Keep it sweet but not necessarily stupid , because it’s baseball

Keep it sweet but not necessarily stupid , because it’s baseball

Baseball (MLB) enters its final month of the regular season in September , with a number of divisional races still undecided. Teams said to be in the drivers’ seat will have to play at the highest level possible until the end of the season if they are to win those divisions outright. Likewise, it will be the same for those ball-clubs seeking to gain a wildcard berth in what is now beginning to look like very tight race within each league , the AL and NL.

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Of the more surprising races, it is the AL Central where the Kansas City Royals might well be the most exciting team to watch since the All Star Break and their rise up the division to now lead the swooning Detroit Tigers . For the defending divisional champions this has been a season of missed opportunities in spite of certain injury issues and the retirement of former manager Jim Leyland , which should in no way detract from the work done by Brad Ausmus and his managerial staff in succeeding the well-respected manager. However, in light of that fact, it has to be said Ausmus’ inexperience might well be one of the reasons with the indifference seen in the Tigers’ play this season. Justin Verlander has not been totally dominant, Max Scherzer has not reproduced the form that led to his being named the AL Cy Young Award winner in 2013 . Certainly, the rest of the pitching staff , have failed to deliver as and when needed.

The Detroit Tigers’ offense led by two-time reigning AL League MVP and Triple Crown King , Miguel Cabrera while having his usual productive season might well be on the outside looking in, when it comes to the regular season individual awards as Mike Trout seems on the verge of succeeding the Tigers’ slugger as this year’s MVP. Statistically , there has been little to choose between the pair , but Trout’s all-round play and defensive capabilities have edged Cabrera this season. Besides, Mike Trout has led the Los Angeles Angels to what might be their best season in the AL West in a number of years , as they seek to replace the Oakland Athletics as this year’s AL West divisional champion. No mean task, considering the success of the A’s in 2012 and2013 within the division. If the Tigers are to have any chance of securing a place in the postseason their best bet, remains winning the division because the likelihood of a wildcard berth places them in a precarious situation because of the competitiveness of the teams vying for the two berths available in the American League.

Coming off a 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees at Comerica Park in Detroit Michigan , Brad Ausmus and his team will again face their opponent on Wednesday in a resumption of their series, as the Yankees seek to make ground on the Baltimore Orioles who lead the AL East. Mike Sciocsia will lead the Angels in a home game against the Miami Marlins at Angels’ Ballpark in Anaheim, California. A lopsided and thoroughly deserving victory on Tuesday afternoon gives credence to why Sciocsia’s team has been so dominant this season against their opponents from both leagues. Henderson Alvarez of the Marlins will seek to avert another loss by the visitors as he faces Hector Santiago of the Angels.

There is no denying the Chicago Cubs have remained in a never-ending slump that has become synonymous with sheer misery for their fans. A century of mediocrity cannot adequately explain the woes of the baseball franchise , even with their infamous NLCS series against the Florida Marlins in 2003 . While Steve Bartman’s name will forever live in infamy but the apportioning of blame on one idiotic Cubs’ fan was not the only reason for the team’s demise in the series. The Chicago Cubs repeatedly had chances to close out the series in game’s six and seven, but their ineptitude was there on show for their fans. Eleven years later, it were as if nothing has been learned by the organization, even with a change in ownership .One can seek to debunk a myth or myths, but in the case of the Cubs, what you see is what you get.

Tom Ricketts and his family have sought spend millions to bolster this ball-club’s roster over the years, all to no avail, while bringing in wunderkinds Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein to head the Cubs’ front office . This season for the franchise has nothing short of disastrous as they seek to dig themselves out trouble within the NL Central, where they currently find themselves firmly rooted at the bottom of the division while having one of the worst records within the National League as well as baseball in general. Rick Renteria and the managerial staff of the Chicago Cubs will be certainly looking to assess the members of the team as the season winds down, while also assessing the younger talent within their farm system. Inasmuch, as Theo Epstein was very much the architect of the Boston Red Sox’s success and their two World Series’ wins in 2004 and 2007, an immediate turnaround was never on the cards for Cubs after the years of mismanagement and neglect by a succession of front office executives . Epstein and Hoyer, now seems to be adding to the mess rather than trying to clean it up.

The financial resources for the Chicago Cubs remains vast, beyond a loyal fan-base , sellout crowds for home games played at Wrigley Field , ownership of their own cable sports’ broadcast network and resources of Tom Ricketts and his family. Chicago may well be winners of seven of their last ten games with a four-game winning streak , but the fact of the matter remains this is not a team built for consistency and long-term success. The Cubs’ most recent victory over divisional rivals, the Cincinnati Reds another , team languishing and with no chance of challenging within the NL Central, will see them face the Reds on Wednesday afternoon , before closing out the series at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio on Thursday afternoon. Wins are imperative for the Chicago Cubs in each of the contests in question and it will be interesting to see how Jacob Turner will fare when he faces Mat Latos of the Reds today , in one a series of games on the MLB schedule for the 27th August .

If there was a miscue then I must have missed it all, as the Philadelphia Phillies and their season spins completely out of control. Ryne Sandberg was brought in to bring a sense of semblance , consistency but above all real passion for the game. It was clearly lacking last season with Charlie Manuel , whose final year in charge was simply a body mess with the carnage of 2013 strewn all over Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania . A team that has failed to produce , while having a bloated payroll , is once again exhibiting the very same traits , even with something of a revamped roster . Sandberg has been unable to change the identity of this team, while several of the veterans on the roster have become all too complacent and nonchalant in their play .With almost $170 million committed this season in salary commitments , which ranks the Phillies with the fourth highest team payroll in all of baseball , with only the Los Angeles Dodgers , New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers with larger commitments. The question has to be, what is the mindset within the Phillies’ front office as led by GM Reuben Amaro Jr ?

The Philadelphia Phillies will play host to the Washington Nationals , who hold a comfortable lead in the NL East over their rivals within the division . For Sandberg’s last placed team remains on a precipice waiting to be nudged over and another defeat is likely to make the scenario a reality . On the mound for the home team will be Kyle Kendrick facing off against Doug Fister of the Nationals . A game which will likely tell us a great deal about the ambitions of the two teams right now . From my own standpoint, I believe Reuben Amaro will have to gut the team and simply start afresh jettisoning a number of the high-priced impending free agents rebuilding from the ground up abandoning what has been organization’s belief in paying an exorbitant salary merely to keep the services of a player. Ryan Howard , Cole Hamels , Cliff Lee , Jimmy Rollins and several others in this lineup, have not performed up to expectation, while being rewarded a ridiculously idiotic sum for their menial returns on the season.

Robinson Cano’s departure from the New York Yankees led many to believe the player would be doomed in seeking to make the Seattle Mariner his destination in 2014. Yet for all of the criticism leveled at Cano, his being used as a pawn in a rather idiotic game cat and mouse with the Yankees’ front office by his agent Jay-z , founder of the upstart sports’ management agency RocNation Sports ,may well have worked out for the best. It does seem as if Cano , RocNation and the Mariners are indeed happy. Robinson Cano wanting to be rewarded with a multi-year , six-figure deal rumored to be $300 million over ten years was somewhat impudent but in the end , his contract with the Mariners does seem to reflect the player’s worth to the team . He certainly has not disappointed over the course of this season while he remains in the upper echelons of the AL batting statistics and is likely to seen as a viable candidate for the AL MVP this season.

The Mariners remain in the playoff hunt and merely need to play consistent baseball over the remaining thirty-one games of their regular season schedule to tie up one of the two available spots in order to be an AL wildcard entrant . Though the team was on the wrong side of a 12-4 shelling at the hands of the Texas Rangers , Lloyd McClendon and his managerial staff realize they merely have to seek a collective effort from the players to get the job done. Robinson Cano, wasn’t simply brought in solely to provide an offensive bat, but also to lead the team as a seasoned veteran. With an off-day on Thursday , the Seattle Mariners will have as their guests at Safeco Field the Washington Nationals in the first of a three-game series beginning on Friday 29th August . Taking the mound for Seattle will be Felix Hernandez against Jordan Zimmerman of the Nationals, in what is likely to be a highly competitive pitchers’ duel between the two starting aces.

Twenty-game winners were common place in baseball and this season it seems that for the first time in several years MLB might be without a starting pitcher reaching a win total of twenty games or more at the end of the regular season. The last time a starting pitcher failed to reach the plateau in question was in 2009, when the Cy Young Award in the AL and NL went to Zack Greinke and Tim Linecum , respectively. This season the leaders in the respective leagues, Max Scherzer in the American League , while reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw leads the National League. Kershaw remains heads and shoulders above any other pitcher in baseball at present and has been for the past two years without a doubt. He has proven to be dominant enough and it is with good reason why the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office have seen fit to reward him with such a lucrative contract making him one of the highest paid players in baseball, in terms of salary and contract value . By contrast Justin Verlander might well be having something of a less productive season than we are accustomed to seeing from the Tigers’ starting pitcher, but he and Felix Hernandez remain among the best pitchers in the American League and have been for several years. However, this season, what we have seen in terms of the pitching in baseball , may well come down to lack of run support provided to the pitchers and the tendency of middle relief and closers to become more of a tool within the game, sometimes leading to lessening of the results for the starters.

There is a very good reason to believe Clayton Kershaw could very well be a back-to-back winner of the NL Cy Young Award , again with the Dodgers’ pitcher being the best player on the team’s pitching staff and best player on the team by far , without delving in into his salary . Kershaw will be looking to win the award for the third time in of his career , having won in 2011 and 2013 . The AL candidates from this season are likely to be taken from among these list of pitchers , Chris Sale , Felix Hernandez ,Max Scherzer , Rick Porcello, Scott Kazmir, David Price and Greg Holland .

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Picture gallery.

This weekend’s schedule within baseball will be highly interesting with games and series likely to be pivotal to the teams’ seasons . It was pretty much the same issue at this time last season within the game . Your thoughts on baseball and what are you hoping to see over the remainder of the season?

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(1) MLB’s thirty teams entered the start of this season with a view to be part of the playoff picture with their ultimate goal, being to win the World Series. Last year’s champions the Boston Red Sox have struggled in 2014 , currently lying at the bottom of the AL East division without a chance of making the postseason.

(2) Ned Yost manager of the Kansas City Royals has his team riding high within the AL Central having led for a greater part of this month having held unto the lead without a great deal of difficulty during August . Yost and the team will be looking to win a divisional title and make the playoffs for the first time in almost two decades. AP Photo/ Mark Watson …

(3) Detroit Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus is seen here with Tigers’ assistant and infield coach Omar Vizquel have seen the team lose sight of their seasonal goal in winning the AL Central and gaining a postseason berth . The team is now fighting for a playoff berth among a list of very competitive AL wildcard candidates . Getty Images/ Chris Horner …

(4) Chicago Cubs’ Head of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein ,left, is seen here with the team’s owner Tom Ricketts . Once again the Cubs have struggled with their being little sign of competitiveness shown by the team this season . Chicago finds itself rooted at the bottom of the NL Central. AP Photo/ Cathy Hurst …

(5) Ryne Sandberg manager of the Philadelphia Phillies is seen here in the dugout speaking with team pitcher Cliff Lee , foreground. An inauspicious season , high payroll and diminishing returns has led to an inept year for the franchise . Matt Glover / UPI …

(6) Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners who spent the first seven years of his career with the New York Yankees , but left the team in December of 2013 to join the Mariners, signing a ten-year $240 million deal . This season Cano has been productive for the team , leading them in several offensive categories . AP Photo / Sean Williams …

(7) Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is having another spectacular season for the team and leads the NL in ERA and wins . The player is seeking to win a third Cy Young Award , joining a select group of players with three or more wins of baseball’s top individual pitching honor . AP Photo / Mel Whittaker …

(8) Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox might just be the best thing about the ailing AL Central franchise this season . A possible candidate for the AL Cy Young Award , it is unlikely that he will win the award playing on a team with a losing record , while being uncompetitive throughout this season. Matt Hart/ UPI …

(9) Max Scherzer , left and Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers are seen here at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan , during a regular season game . With the addition of David Price to their roster the Tigers now have three AL Cy Young Award winners in their lineup . Currently engaged in a series with the New York Yankees , the team does need to win the series to keep up the momentum, while leading the list of AL wildcard candidates. AP Photo/ Richie Curtis …

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Speak no evil , see no evil and hear no evil

Speak no evil , see no evil and hear no evil

Well modesty forbids me to gloat , but I can’t help but feel that while the San Antonio Spurs many of the doubters of this team must now be somewhat disappointed . At the ripe of old age of thirty-seven , Tim Duncan is still proving that he remains a formidable player after all these years . Gregg Popovich , has now guided the team to their fifth NBA Finals` appearance since 1997. The franchise is also seeking to win their fifth title under Popovich`s tenure . This much we do now know , whoever the Spurs are to meet in the upcoming Finals , will be meeting a rejuvenated team with three future Hall of Fame players on the team`s current roster .

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In the unlikeliest of situations, San Antonio simply slipped by the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals in a four-game sweep of their conference counterparts . For Lionel Hollins and his coaching staff of the Grizzlies , theirs was a commendable year , where their season-high came by way of their first round defeat of the number one seeds in the conference , the Oklahoma City Thunder . Suffice to say , as the Spurs await the winners of the ongoing hard-fought series between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers .

Now while the Heat have taken a 2-1 lead in their series , no one is saying that this duel has reached a finality by way of LeBron James and his teammates having slammed the door shut on Pacers` postseason aspirations . This still remains an unfinished and a completely unwritten chapter , a number of plot-lines and episodes that still remain unresolved .

The baseball season has become something of an anathema as the duels between the pitchers and batters remains a highly competitive one . That being said, there is very good reason to believe that if things play out as they currently are , the fans MLB analysts alike , could be in for a great deal of fun , as the year unfolds .

Last season’s Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera is ahead of last season’s pace , as he looks to possibly make history as the game’s only repeat champion in that specific category . Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers (29-20) are themselves riding high in the AL Central , with Jim Leyland’s players seemingly looking to run away with the division . However , in light of that all, the Cleveland Indians , led by new installed manager Terry Francona has the Indians a mere 2½ games behind the Tigers .

Far be it for me to suggest , but I believe that the last time Indians Tigers contended for anything in baseball , I was in the midst of a divorce , not exactly a happy time for myself and presumably the franchise at the time . Amicable as the parting was said to be , it must be said , my ex-wife doesn’t remain on my list of high priorities . In the case of the Cleveland Indians winning does remain utmost at the top of their agenda , along regaining their respectability amongst their peers within the game.

If there is likely to be a managerial casualty within the game at present , then one could possibly look no further than Bo Porter of the Houston Astros , Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers , Mike Redmond of the Miami Marlins and Terry Collins of the New York Mets . All three managers currently have their respective teams playing sub .500 baseball , and I might, the sort of mediocre baseball , that I seriously doubt that their owners or general managers thought would be so dire .

I am not about to go into any in-depth prognostication as to why I believe that four managers in question should be relieved of their duties . Yet , there is enough evidence there to suggest that this season , neither of the aforementioned individuals have done anywhere near enough to guide their respective teams , with any great authority . Mattingly’s position on appearance alone , might appear to be all that tenuous , but you simply cannot overlook that the Dodgers , in spite of the team’s compilation of injuries , the team has performed miserably . What makes this all the more embarrassing , is the very fact that with a $200 million payroll , team owners , Magic Johnson , Todd Boehly . Peter Guber and Mark Walter , may well be putting on a brave face , while their ball-club is beset by on the field issues . Yet who would have guessed that this team would be performing so badly in the midst having been purchased with a $2 billion price tag and with the lingering odor of former owner Frank McCourt still wafting over Dodgers’ Stadium , in Los Angeles California , like rancid feline urine . It begs the question that in spite of the big splash and the bold predictions , the Dodgers have come up way short of Johnson’s own lofty expectations for this team and the season.

The Dodgers will entertain their cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Angels today in a game to be played at Dodgers Ballpark in Los Angeles , California . On the mound for the team when they face off against the Angels will be Hyun Jin Ryu against the Joe Blanton in what should prove to be a very good pitchers’ duel . For GM Ned Colletti and team President Stan Kasten , the issues faced beyond the team’s bloated payroll and the under-achievement of the players , is that there now appears to be no leadership forthcoming from either Matt Kemp or Adrian Gonzalez , two of the team’s better offensive players and likely to be amongst the NL’s prime candidates for the NL MVP .

No lull before the storm but the NFL OTA’s (organized training activities) for a number of teams , have brought about a few odd spectacles for a number of franchises . Perhaps none more so , than for the Buffalo Bills , whose playoff drought in the league has been so lean , that the fans crave it , like the air they breathe . Head coach Doug Marrone and the front office had their turmoil during the off-season, but the big surprise came with the franchise’s choice to take a quarterback in the first round of this past NFL Draft . EJ Manuel was the player who had the privilege of being the franchise’s first draft pick , player , surprising a number of fans NFL analysts around the league environment . As a draftee taken out of Florida State where he had a moderately successful collegiate career .

Signs are , with Manuel along with veteran Kevin Kolb are likely to have something of an unsettling regular season , albeit , that it might still be too early assess how good or bad this team is likely to be . Marrone will certainly be looking to see of a journeyman such Kolb , still has anything to offer a franchise at this stage of his career . Kolb has suggested that he has joined the Buffalo Bills with a view to winning and to guide the young rookie quarterbacks on the team`s roster . Last I looked , Kevin Kolb`s resume` as a player , gave nothing by way of a suggestion , that he could or would be ever considered to be a winner ! The former Eagles and Cardinals` signal caller , if anything , can be best described, as a below to moderate backup quarterback in the NFL .

Inasmuch, as I love to watch energetic and competitive football , I truly believe that the AFC East will be determined this season will be determined by the play of the New England Patriots and how Bill Belichick sets about in the preparedness of his team . As the Patriots go , then so will the destination of the divisional title . With the Bills opening their regular season a> schedule with a game against the New England Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo , New York on the 8th September, 2013 , opening weekend of the NFL regular season schedule . If the game is anything like the previous meetings between these two teams , then the fans in attendance, will be definitely be in for something of a treat . Newly installed GM Doug Whaley , in his first draft , in a capacity as a general manager , sought not to make the type of mistakes that were often associated with a number of his predecessors . That being said , it might will be the off-season free agent acquisitions , that may well stir a great deal of debate as it relates to the Buffalo Bills .

I am not about to suggest that Bills draftees , EJ Manuel , Robert Woods , Kiko Alonso , Marquise Goodwin , Duke Williams , Jonathan Meeks , Dustin Hopkins and Chris Gragg will not be able to make solid contributions for the team this upcoming season . Yet considering , the Bills` lackluster performances in 2012. By comparison to the team`s draft class of last season , was less than superlative , by way of their contributions for Buffalo , in terms of their schedule and the franchise`s final divisional and conference standings overall .

I am sorry, but after the idiotic behavior we all witnessed that went viral concerning, the now former Rutgers University men`s basketball coach, Mike Rice . and the school’s former AD , Tim Pernetti , whose incompetency was only outdone , by his sheer and utter stupidity in not having fired Rice , with cause , rather than seeking to make Rice is own personal reclamation project , even when it was known that Mike Rice was a repeat offender . I felt that there could be no way in hell that things could have gotten worse for the once distinguished educational establishment . State ran, or not, the absolute incredulity shown by all involved within the university`s administration is a clear indication why greed , and stupidity , overtakes common sense and moral expediency within collegiate athletics . And please, do not look for to any sound reasoning or common sense to be shown by anyone within the NCAA hierarchy , Most definitely not while on NCAA President Mark Emmert`s watch . Emmert has enough skeletons in his own damn closet to make a corrupt member of the US Congress blush .

Courtesy of ESPN

Julie Hermann remains under fire

By Andrea Adelson ,

Incoming Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann, already accused of abusive behavior toward student-athletes during her time as the women’s volleyball coach at Tennessee, is the focus of another lawsuit — this one during her time at Louisville in 2008.

According to a report in The New York Times, assistant track and field coach Mary Banker approached Hermann, who was then a senior athletics administrator at Louisville, about what she thought was sexist behavior and “discriminatory treatment” by head coach Ron Mann. After taking her concerns to human resources, Banker was fired within three weeks.

According to the legal filings obtained by The Times, Hermann initially was supportive of Banker after hearing of her complaints. In an email to Banker, Hermann wrote: “Thank you … We’re lucky to have you … You’re a change agent … don’t let their limitations take you out of the game … thank god you’re here.”

According to a filing, Hermann expressed concern after Banker went to HR with her complaints about Mann.

“Hermann called Banker into her office and flat-out told her, ‘You should not have gone to HR,’ ” the filing states, adding that Hermann allegedly told Banker: “I don’t know how I’m going to restore trust in you amongst staff now,” and “I don’t know how you’re going to work downstairs after this.”

On Monday, Rutgers president Robert Barchi gave a vote of confidence for Hermann, and supporters defended her as a strong leader and advocate for women after it came to light that Hermann had been sued by former Tennessee volleyball assistant coach Ginger Hineline in the 1990s. According to the suit, Hineline accused Hermann of discouraging her from getting pregnant. Hineline was awarded $150,000 in a settlement in 1997.

Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich told ESPN, “In 15½ years, I never had one problem” with Hermann. “She did impeccable work for us. No one has said anything the past 15 years. She is beloved here.”

Joan Cronan, Tennessee women’s AD emeritus, also voiced support for Hermann, claiming in a statement that she does not “recall it being an abusive situation.”

Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich told ESPN, “In 15½ years, I never had one problem” with Hermann. “She did impeccable work for us. No one has said anything the past 15 years. She is beloved here.”

Joan Cronan, Tennessee women’s AD emeritus, also voiced support for Hermann, claiming in a statement that she does not “recall it being an abusive situation.”

“I hold Julie Hermann in high regard, and I believe she is well-prepared for her new role at Rutgers University,” Cronan wrote in her statement, according to MyCentralJersey.com. “My recollection of the time Julie was at the University of Tennessee is that it was a very frustrating time for everyone connected with the volleyball program, which had performed far below our expectations. However, I do not recall it being an abusive situation.”

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Rutgers University President Robert Barchi has used about as much expediency while this continued idiocy has taken a familiar course along the route of ineptitude . The school recently hired Julie Hermann to succeed Tim Pernetti . Yet only now, has it come to the fore after grave doubts had been presented about Hermann`s character , honesty and integrity . In choosing to make Julie Hermann the first female athletic director of a D1 school in the last fifteen years , now poses the question , how much due diligence was used by Barchi and his subordinates during the entire interview and hiring process ? Throughout much of Hermann`s career`s in collegiate athletics , either as a coach, or as an administrator , some form of controversy has continued to followed her . Now with allegations of sexual impropriety , allegations of misleading investigators in a legal issue , as well as issues concerning her own competency in her now chosen field as an administrator . One has to wonder , why Barchi and interim AD made the decision to hire Hermann . New Jersey governor , Chris Christie has now entered the fray with reservations in part questioning Robert Barchi`s choice of Julie Hermann to succeed Tim Pernetti . Christie , conscious of this latest problem , obviously, does not want to see the state ran university fall any deeper into a quagmire of its own making .

. The nation`s children are being sent to establishments of higher learning to first and foremost , obtain an education and learn how to be productive citizens. Unfortunately , it is the faculty members who now seem to be falling way sort of what the parents and public alike expect from our state ran and private universities .

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Picture gallery .

What thoughts if any , do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit .

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(1) SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 21: Mike Budenholzer , assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs, speaks with Tim Duncan (21) and Kawhi Leonard (2) before resuming play against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2013 NBA Playoffs on May 21, 2013 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images …

(2) Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) blocks a shot by San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) during the first half in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals NBA basketball playoff series in Memphis, Tenn., Monday, May 27, 2013. AP Photo/Danny Johnston …..

(3) San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, of the U.S. Virgin Islands, left, is congratulated by Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins after Game 4 of the Western Conference finals NBA basketball playoff series in Memphis, Tenn., Monday, May 27, 2013. The Spurs defeated the Grizzlies 93-86 to advance to the NBA finals. AP Photo/Danny Johnston ….

(4) DETROIT, MI – MAY 28: Miguel Cabrera (24) of the Detroit Tigers singles to left field in the first inning of the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Comerica Park on May 28, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images ….

(5) LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 28: Hyun-Jin Ryu (99) of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts as he watches the third out of the ninth inning for a two hit complete game shutout of the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on May 28, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …

(6) Quarterback E.J. Manuel from Florida State stands with the team jersey after being selected 16th overall by the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the NFL football draft , Thursday, April 25, 2013 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. AP Photo/Jason DeCrow …..

(7) Kevin Kolb of the Buffalo Bills speaks to the convened press, after recently been acquired by the team as a free agent . Kolb now seen as a journeyman quarterback will be viewed as starter for the team this upcoming season , but the prevailing thought appears to be that the job is E J Manuel`s for the taking as Buffalo`s options at the position do appear to be thin . Ryan Peters / Getty Images ….

(8) FILE – In this May 15, 2013 file photo, Julie Hermann , left, sits with Rutgers president Roberet L. Barchi, as they listen to a question during a news conference where she was introduced as the new athletic director at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J. A high ranking official at the University of Tennessee has voiced her support for Hermann, who is facing allegations she verbally abused players while she was the volleyball coach with the Volunteers. AP Photo/Mel Evans ……..

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tophatal ………………………. 05/28/2013

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Hot chic pic of the day Vida Guerra and another framed picture below .

It’s not your grandfather or father’s game of baseball ……………….

It’s not your grandfather or father’s game of baseball

There now seems to be a quiet solemnity arising as baseball nears its Opening Day on Sunday, 31st March . And on Easter Sunday, representing one of the holiest days, within Christendom, it should be noted, that the game still has its difficulties , the most obvious being, that the league hierarchy has yet to find a way extricate itself from a mess of its own making, as it relates to the never-ending saga of illicit steroid use by its players . At the center of it all , will be whether not Bud Selig will use the full extent of the law and seek legal action against the South Florida medical establishment Biogenesis , in seeking obtain documentary evidence as to the list of players associated with Biogenesis’ clients, their manufacturing and sales of PED’s and anabolic steroids . Amongst the players named in these documents are Alex Rodriguez , Ryan Braun and Melky Cabrera .

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In the midst of this all, one of the game’s most revered and beloved players , will be celebrated on film when Hollywood will release the biopic “42 “ , starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford , in a film based upon the life of Hall of Fame inductee , Jackie Robinson and his introduction into and the desegregation of baseball.

Official trailer for the movie “42 ” released by Warner Bros Pictures Inc

Alas, from Robinson’s introduction and his vilification by fans and contemporaries alike , it would appear that the game of baseball is still bereft of intelligence , a great deal of bigotry and complete accountability and leadership among the game’s hierarchy and players remains, a reminder as to why it has fallen from its once historic heights. And while many will counter with the fact that Branch Rickey’s brave social maneuver changed the face of sports and the social fabric of the country . One could counter that as the biggest misnomer and the very fact that the race remained socially , economically and racially divided . Doubt my word ? Consider the fact that the US military was not “fully integrated” and then desegregated until eight years after the end of World War II . Cause for concern don’t you think , considering the rather banal and idiotic claims , repeatedly being made by sociologists and historians down the years ?

Courtesy of New York Daily News

Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and other players linked to Biogenesis will have to speak with Major League Baseball investigators
Baseball officials have been investigating players’ ties to Florida anti-aging clinics since last summer, when the Daily News first reported that Giants star Melky Cabrera had tried to avoid a 50-game suspension by claiming a dietary supplement sparked a positive drug test

By Michael O’Keefe and Christian Reed , New York Daily News

Alex Rodriguez and other players linked to Biogenesis will still have to speak to Major League Baseball investigators in the near future, even if they could be called as witnesses in the lawsuit MLB filed last week against Anthony Bosch’s now-defunct anti-aging clinic.
Baseball’s investigators will interview players tied to Biogenesis shortly after the season begins next week, sources told the Daily News.
“I don’t think the lawsuit will prevent the interviews from going forward,” one source familiar with MLB’s Biogenesis investigation said.
MLB filed a civil suit in Florida state court on Friday that accuses Bosch and several business associates of “tortious interference” in contracts between baseball and its players by supplying players with performance-enhancing drugs.
Baseball officials have been investigating players’ ties to Florida anti-aging clinics since last summer, when the Daily News first reported that Giants star Melky Cabrera had tried to avoid a 50-game suspension by claiming a dietary supplement sparked a positive drug test.
An associate of Cabrera’s, Juan Carlos Nunez, was banned from MLB clubhouses after he admitted that he created a fake website for the product. Nunez worked for Cabrera’s agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, whose Brooklyn-based ACES is among baseball’s most prominent agencies.

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From my own perspective , I have always felt that baseball’s hierarchy has been disingenuous , along with the players and its union (MLBPA) ! The so-called stars within the game have failed to speak publicly about their contemporaries’ misuse of steroids and the cheating scandal associated with the misuse of the illicit substances in question. To make matters worse , Bud Selig’s handling of this whole tragic episode has bordered on being completely comical and without scope or any common sense . It should be noted however, with Selig stepping down from his office in 2014 , it is hoped that his successor will bring about some much-needed changes within the games at various levels. Pardon me for saying this , but if the likes of Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols and Buster Posey will seek to remain silent while the union and league hierarchy simply continue with their charade , that they are cleaning up the image of the game of baseball, then they can kiss my ass ! Why continue to put up with their diatribe, when they cannot simply be honest with themselves ?

As the game continues to mire itself also with the façade that it remains financially solvent , we should remind ourselves of the fact that it still continues with their rather banal and “ asinine tax sharing “ revenue scheme which Bud Selig believes will level the competitive playing field. In actuality , nothing could be further from the truth , especially when it comes to the likes of the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates , who have not between a hair’s breadth of making the postseason in the past two decades . Yet somehow, their fans remain in hope, that thing will change in the foreseeable future . Well considering their play during last season and over the past two decades , the chances of either team being in with a chance of making the MLB postseason 2013 , seems even more remote than ever before .

Before the season comes into being , baseball has begun with an array of off-season moves , but more so the never-ending escalation in player salaries . The Detroit Tigers and their 2011 MVP and AL Cy Young winner , Justin Verlander , has been rewarded with a seven-year $189 million contract extension . Tigers GM , Dave Dombrowski and team owner, Michael Ilitch felt it beneficial and prudent extend the player’s contract , rather than losing him to free agency. Granted , with Ilitch’s vast financial resources , it should come as no surprise that the owner would seek to retain the team’s best and most valuable player. And if Verlander can reproduce the form shown over the past five seasons , then there is no reason why one shouldn’t assume that he and the Tigers can’t be a part of the postseason foray .

If there is a manager that will be under a great deal of problems , it most certainly will have to the Los Angeles’ Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly . A star laden roster, with many of those players being multiple time All Stars , undoubtedly well rewarded and amongst the best in the game financially. And that in of-itself might not be enough to satisfy long starved Dodgers’ fans , but moreover the executives of the ball-club who paid an astonishing $2.156 billion for the franchise, while it went through bankruptcy proceedings and reorganization . For lead managing partners , Magic Johnson , Todd S Boehly and Mark L Walter , Peter Guber , these are not wealthy entrepreneurs, who simply make a sizable investment merely for show , as they seek to make profit from their foray into professional sports’ franchise ownership . And with the continued rumors that the Dodgers’ ownership group through sports’ affiliated subsidiary may well seek to make an all-out $8.5 billion for AEG Worldwide Inc , the sports’ concession conglomerate owned by billionaire , Philip Anschutz , a member of Forbes ‘ 400 wealthiest Americans . If this unsolicited bid were to take place , it gives the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ownership group, properties such as a minority stake in the Los Angeles Lakers , Los Angeles Galaxy , the branded properties of the O 2 Arenas , globally , Nokia Theater , Ticketmaster , Walden Media , Staples Center , part ownership in several teams now competing in MLS soccer . If anything , the Dodgers’ owners intent , will be on the team and their wish in on taking > on the San Francisco Giants , their dominance within the NL West and stymie their chance of repeating again as divisional champions , as well winning the World Series for a third time in five years. And it’s pretty safe to suggest that Giants’ owner Larry Baer , GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy will be looking to prove that the success of last season isn’t something of a fleeting episode that should and will be easily forgotten.

If there is said to be a player, who has to be viewed as the leader of this Dodgers’ lineup , then that might well be Matt Kemp . Although, many would deem it that Adrian Gonzalez is more fitting in that role . There is no doubt that the team’s offense is among the most productive in the NL , and it will be interesting to see whether or not this roster can replicate the form shown in 2012.

With a solid pitching rotation , the Dodgers could be looked at as one of the better positioned ball clubs within the NL this season that could very well make a spirited run with a view to the postseason. And among the pitching staff , perhaps the player with the most to prove will be Zack Greinke , whose career if anything has been understated , albeit , that he was an All Star and Cy Young award winner in 2007 with the Kansas City Royals . In reality, Greinke’s career, can be best described as being sporadic and spotty to say the very least . Whether or not he can be at the forefront of a staff that also includes Clayton Kershaw , Josh Beckett , and Hyu Jin Ryu .

The Dodgers will start their regular season sojourn, with a three game home series against the San Francisco Giants at Dodgers Ballpark in Los Angeles , California. Game one on Monday evening. And in what should be an entertaining series’ opener , this should have all the makings of an eventful year for both of these famed ball clubs.

In the AL and specifically the AL East , the consensus appears to be that the Toronto Blue Jays have to be seen as the presumptive favorites to at least win the division outright. I am not so sure that on the face of it , the team can be seen as legitimate contenders , merely because on appearance alone the New York Yankees , Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are said to have taken a step back , primarily because off-season moves and injuries . The Baltimore Orioles , I believe will remain a force to be reckoned with , within the division, but the Rays will have the best balanced roster , of any of the teams within the AL East. What does stand out, with Joe Maddon’s roster of talented players , just happens to be the fact the their starting pitching will remain amongst the best not just within the AL but within MLB in general . What is apparent , with the loss of James Shields and Wade Davis , Maddon is still lucky enough to know that there is a great deal of depth to his staff and the team pitching , in general. If the Rays can come out of the gate fast , with series of confidence building wins and build on that momentum , then there is no reason not to believe why they cannot be part be part of the postseason spectacle, in what fans believe , is amongst the best in team sports .

Granted, run production has always a been real issue with the Tampa Bay Rays ,but if James Loney , well as Evan Longoria , Yunel Escobar , Desmond Jennings and Ben Zobrist may need to show that they are capable of leading this ball club to the undoubted success sought by the ownership group led by Stuart Sternberg , Matthew Silverman with the personnel experience of Andrew Friedman , who , I believe has been the brains behind the success of the franchise along with Joe Maddon’s managerial acumen . The less I hear Sternberg and Silverman bitching and whining about the Rays’ lack financial wherewithal and the lack of support from the municipality and county governments in coming to their aid with regard to a new venue . It becomes clearer to me that this ownership group simply has no goddamn idea what it takes to run a successful professional sports’ franchise. Sternberg’s alleged business acumen as a financier and commodities’ broker has become a fairy tale and a myth . Stuart Sternberg and Matt Silverman have indicated to me, that they are mere children in a room filled with men . The city of Tampa and St Petersburg have become renowned for having owners of their professional sports’ franchises who have become disengaged and so fucking clueless, as to what is needed to make their teams a real success and have a loyal fan-base ( average attendance , Rays, Lightning , Buccaneers) . And that has now become a reality for the Rays , Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the continued idiocy shown by the respective ownership groups.

As the season progresses it will be interesting to see how the teams s acquit themselves over an arduous 162 game schedule . Given what we all witnessed in 2012 and the play of the teams over the course of the season. Whether or not we can have a revisit of many of the highlights we all witnessed , with games , where many of them were close victories. Undoubtedly many of us will also be looking forward whether or not the sensational rookies we witnessed such Mike Trout , Yoenis Cespedes , Bryce Harper and Yu Darvish . Of this year’s rookies , several are likely to make some solid contributions for their teams this season , and we are likely to see that come to fruition with several of these players , namely Wil Myers , Jurickson Profar , Gerritt Cole , Billy Hamilton , Carlos Correa and Shelby Miller .

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Given the issues in 2012 during which we saw the best and the very worst within the game , in terms of what now appears that never-ending saga of steroids rearing its ugly head . It now looks as if all of the claims being made by Bud Selig that the hierarchy is doing the very best to clean up its image is now nothing but a comical joust by the commissioner . Mandatory off-season testing has yet to become a reality and the prolific and rampant use of steroids and PED’s now seem to be more widespread than ever , especially at the minor league level . Something that Selig simply glosses over repeatedly . As if we should have expected anything else to begin with ?

What if anything do you hope to see come out of this baseball season and which team or teams do you believe will be a major surprise during the regular and postseason ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit , and once again thanks as always for your continued support of this site .

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(1) The tainted face and continued shame of baseball arises once again , with the names of Ryan Braun , Melky Cabrera and Alex Rodriguez . All three players’ are named in documents of the South Florida medical establishment Biogenesis as recipient of steroids sent to their homes as part of a paid consignment . In 2012 Cabrera sat out the mandatory 50 game suspension when he was in the hunt for the NL MVP race . Rodriguez is currently sidelined with an injury , having undergone off-season hip surgery . Ryan Braun through his agent , Nez Badelo has suggested , that his client is completely innocent of the charges currently being leveled against him , and that he was merely a paid up consultant and endorser of the supplements produced by the company . Miami Herald …….

(2) Right , actor , Chadwick “Chad ” Boseman in the role of Jackie Robinson is seen in conversation with Dodgers’ general manager Branch Rickey , the role played by veteran actor , Harrison Ford . The movie entitled “42” , a biopic of the Robinson story , is set for release on 12th April , nationally , in theaters across the country . AP Photo / Donald Hurley …

(3) San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey hits a single against the Oakland Athletics during the second inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game , Friday, March 29, 2013 in San Francisco. AP Photo/George Nikitin ……

(4) Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, right, looks at team president, CEO and general manager Dave Dombrowski during a news conference after a spring baseball exhibition game on Friday, March 29, 2013, in Lakeland, Fla., where Verlander talked about his new seven-year, $180 million contract . AP Photo/Carlos Osorio …..

(5) Los Angeles Dodgers starter Zack Greinke delivers a pitch in the first inning of an exhibition baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday, March 30, 2013. Greinke starts the season as one of the highest salaried and paid players on the Dodgers’ roster . It should be noted that the Opening Day payroll for MLB's thirty teams will for the first time exceed $3 billion ($3,000,000,000) , with the Yankees now leading the pack after their recent acquisition of Vernon Wells , supplanting the Dodgers’ $213.5 payroll for 2013. AP Photo/Christine Cotter …

(6) Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon addresses the media before an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Thursday, March 28, 2013, in Sarasota, Fla. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio ….

(7) Jurickson Profar (13) of the Texas Rangers signs autographs for fans before the spring training game at Surprise Stadium on February 22, 2013 in Surprise, Arizona. Getty Images North America /Christian Petersen …..
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By Tophatal

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Striking out for glory , three strikes, you’ll never believe it ……

Striking out for glory , three strikes, you’ll never believe it

By Tophatal

Well, the MLB preseason has commenced and Opening Day saw a glut of games to start the season, preseason that is. And over the next seven weeks we’ll get to the league’s teams set about finding a rhythm while looking to get their free agent signees and none roster invitees acclimatized to playing something akin , to competitive baseball . The biggest talking point, may well be whether or not teams such as the Washington Nationals , New York Yankees, Oakland A’s , Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers can get over last season’s failings , as things played out during the regular and postseason .

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While I have no wish to see the idiocy of 2012 paraded in front of me by Bud Selig and the league hierarchy, the conclusion has to be , the sooner the commissioner steps down , the better off the game of baseball will be. And quite reasonably , I believe that the majority of the game’s fans are of the belief, that Selig has performed poorly over the course of his almost two decade career. And the commissioner as always , has continued to sing the praises of the game and its economic strengths. Am I mistaken ? How can a franchise with a $ 60 million payroll expect to compete competitively with the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees , who between them will have a combined payroll of almost $410 million for the upcoming season. Somehow, I get the belief that the schleppers at the bottom rung of the payroll ladder will be feeding from the cast-offs left by their more resourceful peers .

Far be it for me to suggest, but with Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers having won the AL MVP in conjunction with baseball’s first Triple Crown winner in four decades , after what was said to be a highly debatable vote . The question remains , can Cabrera rebound and prove in 2013 , that last season was not an aberration ? At the same time, AL MVP , runner-up , Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels can further excel, after leading the Angels in so many offensive and defensive categories in 2012. Now while I don’t begrudge Cabrera his win of the AL MVP , I did feel that so much of what Trout did for his team was simply brushed aside . That being said , the Angels , failed miserably , when so much more was expected of this ball-club from last season .

Angels’ owner , Arte Moreno and GM , Jerry Dipoto , did not stand pat during the off-season, as they sought to bolster the roster with the biggest free agent acquisition on the market , with Josh Hamilton signing a multiyear deal with the Los Angeles Angels’ organization in December of 2012. Say what you will , but Mike Sciocsia , the Angels’ manager will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed , as one of the longest tenured managers , active in baseball. The team’s last postseason forays have been and came in 2009 , when the franchise went to the ALCS and in a 4-2 series’ loss to the New York Yankees. However, the franchise’s most triumphant moment came in 2002 , with the Angels’ triumph over the San Francisco Giants in a thrilling 4-3 series’ victory over the NL pennant winners of that season. I get the feeling that Jerry Dipoto and Arte Moreno are getting extremely impatient , especially when you take into account that over the past three seasons the franchise has spent in excess of $500 million payroll commitments , to get a meager return in that time-frame .

Josh Hamilton for his part , after a tremendous start to the season with the Texas Rangers , simply cooled off offensively , causing many to believe that the outfielder simply didn’t have the temperament to lead. The player’s acquisition by the Angels , after what was something of a protracted negotiation process with Rangers’ team President Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels . At the end of the day, a long-term deal was never a consideration for the Rangers , who felt Hamilton , apart from being injury prone, the player , repeatedly had problems concerning his sobriety and drug dependency issues. And with his acquisition by the Los Angeles Angels, it did not take Hamilton all that long to alienate his former supporters by being overly critical of the Rangers’ fan-base and their lack of loyalty to that ball-club.

If the Angels are to succeed in 2013 , then , the team’s offense will certainly have to be far more productive than they were in 2012 , and the pitching and defense will have to be top caliber , if they are to have any semblance of success as a cohesive unit .

Considered to be among the favorites, this upcoming season within the AL for the pennant as well the World Series . I do believe for the Angels this season , all roads leading to the title will have to go through either the Texas Rangers or the Detroit Tigers . Those two teams given their balance , I believe could and should be contesting the AL pennant in 2013. And while there are proponents out there for the always competitive New York Yankees , I am not so sure that the famed franchise , given their aging core roster , will be fully equipped to take down the might of either of the aforementioned teams.

If the Angels are to succeed in 2013 , then , the team’s offense will certainly have to be far more productive than they were in 2012 , and the pitching and defense will have to be top caliber , if they are to have any semblance of success as a cohesive unit .

Considered to be among the favorites, this upcoming season within the AL for the pennant as well the World Series . I do believe for the Angels this season , all roads leading to the title will have to go through either the Texas Rangers or the Detroit Tigers . Those two teams given their balance , I believe could and should be contesting the AL pennant in 2013. And while there are proponents out there for the always competitive New York Yankees , I am not so sure that the famed franchise , given their aging core roster , will be fully equipped to take down the might of either of the aforementioned teams.

As an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves , with the retirement of future Hall of Famer , Chipper Jones , it will be interesting to see which of the players on the roster will now assume the role of the leader of this team . GM Frank Wren and team President John Scheurholz have seen fit to be prudent in their off-season acquisitions and that was most the case with organization acquiring BJ Upton and his younger sibling Justin Upton via a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks .

Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff will be looking to have his team prepared for the regular season , and most certainly they will be using their preseason schedule to assess the makeup of their roster , with that of their none roster invitees , and budding prospects they deem ready to be part of their everyday lineup. The ball club has gotten off to an inauspicious start having lost the first two games of their preseason schedule. Game one was 2-1 loss to the Tigers , with a subsequent 8-3 defeat at the hands of the Yankees. The team on Sunday , will play the Pittsburgh Pirates , in a game staged in Bradenton , Florida .

Going forward a great deal will be expected of this team , and most certainly from the Upton brothers , as they join a select group of siblings to have played in MLB at the same time , either as teammates or as opponents . That asides , the infancy of the season, should provide us with little to gauge the overall the competitiveness of the teams , at the start of their schedules.

If the baseball gods are watching over the game this season , then hopefully they will be watching the minnows within the game . As I alluded to earlier, they are the bottom feeders , who are simply left to either feast or famine , by way of the scraps left at the table . There are those who would suggest that baseball has real parity by way of the postseason and the participants there each season . From my own perspective , nothing could be further from the truth , because in essence , the majority of the entrants tend to be some of the high salaried teams we have grown accustomed to seeing .

The Atlanta Braves’ regular season schedule will begin on the 1st April , 2013 when the team will play host to the Philadelphia Phillies , in a two game series at Fulton County Stadium /Braves Ballpark in Atlanta , Georgia,.

I don’t believe that it is necessary to delve any further into problems of Alex Rodriguez and the fact that the team’s hierarchy seem completely devoid of any intelligence and how best to deal the third baseman’s continued off-field issues. Beyond that, an aging roster , a pitching staff where other than C C Sabathia , there is little to suggest that this pitching staff will be good enough to win AL East outright, and make it to the postseason . From an offensive standpoint , we know that the team will be good enough , and they will be led by Curtis Granderson , Mark Teixeira , Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter , the Yankees captain .

The Yankees’ stiffest opponents within the division could very well be provided by the Baltimore Orioles , rather than either the Tampa Bay Rays or Boston Red Sox. As the ball club seeks to reinvent itself from being a high-spending opulent franchise , the organization now seeks to be frugal. The franchise will have pared down their payroll of $197 million in 2012 , the franchise have in fact increased its payroll for 2013 to approximately $210 million for this season and roughly $3 million behind the free-wheeling Los Angeles Dodgers and their commitment of $213.455 million.

The fact that the Yankees have given up that title , in terms of team salaries , does come as a surprise , but it will not negate the fact that the franchise will this season pay in excess of $60 million in terms of baseball’s “ luxury tax”, which each season , several teams within the league pays as a surcharge , for exceeding $150 million threshold , that kicks in for the ball-clubs above the aforementioned figure. The accumulated figure is then split amongst the franchises deemed as being among the small market teams within the game. The fact that this is the sort of idiocy deemed necessary from an economic standpoint for Bud Selig to suggest that this is the best way to create a level playing field is somewhat akin to trying to make the claim the commissioner is fully cognizant as to irreparable harm caused by abusing steroids . The commissioner , continually remarks that the game has seen marked improvements in how it polices itself while seeking out the offenders within the game who continue to cheat by using banned substances to aid them in their on-field achievements . The mere fact that there are no signs of abatement and former Red Sox pitching ace Curt Schilling , states that he was asked by the then management staff , headed by Terry Francona , to use banned substances to aid him , in his recuperative measures, while injured . Well , it would further suggest that in part , that either front office executives and team owners simply didn’t give a damn . or the mere fact that the league hierarchy itself , would knowingly turn a blind eye to such an incident. Care to offer up your thoughts on this all ?

From my own perspective , I find Curt Schilling to be a self-serving conceited and absorbed asshole , who remains a publicity seeking whore of the highest order ! As to the player himself and the idiots who believe him to be a candidate worthy of being enshrined in the Hall of Fame , please get a goddamn clue ! Why further taint that already tarnished institution any further ? Beyond that , I have nothing else further to say !

With the latest realignment which now sees the move of Houston Astros from the NL Central to the AL West . I am not so sure that the AL’s newest franchise will fare any better than they did last season , when the team ended with a league worst 55-107 record in 2012. The move to the AL West was seen as a “sweetener “ for Astros’ owner Jim Crane who purchased the franchise for $775 million, from then owner , Drayton McClane . The fact that Bud Selig seeks to once again favors the owners who in part have played their role in ruining a game that generations have come to love . Much of his however, has been led by the sheer ineptitude shown by the commissioner , the league hierarchy and the self-absorbed union and its Executive Director Michael Weiner , who in his short time, in that position , has made the limited achievements of his predecessor, Donald Fehr seem like a landmark for labor issues within the realms of sports , which in reality , and anyone who has been able view Fehr’s legacy , will know, that he has done little for the sport , and as he has recently continued to do so , in a similar role , with the NHLPA (players’ union) and their recent three-month long labor stoppage within the NHL , which saw that body realize a loss of $800 million in revenues during its lockout . Beyond that , what else can anyone say ? The relevance of the NHL ranks up there alongside fecal matter on being placed upon a wall and deemed to be art . Fuck that piece of crap and fuck the NHL ! What a joke of a sport from top to bottom !

Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow , Bo Porter and his coaching staff , I firmly believe will be in for an arduous task to get this team prepared for the regular season ! Even with their preseason foray , I still believe that the Astros will struggle even within this environment , as a precursor to their regular season schedule . The chances of the Houston Astros even coming close to challenging any of the habitants within the AL West , given the all-round proficiency said to be on view , will be remote at best. The team’s best player J D Martinez , will have to go a long way reproducing the form exhibited in 2012 , but clearly the franchise believes that the player to be the face of the organization for years to come . Martinez and his teammates will have a great deal prove if they are to be taken seriously as a legitimate contender within the AL this season .

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Picture gallery . (By clicking on a frame you can view that picture in new formatted size)

With baseball’s schedule now in its infancy by way of the Spring Training Schedule , these games cannot necessarily be seen as a precursor to regular season itself , but it may well provide us with one or two surprises by way of players one could expect to see as being dominant throughout much of 2013. Your thoughts on this and anything else you believe relevant on the subject matter ? Do chime in with your thoughts , and thanks as always for your continued support of this site as it is greatly appreciated !

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(1)Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper waits to take batting practice during a spring training baseball workout in Viera, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. The young Nationals’ phenom hopes to reproduce the form shown for the team of last season , as they seek to fortify their position within the National League . AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack …

(2) New York Mets non-roster invitee outfielder Marlon Byrd (6) slides in with a run past Washington Nationals catcher Chris Snyder (7) on an RBI single by Jordany Valdespin during the fourth inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, in a game played between the two NL East residents . AP Photo/Julio Cortez …

(3) Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly , left, and Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura talk before an exhibition spring training baseball game in Glendale, Ariz., Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. AP Photo/Paul Sancya …

(4) Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham , left, tags Los Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier out trying to steal second base in the second inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game in Glendale, Ariz., Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. AP Photo/Paul Sancya

(5) Detroit Tigers’ Prince Fielder , right, greets third baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) after his home run during the third inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, in Lakeland, Fla. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall…

(6) Los Angeles Angels’ Mark Trumbo , left to right, Mike Trout , Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton pose for photographers during photo day before a spring training baseball workout Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, in Tempe, Ariz. Angels’ manager Mike Sciocsia and GM Jerry DiPoto are hoping that the acquisition will provide more potency to the team’s lineup as well as their defensive capability as they hope to mount a more successful challenge within the AL West this season , which sees the arrival of the Houston Astros as the division’s newest arrival . AP Photo/Morry Gash …

(7) Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran throws during the first inning of a baseball spring training exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall …..

(8) Pittsburgh Pirates’ Clint Barmes , right, celebrates with Gaby Sanchez , left, after hitting a home run during the fifth inning of a baseball spring training exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla. The Pirates would defeat the Braves 9-2 . AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall …

(9) Newly acquired Braves’ outfielder BJ Upton is seen here with the team’s GM Frank Wren . The player an unrestricted free agent , was signed to a five-year $72.5 million deal , that sees him joining his younger sibling Justin Upton , who was> acquired in a multi-player trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks during the off-season by the ambitious Atlanta Braves . The franchise might now posses one of the best outfields in all of Major League Baseball if you care to peruse the team’s depth chart and everyday lineup . AP Photo/ Chris Morrison …

(10) From left to right , Braves’ GM Frank Wren , Justin Upton , center , and the team’s manager , Fredi Gonzalez . With the pairing of the siblings , the Upton brothers will join a select fraternity of brothers to have either played as teammates or as opponents over the course of baseball history . Upton gifted athlete and prodigious talent , will undoubtedly make the Atlanta Braves a great deal better, as a defensive unit and his productivity , by way of his offense should prove to be an added bonus for the team this upcoming season . AP Photo Chris Morrison …..

(11) Houston Astros’ new manager Bo Porter , right, with owner Jim Crane , answers questions during a news conference, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, in Houston. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan …

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Alchemist ……. ” Hold U Down ”

Rare feats , no feats, and some feats are made for greatness ….

Rare feats , no feats, and some feats are made for greatness …..

By Tophatal

No hitters and perfect games no longer seem to be a rarity in the game of baseball as it now seems to be an ever-increasing occurrence within the game. What baseball hasn’t seen in over four decades, is the accomplishment of the batting’s Triple Crown, last achieved by Carl Yastrzemski during the 1967 . That year, the Yastrzemski led the AL with a .326 batting, average, 44 home runs and 121 RBI’s.

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In 2012, the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera might just be on the cusp on joining a select group of players to have achieved the feat of baseball’s hallowed Triple Crown. Cabrera leads the AL, batting .327 , with 42 home runs and 133 RBI’s as of 29th September , has a comfortable lead over his closest rivals Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton in each of the aforementioned categories . Pitchers may well have had stellar seasons ,but it in large part the fans simply yearn to see the monstrous home runs and offense from the teams. From my own perspective should Miguel Cabrera pull off the feat of the Triple Crown , then most certainly it would make him a presumptive favorite for the AL MVP , of whom his closest rivals are likely to be, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout within the American League ! All three players and their respective teams , the Detroit Tigers , Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers are all involved in either divisional races or for one of the two berths in the revised playoff format for the AL wildcard.

For the Detroit Tigers, having opened up a two-game lead over the Chicago White Sox (83-75) within the AL Central , the team’s biggest goal is the secure the divisional crown and insuring themselves a berth in the postseason. Jim Leyland and his managerial staff this season , have seen their schedule being turned upside down through inconsistent play and a wide variety of other unforeseen problems as the team sought to play itself into contention. GM Dave Dombrowski and team owner Michael Ilitch have seen fit to make this the year where they spent in order to bolster the roster . It would be remiss to suggest that Cabrera has been the sole reason why the Tigers have prevailed this season , but he has been the main impetus behind the Tigers’ resurgence as a contender in 2012.

With only four games remaining on their schedule the Detroit Tigers, the team next face the declining Minnesota Twins (66-92) in a game that has more meaning to the divisional leader, than it does for a Twins’ organization, in a season , where nothing has gone right at all . And from my own standpoint, I’m wondering whether or not the front office will stand by manager , Ron Gardenhire, as he faces another season with a sub .500 record and a team that has simply under-achieved , and not met the expectations sought. Gardenhire , is one of the longest tenured managers in baseball, and he has had considerable success with the ball-club over the course of his tenure , but for the past seven years the returns have been meager. Whatever , the future now holds for the Minnesota Twins , the decisions to be made by the front office will stress whether or not the organization’s faith in Ron Gardenhire will remain.

The Detroit Tigers remain a venerable ball-club with noted accomplishments by the players over the course of their history. It would be a significant achievement, were Miguel Cabrera to attain the Holy Grail of baseball, in terms of the Triple Crown. The first baseman , and slugger, is a mercurial talent with prodigious productivity over the course of his career . This season we have seen noted accomplishments with the perfect games , no hitters , and even a four home run game from the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton , but I believe that those feats , would somehow pale into insignificance given the historical significance and the rarity of such an occurrence with regard to the Triple Crown ! What thoughts if any, do you have with such a premise?

The remaining games should prove decisive in terms of the culmination of the regular season , as it will lay out the final standings , as well as setting up the scenario for the divisional round of the MLB playoffs. . In light of the Tigers’ postseason sojourn in 2011 , which saw the team fall to the Texas Rangers 4-2 in the ALCS , led many to believe that the ball-club simply was not equipped to make a successful attempt to win the World Series . 2012 , might just be the year , where with everything in place , the AL Central team with its All Stars , led by Miguel Cabrera , Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander , could very well make it an eventful and successful year for this esteemed baseball organization. It should prove to be very eventful once the postseason gets underway , commencing on the 5th October, 2012.

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Should Miguel Cabrera achieve the rare feat of claiming the Triple Crown , do you believe it to be a noteworthy accomplishment by the player ? What , if anything are you specifically looking forward to , as the MLB playoffs approach ? By all means , do leave a comment as you see fit , and thanks as always for the continued support of this site !

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(1) Boston Red Sox great, Carl Yastrzemski , the last player to accomplish the feat of the Triple Crown in 1967. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers leads the AL batting standings in each of the categories in question , and could become the first player in 45 years to achieve the feat. Courtesy of Sports Illustrated / Michael Hart ….

(2) Detroit Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez fields an infield pop-up for the out off the bat of Minnesota Twins’ Pedro Florimon in the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012 in Minneapolis. Watching, left, is Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder. Detroit would go on to defeat the Twins 2-1. AP Photo/Jim Mone …

(3) Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera watches his three-run home run off Minnesota Twins’ Casey Fien in the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in Minneapolis. The homer tied him with Texas’ Josh Hamilton. AP Photo/Jim Mone ….

(4) Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, left, and Prince Fielder celebrate after the Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4 in a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in Minneapolis. Both hit home runs in the game. AP Photo/Jim Mone …..

(5) From left to right agent Scott Boras , Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski, Prince Fielder , team owner Michael Ilitch , and manager Jim Leyland . The organization formally announced Fielder as their biggest free agent acquisition , having signed the player to a nine-year $214 million contract in January 2012 . Detroit Free Press / Chris Cowan ……
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MLB news

MLB standings & wildcard standings

MLB results 30th September , 2012

This week in baseball history , September 29th & chronological historical information

AL batting 2012 & NL batting 2012

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Detroit Tigers’ news

Detroit Tigers’ active roster

Detroit Tigers’ managerial staff

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MLB rare feats – perfect game & no hitter

MLB rare feats hitting for the cycle & four home run game

MLB rare feats

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Bios: Carl Yastrzemski ——- AL batting stats 1967 —— & bio for Miguel Cabrera

We’re Getting There …… !

We’re Getting There ….

Well the ALCS and NLCS are in full swing and baseball’s hierarchy looks for some resonance by way of the broadcast by TNT and TBS before the World Series is scheduled to be televised by Fox Sports . With the viewership down by some 25% from last years’s NLCS and some 43% from the ALCS of 2009 between the Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees .

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Now one could contend that with the current series having very little drama at present it would be easy to conclude that the quartet of teams now involved in the ALCS and NLCS not having a fervent fan following . Perhaps of the four teams in question the greatest following might be with the supporters of the St Louis Cardinals . With a long established history , success and well respected Hall of Famers it has to be said that it should not come as any great surprise the organization has such a following. The Cardinals skippered by manager Tony La Russa the team now finds itself in a very competitive series against their divisional rivals the Milwaukee Brewers . There’s a great deal at stake for both teams given the fact there seems to be a cloud of controversy hanging over both organizations concerning two of the game’s biggest names and their long term future. The common thread and thought concerning Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols is that should their respective teams fail to make the World Series , then in all likelihood they each will have played their last seasons with Brewers and Cardinals , respectively.

Currently tied at one game apiece (1-1) the series between the two NL teams will resume on Wednesday with the St Louis Cardinals hosting the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium in St Louis , Missouri , . Scheduled to start for the Cardinals is Yovani Gallardo with Chris Carpenter starting for the Cardinals . Both teams have proven to be competitive over the course of the postseason. And it is clear that Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke would like nothing better than his team taking two of the three games to played in front of a Cardinals’ fan base to take an overwhelming advantage in this best of seven game series .

Carpenter coming off a stellar performance against the Philadelphia Phillies on his way to leading the Cardinals to the NLCS in an exhilarating game five win. That loss seems to sent the Phillies organization into a tailspin of unimaginable proportions . GM Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manuel will to have to assess the needs of this team and make the necessary changes during the off-season if the team is to have any chance of success this upcoming season.

Now while I am not willing to make any pronouncements as to which of the two NLCS teams I favor in this series , I do feel that the advantage will come by way of the advantage will now come astuteness of the managers . That undoubted experience belongs with La Russa given his tenure within the game. And given the proclivity of the manager’s team and their tenacity there is a clear chance that Pujols , Matt Holliday , Rafael Furcal and Lance Berkman will be looking to give clear indication that this series is far from over and that the players on the St Louis Cardinals team will be looking to upstage their divisional rivals .

Big money teams with big ideas but that clearly wouldn’t be the case for describing the way that the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers . GM Dave Dombrowski and team owner Michael Ilitch who along with Jim Leyland assembled a team which if anything has proven to be one of the pleasant surprises of the season . The Detroit Tigers won the AL Central with a certain amount of ease then with a little more than breaking any sweat they also took care of the mighty New York Yankees in the ALDS .

The defeat left the Yankees reeling with there being excuses from the most unlikely of sources in team president Randy Levine . The executive not wanting to apportion the blame where it needs to be placed , has stated that the team simply will reassert itself and come back better than ever. Given the the poor displays from key members on this team it easy to understand why executives within the organization would seek not to be overly critical of some of the game’s highest paid players .

This off-season the New York Yankees will certainly have to reassess the team and if anything simply jettison the ” dead weight” on the roster . GM Brian Cashman and the coaching staff will painstakingly look to the free agency market rather than its farm system for the answers.

Ron Washington , Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels of the Texas Rangers will have the benefit of knowing that last year’s postseason experience will stand them in good stead in their series against the Detroit Tigers . Though having lost to the San Francisco Giants in somewhat of an uneventful 2010 World Series , it has to be said that the team was more shell-shocked by their foray , rather than actually being overpowered by Bruce Bochy’s Giants’ team .

The Texas Rangers seem to be well on their way to making their way to a second consecutive World Series appearance having taken a 2-0 lead in their ALCS match-up. Game three at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan with Colby Lewis and Doug Fister taking the mound for the Rangers and Tigers, respectively.

If the Detroit Tigers are to have any chance resurrecting this series then we will have to see a great deal more consistency coming from Miguel Cabrebra , Ryan Raburn and their teammates . And though in reality I haven’t been completely drawn to any of the series from my own perspective is that with the draw of perhaps the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees the postseason becomes something of anathema to me . Try as Bud Selig and the team owners seek to prolong the postseason with an additional two teams per league to wildcard format , the real underlying issue is that the commissioner and general managers clearly do not understand this simply does nothing for the game other than to prolong the season itself. If Selig really had the business acumen as his supporters claim , then they would simply realize that what is needed is a fair an equitable way for the teams to share the revenues derived from their business operations , rather than it simply being everyman for himself and the survival of the fittest.

Though I won’t be taken aback by anything I am likely to witness over the remainder of the posteason , I do however feel that if the league hierarchy wants to induce more fan in response to year end finale . Then much of that will be dependent upon their scheduling of the games and a clear indication as to the needs of the fans. No amount of tinkering with the postseason format will change anything that Bud Selig desires to see within the game when he is simply to afraid to address the most acute of the issues that baseball now faces . Far too many of the purists in and outside of the prefer to give far too much credence as to his apparent insight rather than observing the inherent problems they currently face . His handling of the laughable situation concerning the Los Angeles Dodgers clearly shows that he and his conclave of buffoons are out of touch . If that were not bad enough , he has yet to offer up his own formal statement as to dire premise that the New York Mets and the ownership group now find themselves in . Beyond that , he has chosen to postpone the approval of the sale of the Houston Astros by current owner Drayton McClane to Houston businessman Jim Crane . Selig’s reason behind this all …… …. he is apparently unhappy with the prospective purchaser’s documentation concerning the the proposed bid ( $680 million ). Do bear in mind that the commissioner rushed through the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers to now beleaguered owner Frank McCourt when the ball club was put up for sale by then owner Fox / News Corp International with there being very little if any due diligence was used by MLB. At the time it was common knowledge that McCourt had mounting financial and legal problems with several of his business partners who were seeking recourse through legal means. But yet somehow the league hierarchy and team owners somehow managed to approve that sale .

Courtesy of USA Today

Selig: No timetable for expanded postseason by 2012

MILWAUKEE (AP) – Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said discussions on a new collective bargaining agreement have been very constructive, and he sees no reason to set a timetable for getting a deal done.

“I hope we’ll continue on that path,” Selig said of the positive talks Monday night before Game 2 of the NL Championship Series.

MLB’s agreement with the player’s union expires on Dec. 11.

Selig said the present discussions have been far different from labor battles in previous decades. The most recent labor peace began when the sides came to an agreement after the cancellation of the end of the 1994 season.

“The sport, I’ve often said, was stuck in neutral for 25 years. And that’s one of the reasons. It was brutal. It was really brutal. Every two or three years we went back to this,” Selig said. “The fans got tired of all that, got tired of hearing about it. And I don’t blame them. So, 16 years of labor peace has really, really helped us.”

Selig said he has told MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred and union head Michael Weiner not to set arbitrary time limits to try and finish a deal.

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Crane has produced all of the viable documents and much needed added information as required but this may well be some sort of image and face saving exercise on the part of Bud Selig , which in part could prove to be his undoing. Jim Crane is now said to be thinking of withdrawing the his current offer of $680 million and completely walk away from the deal altogether in light of Bud Selig postponement of the vote seeking league approval. Whether or not the actual approved measure seems to be in doubt , given the fact the postseason is now in full swing and the commissioner not stating when and if there will be schedule set for league approval of the sale. Any further delays even if it now takes place in the off season is unlikely to sit well with either of the parties concerned. Current owner Drayton McClane seeks to divest himself of the team and that now leaves the front office , coaching staff and players with something of an uncertain future as to their immediacy. Why do I now get the impression that there seems to be no common sense being shown by the league hierarchy concerning this matter ? Oh I know it is because that body’s highest ranking executive is a damn moron and a fu_king as_hole !

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Of the quartet of teams now left in the postseason which duo would like to face off in the World Series ? And what thoughts if any do you have concerning the now apparent stand-off that is now taking place between the league hierarchy and Jim Crane concerning his purchase of the Houston Astros ? Chime in with a comment and on anything else you believe to pertinent to the subject matter .

Alan aka tophatal …………….

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(1) St. Louis Cardinals’ Daniel Descalso, left, laughs with manager Tony La Russa during baseball practice Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, in St. Louis. The Cardinals are scheduled to play the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 3 of baseball’s National League championship series on Wednesday. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson …

(2) St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter walks out to the field for baseball practice Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, in St. Louis. Carpenter is scheduled to start when the Cardinals play the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 3 of baseball’s National League championship series on Wednesday. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson …..

(3) Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Two of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 10, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Cardinals would go on to defeat the Brewers 12-3 .Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images …..

(4) Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals breaks his bat on a ground out in the top of the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers during Game Two of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 10, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images ……

(5) Fans look at a weather radar on a phone as rain falls prior to Game Three of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park between the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers on October 12, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images ……

(6) Michael Young (10) of the Texas Rangers catches a foul ball in Game Three of the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on October 11, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …..

(7) Jose Valverde (46) of the Detroit Tigers throws a pitch against the Texas Rangers in Game Three of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 11, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Rangers 5-2 . Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images ……

(8) DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 11 : Colby Lewis (48) of the Texas Rangers stands on the mound as Victor Martinez (41) of the Detroit Tigers runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning of Game Three of the American League Championship Series against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park on October 11, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …….

(9) Detroit Tigers’ Brandon Inge , right, hugs teammate Miguel Cabrera after their 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of baseball’s American League championship series Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, in Detroit. …….
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MLB news

MLB postseason schedule ALCS & NLCS

MLB results 11th October 2011

Milwaukee Brewers — ( Yovani Gallardo ) — @ St Louis Cardinals ( Chris Carpenter ) Busch Stadium St Louis , Missouri ,. 12th October 2011

MLB teams’ postseason stats pitching ERA

MLB teams’ postseason stats BA

MLB postseason player stats

Batting average

Pitching ERA

Individual stats by league :

AL ……. Batting avg . …… Pitching …. ERA

NL …… Batting avg . ….. Pitching …. ERA

All Good Things Must Come To And End …. !

All Good Things Must Come To An End !

Well the ALCS series is now set as the New York Yankees failed to deliver in front of their home crowd at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx , New York City , NY. Far be it for me to suggest their opponents the Detroit Tigers were beaten by far the better team throughout the series , albeit , that it went to a deciding fifth game . Now there are bound to be excuses as always from the rather obnoxious and truculent New York Yankees’ fans as to their team’s demise . But at the end of the day it’s all about putting up or simply shutting the hell up !

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Joe Girardi as the Yankees’ manager along with his coaching assistants and the front office led by GM Brian Cashman can now in the aftermath of the team’s latest failure assess what went wrong for the team in the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers . Clearly for the manager he has to be now weary of the fact that his pitching rotation is not of the quality one would expect of an organization seeking to be perennial contenders each season for the World Series . Beyond CC Sabathia , Ivan Nova and a now aging Mariano Rivera there is nothing to suggest that any other team within the league should really be fearful of .

In light of this latest adversity the New York Yankees as an organization will not stand on ceremony by placing themselves in the mix for any major free agent player during this off season. Money has never never been the problem and I am sure that although Hank and Hal Steinbrenner as the primary owners of the team will be prudent with regard to their spending. But it has been the simple acquisition of players over the years that have failed to live up to the perceived expectations that has at times led to the issues of failure within the New York Yankees’ organization.

As productive as the team has been over the course of the season with its offense you simply knew that when it came down to it , the ” Achilles Heel” for roster would be the lack of forceful pitching from this rotation . In comparison to the rest of the AL in terms of team ERA it does place the team in good standing but overall when adjudged against the league as a whole therein lies the problem for the organization. Now while there’s still unwavering support for the New York Yankees from their legions of fans nationwide there is also a great deal of resentment towards the team and the fact that they are able to buy their way to success .

The New York Yankees can take pride in the fact that Curtis Granderson , Mark Teixeira , Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher bore the brunt of the production in terms of the team’s offense but beyond that there was little if anything to really state that the team has all of prerequisite facets to be viewed as an all-round team. If ever there was an indicator as to how this organization should now be viewed then consider the very fact that the New York Yankees’ highest paid player in Alex Rodriguez will be viewed as the face of this franchise’s latest failure . Unproductive throughout the team’s postseason foray this was borne out in last night’s performances ( 3-2 loss ) at the plate __ the player remains just as conceited as ever ! Not much beyond that can be said beyond that !

In light of the Detroit Tigers’ triumph over the New York Yankees I would like to think that the team’s manager Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski are seen in a new light ! Prior to the start of the season there were calls for Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch to fire both the manager and general manager . Crazy as it might now seem this just goes to show how short lived the memories of the fans can be as they are now lauding both Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland for this season’s accomplishments . Having won the AL Central with apparent ease they now make another appearance in the postseason seeking to add to the organization’s last AL pennant in 2006 and World Series feature . Their last appearance in the postseason finale was in 2006 which ended in a series loss the St Louis Cardinals . The organization has been waiting since 1984 , scene of their last triumph in the World Series .

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New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez walks off after striking out to end the game as Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila heads for the mound and umpire Ted Barrettt looks on, after Game 5 of baseball’s American League division series Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Tigers won 3-2 to win the series. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …

The Detroit Tigers’ roster is filled with several All Stars of which perhaps the most celebrated this season are Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander . But it would be remiss to suggest that this team evolves solely around the duo .

Dave Dombrowski as the primary architect of this roster has made sure that is well balanced with a mix of youth and experience . But it has been the managerial style and guile shown by Leyland and his coaching staff that has brought out the best in the team. And it has clearly reaped dividends for the team on both fronts in terms of their offense and pitching .

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NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 06: A general view of Jose Valverde (46) of the Detroit Tigers as he celebrates after he struck out Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees for the final out of the Tigers 3-2 win during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 6, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images ……

Now all that awaits the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS is a mighty opponent in the Texas Rangers who are looking to make a successful defense of their AL pennant and return appearance to the World Series . And while Ron Washington’s Rangers’ team are not about to take their opponents lightly , I would like to think that this series will be a thoroughly entertaining one from start to finish ! Game one of the ALDS will be hosted by the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington , Texas this Saturday , with games three and four to be played at Comerica Park , in Detroit , Michigan before returning back to Texas for a game five , should there be the need for a fifth finale.

At this juncture while the conjecture and speculation will begin as to what the New York Yankees may well consider to do , in light of the team’s fall from grace , there’s no real indication that there is about to be any seismic changes within the organization . This off-season for the team should prove to be a tenuous one in part as the front office and coaching staff seeks to resolves many of the personnel issues that has brought about their demise .

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Were you at all surprised by the New York Yankees’ loss in the divisional rounds of this year’s postseason ? Placing yourself in the position as the team’s general manager what changes if any would you seek to make in order to improve the team ? Leave a comment as to your thoughts and anything else you deem to be pertinent concerning the subject matter . Thanks as always for the continued support and patronage of the site as it greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ……….

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(1) Jorge Posada (20) of the New York Yankees walks back to the dugout with his head down after he grounded out in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 6, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images ….

(2) Justin Verlander (35) , Andy Dirks (12) and Jose Valverde (46) (R) of the Detroit Tigers celebrate after the Tigers won 3-2 against the New York Yankees during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 6, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images …..

(3) NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 06: Robinson Cano (24) of the New York Yankees walks out of the dugout dejected towards the clubhouse after they lost 3-2 against the Detroit Tigers during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 6, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images …….

(4) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez walks off after striking out to end the game as Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila heads for the mound and umpire Ted Barrettt looks on, after Game 5 of baseball’s American League division series Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Tigers won 3-2 to win the series. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ……

(5) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez strikes out with the bases loaded as Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila and umpire Ted Barrett look on in the seventh inning during Game 5 of baseball’s American League division series Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Tigers won 3-2. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ……

(6) NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 06: A general view of Jose Valverde (46) of the Detroit Tigers as he celebrates after he struck out Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees for the final out of the Tigers 3-2 win during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 6, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images ……

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MLB news

MLB postseason schedule

MLB results 6th October 2011

NLDS

MLB probable starting pitchers

Arizona Diamondbacks —- @ —– Milwaukee Brewers

St Louis Cardinals —– @ —– Philadelphia Phillies

You Play The Game To Win …… But Are The Players Really Being Paid To Play ?

You Play The Game To Win …… But Are The Players Really Being Paid To Play ?

Well with the divisional rounds of the postseason of baseball now entering the closing stretch . The anxiety and of the teams left tends to be one angst. So much is now riding on the fate of the St Louis Cardinals , Milwaukee Brewers , Philadelphia Phillies , New York Yankees , Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers .

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The Texas Rangers came through their series against the Tampa Bay Rays virtually unscathed and with a great deal of ease . Something of a major disappointment for the thousands of the Rays’ who witnessed their team’s demise against the AL West champions at Tropicana Field , St Petersburg , Florida on Tuesday . Certainly for Ron Washington making a second consecutive visit with his team to the ALCS has to be a cause for great excitement not only for the coaches but also the fans and entire front office of the Texas Rangers. Certainly for team president Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels their faith in the manager has been more than justified. In the aftermath of last year’s loss to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series the team will certainly look to go one better .

The Texas Rangers currently await the winner of the series now in progress between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees. Both teams were divisional champions of the AL East and AL Central ____ the contest between these titans of the game promises to be an entertaining series . Jim Leyland will seek to get the best out of his team which is led by All Star slugger Miguel Cabrera and odds the on certainty for the AL Cy Young award in Justin Verlander . Joe Girardi as Leyland’s opposing number knows that although his pitching staff might not be the equal of the Detroit Tigers’ rotation but he has to be pleased with the fact that the offense is certainly one of the most productive within the AL .

With series now tied at 2-2 after the New York Yankees’ taking game four to force a deciding game five with a berth in the ALCS at stake . That game will be played in-front of a soldout crowd at Yankees Stadium in New York City on Thursday night. As to the starting pitchers for that series’ finale it remains to be seen as to who those starters will be at this juncture .

We have already seen the implosion of the Boston Red Sox as their season simply erupted into sheer ridicule with much of the blame being apportioned upon now departed manager Terry Francona . Now in the aftermath of it all we are now hearing of locker room unrest disruptive influence of several players . But clearly the front office is doing as much as they can to distance themselves from this fray while the speculation and conjecture takes on a journey of its own . If there is any blame that ought to be apportioned then it should be placed squarely upon the shoulders of these overpaid and under-performing stars on this roster. $167 million can buy a hell of a lot of talent but when those players simply fold up like multiple pieces of wrinkled crinkled paper mache`. During the month of September (7-20) this team performed abysmally and nowhere was this more evident than with their pitching . Josh Beckett , Johnathan Papelbon , Daniel Bard and Jon Lester simply failed to deliver when it mattered most .

The Philadelphia Phillies are being severely tested by the St Louis Cardinals in their divisional series match-up. And with game four (5-3) being decisively taken by Tony La Russa’s team . There now may well be the thought that we are about to see another star laden and high priced team fall by the wayside . And clearly with the St Louis Cardinals forcing a decisive game five to be played at Citizens Bank Ballpark , in Philadelphia places the weight of expectation upon this Phillies’ team managed by Charlie Manuel .

The presumed favorites within the NL the Philadelphia Phillies it was thought would simply sleepwalk their through the season before making the expected postseason foray on their way to the World Series . At this juncture given the apparent complacency being shown by the team I am not so sure that the Phillies may well get through this series unscathed ! And given the pitching rotation of this Phillies’ team led by Cliff Lee , Roy Halladay , Roy Oswalt , Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge . One would feel that a loss this early in the divisional rounds would be considered a monumental upset of the highest order.

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General view of action as Collin Cowgill (44) of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a two RBI single off starting pitcher Randy Wolf (43) of the Milwaukee Brewers during the third inning of Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6 . Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …….

A series deciding game 5 now awaits at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , this Friday , where everything is on the line for Charlie Manuel and his team. I have no doubt that Albert Pujols , Lance Berkman , Rafael Furcal , Ryan Theriot , Matt Holliday and his teammates would like nothing better than to derail the hopes of the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans .
If that should happen then the repercussions felt within the front office of organization may well cost the Phillies more than they are actually willing to admit . I am sure that GM Reuben Amaro Jr along with the organization’s senior partners David Montgomery and Bill Giles will not be entirely happy knowing that in making an outlay of $167 million in salary commitments for this season alone this team could come up firing blanks when it’s all said done should they not make the NLCS at least . On the other side of the equation sits John Mozeliak as general manager of the St Louis Cardinals knowing that what has been an arduous season could very well end up being one of unexpected triumphs .

Of all the aspirants chasing postseason success and the ultimate prize of the World Series as that final triumph. Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the unexpected success of the Arizona Diamondbacks and their record of last to first this season in winning the NL West . This might not have been on the agenda of GM Kevin Towers or anyone within the front office but with Kirk Gibson’s drive and that of his coaching staff this team has simply played out of their skins in dethroning the San Francisco Giants as last season’s divisional champion .

Now having made their way into the postseason the Arizona Diamondbacks now stand on the thresh-hold of making another foray to the NLCS . In defeating the Milwaukee Brewers at Chase Ballpark in Phoenix , Arizona 10-6 there now must be a game 5 at Miller Park , Milwaukee , Wisconsin to determine the outright winner of this series . At this juncture Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke knows that he cannot longer take anything for granted . Certainly not the players on this team who may well have felt that their march to the NLCS was theirs by divine right. And for the likes of Ryan Braun , Prince Fielder , Mark Kotsay and Yovani Gallardo as well as the rest of members of the roster they know that they are now in for the fight of their lives.

8

Ryan Roberts (14) of the Arizona Diamondbacks runs the bases after hitting a grand slam home run in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……

With as much as there is riding on this series I fully expect there be a great deal of drama between the Brewers and Diamondbacks as both look to make their presence felt during this game. Given what we have all witnessed on the final day of the regular season schedule I would dare say that this postseason looks as if it is about to prolong much of the excitement seen on the day in question . As to which of these teams now makes it to the main finale itself , well that is now all dependent upon their drive shown over the remainder of the postseason itself .

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As a baseball fan are you at all pleased with the events that have taken place so far ? And which team if any has been the major surprise to you as witness the events unfold ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and thanks as always for the ongoing support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal …………..

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E-mail rapptu@gmail.com

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(1) Detroit Tigers pitcher Doug Fister speaks to the media during a news conference, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in New York. Fister is scheduled to start against the New York Yankees in Game 5 of baseball’s American League division series on Thursday. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …….

(2) Chris Dickerson (27) , Alex Rodriguez (13) , Robinson Cano (24) , Derek Jeter (2) and Curtis Granderson (14) of the New York Yankees celebrates a 10-1 win over the Detroit Tigers during Game Four of the American League Divison Series at Comerica Park on October 4, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …..

(3) Miguel Cabrera (24) of the Detroit Tigers reacts after striking out in the eighth inning in Game Four of the American League Division Series at Comerica Park on October 4, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images ….

(4) St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (5) fields on-the-hop a single hit by Philadelphia Phillies’ Chase Utley (26) during the eighth inning in Game 4 of baseball’s National League division series on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011, in St. Louis. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …..

(5) Philadelphia Phillies players watch from the dugout during the ninth inning in Game 4 of baseball’s National League division series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011, in St. Louis. The Cardinals won the game 5-3 . AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ….

(6) Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after a pop fly out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6 . Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …..

(7) General view of action as Collin Cowgill (44) of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a two RBI single off starting pitcher Randy Wolf (43) of the Milwaukee Brewers during the third inning of Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …….

(8) Ryan Roberts (14) of the Arizona Diamondbacks runs the bases after hitting a grand slam home run in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……
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Pitiful ……….. Well It Happens In The NFL And MLB & Other Sports As Well …….. ‘nough said !

Pitiful ……….. Well It Happens In The NFL And MLB & Other Sports As Well …….. ‘nough said !

Does it really now be to be said but the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seawhawks just might be the two worse teams in the NFL . There has nothing that has simply indicated to me how either of the teams made the postseason last year but then again they duo do play in what might two divisions that simply are not that good to begin with ! Anyone who simply believes that either the AFC West or NFC West are simply worthy of watching had better begin to rethink that thought ! .

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I am not about to lambast the Oakland Raiders as of yet but their pass defense has become as porous as a used feminine hygiene product . I am sorry but Raiders’ head coach Hue Jackson has some major problems with the defense and if they are not able to shore up the play then over the course of this season they will simply be seen as a complete fraud . Much of this was borne out by the ineptitude shown in the team’s
loss to the Buffalo Bills .

Needless to say but the Indianapolis Colts’ sorrowful season continues and it is clear to see that the loss of Peyton Manning cannot be quantified . It has to be said that whatever the coaching staff and front office may have thought in bringing in Kerry Collins as Manning’s replacement just doesn’t seem to working out for the team . And when adjudged when against the NFL it’s clear to see the problems for the Colts may well go way beyond the loss of Peyton Manning. For coach Jim Caldwell this will be a season to test his will and intestinal fortitude as they seek to embark upon what might describe as a battle of us against the world . It is plain to see at no point had this organization really planned ahead for the day that would be without Peyton Manning as the team’s signal caller . This certainly has been borne out by their draft history and even one does point to Curtis Painter as a peek into the future , let’s just say that the player simply hasn’t the size to fit into Manning’s shoes !

Now while the season is still in its infancy it is becoming increasingly a clear that a number of teams have already fallen by the wayside . There is a chance that a number of these ball-clubs could play themselves back into contention but at this juncture it’s hard to see how that that can be unless they are capable of playing themselves back into some semblance of consistency .

So the Philadelphia Phillies and Detroit Tigers have essentially played themselves into the postseason having won their respective divisions. The Phillies have simply strolled through the NL East with some semblance of ease and now await an opponent in the divisional round of the playoffs . And looks if Charlie Manuel’s team . Suffice to say the organization is looking to make a quick return to the World Series and prove that the team’s triumph in 2008 simply wasn’t an aberration.

If there was a point where you simply thought that the Cleveland Indians had a chance to be competitive within the AL Central then this simply wasn’t going to be it . This team simply wasn’t consistent enough over the course of their season and for Manny Acta this had to be profoundly disappointing for the organization and their fans .

Dave Dombrowski could very well be viewed as one of the primary reasons behind the team’s resurgence this season. He gave manager Jim Leyland free rein to get this team playing with a great deal of conviction. If there’s a real reason to point to the team’s success this season then it would largely have to come down to the contributions of Justin Verlander for the Detroit Tigers accompanied by a rotation that has simply been too good to be believed .

While Verlander can be complimented on having an excellent season his teammate Miguel Cabrera has been the tip of the spear that has made the offense of the Detroit Tigers so potent. Now the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees are in all likelihood seen as the presumptive favorites to be playing for the ALCS I would like to think that the Tigers cannot be overlooked in this conversation !

Now while there are fans out there bitching and whining about their teams or in some cases making excuses for their poor play over the course of this baseball season with comments such as ………. you’re saying harsh things about my team “ …….. I’d say shut the hell up and simply grow a pair and stop acting like an infantile child ! The year within baseball has been filled with highs and lows but to my mind more highs than lows .

The NFL thus far , has indicated to me that the lockout has simply done more harm than anyone within the league hierarchy would care to admit. But you would hardly think it worthy of an admittance from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell or the team owners themselves . As for NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith coming to the aid of the NBPA and giving the players’ union of the NBA advice on whether or not it is worthwhile in the union decertifying . In doing so it would give the NBPA the legal recourse they might seek in challenging the NBA hierarchy in this now two month plus long lockout . The NBA under the leadership of David Stern now seems to be fighting for the hearts and mind of their fans while team owners for the present seems to be backing the commissioner . But now one has to wonder …….. for how long ?

The time has now come for the sport of boxing to simply deemed outmoded and completely irrelevant ! . Anyone who believes that Floyd Mayweather can take pleasure in depriving then WBC welterweight title holder Victor Ortiz of his title . This fight was simply an affront for very poor sportsmanship and showed how the fans having been duped to pay an exorbitant price for witnessing this fiasco at the venue with an even bigger injustice in having to pay $69-95 for the privilege of watching this fight via HBO PPV.

To witness the events that took place between Ortiz and Mayweather and their ignorant behavior does the sport of boxing and the fans a great disservice. Victor Ortiz showed that he has no class having deliberately head butted the challenger but Mayweather’s subsequent behavior in sucker punching his opponent , when Ortiz approached him to apologize for the head butt took place earlier in the bout. With the challenger having won the bout via a TKO , Mayweather now looks to pursue a big money fight against his biggest nemesis Manny Pacquaio in what’s sure to be a real barn-burner . But that issue could very well be derailed by the WBC hierarchy and the Nevada State Athletic Commission given the behavior of both fighters. For the hosts at the MGM Grand Resort & Casino in Las Vegas , Nevada I am not so sure this is the type of event that they could have wished for with the controversy that surrounded this title fight.

And if you thought that the fight itself was the only reason to take an affront then the post bout interview between the new title holder and HBO boxing analyst and commentator Larry Merchant may well have given a fan even greater cause as that episode further shed light on how low this sport has indeed fallen. Mayweather would chide both Merchant and HBO for showing him the lack of respect he feels he’s due . Larry Merchant retorted …. ” if I were fifty years younger I’d be ready to whup your ass ” ! Now that would be a fight I would gladly wish to see only if it were being televised by HBO rather than being sprung upon the fans as a PPV event . But alas , boxing needs something far more than that to peek the interests of the discerning fan .

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What thoughts if any do you have to the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

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

Contact tophatal ……. http://facebook.com/tophatal

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Picture and slide show details .

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(1) Tyler Palko (4) of the Kansas City Chiefs gets ready to hand the off the football to teammate Thomas Jones (20) during a NFL game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 18, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions won 48-3 . Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images …..

(2) Jahvid Best (44) of the Detroit Lions leaps into the end zone for a touch down against the Kansas City Chiefs during a NFL game at Ford Field on September 18, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions won 48-3 . Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images ……..

(3) Pittsburgh Steelers’ LaMarr Woodley covers Seattle Seahawks receiver Zach Miller (86) on an incomplete pass from quarterback Tarvaris Jackson during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. The Steelers won 24-0 . Getty Images / Gene J. Puskar …..

(4) Hines Ward (86) of the Pittsburgh Steelers is flipped over Walter Thurmond (28) of the Seattle Seahawks after catching a pass in the first half during the game on September 18, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images ……

(5) BUFFALO, NY – SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach Hue Jackson of the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills would go on to defeat the Raiders 38-35 . Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images ……

(6) Michael Bush (29) of the Oakland Raiders is tackles after rushing for a gain during an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images …….

(7) Chase Utley (26) of the Philadelphia Phillies gets a base hit against the St Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park on September 18, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Cardinals defeated the Phillies 5-0 , however the Phillies having clinched the AL East is now assured a berth in the playoffs . Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images …..

(8) Detroit Tigers’ Ramon Santiago, left, tags out the Oakland Athletics’ Scott Sizemore on a steal-attempt in the first inning of an MLB baseball game on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011, in Oakland, Calif. The Tigers would go on to defeat the A’s 3-0 AP Photo/Dino Vournas ……

(9) Justin Verlander (35) of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum on September 18, 2011 in Oakland, California. Photo by Tony Medina/Getty Images ……

(10) Miguel Cabrera (24) of the Detroit Tigers is congratulated after the Detroit Tigers beat the Oakland Athletics 3-0 at Oakland Coliseum on September 18, 2011 in Oakland, California. Photo by Tony Medina/Getty Images …….

(11) Floyd Mayweather (R) slams a left to the head of WBC Welterweight champion Victor Ortiz in the 3rd round during their fight on September 17, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Mayweather controversially knocked out Ortiz in the fourth round to win the WBC Welterweight title. AFP PHOTO/ JOHN GURZINSKI / Getty Images …….

(12) WBC Welterweight champion Victor Ortiz (L) falls towards the canvas after being hit with a right from Floyd Mayweather in the 4th ending the fight on September 17, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Mayweather controversially knocked out Ortiz to win the WBC Welterweight title. Referee Joe Cortez looks on as the knockdown takes place . TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO/JOHN GURZINSKI (Photo credit should read JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP/Getty Images ……

(13) Referee Joe Cortez counts out WBC Welterweight champion Victor Ortiz as he tries to get up from the canvas after being knocked out in the fourth round after being hit with a right from Floyd Mayweather in the 4th ending the fight on September 17, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Mayweather controversially knocked out Ortiz to win the WBC Welterweight title. TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO/JOHN GURZINSKI ……

(14) Argument: Mayweather with HBO anchor Larry Merchant, who hit out over the boxer’s dirty tactics. HBO boxing commentator and analyst is seen here alongside newly crowned WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather. The two individuals had a very heated and profanity laced exchange during their televised post fight interview . courtesy of Youtube & Daily Mail UK . ……..
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The High Flying Tigers And Other Things Happening In The World Of Baseball

The High Flying Tigers And Other Things Happening In The World Of Baseball

If there’s a common consensus at present it could well be that Justin Verlander could very well the runaway winner for the AL Cy Young winner . The player has been on a tear as of late winning six consecutive games ,placing the Detroit Tigers in contention for the AL Central and to viewed seriously as a contender for the AL Pennant . If anything from what I’ve seen of the Tigers as a team this season they are on a mission and for the fans at Comerica Park as well both team owner Michael Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski this has to be have been a long time coming . So much was expected of the team last season and their free fall certainly didn’t help when it mattered most .

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I don’t know if at present there’s a pitcher in the league that is as dominant and foreboding as we’re now seeing from Justin Verlander. Now many may well feel that the Detroit Tigers simply haven’t shown where they’re capable of winning the AL Central and the mere fact that we’ve seen a resurgent Cleveland Indians may well have suggest that the division wouldn’t at all be up for grabs . But at present that has been the case with the top three teams simply not being able to truly separate themselves from the rest of those within the division . The Cleveland Indians leads the division with a 40-35 with the Chicago White Sox 3 1/2 games behind the second placed Tigers . Jim Leyland and his coaching staff know that they will have to lean heavily on their All Star pitching ace as well as the offense led by Miguel Cabrera , Magglio Ordonez , Victor Martinez , Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Inge .

With the All Star Game slowly approaching where it will be hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Ballpark in Arizona , Phoenix . That event should be very interesting given the ensuing political climate within the state at present after the state’s legislature’s passing of their immigration bill ( SB 1070 ). And as contentious as the bill’s passing may well have been the opposition from a number of civil liberties unions as well as the Hispanic community and Latino players within the MLB fraternity promises that this upcoming All Star Game could very well be remembered for the events off the field , as the opposition protesters look to making their voices heard .

I’m not about to suggest that the Houston Astros are having a bad season but the NL ball club seems to be on the cusp of having quite possibly having one of their worst seasons ever . With Drayton McClane having sold the team to Houston businessman Jim Crane , the feeling is that the entrepreneur will assess the whole organization from top to bottom before making a decision whether or not he will retain or bring in his own staff to run the Astros .

In the Astros most recent game against the Tampa Bay Rays it was clear for all to see the numerous problems that the Houston Astros as a team faces . The offense is simply dormant and the pitching simply lacks any real confidence . The Rays offense simpled teed off on Astros coming away with an emphatic 7-2 victory in an intra league game at the Astros ballpark in Houston , Texas.

It is strange to see players such as Hunter Pence , Carlos Lee and Jeff Keppinger are viewed as the present basis for the team but in reality the future of this organization lies in its prospects , draft picks and farm system if the truth be known . A great deal is now being asked of manager Brad Mills and his coaching staff in leading this team to some semblance of respectability within the National League .

The Houston Astros have struggled to make their presence felt within the NL Central in recent years and one it’s hard to view this organization being competitive given the financial difficulties of this organization during the tenure of Drayton McClane and the mere fact that the former owner has simply shown that he has never shown the propensity for winning. It has simply been about garnering the monies afforded it by the rather asinine tax sharing revenue scheme that the league hierarchy has simply sought to dispense to the small market teams around baseball with little thought for actually seeing that the teams in question bolster their rosters as they’re meant to . And one wonders why the game is in such mess from a financial standpoint ? The team owners , general managers around the league are simply far too stupid for their own good with the sports agents simply being way too beguiling for the team owners .

I’m still trying to comprehend how it is that Alex Rodriguez while a player with the Texas Rangers having left that organization in a multi player trade to join the New York Yankees and still some three years after that trade his salary was still being paid for by the Texas Rangers . And as we know Rodriguez at the time had signed what was then the largest contract not only baseball history but also in sports in general , a ten year $250 million contract. Tell me how this all equates with a sound business practice that will actually equate with anything that happens in the real world unless the idiots within the game view themselves as high priced corporate Wall St executives and somehow that’s not how I view the players within MLB , much less the owners whose business acumen we’re suppose to believe in ! I guess that the likes of Frank McCourt , his subordinates within the Dodgers front office along with Fred Wilpon and the ingrates with the New York Mets are to be seen as beacons of corporate affability and sound business judgment ? Cry me a river those of you out there who still believe that the game is still in a healthy financial position !

At some point Bud Selig and his union counterpart MLPBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner seem so intent on merely seeing the status quo remain the same for whatever it’s meant to be worth with regard to the game . And at this juncture what does that actually mean to you ? Some fans are pointing to the fact that there’s said to be competitive parity within the game but let’s get real here , attendances are steadily declining for the vast majority of the teams , with more than half struggling to eke out a financial profit without an assist from the league hierarchy . How is it that the more adept fan out there never really wants to address that specific issue but would rather look at the game through rose colored glasses ?

Much of this season I’ve simply been impressed with the pitching I’ve seen this season and the Cy Young within both leagues is by no means a certainty at this juncture . ERA and wins asides I know that the choice for the adjudicators will be an extremely tough one ! CC Sabathia , Jered Weaver , Josh Beckett and James Shields all appear to be viable candidates within the AL . On the senior circuit there it would appear that Cole Hamels , Jair Jurrjens , Roy Halladay and Tommy Hanson could all be in with a shot if they are able to keep apace with their rivals within the NL .

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What have been your impressions as to the first half of the MLB season and which teams do you believe will in the thick of things at season’s end competing not merely for the divisional titles but also for the wildcard berths ? Also as to the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit .

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

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(1) DETROIT – JUNE 25: Justin Verlander (35) of the Detroit Tigers strikes out 14 for a career-high during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Comerica Park on June 25, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Diamondbacks 6-0 . Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …..

(2) Justin Verlander (35) of the Detroit Tigers is congratulated by Manager Jim Leyland #10 after striking out 14 for a career-high during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Comerica Park on June 25, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Diamondbacks 6-0. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images ….

(3) Don Kelly (32) of the Detroit Tigers celebrates with his teammates after scoring on a Miguel Cabrera(24) single in the eight inning during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Comerica Park on June 26, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Diamondbacks 8-3 . Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …

(4) Detroit Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch (left) and team GM Dave Dombrowski are seen here taking questions from the press at Comerica Park , Detroit , Michigan , courtesy of Detroit Free Press ….

(5) Wade Davis (40) of the Tampa Bay Rays is called out by home plate umpire Tony Randazzo as catcher Carlos Corporan (22) of the Houston Astros looks up after the play at Minute Maid Park on June 26, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images ….

(6) Houston Astros’ Hunter Pence reacts after being called out on strikes to end an interleague baseball game in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays, Sunday, June 26, 2011, in Houston. The Rays defeated the Astros 14-10 . AP Photo/David J. Phillip ……

(7) HOUSTON – JUNE 26: Carlos Lee (45) of the Houston Astros catches his breath after hitting a triple in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Minute Maid Park on June 26, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images ….

(8) ST. LOUIS – OCTOBER 19: Houston Astros Drayton McLane is seen during Game Six of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals October 19, 2005 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Astros won 5-1 to win the series 4-2 to advance to the World Series. Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images ………..

(9) Jim Crane the Houston business tycoon and new owner of the Houston Astros . courtesy of AP Photo ….
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They Came , They Saw , They Conquered ………………..

They Came , They Saw , They Conquered …………….

Well they came, they saw they conquered and the post-game interview by San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich essentially was magnanimous in defeat but clearly couldn’t explain his team’s inauspicious departure from the NBA Playoffs in the first round . A 99-91 defeat on the Memphis Grizzlies’ home-court at the Fedex Forum , in Memphis , Tennesse left the home crowd fans ecstatic as their team will now make their first appearance in a conference semi finals where they will face the high flying Oklahoma City Thunder .

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Now for only the second time since expansion of the playoff format from a five game first round to the best of seven series’ format has a number one seed bowed out the of the NBA Playoffs in the first round. This 4-2 series loss will certainly have its ramifications and repercussions as the Spurs’ management assess and reassess why they failed so miserably . GM R C Burford and Popovich’s coaching staff will certainly have to look at this roster and note where their deficiencies are . Most certainly to my mind the contributions of Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess were minimal at best but what might be even more disturbing was the fact that the Grizzlies man-handled the Spurs with seasoned veteran Zach Randoplh being allowed to shred the defense almost at will . Randolph’s heroics was indicative of what has gone on throughout this series all along with him being allowed to roam free _____ but he was also ably abetted by Marc Gasol , Shane Batter and Mike Conley whose play at the point guard position has developed since his entrance into the NBA . It has been a profound disappointment to me in seeing the San Antonio Spurs bow out of the playoffs but I’ve seen the highs and lows of this organization. Remarkable as this might seem the Spurs have made the postseason for fourteen straight consecutive seasons and have averaged 55 wins per season over that time frame . As an avowed Spurs’ fan it goes without saying that in the aftermath of this series loss the organization will undoubtedly have to make some changes .

As to the Memphis Grizzlies their postseason is now in their own hands and they can essentially write their own story as to their aspirations . This much we do know their season has shown us all what to expect when you have no doubts as to your own will to win . That if anything to my mind was most definitely lacking in the persona of the San Antonio Spurs !

Just when I thought things simply couldn’t get anymore asinine with regard to the NFL lockout it has been reported that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals have rescinded Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s original verdict , which now allows the NFL owners and league enforce the lockout . Never mind the fact that the league hierarchy has gone ahead with the NFL Draft which is being staged at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City and culminates with the seventh and final round of picks this Saturday 30th April , 2011. As contentious and litigious as this episode has become I can’t but help wonder why bother with all the facade being created by the league with the staging of the draft ?

I’ve always maintained that the league created this monster with the alleged labor relates issues and that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seriously underestimated the hierarchy of the NFLPA which has now become a trade association. That being said neither party is without fault here with the asinine stance that each party has taken in being unable to decide how to split the $ 9 billion in revenues that the league has coming into its coffers each season . And as ridiculous as it may sound , neither side wants to be viewed as being the culprit here but in essence this has simply been about sheer greed with little if anything really having to deal with any inherent labor issues ! Question if you can’t find a way to seriously deliberate how best find a solution sharing $ 9 billion amenably then what would that suggest to you about both of the parties involved ? Greed or merely that both the league hierarchy and union are simply too stupid for their own good ?

Andy Dalton welcome to the NFL and you now more likely than not will supplant Carson Palmer in the pecking order for the quarterback position with the Cincinnati Bengals . Given the Bengals’ disastrous 2010 season where Palmer and his teammates were an immense disappointment having been the AFC North divisional champions in 2009, 2010 simply showed how much the team had simply regressed.

Bengals’ coach Marvin Lewis knows that his job is on the line this season and anything short of a divisional title and postseason berth and effectively his managerial career with the organization will come to an abrupt end . As for Andy Dalton this now becomes his team to lead in light of the continued displeasure of Carson Palmer and his wish to be traded . However with the player’s demands having not been met and the continued scenario within the NFL his only option appears to be to proceed with his original announcement that he would retire if his demands were not met . Personally, if this is indicative of quarterbacks coming out of USC and the fact that they have no heart or will a will to win once in the NFL then my advice to Palmer would be ………. “see ya wouldn’t want to be ya and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out ” !

Unequivocably the game of baseball is in a complete mess and this season has simply been indicative of that. If anything it hasn’t been the play of of the teams on the field that have made the headlines but namely the stories off it. Frank McCourt is now prepared to challenge the league’s hierarchy in providing an outside presence to deal with the day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers . McCourt as the team’s owner has if anything been a complete ass in thinking that he can place this organization in dire financial straits but at the same time fails to address the issue as to why he needed to borrow some $30 million from the local LA Fox affiliate to meet the team’s budgetary expenses for the month of April. Frank McCourt has also maintained that the league hierarchy has within their possession documents related to a possible television deal with Fox that woud pay the Dodgers $3 billion over the next two decades . At this juncture it simply means nothing if that document remains unsigned with the deal not physically in place awaiting league approval .

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for his part stated that his greatest concern were the dire consequences that McCourt had placed the organization in . But here’s the caveat, if as such the Dodgers met all of the league’s rules as it concerns the conduct of its business affairs then how is that they’ve allowed McCourt to systematically d to use the Dodgers repeatedly as collateral in many business deals with outside parties not related at all with the game ? Having installed former US Ambassador to Japan J Thomas Schieffer as the league’s representative while the Dodgers undergoes this period of intense scrutiny . I’ve now got to ask what now awaits the team and organization over the course of the their season ?

If anything this is what has been endemic within the game of baseball and the unwillingness of the team owners and the hierarchy itself to be openly transparent in the conduct of their business affairs . And it goes without saying that this conduct has been suborned by the fact that MLB’s antitrust exemption status allows it carte-blanche /free rein as to how they conducts themselves in almost every facet of their dealings both on and off the field of play . And I’m led to believe that the House Oversight & Gov’t Reform Committee weren’t aware as to the league’s conduct over the past decade and a half ? The league has become archaic , its leadership structure as are the team owners , the MLBPA are simply clueless and are a bunch of blithering idiots ! With the New York Mets’ episode yet to be addressed fully by the league do you get the feeling that MLB would rather the respective owners there Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon removed from their executive posts as well ? Where else could one find such mismanagement within the game but in essence the league hierarchy continues to act as if they’re rearranging the life boats on the Titanic thinking that they’re in no imminent danger .

I know that the MLB season is one of 162 games but the way that the Cleveland Indians have been playing as of late you’d be under the impression that they’re now on the cusp of making the postseason. Winners of five of their last seven games the Indians sit atop of the AL East . If anything they’ve been the surprise team within the division with their play and seems to be infectious amongst the younger members on this Cleveland Indians’ roster .

In their game against the struggling Detroit Tigers the Indians simply showed why they have been playing with the resolve that they have shown since the very start of their season . In a fitting way to end the game Indians’ slugger Carlos Santana hit a walk off grand slam to deny the Tigers victory on their way to a 9-5 win over their divisional rivals . And although it’s still early in the season it’s good to see that for now the Cleveland Indians appear to be relevant once again. With that win the Cleveland Indians now share the best record (17-8) in baseball alongside the Philadelphia Phillies . A nice resurgence for a franchise that seems to have been in the doldrums over the last decade but now appears to be back where they and their fans feel that they belong.

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Whether or not you’ve been watching the initial part of the NBA postseason unfold what to your mind has been the biggest surprise or disappointment from your own standpoint ? With regard to the NFL its Draft and everything that now seems to be unfolding how do you envisage this episode finally ending ? From your own perspective do you feel that there’s now time for a real drastic change within the hierarchy of MLB and also do you feel that the owners should be more transparent in their business dealing in and outside of the game when they are as such using their team as any part of a business transaction ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts as to the points raised within this piece .

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) MEMPHIS, TN – APRIL 29: Zach Randolph(50) of the Memphis Grizzlies talks with Greg Popovich after the Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs 99-91 in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on April 29, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images …..

(2) San Antonio Spurs players watch the final moments of their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of Game 6 of a first-round NBA basketball series on Friday, April 29, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 99-91 to win the series 4-2 . From left are Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, Daniel Green, and Steve Novak. AP Photo/Lance Murphey ……….

(3) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, and his fiancee Jordan Jones, left, pose for a picture being taken by the Bengals third round draft pick Dontay Moch, right, after an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ……….

(4) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, left, a quarterback from TCU, and third round draft pick Dontay Moch, a linebacker from Nevada, right, pose with their jerseys during an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ………

(5) Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, left, poses with the team’s first round draft pick A.J. Green during an NFL football news conference, Friday, April 29, 2011 in Cincinnati. Green, a wide receiver from Georgia, will wear number 18 for the Bengals. AP Photo/Al Behrman ……

(6) Gary Guyton (59) of the New England Patriots carries the ball in for a touchdown as Carson Palmer (9) of the Cincinnati Bengals tries to tackle during the NFL season opener on September 12, 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Guyton intercepted Palmer’s pass. Getty Images North America / Elsa Martinez …….

(7) LOS ANGELES – APRIL 29: the San Diego Padres the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 29, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …….

(8) Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Santana watches the flight of his game-winning grand slam off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5. Tigers catcher Alex Avila, left, looks on. AP Photo/Amy Sancetta …….

(9) Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana celebrates as he jumps to home plate after hitting a game winning three-run walk off home run off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5 . AP Photo/Amy Sancetta ……..

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NFL News

NFL Schedule 2010-11

NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

NBA Postseason Schedules

Sunday

Monday

NBA Stats Postseason

MLB News

MLB 29th April 2011

MLB Schedule 30th April 2011

MLB Scoreboard 1st May 2011

Intriguing Questions That Need To Be Asked And Answered In The World of Sports ………….

Intriguing Questions That Need To Be Asked And Answered In The World of Sports ………….

If LeBron James as he’s now stating , having been interviewed by that elder statesman of menial tv journalism, Larry King . Wherein , James stated that the Cavaliers’ organization stands a better than even chance that he’ll remain with the team . The question I for one would like to ask did his mother force him to make such a statement , bearing in mind that it’s been alleged that she (Gloria James) has been having a sexual relationship with James’ teammate Delonte’ West . Could it be that Gloria James will miss Cleveland more than LeBron will ? And two, what does that say about the players of some of the potential teams that are said to be interested in luring James to their organizations ?

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Slide show gallery for your perusal .

In the Bible we’re led to believe that it took God six days to create the Earth and on the seventh day he rested . The question I’d like to ask if it can the “Supreme Being” such a short time to create this world . Then how is it that it has now taken the NCAA in “excess of three years” to conduct their investigation into the basketball and football program of USC ? I mean with all of the evidence that has come to light and the fact that the likes of Reggie Bush , Matt Leinart , O J Mayo , Pete Carroll , Tim Floyd and the US Trojans’ AD Mike Garrett have been less than forthright in answering any questions as to any transgressions concerning the program. Is it a matter of mere perception and we’re completely misjudging what has gone on within the school’s athletics program ? I guess that $1,000-00 paid to Mayo by Floyd , was a mere oversight at the time ? And the fact that Bush’s parents were living in a residence that at the time was way beyond their means was a mere faux-pas and nothing untoward was happening between Bush and an interloper acting on his behalf at the time.

Well the 2010 NBA Finals are upon us and the series commences on the 3rd June , 2010 . The game’s two most storied franchises are set to meet for the the eleventh time in the game’s showcase event. Between them the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have won 32 NBA titles and have made a combined 51 appearances in the NBA Finals. It’d be remiss to suggest that it does make the other teams within the NBA irrelevant because that’s most certainly not the case. But in this era where we’re always being told that there’s parity in sports . The dominance of the Celtics and Lakers of the NBA does make the case for that argument seem somewhat mute. But in reality when either of these two teams are making an appearance in the finals , then it augurs well for the viewing figures for the event and it most definitely brings a smile to the face of David Stern and the entire NBA hierarchy .

As a more than avid fan of the NBA I just hope to see a very entertaining series. But above all I’m hoping that the officials don’t interject themselves into each and every game and event when there’s a tinge of controversy. More than often than not the real reason why a series can be bad or becomes bad isn’t necessarily because of the poor play. But more so, it has to do with the poor officiating. I know that David Stern says that he trusts these officials implicitly . But would he actually trust them with his life or perhaps to be in the accompaniment of his wife or daughters ? I mean if he trusts them that much then he shouldn’t have a problem with a referee spending a night with his wife I would’ve thought ! Squash that , Tim Donaghy suddenly springs to mind .

Apart from seeing future Hall of Famers , in , Kobe Bryant , Ray Allen , Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett . We’ll also get to see the burgeoning talents of such young players as Rajon Rondo, Andrew Bynum and Jordan Farmar . As to whether or not the careers of these players will aspire to be as great as that of their peers mentioned , it remains to be seen over the course of time.

Ben Roethlisberger has returned to the fold and is now allowed once again allowed to undertake team activities with the Pittsburgh Steelers . I for one still feel that the player got off lightly ! But given the fact that he’s said to be on a tight leash and he’s still under a six game suspension that can be lowered to four games should NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell see fit. The scrutiny under which Roethlisberger will be followed will most certainly make him feel as if he’s rat on a wheel undergoing a watchful social behavorial experiment. I just hope that the player understands the implications should he screw up again . There have been players within the NFL who haven’t been afforded a second chance that has been given Roethlisberger. So the slightest inappropriate act on or off the field and he can essentially kiss his career goodbye.

My buddy Sportschump suggested that many of the problems that came to the fore under Goodell’s watch were inherited after his assuming the position of his predecessor Paul Tagliabue . But that was most certainly not the case. From the Plaxico Burress affair , to Donte’ Stallworth to Ben Roethlisberger . All of this has happened under Goodell’s watch and the commissioner hasn’t necessarily always been proactive in his handling of these matters. He at times placates the situation by saying that many of the cases in question should be dealt with after legal ramifications are sorted out. However , under the collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA , he has the power to suspend a player for conduct detrimental to the sport and that includes any matter that might also tarnish the image of the NFL.

My question to Goodell and Sportschump , should “Big Ben” be caught once again, whereby a 20 year old female college co-ed should suddenly find her lips around a certain part of the player’s genitalia. Can we believe Ben if he states ……………” she tripped and fell and her mouth suddenly found itself around my member ” ? More to the point how is it that it is always the fault of the other person in the incident ? Isn’t Roethlisberger mature enough to be now held accountable for his own actions ? Or is this what a football college scholarship now gets you at Miami of Ohio ?

Still no word as of yet but with Terrell Owens seeing his buddy , Chad Ochocinco appear on Dancing With The Stars . Is there now a possibility that “TO” will lean more towards retirement as he remains an unsigned free agent within the NFL ? That’s not to say that his agent Drew Rosenhaus won’t be making overtures on the player’s behalf to see if he can be signed by none other than the Minnesota Vikings. That way the organization and the the team can then have “two of the biggest and most self absorbed narcissists” ever to have set foot within the NFL. Don’t forget now boys and girls , Brett Favre still hasn’t made us privy to the impending decision as to his NFL future and that perceived comeback , “yet again” !

If you think it not audacious situation for Rosenhaus to approach Brad Childress and his coaching staff to quite possibly gauge their interest in the veteran wide receiver. Not so long ago the thinking was that Favre would be the player to put the team over the top and guide them to a Superbpowl . Well one year on and one year older and the Vikings were about as close to the Superbpowl as Sen. John McCain (R-Az) was, in gaining entrance into the White House as the 44th President of the United States. C’mon now , please don’t use the excuse that Brett got ’em to the NFC championship game. Brett also cost ’em an appearance in the Superbowl with his capricious play in the closing stretch of the loss to the eventual Superbowl champions __ New Orleans Saints .

So what do you think is there a remote possibility that we could see that Favre Owens’ tandem gracing us within the NFL as part of the Vikings’ team looking to be not only dominant within the NFC North but also within the entire NFL ? Or will me merely see the return of Favre to the Vikings with Owens toiling away elsewhere within the NFL with some none descript team ?

Well now that we’ve more than got a quarter of the way through the baseball season . A number of teams are trying to jockey themselves into position for the mid-stretch of the season. To my mind this is the one part of the season that will go a long way in telling us the resolve and determination of a team. You simply have to look at the standings to see which teams can be taken for real and which cannot. Sorry Baltimore and Houston but there’s always next year I hope !

I can’t for the life of me understand how two teams such as the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers of the AL Central tend to under achieve. As good as both teams appear to be on paper , up close and personal once they begin to play it’s like looking at an abstract painting and trying to understand what the subject matter is all about. The White Sox are simply are simply an embarrassment and for Jim Leyland and Tigers , I’m not about to suggest that the team is spiraling out of control. But were they an airplane, I’d be looking for the nearest emergency exit just as a precaution.

GM’s Dave Dombrowski of the Tigers and Kenny Williams of the White Sox know that in Leyland and Ozzie Guillen they have two very good managers. But the problems now facing both managers are that their respective teams either aren’t listening as to what they and the coaching staff are trying to instill. Or quite possibly the teams just aren’t as good as first thought. By my way of thinking it has to be the latter but if things don’t change as to both teams’ fortunes . Then quite possibly before at the culmination of the season both managers could very well be fired by their respective organizations. I’m not about to suggest that they should both be deserving of such a fate. But as a last resort that’s always how the executives and owners tend to alleviate the problem to quieten the angst of the fans.

I’m not a big NASCAR or IRL fan but I’ve got to admit that I made the rare peek to watch snippets of the Coca Cola 600 and parts of the Indy 500 . The latter race I’ve been led to believe is said to be “the best auto race in the world” . Someone must be friggin’ kidding if they’ve never witnessed the Monaco Grand Prix from Monte Carlo and the nuance of F1 Grand Prix Racing. OK , so Indy Car has female drivers Danica Patrick and Milka Duno . But unless they’re about to let those ladies race in nothing more than two piece bathing suit , then quite frankly I’m simply not interested ! However, with Dario Franchitti happening to be the victor of the Indy 500 , we all got to see that rather “hot wife” of his Ashley Judd . But good God almighty, was it me but what the hell was she wearing ? I thought it was Franchitti’s mother at first until the cameras drew in for a close up shot . Then I realized she still looks as hot as ever ! ‘nough said !

Ashley Judd please don’t give the legions of male fans around the world such a scare again ! We all love it when you look exceedingly hot and chique`. We’d prefer for you to not to look so dowdy as it belies your sensational looks . As to Franchitti , I can only surmise that once he and his wife returned home all bets were off as to how they’d end up celebrating his second victory of America’s most prestigious race. A great deal of intimacy was no doubt called for I’d dare say ! So we know that Ashley Judd is hot but can someone answer me this, when will Danica Patrick win her next race ? And two, are we ever liable to see her adorning a stripper’s pole ? Because by my way of thinking the circus has but left town with regard to her alleged ambitions within both NASCAR and IRL. Making excuses for Danica Patrick now is very much in a similar vein in excusing why it is that Dale Earnhardt Jr can’t find the winner’s podium but yet he’s being paid an exorbitant amount of money for merely being average at best. Can I get an amen here ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Well these are but a few of the questions that I think in some ways we can find amusing and in some cases serious in the world of sports. What questions if any would you want to pose concerning a certain are of the sporting landscape. It doesn’t necessarily have to be serious at all. So feel free to chime on in with a question and perhaps we can all debate it in the appropriate manner ? Thanks as always for the continued support !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………………………

David Bowie ……………..“Heroes”

So This Was Meant To Be The House That Scott Boras Built ?

So This Was Meant To Be The House That Scott Boras Built ?

While, I can understand ‘uber-agent’ Scott Boras’ reasons for always wanting to do what’s best for his client. I fail to understand how in this day and age, he expects to get ‘premium dollars’ for an ‘aging star’ in, Johnny Damon . Granted, the now former A’s , Red Sox and now New York Yankees’ player still plays with ‘passion’. One has to admit that Damon’s best days are now far behind him. If anything the only tangible value, is that as a veteran, he can teach the younger players what it takes to win. Having experienced those scenarios as a player , firstly with the Boston Red Sox, then as a New York Yankees’ player, there is a still a great deal that Damon has to offer as a player. He may not be as quick in the outfield, as he once was. And his offensive prowess at he plate may no longer be there. But as a passionate student and player of the game, Johnny Damon still has something to offer.

New York Yankees' <strong>Johnny Damon</strong> follows through on his two-run RBI single during the fourth inning of Game 6 of the American League Championship baseball series in New York. A  person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the Atlanta Braves have made an offer to free agent outfielder Johnny Damon. The person spoke Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010,  on condition of anonymity because no agreement has been reached. photo appears  courtesy of  Associated Press/ Elise Amendola ......
New York Yankees' Johnny Damon follows through on his two-run RBI single during the fourth inning of Game 6 of the American League Championship baseball series in New York. A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the Atlanta Braves have made an offer to free agent outfielder Johnny Damon. The person spoke Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010, on condition of anonymity because no agreement has been reached. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Elise Amendola ......

Now the inherent problem for Damon as a player is that his agent Scott Boras is one of the least admired men in sports. Albeit , that he’s one of the most successful and respected sport’s agents in the world of sports. To ascertain Boras’ power in the game, is to know how much he can seemingly control the fate of many of the league’s most aspiring teams. When it comes to dealing on behalf of his clients, Boras possesses and elicits the bravado shown by an all-out predator, looking to devour its prey. His take no prisoner’s mentality has made Scott Boras ‘the scourge of the league as well as many of the fans , coaches and general managers within MLB. The one constant with Boras, is that it’s all about the money and nothing else simply matters. That has been Boras’ mantra throughout the course of his career .


Courtesy of Associated Press and Yahoo Sports

AP source: Braves make offer to Johnny Damon

By Charles Odum , AP Sports Writer

Atlanta (AP)—The Atlanta Braves appear interested in adding Johnny Damon to the top of their lineup.

The Braves have made an offer to the free-agent outfielder, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The person spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because no agreement had been reached.

Atlanta’s offer is believed to be for one year and include deferred money. Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, has said he is seeking at least a two-year deal.

The 36-year-old Damon hit .286 with 24 homers for the New York Yankees last season and likely would bat leadoff for the Braves.

Atlanta added another former Yankees outfielder in December when it acquired Melky Cabrera in a five-player deal that sent right-hander Javier Vazquez to the World Series champions.

Nate McLouth is set as Atlanta’s starter in center field, and is the probable leadoff hitter if the team does not add Damon or another outfielder. Matt Diaz is expected to get most of the playing time at one corner outfield spot.

Braves manager Bobby Cox said last week he envisions Cabrera playing all three outfield spots and possibly sharing a position with Diaz.

Cox said the team is prepared to give 20-year-old outfield prospect Jason Heyward a chance to win a starting job in right field. Heyward made only a brief appearance at Triple-A last season and has fewer than 200 at-bats above Class A.

“Well, there’s no reason not to give him a crack at making it,” Cox said. “If he is too young, that’s fine, too. He can spend some time in Triple-A. But if we think he’s ready and he can help us, then let’s go.”

Heyward (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) has the power potential the Braves need in their outfield. He was voted baseball’s top prospect by Baseball America after hitting .323 with 17 homers and 63 RBIs at three minor league stops in 2009.

“If he makes the team, he’s playing—lefties, righties, everybody,” Cox said.

The Braves’ willingness to give Heyward an opportunity could keep them from engaging in a bidding war for Damon. According to reports, Detroit and Tampa Bay also have interest.

Boras did not return a call to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Braves general manager Frank Wren had no comment on Damon.

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Scott Boras and his client Alex Rodriguez . The Yankee slugger may well be Boras' most high profiled and well known client. But Boras also represents Manny Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixiera , amongst others . And in each case the players in question are amongst the highest paid in the game. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Hugh MacIntosh ..................
Scott Boras (left) and his client Alex Rodriguez . The Yankee slugger may well be Boras' most high profiled and well known client. But Boras also represents Manny Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixiera , amongst others . And in each case the players in question are amongst the highest paid in the game. picture appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Hugh MacIntosh ..................

Power as they say, lies in the hands of the individual who knows how to use it, even when it’s not being used wisely. Boras’ biggest claim to fame, may well be his list of clients and the fact that he’s now twice laid the groundwork and negotiated for his client, Alex Rodriguez to be paid two separate contracts that will pay him gross, in excess of $ 500 million over the course of his career. Firstly , when Rodriguez was with the Seattle Mariners and then left the team as a free agent, to sign what was then the biggest and most lucrative contract in baseball and in all of sports in North America. Rodriguez was signed to a 10 year $252 million contract by the Texas Rangers. The ‘team’ at the time under the ownership of Tom Hicks , aspired to be one of the up and coming and one of the more ambitious organizations in baseball. The fact that Hicks made a ‘big splash’ with the signing of Rodriguez, just goes to show how ill fated the endeavor would turn out to be. ‘A-Rod’ wasn’t complemented by roster that was anywhere near competitive. And nor was the team even good enough to win its division (AL West), much less the AL pennant or World Series. The idiocy of Hicks, not only as an owner but also as a businessman , knew no bounds. His excesses and failures in sports have far outweighed the successes. And it still remains that way to this day.

Damon  and  his   wife   Michelle  at  a  formal   gathering  .  photo  appears  courtesy of  Associated  Press /  Matt Hollingsworth  ..........
Damon and his wife Michelle at a formal gathering . photo appears courtesy of Associated Press / Matt Hollingsworth ..........

The second time around that Boras was again able to deliver Rodriguez with another blockbuster contract , was when the player re-signed with the New York Yankees for another multi year contract that will pay him $275 million over ten years. Again, still the most lucrative contract in all of sports , in terms the salary paid to a player. The fact that when Rodriguez was traded away from the Rangers to sign with the Yankees after four years with the Rangers, alludes to the fact what a poor businessman Hicks was from the outset. He was bamboozled by little more than a slight of hand trick by Rodriguez’s agent, Scott Boras. The agent knew ‘a sucker when he saw one’ and Hicks and the Rangers’ organization took the bait , hook , line and sinker.

Over the course of his career as an agent , Scott Boras has negotiated on behalf his clients’ contracts to be estimated upwards, in excess of $ 2.8 billion. Clearly with that sort of business acumen, along with it comes a great deal of power and influence. And if anything, that has been how Boras has been able to become one of the pre-eminent agents in all of sports and most certainly the most powerful and influential in all of baseball . Consider this also, of the 8 highest paid players in the game , six of those players are in fact clients of Scott Boras ? I’m not suggesting that ‘he has a monopoly on the major stars’ within the game. But he’s now as close to it as one would’ve thought possible.

With Damon now a free agent and still with a desire to play , both player and agent are finding it all the more difficult to gauge the interest of teams who might desire the aging veteran. So much so, that Damon’s demand for a two year $16 to $20 million contract to return to the Yankees must’ve been met with derisions of laughter. If the Yankees were unwilling to re-sign their World Series MVP Hideki Matsui , to anything beyond a one year. Then how in the hell was it that Damon and Boras were expecting Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman to open up the checkbook for anything more ? And even after offering the player’s services for less, Boras was still turned down by the Yankees and Cashman. Clearly there was an impasse there , as to what both parties felt what the player was worth.

<strong> Michelle  Damon </strong>  seen  here in a  photo-shoot   for   Sports  Illustrated .   The  model  and  aspiring part-time  actress  obviously  has  the   ball  player wanting to  show  us  all  that he  can  catch   off  the   field  as  good   as  he's  able  to  do  so  on  the  field. <em> Pretty   good  eh  ? </em>   photo  appears courtesy  of  Sports  Illustrated .................<strong>Michelle Damon </strong> seen her doing an expose'  for   Sports Illustrated.  I can  only assume  that   Damon  is  in  need of  the  money  to   keep  his   wife   in  the  life  of  luxury  to which  she  has  now  become accustomed  to  ?   photo  appears  courtesy of  Sports Illustrated  ....
Michelle Damon seen her doing an expose' for Sports Illustrated. I can only assume that Damon is in need of the money to keep his wife in the life of luxury to which she has now become accustomed to ? photo appears courtesy of Sports Illustrated ....

Now as the list of prospective clients are beginning to thin out as to quite possibly where Johnny Damon may well end up playing this upcoming season. Boras has approached the NL East’s Atlanta Braves and AL Central’s Detroit Tigers to gauge both teams’ interest in his client. As of now , no final public statement has been forthcoming from Braves’ GM Frank Wren or Dave Dombrowski of the Tigers. If Damon isn’t signed by baseball’s start of the Spring Training, then there’s the belief that he may well miss the start of the regular season and then await the call of a team wanting a the veteran – to replace an injured player or to bolster an aspiring team’s roster in need of that veteran presence. There’s also a slight possibility that Damon could return to the team where he first made a name for himself in the majors. And that would be with a return to the Oakland A’s. As to whether or not the fans and the organization would welcome the return of a former ‘prodigal son’ , remains to be seen. But in all likelihood , that scenario remains nothing but a remote possibility. And given the fact that the A’s aren’t known as a team to spend lavishly on its roster, Damon’s asking price would have to come down considerably , if the team were prepared to sign him.

This may well have been the house that Scott Boras built but now even he has to admit that he can now no longer ‘brow beat’ and ‘bully teams’ and ‘their general mangers’ into signing his clients at the premium top dollar rates. Not in these uncertain economic times and that’s even with Boras’ now ill fated assignation that the market can continue to bear whatever the going rate is for top line talent on the open free agent market. It’s my belief, that Boras is as conceited and condescending as he looks, that even he would scare the likes of Rasputin and Sung Myung Moon ! But that may well be taking it too far, as the majority of general managers were already gullible enough to begin with – when they first began to deal with Scott Boras, as an agent. Need I say anything more on the matter ?