Hit me with your best shot ……
There is a precise moment I believe, where we all reach a “point of no return” . In the world of sports that has to be when you are down to that ‘final out’ and the team is reliant on that lone and decisive final play. Well in baseball , we are about to reach that point and for so many teams that were in the hunt for a divisional win and a wildcard berth a little over six weeks ago . It now looks as if those chances are now forlorn as we now enter what now appears to be the final month of the regular season schedule. Granted, the final day of the season on the 3rd October could still provide us with a number of suspenseful plot-lines but I believe those stories could very well be minuscule .
Slide show .
In the NL, the never-ending story still encompasses whether or not the Washington Nationals will shut down starting pitcher , Stephen Strasburg for the remainder of the team’s schedule including the postseason should they make it there . GM Mike Rizzo has yet to make a final decision and team manager, Davey Johnson remains somewhat reticent , other than to suggest that they will simply judge the pitcher upon his performances and their original criteria of Strasburg not having to pitch more than 180 innings for the season.
Now given what is at stake for the team and the very fact that the alternatives beyond Stephen Strasburg , do not place the Nationals in an entirely healthy position. Now, while they do currently maintain a healthy lead within the NL East of 6 ½ games over the Atlanta Braves , it remains to be seen whether not they can continue to try and chip away at that lead in seeking to surpass the Nationals for the divisional lead. Simply from the mindset of it being a morale booster, I would have thought it best to have Strasburg on the roster for the rest of the Nationals’ schedule and on into the postseason ! At the same to lift the player from the roster , what sort of message would this send not only to the player’s teammates but also the long-suffering Nationals’ fans ? Clearly, as calculated as Mike Rizzo is intending to be , I do not believe that he has weighed up all of the options concerning this matter.
Coming off a thrilling 5-4 victory over the NL Central combatant , St Louis Cardinals at Nationals Ballpark , in Washington ,DC. It is pretty much clear that the Nationals, as the NL’s best team , by way of their 82-52 record , are now pretty much in the driver’s seat, and can simply dictate their own fate , if they simply choose not to be complacent. What this might say about the team’s opponents over the course of this season is open to a great deal of conjecture and debate. For the next three days the Washington Nationals will play hosts to the Chicago Cubs in a three game series , in what is sure to be a thrilled and sold-out crowd at the team’s ballpark in Washington , DC . On the mound for the first of those three games for the Nationals, will be Ross Detwiler (8-6, 3.32 ERA) who will face the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija(8-12,4.03 ERA) . With the Cubs having such a miserable season , anything that they can now gain by way of a victory has to be looked upon as an added bonus . The team’s front office led by Theo Epstein , Head of Baseball Operations and GM Jed Hoyer , having been entrusted in rebuilding this organization from the ground up , it is now beginning to look like a task that will be at least two or three years in the making . Oh well , what is another one hundred years between being woefully inept and remaining woefully inept ? Care to offer your thoughts on the matter ?
At this point of the season with roughly 133 games having been played and a mere 29 left on the regular season schedule, there is no denying while there is still a great to play and at stake . We can in essence count out a number of teams , which a number of us may well have felt would have been vying for a divisional title . In recent weeks the Baltimore Orioles have been making a full-court press , as they now have e New York Yankees tentatively looking over their shoulders within the AL East as Buck Showalter’s —— players now seem to be making a mockery of the division. And if that wasn’t enough the Orioles handed the “Bronx Bombers” what might have been their most embarrassing loss of the season at Yankees Stadium , in New York City , New York, in an 8-3 defeat of the divisional leaders. Far be it for me to suggest that Joe Girardi’s —- team has problems but his players are simply far too reliant on the “long ball” as a saving grace , it in essence suggests to be that beyond CC Sabathia , there simply is nothing to indicate that this pitching staff is capable of leading this roster deep into the playoffs .
The Yankees now possess a two-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles and the plight now doesn’t get any easier for the New York Yankees as they are about to open up a three-game series against a now hunger driven Tampa Bay Rays , who themselves are looking to ease their way back into the playoff picture and that of the wildcard standings . Joe Maddon’s players , have been inconsistent as of late, with the team’s offense seemingly being complacent and not giving enough run support to the pitching staff . And it is clearly something that needs to be addressed by the manager and his coaching staff , if this team is to have any degree of certainty in obtaining a postseason berth. With that to be taken into account this home series at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Tampa , now takes on a whole new meaning on its own. The Rays need a series’ sweep no less , or at least a 2-1 series’ victory, as anything less than that, will have to be looked upon as a complete failure .
David Price has been the Tampa Bay Rays best pitcher all season , not just in terms of quality starts , wins , and strikeouts but it has to make the team’s starting pitcher a credible candidate for the AL Cy Young Award this season. His closest rivals for the award may well be Jered Weaver , Chris Sale , Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez . It is liable to be a close run thing in terms of the winner of this award but I believe it may well go to the player whose team does indeed have the best record at the end of regular season schedule . Of the players mentioned there is so little to choose between them all , as they each bring something exceptional , by way of their respective talents to the teams they represent.
Price will not be on the mound , when the Rays take on the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field, as that distinction will be left in the hands of James Shields when he faces CC Sabathia , today . Tuesday , we will have Freddy Garcia taking on Alex Cobb of the Rays . Wednesday’s game , the closeout of the series , will pit Hiroki Kuroda against Matt Moore . Each of those games should prove to be very competitive , and I am looking to the Rays’ pitching staff to prove themselves to be superior of their divisional rivals .
I was not at all surprised by the fact that Roger Clemens would seek to make a return to the game where he once distinguished himself , while at the same time brought a great deal of disgrace to ! The seven-time Cy Young Award winner well have been acquitted in US Federal Court of perjury and obstruction of justice , primarily because the prosecuting attorneys of the US Justice Department poorly presented their case at trial in front of the presiding Federal Court Judge and a jury of twelve of Clemens’ peers . Certainly, the case was hindered more so , when two of the prosecution’s allegedly, most credible witnesses , suddenly had selective memory or were simply dumb founded by the questions presented by Roger Clemens’ lawyer , Rusty Hardin . Pardon me for saying this , but Andy Pettite and Brian McNamee combined, might have the IQ of an anally retentive member of the US Congress ! Care to offer up an opinion on that morsel ?
As many of you now know, with his acquittal , Clemens now feels vindicated , albeit , that in the court of public opinion the player still has a loyal band of supporters as a number of detractors. Unfortunately , the game of baseball has already been sullied enough by the steroid era , that nothing that Bud Selig and the MLB league hierarchy can or will do stem the tide of the rampant use of illicit substances within the game . It still remains an epidemic within baseball but even more so, at the minor league level , where the commissioner repeatedly pointed to , as being the place where baseball has had its greatest successes in catching the numerous cheaters. What Selig failed to point out, is the very fact that since his policy was initiated, each year in succession , even more minor league players have been caught . Catching more players does not add any credibility , when initially, the league sought to look other way when this proliferation first came to the fore . Yet you have these idiotic purists, trying to suggest that this game still has a redeeming , moral and ethical quality to it . In what damn universe are they living in ?
Clemens’ return to the game has been manipulated by the player and his publicists and like everything else concerning the Cy Young Award winner has been to downplay this all, by saying that it is simply his wish to enjoy himself at this stage of his career in semi-retirement . Now let’s get something straight, Clemens did not officially retire from Major League Baseball , he simply had side-step glare of the paparazzi and press , once his name became associated with the Mitchell Report as well as the proliferation of allegations concerning Clemens’ alleged use of illicit substances . With Roger Clemens now returning to Class A Ball and Houston Astros’ affiliate the Sugarland Skeeters . It should have as no surprise to anyone that the beleaguered Astros sent several members of the coaching staff to see the pitcher make his return to the game.
Now inasmuch as Roger Clemens , still seeks to downplay everything about his return , it is clear for all to see, that he still craves the limelight and the glare of the cameras . Houston Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow obviously is a very desperate man given the team’s standing within the NL Central and with a declining fan-base and attendance levels for the team’s home games at Minute Maid Park , in Houston , Texas. The fact Luhnow is considering quite possibly signing the player , clearly indicates these are desperate times , calling for desperate measures .
At 42-93 , with the league’s worst record, there is nothing to suggest that the Astros are competitive or can become competitive enough in the near or long-term . Team owner Jim Crane , may well have spent $775 million in purchasing the ball-club but I feel that he has been a sold a “bill of goods” that literally isn’t worth what he paid for this commodity . What might be even more troubling , is the very fact that in 2013 , the team will make the move from the NL Central to the AL West. Is there anyone of the belief that the Astros in their present guise can compete with the likes of the Los Angeles Angels , Seattle Mariners , Oakland A’s and Texas Rangers ? I believe that on their best day the Astros would be hard pressed to beat a very good AAA affiliate in baseball , however , that is merely opinion on this matter ! .
I certainly do not believe that Clemens as a fifty-year old is good enough a pitcher to be even worthy of starting role as pitcher for a Major League team . Roger Clemens at this stage of his career would like nothing better to make that now vaulted return to the game , even if he is suggesting that it is not ambition to make return to the game where he last pitched as a professional in 2007 for the New York Yankees in a game against the Boston Red Sox , which resulted in a 4-3 victory for the Yankees . The team would also make the postseason in 2007 where they would meet the >a href=”http://mlb.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=cle”> Cleveland Indians in the ALDS . Roger Clemens’ presence in the 2007 ALDS and specifically game three was minimal , which resulted in an 8-4 win for the Yankees but a 3-1 loss in the series to the Indians. Is it possible for Clemens to be back at his very best and to be able to contribute for a team , be it the Astros or any other ball-club who might possibly show an interest in the player ? As of now , the intrigue is certainly there and this is quite possibly what the player and his agents Randy and Alan Hendricks will certainly trade on that ,should the perceived interest arise .
Picture gallery, for your perusal .
What thoughts if any do you have concerning the salient points within this piece ? Also do you believe that Roger Clemens’ imminent return to the game of baseball at its highest level will be of benefit to baseball or more of an embarrassment ? Simply chime win with a comment as you see fit on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .
Picture and slide show details below .
(1) Washington Nationals’ Danny Espinosa fouls the ball off home plate and then off his helmet during their baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park, Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, in Washington. AP Photo/Richard Lipski …
(2) WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 03: Tyler Clippard (36) of the Washington Nationals celebrates with Kurt Suzuki (24) after a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park on September 3, 2012 in Washington, DC. Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images ….
(3) Washington Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg, left, talks with catcher Kurt Suzuki after pitching the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012, in Washington. Strasburg was relieved after completing the sixth inning and the Nationals won 4-3 . AP Photo/Alex Brandon ….
(4) Pedro Strop (47) of the Baltimore Orioles delivers a pitch during an MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 3, 2012 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images …
(5) Second base umpire Bob Davidson , right, ejects Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon as he argues a close play on a stolen base attempt at second base during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays won 4-3 . AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …
(6) Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Fernando Rodney reacts after retiring the New York Yankees during the ninth inning of a baseball game , Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays won the game 4-3 . AP Photo/Chris O’Meara) ….
(7) Roger Clemens pitches in a minor league game for the Sugar Land Skeeters . The player has indicated that he hasn’t indicated that he has any ambitions to pitch once again in the Majors . However, in this game pitched for the Skeeters , staffs from the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals were in place to see the 50 year-old Clemens pitch 2 1/3 innings for the Minor League organization . Tim Cowie /US Presswire ….
(8) Roger Clemens is seen here with his agent, Randall “Randy” Hendricks of Hendrick Sports Management LLP,. a sports management boutique and agency . Hendricks along with his brother Alan , have handled Clemens’ business affairs since the players entry into the majors in 1983 as the nineteenth pick in the first round , when he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox. Over the course of his professional career in Major League Baseball , Roger Clemens has gross career earnings exceeding $150 million . Getty Images North America / Drake Potter ……
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