You Play The Game To Win …… But Are The Players Really Being Paid To Play ?

You Play The Game To Win …… But Are The Players Really Being Paid To Play ?

Well with the divisional rounds of the postseason of baseball now entering the closing stretch . The anxiety and of the teams left tends to be one angst. So much is now riding on the fate of the St Louis Cardinals , Milwaukee Brewers , Philadelphia Phillies , New York Yankees , Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers .

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The Texas Rangers came through their series against the Tampa Bay Rays virtually unscathed and with a great deal of ease . Something of a major disappointment for the thousands of the Rays’ who witnessed their team’s demise against the AL West champions at Tropicana Field , St Petersburg , Florida on Tuesday . Certainly for Ron Washington making a second consecutive visit with his team to the ALCS has to be a cause for great excitement not only for the coaches but also the fans and entire front office of the Texas Rangers. Certainly for team president Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels their faith in the manager has been more than justified. In the aftermath of last year’s loss to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series the team will certainly look to go one better .

The Texas Rangers currently await the winner of the series now in progress between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees. Both teams were divisional champions of the AL East and AL Central ____ the contest between these titans of the game promises to be an entertaining series . Jim Leyland will seek to get the best out of his team which is led by All Star slugger Miguel Cabrera and odds the on certainty for the AL Cy Young award in Justin Verlander . Joe Girardi as Leyland’s opposing number knows that although his pitching staff might not be the equal of the Detroit Tigers’ rotation but he has to be pleased with the fact that the offense is certainly one of the most productive within the AL .

With series now tied at 2-2 after the New York Yankees’ taking game four to force a deciding game five with a berth in the ALCS at stake . That game will be played in-front of a soldout crowd at Yankees Stadium in New York City on Thursday night. As to the starting pitchers for that series’ finale it remains to be seen as to who those starters will be at this juncture .

We have already seen the implosion of the Boston Red Sox as their season simply erupted into sheer ridicule with much of the blame being apportioned upon now departed manager Terry Francona . Now in the aftermath of it all we are now hearing of locker room unrest disruptive influence of several players . But clearly the front office is doing as much as they can to distance themselves from this fray while the speculation and conjecture takes on a journey of its own . If there is any blame that ought to be apportioned then it should be placed squarely upon the shoulders of these overpaid and under-performing stars on this roster. $167 million can buy a hell of a lot of talent but when those players simply fold up like multiple pieces of wrinkled crinkled paper mache`. During the month of September (7-20) this team performed abysmally and nowhere was this more evident than with their pitching . Josh Beckett , Johnathan Papelbon , Daniel Bard and Jon Lester simply failed to deliver when it mattered most .

The Philadelphia Phillies are being severely tested by the St Louis Cardinals in their divisional series match-up. And with game four (5-3) being decisively taken by Tony La Russa’s team . There now may well be the thought that we are about to see another star laden and high priced team fall by the wayside . And clearly with the St Louis Cardinals forcing a decisive game five to be played at Citizens Bank Ballpark , in Philadelphia places the weight of expectation upon this Phillies’ team managed by Charlie Manuel .

The presumed favorites within the NL the Philadelphia Phillies it was thought would simply sleepwalk their through the season before making the expected postseason foray on their way to the World Series . At this juncture given the apparent complacency being shown by the team I am not so sure that the Phillies may well get through this series unscathed ! And given the pitching rotation of this Phillies’ team led by Cliff Lee , Roy Halladay , Roy Oswalt , Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge . One would feel that a loss this early in the divisional rounds would be considered a monumental upset of the highest order.

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General view of action as Collin Cowgill (44) of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a two RBI single off starting pitcher Randy Wolf (43) of the Milwaukee Brewers during the third inning of Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6 . Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …….

A series deciding game 5 now awaits at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , this Friday , where everything is on the line for Charlie Manuel and his team. I have no doubt that Albert Pujols , Lance Berkman , Rafael Furcal , Ryan Theriot , Matt Holliday and his teammates would like nothing better than to derail the hopes of the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans .
If that should happen then the repercussions felt within the front office of organization may well cost the Phillies more than they are actually willing to admit . I am sure that GM Reuben Amaro Jr along with the organization’s senior partners David Montgomery and Bill Giles will not be entirely happy knowing that in making an outlay of $167 million in salary commitments for this season alone this team could come up firing blanks when it’s all said done should they not make the NLCS at least . On the other side of the equation sits John Mozeliak as general manager of the St Louis Cardinals knowing that what has been an arduous season could very well end up being one of unexpected triumphs .

Of all the aspirants chasing postseason success and the ultimate prize of the World Series as that final triumph. Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the unexpected success of the Arizona Diamondbacks and their record of last to first this season in winning the NL West . This might not have been on the agenda of GM Kevin Towers or anyone within the front office but with Kirk Gibson’s drive and that of his coaching staff this team has simply played out of their skins in dethroning the San Francisco Giants as last season’s divisional champion .

Now having made their way into the postseason the Arizona Diamondbacks now stand on the thresh-hold of making another foray to the NLCS . In defeating the Milwaukee Brewers at Chase Ballpark in Phoenix , Arizona 10-6 there now must be a game 5 at Miller Park , Milwaukee , Wisconsin to determine the outright winner of this series . At this juncture Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke knows that he cannot longer take anything for granted . Certainly not the players on this team who may well have felt that their march to the NLCS was theirs by divine right. And for the likes of Ryan Braun , Prince Fielder , Mark Kotsay and Yovani Gallardo as well as the rest of members of the roster they know that they are now in for the fight of their lives.

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Ryan Roberts (14) of the Arizona Diamondbacks runs the bases after hitting a grand slam home run in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……

With as much as there is riding on this series I fully expect there be a great deal of drama between the Brewers and Diamondbacks as both look to make their presence felt during this game. Given what we have all witnessed on the final day of the regular season schedule I would dare say that this postseason looks as if it is about to prolong much of the excitement seen on the day in question . As to which of these teams now makes it to the main finale itself , well that is now all dependent upon their drive shown over the remainder of the postseason itself .

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Picture gallery for your perusal . (By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in its original formatted size)

As a baseball fan are you at all pleased with the events that have taken place so far ? And which team if any has been the major surprise to you as witness the events unfold ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and thanks as always for the ongoing support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal …………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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E-mail rapptu@gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Detroit Tigers pitcher Doug Fister speaks to the media during a news conference, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in New York. Fister is scheduled to start against the New York Yankees in Game 5 of baseball’s American League division series on Thursday. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …….

(2) Chris Dickerson (27) , Alex Rodriguez (13) , Robinson Cano (24) , Derek Jeter (2) and Curtis Granderson (14) of the New York Yankees celebrates a 10-1 win over the Detroit Tigers during Game Four of the American League Divison Series at Comerica Park on October 4, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …..

(3) Miguel Cabrera (24) of the Detroit Tigers reacts after striking out in the eighth inning in Game Four of the American League Division Series at Comerica Park on October 4, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images ….

(4) St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (5) fields on-the-hop a single hit by Philadelphia Phillies’ Chase Utley (26) during the eighth inning in Game 4 of baseball’s National League division series on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011, in St. Louis. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …..

(5) Philadelphia Phillies players watch from the dugout during the ninth inning in Game 4 of baseball’s National League division series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011, in St. Louis. The Cardinals won the game 5-3 . AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ….

(6) Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after a pop fly out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6 . Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …..

(7) General view of action as Collin Cowgill (44) of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a two RBI single off starting pitcher Randy Wolf (43) of the Milwaukee Brewers during the third inning of Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …….

(8) Ryan Roberts (14) of the Arizona Diamondbacks runs the bases after hitting a grand slam home run in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game Four of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 10-6. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……
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MLB news

Scheduled games 3 days at a glance

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MLB results 5th October 2011

MLB results 4th October 2011

MLB probable starting pitchers 6th October 2011

MLB probable starting pitchers 7th October 2011

MLB team payrolls

So It All Comes Down To This …..

So It All Comes Down To This …..

Well as the MLB season enters its final week several of the divisional races seem to be all but sealed . Albeit , that the divisional wildcard races are still up for grabs the competition there seems to be very boisterous with the teams seeking the final berths within the the leagues are of the greatest importance to these ball-clubs. In the AL what seemed to be an insurmountable lead for the Boston Red Sox over the Tampa Bay Rays has been all but erased but for a mere two game margin between the two teams. The AL East has been sealed with the New York Yankees triumphant making the postseason for the forty ninth time over the course of their long distinguished history .

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For New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi this has been a season that pretty much was one that truly tested his resolve and that of his coaching assistants . And certainly when one takes into account all of the drama that has surrounded the season by the team you simply know that it’s back to business as usual for the organization. With GM Brian Cashman yet to sign a contract extension it would appear that this will be situation soon to resolved if if Hank and Hal Steinbrenner know what is best for the New York Yankees. The team itself has performed with the due distinction you would come to expect that has a litany of highly paid and praised All Stars .

Curtis Granderson , Mark Teixeira , Robinson Cano , CC Sabathia , Derek Jeter , Jesus Montero and the ever dependable Mariano Rivera have all contributed to the team’s success this season.

One of the more bewildering issues of the baseball year I do believe has been the disappointment in seeing a number of teams that have simply not lived up to expectations . Now you can spin it anyway that you want by saying injuries do play a part in ball-club’s season but at the same it is incumbent upon those teams , their respective managers and general managers to make sure that the parts in place for those teams to attain the success that they strive for. Instead , I hear repeatedly the excuses that continue to be used repeatedly by fans and purists alike who use that as a crux for their own comfort . I mean if a manager simply cannot get the best out of his players or those teammates simply cannot step up to the plate then it is a clear indication that the team just isn’t on the right track.

At this point of the season last year it would be safe to say that the fans of the game were simply satisfied with what they had seen with the expectations that the postseason would live up to the usual intrigue. The San Francisco Giants as defending World Series’ champions have seen their season virtually slip away due to the team’s inconsistency and the simple fact that the Arizona Diamondbacks came out of nowhere like a buzz saw felling everything in their way and leaving all in their wake. For Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy I am sure that he and GM Brian Sabean had hoped for a more productive season from the team . Most certainly for Kirk Gibson and his coaching staff the fact that the Arizona Diamondbacks seem to be on the cusp of another postseason appearance only adds to the allure and ongoing history of this ball-club. And for the Diamondbacks’ manager there is very reason to believe that he could very well end up being named the NL Manager of the Year .

This young Arizona Diamondbacks’ team bought into everything that Kirk Gibson was selling and their play was simply epitomized by the character shown by Gibson as a player . Certainly Dustin Upton has been everything that the front office had come to expect and a great deal more by way of his productivity this season. But it has been a collective effort on the part of this team that has put this organization back in the postseason. It gives hope to the small market teams around the league with the ambition to succeed where the brevitas is actually also shown by the team owners as well.

Now it goes without saying that although much of the season has eclipsed by the drama off the field of play with ongoing saga of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the fact that beleaguered owner Frank McCourt sought to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in US Federal Court in the state of Delaware. McCourt has remained steadfast in his resolve to retain control of the team albeit that time now appears to be running out . Having received financing in the form of a $150 million loan courtesy of Goldman Sachs which will aid in the funding of the organization’s expenditure until the end of the season. However, while this saga continues there seems to be no clear sign that Frank McCourt has been able to negotiate an amicable agreement with the team’s creditors , whilst in litigation. So much of this could have been avoided had MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the league hierarchy used due diligence in monitoring this situation from the beginning instead of absolving themselves of any responsibility and then choosing to intervene as a face saving image exercise . Now all the talk appears to be the expanding of the postseason with the addition of two teams from each league . If the commissioner really wants to address the real issues facing the game then he had better wake to the real problems that the game now finds itself in rather than creating the premise that this new format would actually be of benefit of the game.

Selig has shown as much insight for the business side of the game as a blind man would feel at ease playing hopscotch in a minefield . And while the ongoing saga continues with the Los Angeles Dodgers let us not forget the fact that the New York Mets now sits on a precipice which the owners simply cannot extricate themselves from at present . Having seen a prospective investor in Wall St hedge fund manager David Einhorn pull out of a deal to purchase a minority stake in the team with a view to then gaining a 51% stake at a later date Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon as the senior managing partners and co-owners of the team .

With the New York Mets and the two principal partners now defendants in a civil suit that seeks the return of $750 million determined as a small part of the monies received by Katz and Wilpon which they say are genuinely derived profits recouped by way of their investments in the Bernard Madoff ” Ponzi Scheme” . Representing the plaintiffs seeking the returns of the monies mentioned is renowned attorney Irving H Picard . The plaintiffs’ case from a prima facie viewpoint is very strong but in reality neither Katz, Wilpon or any other senior executive within the Mets’ organization has sought to openly willing to answer in depth any of the questions sought by Irving Picard. Clearly the longer this maelstrom continues the more acute the situation seems to be for the New York Mets because should the presiding judge in this civil case find for the plaintiffs in this hearing then it will not bode well for the ball-club . The team from a financial standpoint is losing money and that is even with the benefit of that $755 million all purpose built stadium at the taxpayers’ expense courtesy of the city of New York and Mayor Michael Bloomberg who has made sure that this white elephant sits proudly in Flushing New York while the city commission furloughs municipal employees , city wide .

The New York Mets for their part have had a woefully inept season and that is even with the advent of having both Sandy Alderson and J. P. Ricciardi within the front office of the organization. Plagued by anemic pitching but an even more mediocre offense pretty much summed up the New York Mets’ year , albeit that the sole bright spot on the team has been the play of Jose Reyes , the presumptive favorite many believe for the NL MVP this season. Given the financial constraints that will now be placed upon the New York Mets I do believe that in part this team will be gutted with the organization seeking to complement this roster with many of their prospects and players from within their farm system. Certainly there’s a great deal that manager Terry Collins and his coaching staff can work with within this organization

The “crazy train” seems to have left the station as there appears that Albert Pujols , his agent Dan Lozano and the St Louis Cardinals are no closer to agreeing to a contract. The player prior to the start of the season intimated that once Cardinals began their regular season play he would not enter into negotiation with organization. GM John Mozeliak has to make the re-signing of the All Star slugger the team’s major priority entering this offseason. The team can ill afford to lose the player to free agency and signing any one quite possibly at five or six suitors prepared to pay the asking price for this productive first baseman . With the team having resigned Lance Berkman to a one year contract extension the organization has to be cognisant of the fact that the Chicago Cubs , Chicago White Sox , Los Angeles Angels and quite possibly the Texas Rangers could make a bold attempt to sign Albert Pujols. Cubs’ owner Tom Ricketts in light of his team’s abysmal showing this season has made it abundantly clear that he’s willing to spend and spend big in bringing some semblance of success to Wrigley Field .

John Mozeliak knows that he’ll be hard pressed to outbid Tony Reagins , Kenny Williams and Jon Daniels should it come to an outright bidding war. Certainly the owners of the quartet of teams mentioned have the financial wherewithal to lure the Cardinals’ first baseman but at what price within the market place and precedence that could very well be set ? If the statements are to be believed then it could well amount to a contract that would certainly make Albert Pujols the highest paid player in baseball annually and quite possibly lead to largest contract signed by a player in professional sports . Pujols believes he is worth a contract commensurate with his talent and when one bears in mind that Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees will earn in excess of $30 million this year alone , then who can argue with the player’s stance ? Productivity wise , there is very little to choose between the two players and without a doubt both are future bound for Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame having met the criteria for enshrinement . Herein lies the caveat to this all , once the bar is raised that high with the exorbitant salaries that are now being paid then where does that leave the small market teams who simply cannot compete with that sort of financial resourcefulness ? Truth be known , baseball is now on a slippery road to a downward spiral into an abyss and now amount of tinkering with the playoff format can hide the real acute issues that the game of baseball faces . Bud Selig is merely trying to place a Band Aid unto open wound to the abdomen that has been hemorrhaging blood profusely !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As to what the postseason now holds for the fans we can only wait and see but as an avid fan of the game I sincerely hope that we can be provided with the excitement we have come to expect with some truly competitive series throughout the divisional series , pennant championships and the World Series itself !

What have been the highlights for you as a fan of the game and what do you hope to see during the MLB playoffs ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals slides into third base as Blake DeWitt (9) of the Chicago Cubs waits for the throw during the game played at Busch Stadium on September 24, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images …..

(2) Rafael Furcal (15) of the St. Louis Cardinals moves out of the way of a wild pitch by <a href="http://baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=marmoca&t=p=&year=2011"&gt; Carlos Marmol (49) of the Chicago Cubs which allowed the game winning run to score in the ninth inning at Busch Stadium on September 24, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images ……

(3) Geovany Soto (18) of the Chicago Cubs walks off the field as the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate a walk off victory at Busch Stadium on September 24, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images …….

(4) Manager Kirk Gibson (23) , center, of the Arizona Diamondbacks and coach Alan Trammell (3) , left, congratulate players Alberto Castillo (33) and Henry Blanco (12) following their 15-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants during of a MLB game at Chase Field on September 24, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images ….

(5) The lights go out at Chase Field and also on the San Francisco Giants’ season . Manager Bruce Bochy (16) of the San Francisco Giants talks with umpire Gary Darling as their game with the Arizona Diamondbacks is interrupted by a twenty-minute power outage in the seventh inning of a MLB game at Chase Field on September 24, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images ….

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