The Killer Elite ….

The Killer Elite

Well, baseball season (MLB) is almost upon us , with certain position players due to report to their respective teams within the next few days. For a number of franchises , this off-season has proven to be dramatic, suspenseful and dare one say, even exhilarating ? The MLB Postseasonprovided us with several stories and theplot-lines came thick and fast , so much so,that not even the script writers of Hollywood could have provided us with more drama. Who could’ve foreseen the Kansas City Royals blowing the frames off the doors, as they brushed aside their postseason opponents with a great deal of ease , only to succumb to the wily experience of Bruce Bochy, his managerial staff and the players of the San Francisco Giants , in dramatic fashion of an intense seven-game thriller of a World Series. A perfect ending to the 2014 MLB regular and postseason. Some might say, the Cinderella Story of the Royals would have been the perfect ending, but it was not to be, simply because the lack of postseason experience on the Royals’ roster of last season.

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With baseball’s Winter Meetings taking place in the aftermath of the Fall Classic, deals were being made with an alarming speed and regularity. Topping them all , was Giancarlo Stanton’s record- breaking deal with the Miami Marlins. Leaving many flabbergasted and surprised by the contract’s value and length , never-mind where the financial resources might be coming from, considering the Marlins’ menial attendance record for the Marlins’ Ballpark, in Miami , Florida and the fact, since its inception, it has been rarely filled to capacity. That asides, should Mike Redmond and his coaching staff not have this team not in a position to win the NL East or actually gain a postseason berth. The common thread of thought, appears to be the front office led by Michael Hill will be quick to pull the trigger on dealing Stanton elsewhere, rather than having to bear the brunt of a $25 million payout, in the first year of the deal.

From my own standpoint, I believe the Miami Marlins will be hard-pressed to make a serious enough challenge against what appears to be not only something of a revamped Washington Nationals’ lineup , but also on paper, what might be the ” deepest” roster in the entire National League (NL). It will be interesting to see how these two NL East teams are likely to fare over the course of their regular season series in 2015. If the Marlins are to have any semblance of success this season, then Giancarlo Stanton and his teammates will have to be playing their very best baseball right out of the starting gates on Opening Day of the regular season schedule. A one hundred and sixty-two game arduous slog, will prove to be a matter of attrition, stealth and a great deal tenacity on the part of the players and managerial staff, as things begin to play out.

Rob Manfred has succeeded Bud Selig as the MLB Commissioner and as the highest-ranking executive within the game. Whether or not Manfred can succeed where his predecessor repeatedly failed, will be dependent upon how he deals with the issues that have bedeviled baseball and the league hierarchy’s often contentious relationship with the MLBPA (Players’ Union) . The union’s recently elected Executive Director , Tony Clark is a former player whose career in the Majors could be deemed passable. Clark’s predecessor, Michael Weiner’s death cut short his tenure in an executive role, leaves the newly elected union leader as the players’ voice in the collective bargaining agreement for all issues involving the game, beyond the union’s own failure to deliver their concise formal statement on the matter of steroid abuse and the still prevalent deliberate misuse of performance enhancing drugs at the Major League Level and especially within the Minor League , where it now seems to rampant, but widely reported by the mainstream media, whose priority just seem to be the events as they unfold at the Major League Level. Yet, they would have the fans believe, their reporting of their so-called facts, has never been clouded or simply a white-wash, when it comes to the truth or their un-avowed bias of their reported stories .

Coming off his first win of the AL MVP, of which in the future I am sure there will be others, Mike Trout will be looking to cement his position as not only the best young player in baseball, but also the best player to have been drafted in the game since 2009 , the year he was taken by the Los Angeles Angels. Trout in his brief career in the Majors to date, has now become the best player on the Angels’ starting lineup, which has been devoid of leadership. Some might believe it to be an astonishing statement, when you consider the fact, there are experienced veterans on this team, where Albert Pujols , Josh Hamilton and C J Wilson are the most recognizable names. The fact remains however, Mike Scioscia and his managerial staff have not put the Angels in a serious position win the World Series in spite of their most recent appearance in the 2014 postseason . The Angels’ missteps there were well-chronicled and something of a major disappointment to their fans after the team’s triumph in succeeding the Oakland Athletics as the AL West divisional champions.

This season might prove to be a horse for a different course as I expect the A’s to rebound back after a disappointing sojourn in 2014 ! If there is one thing I do know, it is not to underestimate a general manager such as Billy Beane , whose portrayal by Brad Pitt in the hit movie ” Moneyball” has just about everyone convinced they could become a great front office executive in Major League Baseball. Separating fact from fiction, we all know what Beane has been able construct and quite remarkably succeed in repeating, and that is to make the A’s competitive team in spite of a cash-starved ownership group and the very fact , Bud Selig has somehow refused to come to the organization’s aid in assisting them to obtain a new baseball stadium. Though somehow , the former commissioner was front and center when Citi-Field, Yankees’ Stadium and Marlins’ Ballpark took shape at the expense of the taxpayers within the cities of New York and Miami , where the final cost exceeded for all three venues exceeded $2.3 billion ($2,300,000,000). Never let it be said, Selig doesn’t know how to maneuver his way around the corridors of power, while making so many political dignitaries at the municipal , state and federal level look like complete morons. Personally, I don’t believe it to be that difficult a task whether or not it’s a Democrat or Republican, whose largesse is being sought. Simply look at the idiocy of the political bickering now taking place at the national level and the continued partisan discord between both parties and then ask yourself, why you would be willing to trust a congressional member from either party , let alone someone at the municipal or state level ? Add in the fact, Bud Selig’s, greatest accomplishments as commissioner could be written on the back of a first class stamp and be posted to the North Pole , addressed to Santa Claus, for all of the use that would do. Yet I digress, as Claus based on a fable, has been far more successful in bringing joy to many , than anything accomplished by Selig during his tenure as the lead executive in Major League Baseball.

Mike Trout has more than repaid the Angels’ faith in him, which has resulted in a contract commensurate to his talents. Trout’s maturity is there to be seen and he has most definitely become the face, voice and undoubted leader of this team. As to whether or not his teammates are now willing to follow his lead can be best judged by your perception of their overall performances during the 2014 postseason, where Trout I believe, led by example, but there was no one else around willing to assist their teammate.

Angels’ GM Jerry Dipoto has to be wondering , if not second-guessing himself as to whether or not it was prudent investing over $300 million of team owner Arte Moreno’s money into acquiring Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Moreno is known to be a shrewd businessman with a keen eye for detail and seeking out deals, which will more than maximize a return on that particular investment. Having made his name showing a keen eye for an investments specifically in the world of sports and broadcasting. One thing becoming abundantly clear at this juncture and it is, with each passing season where Mike Scioscia comes up short, he one step closer to becoming the next managerial casualty in the world of baseball. If Scioscia fails this season, then he is likely to become one the first casualty of an ongoing policy which has become the norm not just in baseball but in professional and collegiate sports. The dismissal of a coach or manager, as the case maybe.

The Angels will begin their regular season schedule with a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners , with the first of those games on 5th April, 2015 at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington,. However, before Los Angeles embarks upon their regular season schedule, they have their Spring Training Schedule and the chance for Mike Scioscia and his staff to assess their non roster invitees as well as their newly acquired players from this off-season. Chances are, several players will play their part in contributing to Angels’ endeavors over the course of their schedule.

For the third straight season the Los Angeles Dodgers will enter the year with the highest payroll in baseball. Several of the players on the roster are among the highest paid players in the game by way of their salaries and contractual compensation. With the franchise having failed miserably in the postseasons of 2013 and 2014 , each time falling to their nemesis the St Louis Cardinals, most notably in the NLDS last season.

Magic Johnson has been the front officeimage of the Dodgers’ organization, but now with Andrew Friedman having been brought in to oversee the franchise’s Baseball Operations, it does appear Johnson will have to take a back seat to to the new front office executive as he looks to create a resurgent and competitive on field product this upcoming season. That tall order has led to the departures of Matt Kemp , Josh Beckett and several other players during the off-season as Friedman looks to provide Don Mattingly and his staff with the tools needed for the Dodgers to win their first World Series title since 1988 .

While I believe the Dodgers to be a good team, they are far from being a great team and that is what is needed in the postseason if the franchise is to make it their ambition to win a world title. NL MVP and Cy Young winner in 2014 Clayton Kershaw , teammates Zack Greinke , Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig will have to show a great deal more than what was witnessed during 2014, especially during the postseason.

Don Mattingly and his team will begin their regular season with a home game at Dodgers Ballpark in Los Angeles California against the San Diego Padres on the 6th April, 2015. For Matt Kemp, it provides the player with the chance to renew old acquaintances with former teammates, as he gets the chance to play at the stadium where some of the most famous exploits of his career took place. Padres’ GM A J Preller and team manager Bud Black will be looking to make this team worthy challengers to the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants this season within the NL West , which I believe will be one of the toughest divisions in all of baseball this upcoming season.

Where would we be without some drama being provided by baseball’s most illustrious ball-club? This season will be the first time in over two decades , where the now retired Derek Jeter will not be part of the New York Yankees’ opening day lineup. Major changes have taken place within the organization , among the playing staff, with several players departing , while the Yankees seek to reshape the roster, which at its core, is still one, with several players at the twilight of their careers . It cannot have escaped anyone’s notice, in the midst of this all, Alex Rodriguez was welcomed back into the fold, but I feel that the player, while being closely scrutinized, he likely to make another misstep and as before, then look to apportion blame elsewhere for his own misdeeds, as so often been the case over the past eight and a half years. If nothing else, Rodriguez has been more consistent off the field with his repeated lies than he has been on the field for the Yankees during the time-span in question.

The New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman has continually been afforded the means necessary to craft a team, he believes capable of winning a World Series, but last season’s disastrous showing had more to do with disjointed performances and an aging roster riddled with injuries throughout the year. Out the window it appears, has been the notion of paring down payroll to a manageable size , because clearly Cashman , Joe Girardi , the managerial staff and ownership place no faith in the organization’s farm system. Granted, a number of players made appearances at various points during last season, having been promoted up from AAA, but I believe, it had more to do with Cashman being at a loss, not willing to splurge and taking something of conservative approach. Now it all comes down to, which player on the roster can Joe Girardi look to , in providing the leadership necessary for the Yankees to be successful this upcoming season ?

The New York Yankees have a great deal of money tied up in players , such as Alex Rodriguez, C C Sabathia , Masahiro Tanaka , Mark Teixeira , Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran . Salary commitments for the New York Yankees in 2015 will top $210 million , which pales into comparison to the monies being paid out this year ($267 million) by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Inasmuch, as many try to point out there is parity within the game of baseball, there is nothing at all to really bear this out, because in essence, what it all does come down to more than anything else_______ talent on the field of play and extremely good managerial skills. Overlooking that premise and simply using the analogy of parity suggests pragmatism and laziness on the part of those watching the game. However, it should be noted, of the participants in last season’s postseason, several were among the top paying teams in all of baseball.

I certainly do not believe Alex Rodriguez can or will provide the leadership sought by Joe Girardi ! Among the players on the team, where the trait needed for team success to become a reality, the most likely candidate would appear to be Jacoby Ellsbury, a player ,whose career with the Boston Red Sox was well-chronicled, albeit, his last season and a-half with the franchise was more injury riddled, with a noted decline in his productivity . Last season , there were glimpses of Ellsbury back to almost his very best and providing the leadership sought which will surely be missed with the retirement of Derek Jeter ! The Yankees will kick off their regular season schedule with a three-game home series’ opener against divisional rivals the Toronto Blue Jays , beginning on the 6th April, 2015. The AL East , where both teams reside, will likely prove to be another competitive season, with the Baltimore Orioles looking to fend off the challenge of their their divisional foes in defense of the divisional title , while also seeking to steer away the rest of the AL and their NL opponents in 2015.

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What are you hoping to see come out of the first two months of the MLB season ? Also, at the half-way point of the schedule which teams and players do you believe will have made something of a statement as to their intent ? Merely leave a comment as you see fit on the questions raised and anything else you believe relevant to the article.

o_O

Picture and slideshow details below.
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(1) San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner , left, and manager Bruce Bochy stand by the trophies after their 3-2 win against the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 of baseball’s World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. Bumgarner’s scintillating postseason displays were just one of the many reasons why the Giants prevailed in a drama driven and thrilled packed World Series . AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

(2) Oct 29 , 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; MLB commissioner Bud Selig (right) presents San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (left) , chief executive officer Larry Baer (middle) and general manager Brian Sabean with the Commissioners Trophy after game seven of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium . Charlie Neibergall/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

(3) Howie Kendrick (47) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is congratulated by teammate Albert Pujols (5) after driving in the game winning run in the tenth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 4-3 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 28, 2014 in Anaheim, California. Far right , is Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout. rtfied;a222) Getty Images North America / Lisa Blumenfeld

(4) Mike Trout (27) celebrates with Mike Scioscia (14) of the Los Angeles Angels after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. Getty Images / Jamie Squire

(5) Giancarlo Stanton is seen here hitting a home run off Jonathan Pettibone during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies . The Marlins’ slugger signed a $325 million contract with the franchise, making it the most expensive deal in baseball history and the most expensive in any of the four major professional team sports in North America . AP Photo / Alison Fisher

(6) A pensive looking Alex Rodriguez looks up from the dugout to the scoreboard during a game . The New New York Yankees’ third baseman has not played in regular season game for the ball-club since the latter half of the 2013 season . Having sat out all of last year due to a league mandated suspension, Rodriguez will be returning to a team , missing two of its most popular players after the retirement of Derek Jeter and the departure of Ichiro Suzuki who during the off season signed a one-year deal with the Miami Marlins . It remains to be seen whether or not Alex Rodriguez can contribute to a team lacking leadership and a great deal of productivity in terms of overall offense. AP Photo / Keith Slocum

(7) New York Yankees’ teammates Derek Jeter , left and Jacoby Ellsbury leave the field after a game between the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels . Jeter’s retirement after a two-decade long career with the organization , leaves a tremendous void and vacuum, with their now being viewed as what is likely no real on-field leadership. Ellsbury might be seen as the ideal replacement for such a role. but there doesn’t appear to any signs from management or the front office as to whether or not Jacoby Ellsbury will succeed Jeter as the captain of the New York Yankees . A role of stature which has only ever been held by five players during the franchise’s illustrious history during the past four decades. AP Photo / Keith Wallace
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Horses for courses ……..

Horses for courses …..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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