In The Cold Light of Day You Can Always Figure Out The Truth …

In The Cold Light of Day You Can Always Figure Out The Truth …

Well, the Major League Baseball season came to an abrupt end and the Boston Red Sox claimed the best record in the league on their way to a one-hundred win season. The Red Sox were joined by the New York Yankees and Houston Astros as the only other ball-clubs to have achieved the feat during this long and arduous season. Among the players who excelled during the year , we have Blake Snell among the pitchers , who led all starters in the number of wins as well as having one of the lowest ERA’s among the starters. With regard to offense it was another very good season with several players living up to expectation , among them two-time AL MVP and Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout . It was another disappointing season for the Angels as they failed to make the postseason for 2018. It is widely known, that team manager Mike Sciocsia will not be returning to the ball-club in 2019 . Another big league manager also in the same position is John Gibbons of the Toronto Blue Jays , as the front office made it official, that his contract will not be extended.


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The Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals were among the major disappointments within the National League , with Miami having among the worst record of all the teams in the NL (National League) and their barely being competitive within the NL East , where they finished bottom of the division. The surprising winners there , were the Atlanta Braves who finished with a 90-72 record . The wildcard entrant within the NL will be the Los Angeles Dodgers tie-breaker with the Colorado Rockies and the losers of the tie-breaker between the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers . That game is due to take place on Monday, 1st October , with the Cubs playing host to the Brewers at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. . It makes for a fascinating start to the MLB postseason in 2018 , with two tie-breaking series set to unfold . I’d dare say the Los Angeles Dodgers are in a very precarious situation , having to face divisional rival the Colorado Rockies.

Heavily favored, but yet somehow, a team largely made of PGA superstars and they failed miserably as the US Ryder Cup Team lost to their European counterparts in one of the most lopsided results in recent Ryder Cup history. The final score of 17 ½ to 10 ½ didn’t do the Europeans justice as Francesco Molinari led a tremendous team, with the Italian posting a 5-0 winning record , matching a feat only achieved by four other players in the format’s history. This biannual event is the biggest team competition in golf , bigger than the President’s Cup and the World Cup of Golf. In 2020 , when Europe seeks to defend their title , the Ryder Cup will be played on American soil at the Whistling Straits Golf Course , in Milwaukee , Wisconsin. It will be very interesting to see who will be the captain of the US Team will be and whether or not there will be a great deal of camaraderie among the players. Based on the results seen in France, there seems to be a great deal of animosity and among the Americans , with their also being a great deal of finger pointing and backbiting among those teammates.

Five games into the College Football season and it looks like Alabama intends to separate themselves from the rest of the programs at the top of D1 Football. With a 5-0 record there isn’t a great deal that the team has left to prove , other than for Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban to win another national title. Saban has cemented himself as among the greatest college coach in College Football history. On Saturday afternoon Alabama entertained or should I say played and toyed with Louisiana Lafayette on their way to a 56-14 lopsided victory. To say that Louisiana put up any type of resistance would be laughable , as the game was never really close at any time during its duration.

Alabama will like remain atop of the College Rankings , while also heavily positioning themselves to win out within the SEC (Southeastern Conference) once again. . In week six Nick Saban will take his players on the road as they face Arkansas (Razorbacks) on the road for a game to be played on the 6th October , 2018 at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas,. I doubt that this will be the game where Alabama will be upended .

The nearest team to Alabama by way of their play and athleticism based on record , being that there are still several unbeaten teams . might well be Clemson , whose championship winning run and their defeat of Alabama was a joy to behold. . In week six Clemson’s coaching staff headed by Dabo Swinney will prepare the team to face rival Wake Forest on the road . The Georgia Bulldogs might well be ranked as the number two team in the nation and they are very good , but I still believe the Clemson Tigers to be the better team ! Georgia for their part will have a very interesting upcoming game when they take on Vanderbilt .

Well , so much for that 3-0 start to their season by the Miami Dolphins and the claims that this might be the team to beat within the AFC East . That picture was quickly laid to rest as the Dolphins were manhandled and mauled by a New England Patriots’ team looking to make amends for a poor start to their season. Anyone who believed this Patriots’ roster had seen better days , well they were suddenly reawakened by the cacophony of a bang, as New England took it upon themselves to remind the rest of the NFL why this franchise is a five-time winning Superbowl champion. Tom Brady had his best outing of the season by far with both the defense and offense playing their part in this humiliating defeat of the Miami Dolphins. Adam Gase , a former protege’ of Patriots’ Head Coach Bill Belichick , now finds himself having been taught a real lesson by his Master. For Ryan Tannehill and all the talk of his being a leader or this Miami Dolphins’ team , it is becoming increasingly clear he still has a long way to go before he can be remotely considered to be an elite quarterback in the NFL .

Ryan Tannehill’s performance against the New England Patriots saw the player pass for a mere one hundred yards , while barely competing fifty percent of his pass attempts during the game. He would be replaced by backup quarterback Brock Osweiler , who fared no better than his teammate during the contest. With week five of the regular season just around the corner and the Dolphins not having their bye-week until week eleven where they’re joined by the Buffalo Bills , Cleveland Browns , New England Patriots , New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers as the teams with a bye for that week. Next up for Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins will be a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on the road in an AFC match-up . Meanwhile , Tom Brady and the Patriots will be preparing to take on the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium , in Foxboro’, Massachusetts,.

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s world and that of the Tampa Buccaneers’ came crashing down to a loss , that was totally unexpected. In many respects , the writing had been on the wall , as the Buccaneers had begun to show frailties long expected and at some point we all knew would be exposed. Chicago Bears’ rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky passed for a franchise-game six passing touchdowns on the way to the team’s 48-10 victory over their conference rivals. The Buccaneers might well be 2-2 at present , but that record is very deceptive , because this is not a two and two one team . If anything, the Buccaneers are lucky to have that record and it begs the question what else can Dirk Koetter now do with a team which continually lets their fans down due to their complacency and inconsistency ?

If Ryan Fitzpatrick’s performance against the Chicago Bears was thought to be bad , then having Jameis Winston come on to replace Fitzpatrick, barely offered the Buccaneers any hope at all, as Winston simply showed us once again why his progress has been mediocre since becoming a first round draft pick for the franchise in 2015 . To suggest that there might be an upside to Winston’s game would be like trying to equate it with walking across the Grand Canyon without the use of a balancing pole to aid the walker on that journey. The hard part for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be to try and convince their doubters that they’re still a team capable of being viewed as a contender within the NFC and worthy of a postseason berth. Based on the four games played to date , I am far from convinced that the Buccaneers are even capable of having a winning season in 2018, let alone making it to the NFL postseason. It will be interesting to see how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seek to rebound from this loss the Chicago Bears when they face the Atlanta Falcons on the road in week six .

Patrick Mahomes might not have been the first quarterback taken in the 2018 NFL Draft , but he’s certainly playing like the top prospect the front office of the Kansas City Chiefs believed him to be. Too early to say as of yet if he’ll measure up to the accomplishments of Carson Wentz, which was seen last season , before Wentz went down due to injury , unable to participate in the Philadelphia Eagles triumphant postseason foray , where their ultimate triumph was the defeat of the New England Patriots in the Superbowl. I am not saying that Mahomes will lead the Chiefs to that sort of postseason experience , but it would certainly be interesting to see what could happen over the remainder of the team’s schedule. The rookie quarterback kept his composure in leading the Kansas City Chiefs to a well-deserved win over divisional rivals the Denver Broncos and thereby keeping their unbeaten record in tact.

Next up for the Kansas City Chiefs will be a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City , Missouri .

The NBA preseason has begun in earnest and it will be interesting to see how the teams will fare , in the lead-up to the regular season schedule which tips off officially on the 16th October with two Opening Night Games. Current defending NBA champions , the Golden State Warriors will certainly be looking to improve upon last season’s record , albeit , that the team didn’t have the best regular season record. Yet , for Steve Kerr , his coaching staff and that of the front office led by Bob Myers . Their wish is to create another dynasty for the league to talk about. The Warriors’ roster led by Steph Curry and Kevin Durant , have to be seen as the prohibitive favorites to make a successful defense of their title. This team as it currently stands with the addition of DeMarucs Cousins might be even more formidable than last season’s championship roster .

The Golden State Warriors will begin the defense of their title with the customary preseason schedule before embarking upon their regular season beginning on the 16th October , when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder at home at the Oracle Arena in Oakland ,

Of the big off-season moves , no one was really surprised when LeBron James made the announcement that he would be moving West to the bright lights and big city of Los Angeles. Joining the Los Angeles Lakers signing a five-year max deal that pays him just over $150 million dollars was not a big expenditure when you take into account this remains the NBA’s most popular franchise and quite possibly it’s most valuable based on attendance levels and ratings.

Lakers’ head coach Luke Walton will be hard pressed to convince me this team has what it takes to take down the Golden State Warriors and the best that the Western Conference has to offer. LeBron James might well have won with less while with the Cleveland Cavalier, but he’s playing with the Big Boys of the West and not the daycare kindergarten kids of the East as was the case last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers . When the Lakers begin their preseason schedule of five games it will be interesting to see how the team will fare. The first of those contests will see them them tip off against the Denver Nuggets at home on Tuesday , 2nd October . . Their regular season schedule begins on the 18th October when they face conference rivals the Portland Trailblazers .

Eight straight NBA Finals’ appearances is an astonishing feat for any player , but even with all of the accomplishments of LeBron James. He will be hard pressed to make it to a ninth consecutive appearance with a team which is short by way of real experience .

OK, so the Los Angeles Lakers might well be the big story in the NBA and for much of this season, that is likely to be the case , but there will be other stories unfolding. The Brooklyn Nets for many years a franchise hemorrhaging more money than having success , is now in the midst of being sold by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov to to Canadian citizen Joseph Tsai , who is of Taiwanese ancestry. Tsai also happens to be the Vice Chairman of Chinese e-Commerce giant Ali-Baba . His net worth is believe to be just over $9 billion , making him certainly among Canada’s richest citizens as well as in China and Taiwan. Before the sale can be finalized , it must have the approval of the NBA’s Board of Governors , before the Joseph Tsai can assume control as the league’s newest NBA franchise owner .

It is not known how much Joseph Tsai paid in purchasing the Brooklyn Nets , but I don’t believe that Mikhail Prokhorov will completely recoup his original investment . The coaching staff of the franchise led by Kenny Atkinson will now have a short period of time to assess the possible wholesale changes likely to be made. Brooklyn’s roster is not overly impressive and not one that I believe will be capable of being very competitive this upcoming season. The first game of the Nets’ preseason will see them facing their in-state rivals the New York Knicks on Wednesday , 3rd October ,2018 . Their opening game of the regular season will see the Nets facing the Detroit Pistons on the road. Given the productivity seen from these two teams last season, it will be very interesting to see how this contest will end .

Another disgruntled star in the NBA and the regular season has yet to begin. The Minnesota Timberwolves now have Jimmy Butler pleading his case by making a request to be traded. No doubt there would be a plethora of teams interested in acquiring one of the league’s best guards. Butler has proven himself to be productive and a leader ; this was clearly the case when he played for the Chicago Bulls . Timberwolves’ Head Coach Tom Thibodeau who also happens to hold a high-ranking position within the organization , is reluctant to let the player go , but he might be willing to do so if he were able to make a trade he deemed fair.

Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves might not reach an agreement where he is likely to leave the franchise before the season starts. In all likelihood , I don’t believe Tom Thibodeau will be pressured into making an unwanted deal . The Timberwolves’ preseason opener will see the team face the Los Angeles Clippers
on the road before embarking on their regular season opener where they will tip-off against the San Antonio Spurs on the road .

The number of players in the NBA who will be earning over $25 million this season is now at an all-time high. It certainly is above the figure of last season. The figure has almost doubled from fourteen to now twenty five and it is clear that the NBA hierarchy led by Commissioner Adam Silver is not at all overly concerned. Not while the league’s revenues to go higher and the value of the teams steadily increase . This season in the NBA could be a very interesting one with just about everyone taking note of what the Los Angeles Lakers are liable to do .



Picture gallery along with accompanying narrative.

What if anything , do you now feel has been the biggest sports’ story to date or over the past week , month or at least the last six months ?

Tophatal ……….. 10/02/2018


MLB news

MLB postseason schedule

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NCAA Football and week five results

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NFL standings division and conference standings

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NBA team salary cap 2018-19

Highest paid NBA players (2018)

The Old Man And The Sea ………

The Old Man And The Sea

Of late, with all of the political in-fighting , backbiting and basic nonsense that seems to encapsulate the landscape of American politics on the domestic and international front . I’ve begun to take a look at some of the asinine things now out in print within the various news’ formats and social media platforms. The latest piece de resistance would appear to be the issue of what is meant to be ‘ White Privilege’ . From my own perspective I simply believe it to be the social basis, whereby Caucasians will continue to cling to power , be it politically, socially and economically. The fact that in large part, they feel it is being perpetuated by minorities when in fact, minorities have never been seen or be treated as their equal is somewhat perplexing, but here we are at a point in the nation’s history, where a President can simply be bold enough to insult a panacea of ethnic groups and it’s seen as his right as freedom of speech , while he also claims to be uniting the country as a whole.

Last I looked , President Donald Trump had little understanding of the rule of law let alone the Constitution. Be that as it may, nine months into his Presidential reign , his supporters remain staunch in their support while his detractors continue to look for ways to take him down.

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Away from the political landscape , the World Series is now in progress and the two best teams in baseball are now providing the fans with what should be an exciting series. I believe this series could and should go to a full seven games given the abilities of the two teams, the AL’s Houston Astros and the NL’s Los Angles Dodgers . The Dodgers have the highest payroll in the game as well as being among the best supported teams in baseball. Dave Roberts and his Houston counterpart, AJ Hinch could be up for managerial honors in 2017 , given their achievements this season. As for the teams themselves, after the first two games , they’re now square at one game apiece with game-three set to take place on Friday night at Minute Maid Field in Houston , Texas. The opposing pitchers will be Yu Darvish of the Los Angeles Dodgers against Lance McCullers Jr of the Houston Astros.

Not to take away from the spectacle of the World Series , but the other big story within the game has been the New York Yankees making the decision not to renew the contract of team manager Joe Girard . His four-year contract was due to expire and it was thought the front office might well be leaning towards a renewal . It wasn’t to be and after ten years in charge , Girardi is out the door and no chance his making another $16-$20 million over the next four years. Luckily enough with vacancies now in Washington with the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia with the Philadelphia Phillies, Girardi has his pick of two viable alternatives. Though I do expect there to be one or two more possible vacancies coming up within the next few weeks.

Joe Girardi was able to guide the New York Yankees to a World Series’ title in 2009 , but since then, their appearances in the postseason have often ended in failure before the Fall Classic itself. Brian Cashman general manager of the Yankees’ organization is also in the last season of his existing contract and the siblings controlling the ball-club, Hal Steinbrenner and Hank Steinbrenner have not expressed their sentiments in keeping Cashman in his current role. If changes are to be made concerning the roles of the manager and general manager then now would be the time to do it. Gary Denbo was allowed to leave the organization to join Derek Jeter within the front office of the Miami Marlins , where Jeter now serves in the role of Chief Executive Officer while Denbo serves in his capacity as Vice President, Player Development & Scouting .

In terms of a new manager, where the New York Yankees go from here is anyone’s guess , as they could promote from within to fill the vacancy left with the departure of Joe Girardi or they could go out and seek a more high-profiled name to succeed Girardi. One thing is certain , the core of this roster , where several of the younger players made their mark this season. It leaves this ball-club in a very healthy situation, though I do believe several of their highly overpaid veterans ought to be shown the door because of their lack of productivity. I don’t believe there can be any justification for the return of CC Sabathia , Matt Holliday , Jacoby Ellsbury , Michael Pineda and Aroldis Chapman . I know that the Yankees like to do things a certain way , but when you’re shelling out over $20 million a year and getting very little in return . Then , there comes a time when you have to rethink your strategy entirely.

Ideas above their station and the belief, they continue to remain relevant . It has been several years since the Florida Gators were striking fear into their opponents. This season , the only thing being struck are the players’ egos , as they realize they’re way in over their heads, while the coaching staff of Jim McElwain looks to take down not an opponent, but fans who have become sick and tired of the mediocrity shown by the team . After a recent game , McElwain could be seen berating a fan who called for the dismissal of the entire coaching staff. It’s funny , I was under the impression some college coaches were thick-skinned. Clearly, Jim McElwain’s skin is softer than a baby’s ass and is of a really delicate nature . The loss to Texas A&M brought about the capitulation of the Gators’ season and the end to their postseason hopes of a playoff berth. Up next for the Florida Gators will be a game against the number three-ranked Georgia (Bulldogs) to be played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville , Florida on Saturday 28th October , 2017 .

Nick Saban will continue to rewrite the history books in terms of modern College Football . His legacy is there for all to bear witness to. With the number one ranked team in the nation , Saban has Alabama (8-0) firing on all cylinders as they look to have another unbeaten season. Their upset loss in the national title game to Clemson were what dreams are made off as Clemson in a game of cat-and-mouse , beat their more well-established opponent . The path to this season’s national title game will be a pleasant one for Alabama , as they have nothing else left to lose , other than their dignity. Dabo Sweeny and his fans knows that the program still has a great deal to live up to . In week nine Clemson will to face Georgia Tech . Alabama for its part will be looking to make it nine consecutive wins in a row when they take on LSU (Tigers) on the 4th November , 2017 .

The number of unbeaten teams in the NBA now stands at three , with the Los Angeles Clippers (3-0) , Portland Trailblazers (3-0) and the San Antonio Spurs (4-0) being the only franchises without a loss. Pretty much safe to say by the end of the season all of the teams will have suffered a defeat . On Thursday night there were five games taking place with the most interesting being the contest between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics . For the Bucks, Giannis Antetkounmpo has lived up to the expectations based on his performances of last season for the team . This season Antetkounmpou has proven to be equally effective alongside a considerably improved starting lineup. The next game for the Milwaukee Bucks will be a match-up against the Atlanta Hawks on the road at the Philips Arena in Atlanta , Georgia on October 29th .

At this moment in time I believe Giannis Antetkounmpo to be one of the top-ten centers in the league and among the best forwards now playing !

It will certainly be interesting to see what the Milwaukee Bucks are capable of achieving this season within their division as well as the league overall . I don’t see them a s fifty-win team, but they are certainly able to play themselves into contention, f we see the coaching acumen of Jason Kidd rise to the fore. He is by far in a way one of the most innovative coaches in the league today , though not yet on the plateau of Gregg Popovich , the five-time championship winning coach. Popovich has been able to coach All Stars , but he has also been able to groom and develop talent turning them into All Stars . Those claims cannot be made for the likes of Phil Jackson , Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra , because they were handed the keys to a Ferrari and then merely asked to take it for a spin before going on their respective journeys. Doubt my word , then simply look at the facts ?

Gregg Popovich continues to be a miracle worker and his record is remarkable. This season the San Antonio Spurs are without their best player , Kawhi Leonard , but somehow they remain in contention . Once Leonard is back in the starting lineup , then I expect to see this team really challenge the likes of the Golden State Warriors , Houston Rockets , Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder within the Western Conference . As contentious and competitive as that conference continues to be , by contrast the Eastern Conference will remain mediocre. Those who are on the know cannot deny that very fact. Popovich will lead the San Antonio Spurs out for their next game against the Orlando Magic , as he seeks to win the one thousand one hundred and fifty-fifth regular season of his professional coaching career.

Injuries we know tend to plague a season no matter what the professional sport and it is the case once again within the NBA. How the teams fare will be dependent upon what the coaches seek to do in rearranging their lineups from day to-day. Midway into month-three of the schedule , I believe the teams will have found their rhythm while playing some competitive basketball.

So all of the hoopla and hype cannot hide the fact of what we already know , the Miami Dolphins are not a very good team . Having lost Ryan Tannehill for the regular season , the front office saw fit to seek out the retired Jay Cutler , offer him a one-year $10 million deal . Adam Gase seemingly had no faith in Matt Moore who led the team to the postseason in 2016 , in one of the Dolphins’ most recent appearances. Cutler’s lack of consistency has derailed any hopes they may have had within the AFC East as well as obtaining a postseason berth within the AFC . The team’s defense cannot mask the fact they’re simply not that good to begin with. With Jay Cutler now suffering an injury , it would appear team owner Stephen Ross will continue to tow the league line by having nothing to do with Colin Kaepernick . This might well come from the fact in recent weeks under the advice of his legal counsel , Kaepernick has filed a grievance within the US Federal Courts with the charges of collusion by the NFL and team owners . There may well be grounds for the suit, but the preponderance of proof will be by that of the plaintiff and his being able to prove his case. However , what has been glaringly obvious team owners have paid this issue very little lip service , while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to hide behind a great deal of rhetoric while in the background. What also is astoundingly clear, the NFLPA leadership and their Executive Director DeMaurice Smith have shown very little support for Kaepernick.

The Baltimore Ravens played host to the Miami Dolphins in a Thursday night game played at London’s Wembley Stadium . This match-up proved to be eventful as Joe Flacco was lost the Ravens , even though they routed their opponents in a 40- 0 clubbing of Miami. Matt Moore’s performance itself was far from satisfactory and it should tell you something that prior to the start of the game , Miami had seen fit to sign David Fales to a contract. As I alluded to earlier , I do believe there are grounds for Colin Kaepernick to proceed with his suit against the NFL. Now his detractors are likely to suggest that Kaepernick is not that great a player if you base it on his play during 2016 , but I would suggest he is far from being the worst quarterback in the league last season and his statistics would be favorable over number of players in the league who have played two or more games in the league during this season . If we really want to make comparisons concerning the ability of Colin Kaepernick and how he measures up against Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco , perhaps we might take a look at their statistics .

As for understanding the reasons behind Colin Kaepernick’s stance , let’s just say when it comes to real activism by the NFL , it tends to favor their making money and placing what they believe to be a pristine image rather than actually taking a noticeable stance. As for the issue of privilege , be it Black or White , let’s just say that whole issue has never been addressed in the true sense of the word . Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones suggests that the players on the Cowboys’ roster are his property. Last I looked, in spite of their current mediocre record , the Cowboys wasn’t a plantation , but I am beginning to deduce Jones’ slave mentality approach is something that might be shared by several of his fellow owners .

Donald Trump’s idiotic rants calling for the NFL players to be fired from their teams for showing a lack of patriotism when the national anthem is played., indicates he has no concept as to the rule of law , let alone the issue of free speech ( freedom of expression) , yet he considers it appropriate to denigrate people of color and the families of fallen war veterans , using the language and tact you’d come to expect of a highly uneducated person. My bad , I forgot his education at Brown University and Wharton Business School actually allows him that privilege. Bigoted ‘white privilege ‘ run amok . Jerry Jones like Donald Trump , they don’t lack candor , but what they do lack, is respect for another person’s right to express themselves freely. What might be even more hypocritical about the owner , has been his willingness to support players on his team who’ve ran afoul of the law under suspicion for acts of battery , spousal abuse and even felonious assault. The reason behind his support , simply from the fact, it would lessen the chance of the Dallas Cowboys winning a game.



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Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit with regard to the points raised within this a rticle.

Tophatal …….. 10/26/2017

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Continue reading “The Old Man And The Sea ………”

A legacy … aspiring to be a legend in baseball

A legacy …… aspiring to be a legend in baseball

With the rash of trade maneuvers which have taken place during the off-season within baseball. One has to wonder how and where the teams in question are able facilitate the deals in terms of their finances . Granted , year in and year out were are repeatedly being told by the league’s hierarchy the game has nothing to worry about with regard to their finances. Yet it is difficult to try and justify how the Los Angeles Dodgers in the last two seasons have spent close to half-a-billion dollars ($500,000,000) in payroll to come up short in the postseason twice in sucession. OK, you could point to the fact the team’s owners are well backed financially, with their being owned outright by Guggenheim Baseball Properties LLC , whose parent company just happens to be one of the nation’s largest venture capital firms with asssets exceeding $125 billion ($125,000,000,000). Guggenheim Partners Inc whose lead executives are Todd Boehly and Mark Walter , joined forces with Magic Johnson and Hollywood media mogul Peter Guber to purchase the Dodgers after the franchise was taken out of bankruptcy proceedings in US Federal Bankruptcy Court .

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Now while this whole chapter, may well have been beneficial for the game of baseball. The fact of the matter cannot be denied, the dealings which took place concerning this,was all clouded in a great deal of secrecy , with very little being made known to the public , in spite of the claims of former commissioner Bud Selig , everything was done above reproach. Having Bud Selig make those claims is tantamount to having a fox in a hen-house taking care of the occupants. Selig during his years has simply made sure this game has been presided over by buffoons , while he and the team owners take pride in the fact , apathy remains among the majority of the game’s fans , the print and television media as well as municipal and state agencies. The ongoing imbalances within the baseball beyond the very fact the game is still unable to rid themselves of steroid cheats , has been the fact Bud Selig and his successor Rob Manfred are either afraid to address the issue or choose not to initiate a hard salary cap which is equitable for all thirty teams within the game .

The Dodgers’ meltdown during this past postseason was enough to suggest Don Mattingly and his managerial staff were ill-prepared, complacent and felt it preordained they would waltz their way through the postseason. Perhaps buoyed by the fact they possessed the best pitcher in baseball during the regular season. Clayton Kershaw was meant to lead the Dodgers through their playoff foray. Unfortunately , for the team , their opponents had other plans and the explanations behind the team’s postseason demise bordered upon being comical to downright ridicule of a group of players, who were simply overconfident and had little respect for their opponents .

Don Mattingly and his team will enter into 2015 with a payroll exceeding $260 million and not exactly in a position to try and justify anyone’s belief they can be considered one of the best teams in the National League this upcoming season. With Andrew Friedman coming to head up the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Baseball Operations , it was believed sweeping changes would be made among the player personnel. Friedman saw a need for the change after the abject failure seen during the past two postseason forays for the Dodgers. It would be foolish to believe the front office would accept these failings and not let their angst be known. Magic Johnson may well be the public face of the Dodgers’ organization from an executive standpoint, but Johnson should not be thought of only in the complexity of being one the NBA’s all-time greats, because he has now become an extremely successful businessman and philanthropist , whose corporation runs a gamut of business entities with revenues exceeding $1.8 billion annually. Profits and success are at the forefront of the Dodgers’ desire within this ownership group by just about any means necessary , but after the vast financial commitment made in 2013 and 2014, it became obvious something was missing from the template engineered by the management staff for the players.

Gone from last season’s roster are Josh Beckett , Matt Kemp, Brian Wilson , Dee Gordon and Dan Haren. The most notable acquisition for the team was short-stop Jimmy Rollins, whose presence could add some stability and leadership , which were sorely lacking and missing from those traits last season. I firmly believe , if Don Mattingly is unable to turn things around for the Dodgers this upcoming season , then the likelihood of his remaining would prove to be a disastrous . This season is likely to prove to be very competitive against baseball’s current World Series’ champions the San Francisco Giants . If the Giants are not seen as prohibitive favorites for the NL Pennant in 2015 , then the dominance seen from this ball-club over the past six seasons can only be viewed as bewildering . Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy will be seeking to replicate the success witnessed last season as the franchise won its third World Series’ crown in the past six years.

There is no denying a ball-club such as the Los Angeles Dodgers with a legacy of such famed stars and Hall of Fame players as as Jim Bunning , Gary Carter , Don Drysdale , Sandy Koufax , Pee Wee Reese , Don Sutton and Jackie Robinson to name but a few . The vestiges of those halcyon days are long-gone with the franchise having not made the World Series in over twenty-five years , it begs the question , if the Dodgers are not able make another serious run in the postseason, will they ever succeed winning another title ? What I believe to be sorely lacking on this current Dodgers’ roster is someone willing to assume the role of a vocal leader both on and off the field of play. If the addition of Jimmy Rollins can provide the trait sought then so be it , but it is astonishing to think with such veterans already on this team as Carl Crawford , Adrian Gonzalez , Juan Uribe , Darwin Barney and AJ Ellis . How is it , that a team with such highly paid stars can continue to fail so miserably ? Is it a lack of managerial acumen from Don Mattingly or quite possibly the simple fact, this ball-club was never that good to begin with ?

An undeniable talent, but either the Miami Marlins are over-stretching in their belief that paying slugger Giancarlo Stanton a whopping $325 million will be a cure for what ails the organization can either be viewed as outrageous or an act pure genius on the part of GM Michael Hill and his fellow front office executives . Stanton’s thirteen-year deal averages out at $25 million annually , but it would still not make him the highest paid player in the game . Yet this is somehow the trait so many front office executives believe they need to exhibit. It’s either pay up, or you are likely to miss the boat . In baseball , few players have been able to live up to those live up to or meet the expectations or even surpass them. Simply ask Alex Rodriguez if he feels ,that his accomplishments within the game have not been tarnished by wantoned misuse of performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) ? I am sure New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman must now be ruing the day he re-signed Rodriguez to the second of his two multimillion dollar deals . Twice in a lifetime , two $250 million deals have been “inked” by Alex Rodriguez and not once was an eyelid raised over those contracts , even in the aftermath of the player’s admission of guilt for the use of a banned substance , which begs the question, why is baseball still filled with such apathy and hypocrisy , not just among the fans , but also within the game’s hierarchy ?

One of the decade’s best players found himself a new home during this off-season when Ichiro Suzuki joined the Miami Marlins signing a one-year deal with the hope his presence will prove to an adequate complement to the team’s roster . Ichiro is likely to maintain the productivity we have come to know over the years. The former AL Rookie of The Year and AL MVP is nearing a career milestone as he approaches the 3,000 career hits’ plateau . A first ballot future Hall of Fame inductee , it will be interesting to see how Ichiro will be feted upon surpassing the mark many hitters aspire to reach , but few are seen as legitimate legends of the game. Ichiro Suzkuki is definitely a legend within the Major Leagues and his career bears this out !

This upcoming season, I believe both the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees will live and die by the accomplishments of Giancarlo Stanton and Alex Rodriguez ! Stanton is lucky enough to still be in the infancy of his career, whereas , there is now nothing Rodriguez can now do to remove either the stain or stench associated with his past or his future . Two futile acts of contrition, cannot hide the fact he remains one of the most despised and hated athletes in all of major professional sports , bar none .

I believe it would be fair to suggest, both Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen offer the best hope for baseball, as the faces of the game and its likely saviors, if the sport is to truly prosper and for its long-term future ! Both have been recipients of the AL and NL MVP’s within their respective leagues. Though postseason heroics have been fleeting for Trout and McCutchen , there is no doubt in my mind at some point in their respective futures both are likely to be recipients of a World Series’ ring or a World Series’ MVP for their exploits. Granted , in the past three seasons neither the Los Angeles Angels or the Pittsburgh Pirates have met the expectations sought by their fans or prominent MLB analysts . Respective team owners Arte Moreno and Bob Nutting having willingly spent millions of dollars over the past few seasons painstakingly seeking a championship, but coming up short at various points of the postseason in recent years. This season, will hopefully promise a great deal and bring out the very best in the Angels and the Pirates. Certainly , that will be what respective managers Mike Scioscia and Clint Hurdle hope to obtain from the Los Angeles Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates as they enter the first month of the 2015 regular season schedule beginning on the 6th April .

A confident start could go a long way in determining how good or great their respective seasons are likely to be. If both Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen can reproduce the form shown during last season, then it could also aid their teams to the desired success of possibly winning a World Series’ crown. The Los Angeles Angels will begin their season with a game against the Seattle Mariners at Angels Ballpark in Anaheim , California , whereas , the Pirates will play the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati , Ohio , in the Reds’ home opener .

It is way too early to try and define the careers of Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout ,but if either can remotely live up to a number of their predecessors with either the Pirates or Angels , then there is absolutely no reason not to believe why they cannot go on to have long and distinguished careers within Major League Baseball . In my honest opinion these two great young players are exactly what the game needs , fresh faced and talented individual players who simply excel, while showing a great deal of leadership skills and maturity !

Safe to say , with the ” stain ” associated with the careers of Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez , perhaps the best player in baseball over the past decade might well have been Albert Pujols whose list of career achievements have been well- chronicled . Since being acquired by the Los Angeles Angels his statistics have ebbed and flowed, but at his very best, there was no denying he was one of the most dominating , intimidating and best hitters in the game , while also showing his power as a home-runs’ hitter .

Many of Pujols’ current peers over past eight years have had their fair share misfortune either through their misdeeds or a decline in productivity. Pujols for his part remains an extremely popular player, with a large fan-base , while becoming a highly paid and lucrative marketing tool for a major corporate sponsors. The Angels’ slugger is one of a rare breed within baseball, whose image allows him such privileges in and outside of the game of baseball. Yet, I do not believe this is what defines Albert Pujols as a player or as a human being, because it has been his humanitarianism and philanthropy that has continued to stand out, throughout much of his decade-plus career. As he earnestly strives to win a third World Series’ title and his first World Series’ MVP Award , the sole individual award he has yet to win over the course of his astonishing career.

The common thought remains, if the Angels are to succeed in their goal to win their first World Series since 2002 when Troy Glaus was the hero of the series in their triumph against the San Francisco Giants. Then Albert Pujols , Josh Hamilton , David Freese , Chris Iannetta , Erick Aybar , CJ Wilson , Jered Weaver and Huston Street will certainly have to play a great deal better , while following the lead of Mike Trout, now considered to be the real leader on this team.

This season might well prove to be the last for Mike Scioscia, if the Los Angeles Angels should fail to make the postseason. Inconsistencies over the years have led to gaps in the Angels’ postseason appearances in recent years. Prior to last season’s playoff foray the Angels’ last such appearance came as a participant in the 2009 ALCS where they would fall to the New York Yankees , who would go on to win the 2009 World Series . Heading into this season there are at least six AL teams teams likely to be considered contenders for this year’s ” Fall Classic ” . The Angels are one of those ball-clubs, I believe can make a credible challenge for the AL Pennant , along with the Oakland A’s , Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers , Seattle Mariners and last season’s ” Cinderella Story ” the Kansas City Royals if they can retain a number of last season’s stars and keep their momentum going in 2015.

The four inductees for the 2015 14 Hall of Fame Class were nominees deserving of the accolade. The careers of Craig Biggio , Randy Johnson , John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez not only warranted serious consideration but these four players at one time or another were dominant at certain points during their respective tenures in the game. While there were other eligible candidates for this year’s class , many of those eligible were closely associated with the “steroid era “ of baseball , something Major League Baseball will never entirely escape in spite of the statements attributed to Bud Selig and the very fact the continued misdeeds of the players at the Major League and Minor League Level still has not brought about an abatement of the players’ use of banned substances (PED’s, anabolic steroids , Stanazolol) and a lack of response and a clear line of unison between the league hierarchy and union (MLBPA) leads me to believe, both parties are only prepared to pay the issue mere ” lip service “ as they see fit , when there appears to be outrage on the part of the fans. Not there has been any type of outrage from within the media , covering the game, in particular by the always hypocritical BBWAA (Baseball Writers’ Association of America) .

The years in which Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were laying siege to and obliterating the single season home run record , even when there was possible evidence to suggest, not everything was completely above board , the baseball writers were simply lauding the players’ efforts, as if were actually witnessing history in the making. Now we know Bonds’ 2001 mark was not only dubious but even the seven-time NL MVP still refuses to properly address and explain whether or not at any point during his career he knowingly used a banned substance. To my mind Roger Maris’ mark of sixty-one home runs (61) remains the legitimate record in the baseball annals , along with Hank Aaron’s career home runs’ tally of seven hundred and fifty-five (755). Correct me if I’m wrong , even during the era of segregation and the civil rights’ era , was the sport of baseball ever in such disarray , as it was known to be in this and the past decade ? Answers please ? Or should we continue down the merry road of apathy as constituted and led by Bud Selig and now his successor , Rob Manfred ?

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Picture gallery .

Spring Training is just around the corner , merely less then six weeks away and the plot-lines within the game of baseball are now being written. Like last season we are likely to see a fair share of controversy being played out both on and off the field of play. So what should the fans expect during the first few months of this upcoming season ? Which players and teams do you believe will be taking away the individual and team honors at the end of this regular and postseason (MLB) schedule ?

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Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) Matt Kemp, center, , once considered a mainstay within the Los Angeles Dodgers’ franchise but during the off-season he was traded to fellow NL franchise the San Diego Padres . Kemp is seen here with Padres’ front office executives , left GM A J Preller and manager Bud Black. . AP Photo / Gregory Bull …

(2) Mark Walter lead managing partner in the ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Getty Images / Mark Powers

(3) Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins . During the off-season the player signed the largest contract in baseball history , a thirteen-year $325 million deal to remain with the franchise . He will be joined by former AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP Ichiro Suzuki , who signed a one-year deal with the NL East ball-club. AP Photo / Paul Ross

(4) Andrew McCutchen , left of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels . These two outfielders are considered to be the two best players in Major League Baseball . Few would consider to the contrary, given their list of accomplishments , since entering the Big Leagues . AP Photo / Mike Potter

(5) Ichiro Suzuki seen here in a New York Yankees’ uniform for whom he played last season , but will enter 2015 as a member of the Miami Marlins, with a view to aiding the team from an offensive and defensive standpoint. Getty Images / Mike Thomas

(6) ) Alex Rodriguez , picture inset , is seen here striking out during a game in 2013 for the New York Yankees . The third basemen sat out the 2014 season for the team , having to serve a league-mandated suspension for violation of the league’s steroid policy . Rodriguez hopes to make a successful return to the ball-club in 2015 with the organization in transition after retirement of Derek Jeter and departure of several players , notably Ichiro Suzuki who joins the Marlins in a one-year deal . Rodriguez’s return also will also place once again among the top-twenty earning players in terms of annual salary and a contract , bearing in mind, he is the only player in MLB history to have signed two deals paying in excess of $240 million for each contract . He is also the top-earning player in league history by way of life-time contract earnings. At this stage of his career , it is not hard to suggest how Alex Rodriguez’s career is likely to be remembered . A two-time league substance abuse offender , dubious career statistics , top career-earnings , the public’s disdain and dislike of him as a player. Getty Images / David Hughes

(7) From left to right , Barry Bonds , Sammy Sosa and Mark McWire . For the decade covering the nineties and the early part of this past decade , the trio were part one of the most inglorious eras in baseball’s history , as they laid siege to the single-season home run record . The figure of sixty-one home runs first held by Roger Maris who hit 61 home runs for the New York Yankees during the 1961 season , is still looked upon and revered as the legitimate record in baseball history . though it was surpassed by Bonds in 2001 with seventy-three home runs. The mark is currently recognized by statisticians for MLB , the Hall of Fame , BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) and Elias Stats Bureau . Barry Bonds also holds the record for career home runs , (762) surpassing the total (755) of Hank Aaron , a Hall of Fame inductee in a game for the San Francisco Giants played against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver , Colorado on 5th September , 2007. . The pitcher who gave up the home run was Ubaldo Jiminez . AP Photo / Emmanuel Ortega

(8) ) Roger Maris who alongside teammate and close friend Mickey Mantle set the season alight in 1961 , where along the way Maris would break the single season home run record with a total of sixty-one home runs . In that same season the New York Yankees would go on to win the World Series defeating the Cincinnati Reds and where Whitey Ford would be named World Series’ MVP . UPI Archives

(9) Baseball legend Hank Aaron and his wife, Billye Aaron , smile as they listen to Hall of Famer Willie Mays reminisce during the dedication of the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum April 14, 2010 at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Aaron’s childhood home, originally built by his father, was moved to the stadium’s “Gaslight Park” and restored in November 2008. The celebration, which included a ribbon-cutting and private reception, was attended by a star-studded roster of Hall of Famers and baseball dignitaries, including Mays, Reggie Jackson , Ozzie Smith , Bob Feller , Rickey Henderson , and Bruce Setter , along with President of Minor League Baseball Pat O’Conner, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Jeff Idelson , MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , and Hall of Fame senior director of exhibitions Erik Strohl . Hank Aaron, in many circles, is still recognized as the all-time career home-runs’ king , having surpassed the mark achieved by Babe Ruth of seven-hundred and fourteen . Aaron’s tally (755) has since been superseded by Barry Bonds . The Braves’ icon , now successful businessman with a themed style restaurant chain and several auto dealerships in the greater Atlanta area , is now , one member of a consortium close to buying NBA franchise the Atlanta Hawks , currently the best team in the league , record-wise . Apex Media-wire photo by Carmen K. Sisson

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Former MLB Commissioner Allan ‘Bud’ Selig seen on the dais at National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York .

It’s the silly season and we’re having fun …

It’s the silly season and we’re having fun …

MLB’s off-season has proven to be a .folly of sorts, with teams now spending at will , capriciously on free agents who are likely to be overpaid for their alleged productivity. Many of these franchises will be looking to position themselves for the arrival of Spring Trainingand the regular season which begins on the 4th April , 2015. Reigning World Series’ champions the San Francisco Giants will enter the season having won their third title in the past five seasons, with both Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean back to lead this roster as they seek a fourth win of baseball’s most prestigious prize.

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San Francisco wasted no time in re-signing their World Series MVP pitcher Madison Bumgarner whose postseason exploits were simply scintillating and beyond the perception of the most ardent fans of the game. Bumgarner in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals was a one-man wrecking crew bewildering the Royals’ hitters, leaving them dismayed and completely perplexed .

Heading into 2015, San Francisco will be without another of their postseason heroes with 2012 World Series’ MVP Pablo Sandoval having been allowed to leave the team as unrestricted free agent . Sandoval signed a very lucrative contract joining the Boston Red Sox where he is likely to be hitting in the Red Sox batting order ahead of DH David Ortiz. GM Brian Sabean may have felt it prudent to eschew Sandoval’s financial desires , instead choosing to take his chances with a projected lineup of Buster Posey , Hunter Pence , Travis Ishikawa, Gregor Blanco, Brandon Crawford , Joaquin Arias and a number of players likely to be promoted from their minor league system as the club seeks to bolster an offense that wasproductive throughmuch of the regular and postseason.

There may well have been doubters of Sabean, who made the decision allowing the departure of Pablo Sandoval , but the mercurial general manager has been quick to make a number of moves likely to improve the lineup for the upcoming season. One would be hard pressed to question the moves of an executive, thought to be among the best general managersin all of baseball. Brian Sabaen’s record speaks for itself. San Francisco is likely to be a considerable favorite to win the NL West division in spite of the likely moves being made by the Los Angeles Dodgers under their new Head of Baseball Operations & SVP Andrew Friedman.

Friedman’s departure from the Tampa Bay Rays caught off, just about everyone by surprise, including his former fellow executives , the fans and analysts around the game. Add in the fact, the team’s manager Joe Maddon also made an abrupt departure to take a similar position with the Chicago Cubs and one might suggest the franchise got hit with a ” double-whammy ” . Matthew Silverman has succeeded Andrew Friedman and the ball-club hired former hometown hero Kevin Cash to succeed Maddon as the team’s new manager. How this will all be viewed by the Rays’ fans will now be open to a great deal of conjecture and debate. Cash is a first time manager with no managerial experience, though he does have playing experience with an eight-year career in the Majors having played one season with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2005.

Having spent in excess of half-a-billion dollars ($500,000,000) by way of salary commitments over the past two seasons. It is understandable, that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ executives felt it necessary to take a fresh look at the direction this ball-club was taking. In explicably, they had the best pitcher in baseball, but Clayton Kershaw’s postseason productivity had to be considered a monumental disaster. The team may well have pinned their hopes on Kershaw this past postseason, but the player was nowhere to be seen with his ERA among the highest of the starting pitchers during the 2014 playoffs’ foray. It would be easy to suggest the Dodgers’ pitching was their Achilles’ Heel, but that would be the farthest thing from the truth their offense being almost anemic and pedantic during this Fall.

It is my belief Don Mattingly and his managerial staff did little to provide his players with any impetus or the desire to win, relying merely on the fact a jigsaw puzzle of ill-fitting pieces made up of highly overpaid stars would be enough to get the job done. It will be interesting to see whether not Andrew Friedman will be able to keep the team’s payroll for the upcoming season at a manageable level and by that I mean lower than the $200 million threshold , where baseball’s luxury tax kicks in ,with team, then having to pay a penalty for going above the aforementioned figure.

Money would be of no object, where the Dodgers’ is almost half that of the value of several teams within baseball and then you add in the fact , the organization has a two-decade $3 billion ($3,000,000,000) television deal , which reaps this organization $150 million annually. Not bad for a ball-club, whose lastWorld Series’ triumph came as far back as 1988. Magic Johnson, Mark Walter , Todd S Boehly , Peter Guber and several other partners are intent on making this franchise the most recognized within the game. Certainly , the Los Angels Dodgers’ name still resonates within the game of baseball , but that is all it has been able to do , because success remains hard to come by, with an uncompetitive brand on the field of play, especially with regard to their two most recent postseason appearances.

Bold moves might not be necessary, but there has to be a shakeup in the Dodgers’ roster, if they are to be seen as credible challengers this upcoming season. Dan Haren, Dee Gordon, and Hanley Ramirez have since departed from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ roster and there is the belief that several otherswill meet the same fate as those jettisoned this off-season. Pitcher Josh Beckett having pitched a “no-hitter” for the team during the regular season in a 6-0 thrashing of the Philadelphia Phillies achieved little of note in the aftermath of the achievement. A free agent in 2015 , it seems highly unlikely he will be making a return to the Dodgers unless it is at a reduced salary , bearing in mind he was paid $15.75 million in the final year of his original eight-year deal signed with the Boston Red Sox.

I’ve often been told how insightful the fans of the Tampa Bay Rays are said to be, but to my mind, I find the fans of the this ball-club eternally optimistic. For whatever reason, year in and year out, repeatedly , I am told this franchise can survive on their meager pickings and a fan-base that in reality , is no more than an average of 15,000 hardcore fans and that is in spite of the reported attendance levels for the team’s home games at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida,, In what can only be described as another down year for this organization. The Tampa Bay Rays finished a distant fourth behind the AL East division winners the Baltimore Orioles , nineteen games out of first place . If that wasn’t a sign of how deplorable the team’s season was said to be, then consider the fact, they missed gaining a wildcard berth within the AL by eleven games . Inasmuch, as Joe Maddon and his coaching staff tried to motivate the team, the talent or level of play simply was not good enough to make a sustainable challenge over the course of the season.

The Rays are never really going to be able to compete with the likes of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees , Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers , Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs , much less teams considered to their market equivalent in terms of size. Furthermore , pointing to the fact the Rays are profitable without acknowledging the fact they are able to eke out such gains by way of an assist from the league hierarchy , indicates the complete lack of knowledge among this team’s fan-base. Yet, in spite of it all, the success attained by the Rays cannot be overlooked. Now comes the hard part, with the loss of such assets as Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon , how will this organization seek to rebound and reacquaint themselves to former heights of glory achieved ? Matthew Silverman comes in with a clean slate , but having to fill an extremely large pair of shoes left by his predecessor Andrew Friedman. Kevin Cash faces an even more daunting task , having to follow in the footsteps of the club’s most beloved and successful manager , Joe Maddon. This upcoming season might be the toughest this organization has had to face on record. Upheavals aside, the ball-club has reverted to ways of old , as they jettisoned players during and prior to the off-season, seeking to pare down the team’s payroll.

You can tell a great deal about an organization , when they are on the verge of losing their perhaps their best player. So, it was with the New York Yankees , as Derek Jeter’s career came to an uncompromising end. No postseason heroics or the raising of another World Series’ title, just a disappointing year for the player and the ball-club as Joe Girardi came up with a litany of excuses for a lackluster year-long performance by a team of undeserving players . Granted, the Yankees finished second in the AL East, yet, it was simply fitting the division’s champions, the Baltimore Orioles fell at the very first hurdle, when they succumbed to the Kansas City Royals in the championship series’ of the postseason, losing emphatically 4-0 in the ALCS. Emphasizing how poor the play just happened to be in the AL East, all season long.

A payroll of just over $200 million , much of it misspent , brought about lackluster returns, with Brian Cashman and members of the front office at a loss to explain what went wrong last season. An aging core of players who failed to deliver, with the likes of CC Sabathia , Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner , Alfonso Soriano , Brian McCann , Hiroki Kuroda, Shane Greene , Mark Teixeira and others were said to be a core unit, this ball-club could rely on, to bring back some semblance of success, Instead they performed like a damp squib, lit to celebrate an event , but they simply fail to light up that event and make it a success. In the aftermath of it all, Brian Cashman is now said to be counting on the return of disgraced Yankees’ star Alex Rodriguez to resurrect the fortunes of this franchise in 2015. I liken that premise, of trying to place a square peg into a round hole ! Nothing about Rodriguez’s return to the game, will be of benefit to the sport, much less to the benefit of the organization. Idiotically, Cashman , Hank and Hal Steinbrenner stood idly by, as the player lied repeatedly, about his wantoned use of steroids, but they failed to reprimand the Rodriguez , leaving it instead , to a bumbling and incompetent hierarchy, first led by Bud Selig , who has handed over the reins to the equally inept , Rob Manfred ,succeeding his predecessor as the new incoming Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

What has become abundantly clear, is the very fact, the Yankees’ managerial staff and Cashman have no implicit faith in their farm system and the talent said to be on display within the lower rungs of the organization. The franchise has now become overly reliant on buying its way out of trouble rather than seeking to groom the alleged talent within its ranks. This off-season , we are likely to see an influx of new faces and a completely new lineup when the team takes to the field in their first regular season game of 2015. That contest, will be their home season opener against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankees Stadium , in the Bronx, New York City, New York on the 6th April , 2015,.

There is no denying , as a professional sports’ franchise owner and businessman Jerry Reinsdorf has tasted success at the highest levels. His ownership of the Chicago Bulls during the well-chronicled era of Michael Jorda’s dominance of the NBA and their six NBA titles highlighted one of the brightest eras of the NBA’s history. Yet, the forlorn years of his ownership of the Chicago White Sox has brought that particular baseball franchise one championship , coming in 2005, when the team defeated the Houston Astros with in an easy 4-0 sweep of the then National League franchise. In the subsequent years things have not been so beneficial for the White Sox or their long-suffering fans. Since that historic second World Series’ win, the Chicago White Sox have made only one other postseason appearance , where they made it to the ALDS in 2008, only to suffer a series’ defeat (3-1) at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The White Sox organization has seen some major upheavals by way of the player personnel staff, managers and general managers over the past decade and a half. Through the midst of it all , the one bright spot has been knowing they have succeeded, where the Chicago Cubs have failed so dramatically in achieving> and that is to win a world championship. One hundred years and counting, the “monkey” has yet to come off the neck or shoulders of the downtrodden Cubs’ franchise. 1908 was the year the Chicago Cubs were anointed champions of the baseball world and there still seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for the Wrigley Field faithful.

The White Sox, this off-season have begun to spend lavishly , acquiring free agents as if they were an endangered species , with GM Rick Hahn now overseeing Baseball Operations for the ball-club. . Adam LaRoche , Zack Duke, Melky Cabrera and David Robertson have joined the staff of the Chicago White Sox. There is a clear thought process behind these maneuvers , and it may well be Hahn feels the window of opportunity for the Detroit Tigers is rapidly closing with their failure to make a spirited run to win a World Series’ title. The Tigers’ recent postseason failures have proven to be a bitter and ” hard pill to swallow for team owner Michael Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski, but the owner and executive continue to toil on.

With Dombrowski not being able to come to contractual terms with Max Scherzer , it would appear that the pitcher’s time with the Detroit Tigers could be coming to a close. Scherzer wants to be paid like a superstar based on his award winning 2013 season , but one of year stellar production is not the basis to be given a multi-year, multimillion dollar contract. Wisdom suggests calmer heads may well prevail, but yet in the world of baseball, logic tends to be thrown right out the damn window, as exhibited with the recent idiocy by the Miami Marlins and their signing Giancarlo Stanton to the most lucrative contract in baseball history and professional team sports’ history in North America.

Perhaps , only in the NBA and baseball, where the players’ contracts are guaranteed, do we tend to see this type of financial extravagance , while idiots try and suggest, both sports are being well-ran by their respective hierarchies and where financial expediency is actually being shown in both sports .

A meeting of the minds, has yet to happen, with the overwhelming presence of the NBPA and MLBPA sending the unions into conniptions, each time the words ” mandatory salary cap” are mentioned . I have always maintained, you can tell a great deal about a business or a sports’ enterprise simply based upon the trust between the two parties , the union, who represent the employees and governing bodies as the employers. If there is continued mistrust, then the likelihood , is that entity is in dire trouble, even when there is said to be millions of dollars being reaped , annually. Profits may well go a long way, but it clearly does not represent common sense or intelligence, being shown . Ask yourself this question, in spite of the popularity of the NFL, how is it, they repeatedly have so many pratfalls, many of which, are self-induced ? Have you been able to come up with an answer ?

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Picture gallery.

This upcoming season in baseball, which teams or players do you believe will provide the most excitement ? Also, do you believe the dominance of the San Francisco Giants can be quelled successfully by an NL opponent over the course of the year ? By all means, leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site, as it’s gratefully appreciated !

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Picture gallery and slideshow details below.
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(1) San Francisco Giants’ catcher Buster Posey left , is seen here with World Series’ MVP Madison Bumgarner , as the two celebrate the team’s Game 7 , 3-2 win , a victory over the Kansas City Royals , The series’ victory gave the Giants their third World Series’ triumph over the past five years and fifth overall . The Giants will enter 2015 without Pablo Sandoval , the ball-club’s 2012 Series’ MVP , who joined the Boston Red Sox during the off-season . AP Photo / Andy Addams …..

(2) Giants’ pitcher Madison Bumgarner celebrates in the locker room after his team’s 3-2 Game 7 triumph over the Kansas City Royals. Bumgarner’s exploits this postseason placed him in the upper echelons of baseball’s postseason pitching history , with a number eye dazzling feats. The player was signed to a five-year contract extension by GM Brian Sabean securing their young star on very exceptional pitching rotation in 2015. quite possibly the best in the NL and MLB overall. AP Photo / Ezra Rodriguez ..

(3) Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington(left) is seen here with the team’s newest acquisition , slugger Pablo Sandoval . The Red Sox also acquired Hanley Ramirez from the Los Angeles Dodgers as an unrestricted free agent, signing both players to lucrative deals . Cherington hopes the duo will be able to provide the Red Sox offense with some additional firepower this upcoming season . Getty Images/ Alexander Hough …

(4) Chicago Cubs’ general manager Jed Hoyer ,left, is seen here with Joe Maddon as he is formerly being introduced to the convened press at the Cubs’ official press meeting, announcing Maddon has succeeded Dale Sveum as the club’s sixtieth manager in franchise history. The former Tampa Bay Rays’ manager left that organization after several successful years , taking the franchise from worst to one of the most competitive teams in baseball during his tenure. However, there seems to be some change of discord and the lack of leadership being shown within the front office , leading to Maddon’s abrupt departure along with the team’s former GM Andrew Friedman who joined the Los Angeles Dodgers to become their Head of Baseball Operations. Also pictured , Cubs’ President & SVP Theo Epstein. AP Photo / Michael Holmes …

(5) Los Angeles’ manager Don Mattingly looks on at his pitcher Clayton Kershaw as the pair , along with members of the coaching staff and trainers are in the dugout during a game played at Dodgers Ballpark in Los Angeles, California ,. The team made it to the 2014 MLB Postseason where they swept aside in the NLDS with consummate ease by the St Louis Cardinals . It was the second year in succession where the club had fallen to their NL rivals . Kershaw performed miserably throughout the postseason along with his teammates. With Andrew Friedman being hired to take over all personnel decision making and the lateral promotion of Ned Colletti , lead managing partner Mark Walter was adamant , sweeping changes had to be made. Several players have since been released by the ball-club , including Josh Beckett and Hanley Ramirez . More moves are expected to me made in the coming weeks . The Los Angeles Dodgers have at least four players on their current roster who will be earning in excess of $20 million this upcoming season , among the highest tally of the league’s thirty teams . Getty Images/ Hugh Davidson ….

(6) Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn (2nd from the right) introduces Jeff Samardzija , David Robertson and Melky Cabrera on Tuesday , Dec. 16, 2014 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago , Illinois,. Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune

(7) Detroit Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski ,left, is seen here alongside Prince Fielder , center and team owner Michael Ilitch after the team formally introduced the player to the convened press at Comerica Park in Detroit Michigan , on 26th January, 2012. The player was signed as a free agent by the team, after Fielder chose not to re-sign with the Milwaukee Brewers. Prince Fielder’s tenure with the Tigers was short-lived and he was traded to the Texas Rangers where the AL West based team will assume the remainder of his existing contract . AP Photo/ Xavier Harris …

(8) February 17th , 2009 , Alex Rodriguez followed by GM Brian Cashman and Derek Jeter on their way to the press conference where A-Rod admitted using Steroids. With the retirement of the Yankees’ short-stop at the end of the 2014 season , Cashman hopes the beleaguered and still despised Rodriguez will be able to provide the team with the impetus needed to have a successful season . During his league imposed ban, Alex Rodriguez has chosen not to offer any public interviews to discuss his suspension , choosing instead, to prepare himself mentally and physically for the long haul of a one and hundred and sixty-two game schedule of the regular season . The player’s cousin , Yuri Sucart was recently indicted in US Federal Court alongside Anthony ‘Tony’ Bosch , (founder of Biogenesis) for running an illegal drug ring , along with the transportation and selling of steroids and other illicit drug paraphernalia . Getty Images / Tate Reynolds ….

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I can feel the burn just as much as she does ! So , what’s not to like ?

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Audrey Bitoni reveals more than natural beauty, she’s got a nice rack ”
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A funny thing happened on the way to the Land of Oz …

A funny thing happened on the way to the Land of Oz …

Tophatal ….

Baseball’s Winter Meetings have yet to take place, but already the big top has been blown off the tent. The meeting of the league’s top executives , ownersand members of the league hierarchy to discuss the vagaries of the game and then to negotiate deals that will see the movement of several players, many of them likely being rewarded with major contracts will be set into motion.

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Slideshow

Over the past five years there can be no denying the Miami Marlinshave been one of the worst performing teams in Major League Baseball (MLB). The very fact that the Marlins have at no time in their history has ever won a divisional title or place higher than second within the NL East should tell you a great deal about the organization, in spite of their having won two NL Pennants and two World Series titles . The last of those postseason series’ coming in 2003 . Since then, things have steadily rolled downhill for the franchise, along with a succession of managers and turnover in front office executives.

The big news’ story of the month within the game of baseball, was the audacious move by the Miami Marlins in signing Mike Stanton to a long-term deal. Stanton signed what is now believed to the largest contract in professional sports’ and quite clearly the biggest in baseball history. Stanton signed a thirteen-year $325 million contract, averaging $25 million a year . Though I do not expect the floodgates to be opened by this deal , it does now place a great deal of pressure on other teams in similar position, looking to sign one of their marquee players. Miami for a number of years has been on the lower end of the payroll scale, albeit in 2013 , they sought to remedy the situation when they splurged on signing some major free agents in an assault on trying to win the NL East that season as well as the World Series title . They failed miserably in both attempts , with then manager Ozzie Guillen providing more entertainment away from the field of play, than was provided by the team during the entire season .

MLB is definitely not known for its financial frugality among its big-market teams and when left idle to their own devices teams in the small-market tend to prove how incompetent they are. The Miami Marlins have become the epitome of that, along with their instate rivals the Tampa Bay Rays and that is with due respect shown to the acumen of former Rays’ general manager Andrew Friedman , whose departure from the franchise to take on the more high-profiled role as a SVP & Head of Baseball Operations with the Los Angeles Dodgers caught just about everyone off-guard including senior executives within the Rays’ organization. With the recent departure of Joe Maddon to become the manager of the Chicago Cubs , Tampa is now left in a quandary. Throw in the departure of their AL Rookie of the Year, pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and you could say it’s back to business as usual for the Rays. Their off-season annual ” fire sale “ is just about to begin.

Now while the Miami Marlins’ fans can only be pleased with the outcome , the signing of Mike Stanton to a long-term deal , the question has to be asked , what type commitment and sacrifices will have to be made by this ball-club? Financial resources for the Marlins are not enormous and we have seen repeatedly the actions of this franchise over the years during their triumphs and letdowns. Jeffrey Loria has proven to be no different from one his predecessors H D Wayne Huizenga, whose ownership the Florida Marlins were well-chronicled. Huizenga’s gutting of the team that won the franchise’s first World Series title left the fans in dismay and utter disgust, has since been repeated by Loria.

As the incumbent owner of the Miami Marlins , I have no real reason to believe Jeffrey Loria will remain a man of his word. Deceit , deception , lies and an un-willingess to show transparency concerning the inner workings of the Marlins along with the alleged brow-beating of the Miami City Council leading to their capitulating , in the ball-club’s wishes to have the city finance the building of Marlins Ballpark , where undue pressure was brought to bear by former commissioner Bud Selig, really does cast a light on how Loria and Major League Baseball likes to conduct its business. Unfortunately, those same character traits are not shared or instinctive with Tampa Bay Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg who continues to whine like a spoiled brat, because he cannot get his own way. Michael Hill and Mike Redmond will now seek to bolster the Marlins’ roster during this off-season , but they will also have to deal with trying to resign a number of their impending free agents as well players whose arbitration rights they might want to expedite quickly.

Mike Stanton had an excellent season in 2014 , where he was one of the most productive members on his team as well as in the NL and MLB overall. His second place finish to Clayton Kershaw in the NL MVP race was of no great surprise, considering the astonishing regular season by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher, who also added the NL Cy Young Award to his trophy case for the third time in his career. I believe their might be at least two more Cy Young Awards waiting in the wings for Kershaw, who has to be seen as the best pitcher in baseball without a doubt. Granted his postseason forays for the Dodgers left a great deal to be desired. The team’s malaise was nothing new and simply part of their DNA over the past two years. Don Mattingly’s players seem to be great during the regular season, but they become a deer caught in headlights once the postseason comes around , as witnessed in 2013 and then again during baseball’s end of season ritual. Let’s just say this Dodgers’ team cannot even hit or pitch their way out of trouble . even if they were being aided by the mishaps of their opponents during the postseason.

As I alluded to earlier the floodgates may not necessarily open up with players being offered overly large contracts, but the Marlins have now set a precedent where it will prove hard for any team not be able to meet a free agents’ requests. With the likes of high-profiled sports’ agents such as Scott Boras , Sam and Seth Levinson of Aces Inc Baseball , Dan Lozano , corporate entities such as LSW Baseball , CAA , the upstart IMG and sports’ management agency Roc Nation Sports, all vying to make deals on behalf of their clients. It is easy to understand why general managers such as Brian Cashman, Brian Sabean , Dave Dombrowski , Billy Beane , Sandy Alderson , Michael Hill and Jerry Dipoto are never operating from a position of power. They will more often than not overpay for a player , rather than actually showing some real acumen.

Having won their third World Series title in the past five years the San Francisco Giants are now seated among the elite dynasties of the game. Make no mistake, this is a dynasty , albeit a quiet and unglamorous one. Brian Sabean might just be the best general manager in the game today. His guile and an eye for talent , his acumen in the free agency market, have not only made the Giants a success , but they have laid down a blueprint that a number of teams are now likely to follow. Furthermore , Sabean is not one to neglect his farm system and then seek to implode those affiliates , as he sees the lower rungs of the organization as a treasure trove of future talent. In the aftermath of their most recent success this franchise will now seek build upon their most recent achievement.

San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy and his entire managerial staff are likely to return for next season , but opportunities may well arise where one or two of his assistants will be offered the opportunity to interview a vacant managerial position. Beyond that, the question now becomes what are the integral pieces to kept on this roster and can the Giants afford to pay what is deemed to be “fair market value”? The fly in the ointment was the outrageous contract signed by Mike Stanton and offered by a team, that two years began shedding their high priced players like driftwood being cast away, because it was of no further use. Miami remains a small-market team, with grandiose schemes and big-market ambitions. They are a baseball team that rarely sell out their home games in a venue , which remains sparsely attended. The flip side of that coin are the San Francisco Giants and their ravenous fans and fan-base nationwide. They have the success and a legacy which has been quietly built upon over the years.

The Giants’ 2012 World Series MVP infielder Pablo Sandoval will be looking to get paid commensurate to his status and in line with the top active contracts active within the organization . As an impending and unrestricted free agent Sandoval knows he can go elsewhere and quite possibly obtain long-term contract making him financially secure. Yet, the thought remains with the player being such a part the team’s postseason success , it would seem idiotic for the Giants to let him go , knowing he is not only a clubhouse favorite but also a leader on and off the field. Beyond that , take into account his productivity and being able to come up with some clutch hitting , it places Brian Sabean in something of a dilemma .

If Sandoval does return to the Giants in 2015, along with the core elements of last season’s roster, then San Francisco have to be seen as a prohibitive favorite for the NL Pennant this upcoming season. Granted, they are likely to face a stiff challenge from the St Louis Cardinals , Washington Nationals , Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates , Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds .

Alex Rodriguez’s return to New York Yankees and their lineup for 2015 cannot come around fast enough for many of the ball-club’s fans . The player’s last appearance in a Yankees’ uniform was uninspiring and simply confirmation that Rodriguez is now past his prime. The Yankees’ third baseman having spent the entire 2014 Yankees’ schedule under suspension will look to reinvent himself on and off the field of play. With the retirement of Derek Jeter after a two-decade long career with the franchise. One could surmise, Brian Cashman sees Rodriguez as the “face of the Yankees” moving forward. I firmly believe the organization erred in not tearing up Alex Rodriguez’s contractas they were quite within their right to do so. Incompetency, in their repeatedly mishandling of the players transgressions , breaking the league’s substance abuse policy, spoke volumes as to the numerous reasons why baseball’s policy has no real teeth to it and the complete lack of leadership from Bud Selig and his successor Rob Manfred. Rodriguez’s contract remains intact , albeit , he lost in excess of $23 million, having not played for the New York Yankees this past season .

Joe Girardi and his staff will certainly look to Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira , Jacoby Ellsbury , Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Brian Robertsand Brian McCann to give the Yankees’ more ‘pop’ to their offense where the team was found wanting last season. The Yankees’ pitching was left somewhere in between the depths of mediocrity and the ‘bowel’of Hades .

The Yankees’ free agents for this upcoming season include veteran Ichiro Suzuki , unlikely to return next season, with Dave Robertson , Hiroki Kuroda , Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew, Heath Bell and Chase Headley are several of the players Brian Cashman will have to make decision upon their possible return to the New York Yankees. Cashman has shown very little faith in the organization’s farm system and he is unlikely to do so for years to come. With their failure to make the postseason and decidedly ignominious finish in the NL East the pressure will be on the front office to do something drastic to bring this franchise back to some semblance of respectability. Last season the acquisitions of Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Ichiro Suzuki were meant place the team at the forefront of the AL but their play nowhere near good enough to remotely place them in control of their own destiny.

With the 2014 payroll commitment of baseball’s thirty teams topping $3 billion ($3,000,000,000 for the second year in succession. The two teams at the top of the heap, were the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees. At a time when the game’s financial disparities so glaring there has been little to suggest baseball has the wherewithal to get its own financial house in order. The team owners and hierarchy have failed miserably in reigning in team expenses and yet owners are either seething because they cannot their own way in trying to deceitfully have municipalities to finance their venues.

Billionaire and millionaire owners unwilling to go out and do what is necessary in showing their real business acumen, to obtain private financing, rather than repeatedly have the public funds being used to finance such endeavors. It will be interesting to see the moves made by teams during this off-season the guile used by agents, seeking to have their clients be rewarded with the best contract possible. The sheer lunacy of MLB and the antics of the players leave a great deal to be desired and it will continue to be that way for the foreseeable future.

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Picture gallery .

With the salaries and contracts now on the rise within the game of baseball and no clear sign from the league hierarchy they show any initiative in reining in team expenses or have any idea how to so. What direction do you believe the game is likely to take and can the executives who preside over the game really deal with the issues which adversely effect baseball ?

Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is seen here with Mike Stanton . The Marlins’ player signed a thirteen-year $325 million deal which will pay him $25 million annually. The deal is the highest paid contract in North American sports’ history . Loria and Team President Michael Hill believed it incumbent the organization retain the Stanton for their viability and long term future. AP Photo/ Matt Holmes ..

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers’ SVP & Head of Baseball Operations , Andrew Friedman is seen here alongside team President Stan Kasten . Friedman whose departure from the Tampa Bay Rays took just about everyone by surprise, has now moved to an organization where the resources of the baseball franchise far exceeds anything remotely close the Rays have at their disposal. With Friedman’s departure also came Joe Maddon leaving to join the Chicago Cubs as their new manager. Matt Silverman succeeded Andrew Friedman as the Rays’ general manager but the ball-club has to name a successor to Maddon . Getty Images North America / Paul Hughes … …

(3) ATLANTA, UNITED STATES : Florida Marlins manage Jim Leyland (L), general manager Dave Dombrowski (C), and team owner Wayne Huizenga with the National League Championship Series (NLCS) trophy after their 7-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves 14 October in game six of the NLCS at Turner Field in Atlanta, GA. The Marlins advanced to the World Series a with the win. AFP PHOTO/Robert SULLIVAN …

(4) Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout left , winner of the 2014 ALMVP and the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher and NLMVP recipient Clayton Kershaw . Both players invariably made the postseason , but their teams failed miserably . Trout and the Angels fell to Kansas City Royals 3-0 in the ALDS . Kershaw and the Dodgers fared no better, losing to the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS where his postseason performances were miserable with the posting an ERA in excess of 7.50 . AP Photo/ Tim Martin …

(5) Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays an AL Rookie of the Year for the franchise in 2011 was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. This seems to be a customary ploy with the ball-club on annual basis , further emphasizing the organization’s lack of resources and the emphasis of year-to-year cost cutting . AP Photo / Matthew Donald … …

(6) Scott Boras a prominent MLB sports agent, seen here in front of the facade of his company Scott Boras Corporation. Boras has negotiated contracts worth in excess of $4.7 billion in the last six years . Feared around the league as one of the most fearsome and ruthless agents in all professional sports. Boras puts the characteristic trait down to the fact he works hard for his clients and to their benefit.. AP Photo / Robin Thomas …

(7) CHICAGO, IL – AUGUST 05: Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees speaks to the media before the Yankees take on the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 5 , 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Rodriguez was forced to miss the entire 2014 season after league mandated suspension . Rodriguez will return to the Yankees’ lineup in 2015 hoping to make a solid contribution for the team. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …

(8) Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates who over the past two seasons has been one of the primary factors in the ascent of the Pirates and top-five finishes in each of the last two years of the NL MVP voting. McCutchen hopes to lead the ball-club to another postseason berth in 2015 and deep run in the postseason playoff schedule. as well as the winning of a second NL MVP Award with the Pirates. Getty Images/ Adrian Parker ….

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Shake it off , shake it up and down .

A few light touches makes the scenery all the more appealing don’t you think ?

Fallout , what fallout ?

Fallout, what fallout ?

After one of the most eventful postseasons in recent baseball history MLB has anointed their World Series’ champion for the 2014 season , with the San Francisco Giantswinning their third title in the past five seasons,defeating the Kansas City Royals . For manager Bruce Bochy , his third title and a dynasty in the making , or should we subscribe to the fact the Giants have been the best team in baseball since 2010? When it has mattered most the ball club have shown their resiliency on the road and proven themselves to be one of the greatest franchises in recent postseason history. Where the Giants stand alongside such great and dominant teams of the past will likely ignite a debate of conjecture and a great deal of bias. Baseball has changed immensely over the past three decades and undoubtedly the managerial acumen and play must be taken into account when trying to assess the achievements of the San Francisco Giants.

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Brian Sabean has proven himself to be a general manager with a great deal of acumen assembling a roster which has been competitive all season long. While the Giants may well have failed to win the NL West division , you simply cannot deny they were by far a better team than divisional champion the Los Angeles Dodgers , who once again proved that a quarter billion dollar payroll($250,000,000) counts for absolutely nothing, when there happens to be no team leadership or managerial leadership to be found within the organization. ,

The Dodgers’ front office where there has been a recent upheaval with GM Ned Colletti being given a lateral move or deemed in some circles a demotion , with Andrew Friedman being brought in the franchise’s operations where he will in fact become Head of Baseball Operations . It begs the question , what now becomes of the hierarchical order , where there now seems to be more executives than there are actual real decision-makers among the managerial staff of this team ? Also, how much latitude will now be given to Friedman, if one his main duties will be to hire a new general manager , while given the full authority in making the decisions affecting all personnel moves concerning the playing staff?

First order of business for Andrew Friedman beyond the hire of a new general manager if thought to be necessary , will be the projected lineup of the Dodgers for next season . With several players having performed poorly , a number of them highly overpaid , the feeling has to be a number of the players in questionare likely to be traded. Josh Beckett and Hanley Ramirez are two of the players I believe will be placed on the trading block along with Carl Crawford. The trio are not the only team members likely to be jettisoned, but it may well be the place to start, as Andrew Friedman looks to pare down the team’s payroll and then assess the talent within the Dodgers’ farm system for players he believes can contribute to future of the Dodgers as they seek competitiveness and consistency.

This off-season will prove to be one , where a number of general managers around the game of baseball will be seeking to make the type of deals likely to make their teams competitive. While the Kansas City Royals proved themselves competitive during the postseason , my own feeling the reasons why they came up short against the San Francisco Giants , had more to do with their lack of postseason experience among the playing staff . All of the momentum shown during the wildcard game , ALDS , ALCS and the World Series could not hide the fact Ned Yost’s acumen could not make up for the lack of playoff experience and veteran leadership needed.

Lawrence Baer and his fellow partners who make up the ownership group of the San Francisco Giants will have been entirely happy with what they have witnessed this season from their team. A series’ victory , appreciation of the Giants’ value , profits and the likely rise in attendance levels going into next season . Brian Sabean will likely make one or two moves to bolster the team’s roster heading into the upcoming season but if he can keep his core group of players intact , there is no reason to believe why the San Francisco Giants cannot be seen as a presumptive favorite to quite possibly repeat as World Series’ champion. If there are said to be any issues for the Giants in their retention of several players , it may well come down to the fact they will have to deal with the contract negotiations of team members in arbitration seeking a substantial pay raise . World Series’ MVP , Madison Bumgarner , Gregor Blanco , Sergio Romo and Pablo Sandoval , I believe should be offered deals commensurate with their talent, but given the wiles of baseball and the economic imbalances that continue within the game, it is hard to envisage how Sabean is likely to retain all of the players in question .

Larry Baer might well seek to increase the team’s payroll in 2015 , seeking to fall in line with a number of their main competitors ,but I am inclined to believe the team owner and their partners will simply follow the template set by their celebrated general manager Brian Sabean. After-all, the executive’s success can be considered the modern-day blueprint as to how to get the best out of the resources at one’s disposal. The proof has been there for all to see in the last five years .

One of the biggest disappointments of the 2014 season was the failure of the Atlanta Braves to compete within the NL East and not making the postseason . The firing of Frank Wren as the Braves’ general manager was not a great surprise but the retention of Fredi Gonzalez might well have been the biggest surprise of all , as I felt Gonzalez was negligent in his managerial duties along with his managerial staff !Hard to believe , that other than the Washington Nationals whose win of the division was made to look extremely easy , with the Nationals being the only ball-club with a record over .500 within the NL East was simply exacerbated by the mediocrity of the within.

Atlanta and the New York Mets (79-83 [.488]) shared the same final mark with their second placed finish and it begs the question how bad the play within the division much less the rest of baseball over the course of last season ? Fredi Gonzalez was extremely lucky he was retained as the Braves’ manager , but I guess team President John Scheurholz and general manager John Hart believed the manager could not be faulted for the team’s failure and poor play during 2014 . The Braves’ $112.9 million payroll was somewhat middling in comparison to many of their National League rivals and the ongoing economic imbalances which still exist.

Jason Heyward and Justin Upton are said to be two of the players the Braves are seeking to “shop around” during the off-season and the Winter Meetings of the executives , is likely generate a great deal of interest in the duo , players who are seen as being very productive at their very best . Another player likely to be seen superfluous to the Braves’ needs could be BJ Upton whose year with the team was very much understated and less than impressive. Upton the elder sibling of Justin Upton has failed to live up to his five-year $72 million contract , since being acquired by the Atlanta Braves from the Tampa Bay Rays.As an avowed fan of the Atlanta Braves if there is to be a player moved by the ball-club this off-season , I would prefer to see BJ Upton moved , as I believe it would be far more preferential to keep Jason Heyward and Justin Upton , simply because there is more of an upside to their respective careers , than a faltering veteran such as BJ Upton.

If there is one thing to be said about the New York Mets , it is, that their fans continue to make excuses for the team’s failings over the past six seasons . Team owners , Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz , along with COO Jeff Wilpon have continued to show their lack of initiative and for the well-being of the franchise in spite of their financial burden having been lifted . If you consider being bailed out by a number of financial institutions meaningful , because the owners sought to hide behind their willful negligence in their handling of the team’s finances as being prudent. Then I can only imagine , there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of intelligence among the fan-base or within the inner workings of this organization ! Sandy Alderson and JP Ricciardi are still trying to figure out how to fit a square peg into a round hole, in terms of the make up of the team’s roster. Not so long ago praise was being heaped upon the shoulders of pitcher Matt Harvey , but with his falling back to earth, rather than the earlier promise being shown , the fans and media alike within the city are now throwing their weight behind their crop of young and upcoming players within their farm system .

Harvey spent the entire 2014 season on the sidelines , due to an injury and the pitching staff though passable did not do enough to ignite the team or make them competitive enough within the NL or baseball in general. The real issues with the Mets laid in the fact their offense was simply inept and downright pitiful.

Terry Collins as the manager of the New York Mets may well have been given a reprieve because of the team’s second place finish in a rather mediocre NL East division in 2014. With talks of Sandy Alderson , said to be pursuing a list of marquee free agents as well as possibly reacquiring Jose Reyes , it begs the question beyond also assessing the farm system, what else is the front office executive prepared to do to make this ball-club truly competitive? New York kicks off their regular season schedule with a game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Ballpark in Washington , DC in the Nationals’ home opener on the 6th April, 2015,.

Fool me once , shame on you , fool me twice , shame on me . A third time and I think we get the picture ! Alex Rodriguez will be allowed that privilege of doing so once again and likely the MLB hierarchy will only be too delighted in proving to be complete imbeciles, allowing the disgraced third baseman to fool the fans of the game once again . With the retirement of Derek Jeter after his two-decade career as a New York Yankees’ player. The game of baseball , specifically the Yankees’ organization are now looking to Rodriguez to pick up the pieces of a team which last season was flawed and in complete disarray. As a player , Alex Rodriguez has never provided the leadership sought on the field of play, let alone away from the field, carrying himself with any type of decorum. Instead, his persona has been one of a conceited individual , hiding behind deceit , lies and blaming others for his own misdeeds and then using his legal representatives to create the facade of his being racially targeted for his using of banned substances as prohibited by Major League Baseball (MLB). The fact that the press sought to ignore this , while Rodriguez’s own supporters and lawyers sought to use this a pretext in his now well-chronicled complaints , defending himself in his arbitration appeal of his suspension, points to his character or lack thereof and a weakened hierarchy and an all too powerful union (MLBPA) who assisted in providing the player with his legal representation.

Baseball under the leadership of Bud Selig has continued to shoot itself in the foot , in its own ass, as well as making complete fools of the fans, while trying to point what they deem to be improvements in the game. The use of modern technology to right the wrongs of umpires who either have no comprehension of the game or the fact they’re overweight , not athletic and archaic monoliths, only points to the fact baseball remains in a damn time-warp of its own choosing. While Bud Selig may well be stepping down in his role as commissioner. his successor Rob Manfred doesn’t exactly exude confidence or seems to be a prudent choice as successor of the now departed Selig. The team owners wanted an ” insider” and as usual, what they sought , they actually got.

The New York Yankees while not being part of the MLB postseason will seek to make a big splash during the off-season , looking to acquire players , while painstakingly eschewing the idea of an organization wanting to be financially prudent. New York was the first baseball franchise to exceed the $200 million barrier in terms of an annual payroll obligations, when they reached the mark for the very first time in 2008 . In the subsequent years the Yankees’ payroll has continued to increase until 2013 when the Los Angeles Dodgers overwhelmed everyone with their gargantuan and all too bloated salary commitments, far outstripping their closest rivals . Alex Rodriguez’s return to the game in 2015, will once again make him the highest paid player in baseball in terms of contract value and base salary , albeit , his almost year-long suspension , saw the player lose in excess of $23.5 million in salary . What Rodriguez is now able to offer the New York Yankees at this stage of his career will be predicated upon whether or not they and the fans believe, he is still capable of hitting of thirty-plus home runs in a season , while maintaining a batting average close to .300 or above . A tall order for a player who hasn’t reached that plateau in quite a while

This upcoming season, I believe the New York Yankees are likely to struggle , simply because at its core this will still remain an aging team , with several of the players now past their prime, with no upside to be seen. Injuries are likely to plague the roster , much as it had done in 2014 , and with their being very little suggest that any of their players at the AAA Level are yet ready to be productive at the Big League Level. It simply suggests the Yankees will revert to ways of old and simply spend their way to success , with GM Brian Cashman leading the charge .

There seems to be this apathy among fans when they try to suggest there are “classy organizations” in baseball. If that were the case , we would actually have the general managers and owners questioning the direction of the league hierarchy and the constant haranguing of baseball’s image because of the players’ misuse of banned substances. Instead , they have chose to remain all too docile, while the players themselves , specifically those are seen as face of baseball , remain all too silent. MLB now has a pathetic image , in spite of a terrific postseason and one of the best World Series in recent history. Unfortunately, those thrilling moments cannot hide the fact, the game is still plagued by steroid cheats ” , and with a union which would rather defend the rights of the players who have knowingly sought to subvert the image of baseball purely for financial gain and acclaim. The pretext offered by the likes of Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro , Curt Schilling , Ryan Braun , Manny Ramirez and Roger Clemens , Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez , has gone a long way in creating a forlorn image and perception for baseball’s fans , while the postseason can be thrilling , one mere suggestion of cheating, simply knocks the game back on its heels , leaving the fans in great dismay. As to what comes next , we will have to wait and see what the 2015 season has to offer.

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Picture gallery .

In the aftermath of a thrilling postseason in baseball, , what do you hope to see this upcoming year from within the game ? Do you also believe MLB can escape any major controversy over the course of the season concerning the conduct of the players ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below.

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(1) World Series MVP Madison Bumgerner of the San Francisco Giants celebrates after the team’s thrilling 3-2 victory in game seven of the World Series to clinch the Giants’ third title in the past five seasons under manager Bruce Bochy . AP Photo / Chris Elliot …

(2) Larry Baer , San Francisco Giants’ senior managing partner is seen here holding the World Series’ Trophy alongside Brian Sabean , right , after the team’s triumph in the 2014 World Series over the Kansas City Royals . Getty Images North America / Paul Mayhew …

(3) Andrew Friedman is seen here alongside Los Angeles Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten . Friedman, left the Tampa Bay Rays to accept the position as the Dodger’ Head of Baseball Operations where he will oversee all player personnel decisions, being directly answerable to Kasten and other senior executives within the Dodgers’ ownership group. AP Photo/ Matt Turner ….

(4) New York Mets’ manager Terry Collins may well have received a lucky reprieve after the team’s surprising second place finish in a very mediocre NL East division this past season . Division champions the Washington Nationals were the only team to finish with an above . 500 record . Yet they fell in the postseason in the NLDS without putting up much of a fight. AP Photo/ Sarah Miles ….

(5) Alex Rodriguez is seen here in the dugout alongside New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi ,left , as the two discuss team strategy. Rodriguez missed the entire 2014 season having fought to be reinstated after being given a year-long suspension for a violation of baseball’s substance abuse program , a claim which Rodriguez denied. His return to baseball is seen as a the last chance for the player to resurrect his career and a possible chance of enhancing his prospects of being a future Hall of Fame inductee . .AP Photo/Andrew Matthews …

(6) New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Giardi will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed in 2015. The team has not won a World Series title since 2009 and failed to make the postseason in 2014 , finishing a disappointing and distant second in the AL East , twelve games behind division winners the Baltimore Orioles . This season the manager and front office executive will be looking to Alex Rodriguez to provide some semblance of leadership as well leading the offense which was among the weakest in the AL , as well as MLB overall . UPI / Mark Taylor … ….
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It’s about that time of year again, where stupidity is front and center, as MLB makes all of the right and wrong moves

It’s about that time of year again, where stupidity is front and center, as MLB makes all of the right and wrong moves

If there is one thing I have become accustomed to , it is knowing that baseball and their fans are a fickle bunch of individuals. If nothing else, the league itself as well as the hierarchy beyond their being a lack of leadership. MLB simply cannot get out of its own way when it comes to making repeated pratfalls, but as of late, the NBA and NFL, have somehow sought to show they are no fools when it comes to making complete assholes of themselves either. Your simply have to read the latest headlines to see what has recently taken place within the NBA and NFL for clarification of the very fact.

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The divisional races within the AL and NL are heating up with many of the teams in contention now seeking to bolster their respective rosters. There will be some takers , some shakers, but most of all , a number of losers. The Philadelphia Phillies with their $160 million payroll have been one of the biggest disappointments of this entire season, with the managerial staff and the players themselves at a loss to explain their season’s woes. Philadelphia seem to be unwilling to even put up a fight within the NL East against their divisional opponents never mind the rest of baseball overall. As winners of four of their last ten games , it is hard to suggest how the Phillies can fight their way out of their quagmire, with Ryne Sandberg in first season as the Philadelphia Phillies’ manager struggling to make sense of the team’s troubles this season. A 6-0 drubbing of the equally dismal New York Mets may well have provided Sandberg and his managerial staff with some respite , but the front office cannot be entirely happy with what they have witnessed from the team over the course of this season.

Phillies’ joint general managers Reuben Amaro Jr and Pat Gillick are likely to make some drastic cost cutting moves, while seeking to pave the way for next season. Out of the postseason hunt as well as a divisional race, it only makes sense for the organization to simply implode the team and trade-off needless pieces. Certainly, the two executives are likely to listen to reasonable offers several players thought to be likely targets for teams in need of some pitching as well as a productive bat. At the top of the list might well be pitcher Cole Hamels along with his teammate Ryan Howard, albeit , I now feel no Phillies’ player is likely to off the table given the plight of the franchise and what they seek in return. The Phillies’ farm system is said to be a very good one , but I get the impression neither Gillick or Amaro are yet ready to anoint anyone there, ready to be called up to the Majors. Philadelphia will resume their series with the New York Mets on Wednesday afternoon at Citi-Field with Kyle Kendrick taking the mound for the visiting team against Zack Wheeler of the Mets in a National League contest .

As an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves, my biggest disappointment was to see the team falter under a great deal of expectation during the 2013 MLB postseason . Fredi Gonzalez and the Braves easily won the NL East with a least of effort and the belief was after years of false hope they were indeed ready to return to the wondrous heights of success achieved under former manager Bobby Cox . With Cox now inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame this past Saturday, alongside five other distinguished members , it would be fascinating to see Braves perhaps make a spirited effort to make another return to the postseason in honor of the franchise’s most distinguished manager.

This season the Braves have not lived up to or shown the form many had expected, with the Washington Nationals now perhaps seen as the presumptive favorites to take the NL East with first-year manager Matt Williams having a great deal of success with his team . Braves’ GM Frank Wren , if it his intent to have the team make the postseason, then there is the possibility he might well seek to bolster the lineup by making several changes by way of a trade or demoting a member of the starting lineup by bringing up someone from within their farm system. Consistency has been the thing lacking with the Atlanta Braves over the course of this season where their longest winning streak being nine games and a losing streak of seven games. If the team are to be viewed in any way, as a credible contender for the NL Pennant much less the World Series then Fredi Gonzalez will have to get his players playing with a great deal more zeal than has been shown through the first half of the season. BJ Upton , Aaron Harang, Mike Minor , Julio Teheran , Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis , Justin Upton and Ervin Santana will have to prove to the fans and public alike they can be viewed as one of the teams to beat within the NL during the second half of the season.

Atlanta will renew an old rivalry when they are the guests of the high-flying Los Angeles at Dodgers Ballpark over the next two days , with the first game taking place on Wednesday afternoon. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the two contests will be, as the Dodgers are seeking to fend off the challenge of the San Francisco Giants, with the two teams contesting the divisional supremacy within the NL West . For Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly , this might well be the last chance he will be given to take this team deep into the postseason. With a payroll close to a quarter of a billion dollars , the common thought in most circles are that , managing partners Magic Johnson , Peter Guber and Mark Walter may well have given the manager their blessing , but one more misstep could lead to his ouster as the manager of this highly paid team. Players Matt Kemp , Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier are just three of the names being bandied about as the organization seeks to bolster the lineup . Kemp, Crawford and Ethier trade bait might have seem highly improbable a month ago, but such are the ambitions of the Dodgers , that nothing now seems off the table in terms of fulfilling those ambitions. I firmly believe the greatest pressure rests squarely upon the shoulders of Don Mattingly and his managerial staff to succeed, but as usual, the players are not seen as the last resort for failure, yet , it has always been the manager who is left to be seen as the culprit, when all else fails.

Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti may have initially been blessed with an enviable task of presiding over the task of assembling this team under the watchful eye of team President Stan Kasten , but I cannot help wonder, if either executive thought winning a World Series for this baseball club would prove to be so difficult. Last season’s failure in the NLCS was so embarrassing , but a twenty-five year absence from the showcase finale itself, has proven to be equally undermining for the organization as well. I have no doubt there will be some takers for the talents of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, because this has simply been the way the game of baseball has tended to run.

It has been a long time since a current World Series’ champion has fared so badly in the defense of their title. Yet witnessing the fall from grace of the Boston Red Sox this season has proven to be so embarrassing and unexpected. This team has failed to show any life whatsoever and it is hard to point out one positive aspect to the Red Sox’s play over the course of this year. I am not about to suggest John Farrell is an extremely bad manager, but it would seem beyond the aspect of his having caught just about everyone off-guard during the postseason, 2014 has been littered with surprises by way of the lack of enthusiasm being shown by the Red Sox players. It were as if they are ready to rest on their laurels, with the evidence of 2013 being the measure of their success. David Ortiz seems to be a shadow of the player witnessed in the postseason , when he won the World Series’ MVP . Likewise the same can be said of many of his teammates from that roster who still remain current members of the Red Sox lineup.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has a great deal to think about concerning the immediate and long-term future of the franchise. Rumored to be on the trade block are pitchers Jon Lester , John Lackey , Burke Badenhop and a number of outfielders on the roster. Fire sale, might one ask ? The Boston Red now are not the Red Sox old ,who between 2004 through to 2010 were so dominant , but then came the era of Bobby Valentine before things got turned upside down. Valentine’s subsequent firing led to John Farrell’s introduction as the manager with a World Series’ title coming in his first season as the manager. The expectations for this season were high, but the reality has been one of abysmal mediocrity and little evidence to suggest the players are motivated to turn things around. I have no doubt in my mind this team will be imploded with several mainstays from last season being jettisoned , with John Farrell and the managerial staff looking to the farm system and acquisitions as the ball-club looks to the future.

It is also that time of year again and the fans of the Tampa Bay Rays wait with bated breath concerning the next episode concerning the franchise come the trade deadline. All Star and Cy Young Award winner David Price is once again the scene of a number of speculative rumors concerning his future. Joe Maddon has been saying the right things concerning the player and his wish to see him be retained, but in all probability with this franchise, simply not willing to pay the player his worth , it would be in their best interest to seek the best offer available for one of the AL’S best pitchers. Claims as to Price being a top-five pitcher in baseball are vastly exaggerated, but what would we come to expect of the Rays’ fans to begin with , much less fans who claim to be in the know concerning the game of baseball?

It would be fair to suggest the Tampa Bay Rays have failed to deliver on all counts this season their record is simply another indication of that reason. No more continuous excuses of the organization being paupers, because it is now time to put up or simply shut the hell up , once and for all. The continued apathy of the fan-base has played an even bigger part in this dilemma of the continued belief, the team has always been good enough to contend . An AL pennant and a sole appearance in the World Series and all of a sudden, the Tampa Bay Rays were considered “world beaters” . Well their fall back to earth has been quick and the organization has been exposed as one of aimlessly heading nowhere, where their sole assets are the acumen of Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon. Beyond that, there has been very little to suggest the Rays can be considered perennial contenders, much less lacking real leadership among the playing staff . If anyone can point to their being a vocal leader on the roster, much less the player leading by example , then I would like to hear or see the name of the player in question be mentioned and the reasoning behind the choice in question?

Yet with the news revealed today (Thursday) at the trade deadline, a decision was made to trade David Price to the Detroit Tigers , this further emphasizes that the franchise has now given up on their season and are now looking ahead to their long-term future. It may not be too long, before they are likely to contemplate trading away Evan Longoria who in many respects has been nothing more than a figurehead for the baseball franchise and little else beyond that. When and if such a scenario should happen, it will be interesting to see how this is played out and viewed by Rays’ fans within the area as well as nationwide.

The Rays’ first game without their Cy Young Award winning pitcher will be a contest against the Los Angeles Angels in a match-up to be played at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida. How the team performs in this game could tell us a great deal about the determination of the players over the second half of the season. A divisional title is out of their reach and only the implosion of several of the teams ahead of them in the wildcard standings would be of benefit to Joe Maddon’s players and their chances of making the postseason. Beyond that , I do not believe there is much more that needs to be said !

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Picture gallery .

In your honest opinion who do you believe benefits the most at this time of the year in terms of the trades made within baseball ? Is the teams giving up a major impact player on their roster or the recipients of the transactions in question? Simply leave a comment as you see fit on this and anything else you believe to be of importance with regard to the subject.

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(1) Philadelphia Phillies’ GM Reuben Amaro Jr is seen here with team manager Ryne Sandberg as the tow watch members of the team in the outfield during warmups prior to a Spring Training game . This season for the Phillies has been an unmitigated disaster with the team barely competitive within the NL East or the NL wildcard standings . Some major decisions are likely to be made concerning the future makeup of the roster as it enters the second half of the season. AP Photo/ Paul Garnett …

(2) Tony Gwynn Jr of the Philadelphia Phillies was released by the franchise at the trade deadline in what was seen as the first of many moves likely to be taken by the organization between now and the end of the season. Gwynn’s father , Tony Gwynn Sr a seven-time NL batting champion and Hall of Fame inductee died earlier this year from cancer. AP Photo/ Sandra Potter ….

(3) Emilio Bonifacio of the Chicago Cubs was traded by the organization to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday afternoon. For the Cubs simply another milestone in another recent lackluster season for the ball-club. Getty Images North America/ Hugh Perez …

(4) Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly is seen here alongside the team’s batting instructor Mark McGwire as they look on from the dugout during a game played at Dodgers’ Ballpark in Los Angeles , California earlier this season. With a bloated $241 million payroll, high expectations await the franchise over the remainder of this season . Failure and some major decisions are likely to be made by team President Stan Kasten and GM Ned Colletti . AP Photo/ Ben Thompson ….

(5) Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester who was dealt by the team to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes . Boston appears to be unloading a players with a view to lowering their payroll while placing an emphasis on their farm system for the future and actively seeking out bargains by way of productive players who can aid them in their task ahead. AP Photo/ Chris Charles …

(6) BOSTON, MA – JULY 29: David Price (14) of the Tampa Bay Rays smiles after he gives up the second hit of the night, a home run , to rookie Brandon Snyder (23) of the Boston Red Sox in the 6th inning of a game played at Fenway Park on July 29, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts . Price was dealt by the Rays to the Detroit Tigers , in what has to be considered another sad chapter in the franchise’s history in their turnover of star players, dealt away . Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……

(7) Detroit Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch left and team GM Dave Dombrowski are seen here addressing members of the press during a preseason meeting concerning their thoughts on the season. Dombrowski and Tampa Bay Rays’ counterpart Andrew Friedman engineered the trade that brought David Price to the AL Central contenders and may well have strengthened their position to keep that divisional title. Getty Images/ Kent Turner …

(8) Tampa Bay Rays’ player Evan Longoria is seen here with Rays’ senior executives , GM Andrew Friedman , Matthew Silverman and senior managing partner Stuart Sternberg . After a great deal of consultation between the trio and manager Joe Maddon the decision was made to send David Price to the Detroit Tigers. Fans will get their voice to show their approval or disapproval of this deal when the team plays host to Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels this Friday at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida . AP Photo / Dave Mason …

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And today’s double-header will be headed by Julie’s assets .


Nor even my “kicks” ever looked this good !

No quick takes just a take …….

No quick takes just a take

The NBA postseason still remains a mess , with the clouds still hovering over a rather unsavory episode that neither the press or the fans fully comprehend . Instead it has been the constant apathy among both parties, that continues to be clear as everyone tries to make sense of Donald Sterling’s comments and the fact the NBA hierarchy chose not to reprimand the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner for his prior actions. This whole incident, has cast a giant shadow over this entire postseason , where the quartet of teams now remaining and now playing in the Conference Finals must now be wondering if there are likely to be any other events likely to overshadow the postseason , as it meanders towards a conclusion.

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With the Eastern and Western Conference Finals now taking shape , it is becoming clear that the defending NBA champions the Miami Heat are going waltz their way towards a third consecutive Finals’ berth , with their opponents the Indiana Pacers , having all but given up in making the series an actual competitive contest . The first game of the Eastern Conference Finals was won by the number one seed, with the belief being that Frank Vogel’s players were ready to avenge last season’s Conference Finals’ loss , but within the space of five days this Pacers’ team has fallen back down to earth and have shown the competitive nature of a docile cat afraid of their own shadow.

Now up 3-1 in their series, LeBron James must now be relishing the fact, that he and his teammates are now five wins away from securing a third consecutive NBA title.

If the contest in the East is said to be lacking in drama, then game three has breathed life into the Western Conference Finals with Serge Ibaka’s presence for the Oklahoma City Thunder and their contest against the San Antonio Spurs. Ibaka’s presence has given renewed energy to the Thunder , who now seek to overcome a 2-1 deficit , where a pivotal game four contest tonight , will tell us a great deal about the makeup of this team and whether or not they are indeed capable of defeating a Spurs’ team looking to make a quick return to the NBA Finals and seeking to avenge last season’s loss to the Miami Heat.

The coaching merry-go-round has begun in earnest with Steve Kerr having shunned the overtures by Phil Jackson to succeed Mike Woodson as the head coach of the New York Knicks . If that situation was not as asinine as it now looks , consider the fact that for the second time in four years Mike Brown has been fired by Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert and that particular organization. I am beginning to feel that Gilbert , has little acumen, when it comes to owning a professional sport’s franchise , much less knowing what it is needed to make that an outright success ! As for this idiocy , that LeBron James would seek to rejoin that franchise to play alongside Kyrie Irving now makes about as much sense as James joining the Sacramento Kings because in being paired with DeMarcus Cousins would make that particular franchise a legitimate contender for an NBA title.

As if the comedic travails of the Cavaliers were not idiotic enough as they now seem to be , in conjunction that with of the New York Knicks , then consider the ongoing idiocy now unfolding within the front office of the Los Angeles Lakers . Anyone now believing that the Lakers would now be a desirable destination for anyone seeking to further their NBA coaching career either has to be delusional or a downright idiot to believe that the franchise under the auspices of Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss has any inherent idea about what they are actually doing. These past two seasons alone, should prove to anyone with an ounce of common sense that a great deal of intelligence is lacking within the alleged acumen of both front office executives. Mike D’Antoni’s resignation and the next fallout with his actions , speaks volumes about the sense of unrest , that there was said to be within the Los Angeles Lakers as a franchise this past season. Beyond the team being uncompetitive , excuses in part could be made for the absence of Kobe Bryant , but the team was lacking heart and there was never any leadership forthcoming from the coaching staff or seasoned veterans on the team’s roster . Buss’ search for a successor to D’Antoni , is now likely to be a long drawn out protracted process that is likely to be speculated upon by an ever-growing circle of fans and observers alike.

Well, so much for the NFL Draft , the expectations thereof and the first round of the process, befitting the idiocy of the hyperbole and drama that surrounds this annual event, now becomes one of the teams now looking to sign their draftees to their rookie contracts. If that was not enough, the one player where a there was said to be great deal of scrutiny of and where he would likely be picked, still draws a great deal of news , for all the wrong reasons . The Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel seems to be drawing as much undesired attention to himself without yet having proven himself worthy of the stories now unfolding .

Manziel’s maturity level was continually questioned throughout this NFL Draft process and it may well have led to what many believed was the justification his being drafted so low . From being thought to be the likely first quarterback taken in the Draft , the player was taken as the twenty-second overall pick by the beleaguered Browns , who were in search of a passer for more competitive than the now departed Brandon Weeden than many of the quarterbacks to have filled the position for the franchise over the past eight seasons . As to why Johnny Manziel would feel it necessary to be seen in Las Vegas at a UFC , albeit , that it was on the weekend , but with the player and his agent trying to suggest, that the party and “Playboy Image” was said be surrounding Manziel was nothing but a creation by the press and his detractors , in no way should be seen as a detriment about his skill-set as a player. Those issues, may well be overlooked, if the rookie can lead the Cleveland Browns to a successful season in 2014. For head coach Mike Pettine and his coaching staff , their futures as well as that of the Browns’ fan-base, will be looking to the young rookie to bring about what they feel to be some long and overdue success to a franchise, that has seen very little success over the past decade.

Johnny Manziel will be given every opportunity to display his craft over the Browns’ preseason where he is likely to share a great deal of the playing time with the team’s likely starter Brian Hoyer . Though on the team’s depth chart , Manziel is likely to be seen as third in that role behind Tyler Thigpen , with a fourth alternative being Connor Shaw. Cleveland’s opening regular season schedule , begins with a week one contest at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania, against their AFC North rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers on the September 7th , 2014. Manziel, as the Heisman Trophy winner , undoubtedly has a great deal of expectation to live up to and without the other added distractions, the player must now prove his detractors that he is indeed capable of leading this franchise to some semblance of success, while also displaying the skill-set we all witnessed during his collegiate career with Texas A&M and his tenure with the program.

I am sick and tired of hearing repeated and the most banal of excuses, about why a team that becomes hamstrung by injuries cannot compete during the MLB season. Unless, that the players lost to the roster represents more than one half of their front-line starters , then there should be no reason for the constant whining of the fans. And therein lies the idiocy recently and claims concerning the under-achieving Tampa Bay Rays and a team that was said to have the best pitching roster within the Majors , as well as being capable of winning ninety to ninety-five games this season. A languid start has seen this team fall short of what many felt that Joe Maddon’s playing staff were capable of achieving at this point of the season , albeit, the Rays compete in one of the most competitive divisions in all of baseball . As contentious as the AL East is known to be , several of the teams there can now be judged and now be said to be under-achieving, including the defending World Series’ champions the Boston Red Sox , who now find themselves rooted at the bottom of the division , eight half games behind division leaders, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Toronto for its part, coming off a rather lopsided victory over the Tampa Bay Rays , were never thoroughly tested at any point , during the game played at the Rogers Center , in Toronto , Ontario , on Sunday afternoon . If the Rays are said to be a flawed team , then this contest against the Blue Jays , gave the fans every reason to see why , with their being mental lapses throughout the game, both competitively , as well as mentally . The two teams are set to meet again on Tuesday afternoon , with Alex Cobb of the Rays facing the Blue Jays’ Mark Buerhle in what should be a very good pitching contest .

Call me naïve, but I have always felt that “spending big “ , does always necessary means a team will , ” win big “ , when it comes to the World Series ! Case in point , has to be , both the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees , as this season’s two biggest spending teams by way of their payrolls. This season alone the two ball-clubs will combine to surpass almost 20 % of the over $ 3.1 billion that will be committed in team payrolls , with several of their players being among the highest paid in the game by way of their annual salaries or the contracts or contract value .If that is not an ongoing indicator about how out of whack the game of baseball has become, by way of the economic imbalances . Then I for one , would like to hear a concise explanation from any baseball fan, who now believes that the game can be self-sustainable with the ever-increasing contracts among the top teams , while their mid and small-market counterparts, are left in their wake !

In 2013, both the Dodgers and Yankees were atop of the spending pile , in terms of payroll commitments , with only the Los Angeles’ based franchise making the postseason , where they fell to the St Louis Cardinals in a rather lopsided NLCS Pennant Series. Out-managed and outmaneuvered by a stealth Cardinals’ team in the series , that Don Mattingly, as the manager of the Los Angles Dodgers, will be under even greater pressure and scrutiny to take this team further into the postseason this year , than he was able to do in 2013. That stinging failure, still lingers deep within front office of the Dodgers, with owners Peter Guber and Magic Johnson among the partners showing their concern , as to the team’s failings this past postseason.

In a division where now, three of the four teams are above .500 , the Los Angels Dodgers find themselves 4 ½ games behind the hard charging San Francisco Giants , who themselves have the best record in baseball with a 33-19 mark . Now in spite of Josh Beckett’s recent superlative outing in pitching a no-hitter in the team’s 6-0 trouncing of the Philadelphia Phillies . I still believe that the Dodgers will be hard pressed to equal their feat of last season , in running away with the NL West divisional title . It will indeed, take a great deal more than the Dodgers’ pitching , of which the rotation is plentiful in terms of their starters , if the team is to be truly successful this season . The effort will have to be collective one , with the offense being the primary emphasis , if Don Mattingly’s players are to obtain their first World Series’ appearance in over twenty-five years , with that feat being accomplished in 1988 , with their 4-1 triumph over the Oakland Athletics .

The Dodgers followed up that victory over the Phillies , with two positive results against the Cincinnati Reds . Those teams will meet again on Wednesday the 28th May at Dodgers’ Ballpark in Los Angeles , California , with Homer Bailey (4-3) taking the mound for the Reds against his NL counterpart Clayton Kershaw (3-1). As the Dodgers go this season, so rests the fate possibly of Don Mattingly’s long-term future with the ball-club , with the likelihood, that the team’s failure might well lead to his ultimate dismissal . However, his leading the franchise to that long-awaited World Series’ triumph would certainly cement his legacy in the annals of Dodgers’ postseason history , as being one of the few managers to have led the ball-club to a series’ victory in baseball’s showcase finale.

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The sports’ world is forever in search of stories that will whet the appetite of the fans and generate the debates , discussions , call them what you will. For the most part, without those tidbits to actually to nibble on, there is simply nothing to lure us in and to keep us galvanized on the events taking place at any given moment . What recent events, have piqued your interest in the world of sports and has there been a sports’ story , that you feel that has in some way been over exposed in terms of its coverage ? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit on this and anything else you feel to be relevant.

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(1) MIAMI, FL – MAY 26: Frank Vogel of the Indiana Pacers looks on against the Miami Heat during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 26, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The Pacers face the Miami Heat in a pivotal Game Five , on the brink of elimination from this season’s NBA postseason with a 3-1 deficit now staring them in the face. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …

(2) Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives to the basket over Indiana Pacers forward David West (21) during the second half of Game 4 in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals playoff series, Monday, May 26, 2014, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Pacers 102-90 . AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ……

(3) Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against Kendrick Perkins of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first quarter during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 27, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This series is now tied at two games apiece (2-2) with the Thunder having overcome a 2-0 deficit . Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images …

(4) Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder look on in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 27, 2014 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City,Oklahoma. Getty Images / Andrew D Bernstein ….

(5) Cleveland Cavaliers’ team owner Dan Gilbert ,left, is seen here with Mike Brown , center and team GM Chris Grant . Brown was fired for the second time during his second stint with the Cleveland based NBA franchise . Likewise , Chris Grant was not given a contract extension by the Cavaliers with his being succeeded by David Griffin , who has now has sole responsibility for player personnel decisions as well as seeking a new successor to fill the vacant coaching position. AP Photo/ Gary Mason …..

(6) Johnny Manziel of the Cleveland Browns is seen here on NFL Draft Day , having just been selected by the franchise , where he is likely to be third on the team’s depth chart . Manziel has been the center and focus of news’ media attention in recent weeks , but over the past weekend the player was seen at UFC event in Las Vegas Nevada , in the lead-up to the Browns’ OTA’s (organized training activities) , with many questioning his willingness to be team player and shying away from the constant glare which he seems to seek out at almost every opportunity. Erik Burkhardt , Manziel’s agent , has suggested , it has been the press seeking out his client, rather than the player placing himself in front of the media . In a recent turn of events, a lawsuit has been filed against Johnny Manziel by an unnamed victim . claiming sexual harassment in which the plaintiff is seeking $25 million in damages . Burkhardt claims that the lawsuit is frivolous, without merit and will be challenged within the Florida courts , where the suit was originally filed. AP Photo / Martin Jones ….

(7) Toronto Blue Jays’ Adam Lind celebrates a home run with third base coach Luis Rivera , left, during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim ……

(8) Tampa Bay Rays’ Alex Cobb reacts after getting hit by a ball from Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Reyes during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim ……

(9) Starting pitcher Josh Beckett (61) of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the ninth inning during a game in which he threw a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dodgers won 6-0 . Getty Images North America /Hunter Martin ….

(10) Starting pitcher Josh Beckett (61) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with teammates after throwing a no-hitter during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dodgers won 6-0. Getty Images/ Hunter Martin …….

(11) Starting pitcher Josh Beckett (61) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with teammates after throwing a “no hitter” against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Beckett became the first MLB pitcher to throw a “no-hitter ” this season, joining select group of players to have accomplished the feat in baseball history. Getty Images /Hunter Martin …..

(12) From left to right , seen are Peter Guber , Stan Kasten , Mark Walter and Magic Johnson , who make up part of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ senior managing partner and ownership group for the Los Angeles’ based franchise . The ball-club was purchased for a record-breaking sum of $ 2.156 billion in 2013 , making it the largest purchase in North American sports’ history for a professional sports’ franchise. AP Photo / Matt Peters ….

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It’s not the journey itself, but the first step taken that tends to be the hardest

It’s not the journey itself , but the first step taken that tends to be the hardest …

By Tophatal ……

The first month of the baseball season is now in everyone’s rear view mirror and the divisional tables now, show the teams that are playing with a great deal of resolve . Biggest issue so far on the schedule season, has been the health of so many players already being down injured , with the Los Angeles Dodgers already seeing their starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw being on the team’s disabled list and the team being able to find a rhythm of consistency without having their high-priced starting pitcher and his arm. It is pretty much safe to say that the managerial staff of the team will not solely be reliant on Kershaw, but their entire pitching roster. The team has started off fast, right out of the gate , but now find themselves 2 ½ games behind the San Francisco Giants (21-12) and the Colorado Rockies (21-14) in the NL West . As competitive as the division is likely to be , I do believe that Don Mattingly will be under even more pressure this season, than he was in 2013 , when the team made the postseason only to falter in the NLCS in a lopsided series’ loss to the St Louis Cardinals . Managing partners Magic Johnson , Mark Walter and Peter Guber , along with team President Stan Kasten are likely to believe that baseball’s highest salaried team will be able to get over the hump this season and for the Los Angeles Dodgers to make their first World Series’ appearance in twenty-six years ,

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Wednesday afternoon pits the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game , in the nation’s capital, when they face the Washington Nationals at Nationals Ballpark in Washington DC. One the mound for the visiting team, will be seasoned veteran Dan Haren as he faces off against Nationals’ starting ace Stephen Strasburg in a match-up of two of the National League’s top pitchers . Strasburg has been one of the reasons, why the NL East based team has been off to a pleasant start , with the expectations for franchise for this season, said to be high on all fronts. Clearly the disappointments of 2012, left something of bitter taste in the mouths of the fans, as well the organization in general, when a postseason berth , it was felt was clearly within their reach, if not the division itself.

For Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten it will be a homecoming of sorts as he was once a front office executive for the DC based franchise . While the Nationals have sought to bring some relevance back to DC by way of baseball, it must be said that their fortunes have also been tied to fate of the Washington Redskins in recent seasons. The NFL franchise has itself, seen something of a rise back to relevance , but their 2013 season, can be best described as a major disaster , with a lack of competitiveness of the team and the later firing of head coach Mike Shanahan and the front office not willing to extend the contract of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan .

The fact that the Redskins have since hired Jay Gruden to succeed Mike Shanahan , can either be seen as an act of desperation or one of genius , based on Gruden’s alleged success as a coordinator in the NFL , as his career is said to have flourished in that attempt. . This may well be the risk that Bruce Allen and team owner , Dan Snyder feels is relevant, if the Redskins are to succeed after the woes of last season, which saw a last place finish within the NFC East division.

As impressive a start to the season that the Milwaukee Brewers (22-13) have to their calendar , while leading the NL Central . There remains still the ongoing controversy of the team’s All Star slugger Ryan Braun and his return to the game after his league mandated suspension . Braun has slowly played himself back into the consciousness of the public at large, while still looked upon some circles as a pariah and a cheat. As the NL MVP , an award that many feel that Braun should have been stripped of, but the hypocrisy of the BBWAA still remains, along with the sheer gullibility of the MLB hierarchy under Bud Selig . Ryan Braun’s actions, in not only lying to the press and public alike , about his use of a banned substance, spoke to the fact that baseball’s testing protocols, the use of an independent laboratory and a failure of proper oversight , continues to the show that the claims of Bud Selig, that baseball has the sternest testing of all the four major professional team sports, does not pass the test. Though it is still early in the season , MLB is carefully watching the actions of the players , in the aftermath of Alex Rodriguez’s a year-long suspension and the now disgraced player’s actions in seeking to sue baseball’s hierarchy. The MLBPA under its new Executive Director Tony Clark , has done little to suggest that he and his members are acutely aware of their actions as it relates to the use of performance enhancing drugs .

The Milwaukee Brewers own ambitions for this season will be severely tested by their counterparts within the NL Central , perhaps with the exception of the Chicago Cubs , who continue to flounder , even with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer still clueless about what it will take to make the team actually competitive and a legitimate contender within their division much less the rest of the National League . Three years into his tenure and Epstein still has not assembled a managerial staff worth a damn , let alone an on the field product by the way of a team that plays attractive and entertaining baseball . A three-game losing streak and only victorious in four of their last ten games and it is hard to explain how anyone can suggest that the Cubs are in with a chance of being viewed as a viable candidate for the NL Pennant , something that they have not been a part of in several years. Eleven years on, from their infamous pennant series against the Florida Marlins , there are more than goats and idiot named Steve Bartman that have run amok at Wrigley Field , as team owner , Tom Ricketts and his family seem hell-bent on carrying on the tradition of seeing this once revered organization remain the laughing-stock of baseball.

As if to further emphasize the morass of the Chicago Cubs , they succumbed to their crosstown rivals the Chicago White Sox in a game played at US Cellular Field in Chicago , Illinois , on Wednesday afternoon . The two teams will meet again on Thursday with the same venue in play for that contest , which is likely to have the same result based on the evidence of Wednesday . On the mound for the Cubs, will be Jake Arrieta as he faces off against his opposing number Scott Carroll .

It takes a great deal for a baseball club to have three consecutive seasons of losing at least one hundred games . Yet somehow, the Houston Astros have managed to achieve that feat with effortless ease . Coming into 2014, not only were the Astros seeking to avoid further embarrassment., but team owner Jim Crane had begun what is likely to be an ugly legal fight with broadcast partner CSN Houston and the broadcaster’s decision to file for bankruptcy . Crane also names Drayton McClane , the former Astros’ owner in his lawsuit, claiming that the two , sought to hide the gravity of the ball-club’s dealings with the broadcaster and that the duo also, hid many of the financial obligations CSN had with McClane, that allowed the former franchise owner to profit to the tune of some $65 million , prior to the sale of the ball-club. CSN Houston’s parent company Comcast Inc , have stated that the intent will be to file for bankruptcy, because the outlet remains unprofitable, even though the cable outlet has the proprietary broadcast area rights for games of the Houston Rockets as well games for the Astros and several collegiate events.

From my own standpoint , I believe that Jim Crane simply salivated in wanting to own an MLB franchise and the lure of Bud Selig’s tempting offer of $125 million in paid expenses , for the franchise to move from the NL Central West at the end of the 2012 season to the highly competitive AL West was to good an offer to refuse. Due diligence, clearly was not used by Crane in his purchase of the Houston Astros and the team’s record since their move between the two divisions, seems to be just as disastrous as the sale now appears to be , beyond the franchise’s ongoing woes on the field of play .

Thirty-four games into the season and the Houston Astros are now projected to lose one hundred and eight games , winning only fifty-four on their one hundred sixty-two game regular season schedule. It has been that type of futility that the fans have now come to expect while in attendance at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas, along with a pared down team payroll and a proliferation of excuses from Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow . . It should come as no surprise that the Astros’ front office and managerial staff coaching staff continue to believe that the team remains competitive in spite of having a league low team payroll of $44.985 million and one of the worst records in all of baseball. The Astros’ 3-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan was simply another reminder why the baseball club remains a blight on the game and why there has to be a consensus among the owners , union and league hierarchy , that there either has to be a hard salary cap or contraction within the game leading to perhaps the subtraction of at least four teams .

There may well be opponents for contraction within baseball , but with teams such as the Houston Astros , Chicago Cubs , Kansas City Royals , Miami Marlins and of late the Minnesota Twins continuing to be uncompetitive . A decision will have to be made, to the direction that Major League Baseball should take , by using a number of determining factors based on support , a team’s viability without being aided by the luxury tax and finally their competitiveness . League revenues may well be increasing , with much of that coming from the renewing of television contracts , whereby the broadcasters are being asked to pay more for what on the face of it, appears to be a deteriorating on the field product.

If this is the year that the Tampa Bay Rays are to take advantage of what is said to be a weak AL East division, which I do not believe it to be ! Then this would be the season, in which Joe Maddon and his team ought to be taking advantage of their inhabitants within the division . Instead, the Rays find themselves rooted at the bottom of the AL East looking up at the Toronto Blue Jays , Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles , who currently lead the division . Maddon’s team, based on their pitching rotation , is said to be the best in the Majors , though that is clearly not the case now .

The Rays were on the wrong side of a 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida , where Buck Showalter’s players showed why they are leading the AL East . It is games such as this , that Tampa do need to win , if they are to be considered legitimate contenders for the AL Pennant as well as the World Series , a title that the franchise has yet win, but made their sole appearance in baseball’s postseason showcase finale against the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2008 World Series , which resulted in a 4-1 series’ loss . The two combatants will meet again today, with David Price taking the mound for the Rays against the Orioles’ Ubaldo Jiminez . Thursday’s contest should tell us a great deal about both teams , as well as how they are likely to fare over the course of the season.

In the aftermath of the fallout that has taken place within the NBA concerning that particular league’s action in dealing with Los Angeles Clippers’ owner , Donald Sterling with his being banished and fined $2.5 million for his inflammatory racial remarks , which were delivered in private between Sterling and number of acquaintances . It has now become an issue, where the other major professional teams sports will now have to take a deep dark look at how they themselves, deal with the issue of race , and that of their owners’ behavior around and away from their respective sports. Bud Selig, before had to deal with the antics of Marge Schott , the former owner of Cincinnati Reds and her racially insensitive remarks. In truth , Selig, like Adam Silver , was slow to act , given the prior bad acts of Donald Sterling , and the issue of race , in spite of the recent idiocy of the NAACP in wanting to give Donald Sterling their highest civic honor , a Lifetime Achievement Award .

Donald Sterling was well-known to have the views now shown to the public, by the airing of his comments, as they went viral over the internet , and the later interview granted by his girlfriend , V Stiviano . I do believe, that Sterling’s views are his alone and any punishment meted out will not stifle the issue of racism or bigotry and their growing elements within the sports’ environment ! While Donald Sterling’s views, are likely to be shared by a number of his counterparts, within the NBA , NFL and NHL. Yet, they have simply chosen to keep those comments and views to themselves, rather than their being aired in public. Better to be prudent , than making a complete ass of yourself, while tarnishing not only the image of the franchise you own , but also the brand and the image of the NBA. Something that the newly installed commissioner is not going to tolerate, having assumed his position and thereby looking to stamp his own authority on the sport he is likely to preside over for the next decade or more.

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Picture gallery.

Through the first month of the baseball season, what do you feel has been the biggest surprise overall ? Also, do you believe that baseball’s hierarchy, is likely to keep a careful watch on the behavior of their teams owners, in light of the fallout witnessed in the NBA ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Washington Nationals Adam LaRoche connects for a two-run single against Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Dan Haren during the first inning of a baseball game , Wednesday, May 7, 2014 in Washington. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais …

(2) Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) throw against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, May 7, 2014 in Washington. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais …..

(3) Brewers’ outfielder Ryan Braun , presently present on the team’s DL , but hoping to make a quick return to contribute to the Milwaukee Brewers’ efforts this season . AP Photo / Matt Hamlin …..

(4) Chicago Cubs’ Head of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein is seen here with team GM Jed Hoyer , with the newly installed executive given charge to rebuild the organization, under the auspices of his superior, Epstein. It has been some considerable time since the Cubs made a postseason appearance and the organization’s record has been abysmal since that last foray . Getty Images / Phil Carson …

(5) Houston Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow is seeking to resurrect the fortunes of the franchise that has fallen on hard times over the past eight years, but a great deal of the ball-club’s recent misfortunes does appear from the continuing indecision of team owner Jim Crane in raising and then paring down the team’s payroll while seeking to make the organization financially viable . AP Photo / Paula Warren

(6) Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (31) delivers to Tampa Bay Rays’ Matt Joyce during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, May 8, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tampa would go on to lose the game 3-1 suffering their third straight loss, all to their divisional rivals the Orioles . AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ….

(7) Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria (3) lines an RBI single off Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, May 8, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Rays’ Desmond Jennings scored on the hit. Catching of the Orioles is Caleb Joseph. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ….

(8) Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig poses with the winners of the Hank Aaron Awards , (best overall offensive performer of 2004), Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants and Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox, before Game 4 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals on October 27, 2004. In the aftermath of the Donald Sterling affair within the NBA , the commissioner may well now take it upon himself to discuss with team owners , concerning their conduct and their issuing of statements with regard to their personal views , when in a public setting, where it directly involves the game and its image . AP Photo / Jason Black ……

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Who says that the nation’s greatest ever pastime is dead ?

Who says that the nation’s greatest ever pastime is dead ?

Unofficially, the MLB season has started with a two-game series having already taken place between NL West teams the Arizona Diamondbacks (0-2) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2-0) playing their series in Brisbane, Australia,. For managers Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson . this has been a start to a season, in which , both will be seeking to compensate for poor regular seasons, albeit, that Mattingly was able to lead his Dodgers to the NLCS against the St Louis Cardinals , where the team would fall to the NL Central based Cardinals , in six less than thrilling games , where the overrated Los Angles’ franchise simply fell apart . As to the reason , why this All Star laden team would succumb so easily , can be best summed up by the fact , that there was a great deal of complacency on the part of the players as well as Mattingly and his managerial staff .

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For the defending World Series’ champions the Boston Red Sox , led by manager John Farrell , this past season and their achievements , were nothing short of astonishing. From a last place finish within the . AL East , in 2012, to overcoming the ineptitude showed that season, along with the summary dismissal of Bobby Valentine . The latter, of whom, was simply hired for style over substance.

Farrell was able to lead his team with great deal of aplomb, as they weaved their way through an arduous regular season schedule and then without breaking much of a sweat , romped through the postseason , with a great deal of ease. Now the question becomes for one baseball’s most revered organizations , _____ can they make a successful defense of their title or simply fall by the wayside ? The Boston Red Sox are likely to be the initial prohibitive favorites within the AL East , where the division is likely to be a three-horse race between themselves , the Baltimore Orioles and either New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays, dependent upon which the way the wind is blowing or moreover , dependent upon whom the Vegas odds-makers believe to be the more credible of the two candidates.

As usual the MLB off-season posed a number of questions , of which the biggest had to be , how would the New York Yankees fare in the upcoming season , knowing that this would be Derek Jeter’s last season with the franchise after an two-decade career with the ball-club. A player of his stature, cannot easily be replaced, in spite of the now ongoing debates within baseball circles concerning the player’s career and where he now ranks the all-time greats to have donned a Yankees’ uniform . From my own perspective, I believe Jeter to be amongst the top twenty players in the ball-club’s history and where he might ranks within that number , would be entirely based upon how one might feel about his list of achievements and the era in which he played.

The New York Yankees made a splash during the off-season committing over $300 million to players they acquired to bolster their roster , while having the lost the likes of Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson to free agency. That being said, GM Brian Cashman and senior managing partner, Hal Steinbrenner know that this will be a season upon which they will be judged , with the added pressure the fans will want to send off the team’s revered captain with another World Series’ title , which would be in-fact Derek Jeter’s sixth , with baseball’s most successful franchise .

Coming into this season, with another bloated payroll , once again close to , if not exceeding $200 million , one has to ask how much longer the front office can continue to simply splurge on players , while having no real trust within their farm system having drafted presumed talent, in the hope that they would simply blossom and be productive for the franchise. Granted , the measure of success attained over the years , has somewhat downplayed those assertions to an extent , but in reality , they simply cannot be overlooked. Were it not for the benefits, offered by of the club’s ownership of the YES Network and being domiciled in the nation’s largest ad market . I seriously doubt that the New York Yankees would have achieved the measure of success attained under former manager Joe Torre and most recently with their last postseason triumph in 2009 with current manager Joe Girardi .

Girardi and his players will begin their season, with a series against the Houston Astros on the 1st April ,2014 at Minute Maid Park , in Houston , Texas. The likely starters will be CC Sabathia of the Yankees against Houston’s Scott Feldman . For the beleaguered Astros’ franchise , besides their ongoing off the field issues , their biggest hope has to be to avoid and enduring another loss of one hundred games for a third consecutive season , having been able to achieve that feat in 2012 and 2013 . An ignominious feat, while team owner , Jim Crane claims that his ball-club is in a healthy and competitive state. One has to wonder how that can be, while he seeks to sue broadcast partner CSN Houston , parent company Comcast Inc as well as Drayton McClane , the a Astros’ former owner. More to the point, given the fact that Bud Selig was a conduit for the sale , I have to ask, why Crane also has not focused his attention at the MLB Commissioner, with regard to the pending litigation and the very fact that Selig played a large part in the engineering of the sale of the franchise and its relocation from the NL Central in 2012 to the AL West in 2013 ? Bear in mind, that, Crane and the franchise, received a hearty financial “sweetener” n of $100 million to aid in the purchase and in the Astros’ subsequent move to the AL . Conspiracy theory or not, something, really ” stinks “ , concerning this deal, the actions of Jim Crane and that of the MLB hierarchy , as countenanced by Bud Selig .

I will say this for Detroit Tigers’ , owner , Michael Ilitch, he is certainly not afraid of throwing money at players , he believes to be talented enough to aid his franchise in their quest for a World Series ! Something, that has not been achieved by the ball-club in over two decades. The fact that pitcher , Justin Verlander, is one of the highest paid players in the game as well as one of the highest paid pitchers simply has not deterred the owner , who seeks the advice of the team’s general manager , in , Dave Dombrowski . Now with their Tigers’ two-time AL MVP , Triple Crown King and perhaps the best “pure hitter “ in the game , in slugger , Miguel Cabrera . With the player having reportedly ” inked “ a eight-year $248 million deal , with their still being two years left on his existing contract that will pay him $44 million . One has to wonder, what other maneuvers are likely to be engineered within the Tigers’ front office .

The end to this episode, has not yet come to a satisfactory conclusion within the Tigers’ organization with pitcher, Max Scherzer at first turning down an initial offer of a contract extension , said to be an offer worth six-years and $144 million . Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras said to have found the offer derisory and beneath what he believes his client would be worth on the open market. An agent of Boras’ stature and someone who has come to be the bane of general managers around the league, has simply been the main reason why the sport of baseball has become ” financially imperiled ” . Far too many, idiotic fans, believe that MLB remains on sound financial footing, merely because the game’s revenues have been increasing each season. Inflationary issues asides, a great deal of this, has to more to do with the renegotiated television rights , increased ticket , concession prices and corporate endorsement deals . Yet above all , players’ salaries , contract and team payrolls are on the increase , while the quality of the baseball being played is actually on the decline . Granted, Bud Selig can always point to the fact that game attendances , are at a high , but nowhere near an all-time as associated with the game during the fifties , sixties seventies and early eighties . While we have seen larger venues being built, over the past few years, it has not followed through in creating bigger attendances for a number of teams. Small market teams struggle to attract a fan-base big enough to be actually self-sustaining, without the aid of an assist from the MLB hierarchy . Cases can be justified, with the number of teams assisted by the league’s tax-sharing revenue scheme.

In refusing the Tigers’ offer Scherzer puts himself on the part to become a free agent this off-season and it seems highly unlikely that GM Dave Dombrowski to resume negotiations with either the player or his agent. Scott Boras for his part , as an agent over the past decade , has negotiated contracts totaling in excess of $5 billion , and having negotiated the most contracts of clients such as Alex Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira , Stephen Drew , Kendry Morales , Barry Zito , Jered Weaver , Shin Soo Choo and Michael Bourn , through his successful sports’ management agency the Boras Corporation .

With appearances coming in 2006 and 2012 in the World Series for the Detroit Tigers , with the team failing on both occasions , you would have to go back to 1984 , when the ball-club was triumphant over the San Diego Padres in baseball’s postseason fare . Three decades later and one wonders, if a curse was placed over the franchise after that series’ victory. Here, am I thinking , Wrigley Field , the infamous goat and Steve Bartman might be the only things , that fans can have fun with, when it comes to comedic anecdotes concerning the game ! I guess I was wrong in that context and can only hope that when the Tigers begin their 2014 schedule, with their opening home game against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park in Detroit , it will be the start of something special for the ball-club this season.

As much as it pains me to say this , having watched the Chicago Cubs swoon over the seasons , has brought a great deal emotion and in many respects, a great deal of laughter. In spite of, the club’s history and the many great players , that have passed through the locker room down the years. The continued struggles of the franchise, as they seek to win a World Series and to appease and placate their long-suffering fans and the shedding of the myth of the “goat” has been something of a long running soap opera. Steve Bartman’s infamy and stupidity, in some respects, gives you an indication, why the franchise remains in a quagmire , beyond the sheer conceit shown first, by Sam Zell and the current owners of the Cubs , Tom Ricketts and his family . If Ricketts believes spending $100 million refurbishing and upgrading the ballpark is money well-spent, rather than bolstering the current roster , then it gives you an indication as to where his priorities may well lie , even with Theo Epstein being brought in to weave some magic in heading up the team’s Baseball Operations . Epstein’s tenure with the ball-club at present, two years in and the franchise has been moving at a snail’s pace , showing very little sign of progress either on or off the field of play.

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Catching hell doesn’t do Bartman justice ! A bullet to the head , would have been justified .

Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer will seek to bring back some semblance of success , having worked together before, in a similar capacity , while both were with the Boston Red Sox , where they saw a considerable amount of success together as a pairing, in bringing about the first of that franchise’s three most recent World Series’ titles. The Cubs’ long-suffering fans have been waiting for over hundred years to witness a World Title and but for Steve Bartman’s idiocy during the 2003 NLCS , the common feeling might well have been , this was to be their year . Instead, one moment of lunacy, brought about angst , anger, pent-up frustration , threats to endanger the life of Steve Bartman and ,members of his immediate family. Meanwhile , Moises Alou can only feel hard done by, and wishing that if the ball had been struck with a little less strength , it would have been the Chicago Cubs quite possibly winning out , in that now infamous series against the Florida Marlins and then making their way to the World Series that year . If, only and but , all commonly used words in the English language ,and yet when acquainting them with the Chicago Cubs , memories of Alou’s outstretched arms and Bartman snatching that fly ball from within his grasp, spelt disaster for the franchise in more ways than one .

The Cubs will begin with their season, when they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in their regular season opener , where they will also be opposing the 2013 NL MVP winner Andrew McCutchen, as that team , seeks to take a few more positive steps, after languishing on the outside looking in , having not made the postseason in two decades . Last year, in some respects, was a season of firsts for this ball-club, with a number of players showing a great deal more maturity? Although their postseason foray was not long-lasting, , it was enough give the Pirates a great hope for this upcoming season as Neal Huntington has been finally been given the go-ahead to actually spend some money the roster in acquiring players . A major turnaround , when you consider that for a number of years, team owner , Bob Nutting repeatedly, plead poverty while the ball-club was actually profitable, even if it came by way of the largess of the > baseball hierarchy .

Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle and his managerial staff will have a tough season in seeking to repeat many of the team’s triumphs of last season . Nonetheless , with McCutchen leading the offense and providing his stealth in the outfield as one of baseball’s best defensive players . A great deal is expected of the Pittsburgh Pirates this upcoming season where they are likely to face a stiff challenge from the likes of the St Louis Cardinals , Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers . If the team can simply show some of the form of last season and specifically within their division , then there could very well be a possibility of the ball-club coming away with their first divisional title since 1992 . As I alluded to earlier, the Pirates have spent a long time on the outside looking in and then some !

Exploding salaries and payrolls and the general managers, are expected to work miracles in conjunction with the managers around the league. Moreover, the owners , themselves, many of them are amongst some of the wealthiest individuals in the country or they happen to have been either successful businessmen or quite possibly successful in other chosen endeavors . Peter Angelos a successful attorney and owner of the Baltimore Orioles, not often seen in public , has become something of a recluse. In the past seven years , during his tenure, as the franchise’s owner , I truly believe he and the front office to have been completely negligent in their running of the ball-club ! Granted, a great deal of the idiotic analysis suggested by fans of the team , have merely made suggestions about their draft needs in order to build their farm system for the future and free agent acquisitions , never once questioning the mindset of the owner and the lack of concern or motivation on his part of that of the executives within the front office. Perhaps , it really does come down to the apparent lack of intelligence of the fans and their having little or no damn knowledge as to the inner workings of a business , much less a professional sports’ franchise .

Peter Angelos for his part, may well have left the day-to-day running of the Orioles to his son, John P Angelos , H Russell Souse , Chief General Counsel, Dan Duqutte and former Baltimore Orioles’ player , Brady Anderson . A great deal was expected of the team last season , but unfortunately for Buck Showalter and his staff , the players were not readily equipped to get the job done and garner a wildcard berth . At one point during last season, it looked as if the Baltimore Orioles were capable of actually winning the AL East, but beyond the fascination of Chris Davis and his seeking to <a href=http://mlb.mlb.com/bal/history/uy break the franchise’s single season home run record and the increasing maturity being shown by Manny Machado , there was not a great deal that evolved out of the Orioles’ season during 2013. Their failure in large part, was in simply playing their divisional rivals , tough , during the season and it essentially led to their own undoing . There may well now be a common belief that this season, they are going to be in a position to challenge the might of the might of the Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays , but I do not believe that the team in its present guise is simply good enough to pull off that feat , in spite of their off-season moves !

While Mike Scioscia and Ron Gardenhire look to start their respective seasons, within the AL, for the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins . I cannot help but wonder, with the combined managerial career between the two , all they have to show for that their respective tenures , just happens to be, one World Series’ title , one AL Pennant , several divisional titles and collectively , well over 2000 career wins ( Gardenhire 998 wins and Scioscia 1233 wins) . Yet , I truly believe that both of these well-respected managers, are now past their prime ! Wherein, for owners Arte Moreno and Jim Pohlad , this may well be the season , where should both managers fail to meet expectations, then their careers within the Majors, will come to an abrupt end , with their summary dismissals . It could also mean the end, for general managers, Jerry DiPoto and Terry Ryan . Though, in some circles, it is believed that Ryan will be allowed to remain in his current position, with the Twins, as he seeks turn things around, after the somewhat , recent lean years of under-achievement by his predecessor, Bill Smith . . As the season gets underway, determined by the progress made, we will all be able to judge the fate and outcome of both of these managers. Could a World Series’ win be in the picture for either ? Your thoughts on that and anything else, you believe pertinent to the subject matter, is more than welcome !

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(1) (L-R) NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell and NSW Minister for Arts, George Souris present signed cricket bats to Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers and Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks during the MLB Welcome to Australia Press Conference at Sydney Cricket Ground oon March 18, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Getty Images Asia-Pacific/ Brendon Thorne …..

(2) Diamondbacks manager, Kirk Gibson speaks during the MLB Welcome to Australia Press Conference at Sydney Cricket Ground on March 18, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Getty Images Asia-Pacific / Brendon Thorne …..

(3) Prince Fielder is seen here with Detroit Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski , after the player was acquired as a free agent by the franchise . Two years of somewhat lackluster productivity having signed a multi-year multi-million deal , Fielder was sent packing along with the remainder of his contract to the Texas Rangers , where the player hopes to resurrect his once prolific career . AP Photo / Joel Harper ….

(4) Scott Boras, baseball’s most well-known and sought after agent . As CEO & Chairman of the Boras Corporation . the agent has a clientele list , that boasts some of the most recognizable and well paid players in the game . Being on this side of the business has made Boras an extremely wealthy man , having harbored dreams of playing in the Big Leagues , where his career did not really pan out . American Pathe Inc @ copyrighted material …..

(5) Steve Bartman and Moises Alou of the Cubs battle for a foul ball in the 2003 National League Championship Series . One moment of apparent infamy and stupidity by Bartman on an October night in 2003 , led to threats on his life and that of his family’s being threatened . Photo by Elsa Martinez/ Getty Images ….

(6) Brady Anderson , right, is seen here with Dan Duquette , as both front office executives within the Baltimore Orioles’ franchise discuss a number of team issues . Anderson , a former player with the ball-club was one of the Orioles’ most popular players during his playing career with the organization. AP Photo / Mason Fuller …..

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Never too early to start to review the baseball season, but I think that until the official Opening Day of the 31st March , when the vast majority of teams get their schedules underway , there will not be a great deal to discuss . The exhibition Spring Training schedule merely provides the fans in general a chance to see the players up close and personal, as they get into rhythm for the commencement of the regular season and that arduous one and hundred and sixty-two game schedule .

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Now while the off-season has been about the formal announcement by Derek Jeter , that 2014 will be his last season in the Major Leagues, brings about an end to the career of one of the best New York Yankees’ players of the past fifteen years . With Jeter’s announcement , we now see the last remnants of a core of five players , including Derek Jeter, that were part of one of the richest eras in recent New York Yankees’ history. Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada , Andy Pettite and the famed short-stop, made up that core managed by Joe Torre , that won four World Series titles in a seven-year span from 1996-2003 , with six appearances during that times-pan in the Fall Classic. New York’s most recent appearance in the World Series resulted with another win in 2009, with the team being managed by former player, Joe Girardi . The incumbent manager, will seek to resurrect the ball-club’s fortunes in 2014 after a somewhat understated season in 2013 .

Having missed the postseason and with a great deal of off-season drama provided by the ongoing issues of Alex Rodriguez , the New York Yankees will begin their season without the now suspended third baseman as they embark on a Spring Training schedule with something of a newly revamped roster . Major financial commitments were made to several new acquisitions, spearheaded by their signing of Japanese pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka , and that of former Boston Red Sox player Jacoby Ellsbury . How this all pans out for the AL East franchise will be dependent upon the mindset of these newly acquired players and whether or not they gel with their new teammates. From my own perspective , I believe the Yankees on balance to be no better than the third or fourth best team within the division , with the defending divisional champions the Boston Red Sox leading the way , followed by last season’s runner-up in the AL East the Tampa Bay Rays in second place, with the Baltimore Orioles edging the New York Yankees , who are then followed by the Toronto Blue Jays .

While the New York Yankees have a great deal to prove this season , perhaps no two teams, than the Los Angeles Dodgers and their AL counterparts the Los Angeles Angels are under the greatest pressure to succeed this year. The Dodgers’ failure was compounded by a lackluster effort, in the NLCS series against the St Louis Cardinals last season . Between these two teams, they have committed in excess of $360 million in salary obligations for their respective rosters. For Don Mattingly and Mike Scioscia the writing could very well be on the wall if both the Dodgers and Angels fail to show some type of competitiveness over the course of the regular season schedule. For owners, Arte Moreno , Magic Johnson , Mark Walter and Peter Guber , the frustration has to be setting in, having seen their teams fall almost at the last obstacle. Or in the case of the Los Angeles Angels, simply failing to be even remotely competitive within the AL West , where the Oakland A’s are now proving to be a dominant force within the division.

Were it not for Mike Trout, perhaps the only real reason to watch the Angels play , I do not believe that there would be a great deal of interest in the team at all ! Josh Hamilton has become more of an enigma and Albert Pujols in many respects, has suffered through a litany of ailments that were not present in the early part of his career , but such was the willingness of Jerry Dipoto and Arte Moreno to sign the player, when he became a free agent , that they felt that advantages, far outweighed the disadvantages of the two-time NL MVP . This season has to be a bounce back year for both Hamilton and Pujols, considering the financial outlay made to both players this season. The Angels will begin their regular season with a three-game home series against the Seattle Mariners at Angels’ Ballpark , in Anaheim , California , where the Mariners will be parading their $240 million dollar man, in, Robinson Cano . A bold move, for a ball-club with hopes of an ambitious season, but whose last postseason appearance seems like eons ago, with little to show by way of tangible success in the subsequent years . The first game of that three-game set, will be on the 31 March, 2014.

Twelve years and counting, since the Seattle Mariners made the postseason, where a 4-1 series’ loss to the New York Yankees in the 2001 ALCS was the height of their season , beyond winning the AL West that year. How Lloyd McClendon and his staff handles this young team at its core, will be one of the determining factors as to how successful the Mariners will be and whether or not Robinson Cano can be the presumed leader of that group of players.

Jim Leyland has proven to be one of the most successful managers of his generation , by way of his accomplishments, in usually being able to field competitive teams , and mold young players and then turning them into All Stars and MVP caliber stars. A case can be made that he played an early part in the career of slugger Barry Bonds while both were with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Leyland as the well-respected and Bonds as the player, but perhaps, an even better example , was witnessing the rise in prominence and stature of Miguel Cabrera as a player with the Detroit Tigers where for eight years Leyland and Dave Dombrowski rebuilt that ball-club from the ground up and turned the Tigers into a perennial AL Central contender . Two AL Pennants , with World Series appearances in 2006 and 2012 , being the height of his accomplishments with the franchise. Yet, the 1997 World Series , where he took a lightly favored Florida Marlins’ team , that would prevail over the Cleveland Indians, represents the highlight of his managerial career .

While I believe that the Detroit Tigers will prove to be a formidable team within the AL this season , I am not so sure that they will be able to overcome the naiveté shown in recent seasons, when have entered the postseason ! Brad Ausmus may well have succeeded Leyland as the manager of the current team, which has a great deal of talent , headlined by Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander , but it will be interesting to see how they fare over the course of the season with a new manager in tow .

If there has been one particular franchise in Major League Baseball , who has not failed to deliver when it comes to showing levels of mediocrity , then it would have to be the Kansas City Royals . Granted, until last season , that claim could also be shared with the Pittsburgh Pirates , but with the NL Central franchise making the postseason , and having an NL MVP winner in Andrew McCutchen and thereby ending their drought of over two decades of mediocrity of non-postseason appearances. Fans of baseball are now left with the Royals and their twenty-eight seasons of ineptitude , where their last postseason appearance came in 1985 , which resulted in a loss to the St Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

With the team now owned by former Wal-Mart CFO David Glass , who has systematically shown himself to lacking a real trait as an alleged business minded individual as the ball-club , from year to year , has failed with ever-increasing regularity to meet even their own fans’ expectations of any tangible level of success . How they remain a viable concern as a baseball franchise, comes down solely to the fact that beyond being aided by the league’s luxury tax scheme, they have what can be best described as a moderately envious television broadcast contract within their local media market. How Glass succeeded at Wal-Mart , but somehow is unable to show his acumen with the baseball franchise, is something that can be discussed amongst the masses at a later date , with a great deal of objectivity and subjectivity. Suffice to say, in some circles , the Kansas City Royals as an organization might now be looked upon as “Ma and Pop “ business , in comparison to the likes of the Boston Red , Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees .

A third place finish in the AL Central with an 86-76 record still was not enough to be good enough to even come remotely close to obtaining a wildcard berth for the postseason . Once again, he Kansas City Royals would be left on the outside looking in, as another season came to an abrupt waste . Ned Yost and his managerial staff will certainly be looking to enter with this season with a positive attitude as will the team , headed by list of some very good young players , but unfortunately, no real veteran that could be looked upon, as a the presumptive leader of this core group . If the Royals are to succeed this season, then it will certainly have to be with the likes of the James Shields , Eric Hosmer , Omar Infante , Alex Gordon , Mike Moustakas , Jeremy Guthrie and a bullpen led by Luke Hochevar , playing at an optimum level , with their being something of a falloff in the play of fellow AL Central residents the Cleveland Indians , Detroit Tigers , Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox .

Kansas will begin its regular season schedule, with a game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. It will be part of a three-game home series’ opener for the Tigers, as they too embark upon their season schedule.

It does seems inconceivable that a team with the vast resources of the Toronto Blue Jays cannot field a competitive side that is a perennial contender within the AL East. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) , as the parent and holding company is one of the largest sports’ media conglomerates in the world. A number of its brands are well-recognized names within the North American sports’ market. Presiding over the conglomerate as the CEO & President Tim Leiweke , who is ably assisted by several top executives and a Board of Directors and that oversee various parts of the operations of this multi-billion dollar conglomerate.

The Blue Jays for their part, entered last season with high ambitions , having <a href=http://baseball assembled a group of high-priced free agents , were then signed to ludicrous contracts or wherein, having been acquired via a trade their existing contracts were honored. Amongst the players acquired , were Jose Reyes and RA Dickey with a view . of challenging the likes of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees within the AL East for divisional supremacy. The fact that the team failed miserably , beyond the issues of injuries sustained by a number of players, had more to do with the brashness and arrogance of an organization who felt that assembling a high-priced roster was some kind of guarantee of success without their being any sign of leader from anyone of the team roster much less the level of incompetency shown by John Gibbons and his staff . Inasmuch, as a player, being able to hit home runs to all parts of a field may well be exciting, the talents of Jose Bautista are simply being wasted on a team that simply has no chance in hell at present of winning the AL East in its current guise !

What the Toronto Blue Jays lack in leadership and talent, simply cannot be made up, for by splurging capriciously in assembling a group of players, that simply do not gel together as a team, playing in unison. John Gibbons is likely to be given the chance to prove that last season, was merely an aberration, but given the fact that the four other teams in the division are likely to have improved , it is likely that another fifth place finish within the AL East is not out of the realm of possibility for the team. Even more daunting and unbelievable, is the mere fact that other than the New York Yankees’ victories in the 1998 and 1999 World Series. The last back-to-back winners of the title, was in fact the Toronto Blue Jays , who accomplished that feat in 1992 and 1993 , which in fact was the very last time that the ball-club made an appearance in the postseason . When the Blue Jays embark upon their regular season sojourn , I believe that the team will be hard pressed to compete within their division, much less win in excess of eighty games ! They will being that schedule, with a road game series on the 31st March with a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida,.

Ron Gardenhire may well be one of the more under-appreciated managers in baseball , but I now believe it is time for the Minnesota Twins’ manager to step down from his present role ! Success for Gardenhire if nothing else, has come close within his grasp , only to be clutched from him at the last moment. However , in recent years he has been ill-served by the general managers of the ball club and a number misfires in terms of the players drafted by the organization. Currently, serving the Twins in the role as GM is Terry Ryan and his tenure, has now come under closer scrutiny after the departure of fan favorite Justin Morneau , who was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in August of 2013 , by the Twins. Morneau and Joe Mauer were said to be the two figureheads, which the franchise were going to build around for their long-term future. Yet, that would never actually materialize into anything tangible, with both players suffering injuries and never playing more than a few games together, before one, if not both, were felled by an inexplicable malady. Add in the fact that owner , Jim Pohlad , felt it necessary to offer both players outrageously exorbitant contracts at a time when franchise was said to be undergoing some severe financial difficulties. Kind of makes me wonder, how in hell many of baseball’s current ball-clubs can actually exist , given the stupidity of either an owner or a general manager within an organization !

Over the past five seasons, the best finish for the Minnesota Twins has been in 2009 and 2010 , when the ball-club captured back-to-back AL Central divisional titles and made their way into the respective postseasons of both years . Their forays in either case, ended all too abruptly, with the team being outplayed by their opponents. . This season Joe Mauer is back, with a team built around youth , experience and a managerial staff again with Ron Garendhire in charge, hoping to make some inroads into a division has now become extremely competitive with the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians likely to be seen as the prohibitive favorites for the divisional title.

if one can be critical of Bud Selig , in his handling of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bankruptcy procedure filings . Then we should be ” damning ” in his culpable actions, while both Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon placed the New York Mets in an equally precarious situation as the joint owners of the ball-club , surreptitiously used the franchise as vehicle to hide profits gained in the Bernard Madoff “ Ponzi Scheme” , by transferring ill-gotten gains from their investment company Sterling Equities Inc into the coffers of the Mets. Perhaps, I am mistaken , but when I hear the commissioner repeatedly regale us with his idiocy , as to the financial well-being of the game , while the actions of owners such as Frank McCourt , Fred Katz and Fred Wilpon have bordered on being criminal . To my mind, both Selig and the league’s CFO Jonathan Mariner , cannot step down soon enough from their present positions within the league hierarchy ! Bud Selig’s intent, is to formally step down as the commissioner of baseball in 2015, but who knows , at this juncture ?

As to the New York Mets , they will continue to be everything they see in the new York Yankees , but without the organization inwardly , having the guile or intelligence to do what is right, to make that franchise an actual success. Sandy Alderson and J P Ricciardi are being overpaid, while offering up nothing tangible of note since both ascended to their current positions within the franchise. The ball club remains in something of a precarious position as they had to subordinated a great deal of debt, while approaching several financial organizations for additional “cash” to remain financially solvent. Never really a good thing, when the on-field product is lackluster and the attendance levels at Citi-Field can be best described as moderately average . All this, for a ball-club, that is in the nation’s largest advertising market ?

David Wright remains the New York Mets’ player, but there remains really little around him to be truly impressed by, in term of depth of talent . Terry Collins and his staff will have their work cut for them over the course of the season, as they seek to bounce back from a third place finish within the NL East , twenty-two games behind division winners the Atlanta Braves (96-66) .

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The one thing we do tend to know about New York sports’ fans in general, is that they tend wax on lyrically about the past when their teams are not doing well, in the moment . A case can be made, concerning the Mets also , as it has been considerable period of time since that franchise made the postseason much less, won a World Series’ title, but if you were to listen some of the fans of the franchise , they would have you believe that those events were but, a few years ago. The ball-club’s last postseason appearance came by way of their run in the 2006 MLB Playoffs , before going down 4-3 to the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS . The second of their two Word Series’ triumphs, came in 1986 , in their memorable series’ victory over the Boston Red Sox, but since 2006 the years since, have been lean and not at all too kind, to the organization at all, and deservedly so , considering the ongoing stupidity of joint-owners, Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon. Two individuals, that the game of baseball could well do without , but somehow the league hierarchy would have you believe that the likes of Katz , Wilpon , McCourt and David Glass have been good for Major League Baseball . I beg to differ on so many counts, just as I believe, that Bud Selig’s tenure as commissioner , has been far too long and to the detriment of the game in general ! What thoughts, if any, do you have concerning the points raised in this article? Chime in, with a comment as you see fit.

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(1) Carlos Beltran of the New York Yankees is seen here with his wife Jessica Beltran , as he is formally introduced to the convened press at Yankees Stadium in New York . An unrestricted free agent , Beltran was signed by the Yankees shore up their offense as well as providing what they believe are his defensive abilities in the outfield . The player has spent the past few seasons with the St Louis Cardinals where he was productive for NL Central based franchise and now also becomes one of a select group of players to have donned the uniform of both New York based MLB franchises as a player . AP Photo / Hector Rivas …….

(2) From left to right, Andy Pettite , Derek Jeter , Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada . This quartet of players have been together for some of New York Yankees ‘ biggest triumphs and disappointments over the past eighteen years . It now begs the question , will the franchise ever see that type of success again with regard to number of titles won between 1996 and 2004 , with the last of the ball club’s triumphs coming in 2009 with Joe Girardi as the manager ? The four titles won together as teammates prior to Girardi becoming the manager were all achieved under Joe Torre , now an executive within the MLB hierarchy . Getty Images / Richard Moss …..

(3) Mike Scioscia manager of the Los Angeles Angels and Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Both managers will be under a considerable amount of pressure this season to succeed , as a great is expected from within their divisions . AP Photo / Paul Walters …..

(4) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 11: Manager Jim Leyland (10) of the Detroit Tigers gets between umpire Victor Carapazza (85) and Miguel Cabrera (24) of the Detroit Tigers after Cabrera was ejected by Victor Carapazza during in the sixth inning of their game against the Minnesota Twins on May 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tigers defeated the Twins 9-7 . Leyland has been the biggest influence in the stature that has made Cabrera a two-time back to back AL MVP’s having first won the title in 2012 , when also he became a Triple Crown winner . Last season Miguel Cabrera defeated Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels for his second league MVP. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ….

(5) Ned Yost manager of the Kansas City Royals is seen here with team Chairman and owner David Glass . Both will be seeking to make further inroads this upcoming season with a view to perhaps landing the AL Central divisional title or at best a wildcard berth for the postseason . Neither of which has been achieved in several years by the franchise in terms of the divisional title win or the postseason . Getty Images North America / Harper Greene …..

(6) Tim Leiweke CEO and of MLSE , the multi-billion dollar sports’ conglomerate that owns the Toronto Blue Jays as well as several other sports’ brands known to the public worldwide . Getty Images / Todd Richards …..

(7) Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire laughs after CEO Jim Pohlad (not pictured) teased, “We went with a 2-year deal because we’re pretty sure we can get Gardy his 1,000th win somewhere,” during a press conference announcing that the Twins and Ron Gardenhire agree to 2-year contract extension at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn., on Monday, September 30, 2013. At right is General Manager Terry Ryan. Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin ….

(8) New York Mets’ short-stop David Wright is seen here with the team’s Head of Baseball Operations , Sandy Alderson . The executive believes that this season the team has within their sights a ninety -game winning season , which be believes will be enough to secure the NL East divisional title . The franchise has not won a divisional title in several years and it is hard to envisage them doing so given their record within the division over the past eight years and overall . AP Photo /. Billy Irving …… :

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A few good men at the right price, its baseball

A few good men at the right price, its baseball

The MLB Winter Meetings came and went, with a number of trades being initiated , with several teams coming away better off than they were last season in some respects , in terms of the makeup of their personnel. One of the biggest acquisitions made, was the signing of former New York Yankees’ first baseman Robinson Cano by the Seattle Mariners to a ten-year $240 million deal . A far cry from the desired $300 million contract that was being bandied about as the compensation package t that analysts said it would take for the Yankees to retain the player. Out of that deal, came what now can be stated as being bar, for other offensive players, by way of the deals now being set.

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The New York Yankees for their part, have made a number of moves sought to bolster what has been an aging roster that was uncompetitive and unproductive for much of last season. New York’s failure to reach the postseason was a further indictment of a number of issues that befell the team in 2013. Injuries may well have plagued the Yankees , but a lack of leadership from anyone on the roster , while Derek Jeter remained on the disabled list further emphasized what was wrong with this team on the whole. Manager Joe Girardi and his staff tried their best to motivate the players, but nothing at all seemed to work. Less we forget also, the franchise still has to deal with the issue of Alex Rodriguez and his long-term future with the organization , as he seeks to have his two-hundred and fourteen game suspension overturned by a special arbitrator appointed by the MLB hierarchy . The fallout from this all, could very well see a new change within the game should Frederic Horowitz rule in the league’s favor in upholding the player’s suspension.

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MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner is seen here with his wife Mildred Mariner at a public function . As the Chief Financial Officer for Major League Baseball, it is Mariner’s day-to-day responsibilities to deal with baseball’s $6.4 billion business concern, as well as making sure that the teams are adhering to the league’s rules , concerning their financial and fiduciary duties . Somewhere along the way Mariner was oblivious to the financial woes that befell the Chicago Cubs , Los Angeles Dodgers , New York Mets and that now seem to be encircling the Houston Astros and the franchise’s owner Jim Crane . Getty Images / Phil North ….

Rodriguez and his lawyers, David Cornwell and Joe Tacopina have sought to make this a vendetta that the MLB hierarchy has , in seeking to drive the player out of the game. Alex Rodriguez’s candor in this matter, would suggest, that he has a great deal to hide , beyond the monetary compensation he is likely to lose , were the suspension upheld. Forty-three million dollars is the estimated amount, the player would lose, beyond his now tainted legacy. It has been baseball’s mishandling of the entire “steroids’ issue “ and the apathy shown by a number of the game’s fans , that this issue and the game itself , can no longer be taken seriously on its merits, much less with regard to the integrity of the sport , itself . The vast majority of the players have remained silent , their union simply disingenuous on the matter , and less we forget Bud Selig has continued to act like a buffoon from the very start , which has now led us to the present predicament .

While, I do not begrudge the New York Yankees their immense success over the course of their existence, it should not go without notice , that a great deal of the triumphs attained, were simply availed by way of the vast financial resources and the very fact that the organization has been simply been able to outbid an opponent in order to acquire a player. Repeatedly, we have seen this become the norm , but yet , the fans and league hierarchy ignore that fact and liken it to the cost of doing business . It has probably escaped the notice of MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner , that with more than one-quarter of the league’s thirty teams failing to show an operational profit , unless aided by the luxury tax system, the financial health of baseball would be in dire straits. In reality, the game is teetering on a precipice, with the hierarchy simply failing to address the issue.

Hal Steinbrenner as the lead managing partner of the familial holding company that owns the New York Yankees, has sought to reduce the team’s payroll in recent seasons , but in reality , it has become an act of futility , as GM Brian Cashman has been countenanced to carry on with the capricious spending the organization has been continually known for. One simply has to look at baseball’s payroll and the very fact of the ten highest paid players in the game , three of the players atop of that list, just happen to be on the Yankees’ current roster .

With Jacoby Ellsbury’s defection to the New York Yankees and the signing of a seven-year $153 million deal, questions are being asked, why would they sign a player who in recent years has been more known for his health issues , rather than his on-field performances ? Granted, Ellsbury was a part of the . Boston Red Sox’s World Series winning roster this past season, where his contributions played a part of the franchise’s postseason success. As to whether or not the player can make a solid contribution to the team this upcoming season , in spite of the offensive woes that befell the team for much of 2013, beyond the lack of in-depth pitching, remains to be seen.

The New York Yankees are likely to be competitive in 2014, but I do not believe that they are the best team in the AL East , as the season gets underway . That status will remain with the Boston Red Sox, whose manager John Farrell , proved himself to be the best manager within the division as well as perhaps the most adept in getting the best out of his players, no matter what type of adversity stood in their way. . As New York’s fortunes declined this past season, to the point where it appears that Cashman , the coaching staff and the lead executives seem to have no faith in the farm system , it not only shows how reliant this ball-club is on the revenues derived from its baseball operations , but also of their proprietary cable sports’ broadcast outlet the YES Network . Without the revenues of the programming entity , one seriously doubts that the Yankees could afford to keep up their vast spending on team payroll , without adding to the fact that in the past five years the franchise has paid over to the league hierarchy in excess of $150 million in luxury tax compensation. Baseball’s idea, of taking more out of the hands of the wealthy and simply giving not necessarily to the “needy” as they see fit .

Courtesy of New York Daily News

Yankees slapped with $28 million luxury tax bill for 2013 season

Because the Yankees have been over the tax threshold at least four consecutive times, they pay at a 50 percent rate on the overage, and their $28,113,945 bill was second only to their $34.1 million payment following the 2005 season. The Yankees are responsible for $252.7 million of the $285.1 million in tax paid by all clubs since the penalty began in 2003.

By Mark Fiensand , New York Daily News

No wonder the Yankees want to get their payroll beneath the luxury tax threshold. The Bombers were hit with a $28 million luxury tax bill Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

Since luxury tax penalties began in 2003, the Yankees have shelled out more than a quarter billion dollars, accounting for $252.7 million of the $285.1 million in tax paid by all teams in the majors.

RELATED: ROBERTS AGREES TO 1-YEAR YANKEES DEAL

The Dodgers joined the Yankees as the only teams to blow past the $178 million threshold this season, paying $11.4 million. The Dodgers’ total luxury tax payroll was $243 million — $9 million higher than the Yankees — but they were charged at only 17.5% since they were beneath the threshold in 2012. Having exceeded the threshold for four straight years, the Yankees paid out at a rate of 50%.

Should the Yankees somehow get their payroll beneath the threshold next season — that number rises to $189 million in 2014 — they would reset their tax rate to 17.5% and become eligible for some revenue-sharing refunds.

RELATED: NEW POSTING RULES HAVE YANKS WAITING

According to the AP, the Yankees’ payroll is now $177.7 million with only 15 players signed, and it appears their only hope to stay under $189 million will be a season-long suspension for Alex Rodriguez.

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The Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers might well be, two of the biggest disappointments, in terms of their respective performances throughout last season within the AL . Combined payroll for the two teams, exceeded $240 million . General managers Jerry Dipoto and Jon Daniels saw little, by way of a tangible return, with both ball-clubs failing to make the postseason . Within the hierarchy of the Rangers , former team President and a minority stakeholder, Nolan Ryan was ousted from his position by his fellow partners , with Daniels, now being given a greater say, in the day to day running of the franchise. The off-season for the franchise has proved to be eventful , with the team sending every day utility player Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for slugger , Prince Fielder . As to what that may well indicate about the Rangers’ offensive woes last season , begs the question , with Fielder not providing much aid to the Tigers’ own issues in that category, something must be awry with the mindset of Jon Daniels and the organization.

Texas now adds a burdensome contract to its payroll , while simply having not achieved anything of merit by obtaining Prince Fielder, adding to the woes of an under-achieving franchise over the past five seasons. Albeit, that with back to back World Series’ appearances , the outcome with each , was profoundly disturbing in 2010 and 2011 , with the lack of effort from the franchise. . The Texas Rangers may well be lucky enough to actually do something exciting in 2014 , but based on their showing last season , I believe that their fans will be in for more of the same !

Angels’ owner Arte Moreno may well have decided to give Mike Sciocsia one last chance to prove himself as the manager of the team . Yet I felt , that he was extremely close to being fired , in spite of his relationship with the team’s owner and general manager Jerry Dipoto ! This season may well be the last chance for Sciocsia to get it right, albeit , that the fans of the Los Angeles Angels will point to the fact that Albert Pujols was lost to the club for a large part of their season. The lone bright spot for the franchise remains the rising profile of Mike Trout , who now , might just be the best player in the American League , in spite of the achievements of Miguel Cabrera over the last two years.

Mike Sciocsia’s tenure, as one of the longest-serving managers in the Majors has come at quite an expense for an individual , who is well-respected amongst his peers. However, but for the Angels’ lone success , in 2002 , the subsequent years for the ball-club have been very lean. The last postseason appearance for Los Angeles came in 2009 and the team’s foray was extended, until they ran into the New York Yankees in the ALCS , where they succumbed to the New York based franchise in six games , losing 4-2 . The makeup of this Angels’ lineup , built up around the power-hitting of Pujols , Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout, will have to be at its very best , along with a pitching lineup that must be effective and consistent throughout this upcoming season.

The Atlanta Braves proved to be a tremendous disappointment during the postseason , falling by the wayside in the NLDS, as they fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers and their highly bankrolled roster of players . A great regular season during which the Braves laid waste to their divisional rivals within the NL East , with what appears to be the utmost of ease . GM Frank Wren , in seeking to make the Braves competitive this past season, the organization acquired both Upton brothers by way of trades, with Justin Upton leaving the Arizona Diamondbacks to make his way East , to be joined by his elder sibling BJ Upton . Adding that type of offensive firepower , to be alongside Brian McCann , Evan Gattis , Dan Uggla , Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward actually paid dividends during the regular season , but the team’s postseason was heightened by inconsistency alongside what turned out to be an exceptionally poor showing by the pitching lineup in that series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That divisional series’ loss by the Atlanta Braves was simply indicative of what I believe to have been a great deal of complacency on the part of Fredi Gonzalez and his staff. The team, was ill-prepared and there can no excuse for such a lackadaisical approach by the players and coaches . This off-season the team saw the departure of Tim Hudson as a free agent, who has since signed with the San Francisco Giants . Several other players have departed , most notably catcher Brian McCann who signed a multi-year deal with the New York Yankees and filling that role for the Braves will be Evan Gattis. Having also acquired pitcher Gavin Floyd and Ryan Doumit , this will bolster the Braves’ lineup and giving it additional depth in a number of needed positions. However, if the Braves are to not only repeat as NL East champions next season, then there will need to be a great deal more consistency from the pitching staff .

If there is said to be a franchise in need of a World Series’ win, then it would have to be the Los Angeles Dodgers. The acquisition of the franchise for an outrageous figure of $2.156 billion , all countenanced by Bud Selig , gives even greater credence that the game has lost touch with reality. Granted, the Dodgers’ principal owners, Guggenheim Baseball Properties LLC, under that of parent company Guggenheim Partners Inc has a great deal of monetary backing ,with assets exceeding $125 billion , and a television deal in conjunction with cable giant Time Warner Inc , reputed to be worth over $ 8 billion over the next two decades. Stakeholders , such as Magic Johnson , Hollywood movie mogul Peter Guber , along senior managing partners Todd S Boehly and Mark Walter are intent on winning that elusive series . The fact that the Dodgers have not won baseball’s biggest prize since 1988 , only adds to the franchise’s allure . A quarter of a century is a long time to wait for one of baseball’s most venerable organizations to simply say we are champions . The expectations were high during 2013, during which the Dodgers’ fans were introduced to rookie sensation Yasiel Puig , who led the baseball franchise on an improbable fifty game stretch , where the team went 42-8 over that period .

The Dodgers’ ignominious failure against the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS was as shocking , as it was simply ridiculous , in what was said to be an explosive Dodgers’ offense , that the Cardinals’ pitching simply closed the door on during the series , coming away with an all too easy 4-2 series’ victory . Don Mattingly , was clearly out of his depth , as Mike Matheny and the St Louis headed to their third postseason appearance in the past seven seasons . This off-season Mattingly , Stan Kasten and for Ned Colletti , their biggest priority , remains “inking” pitcher Clayton Kershaw to a long-term deal , albeit , that the Cy Young Award winner is likely to be rewarded with the highest arbitration salary, ever given to a starting pitcher in league history. There seems to be some reluctance on the pitcher to accept what may well be the most lucrative contract in baseball history , which is likely to top Alex Rodriguez’s ten-year $275 million compensation package and currently the highest paid pitching contract, being the deal signed by Justin Verlander , which pays him an astonishing $180 million over seven years .

Kershaw and his agent J D Smart are fully aware that the Dodgers will move heaven and earth to get a deal done, at any price, as the pitcher is by far the best starter on the team’s pitching rotation . His amazing season in 2013 , speaks volumes as to his prowess , and over the past two seasons , he has been simply been the best starting pitcher in the game .

If the rumors are to be believed, that the Golden State Warriors` CEO & Chairman Joe Lacob and his partners are likely to make an unsolicited bid for the Oakland Athletics. Lew Wolff and GM Billy Beane have not made any formal statements on this latest news concerning the franchise. If the rumors are to be believed, then Lacob’s preemptive strike and $600 million valuation of the franchise might be on the high side . Yet, given the issues that the Athletics are dealing with, and their being no aid from Bud Selig, in assisting the organization in their quest for a new stadium , now seems to be the norm , unless that ball-club just happens to be in a major ad-market .

In the A’s quest for a new ballpark to replacing the aging O Coliseum , it would appear that Alameda County and the state are noncommittal in aiding the franchise. More out of budgetary concerns and their own looming fiscal deficits , it is now time for team owners and the league hierarchy to show their alleged business acumen , instead of this continued asinine rationale that every damn sports’ venue has to publicly funded using taxpayers’ monies . Fans seem oblivious to this all , either through sheer apathy , stupidity or simply the fact that they do not understand or care . Personally, I believe it to be all of the aforementioned , given the idiocy I have witnessed and read in certain comments attributed to alleged knowledgeable fans of the Tampa Bay Rays and their idiotic sentiment that a new ballpark for that franchise ought to be paid for by using public funds. The locale barely supports the Rays, which annually ranks amongst baseball’s least supported thirty franchises, in terms of home attendance and overall support . As to the idiocy, that they are a viable brand in terms of market share for viewers. Consider the market that the Tampa Bay area covers, and that there is barely nothing else to compete with the Rays, in spite of the franchise’s limited success over the last eight years . The same can be said of the Oakland A’s and their continued struggles to compete with a number of the big market teams , but moreover with the likes of a Los Angeles Angels , Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants , in terms of their respective payrolls .

If Lew Wolff is receptive to this proposed bid, then it would mark a changing landscape within baseball , with the A’s following the sale of the Dodgers last season , which came out of that franchise having been placed into bankruptcy reorganization , because of the mismanagement of the ball-club by then owner Frank McCourt . Major League Baseball is now in need of leadership within its upper echelons , by someone who can lead , has an insight of the ever-changing economic landscape , but above all, a leader who actually is not afraid to confront the MLBPA (union) , rather than shying away from confrontation. All of the traits, that have been exhibited by Bud Selig throughout a great deal of his tenure, as the MLB Commissioner.

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Picture gallery .

Your thoughts on the points raised within this article , and what if anything, do you hope to see come out of the upcoming season within Major League Baseball ? Chime in with your comments on this and anything else you believe to relevant to the subject matter.

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(1) Robinson Cano is formally introduced by the Seattle Mariners during a news conference at Safeco Field in Seattle on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. The second baseman is flanked by general manager Jack Zduriencik , left, and manager Lloyd McClendon . Cano having left the New York Yankees as a free agent, signed a ten-year $240 million deal with the Mariners and hopes to lead the franchise to their first postseason appearance since 2001 , where they made it to the ALCS , which resulted in a loss (4-1) to the New York Yankees . Dean Rutz/ MTC ….

(2) From left, New York Yankees catcher Chris Stewart , manager Joe Girardi , shortstop Derek Jeter and first baseman Juan Rivera (54) wait out a pitching change after Girardi removed starter Andy Pettitte during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, March 13, 2013. The 38-year-old Jeter hadn’t played the field since breaking his left ankle in the first game of the AL championship series last October. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(3) MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner is seen here with his wife Mildred Mariner at a public function . As the Chief Financial Officer for Major League Baseball, it is Mariner’s day to day responsibilities to deal with baseball’s $6.4 billion business concern, as well as making sure that the teams are adhering to the league’s rules , concerning their financial and fiduciary duties . Somewhere along the way Mariner was oblivious to the financial woes that befell the Chicago Cubs , Los Angeles Dodgers , New York Mets and that now seem to be encircling the Houston Astros and the franchise’s owner Jim Crane . Getty Images / Phil North ….

(4) New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman presents Kelsey Ellsbury with flowers as her husband, center-fielder Jacoby Ellsbury , right, looks on at his introductory press conference at Yankee Stadium on December 13, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Ellsbury’s agent Scott Boras negotiated the deal for his client which puts the player almost at the forefront, in terms of the compensation packages paid for center-fielders . Getty Images North America / Maddie Meyer ….

(5) Atlanta Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez is seen here alongside player Justin Upton. The Braves’ preseason acquisition left the field after suffering a mild concussion in a collision with a teammate during a game played against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark in Miami, Florida ,. Atlanta would go on to defeat Miami 4-3 in the contest . AP Photo / Christine Monroe ….

(6) Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw who was the runner-up in the 2011 Cy Young Award voting ballot , but won the prestigious accolade in 2013 , after a phenomenal year by the pitcher . Now in arbitration , Kershaw is likely to be the largest recipient of the largest offer ever made to a starting pitcher in league history. Meanwhile , the front office of the organization under the authority of Magic Johnson a minority stakeholder in the franchise has informed team President Stan Kasten that a sizable offer should be made to sign the pitcher , in what is likely to be the largest contract offer for a starting pitcher that is likely to top the $180 million contract currently in existence with Detroit Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander . AP Photo / Joe Morrison ….

(7) Golden Warriors’ CEO & Chairman Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , are two of the primary owners of the NBA franchise . Lacob a former senior partner with capital asset management company Kleiner , Perkins , Caufield & Byers LLC , is now said to mulling over whether or not it is feasible to make an unsolicited $600 million bid for the Oakland Athletics . Current A’s owner Lew Wolff has not issued a public statement concerning the issue , who along with GM Billy Beane are part of franchise’s ownership group , with Wolff being a majority stake holder. Getty Images / Paul Woodley …..

(8) Oakland A’s team President Michael Crowley , left , is seen here with Lew Wolff , center and GM Billy Beane . All three individuals have yet to issue a public statement concerning what is said to be an aggressive and audacious $600 million bid for the AL West based baseball franchise . Chronicle / Kristina Koci Hernandez ….

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A horse by any other name is still a horse and the New York Yankees will still remain the New York Yankees as an organization who remain bereft of creativity …

A horse by any other name is still a horse and the New York Yankees will still remain the New York Yankees as an organization who remain bereft of creativity …

It would appear that with the death of their patriarch George Steinbrenner , his offspring led by Hank , Hal Steinbrenner , Jessica Steinbrenner and Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindahl as the current owners of baseball’s most venerable and successful franchise are intent on carrying as progeny’s, with the premise that they are willing to spend as they seek further success , but in their own right. As we know over the past decade , when all else fails , when this organization has not been able to develop talent from within its system in several years . It has been left to GM Brian Cashman ,once given the “go ahead” , to simply pry open the vault and overspend on talent . In aftermath of an unsuccessful season in 2013, in which we saw the team flounder for the majority of their schedule, as aging players CC Sabathia , Hiroki Kuroda , Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Andy Pettite were either unproductive , ailing with injuries or in the case of Rodriguez, simply seeking to make excuses for his own misdeeds as he continues to blame the league hierarchy for seeking to drive him out of baseball.

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Slideshow gallery .

Now while it would be true to suggest, that the New York Yankees are the franchise who simply sets the ratings for the national viewership of for baseball and attendance as well adjudging the value and profitability of the league’s thirty teams . It would be fair to say, that in terms of overall success in the past six years, but for their lone triumph in 2009 , the intervening years between that World Series’ victory and the franchise’s last 2000 , have been somewhat lean as to the lofty expectations of the New York Yankees’ organization overall. At the start of the 2013 season , Hal Steinbrennner’s intent was to reduce the team’s payroll to below $200 million , in order to avert having to pay the MLB “luxury tax” that has repeatedly penalized high-spending salaried teams within the game . Given the fact that in 2013 , only the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers were the only team meeting the criteria of having to be taxed . It does beg the question , whose assistance is this all being provided for , when the league itself does not choose to monitor how these monies are utilized by the beneficiaries of the Dodgers and Yankee’ largess ? Bear in mind , also , Bud Selig when pressed to explain the disparities, in the fact that New York was burdened with a surcharge of almost $40 million , whereas the Dodgers paid only $9.355 million when their payroll commitment to their entire personnel was merely $12 million less than the New York based franchise. The MLB Commissioner, was unable to explain the reason behind the disparity , as well as lacking the knowledge and expertise concerning the alleged benefits of the scheme.

Over the years, team owners such as Bob Nutting , Lew Wolff , Jeffrey Loria and Drayton McLane have simply used this charade as a way to line their own pockets , while pleading poverty on their franchises’ behalf . And for anyone seeking to also state that within the game of baseball , a form of parity is the closest thing that the “four major professional team sports” now have . I would ask you to look at the participants of this past postseason and then adjudge the teams’ payrolls and then explain how it is that 25% of baseball’s $3.125 billion payroll commitment was tied up in the salary commitment of the Dodgers , Detroit Tigers and others who made up the MLB postseason fare ?

There is no denying that for Joe Girardi and his staff , this past season was a nightmare beyond the injury issues of the team. An inconsistent offense as well as pitching led to numerous team woes beyond the lack of overall leadership , with Derek Jeter being missed from the lineup for the majority of the Yankees’ regular season games this past season , because of a re-occurrence to an old and persistent injury . From my own perspective, Jeter’s career is now on the wane and rarely are we able to simply see the flashes of brilliance , that once made him one of the best players and short-stops within the game . If anything, what is now sorely missed on this roster, are the intangibles he brought to the team as well as his leadership abilities. The same cannot be said of anyone currently playing on this team and therein now lies of the greatest flaws for the New York Yankees moving forward.

If the New York Yankees are to contend with a resurgent Boston Red Sox team that is likely to get better in 2014 rather than regressing . The same can be said of a Baltimore Orioles’ franchise, that came so close , but simply for the lack of dearth of pitching and offense , saw the latter half of their season implode. The retirements of Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera leaves the pitching lineup with a great deal of uncertainty, as well as to who is now best capable to fit the closers’ role for the rotation. . The salaries of CC Sabathia , Mark Teixiera , Alex Rodriguez , Curtis Granderson , Alfonso Soriano and Veron Wells is one thing to bear when the organization is said to be doing well competitively and from a financial standpoint . However, this past season , more than any other time in recent memory this organization, has now become no longer impervious to genuine criticism into every aspect of its conduct on and off the field of play , but also the image , that has been permeated by lingering doubts as to the capability of the Steinbrenner family , in running what is essentially a multi-billion dollar business empire . The handling of the fallout of the Alex Rodriguez ‘ scandal’ .. , and the lack leadership shown by Brian Cashman , Hal Steinbrenner and Hank Steinbrenner in questioning the sound legal advice availed to them by Lonn A Trost , Chief Legal Counsel & SVP , has me now even questioning the rationale of many of the decisions now being made within the front office of the organization .

As I alluded to earlier, Hal Steinbrenner sought reduce the Yankees’ payroll substantially below $200 million for this past season . Yet, in a flurry of early and mid-season madness, some thirty-eight million dollars, were added to the payroll, when they sought to acquire both Vernon Wells and Alfonso Soriano . Now, while both players contributed to the team over the course of the season . One could hardly say that those contributions amounted to what would be deemed in any way, tangible success . Injury prone, Mark Teixeira , Curtis Granderson , Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez accounted for almost forty per-cent of the Yankees’ offense in 2012 , but with the injuries and age came the fall-off in a once prodigious offense.

With the Boston Red Sox seeking to build upon their success in 2013 , having won the World Series with a rather lopsided win over the St Louis Cardinals . GM Ben Cherington and the managerial staff headed by John Farrell sought to bolster this roster during this off-season . A number of players obviously would become superfluous to the team’s needs , as so often is the case. One of the more highly praised free agents this off-season by way of a productive bat , would be Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox . In what undoubtedly will come as a surprise to many of the die-hard Red Sox fans, been the player agreeing to a reported six-year $153 million deal with the New York Yankees . Now while I believe Ellsbury to be a very good player , and a great clubhouse leader , the very fact that in recent years he has become more of a health risk , leads me to be of the opinion that the risks do outweigh the advantages of such a deal . The likelihood is that Ellsbury is being brought into replace Curtis Granderson whose statistics were down from last season , as well as the outfielder’s recent own health concerns , also has me wondering what are the actual advantages of this deal in the first . Brian Cashman is merely moving once piece of a mismatched jigsaw puzzle , for another piece, that is very much similar in kind .

Having re-signed Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees’ projected pitching rotation will be steeped in mediocrity . CC Sabathia and Kuroda may well be seen as the best one two punch that New York can assemble , but beyond that, there would be very little for an opponent to be fearful of .

The resignation of Jim Leyland from the Detroit Tigers after their free-fall in the postseason, leads me to believe that the manager felt that he could no longer take this ball-club farther than he already had. GM Dave Dombrowski and team owner Michael Ilitch tried to have their longstanding coach change his mind . Leyland’s wishes were respected and the Tigers have moved on, with the hiring of Brad Ausmus to succeed the venerable manager. With Ausmus’ hire has come the upheaval within the roster , with the departures of Prince Fielder and Doug Fister . And it does not appear that these deals are to be the last of the transactions that are likely to be made as Dave Dombrowski seeks to reshape this roster into a more competitive unit . The remainder of Fielder’s ludicrous contract will now be absorbed by the Texas Rangers whose lean years have continued , even in spite of two recent back to back ALCS pennant wins and World Series’ appearances that were doomed , because of the incompetency shown by the Rangers’ teams in each of the postseason finales in question.

The emphasis of this Detroit Tigers roster, now appears to be built around Miguel Cabrera , the reigning two-time AL MVP , pitchers Justin Verlander , Rick Porcello , Anibel Sanchez and Max Scherzer . With Brad Ausmus now succeeding Jim Leyland as the manager of what is likely to be a newly revamped Tigers lineup , a great deal is being asked of Leyland’s successor to emulate the success achieved and in leading this franchise forward. Dave Dombrowski will also have to deal with, the issue of a new contract for Max Scherzer , the AL Cy Young winner in 2013 and the American League’s most successful pitcher in terms of wins . It is debatable if the general manager will seek to make the pitcher the highest-paid pitcher on the Tigers’ roster, by offering him a multi-year deal .

The window of opportunity will always remain open for the Detroit Tigers , as long as Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander remain the centerpieces of this team and the pieces are in place around them . Anything short of that, and the future for the franchise would appear to be bleak.

It is extremely difficult to see how anyone can stand behind and continue to support the Houston Astros after two consecutive seasons of having exceeded one hundred losses in each of the past two years . Call it either the poor management style of Bo Porter and his staff or the fact that the teams in 2012 and 2013 have absolutely mediocre on all fronts . . Astros’ owner Jim Crane may well have been induced into overpaying for a franchise purely based on the marketing and revenue potential of the Houston area market place and the fact , that as part of the $775 million paid to purchase the franchise from Drayton McLane was deemed to be a bargain .

Two years on from that deal and the franchise apart from having amongst the lowest attendance in Major League Baseball , is now staving off financial worries as well as seeking in an injunction the US Federal Bankruptcy Courts to stop their broadcast partners CSN SportsNet Houston (CSN) from filing for bankruptcy reorganization (Chapter 11). Any such move, for the franchise would create financial embarrassment for not only Crane but for the entire Astros’ organization moving forward and for baseball , itself. Considering, the MLB hierarchy and their ongoing incompetence , as they are led by Bud Selig . All roads now appear to point to an uneasy journey ahead for the AL West ball-club. The MLB Commissioner was found wanting, in his now surreptitious handling of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ sale from the previous owner Frank McCourt , whose own mismanagement of the franchise has been well chronicled . Add in the fact that , a number team owners were widely convinced that Selig acted improperly during the proceedings, in trying dissuade the bankruptcy judge from accepting any other offer , than the bid submitted by Guggenheim Partners Inc and their wholly owned property Guggenheim Baseball Properties LLC .

With the Houston Astros having a vested interest in CSN Houston as a stakeholder in the cable broadcast outlet , that is also owned in part by Comcast Inc , parent company of NBC /Universal . The question that has to be asked, is how can a regional cable and sports’ broadcast outlet that is often seen as a financial windfall for a professional sports’ franchise be so mismanaged and mis-ran , to the extent , that one party simply wants to relinquish its holdings , while the other seeks to force their partner to carry on writing a blank check , and simply getting nothing tangible in return ? Clearly, Jim Crane and Jeff Luhnow are forcing this issue, as represented by their legal counsel in the US Federal Courts .

As to the ongoing competitiveness of the Houston Astros and this upcoming season . I am not so sure that we are not likely to see the franchise pull off a third consecutive season of losing in excess of one hundred games There has been nothing to suggest that the team is likely to improve , in spite of what are said to be great off-season moves and Jim Crane’s explicit wish to raise the payroll from $65 million in 2013 to over $80 million in 2014.

If there could be one word, to describe the Miami Marlins last season , along with their inept record and continued failings . It would have to be “failure” . On so many levels, this organization continues to be mismanaged , from the front office on down , never mind the fact manager Mike Redmond was thrown in at the deep end , without so much as a life jacket , yet was expected to somehow pull of a miracle and make this team competitive . Well, Redmond was able to achieve neither , in spite of the lone accolade of organization having seen their rookie pitcher , Jose Fernandez pick up the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Honors . Team owner , Jeffrey Loria continues to play fast and loose with the truth, as to his dealings with the city of Miami as well as the Miami Dade County government and what was entailed in the franchise acquiring its ballpark and the fact the city of Miami residents will be left on the hook for the $575 million in costs for the paltry 35,000 seated venue . The public has yet to be ,made aware of the US Justice Department’s investigation of the city and their actions that led to the approval of the financing for the barely attended venue for Marlins’ games since its inauguration in 2012.

Miami City Mayor Tomas Regalado and many of his subordinates have remained tight-lipped , concerning any allegations of graft, with certain high-ranking city officials having accepted monetary gifts in order to approve the finance bill , that availed the baseball franchise its new venue. Bud Selig for his part , whose influence was ongoing , met with Loria behind the scenes to check the ongoing progress of deliberations, that were said to be taking place between Jeffrey Loria , Larry Beinfest , Michael Hill and David Samson in their continued meetings with both governmental agencies at the time . Somehow in the midst of this all, the commissioner also found time to disparage Florida’s only other professional Major League Baseball franchise , the Tampa Bay Rays , by questioning the integrity of the ownership group led by Stuart Sternberg and the club’s apparent unwillingness to obtain a new stadium . No assistance of any kind , has been provided by the commissioner to the Rays, in their continued endeavors for a new ballpark , and the franchise’s own fans being the continued imbeciles that they are, have never had the temerity to question Bud Selig’s motives in assisting the Marlins , but failing to come to the aid of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays’ fans are not as knowledgeable as they make themselves out to be , but they are extremely apathetic , most definitely , as can be seen in their wavering support of the franchise and continued excuses when it comes to the continued low attendance figures at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg, Florida .

The Miami Marlins coming off their 62-100 season within the NL East , only the Houston Astros bore a worst record in the entire league last season . Personally, having once been an ardent supporter of the franchise before complete abandoning them in 2011 , after the contempt ongoing deceit of the ownership group , that was also abetted by Bud Selig and his hierarchy cohorts . There is really nothing admirable that can be said about the South Florida franchise and the continued incompetence being shown not only its upper management but also by the league in its entirety. As to the ongoing idiocy, and what appears to be the love-fest , with the adoption of instant replay being introduced within the game of baseball . Considering, the lack decisiveness being shown by the teams , players , union , owners and