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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

Alan aka tophatal ………

Picture and slide show details below .


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MLB Important Dates Postseason 2011 :

September 30th – 7th October Divisional Series

8th October -17th October League championship series

19th October – 27th October World Series

Slow But Steady , Slow But Really Steady

Slow But Steady , Slow But Really Steady

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

Alan aka tophatal ….

Picture and slide show details .


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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