On the mound …..

On the mound …..

We are now two months into the MLB season and things are looking rather perilous for a number of teams within baseball , as their seasons are sitting perilously close to being viewed as disastrous. In the AL , both the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays sit at the bottom of their respective divisions. Tampa as of Sunday evening , stood 10 ½ games behind the division leading Toronto Blue Jays , who sat atop of the AL East . Somewhat surprising when you consider that in 2013 the Blue Jays with all of their acquisitions proved uncompetitive and barely challenged within the division or the AL for that matter. A year later and he we are looking at a team that appears to have all the confidence in the world , with pitcher Mark Buerhle leading the AL in a number of pitching categories beyond his own statistics this season.

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Far be it for me to suggest, but this continued belief that the small market teams are still able to compete even when their payrolls are said to be nowhere as competitive as the top teams within the league. Last season, the New York Yankees led the way with a team payroll well in excess of $200 million , and the Yankees failed to make the postseason. This year it is their NL West counterparts the Los Angeles Dodgers and their newly bloated commitment of over . $218 million that leads the way within MLB , paying out over $3 billion in salary commitments for the second consecutive year. . And we are to believe, Major League Baseball can remain solvent , with their teams not failing from an economic standpoint, when seven-figure salaries and contracts have now become like confetti (rice) being thrown to celebrate the nuptials of a newly wed couple , without their being any serious future ramifications for the game ?

The Tampa Bay Rays are losers of seven of their last ten games with seven consecutive losses being part of that tally , with their last victory coming against the Boston Red Sox on the 25th May. The struggles of the team beyond their injuries woes simply stem from the fact the Rays are not afforded a situation where they can go out and obtain the best players available , as they are severely restricted by fiscal constraints . It has been left to the ingenuity of GM Andrew Friedman and the managerial acumen of Joe Maddon in determining how the obtain the best players possible without having to pay above market prices , in acquiring the resources needed. Monday’s 3-1 loss to the Miami Marlins , was a further indication , as to where the Rays are now at and how far they have fallen , without delving further into the ambiguity and apathy now being shown by their lackluster fans, who barely come out in support of the team , when their games are played at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Florida. Joe Maddon and his players will once again be the guests of the Miami Marlins when they are scheduled to meet at Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida, on Tuesday afternoon . On the mound for the Rays will be Chris Archer for the Rays against the Marlins’ Henderson Alvarez in what should be a very entertaining contest between two of the league’s best young pitchers playing today. As to an outcome , I believe that can be best summed up by simply looking at the between these two teams over the past five seasons to perhaps guessing the likely outcome.

It would be fair to suggest that over the past ten years the Kansas City Royals have perhaps been one of the most inept organizations in all of baseball over the last fifteen years. One simply has to look at their record during that time span and the very fact that the Royals have not made the MLB Postseason in over fifteen years, with their last appearance coming in 1985, when they made the World Series and faced the St Louis Cardinals , with Kansas prevailing in that series 4-3 . In the later years , after that triumph, the years have been lean and not exactly kind to this beleaguered AL Central franchise and their now well chronicled history.

It would also be fair to acknowledge, that team owner , David Glass has failed miserably , in steering this organization with any semblance of urgency or seeking to make the ball-club competitive . Instead, it has been this continual idiocy by their fans and media savants alike in suggesting that the development of their farm system will bring about their long-awaited return to success. This season, that has definitely not been the case and last year was just as demonstrative , in their lack of competitiveness within the division and around the AL overall. A 27-30 record has the Royals now sitting just above the last placed Minnesota Twins and having only won four of their last ten games , you simply have to wonder how likely it is that there would be any type of life seen from this team. Ned Yost and his managerial staff have steered through the calm and the storms of uncertainty during his managerial career with this franchise. Yet, is my belief the Royals will continue to be a ball-club not suited to challenging for a divisional title , pennant , or World Series’ title, while David Glass is unwilling to bolster the team’s payroll . For years, they have remained close to being at the bottom rung of teams by way payroll and that appears unlikely to change for the foreseeable future under Glass’ tenure.

A 6-0 triumph over the St Louis Cardinals in a game played at Busch Stadium in St Louis , Missouri, might well have provided some respite for Yost’s players and that series will continue with a Tuesday afternoon contest that sees James Shields taking the mound for the Royals against Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals . A win for the Kansas City is a necessity rather, than dropping another game and then further endangering their season at this point of their schedule. If nothing else, it would be great to provide a certain amount of positivity for their fans , rather than the constant feeling that the effort shown is simply meaningless .

In 2013 the Texas Rangers’ starting pitcher Yu Darvish was simply spectacular and were it not for a late season injury , I firmly believe that he would have won the AL Cy Young Award , rather than the accolade going to the Detroit Tigers’ pitching ace Max Scherzer. The Tigers’ pitcher for his part, chose to turn down the offer from GM Dave Dombrowski , that would have seen the player be awarded a six-year $144 million contract . I get the feeling that Scherzer’s agent might well be cursing his client for not signing on the bottom line of a deal that would have made him one of the highest paid starting pitchers in the Majors . At the same time, you have to wonder whether Scherzer has made a tremendous mistake in turning down that deal. An injury at this point of the season and the likelihood of his value plummeting as a free agent, beyond his perhaps seeking a more lucrative deal.

Scott Boras , one of the premiere agents within the game of baseball , may well feel that he will be in a suitable position to drive a hard bargain in the off-season with the Tigers’ front office , should Max Scherzer remain healthy over the course of the season , while ending up with a winning record . Yet , we all know that the agent is also likely to start a bidding war for his client’s services , as has often been the case in his negotiating ploys with many of the general managers within the game of baseball. . For the moment Scherzer’s $15 million deal will have to be one where the player feels is justified as he seeks garner something more commensurate with a player of his stature .

Since being acquired by the New York Yankees , their Japanese starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (8-1) has been among the best pitchers in the AL , certainly on the Yankees’ pitching staff this season . If nothing else, he could prove to be just as dynamic as his Japanese counterpart Yu Darvish of the Rangers. If there was said to be a weakness with the New York Yankees this season , many believed that it would be their pitching and what many believed to be a sub-par lineup, when measured against the rest of the AL and MLB overall . Tanaka’s seven-year $155 million deal now seems worthwhile, as the team remains in contention within the AL East. Now comes the hard part for the pitcher, can he and his teammates on the pitching rotation , to remain consistent over the course of this season. If they are able to do so, while their offense remains potent , this could all bode well for the New York Yankees as they seek to make a return the postseason and win their first World Series’ title since 2009. Yankees’ short-stop and team captain Derek Jeter would certainly like to end his career on a high note, winning a sixth World Series’ ring , joining distinguish group of players with more than five titles to their name.

The New York in their last game against the Seattle Mariners , in a contest played at Yankees Stadium in New York City , New York , were on the wrong side side of a lopsided 10-2 loss at the hands of Mariners . Losing pitcher David Phelps performed poorly , but the team’s woes went far beyond their pitching , because this loss was a collective one , with the offense nowhere to be seen throughout this entire game. . Joe Girardi’s players can perhaps exorcise that loss, when they take on the Oakland A’s on Tuesday afternoon, with Hiroki Kuroda on the mound to face off against Scott Kazmir of the A’s .

One of the more intriguing pitching contests of the day, pits the Blue Jays’ Drew Hutchinson against Anibal Sanchez of the Tigers , in an AL duel of two of that league’s brightest stars. I would like to think that the Detroit Tigers this season can make up for some weak postseason appearances over the last few years . Certainly , in the aftermath of Jim Leyland’s retirement , the lasting impression I have of the Tigers , is that of their famed former manager placing his teams in a position to win a World Series , but each time , they failed miserably , with many questioning the acumen of Leyland, when in reality, the fault laid with the teams in question .

Brad Ausmus , has now been entrusted with the managerial role of guiding the Tigers to their first World Series’ win since 1984, with this season marking the thirtieth anniversary of that triumph. It will be very interesting to see how this team fares over the remainder of the season , with just about everything on the line including their trying to win the AL Central title , which of late has been the franchise’s personal bauble.

Rare feats within baseball, are things , which excite the fans and MLB analysts alike . A no-hitter , the perfect game , a four home run game , unassisted triple play and hitting for the cycle , are feats which we all enjoy and will continue to applaud , no matter era of the game. Josh Beckett’s, recent chase at perfection, ended with the pitcher capturing the first “no-hitter” of his career. The fact that he achieved that feat against the hapless Philadelphia Phillies should in no way be seen, as the diminishing of that accomplishment achieved at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , was a great day for the player and his Los Angeles Dodgers’ teammates.

Beckett’s later outing was not as relishing as his last , with his losing that particular game to the Pittsburgh Pirates by a narrow margin , with the Pirates eking out a 2-1 victory . The Dodgers’ starting pitcher, was unable to carry out another rarity, with back to back ” no hitters” . With the Dodgers having the biggest payroll in the game and several of their pitchers and players among the highest paid in the game, it is easy to understand why there will be added pressure on the team to succeed, as well as upon the shoulders of Don Mattingly and his managerial staff. The manager has now been given just about every tool at his disposal , with an All Star at almost every position possible ,as they seek to win their first World Series’ crown in over two decades. Say nothing of which , with the recent news of the pending sale of the Loss Angeles Clippers , this franchise is not the biggest news’ story in the City of Angeles now. And with the tailspin of the Los Angeles Lakers and their no longer death defining fall from grace , one has to wonder , who now takes up the slack of providing the biggest story in the world of sports within the city. Oh sorry , I almost forgot , the Los Angeles Kings have garnered themselves a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals , as the Western Conference representatives, where they will meet the New York Rangers , in what might be the most highly anticipated Finals in recent years , in a meeting of two of the NHL’s most popular teams . Anyone interested, in that particular morsel of information ?

Roughly a third of the way through the MLB schedule and there is not really much that we have really learned about the season, so far. We know , there are some very good teams , but also , several franchises that are under-achieving and a number of players who have yet to hit their stride by way of their productivity with the bat or off the mound . One could gauge this point of the season and then look at the same state of affairs in the month June of last year to see how things might well possibly pan out. In reality, that might be something of foolhardy exercise , as it simply cannot account for any number of variables that might possibly take place.

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As baseball meanders towards the midpoint of its season , what if anything , do you feel has been missing from the game ? Also which rookie or major star will have the biggest impact on the season and quite possibly lead their team to a postseason berth ? Take the opportunity, to leave a comment on this topic and anything else you believe to be relevant .

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(1) Kansas City Royals Chairman & CEO David Glass is seen here with team GM Dayton Moore as the pair peruse the outfield at Kauffmann Field in Kansas City , Missouri. The Royal have remained uncompetitive over the past decade and have failed to meet the expectations of their fans. As to the organization itself, there appears to be a constant stream of rhetoric and little by way of action in terms of seeking to bolster the team’s roster or actually increase the payroll by a considerable amount . AP Photo / Ken Walker ….

(2) Miami Marlins starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez , right, shakes hands with catcher Jeff Mathis (6) after Alvarez pitched a complete game and the Marlins defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 in an inter-league baseball game , Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …

(3) Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria walks to the dugout after striking out in the fourth inning of an inter-league baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …..

(4) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer throws during the first inning of an inter-league baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ….

(5) Miami Marlins’ Christian Yelich , right, is out at second on a fielder’s choice as Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar , left, throws to first during the first inning of an inter-league baseball game, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ….

(6) New York Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium in New York, Tuesday, June 3 , 2014. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(7) Masahiro Tanaka (19) of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the first inning during MLB action against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 4, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Japanese star is off to an impressive start this season leading the Yankees’ pitching staff in wins , while being among the top pitchers in the AL and a likely candidate for AL Rookie of the Year. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images ….

(8) A jubilant Josh Beckett is seen here being hugged by teammates after he pitched a “no hitter” on the 25th May, as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in a lopsided 6-0 victory in a game played at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania. This was the first no hitter pitched by Beckett of his career and the first in the Majors this season . AP Photo / Eric Temple …

(9) Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly left, speaks with players Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe (right) in the dugout at Dodgers Ballpark , in Los Angeles , California during a game . Mattingly and his managerial staff are under a great deal of pressure to deliver that long-awaited first World Series since their last appearance in the Fall Classic some twenty-six years ago , when the franchise was triumphant in winning their fifth World Series’ title . AP Photo Hector Munoz ….

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If we build it they will come ,but what happens if we don’t ? Who gives a fu#k?

If we build it , they will come , but what happens if we don’t ? Who gives a fu#k ?

The NFL yearns for an NFL franchise back in the city of Los Angeles, but here lies the continued idiocy of the issue. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knows the very fact , the city has severe financial budgetary woes, but still, as usual, the league will try to suggest the addition of a franchise would be of benefit to the municipality and the state . California and its legislature are odds over how to deal with the state’s fiscal issues and Governor Jerry Brown has yet to come up with a satisfactory solution and both legislative chambers in Sacramento , continue to bicker among themselves as who is ultimately to blame for the financial morass. Brown’s predecessor former Hollywood action star Arnold Schwarzenegger was like a ” bull in a China shop” during his tenure as the state’s top elected official, having, not come up with one economic solution for the state’s economic crisis. If that were not enough, the debt has increased, along with a litany of other growing issues for the state, with several municipalities statewide facing severe budget crunches.

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California might well be one of the most populated states in the country and the city of Los Angeles might well have the nation’s second largest advertising market behind New York City , but the underlying issues are , teams that were once domiciled within the city chose to leave for a litany of reasons. Clearly , if those reasons have not been addressed and clarified by the league hierarchy and the primary political leaders at the municipal , county and state levels , then the likely return of a franchise to the city of Los Angeles will not come about for the foreseeable future. Teams such as the San Diego Chargers , St Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders are said thought to be the likely franchise that would benefit from brought to the city , because of the uncertainty concerning their various stadium issues .

The Chargers are currently playing in the archaic Qualcomm Stadium and were team owner, Dean Spanos to uproot the team to move the franchise , then the organization would be subject to a large financial penalty , having broken their existing lease with the city of San Diego, who are the owners of the municipally owned venue. Mark Davis , owner of the Oakland Raiders , long dissatisfied with the O. Coliseum in Oakland, California , would like nothing better than to return to the city of Los Angeles where the Raiders’ name and franchise still resonates with reverence among some NFL fans. Yet, it is my belief, there still remains a deep hatred of the franchise by a large sector of Los Angeleans, because of the antics of Davis’ father the late Al Davis , and how he left Los Angeles, when he took the franchise out of the city under a cloud of suspicion. The Raiders still have a long and passionate fan-base across the nation , but their greatest stronghold remains among the greater Los Angeles area and within the city of Oakland . Whether or not, that would prove to be enough of a lure for the envisioned return of a franchise back in Los Angeles, remains to be seen.

The St Louis Rams had a presence in Los Angeles, when they were known as the Los Angeles Rams , but their later move, to St Louis Missouri, brought about a name change and then the change in ownership, with the franchise now owned by billionaire businessman Stanley Kroenke . His other sporting interests also include the Denver Nuggets , Colorado Rapids , Colorado Mammoth and Arsenal FC of the English Premier League (EPL) , with retailers Dick’s Sporting Goods , also being a part of Kroenke’s other business and sports’ holdings , through his Kroenke Sports Enterprises holding company.

If the NFL can continue without an NFL franchise being within the city of Los Angeles for over a decade , then I see no reason why they cannot continue to be without a team for the foreseeable future ! It is not as if the fans of the league within Los Angeles, have made an impassioned plea to the league hierarchy for the return of football to the nation’s second most populated city . This whole issue has been driven by the NFL , the team owners and specifically of late, by Roger Goodell , who saw his predecessor’s attempts failed miserably , with Paul Tagliabue in the end acknowledging , the time simply wasn’t right for the return of an NFL franchise to the city . What has brought this issue back into focus, have been recent events surrounding the pending sale of the Los Angeles Clippers , which now seeks the approval of the NBA Board of Governors and com league hierarchy before billionaire Microsoft co-founder and former Chairman Steve Ballmer becomes the NBA’s newest franchise owner. Ballmer , if nothing else, now becomes the wealthiest owner in the NBA and perhaps the wealthiest of owner in all four major professional team sports . I guess that when the Clippers meet the Brooklyn Nets during the 2014-15 regular season, both Steve Ballmer and his opposite number Mikhail Prokhorov , can compare notes, concerning the size of their respective fortunes and which of the two franchises , does indeed have the better team ?

The NFL sees the city of Los Angeles as providing a revenue windfall, with what they believe to be untapped resources and the tens of millions of dollars that can be provided as an extra revenue stream . The likelihood also, would also bring about a rise in value of any franchise now residing in the city. That however is purely speculative in nature , with the basis for that coming from this unprecedented value in the sale of the Clippers . Granted, we should not have been really surprised by this all, when in 2013, a private consortium led by Mark Walter , Todd Boehly , Magic Johnson and Peter Guber , paid over $2 billion for the Los Angeles Dodgers , with many suggesting that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , pulled strings behind the scenes, to insure that the winning bid, would be extortionate high and absolutely preposterous . The NFL, like any other business entity, is simply about making money for themselves and their known associates, in this case, the owners and adjunct , joint interests . With billions, reaped annually, in revenues , the league has almost reached its zenith, in terms of exposure with regard to the North American marketplace. And where, there are said to be untapped streams , it is hard to see how the league can actually have a major presence there, without their being a franchise or a large following of fan-base within close proximity. In the case of the city of Los Angeles , the choices within the state, beyond the college programs within the Pac 12 , the craving for the NFL at the professional level is not necessarily hard to gauge, but the question one might have to ask, are the fans ready to accept the alternatives ?

It is hard to put Philip Rivers’ career in the NFL into context , as I believe he was dealt a lousy hand . Were it not for selfish attitude of Eli Manning and the connivance of his father Archie Manning , during the events of the 2004 NFL Draft and the aftermath of the behind the scenes backdoor dealings that were said to have taken place . Manning found himself with the New York Giants and Rivers, having been taken by the San Diego Chargers as Eli’s replacement and the rest as they say , “ is history “ , with the New York Giants going on to success, with their two Superbowl victories and Peyton Manning’s younger sibling leading the franchise to those triumphs. Philip Rivers for his part, has labored over the years , with repeated changes in the team’s lineups , changes in the coaching philosophies of the coaches he has played for and the complete denial of the Chargers’ front office that the supporting cast that surrounded Philip Rivers was never truly good enough. At the same time , when you have the likes of Antonio Gates and LaDanian Tomlinson, as part of your offensive artillery and you are still failing miserably , there has to be something wrong either with the play calling or there just doesn’t seem to any type of real vocal leadership on that team .

Coming off a 9-7 season , in what was a highly competitive AFC West division , the San Diego Chargers’ third place finish might well have been extremely disappointing , but it was not without merit in 2013. Consider the teams within the AFC who made the postseason , but who were nowhere near as competitive as the Chargers showed themselves to be over the course of last season .

Chargers’ head coach Mike McCoy and GM Tom Telesco will seek to have this team for the 2014 season ready to play, with their main aim likely to be, dethroning the Denver Broncos as the divisional champions , with a mindset also in making the postseason . That task is likely to be a very tall order with the Broncos certainly having gotten better with their off-season acquisitions, but also by way of the NFL Draft . The same claims can also be made of both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders , albeit , that the bone of contention remain that the Raiders are likely to find a way to make a complete mess of their season , as they have done for last the decade . Mark Davis GM Reggie McKenzie continue to mystify not only the franchise’s fans but also, the majority of fans and analysts, who cover the NFL. The Raiders’ draft history and trades , still remain a source of ridicule and amazement , with many of those players becoming complete busts in a short space of time , while the franchise has paid out millions in terms of bloated contracts . Oakland will enter into their season with a number of expectations, of which the biggest is likely to be , not to repeat last season’s form or performances that resulted in another last place finish within the AFC West.

While I believe that the AFC West will once again provide the fans with a great deal of excitement this upcoming season . I firmly believe, that the San Diego Chargers could very well pull off a major surprise by making things extremely tough for both the Broncos and Chiefs during 2014 ! As great as Peyton Manning and his teammates were said to be last season , that Superbowl defeat , suffered at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks , was damaging psychologically , as well as physically for the franchise. Seen as the consensus favorites, to waltz through the postseason, that match-up against the Seahawks was further proof , how overrated the Broncos were said to be , with that lasting impression of a downtrodden Peyton Manning exemplifying how disappointed he and his teammates were , with their overall performance against Pete Carroll’s players.

Week one of the regular season, will see the San Diego Chargers pitted against the Arizona Cardinals in a Monday night game played at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix , Arizona . The Oakland Raiders will be the guests of the New York Jets , in an AFC contest played in East Rutherford , New Jersey . Denver will host the Indianapolis Colts, in a game, where Peyton Manning will renew old acquaintances, with his former team. Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs will host the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium , in Kansas City , Missouri , in what is sure to be an intriguing contest on the first Sunday of the NFL regular season .

With the teams around the NFL now conducting preseason practices with their organized team activities (OTA’s) , it will be interesting to see how the franchises and their rookies acclimatize to the rigors of this upcoming regular season. In 2013, we were asking, which players drafted , would be making a sizable impact on the season . In 2014 , it is likely to that very same premise arising along with, will this be the last opportunity for seasoned veterans such as Peyton Manning , Tom Brady , Philip Rivers and Tony Gonzalez to have one last opportunity to add to achievements to their illustrious careers with some postseason glory ? This is likely to a season where those questions are likely to be answered , with other areas of drama likely to be thrown in for good measure . What thoughts, if any do you have concerning this topic ? Also, do you believe, that the NFL is in need of a franchise within the city of Los Angeles for the fans there to still show an interest in the league ?

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(1) California Governor Jerry Brown (D-Ca) is being pressured by certain state and Los Angeles’ dignitaries to have a bill introduced within the state legislature that would see the state finance in part the building of a venue that would house a potential NFL franchise within the city of Los Angeles. Efforts , concerning private enterprise have either stalled or are bogged down by bureaucracy or have simply no real interest in the project. Meanwhile , NFL Commissioner is still pressing ahead with his efforts to bring about his bold ambition to succeed where his predecessor Paul Tagliabue failed . LA Times / Ernesto Torres …..

(2) Dean Spanos of the San Diego Chargers is seen here at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego , California , home to the franchise that he owns . AP Photo / Mark Thompson …..

(3) Mark Davis , owner of the Oakland Raiders , whose season in the NFL will come under a great deal scrutiny by fans and analysts in general . AP Photo / Tom Monroe ….

(4) Eli Manning ,left, is seen her with Philip Rivers . The two players were part of the 2004 NFL Draft class , with the pair of quarterbacks creating a great deal of drama during the draft process that year . AP Photo / Mark Fisher ….

(5) St Louis Rams’ owner Stanley Kroenke , seen here alongside the team’s head coach Jeff Fisher as the two discuss with the convened press their hopes for the team’s aspirations in 2013 . It is being reported that Kroenke would indeed be opened to the idea of relocating the Rams elsewhere., if he cannot get a new arena built for the franchise within the state of Missouri . The state’s legislature is not in a position to make the funds available for such a project in spite of calls, that monies can be raised , with small incremental increases in some state fees and services . Something that the state’s governor , Jay Nixon is set against and would likely veto , if he felt that this were not in the best interests of his state. AP Photo / Richard Hart …..

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