smialowski / Getty Images North America …..

(4) Former TN. Govenor Phil Bredesen, Honoree/Owner NFL TN. Titans Bud Adams, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and current TN. Governor Bill Haslam present Bud Adams with the “Lifetime Humanitarian Award” at the 2011 T.J. Martell Foundation Honors Gala at the Hutton Hotel on March 28, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. Rick Diamond / Getty Images ……

(5) Former Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds leaves federal court at the end of the day on March 29, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Barry Bonds’ perjury trial accusing him of lying to a grand jury about his use of performance enhancing drugs when he played for the San Francisco Giants enters its second week. The trial is expected to last two to four weeks. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images ……..

(6) Major League Baseball player Jason Giambi leaves federal court after testifying during Barry Bonds’ perjury trial on March 29, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Barry Bonds’ perjury trial accusing him of lying to a grand jury about his use of performance enhancing drugs when he played for the San Francisco Giants enters its second week. The trial is expected to last two to four weeks. Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images North America ….

(7) Kimberly Bell the former mistress of Giants’ slugger Barry Bonds is seen here leaving the US Federal Courthouse in San Francisco , California, having given her testimony in the player’s obstruction of Justice and perjury trial . AP Photo / Phil Montgomery …

(8) Former Major League All Star Jose Canseco known steroid user whose revelations of widespread steroid and PED use amongst his peers in the league led to widespread outrage along with the watered down Mitchell Report and MLB ‘s inane drug policy . AP/Reuters / Keith Pettigrew ……….

(9) Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig (L) is pictured alongside then Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association Donald Fehr during testimony at a House Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing on the Mitchell Report into the use of steroids in baseball, on Capitol Hill in Washington January 15, 2008. Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell told the U.S. Congress on Tuesday that Major League Baseball’s players and owners must come together “in a well-planned, well-executed and sustained effort” to remove steroids from the national pastime . Andy Krupp /Reuters ……

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Alan aka tophatal …………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

🙂

NBA News

NFL News

MLB News

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Bubba Sparxxx ………………………….”Ugly ” .

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Dre Dre ……. feat’g ……… Snoop Dogg …………………… ” Let Me Ride ”

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TI ………… feat’g ………. Christina Aguilera ……….” Castle Walls ”

Could this better describe the situation now facing both the MLB and NFL and their respective images as they each perceive it to be ?
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Simply Follow The Money Honey

Simply Follow The Money Honey

Just as in the silly season with the PGA Tour where they have their non-sensical and end of season tournaments that’s merely another way for the Tour players to pad their already burgeoning bank accounts the same thing applies to MLB (baseball) as prospective restricted and free agents look to cement their bank accounts also. However whereas golf has a wealth of corporate sponsors eager to have their names associated with the sport although the game’s biggest draw _ Tiger Woods has fallen from grace somewhat ,the sport as such still resonates with the fans whenever he’s on the golf course wielding his clubs and not wielding it in the direction of some buxom nubile young female.

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Continue reading “Simply Follow The Money Honey”

Fu_k You And The Horse You Rode In On !

Fu_k You And The Horse You Rode In On !

Having been away from contributing pieces within this forum I must admit that work as of late has me working to be productive alongside my colleagues (economics research analyst within the corporate office of a law firm) on a multiple of tasks for a major corporate client . And the same has to be said amongst the players within the NFL and teamwork has to e prevalent and of the utmost if the goal is to achieve success . Having witness the maelstrom and the enigma and the NFL season that has become a complete misnomer one can’t but help ask the question as to what has taken place over the first three quarters of the season. The Buffalo Bills have become a complete parody and wide receiver Steve Johnson now blames God by ‘tweeting’ for his big mistake in dropping the ball in the endzone when he was on the cusp of winning the game for his team in their most recent outing. Pardon me for saying this Steve ………. but you’re the weakest link and a complete fu_king asshole for blaming your mistake on a ‘supreme being’ (deity) when it’s clearly you who’ve been at fault in the Bills’ resultant loss .

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Slide show for for your perusal.

Courtesy of The Wall St Journal

You Never Know Who’s on Twitter

By Jason Gay

Dear Steve Johnson,

Dude, what’s up with blistering me on Twitter? Do you think I have time to respond to everyone on that crazy thing? Last I checked, I have somewhere north of six billion Twitter followers. That’s at least 43 more than Ashton Kutcher.

But OK, let’s address your complaint. It says here you’re a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. That’s, let’s see…a rest-stop steakhouse in Wyoming? No, OK, sorry: It’s a professional football team in upstate New York. And this past Sunday, you apparently dropped a sure-thing game-winning touchdown pass in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

All right, we’re watching the replay now on the DVR. You’ve just torched the Steelers secondary, the pass lands softly in your hands, you stride into the end zone, press the ball to your chest, and…oh wow, Steve, how in heaven’s name did you drop that? Sorry, don’t mean to laugh, but: R2-D2 could have pulled that one down.

Apparently you think I’m responsible. After the game you logged onto Twitter and pecked out this tweet:

I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW ???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…

First of all, what’s with the ALL CAPS, STEVE? Don’t you know that’s tantamount to yelling at me? Next time, unlock the caps-lock key, OK? And take it easy on the exclamation points—you’re not at a Katy Perry concert.

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Now as the season progresses and Week 13 awaits us what else can actually be said as to what the fans have witnessed over the past few weeks ? The hype still still seems to be there concerning the Minnesota Vikings and as far as I’m concerned that particular story for me creates about as much interest as the political aspirations of Sarah Palin ! The less said about the two parties the better off the country will be at present .

Now when it comes to the BCS system and the fallout that now seems to be taking place I’ve got to ask myself what is it that about Boise State that hasn’t already been said ? You either put up or simply shut the fu_k up ! Can we get a kicker in here please ?

OK so LeBron James and his teammates of the Miami Heat are about to placate themselves by laying blame for the team’s malaise on coach Eric Spoelstra . Now pardon me for saying this but if the players aren’t executing and the coach simply isn’t able to communicate with the players on the roster then clearly there seems to be something awry for the Miami Heat. The real problem here concerning the Heat is that this isn’t a team but simply a trio of egos assembled together by ‘Professor’ Pat Riley for his own vanity in the pursuit of another NBA title. If one remembers the last time a team had this many egos assembled together in such a way it was with the 2004 ______ Los Angeles Lakers and as we all know what befell that roster of future Hall of Famers led by Shaquille O’Neal , Gary Payton, Karl Malone , Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher . Idiocy abounded there and here also in the present roster of the Miami Heat. LeBron James , Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have shown little respect for their coach and it appears that while all this foments for the public’s consumption it shows clearly that Riley and the fans are clearly not entirely happy with the present situation. Now we have ‘Bumpgate’ and that in ofitself could lead with the possible demise as Spoelstra as the coach of the Miami Heat. Say it ain’t so …… but Riley coming down from his executive suite could very well be a distinct possibility.

So New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman and team ownership led by Hank Steinbrenner have essentially stated to team captain Derek Jeter that he’s quite welcome to seek out other teams’ offers as he’s about to become a free agent. The face , heart and soul of the franchise over the last decade plus , now finds himself the unwanted child and persona non grata within the Yankees kingdom. Does anyone truly believe that the Yankees would be stupid enough to allow the face of this ballclub to leave and create a maelstrom of discontent amongst the fans ? A fool and their money are easily parted but as we know nobody spends money as lavishly and as foolhardy as the Yankees have been known to . Can I hear $30 million for Alex Rodriguez whose postseason productivity this past season was about plentiful as a speech given by Sarah Palin as she speaks about the malaise of the country and what ails it. Simply put that wasn’t money well spent but the idiotic Yankees’ fans will continue to regale us with the fact that they’ve won 27 World Series titles . Who really gives a fuck when your last postseason appearance showed simply how overrated and what a complete mess the team was this past postseason. Could I have put it anymore succinctly ? I guess not !

The sporting weekend and all that it has brought us has been simply nothing more than we ought to expect. In some circles specifically the NFL, the ensuing weeks will be about how a number of teams will fare as the season progresses. A number of teams are sure to be under a great deal of scrutiny in particular the San Diego Chargers and how they’ve fared over the season. Phillip Rivers and the Chargers are on a mission and it’s finally to allay the fear of those who feel that the team aren’t capable of winning a postseason game much less make it to the Superbowl . And until this team actually shows me in particular that they are capable of doing that I’m not thoroughly convinced that they’re the team to beat ! As good as Rivers has been this season until he and head coach Norv Turner can prove to us all that they can be great in the postseason I’m not thoroughly convinced that they’re the ones to watch this upcoming postseason within the AFC !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What sporting events if any this past weekend was something that you felt was something of a surprise for you as a fan ? Once again for me it was the fall from grace of a team in the BCS collegiate football standings . If you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen then simply get the hell out of the kitchen !

😛

Alan aka tophatal …………………… 🙂

Video vixens on parade for your pleasure and edification so do enjoy.

Kianna Lynae . Lord have mercy upon my soul .

Less is never better than more because it’s a fact that we guys are simply ‘horny bastards’.