Somewhere over the rainbow …..

Somewhere over the rainbow

Well the baseball season is now entering its final three weeks and the biggest cause for concern to my mind has to be the meltdown by the Tampa Bay Rays . A little over two weeks ago the form of this team was not in doubt and it would have been generous to suggest that they would be on the way to sowing up one of the two available berths for the AL wildcard spots . I went even so far as to suggest, that Tampa needed to secure the division (AL East) to secure a position in the postseason. Yet, who knew that a catastrophe awaited the team , whose play over their last thirty games has simply been abysmal . In the midst of this all , manager Joe Maddon , for from being troubled , remains upbeat and acting as there should be nothing at all to be worried about. For the Rays’ fans , they have to be troubled not only by the demeanor of the manager but also by the lackluster performances of the players and their laissez-faire approach to each game and series over the past three weeks .

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Another loss at home last night (Wednesday) by the Tampa Bay Rays to AL East divisional leaders the Boston Red Sox , may well have added another nail in the coffin for the Rays’ season and quite possibly their postseason ambitions. Seemingly , they have been unable to play themselves out of their slump and there seems to be absolutely no leadership being supplied by anyone on the team’s roster , much less from the manager or anyone amongst his staff . The conclusion that I have come to , concerning the Rays and their fans , is that they are extremely happy with their lot when the team is winning, but simply too afraid to be critical of the organization , when things are not going right . Chalk that all up to the apathy and simple mindset of the fans, and the continued stupidity shown by the local beat writers and television pundits in the locale who cover this MLB franchise . Ideas of grandeur, way above their station and not one clue as how to remedy what ails the ball-club on the playing field or by way of the front office hierarchy .

For a pitching rotation that was deemed to be amongst the best in all of baseball , the Tampa Rays’ staff have performed unevenly throughout much of the year . Matt Moore the pitching staff’s leader in wins , has himself been up and down, in terms of his recent performances . And the rookie, Chris Archer , although he has been something of a pleasant surprise , but it simply cannot be left to the player to be the one, upon whom the management can pin their hopes on. The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, David Price has been somewhat inconsistent and I do not believe that he is fully fit , even after two spells the team’s disabled list. Jeremy Hellickson , another mainstay of the rotation, can guarantee you the quality starts, but only if the run support is also there . Here we go again , as it relates to the Rays , if the offense is not going then the struggles are quantified even more so .

Tampa Bay will resume their current series with the Red Sox , with the final game of the trilogy on Thursday ,where a win is of the utmost importance. With the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles now playing out a highly competitive and controversial series , there is no further room to falter for Joe Maddon’s team. With a three-game series next up for the Rays, against the Minnesota Twins , away at Target Field in Minneapolis , Minnesota . It will be intriguing to see how the team acquits itself against one the AL’s more disappointing teams this season. Ron Gardenhire‘s days with this ball-club must now be numbered and no amount of excuses can be made for the team’s continued failures . . On the mound for the first game of that set, beginning on Friday, will be Chris Archer of the Rays against Kevin Correia of the Twins. Two young starting pitchers looking to make a name for themselves amongst the litany of quality pitching now within the AL .

As the AL East divisional race now plays itself out , with the Boston Red Sox now seem assured of the title , we are left with a three-horse race between the Tampa Bay Rays , Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees , seeking to become one of the two wildcard aspirants from the AL. Throw in the fact, that the Kansas City Royals , Cleveland Indians , Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics are also pursuing those berths , this all adds up for an all too intriguing and suspenseful closure to the regular season , which ends on the .final day of September .

One of the more disappointing stories of this baseball season once again, has to be the continued failure of the Los Angeles Angels. A team , built around the talents of Albert Pujols , C J Wilson and Mike Trout . And here we are, now wondering what has gone wrong for this Mike Scioscia managed team . The prevailing thought now has to be that team owner Arte Moreno and GM Jerry Dipoto will have to reassess the future of the team’s manager , his assistants , as well as several players on the roster and their immediate future within the organization . If Trout can be developed from within the farm system, , then why hasn’t there been other successes from within , rather than Moreno opening up his check book to make a big splash, solely to try and keep up their more renowned in-state rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers ?

Anaheim are now faltering within the AL West and likely to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive year , something that is unlikely to sit well with the owner and many of the team’s primary sponsors . At 70-76 , currently lying third within the division , the Angels are 9 ½ games out of an AL wildcard berth and it would take a calamitous chain of events, as well as the team playing some extraordinary baseball for the Los Angeles Angels to climb into that particular race. Mike Scioscia and his team will travel to Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas to begin a three-game weekend series , starting on Friday against the Houston Astros . Let us just say, that at this juncture, both teams will be playing for pride and a great deal of self-respect, with Jason Vargas of the visiting team taking on Dallas Keuchel of the Astros in that opening series’ game .

I have always maintained that the financial imbalance in terms of the payroll scales within baseball , will be the thing that will ultimately drag it to its knees , along with the ongoing issue of illegal substances being used on a widespread basis ! Purists and fools alike, are now talking about instant replay being introduced within the game , something that has been long overdue , but the MLB hierarchy remains delusional along with the vast majority of the fans, who are of the belief that the game can continue in its present structure. Creative accounting will not stop the hemorrhaging of red ink on the balance sheets of a number of teams . Add in the idiocy of those who lack the knowledge, to know that some of the small market teams around the league , who actually turn a profit , do so at the largess of the MLB hierarchy , by way the asinine luxury tax-sharing scheme . The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees , are the two teams with the highest payrolls in all of baseball , within their combined total salary obligations for 2013 being just under $500 million (a half-billion dollars [$500,000,000]) . For the first time in baseball history the opening day salary of Major League Baseball topped $3 billion ($ 3,000,000,000) , covering all thirty teams in the league. Yet it should come as no surprise, to know that over one-quarter of the teams in within baseball actually struggle to break even on an annual basis.

Continuously, we hear , Bud Selig state, that the financial health of the game remains safe. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the league’s highest-ranking executive lives in a world of delusion.. And need we be reminded, that during the past six years, three teams within baseball have faced the brink of financial ruin , with two in particular ( Cubs and Dodgers) having placed themselves into bankruptcy reorganization (Chapter 11) , after the financial manipulation and mismanagement by their previous owners . All of this under the not so watchful eye of the MLB Commissioner, whose own CFO Jonathan Mariner , shows as about as much financial acumen , as the auditing accountants who oversaw the disastrous failure of the Enron Corporation . There you have it, baseball’s finest at their alleged best, showing all of the oversight of a federal governmental agency and being equally as incompetent .

If to singularly show how asinine the luxury tax sharing scheme (a fraudulent maneuver to my mind ) has become . It is now being widely reported that the New York Yankees whose team payroll for 2013 will be $ 228.835 million , will have to pay a surcharge of $29.1 million to the MLB hierarchy . Yet somehow the now $ 2 billion ($2,000,000,000) concern known as the Los Angeles Dodgers , the only other team in baseball with a payroll exceeding $200 million , will only have to pay $9.1 million back to baseball’s governing body . Somehow, these figures do not add up or make sense , no matter what the formulaic solution might be, in how the league determines the sum to be paid as a tax. Clearly, there seems to be a bent here, in punishing a team unfairly , while simply slapping the wrist of another team, whose payroll is a mere twelve million dollars less than that of the New York Yankees . Questions have to be posed to either Jonathan Mariner or Bud Selig as to the disparity in the taxes paid , with only these two teams having to pay this surcharge , albeit, that they are the only two teams to exceed the $200 million threshold . No formal statement has been forthcoming from Bud Selig or any major executive of the league’s hierarchy concerning this disparity in terms of the Yankees having to pay the aforementioned sum of $29.1 million against that of the Dodgers having to pay just over $ 9 million.

The Yankees’ own fate also seems as their regular season winds down, does seem imperiled. Though of late, they have been on a spirited run, having made up a margin of almost six games on the Tampa Bay Rays over the last six weeks in the divisional standings . A big psychological blow, came for the franchise, when it was announced by manager Joe Girardi that team captain Derek Jeter’s season would come to an abrupt end, with the player being placed on the team’s disable list . Jeter was only able to compete in seventeen games during 2013, the second lowest figure of the player’s now distinguished eighteen-year career. With the team now looking to make even greater inroads into that lead , with it now being down to a mere one game , and with the Red Sox’s lead being now down to 9 ½ games, the upcoming weekend series between New York and their heated rivals the Boston Red Sox , now takes on even greater meaning . That series begins on Friday, with Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees taking on John Lackey in the first of that trilogy of games. With Jeter likely to be in the dugout at Fenway Park , in Boston , Massachusetts, to support his teammates , it will be interesting to see how the Yankees acquit themselves in the series . At the same time , there is likely to be a great deal of speculation raised as to whether or not the front office is likely to take up the option of the $ 9.5 million that would be due to Jeter, were he to return for his nineteenth season in 2014. Teammate, Mariano Rivera , has already stated that this would be his last year , although GM Brian Cashman and senior managing partner Hal Steinbrenner are said to be pressing baseball’s all-time saves’ leader to return for what would also be his nineteenth season in the Majors. Rivera is adamant, that this would be his last season, and that it is now, his wish to spend more time with his wife, Clara and their three children.

The New York Yankees of 2013 , might just be the last remnants that we see of this team, with an aging core of players all in their mid to late thirties . Injuries, off-field controversies , unproductive segments by several high-priced individuals have all added to the drama and ongoing saga of this famed ball-club . Need we also be reminded, that Alex Rodriguez remains a part of this ongoing circus, with the player of late contributing to his team’s drive for the postseason , while seeking to appeal his now two-hundred and fourteen game suspension. That appeal process will take place after the postseason, much to the chagrin of fans and a number analysts alike, who feel that the player has made a mockery of the process , while others believe that it has been Bud Selig who has dropped the ball, in not having sought an expedited , earlier hearing , once Rodriguez made it known , that he would appeal his suspension for contravening baseball’s steroid policy . My own belief on this issue , is that Rodriguez would have been willing to take a ban similar to that of Brewers’ slugger Ryan Braun, whose sixty-five game suspension was in fact negotiated by his agent , Nev Balelo . So for the unenlightened, who felt that this was Bud Selig showing his authority and bringing down the hammer on Ryan Braun, simply think again . The commissioner may create the impression, that he wields a great deal of power, but that power is in fact limited in its parameters , as it has been the MLBPA (Players’ Union) that more of than not, has the league hierarchy and team owners , weak at the knees and falling all over the place like drunken stooges .

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Picture gallery .

With the MLB postseason set to begin on October 1st , what if anything are you as a fan, most looking forward to seeing ? Which teams do you feel will prevail in the playoff races, as the regular season now winds down ? By all means , do leave a comment as you deem fit on this article and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Rays’ closer Fernando Rodney celebrates the last out after the Boston Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia pops out to end the ball game played between the two teams on Thursday night at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Florida . Tampa would defeat the Red Sox 4-3 to stop their two-game skid . AP Photo /Chris O’Meara ….

(2) Red Sox catcher Mike Napoli , right , breaks his bat during the game , as he grounds out , while Rays’ catcher Jose Lobaton looks on . AP Photo / Chris O’Meara ……

(3) Red Sox DH , David Ortiz homers in the sixth-inning of the game played on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida . Although the Rays won the contest the series was in fact won by the visiting Boston Red Sox . AP Photo / Chris O’Meara ……

(4) Umpire Bill Miller (26) ejects Ron Gardenhire (35) of the Minnesota Twins as umpire Dale Scott (5) looks on during the fourth inning of the game against the Oakland Athletics on September 11, 2013 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The AL Central Twins have been abysmal this season and a non-factor in the divisional race , leading to the speculation that the manager may not be returning to the organization next season . Getty Images North America / Hannah Foslien …..

(5) Los Angeles Angels’ owner Arte Moreno , left , is seen here with the team’s general manager Jerry Dipoto at Anaheim Stadium , Anaheim , California . . With the team now likely to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive season and a lackluster year in the AL West . There is the widespread belief that Moreno must come to a decision , does he retain his general , manager who over the last two seasons has committed to the organization to salary commitments in excess of $ 275 million or does he sever ties with one the league’s longest tenured managers in Mike Scioscia ? All signs point to the latter , with Scoscia likely to lose his managerial position with the Angels . Getty Images / Matthew England …

(6) Mike Scioscia (14) and Collin Cowgill (19) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim show home plate umpire Laz Diaz (63) ,where they claim Cowgill was hit by a pitch during the sixth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on September 9, 2013 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Getty Images / Hannah Foslien ….

(7) Derek Jeter (2) ,right, of the New York Yankees celebrates their win against the Oakland Athletics with teammate Mariano Rivera (42) at Yankee Stadium April 21, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Nick Laham / Getty Images ……

(8) Yankees’ lead managing partner Hal Steinbrenner , left, is seen here talking with the team’s general manager Brian Cashman . At the start of the season the organization sought to lower the payroll to conservative figure of $185 million, but with multiple injuries to Mark Teixiera , Curtis Granderson , Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez , Michael Pineda and Andy Pettite. The decision was made to acquire a number of players to fill the positions made vacant ,with the minimum amount of promotion of players from within the team’s farm system . An aging roster beyond the possible long-term ramifications of Alex Rodriguez’s possible multi-game suspension could prove fateful for the franchise . This off-season the ball-club will be paying to the MLB hierarchy $29.1 million as a surcharge by way of the luxury tax scheme . The Yankees’ NL counterparts the Los Angeles Dodgers , whose payroll of $216.6 million , will be paying $9.1 million by way of the same tax burden . Clearly there is something awry, with how MLB seeks formulates its system with regard the tax scheme . In 2012 the New York Yankees , Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox were all subject to the luxury tax scheme , with the teams in question paying varying sums to the league hierarchy . The scheme is meant to benefit the small-market teams around the league in assisting with their salary commitments. Yet it is commonly believed that a number of ball-clubs systematically abuse the system , with a number of owners pocketing the funds in question . Miami Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria is a prime example of someone who abused that system , in the years prior to 2012, before that organization went on an outlandish spending spree , signing several high-priced free-agents , only for the team to then falter that season finishing with a sub .500 record within the NL East that year. AP Photo/ Peter Matthews ……

(9) MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner , the league’s executive in charge of their financial operations , who oversees much of the hierarchy’s finances and audit protocols . Unfortunately , for baseball under Mariner’s and Bud Selig’s tenure, the hierarchy has failed miserably in overseeing the financial morass that now encompasses the game. AFP / Keith Parsons …….
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MLB schedule 13th September 2013

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Los Angeles Angels news and the team’s active roster

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Hot chic pic of the day , actress , Paula Patton .

It Starts From The Top , On Down ………

It’s Starts From The Top , On Down ……………

I think that we can all assume that for any organization the success attained usually comes by way of ownership in terms of a professional sports’ franchise and the lead executives within that organization. Within the area of Major League Baseball (MLB) I think that we can surmise that there are some damn good owners as well some very bad ones amongst the bunch . The same can be said for the general managers and managers themselves . If there’s leadership from up above as well a high degree of intelligence then it usually bodes well for a team .

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In recent years and it would be fair to say that the Tampa Bay Rays have had a reasonable amount of success within the AL East and the postseason as an organization. Team owner Stuart Sternberg along with his managing partner , Matthew Silverman and general manager Andrew Friedman have been the mainstays of upswing in the fortunes of the franchise. But undoubtedly it has been the boldness Friedman and his personnel decisions that cannot be underestimated . The hiring of Joe Maddon as the team’s manager and his subsequent hirees as coaching assistants have simply genius in its strategy and simpleness . And one cannot say enough about the draft choices made by the general manager over the last five years . Suffice to say that those players who have made it to the majors are the envy of the teams around the league .

Undeniably the heroics of this team this regular season brought about a great deal of excitement for the fans within the Tampa Bay area and that loyal following in attendance at Tropicana Field , St Petersburg , Florida got the chance to cheer on their heroes during the postseason . Short-lived as that was anyone who would have suggest during mid August the Tampa Bay Rays would end up being the AL wildcard representative at the end of the regular season may well have been laughed at . The team’s postseason foray for 2011 ended up rather abruptly with the Tampa Bay Rays being summarily dismissed by the Texas Rangers (3-1) in the ALDS . With that loss the front office now looks to next season and what changes they may well deem prudent to become more competitive . What has and will always be the biggest concern for the organization are the financial constraints that they are placed under . When adjudged against other teams around the league the Rays’ situation is not necessarily viewed as an enviable one . But they have managed to survive and be competitive in a league that has now become more to do with spending for the large part rather than genuinely developing talent .

Fortunately for Joe Maddon and his coaching staff with the natural maturity and the progress shown in the development of players such as David Price , Evan Longoria , Alex Cobb , Jeremy Hellickson and B J Upton the organization has been extremely lucky . It has been this sort of development of talent this has made this ball club the envy of the league . The credit for this must undoubtedly go to Andrew Friedman , Joe Maddon and the coaching staff.

The issues that the Tampa Bay Rays face concerning their dire need for a new state of the art facility with Tropicana Field not being viewed as fan friendly have been well chronicled . The issue is treated as a hot potato by the league hierarchy and it has gotten to the stage where MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has berated the organization as well the politicians of both the cities of St Petersburg and Tampa as well Hillsborough and Pinellas County , as to their inaction, in getting a new ballpark for the team. Someone should remind Selig that just because New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg allowed the commissioner to ” fist “ his sphincter and it doesn’t mean that the politicians within both municipalities or for that matter the ownership group of the Rays will allow the same thing to happen to them ! Bloomberg under the subterfuge of seeing two multi million dollar ballparks ( Citi-Field & Yankee Stadium ) built within the city of New York suddenly feels that the municipality becomes the epicenter of the baseball world . That clearly is not the case but you would be hard pressed to convince a New York Mets or Yankees’ fan of that !

This off-season the Tampa Bay Rays will have to contend with the fact that they have yet to reach an agreement with their general manager concerning a contract extension. We know that the Chicago Cubs’ vacancy has now been filled with Theo Epstein accepting the offer from owner Tom Ricketts . Meanwhile , with Los Angeles Angels’ general manager Tony Reagins having resigned his position , it leads to a vacancy within that organization . The team’s multi dollar billionaire owner Arte Moreno is no slouch and will look for a high profiled and competent replacement for Reagins . Moreno , it has been reported , has met with Andrew Friedman twice within the last 48 hours to discuss the Angels’ vacancy with the Rays’ general manager , to gauge his interest . At the same time laying in wait observing this hall has been the ownership group of the Houston Astros . I somehow get the feeling that if Friedman is made an offer that he simply cannot refuse then he will undoubtedly leave this organization and make his way to the West Coast , into the more than welcoming arms of the Angels’ front office .

In spite of the friendship between Andrew Friedman and Stuart Sternberg , the mutual respect between the two will remain. But it can’t have been easy for the Tampa Bay Rays general manager having to cut costs in terms of the player personnel simply to make this ball club not only competitive but also profitable from a financial standpoint. No such hindrances for the organization’s two biggest divisional foes the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees with their multi million dollar payrolls as well having at their disposal as a treasure chest their respective sports programming cable network providers NESN and the YES Network .

As I alluded to earlier the situation facing the Rays become more dire with each passing moment as to their future and that of a new venue. Entering now into the fray is the city of Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer offering up his own assessment of the baseball team’ future. The mayor has let it be known that he feels that the cities of St Petersburg and Tampa have ill served the organization . Either Dyer is a complete asshole or this is simply nothing more than a political ploy on his part . If he feels that luring away the team from Pinellas County to Orange County and the city of Orlando will serve his municipality city well , then so be it . But given the fact , that both the city and county are at this moment struggling to literally stay afloat due budgetary shortfalls speaks to the stupidity of the mayor . If he firmly believes that fawning over sports’ franchise owner and using taxpayer’s monies to fund stadiums as a means of initiating an upturn in the city’s infrastructure while teachers , city employees and first responders are either furloughed or “pink slipped” indicates to that he is simply another political crony willing to prostitute himself out to the highest bidder ! I can only surmise that Bill Foster of St Petersburg and his city of Tampa counterpart Mayor Bob Buckhorn will have a few choice and pointed responses for Dyer when they see fit respond to his comment publicly !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit . Thanks as always for the continued support !

Alan aka tophatal ………………

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Rays’ manager Joe Maddon is seen here alongside GM Andrew Friedman during the 2008 MLB Playoffs . AP Photo / Chris Howard ….

(2) Arte Moreno (left) is seen here with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the Angels’ former general manager Tony Reagins (right). Moreno has met with Rays’ general manager Andrew Friedman to gauge the executive’s interest in joining the Los Angeles Angels in a similar position . @ copyrighted material all rights reserved MLB.com …..

(3) Mayor Bill Foster (R) speaks to the media regarding the two St. Petersburg, Florida police officers killed during a shootout on January 24, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. A deputy U.S Marshal was also wounded. The suspect, 39-year-old Hydra Lacy, Jr., was later found dead in the home where the shootout took place. Getty Images / Tom Boyles …..

(4) Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn talks Tuesday about the teamwork of the many law enforcement agencies, many with representatives behind him, during the four-day hunt for Dontae Morris. Skip Rourke / St Petersburg Times ….

(5) City of Orlando Mayor,Buddy Dyer, looks out from his office unto the horizon of the downtown Orlando area. Dyer was one of the main facilitators in getting a new arena built for the NBA franchise, the Orlando Magic . picture appears courtesy of orlandosentinel/ Jason Arnot ………..

(6) Tropicana Field home to the Tampa Bay Ray since the team’s inception and now viewed an archaic edifice by a number of players and teams around the league . Bud Selig has been highly critical of the ownership group of the Rays . But the commissioner has done little to assist the organization and their ambition of getting a new facility. However , he was front and center in dealing with the Boston Red Sox ownership and the of the New York Yankees’ front office in making sure that there would be no problems in their dealings with the New York City Council (members) by holding countless private meetings with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. St Petersburg Times / Collin Walsh ….

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It’s All In The Bag ………. Or Is It ?

It’s All In The Bag ………. Or Is It ?

Coming off an improbable season ending to their regular schedule the Tampa Bay Rays now find themselves facing their biggest piece of adversity of the postseason. The team is now down 2-1 in the ALDS and are now in a ” must win ” situation” if they are to go further into the MLB playoffs. Standing in their way just happens to be AL West divisional champions the Texas Rangers .

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Monday night’s game was a heart wrenching loss ( 4-3) for the Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida . On the mound for the team , manager Joe Maddon placed his faith in starting David Price . Countering for Ron Washington’s Texas Rangers they had Colby Lewis . Two young pitchers with contrasting styles but both eager to show the fans and their respective managers that the faith shown in them was certainly justified . Throughout the regular season both pitchers showed their sterling presence within the AL and league as a whole . But as we all know once the postseason everything starts afresh and it’s a new set of rules that everyone now plays by with regard to the pitching .

The crux of this game has to be predetermined by Joe Maddon’s team willingness to get their bats popping and not hold anything back. Get a lead , defend it steadfastly and let the chips fall where they may .

From my own perspective I felt that the Texas Rangers had a slight edge in terms of the respective pitching rosters but that by no means can always determine the outcome of a series . The postseason stats might bear this out but as all know anything can happen and usually does during the events that tend to unfold during the MLB playoffs.

Game four today will pit Jeremy Hellickson against David Murphy and clearly the players on this Rays’ roster knows what is being asked of them at this juncture . Win or go home .

Given the heroics of the team throughout much of the regular season and their improbable comeback I would hate to think that the Tampa Bay Rays could bow out of the postseason at this juncture ! They have given their fans a deserving uplift as well as the entire community within the area . Long forlorn and viewed as one the less bright spots on most teams’ regular season schedule this organization has given many of the small market teams around the league reason to hope and pursue success.

The crux of this game has to be predetermined by Joe Maddon’s team to get their bats popping and not hold anything back. Get a lead , defend it steadfastly and let the chips fall where they may .

For me the surprise team to make this postseason has to be the Arizona Diamondbacks and their very vocal manager Kirk Gibson and his experienced assistant staff . From worse to first within the space of one season the Diamondbacks were runaway winners of the NL West . In dethroning San Francisco Giants this young team played itself into contention for a postseason and berth where they now meet the NL Central divisional winners the Milwaukee Brewers led by their manager Ron Roenicke .

Kirk Gibson exemplified during his professional career as a player ….. playing tough and not giving any quarter to an opponent. It has been those instincts that he has instilled into his players that paid great dividends not just merely for the fans but the organization as whole under the ownership group led by senior managing partner Ken Kendrick with GM Kevin Towers taking of care of baseball operations and all personnel decisions.

Having lost game two in their series 9-4 to the Brewers the Arizona Diamondbacks now find themselves down 0-2 in the best of five game series against a Brewers team looking to make the most of their first appearance in the postseason since 2008 .

In a determining game three the Arizona Diamondbacks willl send to the mound Jay Collmenter to face Shawn Marcum of the Milwaukee Brewers . And while the Diamondbacks have struggled to score runs in the postseason this hasn’t been the case for the Milwaukee Brewers with their prolific offense led by Ryan Braun , Prince Fielder and Corey Hart .

It would be unfortunate to see Arizona Diamondbacks be swept out of the series against the Milwaukee Brewers without actually proving to be competitive during the postseason . As we know however , it is not simply what you are able to do during the regular season but how you acquit yourself during the postseason when you are placed under real adversity . And this now happens to the position that Kirk Gibson’s team now finds itself in .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the plight of both the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays ? And do you believe that either of these teams will be able to erase the deficits they face and play themselves back into contention within their respective series ? Simply chime in a with a comment as you deem fit .

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

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Closer Neftali Feliz (30) of the Texas Rangers celebrates with catcher Mike Napoli(notes) #25 after the Rangers defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 in Game Four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 4, 2011 in St Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images ….

(2) First baseman Mitch Moreland (18) dives to touch first base ahead of a sliding Johnny Damon (22) of the Tampa Bay Rays in the sixth inning of Game Four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 4, 2011 in St Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …..

(3) Infielder Sean Rodriguez (1) of the Tampa Bay Rays is congratulated after scoring against the Texas Rangers during Game Four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 4, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

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MLB News

MLB scheduled games 4th October 2011

MLB probable starting pitchers 4th October 2011

MLB results 3rd October 2011

MLB postseason individual player stats batting averages

MLB postseason individual player stats pitching ERA & wins

MLB postseason Team stats cumulative

NB : At the time of posting this article the result of the Rangers Rays’ game wasn’t yet made public .

Who’s To Blame And Who Not To Blame …. Better Yet What Do You Do After That ?

Who’s To Blame And Who Not To Blame …. Better Yet What Do You Do After That ?


I am delirious at present , having watched the excitement and suspense unfold last night in a number of games that closed out the baseball season. And as we are now all aware the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox …. folded like tents being blown away in a sandstorm . God knows , there are about to be some serious repercussions within the city of Boston . And I do believe that the fans will be lambasting not just the players on that Red Sox team but also the coaching staff and front office . There’s every reason to believe that quite possibly because of this Terry Francona could very well end up losing his job in the same manner as his predecessor Grady Little . The city’s flagship radio sport’s talk station WEEI’s switchboard has to be now lighting up with the fans now looking to apportion blame while some may well be seeking some sort of consolation and solace out of this all.

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With the season having ended and the standings reflecting what one might suggest was an unbelievable year . I am not so sure that this postseason can live up to the drama that we may have all witnessed in the last forty eight hours much less over the last month of arduous season. The biggest disappointment for myself was to see the Braves simply wilt under the pressure but at the same time with this young team having endured this sort of pain I can only hope it makes them stronger and more attentive as to what it takes to become champions. Certainly manager Fredi Gonzalez , his coaching staff and the entire front office can feel proud of their accomplishments this year but at the same you can only wonder as to what might have been had they managed to eke out one or two more wins over the course of their season.

Opportunities when they’re thrown your way cannot be wasted and I think that this happened to be the case here with both the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox ! In the case of the Braves it came down to their inexperience and that of the manager’s own intuitive experience and what to expect when placed under pressure and real adversity . The seasoned veterans on the team such as Chipper Jones , Derek Lowe , Tim Hudson and Alex Gonzalez were meant to the leaders for the young members of this team but it simply would not be enough with the advent of the pressure placed upon them . In losing out on the NL wildcard berth with that privilege going to the St Louis Cardinals the Atlanta Braves missed out on making another postseason appearance . Last season their divisional series loss to the eventual World Series champions the San Francisco Giants was enough to suggest that the organization was heading in the right direction under the tenure of Fredi Gonzalez and GM Frank Wren . Now it’s back to the drawing board and the travails of the offseason making deals , acquiring players and winter ball .

Congratulations to Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays for an improbable season and pulling off what has to be said must be one of the truly great finishes to a schedule for any franchise under astonishing circumstances . I certainly hadn’t envisioned this team coming from 7 plus games behind with less then a month to go in the season. But as they say ….” you never what to expect “ and certainly the players began to believe in themselves and what was possible. This was certainly epitomized in the play of the team and in particular by the young players who were thrown into the lion’s den by Maddon and his coaching staff . Clearly the likes of Jeremy Hellickson , Desmond Jennings , Sam Fuld , James Shields , Evan Longoria , B.J Upton and Ben Zobrist never felt under any undue pressure as they simply did all that was asked of them and a great deal more .

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Fans of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate the Rays victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

Now comes the hard part of the Tampa Bay Rays in their divisional series against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington , Texas . And though things might favor the Rangers , given what we have seen from the Tampa Rays during the month of September I firmly believe that nothing is off the table by way of the unforeseen or the unexpected !

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Manager Joe Maddon (70) of the Tampa Bay Rays hugs Sean Rodriguez (1) after the Rays victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

There is no denying that this last month of the season gave the fans more than they could ever have expected . As the scenarios began to unfold , who could have known that the final day of the season would have meant so much to the teams vying for those two final playoff berths . Now comes all of the hard questions …… with the fans and analysts within the genres of sports journalism looking for the answers . It simply won’t just be about the teams who missed out on those playoff berths but also about the ball clubs who simply failed to live up to expectations and to my mind there are many who can be categorized within that area. Big money teams asides and the salaries afforded for those organizations at the end of the day it all comes down to the competitiveness of the teams and their play on the field . But it would be remiss not to suggest the part played by the general managers and team owner who are simply chasing after the glory for their teams by simply looking to spend big with the chance of reaping the rewards that await .

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Picture and slide show for your perusal .

As the postseason awaits I am not so sure that the thrilling suspense afforded the fans can actually be lived up to ! I mean that’s unless the teams involved give it their all with some thrilling displays of baseball that we could never have thought possible . What thoughts if any do you have about the regular season finales and of the postseason itself ? Chime in with your thoughts and expectations .

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

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Picture and slide show for your perusal .

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ATLANTA – SEPTEMBER 28: Jack Wilson (1) of the Atlanta Braves turns a double play against John Mayberry, Jr. (15) of the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on September 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves would go on to lose the game in extra innings 4-3 to the Phillies . Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images …..

(2) ATLANTA – SEPTEMBER 28: Chipper Jones (10) of the Atlanta Braves paces the dugout after striking out in the 13th inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on September 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images ………

(3) HOUSTON – SEPTEMBER 28: Nick Punto (C) of the St. Louis Cardinals is showered with champagne by Chris Carpenter, right, as they celebrate winning the National League wildcard at Minute Maid Park on September 28, 2011 in Houston, Texas. The Cardinals would defeat the Astros 8-0 to clinch the NL wildcard and deprive the Atlanta Braves of the spot that they held for the last six weeks . Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …….

(4) Carl Crawford (13) of the Boston Red Sox walks in the dugout with first base coach Ron Johnson (50) after a 4-3 loss against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images …………

(5) Manager Terry Francona (47) of the Boston Red Sox argues a call with first base umpire Scott Barry in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images …….

(6) The Tampa Bay Rays celebrate their victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Rays came back from a 7-0 deficit to defeat the New York Yankees 8-7 . Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

(7) Infielder Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays rounds the bases after his bottom of the twelfth inning walk off home run against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

(8) Fans of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate the Rays victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ………….

(9) Manager Joe Maddon (70) of the Tampa Bay Rays hugs Sean Rodriguez (1) after the Rays victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……
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MLB news

MLB results 28th September 2011

MLB final standings of 2011

MLB final wildcard standings of 2011

MLB postseason schedule

Divisional series games scheduled 30th September 2011

Probable starters 30th September 2011

Divisional series games schedule 1st October 2011

Probable starters 1st October 2011

PSA …… Warning …… Being A Fan of A Team In The AL East Can Cause Serious Damage To Your Health

PSA …… Warning …… Being A Fan of A Team In The AL East Can Cause Serious Damage To Your Health

Well as the final month of the season steadily winds down it would appear that the Boston Red Sox somehow are finding numerous ways of simply derailing their ambitions of appearing in the postseason . From what appeared to be an insurmountable lead over the Tampa Bay Rays a mere fortnight ago that lead has now been whittled down to a mere 3 1/2 games between the two teams for wildcard berth within the AL .

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Granted , the New York Yankees it would appear has the AL East all but sown up I would like to think at this juncture there’s still a great deal to play for between these trio of teams . Certainly for the Tampa Bay Rays their task will not be made any easier , knowing that they will have to face both Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at least eleven more times over the remaining ir 16 games of the season in their exhausting schedule. And that particular scenario will not be lost on either of the Rays’ divisional foes. I would now be looking over my shoulder in constant fear were I Red Sox GM Theo Epstein or team President Larry Lucchino ! The thought that this team could simply place themselves now in such a position where they would have to be fighting for their very survival and having to play second fiddle to New York Yankees cannot be lost either of the two executives . And certainly for senior managing partner John Henry , he has to feel that this would be a tremendous disappointment were this organization to fail in making the playoffs.

From a financial standpoint the postseason is a tremendous bonus for the Boston Red Sox with their loyal rabid fans and the ever present fact that with the NESN as their one of their proprietary revenue streams in televising their games , it makes for a bountiful windfall for that subsidiary of the ball-club. What has plagued both the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays in recent weeks , has been the overall lack of consistency from both teams . Much of this has been due to the fact that neither has been able to find the rythm needed winning games or series with any regularity. And it has been that imposition that has been a cause of concern for Terry Francona , his coaching assistants and also for Joe Maddon and his coaching staff as well for the Tampa Bay Rays.

There is a sense of urgency this season for the Rays as their year has hinged on a great degree of uncertainty as it relates to the financial well being of this team. Pared down salary of the roster and subsequent trades has all but left the cupboard bare but for the belief that the team’s prospects and farm system are bountiful by way of the talent on display there . Most certainly for team GM Andrew Friedman , senior managing partner and majority stake owner Stuart Sternberg this is now the best way forward for the organization.

Recent postseason success for the Tampa Bay Rays would suggest that this team is quite capable of taking up from where it last left off with regard to the MLB playoffs . But if that is to happen we will have to see a much more concerted effort from the perceived leaders of this team .It is not without great reason that Evan Longoria , BJ Upton , David Price , Johnny Damon , James Shields and Matt Joyce are viewed as the players in those roles.

As I alluded to earlier it is imperative for the Tampa Bay Rays to have a successful season competitively both on and off the field of play. Away from the field it come about by way of the profitability of the ball-club. And this is where the guile of GM Andrew Friedman comes into play with his financial acumen and art of making deals that are of benefit for the entire organization . Friedman along with managing partner Matt Silverman are seen as one the driving forces behind the Rays and the success attained by this team. But that success now could be short-lived as the general manager’s ties with the organization is now being debated on numerous levels . Andrew Friedman’s contract with the Rays’ organization expires at the end of the season and if the rumors are to be believed he is at the top of the list of a number teams who are in search of an experienced and successful front office executive . Friedman’s name would be out there alongside the likes of Brian Cashman and Billy Beane , all general managers whose contracts are set to expire at the end of this season.

If the Rays are said to be seeking that silver lining for their season then for the Boston Red Sox and its’ team of high priced stars it would suggest any form of failure would not be looked upon gracefully by the fans who attend Fenway Park with a religious like fervor in support of the Red Sox . To understand the support and passion derived by the fans in their support of the team is to comprehend how it was possible for them to endure the years in the wilderness before the organization was able to reel off two World Series wins in the space of of five years ( 2004 & 2007 ) .

For stars such as Adrian Gonzalez , Carl Crawford , John Lackey , Jon Lester , Jacoby Ellsbury , Dustin Pedroia , Jason Varitek and Josh Beckett to stand alongside what is a very productive offense when it actually gets going . As of late however it has been the pitching and the inconsistency of the team’s bullpen that has been a cause of concern for Terry Francona and his staff .

At the start of the season with the usual aplomb the thought process would be that the Baltimore Orioles would be in the mix with Buck Showalter leading this young talented team . In reality however with an ownership group led by bespectacled owner Peter Angelos and GM Andy MacPhail it has to be said that this organization is simply devoid of competitive ambition on the part of its executives . And this sort of idiocy is simply mirrored around the game by a plethora of owners and general managers . There are purists and alleged insiders within the game who simply believe that the fans ought to endure ineptitude but simply bitch and fucking whine when they’re subjected to the ineptitude of the federal government ! If they can harangue those legislators for their ineptitude then why the hell don’t they harangue the owners and players when they simply fail to meet their expectations ? You know what …………. fuck it let it be and simply take it for what it is …….. the simple dumbing down of America !

A brief but passing mention for the Toronto Blue Jays and the managerial staff . To put it mildly, the day this team seeks to be truly competitive might well be the day when the Rogers Center is actually filled to the rafters . Care to guess the last time that actually happened ?

These final two and a half weeks of the MLB season should tell us a great deal about the ambitions of both the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays . Apart from the what now appears to be an intriguing divisional race between the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers in the AL West I do believe that this upcoming series between the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays could very well settle the outcome as to who the AL recipient will be for the wildcard berth .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What if anything has peeked your interest with regard to the closing month of baseball season ? And which teams of the prospective aspirants for the postseason do you believe will ultimately be triumphant ? Simply chime with a comment as to your own thoughts .

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 14: Mark Teahen (20) of the Toronto Blue Jays scores a run in the eighth inning as catcher Jason Varitek (33) of the Boston Red Sox cuts off the throw and pitcher Daniel Bard (51) of the Red Sox backs up the play at Fenway Park on September 14, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Blue Jays won 5-4 . Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images …

(2) The Toronto Blue Jays slap high fives after getting the final out against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on September 14, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Blue Jays won 5-4 . Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images ….

(3) Boston Red Sox starter John Lackey hands the ball to manager Terry Francona as he is taken out of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth inning during a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011. The reeling Red Sox lost for the sixth time in seven games as the Blue Jays took a 5-4 win. At right is second baseman Dustin Pedroia. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …….

(4) The Baltimore Orioles bat against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Rays 6-2 . Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …….

(5) Manager Joe Maddon (70 [R]) of the Tampa Bay Rays removes pitcher Wade Davis (40) during the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Rays 6-2. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……..

(6) Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter, left, speaks with right fielder Nick Markakis after a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011, in Baltimore. Baltimore won 6-2. Photo by Rob Carr/ Getty Images ……..

(7) Second baseman Robert Andino (11) of the Baltimore Orioles throws to first base to complete a double play after forcing out B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays at second base during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Rays 6-2. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……….

(8) Johnny Damon (22) of the Tampa Bay Rays waits to bat against the Baltimore Orioles during the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …..

(9) BALTIMORE, MD SEPTEMBER 14: Vladimir Guerrero (27) of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates in the dugout after scoring against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Rays 6-2. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……..

(10) Matthew Silverman, left, Andrew Friedman and Stuart Sternberg are overhauling the Rays. photo appears courtesy of New York Times/ Phillip Diedrich ………………
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MLB news

MLB transactions

MLB teams’ DL

MLB Standings 14th September 2011

MLB wildcard standings 14th September 2011

MLB schedule 3 days at a glance 15th September 2011

MLB sortable team schedule

MLB team stats Overall

Team stats by league :

AL team stats

NL team stats

MLB results 13th September 2011

MLB results 14th September 2011

MLB probable starters (pitchers) 14th September

MLB probable pitchers 15th September 2011

Boston Red Sox news

Boston Red Sox schedule

New York Yankees news

New York Yankees schedule

Tampa Bay Rays news

Tampa Bay Rays schedule

MLB Important Dates Postseason 2011 :

September 30th – 7th October Divisional Series

8th October -17th October League championship series

19th October – 27th October World Series

Slow But Steady , Slow But Really Steady

Slow But Steady , Slow But Really Steady

It has been really interesting as of late to watch the way things have unraveled within the AL East . And as many prognosticators believe the division may well be the most competitive in all of baseball it goes without saying that the reasoning is very much justified . As an ardent admirer of the game I have a certain fascination with the team that is local to Central Florida. And that happens to be the Tampa Bay Rays who over the last two years , have been twice a winner of the division , an ALCS Pennat winner and made their sole appearance in the World Series in 2008 which ended in sadness with the team losing to the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 in the best of seven series . At the helm as the team’s manager has been Joe Maddon the organization’s most successful coach.

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Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida , is home to this young organization that has had its fair share of highs and lows over the course of its history . For Maddon and his coaching staff , they have essentially been great tutors of which much of that tutelage has come to fruition in seeing the giant steps made in the progression of young stars on the roster . Perhaps none more so than Evan Longoria , Matt Joyce and the team’s two pitching All Stars David Price and James Shields . It’d be remiss however to suggest that the aforementioned trio are the sole cause for the team’s success this season but with the addition of Johnny Damon and reliever Kyle Farnsworth the Rays have proven to a formidable challenge to the likes of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees .

New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter returns to the dugout after being thrown out at first base to end a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, July 7, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Rays won 5-1. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …

The Rays have been very lucky with the fact that their pitching has held up well and the mere fact that there now seems to be a great deal of confidence throughout their starting five as well as the relievers would suggest that they are quite capable of giving the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees a real run for their money down the closing stretch of the season . I firmly believe that if the team is within two games of the lead coming into the month of September then all bets are off as to the division being anything but a two horse race between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees as it now appears to be !

With the All Star Game scheduled this upcoming week the Tampa Bay Rays’ schedule becomes ever so important. The team is a mere four and a half games behind the division leading New York Yankees (51-14) but only a 1 1/2 games behind the second placed Boston Red Sox (51-35). The Rays are coming off a resounding 12-5 shellacking of the Minnesota Twins. If the team can continue with that sort of the momentum then their upcoming series of games against their divisional rivals the Red Sox and Yankees should prove to be very interesting. The New York Yankees host the Rays at Yankees Stadium for home series of three games before the midseason break and the festivities surrounding the All Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona .

First up for the Tampa Bay Rays will be to rein in the New York Yankees , the winners of seven of their last ten games and riding on an offensive that has been very potent indeed . Leading the way for the Yankees has been first baseman Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson in the team’s onslaught. But need we remind ourselves that this team also has the likes of Robinson Cano , Nick Swisher and . Alex Rodriguez all of whom are capable of providing the New York Yankees with the much needed offensive weaponry that any team would enviable of having . .

Now while much of the focus has been the Derek Jeter watch as he makes his way to the 3,000 hits plateau as he is now but three hits away from reaching that milestone and become the organization’s all time hits leader . The fifteen year veteran now sits atop of the mountain and will now be instantaneously be immortalized by the Yankees’ fans . Jeter has already surpassed Yankees’ legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig but if anything this modern day icon and the face of the game to most and in particular the Yankees’ fans. One has to admit that the player is now winding down his illustrious career .

If the Rays can get to the pitching of the Yankees of which I believe is the team’s Achilles Heel then quite possibly they can win this series , cut the deficit that Bronx Bombers has over the other residents within the division. I think it’s pretty safe to say and that Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays are out of the running for the wildcard spot within the AL in terms of a postseason berth !

The contributions of Damon to the Rays this season cannot be underestimated as he’s provided a steadying presence to the team and the younger players I believe are thoroughly appreciative of that fact ! As for the Tampa Bay Rays’ fans their hometown hero has given them something to believe in with the advent of the ongoing financial woes of the organization. Say what you will but team owner Stuart Sternberg , GM Andrew Friedman and the associated partners have remained steadfast that for now the team will remain within this locale . But it appears that with each passing moment the likelihood of the Rays remaining within the area is unlikely as no common ground can be found between the two opposing factions.

Surprisingly enough the Tampa Bay Rays were once again winners in MLB Draft garnering a number of top collegiate prospects further enhancing the reputation of the scouting and coaches within the Rays’ organization of which the Baseball Operations is headed by Gerry Hunsicker . And it should come as no surprise as to the reasons why the Tampa Bay Rays have been so successful down the years with draft choices . Though this past season the team had to release fan favorites Carl Crawford , Rafael Soriano and Carlos Pena because of budgetary constraints it has to be said the organization hasn’t lost sight of what got them to where they are today.

The Tampa Bay Rays for their part have continued to surprise many but there’s a growing belief that what we’re now seeing are the waning moments of a ball-club that is in transition of moving out of the area , as the fans lament what they believe to be a double standard in terms of baseball’s hierarchy of merely leaning towards and assisting those who essentially are financially more well to do. From top to bottom the organization of the Tampa Bay Rays is a well ran operation with a farm system that’s the envy of many organizations around the league. The one stumbling block of the Rays has been the financial constraints because the ownership group is limited in its resources. I will always continue to maintain that a ball club cannot exist on a meager fan base of no more than 15,000 hardcore fans ! That seems to be bearing true as of today, with the Rays averaging no more than 19,000 fans per home game at Tropicana Field this season . In a number of cases the fanbase is simply outmatched with the arrival of either Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees and there we will see the attendance rise to as high as perhaps 25,000 to 30,000 in attendance . Hardly conducive when the away team is actually drawing far more supporters than the hosts of a scheduled home series but such are the vagaries of the game as it relates to the Tampa Bay Rays.

I certainly do believe that the Rays’ organization is now clutching at straws in the belief that an accord can be reached where they will remain in Central Florida ! It has now become abundantly clear with the financial worries of both Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties that neither county government can facilitate the financing needed to build a new venue for the team. Both county administrations are facing acute financial difficulties of their own having to furlough employees , slash budgets and a slew of sundry maneuvers has many questioning whether or not a multi million dollar facility is the right thing to do in order to facilitate the whims and wishes of a multi millionaire baseball team owner . It is not as if Stuart Sternberg or any of his senior partners have shown good faith by even suggesting that they are prepared to assist in the financing of a new venue. Any statement forthcoming , be it from Sternberg , Andrew Friedman or Matt Silverman for that matter , has essentially been about the need of a new venue rather than how best to cooperate in working together in making such a scenario happen.

As many of you know my disdain for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig knows no boundaries ! I find him to be obnoxious , a buffoon , an ignoramus and someone who is now completely out of touch as to the realities of the game and its numerous problems ! Rather than trying to be of assistance to the Tampa Bay Rays in attaining a new venue , he has seen fit to be critical of the organization’s endeavor even going as far to suggest that they will never stage an All Star Game until they have built a new venue that is to his liking and that of the league hierarchy’s . Suffice to say if the fans in the area haven’t seen that as the nail in the coffin to the organization’s efforts it has been heard loud and clear by the officials who sit on the boards of both county commissions in Hillsborough and Pinellas County . I don’t believe that Selig could have put the situation anymore succinctly than that , thereby laying to rest what now may well be a futile exercise on the part of the county governments of each ___ as well as the Tampa Bay Rays. The local sports talk radio hosts and print media may well hold out hope that things may well change but they are facing an uphill battle in their thinking that a venue can and will be built at this juncture .

It would indeed be sad to see the Tampa Bay Rays leave the area but facing a reality that the area cannot sustain a franchise that in essence hasn’t a long history or pedigree of success . Never mind the fact that this is simply a first or second generation of supporters who are now loyal to this franchise . The vast majority of the teams within the game have a long history of support that is steeped in the loyalty of its fans and with familial ties . But here with the Rays the success though only recent cannot hide the fact that there is a glaring and stark reality to this organization’s history. Its first decade under Vince Naimoli has more to do with it being a comedy of errors , with an owner who essentially saw this team as his own personal bauble and fiefdom for him to reign over like a king. Success never manifested itself to any degree and the organization came to be known as a laughing stock around the league .

Now even with its recent successes the Tampa Bay Rays still finds itself bedeviled by worries about its financial security more than anything else . With a payroll amongst the lowest in the league the coaches and front office will have to get by on a squad of good if not great players , their future prospects and as I alluded to earlier a farm system that is amongst the best in the league .

Should the organization in the ensuing years leave the vicinity of Central Florida then the death knell of the game at the major league level within this area will have clearly sounded. Spring Training is all that the area will then have to cling to and that in of itself may not be such a bad thing after all. The teams who make the area their home during the preseason bring with them a burgeoning legion of fans and snow birds into Central Florida all looking to give support to their teams and aid the area with their income and making creating something of a vibrant economy during their time here . Now in spite of that fact it doesn’t lessen the blow that a Major League team now finding success may well have to leave its locale merely because the league hierarchy in its infinite wisdom has been about as helpful in their cause to remain as one could consider Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might be in assisting in a peaceful settlement of the Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiations . Whereas Bud Selig was front and center in assisting the New York Mets and New York Yankees in the facilitating and building of their respective venues ( Citi Field & Yankee Stadium) he has been nowhere to be seen in assisting the Tampa Bay Rays in their endeavor to have a new venue built. But given the fact that as odious as the commissioner is , I can’t help but feel that the fans are now having the last laugh as things have gone to spiral out of control for himself and the league hierarchy as they now try to sort out the ongoing mess of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which will undoubtedly be followed by the web of intrigue and malfeasance that has taken place within the New York Mets organization . . Here’s to you Bud , you ingrate and piece of crap !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this piece ? And how as such do you view the race now taking place within the AL East ? Simply chime on in with your comments as you deem fit .

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

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) Ben Zobrist (18) of the Tampa Bay Rays bats against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 7, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images ….

(2) New York Yankees fans hold up the number of hits Derek Jeter has, during his at-bat in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, July 7, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Jeter grounded out to end the game as Tampa Bay won 5-1 . AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek ……

(3) New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter returns to the dugout after being thrown out at first base to end a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, July 7, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Rays won 5-1. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …

(4) Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth is congratulated by catcher John Jaso at the end of the Rays’ 5-1 win over the New York Yankees in a baseball game Thursday, July 7, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek …..

(5) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JULY 6: Johnny Damon (22) and Kelly Shoppach (10) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate a two-run home run by Shoppach against the Minnesota Twins in the second inning on July 6, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images …..

(6) Casey Kotchman (11) and B.J. Upton(2) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate after defeating the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 7, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images ……..

(7) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JULY 6: Sean Rodriguez (1), Evan Longoria (3) and Casey Kotchman (11) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate a two-run home run by Rodriguez against the Minnesota Twins in the eighth inning on July 6, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rays defeated the Twins 12-5. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ….

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Winners Are Often Made But The Again They Can Be Born

Winners Are Often Made But Then Again They Can
Be Born

All of a sudden it appears that Joe Maddon and his coaching staff has a winning team on his hands with the Tampa Bays Rays having won five straight games and now making their presence felt in the AL East . Now I’m not about to pronounce the Rays as the surprise team of the season as of yet because we’re but a few weeks into an arduous 162 game regular season schedule , where as we know anything can happen.

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Slide show for your perusal .

As some of you may know I’m fan without a team to support having abandoned the Florida Marlins at the end of last season . I felt I could no longer support an organization where the team owner Jeffrey Loria was simply more about himself , his needs and wants rather than what was in the best interests of the team and the fans in general . It goes without saying that Loria like many of his peers within the game are of the same mindset and that is especially applicable to the owners amongst the small market teams around MLB . They’ll do whatever it takes to make money even if it’s to be done illegally !

The Rays this season having lost Manny Ramirez with his abrupt retirement rather than face the league mandated 100 game suspension after a second failed consecutive drug test thereby breaking the league’s steroid policy , essentially showed himself to be nothing more than a coward ! The heroes of the moment for the Tampa Bay Rays has to be Johnny Damon and Sam Fulds who has proven to be just the impetus needed to turn things around for the team and now make themselves the talk of the town at present as it regards their play. That being said it would be naive to even suggest or think that because of the team’s play they’re ready to contend within their division once again and make a successful defense of their AL East divisional title . Stranger things are known to have happened but then again who know as it concerns the vagaries of this team ?

I’m sorry but anyone of the belief that the New York Mets with their payroll of over bloated stars can contend within the NL East much less the rest of baseball has to be either delirious or still on some form of prescriptive medication . This team much less the organization has no idea what it takes to win much how to go about it with any degree of certainty or authority. I know that manager Terry Collins , his coaching staff will have the assist wherewithal of GM’s Sandy Alderson and assistant general manager J P Ricciardi providing their input as it relates to the personnel decisions but simply put the Mets’ window of opportunity to even be viewed as contenders much less win a World Series title has long gone !

The New York Mets has become a comical caricature of all that is wrong with the game of baseball ! Team President Saul Katz , team owner , senior general partner Fred Wilpon have plunged the team into an abyss of mediocrity and now it also appears the team’s immediate future could very well be at stake . Both Katz and Wilpon as well as the organization has been named as defendants in a civil suit that looks to reclaim $500 million that Wilpon and Katz were in receipt of as part of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme. Both defendants claim that they were unaware that the sums they’d been in receipt of was from fraudulent means . But yet somehow both Katz and Wilpon divested much of the $ 500 million into various entities including a company that both had co- founded —– Sterling Equities . What now awaits both defendants as well as the team remains to be seen .

Well the NBA postseaon has begun and we’ve already seen that what the expectations are meant to be about . Those doubters of the Chicago Bulls after their unexpected 60 plus win season shows why it is that you simply don’t gloss over the achievements of this team and its coach Tom Thibodeau . I’ve read it where some have said because of the inexperience of this team they could very well struggle throughout these the playoffs and that because Tom Thibodeau doesn’t have much of a coaching pedigree it could prove to be an impediment for this team. I simply wish when people make such asinine claims that they simply did a little research than simply speaking out their rear end ! Thibodeau has been the assistant coach on two NBA title winning organizations that collectively have won 5 titles in the last decade and a half . A fact that simply has been overlooked by individuals who’ve chosen not to look at the coach’s resume’ . Being an assistant to such noted coaches as Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich may seem slight but consider this , Thibodeau was the architect of the defensive strategies that has molded the face we see of both the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs .

Game one of the Bulls’ opening round series against Doug Collins’ Philadelphia 76ers . The United Center was packed to the rafters to see the Chicago Bulls play their first postseason game and series at the venue since the heyday of Jordan , Pippen and Phil Jackson . And though I didn’t think that series would be a cakewalk for the Bulls I knew that game one would be a stern test for the team and in particular the leadership qualities of Derrick Rose a potential league MVP candidate . And if anyone is in any doubt why Rose shouldn’t be the league MVP then yesterday’s play in which he blocked Darren Collison’s shot , then in transition dribbled the ball upcourt and then carved his way through the Sixers’ defense for the layup score . Need I anymore on the matter ?

For the better part of three quarters the Sixers had the Bulls on the rack but somehow you simply knew that this team wasn’t about to disappoint their fans and in particular a national tv audience watching. Rose for his part has led this team with authority throughout the season and in doing so we’ve seen both the maturation of Luol Deng , Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah as players . And with the team having acquired Carlos Boozer in the offseason as a free agent we saw the Chicago Bulls rise to the occasion surprising many of their contemporaries within the Eastern Conference .

The Bulls eked out a comfortable victory and will look to resume the series and increase their lead have a 2-0 margin before the resumption of the series in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center ( formerly the Comcast/ Spectrum Arena) . If anything Doug Collins would like nothing more than to even this series at one game apiece before his team’s return its home venue. I know that the Sixers’ coach had to have been disappointed to see his team give up a lead and then see it completely erased with less than 3 and a half minutes to go in the game . From being on the cusp of a surprise upset win the Bulls simply placed a dagger in the hearts of their first round opponents . That’s the way a game ought to be closed out , with complete authority and the mind of a cold boodied assassin !

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As a sport’s fan how do you define winning and what it means to you as a fan and no I’m not talking about the ‘term’ now being coined by actor Charlie Sheen ! If anything over this sport’s weekend what result if anything either came as a surprise or met with your expectation ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the topics raised within this piece . .

Alan aka tophatal ………………………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com ……..

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(1) Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon looks on from the dugout during the ninth inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Sunday, April 17, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays would go on to lose 4-2 to the Twins . AP Photo/Brian Blanco ……

(2) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – APRIL 17: of the Tampa Bay Rays of the Minnesota Twins during the game at Tropicana Field on April 17, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ………..

(3) New York Mets’ Josh Thole is caught stealing second base as Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, left, makes the tag for an out in the fifth inning of a major league baseball game Sunday, April 17, 2011 in Atlanta. The Mets won 3-2 . AP Photo/David Goldman …..

(4) New York Mets’ Josh Thole, left, beats the tag of Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann to score on an Ike Davis single in the first inning of a major league baseball game Sunday, April 17, 2011 in Atlanta. AP Photo/David Goldman ………….

(5) Fred Wilpon, General Manager Sandy Alderson, New York Mets new manager Terry Collins, Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz pose for pictures during a press conference at Citi Field on November 23, 2010 in New York, New York. Getty Images North America / Chris McGrath ……….

(6) Carlos Boozer (5) of the Chicago Bulls and Tyler Hansbrough (50) of the Indiana Pacers battle for position on a free-throw in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99 . Johnathan Daniels /Getty Images …….

(7) Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls of the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images . ……..

(8) CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 16: Joakim Noah (13) of the Chicago Bulls celebrates two blocked shots in the final seconds against the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……..

(9) Derrick Rose(1) of the Chicago Bulls leaps to pass the ball around Paul George (24) of the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99. Johnathan Daniel / Getty Images ……

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Jon Connor ………… feat’g ………. Elite …………. ‘Keep Your Head Up’

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The Weekend In Sports And Other Select Observations …………

The Weekend In Sports ……… And Others Select Observations ………

Well the NBA season is all but over with merely two games left to played on the schedule for most teams . The Los Angeles Lakers are limping into the postseason as reigning champions having lost 5 straight and in reality this is a team that is in complete disarray . Anyone who believes different simply ought to look at the box-score in their lopsided ( 120-106 ) loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder .

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If the Lakers are to fare well in the postseason then the team will have to be on the same page of their coach Phil Jackson and his coaching staff led by Jim Cleamons and Brian Shaw . I know that the team’s perennial All Star Kobe Bryant has come out openly and stated that he’d like to see Shaw succeed Jackson as coach of the team should he indeed retire at the culmination of the postseason. But I’m not so sure that that’d still be the case should the Lakers bow out early in the postseason , which given their performance against the Thunder is a distinct possibility . But then again it’s remiss to merely to take one game as a gauge for a team’s overall strengths and weakness. But as I mentioned earlier the Lakers have lost straight games and at no time were you under the impression that they were ever in with a chance of winning anyone of those games. But for the play of Kobe Bryant , Paul Gasol and Lamar Odom coming off the bench I’d say that one could describe the Lakers season as something of a failure when adjudged by their own lofty standards.

With that being said I’m not yet prepared to count the Los Angeles Lakers as being down and out , not while they’ve still Phil Jackson in their corner as coach ! Should he and the Lakers make a successful defense of their title then to my mind this would be his most impressive victory over the course of his storied career. I mean who else within the annals of the game has achieved his success while at the same having been denigrated by many because he was only able to coach superstars as we’ve so often been told ? These last two Finals triumphs are a testament that he can not only coach a team that plays a team but and are also willing to defer as and when needed . If the Lakers can regain their resolve then I would still favor them to come out of the Western Conference and that is with due respect to my beloved San Antonio Spurs the team with the best record in the conference and the NBA as a whole .

Sunday’s results if anything painted a clear picture as to where a number of teams now stand . Suffice to say teams seated on the bottom rung of the conference ladders , such as the Cleveland Cavaliers , Minnesota Timberwolves , Sacramento Kings , Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors can now begin to mull over their draft decision as to whether or not they ought to take Kemba Walker as the consensus overall number one pick in the upcoming NBA Draft . But oh wait we have to wait for Commissioner David Stern pick that little ball out of that revolving drum to assure us who’ll have the privilege of having that first pick.

I’ve got to admit I’ve read some idiocy in my time going around this medium but never have I read something without so much insight than a contributor’s claim that Rory McIlroy is a wasted talent merely because his final round in The Masters imploded . I suppose when you’re still young naive and have about insight on the world of golf and you do little research before writing a piece you’re entitled to come up with such absurd notions ? But then again I for one simply don’t succumb to such a notion because I feel if you’re going to make any sort of a claim then you ought to have the disposition to show both sides of the argument . If that’s the case then this particular observer has about knowledge of the game as Hall of Famer Johnny Miller whose own absurd notion that the Europeans simply aren’t capable of winning a Grand Slam title . Has Miller not simply noticed the most recent results in the Grand Slam Majors over the course of the last eighteen months , much less the fact that the US had its ass handed it by the Europeans in the Ryder Cup in 2010 ?

This tournament was as such merely heightened by the fact there was a Tiger Woods’ sighting and that he made a spirited attempt at winning the tournament which in the end would be in vain. However, the former world number one ranked golfer would end up tying for third in the first Major of the season . The eventual winner would Charl Schwartzel a staple on the European Tour and who after this win will rise up the world rankings from his present position of #11 to inside the top ten perhaps as high as number 5 . As to the contributor who should remain nameless I can only hope that he aspires to be productive in his chosen career because with regard to even have minuscule knowledge of the sport of golf even with the amount of information that there is to be gleaned this individual has merely shown that he’s completely out of his depth .

OK so what else can be said after the abrupt retirement of Manny Ramirez from the Tampa Rays’ organization ? Having tested positive for a second consecutive time for a banned substance and knowing that he’d have to face a mandatory 100 game suspension the slugger chose to retire instead. What to my mind is even more asinine is the very fact that a spokesman for the Rays’ front office states that they were completely taken aback by this and the fact that the player tested positive for a banned substance, albeit that this took place during the Rays’ Spring Training Schedule . Am I missing something here but is the coaching staff as well as the Rays’ ownership group led by senior managing partner Stuart Sternberg and GM Andrew Friedman that dumb , stupid and naive ? Never mind the fact that the league hierarchy had to have made the Rays’ front office fully aware of the test results prior to it being made public .

In the wake of this all Ramirez says he’s happy with his legacy . I’d say he’s happy alright because he’ll simply be looked at as a cheat , albeit , that his career as such would suggest otherwise having won two World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox . In the aftermath of this all the Tampa Bay Rays are left to pick up the pieces as one part of their experiment has come to a quick and unsatisfactory end . I’ve got to feel sorry for some of those Rays’ fans who’d hoped that the Rays would prove to be competitive and wherein Tropicana Field would be an enjoyable place to be. There’s now more of a chance to see a UFO sighting at the Rays’ home venue than this team seeking to be competitive at this juncture .

Unfortunately for the Rays their season started off inauspiciously having lost their first two series before eking out a much needed win (9-7) against the Chicago White Sox . The team however finds itself languishing at the bottom of the always ultra competitive AL East
and that 1-8 record simply doesn’t look at all look that enviable even if we’ve yet to exit the first month of the regular season . And the team’s efforts won’t at all be now helped with their best player Evan Longoria now being on the disabled list (DL) for what we’re told could be as long as three weeks with a strained right oblique muscle .

Can things now get much worse for the Rays ? Yes it can as they now have to face the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in a three game series where I fully expect the Red Sox’s offense will be looking to tee off on the Rays’ somewhat average pitching rotation . At the same time the Red Sox’s own pitching staff has been very susceptible this season . So it could be that the fans in attendance over the course of the next three days are liable to be thoroughly entertained .

So Football Spring Football has started and teams at the D1 level will be looking to get themselves ready for the upcoming season. From my own perspective given what took place over last season and the never ending controversy of teams , players and coaches contravening rules , I merely look at this upcoming season of one that’s about to be littered with controversy once again. I mean it’s not as if the NCAA in its sanctified much less than exalted position can do a damn thing to begin with ! I mean where have they been in the aftermath of the latest allegations concerning Auburn and the fact that several players on their teams from 2004-07 were recruited , induced through monetary gain, through having sex on campus with female co-eds as well as strippers ? And who can forget the debacle of Ohio State and in particular the actions of Buckeys’ football coach Jim Tressel ? Needless to say that Buckeye and Tigers’ fans will try and reassure us that this is merely regrettable and that they’re not the only ones doing this . And while I’m inclined to agree at the same time I’ll state this ………… it’s against the fu_king rules so why go down that route to begin with ?

In the SEC (Southeastern Conference) where they can boast national champions consecutively for the last six years . One can simply understand the reason why the SEC is deemed to be the powerhouse it is at the collegiate level in terms of BCS national title aspirations.

I read with a great deal of interest where South Carolina Gamecocks’ quarterback Stephen Garcia has one again ran afoul of his coaching staff as well as the school as a whole . To understand the problems of Garcia you simply have to know this , he simply attracts trouble like flies tend to hover around fecal matter because of the aroma and because they can feast off whatever there tends to be in the vicinity. With Garcia it’s no different !

The fact that he’s merely been suspended indefinitely , at first that wasn’t the case , though it has to be said at it still creates the impression that Steve Spurrier still believes that the player has something to offer the team . Whatever it is , I wouldn’t consider it to be his football talent or acumen in spite of how impressive his stats may well be. Why have a malcontent and disruptive influence on the team which usually in the long run leads to even more problems ? As has been the case here with Stephen Garcia , his never ending transgression of team rules and having ran afoul of the law enforcement on repeated occasions .

Courtesy of USA Today

Another suspension for South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia

By Erick Smith , USA Today

The future of South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia is in doubt after the rising senior was suspended from the team indefinitely.

It’s the fifth time in Garcia’s career he has been suspended and the second time this spring. The school did not specify the reason for the decision. The Gamecocks play their annual spring game on Saturday.

“We have expectations for our student-athletes and we make them aware that there are consequences for their actions,” athletic director Eric Hyman said in a statement released by the school. “Stephen has exhibited behavior that is unacceptable for one of our student-athletes.”

The loss of Garcia, who threw for 3,059 yards and 20 touchdowns in 14 starts, would be a blow to South Carolina, which won the SEC East for the first time in 2010. He was expected to lead an offense that also features running back Marcus Lattimore and wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey.

That responsibility would likely fall to rising sophomore Connor Shaw, who was Garcia’s backup last fall.

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And with regard to the Gamecocks competing this upcoming season within the SEC I’m liable to think that they’ll struggle but at the same time eke out the wins they’re expected over the course of their regular season schedule . In place of Garcia , Spurrier will have at his disposal qb’s Dylan Thompson , Andrew Clifford , Connor Shaw and Seth Strickland . I’ve no doubt that the coach and his coaching staff will assess the strengths and weaknesses of each of the likely candidates before coming to a decision as to who’ll be the like starter in the Gamecocks’ first game of the season against East Carolina on the 3rd September , 2011. Garcia on the other hand will now have time reassess his future and determine whether or not it lies within being a student athlete or simply a thug , because of now he’s simply been a disappointment to those around him who expected a great deal more of him as a player as well a leader and human being .

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Picture galley for your perusal .

What sporting events or news if any over the past weekend piqued your interest and what if anything are you hoping to see during the NBA playoffs and the month of April as it relates to the baseball season ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on the matter .

Alan aka tophatal ……………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Andrew Bynum (17) of the Los Angeles Lakers defends James Harden (13)3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first half at Staples Center on April 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Thunder defeated the Lakers 120-106 Getty Images / Jeff Gross …….

(2) Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks draws up a play for his team during a timeout in the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Thunder defeated the Lakers 120-106 . Getty Images/ Jeff Gross ……

(3) Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers argues a foul call in the second half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on April 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Thunder defeated the Lakers 120-106. Jeff Gross / Getty Images …..

(4) Kevin Durant (35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder rebounds a ball over Kobe Bryant(24) of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half at Staples Center on April 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Thunder defeated the Lakers 120-106. Jeff Gross / Getty Images ………

(5) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeff Niemann , right, adjusts his cap as he listens to catcher Kelly Shoppach during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox in Chicago, Sunday, April 10, 2011. AP Photo /Nam Y Yuh ……

(6) Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) tags out Chicago White Sox’s Juan Pierre during the second inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, April 10, 2011. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ……

(7) The Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon shakes hands with Manny Ramirez (24) of the Tampa Bay Rays as Johnny Damon (22) of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during a press conference at Tropicana Field on February 1, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Ramirez announced his retirement over the weekend rather than face a league mandated 100 game suspension having tested positive for a illicit banned substance for the second consecutive time over the course of his career. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……….

(8) Charl Schwartzel of South Africa celebrates his two-stroke victory with his wife Rosalind behind the 18th green during the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. AFP Photo/Getty Images/ Robyn Beck …..

(9) Last year’s champion Phil Mickelson (left) puts the Green Jacket on Charl Schwartzel from South Africa after Schwartzel wins the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.
AFP Photo/ Getty Images /Robyn Beck …….

(10) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks off the 18th hole green after finishing the final round with a final score of four under par at the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK

(11) South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw (14) looks for receivers during South Carolina’s Garnet and Black spring NCAA college football game Saturday, April 9, 2011, in Columbia, S.C. AP Photo/The State, Tracy Glantz ………..

(12) In this Dec. 29, 2010, file photo, South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia throws a pass during practice for the Chick-fil-A Bowl NCAA college football game against Florida State in Atlanta. Garcia has been indefinitely suspended from the football program. Athletic Director Eric Hyman announced the suspension Wednesday, (6th April) but did not give a reason. AP Photo/David Goldman …….

(13) Head coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks walks to congratulate quarterback Stephen Garcia (5) for his passing touchdown against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. Getty Images North America / Kevin Cox …….

(14) Coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks lines up with players after play against the Alabama Crimson Tide October 9, 2010 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. Getty Images/ Al Messerschmidt …….

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R Kelly ………………… “Ignition”

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Savor The Moment ……….. Baseball Is Here

Savor The Moment Baseball Is Here

It could take time but there’s the distinct feeling that this baseball season could be one to savor given the uncertainty that now surrounds both the NFL and NBA . MLB Commissioner Bud Selig knows that with the advent of the NFL quite possibly shutting down for the upcoming season and the uncertainty of the NBA but no firm commitment shown by either the league hierarchy and that of the NBPA led by Executive Director Billy Hunter , its President Derek Fisher , its executive committee and player representatives . The NBA has indeed been working continuously with the union to avert any possibility of their own labor dispute .

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The NBA itself no doubt wants remain relevant and if anything given the grave financial problems concerning a number of teams around the league the last thing they now need is a stoppage at this juncture.

Inasmuch I hate to say this, I do feel that the big market teams will once again prevail as the season progresses . The success achieved by the likes of the New York Yankees , Boston Red Sox , St Louis Cardinals , Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies has in part more to do with not only the talent assembled on the field of play but more to do with the financial resources at these teams’ disposal . Granted we’ve seen the Washington Nationals delve into the free agency market to acquire Jayson Werth but in reality the seven year $119 million contract signed by the player I believe had more to do with making a splash by the organization than that of them actually being able to contend within the NL East .

The Nationals haven’t been a force to be reckoned with in eons and I seriously doubt that this season things are liable to change albeit that they’ll have both Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg there to lure the fans back to Nationals Ballpark . If the Washington Nationals are to prevail then they will have to contend with the likes of the Atlanta Braves , defending divisional champions the Philadelphia Phillies as well as the New York Mets and Florida Marlins . I’m not so sure that the Nationals are capable of making the jump from an also ran to a contender !

With no team to support and the mere fact that I no longer have any faith in the ownership group of the Florida Marlins I find myself merely now observing the game as a fan of the sport showing no real passion for any team in particular ! The local team within this locale are the Tampa Bay Rays and as the defending AL East champions I think that this will be a season of highs and lows for the team . We’re all no doubt aware of the of the upheaval within the organization as it relates to the departures of Carl Crawford , Rafael Soriano , Carlos Pena and , Matt Garza to name but a few as part of the cost cutting exercise by the front office led by GM Andrew Friedman . Principal managing partner Stuart Sternberg apart from being in the midst of a financial expediency plan merely for the franchise to survive , now has to deal with the city of St Petersburg and the city’s intent to hold the Rays to their lease agreement at Tropicana Field .

The organization is looking for a new venue but they and the municipality can’t agree on how best to come to an amicable arrangement that would be mutually beneficial for all of the parties concerned.

A new facility would be no guarantee for a team that struggles to have an element of tangible following . Anyone who’s of the belief that a fanbase of 15,000 hardcore fans will legitimately guarantee competitive and financial success really needs to take a look at what’s happening within the game of baseball . Having won two divisional titles within the AL East , an appearance in the World Series the recent success of the Rays has been heartwarming for the loyal fans of the organization.

I do believe that they can compete but I believe their season will be predicated upon the coaching talents of the coaches and in particular manager Joe Maddon . As astute a manager as he is , his work this season will be his toughest yet as he now has to coach a young team albeit that he the additions of seasoned veterans Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez on this roster I simply believe that they will struggle in large part to contend with the likes of Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees , Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays within their division.

While I’m under no illusion that the game itself is all about the consistency of the players and how they’ll fare over the course of the regular season . Whereas last season the team’s strengths were in its pitching and in particular their defense . And if they’re to replicate that success then they’ll have to replicate that success and play to their inherent strengths. If anything it will be these situations that will test the fortitude of the Rays and in particular that of Joe Maddon because this most definitely will be the sternest test that he’s faced over the course of professional managing career. Having won an AL pennant and an appearance in the World Series with the subsequent loss the Philadelphia Phillies , success this season for the Rays will be measured by posting a winning record during the season. Anything less than that I believe would be considered to be a failure !

As to the season itself what can we expect of the San Francisco Giants as they look to make a successful defense of their title ? Will they be able to regain that form can it through the regular season and into the postseason ? Or will we merely see a team that struggles in that endeavor to repeat ?

Of the teams that I believe will be amongst the contenders this season I look to the Philadelphia Phillies and that pitching rotation which on the face of it just might be the best there is the game of baseball . Clearly GM Rueben Amaro and Charlie Manuel felt that this was the best way possible for the team to make another successful run with a view to repeating their success of 2009 . The New York Yankees for their part with their payroll and talent that on appearance ought to be good enough to make the postseason may well have their problems because there’s serious question as it regards their pitching , as it remains their Achilles’ heel . If they can’t turn things around on that score then I can’t see this simply relying on their offense alone to see them through.

Amongst the other AL teams that I view as contenders unless the Texas Rangers are able to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke then it could well be one and done . There may well be others contenders within the AL but much of that will be predicated upon their wish to play with real determination. The Minnesota Twins have simply proven that once they get to the postseason they become like a deer caught in headlights and I don’t believe that I could put it anymore succinctly than that !

Now while Spring Training is now upon us and many fans will be pursuing to see their teams as they are at play in the Citrus and Grapefruit League. The preseason itself may well not be much of an indicator as to what we’re expect during the regular season but it should give us something of a way to gauge the teams and their quest to make the postseason . If nothing else it’ll be interesting to see how the players that’ve been acquired by new teams will fare and acclimatize in a new environment . How they fare may well also go a great way in telling us how their respective teams will ultimately do . This season within the game of baseball will certainly be one to savor and the expectations there will undoubtedly be high.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the MLB season and how do you view problems that many of the teams face ? Also in light of the fact that there appears to be lingering rumors that there could very well be team contraction within the game do you believe that it will be ultimately beneficial to the game as a whole ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the topic raised and other thoughts that you might have on the upcoming MLB season.

Alan aka tophatal ………………..

Picture gallery and slide show details
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(1) Washington Nationals second baseman Jerry Hairston Jr., right, greets Washington Nationals Jeff Frazier (72) after Frazier hit a third inning solo home run off New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia in the Nationals 10-8 victory over the Yankees in their spring training baseball game at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., Saturday, March 5, 2011. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …..

(2) Washington Nationals Bryce Harper is shown at the plate in the seventh inning of the Nationals 10-8 victory over the New York Yankees in their spring training baseball game at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., Saturday, March 5, 2011. Harper was one for two in the game. He had an eighth inning single. AP Photo/Kathy Willens ……

(3) Clearwater , Fl : of the Philadelphia Phillies of the Tampa Bay Rays during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Bright House Field on March 6, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……..

(4) Jimmy of the Philadelphia Phillies of the Tampa Bay Rays during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Bright House Field on March 6, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

<p (5) Pitcher Wade Davis (40) of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Bright House Field on March 6, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ………..

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MLB News


Tampa Bays history

Tampa Bay Rays’ front office

Tampa Bay Rays’ coaching staff

Tampa Bay Rays roster …… active roster & depth chart

Rays’ team statistics

Tampa Bay Rays’ schedule

Transaction moves made by the Tamp Bay Rays —– transactions


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Eye candy …………………… Polish model Ewa Sonnet

An eyeful of Ewa is better than a handful of nuts don’t you think ?

Ewa

Titillating Ewa and her play things .

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Method Man feat’g ……. Mary J Blige ………….. “I’ll Be There For You /You’re All I Need ”
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Genie of the Lamp

Genie of the Lamp

I am not the genie of the lamp nor will I be providing any outright prognostications but will however say this concerning the reminder of the baseball season. Many things are expected of the Tampa Bay Rays and their dispassionate fans will be hoping that the team can really make it to their second World Series in three years and perhaps win their first title.

This Joe Maddon managed team is playing some great baseball and though the fans haven’t turned out in droves to support the team there’s still a hardcore base there that comes out to see the home team when they play at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida. We can attest to the fact that this team is very good it cannot be hidden that the Rays are no longer team that is easily intimidated. What we do know however is , if the support isn’t forthcoming from the community at large then this may well be the last hoo-rah for baseball within the community and Tampa Bay area as a whole. The front office of the organization have tried as they might to make it a going concern within the area but it all now seems to be for nought. Furthermore , the political and economic uncertainty still doesn’t make it a foregone conclusion that a new ballpark will be built for the team at some time in the future. And most certainly no one at this juncture is prepared to state who will end up financing such an endeavor . All we’ve tended to hear have been the sound bytes and not much else.

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Slideshow for your perusal .

Courtesy of St Petersburg Times


New stadium talks will wait until after the season ends

By Micheal Van Sickler , Time Staff Writer

ST. Petersburg — The Tampa Bay Rays and St. Petersburg officials have scrapped negotiations for a new stadium until after the last pitch of the World Series, sometime in November.

From the way negotiations have unfolded so far, they don’t agree on much.

Mayor Bill Foster said Wednesday that his offer last week to permit the Rays to leave Tropicana Field for a stadium anywhere in St. Petersburg and the greater Gateway area “was my best and final.”

Yet on Tuesday, Rays president Matt Silverman rejected this offer and said the club needs to consider all sites in the region, including Hillsborough County — which Foster said is off-limits.

“We’re really in uncharted territory,” said Rick Eckstein, co-author of the 2003 book Public Dollars, Private Stadiums. “If there’s going to be a standoff, it would be unprecedented.”

When it comes to Major League Baseball, cities cave and let teams out of iron-clad leases all the time, Eckstein said.

“The politicians see teams as huge trophies,” said Eckstein, a Villanova University sociology professor. “They don’t want to be associated with losing one. So if (St. Petersburg) holds to this, it would be revolutionary.”

Foster and City Attorney John Wolfe are relying on the city’s contract with the Rays, signed in 1995, to settle the conflict. The contract keeps the Rays at Tropicana Field through the 2027 season . If the Rays leave early, the contract says the city would be compensated for the economic loss.

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Now as we come down to the trade deadline __ 31st Julythere’s no sign that the team will be involved in any trades and at the same time they’re financially constrained by a budget that is meager the to say the very least. So much of what the fans will expect will come about from the resilience shown by the team on the field of play. Here’s hoping the Tampa Bay Rays can attain some success in the postseason .

Perhaps we’re all under the impression that having both TO and Ochocinco on the same team is a bad idea ? Now pardon me for saying this but Marvin Lewis and Carson Palmer are either in need of psychiatric help or they my well be unto something , with the combination of the two productive but lugubrious wide receivers. My guess and question would be , will there be enough balls on the field for two of the most bombastic and self promoting characters in the NFL ? Question who’s balls are actually bigger ? TO’s or Chad Ochocinco ?

To say that the Cincinnati Bengals have underperformed over the last few seasons certainly wouldn’t be stretching the truth. More to the point would be ,how it that Lewis is still an NFL coach is simply beyond me ! Let’s just say his idea of success when measured against the failures of his peers has me wondering what indeed is wrong the Bengalis’ hierarchy (front office) to begin with ? I can only surmise that team President Mike Brown woke from the midst of a nightmare and thought to himself what else can we as an organization can do to bring fans back to Paul Brown Stadium ? Hell if signing Owens was “his first” and “only option” then I’ve got several thousand acres of prime real estate in the Middle East that I’d like to sell to him …….. Kabul , Afghanistan to be more precise.

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports

T.O. misses flight to Bengals camp

By Joe Kay, AP Sports Writer

Georgetown, Ky. (AP)—Terrell Owens missed his flight but got his number.

When he finally makes it to town—a little late—he’ll be wearing his familiar 81.

The Cincinnati Bengals’ latest addition missed his overnight flight from the West Coast and had to take a later one on Thursday, delaying his debut at training camp.

The Bengals had planned on him arriving early in the day, taking his physical and signing his one-year contract while the rest of the team held its first workout. They scheduled an introductory news conference after the morning practice.

The news conference had to be rescheduled for after the evening session. Coach Marvin Lewis wasn’t sure whether the 36-year-old receiver would arrive in time to work out.

On his Twitter account, Owens posted a note Wednesday night saying he was headed to see a movie. He didn’t explain why he missed his flight on Thursday, but confirmed that his news conference had to be rescheduled.

“My Press conf about my “Decision” 2 take my talents 2 Cincy will b held 2nite after 7pm practice!!” he tweeted, playing off LeBron James’ one-hour television show announcing his decision to leave Cleveland.

Owens also misspelled Cincinnati in one of his tweets and was quickly corrected by a follower.

“Okayyyyyy I got it now, 2 n’s & 1 t! CINCINNATI!! LOL!” he tweeted.

He’ll have to make a donation to keep his favorite uniform number.

Receiver Antonio Bryant got No. 81 when the Bengals chose him over Owens in the offseason, giving him a four-year deal. Bryant said after the morning practice that he had already talked to Owens and agreed to give up his number.
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The upcoming season with regard to the Cincinnati Bengals should go a long way in telling us about the team and the mindset of its management. Failure at this juncture and both Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens’ days in the NFL could very well be numbered.

Having worked in the field of high finance within the city of London , the “Square Mile” often known as the financial heartbeat of the world, as there are more trades done there than any other financial center across the globe. Two trillion dollars ($2,000,000,000,000) a day wouldn’t be beyond the stretch of one’s imagination concerning the volumes of the trades being worked through each day. Specialists in those fields were highly sought after and their expertise was richly rewarded. There was a gentleman’s agreement that when seeking to hire from beyond one’s domain common courtesy was sought in approaching a perspective hire by first seeking the approval of that person’s employer for making an approach. The same such situation now applies to the NFL . But it’d appear that USC’s __ Lane Kiffin doesn’t believe that such rules apply to him when it comes to the hiring of his coaching staff .

Kiffin in hiring the Tennessee Titans former assistant running backs’ coach Kennedy Pola did so without first seeking the team’s permission with an approach to an initial interview . At the time of his hiring Pola was still in contract negotiations with the Titans. Now we could make a case for the argument that with Pola’s negotiations were not going to well with the organization and it led to his leaving the Tennessee Titans. But what might prove to be more unacceptable was that while Pola was still in negotiation with the Titans , he was talking through back channels with Kiffin and the Trojans. This doesn’t stretch the credibility of Kiffin’s stance that this was merely an unfortunate turn of events as it only muddy’s the waters in trying to ascertain the real truth as to what went on. And clearly at this juncture no one from within the Trojans’ athletic department is prepared to make a public statement on the matter. Most certainly Kiffin, himself, has now become somewhat docile in giving a taciturn response. Whereas, within the Titans’ front office and that of the team’s coach Jeff Fisher there is a great deal of anger and disgust by Lane Kiffin’s actions and that of Kennedy Pola. With there being no outright action that can be taken the NFL , the Titans have seen fit to seek their right of recourse through the legal system.

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports

USC’s Kiffin irks Titans’ Fisher with Pola hire

By Greg Beacham , AP Sports Writer

Los Angeles (AP)—Add Titans coach Jeff Fisher to the list of people Lane Kiffin had ticked off in Tennessee.

Kiffin hired Titans assistant coach Kennedy Pola on Saturday to be his offensive coordinator and running backs coach at Southern California, irking Fisher by failing to follow the usual protocol in courting another team’s assistant.

Fisher voiced his displeasure with his alma mater’s new head coach to the Tennessean newspaper, saying Kiffin hadn’t made the customary contact to tell the NFL team he was interested in Pola, a former USC player and assistant coach who joined the Titans after last season ended.

The move also left the Titans without a running backs coach one week before training camp opens.

“I am very disappointed in Lane Kiffin’s approach to this,” Fisher told the newspaper. “Typically speaking when coaches are interested in hiring or discussing potential employment from coaches on respective staffs there is a courtesy call made from the head coach or athletic director indicating there is an interest in talking to the assistant.

“So I am very disappointed in the lack of professionalism on behalf of Lane, to call me and leave me a voice mail after Kennedy had informed me he had taken the job. It is just a lack of professionalism.”

Kiffin attempted to rectify the damage later Saturday, finally reaching Fisher and discussing the abrupt move. Kiffin then issued a statement that didn’t exactly deny he had breached protocol, saying he first spoke to Pola on Friday, and then called Fisher on Saturday after Pola called him back, apparently to accept the job.

“I have spoken with Coach Fisher and he now has an accurate understanding of the timeline of events,” Kiffin said. “We realize the timing of this isn’t perfect for all parties, but this is a great opportunity and promotion for Kennedy.”

The state of Tennessee hardly needs another reason to dislike Kiffin, who infamously bolted from the Volunteers last January after just 14 months to take his self-described dream job at USC, leaving an angry mob in Knoxville.

Kiffin’s brief head coaching stints with the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee have been filled with minor missteps and conflicts, including an ugly feud with Raiders owner Al Davis and twice being reprimanded by the Southeastern Conference while he was with the Volunteers.

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Monetary compensation may well be the only satisfactory compensation that the Titans may well find from this all should there be an adjudication in their favor. As for Lane Kiffin and the USC Trojans , given the unwarranted publicity garnered from the sanctions brought down by the NCAA upon their heads. One would’ve thought that this would be last type of adverse publicity that they would want at this juncture. And Kiffin , given his predilection for being less than forthright when it comes to his honesty. I can only surmise that USC’s newly appointed athletics’ director Patrick Haden along with University President-elect C. L. Max Nikias will be looking to sit down with Kiffin for a somewhat prolonged tete-a-tete with the coach. Given the recent upheaval within the athletics department the last thing the university now needs is more egg on its face. But given the maneuvers of Lane Kiffin since his hiring by USC what other conclusions can one draw from this all at this juncture ? It’s not as Kiffin has gone out of his way to do everything by the book to begin with. He’s become more of a one man wrecking crew with his asinine remarks and his gung-ho attitude. And supposedly this is the guy the school actually sought out to succeed Pete Carroll ? Let’s just hope that he only brings along only half the controversy created by his predecessor for the university’s sake . If not then they could be in for a bumpy and unpleasant ride once again.


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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the various subject matters raised within this piece ? By all means chime on in with a comment and I’ll look forward to responding in due course. Once again thanks as usual for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………………… 🙂

Discipline, The Concept of Business And Sports

Discipline, The Concept of Business And Sports

In all honesty I can say that I thoroughly enjoy my work as a research analyst within the corporate affairs department of a noted law firm . Now having said that in the endeavor of working with a number corporate litigators with regard business incorporations for corporations not just here in the United States but also in their incorporation for overseas. That being said , I’ve always felt that we can learn a great deal about sports be it from an individualistic standpoint or through a team endeavor. By merely just adapting the solid business principles applicable if one adheres to those principles then it does make things a great deal easier. I do feel that we can understand greatly what’s needed to make not only a business successful but also sports organization be it a franchise or an individual in their own respective regimen.

Practice, dedication and applying one’s self to and adhering to that discipline. Over the weekend I wasn’t really able to get in a great deal of watching that much sports as a great deal of my time was spent collating a number of files for work. Having done that I was lucky enough to see a number of sporting events that took place. The World Cup has now reached the knockout stage and all of the bitching and whining isn’t going to hide the fact that the expectations of both England and the USA had failed to be met. In the round of 16, the US fell to a well-disciplined Ghanaian team . Never mind the fact that I’d read within this forum , a number bloggers who had this asinine notion that this Bob Bradley coached team would simply march through Ghana as if they were none existent. Much of the time, when I read such diatribe I can only surmise that much of this comes from the personification of xenophobia rather than anything that has been rationally or well thought out. But a lot of that came about from the fact that those who are actually writing about the subject might not actually know a great deal about the sport.

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Slide show for your perusal .

Sadly for the US team , their journey in the World Cup came to an abrupt end in their 2-1 loss to Ghana , who now proceed on to the quarter finals of the event. The US’s Group C fellow residents, England ,would fail also to make it through to last eight of the World Cup. The Fabio Capello coached team would fail miserably as they were thoroughly outclassed by their most fabled foe and nemesis Germany. Any thought of England reliving the 1966 World Cup Finals would be thoroughly dismissed as they were outclassed by a German team that simply was too much for an English team that lacked the will and creativity to be competitive and win !. What little that the English fans in attendance saw , could only have disappointed. With that being said, Capello had thought that the game hinged on a disallowed goal, was idiotic , from the very outset. Rather than pouncing on the real reasons why his team lacked an effort and it became all the more relevant that the team became completely deflated . As they would succumb to a German that team wanted to win with a great deal of passion and desire. And that was most definitely the case, as they came a away with a thoroughly convincing 4-1 victory over their English counterparts.

Well now that the backbone of the Tampa Bay Rays seems to have been broken about the only thing left was for there to be some discord shown amongst the players. Having seen only mere snippets of the Carlos Zambrano meltdown wherein he berated his teammate Derrick Lee of the Chicago Cubs. Not that I’ve ever been overly concerned with anything that’s allegedly pertinent about the Cubs as this is an organization who simply doesn’t know how to win much less being able to spell the word were you to spot the them the letters W and N ! This is a club whose manager Lou Pinellas’s best years as a manager are behind him. With Zambrano being indefinitely being suspended by GM Jim Hendry and Piniella, it remains to be seen how the Cubs will regroup and reemerge from this all.

Over the weekend we saw the Rays’ B J Upton show us all why he will forever remain an enigma for this organization. All “the talent in the world” but Upton appears to be either a “knuckle head” or someone who just doesn’t seem to care much about the game at times. This was very much evident in the inter-league game between the Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks . Rather than chasing down a ball hit in deep left center field ,Upton merely loll gagged as he jogged to the wall made the fielding play and then threw the ball back into the infield . He would later state that he’d misjudged the play and was under the impression that his teammate Jason Bartlett was within easy reach of the ball that would elicit a triple being attained by the Diamondbacks . For the fans who saw this , I can only surmise that for them it was either disgust or the mere fact that they’ve now become use to seeing Upton become lazy and make the most extraordinary of excuses for his lackadaisical play. What might have been more exacerbating was that Rays’ manager Joe Maddon tried to shrug this all off as if it were nothing important. But it was important enough for Rays’ third baseman Evan Longoria to see fit to dress down his teammate for his poor play ,decision making and complete lack of effort shown by the out-fielder. And for the notion that this has now all blown over if this is an indication of the meltdown we’re now seeing from a team that can’t seem to put together a series of wins much less score runs. Then before it’s all said and done we could see this team’s season go completely up in smoke.

OK by now, you all know that I am no great admirer of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. Neither of these two high ranking officials have shown their wish to acknowledge what has now become more a rather acute topic. And that is the mere fact that players having suffered multiple concussions are now prone to multiple lapses in concentration , loss of memory and severe head pains. Now in the midst of this all with the recent autopsy and medical report concerning former Cincinnati Bengalis’ wide receiver Chris Henry . We’re now being made aware that the player had suffered several head concussions brought on from playing in the NFL . In addition, not only that but the player was said to be a sufferer of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). An abnormal bruising of the brain that can lead to mild forms of dementia, losing of one’s speech and in some cases lead to a person’s loss of their motor neuron skills. That being said, the player’s death should now be a great cause for concern, given what we now know from the findings in this medical report.

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports

WVU doctors: Chris Henry had chronic brain injury


By Vicki Smith Associated Press Writer

Morgantown, W.Va,. (AP) Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry suffered from a chronic brain injury that may have influenced his mental state and behavior before he died last winter, West Virginia University researchers said Monday.

The doctors had done a microscopic tissue analysis of Henry’s brain that showed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Neurosurgeon Julian Bailes and California medical examiner Bennet Omalu, co-directors of the Brain Injury Research Institute at WVU, announced their findings alongside Henry’s mother, Carolyn Henry Glaspy, who called it a “big shock” because she knew nothing about her 26-year-old son’s underlying condition or the disease.

Henry died in December, a day after he came out of the back of a pickup truck his fiancee was driving near their home in Charlotte, N.C. It’s unclear whether Henry jumped or fell. Toxicology tests found no alcohol in his system, and an autopsy concluded he died of numerous head injuries, including a fractured skull and brain hemorrhaging.

But Bailes, team doctor for the Mountaineers and a former Pittsburgh Steelers physician, said it’s easy to distinguish those acute traumatic injuries from the underlying condition he and Omalu found when staining tiny slices of Henry’s brain.

Bailes and fellow researchers believe chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is caused by multiple head impacts, regardless of whether those blows result in a concussion diagnosis. A number of studies, including one commissioned by the NFL , have found that retired professional football players may have a higher rate than normal of Alzheimer’s disease and other memory problems.

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It appears that for the likes of both Goodell and Smith, this issue is the least bit of importance to them at this very juncture. I have heard it said that Goodell has a great deal on his plate as commissioner of the NFL. From my standpoint the only thing at appears to concern Goodell and Smith….. is the sound of cash falling into the NFL’s coffers and how best the two parties can best disperse of their windfall ! Goodell and DeMaurice Smith haven’t brought it upon themselves to deal with this very issue head on . If anything they both would rather hide behind their ever increasing glib sound bytes on the matter in stating that they’re taking everything under advisement from the very best medical professionals out there. My question to both Goodell and Smith is how much longer will they both carry on with this charade that the NFL and NFLPA are actually doing something proactive about this very matter ? Try pissing in a lake to see how much of a ripple effect is made and there you’ll find your answer as it concerns both the NFL and NFLPA !

Is it me but is the collective IQ of the alleged NBA writers comparable to that of the IQ’s of Paris Hilton and Heidi Montag combined ? I’m not saying that these idiots are absolutely clueless but if their continued speculation is anything to go by then each has their own idea as to where LeBron James’ final destination will be. Let us just say that both Cavaliers’ principal partner Dan Gilbert and the team’s GM Chris Grant had better know how to assemble a team that will complement James prerequisite skills . Up until now, all that James has been given is bare meat and potatoes instead of filet-mignon. In addition, as well we know when it comes eating the main course meat and potatoes does not go down well with Baron de Rothschild 62 vintage champagne. Now there is a great deal of speculation as to where James will ultimately end up. From what we know is that there are at said to be at least six interested parties for James’ services. However, if anything until we ultimately know what the teams are actually prepared to do. We can only prognosticate and debate the MVP’s future and where his future may now lay.

Now the Stephen Strasburg effect is playing its part in bringing out the fans to witness the young phenom’s prowess. I have a word of advice for the Washington Nationals’ fans out there. Now that his arbitration clock is ticking and given the fact that his agent is Scott Boras . Well, three years from now Strasburg may well be no longer be a Washington Nationals’ player. Suffice to say, that the New York Yankees will swoop down to take Strasburg off the Nationals’ hands. I don’t care what you might think but the present Nationals’ team isn’t going anywhere at all. They are simply not good enough in either facets of the game of baseball. Other than Strasburg, there is simply nothing at all worthwhile to look at, on what can be best described as a rather mundane and mediocre team.If you doubt my word simply, look at the box score of the game between the Nationals and Atlanta Braves . Strasburg pitched an outstanding effort for six innings only to see the bullpen waste an opportunity . In the end the NL East division leading Braves would come away with a 5-0 victory from Turner Field , Fulton County, Atlanta , Georgia.

Nationals’ team President Stan Kasten simply knows how to make the customary sound byte but beyond that he has to realize that he’s now facing an uphill battle in hoping to make the young pitcher the centerpiece of their future. If the Nationals cannot place a team good enough to supplement his talents then they might as well give up hope of retaining his services in the future. We know that whatever the New York Yankees simply want, they usually get and without a doubt if they desire Strasburg, much like when a lion stalks its prey before swooping down for the kill .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As I alluded to earlier at the beginning of this piece one can always gauge not only the determination and success of a business entity or sports franchise by the discipline shown by the executives within an organization as it tends to give an indication as to what they aspire to become. A good business much like a good sports franchise has to be good from ground up and from the top down..

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………….

UB40 …………………” Higher Ground”