We’re Getting There …… !

We’re Getting There ….

Well the ALCS and NLCS are in full swing and baseball’s hierarchy looks for some resonance by way of the broadcast by TNT and TBS before the World Series is scheduled to be televised by Fox Sports . With the viewership down by some 25% from last years’s NLCS and some 43% from the ALCS of 2009 between the Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees .

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Now one could contend that with the current series having very little drama at present it would be easy to conclude that the quartet of teams now involved in the ALCS and NLCS not having a fervent fan following . Perhaps of the four teams in question the greatest following might be with the supporters of the St Louis Cardinals . With a long established history , success and well respected Hall of Famers it has to be said that it should not come as any great surprise the organization has such a following. The Cardinals skippered by manager Tony La Russa the team now finds itself in a very competitive series against their divisional rivals the Milwaukee Brewers . There’s a great deal at stake for both teams given the fact there seems to be a cloud of controversy hanging over both organizations concerning two of the game’s biggest names and their long term future. The common thread and thought concerning Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols is that should their respective teams fail to make the World Series , then in all likelihood they each will have played their last seasons with Brewers and Cardinals , respectively.

Currently tied at one game apiece (1-1) the series between the two NL teams will resume on Wednesday with the St Louis Cardinals hosting the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium in St Louis , Missouri , . Scheduled to start for the Cardinals is Yovani Gallardo with Chris Carpenter starting for the Cardinals . Both teams have proven to be competitive over the course of the postseason. And it is clear that Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke would like nothing better than his team taking two of the three games to played in front of a Cardinals’ fan base to take an overwhelming advantage in this best of seven game series .

Carpenter coming off a stellar performance against the Philadelphia Phillies on his way to leading the Cardinals to the NLCS in an exhilarating game five win. That loss seems to sent the Phillies organization into a tailspin of unimaginable proportions . GM Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manuel will to have to assess the needs of this team and make the necessary changes during the off-season if the team is to have any chance of success this upcoming season.

Now while I am not willing to make any pronouncements as to which of the two NLCS teams I favor in this series , I do feel that the advantage will come by way of the advantage will now come astuteness of the managers . That undoubted experience belongs with La Russa given his tenure within the game. And given the proclivity of the manager’s team and their tenacity there is a clear chance that Pujols , Matt Holliday , Rafael Furcal and Lance Berkman will be looking to give clear indication that this series is far from over and that the players on the St Louis Cardinals team will be looking to upstage their divisional rivals .

Big money teams with big ideas but that clearly wouldn’t be the case for describing the way that the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers . GM Dave Dombrowski and team owner Michael Ilitch who along with Jim Leyland assembled a team which if anything has proven to be one of the pleasant surprises of the season . The Detroit Tigers won the AL Central with a certain amount of ease then with a little more than breaking any sweat they also took care of the mighty New York Yankees in the ALDS .

The defeat left the Yankees reeling with there being excuses from the most unlikely of sources in team president Randy Levine . The executive not wanting to apportion the blame where it needs to be placed , has stated that the team simply will reassert itself and come back better than ever. Given the the poor displays from key members on this team it easy to understand why executives within the organization would seek not to be overly critical of some of the game’s highest paid players .

This off-season the New York Yankees will certainly have to reassess the team and if anything simply jettison the ” dead weight” on the roster . GM Brian Cashman and the coaching staff will painstakingly look to the free agency market rather than its farm system for the answers.

Ron Washington , Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels of the Texas Rangers will have the benefit of knowing that last year’s postseason experience will stand them in good stead in their series against the Detroit Tigers . Though having lost to the San Francisco Giants in somewhat of an uneventful 2010 World Series , it has to be said that the team was more shell-shocked by their foray , rather than actually being overpowered by Bruce Bochy’s Giants’ team .

The Texas Rangers seem to be well on their way to making their way to a second consecutive World Series appearance having taken a 2-0 lead in their ALCS match-up. Game three at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan with Colby Lewis and Doug Fister taking the mound for the Rangers and Tigers, respectively.

If the Detroit Tigers are to have any chance resurrecting this series then we will have to see a great deal more consistency coming from Miguel Cabrebra , Ryan Raburn and their teammates . And though in reality I haven’t been completely drawn to any of the series from my own perspective is that with the draw of perhaps the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees the postseason becomes something of anathema to me . Try as Bud Selig and the team owners seek to prolong the postseason with an additional two teams per league to wildcard format , the real underlying issue is that the commissioner and general managers clearly do not understand this simply does nothing for the game other than to prolong the season itself. If Selig really had the business acumen as his supporters claim , then they would simply realize that what is needed is a fair an equitable way for the teams to share the revenues derived from their business operations , rather than it simply being everyman for himself and the survival of the fittest.

Though I won’t be taken aback by anything I am likely to witness over the remainder of the posteason , I do however feel that if the league hierarchy wants to induce more fan in response to year end finale . Then much of that will be dependent upon their scheduling of the games and a clear indication as to the needs of the fans. No amount of tinkering with the postseason format will change anything that Bud Selig desires to see within the game when he is simply to afraid to address the most acute of the issues that baseball now faces . Far too many of the purists in and outside of the prefer to give far too much credence as to his apparent insight rather than observing the inherent problems they currently face . His handling of the laughable situation concerning the Los Angeles Dodgers clearly shows that he and his conclave of buffoons are out of touch . If that were not bad enough , he has yet to offer up his own formal statement as to dire premise that the New York Mets and the ownership group now find themselves in . Beyond that , he has chosen to postpone the approval of the sale of the Houston Astros by current owner Drayton McClane to Houston businessman Jim Crane . Selig’s reason behind this all …… …. he is apparently unhappy with the prospective purchaser’s documentation concerning the the proposed bid ( $680 million ). Do bear in mind that the commissioner rushed through the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers to now beleaguered owner Frank McCourt when the ball club was put up for sale by then owner Fox / News Corp International with there being very little if any due diligence was used by MLB. At the time it was common knowledge that McCourt had mounting financial and legal problems with several of his business partners who were seeking recourse through legal means. But yet somehow the league hierarchy and team owners somehow managed to approve that sale .

Courtesy of USA Today

Selig: No timetable for expanded postseason by 2012

MILWAUKEE (AP) – Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said discussions on a new collective bargaining agreement have been very constructive, and he sees no reason to set a timetable for getting a deal done.

“I hope we’ll continue on that path,” Selig said of the positive talks Monday night before Game 2 of the NL Championship Series.

MLB’s agreement with the player’s union expires on Dec. 11.

Selig said the present discussions have been far different from labor battles in previous decades. The most recent labor peace began when the sides came to an agreement after the cancellation of the end of the 1994 season.

“The sport, I’ve often said, was stuck in neutral for 25 years. And that’s one of the reasons. It was brutal. It was really brutal. Every two or three years we went back to this,” Selig said. “The fans got tired of all that, got tired of hearing about it. And I don’t blame them. So, 16 years of labor peace has really, really helped us.”

Selig said he has told MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred and union head Michael Weiner not to set arbitrary time limits to try and finish a deal.

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Crane has produced all of the viable documents and much needed added information as required but this may well be some sort of image and face saving exercise on the part of Bud Selig , which in part could prove to be his undoing. Jim Crane is now said to be thinking of withdrawing the his current offer of $680 million and completely walk away from the deal altogether in light of Bud Selig postponement of the vote seeking league approval. Whether or not the actual approved measure seems to be in doubt , given the fact the postseason is now in full swing and the commissioner not stating when and if there will be schedule set for league approval of the sale. Any further delays even if it now takes place in the off season is unlikely to sit well with either of the parties concerned. Current owner Drayton McClane seeks to divest himself of the team and that now leaves the front office , coaching staff and players with something of an uncertain future as to their immediacy. Why do I now get the impression that there seems to be no common sense being shown by the league hierarchy concerning this matter ? Oh I know it is because that body’s highest ranking executive is a damn moron and a fu_king as_hole !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Of the quartet of teams now left in the postseason which duo would like to face off in the World Series ? And what thoughts if any do you have concerning the now apparent stand-off that is now taking place between the league hierarchy and Jim Crane concerning his purchase of the Houston Astros ? Chime in with a comment and on anything else you believe to pertinent to the subject matter .

Alan aka tophatal …………….

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(1) St. Louis Cardinals’ Daniel Descalso, left, laughs with manager Tony La Russa during baseball practice Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, in St. Louis. The Cardinals are scheduled to play the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 3 of baseball’s National League championship series on Wednesday. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson …

(2) St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter walks out to the field for baseball practice Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, in St. Louis. Carpenter is scheduled to start when the Cardinals play the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 3 of baseball’s National League championship series on Wednesday. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson …..

(3) Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Two of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 10, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Cardinals would go on to defeat the Brewers 12-3 .Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images …..

(4) Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals breaks his bat on a ground out in the top of the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers during Game Two of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 10, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images ……

(5) Fans look at a weather radar on a phone as rain falls prior to Game Three of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park between the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers on October 12, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images ……

(6) Michael Young (10) of the Texas Rangers catches a foul ball in Game Three of the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on October 11, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …..

(7) Jose Valverde (46) of the Detroit Tigers throws a pitch against the Texas Rangers in Game Three of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 11, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Rangers 5-2 . Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images ……

(8) DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 11 : Colby Lewis (48) of the Texas Rangers stands on the mound as Victor Martinez (41) of the Detroit Tigers runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning of Game Three of the American League Championship Series against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park on October 11, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …….

(9) Detroit Tigers’ Brandon Inge , right, hugs teammate Miguel Cabrera after their 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of baseball’s American League championship series Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, in Detroit. …….
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MLB news

MLB postseason schedule ALCS & NLCS

MLB results 11th October 2011

Milwaukee Brewers — ( Yovani Gallardo ) — @ St Louis Cardinals ( Chris Carpenter ) Busch Stadium St Louis , Missouri ,. 12th October 2011

MLB teams’ postseason stats pitching ERA

MLB teams’ postseason stats BA

MLB postseason player stats

Batting average

Pitching ERA

Individual stats by league :

AL ……. Batting avg . …… Pitching …. ERA

NL …… Batting avg . ….. Pitching …. ERA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alan aka tophatal …………..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scheduled games 3 days at a glance

MLB postseason schedule dates

MLB results 5th October 2011

MLB results 4th October 2011

MLB probable starting pitchers 6th October 2011

MLB probable starting pitchers 7th October 2011

MLB team payrolls

It’s Not My World But It’s The One That I’m Enjoying At Present ….. !

It’s Not My World But It’s The One That I’m Enjoying At Present ….. !

Well due to the fact of Hurricane Irene depriving me of the chance to travel up to the nation’s capital for the formal unveiling and dedication of the MLK monument on the Mall in Washington , DC , my weekend was spent at home. With the girlfriend having traveled off to the West Coast for a family emergency , for myself it would be one where I would be left to my own devices . That meant scouring the sports pages to peruse what was happening in the world and how it all pans out in terms of the environments there .

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In baseball the divisional races seem to be taking on a life of their own , with some simply being up for grabs while other are all but over bar the shouting . Certainly the wildcard races haven’t really left us with a great deal of intrigue at all. Although there’s the idiocy within the local market here that the Tampa Bay Rays will somehow be able to overcome their six game deficit to the New York Yankees and gain that AL wildcard berth . One could attest to the fact that the teams are looking to play themselves into contention and in some cases out of contention .

With the recent moves made by teams concerning their postseason ambitions it’s clear that a number of teams that are of of the belief that they can make a run at their divisional foes . That now seems to be the case with the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers within the AL Central . With the respective managers Mike Sciocsia and Ron Washington leading the charge for both the Angels and Rangers .

If anything for the Los Angeles Angels the play of Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver have been stellar , as have been the rest of the team . It’d be remiss of me to suggest that the Rangers are good enough to run away with the division make a return to the World Series after last year’s escapades .

While Michael Young is viewed as a player who’s said to be in the declining years of a productive career , this season if anything , Young has proven to be the catalyst for this team not only by his presence but also his veteran leadership. And while Elvis Andrus , Adrian Beltre` and Josh Hamilton are seen as the star players on this Texas Rangers’ roster , were it not for Michael Young I seriously doubt that the team would be leading the AL West and playing with such command .

One of the major stories during this baseball season has been that of future free agents Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers and Albert Pujols of the St Louis Cardinals . Both players whose contracts expire at the end of the year are seen as the most desirable unrestricted agents coming to the market in 2012. The thirty one year old Pujols …” the face “ of the Cardinals and perhaps that organization’s second best player when one considers the Hall of Famers associated with the team over the years. Albert Pujols has made it abundantly clear to the front office and GM John Mozeliak that it is his wish to remain a life long St Louis Cardinals’ player. Pujols remains the one constant and draw on this team and while there’s no denying that many of the team’s active records and historical records could well be surpassed by the player . The off-season deliberations between Albert Pujols and the organization could be very interesting indeed. The All Star slugger wants to be compensated befitting a player of his worth and whether or not that is a seven year or ten multi million dollar deal remains to be seen. Many prognosticators are suggesting that the player may well be looking for a deal that is northwards of $200 million over eight years .

Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals scores a run against Michael McKenry (55) of the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium on August 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …….

Averaging out at $25 million a year one doubts that the St Louis Cardinals would seek to financially hamstring themselves to such a long term commitment . But then again the team salaries seem to be escalating for the big market teams while those mid to small market ball-clubs seem to be struggling to remain amongst the fray. If Pujols were unable to commit to an offer from the St Louis Cardinals then it would appear that there would be a number of teams vying for Albert Pujols’ services. Amongst those thought to show an interest would be their divisional rivals the Chicago Cubs who’ve long needed some star appeal and real offensive productivity within that ballclub. The team itself having seen the upheaval with the firing of GM Jim Hendry by team owner Tom Ricketts are now looking for a change of direction both on an off the field of play.

Prince Fielder five years younger than Pujols , is seen as a player whose best years are ahead of him, as the 27 year old first baseman on the Brewers’ team . The Milwaukee Brewers have seen their years of highs and lows within baseball with little postseason success in recent years . It has been a cautionary tale for this organization and the present ownership group after they assumed control from the Selig family.

This season we have seen the Brewers simply smash their way to success leaving all else in their wake , especially within the NL Central . They’ve distanced themselves from the St Louis Cardinals and now have an eye on the postseason, as they prepare for the divisional series. For Fielder , Ryan Braun , John Axford and the players on this roster who’ve made hay while the sun shines this has been much more than a fortuitous year for the ball-club. Team owner Mark Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin have a major decision on their hands as they seek to make an offer that doesn’t do irreparable financial harm to the organization.

The pay structure of the Milwaukee Brewers has to be held in check given the limited resources of the ball-club as a whole . Prince Fielder knows that he has a choice to make at the end of the year that will provide him with long term security no what the outcome of the choice made by the player or front office . What may well matter is the financial weight of the contract offered to the player in terms of its worth . Are the Milwaukee Brewers in a position to make Prince Fielder the highest paid player on the roster and what might be the seismic shot sent across the bow of the game ? How will that decision be viewed by the general managers and team owners around the league ?

I am not so sure that Prince Fielder can be deemed a person said to be worth in excess of $20-$25 million a year no matter what length the period of the contract offered to the player . But herein lies the idiocy of the game today , a player such as Vernon Wells this year will be paid in excess of $26.5 million for an unproductive and lackluster season with the Los Angeles Angels .

Having not taken much interest in the NFL preseason I have to admit that the latest results have not really come as a great surprise ! . Certainly if the teams are said to be seeking consistency during these preseason games then for the San Francisco 49ers their games if anything have been an indication of the sheer ineptitude in terms of the play offered by the quarterbacks on the team .

Team general manager Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh may well have hastily made the decision to announce that his regular season starter would be Alex Smith .

For those of us who have witnessed the productivity of Smith over the years , we can all attest to the fact that the player has had his moments but when it has mattered most he has struggled to show any real command or the trust of his teammates . In the preseason once again, it has been more of the same from the five year veteran and it is becoming extremely hard to understand how it is that the player was taken first overall in the 2005 NFL Draft .

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Alex Smith (11) of the San Francisco 49ers roles out to pass against the Houston Texans during an NFL pre-season football game at Candlestick Park August 27, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …..

From my own perspective given the travails of the 49ers during the preseason I do believe that this team will struggle over the course of the regular season ! For Jim Harbaugh , his coaching staff and in particular quarterbacks’ coach Geep Chryst this will be a year during which their mental psyche will be tested by the play of Alex Smith. It has been the player’s inconsistency but more so the fact that during his time in the NFL at no point of his career has the coaching staff remained constant. The staff of the Forty Niners has been changed more often than that of a newborn baby’s diapers on a daily basis. If Geep Chryst can keep things simple not only for Smith but also his primary backup Josh McCown then there’s no reason to believe why the team cannot be competitive over the course of this season . But as of now that remains a big “if “ in the minds of not only the fans in general but quite possibly also the Forty Niners’ coaching staff , themselves.

With the off-season moves made by the 49ers and the draft choices it would be easy to suggest that the team is back on the road to being competitive within the NFC West . Although the division may well seem ripe for the taking , with teams such as the Arizona Cardinals , Seattle Seahawks and St Louis Rams all vying for overall supremacy. I do feel that NFC West has and always remain a division where there’s more uncertainty bound to happen than any fan could hope to wish for. It has been the inconsistency of the teams over the past few years that leads me to believe that trying to predict an outright winner of the division is akin to playing “three card Monty” !

Alex Smith will have to justify the faith shown in him by Jim Harbaugh this season , if not then I can see his NFL career coming to an abrupt end with him being jettisoned by the organization. Given the fact that he was so highly touted and taken as a number one overall pick , I am now beginning to wonder what it was that the front office saw in the player that originally that convinced them that he had the makings of NFL quarterback ? Anyone care to hazard a guess and provide us all with an answer ?

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What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this article ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and as always thanks for the continued support !

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

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(1) TORONTO, CANADA – AUGUST 28: Desmond Jennings of the Toronto Blue Jays of the Tampa Bay Rays during MLB game action August 28, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Rays would go on to defeat the Blue Jays 12-0 . Photo by Brad White/Getty Images …..

2 Home plate umpire Jeff Nelson looks on as Jose Bautista (19) of the Toronto Blue Jays walks off after striking out during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays August 28, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Brad White/Getty Images …….

(3) ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 25: Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals flips the ball to first base at Busch Stadium on August 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Pirates 8-4 . Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ……

(4) Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals scores a run against Michael McKenry (55) of the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium on August 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …….

(5) MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 28: Corey Hart (1) of the Milwaukee Brewers is congratulated by Prince Fielder (28) after scoring a run during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park on August 28, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers would go on to defeat the Cubs 3-2 Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images …….

(6) MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 28: Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers catches the baseball from Zack Grienke (13) as Starlin Castro (13) of the Chicago Cubs dives back to the base at Miller Park on August 28, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers defeated the Cubs 3-2. Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images ……..

(7) SAN FRANCISCO – AUGUST 27: Chris Culliver (29) of the San Francisco 49ers returning a kick off gets tackled by Shiloh Keo (31) of the Houston Texans during an NFL pre-season football game at Candlestick Park August 27, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Texans won the game 30-7 . Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …….

(8) Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers looks on against the Houston Texans during an NFL pre-season football game at Candlestick Park August 27, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …….

(9) SAN FRANCISCO – AUGUST 27: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers roles out to pass against the Houston Texans during an NFL pre-season football game at Candlestick Park August 27, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …..
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Monte Carlo Or Bust For The St Louis Cardinals ………….

Monte Carlo Or Bust For The St Louis Cardinals ………….

As the St St Louis Cardinals face an uphill battle looking to slowly erase the lead held by the Milwaukee Brewers within the NL Central . I can’t help but wonder what needs to be done by this team in order for them to even have a remote chance of achieving that feat. Granted , in Tony La Russa the organization has one of the most respected managers in the game today and his resume speaks for itself. Along with his coaching staff , La Russa has made this team a formidable threat but unless they actually win this division outright then it will become increasingly clear that the St Louis Cardinals are likely to miss the postseason .

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The team now sits four games behind the NL wildcard leading Atlanta Braves and it has to be said it would take a monumental collapse by the Braves that would allow the St Louis Cardinals to be even with a chance of claiming that berth. The team’s strength has been its pitching and offense . And leading the charge throughout much of the season has been Lance Berkman whose career has been resurrected playing for the Cardinals this year.

GM John Mozeliak know that at the end of this season the organization could very well lose their All Star first baseman Albert Pujols to free agency having not been able to get the player to sign a contract extension that met with both parties’ liking. It is not that the fact that the Cardinals are without the financial resources . Pujols, himself , did not want to go into the season having to negotiate a new deal knowing full well that he would somehow be unable to dedicate his efforts full time on the field of play. Various sources, none of which have been fully established make the claim that the player wishes to be compensated to a deal in accordance with his stature . If that means Albert Pujols seeks a long term contract of 6 years at a cumulative figure of between $120-140 million over that specific period , then it could well be a harbinger of why the negotiations were curtailed between the player’s agent and the Cardinals’ front office . Some may opine that Albert Pujols isn’t worth that sort of money at this stage of his career but I would suggest that the St Louis Cardinals without the player would not be competing at a high level within the NL Central or for that matter be considered a legitimate contender for postseason honors . His productivity alone speaks for itself and the mere fact that he’s the main draw for the fans , there at Busch Stadium adds to his value for the organization .

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ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals heads to third base after a fielding error by the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2 . Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …..

Over the remainder of the season it will be interesting to see how the St Louis Cardinals fare as they make a final push towards either winning the division or obtaining a wildcard berth and entry into the playoffs . Given the history of the franchise’s career in the playoffs you have to admire the success attained by the organization . Albert Pujols has played his part in that success with the organization’s most recent accolade in winning the 2006 World Series in defeating the Detroit Tigers Angels .

With Albert Pujols having been on the DL in recent weeks much of the heavy lifting has actually been by Lance Berkman who seems to have been rejuvenated and showing why he was such a productive player while with the Houston Astros . Berkman along with Matt Holliday , Yadier Molina , Ryan Theriot and Albert Pujols have tried to keep this team in contention with the Milwaukee Brewers from an offensive standpoint. And as productive as the team has been it has been their pitching that has also kept them in close proximity of the divisional leader. Chris Carpenter has been his usual workman life self over the course of this season but like any other pitcher in the league he has had his problems. That asides , he and the rest of the pitching rotation have held their own as needs be , over the course of the year thus far .

It will be interesting to see what changes are liable to be made should the St Louis Cardinals decide to bring up any of their top prospects from the minors . Certainly the organization has some very keen and good young players willing to show that they are ready to take the next step up at the major league level. And it bodes well for the organization at large in that respect and that decision no doubt remains in the hands of Tony La Russa and John Mozeliak . They may well think along those lines should it become more apparent that they are not likely to overtake the Milwaukee Brewers within the NL Central but one never knows as La Russa tends to march to the beat of his own drum in making such decisions. Certainly the St Louis Cardinals’ fans would like to see players such as brought up from the minors merely for them to get a taste of the majors at the big league level. It would be a boost in confidence for those players and most definitely something that they crave for and would appreciate all the more .

Certainly the likes of Zach Cox , Shelby Miller , Oscar Taveras , Joe Kelly and Matt Adams would love the opportunity to display their skills at the top level , and given the chance the organization would be ripe beneficiaries of that situation .

While the Cardinals are no doubt looking to gain ground on the Milwaukee Brewers , the team itself will see this season as one where they have to do something special if they are to have a inkling of a chance to retain the services of Prince Fielder . They have ridden the crest of the wave on the player’s shoulders over the course of the year and while Ryan Braun has contributed greatly to the Brewers’ efforts it has been Prince Fielder who has been the spur for the organization.

Brewers’ manager , team owner Mark Attanasio and general manager Doug Melvin know that that their All Star slugger while appreciative of the organization’s efforts wants to compensated for his efforts. It was felt that at the trade deadline quite possibly a number of teams might have pursued the player with regard to a possible trade. That scenario never materialized and the Milwaukee Brewers were the better for it , and it remains to be seen what efforts will be made by the front office will be made to retain the player at season’s end. Certainly with the sort of money that’s being rumored that the player’s agent is said to be seeking for his client _____ the thought of an seven or 8 year deal north of $175-$180 million does not seem out the realms of possibility. Not many teams within baseball are awash with that sort of money or who are likely to make that sort of long term commitment to player. But such are the vagaries of the game , where it is now the players and agents who can hold sway over the financial future of an organization , where the general managers and team owners are having to make decisions as to their long term viability and financial security in large part .

Ron Roenicke along with his coaching staff know that their biggest beyond winning the division is to have the team playing at a consitently high level down the stretch run of their season . And most certainly they will be looking for players such Braun , Fielder , Casey McGhee , Rickie Weeks , Yunieski Betancourt , alongside the pitching staff led by Zach Greinke , Shaun Marcum , Yovanni Gallardo and John Axford to shoulder the burden in hopes of securing a playoff berth for the organization.

Postseason success for the Milwaukee Brewers has been fleeting at best and the ball-club’s history simply has been littered with highs and lows . But it has been the players associated with this club over the years that if anything has fans feeling some empathy for organization . Whether or not the tide is about turn remains to be seen but I am sure that there are a number of fans out there that will be intrigued to see if the Brewers in their present reincarnation can actually do what has not done by the club in over two decades and that’s a return to the World Series —– then , winning it .

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Do you feel that the St Louis Cardinals will make the postseason or are you of the opinion that they will have their hopes dented by their divisional rivals , the Milwaukee Brewers who will deprive of them of winning the NL Central ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the subject matter or anything else you feel pertinent with regard to the events happening within the game of baseball at present .

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

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(1) ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals heads to third base after a fielding error by the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2 . Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …..

(2) Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a single his second of the night against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ….

(3) Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers returns to the dugout after striking out against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ……

(4) Mark Kotsay (25) of the Milwaukee Brewers hits an RBI double against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ….

(5) Starter Yovani Gallardo (49) of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts to giving up a solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ……

(6) St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, right, argues with first base umpire Greg Gibson, right, after Gibson threw La Russa out while arguing a call during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011, in St. Louis. Gibson called the Brewers’ Josh Wilson , who scored later in the inning, safe at first and the Brewers went on to win 5-1 . AP Photo/ Jeff Roberson …….

(7) Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, right, and general manager Doug Melvin watch batting practice during a spring training baseball workout at the team’s practice facility Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Morry Gash ……..

(8) St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, left, and general manager John Mozeliak talk during spring training baseball Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010, in Jupiter, Fla. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson ……..

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Horses For Courses And A Great Deal More ……..

Horses For Courses And A Great Deal More ……..

I don’t know whether or not to laugh or simply groan now when I get sight of NBA Commissioner David Stern . It’s simply become so asinine to hear the game’s highest ranking official opine on what he believes to be the NBPA’s lack of good faith in the lockout deliberations . David Stern’s opposition to the union possibly de-certifying is the main reason for the league hierarchy filing suit in US Federal Court while at the same time seeking the intervention of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to act as intermediaries in a government mandated mediation with a judge presiding over the whole deliberation process and then having the right to deliver a binding agreement on both parties. This is something from which neither side can view as a victory should such a scenario arise . David Stern may well be a good poker player but the cards he’s now holding simply do not favor the league or the team owners .

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Should the league vote de-certify which is not against the law it simply lessens the leverage that the NBA feels that they have other union in the negotiation process. It’s something that I’m sure that Executive Director Billy Hunter and union President Derek Fisher saw worked out favorably for the NFLPA during their long drawn out lockout process . The commissioner’s bone of contention all along has been their stance that they now have to rein costs and above salary expenditure . Given the idiocy of that statement and the very fact that teams and the general managers have splurged ostentatiously in signing players to exorbitantly outrageous contracts . And pardon me for saying this but when you see Rashard Lewis as the second highest paid player in the NBA last season earning in excess of $22.5 million has me wondering in what god damn world is where you’re paid to not to get results and be productive ? Other than those mindless idiots within the House and Senate I can’t think of any perhaps more undeserving of that type of reward for the least amount of return ! Mind you as I say this , I should point out that much to my surprise I recently found out that the commissioner himself is handsomely rewarded in terms of his annual compensation package. If the rumors are to be believed then David Stern is earning in excess of $20 million not including incentives . That’s the sort of money one would expect to see a highly gifted athlete or a titan of corporate America to be compensated with. But somehow this portly sized former legal mind is now decrying the fact that the salaries of the players are now far too high . Am I missing something here ? And did hell suddenly freeze over ?

Though this NBA stoppage by comparison to the NFL’s 135 day holdout is meager in its length the closer this entrenchment remains unresolved the more discontent there’s bound to be between the two parties . Never mind the ever growing resentment of the brooding NBA fans. With the preseason team training camps due to commence at the beginning of September it remains to be seen who’s about acquiesce to the others’ will. With the prominent team owners such as Dr Jerry Buss , Mark Cuban , James Dolan , Peter Holt , Mikhail Prokhorov , Michael Jordan , Dan Gilbert and Wyc Grousbeck all for the moment standing firmly in support of David Stern , I fully expect that should the lockout be prolonged more than they envisage then the support could very well be
threatened .

Many of the most recent owners such as Dan Gilbert in making the purchase of the Cleveland Cavaliers was fully financed by way of multi faceted loan instruments. And one should consider that the issues facing the Cavaliers in particular after the departure of LeBron James meant less revenues at Quicken Loans Arena and meager attendances for the team’s home games .

I am not about to castigate the team owners or for that matter the league hierarchy of the NBA as well as the union . From my own perspective I do believe that all of the parties are equally to blame . Given that Derek Fisher , Billy Hunter and David Stern were all aware that their existing collective bargaining agreement was due to expire on the 30th June it’s somewhat asinine that the groups in question sought to start their deliberations once the agreement had expired. Clearly there seems to be little if any common sense being shown from the lead individuals concerned . Billy Hunter whose passion as a lawyer is encapsulated around his struggles during the civil rights’ era. But here it appears to not about what’s viewed as being right but simply a matter of greed and how best to split the revenues from a $4.5 billion piece of the pie . The revenue stream as it now stands favors the players on 53.5 % to 46.5% ratio that the league seeks to lessen that would be equitable in its disbursement . Something of which the union simply does not favor as they feel that the league hierarchy has been decidedly less than truthful in showing real transparency as to their finances.

It will be very interesting to see what transpires over the ensuing weeks as the two sides seek to reach some sort of a compromise . If anything I fully expect this lockout to go on for an extended period of time . Billy Hunter made that situation abundantly clear when he commented that he does not expect there to be fully scheduled season for 2011-12. If that’s not of an indication as to how steadfast the NBPA seeks to be then clearly David Stern has misjudged the resolve of the union and it members .

As the races now appear to be tightening up within NL West and NL Central I can’t help but wonder what might happen should both the St Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants fail to make the postseason. And for both Tony La Russa and Bruce Bochy this certainly test their managerial acumen as they seek to get their respective teams playing with a great deal of resolve over the final months of the season.

The respective divisional titles are up for grabs as it would appear that the wildcard berth will come from the NL East in the form of the Atlanta Braves possibly gaining that spot. If nothing else teams in the midst closely ran races with the Cardinals now duelling with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Giants now finding themselves in an allout brawl with the Arizona Diamondbacks . One wonders if it would come as a surprise were either the St Louis Cardinals or San Francisco Giants to come up short after this ardous season. Certainly the moves made by the Giants was indication of their resolve in looking to successfully defend merely not only their divisional crown but also their NL pennant as well as looking for a return to the World Series and duplicating last year’s feat . The San Francisco Giants over the Texas Rangers was indeed a long time coming and something the Giants’ fans simply yearned for.

That taste of success now has the Giants simply wanting more and it will be very interesting to see whether or not between now and the end of the regular season the reigning champions will still be on that path to repeating last season’s triumph. With the addition of Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants roster . For Bruce Bochy and his assistants knowing that they’ve some added potency on the offense gives the organization something they felt that they needed. There’s no denying that the team’s biggest strengths have been their pitching led by two time NL Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum . But if anything the real surprise amongst the roster has been the play of seasoned journeyman Ryan Vogelsong . If nothing else this season has been an aspiring ascent into the big leagues for the pitcher .

The Arizona Diamondbacks for their part with the play of Justin Upton has this team playing with a great deal of resolve. Given the change of ownership the changes both on and off the field now seems to have been paying dividends not only for the organization but also for the fans in attendance at Chase Field in Phoenix , Arizona . There has been a gradual uptick in attendance and with the play > of the team has many thinking that the organization now in a resurgent mode could now be on the cusp of doing something special. GM Kevin Towers along with the managing partners now know with the resurgence of the organization they have something to build upon . It has been a long time coming for the Diamondbacks given that their greatest triumph came back in 2001 with their surprising defeat of the venerable New York Yankees .

If anything one also should commend the job being done by Kirk Gibson and his coaching staff in getting the Arizona Diamondbacks to play with such zeal. He could very well end up being the NL Manager of the Year when it’s all said and done .

Given the ordeals faced by the St Louis Cardinals over the past few days it’s hard to see how one can’t but have some empathy with the team. Granted with the five game suspension of Yadier Molina and the events surrounding Albert Pujols being hit by an errant pitch it has me wondering now whether or not we’ll see the best or worse of this team !

The Milwaukee Brewers for their part with a thriving Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun have many thinking that after last season’s surprising divisional triumph by the Cincinnati Reds there’s time for some fresh infusion of blood in terms of another NL Central divisional winner . If not the St Louis Cardinals then why not the Milwaukee Brewers under the leadership of their managing general partner Mark Attanasio ?

Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke , his assistants and GM Doug Melvin have assembled a roster that is intent on acquitting themselves with a great deal of vigor and bring the fans back to Miller Park , Wisconsin with a sense of purpose . This Milwaukee Brewers’ team is very much a credible one but it remains to be seen what sort of steely resolve they are prepared to show over the remainder of the season .

If the Brewers are to prevail then it will have to be a concerted all-round effort with both Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder leading the way . There’s a great deal that is at stake and it goes without saying that given the vagaries of this game where one misstep can be the difference between success and failure I can’t help but feel that the players on this team may well feel ………. that now is their time .

In light of what you are now seeing happening with the divisional races at present in baseball which teams do you feel have been the biggest surprise over the course of this season ? And from within the NL Central and NL West which of the teams do you see actually triumphing in the end in terms those races ? Simply chime in with a comment as you would deem fit .

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

Contact tophatal …………….. rapptu@gmail.com

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(1) NBA commissioner David Stern speaks to reporters after a meeting with the players’ union, Thursday, June 30, 2011 in New York. Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday, the sides could not close the enormous gap that remained in their positions. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer …..

(2) NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher, right, NBA union chief Billy Hunter, left, and LA Lakers’ Theo Ratliff arrive at a midtown hotel for a meeting with the NBA, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011 in New York. One month after the lockout began, and three months before the season is scheduled to start, representatives for the NBA owners and locked-out players return to the bargaining table. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer …….

(3) Wyc Grousbeck the senior managing partner of the ownership group for the Boston Celtics . Courtesy of Getty Images / Olin James …

(4) SAN FRANCISCO, CA – AUGUST 4: Hunter Pence (3) of the Philadelphia Phillies gets an RBI single against the San Francisco Giants in the ninth inning during a MLB baseball game at AT&T Park August 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Phillies won the game 3-0 . Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ……

(5) SAN FRANCISCO, CA – AUGUST 4: Jeff Keppinger (8) of the San Francisco Giants gets his throw off completing the double-play avoiding the slide of John Mayberry (15) of the Philadelphia Phillies in the seventh inning during an MLB baseball game at AT&T Park August 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Phillies won the game 3-0. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ……..

(6) Jason Marquis (21) of the Arizona Diamondbacks is taken out of the game in the fifth inning by manager Kirk Gibson against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 3, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The D’backs would go on lose the game 8-1 against the San Francisco Giants . Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images ………

(7) Pablo Sandoval (48) of the San Francisco Giants slides in safe at home on a ball hit by Orlando Cabrera(notes) in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park on August 3, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images …….

(8) St. Louis Cardinals players Rafael Furcal, right, and Albert Pujois celebrate after they defeated the Florida Marlins 7-4 in a baseball game in Miami, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011. AP Photo/J Pat Carter ….

(9) Matt Holliday(7) of the St. Louis Cardinals rounds third after hitting a three run home run off Clay Hensley(32) of the Florida Marlins during a game at Sun Life Stadium on August 4, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images ………

(10) MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 03: Casey McGehee (14) of the Milwaukee Brewers steps on home plate to score after hitting his second home run of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park on August 3, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers defeated the Cardinals 10-5 . Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images ……..

(11) MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 03: Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers has words with Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals at first base at Miller Park on August 3, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images ……

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