Horses for courses and bull#hit is for those, who simply love to wallow in it

Horses for courses and bull#hit is for those, who simply love to wallow in it

I can’t but wonder the bull#hit now being espoused by idiots not only in the world of politics but also within the world of sports. Former GOP Vice Presidential running mate Sarah Palin has taken it upon herself to defend the comments made by Curt Schilling , as the former baseball player took it upon himself to describe some Egyptians and Muslim extremists as ” Nazi ” sympathizers. Schilling has become a pitiful individual , bemoaning the fact he wasn’t among the list of final candidates of those inducted into the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame class, while at the same time not being ready to answer for his own misdeeds as a former businessman. It is well-chronicled how the player and his business partners mismanaged their former gaming company , declaring bankruptcy , and then seeking to blame their state of Rhode Island for their incompetency, with the state having backed Curt Schilling and business partners with millions of dollars in financing , as well as a favorable tax breaks.

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As for Sarah Palin, her political career has become something of an ongoing joke , while she continues her stumping of GOP conservative candidates and ideology , also continuing to be paid five-figure sums for public speaking engagements nationwide. With the Presidential nomination cycle now said to be in full swing for both parties , it is easy to understand why those already said to be bored with the idiocy it all entails would rather seek solace elsewhere. Palin and Schilling both noted Republicans, might not typically be representative of what the party is said to be about , but it is clear they’re an embarrassment to what one might be an individual deemed to have some semblance of intelligence.

I doubt that Curt Schilling might feel his statements can be taken out of context, while he provided analysis for ESPN during the coverage of the Little League World Series . How this might have anything to do with a group of children participating in one of the nation’s great pastimes might prove to be more embarrassing for the player as well as the network itself.

ESPN has proven to be a bastion for a great deal of hypocrisy , sexism , misogyny and so much more ,while trying to uphold their own idea of journalistic integrity. The network over the past few years and in recent months, has become an environment of complete stupidity, with the outlandish behavior of several current and now former contributors to the broadcast outlet. From my own perspective , I find ESPN simply another bastion of what is said to be totally abhorrent with the media at present as well as being the microcosm of society enlarge !

If there’s said to be one team in baseball which most likely is under the greatest pressure to succeed, then I believe the ball-club in question would have to be the Los Angeles Dodgers . Take into account coming into this season , in 2013 and 2014 the Dodgers failed miserably in each of the postseasons in question. Don Mattingly , might well be under the biggest pressure to succeed most of all, beyond this multi-million dollar lineup on parade this season. This Dodgers’ team has been extremely impressive with the pitching staff being exemplary , led by Zack Greinke , who over his last eight starts has been extremely impressive. Greinke pitched a gem of a game, going seven scoreless innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers “ downed” the Cincinnati Reds on their way to a 1-0 victory over their NL rivals. Don Mattingly’s players will have as their guests at Dodgers Ballpark the Chicago Cubs for a three-day weekend schedule , beginning on Friday evening with Jason Hammel of the Cubs on the mound to face Clayton Kershaw in one of the day’s more exciting games.

Two of the most disappointing teams of this baseball season to my mind , have been the Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners . It’s pretty much safe to say , both organizations are now looking towards 2016 , rather than seeking to glean anything from the remainder of this calendar year or the remaining schedule. The Phillies possess the worst record in the Majors , having posted a 50-78 mark as of 27th August and the managerial staff without a clue about how to get this team playing with any type of consistency . Peter Mackanin the interim manager has now seen several former stars on this ball-club leave for fields elsewhere as the front office has begun to gut the active roster . Chase Utley and Cole Hamels are no longer with the Phillies and there is now little semblance of the team that won the World Series in 2008 defeating the Tampa Bay Rays with utmost ease .

The Philadelphia Phillies are 4-6 in their last ten games , sitting 21 ½ games behind the first place New York Mets in the NL East and twenty-four games behind the combatants in the NL wildcard race. If that isn’t a clear indicator of how disastrous a season the Phillies have managed to put together , then their fans have to be equally embarrassed by the performances of the players. Players within the farm system are now likely to be given the chance to prove themselves worthy of being part of the starting lineup as the season begins to wind down for Philadelphia Phillies.

Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano might be about the only reason to watch the Seattle Mariners this season. Yet for all of the hype over Cano having signed with the Mariners, his bringing a great deal of productivity and leadership to this Seattle team . On the field, with the exception of the aforementioned players the ball-club has been bereft of competitiveness , while Lloyd McClendon and his managerial staff have simply strayed off the path of their planned strategy for success this season.

Seattle enters its weekend schedule with a three-game set against the Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field in Chicago , Illinois beginning on Friday , 28th August, 2015. Taijuan Walker of the Mariners will be on the mound to face John Danks of the White Sox in this AL contest. With what can only be described as abject failure by the Mariners , GM Jack Zduriencik was fired by the Board of Directors where senior managing partner , Howard Lincoln had the full support of the senior-most executives within the Mariners’ hierarchy for the removal of Zduriencik. This was meant to be the year where the Seattle Mariners would be making a credible challenge within the AL West seeking challenge the recent dominance of the Oakland A’s , a team which this has been nowhere near as competitive as some thought they would be. The two teams remain as cellar dwellers in the division where they have been for much of the season .

A’s manager Bob Melvin is likely to be retained by GM Billy Beane heading into the 2016 season , but the real issues facing the organization has been the very fact senior managing Lew Wolff and Michael Crowley remain at loggerheads on how best to proceed concerning the rebuilding of this once proud franchise. It remains a constant financial struggle for the Oakland A’s to be on par with their peers within the game and the fact they will the miss the postseason for 2015 will only add to that struggle. Oakland will try to make this waning month of August and heading into September , something meaningful for the year. Sonny Gray will take the mound on Friday evening when the A’s face the Arizona Diamondbacks and their starting pitcher Chase Anderson .

The difference between 2012 and now with the Miami Marlins . is not a damn thing, as the ball-club still remains in complete disarray and Jeffrey Loria remains the worst owner in Major League Baseball . His commitment to mediocrity is only exceeded by his ongoing blatant stupidity and that of the ” entire” front office of the organization. Giancarlo Stanton’s thirteen- year $325 million contract might as well have been written a role of toilet paper , considering the play of the team over the course of this season. Mike Redmond was jettisoned as the manager early in the year and Dan Jennings has yet to show his competency in his role for this franchise. Michael Hill made a splash with the Stanton contract and the acquisition of Ichiro Suzuki as a free agent , but beyond that the Marlins have simply been a comedic caricature , so representative of so many teams around MLB , no real plan of action other than continuing to show sheer audacity alongside ongoing stupidity .

Winning with consistency has been the farthest thing from the mind of Dan Jennings’ managerial staff as well as the team over the course of this year . Miami’s victory over what has been a very disappointing Washington Nationals team this season, might well provide a slight respite, but I believe Nationals’ manager Matt Williams believes his players are still capable of obtaining one of the two wildcard berths up for grabs within the NL. Nine games out of that final berth may well prove to be too big a task for the Nationals to overcome during the final month of the season , but the final two games of their three-game home set against the Miami Marlins could make something of a dent in the leads held by the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs .

There can be no denying Nationals’ slugger Bryce Harper is having a sensational year for the team , as he leads the NL in batting average , home runs , on-base percentage , slugging percentage and total OPS .

Bryce Harper has to be seen as the leading candidate for NLMVP and the Nationals’ first MVP Award winner in the franchise’s history . From my own perspective, while I believe the Washington Nationals to be a good team, they are falling way short of expectations. Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg are meant to be the fulcrum of this roster ,with both players sharing the same agent, Scott Boras . As we know the sport’s agent has been among the astute and savvy of the MLB certified agents within baseball. When both Harper and Strasburg due to become free agents, it will be interesting to see what decisions are likely to be made by front office led by GM Mike Rizzo . In 2017 , both of these former number one draft picks by the Nationals will be eligible as free agents and it will be interesting to see if Mike Rizzo and lead managing partner , Ted Lerner will seek to keep both of these formidable All Stars , while paying them both ,what Scott Boras will believe to be fair for his clients.

The AL East divisional race has become something of a cat and mouse thriller, with the Toronto Blue Jays now holding a 1 ½ game lead over divisional rivals the New York Yankees . Hal Steinbrenner , has pretty much stated the division is the Yankees to lose and the team is not ready to give up the race for the divisional title until the very last game of the season has been played. As good as the Yankees seem to be , the division I believe no longer provides the excitement and notoriety fans have usually come to expect. The real issue and their Achilles’ Heel will remain the lack of depth to the team’s pitching rotation and that of the relievers in particular.

New York’s pounding of the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta , Georgia on Friday night , was the Yankees’ largest margin of victory this season and certainly their most productive outing from the team’s offense. A 15-4 victory was just what the doctor ordered for New York and Joe Girardi’s team of stars . Girardi and his players will round out their weekend road series against the Atlanta Braves with Saturday’s game which will have Luis Severino on the mound to face Matt Wisler and then on Sunday Nathan Evoldi will face off against Julio Teheran of the Braves in the final game of the trilogy. .

Picture gallery and by clicking on image within the gallery you can view that picture in a reformatted size along with the accompanying narrative.

The MLB regular season will end on the 5th October with the wildcard round of the postseason beginning on the 6th and 7th October respectively . For the teams prive’ baseball’s postseason foray , this will be the time when nothing else matters other than their zeal to win. What are you hoping to see in the lead-up to the MLB postseason and which teams from the respective leagues do you believe can win the AL and NL Pennant and ultimately the World Series ?

🙂

Tophatal ….

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Nas …. “God’s Son ”

The Killer Elite ….

The Killer Elite

Well, baseball season (MLB) is almost upon us , with certain position players due to report to their respective teams within the next few days. For a number of franchises , this off-season has proven to be dramatic, suspenseful and dare one say, even exhilarating ? The MLB Postseasonprovided us with several stories and theplot-lines came thick and fast , so much so,that not even the script writers of Hollywood could have provided us with more drama. Who could’ve foreseen the Kansas City Royals blowing the frames off the doors, as they brushed aside their postseason opponents with a great deal of ease , only to succumb to the wily experience of Bruce Bochy, his managerial staff and the players of the San Francisco Giants , in dramatic fashion of an intense seven-game thriller of a World Series. A perfect ending to the 2014 MLB regular and postseason. Some might say, the Cinderella Story of the Royals would have been the perfect ending, but it was not to be, simply because the lack of postseason experience on the Royals’ roster of last season.

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With baseball’s Winter Meetings taking place in the aftermath of the Fall Classic, deals were being made with an alarming speed and regularity. Topping them all , was Giancarlo Stanton’s record- breaking deal with the Miami Marlins. Leaving many flabbergasted and surprised by the contract’s value and length , never-mind where the financial resources might be coming from, considering the Marlins’ menial attendance record for the Marlins’ Ballpark, in Miami , Florida and the fact, since its inception, it has been rarely filled to capacity. That asides, should Mike Redmond and his coaching staff not have this team not in a position to win the NL East or actually gain a postseason berth. The common thread of thought, appears to be the front office led by Michael Hill will be quick to pull the trigger on dealing Stanton elsewhere, rather than having to bear the brunt of a $25 million payout, in the first year of the deal.

From my own standpoint, I believe the Miami Marlins will be hard-pressed to make a serious enough challenge against what appears to be not only something of a revamped Washington Nationals’ lineup , but also on paper, what might be the ” deepest” roster in the entire National League (NL). It will be interesting to see how these two NL East teams are likely to fare over the course of their regular season series in 2015. If the Marlins are to have any semblance of success this season, then Giancarlo Stanton and his teammates will have to be playing their very best baseball right out of the starting gates on Opening Day of the regular season schedule. A one hundred and sixty-two game arduous slog, will prove to be a matter of attrition, stealth and a great deal tenacity on the part of the players and managerial staff, as things begin to play out.

Rob Manfred has succeeded Bud Selig as the MLB Commissioner and as the highest-ranking executive within the game. Whether or not Manfred can succeed where his predecessor repeatedly failed, will be dependent upon how he deals with the issues that have bedeviled baseball and the league hierarchy’s often contentious relationship with the MLBPA (Players’ Union) . The union’s recently elected Executive Director , Tony Clark is a former player whose career in the Majors could be deemed passable. Clark’s predecessor, Michael Weiner’s death cut short his tenure in an executive role, leaves the newly elected union leader as the players’ voice in the collective bargaining agreement for all issues involving the game, beyond the union’s own failure to deliver their concise formal statement on the matter of steroid abuse and the still prevalent deliberate misuse of performance enhancing drugs at the Major League Level and especially within the Minor League , where it now seems to rampant, but widely reported by the mainstream media, whose priority just seem to be the events as they unfold at the Major League Level. Yet, they would have the fans believe, their reporting of their so-called facts, has never been clouded or simply a white-wash, when it comes to the truth or their un-avowed bias of their reported stories .

Coming off his first win of the AL MVP, of which in the future I am sure there will be others, Mike Trout will be looking to cement his position as not only the best young player in baseball, but also the best player to have been drafted in the game since 2009 , the year he was taken by the Los Angeles Angels. Trout in his brief career in the Majors to date, has now become the best player on the Angels’ starting lineup, which has been devoid of leadership. Some might believe it to be an astonishing statement, when you consider the fact, there are experienced veterans on this team, where Albert Pujols , Josh Hamilton and C J Wilson are the most recognizable names. The fact remains however, Mike Scioscia and his managerial staff have not put the Angels in a serious position win the World Series in spite of their most recent appearance in the 2014 postseason . The Angels’ missteps there were well-chronicled and something of a major disappointment to their fans after the team’s triumph in succeeding the Oakland Athletics as the AL West divisional champions.

This season might prove to be a horse for a different course as I expect the A’s to rebound back after a disappointing sojourn in 2014 ! If there is one thing I do know, it is not to underestimate a general manager such as Billy Beane , whose portrayal by Brad Pitt in the hit movie ” Moneyball” has just about everyone convinced they could become a great front office executive in Major League Baseball. Separating fact from fiction, we all know what Beane has been able construct and quite remarkably succeed in repeating, and that is to make the A’s competitive team in spite of a cash-starved ownership group and the very fact , Bud Selig has somehow refused to come to the organization’s aid in assisting them to obtain a new baseball stadium. Though somehow , the former commissioner was front and center when Citi-Field, Yankees’ Stadium and Marlins’ Ballpark took shape at the expense of the taxpayers within the cities of New York and Miami , where the final cost exceeded for all three venues exceeded $2.3 billion ($2,300,000,000). Never let it be said, Selig doesn’t know how to maneuver his way around the corridors of power, while making so many political dignitaries at the municipal , state and federal level look like complete morons. Personally, I don’t believe it to be that difficult a task whether or not it’s a Democrat or Republican, whose largesse is being sought. Simply look at the idiocy of the political bickering now taking place at the national level and the continued partisan discord between both parties and then ask yourself, why you would be willing to trust a congressional member from either party , let alone someone at the municipal or state level ? Add in the fact, Bud Selig’s, greatest accomplishments as commissioner could be written on the back of a first class stamp and be posted to the North Pole , addressed to Santa Claus, for all of the use that would do. Yet I digress, as Claus based on a fable, has been far more successful in bringing joy to many , than anything accomplished by Selig during his tenure as the lead executive in Major League Baseball.

Mike Trout has more than repaid the Angels’ faith in him, which has resulted in a contract commensurate to his talents. Trout’s maturity is there to be seen and he has most definitely become the face, voice and undoubted leader of this team. As to whether or not his teammates are now willing to follow his lead can be best judged by your perception of their overall performances during the 2014 postseason, where Trout I believe, led by example, but there was no one else around willing to assist their teammate.

Angels’ GM Jerry Dipoto has to be wondering , if not second-guessing himself as to whether or not it was prudent investing over $300 million of team owner Arte Moreno’s money into acquiring Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Moreno is known to be a shrewd businessman with a keen eye for detail and seeking out deals, which will more than maximize a return on that particular investment. Having made his name showing a keen eye for an investments specifically in the world of sports and broadcasting. One thing becoming abundantly clear at this juncture and it is, with each passing season where Mike Scioscia comes up short, he one step closer to becoming the next managerial casualty in the world of baseball. If Scioscia fails this season, then he is likely to become one the first casualty of an ongoing policy which has become the norm not just in baseball but in professional and collegiate sports. The dismissal of a coach or manager, as the case maybe.

The Angels will begin their regular season schedule with a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners , with the first of those games on 5th April, 2015 at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington,. However, before Los Angeles embarks upon their regular season schedule, they have their Spring Training Schedule and the chance for Mike Scioscia and his staff to assess their non roster invitees as well as their newly acquired players from this off-season. Chances are, several players will play their part in contributing to Angels’ endeavors over the course of their schedule.

For the third straight season the Los Angeles Dodgers will enter the year with the highest payroll in baseball. Several of the players on the roster are among the highest paid players in the game by way of their salaries and contractual compensation. With the franchise having failed miserably in the postseasons of 2013 and 2014 , each time falling to their nemesis the St Louis Cardinals, most notably in the NLDS last season.

Magic Johnson has been the front officeimage of the Dodgers’ organization, but now with Andrew Friedman having been brought in to oversee the franchise’s Baseball Operations, it does appear Johnson will have to take a back seat to to the new front office executive as he looks to create a resurgent and competitive on field product this upcoming season. That tall order has led to the departures of Matt Kemp , Josh Beckett and several other players during the off-season as Friedman looks to provide Don Mattingly and his staff with the tools needed for the Dodgers to win their first World Series title since 1988 .

While I believe the Dodgers to be a good team, they are far from being a great team and that is what is needed in the postseason if the franchise is to make it their ambition to win a world title. NL MVP and Cy Young winner in 2014 Clayton Kershaw , teammates Zack Greinke , Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig will have to show a great deal more than what was witnessed during 2014, especially during the postseason.

Don Mattingly and his team will begin their regular season with a home game at Dodgers Ballpark in Los Angeles California against the San Diego Padres on the 6th April, 2015. For Matt Kemp, it provides the player with the chance to renew old acquaintances with former teammates, as he gets the chance to play at the stadium where some of the most famous exploits of his career took place. Padres’ GM A J Preller and team manager Bud Black will be looking to make this team worthy challengers to the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants this season within the NL West , which I believe will be one of the toughest divisions in all of baseball this upcoming season.

Where would we be without some drama being provided by baseball’s most illustrious ball-club? This season will be the first time in over two decades , where the now retired Derek Jeter will not be part of the New York Yankees’ opening day lineup. Major changes have taken place within the organization , among the playing staff, with several players departing , while the Yankees seek to reshape the roster, which at its core, is still one, with several players at the twilight of their careers . It cannot have escaped anyone’s notice, in the midst of this all, Alex Rodriguez was welcomed back into the fold, but I feel that the player, while being closely scrutinized, he likely to make another misstep and as before, then look to apportion blame elsewhere for his own misdeeds, as so often been the case over the past eight and a half years. If nothing else, Rodriguez has been more consistent off the field with his repeated lies than he has been on the field for the Yankees during the time-span in question.

The New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman has continually been afforded the means necessary to craft a team, he believes capable of winning a World Series, but last season’s disastrous showing had more to do with disjointed performances and an aging roster riddled with injuries throughout the year. Out the window it appears, has been the notion of paring down payroll to a manageable size , because clearly Cashman , Joe Girardi , the managerial staff and ownership place no faith in the organization’s farm system. Granted, a number of players made appearances at various points during last season, having been promoted up from AAA, but I believe, it had more to do with Cashman being at a loss, not willing to splurge and taking something of conservative approach. Now it all comes down to, which player on the roster can Joe Girardi look to , in providing the leadership necessary for the Yankees to be successful this upcoming season ?

The New York Yankees have a great deal of money tied up in players , such as Alex Rodriguez, C C Sabathia , Masahiro Tanaka , Mark Teixeira , Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran . Salary commitments for the New York Yankees in 2015 will top $210 million , which pales into comparison to the monies being paid out this year ($267 million) by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Inasmuch, as many try to point out there is parity within the game of baseball, there is nothing at all to really bear this out, because in essence, what it all does come down to more than anything else_______ talent on the field of play and extremely good managerial skills. Overlooking that premise and simply using the analogy of parity suggests pragmatism and laziness on the part of those watching the game. However, it should be noted, of the participants in last season’s postseason, several were among the top paying teams in all of baseball.

I certainly do not believe Alex Rodriguez can or will provide the leadership sought by Joe Girardi ! Among the players on the team, where the trait needed for team success to become a reality, the most likely candidate would appear to be Jacoby Ellsbury, a player ,whose career with the Boston Red Sox was well-chronicled, albeit, his last season and a-half with the franchise was more injury riddled, with a noted decline in his productivity . Last season , there were glimpses of Ellsbury back to almost his very best and providing the leadership sought which will surely be missed with the retirement of Derek Jeter ! The Yankees will kick off their regular season schedule with a three-game home series’ opener against divisional rivals the Toronto Blue Jays , beginning on the 6th April, 2015. The AL East , where both teams reside, will likely prove to be another competitive season, with the Baltimore Orioles looking to fend off the challenge of their their divisional foes in defense of the divisional title , while also seeking to steer away the rest of the AL and their NL opponents in 2015.

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What are you hoping to see come out of the first two months of the MLB season ? Also, at the half-way point of the schedule which teams and players do you believe will have made something of a statement as to their intent ? Merely leave a comment as you see fit on the questions raised and anything else you believe relevant to the article.

o_O

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(1) San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner , left, and manager Bruce Bochy stand by the trophies after their 3-2 win against the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 of baseball’s World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. Bumgarner’s scintillating postseason displays were just one of the many reasons why the Giants prevailed in a drama driven and thrilled packed World Series . AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

(2) Oct 29 , 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; MLB commissioner Bud Selig (right) presents San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (left) , chief executive officer Larry Baer (middle) and general manager Brian Sabean with the Commissioners Trophy after game seven of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium . Charlie Neibergall/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

(3) Howie Kendrick (47) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is congratulated by teammate Albert Pujols (5) after driving in the game winning run in the tenth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 4-3 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 28, 2014 in Anaheim, California. Far right , is Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout. rtfied;a222) Getty Images North America / Lisa Blumenfeld

(4) Mike Trout (27) celebrates with Mike Scioscia (14) of the Los Angeles Angels after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. Getty Images / Jamie Squire

(5) Giancarlo Stanton is seen here hitting a home run off Jonathan Pettibone during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies . The Marlins’ slugger signed a $325 million contract with the franchise, making it the most expensive deal in baseball history and the most expensive in any of the four major professional team sports in North America . AP Photo / Alison Fisher

(6) A pensive looking Alex Rodriguez looks up from the dugout to the scoreboard during a game . The New New York Yankees’ third baseman has not played in regular season game for the ball-club since the latter half of the 2013 season . Having sat out all of last year due to a league mandated suspension, Rodriguez will be returning to a team , missing two of its most popular players after the retirement of Derek Jeter and the departure of Ichiro Suzuki who during the off season signed a one-year deal with the Miami Marlins . It remains to be seen whether or not Alex Rodriguez can contribute to a team lacking leadership and a great deal of productivity in terms of overall offense. AP Photo / Keith Slocum

(7) New York Yankees’ teammates Derek Jeter , left and Jacoby Ellsbury leave the field after a game between the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels . Jeter’s retirement after a two-decade long career with the organization , leaves a tremendous void and vacuum, with their now being viewed as what is likely no real on-field leadership. Ellsbury might be seen as the ideal replacement for such a role. but there doesn’t appear to any signs from management or the front office as to whether or not Jacoby Ellsbury will succeed Jeter as the captain of the New York Yankees . A role of stature which has only ever been held by five players during the franchise’s illustrious history during the past four decades. AP Photo / Keith Wallace
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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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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 .

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If we build it they will come …………

If we build it they will come ……….

The MLB season , has started with some gusto and Opening Day , saw some record crowds for a number of the day’s schedule contests. Defending World Series champions the Boston Red Sox started the defense of their title with a 2-1 loss to divisional rivals the Baltimore Orioles in a contest played at Camden Yards in Baltimore , Maryland . From my own standpoint , seeking to speculate on who might end up winning this season’s title , this early in the season , is akin to counting grains of sand on the beach, while the tide comes in . It is of benefit to no one, at the time of the exercise!

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Slideshow .

This season should be one of growth among many of the young stars who blossomed in terms of their play last season and it will be interesting to see how the AL and NL Rookies of the Year from 2013 acquit themselves for their respective teams as they seek to make themselves Big League stars , while looking to be well-compensated for their play. Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays , will certainly be looking to add to a robust season for the team from 2013, while his NL counterpart Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins will certainly look beyond being the only bright spot on what was a lackluster team last season, summed up by the Marlins’ last place finish in the NL East and being completely out of contention for a wildcard berth for the majority of last season.

In many respects I believe that this season, will be one of even more struggles for the Miami Marlins , as Mike Redmond and his managerial staff try to steer this team into contention within the division , which is likely to be more competitive, after the issues now encompassing the Atlanta Braves , with the team having lost two of their prominent starting players due preseason injuries . In all likelihood we could very well see something of shift in the favoring of the Braves to repeat as divisional champions , to perhaps the Washington Nationals being seen as the new prohibitive favorites within the NL East for the title this season.

Braves’ pitcher Brandon Beachy is out for the season , but the loss of Kris Medlen and Mike Minor might be the toughest losses to take, as both played prominent roles in the team’s success during 2013 . Yet, with not even the first ten games of their schedule having been contested , Atlanta’s disabled list , reads like the bulletin board from a hospital triage unit. Atlanta began its season with a well-deserved victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee , Wisconsin , with the home team ….. succumbing to their opponents in defeat 5-2. The two teams will meet again on Wednesday afternoon in game two of their two-game series , before Atlanta departs to take on the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital for a trio of games starting on Friday , 4th April and culminating with the final game of that trilogy on Sunday, 6th April .

For the Tampa Bay Rays, I expect this to be a make or break season and therein once again lies the dilemma as it relates to the organization. Cost-cutting by way of team payroll , has very much played a part in the Rays’ subsistence living and success in recent years . GM Andrew Friedman continues to seek out bargain basement free agents to place around a core group of players and Joe Maddon and his staff . continue to work miracles. My question is, beyond that success, how is it that in the eight years that Maddon has managed the team , he has only one the AL Manager of the Year Award twice, in 2008 and 2011 ? There are few managers in either league with Maddon’s managerial acumen, that would have been able to achieve the extraordinary success that he has attained, with the menial resources afforded him by the franchise. Yet, around the game the short-sightedness and stupidity being shown by alleged observers and fans alike have shown that their knowledge and a complete lack of understanding as to the economics of the game of baseball .

The Rays began their season with a 9-2 home victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on the 31st March , only to then follow-up that win with a loss the Blue Jays , with a . lackluster performance in losing 4-2 on Tuesday afternoon. The final leg of their opening trilogy, will take place on Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field , when Matt Moore takes the mound to face Mark Buehrle in their contest. A robust start to the season, I believe is needed for the Tampa Bay Rays, if they are to gain any semblance of success , as they can ill-afford to continue to show the type inconsistency exhibited last season , that eventually led to their demise , where they were summarily dispatched by the Boston Red Sox with consummate ease in the ALDS , in four games , 3-1.

Just when you thought that the idiocy of last season might well have been abated , baseball still proves again, that they have learned absolutely nothing from their mistakes . Having topped $ 3 billion last season for the Opening Day payroll, Team payroll, in 2014, MLB has once again trumped itself, teams’ financial commitment to their players, will exceed that figure, with the Los Angeles Dodgers trumping the other twenty-nine teams in the league , with a payroll of just over $235 million, with pitcher, Zach Greinke being the highest-salaried player on the roster , but by no means having the most lucrative contract , either in its length or value . Greinke’s six-year, $144 million deal , was surpassed during the preseason, when team President Stan Kasten and GM Ned Colletti negotiated the deal that allowed Clayton Kershaw the reigning Cy Young Award winner, a deal that makes him the highest paid pitcher in the game of baseball, as well as being one the highest paid players in the game. Somewhat surprisingly, this has been the first time, in several years, that the New York Yankees have not held the honor of being the team with the highest payroll in baseball.

Don Mattingly, his staff and the Dodgers’ team, got off to a great start, with their opening series, in defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks in their two game series played in Brisbane , Australia, . As to the relevance of those two games being played in the Antipodes region , I can only surmise, that it comes about, with the commissioner wishing to see the growth of the game “Down Under” . With just over a year to go, before he steps down from his position , Bud Selig will be looking to and hoping that the game of baseball, is still not mired, deep in controversy . Let’s just say , his handling of the litany of player suspensions, due to the prolific use of PED’s was poorly executed , with the MLBPA at times , being able to subvert the league’s form of justice. Tony Clark , has succeeded the late Michael Weiner, as the union’s Executive Director and the relationship between the league hierarchy and the union, remains strained and often contentious. What next, using a Band Aid to cover a gunshot wound to the abdomen, while the victim is still bleeding profusely ?

Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will take to the mound , on Wednesday night , when he faces Tyson Ross of the San Diego Padres at Petco Park , in San Diego, California, In what should be a very good contest , we can assume that the Padres will seek to it something of a competitive affair , unlike their season-long series of last year, when the Dodgers were simply dominant throughout the season within the NL West. Anything short of a deep playoff run and a World Series’ berth at the end of it all, will have to be viewed as a major disappointment for the Dodgers’ organization and their fans in particular . High hopes of last season, simply evaporated , when they wilted, showing little effort against the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS . There is an abundance of pitching </a and offense to the makeup of this Dodgers’ team, but the issue to my mind , must be , who is seen as the actual leader of this lineup and can be looked upon to be not only vocal, but also show it , with regard to their play? Is it Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp , Carl Crawford , or anyone of their litany of pitchers ? That has to be the defining element and question that still remains unanswered by Don Mattingly and by the likes of joint-owners , Magic Johnson , Peter Guber , Mark Walter and Todd Boehly , who paid the record sum of $2.156 billion , for the apparent privilege of owning this proud franchise .

Young stars, such as, Mike Trout, Yasiel Puig , Jose Fernandez and Wil Myers were certainly making impacts for their teams, as I alluded to earlier. I expect this season to be no different , but will it be to the point, where their ball-clubs will become greatly reliant on the prowess of their young rookies ? For the likes of Jose Abreu, Aaron Barrett , Tyler Collins , Alex Guerrero , Mario Hollands, Seth Rosin, Bo Schultz , Gus Schlosser and Ian Thomas . Whether or not they make it , will be totally dependent upon the determination that they each show , while still being coached in the intricacies and rudiments of the game of baseball . An AL and NL Rookie of the Year is likely to come out of the field mentioned or it could come from a player, who is called up at some point later in the season. Either way, it will be interesting to see what these young players are able to offer, once they have had their ” first taste” of the Majors.

As always, the biggest draw in the game, remain the big market teams and amongst those others who have loyal fans. Without a doubt, last season, it should not come as any surprise that in total home attendance , it was left to the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers , St Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants , New York Yankees and Texas Rangers to lead the field . The aforementioned teams were amongst a list of eight ball-clubs that drew more than 3 million fans to their respective ballparks . The lowest figure in terms of overall attendance were those of the Tampa Bay Rays , with just over 1,500,000 attendees , at an average of just over 18,600 per home game schedule, in attendance at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida in 2013. Simply put, the front office cannot try to justify why a new ballpark is needed, when they are still drawing such low crowds, for each of their home games. Inasmuch, as their fans continue to decry the fact that, their present venue is archaic.

There remains no real reason to suggest that a new ballpark is likely to attract an even larger crowd , where in truth, the real hardcore fan-base of the franchise is at best , no more than 15,000 to 18,000 devoutly loyal fans . I have yet to hear, a Tampa Bay Rays’ fan explain succinctly , an argument as to why a new ballpark can and should be built, at the local taxpayers’ expense. Amongst the local media market , where intelligence is not of the highest order, the only reason for their proposing a new ballpark, is simply not to run afoul of the ownership group , led by Stuart Sternberg and Matthew Silverman , whose interviews within the local media market are rare and more inconsequential than anything else . More often than not, it is either Silverman or Sternberg , pleading for the local municipality to make the financial outlay for a new stadium , without the owners themselves, offering something in good faith , never mind the fact , that their lease on Tropicana Field is not due to expire until 2027 . One would have thought that whoever provided the legal counsel to both Stuart Sternberg and Matthew Silverman, as the lead managing partners, would have advised them to seek their renegotiating the lease on the ballpark at the time of their purchasing the team, from then owner , Vince Naimoli . I guess in large part, Sternberg sought to own a Major League Baseball, team, showing his naiveté as an alleged businessman, when buying that franchise. Monkey see, monkey do , there is no other way to explain that sort of utter stupidity !

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Picture gallery .

With Bud Selig due to step down at the end of this baseball season , do you believe that he will leave the game in a better position than he found it in , having succeeded Francis ‘Faye’ Vincent ? Also, with the escalating salaries of the players , do you believe that is now time for baseball to adopt a hard salary cap at the top-end and lower-end of the teams’ payroll scale ? Chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be of relevance to the subject matter , as you see fit .

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
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(1) Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester throws to the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of an opening day baseball game, Monday, March 31, 2014, in Baltimore. Baltimore would defeat the Red Sox 2-1 . AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …

(2) Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones , bottom, collides with Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia after being forced out on a ground ball by Chris Davis in the fourth inning of an opening day baseball game, Monday, March 31, 2014, in Baltimore. Davis was safe at first. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …..

(3) Wil Myers ,left, of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Miami Marlins’ Jose Fernandez were last season’s AL and NL Rookies of the Year , with both players having made impactful efforts for their respective teams during 2013. Myers and Fernandez will be looking build on the foundations laid , by improving this year , in terms of their play. Getty Images / Sean Leahy …..

(4) Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman is greeted by teammates after hitting a solo home run off of Milwaukee Brewers’ Zach Duke during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Milwaukee. Both pitchers in this contest were on course for a no-hitter before being broken up by the opposing offenses . AP Photo/Tom Lynn …

(5) Los Angeles GM Ned Colletti ,left , is seen here alongside team President and minority owner Stan Kasten . The two front office executives this off-season offered a lucrative contract to pitcher Clayton Kershaw , the 2013 NL Cy Young Award winner , making him the highest paid player on the Dodgers’ roster and amongst the highest paid players in the game. Having lost the 2013 NLCS in a lopsided series’ defeat , the franchise bolstered their team with several off-season moves , meanwhile looking for improved seasons in 2014 from Yasiel Puig , Adrian Gonzalez , Carl Crawford , Zach Greinke , Hanley Ramirez , Andre Ethier and Chone Figgins . The ball-club will also be looking to make a successful defense of their 2013 NL West divisional title , won with a great deal of ease in a dominant fashion last season. AP Photo / Matthew Morris …..

(6) Zack Greinke and teammate , Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers in whom the ball-club have guaranteed and committed over $ 365 million . The two pitchers are amongst the highest paid players on the team’s roster and two of the highest paid starting pitchers in baseball, as well as having to of themost lucrative contracts amongst starting pitchers and players overall . The team’s success this season will be greatly dependent on both having career years if the Los Angeles Dodgers are to have any chance of winning their first World Series’ title in over twenty-five years. Getty Images / Greg Holt …..

(7) Rookie , Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox is seen here with the team’s general manager , Rick Hahn. The player made his debut with the team in their game against the Minnesota Twins on the 31st March , 2014 at US Cellular Field in Chicago , Illinois,. AP Photo / Anthony Smith …..

(8) Tampa Bay Rays’ managing partner , Stuart Sternberg, left is seen here alongside Matthew Silverman , GM Andrew Friedman and the team’s manager Joe Maddon , far right. The franchise’s home field Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida is deemed archaic by current standards . With the ownership group pleading with the city of Petersburg for a new venue , albeit that the lease to their current venue does not expire until 2027, neither side is somehow prepared to accede to the other by seeking out an agreement where a compromise can be reached . Sternberg and his partners would like to see the city build a multifaceted 40,000 seat venue at their municipality’s expense , with their being no proposal from the ball-club to fund any part of the venture. Commissioner Bud Selig , whom , having assisted the Miami Marlins , New York Mets and New York Yankees to each obtain a new ballpark in the past six years, has been of no assistance to the AL East based franchise , also having been critical of team and stating that they will be never be allowed to stage an All Star Game until a new stadium is built . Selig has not only been critical of the Tampa Bay Rays over the issue of a new venue , but he has been extremely critical of the city of St Petersburg , the former mayor , Bill Foster , recently his successor Rick Kriserman and the Pinellas County government and their reluctance to build a venue for the MLB franchise . It might not have occurred to the commissioner that the state of Florida is still in the midst of an economic crisis , where state , county and municipalities are facing severe budget deficits , as well as high unemployment rates that are above the national average . Tampa Bay Times/ Keith Marsh ….

(9) Bud Selig , MLB Commissioner, who is due step down from his position as the league’s highest ranking executive in February 2015 , after almost twenty-five years in the current position , having first been the acting commissioner in 1992 , then accepting the position full-time in 1998. Often criticized for his managerial style and lack of communicative skills, his biggest blight, was in curtailing the 1994 MLB season , which brought about a league wide stoppage and strike . The MLBPA (Players’ Union) , then led by Donald Fehr , who now holds a similar position within the Players’ Union (NHLPA) of the NHL and the commissioner were often at loggerheads on a wide variety of issues and the distrust between the league hierarchy and the union, still remains to this day , in spite of the often asinine comments forthcoming from both sides. Getty Images/ Mark Snow …..

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On the mound , but only briefly ……

On the mound , but only briefly ……….

With baseball’s postseason having come to a successful end , with the Boston Red claiming .their third World Series in the past ten seasons and the club’s eighth overall . The rest of this off-season, now becomes about the individual awards and today the first of those were announced, with the Rookie of the Year honors . In the AL , the recipient was Tampa Bay Rays’ rookie Wil Myers , who after a successful run with the team during the regular and postseason , will be looking to build upon that in 2014, as the Rays pursue another chance at success within the AL East , having fallen short of their own expectations.

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Slideshow .

In the NL, the recipient of the NL Rookie of the Award , went to Florida Marlins’ pitching ace Jose Fernandez . The player was one of the few bright spots on a team that was simply abysmal , during which we witnessed the Marlins finish at the bottom of the NL East posting a mark of 62-100 , of which only the Houston Astros (51-111) had a worse record in all of baseball . Fernandez for his part was simply exhilarating over the season showing a great deal of poise and maturity in someone so young, who burst onto the scene with a sense of purpose. Now in the midst of this all, there are likely to be detractors, who may well feel aggrieved that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rookie phenom sensation Yasiel Puig may well have been viewed as an afterthought , given his spectacular debut and being the main catalyst behind the Dodgers’ mid to late season surge that witnessed them winning the NL West divisional crown with a great deal of ease , only to then fail miserably when they faced eventual pennant winners, the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS pennant series.

As impressive as Yasiel Puig was said to be for the Los Angeles Dodgers , it is my belief that the voters for this award , viewed that the NL based franchise was merely best served by not only Puig ,but several of the team’s highly paid stars , on a team that once that they blew the division apart , there was little to suggest that the NL West would still remain competitive , and we also witnessed something of a tail-off in the slugger’s performance , only to then see rare glimpses in the postseason for the team . There is no doubt in my mind that future honors await Yasiel Puig in his career , as he is one of the best young players in the game today. The game of baseball will be best served by players such as Yasiel Puig , Wil Myers , Jose Fernandez , Mike Trout , Bryce Harper , Stephen Strasburg , Andrew Bailey , Buster Posey and Geovany Soto over the coming years. Given the recent controversies that have simply ravaged the game of baseball , as the issue of steroids still remains a part of the landscape , with their little to show by the league hierarchy in stamping out the biggest stain to hit sport over the past two-and a half decades. It is pretty much safe to say , that for all of Bud Selig’s insistence , as long as along as Alex Rodriguez is allowed to make a mockery of the system and baseball itself , then the commissioner will forever be viewed as the executive who failed to show any decisiveness , making several unfathomable and idiotic decisions along the way, that have simply done nothing for the betterment of the game.

In what might not necessarily come as a surprise , but the main favorites for the AL and NL Manager of the Year Awards appear to be Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians and Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates . The Indians’ surprising resilience shown within the AL Central and thereby making the postseason as a wildcard entrant was one of the great stories of the baseball season. And fact that the Cleveland Indians bowed out in the wildcard round of the postseason , should not be seen as a negative, because , what Francona was able to achieve with this team not only caught the fans by surprise, but I would dare say, the vast majority of observers in and outside of the game . It should be noted however , that it was Terry Francona’s managerial guile that did more than anything else to guide the Boston Red Sox to their most recent World Series’ triumphs, prior to John Farrell guiding the team this past season to another notable triumph for this venerable franchise .

Recognizing Terry Francona for the award to my mind would be valid, but I feel an honorable mention ought to be due for John Farrell and what he was able to achieve in his first season with a Boston Red Sox team that was in complete disarray in 2012 , having finished in last place within the AL East, with Bobby Valentine simply showing that his managerial acumen , was really nothing more than a great deal of hot air.

Clint Hurdle was able to guide what was a young team a t its core to a respectable second place finish within the NL Central behind the St Louis Cardinals . It did look as if at one time the Pirates had the division as theirs for the taking , but momentary lapses , caused this young roster to succumb to more pressure than they are you usually accustomed to. On this Pirates’ ball-club, we saw the further maturation of Andrew McCutchen , not just as a player , but also someone, who now appears to be the vocal leader of the team both on and off the field of play . My only thought now concerning the center-fielder , is when he next becomes a free agent , are the Pirates prepared to do whatever it takes to retain the services of the best player this organization has had, over the the past eight years ? Clearly this is a matter that will be on the minds of not only the team’s fans but also Pirates’ owner Robert ‘Bob ‘ Nutting and general manager Neal Huntington . It has been Nutting’s reluctance to actually spend money on this team and seeking out the best possible talent available , that has in large part left this franchise standing curbside,. waiting to achieve something of note. Well after a two-decade long wait , the Pittsburgh Pirates made their first appearance in baseball’s ‘Fall Extravaganza’ and that of its postseason .

If an improvement is to be seen with the Pirates , then this off-season Neal Huntington and this managerial staff will have to work diligently in assessing the needs of the team, by way of the available free agents and that of the organization’s farm system to see if there are players waiting in the wings ready to contribute to and for the team.

To my mind, it appears to be a foregone conclusion in terms of the Cy Young Award Winners winners and who they ought to be this season . Without a doubt, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been the best pitcher in baseball over the past three seasons. Those who have doubts, need only to look at the pitcher’s statistics posted in each the past three years to see the evidence of his dominance. Kershaw is likely to be named the NL Cy Young Award winner , with an outside shot at quite possibly taking the NL MVP Award at the same time , making it a “daily double” . In 2013 , Kershaw was as elusive , as he was dominant during the regular season , with few batter being able to get the better of the Dodgers’ starting ace, who was by far in a way , the best pitcher on a very good pitching roster by way of the perceived talent.

In the AL , the top contenders for the Cy Young appear to be Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers , Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers and Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners . Darvish got off to an excellent start early in the season for the Rangers , before injury took a toll on part of his year , but he was able to rebound and once again show the front office’s faith in signing him. If only the rest of the team were able to show the type of consistency and dedication of the Japanese star, then perhaps the season would not have ” petered out” with such resounding disappointment and so many questions being asked of a number of players on the roster . Scherzer was simply outstanding , as he led the Tigers’ pitching in wins and strikeouts on his way to 21-3 win tally , a best in the American League and the Majors this past season . With the Tigers’ season coming to an abrupt end with the their succumbing to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS in six games (4-2) , it must be said that Scherzer’s winning of the AL Cy Young will not be seen as that great a compensation for GM Dave Dombrowski and team owner Michael Ilitch , after the resignation of Jim Leyland , whose success with the franchise made Detroit Tigers relevant again .

Beyond Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners , until this season , no one really took ,much notice of what the team was aspiring to achieve within the AL West much less the rest of baseball . It would be fair to suggest that Howard Lincoln and the rest of the managing partners that make up the Board of Directors have simply been derelict in their duties in seeking to make this franchise competitive . The Mariners’ record over the past eight years simply speaks for itself and the fact that they have not made the postseason in the twelve years and their 2001 ALCS appearance and a 4-1 series’ loss to the New York Yankees . Now while I have no doubt that the addition of Hisashi Iwakuma’s to the team has been of benefit to the Mariners , it provided nothing more than a simple feel-good story for a franchise bereft of managerial acumen and depth of talent . The team was simply not competitive enough within the AL and within a division , where other than the Oakland A’s and Texas Rangers , one might as well have imagined that the division bore the aforementioned teams playing each other repeatedly rather than the Mariners having to play the A’s Rangers and Houston Astros .

The Cy Young Award within the AL is likely to be a two-horse race in the end between the Tigers’ ace and Yu Darvish , the with Max Scherzer joining teammate Justin Verlander as a recent award winner of baseball’s top pitching award for the Tigers’ franchise .

The MVP Award , long seen as the top individual award in the game of baseball has a noted history , but as of late , one could attest to the fact that with Ryan Braun’s win in 2011 , even with the rumors of the player’s use of an illicit substance and his apology this year for his admitted deceit and lying to the game’s authorities , the fans and the Milwaukee Brewers’ ownership has left an indelible stain on the game . Bud Selig’s handling remains haphazard and completely bereft of anything bordering, on being intelligent. Yet somehow, at this point of the season before the winter season meeting of the owners , league hierarchy and front office executives to hash out a number of issues, as well as gauging the interest amongst teams of the various free agents , their impending status and the likely changes due . Baseball now needs more than ever before, an image at the top of the game, that truly represents best that the sport has to offer.

The AL contenders for the MVP are Miguel Cabrera , the 2012 MVP recipient and Triple Crown winner , Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles , baseball’s only fifty home-run hitter this season and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels . Cabrera hands down , has been as dominant this season as he was in 2012 , albeit that Davis’ season primarily built around that home run tally , did not lead to a postseason berth for the Orioles. Add in the fact that suspicions have continued to surround a player who before this season had never hit more than twenty-five home runs in a season . Trout coming off an AL Rookie of the Year win in 2012 , has been the Angels’ lone bright spot on another under-achieving season .

In all likelihood , this decision as adjudicated by the BBWAA will come down to how they view the year-long performances of Cabrera , Davis and Trout and who proved to be the most consistent . This season, I truly believe that Miguel Cabrera has simply been better than his peers and having led the Tigers into the postseason , of which the same cannot be said of either Chris Davis or Mike Trout .

Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates , Yadier Molina of the St Louis Cardinals and Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks , all had productive seasons for their respective teams. McCutchen, was simply more than the driving force, behind a franchise having made their first postseason appearance since 1992. By far the best player on that Pirates’ roster , he has now become a perennial All Star and now has to be one of the best players in the NL. Molina led the Cardinals in a myriad of offensive categories this season and was one of the primary reasons behind the their successful run in the postseason. Though the World Series’ loss to the Boston Red Sox was definitely a lopsided affair , it should not detract from a splendid season by the Cardinals’ catcher , a player who is now proving to be one of the preeminent players at the position within the game. Paul Goldschmidt provided the excitement needed for a Diamondbacks’ team that simply could not meet the challenge of even remotely being in with a chance being a worthy adversary for the Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL West .

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It will be interesting to see which these triumvirate of players favored amongst the primary NL candidates will walk away as the 2013 NL recipient of the NL MVP award, following in a long line of illustrious winners of the past . As we know, several of those players, now fall into a somewhat unsavory category , of being suspected steroid users or admitted violators of the league’s steroidal policy . Either way, the game this season though smeared by the ongoing legacy of its landscape still being tainted is in need of a breath of fresh air with a new group of players who actually have respect for the game as well as the fans themselves , rather than being self-absorbed narcissists, with a total disregard for the fans . What if anything, do you believe to have been the major highlights of this past year within MLB and what thoughts if any, do you have with regard to next season ? Simply leave a comment, as you see fit on this, and anything you believe pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays who this week was named the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year . In the NL the award went to Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez after both players had fantastic seasons for their respective teams. AP Photo/ John Raoux …

(2) Yasiel Puig (66) of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts as he bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on September 19th, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. The player , though favored by a number of voters within the BBWAA in the NL Rookie of the Year voting , failed to get the votes needed to add the Dodgers’ list of acclaimed players to have won the prestigious award. Getty Images North America / Christian Peterson ….

(3) MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , left, whose handling of the “steroid issue” within baseball, has repeatedly come into question over the past decade. The league’s highest-ranking official will seek to have the suspension of Yankees’ third baseman , Alex Rodriguez , upheld in an arbitration hearing for which a date has yet to be set. Presiding over the hearing will be Frederick Horowitz . Rodriguez has a civil suit pending in Manhattan in the US Federal Court , in which he seeks unspecified damages for libel , slander , defamation of character and emotional distress , brought about by the league’s actions, in seeking to suspend him for misleading statements and his alleged association with Anthony ‘Tony ‘ Bosch of Biogenesis Inc. and the purchase of illicit substances , said to be PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) of from Bosch’s company (Biogenesis) . Rodriguez has denied any wrongdoing on his part stressing that it is nothing more than character assassination by the league hierarchy. He will be represented in his civil suit by noted criminal attorneys Joe Tacopina and David Cornwell . AP / REUTERS / Alex Marshall ….

(4) Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle is seen here congratulating Andrew McCutchen, left, , outfielder with team. Both are in line and seen as presumptive favorites to capture the NL Manager of the Year Award for Hurdle , with McCutchen seen as the likely recipient for the NL MVP . After a two-decade wait the Pirates made it back to the postseason , only to fall at the in the NLDS . GM Neal Huntington and team owner Bob Nutting are hoping for more positive results in 2014 , with both owner and general manager vowing to increase the team’s payroll considerably, after a season of increased attendance and a sellout for a vast majority of the Pirates’ games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,. AP Photo / Mark Edmondson ….

(5) Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers 2013 Cy Young Award winner , who led all starting pitchers in the Majors this season in terms of victories . AP Photo / Eric Schmidt …

(6) Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers , left and Mike Trout , are seen as the two leading candidates in AL MVP race alongside Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles . The Tigers’ slugger is seeking back-to-back wins of the award he won 2012 , during which, he also attained the Triple Crown . Getty Images / Fiona Matthews ….

(7) Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles , who led all players this season in the Majors with 53 home runs the highest total in either league over the past twelve years when in 2001 Barry Bonds hit the single season lead total of seventy-three home runs . Davis , who prior to this past season had never hit more than twenty five home runs in a season , is now created something of a storm , with their now being ever-growing suspicion as to his single season achievement . Getty Images / Chris Hobbs …..

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tophatal ………………….. 11/13/2013

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Wendy Fiore .

It was a year that we were told, was meant to be special ….

It was a year that we were told, was meant to be special

The MLB season has begun in earnest with several teams showing their mettle , while others are already beginning to show signs of wear and tear . If that isn’t enough the game of baseball , still has to deal with the fact that with several players sidelined with injuries , the fans still have to view the prospect of seeing their teams under-achieve or in some cases over-achieve .

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Right out of the gate the Atlanta Braves started out fast , albeit that as of late things have cooled down somewhat for Fredi Gonzalez and the team , who were on a three game win streak as of 21st April , 2013 . Seizing the day, for the franchise has been the play of the Braves’ newest player , Justin Upton , who along with elder sibling, BJ Upton , were brought in to bolster the offense of the ball-club . Justin Upton leads the Majors and NL in home runs .

As the Atlanta Braves remain atop of the heap within the NL East standings , it should come as no surprise that the Miami Marlins remain a club that is seemingly spiraling out of control , heading nowhere fast , without their being any signs of leadership on or off the field of play. Rookie manager, Mike Redmond and his staff have been entrusted to manage the team . From within the front office , executives, Larry Beinfest , David Sansom , GM Michael Hill , and team owner , Jeffrey Loria have taken it upon themselves to take a back seat having gutted the roster , and having plead economic woes as to the reasons why and the team’s misfires of 2012 , as the ultimate excuse . All somewhat asinine , when at the start of last season , the Marlins moved into their $575 million new Marlins Ballpark , situated in downtown Miami, with those very same executives informing the public and fans that this would all be the dawn of a new era . Alas , it has been more of the same , with the same ongoing mediocrity , which is currently on display with this team , firmly exhibited by their anemic 4-15 record within the NL East , which is by far the worst in the Majors this season.

Next up for the Marlins will be an away game against the Minnesota Twins (8-7) which will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis , Minnesota , which will be part of a double-header to make up for a postponed game from Monday afternoon . On the mound in game one for the Twins will be Kevin Correia facing Ricky Nolasco . Game two , will pit Jose Fernandez of the Marlins against Mike Pelfrey . A series that in many ways reflects two franchises that are so alike , while in many respects , are also somewhat different, as how they each seek to battle their own adversities .

While the season remains in its infancy , what cannot be denied, are the litany of injuries that seem to be hampering the teams , their aspirations and no doubt , progress over the course of the season . It is hoped that those players will be able to contribute to their respective ball clubs upon their return .

From my own perspective , at this point of the season and the teams as such not yet hitting a real rhythm of consistency , it will be somewhat difficult to gauge how good or bad the ball clubs are actually doing . One could surmise that by looking back at this point last season < and the events that unfolded at the same point , could prove to be fruitful. Yet that in of itself, is by no means a clear indicator of what we should expect by season’s end or at any point during 2012 . One of the things I do believe that will be prevalent , will be that the fans will remain ever vigilant as to the exploits of the players , particularly when it comes to any single season mark that may well be under threat !

The single season home run mark which currently stands at 73 , a figure held by Barry Bonds does seem to be out of reach of today’s Major League sluggers and rightly or wrongly , the record will always be looked as being somewhat “ tainted “ , in spite of continued innocence being plead by Bonds, as to his unknowingly ingesting a banned substance . And the same can and should be said of the career home run record , also held by Bonds . A player who now seems intent on gaining his acquittal of perjury , and who no doubt , looks to be enshrined in Cooperstown , New York , as an honored member of baseball’s Hall of Fame . While Bonds does have his detractors , there are many fans out there who continue to support the player , in spite of the allegations and charges that were leveled against him . And to my mind , Barry Bonds in some respects remains one of the most admired , as well as one of the most despised players in the game’s history

In 2001 , when Bonds set the mark for the single season home run mark . Many felt that having obliterated the previous mark set by Mark McGwire , this would in fact put an end to the scurrilous and some might say unwarranted rumors concerning McGwire’s own accomplishments in that endeavor. However , what we do now know , was in fact that Mark McGwire was not without his own demons as well lacking as lacking in candor as to his honesty . The former St Louis Cardinals and Oakland A’s slugger , is now a hitting instructor on the staff of the Los Angeles Dodgers . As to how one might view this latest turn of events in the former slugger’s career , can either be looked upon with a great deal of disdain or ridicule , dependent upon whether or not you are an admirer of the player. Your thoughts if any , on this all ?

Baseball’s hierarchy led by Commissioner Bud Selig , have never spoken openly public on the fact that both the career and single season home runs’ record remains intact and validated on their books . A fact that is further acknowledged and emphasized by the Elias Stats Bureau , a bastion allegedly for what is said “ to be pure “ as it relates to the game’s most heralded statistics .

I have always maintained that while Bonds , McGwire and Sammy Sosa were laying waste to the single season home run mark , it simply diminished the feat of Roger Maris when he broke the sixty home runs’ plateau for a season , when in 1961 , he surpassed the record (59) held by Babe Ruth . Somehow baseball’s sordid and dirty little secret was allowed to simply ran the gamut of highs and lows , with the print and television media simply looking to absolve themselves from reporting anything suspicious as it related to the era that would become known as the “ steroid era” . In truth , not much has changed from the mid-nineties when the feats of the aforementioned players were being lauded as being superhuman and , a marvel for the baseball fans to watch in astonishment.

Consider the fact that even today , with what Bud Selig claims to be the toughest drug testing protocols in all of professional sports , we still have players running afoul of the league’s testing policy , having tested positive for a wide array of banned substances . It is even more prevalent at the Minor League Level , where in the last two and a half years , over one hundred and thirty players have been suspended in accordance with the league’s mandated edicts . A stunning figure , no matter how one chooses to make an argument favoring or opposing the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) and other illicit substances .

Bonds’ record breaking single season home run feat would come off a hit , from opposing pitcher Dennis Springer of the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game played at Candlestick Park in San Francisco , California on the 7th October , 2001, between the San Francisco Giants and their famed NL counterparts .

The 2001 season itself, filled with its infamy cannot be overlooked in terms of the accomplishments within the AL and NL that year . Bonds would come away with the NL League MVP for the season with his AL counterpart , Ichiro Suzuki winning the AL crown as well as the Rookie of Year honors . Ichiro , would have a spectacular rookie season with the Seattle Mariners , while going on to simply fulfill the promise first shown as a player within Japanese Leagues . Now with the New York Yankees and looking to aid that franchise in whatever way he can . It has to be said , that perhaps at long last , the fans of the game can see the player perform at the highest levels possible as well as quite possibly being a regular postseason contributor to the Yankees’ current and future aspirations .

The teams making up the 2001 postseason gave us an array of teams with varying degrees of success throughout the regular season . . Aspirants seeking to make their presence felt were the New York Yankees , perennial contender , along with the , Cleveland Indians , Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s . From the senior circuit (NL) , we had the Arizona Diamondbacks , Atlanta Braves , Houston Astros , and St Louis Cardinals . And the postseason foray would in part, play out like a fictionalized Hollywood thriller , with the Arizona Diamondbacks having an improbable run through the postseason , where they would meet the high-flying New York Yankees in the World Series .

A triumphant Diamondbacks’ team managed by Bob Brenly having won the franchise’s only World Series’ title . They would subsequently fall from grace , with their being a some major upheavals amongst the managerial and playing staff in the subsequent years .

A triumphant Diamondbacks’ team managed by Bob Brenly having won the franchise’s only World Series’ title . They would subsequently fall from grace , with their being a some major upheavals amongst the managerial and playing staff in the subsequent years . Sharing the World Series MVP honors were pitchers , Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling , two of the game’s most renowned pitchers in recent history . Both players having retired , they now await their eligibility for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame . In or out , for both , Johnson and Schilling as for enshrinement in Cooperstown ?

From my own perspective I do feel that the 2001 baseball season was unique in its very own way , but the tragedy of 9/11 struck home , to cast an irreversible shadow over the entire postseason , albeit , that the nation was unified in a common cause for the greater good . Yet , were it not for the atrocities committed on that fateful day in September , one seriously doubts also that it was in that very same year that Barry Bonds cast his own dubious shadow over the game , leaving his legacy I believe completely in question !

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How do you view the 2001 season , during which Barry Bonds’ feat that in many respects cannot be completely overlooked , in spite of the triumph of the Arizona Diamondbacks ? Less we forget also , that September , baseball came to a complete halt , after the tragedies that took place on September 11th , 2001 . Chime in with your thoughts on the season , as you deem fit , and thanks as always , for the continued support of this site !

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) DENVER, CO – APRIL 23: Evan Gratis (24) of the Atlanta Braves celebrates his solo home run with third base coach Brian Snitker (51) during the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

(2) Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton swings to hit a single in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Atlanta. AP Photo/David Goldman …

(3) Miami Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo , right, visits pitcher Jose Fernandez after he walked Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer in the first inning in the first game of a day/night double-header , Tuesday, April 23, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minn. AP Photo/Jim Mone …

(4) From left to right , Miami Marlins’ front office executives , Larry Beinfest , Jeffrey Loria and David Sansom , seen here at the franchise’s ballpark discussing team issue’s . This season looks as if tit will be another lamentable year of indifference and mediocrity for the Marlins , with the team now firmly rooted at the bottom of the NL East after a disastrous start under rookie manager Mike Redmond . AP Photo / Arthur Moore …

(5) Barry Bonds blasts home run number 73 on his way to the single season home run record in 2001 . The former San Francisco Giants’ player also holds the career home runs’ mark (763) having broken Hank Aaron’s feat of 755 . Courtesy of San Francisco Chronicle @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ……

(6) Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling , right , are seen here with the Word Series trophy , after the Arizona Diamondbacks’ expected 4-3 series’ triumph over the New York Yankees in 2001. Johnson and Schilling were voted joint World Series’ MVP for their efforts in the postseason , with Bob Brenly guiding the franchise in his rookie season to the Diamondbacks’ first , and only World Series . Courtesy of MLB.com ….

(7) The Diamondbacks’ Luiz Gonzalez and his late game heroics is seen here hitting the winning RBI off Yankees’ reliever Mariano Rivera , that would give the franchise their first World Series , in 2001 . AFP/Photo/ Barry Young …

(8) A draped banner during game seven of the 2001 World Series , bringing the nation together in its national pastime , uniting us all after the horrors and the grief of 9/11/2001 . Getty Images / Ron Carter …..

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By Tophatal 04/23/2013

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Bye , the bye , news , views and all of the things you thought that mattered ….

Bye , the bye , news , views and all of the things you thought that mattered ….

Well, after an eventful weekend , during which I aided a friend by repairing his computer , as a reward he , along with his wife , my girlfriend and I , took in a movie . Given, the fact , that lately , in terms of my movie entertainment, the last film I took in at the theater, was Denzel Washington’s Oscar nominated role, in the movie, “Flight” . A great film, with a terrific ensemble cast, and fantastic on-screen performances by the main actors , in the various leading roles . Sunday afternoon, as a quartet, we took in the movie “42” , starring Chad Bozeman and legendary Hollywood screen actor , Harrison Ford . The movie itself , was biopic , which gave if anything a stylized Hollywood telling, on the life of Hall of Fame baseball player , Jackie Robinson , and the events leading up to the desegregation and integration of Robinson into the Major Leagues , and the repercussions from that life changing event .

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Robinson   is   seen  here     being    interviewed   by   noted    journalist    Jimmy  Piersall   .  @   copyrighted  material    LA     Times     all  rights reserved   ...
Robinson is seen here being interviewed by noted journalist Jimmy Piersall . @ copyrighted material LA Times all rights reserved …

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Leave it to the Los Angeles Dodgers , after their off-season , and their lavish off-season of continued spending , while the front office led by lead owners , Magic Johnson and Peter Guber , and one can simply understand the urgency being shown by Johnson and his business partners . Yes, well having spent just over $2 billion to buy one of baseball’s most renowned baseball teams . It is easy to understand why there would be such a belief that the Dodgers , in order for them to remain relevant within the game , it would mean winning , and not simply having a $200 million payroll , and with the managerial staff and GM Ned Colletti suggesting that “ money is of no object , by way of acquiring talent . Well, it has been a quarter of a century , since the Dodgers were part of baseball’s showcase event , the World Series . The year was 1988 and franchise’s greatest triumph in their recent history. That series , set about all the adulation and excitement , one would come to expect from a long-established and famed ball club , whose rise back to prominence had long been awaited . In the ensuing years since , that victory , for the Dodgers , it has been seasons of high and lows , but in recent years , the ball club became more widely known for the events taking place off the field , and with the gross negligence and financial mismanagement by former owner , Frank McCourt , and his having to place the ball club into bankruptcy protection and reorganization .

A patron recently suggested to me , that the team owners within baseball were actually businessmen. Well , if they are anything like Saul Katz , Fred Wilpon , David Glass , Bob Nutting , John Moores , Stuart Sternberg , Jeffrey Loria and McCourt , himself . Then clearly there is a reason why the game finds itself in such a financial rut and one of its own making . And for those who suggest that this all comes about because of a dire economy , then think again. Baseball’s financial morass , came by way of the league hierarchy , dumb ass front office executives/general managers , owners and the players themselves , thinking that they could simply make hay , while the sun shines without ever thinking about the game’s long-term future and its financial future .

Consider the fact, that one-quarter of the ball-clubs in baseball, struggles to eke out a profit without the aid from the MLB hierarchy and the game’s archaic tax sharing revenue scheme . And the purists out there, would have you believe that Bud Selig actually knows what the hell he is actually doing ? On a good day the MLB Commissioner could not tell you or explain to the most ardent of fans succinctly , why he failed so miserably in not equating the explosion of offensive prowess during the nineties , when there was clear evidence , that not everything within the game was above reproach . Meanwhile , anally retentive idiots suggested that the players’ malfeasance in terms of their cheating, taking illicit substances , was OK .

On the Opening Day of this MLB season , the Los Angeles Dodgers , did have the league’s biggest payroll , with salary commitments in excess of $213.5 million . That figure would be supplanted , when the New York Yankees acquired troubled out-fielder, Vernon Wells from the Los Angeles Angels . And while the player is off to a good start this season , with his new team , it must be said that Wells has remained something of a failure, having yet to live up to his exorbitant seven-year $126 million contract .

Yankees’ GM , Brian Cashman , must still possess a great deal of guile in convincing the Angels, and still have his opposite number , Jerry DiPoto , agree to such a deal where the Angels would still be committed to paying 65% of the remaining two years left on Wells’ ludicrous deal, with the New York Yankees paying for the remaining sum. Granted , the Yankees and Angels are two of baseball’s big market teams , with a great many resources at their disposal . And it has been those indices , that have aided the big market teams , while the minnows and lesser lights within the game , have been left to feed off the scraps left at the table .

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One of the Dodgers’ many trades initiated over the last ten months , which saw the team’s payroll balloon from a mere $153 million to its present figure , which saw a 40 % increase from 2012 . Well, that came by way of the signing of pitcher Zack Greinke , the 2009 Cy Young Award winner , whose six-year $147 million contract , must now have everyone wondering , if the player , was actually worth it , given the most recent incident involving the pitcher . Greinke was involved in an altercation that led to a multi-player brawl , which first came about after the pitcher struck opposing batter , Carlos Quentin of the San Diego Padres . Quentin reacted angrily , charging the pitchers’ mound and coming to blows with the Dodgers’ ace , that would lead to his collar-bone being broken in the ensuing fracas and two team melee between the opposing . As to what this all says , as to the baser instincts of the players and the allegations that players in baseball , can actually brawl and fight , I leave it for you all to be the judge of that ! Suffice to say , Quentin will correctly sit out , his league mandated eight-game suspension . Zack Greinke for his troubles will now spend at a minimum, sixty days on the Dodgers’ DL , recuperating from his injuries . Can someone explain to me , what Greinke’s intent might have been when he sought to “beam” Quentin during the game ? And as one patron tried to suggest, it was simply manly testosterone rising . More like a bunch of frigging assholes with nothing better do with their time , who’ve now placed their respective teams at a disadvantage .

An idiot’s bitch move, and why the players in the game are so anally retentive !

That brawl , last Thursday at Petco Park in San Diego , California , did nothing , but raise the stakes in the anticipated returning meeting between the two teams and heated rivals within the NL West . That most certainly will be the case when the Dodgers play hosts to the San Diego Padres at Dodgers’ Ballpark , in Los Angeles California , for a three-game game home series , starting this Monday , 15th April , 2013 . That series could very well tell us a great deal about both teams , their intent the prospective directions that they may well be heading in. That series could very well tell us a great deal about both teams , their intent the prospective directions that they may well be heading in.

There comes a time where everyone and every man has to stand up and be counted . At this juncture , the excuses and stop and the truth has to be told as it relates to the Tampa Bay Rays. The fans may not like or actually want to hear it but at this juncture the Rays are amongst the worst performing teams in all of baseball . Slice it and dice it , but Joe Maddon and his staff simply know that this team is not meeting his expectations or those of their most earnest and diehard fans . The departure of James Shields and Wade Davis had nothing to do with gaining a competitive edge by promoting talented pitchers up from within the Rays’ farm system. Once again , it’s simply back to the penny-pinching ways of the early predisposition of Stuart Sternberg and his business partners , who as owners of the franchise , have just about everyone within the locale, drinking the Kool Aid , while they continue to bitch and whine about a new stadium within the city of St Petersburg, Florida .

I truly believe that the Rays’ front office erred greatly in allowing the departure of James Shields and to a lesser extent, Wade Davis ! Now , Andrew Friedman , is not necessarily banking upon the players , but more so the managerial ingenuity of Joe Maddon. Yet the manager for his part , forever the patriarch to team , simply refuses to acknowledge the fact this roster is simply not as good as last season’s group of players . The stats at present , bear this out , and with the Rays’ record of 4-8 , twelve games into the season and the projection for the team , based on present form , would be a win total approaching between 55 and sixty wins for the year . A far cry, from the ninety-win season of 2012 and a third place finish within the AL East , and narrowly missing out on a playoff berth for the playoffs . If the Rays and specifically , Evan Longoria , are to be relevant within the AL this season , then there has to be, more of a sense of urgency from the players , rather than the lackluster performances and the repeated excuses being put forth , by anyone within the organization seeking to make a public statement .

Next up for Maddon and this team , will be the final game of an away series against what appears to be a resurgent Boston Red Sox team, under new manager , John Farrell . And today, the Red Sox added to the Rays’ woes by inflicting the team with their third straight loss and their fifth loss in their last ten games , placing the Rays at the foot of the AL East . With that 4-8 mark , Joe Maddon and the Rays , have the sixth worst record in the Majors , with the bottom mark as of the 14th April , held by the lowly San Diego Padres (2-10) .

Now inasmuch , as I believe that the Rays can overcome their difficulties , a great deal of how the team deals with this adversity will be based on the leadership abilities shown by Evan Longoria and teammate , David Price , the AL Cy Young award winner of last season , and the franchise’s only winner of one baseball’s most illustrious individual awards . Price’s season in 2012 , was sound if not spectacular , without their being , a no hitter or perfect game to show in his stats, but what David Price was able to show , was his consistency , and his will to go that added extra mile on behalf of the team.

Call me naïve , but if the Miami Marlins (2-11) (@ 04/14/2013) do end up with the worst record in baseball this season , is there a chance that team owner , Jeffrey Loria will seek to blame the press and fans alike , for the team’s ongoing misfortunes after last season’s abysmal showing , ineptitude and gross misconduct of then manager , Ozzie Guillen ? This much I do know , Loria , along with Bud Selig over the past eighteen months have sold the residents of Miami , and in general the fans of baseball , a real can of goods, but more appropriately a bucket load of fecal matter . Yet , here we are , with baseball fantasy geeks seemingly looking for shreds of evidence that the Marlins do indeed have several good players on their roster . That would be like suggesting that pop singer, Britney Spears , has never lip synched while performing on stage . Thirty million CD’s later and her music still is vapid and her talent remains marginal at best . And in the case of the Miami Marlins , beyond Giancarlo Stanton , there is no real reason to watch the Marlins play.

At this juncture , pitiful might well be the only and best way to describe the underachieving Marlins this season . GM Michael Hill and the front office have pared down the team’s payroll to a miserly $40.5 million from last season’s audacious $118 million , as Ozzie Guillen and an overrated team sought to lay assault on the rest of the NL , as was their intent to make a serious challenge of winning the franchise’s third World Series title . In reality, the Marlins’ chances were doomed from the outset , as their season began and ended in a whimper .

The firing of Ozzie Guillen, acknowledged by many as a necessity has seen the ascent of former Marlins’ Mike Redmond as the besieged, Guillen’s successor . So far, the signs are not that encouraging for the rookie manager and his staff , as his team has begun floundering and capsizing like a listless vessel floating nowhere across the ocean. As poorly as the team has played , you simply get the feeling that this might not be the worst that the Miami Marlins has to offer their fans and the fans of baseball in general .

Fan base for the Marlins this season, appears to be bordering on being downright anemic in terms of attendance for the team’s home games, at their year-old $575 million Marlins’ Ballpark , built at taxpayers’ expense , “ without one red cent” coming from baseball’s hierarchy or the team’s ownership . Reminder to the Tampa Bay Rays’ fans and their incessant stupidity , that a venue ought to be built for a franchise whose ownership group seems to be unwilling to contributing towards the cost of a new venue , but yet , you continually hear senior team managing partner , Stuart Sternberg “ bitching and whining” , as to why the city , county and state municipalities will not come to his aid , with the building of a new venue to replace the archaic and now crumbling Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg, Florida . Stupid is as , stupid does ! Only in the state of Florida where, the fan-base of the only two professional franchises combined , would hardly make a dent in the average attendance for a New York Yankees , Boston Red Sox or Philadelphia Phillies’ home game . Florida , simply isn’t a state that can sustain two Major League Baseball franchises , let alone , one .

As if to give you an idea as to what this might entail , consider the following , the Boston Red Sox recently saw its’ consecutive games’ sellout streak in terms of home games’ attendance come to an end after 820 games , of which , twenty-six were playoff appearances , A feat that has not been accomplished by any other franchise in baseball and which came to a culmination , after a decade of economic success for the franchise , along with two World Series championships in 2004 and 2007 . Alas , the Marlins have never reached those heights of economic success , albeit , that they are one of the few franchises to have won two world titles over the last sixteen years . This year , I don’t believe that the Miami Marlins will be even in with a remote chance of making the playoff ! They are simply not good enough a team , to challenge anyone within their division , much less the rest MLB.

What are your expectations in the lead-up to the 2013 All Star Game , and which teams do you believe , are likely to be a success this season , in terms of their regular season play ? Chime in, on this, and anything else , you believe pertinent to the subject matter , at hand .

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Robinson is seen here being interviewed by noted journalist Jimmy Piersall . @ copyrighted material LA Times all rights reserved …

(1) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez , left, gets back to second base just in time to be the throw to Arizona Diamondbacks’ Cliff Pennington during the seventh inning in a baseball game, on Sunday, April 14, 2013 in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks defeated the Dodgers 1-0 . AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Josh Beckett, right, meets with catcher A.J. Ellis during the seventh inning in a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks won 1-0 . AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ..

(3) Los Angeles Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis , right, walks off the field as the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate a 1-0 win in a baseball game, Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(4) San Diego Padres’ Carlos Quentin charges into Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke after being hit by a pitch in the sixth inning of baseball game in San Diego, Thursday, April 11, 2013. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi …..

(5) Punching and getting your ticket ” punched ” . In this April 11, 2013, file photo, San Diego Padres’ Carlos Quentin charges into Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke after being hit by a pitch in the sixth inning of baseball game in San Diego. Quentin on Sunday, April 14, dropped his appeal and began serving an eight-game suspension for rushing the mound and inciting a brawl in which Greinke broke his left collarbone. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi ….

(6) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson delivers against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. Against the backdrop of the events that took place at the ballpark , tragedy struck downtown Boston as the Boston Marathon took place , as two explosives devices were set off , killing three individuals and injuring one hundred and ninety-seven more , with many of those injured , being in serious or critical condition. AP Photo/Winslow Townson …

(7) Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings can’t come up with a triple by Boston Red Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury during the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. AP Photo/Winslow Townson ….

(8) Boston Red Sox’s Jarrod Saltalamacchia watches his solo home run with Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Lobaton during the fifth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. The Red Sox would go on to defeat the Rays 3-2 and ” sweeping ” their divisional rivals in their home series . AP Photo/Winslow Townson …..

(9) Tampa Bay Rays’ ‘ David Price pitches in the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Boston, Saturday, April 13, 2013. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer ….

(10) Marlins’ executives , CEO, Larry Beinfest , left , is seen here with general manager , Michael Hill , who between them , have to deal with meddlesome team owner , Jeffrey Loria, and Loria’s stepson, David Sansome . The two lead front office executives in charge of the day-to-day personnel decision-making have been undermined by the team owner and his stepson at almost every turn . And with that has come the unenviable task of having deal with the firestorm and publication relations’ nightmare after Loria’s verbal attack and onslaught against the local and national media , as well as for their criticism of his decisions, after the team’s end of season “fire sale” . Loria claimed that after the team’s abysmal season in 2012 , it was unsustainable to have a $118 million payroll , with the franchise barely making any money . All this in light after he and the rest of the front office executives have colluded with Bud Selig into coercing the city of Miami commission to fast track the financing and vote for what has become a $575 million boondoggle in the implementation and building of the Miami Marlins’ Ballpark , completely financed by the city , which is still in the midst of its biggest financial crisis in over two decades . To exacerbate things even further the city commission now finds itself under investigation by the US Justice Department , as they seek to ascertain whether or not there was collusion and claims of certain commission members accepting monetary incentives from unknown sources in exchange for their votes . Current Mayor Tomas Regalado and his predecessor , Manny Diaz are one five central figures at the center of the investigation. It is not yet known if any executive from the Marlins’ front office or from the office of Commissioner Bud Selig , is the focus of the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation. However, under a subpoena , documents have been removed from the town hall as well as from the homes prominent city commissioners , as the legal arm of the federal government conducts their investigation. Getty Images / Rick Hill …..

(11) A legend in his own mind and now one of the most despised and disliked individuals in all of baseball , Miami Marlins’ team owner Jeffrey Loria , who in the past year, has ordered the paring down of the team’s payroll from $118 million to a now miserly $40.5 million , which he believes to be competitive enough to give the Marlins a chance of being a contender within the NL this season . Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post/ Osvaldo Ortega ….

(12) Miami Marlins’ manager Mike Redmond , who succeeds Ozzie Guillen . after the former manager’s unsuccessful and only season with the South Florida franchise , which was a disastrous and politically charged 12 months of sheer mediocrity from everyone within the organization . Miami Herald / Jean-Louis Baptiste …..

(13) Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins . The young outfielder is remains the centerpiece of a team , that this year simply hasn’t performed or met anyone’s expectations . The player himself , was said to be unhappy with the team’s fire sale , that saw the 2012 roster gutted to its very core , with many of the high-priced players simply jettisoned by the front office , at the behest of the Marlins’ unpopular team owner , Jeffrey Loria .

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Tophatal 04/15/2013

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Deep pockets , but barely comfortable with their lifestyle

Deep pockets , but barely comfortable with their lifestyle

Tophatal

Well we’re a little over four months away from Spring Training , but already, the baseball world is a abuzz with the trade moves and talks of other potential moves , and the news that the active home run king , Alex Rodriguez will have to undergo hip surgery and will likely miss the entire Yankees’ Spring Training schedule with the New York Yankees as well as the first two months of the regular season.

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Given the fact that Rodriguez had a horrendous season in 2012 , of which his postseason might amongst the most historically low of his postseason career . As we know the Yankees bowed out of the postseason unceremoniously , without ever really showing any determination on the part of their players. Team owners , Hank and Hal Steinbrenner , have made the predetermination that the team’s salary will have to be pared down by 2014. Furthermore , with the team making the decision also to sell a minority stake (25 %) in their cable broadcast outlet YES Network to Fox Sports for a reputed $175 million . I would hate to think that this famed franchise has suddenly hit upon hard times financially . However, this unlikely to happen , as the ball-club has become one sports most profitable financial concerns . GM Brian Cashman , has seen fit to renegotiate the contracts of Andy Pettite signing the left-hander to a one year deal for $11 million , along with all-time saves’ leader , Mariano Rivera , to bolster an ailing and aging pitching roster that was headed by CC Sabathia.

Rumors are now rife that the New York Yankees are not prepared to stand pat, with regard to their roster lineup , with Brian Cashman still seeking to move a number of players he feels are superfluous to the team’s needs. And amongst the players who are now liable to be on the way out are Nick Swisher . Salary commitments for the team in 2013 will be approximately $168.3 million , with a quite possibly that figure moving lower , as the front office seeks to pare down the payroll , while promoting and bringing up players from within their farm(minor) league system , something I believe, that they will do , but not to the extent expected by a number of analysts and fans alike.

With Alex Rodriguez missing from the lineup , it will be incumbent upon the likes of Mark Teixiera , Curtis Granderson , Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter to be the mainstays of the Yankees’ offense for the upcoming season , as they were for a number of games during 2012. We have always known the New York to be an aggressive and active free agent player in recent years , but it remains to be seen the type of steps that will be taken by Hank and Hal Steinbrenner in conjunction with Brian Cashman. It has been a considerable time since the franchise has chosen to build their roster from within their farm system , as more often than not , in order to solve a problem they often sought to throw money at any issue that seems to have arisen.

Across town , the New York Yankees , have seen the New York Mets’ fall from grace and their season of sheer ineptitude in 2012. Granted , the team has seen the rise in the profile of their knuckle ball pitcher RA Dickey, their 2012 Cy Young award winner within the NL . Dickey’s astonishing season was capped with that win, and being the team’s best pitcher , as well as leading the NL in a number of pitching statistics . That if anything, had to be viewed as one of the few bright spots to the Mets’ 2012 foray.

Sandy Alderson , Paul DiPodesta and J P Ricciardi were brought in , in 2012 , to bring back some semblance of respectability to the New York Mets . And while one, has to accept the difficult predicament the franchise had been placed in , due to the complete mismanagement presided over by COO , Jeff Wilpon , team CEO Fred Wilpon , and SVP Saul Katz, it should be noted that no excuse should be sought as to the willful neglect , and heinous mismanagement that almost brought the baseball club to the brink of insolvency , and almost having to seek bankruptcy reorganization.

Having lost , $41 million last season and with the New York Mets projected to lose a great deal more in 2013 , it would appear that the front office of the organization has not learned from their mistakes of before . Within the past forty-eight hours the team has reached an agreement to offer a eight-year $138 million contract to third baseman , David Wright . Perhaps , I am mistaken , but what does this suggest from a baseball franchise that still has liquidity problems and who in April of 2012 were said to be seeking investors to buy a minority stake in the baseball team ? One such investor was billionaire venture capitalist David Einhorn , who initially wanted to purchase a 25% stake in the ball club for a reputed $250 million , with a view to increasing his stake at a later date , and also with a view , to seeking two seats on the board of directors of the franchise. Both Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon were said to have baulked at the idea, of having Einhorn , as a board member , because in essence all the Mets were said to be seeking at the time was a silent partner to provide the team with a cash-flow and clear their liquidity problems . Needless to say, Einhorn , none too pleased, having been rejected in part , bought a smaller stake in the franchise only to relinquish that stake several months later , when he could make no leeway in , increasing his investment. And I am to now believe that because Sandy Alderson and Paul DiPodesta have been brought in to provide the New York Mets with some stability , things are likely to get better ?

As I alluded to earlier , the team is an utter mess , and from a managerial standpoint , Terry Collins and managerial staff were, and are , still out of their depth . One patron , presumably a Mets’ fan suggested the way to lure fan interest would be to lower ticket , and concession prices for specific games, as well as for the vast majority of the games played at the now cavernous Citi-Field , in Flushing , New York, and the palatial home to the Mets. Built at a cost of $765 million , with the use of public funds , this massive edifice, which was referred to, as one of best baseball’s best venues, by New York City mayor , Michael Bloomberg. Now a year later after the franchise’s inaugural game , the New York Mets remain a hapless organization lacking financial and managerial leadership. Bloomberg, being the bumbling oaf he just happens to be , rarely visits the venue , even in the midst of the still questionable business dealings of Fred , and Jeff Wilpon , and business partner Saul Katz. In the midst of this all , Commissioner , Bud Selig , has remained extremely quiet about the apparent misdeeds of the Mets’ ownership group. Well , what else should we now expect , after Selig’s asinine handling of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ sale , and the rumors that suggested that the multi-billion bid lodged by the Magic Johnson syndicate group , was the only one favored , of the seven original offers , said to have been placed with US Federal Bankruptcy Courts, in the state of Delaware ? Connivance on the part of the MLB hierarchy , or simply the commissioner doing what was at the time said to be in the best interests of the game of baseball ? I’ll let you be the judge of that !

From my own standpoint , I certainly do not believe that David Wright is worth anywhere near the $140 million commitment that will be made by the New York Mets ! And while it could be said, that in the first half of 2012 , he was said to having a solid season , during the second half of the year , the player in essence was nowhere to be seen from a productivity standpoint .

To my mind the New York Mets seek to make David Wright, their answer to the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter . But herein lies the real issue as it relates to David Wright , he has never shown himself to be a leader , of the Mets as a vocal leader , much less , actually lead by example , much as in the same way , Jeter , is actually known be. The franchise is simply settling for a rather poor man’s version of the Yankees’ short-stop , in the hope of catching lightning in a bottle. The issues of the Mets also goes way beyond their financial vulnerability , and from what I have read by the patrons within this forum who have tried to parlay their knowledge of the team, in reality , few if any have chosen to look beyond the player personnel issues to really try to succinctly explain the team’s present predicament . At the center of this mess , is the fact that the core of his roster, is aging , and with an ailing and overpaid , Johan Santana, it easy to understand the idiocy of the situation surround this franchise . The left-handed starter, beyond his no-hitter , in 2012 , offered the Mets , little if anything , by way of productivity , and the fact that they are burdened by his exorbitant contract shows that not much thought was placed in terms of financial expediency by then general manager , Omar Minaya. And even in the aftermath of the former executive’s stupidity financial expediency still has not raised its head within the Mets’ organization. Much like the asinine stupidity now being shown by the Obama administration and the US Congress’ handling of the nation’s debt crisis , there is no fucking common sense to be found whatsoever !

I certainly don’t see the New York Mets competing with any real urgency this upcoming season , within the NL East , as I view the franchise not so much in transition , but still, in a state of turmoil. They are e at least two to three years away , from where they need to be , and Terry Collins has yet to show that he has the managerial acumen to lead that team deep into the postseason , much less to a World Series’ title .

As one door closes , another one opens , and therein now lies the opportunity for the Tampa Bay Rays to make good , after the departure of BJ Upton to the Atlanta Braves as a free agent. Once again the merry-go-round begins , concerning the franchise , as they seek to “ penny pinch “ , simply in order to field a competitive team for the 2013 season. At this juncture it is hard to say what the makeup of the Rays’ roster will be for the upcoming season. GM Andrew Friedman , principal managing partner , Stuart Sternberg and the team’s manager , Joe Maddon, will have to make several decisions as it relates to a number of players on the current roster and whether or they are superfluous to the franchise’s needs.

One maneuver that the management of the Rays have sought to do , has been to secure the long-term future of Evan Longoria , by signing the player to a 6 year $ 100 million deal that becomes effective in 2016. If one takes into account the Longoria’s current contract , he will net an astonishing $136 million in salary , which does not include endorsements , of which the player now makes a sizable sum, as negotiated by his agent and legal representative , Paul Cohen . Given this situation, it was easy to understand, why there was very little chance , that B J Upton would have been resigned by the ball club, as there was little room for anymore financial maneuvers ,in allowing the franchise to retain both players .

Now while the Tampa Bay Rays , have made no real major moves , they have been available to avail themselves of one or two players in recent days . James Loney , a cast-off from the Los Angeles Dodgers was signed to a one-year deal by the organization, and he no doubt brings with him , it is hoped , some much-needed offensive fire power , to add the Rays’ somewhat inconsistent arsenal of noteworthy hitters. And though during 2012 , it was said to be the inconsistency of the hitting , that is said to have let the team down , it was the pitching of the Rays was in essence , the ball club’s real strength throughout the vast majority of the season. Leading the way in that endeavor , was the team’s very first Cy Young Award winner , David Price . The gutsy left-hander , along with James Shields , Jeremy Hellickson , Joel Peralta , Alex Cobb , and Matt Moore , who led the way for the team, in terms of its pitching.

In recent weeks there have been rumors suggesting that the Rays would be quite willing to part with their young pitcher Jeremy Hellickson . Having established himself in 2011 , as a middle reliever , it was not until 2012 that Hellickson became a full-time starter , and giving Joe Maddon on of the best starting lineups in all of baseball, and with it the statistics to match. Shields is also said to be a prime target for a number of teams said to be in the market for a bonafide starting pitcher.

Now, while I understand that the Rays would like to see their payroll drop significantly to where it will be an estimated commitment of $54.2 million for 2013. By comparison the payroll for 2012 , was a nominal $64,173,500 for last year . I believe that Andrew Friedman would be willing to listen to several hard offers , if it meant, he would be able to obtain some relatively good prospects for the aforementioned players mentioned ! The likelihood that both Hellickson and Shield could be now prime departures , while creating a great deal of disappointment amongst the fans, it should be noted that given the organization’s limited resources and the lack of a real marketing plan by the front office. This whole scenario for the Tampa Bay Rays while repetitive , it is becoming more acute with each passing season. I have always felt that Stuart Sternberg and Matt Silverman , simply have not shown enough ingenuity in seeking out an outside partner or rich benefactor, to either become a silent partner or a majority stakeholder of the organization , thereby insuring the Rays’ long-term future . And year in and year out , the same old question is also raised as where will the Rays play? Will it be in the city of St Petersburg , at the somewhat archaic venue of Tropicana Field , or at a new locale across the Gandy Bridge, in the downtown area of Tampa ? The bone of contention between the municipalities of St Petersburg and Tampa , as to who would serve the needs of the Tampa Bay Rays , though the battle has not been drawn out into an open conflict . It is now slowly brewing into something that could prove to be unsavory. Never mind the fact , that the county governments have also been drawn to this debate .

Personally , I am of the opinion that until the governmental agencies in question, have addressed their own fiscal dilemmas. I do not believe that public funds should be used to satisfy the egos of millionaire or billionaire sports’ franchise owners ! There’s this asinine belief that such instances serves the public’s best interest , of which there has yet to be any factual proof that such instances, a community does really profit from such an endeavor. Simply look at the naïveté shown by the city of Miami, after they were cajoled and coerced into building a new stadium to house the Miami Marlins.

In the aftermath of that franchise’s woefully inept 2012 foray , the ball club has begun a “fire sale” , jettisoning themselves some of their high-priced free agents that they had acquired prior to the start of this past season , and during the trade deadline . The city of Miami , is now under federal investigation by the US Justice Department , as to their actions in the vote that took place concerning the financing for the Miami Marlins’ Ballpark . Marlins’ executives have remained mute concerning any questions directed towards them concerning this issue , and Commissioner , Bud Selig , has directed all questions concerning this episode , to be dealt with by the league’s legal counsel (attorneys ). And does anyone believe that either the cities of St Petersburg or Tampa , have learned anything from that episode ? I will let you be the judge of that !

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Picture gallery .

This off-season, we will see a lot of positive moves being made by a number of teams . Meanwhile, there will be one or two transactions that will have been suborned by team owners and their front office executives alike , that will actually have the fans completely befuddled, as to, what the hell , were they think by way that particular trade ? They sale that baseball’s off-season , just happens to be their “ silly season” , with the teams making rather asinine trades , purely as a way of chasing after success without there ever being truly any thought being put into a great many of these moves . In some cases , large financial commitment might well be made , which could in effect handicap a franchise long-term . Whereas, in other cases , it may well be that “one small deal” that simply opens up an opportunity that presents itself for a player , to truly show his worth , while being able to lead a franchise to tangible success. Over the past five years which particular trades , do you believe has been of true benefit to a team or a number of teams ? Simply chime in with a comment on this or anything other topic you believe pertinent to this article . And as always , thanks for the continued support of this site , as it is greatly appreciated !

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MLB related links : Nats in Haren to one year deal

Pagan, Napoli , kick off action in Nashville

Mets GM meets with “several” clubs about Dickey

A Rod, needs hip surgery , will be out until June

Angels’ list of targets doesn’t end with Greinke

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Picture and slide show gallery details below .
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(1) FILE – In this Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 file photo, New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez throws out Detroit Tigers’ Andy Dirks in the second inning during Game 1 of the American League championship series in New York. The New York Yankees said Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, Rodriguez will have surgery on his left hip and will miss the start of the season and possibly the entire first half. AP Photo/Paul Sancya ….

(2) New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman answers questions concerning third baseman Alex Rodriguez at the baseball winter meetings on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. Rodriguez will have surgery on his left hip and will miss the start of the season and possibly the entire first half, the Yankees said Monday. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey ….

(3) FILE – In this April 25, 2012 file photo, New York Mets’ David Wright is greeted by teammates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in New York. WFAN radio is reporting Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, that Wright and the New York Mets have agreed to a $138 million, eight-year contract that would be the richest in franchise history . AP Photo/Seth Wenig …

(4) National League Cy Young Award winner R. A. Dickey, of the New York Mets, answers questions before speaking at Lipscomb University on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. The 38-year-old Dickey is the first pitcher who relies predominantly on a knuckle-ball to win the Cy Young Award. The player, it is being reported , is now being “shopped around” by the Mets’ organization as they seek to lower their present payroll . AP Photo/Mark Humphrey …

(5) Outfielder, B.J. Upton (L) and infielder Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays watch their team against the Texas Rangers during Game Four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 4, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Getty Images/ Andrew Marsh …

(6) (L – R) Saul Katz, CEO of the Mets, Fred Wilpon, president of the Mets, Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon, chief operating officer of the Mets pose for a photo during Alderson’s introduction as the general manager for the New York Mets on October 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Andrew Burton / Getty Images North America ….

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

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Top paid players in baseball

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Hot chic pic of the day , singer , Rihanna Fenty .

Fu#k you Bud Selig , and the rest of the lying mother-f##king cronies of the Miami Marlins !

Fu#k you Bud Selig , and the rest of the lying mother-f##king cronies of the Miami Marlins !

Tophatal

It never ceases to amaze all of these pious idiots who try to suggest that the game of baseball has a redeeming quality about it ! Case in point , two prominent players (Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon) at the MLB level were given a mandatory 50 game suspension for deliberately running afoul of the league’s steroid policy. Yet at the minor league level of the game in the past thirty months , 186 players have been reprimanded by the league hierarchy in terms of the mandates that cover the policy in the illicit use of steroids and PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) .

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Fast forward today , and at a time when baseball should be applauding the achievements nominees for the season’s individual awards , and we are now surrounded by a moribund organization conducing their “own fire sale “ after a season of abject failure . I don’t believe that there can be any other way to explain away the abysmal showing of the Miami Marlins , after a year of high expectations , and of the monies spent on acquiring free agents by the truck load , as orchestrated by front office executives , GM Michael Hill , SVP David Sansom and team President , Larry Beinfest. Never-mind the fact that the hiring of Ozzie Guillen , was meant to send a message to the team’s fan-base that they were about to enter big-time once again. Need we also be reminded that the ball-club had opened their new state of the art 43,500 seated Marlins Ballpark , in downtown , Miami , built at the cost of some $575 million , at the taxpayers’ expense. Somehow , with a great deal of coercion by Bud Selig, and the Marlins’ front office , the city of Miami were dumb enough to fast-track the proposal , that would lead to a quickly expedited vote for the financing of the aforementioned venue. Clearly, not a great deal of thought was made when the city’s mayor Tomas Regalado and the city council thought that it would be appropriate to build the venue , with the view, that it would enrich the locale and also bring an economic boost to a blighted downtown area of Miami. If anything it has done the complete opposite, as this season the eighty-one home games of the Miami Marlins , were sparsely attended over the course of the team’s schedule.

A last place finish in the NL East with a record of 63-99, barely missing the mark of losing 100 games during 2012. This was the sort of ineptitude that the impoverished Marlins’ fans were asked to endure as Guillen spent more time making a complete ass of himself , both on and off the field of play, over the course of the season. Michael Hill, David Sansom and team owner, Jeffrey Loria , tried to maintain that degree of composure often seen in a con-man when under investigation by law enforcement , as they go about conducting an investigation into a fraudulent criminal act. . Mark my words , what was foisted upon the fans of the Miami Marlins this season , was a willful act of fraud , that it has been so egregious and unconscionable that no amount of excuses can now be made to appease the fans ,much less allow Loria and his fellow executives to obfuscate their responsibilities . As for this simplistic and damn well asinine belief, that baseball has parity . Those who believe it , are clearly delusional , and damn well don’t know any better !

Courtesy of MLB.com


Miami close to dealing JJ, Reyes, Buehrle to Toronto

Marlins would get at least seven players, nearly $160 million in payroll flexibility

By Joe Firsaro , MLB.com

MIAMI — When the Marlins hired Mike Redmond as manager last week, it opened a pipeline with the Blue Jays.

The two organizations didn’t waste much time tapping into each other’s resources.

On Tuesday night, Miami was reportedly working on a blockbuster trade with Toronto, sending off five established veterans, including Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes, while shedding nearly $160 million in payroll commitments.

Heading to Toronto would be Johnson, Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck. In return, the Marlins would receive shortstop Yunel Escobar, second baseman Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, left-hander Justin Nicolino and catcher Jeff Mathis.

Miami also would acquire outfield prospect Jake Marisnick, who played for Redmond at Dunedin, and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani. The trade was not officially announced as of Tuesday night, but players like Johnson were informed that they were being dealt.

“I enjoyed my time in Florida,” Johnson told MLB.com. “Thank you, fans, for everything. You always supported me, and I appreciate that.”

The blockbuster deal comes a year after the Marlins underwent a rebranding — with name and uniform changes — and made major roster additions. Bolstered by revenue generated from their retractable-roof ballpark, the Marlins were the talk of last year’s Winter Meetings, signing Reyes, Buehrle and Heath Bell for a combined $191 million.

Now, all three will be gone.

Bell was the first to be sent out, when the former three-time All-Star closer was traded to the D-backs on Oct. 20 for Minor League third baseman Yordy Cabrera.

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One could see that the Marlins would bail on their season , as the defeats kept mounting up through the greater part of the year , with their being little evidence shown that Ozzie Guillen and his staff could extricate themselves out of those problems, while leading the team back to some semblance of normalcy . I have never been a great admirer of Guillen as a manager , or as a matter of fact as a human being ! He is if anything , a person who is simply bellicose , verbose and disrespectful to others , while simply believing that his behavior is called for , whatever the environment just happens to be . The fact that this hire was simply looked upon as a matter of marketing the manager to the Latino community , which makes up a prominent demographic of the Marlins’ fan-base , and it shows that the front office’s only concern was to appeal to that part of the South Florida community. Now one could question the managerial acumen of Ozzie Guillen , albeit that he guided the Chicago White Sox to a World Series championship in 2005 , with a rather lopsided series’ victory over (4-0) the Houston Astros . In the aftermath of the White’s Sox triumph , the relationship between Guillen and the team’s general manager , Kenny Williams , and team owner, Jerry Reinsdorf , would sink to new depths of sheer animosity . In part , much of this was down to the fact Ozzie Guillen sought a new long-term contract, which at the time the White Sox’s front office were unwilling to acquiesce to . Guillen would be vocal with his indifference towards both Reinsdorf and Williams , often being derogatory of both front office executives.

The fact that Ozzie Guillen’s tenure in Miami came to such an abrupt end , with the decision being made to fire the manager after such a disastrous season , can only be slightly less embarrassing than Bobby Valentine’s equally inept tenure with the Boston Red Sox. And as we have now witnessed , Valentine would seek to apportion blame elsewhere for the team’s poor showing and his lack communication with the Red Sox players . If that is not a recipe for an unmitigated disaster , then what is ?

With the departure of Ozzie Guillen , a replacement was found in Mike Redmond a first-time manager and former player with the Marlins. Beyond the recent fire sale with the jettisoning of $165 million in salary commitments , with departure of Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck, in exchange for Yunel Escobar , and Yunel Escobar , second baseman Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, left-hander Justin Nicolino and catcher Jeff Mathis.

Miami also would acquire outfield prospect Jake Marisnick , who played for Redmond at Dunedin, and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani . The trade was not officially announced as of Tuesday night, but players like Johnson were informed that they were being dealt. As to how this will now sit with the Marlins’ who expected to see Reyes be one of the lynch pins on the Marlins’ roster alongside Giancarlo Stanton , has a number of fans wondering what the hell is now going as the roster has been systematically shredded and decimated to the degree that there are those who feel that this franchise has taken a step backwards . From a public relations’ standpoint this situation now becomes a complete nightmare for the Miami Marlins’ organization. Jeffrey Loria will have a hard time trying to sell this scenario , that the organization is now heading in the right direction, after these proposed moves .

For this once proud franchise , this has been the third such instance where the ball-club has seen fit to jettison players as a face-saving exercise and with regard to paring down salary . H D Wayne Huizenga , the franchise’s very first owner , with the Marlins’ having won the first of their two World Series crowns , would seek to deplete the roster in aftermath of their historic win in 1997 . The backlash against the incumbent owner was widespread and undeniably venomous and seething with rage. Huizenga would subsequently sell the franchise , and bow out of owning the team altogether . To parallel those moves , Jeffrey Loria , followed the same path , claiming financial hardship for the ball-club and the claims that the Marlins were hemorrhaging red ink all over the balance . Many felt that Loria’s claims were disingenuous and totally filled with falsehoods . The Marlins’ triumph in 2003 over the heralded —- New York Yankees , brought pandemonium on the streets of South Florida , and a great deal of enjoyment amongst the ball-club’s supporters at the time. Yet once again, the bloodletting began , with the front office deciding to simply jettison themselves of players they felt were superfluous to their needs .

Many of you will know, that I was once a firm advocate and an avowed supporter of the Miami Marlins , and having witnessed this franchise through their highs and lows , I became disenchanted with the disingenuous-ness of the organization ! Deceitful acts of the management, of the ball-club, lies , deceptive practices, and their business dealings with their corporate sponsors , but above all with the fans general public alike , caused me to disavow my support of the ball-club. The memories which I have of the franchise are fond ones , but they were then to be outweighed by the acts of egregious malfeasance , which all seemed to be suborned by the MLB hierarchy , as well as by several owners within baseball’s fraternity . If there is no clear leadership or oversight being shown , then what hope is there for the game of baseball , when there is a complete lack of integrity being shown by the overseers of the game ? Answers please ?

Do you believe the actions of the Miami Marlins in this instance , are good for the game ? Or do you feel that this was simply the act of brazened opportunists who were simply looking to absolve themselves from a major mistake ? By all means , do leave a comment as you see fit on this , and anything else you feel pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) This photo combo made from file photos shows Miami Marlins players, from left, pitcher Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, and pitcher Josh Johnson . Miami traded the three players to the Toronto Blue Jays, a person familiar with the agreement said Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. The person confirmed the trade to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams weren’t officially commenting. The person said the trade sent several of the Blue Jays’ best young players to Miami. AP Photos ….

(2) Miami Marlins new manager Mike Redmond, center, shows off his new jersey as president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest , left, and vice president & general manager , Mike Hill assist during a baseball news conference in Miami, Friday, Nov 2, 2012. AP Photo/Jeffrey Boan …

(3) FILE – In this April 6, 2004, file photo, Florida Marlins catcher Mike Redmond celebrates his team’s 4-3 win over the Montreal Expos after a baseball game in Miami. The former major league catcher was hired as manager of the Miami Marlins on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, to replace Ozzie Guillen, who was fired last week after a last-place finish. He spent the past two years managing Class A teams in the Toronto Blue Jays’ system. AP Photo/David Adams ……

(4) FILE – This April 10, 2012 file photo shows Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen listening to a question during a news conference about comments he made about Fidel Castro , at the Marlins Stadium in Miami. Guillen has been fired after one year as manager of the last-place Marlins, whose promising season began to derail in April when his laudatory comments about Fidel Castro caused a backlash. The Marlins announced the firing Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ….

(5) (L-R) Florida Marlins team President David Samsom , former City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz , MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Florida Marlins baseball team’s new stadium on July 18, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The park is scheduled to open in 2012 and the team intends to change its name to the Miami Marlins prior to the completion of the ballpark. Getty Images North America /Marc Serota …….

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Change you can believe in

Change You can believe in

by tophatal

In 2008 a young Democratic senator changed the course of political history by becoming the first African-American to ascend to the mantel of holding the highest political office in the nation . In the four years since Barack Obama’s ascension to the US Presidency , dependent upon your point of view , one could either determine that things have taken a turn for the worst or one’s lot in life has gotten a great deal better . I am not saying anything beyond the fact , that I still hold down a job and for the moment , I do not have the US government banging down my doors , claiming that I owe them money . Kind of makes me feel all giddy , until I realize we are now back in another fu#kin g election cycle , with two idiots aspiring to hold the office of President of the United States of America (POTUS) !

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Somehow , the expectations for the Miami Marlins this season , would be that the team was seen challenging for divisional supremacy within the NL East , having committed almost $200 million in acquiring ….. All Star caliber talent. In came Ozzie Guillen , to succeed Jack McKeon as the manager of the new look Miami Marlins , along with Guillen’s personally appointed coaching staff and a list of undisclosed requirements , which GM Michael Hill and team President Dave Sansom acquiesced to .

Through 97 games, the Miami Marlins (45-52 , .464) now find themselves fourth in the NL East standings , with only the lowly Philadelphia Phillies ( 44-54) , seated beneath them . One could simply ask , how could things have gone so wrong , so fast for this overly ambitious organization ? Having moved into baseball’s newest venue , the Marlins’ cavernous $575 million state of the art edifice was seen as a major South Florida attraction not just for the most ardent baseball fan but also as a major attraction for tourists seeking to take in a sporting event .

Ozzie Guillen outlived his usefulness with the Chicago White Sox ,albeit that he led the baseball club to their most recent World Series’ triumph in 2005 . However , a tumultuous relationship with White Sox general manager Kenny Williams , Guillen’s belligerent behavior towards the local press , and his berating of team owner Jerry Reinsdorf , led to a parting of the ways . No love lost between the parties involved , it was time for a change anyway ! If there is one thing that is abundantly clear , then it is with Ozzie Guillen , what you see , is what you get , warts and all . I mean his expletive laden rants during pre and postgame interviews have now become part and parcel of the game , as well as being part of Guillen’s shtick . Anyone who believes to the contrary clearly knows nothing about the Marlins’ manager .

This season just about everything that could go wrong for the Miami Marlins , has in essence gone wrong . Inconsistency right throughout every facet of the team’s play now exists . Neither Guillen, nor any member of his coaching staff has a cure for what ails this team . Now that discontent has set in , the front office seeks to apportion blame elsewhere , with there now being grumblings of an impending “ fire sale “ , of which Miami Marlins are said to be interested in , shipping out Hanley Ramirez as well as pitcher , Heath Bell . If the kitchen sink is also thrown out as well , as the ball club looks to bail on their impoverished season . Then for what it is worth , I say why not ! It is not as if this team was assembled with a specific goal in mine to begin with . Team owner Jeffrey Loria , is bereft of intelligence and for want of a better word , he is a lying piece of fecal matter ! Not to be outdone in the owner’s misdeeds , has been the very fact that the city of Miami remains under investigation by the US Justice Department , as to how it went about in its financing of the Miami Marlins Ballpark . Suffice to say , that city of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado remains tight-lipped as to the dealings that went on . Needless to say , the ever gullible Bud Selig firmly stands behind the actions of the city’s council members and that of the Miami Marlins’ executives . Selig’s own behind the scenes maneuvers in this all , cannot be overlooked . At the same time , given the recent ineptitude shown by US Attorney General Eric Holder’s office and that of his subordinates , I for one am not expecting much to come out of the Justice Department’s investigation ! I will call it , like I see it !

At present there are said to be several teams said to be interested in acquiring Hanley Ramirez’s services . Amongst the franchises said to be showing interest are the Oakland A’s , Boston Red Sox , Detroit Tigers , Los Angeles Dodgers and also the Chicago White Sox . It would appear that A’s general manager Billy Beane might hold the inside track in acquiring the Marlins’ outfielder but if the rumors are to be believed , then the Red Sox’s wish to off-load Carl Crawford in exchange , could be all the “sweetener” the Marlins might need to make a deal . That being said , both Crawford and Ramirez have greatly underperformed over the course of this season . If hitting on or just above the Mendoza Line were an art form , then both Crawford and Ramirez would be the “poster children” for the feat this season .

Everything about the Miami Marlins and the way that this team was constructed says “condescending” and capricious . Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking , that this was not coming , as there was little evidence to suggest at the start of this season to suggest that the Marlins should be seen as a favorite within the National League (NL) for the NL pennant , much less the World Series . Just because you dress a pig , up as a sow , doesn’t make it a sow . And similarly , that was the case with the Miami Marlins as they sought to become the New York Yankees of the NL .

As the flaws have risen , and have been exposed as to how inept the Miami Marlins just happens to be . It would appear that there is no one being held accountable on Ozzie Guillen’s staff , much less the manager himself . And for a team with a payroll < of just over $118 million , which ranks seventh highest of baseball’s thirty teams. It begs the question when will the general managers and team owners within the game , get into their thick skulls that they have created mayhem within baseball from an economic standpoint ?

Ineptitude might be seen as an excuse for the Marlins’ woes when you also take into account how mediocre the team’s pitching also happens to be . And to think , I once supported this ball club with my hard-earned cash by attending games when they played at Landshark Stadium , formerly known as Joe Robbie Stadium , home to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins . God , thank you for letting me see the error of my ways ! Now if you could perhaps see fit , in letting the Atlanta Braves at least gain that NL wildcard berth or perhaps win the NL East , then I would be eternally grateful . That is not too much to ask , at this juncture is it ?

Whether or not we now see a glutton of trades being engineered by Michael Hill of the Marlins’ front office remains to be seen . This much is clear , what started out as a season of promise for the Miami Marlins , has now become one big monumental nightmare . There is a great deal of blame to be apportioned everywhere within the Marlins’ organization . The problem being , there is absolutely no one looking to be held accountable .

At this point last season the Miami Marlins’ woes were already in evidence by way of their standing and the results during the month of July . Not much has changed beyond a bloviated payroll and a still inept organization . What more could the Miami Marlins’ fans ask for ? Your thoughts on the matter as you now see it ?

If the Miami Marlins are said to be floundering like a capsized vessel at sea . Then what should we make of the present situation for both the New York Mets (47-50) and Philadelphia Phillies (44-54) ? Don’t get me wrong , they say “ money cannot buy you happiness “ . Then , what the hell are the aforementioned teams buying with their cash ? I love fast cars and motorcycles , and I would like to think I know something about inner workings of both ! Hell , if you get me in a showroom and show me either a Lamborghini Murcielago or a Ducati 750 cc or a Ducati Imola Desmo . Then as sure hell , whatever you are selling me had better be what I am about to get . In the case of the fans in attendance for the games played by the Mets and Phillies at Citi-Field , Flushing New York and Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia . Then whatever is being sold by those organizations , is not as advertised . Suffice to say , someone is lying if that is purported to be baseball or for that matter , both are said to be very good NL , much less MLB teams .

The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies combined , have a payroll in excess of $268 million and a glut of players on their respective teams that have simply underperformed . Needless to say , once again managers , Terry Collins and Charlie Manuel on appearance , both seem to be completely out of their depth. Manuel may well have guided the Phillies to a World Series’ triumph in 2008 but in the subsequent years they have greatly under-achieved . And for Mets’ manager Terry Collins his tenure with the franchise has been filled with highs and lows . If it were not for the behind the scenes drama of the club’s ongoing financial problems , then we would be overlooking their on-field woes . R A Dickey may well be having a tremendous individual season , and the likes of Johan Santana and David Wright have had their moments . In reality , beyond the aforementioned players there is little to point to that can be looked upon as being a distinct positive for the New York Mets , this season .

Something is about to give with regard to the Phillies , as I simply do not believe that either Charlie Manuel or GM Reuben Amaro can be allowed to remain with the organization should they fail to make the postseason ! Amaro has simply shuffled the deck chairs on the Titanic as it relates to the Phillies’ foray this year . Inept would be a term of endearment to describe how abysmal this team has been over the course of this season . And if I hear one more excuse , as to injuries being the ongoing plague for the team over the course of the year . Then I would point to the fact , that the Phillies’ in-state rivals the Pittsburgh Pirates (54-42 , . 562) are doing far more with even fewer resources now afforded that team . How about them apples ? Stop with the whining , and see the Phillies for what they currently are , a team lacking in confidence and seemingly bereft of creativity on the field of play !

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In light of the trades that have taken place within the last 48 hours and the none-waiver trade deadline fast approaching . What transactions do you believe are liable to take place ? Also , from your own viewpoint where do you believe the blame lies with the bottom now falling out of the Marlins’ season ? Chime in with a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Former Miami Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez, right, hugs Marlins’ president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest , after a news conference where Ramirez spoke about his trade, Wednesday July 25, 2012 in Miami. The Los Angeles Dodgers have worked out a multi-player trade to acquire the former NL batting champion from Miami, the second big deal in as many days for the disappointing Marlins. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee ….

(2) Former Miami Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez speaks during a news conference where he talked about his trade, Wednesday July 25, 2012, in Miami. The Los Angeles Dodgers have worked out a multi-player trade to acquire the former NL batting champion from Miami, the second big deal in as many days for the disappointing Marlins. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee ….

(3) Detroit Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez , right, lifts the cap off Omar Infante during batting practice before a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Cleveland. Sanchez and Infante were acquired from the Miami Marlins in exchange for 21-year-old righty Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers. AP Photo/Tony Dejak ………..

(4) (L to R) Florida Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest , Ozzie Guillen , Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Florida Marlins President David P. Samson attend a press conference to announce Guillen as the new manage at Sun Life Stadium on September 28, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Getty Images North America / Mike Ehrmann ….

(5) New York Mets catcher Mike Nickeas and Washington Nationals’ Adam LaRoche (25) watch LaRoche’s two-run home run off of Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) in the sixth inning of a baseball game , Tuesday, July 24, 2012, at Citi Field in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek …..

(6) FILE – This May 28, 2012 file photo shows Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels throwing against the New York Mets in the second inning of a baseball game at Citi Field in New York. Hamels and the Phillies have agreed to a $144 million , six-year contract that prevents the 2008 World Series MVP from becoming a free agent after the season. A person familiar with the trade told The Associated Press about the deal on condition of anonymity because there has been no official announcement. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek, File ….

(7) ” Change We Can Believe In “. Oh really ? Well better the devil you know than the one you don’t . Wait a minute four more years of this , over Mitt Romney ? Is there a desert island I can get to , before November 2012 ?

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Nobody’s Seen Troubles Like Me ………..

Nobody’s Seen Troubles Like Me ………..

Well at the halfway point of the MLB season and the high-spending …. Miami Marlins are in the midst of a crisis of confidence and they appear to be in such a rut , that not even team manager Ozzie Guillen and his coaching (managerial) staff can explain team’s fall from grace to their long-suffering fans . The build-up for the season was well chronicled , with Guillen replacing a long-time favorite in Jack McKeon . That alongside the high-profiled off-season acquisitions and ball-club’s move into a new all-purposed built 37,000 seat , $575 million stadium , and it was felt that this would be the season for the Marlins to make a preemptive strike as they seek to become relevant once again within the NL East as well as within the NL.

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(1) St. Louis Cardinals’ David Freese (23) scores from second on a single by Rafael Furcal as Miami Marlins catcher John Buck (14) applies the late tag in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 8, 2012, in St. Louis. The Cardinals won 5-4 . AP Photo/Tom Gannam
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With the mid-season break in session as the 83rd All Star Game is set to take place tonight at the home of the Kansas City Royals , and Kauffman Stadium , Kansas City , Missouri . The Miami Marlins has only one representative for the NL roster for the game itself but unfortunately due to injury , Giancarlo Stanton will not be game time participant in tonight’s event . With so much at stake for the winning league , home-field advantage certainly adds spice to the World Series .

After tonight’s game , players will return to their respective teams to resume the second half of the MLB schedule . For the Miami Marlins that will mean trying to claw their way back up the NL East standings , having posted a 41-44 mark to close out first half of the season . And for the Marlins that will mean an arduous schedule over the remainder of the month of July . That begins with a three-game series’ home stint against the Washington Nationals . As the Marlins have continued their plummet into the depths of mediocrity , the surprisingly stealth Nationals have proven to be one of the major surprises of this season within baseball. A contrast in styles as the Miami Marlins have sought to be lugubrious , their divisional rivals have simply sought to be understated , while going about their business in a professional manner . I am not about to suggest that Ozzie Guillen hasn’t an answer for what ails his team but if they are to resurrect their season , then he and his coaching had better be ready with a quick remedy . If not , then all of that capricious spending will have been for nothing .

Already nine games out of first place , as the Washington Nationals have pretty much flirted with leading the NL East for a large part of the first half of the season . Perhaps the only team with the division with an equally inept showing has been the under-achieving Philadelphia Phillies (37-50) . Enough has been written about the travails the Phillies and the very fact that GM Reuben Amaro is already considering , bailing on their season , with the thought of trading the team’s pitching ace Cole Hamels and the remaining years on his lavish contract .

If the Philadelphia Phillies should fail to make the postseason , then it is my firm belief that there will be some major upheavals beyond the player personnel and the managerial staff . As I firmly believe that Reuben Amaro will have to be shown the door ! You simply cannot have an organization with a $175 million payroll flailing in the wind like novices lost at sea . But such has been the sheer complacency and gullibility shown by the front office , that they simply have no one else to blame but themselves .

The Miami Marlins’ fate lies within their own hands , and will not be built around the missteps of others within the division or the NL as a whole . That being said , GM Michael Hill and team President Larry Beinfest went about their task acquiring players with a penchant of picking up any big named individual , merely for creating the perception of being the NL’s answer to the New York Yankees . And when you choose to go that route then you sure as hell better have the financial resources in place to make the claims that you have been making not just within your own territory but also on a national level . So far on appearance , this has been somewhat of a monumental failure on the part of the Marlins’ organization .

As I alluded to earlier , the Miami Marlins will begin a three game series against the Washington Nationals at Marlins Ballpark , Miami . Florida . Baseball’s newest venue has been graced with a number amenities meant to be family friendly as well as a lure for all fans of the game . In spite of that , attendance for Marlins’ home games this season have seen something of an upswing but perhaps not to the levels that might have been expected by the Sales and Marketing Department . Friday’s game will pit Jordan Zimmerman of the Nationals against Josh Johnson in a match-up that pits two of the better pitchers in the NL . That may well not be enough to safe guard the Marlins’ season as they seek to reestablish themselves as a legitimate contender for the MLB postseason .

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a make-or-break season for the Miami Marlins ! Anything short of a postseason berth must be considered a failure for a ball-club that bet big as they sought to roll seven or snake-eyes . They have so far come up with nothing at all to show that their luck will actually change . And the often vocal Ozzie Guillen has suddenly become lost for words as his players continue to greatly under-achieve . No one has seen troubles like Guillen has in recent years having alienated himself with his former the Chicago White Sox and most certainly a mere two months earlier he drew the ire of the Cuban community of Miami with his rather ill thought statements showing his admiration for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro . Long live the revolution . Or , in the case of Ozzie Guillen, …. “ oh sh#t I have opened my mouth again , and filled it with a great deal of my bull#hit “ .

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How do you see things panning out for both the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies as both teams embark on the second half of the baseball season ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit .

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(1) St. Louis Cardinals ‘ David Freese (23) scores from second on a single by Rafael Furcal as Miami Marlins catcher John Buck (14) applies the late tag in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 8, 2012, in St. Louis. The Cardinals won 5-4 . AP Photo/Tom Gannam

Miami Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez (2) scores on St. Louis Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz’s throwing error after stealing third as starting pitcher Joe Kelly waits for a throw in the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 8, 2012, in St. Louis. AP Photo/Tom Gannam …

(3) ST. LOUIS, MO – JULY 8: Manager Ozzie Guillen (13) of the Miami Marlins argues a call with umpire Manny Gonzalez #79 against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 8, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

(4) Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins hits a home run in the third inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on July 1, 2012 in Miami, Florida. June 30, 2012 – Source: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images North America …

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A Season of Hope Or Perhaps One of Desperation ……………

A Season of Hope Or Perhaps One of Desperation ……………

By tophatal …….. 4/10/2012 08:38:59 PM

Well we’re almost a week into the MLB season and though we’ve seen a number of teams playing with a great deal of resolve there’s nothing that we’ve yet learned about the teams in question. This time last year within the standings and the results in essence that this early in the season doesn’t necessarily equate what we will actually envision seeing at season’s end . Remarkably what we have seen is an increase in salary of some teams while a decrease for others from 2011 to 2012 . The New York Yankees still remains the team with the highest payroll in the game , absolutely nothing new there when you come think of it . And Alex Rodriguez remains the highest paid player within baseball with absolutely none of his peers coming close to his annual salary . It should come as no surprise that amongst the four major sports it Rodriguez’s annual $32 million pay , that comes out tops amongst those within the NBA , NHL and the NFL . And though by way of commercial endorsements Rodriguez cannot match that of his teammate Derek Jeter who just happens to be top earner within the game when one takes into account those endorsements and other residual earnings .

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Money asides , this MLB season will be about the competitiveness of the teams and with the apparent incoming new owners of the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers , it will be interesting to see how Jim Crane , Magic Johnson and his partners look to make their respective ball-clubs relevant . So far things do seem to be panning out for the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers respectively within the NL Central and AL West . Brad Mills and Don Mattingly as the managers of the Astros and Dodgers respectively must know that they each will come under a great deal of scrutiny as the season progresses. It remains to be seen however whether or Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten will seek to make any upheavals within the front office of the Dodgers . Former owner Frank McCourt still remains a “pariah ” and for those who see his tenure of as the owner of the organization as simply a businessman who made a number of bad business decisions , I can only surmise that you have never been at the center of a multi-million dollar business concern where your every decision has a rippling effect throughout the entire organization. The fact that McCourt simply used the Dodgers as his own personal ATM for his lavish lifestyle and as collateral for several business deals that had no relationship with the baseball operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers should really give you an outright indication as to the malevolence of his actions that when he was finally caught, in a bind a lie , he chose to apportion blame elsewhere. It certainly did not help the situation that while the league hierarchy was said to be closely monitoring the situation as Bud Selig would suggest . I found it somewhat asinine that the commissioner did not think it pertinent to call in a public accounting firm to audit the books of the Los Angeles Dodgers when it came clear that the ball-club had an acute financial crisis on its hand where they were hemorrhaging ” red ink “ to the tune of several hundred million dollars and with debts said to be in excess of $ 1 billion ($1,000,000,000) .

Finally , one owner that the game of baseball hopefully has seen the last of ! And I’d dare say that Magic Johnson will not be presumptuous enough to have Frank McCourt attend an upcoming game at Dodgers Ballpark ! Surely he couldn’t be that stupid having invited McCourt to attend the opening game of the season against the San Diego Padres ? But then again who knows !

Now during the off-season much of the hoopla surrounded the Miami Marlins and the lavish spending that took place as they literally threw money at any free agent willing to make Miami the next stop of their professional career . Along with those acquisitions came that rather rambunctious character Ozzie Guillen who succeeded Jack McKeon as the team’s manager . Having left the Chicago White Sox after a rather testy relationship with White Sox general manager Kenny William it was felt that mutually for the benefit all of the parties concerned if the manager left the organization which he guided to a World Series title in 2005 . Robin Ventura was hired as the new manager of the White Sox and he will be looked upon to guide this team as they seek to challenge the dominance of the Detroit Tigers within the AL Central .

With Ozzie Guillen brought in as a manager first but also to appeal to the Latino community within South Florida . It was felt that this over-riding factor would be much more of a lure for that specific demographic along with the makeup of this roster of young determined players . Team president David Sanson , Head of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest and GM Michael Hill felt that Guillen’s hire would prove to positive within the community. But knowing how vocal and outspoken this the manager was said to be it should not have come as a surprise that Ozzie Guillen has alienated himself amongst the Cuban-American population within the city of Miami after his admiration and vocal support of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul Castro . Surely , Guillen should have known that any remark be it private or in public, showing admiration for the dictator would draw the ire of the Cuban-Americans not just within Miami but also across the state of Florida . We should remember however , that this is Ozzie Guillen , whose anti-homophobic slurs are part of the manager’s usual spiel and ignorance . Even with his now infamous expletive led rants during post-game interviews should not come as a surprise from this manager or the very fact that he once described Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez as a man of dignity and integrity ! And as passionate as Guillen just happens to be of his native country one has to ask , at what point did his brain shut down and his mouth keep on going ?

Ozzie Guillen has since apologized for his faux-pas but it hasn’t been enough to satisfy the fans within the locale and specifically Marlins’ front office . The decision was made to suspend the manager for five games starting immediately . That apology alone , may not be enough as this PR nightmare takes on a life of its own with fans already swearing off in their support of the manager and in some cases that Miami Marlins organization. Could things get any worse as of now for the Marlins ? OK , so the team was off to a welcoming start in their home opener having defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2 . Currently sitting third within the NL East behind the division leading unbeaten New York Mets (4-0) and the second placed Washington Nationals (2-2) . It has to be said that Guillen and his managerial staff may well have their work cut out for them upon his return to the team .

As the Miami Marlins go , will be dependent upon the play of Jose Reyes , Hanley Ramirez , Anibal Sanchez , Ricky Nolasco , Carlos Zambrano , Emilio Bonifacio , Mark Buerhle and Logan Morrison . And inasmuch as the Miami Marlins are favored to dethrone the Philadelphia Phillies as the divisional champions of the NL East . From my own perspective , I do believe that the division is the Phillies’ to lose but at the same time given inconsistency we have seen from this team during the regular and postseason leads me to belive that Charlie Manuel’s …. team could very well be upended over the course of the season .

From perceived greatness in their own eyes to what appears to be a ball-club seeking to redeem itself . I do believe that this season for both the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins , they will either sink or swim by their exploits on the field of play and the ingenuity shown by their managers ! Manny Acta and Ron Gardenhire given their respective roles for their teams it will be interesting to see if they can guide them some semblance of success rather than the ineptitude encountered in 2011 . And for the respective owners Lawrence J. Dolan and Jim Pohlad it has to be now or never with regard to both of the ball-clubs in question .

Given the history of the Baltimore Orioles I am not so sure that the fans of the team will be provided with a great deal of joy this season even with a rousing start which initially had the team seated atop of the division alongside the Tampa Bay Rays . And for Buck Showalter and his managerial staff if they can get these players with any modicum of aggression then it is quite possible that they could succeed but much of that will also be predicated upon the consistency of the play of the other teams within the AL East . Team owner ….. Peter Angelos and EVP & Head of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette have done little to encourage the long-suffering fans of the organization that this team is heading in the right direction . Certainly not through the decisions made via the draft or via free agency acquisitions but you would be hard pressed to realize that given the rather asinine statements that have been forthcoming from within this organization over the years.

It is unlikely that the Orioles will change their fate , in recent years this has been an organization that has been poorly served by its executives and players . The Baltimore Orioles haven’t had a winning season since 1997 when they posted a 98-64 record on their way to winning the AL East that season. The team would make it to the ALCS that year where they would end up losing the series 4-2 to the Cleveland Indians. However , the Orioles’ most recent triumph in the World Series came in 1983 in their 4-1 series’ victory over the Philadelphia Phillies . From thereon-in it has been a steep decline for the Baltimore Orioles as an organization with many of their most celebrated players merely now seen as something of an after thought . For the likes of Eddie Murray , Cal Ripken Jr , Frank Robinson , Brooks Robinson , Jim Palmer and Roberto Alomar are no doubt eager to see this team under the coaching talents of Buck Showalter do well. At this juncture I am not so sure even with the ingenuity of Showalter that the Orioles are simply good enough to succeed in their endeavor , much less have a winning foray over the course of this season ! It is simply not within this team even with the talents of Nick Markakis , Matt Wieters , Robert Andino and Wilson Betemit .

The Orioles’ next game will be part of a home series of which it will be played against the New York Yankees . The projected starters in this match-up are C C Sabathia (0-0, 7.50 ERA) and Jake Arrieta (1-0 , 0.00 ERA) in what is sure to be a thrilling duel between these two AL pitchers . Granted , the season has yet hit its stride but I do believe that we cannot gauge the teams thoroughly after just a mere week of the schedule but by mid June we should be able to tell a great deal about the expected track that they are said to be on . When gauged against the events of June 15th last year and the standings I believe it may well be something of an indicator as to how the season may well pan out . As to the aspirations of the Baltimore Orioles as they seek to enter the fray in challenging the might of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays within the AL East . It would be fitting to think that they along with the Toronto Blue Jays could make the division all the more fitting in what could be described as being entertaining beyond the dominance in recent years with the Red Sox , Yankees and Rays having the division all to themselves .

As I alluded to earlier within this piece I felt that the Minnesota Twins would face an uphill battle this season . And that seems to bearing out as the team remains win-less (0-4 ) and are the only team in the Majors in such a predicament . Given the woes of the team this and last season , and when you add in the fact that both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau both had prolonged spells on the DL played a part in what turned out to be a disastrous year in 2011 for the Twins’ organization . It is hard to believe that during the early 2000’s this ball-club was a dominant force within the AL Central and a perennial contender therein . Now having hit on hard times and with a payroll
that simply is top-heavy with regard to their committment to their stars Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau . And that is as it should be but in terms a tangible return productivity wise this and last season as neither player seems to be fulfilling that obligation .

The fact that the Twins saw fit to let Michael Cuddyer go as an unrestricted free agent indicates to me that the front office of the organization is simply clueless ! Cuddyer was the most productive player for the Minnesota Twins in 2011 but somehow GM Terry Ryan chose not to resign the player to a deal commensurate with his standing . But it shouldn’t surprise anyone who is a fan of the game given the fact that more often than not the general managers and team owners within baseball are coerced by the sports’ agents to overpay for talent that is good , bad and indifferent . And yet there’s no denying that when they have been known to make a monumental error in judgment it just happens to be the manager who tends to lose his position .

For the Twins and their aspirations this season their game will be a match-up against the Los Angeles Angels led by Albert Pujols , C J Wilson , Torii Hunter and their teammates . The AL West will be division that will be highly contested with the Angels seeking to stop the recent dominance of the Texas Rangers . The Angels for their part will likely see this game as a something of a walkover against a less than stellar Twins’ team . On the mound as the opposing pitchers will be Jered Weaver of the Angels and Carl Pavano of the Twins . As to the outcome of the game it will be incumbent upon Ron Gardenhire’s players to show their intent to be a success this season . One can only hope that the Minnesota Twins meet those expectations and thereby satisfy their long-suffering fans .

With a new playoff format set to be introduced this season , this year could end up just as thrill packed as the final day of 2011 and the events during the postseason In 2013 with the perceived move from the NL Central to the AL West by the Houston Astros , is there anyone who’s truly of the opinion that this team in its present guise will fare any better than in its previous seasons ? Never mind the woefully inept showing by the Astros and their final standings within the division ! Jim Crane may well have paid a ” whopping ” $765 million for the organization , and with some financial inducements from Bud Selig and his paeans who see this prospective move to the AL West as being beneficial for the Houston Astros and the game in general . To my mind the Astros will become just another “bitch” that the likes of the Oakland A’s Seattle Mariners , Angels and Rangers will whip up on like a ” pimp” who’s displeased with the fact that one of his prostitutes (ho’s ) hasn’t been bringing in enough money by way of her ” Johns ” ! Whoop that bitch ! Whoop that trick > ! .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What have been your impressions as the season has slowly unfolded and at what point do you believe that we shall see the contenders start to separate themselves from the pretenders within the game ? Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit .

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(1) ‘ Dumb asses ‘ come in all shapes and sizes , meet the “latest” , Ozzie Guillen ! Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen listens to a question during a news conference at Marlins Stadium in Miami, Tuesday April 10, 2012. Guillen has been suspended for five games because of his comments about Fidel Castro. He has again apologized and says he accepts the punishment. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ……. (2) Jay Hernandez of Miami protests outside the Marlins Stadium in Miami, Tuesday April 10, 2012. Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has been suspended for five games effective immediately following favorable comments he made about Fidel Castro which infuriated many Cuban-Americans. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …

(3) MIAMI, FL – APRIL 10: Protesters rally outside a press conference held by Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen for comments made about Fidel Castro at Marlins Park on April 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida. The Marlins suspended Guillen for five games over his pro-Castro comments. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …

(4) MIAMI, FL – APRIL 10: Protesters rally outside as Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen seen on a screen speaks during a press conference about comments made about Fidel Castro at Marlins Park on April 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida. The Marlins suspended Guillen for five games over his pro-Castro comments. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images ….

(5) Miami Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez prepares to throw to second for the out on Philadelphia Phillies’ John Mayberry Jr. during a baseball game Monday, April 9, 2012, in Philadelphia. The Marlins won 6-2 . AP Photo/The News-Journal, Daniel Sato ….

(6) LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 10: Javy Guerra (54) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his save and a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates with A.J. Ellis (17) in the ninth inning during opening day at Dodger Stadium on April 10, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …

(7) Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer , right, advances safely to second on a wild pitch as Los Angeles Angels’ Erick Aybar awaits the throw in the third inning of a major league baseball game Monday, April 9, 2012, in Minneapolis . AP Photo/ Jim Mone …

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List the reasons why Stacey Dash is still worth looking at ? Now age 46 , she still looks real good don’t you think ?

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Terrence Howard ……. “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp ” ( Soundtrack from the movie ” Hustle & Flow”)

What Ozzie Wants Ozzie Usually Gets ….. Now He Gets Carlos Zambrano And A Whole Lot Of Headaches ….

What Carlos Wants Carlos Usually Gets ….. Now He Gets Carlos Zambrano And A Whole Lot of Headaches ……..

By tophatal …..

I’m trying to figure out where the Chicago Cubs now go from here as they seek to rebuild this organization from the top on down . Team owner Tom Ricketts sought to bring in former Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations and Jed Hoyer as the team’s general manager . Out has gone Mike Quade as the manager , with the two senior executives seeking a successor for the fired former manager . They would indeed be successful in their search having hired Dale Sveum . Apart from that perhaps the organization’s biggest move was to rescind the contract of pitcher Carlos Zambrano thereby making the pitcher a restricted free agent . The troubled pitcher constantly a thorn in the side of the coaching staff and the league hierarchy the player now finds himself in an abyss of self doubt .

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With Zambrano now on the sidelines it would appear that there might not be in any takers for the temperamental player. But in to the rescue comes fellow native Venezuelan Ozzie Guillen the newly installed manager of the Miami Marlins . Guillen succeeds Jack McKeon as the ball club now embarks on a new journey in their new ball park . Marlins’ team president Larry Beinfest alongside David Samson and general manager Michael Hill seemingly have approved to their manager’s request to obtain the pitcher ____ who was traded for in exchange for Marlins’ pitcher Chris Volstad . Clearly with all the moves made by the team during this off-season it is clear that the Marlins want to make a run at the divisional title ( NL East ) and the postseason .

Jose Reyes , Heath Bell and Mark Buerhle were the biggest acquisitions made and it would appear also that money was of no object . So much so , that there were prepared to break the bank to obtain All Star first baseman Albert Pujols . The player would however become the missing piece in Arte Moreno’s jigsaw puzzle as the Los Angeles Angels would swoop down and make a surprising offer to the player that he would agree to . Also joining Pujols in the newly bolstered roster of the Angels would be C J Wilson who , himself would obtain a financial windfall courtesy of the organization.

Given the urgency of the Miami Marlins and their wish to have the stadium filled but even more so to appeal specifically to the primary demographic within the area it appears that acquiring a Latin player with name recognition that had to be met . Having missed out on Albert Pujols , even having signed Jose Reyes this might well be the one move that could come back to bite the Marlins in the proverbial ass . As to what Carlos Zambrano’s ambitions may well be , it is clear he is a pitcher who can be productive when given the chance to play. And with an already productive pitching rotation that was amongst the best in the NL last season the addition of the former Cubs’ player might well prove to be the shot in the arm that the Miami Marlins seeks. Young pitchers such as Anibel Sanchexz , Ricky Nolascao and Josh Johnson can profit and learn from a veteran such as Zambrano . But herein lies my issue with the player and in particular this move by the organization . What happens when Carlos Zambrano has another of his meltdowns and his volatile temperament boils over ? Will he and his manager be “throw down ” on the pitcher’s mound or will it be him spouting some profanity at a teammate or simply abandoning his team altogether ? If memory serves me correctly , during last season that was one of many episodes that fans of the Chicago Cubs had to witness from the player during one of his volatile moments of his now already troubled career . This might be one moment wherein the fans of the Miami Marlins wouldn’t mind seeing a fight rather than the team performing poorly on the field . Your thoughts ?

The Chicago Cubs as they seek to rebuild will most certainly have to jettison the “dead weight ” on their roster . Having performed so badly during last season without ever being truly competitive within the NL Central . They now have to compete with a resurgent …. Milwaukee Brewers’ organization and the always competitive St Louis Cardinals , who as defending World Series . champions will be out to prove that the loss of Albert Pujols is not in vain . In pursuing Carlos Beltran and signing the former New York Mets and San Francisco Giants’ player they get a proven commodity , albeit that in recent years Beltran has been often injured . But last season he proved his worth in his stints with both the Giants and Mets .

From my own perspective I am not so sure where the Cubs go from here given the team’s most recent performances and their lack of competitiveness and heart . Wrigley Field continues to be a sellout but the on the field product remains mediocre at best . This hasn’t been lost on Tom Ricketts and the front office staff who know that if anything the fans will not continue to tolerate this mess without voicing their concerns . And the best way for them to do that would be for there to be a reduction in attendance , something that obviously neither Ricketts or Theo Epstein wants . It is pretty safe to say that they Chicago Cubs’ front office will be asking their fans to endure great deal more pain while they try to resurrect this organization that simply went off course while former general manager Jim Hendry completely lost direction .

This will no doubt be one to four-year process for the Chicago Cubs as they seek to become relevant within MLB ( baseball) . One of the league’s most traditional franchises it would be remiss to say that their fall from grace hasn’t been staggering . What now awaits the fans and the game in general as it relates to the Cubs remains to be seen . Anything short of a competitive season within their division will be thought of as another profound failure by the fans . At the same time the credibility of the Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer hiring will be greatly debated .

In terms of the newly monikered Miami Marlins as many of you may be aware I was once an avid fan of the ball club. But in recent years I have become disgruntled with the organization and most notably with the demeanor the team’s owner Jeffrey Loria . Honesty is a word high on this owner’s agenda but then again should we expect any different from any owner within the game of baseball ? Especially when Commissioner Bud Selig is prepared to jump through hoops on their behalf at the drop of a hat . Only recently has the commissioner’s tenacity and veracity been truly tested in the light of the financial maelstrom that surrounded beleaguered owner Frank McCourt and the Los Angeles Dodgers . Selig’s handling of that situation has many questioning when he actual duplicity in the whole affair and the complete lack of oversight shown by the league hierarchy from the outset . I am no longer a supporter of the baseball team having changed my loyalties , and I now align myself with the Atlanta Braves !

Loria has been a somewhat dubious owner of the team from his purchase of the organization from then owner John W. Henry (now a majority stake owner of the Boston Red Sox ) in what many believe to be was an underhanded backdoor deal surreptitiously arranged by Bud Selig intertwining the two team owners . Somehow all of the parties involved in this all came up smelling of roses but when it was clear that this deal was very dubious from the start .

The Miami Marlins now finds itself embroiled in another controversy that may well have the league itself and the organization being subpoenaed by the US Justice Department as to how the financing was arranged for the team’s baseball stadium due to opened later this year at the start of the 2012 season . In the midst of this controversy also is the city of Miami and many of its most senior officials . For now , the ongoing investigation by the federal government agency has left some wondering what is happening within the game under Bud Selig’s tenure . The commissioner himself has remained tight lipped on the matter and the very fact that once again public money is being used to finance a private enterprise that many of the city’s most senior officials were hyping up as being a real benefit to their community . If only there wasn’t so much apathy shown by the city’s residents and the very fact that much of this was driven by the ambition of city Mayor Tomas Regalado at the behest of Bud Selig and the Marlins’ ownership group . The thought that $650 million of public funds could be cause for concern for use on a facility that won’t be primarily for the public’s use . This in a city where its own financial solvency remains in question because of their mismanagement of their finances and no one on the city commission wants to openly discuss the matter whilst the Justice Department investigation is still ongoing .

Fans may well turn up in droves at the new 37,000 seat capacity venue but the allure may well fade should this team fail to be competitive this season . There is a great deal hinging on the moves made by the Miami Marlins as they seek to make themselves a force to be reckoned within in the game . Much of that now comes down to not only the performances of Carlos Zambrano but also that of Ozzie Guillen and his coaching staff . Whether or not all parties will be up to the task remains to be seen and at this juncture one can sit and wait to see how things may well pan out . Chances are the Miami Marlins could very well challenge the likes of the Atlanta Braves , New York Mets , Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals within the NL East . But that would very much be predicated upon the performances of their players .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? And where do you see the upcoming season going for both the Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts .

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(1) Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano (38) reacts in the second inning of the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs baseball game , Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, at Turner Field in Atlanta. Zambrano allowed a career-worst five homers, and manager Mike Quade said he then left the team. Quade said, “His locker is empty. He walked out on 24 guys … I don’t know where he’s gone or what he’s doing.” AP Photo/Dave Tulis ….

(2) (2) Dale Sveum , the new manager of the Chicago Cubs, speaks during a press conference as general manager Jed Hoyer listens at Wrigley Field on November 18, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

(3) Team President Theo Epstein of the Chicago Cubs (R) shakes hands with Dale Sveum, the new manager, before a press conference at Wrigley Field on November 18, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ….

(4) MIAMI, FL – DECEMBER 09: Exterior views of the New Miami Marlins Ballpark on December 9, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images ….

(5) Shortstop Jose Reyes, second from right, is introduced as a member of the Miami Marlins . Also pictured are Jeffrey Loria (far right) , Dave Samson to the immediate left of Reyes and team President Larry Beinfest . Courtesy of US Presswire / Chris Purcell …….

(6) Ozzie Guillen (center) is seen here with Miami Marlins’ front office executives , Larry Beinfest , left , to Guillen’s left team owner Jeffrey Loria and VP Operations David Samson . The former White Sox manager has been brought in to lead the team during their inaugural season at the new Marlins’ ballpark . It was at the new manager’s request that troubled former Cubs’ pitcher Carlos Zambrano was acquired by the organization . Miami Herald / Hector Gonzalez …..
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