Batter Up ……. Baseball Is Here ……………..

Batter Up ……. Baseball Is Here ……………..

The MLB —– season starts and there’s a great deal to be said as to the expectations that are prevaling. Can the San Francisco Giants become the first team in a decade and a half to successfully defend a World Series title ? And are the New York Yankees now under the tenure of Hank and Hal Steinbrenner capable of leading the organization to the unprecedented success of their late father George Steinbrenner was able to achieve ? These are but a few of the plot lines that await the fans as the season gets underway with Spring Training but before that pitchers and catchers start reporting for their preseason workouts .

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Well the postseason gave us a World Series that somewhat was a coming of age tail for the two participants. The San Francisco Giants were able to take down the Texas Rangers with a certain amount of ease as the Rangers never really played with any confidence throughout the series. There are fans who believe that this season we could very well see the rise of another team combative enough to be dominant within baseball but to my mind that would be predicated on that team being equal in its parts in all facets of the game. And that tends not to be the case more often than not with most teams in contention tending to hit a rich vein of form as the end of the regular season beckons.

In the American League everyone seems to be looking at the Boston Red Sox after the impressive signings of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford instigated by GM Theo Epstein and team President Larry Lucchino . The New York Yankees under Brian Cashman as such weren’t part of any big money deals other than the signing of reliever Rafael Soriano and a number of players by Cashman who essentially are roster invitees looking to gain permanent roster spot on the Yankees’ team. Does anyone really believe that Eric Chavez at this stage of his career can be productive ? The Yankees will be hard pressed this season to keep up with the Boston Red Sox in the AL East unless the Red Sox choose to self implode . From my own perspective I do believe that as a team the Yankees will be under a great deal of pressure with the loss of Andy Pettite due to his retirement and an aging core of players whose best years are now behind them .

Now there’ll be the usual plethora of Yankees’ followers who’ll hark back to their glory years and their multiple World Series titles but at the end of it all we can all see that the Yankees are no longer the dominant team that the game once heralded . I’ve no doubt that they’ll be competitive throughout the season and they may well make the postseason but I certainly don’t believe that they’re capable of winning a World Series title. The team’s Achilles’ heel will be their pitching and it will most certainly let them down because beyond C C Sabathia and Phil Hughes there’s no real dept to the pitching roster at all. They may still have Mariano Rivera but can we say for a near certainty that he’s still going to be a guarantee to be the player that the team has relied upon ‘the most’ when it really matters ?

Around the AL I’m not so sure that we’re going to see one true dominant team rise and simply set the league alight . I may well be wrong and I’m willing to accept that but but in the AL Central I’ve not been overly impressed by what I’ve seen ! I mean the Minnesota Twins in the postseason simply become a deer caught in headlights once they become participants. The Detroit Tigers have become an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum and let’s just say that if Ozzie Guillen isn’t berating his team the Chicago White Sox you just can’t be sure what to expect .

The AL West could be a very interesting scene merely because a great deal will be expected of the current AL pennant holders the Texas Rangers. Ron Washington’s ——– team will certainly be looking to make amends after last season . And with the loss of Vladimir Guerrero as well as pitching ace Cliff Lee it has to be said that they’ll be hard pressed to repeat as the champions within the AL. The Rangers will no doubt be challenged by the likes of the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Angels within the division .

The National League could will be interesting to watch this season with the Washington Nationals looking to make their presence felt within the NL East . With their high priced acquisition of Jayson Werth to go alongside phenoms Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg it could well be that GM Mike Rizzo finally believes that they’ve turned a the corner. God knows given the Nationals’ history they’re in need of all the assistance that they can get. The Washington Nationals will be going up against the Philadelphia Phillies , Atlanta Braves , New York Mets and Florida Marlins .

There’s a great deal riding on this season for the Nationals and they’re out to prove to their fans in attendance at Nationals Ballpark that they are finally in a position and ready to contend ..

The NL Central has the Cincinnati Reds looking to successfully defend their divisional title but at the same time the St Louis Cardinals will most certainly look to rebound from last season. It seems ridiculous to think that the Chicago Cubs are still looking to win their first World Series title in over a century . The curse of the goat still exists and let’s just say that there’s Bartman’s efforts did little to lift the curse . NL MVP Joey Votto will be looking to lead the Reds back into the postseason. I certainly hope that they’re capable of making another run but the division has become a highly competitive one.

I’ve never been overly enamored with the NL West and the teams there even if they currently have the reigning World Series champions there. The San Francisco Giants may well have had a terrific postseason but I think that they’ll be hard pressed to repeat as champions. And within the division you have the Los Angeles Dodgers , Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks . Troubling as it may seem I for one don’t think that those teams truly know how be competitive ! Inconsistency has been the name of the game for the triumvirate in recent years and then we have the idiocy that has now become wherewithal within the Dodgers’ organization . Owner Frank McCourt amidst an acrimonious divorce now has the team laden with almost $1,000,000,000 ($1 billion) but even after his divorce trial’s proceedings went against him he states that he’s under no obligation to sell the organization. The presiding judge in the case delivered a verdict where he decided that the Dodgers is communal property and under California law it is a joint asset between McCourt and his ex wife Jamie McCourt. And as all this unfolds we have MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the league hierarchy watching from afar.

If Selig could devote as much time to the problems that have befallen the game as he has to making sure that the lobbyists that MLB pays to secure their interests within Congress then quite possibly the game would be in a far healthier state. Instead he’s now become the butt of jokes amongst the fans while the archaic purists and owners mercilessly listen to his inane statements . And it certainly seems to be unfathomable how he can sit idly by while the mess that the New York Mets’ ownership has themselves embroiled in, as part of a civil suit wherein the plaintiffs are the victims of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Picard vs Katz , Wilpon et al seeks damages in excess of $350 million with punitive damages said to be in excess of $700 million .

Baseball may well be the game that the fans can identify with because of its history, social worth within the fabric of society and the impact it made . But as of now it has become a comedy of errors and a parody ! In all honesty the game may well have a legacy but its hierarchy under Selig has led it into an abyss of mediocrity with about as much business sense as is now being shown by the Federal Reserve , US Treasury and the US government combined !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the upcoming MLB season and which teams will you be closely following ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on the matter by leaving a comment .

Picture and slide show details below.
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(1)Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona talks with reporters at the Boston Red Sox player development center in Fort Myers, Fla., Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. Pitchers and catchers reported Monday and will hold their first official spring training workout on Tuesday. AP Photo/Dave Martin …….

(2) Boston Red Sox pitcher Hideki Okajima , of Japan, throws during a workout at the Red Sox spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011. Spring training begins Monday for the Red Sox. AP Photo/Dave Martin ……

(3) Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez loosens up at the Red Sox training facility in Fort Myers, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011. Tomorrow is the first official spring training workout for the Red Sox. AP Photo/Dave Martin …..

(4) From left to right COO Lonn Trost , manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees attend the press conference to announce the retirement of Andy Pettitte (not pictured) on February 4, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images ………..

(5) Jorge Posada , Mariano Rivera , Derek Jeter , and Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees pose on the pitchers mound after winning the last regular season game at Yankee Stadium 7-3 against the Baltimore Orioles on September 21, 2008 in the Bronx borough of New York City. According to reports on February 3, 2011, Andy Pettitte will announce his retirement at Yankee Stadium on February 4, 2011. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images ……….

(6) Philadelphia Phillies’ Cliff Lee fields a ball during spring training baseball workouts, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011 in Clearwater, Fla. AP Photo/Eric Gay ……

(7) In this file photo from Oct. 29, 2010, New York Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon , left, club president Saul Katz and Mets owner Fred Wilpon , right, look on during a baseball news conference in New York. The owners of the Mets turned a blind eye to Bernard Madoff’s massive fraud, reaping $300 million in false profits and using a large chunk to run the team, according to a lawsuit unsealed Friday, Feb. 4, 2011. The lawsuit claims the owners were so dependent on the disgraced financier’s too-good-to-be-true returns that it “faced a severe and immediate liquidity crisis” when Madoff’s crimes were revealed in 2009. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek ……..

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NB The SNY Network is a wholly owned cable network operation of the New York Mets. One avenue for the organization should they seek a cash influx would be to sell the cable programmer which is estimated to be worth in excess of $700 million as a stand alone entity . Current estimated value of the Mets is approximately $600 million . In 2008 the team had an estimated worth of $850 million and with Citi Field costing $755 million built largely through public financing courtesy of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and with minimal financial commitment coming from the Mets’ organization .

MLB news ………

To view the details behind the plaintiffs’ case against Mets’ senior partners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon simply click on the link provided …… JP Morgan Seeks to Move Madoff Fraud Suit …..

😛

Alan aka tophatal ………………

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Rita G

Eye candy ……………………. Rita G

More of Rita for the more discerning amongst you .

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Wouldn’t you want to play with Rita G’s coochie ?

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Nicki Minaj ………. “Massive Attack” ….feat’g Sean Garrett

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Chances Are ………. Things Could Get Worse Before They’ll Get A Great Deal Better

Chances Are ………. Things Could Get Worse Before They’ll Get A Great Deal Better

OK so the NFL and the NFLPA are about to have their set to and I’m thinking how is that a $ 9 billion a year industry cannot seem to deal within the parameters set by their template ? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in his state of the NFL address to the convened press at Cowboys Stadium , Arlington , Texas has reiterated his wish to hammer out a deal with the union’s Executive Committee led by Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and union President Kevin Mawae .

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The league hierarchy and the owners opted out of the league’s collective bargaining agreement which was due to expire on March 3rd 2011. Both sides knew exactly the impasse that this would create and at the same time they’re now looking for the empathy of the NFL fans. Personally I do believe that the NFL and the players had completely underestimated the resolve and tenacity of the fans who in essence will abandon the NFL and their support of their teams . The players see the league as the villains of the piece whereas the league’s view of the union is that they’re self serving and unwilling to acquiesce and make the concessions being asked by Goodell and the owners . The league seeks a give back of $1 billion ($1,000,000,000) a year for the next seven years and on the face of it that might not seem a great deal but when you consider that the figure merely accounts just over 11% of the league’s annual revenues. But also what I’d like to ask of Goodell and the league is given that when the NFL’s next television broadcast agreement comes up for renewal what are they prepared to seek from the networks in question ? I’m sure that NBC , ABC/ESPN , Fox and CBS Sports are closely monitoring these negotiations very closely. As too no doubt are league’s corporate sponsors as they’ve a lot to lose should there be a labor stoppage and a prolonged lockout.

Courtesy of CBCSports.ca

Goodell says bargaining with players ‘beneficial’

Sunday session was first formal talk since November

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says this weekend’s bargaining session with the players’ union was “beneficial.”

In an interview with Fox News Sunday that aired the morning of the Super Bowl, Goodell called drug testing a key issue in labour talks.

Goodell said “a number of” individual players and owners participated in a two-hour meeting Saturday, the first formal bargaining session since November. The labour deal expires in March.

“It’s always a positive when both parties are talking,” he said.

Outlining major sticking points, Goodell talked about revenue division, rookie salaries and benefits for retired players, adding “We want to continue on with the integrity of the game, which is my No. 1 issue.”

He also spoke of “making sure we have the best drug program in sports.”

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As to the league’s showcase even this may well be the last chance the fans will get to see a Superbowl (SBXLV) for a while . Imagine there being no 2011-12 season and nothing but an uproar from the fans while the players themselves simply sit back and wait ? Blank television screens and stadiums across the league empty , never mind the economic impact the loss would create to the 32 league markets . These are the things that I believe that Goodell knows will hamper the league’s image and the brand itself. The last stoppage to affect the league was over decade and a half ago and the fans who witnessed this all left them aggrieved and angry at the NFL.

At this juncture I’m not so sure that this impasse will be quickly resolved as both sides are entrenched and don’t appear to want to budge from their current positions. Goodell in part and the owners are also looking to have an eighteen game schedule in place by either the 2011-12 or 2012-13 season . The NFLPA aren’t about accede to that request unless the league will make several concessions , one of which would be to decrease the number preseason games from four to two. Also as a bone of contention is that of the NFL rookies’ salary contract and the idiocy that simply goes on there. Agents such Drew Rosenhaus and Leigh Steinberg may not view this as acceptable but either way they should be thankful that their clients will still get paid.

I’ve read with interest that the Wilpon family will be looking to sell a minority stake in the New York Mets and this has come about because the family has a judgment against them seeking some $350 million that they were able to profit from in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme scandal which defrauded several thousand clients to the tune of an estimated $59 billion ($59 ,000,000,000). This was as such the largest fraud perpetrated and whereby the SEC in conjunction with FBI and Justice Department were able to catch the felon , in the case Madoff and his co-conspirators. Madoff is now serving a 125 year jail sentence in in a Federal penitentiary
The Wilpon family it has been said also lost heavily which resulted in what is said to be losses of anywhere between $250 million to $ 500 million if the estimates are to be believed.

Amongst the interested parties is a syndicate of which Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s son Martin Luther King III will be part of the group seeking to become a minority stake owner in the team. Given the history and legacy of the game of baseball I find it rather ironic that it’s only now that we’ve actually seen a genuine attempt for there to be an African American owner in the sport. There’s only one other prominent minority owner in the sport and that is Arte Moreno of the Los Angeles Angeles . Albeit that the league can boast several general managers of ethnic persuasion there simply hasn’t been that ardent fervor you’d have come to expect from Commissioner Bud Selig and the baseball hierarchy for there to be a prominent African American owner within the game.

Martin Luther King III should he and his syndicate group to be successful this would most definitely be a first in MLB. It would also send a clear indication to the ethnic community at large that there is a place for them at the owner’s table should they seek to ascend to those levels. It certainly hasn’t hurt the image of the NBA where Michael Jordan still the face of the NBA is now the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats . And the franchise’s history has been well chronicled in its present guise and it’s hoped that Jordan during his tenure can lead this team some semblance of success.
This much we do know about the Mets in its present guise with the upheaval felt within the front office after the firings of Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya does portend that incoming Head of Baseball Operations Sandy Alderson and VP and Head of Scouting J P Ricciardi are the new brooms brought in by COO Jeff Wilpon to clean house and discard of the unwanted pieces in this underachieving team .

Courtesy of USA Today


Madoff lawsuit: Mets owners owe victims $300 million

New York — The owners of the New York Mets, along with their relatives and other businesses, were “collectively one of the largest beneficiaries” of Bernard Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme, receiving approximately $300 million in phantom profits that financed the team and other ventures, a newly unsealed lawsuit charged Friday.

The business empire of Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz had 483 Madoff accounts — including 16 for the Mets, from which $90 million of burned investors’ money helped pay the National League baseball franchise’s “day-to-day operations” — according to the lawsuit filed by Irving Picard. Picard is the court-appointed trustee seeking Madoff assets to repay the fraud’s thousands of victims.

The action alleges Wilpon and Katz ignored “gathering clouds” of repeated warnings from financial experts and others that Madoff’s investment operation was in reality a scam, because the owners had come to rely on the uncannily steady profits to substantially support their Sterling Equities Associates empire for a quarter of a century.

PICARD vs Mets : Read the complaint

The owners realized they “were simply in too deep,” the lawsuit says.

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Click on link to read this article in its entirety .

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The Mets’ history has been a storied one of ups and downs more downs given their recent history as they’ve seen their crosstown rivals the New York Yankees have unprecedented success over the last decade and a half. And if the Mets are to succeed then it will have to come down the coaching staff , the prudency shown by the front office and the performances of the players. If they can’t get it done this upcoming season then the New York Mets might as well throw in the towel once and for all.

I’m sorry but given the horrid season the Minnesota Timberwolves are now having and perhaps the only reason to be joyful, as they’ve seen the team’s lone All Star —– Kevin Love have a truly astonishing season with his play. A constant threat now to throw up 20 and 10 with amazing regularity the player is now being viewed as a must see around the NBA .Both Love and the Los Angeles Clippers’ —- Blake Griffin are simply just letting it rip.And they’ve quite rightly both been rewarded with roster spots on Western Conference All Star team for 2011.

Now while on appearance the Timberwolves’ season has literally spun out of control the team , Kurt Rambis’ and his coaching staff have done their utmost to put on a good face as they’ve struggled to maintain some sense of consistency . And the situation hasn’t helped that O J Mayo has had to serve an NBA mandated 10 game suspension for abusing the game’s substance abuse policy. The player himself however contends that the reason for his positive test stems from the fact that he’s used a supplement which had DHEA . That particular substance is viewed as a PED (performance enhancing drug) by the league’s hierarchy .

Whatever the outcome of this season will be for the Minnesota Timberwolves it’s clear that as of now the organization can only hope for things to get a great deal better. If not then the continued malaise will have the fans deserting the organization and looking elsewhere for to heap noteworthy praise on a team .

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By clicking on an individual frame you can view each in its original formatted
size.

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

What thoughts if any do you have on the subjects raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment and I’ll do my utmost to respond expeditiously and clarity. Thanks as always for your continued support.

Picture and slide show details .

(1) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been front and center at the Super Bowl this week, dealing with questions about both this season and the possibly delayed one to come because of labor issues. David J. Phillip/Associated Press …..

(2) Center Kevin Mawae (68) of the Tennessee Titans and President of the NFL Player’s Association speaks to members of the media during the NFL Player’s Association Press Conference held at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center as part of media week for Super Bowl XLIV on February 4, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Inset also if NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith . Doug Benc / Getty Images North America Inc ……….

(3) DeMaurice Smith, NFL Player’s Association Executive Director, speaks to members of the media during the NFL Player’s Association Press Conference held at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center as part of media week for Super Bowl XLIV on February 4, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Getty Images / Doug Benc ……

(4) New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon (left) and team owner Fred Wilpon patriarch of the family. The front office of the Mets has been completely revamped and so too has the coaching staff . The organization now finds itself in an intensive lawsuit that could have some adverse effects on the team’s long term financial stability and viability as the family has been ordered to pay the victims of the Madoff Ponzi scheme an estimated $350 million . AFP/ Reuters / Michael Findley ……..

(5) Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love, left, and Denver Nuggets’ Chauncey Billups battle for a rebound in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011, in Minneapolis. The Nuggets won 113-100 . Billups scored 21 points and had 13 assists while Love scored 18 and had 19 rebounds for the Timberwolves. AP Photo/Jim Mone ……….

(6) Martin Luther King III (R) and his sister Bernice release a dove from the balcony where their father, Martin Luther King Jr., was shot to death at the conclusion of a vigil in King’s honor at the Lorraine Hotel April 4, 2008 in Memphis, Tennessee. King was killed by James Earl Ray 40 years ago today. Win McNamee / Getty Images ………

😛

Alan aka tophatal ……….

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C Black

Eye candy ……………………. Courtney Black

Courtney 2

Eight ball corner pocket, my balls and pen_s are feeling great ! Thanks Courtney !

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Ashanti ……….. ‘Rain On Me’

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