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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Picture gallery.

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

🙂

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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