Bang the drum loudly …

Bang the drum loudly ……..

The second half of the MLB season will get underway with several teams now seeking to make inroads in terms of the divisional races , while at the same time wildcard berths will be up for grabs within the AL and NL . Through the first half of the season, there were no great surprises ,but the Oakland Athletics were proving why they remain one of the best regular season teams in baseball over the past four years. Unfortunately, the regular season is nothing more than the precursor to baseball’s Fall Classic , the World Series ,but also the postseason itself. It would be safe to say, the A’s have seen their share of ups and downs in recent postseason forays. Bob Melvin and his managerial staff will almost certainly be looking to make a better showing for this postseason as they continue to dominate the AL West , without being seriously challenged by any of their divisional rivals .

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Oakland will resume their schedule with a home game on Friday against the Baltimore Orioles, with Jeff Samadzija on the mound for the home team as he faces Chris Tillman of the Orioles. The O Coliseum is likely to be packed, as the game’s best team embarks on proving their legitimacy as the AL’s top-ranked ball-club at this point of the season. With Yoenis Cespedes coming off another exceptional performance in the MLB All Star Home Run Derby contest where he successfully defended his title. The A’s slugger is perhaps the team’s best offensive player and is certainly proving his worth for the ball-club this season , while being considered a likely candidate for the AL MVP .

Baseball’s mid-season showcase event, the MLB All Star Game played at Target Field in Minneapolis , Minnesota, where we witnessed the AL triumph over their NL counterparts to gain themselves home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels signified his status as the heir-apparent to Derek Jeter in becoming the face of baseball for the next decade. Anyone who might a doubt to the claim, might want review the player’s heroics during the All Star Game on Tuesday night.

Trout and the Los Angeles Angels are in the hunt within the AL West, sitting 1 ½ games behind the Oakland Athletics with the Seattle Mariners in third place, followed by the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers bringing up the rear within the division. . It would be fair to say, Angels’ manager Mike Sciocsia and his staff are under a great deal of pressure to succeed this season. An All Star cast in terms of three high-profiled players , led by Mike Trout , Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton have failed to ignite the expectations sought by team owner , Arte Moreno and the front office led by GM Jerry Dipoto . In fact, the Angels’ fans must be wondering if the money spent on Pujols and Hamilton can be justified when the returns have been so meager by way of their output over the last two seasons.

Coming into the All Stat break the Los Angeles Angles were 9-1 in their last ten games, a league leading best among the teams in baseball. The approach of the team and Sciocsia’s staff, has been to play hard, with an emphasis on both offense , pitching and defense . . While I believe Mike Sciocsia’s position as the manager of the Los Angeles Angels remains in jeopardy, the team’s ongoing miscues could lead to Jerry Dipoto making the decision to relieve him of his managerial duties. Trout and his teammates will resume their season with a weekend series starting on Friday, when the Angels play the Seattle Mariners at Angels’ Ballpark in Anaheim , California . Taking the mound for the Mariners will be Hisashi Iwakuma against Jered Weaver of the Angels. . A pitching match-up I believe will bring out the best in these two AL pitchers as both seek to strengthen the presence of their respective teams as the second half of the season begins.

Two decades of witnessing the very best that Derek Jeter has to offer the game of baseball does seem to be something of a privilege for fans of America’s pastime. For the New York Yankees’ captain, this final season has been something of a milestone as he does the rounds being applauded by his peers and fans alike. A five-time winning World Series champion, Jeter and his teammates would like nothing better than to add another title to his list of achievements as well to that of the fabled ball-club. .However, if he and the team are to achieve that goal, then they will most certainly have to raise the level of their play entering the second half of the season . One of two wildcard berths within the AL may well be the best that the Yankees can achieve but I believe they will have set their sights higher and make a bold attempt at winning the AL East division, because the American League has been very competitive this season. Several teams are vying for the two wildcard berths, while the division now appears to be a three-horse race between the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees.

The Yankees have fared well against their divisional rivals this season, but their issues remain ever-present and the loss of their best pitcher in 2014 has been felt by the starting rotation . Masahiro Tanaka remains on the fifteen day DL , along with a number of teammates familiar in their starting roles for the Yankees’ lineup this season. Yankees Stadium will be packed over the next three days as the team plays host to the Cincinnati Reds in a three-game series beginning on Friday , 18th July. David Phelps of the Yankees will square off against Mike Leake of the Reds in this pitching duel.

Hal Steinbrenner and GM Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman have come a long way since the death of George Steinbrenner , but the fact remains the ball-club’s wish to be seen as being financially expedient has fallen on deaf ears within the organization. Other than the Los Angeles Dodgers , the New York Yankees are the only other team in Major League Baseball with a payroll above $200 million for this season. Hal Steinbrenner promised and failed in the attempt to lower the figure in 2013 and it seems for this year even in falling behind the Dodgers in the payroll sweepstakes , financial expediency no longer seems to be a major concern for the front office.

While the New York Yankees will not have to worry about a financial commitment to now disgraced star Alex Rodriguez for this season , the issue remains theirs is one of bloated salaries where a number of their players are among the highest paid in all of baseball, with the scenario unlikely to change . There will come a point where Hal Steinbrenner will have to show financial restraint, rather than showing the pretext of saying one thing and doing the complete opposite.

A postseason match-up between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers would be something that all of baseball would definitely relish. The two most storied franchises in the game meeting in World Series would be a considerable boost for MLB , given baseball’s inept handling of a litany of issues over the past decade. Unfortunately, such a scenario would allow Bud Selig to ride out on a psychological high with his taking credit for the creation of such a showcase . The Dodgers for their part having caught and now past the San Francisco Giants within the NL West are now proving why they are best team within the division and one of the best in the National League.

If ever there was a time for Don Mattingly to prove himself as a manager, then now would be it. Having won the NL West crown in 2013 with a great deal of ease the Dodgers being dismantled in the NLCS by the St Louis Cardinals showed why having a team of stars lacking in leadership was a sure way of being completely embarrassed. There was a great deal of complacency among the players , managerial staff as well as within the front office as senior partner Magic Johnson was simply making promises that his team would never keep. Disappointment and abject failure, pretty much summed up the NLCS series for the Dodgers against Mike Matheny’s Cardinals.

The maturation of Yasiel Puig remains a work in progress with the young player making a name for himself among his peers and the opposition faced this season. Puig like his teammates, are among the most explosive teams from an offensive standpoint within the game, but not to be left out of the equation, has to be the pitching of the Los Angeles Dodgers , with both Clayton Kershaw and Josh Beckett this season, having thrown no hitters for the team . The Los Angeles Dodgers have played with a great deal of presence and dominance against their opposition.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and St Louis Cardinals will renew their acquaintance when these two teams meet at Busch Stadium in St Louis , Missouri in a three-game series , starting on Friday, through until Sunday . Dan Haren of the Dodgers, will be on the mound when he takes on Lance Lynn in what is sure to be a great game between these two teams. . I believe the Dodgers are capable of winning the NL Pennant for this season , but the issue to my mind remains , who can anyone point to as being the vocal leader on this team? There are seasoned veterans such as Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp , Carl Crawford , Dan Haren, Paul Malholm and Brian Wilson , but when it comes crunch time, are any of the players in question likely to step up to the plate? There was no evidence there to suggest they are capable doing so especially in light of the failures of last season in the NLCS series against the St Louis Cardinals. The Dodgers are simply a safe bet during the regular season but they have been ’ fool’s gold’ during the postseason in recent years.

If someone had suggested to me Oakland Athletics’ starting pitcher Scott Kazmir would be among the best pitchers in baseball this season while leading the A’s starting rotation in wins and ERA(earned run average), I would have stated they are out of their mind ! Yet lo and behold Kazmir seems to have resurrected his career and found the form that saw him once spearhead the Tampa Bay Rays . Scott Kazmir’s former team are having their own issues this season, much of it of their own making and the mistaken belief among the Rays’ fans baseball analysts alike , they would be among the favorites to win the AL East and AL Pennant this season. Nothing could be further from the truth at this juncture, in spite of the ongoing optimism of Joe Maddon who believes the division still remains a wide open race.

Oakland has a slight lead (1 1/2 games) over the Los Angeles Angels within the AL West, with both teams scheduled to resume their respective schedules today. Bob Melvin will lead his team against the Baltimore Orioles when they meet at the O Coliseum in Oakland, California. Chris Tillman will be on the mound for the Orioles as they take on the division leading A’s, with Jeff Samardzija being the opposing pitcher . Contests between these two teams tend not to be close affairs, but I believe with both ball-clubs now riding high and their being so much at stake we are likely to see a competitive game and series .

Mike Trout I believe to be the most dominant force in the game today as an offensive player and granted , many are likely to view the reigning two-time AL MVP Detroit Tigers’ slugger Miguel Cabrera set about trying to prove which of the duo just happens to be the most dominant player. Within the NL I certainly do not believe there is a player the equal of either Cabrera or Trout in terms of productivity over the past two years . The singular awards for this season are up for grabs and I believe the races for those crowns will carry on until the end of the season. As to who those winners are likely to be, will be dependent upon the play of the presumptive frontrunners.

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Picture gallery .

Through the first half of the MLB season which teams or players do you believe have provided the best highlights ? As baseball resumes play, how do you see the rest of the schedule playing out and which ball-club is likely to be the most dominant and be seen as a firm favorite to win the World Series ?

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin ,left, is seen here with the team’s general manager Billy Beane . The duo have seen the A’s become the leading frontrunners within the AL for the AL Pennant but their greatest wish has to be, bringing back a World Series’ title to the state of California and to their loyal fans . AP Photo / Mark Edmonds …

(2) Jeff Samardzija of the Oakland A’s has been one of the main reasons the team has been consistent within the AL West this season . Getty Images / Chris Jones …

(3) Jul 15, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; American League infielder Derek Jeter (second from right) of the New York Yankees greets all star teammates Robinson Cano (22) of the Seattle Mariners and Mike Trout (27) of the Los Angeles Angels before the 2014 MLB All Star Game at Target Field . Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports …

(4) Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly is seen here with All Star player Yasiel Puig ,left . Getty Images / Hector Gonzalez …

(5)The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Matt Kemp chats with Magic Johnson before Game 2 of the 2013 National League Division Series in Atlanta. With almost one-quarter of a billion dollars ($250,000,000) invested in the team’s payroll for the 2014 season, Johnson hopes the fortunes of the Dodgers will be far more fruitful than during the 2013 MLB postseason. Getty Images / Christina Martin ….

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A few good men at the right price, its baseball

A few good men at the right price, its baseball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of New York Daily News

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

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

By Mark Fiensand , New York Daily News

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

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

RELATED: ROBERTS AGREES TO 1-YEAR YANKEES DEAL

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

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

RELATED: NEW POSTING RULES HAVE YANKS WAITING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery .

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

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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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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Manny , Manny, Manny …. Who’s Sorry Now ?

Manny , Manny, Manny …. Who’s Sorry Now ?

By tophatal

The critically acclaimed movie ” Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt , Phillip Seymour-Hoffman and Jonah Hill , celebrates the Oakland A’s and in particular GM Billy Beane’s ascent into baseball folklore as being an astute assessor baseball talent . But as of late the Athletics’ woes have been well chronicled in terms of their lack of regular and postseason success . To say that ” ineptitude” has been the face of the franchise in recent years would be an insult to the use of the word but such has been the mediocrity of the organization that it has myself wondering in particular, why any major league player would want to don an Oakland A’s uniform !

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Now having seen the AL West in terms of this past season with the domination of the division by the Texas Rangers as the divisional champions for the last two years as well as the AL pennant representative in the World Series in 2010 and 2011 . This has to grate on the nerves of the long suffering A’s fans seeing the rise in the dominance of the Texas Rangers and seeing financial acumen shown by GM Jon Daniels and the front office of the Texas Rangers . Money is of no object for the now resurgent ball-club with the vast financial resources at their disposal . A two decade $3 billion television deal that affords the organization leeway in acquiring talent at the drop of a hat , of which $100 million was made available to the Rangers this off-season . It would appear that the league has essentially become about “the have’s” and “have nots “ with the likes of the Texas Rangers near the top of the food chain , whereby they can now challenge the likes of the Boston Red Sox , Los Angeles Angels , New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies .

The Oakland A’s ballpark at times has been bare in terms of fan attendance for their home games and this was noticeably so this past season . Sparsely attended and with winning results coming at an inconsistent pace it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see the team barely being able to remain within posting close to a .500 record (74-88) for 2011 . Billy Beane for his part knows that this team needs to bolstered from an offensive standpoint if they are to viewed as a competitive threat within the division (AL West) and most certainly as a viable candidate for a wildcard berth .

If the rumors now swirling are to be believed then it would appear that Billy Beane is intent on acquiring ……. Manny Ramirez as a DH and play various parts of the out-field for the team. The now disgraced former big leaguer , fell from grace last season having retired abruptly, rather than face a second 50 game suspension for a violation of the league’s substance abuse program . Barely contributing for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 Ramirez in for all of his off-field issues remains an enigma and a pariah within the game . There’s no doubt that Manny Ramirez when his head is focused on the game is a big time player who can hit for power and of which his run productivity cannot be denied .

I am not so sure that it would be prudent for Beane to sign the player even if it were to one year deal or otherwise ! That is unless team owner Lew Wolff feels it worthwhile as a lure to get fans’ interests piqued at the prospect of seeing the player in A’s uniform . Though acquiring the player might not be viewed as a great financial risk given their payroll , which is amongst the lowest within baseball . And for those who still feel that the premise of the “Moneyball” aspect can still prove to be pertinent in today’s game , ask yourself how that has been working out favor of the A’s overall financial viability and their success as of late ? Being financially frugal can only get you so far but it would appear that either Wolff is unwilling to increase payroll or he’s simply happy with his lot of seeing the baseball club repeatedly being viewed as an “also ran ” amongst the teams within the league . The apathy amongst the A’s fans seems palatable within their fan-base but I guess it now goes with the territory , given the team’s recent lack of success !

With a relatively young core that makes up this roster it has to be said that if patience is the virtue upon which Billy Beane is hoping to build this team’s future upon while these players acclimatize themselves to the rigors of the game at present he may well be ill served to continue along this path. How much longer can he feel that this organization proceed under this premise ? And the mere fact that the front office and in particular Lew Wolff is waiting upon some sort of resolution to be forthcoming from the league hierarchy led by Bud Selig as to the A’s wish to relocate makes this organization’s situation all the more comical . The commissioner at present seems to be none too interested in the plight of the Oakland A’s as he looks forward to the upcoming season and the inauguration of the Miami Marlins’ new ballpark . Perhaps if Wolff and his partners fawned over Selig and the hierarchy , while brow-beating the city of Oakland then perhaps their wish to have an all new purpose built facility might well have been fast-tracked . Anyone who is aware as to the back door dealings with regard to the Marlins’ stadium issue must now know _____ that deal is now the subject of a federal investigation being conducted by the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) in conjunction with the US Justice Department . Chances are those involved subject to a subpoena will for now remain tight lipped rather than implicating themselves in any possible wrongdoing .

Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin , while he and his coaching staff are expected tutor many of the young players on this team . with a view to bringing out the best in the talents of Jemile Weeks , Scott Sizemore , Cliff Pennington , Ryan Sweeney , Dallas Braden , Josh Reddick and Brandon Allen to name but a few on this current roster . It will be interesting to see how those players handle themselves this upcoming season in comparison to 2011 when their problems were quantified in so many areas , in terms of a lack of run productivity . However what truly plagued the team was their poor defense throughout much of the season which proved to be costly in seemingly allowing their opponents win a number of games that were well within the A’s grasp.

As Spring Training comes around , it will certainly be interesting to see the guise that the Oakland Athletics’ roster will take. As the team’s aspirations take shape for the organization , Bob Melvin and his staff will try their utmost to create the momentum needed before the regular season begins . Are the A’s capable of pulling off a major surprise and competing at a high level this season ? Well that remains to be seen but it is becoming increasingly clear that after years in the doldrums it has to be now or never , rather than the continued excuses proffered up by their fans , and what appears to be on the surface the inability of the front office , coaching staff and players to prove to show that this organization is capable of competing alongside that of their peers.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

The future of Manny Ramirez to my mind within the game of baseball is a major gamble for any team willing to take the player, be it on a whim or out of necessity ! As a player , Ramirez has shown that his ego needs to be massaged by his manager and at the moment of any real sign of adversity he is not always willing step up to the plate . Furthermore , with his already tarnished image and continued demeanor why would any team at this juncture be willing to take a chance on the player ? What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the possibility of the Oakland A’s acquiring Manny Ramirez ? Do you feel that his addition will be of benefit to the team or a hindrance ? Chime in on this , and any other topic you feel of relevance as it relates to the A’s , Spring Training and the Opening Day of the regular season in Major League Baseball (MLB) .

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

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(1) Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin (L) speaks, while Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge (R) looks on, at a press conference in Tokyo on January 16, 2012. Melvin and Wedge announced that the Athletics and Mariners will play for their opening Major League Baseball games at the Tokyo Dome stadium in March. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO ….

(2) Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge, center, gestures with Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin, left, and Mariners special consultant Ken Griffey Jr. after a press conference in Tokyo, Monday, Jan. 16, 2012. The Mariners and Athletics will open next season in Japan with a two-game series at the Tokyo Dome on March 28 and 29. AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi ………

(3) Josh Willingham (16) of the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in a game in Arlington on July 9, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images …..

(4) Oakland Athletics’ owner Lewis Wolff , right, talks with vice president and general manager Billy Beane during the A’s spring training baseball workout in Phoenix, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007. Beane, the architect behind Oakland’s four division titles since 2000, was rewarded with a seven-year contract extension Wednesday, June 13, 2007. AP Photo/Eric Risberg …….

(5) Rays’ GM Andrew Friedman (left) is seen here alongside team signings …. Johnny Damon (center) and Manny Ramirez prior to the start of the 2011 season . Also in picture is the team’s manager Joe Maddon . Ramirez’s tenure with the team was short-lived with the player abruptly retiring after it was announced that he had violated the league’s substance policy for a second time . AP Photo /Erica Cresswell …..

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Elita Lofblad (laying down) & a friend . What’s not to like ?

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Into Each Of Our Lives A Drop Of Rain Must Fall But Then Again You Can Always Rely On An Idiot Within The Sports Arena To Provide Us With Something Extra !

Into Each Of Our Lives A Drop Of Rain Must Fall But Then Again You Can Always Rely On An Idiot Within The Sports Arena To Provide Us With Something Extra !

Well it had to happen did it not ? A baseball team owner being openly critical of one of his peers . In no uncertain terms Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff has been critical of Los Angeles Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt and his ex wife Jamie McCourt in their ownership of the organization. As we all know the Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection, filing Chapter 11 proceedings in the US Federal Courts .

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Slide show gallery for your perusal .

Now unless I’m mistaken this is the very first time that we’ve had an owner issue a public statement on this matter . But what might be even more surprising is the very fact that Wolff a staunch supporter of Commissioner Bud Selig was one of the very owners who at the time of McCourt’s purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers was one of the main supporters of Frank McCourt buying the team. And the very fact that Wolff and Frank McCourt share the same business background in the development of commercial and residential real estate has me wondering whether or not the two had a business deal jointly between them that went south which has now brought about this animus !

Courtesy of USA Today

A’s owner Lew Wolff calls on Frank McCourt to sell Dodgers

By Jorge L, Ortiz , USA Today

Commissioner Bud Selig is not only one who wants Frank McCourt to just go away. One of the Los Angeles Dodgers owner’s brethren is now calling for him to leave.

Oakland Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff told the Los Angeles Times that McCourt’s attacks on Selig are misguided and called for him to sell the team. Wolff is the first owner to publicly speak out against McCourt.

“My hope is that the Dodgers will be sold to a party that will restart this great franchise, and that Frank and his family will benefit from a positive sale,” Wolff told the Times. “But to try and equate or compare what Bud Selig has done with the administration of the current Dodger franchise is unsupportable.”

McCourt’s lawyers have contested in divorce court Selig’s claim that McCourt has taken more than $100 million from the team for his personal use, and they argued that Selig has received more than that amount from MLB through his yearly salary of more than $18 million.

Wolff stood up for his former University of Wisconsin fraternity brother, saying his comments were not an attempt to gain favor with Selig as the A’s continue to wait for a report on their stadium options. Wolff also denied any interest in buying the Dodgers.

“For anyone to seek to diminish Bud’s accomplishments in order to rationalize their own actions is, in my opinion, ludicrous and hugely disingenuous,” Wolff said.

Selig rejected a proposed TV rights deal with Fox that McCourt said would be worth upwards of $3 billion, citing concern over McCourt’s handling of the Dodgers’ revenues. McCourt responded by filing for bankruptcy.

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Lew Wolff voicing his opinion on Frank McCourt and his misdeeds to my mind actually smacks of stupidity given the A’s owner’s own handling of his team . The Oakland Athletics’ problems this season have been well chronicled and the very fact that the organization has struggled to even maintain some semblance of consistency would suggest that they’re still a long way off from where they really need to be . My own belief is that Lew Wolff as an owner has done little to suggest that he and his partners are ambitious to win . Were it not also from the fact that in Frank McCourt’s first pursuant of trying to own an MLB ballclub then I would have simply waived off this criticism as justified but herein now lies the premise . Several years prior to Frank McCourt gaining control of the Los Angeles Dodgers he has also sought to purchase the Boston Red Sox .

In pursuant of the deal as is normally required in all such instances , Frank McCourt and his partners filed the necessary papers with the board of governors and MLB hierarchy . Much of that paperwork indicated that the bidders would be financing the deal through a menage of cash and borrowing from several major financial institutions. However , it had to be noted that McCourt was also involved in major litigation where he was the defendant in a legal matter that involved unfulfilled obligations concerning the development of a real estate deal . Somehow this was initially overlooked by the league until brought to their attention by their legal counsel and the deal was in the end nixed . If such as is the case, wherein the league had such an issue concerning a potential buyer of one of their franchises once before then how is it that the league hierarchy and owners saw fit to relent and then allow that very same individual the chance to own another of their franchises the second time around ? The pattern again followed the same principle minus the legal issues but once again even in light of Frank McCourt’s previous problems the signs obviously were not heeded . This time around the board of governors which includes the owners voted unanimously to approve the deal .

If Lew Wolff is now trying decry the antics of Frank McCourt then how is it that he did not do so when the Dodgers’ owner came to the table with his deal to buy the organization ? What really had changed other than perhaps the greed of the baseball hierarchy and that of the team owners ? To me this is all so asinine given the fact that the vast majority of owners in the game are about as acutely business minded as the ” idiots” in the House and Senate who claim they have the nation’s interests at heart but who simply bicker like infants when they cannot get their own damn way ! And it is very much the same with the owners and league hierarchy within baseball !

Billy Beane the Oakland Athletics’ general manager has done as much as he can on a shoe-string budget but in recent times it has given the fans of the team little hope if any. Granted, one could allude to the fact that they’re building towards the future with their prospects and players drafted over the past few years . But in reality fans want to see some semblance of success sooner , rather than later . Anyone who would suggest to the contrary is living a life of complete denial . It’s idiotic to suggest that a fan is prepared to sit around and wait anywhere between two or even five years to see their team strive for success. If anything they’re either prepared to show their discontent with the ownership group or simply begin to abandon their team altogether . Merely giving the impression that they are prepared to endure the pain and the bravado of repeatedly watching an organization fail is as such nothing short of sadomasochism . Self flagellation at its best and worst perhaps ?

NBA Commissioner David Stern is now of the belief that the NPBA (union ) representing the players are not acting in good faith . Am I missing something here ? Unless I am mistaken the commissioner along with the NBA hierarchy and team owners indeed sought this lockout initiating the stoppage upon the 30th June deadline and expiration of the then existing collective bargaining agreement . Stern , alongside San Antonio Spurs’ owner Peter Holt and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver in a joint public statement went so far as to suggest that the union represented by executive director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher were being intransigent during the two sides’ deliberations in trying to reach a compromise .

Stern’s biggest gripe is that the union could now choose to de-certify and then pursue their own legal recourse not only against the league hierarchy directly but also against the team owners . And with the commissioner having practiced law he knows that the union is quite within their right to pursue their grievances legally . Plain and simple David Stern doesn’t want to be viewed as being outmaneuvered by the NBPA or anyone else that he feels is beneath him !

Anyone who has seen how David Stern conducts himself in public will know that if he’s not front and center alongside others ____ not the main attraction then you might as well be standing in the background. It has been this sort of autocratic leadership and at times bombastic attitude that has perhaps led to this impasse . Had the league hierarchy and union for that matter had the hindsight to even convene prior to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement and try to lay some groundwork for their dealings then in some respects the ensuing action could have been avoided . But that would simply be asking way too much of two organizations where narcissism and being egotistical seems to be the norm !

And now with the game’s own international body FIBA granting the right of the NBA players should they choose to ____ pursue playing abroad during the entrenchment of the two sides during the lockout . It would appear that the power that the league and owners thought they had was in fact nothing more than an actual pipe dream. With perhaps the game’s biggest star in Kobe Bryant now said to be mulling over several lucrative offers of an to play in China or Turkey I don’t think that it will be all that long before several other marquee stars of the NBA may well choose to follow suit !

David Stern for his part may well feel that in pursuant of the owners’ interests that they appear to be in the right but were it not for the fact that transparency of the league hierarchy when it comes to their finances borders on the secrecy of Opus Dei and that particular order. The league owners plead poverty but somehow they choose not to rein in their expenses when it comes to the salaries of the players and at the same time the union itself paints the picture that they’re being held hostage by the demands of the league hierarchy and owners. Now in the midst of it all with the NBA on track to lose several hundred million dollars it is Stern’s intent to have us believe that this lockout is the only way possible to get the union to heed their original warnings of financial doom. Were it not for the fact that in the past two seasons that the teams around the league have been the beneficiaries of in excess of $ 500 million in loans guaranteed by the league and in the past decade itself the league has borrowed in excess of $1.65 billion from several major financial institution across the country I now have a hard time fathoming how it is that the NBA finds itself in such a mess ! Unless the CFO of the league hierarchy is someone who’s clearly not adroit with finance then something is clearly awry within the NBA . David Stern’s main argument has been that the league now needs to rein in costs and he points to the fact that the NBA is on target to lose in excess of $450 million for the fiscal year . Ho hum ! That figure though excessive makes me wonder when the commissioner himself is being compensated to the tune of $23.5 million a year (including incentives) and the likes of Rashard Lewis can earn in excess of $22.5 million on the back end of a rather exorbitant contract then I have to wonder where the madness is actually coming from within the NBA !

Neither side at present shows signs of relenting and with each passing moment it would appear that the league and union have further alienated the fans . With the lockout now only a mere five weeks into its length it appears that neither side is yet willing to acquiesce and reach any sort of a real compromise . Little tidbits are released for the public’s and media’s consumption but beyond that not much has really changed . This impasse may well reach a breaking point where one side will actually relent but it does not appear to be the case now, or anytime soon . I can only surmise that David Stern and the owners will try to play the role of the protagonist in this all , as they seek to paint the union as the antagonists and villains of the piece ! Somehow , I don’t think that the fans really care which is side is portraying which damn character as they are now sick and tired of hearing about millionaires and multi millionaires complain about their financial angst and woes ! These individuals simply cannot relate to the common man much less a fan of the game .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on Lew Wolff’s criticism of Frank McCourt and do you feel it justified ? Also in light of David Stern’s comments where do you stand on the NBA lockout and the impasse as it now meanders along ? Leave a comment as to your thoughts on the points raised within this piece .

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Oakland Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff smiles during a news conference in Oakland, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2005. The Oakland A’s owners struck a deal with Major League Soccer to bring a team back to the San Francisco Bay area after the San Jose Earthquakes left for Houston over a stadium squabble, officials said Wednesday, May 24, 2006. Lew Wolff and John Fisher , the A’s principal owners, will have three years to buy a team and develop a stadium solely for soccer. The location of the new stadium has not been determined but the new Earthquakes office will be located in downtown San Jose. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ….

(2) Oakland Athletics’ Kurt Suzuki reacts to striking out in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, in Seattle. The Mariners beat the Athletics 4-2 . AP Photo/Ted S. Warren ……

(3) Eric Sogard (36) of the Oakland Athletics reacts after striking out with the bases loaded to end the eighth against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on August 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images ……

(4) Hideki Matsui (55) of the Oakland Athletics singles in the eighth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on August 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images ……

(5) Hideki Matsui (L) shakes hands with Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (R) after trying on his new jersey during a press conference where he was introduced as the newest member of the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 14, 2010 in Oakland, California. The Oakland Athletics signed designated hitter Hideki Matsui to a one-year deal worth $4.25 million plus possible incentives for the 2011 season. Getty Images North America / Justin Sullivan …

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

(7) NBA commissioner David Stern, left, gestures as he holds press conference along with deputy commissioner Adam Silver , following a meeting between team owners and the NBA players union on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 in New York. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews ……..

San Antonio Spurs’ GM R C Buford is seen here alongside team owner Peter Holt during one the Spurs’ practice sessions . Holt a staunch supporter of the commissioner is one of the primary members of David Stern’s inner circle during the deliberations with the NBPA . Getty Images / Alex Small ……

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My How Times Fly And Things Change ……………….

My How Times Fly And Things Change ……………….

Was he pushed or did really go of his own free will ? That’s the question that will now be asked as it relates to the upheaval in the front office of the Texas Rangers as managing partner a Chuck Greenberg chose to resign from the organization . One thing is certain Greenberg who along with Nolan Ryan did more instigate the successful purchase of the team beating out billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban and Houston businessman Jim Crane with their successful $593 million winning bid for the bankrupt organization. Having done so, the duo would with their partners seek a cash infusion into the Rangers which includes a two decade $3 billion tv deal that sets up the organization and its immediate future.

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For the Rangers this past season m was something of an unexpected one filled with highs and lows but nothing more surprising than their AL pennant defeat of the New York Yankees (4-2) only then to succumb to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series with some ease 4-1 . The team then in the offseason would lose Cliff Lee through free agency as he would return to the Philadelphia Phillies .

Courtesy of AP Sports & Yahoo

Rangers CEO Greenberg leaving organization

By Stephen Hawkins , AP Sports Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—It didn’t take long for Chuck Greenberg to become a very visible figure for the Texas Rangers, buying the team in a dramatic bankruptcy court showdown and then taking on the role of CEO and managing partner before the team’s first-ever World Series.

On Friday, seven months after his investment group bought the team, the AL champion Rangers abruptly announced that Greenberg was leaving the organization. The move came three weeks before the season opener.

Growing differences between the charismatic CEO, team president Nolan Ryan and board co-chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson had been an ongoing issue out of the public eye.

“In reality, management styles and chemistries sometimes don’t fit together. That was the situation with Chuck and the board and Nolan,” Davis said. “Chuck made a huge contribution and we wish him all the best success in the world in whatever he endeavors to do.”

The ownership group has already bought out Greenberg’s small financial stake in the team. Simpson said Greenberg turned down the opportunity for another position in the group, one “not in the full role that he was enjoying.”

Ryan will add the title of CEO and oversee baseball and business operations, reporting directly to the team’s board of directors. The Hall of Fame pitcher, who finished his 27-season playing career with the Rangers, became their team president in February 2008.

Davis and Simpson, the largest investors in the ownership group, wouldn’t get into specifics about the differences with Greenberg in what was their first formal news conference since taking over the team last year. Neither would Ryan.

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Though the loss of Chuck Greenberg isn’t seen as catastrophic it has to be said that will have taken the baseball world by surprise. GM Jon Daniels has said the loss of Greenberg though felt within the club things will very much go on as before in a positive direction and the success they’re all looking to achieve isn’t a target that is beyond their reach. However, there has to be continuing speculation as to why Chuck Greenberg would make such an abrupt departure from the ball-club. There may well have been some form of internal struggle within the front office as to a power struggle and the shaping of an identity to this team. Nolan and Chuck Greenberg were essentially seen as the faces of the franchise from an image and business standpoint with Ryan’s solid know how , his vast experience within the game and Greenberg’s business acumen and as former attorney with noted law firm Pepper Hamilton LLC and then as a noted sports agent. The two brought a wealth of experience to the team and were it not for them I do believe that the Rangers would now be in the hands of rival bidders at the time Mark Cuban and Jim Crane. And though some have questioned the bidding process overseen by a bankruptcy court judge there was a feeling also that the MLB hierarchy was heavily behind the bid of Ryan and his syndicate partners . As to what this says about the impartiality of the game’s hierarchy in such a process , well as such , it does smack self indulgence if anything ! I can only surmise that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was extremely happy with the outcome .

The task for the Rangers this season is to rebound from the loss in the World Series to the San Francisco Giants . Players such as Josh Hamilton , C J Wilson , Adrian Beltre and Michael Young along with the rest of this roster that they are capable of mounting a serious challenge within AL West in taking on the likes of Seattle Mariners , Oakland Athletics and the Anaheim Angels . The division itself I’ve never really thought of as being extremely competitive given the fact that the teams other than the Angels have tendered to waver as to their consistency . I do however believe that Ron Washington and his coaching staff will be able to get the best out of his team and be just as competitive as last year. If they’re able to do that then there’s the possibility that the Rangers can also be viewed as a serious challenger within the AL and a contender for the World Series itself .

As to Nolan Ryan with the departure of his once former associate it now gives him greater hands on powers with the regard to executive decisions to be made within the organization. And I’ve no doubt that he’ll work closely together with Jon Daniels as it relates to personnel and coaching matters. His relationship with Ron Washington is said to be a close and fruitful one and one should bear in mind that in the midst of last season when Washington’s future was said to be in doubt after the revelations of his cocaine addiction it was Ryan who steadfastly stood by his beleaguered manager. And the rest as they is history as with regard to rest of that memorable season for the Texas Rangers.

This season within the game promises to be a very entertaining one and I do believe that it might well be one of the best in recent years. I don’t believe that there’s a distinct clear cut favorite albeit that the Phillies with that intimidating starting rotation led by Cliff Lee , Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt will prove hard to beat . But as we saw with last year’s postseason you don’t need the mighty swing of an axe to chop down a a really large oak tree as you merely have to chip away at it before it suddenly falls . The proof was simply there for all to witness as the San Francisco Giants knocked down the Phillies’ tree in NL pennant title game . Could it happen again ? I don’t see any reason why not given the right set of circumstances but I’d dare say that Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel isn’t about to let his ; team forget that experience and they’ll no doubt be prepared than they were last year should the same scenario rise once again.

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

What thoughts if any do you have on the abrupt departure of Chuck Greenberg from the Texas Rangers ? Do you believe that he went of his own volition or that he may well have been forced out by forces beyond his control ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on this and any other matter as it relates to the upcoming season within baseball .

Picture and slide show details below.

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(1) Yorvit Torrealba(8) of the Texas Rangers high fives manager Ron Washington after scoring against the Cincinnati Reds during the second inning of the spring training game at Surprise Stadium on March 11, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …………..

(2) Josh Hamilton (32) of the Texas Rangers sits in the dugout during the spring training game against the Cincinnati Reds at Surprise Stadium on March 11, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……

(3) Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds hits a double during the third inning of the spring training game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium on March 11, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ………

(4) Texas Rangers part-owner and new CEO Nolan Ryan arrives for a news conference in Arlington, Texas, Friday, March 11, 2011. Ryan has replaced Chuck Greenberg as team CEO. AP Photo/LM Otero ……….

(5) Managing Partner & CEO Chuck Greenberg of the Texas Rangers looks speaks with the media during batting practice against the New York Yankees in Game Five of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 20, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City. According to reports on March 11, 2011, Greenberg will be leaving the Rangers organization as their CEO and managing general partner, with Nolan Ryan expected to become the new CEO. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images …..

(6) Chuck Greenberg (left) is seen here with GM Jon Daniels (center) and Nolan Ryan celebrating after the Texas Rangers defeat of the New York Yankees to win the ALCS pennant in 2010 . The team would go on to lose the World Series to the San Francisco Giants . Sue Walters /AP/ Reuters ……..


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Alan aka tophatal

MLB News

Texas Rangers profile

Texas Rangers history

Texas Rangers news

Texas Rangers’ front office

Rangers’ coaching staff

Texas Rangers active roster

Rangers’ 40 man roster & …….. depth chart

Team injury updates

Team transactions

Minor League Affiliates

Rangers’ schedule Spring Training ———— Regular Season 2011

Spring Training Standings AL ——- Cactus League

Team Statistics

Teams Statistics 2010

Rangers Ballpark Arlington , Texas

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Jeny Romero

Selena Silk

Selena Silk

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2 Pac …… feat’g …….. Jodeci ………”How Do You Want It ”

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Simply Follow The Money Honey

Simply Follow The Money Honey

Just as in the silly season with the PGA Tour where they have their non-sensical and end of season tournaments that’s merely another way for the Tour players to pad their already burgeoning bank accounts the same thing applies to MLB (baseball) as prospective restricted and free agents look to cement their bank accounts also. However whereas golf has a wealth of corporate sponsors eager to have their names associated with the sport although the game’s biggest draw _ Tiger Woods has fallen from grace somewhat ,the sport as such still resonates with the fans whenever he’s on the golf course wielding his clubs and not wielding it in the direction of some buxom nubile young female.

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Continue reading “Simply Follow The Money Honey”

So This Was Meant To Be The House That Scott Boras Built ?

So This Was Meant To Be The House That Scott Boras Built ?

While, I can understand ‘uber-agent’ Scott Boras’ reasons for always wanting to do what’s best for his client. I fail to understand how in this day and age, he expects to get ‘premium dollars’ for an ‘aging star’ in, Johnny Damon . Granted, the now former A’s , Red Sox and now New York Yankees’ player still plays with ‘passion’. One has to admit that Damon’s best days are now far behind him. If anything the only tangible value, is that as a veteran, he can teach the younger players what it takes to win. Having experienced those scenarios as a player , firstly with the Boston Red Sox, then as a New York Yankees’ player, there is a still a great deal that Damon has to offer as a player. He may not be as quick in the outfield, as he once was. And his offensive prowess at he plate may no longer be there. But as a passionate student and player of the game, Johnny Damon still has something to offer.

New York Yankees' <strong>Johnny Damon</strong> follows through on his two-run RBI single during the fourth inning of Game 6 of the American League Championship baseball series in New York. A  person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the Atlanta Braves have made an offer to free agent outfielder Johnny Damon. The person spoke Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010,  on condition of anonymity because no agreement has been reached. photo appears  courtesy of  Associated Press/ Elise Amendola ......
New York Yankees' Johnny Damon follows through on his two-run RBI single during the fourth inning of Game 6 of the American League Championship baseball series in New York. A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the Atlanta Braves have made an offer to free agent outfielder Johnny Damon. The person spoke Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010, on condition of anonymity because no agreement has been reached. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Elise Amendola ......

Now the inherent problem for Damon as a player is that his agent Scott Boras is one of the least admired men in sports. Albeit , that he’s one of the most successful and respected sport’s agents in the world of sports. To ascertain Boras’ power in the game, is to know how much he can seemingly control the fate of many of the league’s most aspiring teams. When it comes to dealing on behalf of his clients, Boras possesses and elicits the bravado shown by an all-out predator, looking to devour its prey. His take no prisoner’s mentality has made Scott Boras ‘the scourge of the league as well as many of the fans , coaches and general managers within MLB. The one constant with Boras, is that it’s all about the money and nothing else simply matters. That has been Boras’ mantra throughout the course of his career .


Courtesy of Associated Press and Yahoo Sports

AP source: Braves make offer to Johnny Damon

By Charles Odum , AP Sports Writer

Atlanta (AP)—The Atlanta Braves appear interested in adding Johnny Damon to the top of their lineup.

The Braves have made an offer to the free-agent outfielder, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The person spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because no agreement had been reached.

Atlanta’s offer is believed to be for one year and include deferred money. Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, has said he is seeking at least a two-year deal.

The 36-year-old Damon hit .286 with 24 homers for the New York Yankees last season and likely would bat leadoff for the Braves.

Atlanta added another former Yankees outfielder in December when it acquired Melky Cabrera in a five-player deal that sent right-hander Javier Vazquez to the World Series champions.

Nate McLouth is set as Atlanta’s starter in center field, and is the probable leadoff hitter if the team does not add Damon or another outfielder. Matt Diaz is expected to get most of the playing time at one corner outfield spot.

Braves manager Bobby Cox said last week he envisions Cabrera playing all three outfield spots and possibly sharing a position with Diaz.

Cox said the team is prepared to give 20-year-old outfield prospect Jason Heyward a chance to win a starting job in right field. Heyward made only a brief appearance at Triple-A last season and has fewer than 200 at-bats above Class A.

“Well, there’s no reason not to give him a crack at making it,” Cox said. “If he is too young, that’s fine, too. He can spend some time in Triple-A. But if we think he’s ready and he can help us, then let’s go.”

Heyward (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) has the power potential the Braves need in their outfield. He was voted baseball’s top prospect by Baseball America after hitting .323 with 17 homers and 63 RBIs at three minor league stops in 2009.

“If he makes the team, he’s playing—lefties, righties, everybody,” Cox said.

The Braves’ willingness to give Heyward an opportunity could keep them from engaging in a bidding war for Damon. According to reports, Detroit and Tampa Bay also have interest.

Boras did not return a call to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Braves general manager Frank Wren had no comment on Damon.

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Scott Boras and his client Alex Rodriguez . The Yankee slugger may well be Boras' most high profiled and well known client. But Boras also represents Manny Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixiera , amongst others . And in each case the players in question are amongst the highest paid in the game. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Hugh MacIntosh ..................
Scott Boras (left) and his client Alex Rodriguez . The Yankee slugger may well be Boras' most high profiled and well known client. But Boras also represents Manny Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixiera , amongst others . And in each case the players in question are amongst the highest paid in the game. picture appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Hugh MacIntosh ..................

Power as they say, lies in the hands of the individual who knows how to use it, even when it’s not being used wisely. Boras’ biggest claim to fame, may well be his list of clients and the fact that he’s now twice laid the groundwork and negotiated for his client, Alex Rodriguez to be paid two separate contracts that will pay him gross, in excess of $ 500 million over the course of his career. Firstly , when Rodriguez was with the Seattle Mariners and then left the team as a free agent, to sign what was then the biggest and most lucrative contract in baseball and in all of sports in North America. Rodriguez was signed to a 10 year $252 million contract by the Texas Rangers. The ‘team’ at the time under the ownership of Tom Hicks , aspired to be one of the up and coming and one of the more ambitious organizations in baseball. The fact that Hicks made a ‘big splash’ with the signing of Rodriguez, just goes to show how ill fated the endeavor would turn out to be. ‘A-Rod’ wasn’t complemented by roster that was anywhere near competitive. And nor was the team even good enough to win its division (AL West), much less the AL pennant or World Series. The idiocy of Hicks, not only as an owner but also as a businessman , knew no bounds. His excesses and failures in sports have far outweighed the successes. And it still remains that way to this day.

Damon  and  his   wife   Michelle  at  a  formal   gathering  .  photo  appears  courtesy of  Associated  Press /  Matt Hollingsworth  ..........
Damon and his wife Michelle at a formal gathering . photo appears courtesy of Associated Press / Matt Hollingsworth ..........

The second time around that Boras was again able to deliver Rodriguez with another blockbuster contract , was when the player re-signed with the New York Yankees for another multi year contract that will pay him $275 million over ten years. Again, still the most lucrative contract in all of sports , in terms the salary paid to a player. The fact that when Rodriguez was traded away from the Rangers to sign with the Yankees after four years with the Rangers, alludes to the fact what a poor businessman Hicks was from the outset. He was bamboozled by little more than a slight of hand trick by Rodriguez’s agent, Scott Boras. The agent knew ‘a sucker when he saw one’ and Hicks and the Rangers’ organization took the bait , hook , line and sinker.

Over the course of his career as an agent , Scott Boras has negotiated on behalf his clients’ contracts to be estimated upwards, in excess of $ 2.8 billion. Clearly with that sort of business acumen, along with it comes a great deal of power and influence. And if anything, that has been how Boras has been able to become one of the pre-eminent agents in all of sports and most certainly the most powerful and influential in all of baseball . Consider this also, of the 8 highest paid players in the game , six of those players are in fact clients of Scott Boras ? I’m not suggesting that ‘he has a monopoly on the major stars’ within the game. But he’s now as close to it as one would’ve thought possible.

With Damon now a free agent and still with a desire to play , both player and agent are finding it all the more difficult to gauge the interest of teams who might desire the aging veteran. So much so, that Damon’s demand for a two year $16 to $20 million contract to return to the Yankees must’ve been met with derisions of laughter. If the Yankees were unwilling to re-sign their World Series MVP Hideki Matsui , to anything beyond a one year. Then how in the hell was it that Damon and Boras were expecting Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman to open up the checkbook for anything more ? And even after offering the player’s services for less, Boras was still turned down by the Yankees and Cashman. Clearly there was an impasse there , as to what both parties felt what the player was worth.

<strong> Michelle  Damon </strong>  seen  here in a  photo-shoot   for   Sports  Illustrated .   The  model  and  aspiring part-time  actress  obviously  has  the   ball  player wanting to  show  us  all  that he  can  catch   off  the   field  as  good   as  he's  able  to  do  so  on  the  field. <em> Pretty   good  eh  ? </em>   photo  appears courtesy  of  Sports  Illustrated .................<strong>Michelle Damon </strong> seen her doing an expose'  for   Sports Illustrated.  I can  only assume  that   Damon  is  in  need of  the  money  to   keep  his   wife   in  the  life  of  luxury  to which  she  has  now  become accustomed  to  ?   photo  appears  courtesy of  Sports Illustrated  ....
Michelle Damon seen her doing an expose' for Sports Illustrated. I can only assume that Damon is in need of the money to keep his wife in the life of luxury to which she has now become accustomed to ? photo appears courtesy of Sports Illustrated ....

Now as the list of prospective clients are beginning to thin out as to quite possibly where Johnny Damon may well end up playing this upcoming season. Boras has approached the NL East’s Atlanta Braves and AL Central’s Detroit Tigers to gauge both teams’ interest in his client. As of now , no final public statement has been forthcoming from Braves’ GM Frank Wren or Dave Dombrowski of the Tigers. If Damon isn’t signed by baseball’s start of the Spring Training, then there’s the belief that he may well miss the start of the regular season and then await the call of a team wanting a the veteran – to replace an injured player or to bolster an aspiring team’s roster in need of that veteran presence. There’s also a slight possibility that Damon could return to the team where he first made a name for himself in the majors. And that would be with a return to the Oakland A’s. As to whether or not the fans and the organization would welcome the return of a former ‘prodigal son’ , remains to be seen. But in all likelihood , that scenario remains nothing but a remote possibility. And given the fact that the A’s aren’t known as a team to spend lavishly on its roster, Damon’s asking price would have to come down considerably , if the team were prepared to sign him.

This may well have been the house that Scott Boras built but now even he has to admit that he can now no longer ‘brow beat’ and ‘bully teams’ and ‘their general mangers’ into signing his clients at the premium top dollar rates. Not in these uncertain economic times and that’s even with Boras’ now ill fated assignation that the market can continue to bear whatever the going rate is for top line talent on the open free agent market. It’s my belief, that Boras is as conceited and condescending as he looks, that even he would scare the likes of Rasputin and Sung Myung Moon ! But that may well be taking it too far, as the majority of general managers were already gullible enough to begin with – when they first began to deal with Scott Boras, as an agent. Need I say anything more on the matter ?