Fallout , what fallout ?

Fallout, what fallout ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery .

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

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saying goodbye to an icon …

Well, as baseball continues to wind down its regular season schedule and play the biggest stories at the start of the season and still ongoing remains the winding down of Derek Jeters’ career with the New York Yankees . Jeter and his teammates have put up a solid front ,but it now appears he and the team are likely to miss the postseason for the first time since 2011, having not been part of baseball’s postseason fare in either 2012 or 2013.

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Though Joe Girardi and his managerial staff have guided the team to a respectable placing within the AL East , a second place finish to the likely divisional winners the Baltimore Orioles will be considered a major disappointment , as too will their failure to gain an AL wildcard berth where the team remains 4 ½ games out of the wildcard spot and where Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners are the two leading candidates. With twenty-one games yet to be played in the schedule before the end of the season, it will be interesting to see what the New York Yankees are capable of achieving between now and the culmination of the year. Inconsistencies all round, have been one of the things to plague this New York team along with a string of injuries throughout the season. It should also be noted the pitching staff have failed to live up to the preconceived notions many might well have had, in spite of the impressive debut of Masahiro Tanaka , their Japanese import signed to a major deal at the behest of Hank Steinbrenner . All well and good, until you realize , Steinbrenner’s alleged intent was to have the team’s payroll for this year to be considerably lower than the $200 million , for which Yankees now have the second highest payroll in all of baseball behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and their near $250 million in salary commitments.

Coming off a three-game series’ loss (2-1) to the Kansas City Royals the New York Yankees will now take on their perennial rivals the Tampa Bay Rays in a three game series to be played at Yankees Stadium in New York City , New York , beginning Tuesday , 9th September with the final game of the series on Thursday , 11th September.

Derek Jeter , continually the vocal leader of the New York Yankees, ever since he was made the captain of the team, for this season he has been his resolute self with his all-round play. To define the shortstop’s career , is hard to put into words , a five-time World Series’ champion , multiple All Star, Gold Glove winner , AL Rookie of the Year , but never a winner of the AL MVP. Try figuring that one out in terms of the decisions made about on the scale of the recipients of the award and the reasoning why he has never won the most recognized regular season award bestowed upon a player. I can only surmise the voters from the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) failed to recognize the name of Jeter on the ballot or they chose not to vote for the player for some reason ! Derek Jeter may not be leading the team in hits or batting average or runs batted in , but he has the respect of his teammates, managerial staff but more so the organization and what he has meant to the Yankees’ history and legacy.

Whether or not Jacoby Ellsbury will be seen as the heir-apparent to Derek Jeter in providing the New York Yankees with the type of leadership sought, but Ellsbury has provided the Yankees with the type of performances and play expected of the former Boston Red Sox player. The only question one might have concerning one of the Yankee’ high-priced free agent acquisitions , will be his resilience and health issues , in not being able to remain injury-free all season long during his career. If Ellsbury can continue to show the style of play exhibited this season, then the New York Yankees are likely to have some success in the future. For now, their season will be one, where they will have to play at a consistently high level while seeking end on a high note. With Alex Rodriguez not returning to the New York Yankees until the 2015 season , Brian Cashman might have to think long and hard about the future makeup of the roster .

The 1992 MLB Draft was quite lucky for the New York Yankees and the successes down the years in terms of the development of Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada guaranteed a great deal of the success during the mid to late nineties , when the franchise had unprecedented success in terms of their AL East divisional titles , AL pennant successes , World Series’ appearance , with four championship titles coming during the reign of Joe Torre as the Yankees’ manager. .

Jeter’s retirement , with this being his last season of a two decade long career , when, he made his debut for the ball-club during the 1995 season, with his first game being against the Seattle Mariners in an 8-7 loss in the contest on 29th May , 1995 played at the Kingdome in Seattle, Washington . Jeter can consider the events there, placed him on the path in becoming one of the New York Yankees’ greatest players , where his lists of accomplishments now place him among the pantheons of the game as well as one of the most respected players in Yankees’ history.

It is hard not to be extremely critical of the Houston Astros as a baseball franchise and their record over the past four years . It has left great deal to be desired , while team owner , Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow remain in complete denial about the lack of competitiveness of the team as well their financial predicament . The firing of Bo Porter was of no great surprise, but this asinine belief that their young players would lift them out of their continued doldrums, can only be put down to the lack of insight shown by the protagonists of this baseball club and the incompetence shown by Porter and his managerial staff during his tenure .

Of late the Astros might be showing some resilience having gone 7-3 in their last ten games among the best in the Majors , but consider the fact they are 24 ½ games out of first place within the AL West and 15 ½ games out of the wildcard berth simply, is an indicator about how bad this team just happens to be. Houston’s recent defeat of the Oakland A’s at O Coliseum in Oakland , California ,on Sunday, would have provided a boost for the Astros and interim manager Tom Lawless , as he has been given the task of managing the team until the end of the season.

The Houston Astros will now go on the road to face the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field , where Robinson Cano will be further looking to enhance his status as a legitimate AL MVP candidate for this season , while the Mariners look to guarantee themselves a wildcard berth for the postseason . A three-game series between the two teams will begin as of Monday afternoon . The first game of the series, will pit Brad Peacock of the Astros against Felix Hernandez of the Mariners in what is likely to be to a very good pitchers’ duel. Houston will need to be at their very best over the remainder of their schedule simply to avoid another one-hundred loss season as their fans have been accustomed to, in three of the last four years .

As great a manager as Ron Washington has been for the Texas Rangers and the dour year for the team , his personal resignation, having come as a shock to the organization and fans of this franchise. Washington has not given a detailed pubic reason behind his abrupt resignation, other than to say it is for personal reasons. GM Jon Daniels reluctantly accepted the manager’s decision and thanked him for his contributions to the baseball franchise during his tenure.

However , in light of Ron Washington’s personal demons and his well-chronicled battle with regard to substance abuse and addiction to cocaine , one could speculate the manager has fallen back into a cycle of substance abuse, even after previously taking a leave of absence from the baseball franchise for a stint in rehab. Baseball’s hierarchy , somehow believe there is a need for mandatory drug testing of the players for banned substances , but they have failed to make their managers and coaching staffs of the teams part of the collective bargaining agreement that covers the players through the deal reached with the MLBPA . One has to ask why neither Bud Selig or his recently named successor Rob Manfred did not feel that the managers within baseball should be covered by such an edict ?Clearly , a case where the league hierarchy believe the managers can do no wrong, but the players have to be held to a much higher standard in terms of a code of conduct . That would not be so comical, given, Selig and the owners’ systemic failings in dealing with the now decade-plus era of steroid cheats and baseball’s lack of understanding and acting with some voracity in going after the players in question.

There may well be a great deal of respect for Rob Manfred and his deftness in dealing with the labor issues within baseball , but in terms of his being seen as a “new broom” called in to clean house , there is likely to be the still idiotic pratfalls seen with Manfred’s predecessor Bud Selig, as the incoming commissioner has been as Selig’s side for several years.

Out of the divisional race within the AL West and no hope of gaining a wildcard berth , all that is left for the Texas Rangers this season is nothing more than respectability and a sense of urgency. Having the worst record within the game of baseball , simply gives us all an indication to how bad this season has been for the Rangers without Ron Washington’s resignation being added to the storyline for this dire year . Texas’ quest is now to give their fans something to believe in , while leaving the ownership to make a decision in which direction their managerial search will now take in terms of finding successor for Ron Washington. Tim Bogar has been given the job of interim manager until the end of the season, but it is my own belief the Rangers’ front office will seek a more high profiled replacement for the recently departed manager! ! Bogar and the team will begin a three-game home stand against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday , and it is likely this series could prove decisive for the Angels as they seek to dethrone the reigning AL West champions the Oakland A’s and win their first divisional crown since 2009 when they made the postseason, only to fall to the New York Yankees in the ALCS in six games, losing the series 4-2 , with New York going on to win their twenty-seventh World Series’ title, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies .

Taking the mound for the Rangers in the first of the three-game series against the Angels will be Colby Lewis as he faces off against Hector Santiago in this all divisional contest which currently favors the Los Angeles Angels in the season series.

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Picture gallery .

With Derek Jeter’s career coming to a close , do you believe his accomplishments place him among the all-time greats in New York Yankees’ history or has the hype and persona which has surrounded the player made him a bigger personality ? Also, what do you believe the future of Houston Astros and Texas Rangers will be after such a disastrous year within Major League Baseball?

Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) New York Yankees’ team captain Derek Jeter receives a standing ovation from the crowd prior to the game against the Kansas City Royals played at Yankees Stadium , in New York City, New York , on , on Sunday , 7th September ,2014 . The Royals blanked the Yankees 2-0 to keep a slender lead over the Detroit Tigers within the AL Central , providing MLB with the tightest divisional race in all of baseball. AP Photo /Kathy Willens …

(2) Kansas City Royals’ second baseman Omar Infante’s miscue allows Derek Jeter to reach second base on a hit by Martin Prado who reached first base on the error by Infante during the game played on Sunday afternoon at Yankees Stadium in New York City, New York . AP Photo / Kathy Willens …

(3) New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi ,left, is seen here with one of the team’s 2013 acquisitions ,catcher , Brian McCann and the team’s senior managing partner Hal Steinbrenner . McCann was signed to a five-year $85 million deal making him one of the highest paid players at the position in baseball. Getty Images North America / Maddie Meyer …

(4) Jacoby Ellsbury of the New York Yankees who was acquired by team as a free agent , after Ellsbury was not re-signed by his former team the Boston Red Sox . AP Photo/ Martin Dennis …

(5) HOUSTON, TX – APRIL 22: Houston Astros manager Bo Porter (16) , left and general manager Jeff Luhnow wait near the batting cage prior to the start of the game against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park on April 22 , 2013 in Houston, Texas. Luhnow fired the Astros’ manager this season (2014) after another disastrous year by the team with them showing no real signs of competitiveness on any level within the AL . Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

(6) Texas Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels is seen here with Prince Fielder (center) and former team manager Ron Washington . Washington offered his resignation to the franchise, offering little by way of an explanation other than to suggest the reasons for his decision were personal . Fielder has seen very little playing time and offering little by way of productivity for the Rangers, having spent a great deal of time on the DL this season . To further exacerbate the situation the Texas Rangers remain on the hook for the majority of Fielder’s remaining contract , which does not expire until 2021 . AP Photo / Philip Trent …

(7) New York Yankees’ legends , top row from left to right , Yogi Berra , Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth , Joe DiMaggio , Elston Howard, Micky Mantle , Thurman Munson , Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter . Upon his retirement there is likely to be a very contested debate about where Jeter will rank among the all-time Yankees’ greats. The one thing which cannot be denied is that Jeter has been among the most successful players of his era among the New York Yankees. Archives UPI /Getty Images …

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Horses for courses ……..

Horses for courses …..

We have already reached the midpoint of the baseball season and there have been one or two surprises along the way. Some very good pitching performances, exclaimed by three no-hitters and the less than threatening offenses of a number of teams . Add in the fact, the same old stories seem to be repeating themselves by way of the Houston Astros and I am beginning to wonder if this season is likely to be anything special at all !

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The Astros, alongside the Philadelphia Phillies , now have to the two worst records in all of baseball and there has been little to suggest that the teams in question have the acumen to solve their on and off the field woes. Ryne Sandberg who succeeded Charlie Manuel to become the Phillies’ fifty-second manager in the franchise’s history , has inherited an aging roster of stars who now seem to be past their sell by date. To say the very least Philadelphia and the coaching staff have their work cut out for them over the remainder of their season. With several of the players on the team’s roster among the highest paid players in the league, it is hard to imagine where the organization will seek to go from here, but there now seems to an opinion, a long overdue “fire sale” is likely to place, with several of the players being jettisoned in order for some of the younger players being called up from within their farm system. Sandberg succeeded Charlie Manuel as the Phillies’ manager , but in the aftermath of the team’s failure in 2013 , it was clear that the front office and GM Reuben Amaro Jr had to make a change at the managerial level. A great deal of the blame does lie with Amaro and his failure in seeking to bolster the Phillies’ roster over the past five years.

Having won the World Series in 2008 with a lopsided series’ victory over the Tampa Bay Rays ,the Phillies’ fortunes in the later years can be best described as a ball-club repeatedly under-achieving. . Coming off a 6-2 drubbing from instate rivals the Pittsburgh Pirates , Ryne Sandberg will not take his players on the road as they face the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Ballpark , in Milwaukee , Wisconsin,. As losers of nine of their last ten games, it is easy to understand why the Philadelphia Phillies have been so woefully inept. The issues on this team covers just about every facet of their game , from top to bottom ., including the lack of leadership coming from the managerial staff , much less the seasoned veterans on the team.

We have often been told the NFC East remains the best division in the NFL and the same claims are continually being made about the AL East . That is not something as a baseball fan, I am ready to I subscribe to ! Granted, there are some very good teams within the division and the very fact Derek Jeter enters his final season with the New York Yankees makes the expectations within the division and for the Yankees that much greater.The Yankees for their part have been inconsistent with their being few bright spots on the team during the season, but what cannot be denied has been the outstanding performances of their rookie pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka during this season. . The pitcher has all but blown the hinges off the door leaving batters bewildered on his way to a league leading result in wins among rookie pitchers and starters in general. If that were not enough he just might be the best pitcher on the Yankees’ starting roster and that is with due deference to Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia , who now seem to spluttering through their schedule.

Joe Girardi and the New York Yankees are a mere 3 ½ games out of first place within the AL East, in a division led by what appears to be a steadfast Toronto Blue Jays’ team, the equally resilient Baltimore Orioles , to be followed by the third placed Yankees and rounding out the quintet of teams, are the Boston Red Sox and the last placed Tampa Bay Rays.. Jeter and the Yankees , coming off a hard-fought 9-7 victory over the Minnesota Twins , will have to remain consistent if they are to have any chance of winning the division much less guaranteeing themselves one of the two wildcard berths available within the AL.. . Monday , the Yankees will be pitted against the Cleveland Indians as they take to the field, with Shane Greene on the mound for New York against Cleveland’s Justin Masterson in a game to played at Progressive Field in Cleveland , Ohio,.

While many of us wish Derek Jeter all the best, as he winds down an astonishing career , it is my belief that he and the New York Yankees are unlikely to win the World Series , garnering him a sixth World Series’ ring. The Yankees are good but they lack the “killer instinct” of teams from the past and Joe Girardi , in spite of his managerial experience seem to be lacking the resolve in getting his players to buy into his managerial philosophy for this season..

Two-hundred million dollars can buy you many things , but in the world of baseball , it has been unable to garner the Los Angeles Dodgers a World Series title in either 2012 or 2013 . It is pretty much safe to say, managing partner , Magic Johnson might now be feeling a little peeved to see his team having squandered the chances offered them in the last two years. It seems like an eternity since the Dodgers made an appearance in the World Series ,but in 1988 , was the last time the ball-club tasted success in calling themselves world champions. This season is proving just as difficult for Don Mattingly and his team as they see the resurgence of the San Francisco Giants within the NL West , as the league’s highest payroll team struggles to find an identity and prove themselves to be one of the best teams in all of baseball.

A half game may well now separate the Dodgers and Giants at the top of the division with San Francisco having played two games less than their divisional rivals over the course of season , so far. Yet, based on what we have seen , is there anyone truly convinced that the Dodgers are indeed the equal of the recent two-time winning World Series’ champions? These two teams possess the pitching staffs to a great deal of damage within the NL as well as the rest of baseball, but consistency will be the key for both as they set to contend for the NL West divisional crown.

Los Angeles took care of the Colorado Rockies with relative ease in an 8-2 win in a game played at Coors Field on Sunday evening , while the Giants made light work of the San Diego Padres in their 5-3 victory in an away game on the same day . The Dodgers and in particular Don Mattingly and his managerial staff are under a great deal of pressure to succeed. Winning the World Series remains the priority of one baseball’s most revered organizations and the chase for that elusive crown. Two of this season’s three no-hitters were achieved by Dodgers’ pitchers Josh Beckett and Clayton Kershaw , two of the team’s best pitchers on a very impressive starting lineup.

Not really shocked, but there comes a time when you simply have to look at the work of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and ask the question how successful would he have been, were he afforded the luxury of having the resources of $200 million payroll ? Unfortunately , this remains a pipe-dream among the A’s and their fans because Lewis Wolff is not the type of owner to make such a lavish outlay while seeking success. At the same time, this gives us an eye on one of the many issues that still plagues the game of baseball and why neither, Bud Selig or MLB’s CFO Jonathan Mariner has any real idea how to create a level playing field, in terms of the financial fairness within the game and the teams’ payroll structure.

On Tuesday the Los Angeles Dodgers are the guests of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit ,Michigan , when Hyun Jin-Ryu of the Dodgers takes to the mound against Justin Verlander in a crucial contest for both teams.

Not really shocked, but there comes a time when you simply have to look at the work Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and ask the question how successful would he have been, were he afforded the luxury of having the resources of a $200 million payroll ? Unfortunately , this remains a pipe-dream among the A’s and their fans because Lewis Wolff is not the type of owner to make such a lavish outlay while seeking success. At the same time, this gives an eye on one of the many issues that still plagues the game of baseball and why neither, Bud Selig or MLB’s CFO Jonathan Mariner has any real idea how to create a level playing field , in terms of the financial fairness within the game and the teams’ payroll structure.

Having the best record in baseball does not always equate with success at the end of the season when it comes to baseball’s postseason . At present the Oakland A’s have the privilege of being viewed as the best team in the game with their league leading fifty-six wins (56-33) as of the 7th July,2014. Oakland has simply been laying waste to their opponents all season long and their 5-0 clubbing of the San Francisco Giants was further evidence of how good this team just happens to be. Never mind the issue of the Giants being one of the best teams in the NL and having seventh best record in baseball with only the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels having a better record over their last twenty games.

A’s coach Bob Melvin and his managerial staff have given the players the momentum needed but it remains to be seen if the team will be able to take the lead and deliver the victories needed as they seek to win their first World Series’ title since 1989 when they triumphed over when they defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-0 . They would reach baseball’s postseason finale again in 1990 ,only to fall to the Cincinnati Reds in the seven game series in a whitewash.

Baseball’s mid-season showcase event , the MLB All Star Game is not that far off on the horizon and already fans and media analysts alike, are questioning those who were snubbed and those who made it onto the rosters of the AL and NL teams. In my opinion, with the voting being no more than a popularity contest , very little credence can really be given to the veracity of the claims, as who is fitting to become an All Star and who is not. Does anyone really want to see players from the two worst teams in baseball, being given what . is something of a dubious honor ? Can playing on the last placed team within the AL or NL really be a cause, upon which one can say that is a mark of success ? Therein lies the idiocy of the claims by baseball writers, fans and members of the league hierarchy, that every team should be given the honor of having player be a part of All Star roster.

Mike Trout may well be the best all-round player in the game today and he is certainly the player who many believe will be the face of baseball for years to come, and deemed the player most likely to succeed Derek Jeter as being the face of this game for next decade or more. Baseball needs a fresh influx young stars able to attract the fans after two decades of constant betrayal of the fans , with the never-ending cheating , lies , deceit, hypocrisy of the league hierarchy , owners , general managers , MLBPA (Players’ Union) and the general apathy of the fans willing to excuse the behavior of the steroid cheats that have made baseball such a joke !

MLB has long sought to paint itself as America’s pastime but it has not been the case for several decades and it has been the incompetence of the league, in addressing the most serious of issues, leading to the constant ridicule and lack of leadership at all levels within the game. Ryan Braun was welcomed back with open arms after the 2011 NL MVP remained in denial while being complicit in a web of deceit and lies that any asshole with an ounce of common sense, could have seen through. But for the incompetency of the league’s own testing protocols and that of the sheer stupidity of the laboratory who presided over Braun’s results , the player’s suspension would have been far more serious, rather than the slap on the wrist received. With the Milwaukee Brewers once again competitive within the NL Central , it will be interesting to see what might be made should Braun and the Brewers make the postseason and quite possibly winning the World Series, itself. Scorn or not, such a premise would lead to the game being once again questioned as to its veracity.

Fifty home runs in a season is something of a rarity but during the steroid era , that feat was something of a regular occurrence , with the likes of Mark McGwire , Sammy Sosa , Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds making a complete mockery of that particular record. This year we are unlikely to see the fifty home run mark surpassed but the siege on that particular mark always seems to be an interesting topic of debate as well as something of a spectacle to watch. Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion and Giancarlo Stanton lead the way in baseball’s home run race this season , having just passed the halfway mark of the baseball schedule. Barry Bonds may well hold the single season home run mark, but in many respects in the eyes of the purists within the game , the mark they feel deserves recognition is the legendary statistic of Roger Maris’ of sixty-one home runs . I do not believe that anything else needs to be said concerning the matter !

Baseball’s mid-season showcase event , the MLB All Star Game is not that far off the horizon and already fans and media analysts alike are questioning those who were snubbed and those who made it onto the rosters of the AL and NL teams. In my opinion with the voting being no more than a popularity contest , very little credence can really be given to the veracity of the claims as who is fitting to become an All Star and who is not. Does anyone really want to see players from the two worst teams in baseball being given what is something of a dubious honor ? Can playing on the last placed team within the AL or NL really be a cause upon which one can say that is a mark of success ? Therein lies the idiocy of the claims by baseball writers, fans and members of the league hierarchy, that every team should be given the honor of having player be a part of All Star roster. The contests between the AL and NL in recent years have proven to be very entertaining with their being so much at stake for the winning league . Interest will certainly be peaked with this being the last All Star contest where Derek Jeter is a participant . How he bows out will be one of the highlights of the season , no matter the result.

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Picture gallery.

There remains a great deal to play for over the second half of the season, but for now, we have been intrigued to witness the stories that have unfolded at the midpoint of baseball’s schedule. What highlights have piqued your interest and which team or player has proven to be the most exciting to watch? On a final note, who do you believe will prove to be the biggest disappointment of the year among the ball-clubs and stars given their status at the start of the year? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and thanks for the continued support as always !

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Picture and slideshow gallery below .
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(1) Houston Astros’ Chris Carter , left, is congratulated by Carlos Corporan (22) following Carter’s solo home off of Texas Rangers relief pitcher Aaron Poreda in the eighth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. The Astros would defeat the Rangers 8-3 in a rout . AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …

(2) Houston Astros starting pitcher Brad Peacock and first baseman Jon Singleton talk with manager Bo Porter (16) as Peacock is pulled in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …

(3) Philadelphia Phillies’ general manager Reuben Amaro Jr is seen here with team manager Ryne Sandberg ,who in his first year as the team’s manager has seen the Phillies do so poorly while struggling to remain competitive within the NL East and the NL in general . An aging roster and several highly paid players are the primary reasons for the poor results witnessed this season . All signs are pointing to the fact , Amaro will seek to revamp the roster during this upcoming off-season and the likelihood will be , he will seek to trade several players superfluous to the team’s needs while promoting younger members from within their farm system. AP Photo/ Martin Davis …

(4) New York Yankees Derek Jeter, left, bumps fists with Masahiro Tanaka during introduction ceremonies before the baseball game against the Houston Astros on day Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Houston. Tanaka enters his first season with the Yankees as team captain Jeter enters his twentieth and final season with the franchise . AP Photo/Pat Sullivan ….

(5) From left to right , Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly , senior partner Magic Johnson , Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees and Dodgers’ CEO and senior managing partner Mark Walter are seen here at Dodgers’ Ballpark in Los Angeles California prior to a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees in 2013. Rivera who retired in 2013 as all-time saves’ leader and a five-time World Series’ winner had a historic career with the Yankees’ franchise. He is likely to be a Hall of Fame candidate in Cooperstown , New York having met the eligibility requirements. Getty Images North America/ Greg Parsons …. .

(6) Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin ,left is seen here with general manager Billy Beane as the two talk with the convened press at the O Coliseum in Oakland, California . The A’s are off to another impressive start to the season and lead with the AL West, while heading into the All Star mid-season break. Both the manager and executive are hoping that the team can have an equally successive start to the second half of the season with the ultimate goal being an appearance and the capturing of a World Series’ crown for the fifth time in A’s history . AP Photo / Dave Wilson …

(7) Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels is often seen in some circles as the best player in the game and the face of baseball for next decade. The player now at the forefront of an Angels’ offense that seems to be in control . AP Photo/ Kelly Richardson …

(8) Alex Rodriguez , left , of the New York Yankees and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers . The two players have become the “face ” of the steroid era over the past eight years. Each has faced a league mandated suspension, with the Yankees’ third baseman now sitting out the entire 2014 season after baseball’s hierarchy enforced their ban of the player for the year. Braun and Rodriguez have won four League MVP Awards over the course of their respective careers and are among the highest paid players on their respective teams ( Brewers and Yankees) . AP Photo / Harry Patterson ….

(9) Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins leads the NL in home runs this season but it remains to be seen whether or not he is likely to surpass the fifty home runs for the year . The Marlins are trying to supplant both the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals atop of the NL East. AP Photo / Chris Mendez …..

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Something cheerful about a female shaking her assets .

When Father Time Comes Knocking, You Can’t But Fail Not To Answer …..

When Father Time Comes Knocking, You Can’t But Fail Not To Answer

There comes a time when you become the elder statesman within your sport, there are calls and suggestions that you retire , or because of injuries suffered , you are no longer productive enough within your chosen profession. This baseball season will see the retirement of baseball’s most popular , with Derek Jeter having announced that 2014 will be his last in a New York Yankees’ uniform . The Yankees’ shortstop has graced the stage for almost two decades as a player having won five World Series’ titles with the franchise , several individual awards by way of the Golden Gloves , and an AL Rookie of The Year Award , but surprisingly never an AL MVP . That asides, when he plays his last regular season game , which will be a game against the Yankees’ venerable adversary , the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston , Massachusetts , we are likely to see one of the most emotional days in recent baseball history .

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Slideshow .

I believe that Derek Jeter’s retirement will leave a huge vacuum within the game of baseball and most certainly a huge void on the current New York Yankees’ roster , where he has been the captain of the team for at least the past six seasons. He will depart from the franchise as a leader in several offensive categories but more than anything else , perhaps one of the most beloved and well-respected players in that franchise’s history . As to where he might rank amongst many of the great players to have worn the Yankees’ Pinstripes will now become a matter of great conjecture and debate across the panacea of the game amongst fans, baseball purists and historians alike .

Prior to Jeter’s retirement , the only other player I believe that was held with such high esteem within baseball within the past ten years , who left the game under what, were thought to be his terms, was that of Ken Griffey Jr , the famed outfielder , and son of Ken Griffey Sr . Injuries robbed the former Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners’ player of some of the best years of career , but he left the game with a batting average that one would deem respectable , along with some spectacular highlights as to his phenomenal athleticism in the outfield . Before, there was Torii Hunter and Mike Trout , there was Ken Griffey Jr, simply amazing the fans and analysts alike with his power and fielding . Perhaps only Bo Jackson showing his phenomenal prowess , might well have been Griffey’s equal at a time when the game was a joy to watch and before the “dawn “ of the “steroid era” and the advantages it provided hitters and pitchers alike .

While LeBron James continues to prosper within the NBA , currently making a mockery of many of his peers , perhaps with the exception of Kevin Durant , of whom, many believe may well be James’ closest rival as the best player in the league. Another player , who currently sits on the sidelines while his team labors under the rigors of an arduous season , while failing to live up to expectations. The question now has to be asked , was it really worthwhile for the Los Angeles Lakers to have offered Kobe Bryant that ridiculous two-year contract extension that will pay Bryant $48.5 million over the next two years , ending 2015 ?

As of the 4th March , 2014 the Lakers possessed the worst record in the NBA’s Western Conference and the team was simply uncompetitive under Mike D’Antoni’s coaching and the guidance of his coaching staff . From my own standpoint, coming into this season, I did not see this Lakers’ lineup as being a championship caliber team or a roster capable of winning their division , much less the Western Conference itself ! An aging Steve Nash at the point guard position , is simply not the answer for a team that sought someone who should be more productive, never mind Nash’s ongoing ailments and the fact that he has played a mere handful of games for the team this season . The alternatives for D’Antoni at the position , has been threadbare, along with any type of real productivity.

With Nash intimating that this is likely to be his last season in the NBA , the two-time League MVP , will bow out of the NBA with a list of accomplishments that belie his age , with the one missing notable achievement being an NBA title and championship ring. Steve Nash had a solid career, wherever he played , prior to his arrival with the Los Angeles Lakers at the beginning of last season. One now wonders what might have been, were Nash a part of the team prior to last season , when indeed, the franchise needed a player of his caliber ?

A recent seven point loss at home to the New Orleans Pelicans has pretty much summed up the woes of the Lakers’ season and the very fact that Mike D’Antoni’s coaching has become listless and uninspired , along with the play of this team. One could make excuses, that without Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers are a mere shell of a team. Yet, with Bryant on court , this lineup would simply struggle against many of their peers not just within the conference but across the league as a whole. The team’s record, now reflects a clear indication of they are and have become, and that is even with the advent of GM Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss thinking ahead with regard to the litany of free agents that will hit the market with the front office seeking to maneuver and place itself in better position with regard to its cap space .

For Kobe Bryant , now a seventeen-year veteran of the NBA , he is at the tail end of a career , that has seen him win every individual honor and team honor possible for a player within the league . Now a five-time NBA champion, the possibility of his now winning a sixth title, has seen that window of opportunity greatly reduced. Athletically, he is considerably slower than five years ago , with the explosiveness of his game, is no longer there. The question now becomes, without another marquee name beside him, can Kobe Bryant lead the Lakers to another title? Pau Gasol , has been a willing foil , assisting the All Star guard, but he too has become an aging veteran in the league , and again no longer the player, he was , three years ago . It is my belief that the upcoming season, will be Bryant’s last in the NBA, before he too , chooses to ride off into the sunset under his own steam , rather than being forced out by the team’s hierarchy !

Next up for the Lakers on their schedule , will be a game against their divisional rivals and inhabitants of the Staples Center , the Los Angeles Clippers . With their season series tied at one game apiece (1-1) , this third contest between the two teams , should prove to be very interesting, as Doc Rivers and his players seek to strengthen their grip on the Pacific Division within the Western Conference.

One game above ,500, at 30-29 , the Brooklyn Nets are lucky enough to be playing in a rather uninspiring division of the Eastern Conference . Currently, three game behind the Atlantic East leading Toronto Raptors (33-26) , perhaps the ” surprise”: team of the Eastern Conference this season. It would be fair to suggest, that this Jason Kidd coached Nets’ team , have been a great disappointment this season . . GM Billy King and team owner , Mikhail Prokhorov have simply sought to abandon any type of sound business principles and simply assembled a roster of high-priced players , with an aging core of veterans , in Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to surround the talents of Deron Williams , Brook Lopez and the “highly overrated “ Joe Johnson , whose contract and salary this season is one of the NBA’s biggest travesties and a clear reason why David Stern , the league hierarchy , team owners and general managers have no concept of fiscal responsibility .

What has been abundantly clear, is that the $110 million payroll of the Brooklyn Nets , the highest in the NBA this season , is further proof , that simply assembling roster of high-salaried players , is by no means a guarantee of success. The Nets found that out to their cost last season , with the team failing to make it deep into the NBA Playoffs , as hoped for, by then head coach Avery Johnson and interim replacement P J Carlesimo . The Nets failed to make it beyond the first round , falling to the Chicago Bulls in the best of seven=game series. Complacency, on the part of the players and a complete lack of leadership led to their demise.

If the NBA season were to end today, the Brooklyn Nets’ projected first round opponent, as the number six seed within the Eastern Conference , would see them meet the Toronto Raptors , currently holding down the third seed in the East. The Raptors lead their season series over the Nets 2-1 , and the likelihood of this Dwane Casey coached Raptors’ team overcoming Brooklyn, does seem a real possibility with the Toronto based franchise seeking to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2008 . For Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, after long and illustrious careers in the NBA , this may well be their last chance at combined postseason glory . The duo, were part of the Boston Celtics’ most recent triumph , when a Doc Rivers’ coached team were triumphant over the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals with a 4-2 series’ triumph. If the Nets are to have a successful postseason foray, then the leadership abilities of both Garnett and Terry will be called upon , beyond Jason Kidd’s own postseason experience as an NBA champion with the Dallas Mavericks and their triumph over the Miami Heat in 2011 .

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, are likely, future Hall of Fame bound players, given the body of their respective accomplishments as members of the Boston Celtics. Yet, at this stage , with both in the twilight of their careers, it says a great deal about both players and their ambition to go out as champions

Tim Duncan , already a four-time NBA champion, with the San Antonio Spurs , has an astonishing body of work as a player . His relationship with head coach Gregg Popovich , is like that of a father, proud of his first-born son. Duncan has been described as the greatest power forward in NBA history , something that Hall of Fame inductee Karl Malone may not be entirely in agreement with . Yet, you cannot deny that ” Mr. Fundamental” , as he is often known around the NBA, has simply made the position his own , in terms of his accomplishments. Yes, at present, there may well be, power forwards currently in the NBA, who show more athleticism than Duncan and are far more productive , but were you to ask a vast majority of fans would they take any power forward over Tim Duncan when a game is on the line , many of those individuals would definitely not have to think long and hard before coming to a decision .

Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves may well be the best player at the position, currently playing in the NBA , but as he continues to toil away with the Timberwolves , you simply get the feeling that in the end , it will be all for nothing . The Timberwolves’ front office appears to be lost and aimlessly heading nowhere , with their being little to show by the franchise in terms of any tangible success this season.

San Antonio comfortably sits behind the conference leading Oklahoma City Thunder (46-15) , one and a half games adrift , in second place. While, the talk within the conference and league wide, may well be whether or not Kevin Durant can succeed LeBron James and the League MVP . Gregg Popovich has the team concentrated on locking down that second seed and if possible , seeking to erase the Thunder’s conference lead in the coming weeks, as the regular season schedule winds down. If nothing else, one of the prime objectives also, has to keep the Spurs’ starting lineup injury free down that stretch as the last thing wanted , would be for Popovich to enter the postseason without one of the primary starters. Point guard , Tony Parker is currently out of the lineup due to a persistent recurring injury. With the Frenchman being sidelined, it gives the opportunity for Patrick Mills , Danny Green and Manu Ginobli to share the workload, while making up for the loss of the loss of Parker’s productivity , until he is ready to make a full return, to his normal starting duties.

On a four-game win streak and 8-2 in their last ten games , San Antonio appears to be rounding into the right form, as they look to wind down their schedule. . Tim Duncan, the omnipresent force and leader on this team , may well be now looking to the future as all of his career goals have been met. At best , he may well no more than one year of play left within him, as an arduous eighty-two game schedule can take its toll on the human body. Add in the fact, that the seventeen-year veteran of the 1997 NBA Draft , has been one the NBA’s mainstays during that time and it certainly gives credence , that were he to make this his last season in the league , there would be a great deal of applause for one of the great careers in recent NBA history. The accolades and achievements alone , will certainly stand the test of time , for one of the most celebrated and revered players in San Antonio Spurs’ history.

Would it be fair to suggest that during this past Superbowl , Denver Broncos’ quarterback , Peyton Manning might well have had one of the worst days of his already illustrious NFL career ? No one could have foreseen the Broncos being on the wrong side of a rather lopsided and embarrassing 48-3 defeat , suffered at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. That being said, the preseason meeting between the two teams should have been something of an indicator , even if both combatants fielded their second and third stringers throughout much of that game. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks came away triumphant in Superbowl 48 (SBXLVIIII) , while John Fox , his revered quarterback , Peyton Manning and the team are at a loss for words to explain an inexplicable and humiliating defeat .

Is Manning, now five-time League MVP, too old to be playing in the NFL at this stage of his career? Or more to the point, does he still possess the skill-set that have many speaking of him as the greatest quarterback ever to have played the game ? From my own personal standpoint, I believe at best , the quarterback has maybe no more than one or two years left in him, before he should simply “call it quits ” ! It is one thing to play the game because of your unbridled passing for football, it is another however, when all of your mistakes are magnified and placed under the microscope , with many now beginning to question your ability to play the game at the highest level , as has been the case with Peyton Manning.

Manning’s legacy, now has lost some of its shine , as some are likely to suggest, one Superbowl victory in three attempts , is a ‘ poor return’ , for someone who’s said to be the best passer in the game’s history. Then again, Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly went to four successive Superbowls with the Buffalo Bills and those four defeats , might well be what he is now best remembered for , rather than his career , and the records he attained while playing for the Bills. In the end , it all comes down to one’s opinion , as to what we believe to be great and what apparently is not so great .

What now happens with Peyton Manning, is now entirely in his hands , not John Fox’s , or John Elway’s , who as Head of the Broncos’ Football Operations , knows that with his incumbent quarterback , that is the best hope for the franchise to obtain a third Superbowl victory. The Broncos, may well seek to draft a quarterback in the latter rounds of this upcoming draft , while grooming that player for the future. Under Manning’s tutelage, that passer is likely to learn a great deal about the game, more so, than from any quarterbacks’ coach currently coaching in the NFL.

It seems somewhat ironic, that as I write about this topic, a decision, is made, by the Broncos to sever ties with one the franchise’s best players in its history. If the rumors are to be believed then today, John Elway cut defensive back Champ Bailey , saving themselves several million dollars under the cap , and maneuvering the franchise to either acquire a corner-back via free agency to draft one that specifically meets the team’s needs. The analogy of a “shut-down ” corner-back has been often used to describe players such as Deion Sanders and Nnamdi Asomugha , yet when I look at both of the players in question , the one thing that comes to mind , that neither was ever renowned for , was their alleged ” toughness ” , “willingness ” to ” make ” or take a hit , much less tackle an opposing offensive player. I may well be wrong, in my summation of both, but I seriously doubt it! Bailey for his part , has put together a Hall of Fame caliber worthy career , that places him amongst the upper echelons of the players to have played the position .

Pat Bowlen , owner of the Denver Broncos and John Elway will have a number of decisions to make this off –season in the lead-up to the NFL Draft. The disappointment of the postseason , with the only respite was having won the AFC West ahead of a now resurgent Kansas City Chiefs and the same can be said of the San Diego Chargers . It now makes the upcoming season all the more intense , because a great deal more will be expected of the franchise and their fans in attendance at Sports Authority (Mile High Stadium) Field in Denver , Colorado. The window of opportunity for the franchise to make it a reality , to win “now” , will prove to be all the more difficult , for Peyton Manning and several of his veteran teammates on the Broncos’ roster . The loss of Champ Bailey ,notwithstanding, business decision as it may well have been, , where this now leaves the franchise might well be gauged in some ways by the decisions made last season in preparation for their year . Their draft class proved to very good and their acquisitions were more than adequate, in meeting the needs sought. If that can be replicated this off-season, then there is no reason to believe why the Denver Broncos cannot make a return to the postseason. As to where they then go from there, will obviously be predicated upon the play of their renowned quarterback.

In the NFL much like the NBA and MLB , athletes actually playing past their prime is not actually unheard of . For many it comes down to their love of the game and their wanting to prove their doubters wrong. I believe that in the cases of Derek Jeter , Kobe Bryant , Champ Bailey and Peyton Manning , it has been more to do with their passion for the game more than anything else ! All are undoubtedly great athletes in their own right and with the likely retirement of Champ Bailey , we are now left to savor what else the remaining triumvirate of players will offer the fans .

Boxer Bernard Hopkins , currently seen as the linear champion within the light-heavyweight champion will seek to make another defense of his WBA and IBF titles when he meets Beibut Shumenov (14-9) at the DC Armory in Washington , DC on the 19th April , 2014. You may well think the proposed bout is nothing out of the ordinary , but consider the following , the champion is forty-nine years of age , fast approaching his fiftieth birthday on 15th January , 2015. His less experienced opponent , thirty year old Shumenov , from Kazakhstan , was five years old when Hopkins fought his first professional bout . Since then , Hopkins has won titles at the middleweight division , unifying it as an undisputed champion , moved up to the light-heavyweight division , won , lost and regained the title within the weight category and he now seeks to unify that division , all as he approaches his fiftieth birthday. Say what you will, it is either the “ Elixir of Youth” or “Father Time ” that either makes or breaks athletes who seek to be active at the later stages of their professional lives .

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What are your thoughts on the merits of this post ? By all means , do take time to offer up a comment on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) New York Yankees’ captain Derek Jeter is seen here congratulating teammate Alex Rodriguez after the team’s triumph in Game Six of the 2009 World Series . The Yankees would go on to be triumphant in winning the series with complicit ease in defeating the Philadelphia Phillies , in bringing about the franchise’s twenty-seventh World Series title . Jeter made the announcement prior to the New York Yankees’ Spring Training schedule , that 2014 , his twentieth in Major League Baseball would be his last season as a professional baseball player . AP Photo / Marcus Howe …..

(2) NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 11: Derek Jeter (2 ) (R) and Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees look on from the dugout in the ninth inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on August 11 , 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images ….

(3) Ken Griffey Jr , left is seen here alongside his father Ken Griffey Sr in the dugout of a game played against the Kansas City Royals at the Kingdome in Seattle , Washington , that would prove to be historic . The event would be the first time that a father and son played in a Major League Baseball game where they were suited up on the same team , in this case the Seattle Mariners . Courtesy of MLB.com MLB properties ….

(4) Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach Mike D’Antoni is seen here court-side with Kobe Bryant during a game played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California . The team has struggled this season , with Bryant sidelined due to an injury. Without him , it has brought about a telling perspective as to how much the player is missed when he is not on the court alongside of this teammates to provide the bulk of their offensive productivity . Bryant currently believes that the Lakers stand an outside shot of gaining a playoff berth within the Western Conference as the NBA season winds down with the final games of the schedule due to be played on 16th April, 2014. For Los Angeles that final game will be played against the San Antonio Spurs . Getty Images / Stephen Harper ………..

(5) Lakers’ teammates Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash , who between them have over a combined thirty years of NBA playing experience. The two guards have been limited to the number of games which they have played together this season , for the franchise , leading to their abysmal divisional and conference record . AP Photo / Mark Anderson ….

(6) Brooklyn Nets’ teammates Kevin Garnett (2) and Paul Pierce (34) of the Brooklyn Nets are seen her during a game played at Nets’ spacious home venue the Barclays Center , in Brooklyn , New York . Along with Jason Terry , the three former Boston Celtics’ players were brought in to provide some much-needed experience on a Nets’ roster that was lacking in leadership as well as defensive capabilities . Yet the team’s season has been in different , with a great deal of inconsistency being down by the team as a whole, leading to the belief that a postseason appearance , not beyond the franchise , is likely to be a short run , because of a lack of consistency being shown . GM Billy King has sought to “right the ship” , having traded Jason Terry to the Sacramento Kings , but yet the results still remain indifferent . It is likely that at the end of the season , the decision will be made not to retain either seasoned veteran , of Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce as the front office seeks to rebuild the roster around the talents of their All Star players , Deron Williams and Brook Lopez in the build-up for the 2014-15 NBA season . With a $110 million payroll , the highest in the NBA this season and with the franchise obligated to pay the “mandatory luxury tax” under the league hierarchy mandate. That sum will be in excess of $72 million and likely to lead to another financial loss for the second consecutive season for the Brooklyn Nets’ franchise . Billionaire team owner , Mikhail Prokhorov is willing to spend money in order to bring the Nets their first NBA title , but at what cost to his own financial acumen ? Getty Images North America / Erica Price ……

(7) San Antonio Spurs’ All Star and power forward Tim Duncan is seen here with head coach Gregg Popovich . Having won four NBA titles together in tandem as head coach and player , the two are seeking to emulate feats achieved by Michael Jordan , along with Phil Jackson and again of Jackson with Kobe Bryant in having won four or more titles together , as a head coach and player tandem. A fifth title eluded the pairing of Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich last season , when the team failed to take a-hold of their NBA Finals ‘ series against the Miami Heat , leading to a decisive game seven loss and leading to the Heat’s third title in the past seven seasons. Getty Images / Harry How ….

(8)Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) talks with head coach John Fox during practice Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Florham Park, N.J. The Broncos are scheduled to play the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 , in East Rutherford, N.J. What should have been a triumphant event for the duo of head coach and quarterback , ended up being a somber occasion after the Broncos’ humiliating loss to the Seahawks . AP Photo/ Garrett Jeffries …..

(9) Defensive back , Champ Bailey of the Denver Broncos speaks to the convened press prior to the Superbowl . The twelve-time Prow Bowl selection was cut by the Broncos after a stellar career with the franchise . Seen as business issue with the team avoiding a $10 million cap hit , Bailey made it clear that he has no intention of retiring and would like resume his NFL career elsewhere this upcoming season . A round pick , seventh overall by the Washington Redskins in the 1999 NFL Draft , the defensive player would prove to be effective in his rookie season with the Redskins . AP Photo/ Vince Gallagher ……

(10) Bernard Hopkins , not due to turn fifty until 15th January ,2015, will be making a defense of his IBF and WBA light-heavyweight world titles on the 19th April against Beibut Shumenov , from Kazakhstan , in what will be Hopkins’ second defense of his IBF belt . This will be the fighter’s thirtieth world title fight at either the middleweight and light-heavyweight division . Bernard Hopkins made twenty consecutive defenses of the middleweight title , unifying the division and become the last undisputed champion in any weight category of professional boxing in the past decade. Ring Magazine / Ronny Mercer @ copyrighted material … ……

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I think she’s missing some type of exercise equipment , but I could , very well be wrong . Nah !

Bowing out in style, bowing out gracefully or simply bowing out, because the game has now become uninteresting?

Bowing out in style, bowing out gracefully or simply bowing out, because the game has now become uninteresting ?

In the lead-up to the start of the exhibition season in baseball , known to the most devout of fans as Spring Training . The biggest story of the early preseason has been the announcement by Derek Jeter that the 2014 baseball season will in fact be his last . He brings to an end a glorious two-decade long career that has seen the New York Yankees’ shortstop having won a slew of awards as being anointed as a five-time World Series champion as well as having a World Series MVP award . Certainly , Jeter would like nothing better than to win a sixth series’ ring in his final season, with the only franchise he has ever played for. Last season , he witnessed the retirements of two former teammates , in Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera who along with catcher , Jorge Posada , made up a core quartet , that were part of four World Series’ triumphs for the franchise during seven-year span , all under the watchful eye of then manager , Joe Torre , who this season was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York . Undoubtedly, Jeter along with Rivera and Pettite will be future bound Hall of Fame inductees having met the criteria needed.

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A great deal will be expected of this New York Yankees’ team after the usual flurry of acquisitions made by the franchise during the off-season , with the organization committing in excess of $400 million on the players acquired by general manager Brian Cashman to bolster the roster , managed by Joe Girardi and his staff .

New York is likely to enter this MLB season with the largest payroll of any team entering the official Opening Day schedule on the 31st March , 2014 . Consider the fact, that for the very first time in 2013, payroll commitment for baseball’s thirty teams topped $3 billion ($3,000,000,000) for the very first time in baseball history . As to what this might suggest , when it comes to teams showing financial expediency can be best summed up by the ongoing idiocy of baseball’s luxury tax sharing scheme which has not really served any real purpose , other than for the hierarchy to penalize the high spending salaried ball-clubs around the Major Leagues. From my own standpoint, I firmly believe that financial expediency will remain the last thing on the mind of baseball’s hierarchy, in spite of the official comments coming out of the league’s headquarters based in Manhattan , New York . The MLBPA is far too powerful a union to take on, with the owners simply cowering far too often in their wake. While the Players’ Union (MLBPA) itself , has a new successor to Michael Weiner as its Executive Director, there is no doubt in my mind, they will continue to always negotiate from a position of power ! Former player , Tony Clark now succeeds Weiner , who lost his battle with lymph node cancer , with his death coming as a shock to many around the word of baseball , with his tenure being such a short one.

The New York Yankees made a big splash in signing of Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka , making him amongst the highest paid starting pitchers in the game, with an astronomical seven-year $155 million contract , that also places him amongst the highest paid players on the Yankees’ payroll for this season . Were it not for the year-long suspension of Alex Rodriguez and his $29 million due for this season , Tanaka’s pay of $22 million still places him behind the annual salaries of both CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira . . With the team having missed the postseason , with a lackluster end to their season , falling way behind both the AL East divisional champions the Boston Red Sox and the second-placed Tampa Bay Rays . It will be extremely difficult to suggest that Tanaka’s acquisition along with that of Jacoby Ellsbury , Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran will be enough to see this team possibly leap-frog both of their divisional rivals , while also posing a serious enough threat to the rest of the AL this upcoming season . Last season, injuries alone , were not the sole excuse for the Yankees’ on field failures. Several of their games were lost due to their complacency and a lack of leadership coming from anyone on the field of play , while team captain , Derek Jeter spent a large part of the season on the team’s disabled list with two prolonged spells .

Pitching will have to consistent all season long for the New York Yankees , in a division , where the makeups for the rosters of the Baltimore Orioles , Toronto Blue Jays , Rays and Red Sox will have a dearth and considerable depth to the lineups of the aforementioned teams. CC Sabathia is likely to be the Opening Day starter for the Yankees, a role which fits the veteran nicely. Hiroki Kuroda , Masahiro Tanaka can presumably be, switched around as the number two or three starters in the rotation , to be followed by Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova , as the case maybe . The reliever’s role now becomes all the more trickier for Joe Girardi, as Yankees will no longer have Mariano Rivera to close out games , be it for the last 2 1/3 innings or slightly longer . Rivera’s retirement along with his record-breaking 652 regular season career saves and another forty-two in postseason play , makes him the most dominant pitcher in history in that specific role. A staple for the New York Yankees that they are now likely to miss more than Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild would care to willingly admit .

Robinson Cano’s departure from the New York Yankees to join the Seattle Mariners may well be questioned, as I believe that the player is likely to struggle within an organization that has not made the postseason in several years and whose last divisional title came in 2001 . It begs the question, has Cano simply become a mercenary , albeit that his agent , Jay-z of Roc Nation Sports, sought the best for client, in terms of what he believed was Robinson Cano’s worth ? The player himself , indicated that he felt disrespected by the New York Yankees , and the negotiation process led by Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner as they made a vain attempt to re-sign the player to a lucrative contract . The Yankees have and will move forward , while Cano, by mid-season, could very well be pondering if he made the right decision to leave the New York Yankees to join an organization , merely struggling to remain relevant within the AL West , as it has so often done over the past eight years .

If there is one thing that we do know about Derek Jeter and his persona , it is that he is a gritty and very determined player. Few players have been afforded the privilege, of becoming the captain of the New York Yankees during that proud franchise’s history . The last such player of note, to be given that role, was Don Mattingly , who currently manages the Los Angeles Dodgers . Mattingly’s , own career with the Yankees was filled with highs and lows , but he became a fan favorite with his heroics on the field of play , with his candor , when dealing with the press and the fans alike, away from the diamond. Jeter is likely to go down as one of the most celebrated players in recent Yankees’ <a href=http://m history and franchise history overall , while not necessarily being considered one of the top five or six players ever to have donned the Yankees’ Pinstripes. Yet , a debate is likely to begin amongst the fan-base of the Yankees and amongst the purists and MLB analysts everywhere as to where he ought to be ranked amongst the likes of Lou Gehrig , Joe DiMaggio , Mickey Mantle , Babe Ruth , Phil Rizutto and perhaps, Mattingly, himself. That may well be a debate, that is likely create arguments and counterarguments, concerning a very much heated topic among the protagonists and contraries .

While Derek Jeter claims that now is the right time for him to step away from the game, to devote more time to his charitable and philanthropic efforts , be with his family and by his own words, start a family . It has me wondering, Jeter’s wish may well be to leave on a high note, but I can’t help but wonder, if the player has simply not become disenchanted with the game of baseball and the never-ending controversies, that have come to encapsulate baseball in recent seasons , leaving a number of fans also disenchanted and simply distrustful of the league hierarchy led by Bud Selig . Jeter has never openly discussed the issue of steroids within the game , which is very much line with many of his peers , albeit , that the likes of Albert Pujols and David Ortiz have seen their names brought up as a topic of debate concerning the issue. Pujols has come out and suggested, that if the league wants to test him ‘ then they can’ , as he has never and would never use an illicit substance in order to assist his game . The slugger’s career in baseball since his entry in to Major League Baseball when drafted by the St Louis Cardinals in the 1999 MLB Draft . In the ensuing years he has become one of the most prolific players of this era .

Derek Jeter’s first exhibition game for the New York Yankees will likely see a major turnout , in terms of the legions of fans, wishing to bid him farewell . He has become one of a handful of role models that the game of baseball can actually point to and say “ he has done things the right way” . A case like that, cannot be made for Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa , Mark McGwire , Jose Canseco , Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Braun. Such has been the dismay within the sport and the very fact that Bud Selig remains clueless , on how best to address one the biggest continued stains on the game, since the “Black Sox “ scandal over nine decades ago. Granted, racism , segregation ran the gamut through baseball and while many lauded Branch Rickey and his “ social experiment “, with the introduction of Jackie Robinson unto an integrated team , it should be noted that Robinson was not the first person of color , ever to play in the Major Leagues. Moses Fleetwood “ Fleet” Walker would break the “color barrier” . be it ever so briefly , but therein lies how history seeks to rewrite the annals of the game , to paint the type of picture that appears to be more socially responsive .

Fleetwood    Walker

A historical account is given of Moses Fleetwood ” Fleet” Walker of his being the first player of color to have played in the Majors , some six decades head of Jackie Robinson’s first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 .

The regular season home opening series at Yankees Stadium will likely see a full house with the press in full attendance , print and television media alike , along with credentialed representatives from farther afield , as this story will be of international importance wherever baseball is known to be played and with the Yankees having legions of fans across the globe. That initial three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles starting on the 7th April will prove to be a historic event in the milestone of Derek Jeter’s career and that of the New York Yankees. Subsequently , the Boston Red Sox will come to town and the two teams’ season long series should prove to be eventful, much like their it annual meetings have proven to be over the past two decades . This is perhaps the greatest rivalry within baseball, with so many of these contests having additional meaning for the soon to be retired Yankees’ shortstop. In recent history , perhaps the most memorable contest between the two teams took place series and what is now known as perhaps one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history and also the biggest meltdown by a team leading a series , with their needing one game for victory and a berth in the World Series.. That classic 2004 ALCS contest between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees still has reverberations within both organizations , as it led to the Red Sox’s resurgence under Terry Francona , with two World Series in the span of five years and then with another in 2013 , under newly installed manager John Farrell .

As the season meanders towards its postseason finale , it will be interesting to see whether or not the New York Yankees will be in contention for a divisional title within the AL East or perhaps a wildcard berth as they chase down unprecedented forty-first AL Pennant and twenty-eighth World Series’ title . The month of September should prove to be climactic for all of the league’s thirty teams , but perhaps more so for the Yankees and all that this season is likely to mean for the franchise and the career of Derek Jeter.

How appropriate is it, that what is likely to be Jeter’s last regular season game will be played at Fenway Park in Boston on the final day of the season , when the New York Yankees will be the guests of their most famous rivals the Boston Red Sox ? Nineteen regular season meetings on annual basis , has a great deal going for it , and if the two teams should somehow also be contesting the AL East on the final day. Then look for the heroics to come from Jeter and his teammates, as they seek to send him out in style. That may not prove to be the case however , as it is my firm opinion that the Red Sox are likely to prevail once again this season and repeat as divisional champions. They proved to be far too dominant for their rivals within the AL East as their season long series against the Baltimore Orioles ( 8-11) , New York Yankees ( 13-6) , Tampa Bay Rays ( 12-7) and Toronto Blue Jays ( 11-8)would prove to be as evidence in those contests.

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Picture gallery .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this article and how do you view the career of Derek Jeter as a player with the New York Yankees ? Your comments are more than welcome, so chime in, with a thought as you see fit.

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter speaks with Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindal , a managing partner within the New York Yankees’ organization . Jeter met with the convened press at the Yankees’ Spring Training facility at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa , Florida where he confirmed that this season would be his last in Major League Baseball , having played his entire two-decade long career with franchise . AP Photo / Chris O’Meara ….

(2) New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter gestures during a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. Jeter has announced he will retire at the end of the 2014 season. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …

(3) New York Yankees part owner and co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner listens as shortstop Derek Jeter speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. Jeter has announced he will retire at the end of the 2014 season. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ….

(4) New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman responds to a question about shortstop Derek Jeter after a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. Jeter has announced he will retire at the end of the 2014 season. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …

(5) TAMPA, FL – FEBRUARY 19: Joe Girardi, Manager of the New York Yankees speaks after Derek Jeter spoke at a media availability after announcing that the 2014 season will be his last before retiring at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 19, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images …

(6) Jacoby Ellsbury is seen here with New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi after the player was formally introduced to the convened having been acquired as a free agent . Ellsbury coming off a World Series’ win with the Boston Red Sox last season , hopes to be productive for his new team spearheading on offense that will also include Mark Teixeira , Carlos Beltran , Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki . AP Photo / Chris Evans …

(7) Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees poses for a photograph with, from left, general manager Brian Cashman, Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost , President Randy Levine , managing general partner and co-chairperson Hal Steinbrenner , Assistant General Manager Jean Afterman and manager Joe Girardi as he introduced to the media during a news conference on February 11, 2014 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Tanaka signed a seven-year $155 million contract that will see him be a part of the Yankees’ pitching rotation that will include CC Sabathia , Hiroki Kuroda , Ivan Nova and David Phelps . Jim McIsaac / Getty Images …..

(8) Derek Jeter is seen here during the 1996 World Series played against the Atlanta Braves . Coming off his Rookie of the Year Award in 1995 , in his second year as a Major League player he would be in the first of his four World Series’ triumphs with Joe Torre as the Yankees’ manager . Atlanta would succumb to the Yankees in a lopsided series’ loss to the AL Pennant winners of that season . AP Photo / Marcus Shaw …..

(9) A historical account is given of Moses Fleetwood ” Fleet” Walker of his being the first player of color to have played in the Majors , some six decades head of Jackie Robinson’s first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 .

(10) Roger Clemens ,(left) and Barry Bonds , two of the most celebrated players of their generation and long seen as the “faces” of the steroid era within baseball . Bonds a seven-time NL MVP remains the all-time career and season home runs’ leader . Clemens is himself a seven time Cy Young Award winner with over three hundred career wins and over 4000 strikeouts on his career resume’ . Both players were on the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot , but failed to gain the necessary votes for induction into Cooperstown . In 2015 their names will once again be up for submission , but it is highly unlikely that either will be voted in . UPI / Matt Simmons ……….

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A few good men at the right price, its baseball

A few good men at the right price, its baseball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of New York Daily News

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

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

By Mark Fiensand , New York Daily News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Miami Marlins coming off their 62-100 season within the NL East , only the Houston Astros bore a worst record in the entire league last season . Personally, having once been an ardent supporter of the franchise before complete abandoning them in 2011 , after the contempt ongoing deceit of the ownership group , that was also abetted by Bud Selig and his hierarchy cohorts . There is really nothing admirable that can be said about the South Florida franchise and the continued incompetence being shown not only its upper management but also by the league in its entirety. As to the ongoing idiocy, and what appears to be the love-fest , with the adoption of instant replay being introduced within the game of baseball . Considering, the lack decisiveness being shown by the teams , players , union , owners and front office executives in dealing with issues , such as, rampant steroid use and the financial disparities that still continue within the game . I doubt , that , this upcoming season within baseball, will be any different from the previous seasons of controversy , excesses of the players in terms of their personal conduct or the ongoing incompetency of Bud Selig and his leadership style , whatever that might be !

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Picture gallery .

Chime in with your thoughts on the points raised within this piece and anything else that you feel that is pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Members of the Steinbrenner family pose for photographers following a ceremony dedicating a monument to the late Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner before the Yankees baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 20, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Seen are (L-R) Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, Jessica Steinbrenner, George’s widow Joan Steinbrenner, Hal Steinbrenner and Hank Steinbrenner. Source:Pool/Getty Images North America ….

(2) Members of the Steinbrenner family, (L-R) Hal Steinbrenner, and Jessica Steinbrenner pass by their father’s monument following as another member of the family places a rose beside the newly unveiled plaque, at a ceremony dedicating the monument to the late Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner before the Yankees baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 20, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Source: Pool/ Getty Images North America ….

(3) Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox , seen here during a game played at Fenway Park in Boston , Massachusetts,. The player having become a free agent this off-season, signed a reputed six-year $153 million deal to play for the New York Yankees . Ellsbury, age 30, has been plagued by injuries in recent seasons , but his agent Scott Boras believes his client will be a productive player and provide the clubhouse leadership needed by the franchise . It begs the question, will Jacoby Ellsbury now become the heir-apparent to Derek Jeter as perhaps the new captain of the team ? AP Photo / Jae C Hong ….

(4) Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Boston Red Sox, Ben Cherington (R), introduces John Farrell as the new manager, the 46th manager in the club’s 112-year history , on October 23, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. In his first season as manager of the ball-club Farrell would lead the Red Sox to their third World Series title in the past nine years and the franchise’s eighth overall in their history. Getty Images/ Jared Wickerham …..

Detroit Tigers’ general manager Dave Dombrowski , left is seen here with the team’s new manager Brad Ausmus . The new skipper succeeds Jim Leyland whose resignation was reluctantly accepted by the organization this off-season. Players such as Miguel Cabrera , Justin Verlander , Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer thanked the outgoing manager for his contributions to the Tigers , as well for the relationships founded and also, in making them better players . AP Photo / Tony Jackson ….

(6) Houston Astros’ owner Jim Crane ,left, is seen here alongside the team’s manager Bo Porter . Two years into his reign and Porter has led to the franchise to back to back 100 losses in each of the last two seasons. With now lowered attendance having moved from the NL Central to the AL West in 2013 , the organization apart from being uncompetitive , is now having severe financial difficulties, which Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow are denying, in spite of their civil suit against CSN Houston , the regional cable sports’ broadcast outlet that the ball-club has a stake in . Getty Images / Paul Stevens ….

(7) Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, left, and team president David Samson walk through the lobby of the hotel hosting Major League Baseball’s winter meetings in Dallas , Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011. AP Photo/LM Otero ….

(8) Bud Selig is seen here alongside fellow MLB hierarchy executive , Joe Torre SVP & Head of Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball . All signs seems to be pointing to either Rob Manfred or Bob Dupuy succeeding the outgoing commissioner in February 2014 , rather than the popular choice of Torre, himself . Courtesy of ESPN and MLB Properties Inc ….
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Can’t get enough titties to look at ? Try her’s .

If you can’t stand the heat, then stay the hell out of the kitchen .

If you can’t stand the heat, then stay the hell out of the kitchen .

As the NBA season still is still til in its infancy , we are already seeing the struggles of several notable teams thought to be legitimate contenders for the NBA title . Last season, we saw both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks make somewhat spirited forays as part of the NBA Playoffs , only to subsequently fall in the first round and the conference semi-finals within the Eastern Conference. From my own standpoint , although their efforts were admirable , in no way could either team be seen as a real threat to derail the eventual champions , the Miami Heat , simply based on the performances of the Heat during the entire playoffs ! Unfortunately, for fans of the New York Knicks, as always, has been their want, theirs is a world built around their belief that sports’ world is encapsulated around everything that exists within the organization , the players , management and the coaching staff .

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Coming into this season, a great deal was expected of the New York Knicks and specifically , this team , led by Carmelo Anthony , Tyson Chandler , J R Smith , Metta World Peace , Amare` Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert . Head coach Mike Woodson , long seen as a very good coach of young players, has sought instill discipline into a roster that was simply lacking that trait in 2012 , and it would appear that the trait still remains , as the Knicks are off to an understated start , having posted a 3-7 record through their first ten games of the season . Good enough, to have them at the bottom of the Atlantic Division and amongst the lower rungs of the Eastern Conference .

Now losers of three straight , one could attest to the fact that the Knicks are still seeking a footing in terms of consistency , but the evidence would suggest otherwise , with erratic play both defensively and on offense . On Wednesday night , the team will play host to the Indiana Pacers (9-1) , the current pace setters within the Central Division , as well as the conference , in a game that will be played at Madison Square Garden , in New York City , New York , home to the New York Knicks. While I believe the Knicks to be merely a competent team , I simply do not believe that they have the depth or the mindset to be considered good enough to dethrone the Miami Heat in a seven-game playoff series . Granted , Knicks’ fans will always point to their defeat of the Heat during the regular season, but in essence that imply counts for nothing, when there is not a great deal at stake. It has always been the postseason , where legacies are made, and at this juncture, the New York fans have simply forgotten that very fact.

How the Knicks acquit themselves against the Pacers, could tell us a great deal about the team as they move forward. A loss , not while catastrophic, could start to raise questions about the makeup of this roster and whether not a number of roster moves might well need to be made at some point during the season . GM Steve Mills , might well need to take a look at his options, should he seek to improve the roster in order to strengthen the team’s chances of making the postseason

With the baseball season now over and a World Series’ champion having been crowned , with the Boston Red Sox claiming their title in the last ten years. One of the more unsavory aspects of this past season has now raised its ugly head, with the ongoing procedural hearing concerning Alex Rodriguez’s attempts to have his suspension overturned during arbitration , with special arbitrator Frederic Horowitz presiding over the entire appeal’s process. Ten days into this proceeding , the defendant , Rodriguez , has decided to show his disgust with this all, by leaving the MLB headquarters , showing his utter disdain for Horowitz, after the arbitrator made the decision not have MLB Commissioner Bud Selig take the stand to stand to fully explain the reasons for the league’s stance in taking their current action to have the New York Yankees’ third baseman for a record two-hundred and fourteen-game suspension.

The league’s position, has been that Rodriguez has been less than truthful in the testimony provided to the league’s investigators, as well as the evidence now in their possession , in some cases paid for , as part of their evidence gathering from the now defunct South Florida based supplements’ company Biogenesis . Company founder, Anthony “Tony” Bosch , now under federal indictment for a number of federal charges , concerning drug trafficking and the selling and distribution of prescription drugs , has agreed to testify on behalf of Major League Baseball. As to what bearing, this will have not only on this hearing, but also Bosch’s own liberty , as he awaits his federal trial , will most likely be dependent upon how damaging his testimony is likely to be against Alex Rodriguez.

Rodriguez and his high-priced legal team , headed by criminal attorneys David Cornwell and Joe Tacopina will have now have a hard time trying to disprove the case against their client , after his actions , and the alleged use of “foul language” by Alex Rodriguez , in describing the whole procedure as a ‘ ###king farce’ , as well as directing a great of his venom at the commissioner and the arbitrator. Were this a criminal case, I seriously doubt that the player’s actions would be so direct , and filled with such anger towards the aforementioned parties !

While I do believe in due process , it is very hard for me to now see how Rodriguez can see his action as being a positive ! His credibility has already come into question , with his repeated non refusal to address earlier claims that he had used performance enhancing drugs , prior to this latest allegation of ties to Biogenesis and the evidence of his having purchased a cache of different substances for his personal use , all in violation of the league’s policy. Bear in mind also , the player is also seeking legal recourse, with his own action against MLB as well as the lead medical physician of the New York Yankees , and what he feels has been a collusive act to have him driven out of baseball . As to why a team doctor would seek to work in conjunction with the league hierarchy to have a player thrown out of the game , simply defies logic , based on Rodriguez’s premise and that of the lawyers’ case in the civil suit filed in US District Court in Manhattan . Seeking punitive damages , emotional distress, loss of income, defamation and damage to his reputation ? Is Alex Rodriguez actually serious, with those claims ?

Rodriguez’s attempts to cast the league’s case as a witch-hunt I believe has more to do with the fact that he may well have felt that any suspension rendered against might well have been in line those meted out to the other twelve players named in the league’s investigative findings and then suspended . A maximum penalty of sixty-five games was handed down to the Brewers’ Ryan Braun , who has subsequently apologized for his actions , in lying not only to the fans the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization ,. but also to the league hierarchy for his misdeeds. A far cry, from his original denial in 2011, the year he won the NL MVP Award , while offering up a web of deceit and lies .

In March of 2010, Alex Rodriguez, himself, would apologize publicly for his steroid use, with the New York Yankees’ organization orchestrating much of the actual premise behind the player’s act of contrition. Yet less than eighteen months later , Rodriguez’s name would come up in association with that of Orlando medical professional , Dr Anthony Galea , who was said to be running a “pill mill” out of his offices in the Central Florida haven . Galea , now serving his time in a federal facility after a plea agreement with the U S Justice Department , was never questioned by the MLB’s investigators concerning links to Rodriguez and the player, himself when broached on the subject, simply deflected those questions with the usual baseball banter of wanting to see the team do well , and that he was not involved or did not know Galea , nor did he have any idea, how his name came to be associated with the now convicted felon. Come full circle, and it now appears, that Alex Rodriguez will seek to muddy with the waters, , with the actions taken , while also seeking to show that baseball’s hierarchy is in fact incompetent , disingenuous and cannot be trusted. The player may well be right , but at this juncture, who are you likely to give the benefit of the doubt to ? The player, or the MLB hierarchy in terms of their respective actions ?

The MLB hierarchy , as led by Bud Selig , along with the team owners and union, bear the brunt of the responsibility for this continued farce , even with Alex Rodriguez trying to dramatically play the victim , when his portrayal , if anything , has more to do with that of a villain with an amoral attitude. As to the player’s claim, that he has a deep respect for the game , his actions have shown that to be a falsehood in the past and now in the present after his less than civil behavior during an arbitration proceeding .

As the NFL enters the final five weeks of the regular season ,with the week twelve schedule giving us a taste of another Thursday night contest between NFC divisional rivals the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints (8-2) . I simply cannot help but wonder, how many of us would have thought that the Falcons’ season would have become so miserable and with their now being calls for the head of Mike Smith as well GM Thomas Dimitroff and a number of players on this roster ! There now seems to be nothing to play for, concerning the Falcons, other than pride and self-respect. Even that might not be enough to abate the wrath of their fans , who expected so much more out of the team this season , along with that of their Pro Bowl . quarterback Matt Ryan .

In a division where the Atlanta Falcons were expected to be challenging for divisional dominance over the New Orleans and a now resurgent ,a href=http://nfl.com/teams/profile?team=car> Carolina Panthers (7-3) . This Falcons’ team now finds itself firmly rooted at the bottom of the NFC South with a 2-8 record , which they jointly share with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) , a team that also this season , has been a major disappointment to their fans . There is a common belief that at the end of this season , both Mike Smith and his Buccaneers’ counterpart Greg Schiano are likely to get a reprieve from their respective front offices and are likely to retain their positions. Though, it would not surprise me, were either Thomas Dimitroff or Mark Dominik decided to ” pull the trigger” and simply fire both head coaches ! When all else fails and the players are not being held accountable, then the coach has to be fired. I mean, it’s the nature of the beast , kill or be killed.

Playing for pride and self-respect now appears to be the only thing left for the franchise, beyond their impending draft status. The Falcons’ draft classes in recent years , overall, have been unspectacular, with their being a lack of leadership coming from the “face of the franchise ” , in Matt Ryan. He may well be a very good player , but I have yet to hear anyone describe the player as someone with great leadership qualities . Instead, Ryan is a great regular season quarterback, but the doubts have begun to set in concerning his most recent postseason performances and the lack of recent postseason success by the franchise. . Going forward , it is unlikely that the front office is likely to do anything drastic concerning the quarterback, but there are likely to be several moves structured to improve the roster , in order to make it all the more competitive .

Matt Ryan, has the weight of a burdensome contract that he appears not to be able live up to. Unlike many of his peers at the top NFL “ quarterback food chain” , with the exception of , Sam Bradford , Philip Rivers and Tony Romo , all of the others have won a Superbowl . That if anything, has to be truly indicative of the pressure place upon a player who was drafted to replace the once beloved former Falcons’ icon Michael Vick , whose fall from grace while with the Atlanta Falcons has been well chronicled . As to what, now awaits the Atlanta Falcons over the remainder of their schedule will be predicated upon the effort given by a team , that this season , has been one of the major disappointments of this NFL calendar year. Matt Ryan has a great deal to prove, not only to himself, but also to the Falcons’ fans , as well as the NFL, in terms of his playing ability , and being able to lead the franchise to a Superbowl victory.

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In light of the issues raised within this piece , what thoughts if any do you have concerning this article and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the topic ? Simply leave a comment on this and by all means, if you have any suggestions as to future content you would like to see within the site , your thoughts are more than welcomed !

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(1) Carmelo Anthony goes up for the dunk during a game played between the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Wednesday night , 20th November , 2013 . Indiana would go on to defeat the Knicks in overtime 103-96 , with Paul George of the Pacers leading all scorers with 35 points during the game. AP Photo / Kathy Willens ….

(2) Paul George (24) of the Indiana Pacers attempts a shot over the outstretched arms of the New York Knicks’ Beno Udrih (18) . The Pacers with the victory pushed their record to 10-1 , which is the best in the Eastern Conference and the top mark in the NBA alongside the San Antonio Spurs (10-1) . AP Photo / Kathy Willens ….

(3) Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees is seen here leaving his limousine alongside his attorney Joseph ‘Joe’ Tacopina , as the two arrive at the MLB headquarters in New York City , where the player listened to the arbitration proceedings presided over by the league and union sanctioned arbitrator Frederic Horowitz . On the tenth day of the hearings, the player abruptly left the hearing in anger , slighting both the arbitrator and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for what he believes to be an unjust and flawed hearing . As to how Rodriguez’s action will impact any verdict rendered remains to be seen . For the moment, the player’s defense , in seeking the rescinding of his suspension will be plead by his two lead attorney Joe Tacopina and David Cornwell . Rodriguez also has a civil suit awaiting a trial date to be set in US Federal District Court in Lower Manhattan , New York . AP Photo / James Todd ……

(4) Matt Ryan (2) of the Atlanta Falcons attempts a pass during a game played against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a divisional contest at Raymond James Stadium , in Tampa , Florida , this past Sunday . The Buccaneers would go on to defeat Atlanta 41-28 in what turned to be one the Falcons’ worst performances of the season . On Thursday night they will face another divisional foe , the New Orleans Saints , when the two teams meet at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta Georgia ,. The Falcons’ quarterback has performed somewhat erratically through his team’s first ten games of the season , in leading them to a 2-8 record within the NFC South and NFC as a whole . AP Photo / Rheinold Matay ….

(5) Gerald McCoy (93) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sacks Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan during the this past Sunday played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa , Florida . Tampa would go on to defeat Atlanta 41-28 in a lopsided victory for the home team . AP Photo / Rheinold Matay …..

(6) Buccaneers’ running back Bobby Rainey (43) scampers into the end-zone , after a forty-three yard touchdown run , that highlighted the team’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons 41-28, this past Sunday . AP Photo / Rheinold Matay ……….

(6) From left to right , Atlanta Falcons’ team owner , Arthur Blank , GM Thomas Dimitroff , head coach Mike Smith and the team’s quarterback , Matt Ryan . The quarterback who recently signed a six-year $113.75 million contract in 2013 , of which $42 million is in guaranteed money , will now have to live up the deal . The expectations are high not only for the player and his long-term future but also for that of the Falcons’ franchise who are seeking to move into a new venue , to be built at an estimated cost of $1.205 billion , during which the Atlanta Falcons are hoping to be ready for the 2014-15 season. A great deal of controversy has surrounded the proposed venue with the Falcons said to only putting up $200 million towards the $1.2 billion cost of the proposed structure, with the rest coming from public funding . AP Photo / Garrett Lang ……

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“Alles , was du willst ” ? (See anything you like ? [German])

Pine tar, anyone ?

Pine tar, anyone ?

Just when you thought could not get any more asinine within the world of baseball and how the league hierarchy has dealt with the Biogenesis ” scandal” , word now comes that beleaguered baseball player Alex Rodriguez will seek to sue Major League Baseball for slander , collusion in trying to have his career derailed and put to an end with their wrongful pursuit of him with regard to baseball’s substance abuse policy . The plaintiff furthers goes on to suggest that the hierarchy’s vindictive pursuance of him also contravenes the union’s (MLBPA) collective bargaining agreement. The league as defendants deny this , stating that the agreement agreed to and ratified by the union , allows them the right, to pursue a player and punish them accordingly, where they find there is irrefutable evidence that is beyond reasonable doubt ,that he has violated a league rule .

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At a time when baseball should be celebrating their postseason , the attention is taken away from these events , by a player known to be self-absorbed and only concerned with his own image, rather than showing himself to be a loyal teammate . MLB Commissioner . Bud Selig and the league hierarchy will now have to press the veracity of their case, should it be presented for trial in front of judge . Yet it is becoming abundantly clear that the New York Yankees’ third baseman is not prepared to give up without a fight , while seeking to defend his already tarnished reputation. From my own perspective the longer this story remains within the public’s view , the more embarrassing it is for the sport of baseball , because the commissioner’s handling of this whole episode has been poorly handled , with Bud Selig truly showing a complete lack of leadership.

A date has yet to be set for Alex Rodriguez’s appeal’s hearing, concerning his two-hundred and eleven game suspension for violating baseball’s steroid policy , an allegation that Rodriguez continues to deny , in spite of the evidence said to be in the hierarchy’s possession. While this process remains at an impasse , the question that also needs to be asked , is why no action by the New York Yankees and in particular with no public statement forthcoming from either Brian Cashman , Hank or Hal Steinbrenner ? I can only surmise that the front office of the organization is as incompetent as the league hierarchy itself . Rodriguez’s contributions for the New Yankees this season have been mediocre , with the player now a mere shadow of himself , while remaining the highest paid player in the game . A poor return for the franchise, whose season simply imploded during the final month of the season with the team’s poor play . A great deal of uncertainty now clouds the immediate future of this ball-club with their being no clear intent that manager Joe Girardi will return in . 2014 . That situation will play itself out, with a decision being made by the Yankees’ front office after Girardi has met with general manager Brian Cashman to discuss his future with the organization .

The Cincinnati Reds after their , all too disappointing season , have seen fit to fire manager Dusty Baker , with a year left on his current contract . GM Walt Jocketty , President & CEO Robert H Castellini made the decision to change course after another under-achieving 2013 sojourn . Baker in his six seasons with the Reds, was able to guide the ball-club to the postseason in four of the six seasons he managed the franchise , winning the NL Central division twice in 2010 and 2012 . Yet for all of that success, it was deemed not enough to constitute his return next season , which in many respects, with the team missing the postseason in 2013 , having finished a distant third in the NL Central behind divisional champions the St Louis Cardinals (97-65) and the surprisingly resilient Pittsburgh Pirates (94-68) , with the Reds’ lackluster mark of 90-72 . In terms of successor to Dusty Baker, the franchise has not made it clear who they will seek to replace him with as club’s manager , but it is quite clear that they will seek an individual with the name recognition and the necessary experience to lead the Reds in the next phase of their history .

A surprisingly successful season for the Cleveland Indians came to an all too abrupt end with the Indians’ 4-0 loss in the wild-card round of the postseason to the Tampa Bay Rays . Fittingly, for manager , Terry Francona , his return to the Big Leagues was a successful one having spent almost two years on the sidelines, before being hired by GM Chris Antonetti in 2013. Under Francona , in managing this team , they were able to show a great deal of resilience by pushing the Detroit Tigers for much of the season within the AL Central . There were signs to suggest that in 2014 the Indians will be a force to be reckoned with , not just within their division but across the AL as whole . I certainly believe that with the Indians’ depth and their prospects within the farm system , they will be much closer to being a legitimate challenger for a an AL pennant in the coming seasons.

If the NL has taught us anything this season within baseball , it has been that the cream always rises to the top. It should have come as no surprise that the Atlanta Braves , St Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers were the three triumphant divisional winners , winning those divisions by comfortable margins and with a great deal of east. With that in mind , with the postseason having begun , we are now down to the divisional series , where within the NL , the Pittsburgh Pirates are pitted against the St Louis Cardinals , with the other series pitting the high spending Los Angeles Dodgers against the Atlanta Braves . The first games of those two series were lopsided affairs , with the Cardinal getting the better of the Pirates in a 9-1 victory and the Dodgers laying the lumber, in thrashing the Braves 6-1 at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta , Georgia. The Pirates were able to exercise the demons of that loss, by coming back to defeat the Cardinals in game two 7-1 in game two of their five-game series . Game two of the series, between the Braves and Dodgers will resume tonight , with Atlanta looking to level that contest at one game apiece . A loss at this juncture would all , but bring about the inevitability of the end to the Atlanta Braves’ season, were they to lose the second game of this five game series .

While it can be said that the New York Yankees had a disappointing season, their erstwhile divisional rivals have rebounded from a disastrous 2012 , to win the AL East , under manager John Farrell , with the same old faces contributing greatly to the success of the team along with an influx of seasoned veterans such as Shane Victorino , Mike Napoli , Ryan Dempster , Jake Peavy and Jonny Gomes all lending a hand in that success . A year after the Bobby Valentine chapter of mismanagement and shameless finger-pointing by Farrell’s predecessor , for his own incompetence , it is good to be witness one of baseball’s more venerable franchises back where they belong . In light of that however , the Red Sox will face a tough ALDS series against the Tampa Bay Rays . Game one of this contest will begin today at Fenway Park in , Boston , Massachusetts , in-front of a raucous crowd of rabid Red Sox fans. Undaunted by the task they face , the Rays will be anxious to prove to their doubters that they do belong in the postseason . To my mind, both Farrell and his Rays’ counterpart , Joe Maddon are legitimate candidates for the AL Manager of the Year , but as they say , ” beauty is in the eye of the beholder “ , and given the idiocy of , and shown by the adjudicators of the Baseball Writers Association of America , we are likely to see either right decision being made or the sort of lunacy that the BBWAA has now become more known for .

Billy Beane has been able to achieve the extraordinary , with menial resources by way of a team payroll , but his skilled acumen , shows why he is one of the best general managers in all of baseball. Just imagine what he might have been able to achieve with the Oakland A’s , were he afforded a player budget in excess of $150 million , instead of the paltry $70 million he is currently allowed to operate with ? The A’s won the AL West by playing at a consistently high level throughout the season . Within the division, teams such as the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers simply flamed out and offered little challenge to the Oakland based franchise .

With their second consecutive divisional title in the bag , the Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin and his team will play hosts to Jim Leyland , manager of the Detroit Tigers in a series (games one , two and five , if needed) , where an AL pennant berth will await the winner of what is bound to be a competitive series given the tightness of the season contests in 2013. Leyland and the Tigers will undoubtedly be looking to redeem themselves this postseason, after the horrors of 2012 and their lopsided World Series’ loss (4-0) the San Francisco Giants . In the blink of an eye, the Tigers’ potent offense of 2012 , were rendered useless by a Giants’ pitching staff that played with a sense of purpose. Jim Leyland and his managerial staff will hopefully have learned something from that painful experience.

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It all seems so asinine, that at a time when baseball should be celebrating the best that it has to offer by way of its postseason showcase . It is left to one the game’s most despised individuals in Alex Rodriguez to further sully its image and reputation . Not that the sport has not been assisted by the buffoonery of Bud Selig , Michael Weiner , Executive Director of the MLBPA , the players and the journalists who cover the cover the sport. Needless to say the not so attentive and anal retentive fans who simply point to the idiocy of the hierarchy’s adoption of instant replay as a positive within the sport when they are far more acute issues that need to be dealt with. None of which, the players , union or league hierarchy would care to address with any real urgency. As the title of this pieces alludes to ___ “ Pine tar anyone” ? Baseball will remain replete with far more than its oddities , self- aloof demeanor and ideas of a grandiose nature , way above anything meaningful that is said to have been achieved over the past three decades. For that, we ought to thank the players for their continued ignorance and shameless stupidity , lack of authority shown by the owners , whose only interests are greed and the making of a “quick buck ” . Needless to say, atop of the list , remains the gutless windbag Bud Selig , whose departure from the game cannot come around quick enough ! Chime in, with your thoughts on this article and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture gallery and slideshow details below.

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(1) Merely a victim ? Or a shameless pariah looking to absolve himself of all responsibility for his actions ? Pictured inset , New York Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez seeks to sue MLB , in what he claims is a witch hunt sought by the league hierarchy to drive him out of the game of baseball . The player is the game’s active home runs’ leader and the leader in several other offensive categories . Rodriguez also will seek have his two hundred and eleven-game suspension overturned by an appeal’s tribunal presides over by arbitrator Fred Horowitz . A date for that hearing has yet to be set and it is likely that it will not take place until after the World Series . AP Photo / Alex Parsons ….

(2) Manager Dusty Baker (12) pulls Johnny Cueto (47) of the Cincinnati Reds in the fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the National League Wild Card game at PNC Park on October 1, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Getty Images / Jared Wickerham …..

(3) Danny Salazar (31) of the Cleveland Indians gets pulled by Terry Francona (17) of the Cleveland Indians in the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during the American League Wild Card game at Progressive Field on October 2, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Rays would go on to defeat the Indians 4-0 . Getty Images / Jared Wickerham ….

(4) Boston Red Sox DH , David Ortiz watches his ground double as Rays’ catcher Jose Lobaton looks on during the game . The Red Sox would defeat the Rays 12-2 in game one of their ALDS contest played at Fenway Park in Boston , Massachusetts . AP Photo/ Charles Krupa ….

(5) PITTSBURGH, PA – MAY 30: Manager Jim Leyland (10) of the Detroit Tigers looks on against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on May 30, 2013 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images …

Oakland A’s general manager whose stewardship of the front office has made the franchise one of the most admired in all of baseball . AP Photo / Keith Marshall ……

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I don’t want to break the bank ,simply just be able to deposit money in it

I don’t want to break the bank ,simply just be able to deposit money in it

With the NFL season about to reach the quarter mark of four games into a sixteen game schedule , the fans have already witnessed a cluster of games that one could define as being thoroughly entertaining or just extremely bad. As a fan of the NFL , I have to confess that I have not been completely surprised by what I have witnessed. There are some very good teams at present , but there now seems to be a preponderance of really bad teams and really bad coaching from the head coaches and their respective staffs. Nonetheless, this will be what the fans are asked to endure over the remainder of the season.

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There will be a Thursday night game that pits the San Francisco 49ers (1-2) against the St Louis Rams (1-2) in a conference and divisional match-up of self-styled offensive minded teams. Jim Harbaugh and his shell-shocked squad , I believe are out to avenge their week three shocking loss to the Indianapolis Colts . Bear in mind two successive losses to open their season , came as something of a shock to most analysts and fans alike, who expected this team to be atop of the NFC West and running away with the division , in spite of the rise in prominence of the Seattle Seahawks . For the moment, however, the season remains in its infancy with still a great deal to play for .

Speaking teams with real issues , it now looks as if the Josh Freeman era in Tampa , is now over, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Greg Schiano coming to the decision that the four-year starter is no longer the team’s best option to win as a quarterback. In demoting Freeman, the fans will see the introduction of Mike Glennon as the Buccaneers’ new starter at the quarterback position. As to how long this new experiment is likely to take place will be dependent upon how Glennon responds in his first NFL game as a starter in the NFL. The Buccaneers will play host to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon as this 0-3 team seeks to regain its composure and gain their first win of the season. How this all plays out will be dependent upon the mindset of the Buccaneers and the resolve shown during the game and whether or not this team can play with some semblance of cohesion .

Freeman has done himself no favors with his lackluster displays and a real lack of leadership on the field of play. Furthermore, his teammates have lost any real faith in the player , as well as the quarterback having lost his captain’s role on the team. Josh Freeman is now in a contract year , seeking to perhaps get that long-term contract that undoubtedly his agent Erik Burkhardt seeking that long-term deal . Should a trade, be a way for the Buccaneers to entertain the idea of ridding themselves of the now disgruntled Freeman, that premise could very well now be dependent upon the number of teams willing to enter into a deal with the NFC South division based franchise.

Despair , despondency , conceitedness and a great deal of drama engulfed the New York Yankees over the course of this season . The team is likely to miss the postseason , with the Boston Red Sox having sewn up the AL East as the division’s new champions and the Tampa Bay Rays , now likely to be one of the two AL wild-card representatives in the baseball’s end of season soiree . Needless to say, the Yankees’ fans may well be aggrieved that they will not be seeing the team embark attaining their twenty-eighth World Series title. Yet this off-season promises to be one filled with a great deal of melodrama and intrigue . With Robinson Cano set to become a free agent , the Yankees’ front office will have to quickly come to a decision, as to whether or not they intend to re-sign the player to long-term deal. Cano is currently represented by upstart agency RocNation Sports and their main proprietor , founder , rapper and entrepreneur Jay-z . If the rumors now swirling are to be believed, then the numbers now being bandied about would make Robinson Cano the highest paid player in the baseball , with the second baseman seeking a ten-year $305 million deal .

Courtesy of USA Today

Why Robinson Cano seeking $305 million only sounds crazy

Yankees second baseman is about to get paid.

By Ted Berg , USA Today

With the Yankees now officially out of contention, some have turned their attention toward the team’s negotiations with All-Star second baseman and pending free agent Robinson Cano.

That report produced a lot of snark, but it’s certainly true. Cano, who turns 31 in October, like almost all free-agent athletes, will seek as much money as he can get. Even if he’s personally and secretly dead-set on staying a Yankee for life, why shouldn’t he try to secure as much of that sweet Steinbrenner cash as he can in the coming decade? Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Cano did not reveal much about his plans.

“I want to take my time, go on vacation and relax,” he told the Journal News. “And then when the day gets closer, that’s when I want to sit down with my family and decide what we’re going to do. But don’t get me wrong, I love this team, you know?” The reported figure, $305 million, seems to be eliciting the most shock from baseball fans, but it also doesn’t seem terribly far off. Free agents of Cano’s caliber just don’t hit the open market at a reasonably young age very often anymore, since teams have trended toward locking up young stars to long-term contracts that buy out and add-on to their arbitration years.

After the 2011 season, a pair of slugging first basemen hit the market. Both Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols wound up with contracts worth more than $200 million. Both were coming off several successful seasons, but neither was more valuable to his team in 2011 than Cano was to the Yankees in 2013.
And since Cano’s Yankees and the big-spending Dodgers, among others, could both use a second baseman and he’s by far the best available talent, he could benefit from a bidding war.

As for those convinced Cano won’t see as much money because he’s Jay-Z’s first baseball client with Roc Nation Sports: C’mon. Jay-Z is an expert at making money, for one thing. For another, do you really think Jay-Z is going to just go in and sign whatever idiotic contract some team puts in front of him without running it by an army of advisers and lawyers? Cano plays every day at a premium defensive position and is one of the Top 10 or so best hitters in the game. He’s an extremely valuable player and he’s about to be an extremely rich one. Maybe he won’t get the full $305 million he’s reportedly seeking, but he’ll get paid.

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The New York Yankees will have some serious problems to contend with beyond the Cano issue , with the retirements of Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera , it is plain to see that this is a team that is getting up there in age and the very fact that their farm system have not produced the players sought over the past few years that consistently made this organization a perennial contender . Going into 2014 , it is how hard to see or suggest how the Yankees how they can contend, even with the resources now at their disposal . The team’s lead managing partner and owner Hal Steinbrenner is likely pare down the team’s salary of $228.3 million , an all-time high to considerably below the $200 million threshold he sought at the beginning of 2013 .

At a time, when Bud Selig is selling the fans and public alike, that baseball’s financial well-being is as healthy as it has ever been. It begs the question , if that said to be the case , then why would the Yankees as powerful and as wealthy an organization as it happens to be , why would they of all the teams , now be the ones , seeking to reduce their payroll ? Granted , we are now finding out, that owners such as Hal Steinbrenner , David Montgomery , Mark Walter and Michael Ilitch believe that the luxury tax has served its purpose , but for the most part , it has been nothing more than a tool for the hierarchy to use , penalize the big spending teams. Baseball , and specifically Bud Selig continues to live in his own delusional world of make belief and sheer ignorance , with a number of fans willing to buy into a great deal of the idiocy that he continues to sell them , with his main protagonists being MLB’s broadcast partners , notably ESPN and Fox Sports . In reality, no one should really be surprised by that at all . I mean it is not as if the two outlets in question, ever sought to question the commissioner’s haphazard handling of the steroid issue or Frank McCourt’s questionable reign as the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Nonetheless, those buffoons will continue to be, at his beck and call, being a mouthpiece for his continued buffoonery .

Salaries have continued to escalate under Bud Selig’s watch , as too have the game’s revenues , yet in the midst of this all the commissioner fails to indicate that almost one-quarter of the league’s thirty teams continue to struggle to eke out a profit without an assist being provided by way of the luxury tax sharing scheme . Now in the midst of this all, the game of baseball could very well be on the cusp of seeing its very first $300 million player . The Yankees may not feel that they are being pressured to up the ante in the Robinson Cano sweepstakes, but one thing is clear , the organization can ill afford to lose a player who is a lifetime ,300 hitter and who has been amongst the most productive players his position in baseball as well over the past five seasons. Consider also , that Cano is now in the prime of his career , and with the likelihood of Derek Jeter’s departure from the franchise not that far off , this ball-club needs a figurehead that the fans can identify with . Alex Rodriguez’s stay in New York has provided the Yankees with nothing more than a great deal of ongoing embarrassment , that is likely to be further fueled , once his appeal’s process begins , concerning the alleged use of a banned substance . Rodriguez’s image has been tainted once again and the Yankees’ name has been dragged through the mud along with the reputation that George Steinbrenner simply considered only having players with character on the roster . The now deceased patriarch must be mortified and spinning in his grave with the incompetence now being shown by Hal , Hank Steinbrenner and Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindahl . Let’s not leave out the poor showing of the team either out of this whole comedic mishap , along with the lack of leadership shown by Joe Girardi and his managerial assistants . Personally, this season for the Yankees has been in which all of the team’s detractors can enjoy , in spite of the retirement of Mariano Rivera. The game’s all-time saves’ leader , has been one of the few bright spots on an otherwise mediocre team .

The NBA season tips off on the 29th October ,2013 and all eyes will be on the Miami Heat , as they seek to repeat or Heat “three-peat” as NBA champions, as it will become to be known , should they pull off that feat during the 2013-14 season . Adding a few residual pieces to their core group of Ray Allen , Chris Bosh , LeBron James and Dwyane Wade , has quite possibly made the roster more formidable than last season’s championship winning team . Pat Riley and team owner, Micky Arison are intent on adding to their respective legacies . Meanwhile, Riley’s young protégé head coach Erik Spoelstra will seek to not only make his mark, but also add to the legitimacy that he is perhaps the best coach in the NBA and that is with due respect to both Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich .

Now while, there remains a great deal of speculation that last season’s MVP and Finals’ MVP LeBron James , will seek to opt out of the final year of his contract in 2014. It must be said, that it would take a great deal of bravado and conceitedness by the player to subject the fans to another moment of self-adornment and narcissism on his part . In the aftermath, of the staged and rather insidious piece of journalism, promoted by ESPN and the player , in his naming Miami as his chosen destination , having left the Cleveland Cavaliers as an unrestricted free agent. A second installment of that idiocy, would certainly not be in LeBron James’ best interest. Besides, James knows that he can certainly earn a great deal more by simply remaining in Miami , never-mind the fact that his off-court earnings through endorsements , simply dwarf his current salary with the Miami Heat . Financial rewards, I do not believe will play a part in this decision , should it ever take place , as I believe what now drives the player is the chance of surpassing both Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson in terms of the NBA championships won as a player. Bill Russell may well have won eleven title as a player and coach with the Boston Celtics . No one, will ever come close to matching that feat as a player. So we can now start to adjudge James on what he ow has to achieve to be mentioned in the same breath or sentence as Johnson and Jordan , as two of the best to have ever played the game or to have graced a basketball court with their athleticism . Only time will tell and the feats achieved can best tell us reality how great LeBron James is likely to become , but for the moment incessant chatter will remain as many from varying fields of the diaspora will discuss and debate the issue.

Miami, will begin the defense of its crown with a home game at the AA Arena against the Chicago Bulls and hopefully a fully recovered and rejuvenated Derrick Rose . The former league MVP was sorely missed last season by his teammates and fans alike and his presence on NBA court is far more welcomed than seeing him on the sidelines merely cheering on his team . The fans themselves, having waited long and hard for this event, will most certainly be looking to see what the talented point guard will have to offer the fans after his long absence away from the court .

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From my own perspective, it will be interesting to see whether or not LeBron James and his teammates can join a select group of teams and players to have won three consecutive NBA titles . It is a feat, that is rarely accomplished in any of the four major team sports. Yet , when it does happen , it should a feat that should be acclaimed and lauded for its uniqueness , if nothing else , because these are the feats that separate the great athletes from many of their peers and gives credence to their greatness. As to those who feel to the contrary, then by all means , use this forum to state your reasons why . Thanks as always, for the continued support of this site and its broad-based content , as it is greatly appreciated !

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(1) Sep 26, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) hands off to running back Frank Gore (21) for a 34 yard touchdown during the first half against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. San Francisco defeated St. Louis 35-11 . Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports …

(2) Rams’ tight end Jared Cook catches a pass that was tipped by Donte Whitner during the second quarter of a game played at the Edward Jones Stadium , in St Louis Missouri ,. The Niners would go on to win the game 35-11 , pushing their record to 2-2 , while the Rams’ record is pushed to 1-3 within the NFC West . AP Photo / Tom Gannam …

(3) Quarterback Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots talks to receivers Aaron Dobson (17), Kenbrell Thompkins , Julian Edelman (11) and Michael Hoomanawanui in the huddle during the second half of their 23-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images North America / Winslow Townson …

(4) Josh Freeman (5) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reacts after throwing an incomplete pass in the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Buccaneers’ starting quarterback is the only player at his position with a completion rate of below fifty per-cent (50 %) in the NFL with a completion percentage rate of 45.7 % and a QBR of 59.3 a which ranks the player at the bottom of the league (NFL) of the quarterbacks ranked through week three . Getty Images / Jim Rogash ….

(5) Josh Freeman (5) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws down-field against the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images / Winslow Towson …..

(6) New York Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera acknowledges the crowd at Yankee Stadium during the eighth inning of a game played against AL East divisional rivals the Tampa Bay Rays , played on Thursday evening the 26th September . This would be the closer’s final appearance as a player at Yankee Stadium as a player for the venerable organization . Tampa would come away with a 4-0 victory . AP Photo / Kathy Willens .

(7) Fans at Yankee Stadium hold up a sign to show their appreciation of Mariano Rivera and what he meant to them and their appreciation of his career. AP Photo / Kathy Willens ….

(8) Alex Rodriguez grimaces as he watches a play from the dugout during a game played against the New Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday evening at Yankee Stadium . Rodriguez faces a very uncertain off-season , as he now awaits a verdict in his appeal’s process in front of an independent arbitrator Ken Horowitz and the allegation of his use of a banned substance , a claim which Rodriguez denies . AP Photo / Kathy Willens …

(9) Robinson Cano (24) of the New York Yankees drives in a run and slides safely into second base with a double as Kelly Johnson (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays is late with the tag during the first inning of their game on September 25, 2013 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees’ player seeks a new long-term contract , with the figures being suggested __ a ten-year $305 million . It is of utmost urgency that Cano be re-signed by a team whose aging core now seems past their prime . As to whether or not Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman are likely to meet the demands of Cano and his agent remains to be seen, as the team owner has suggested that he would like to reduce the team payroll below $ 200 million to avoid having to pay the luxury tax . A tax that a number of team owners now feel has outlived its use , while MLB Commissioner Bud Selig still believes serves a purpose. Al Bello / Getty Images ……

(10) LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat sits on the court and reacts in the second half while taking on the San Antonio Spurs during Game Six of the 2013 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 18, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Getty Images / Karl Powers …..

(11) Ray Allen (34), Dwyane Wade (3), LeBron James (6) and Mario Chalmers (15) of the Miami Heat celebrate from the bench in the fourth quarter while taking on the San Antonio Spurs during Game Two of the 2013 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 9, 2013 in Miami, Florida . Getty Images North America / Christian Petersen ….

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The last of the bad men or how the AL West has now become a no man’s land

The last of the bad men or how the AL West has now become a no man’s land

I have to admit that this baseball season has become a wistful reminder that being the biggest and allegedly the best does not always mean what it said meant to represent . In the AL East, the New York Yankees were thought to be amongst the prohibitive favorites to come away with the division . Now languishing in fourth place , it now seems that the Bronx Bombers are to miss the postseason , along with it their chance to win an unprecedented twenty-eighth World Series crown . Add in the fact that this season is likely to be the last time that we will see of the all-times saves’ leader in Mariano Rivera . It would be safe to suggest that this is not the way that the esteemed closer would like to have left the game . The team’s captain Derek Jeter now on the disabled list was only a participant in seventeen games for the ball-club in 2013. The only saving grace for the Yankees has been the recent form of slugger Alfonso Soriano . Pitching has been the Achilles’ Heel for Joe Girardi and his staff and the all too inconsistent hitting that has led to this season of discontent and quite possibly a major upheaval within the organization at the end of the year .

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For far too long, Brian Cashman has been far too reliant on overspending and the acquiring of high-priced free agents. . It would be safe to suggest that if the New York Yankees had it all to do over again , they would have changed a great many ways they went about this season , and also in dealing within the Alex Rodriguez fiasco , which has led to a testy relationship between the Yankees’ third baseman and the organization’s general manager. Baseball’s and the fans’ biggest wish, must be the non-appearance of the player and his teammates in this year’s postseason foray. Rodriguez’s appearance, while awaiting the adjudication of his appeal for violating baseball’s steroid policy, would be seen as a slap in the face of the fans but even more so, in bringing the game into further disrepute . From my own perspective, I have felt that Bud Selig’s haphazard handling of this has been the main reason there remains a great deal of ridicule of his tenure as the game’s highest ranking official . Consider a number of Selig’s predecessors , Faye Vincent , Bart Giamatti and Peter Ueberroth . Were any of the aforementioned individuals, as incompetent as the incumbent commissioner ? By all means do chime in with your thoughts on that.

Given the present tailspin of the New York Yankees, the AL wildcard race is now beginning to look a great deal like a game of ‘Texas No Limit Poker’ . Yet, no one can actually be sure, who is carrying a straight, in this game. It would be now safe to say, that this race will not have a decisive outcome until the very last day of regular season schedule. Coming off a 4-3 victory over the disappointing Toronto Blue Jays . Joe Girardi and his team will face the San Francisco Giants on Friday , in an intra-league game . However, I do believe that Girardi’s eyes will be focused on the upcoming three game series at home against the Tampa Bay Rays beginning on Tuesday 24th September . A series that will be pivotal for both teams as they each seek one of the two available AL wildcard berths . The Cleveland Indians , Baltimore Orioles , Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees are all within 2 ½ games of the wildcard berth, with the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers now atop of the wildcard berths holding down those two top spots. Care to guess, which paring from that septuplet is likely to prevail at the end of the day ?

Billy Beane , Brian Sabean and Dave Dombrowski are to my mind, are the three best general managers within the game of baseball ! Their accomplishments speak for themselves and I know that Yankees’ fans are likely to feel aggrieved by the statement made, but with all due respect, beyond the vast financial resources of the Yankees’ ball-club, can anyone point to a player who has risen up through the ranks of the organization’s minor league system that has been of considerable success at the Major League level that was drafted by Brian Cashman over the past five years ? ? Granted, the ball-club’s last title came by way of their lopsided series victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009. The team managed by Girardi, was never really challenged throughout the postseason and in the championship series itself , with Hideki Matsui coming away with the World Series MVP Awards for his accomplishments in the series and postseason itself . Yet the makeup of the roster , was once again primarily made up of pieces sought elsewhere . A league-high $201 million team payroll was once again representative of what the New York Yankees seems to best and that is to create an even larger financial imbalance within the game , with an ever widening gap between the haves and have-nots within the sport.

In 2013, it was once again New York leading the pack with the highest payroll in baseball . Something I now truly believe the front office takes pleasure in parading, for everyone to know , and bear witness to, and that is in spite of the idiocy of Hal Steinbrenner , who maintained that the payroll would be no greater than $185 million for this season. Instead, with a salary obligation of $228.8 million , this ball-club simply shows no real intent to reduce their capricious financial outlay on players. The Los Angeles Dodgers , where Magic Johnson , one of the lead partners and team owner, has already gone on record by stating, “that no expense will be spared to obtain their ultimate goal” . . Well , Johnson does seem to be a man of his word, with the Dodgers’ team payroll at what they deem to be a manageable $216.6 million . If both of these teams should fail to make the World Series, I certainly believe that baseball’s hierarchy will have to ask themselves whether or not this type financial insanity within the game can be self-sustainable. The Dodgers by way of their $ 8 billion two-decade contract with Time Warner Inc is assured of financial stability as well as having the financial backing of Guggenheim Partners Inc , the owners of Guggenheim Baseball Properties LLC , a wholly owned subsidiary of the world-renowned venture capital and asset management company, backed by assets exceeding $125 billion ($125,000,000,000) . Mark Walter , Todd S Boehly , Stan Kasten , Magic Johnson and Peter Guber are prepared to put their money where their mouths just happen to be . Anything, that now places the spotlight on their ball-club and lessen the glare on their AL East counterparts, has to be seen as a distinct advantage for the NL West franchise from a PR standpoint.

As those two titans of the game, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees seeks to reestablish their dominance within baseball. In the AL West , the Oakland Athletics are making a mockery of the division , but also of their divisional rivals , primarily the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers . In the case of both Mike Scioscia and Ron Washington , as the regular season slowly comes to a close , there is a distinct possibility that might well be the last time we both of these managers in their current roles . GM’s Jerry Dipoto of the Angels and Jon Daniels of the Rangers, are likely to come to decision, that it would be in their teams’ best interests to relieve the managers of their duties .

A’s GM Billy Beane over the last two seasons has been able to work wonders with this organization , working on a shoestring budget , as he has drafted prudently , acquired the usual facsimile of the players he believes can contribute to the team’s success . Meanwhile , team owner, Lewis Wolff continues to work fiendishly in trying to get a new venue built for the storied franchise , all without any assistance from Bud Selig . By contrast, the commissioner was at the forefront, in assisting not only both New York ball clubs with the building of their recent venues but also the now barely competitive Miami Marlins , whose Marlins Ballpark has become an ode to all things ostentatious , while barely registering a blip in terms of home attendance levels for their home stands against an opponent, even during their inaugural season of 2012.

With payrolls in excess of $110 million apiece for the Angels and Rangers, it was felt that Jerry Di Poto and Jon Daniels, having mustered talented teams , had the inside track on determining how the AL West would play out in 2013 . Yet all season long, from the opening day , throughout May , June , July and August , there were the A’s plugging away , notching up wins and series’ victories , while their more financially acclaimed divisional neighbors struggled . Now the Texas Rangers finds itself in the midst of a wildcard race, that it seemingly wants no part off, having provided the inconsistency often observed by teams with sub.500 records . For the Los Angeles Angels , their season has been an immense disappointment , with the lone bright spot , being the another acclaimed season by 2012 AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP runner-up , Mike Trout . Other than Miguel Cabrera , and the Orioles’ Chris Anderson , Trout is having one of the most dominant seasons of any AL player in terms of offensive productivity. A great monetary return , if you are solely basing it on a player who will be earning less than $550,000 , while many of his more celebrated teammates are earning in excess of $15 million annually, and in some cases earning that money while being on the team’s disabled list .

If Trout is said to have been a catalyst for the Angels’ offense then Yoenis Cespedes has been like a stick of dynamite that has exploded and simply sparked a great deal more offensive output than Beane , manager Bob Melvin and the coaching staff could have expected . Yet, it has been the A’s pitching that has been continuously stellar throughout much of the season . For players such as Derek Norris , Josh Reddick , Eric Sogard, Josh Donaldson , Coco Crisp , Grant Balfour , Bartolo Colon , Sean Doolittle , Ryan Cook , Jarrod Parker , Jerry Blevins and A J Griffin will now have a chance to redeem themselves, after a rather disappointing postseason appearance in 2012 . Falling to the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS in five games , led to their all to quick exit from the postseason after their surprising AL West divisional win last season .

A $71.3 million payroll amongst the lowest in the game and all seems to be right with the world in Oakland, as the A’s now seeks to close out their season on a seasonal high. An 8-6 win over the hapless Minnesota Twins , and with the two teams set to meet again on Friday . Bob Melvin’s team, and their magic number to assure themselves the AL West division crown is 5 games. At 90-63 , they will close out their current series with the Twins with a final game on Sunday at the O Coliseum , in Oakland , California . . This season and what it has meant to the fans of the organization has been symbolic of what having a great front office means for an organization. By contrast, we have the ongoing idiocy of what is now taking place with the Philadelphia Phillies , New York Mets , New York Yankees and Miami Marlins. At one time or another over the past two seasons , each of these teams, have been amongst the organizations with a $100 million payroll over the past two years . As to the actual success attained, simply judge for yourself by looking at the postseasons in 2010 , 2011 and 2012 respectively .

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While the A’s look to celebrate their AL West success , I do not believe that there is a great deal that can be said by way of the ineptitude shown by Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners . In the case of the Astros , having made the move from the NL Central to the AL West , for the second consecutive season the ball-club’s loss total has exceeded one-hundred losses . I certainly do not believe Astros’ owner Jim Crane , expected 2013 to mirror an almost exact replica of 2012. GM Jeff Luhnow will now have to not only reassess the entire roster , but also the managerial staff of the organization and the direction he believes that they should be heading in . With their being growing uncertainty also , as to the Astros’ financial stability in spite of the guarantees of Jim Crane. It remains to be seen, what now is likely to take place with the ball-club concerning its immediate and long-term future .

In the case of the Seattle Mariners , there is not much more that can be said , other than fantasy geeks seem to be enamored with Dustin Ackley , in a the similar vein that a teenage boy would be giddy in seeing a naked pictorial of a voluptuous Playboy model, unclothed . Add in the fact that the talents of Felix Hernandez are being completely wasted within an organization that is simply bereft intelligence within its front office , as there seems to be minimal talent on the field of play. GM Jack Zduriencik , says all of the right things much like a politician with a well-written and prepared response to a difficult question . Yet, when posed the question, why is it, that this team has failed so miserably under Eric Wedge and his staff . Let us say, the response from the general manager, is simply par for the course. Howard Lincoln , Jack Ellis and Chuck Armstrong , as the senior-most executives on the board of directors for the Mariners, seem unconcerned by the team’s continued failures , be it on or off the field of play. At 67-87 and eighteen games left in their regular season schedule , Seattle by way of its lack of competitiveness , has simply been an abomination for their fans at home and on the road .

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This season within baseball got off to a great start, along within the customary controversies along the way . Now one can only hope, that the postseason can provide the fans with a great deal of excitement as we await baseball’s showcase finale.

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(1) Alex Rodriguez strikes out during the first inning of a baseball game on Thursday night played at the Rogers Center in Toronto, Canada , against the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto would go on to defeat the Yankees 6-2 , further placing New York’s slide out of the wildcard race in jeopardy . However, the Yankees will be looking forward to a pivotal the three-game series against division rivals the Tampa Rays . That series kicks off in New York starting on Tuesday 24th September , 2013 . AP Photo/ The Canadian Press / Mark Blinch …..

(2) Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi cannot hide his disappointment after another inexplicable loss by the fading Yankees . Now the manager has to deal with the announcement that Andy Pettite has made it known that 2013 will be his last season , formally announcing his retirement , as he joins teammate Mariano Rivera on the sidelines. Pettite is the most successful pitcher in postseason history in terms of wins and one the Yankees’ most successful pitchers in the franchise’s history. AP Photo / Mark Blinch …

(3) Billy Beane general manager of the Oakland Athletics . Beane looks to guide the team into the postseason for the second consecutive year and a deep playoff run this season. Operating on a shoestring budget , using his acumen and drafting prudently the A’s resurgence has been one of the most entertaining stories in baseball during 2013. AP Photo / Mark Thompson ….

(4) New owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, from left, Robert Patton , Stan Kasten, Mark Walter, Earvin “Magic’ Johnson,” Peter Guber, and Todd Boehly pose for a photo at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. The $2 billion sale of the team to Guggenheim Baseball Management was finalized Tuesday. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes …

(5) Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout celebrates with teammate J B Shuck after hitting a two-run homer in a game played against the Oakland A’s on Wednesday , 18th September 2013 , in Oakland , California . AP Photo / George Nikitin ….

(6) Coco Crisp of the A’s is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run against the Minnesota Twins in a game played at the O. Coliseum Thursday 19th September , 2013. Kyle Terada / USA Today ….

Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland A’s seen here hitting one of several long ball this season for the team . The player has been the main offensive catalysts for the A’s one of the most productive offensive players in the AL and the league as a whole during 2013 . AP Photo / Mark Horne ….

(8) New manager Eric Wedge (R) of the Seattle Mariners is introduced to the media by Executive Vice President & GM Jack Zduriencik at Safeco Field on October 19, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. 2013 has been proven to be a disastrous season for the Mariners , with only the Houston Astros seated beneath them within the AL West . Getty Images / Otto Greule Jr …

(9) (L-R) Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, left, and owner Jim Crane chat during batting practice on before the game against the Colorado Rockies on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 6, 2012 in Houston, Texas. For the second consecutive season the Astros have lost one-hundred games in regular season and with their being some serious questions now being asked of Crane as to the team’s financial viability . All of which have been denied by the team owner , who paid $775 million in purchasing the Houston Astros from former owner , Drayton McClane . Getty Images / Bob Levesey ……

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People who live in glass houses

People who live in glass houses

People who live in glass houses should not be throwing stones . Well, I do not live in a glass house , but I am going to throw a rock at this issue . Major League Baseball and its hierarchy led by Commissioner Bud Selig , have now drawn the ire of the fans, with many showing their disgust in the way that the commissioner has handled the latest controversy to sully the ongoing image of baseball . Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees remains an obstacle in how many now view the game and its legitimacy. Of the thirteen players named in baseball`s case, embroiling them in the Biogenesis ` scandal` . It is Rodriguez, who remains the lone holdout, in not wishing to accept a suspension for his alleged involvement violating the league`s performance enhancing drug policy. The player continues to plead his innocence, of all of the allegations made against him. Meanwhile, the Yankees` organization , obviously embarrassed, remain at a loss as how best to resolve the matter, while not seeking add to their financial burden concerning the now beleaguered third baseman .

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In the latest turn of events Alex Rodriguez has hired one of New York city`s most prominent criminal defense attorneys , Joe Tacopina , to be a part of his legal defense team to defend him in his upcoming appeal , which will be a tribunal appeal held in front of an independent arbitrator. Now while this is not a criminal trial , each side will be allowed to present their case to the arbitrator , whose decision will be final and binding . Rodriguez, is unlikely to take the stand in his defense, with his attorneys presenting their case, on behalf of their client. Tony Bosch, founder of Biogenesis will be the main witness on behalf of baseball (MLB) in the presentation of their case against the player.

Now dependent upon what you might read into the addition of Joe Tacopina to Rodriguez`s legal defense arsenal. The presumption of guilt, must be weighing heavily against the player , in which he has now added a criminal defense attorney to an already heavy-hitting legal team made up of several high-profiled litigators. . At stake, is not only Alex Rodriguez`s livelihood, but also, his very future within the game. If the league`s case is upheld , then in all likelihood Rodriguez`s career in baseball would most certainly come to an abrupt end . There is no way that any team within the game is likely to sign the player, were he made to sit out the entire 2014 baseball season, as well several games into 2015. Two hundred and eleven games, were meant to be the sum total of the player`s suspension, that would cost him in excess of $36.5 million in lost income, by way of his salary over the time frame in question . Sitting out an entire year and then seeking to make a return adds insult to injury given the fact that Frederic Horowitz , the adjudicator presiding over the case sees Alex Rodriguez`s act as one of premeditation as well , as his ongoing deceit.

As the game`s highest paid player , Alex Rodriguez has been lucky enough to have signed two multi-year deals, paying him on each occasion in excess of $250 million . The two teams involved in both of these transactions were the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers . This season, it must be said, that the Rangers do seem to be faring a great deal better than their AL East counterparts. And though as of late , with Alfonso Soriano is having exceptional two-game stretch , where he has been more productive for the New York Yankees , than he was, in his previous fifteen games for the Chicago Cubs , from whom he was acquired earlier on this month . Rodriguez is trying to up the ante , in terms of his value to the Yankees, as he seeks to resume what has been an extremely controversial and troubled career over the nine years .

In March of 2010 , Alex Rodriguez admitted his use of performance enhancing drugs, after years of denial to the press and MLB hierarchy alike. The fact that since that admission of guilt, the player`s name has been twice associated with the use of a prohibitive and banned substance , but not until 2013 , has Bud Selig seen fit to take direction action against the player , in spite of the mounting evidence and his continued denials over that time. What has also been very troubling during this whole comical saga mishandled by Major League Baseball, has been the very fact that the commissioner did not seek to expedite a speedy tribunal hearing. Instead, it has been Rodriguez seeking the input of the MLBPA (union) , who having filed the player`s appeal , will also assist him in his defense.

I get the feeling that the Players` Union, seems to be more concerned with their members, than it is for the purity of the game . In our midst at present, I do believe that we now have the most despised player within the game of baseball ! Rodriguez , may well seek to use whatever excuse, to placate himself from another calculated misstep , that has now seen him fall from grace for a second time within four years. Major League Baseball, for its part , allows the player continue with his career pending the appeal process. If the player is found guilty , then the question becomes, results obtained by the New York Yankees during the formal announcement of the player`s suspension up until the time of arbitrator`s verdict , will they be allowed to stand , if it has somehow cost a potential AL wildcard aspirant a chance of making the postseason ? Those opponents should have every right to feel aggrieved that Alex Rodriguez has been allowed to play.

A preliminary appeal date for Alex Rodriguez` hearing has been not been set , and all likelihood the appeal`s process is unlikely to begin until after the end of the regular season and quite possibly not until after this year`s World Series. Very much in line with what the player no doubt set out to achieve in getting a chance to play in the postseason and being able to contribute to the Yankees` endeavors ,should the team actually make it that far. The Yankees` third baseman , has tried to set himself apart from many of his peers. As a teammate , who is always willing to help the younger members of the team and assist them in any way possible. Yet, the facts do not seem to bear this out , and if the rumors are to believed , his relationships with a number of Yankees` players is said to be strained and often lukewarm. Clearly the relationship between Alex Rodriguez and general manager Brian Cashman must now be at an all-time low . The most recent dust-up between the two, led to an unsavory incident that made the sports` pages of every major newspaper in New York city , with the player being made the villain of the piece, and being castigated by many of the journalists and op-ed contributors, as well as by many of the sports` fans, who sought weigh in with their own opinion of the latest scandal to hit the New York Yankees` organization , further tarnishing its image.

Courtesy of CBS Sports.com

Weiner: A-Rod’s appeal won’t be done until season is over

By Dayn Perry, Baseball Writer

More A-Rod: A-Rod, 12 others suspended | Heyman: A-Rod to appeal | Impact on Yanks

As noted, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez intends to appeal his 211-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, and he’ll remain on the active roster and eligible to play until his appeal is heard and ruled upon.

And that brings us to this comment from MLBPA head Michael Weiner :

There’s a very clear implication here, and the implication is that A-Rod will play the entire remainder of the 2013 season. That’s significant, of course, because the Yankees are in the playoff race, and A-Rod, even at age 38 and with two surgically repaired hips, has the potential to give them a substantial upgrade at third base.

As CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman noted earlier on Monday, the time-frame of the appeals process is as follows:

The evidence is said to suggest Rodriguez bought or used steroids in 2010, ’11 and ’12. However, all of it will be heard at a hearing certainly within 20 days; the JDA actually calls for the “panel to convene a hearing as soon as practicable and, absent good cause show, no later than 10 days after grievance is filed.” With only one case presumably to be heard, perhaps the hearing could be expedited.

Baseball’s arbitrator, Fredric Horowitz, will then have 25 days to render a verdict.

And by the sounds of things, you can certainly expect A-Rod’s appeal to be a vigorous one. First, here’s A-Rod’s official statement:

“I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process. I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by my side through all this.”

And now here’s Weiner’s:

“We believe that the Commissioner has not acted appropriately under the Basic Agreement. Mr. Rodriguez knows that the Union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously. We must revisit the JDA’s confidentiality provisions and consider implementing stricter rules for any breach.”

And finally, A-Rod’s attorney, David Cornwell :

“It is regrettable that the Commissioner’s office has taken this unprecedented action. Major League Baseball has gone well beyond the authority granted to its Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement. Consequently, we will appeal the discipline and pursue all legal remedies available to Alex.”

For the time being, get used to seeing A-Rod in the Yankee lineup.

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At 62-58 , currently lying fourth within the within the AL East , the New York Yankees are nine games behind division leaders the Boston Red Sox (72-50) and a . mere six games behind the two leading wildcard seeking candidates within the AL, who are the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A`s . Yet the ball-club would also have to leapfrog the other three teams also seeking one of the two available berths. And given the play of the Baltimore Orioles , Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals , this could prove to be too tall a task to ask of the New York Yankees. And that is in spite of the latest chain of events concerning the inspired play of Alfonso Soriano. . On Thursday, in the final game of their trilogy against the Los Angeles Angels , New York would become unglued , going down in an 8-4 loss , in a game marked by a lack of consistent pitching and the sudden silence of the Yankees` offense in terms run production ,albeit that the team collected fifteen hits in the defeat .

With a three game series , set to begin on Friday, against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park , in Boston, the New York Yankees will be looking to old rivalries , while seeking close the gap on the AL East divisional leaders. Taking the mound for the Yankees will be Andy Pettite (7-9,ERA 4.62) against Felix Doubront (8-5, ERA 3.66). The New York Yankees do need to win this series, if they are to have any hope of narrowing the margin between themselves and the teams ahead of them in the wildcard standings. I do not believe that the divisional title is within their grasp and with the Orioles and Rays seemingly with a tight grip on their places within the AL East . It now becomes game, of which team is now liable to crack under pressure , as we approach the final month of the regular season schedule .

With the career of Derek Jeter now winding down , the very public face of this Yankees` franchise will now become a vacuum . Certainly, Alex Rodriguez cannot fill that role , albeit that he was looked upon by team`s owners as being the individual to become the heir-apparent to Jeter in that role . Add in the fact that if Rodriguez while an active player on the roster were to break the all-time career home run record , of which he now leads all active players in that specific category . It would simply add one more feather in the cap of baseball`s most illustrious franchise . That now seems to be something of a remote possibility and if anything, a feat that would be looked upon rather dubiously , dubiously, given that the current holder of baseball`s most heralded record remains a pariah within the game.

Barry Bonds` departure from baseball was looked upon as a blessing and a curse , because a Pandora`s Box was opened up to a seedier side of the game , that not even Bud Selig can now close with any measure of success. Any thought that the game of baseball has been able to clean up its image in terms of two tainted decades of rampant cheating, can now firmly be placed alongside the Black Sox scandal as one of the most self-destructive periods and things to have happened in the game`s history. The remnants of the Biogenesis debacle will remain with baseball for years to come and will not be easily forgotten, because of the deceit , and depth of depravity shown by the players embroiled in this controversial chapter of baseball history . Revisionists will seek to rewrite this episode, as being something of a faded memory. Yet, records will show how rampant an epidemic, the use of performance enhancing drugs had become, along with the names associated with the scandal .

Robinson Cano remains a fan favorite amongst the New York Yankees` fans , and with very good reason . The player embodies what the franchise is said to be about, in terms of the players steeped in tradition long associated with the history of ball-club. However, with Cano set to become a free agent at the end of this season , there now seems to doubts setting in, as to whether or not he will remain with the only organization he has ever played for in the Big Leagues. The six-year , $57 million deal, signed by Robinson Cano in 2008, comes to an end this season. There now seems to be a growing reluctance by Brian Cashman to sign the player to a multi-year deal that would most certainly make him amongst a the highest paid players on the New York Yankees` roster. Now represented by RocNation Sports , a company founded by rapper and entrepreneur Jay-z in conjunction with CAA Sports . Cano is the highest profiled athlete signed to the artist`s fledgling sports management company, and now looking g to make inroads in all four of the major professional team sports, as well pursuing acquiring fighters within the UFC as well as boxing. The rapper also known as Sean Carter , would like nothing better than to have his client sign a deal that would not leave an imprint of his success in this new endeavor , but also garner further attention for RocNation Sports, with the hope of luring other dissatisfied athletes to his company .

The New York Yankees certainly do need Robinson Cano , with an injury riddled and an aging roster, no longer what it once was. Losing Cano to free agency would be a devastating blow for the organization. A career . 308 hitter , Robinson Cano and his representatives know that there would be a willing number of suitors looking to pay for his unique services. It would not be out of the realm of possibility that the player could sign with another team willing to acquire him at the right price . With the vast resources available to the New York Yankees , a decision will have to be made quickly, during the off-season . Because there is no doubt in mind, that Jay-Z will have begun to shop around his client`s services the moment he becomes an unrestricted free agent. A seven or ten-year contract, for no less an asking price of between $220 million to $245 million, does not seem out of the question or truly exorbitant, given the payrolls of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, respectively. Yet, it has been baseball`s unwillingness to deal with its financial imbalances , that now seems to be leading it even closer to a precipice , where in due course, it will undoubtedly take that foreseen plunge over the edge .

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In light of what you have read in this article, do you believe that any decision rendered by the arbitrator presiding over Alex Rodriguez`s appeal will be the right verdict ? Or are you of the opinion that baseball`s continued failure to be proactive and have more even more oversight in the monitoring and testing of the players for performance has been a monumental and miserable failure , even with the advent of this latest scandal ? Should the New York Yankees miss the postseason , who should bear the brunt of the responsibility for the team`s failure this season , Alex Rodriguez , Joe Girardi or Brian Cashman ? Finally, were Robinson Cano to leave the Yankees` organization as an unrestricted free agent, would it matter at all to you where he ultimately landed ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
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(1) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez reacts after striking out in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, in New York.. In another turn of events , it is being claimed that the player or a member from his inner circle leaked information that implicated both Ryan Braun and his Yankees` teammate Francisco Cervelli in the Biogenesis scandal . The claims are made in a soon to be seen episode of the CBS news magazine program ` 60 Minutes ` but was first revealed in print by Yahoo Sports . AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(2) Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference following baseball meetings at the Otesaga Hotel on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Cooperstown, N.Y. AP Photo/Mike Groll …

(3) New York Yankees catcher Chris Stewart (19) congratulates left fielder Alfonso Soriano after the Yankees’ 11-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in a baseball game , Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, in New York. Soriano had seven RBIs in the game. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(4) Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig checks his watch before a news conference following baseball meetings at the Otesaga Hotel on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Cooperstown, N.Y. Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz stands at right. With the league hierarchy and owners coming to an agreement that instant replay will now become more widely used within the game in 2014 , it now remains to be seen how and when the hierarchy, will also reach a compromise, as to a more stringent form of testing, for performance enhancing drugs with even more oversight. The commissioner at present, seems noncommittal on that lone issue , still insisting that baseball does have the most stringent testing protocols of the four major professional team sports . AP Photo/Mike Groll ….

(5) Defense attorney Joseph Tacopina shows a video as address the jurors during closing arguments in the fatal boat crash trial. Anthony DiGilio the boater accused of killing another boater and injuring two others in on trial in Toms River. DiGilio, a 33-year-old construction worker and electrician, is accused of speeding and then fleeing the scene of the accident. Charged with one count of vehicular homicide and two counts of death by vessel, DiGilio faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Friday April 19, 2013 . Patti Sapone/The Star-Ledger ….

(6) Robinson Cano , left, of the New York Yankees is seen here signing an agreement with rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z , founder of RocNation Sports , The full consultancy and sports` management company now represents the player after he fired his former agent Scott Boras . In recent months the entrepreneur and businessman has been busy in building his stable of sports` clients, having added the WNBA`s Skylar Diggins , Geno Smith , quarterback for the New York Jets and Seth Jones of the NHL`s Nashville Predators . Getty Images / Aaron Curry ….
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Wendy Fiore . Always seeking to make your day feel a great deal better ..

When good men fail to act or take action , then evil will always prevail ….

When good men fail to act or take action, then evil will always prevail ….

It should come as no surprise that Alex Rodriguez has filed a grievance against the MLB hierarchy through the MLBPA (Players` Union) in seeking to have his suspension overturned, with his appeal going in front of an independent arbitrator . This matter further prolongs what has already been a painful episode for the game of baseball . Meanwhile, fans are offering either the most reasonable of solutions or making some of the most asinine statements possible . Even the most anal retentive within this domain are offering up solution, as why not simply let the players carry on using whatever illicit substances they want . And it is for this lone reason, why I believe this country should no longer get the respect, it simply feels it deserves from the outside world ! When you have that sort of unintelligent and asinine reasoning being made as an argument , it shows a complete lack of understanding of the situation and furthermore, it shows ignorance and stupidity . Hell , the country simply does not deserve anything, by way of respect from the outside world, given its present economic climate and some might rightfully agree , a government and an administration , simply devoid of intelligence and any real leadership .

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Rodriguez`s appeal will be presided over by an independent arbitrator, whose decision will be final . From my own perspective , I believe that the MLB hierarchy has handled this whole matter with the aptitude and incompetency of an impaired driver behind the wheel of a vehicle careening down a highway at a high rate of speed, that is about to plow into a group of innocent bystanders. With a pending appeal process, Alex Rodriguez will be allowed to play for the beleaguered New York Yankees , who now find themselves in fourth place within the AL East and falling further behind divisional rivals the Boston Red Sox , Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles . The third baseman`s stats , since his return this season from hip surgery , one could suggest, has been anemic . Not that any assistance provided by the player would not be welcomed,given the plight of this team under Joe Girardi and his staff this season .

The Yankees` next game will be a home series (three games) at Yankee Stadium , starting on Friday, against the Detroit Tigers of the AL Central . On the mound for the home team will be Ivan Nova , as he faces off against Rick Porcello of the Tigers. As to how the home team fans will show their approval of the beleaguered Rodriguez remains to be seen , but if it is anything like the cat-calls and boos received , in the somewhat hostile environment of US Cellular Field in Chicago against the Chicago White Sox , when the Yankees last played . Then, Alex Rodriguez could very well be in for a torrid time in-front of his hometown fans.

As simplistic as this might sound, with all of the criticism justifiably leveled at Bud Selig. My question remains , if the commissioner is due any criticism , then has none been aimed towards the team owners , players not participants in the steroid cheating , who have remained silent, but most of all the members of the mainstream press who now seek to make themselves out as saviors of the game ? MLB broadcast partner ESPN is perhaps, one of the most guilty members of the media, who have sought to remain all too silent , never once being critical of the league and the way that they have governed the game of baseball . Now as this story becomes part of the news` cycle of featured sports` stories . Here we have all of the major networks and cable sports` outlets relentlessly giving us their synopsis`s and diagnosis as to how this all may very well end.

Baseball`s history as been littered with controversy, infamy , and perhaps now, one of the most unsavory episodes in its entire existence . Alex Rodriguez proclaims his love of the game, which he has been a part of for almost two decades , while seeking also to become a role model for young kids. Yet, his continued lies and seeking to apportion blame elsewhere for problems of his own making, paints a picture of a self-absorbed narcissistic and amoral individual . The player remains a poor excuse for someone , who at one time was viewed as one of the best players of the late nineties and of the last decade. An all too sad an indictment of a wasted talent and a player , who has now become a pariah.

With the release of the movie `42` , starring Chad Bozeman and Harrison Ford. This film was meant to give us a realistic and true portrayal of the life of Jackie Robinson and his integration and introduction into the Major Leagues. Beautifully made, the acting and ensemble cast gave the audience something that could very much believe by way of Hollywood finally getting something right by way of a very realistic portrayal of one of the major and unsavory times within baseball , and one in which baseball historians tend to gloss over with alarming regularity . Each year, baseball rolls out its Jackie Robinson Day to commemorate that historic event of the Hall of Fame player`s first game in the Big Leagues .

In what can only be described as a depraved act of stupidity and racial animus , perpetrators daubed, defecated upon and vandalized statues of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese outside the stadium of the Brooklyn Cyclones , in Brooklyn, New York state . The outrage now seems to be widespread amongst the New York community, but particularly amongst the Brooklyn residents and those old enough , who fondly remember both Robinson and Reese ,as close teammates. Why this happened, is of no great surprise, given the depravity and how heinous the act just happened to be. What is of surprise, is the very fact that no one from within the MLB`s headquarters, has voiced their outrage or issued a public statement on the incident. Well, that should not really come as any great surprise, given the fact that baseball`s own failings in recent years, concerning their recent initiatives to bring back baseball within the inner cities and specifically amongst minorities.

Courtesy of the New York Daily News

Jackie Robinson statue defaced with racist slurs, swastikas outside Cyclones park, News offers reward

The Daily News is offering $10,000 for information leading to the coward that scrawled hate speech on the Jackie Robinson statue outside MCU Park in Coney Island.

By Thomas Tracy, Nicholas Wells and Richard Schapiro , New York Daily News

A despicable act of vandalism sparked a chorus of outrage Wednesday after swastikas and racist slurs were found scrawled on the iconic Jackie Robinson statue outside the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium.

A manager at MCU Park in Coney Island stumbled upon the defaced statue about 8:30 a.m., just hours before thousands of kids showed up at the ballpark for Camp Day.

Among the hate-filled messages written in black marker on the monument of Robinson and his Brooklyn Dodgers teammate Pee Wee Reese were: “Hile (sic) Hitler,” “Die N—-r” and “F–k Jackie Robinson and all N——s.”

In a bid to help cops catch the hate-filled coward, the Daily News is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

Investigators were poring over surveillance video Wednesday night.

The desecration drew fiery denunciations from a slew of politicians and former baseball stars — including one of Robinson’s last living teammates, Ralph Branca.

“I have no idea why anyone would do that,” Branca, 87, told the Daily News. “The statue signified a great moment in American history.”

RELATED: LUPICA: HATEFUL DEFACING OF JACKIE ROBINSON STATUE A CRIME AGAINST ALL

Sen. Chuck Schumer, in a surprise visit to the site, lashed out at the perpetrator.

“I hope you’re punished for what you did because what [you] did put a dagger in the heart of what America is all about,” Schumer said.

“That there are still people who don’t understand what Jackie Robinson stood for in his grace, and his strength and the beautiful person he was and to try and deface him, defame him by defacing this statue is just an act of . . . it’s beyond words to me,” he added.

Photos of the defaced statue obtained by The News show an image of a swastika above a Hitler reference and the word “N—–s” scrawled twice on the base, just above the inscription detailing the monument’s significance.

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Bud Selig`s tenure can be best described as self-created pratfalls,with the man himself , looking to take credit for anything that remotely might show he and the game in a positive light. Over the past two decades , there has been very little that the commissioner can really point to, as a real positive. Now, in light of the Biogenesis scandal and the incident that took place in Brooklyn. It is extremely difficult to imagine,how anyone would now try to suggest that this season can in any way, be seen as a positive .

Racially motivated or a simple act of vandalism , this incident and how baseball, and law enforcement , now seek to address the matter, will go a long way , in how the public will view the game in the aftermath of the most recent events to have taken place. As to the perpetrators of this crime,it is hoped, that they will have the decency to at least show some contrition for their actions. Yet, that might now be too much to expect, given the fact , that there are idiots, who will also seek take advantage of this act, to further a rather insidious cause .

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Baseball is filled with a great deal of hypocrisy, with much of it coming from the players themselves and their own selfishness . Furthermore , a great deal of tat is actually countenanced by the lack of expediency shown by Michael Weiner as the executive director of the MLBPA , who himself, has been less tan forthright, as to the actions of his members, specifically those embroiled in this latest chapter of cheating. And there still remains the fans who are passionate about the game, but who are gullible enough to actually believe that the players actually give a damn, about whether or not their teammates or others are cheating. Case in point , Derek Jeter might just be the most respected player in the game along with teammate, Mariano Rivera . Yet, for all of the controversy that has beset the game and that still casts a giant over baseball.When have you ever heard either player, come out and be openly critical of the players known to have cheated or even voiced their concerns and how now dangerous a path that the game seems to be taking , in terms of the adverse image and bad publicity ? Answers please , if you can ?

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez leaves the dugout to take batting practice before a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Chicago. AP Photo/David Banks …

(2) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez signs autographs before a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, in Chicago. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast …

(3) New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter arrives at Petco Park for the Yankees inter-league baseball game against the San Diego Padres in San Diego, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi …

(4) In a scene from the hit movie `42` Branch Rickey portrayed by Harrison Ford pleads with Jackie Robinson (Chad Bozeman) to have patience and simply display his skills and vent his due anger into the game and not against those who are taunting him with derogatory racial epithets. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved

(5) A worker covers the base of the Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese, where vile slurs written in marker could not be removed from the stone Wednesday. AP Photo / Neil Miller

(6) A portrait of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ infielder Jackie Robinson in uniform from about 1945. Hulton Archives / Getty Images …

(7) The Daily News is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of those responsible for the hateful graffiti scrawled on the Jackie Robinson statue (shown here before the despicable act). Associated Press …

(8) Racial slurs have scarred the Jackie Robinson statue outside MCU Park. So racially offensive were many of the remarks daubed on the effigy , that it took workers several hours to clean and restore the statue to its former being . Associated Press ….

(9) The Brooklyn Dodgers’ Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson chatting in dugout at Yankee Stadium in 1947. The two players and teammates ,became firm friends , and both are enshrined in baseball`s Hall of Fame , in Cooperstown , New York . New York Daily News / Ed Jackson ….

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