A funny thing happened on the way to the Land of Oz …

A funny thing happened on the way to the Land of Oz …

Tophatal ….

Baseball’s Winter Meetings have yet to take place, but already the big top has been blown off the tent. The meeting of the league’s top executives , ownersand members of the league hierarchy to discuss the vagaries of the game and then to negotiate deals that will see the movement of several players, many of them likely being rewarded with major contracts will be set into motion.

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Over the past five years there can be no denying the Miami Marlinshave been one of the worst performing teams in Major League Baseball (MLB). The very fact that the Marlins have at no time in their history has ever won a divisional title or place higher than second within the NL East should tell you a great deal about the organization, in spite of their having won two NL Pennants and two World Series titles . The last of those postseason series’ coming in 2003 . Since then, things have steadily rolled downhill for the franchise, along with a succession of managers and turnover in front office executives.

The big news’ story of the month within the game of baseball, was the audacious move by the Miami Marlins in signing Mike Stanton to a long-term deal. Stanton signed what is now believed to the largest contract in professional sports’ and quite clearly the biggest in baseball history. Stanton signed a thirteen-year $325 million contract, averaging $25 million a year . Though I do not expect the floodgates to be opened by this deal , it does now place a great deal of pressure on other teams in similar position, looking to sign one of their marquee players. Miami for a number of years has been on the lower end of the payroll scale, albeit in 2013 , they sought to remedy the situation when they splurged on signing some major free agents in an assault on trying to win the NL East that season as well as the World Series title . They failed miserably in both attempts , with then manager Ozzie Guillen providing more entertainment away from the field of play, than was provided by the team during the entire season .

MLB is definitely not known for its financial frugality among its big-market teams and when left idle to their own devices teams in the small-market tend to prove how incompetent they are. The Miami Marlins have become the epitome of that, along with their instate rivals the Tampa Bay Rays and that is with due respect shown to the acumen of former Rays’ general manager Andrew Friedman , whose departure from the franchise to take on the more high-profiled role as a SVP & Head of Baseball Operations with the Los Angeles Dodgers caught just about everyone off-guard including senior executives within the Rays’ organization. With the recent departure of Joe Maddon to become the manager of the Chicago Cubs , Tampa is now left in a quandary. Throw in the departure of their AL Rookie of the Year, pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and you could say it’s back to business as usual for the Rays. Their off-season annual ” fire sale “ is just about to begin.

Now while the Miami Marlins’ fans can only be pleased with the outcome , the signing of Mike Stanton to a long-term deal , the question has to be asked , what type commitment and sacrifices will have to be made by this ball-club? Financial resources for the Marlins are not enormous and we have seen repeatedly the actions of this franchise over the years during their triumphs and letdowns. Jeffrey Loria has proven to be no different from one his predecessors H D Wayne Huizenga, whose ownership the Florida Marlins were well-chronicled. Huizenga’s gutting of the team that won the franchise’s first World Series title left the fans in dismay and utter disgust, has since been repeated by Loria.

As the incumbent owner of the Miami Marlins , I have no real reason to believe Jeffrey Loria will remain a man of his word. Deceit , deception , lies and an un-willingess to show transparency concerning the inner workings of the Marlins along with the alleged brow-beating of the Miami City Council leading to their capitulating , in the ball-club’s wishes to have the city finance the building of Marlins Ballpark , where undue pressure was brought to bear by former commissioner Bud Selig, really does cast a light on how Loria and Major League Baseball likes to conduct its business. Unfortunately, those same character traits are not shared or instinctive with Tampa Bay Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg who continues to whine like a spoiled brat, because he cannot get his own way. Michael Hill and Mike Redmond will now seek to bolster the Marlins’ roster during this off-season , but they will also have to deal with trying to resign a number of their impending free agents as well players whose arbitration rights they might want to expedite quickly.

Mike Stanton had an excellent season in 2014 , where he was one of the most productive members on his team as well as in the NL and MLB overall. His second place finish to Clayton Kershaw in the NL MVP race was of no great surprise, considering the astonishing regular season by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher, who also added the NL Cy Young Award to his trophy case for the third time in his career. I believe their might be at least two more Cy Young Awards waiting in the wings for Kershaw, who has to be seen as the best pitcher in baseball without a doubt. Granted his postseason forays for the Dodgers left a great deal to be desired. The team’s malaise was nothing new and simply part of their DNA over the past two years. Don Mattingly’s players seem to be great during the regular season, but they become a deer caught in headlights once the postseason comes around , as witnessed in 2013 and then again during baseball’s end of season ritual. Let’s just say this Dodgers’ team cannot even hit or pitch their way out of trouble . even if they were being aided by the mishaps of their opponents during the postseason.

As I alluded to earlier the floodgates may not necessarily open up with players being offered overly large contracts, but the Marlins have now set a precedent where it will prove hard for any team not be able to meet a free agents’ requests. With the likes of high-profiled sports’ agents such as Scott Boras , Sam and Seth Levinson of Aces Inc Baseball , Dan Lozano , corporate entities such as LSW Baseball , CAA , the upstart IMG and sports’ management agency Roc Nation Sports, all vying to make deals on behalf of their clients. It is easy to understand why general managers such as Brian Cashman, Brian Sabean , Dave Dombrowski , Billy Beane , Sandy Alderson , Michael Hill and Jerry Dipoto are never operating from a position of power. They will more often than not overpay for a player , rather than actually showing some real acumen.

Having won their third World Series title in the past five years the San Francisco Giants are now seated among the elite dynasties of the game. Make no mistake, this is a dynasty , albeit a quiet and unglamorous one. Brian Sabean might just be the best general manager in the game today. His guile and an eye for talent , his acumen in the free agency market, have not only made the Giants a success , but they have laid down a blueprint that a number of teams are now likely to follow. Furthermore , Sabean is not one to neglect his farm system and then seek to implode those affiliates , as he sees the lower rungs of the organization as a treasure trove of future talent. In the aftermath of their most recent success this franchise will now seek build upon their most recent achievement.

San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy and his entire managerial staff are likely to return for next season , but opportunities may well arise where one or two of his assistants will be offered the opportunity to interview a vacant managerial position. Beyond that, the question now becomes what are the integral pieces to kept on this roster and can the Giants afford to pay what is deemed to be “fair market value”? The fly in the ointment was the outrageous contract signed by Mike Stanton and offered by a team, that two years began shedding their high priced players like driftwood being cast away, because it was of no further use. Miami remains a small-market team, with grandiose schemes and big-market ambitions. They are a baseball team that rarely sell out their home games in a venue , which remains sparsely attended. The flip side of that coin are the San Francisco Giants and their ravenous fans and fan-base nationwide. They have the success and a legacy which has been quietly built upon over the years.

The Giants’ 2012 World Series MVP infielder Pablo Sandoval will be looking to get paid commensurate to his status and in line with the top active contracts active within the organization . As an impending and unrestricted free agent Sandoval knows he can go elsewhere and quite possibly obtain long-term contract making him financially secure. Yet, the thought remains with the player being such a part the team’s postseason success , it would seem idiotic for the Giants to let him go , knowing he is not only a clubhouse favorite but also a leader on and off the field. Beyond that , take into account his productivity and being able to come up with some clutch hitting , it places Brian Sabean in something of a dilemma .

If Sandoval does return to the Giants in 2015, along with the core elements of last season’s roster, then San Francisco have to be seen as a prohibitive favorite for the NL Pennant this upcoming season. Granted, they are likely to face a stiff challenge from the St Louis Cardinals , Washington Nationals , Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates , Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds .

Alex Rodriguez’s return to New York Yankees and their lineup for 2015 cannot come around fast enough for many of the ball-club’s fans . The player’s last appearance in a Yankees’ uniform was uninspiring and simply confirmation that Rodriguez is now past his prime. The Yankees’ third baseman having spent the entire 2014 Yankees’ schedule under suspension will look to reinvent himself on and off the field of play. With the retirement of Derek Jeter after a two-decade long career with the franchise. One could surmise, Brian Cashman sees Rodriguez as the “face of the Yankees” moving forward. I firmly believe the organization erred in not tearing up Alex Rodriguez’s contractas they were quite within their right to do so. Incompetency, in their repeatedly mishandling of the players transgressions , breaking the league’s substance abuse policy, spoke volumes as to the numerous reasons why baseball’s policy has no real teeth to it and the complete lack of leadership from Bud Selig and his successor Rob Manfred. Rodriguez’s contract remains intact , albeit , he lost in excess of $23 million, having not played for the New York Yankees this past season .

Joe Girardi and his staff will certainly look to Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira , Jacoby Ellsbury , Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Brian Robertsand Brian McCann to give the Yankees’ more ‘pop’ to their offense where the team was found wanting last season. The Yankees’ pitching was left somewhere in between the depths of mediocrity and the ‘bowel’of Hades .

The Yankees’ free agents for this upcoming season include veteran Ichiro Suzuki , unlikely to return next season, with Dave Robertson , Hiroki Kuroda , Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew, Heath Bell and Chase Headley are several of the players Brian Cashman will have to make decision upon their possible return to the New York Yankees. Cashman has shown very little faith in the organization’s farm system and he is unlikely to do so for years to come. With their failure to make the postseason and decidedly ignominious finish in the NL East the pressure will be on the front office to do something drastic to bring this franchise back to some semblance of respectability. Last season the acquisitions of Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Ichiro Suzuki were meant place the team at the forefront of the AL but their play nowhere near good enough to remotely place them in control of their own destiny.

With the 2014 payroll commitment of baseball’s thirty teams topping $3 billion ($3,000,000,000 for the second year in succession. The two teams at the top of the heap, were the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees. At a time when the game’s financial disparities so glaring there has been little to suggest baseball has the wherewithal to get its own financial house in order. The team owners and hierarchy have failed miserably in reigning in team expenses and yet owners are either seething because they cannot their own way in trying to deceitfully have municipalities to finance their venues.

Billionaire and millionaire owners unwilling to go out and do what is necessary in showing their real business acumen, to obtain private financing, rather than repeatedly have the public funds being used to finance such endeavors. It will be interesting to see the moves made by teams during this off-season the guile used by agents, seeking to have their clients be rewarded with the best contract possible. The sheer lunacy of MLB and the antics of the players leave a great deal to be desired and it will continue to be that way for the foreseeable future.

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Picture gallery .

With the salaries and contracts now on the rise within the game of baseball and no clear sign from the league hierarchy they show any initiative in reining in team expenses or have any idea how to so. What direction do you believe the game is likely to take and can the executives who preside over the game really deal with the issues which adversely effect baseball ?

Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is seen here with Mike Stanton . The Marlins’ player signed a thirteen-year $325 million deal which will pay him $25 million annually. The deal is the highest paid contract in North American sports’ history . Loria and Team President Michael Hill believed it incumbent the organization retain the Stanton for their viability and long term future. AP Photo/ Matt Holmes ..

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers’ SVP & Head of Baseball Operations , Andrew Friedman is seen here alongside team President Stan Kasten . Friedman whose departure from the Tampa Bay Rays took just about everyone by surprise, has now moved to an organization where the resources of the baseball franchise far exceeds anything remotely close the Rays have at their disposal. With Friedman’s departure also came Joe Maddon leaving to join the Chicago Cubs as their new manager. Matt Silverman succeeded Andrew Friedman as the Rays’ general manager but the ball-club has to name a successor to Maddon . Getty Images North America / Paul Hughes … …

(3) ATLANTA, UNITED STATES : Florida Marlins manage Jim Leyland (L), general manager Dave Dombrowski (C), and team owner Wayne Huizenga with the National League Championship Series (NLCS) trophy after their 7-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves 14 October in game six of the NLCS at Turner Field in Atlanta, GA. The Marlins advanced to the World Series a with the win. AFP PHOTO/Robert SULLIVAN …

(4) Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout left , winner of the 2014 ALMVP and the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher and NLMVP recipient Clayton Kershaw . Both players invariably made the postseason , but their teams failed miserably . Trout and the Angels fell to Kansas City Royals 3-0 in the ALDS . Kershaw and the Dodgers fared no better, losing to the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS where his postseason performances were miserable with the posting an ERA in excess of 7.50 . AP Photo/ Tim Martin …

(5) Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays an AL Rookie of the Year for the franchise in 2011 was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. This seems to be a customary ploy with the ball-club on annual basis , further emphasizing the organization’s lack of resources and the emphasis of year-to-year cost cutting . AP Photo / Matthew Donald … …

(6) Scott Boras a prominent MLB sports agent, seen here in front of the facade of his company Scott Boras Corporation. Boras has negotiated contracts worth in excess of $4.7 billion in the last six years . Feared around the league as one of the most fearsome and ruthless agents in all professional sports. Boras puts the characteristic trait down to the fact he works hard for his clients and to their benefit.. AP Photo / Robin Thomas …

(7) CHICAGO, IL – AUGUST 05: Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees speaks to the media before the Yankees take on the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 5 , 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Rodriguez was forced to miss the entire 2014 season after league mandated suspension . Rodriguez will return to the Yankees’ lineup in 2015 hoping to make a solid contribution for the team. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …

(8) Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates who over the past two seasons has been one of the primary factors in the ascent of the Pirates and top-five finishes in each of the last two years of the NL MVP voting. McCutchen hopes to lead the ball-club to another postseason berth in 2015 and deep run in the postseason playoff schedule. as well as the winning of a second NL MVP Award with the Pirates. Getty Images/ Adrian Parker ….

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Shake it off , shake it up and down .

A few light touches makes the scenery all the more appealing don’t you think ?

The chickens can come home to roost , but it’s how you deal with the matter in the aftermath

The chickens can come home to roost , but it’s how you deal with the matter in the aftermath

As baseball’s(MLB) postseason continues , the biggest story of the playoffs continues with the astounding success of the Kansas City Royals, as they continue their swath through the AL. Five successive victories, with four extra innings’ win es along the way has pretty much summed up the play of this team , while epitomizing their season all year-long . Mike Moustakis , Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon have been the lynch pins behind the team’s ongoing success and it remains to be seen what decisions are likely to be made by managing partner and owner , David Glass and whether or not he seeks to keep this playing staff for the long-term. Team manager Ned Yost , likely to be named the AL Manager of the Year , as I believe him to be the front-runner for the award within the league. GM Dayton Moore has been one of the architects in the rebuilding of the on field personnel , which has paved the way for the Royals this season.

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Having won a decisive game three in the ALCS , Kansas City sits one game away from sweeping the Baltimore Orioles out of the postseason , while s winning the franchise’s first AL Pennant in over two decades. Game four promises to be a raucous affair , fan support likely to be vociferous with the fans in attendance at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City , Missouri on Wednesday evening , 15th October ,2014. On the mound in this pivotal game will be Miguel Gonzalez of the Orioles facing the Royals’ Jason Vargas . A win for the Baltimore Orioles, means they live to fight another day and a loss , they go home with their tails hanging between their legs and with their heads bowed in shame.

If Ned Yost and his players should prevail, then they await the winners of the NLCS contest now ongoing between the St Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants . In three tight games , the Giants now have a slender 2-1 series’ lead over the Cardinals. This particular series resumes tonight with Shelby Miller of the Cardinals facing the Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong in a must-win game for the St Louis Cardinals.

After years of indifference and indecision on the part of the organization , Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays has decided to leave the franchise to accept a much more high-profiled and visible role with the Los Angeles Dodgers , where he will become a SVP & Head of Baseball Operations . In what might be viewed as either a sideways move incumbent Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti now becomes an adviser to team President Stan Kasten. Friedman will be given full sway in deciding upon a successor to Colletti , but the move is being seen in some circles, in rewarding a young executive , with a keen eye in assessing and the drafting of talent . There is no doubt Andrew Friedman will be making many of the personnel decisions for the Los Angeles Dodgers as well as handling the team’s current roster of stars, many of whom are among the highest paid players in the game .

The Los Angeles Dodgers with a record-high $241 million payroll , highest in Major League Baseball fell by the wayside for a second successive season, when they succumbed to the St Louis Cardinals in the NLDS . In 2013, Don Mattingly and his team fell in the NLCS in a lopsided series’ loss with the team simply performing poorly . One year on and absolutely nothing has been learned by anyone on the team , much less by the managerial staff of the Dodgers.

The loss of Andrew Friedman by the Tampa Bay Rays is likely to have an adverse effect on the franchise and given the ball-club’s hardships in recent years having to pare down payroll repeatedly , and the trading away of major stars has simply left their fans somewhat bewildered and in angst . Say nothing of which , the continued rhetoric , pragmatism and at times the downright apathy of the fans sports’ media personalities within the area with their rather asinine notion of the building of a new venue will bring about a change in the fortunes of the Tampa Bay Rays. Team owner , Stuart Sternberg has been less than forthright in how he and his partners would go about raising the financing for a new stadium to replace the now archaic Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida ., With a hardcore fan-base of an alleged 20,000 fans and the stadium barely sold out for home games , it is hard to comprehend how Sternberg , his partners and the media personalities in this market, believe this ball-club can be self-sustaining , especially in light of the fact the Rays are the beneficiaries of baseball’s luxury tax sharing revenue scheme , with it being one of the primary reasons the franchise can be profitable. Yet this is the type of sheer stupidity shown by the fans of the ball-club , suggesting and saying the Tampa Bay Rays need a new stadium . Unfortunately , leading social and political dignitaries are goose-stepping behind the calls and they are all too willing to use public resources to fund such an attempt , while the city , county and state governmental agencies have their own fiscal budgetary woes .

Sports , specifically MLB and the NFL are only too willing prey on the public, much as in the same way the US Congress and this current Presidential administration has repeatedly done . It’s a shell game and the asinine sports’ fans remain too fucking dumb to see woods or the trees , seeking to only believe what they are continually force-fed .

There has been no indication as to who Andrew Friedman’s successor is likely to be , but in all probability Stuart Sternberg may not seek to promote from within but seek to find an experienced front office executive willing to take on the role of becoming the team’s new general manager. Joe Maddon has been saying all of the proper things throughout much of the season , but I cannot help but wonder with the trading away of All Star and AL Cy Young Award winning pitcher David Price, is this beginning of the end about how the Rays will continue to conduct business ? It is my belief , the most likely candidate to assume the role once held by Andrew Friedman will be Matt Silverman , as he is best suited to fill the position in question . Can he have the similar type of success of his predecessor ? That will be dependent on how he seeks to go about making what he believes are the necessary changes to make the ball club competitive .

During this off-season within baseball , there are likely to be several major shakeups within the game from a managerial and player personnel standpoint . Teams will have their pick of free agents, from starting pitchers, first basemen , powerful and productive hitters , and undoubtedly relief pitching . One of the things we do know however , payrolls will continue to escalate , as will the players’ salaries .

For the Tampa Bay Rays as they enter the 2015 season it will be interesting to see how they go about acquitting themselves on and off the field of play , which will be adjudged by what takes place within the organization as they enter a new phase in their existence.

As to the ongoing emphasis of the Rays getting a new stadium , consider the fact MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and his heir-apparent Rob Manfred have seen fit not to aid franchise obtaining any broad-based support for a new ballpark. The Tampa Bay Rays while profitable, they have not got the resources or the goodwill among the public for the venue they seek, in spite of the support by the players and management. If anything , the executives have handled this episode haphazardly and rather childlike , without showing any real initiative on the matter.

Evan Longoria , long seen as the face and future of the Tampa Bay Rays , while a very good player , he has not necessarily shown the leadership qualities needed to take this ball club and place them among the elite teams within the game. Often , the only thing tend to be mentioned about the Rays , happens to be, they have great pitching , with several members of their staff often seen as among the best in the game. This season , clearly coming into their schedule , the pitching roster was looked upon as one of the best in AL and the game overall . Sadly, beyond the prevailing injuries , a lack of consistency and some rather inept offense led to the woes for the team .

This off-season , with impending free agents , there will be several members on the Rays’ roster which Matt Silverman will have to decide whether or not they are superfluous to the team’s needs . Matt Joyce , Sean Rodriguez , Drew Smyly , Desmond Jennings , Wil Myers , Jeremy Hellickson and Alex Cobb are among the players where decisions will have to be made concerning whether or they are re-signed for the 2015 season.

With the Baltimore Orioles having swept to the AL East divisional title with considerable ease . However, in light their showing during the regular season , and then in the ALDS , it has been their shocking display against the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS , have many now wondering whether or not this team was as good as advertised ? Kansas City continued their astonishing postseason sojourn sweeping the Orioles in four straight games to make their first World Series appearance in almost three decades. Ned Yost and his players celebrated in style after their 2-1 victory in game four leaving nothing to chance with an emphatic and decisive win .

Kauffmann Stadium in Kansas City , Missouri proved to be a raucous venue with the home supporters in high vocal support of their team. In what has been the improbable advance to the World Series , has now become the biggest story of the baseball season and by far the most impressive display of a team playing with gusto , of all the participants during this postseason. The Royals now await the victors of the NLCS , where the San Francisco Giants currently hold a 3-1 lead over the St Louis Cardinals in the best of seven-game series. Thoughts of an instate battle between the Kansas City Royals and St Louis Cardinals now seem remote , given the predicament the Cardinals now find themselves in , being on the brink of elimination. Should the Giants prevail in the series , then Bruce Bochy will be seeking to win his third title with the franchise in the last six seasons as their manager.

For Buck Showalter , and the Baltimore Orioles this has simply been a season of missed opportunities in spite of the divisional win. How else can you explain a situation where the AL’s (American League) second best team by way of their record, stumbled and fell so awkwardly in the postseason ? Dan Duquette the Orioles’ SVP & Head of Baseball Operations will have to assess the overall makeup of this roster, then seek to add by way of free agency and perhaps through bringing up some of the more productive players within their farm system. In what should have been a year in which the Orioles had a great chance of winning the World Series this was a team, found wanting in almost every aspect of their game during the postseason . The Orioles’ production was anemic and menial to say the very least , and it led to their demise along with some rather knuckle headed plays.

Another season of hope, felled by indecision , complacency and a lack of leadership from the team and the managerial staff of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Clayton Kershaw this postseason was a mere shadow of the all too dominant pitcher witnessed during the regular season . The same could also be said of his teammates , who were far from impressive during the playoffs, with the team falling to the St Louis Cardinals in the NLDS .

Hard to justify the io $241 million payroll , which Los Angeles Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten believed was money well-spent this season . Somehow , after all of the big money splashes, by way of their free agent acquisitions over the past two seasons, the Dodgers have very little to show for it all , along with the ongoing apathy of their fans . Other than the Washington Nationals , whose own postseason foray ended abruptly , it was felt the Los Angeles Dodgers stood the best chance of the NL participants to win the NL Pennant this postseason. Clearly , the favoritism shown towards the Dodgers and Nationals was very much overestimated and I dare say it was simply done because the analysts and fans merely saw what they wanted to see and not what was plainly in front of their very eyes. The play overall within the game has either been average or downright mediocre. .

Where the Los Angeles Dodgers now go from here, will be dependent upon the latitude given to Andrew Friedman and those within the front office, who will now make the player personnel decisions moving forward . I do not believe many of the players now on the roster will be part of the team’s opening day lineup for their first game of the 2015 season !

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Picture gallery.

In what you have seen from the MLB Postseason , has it proven to be a major surprise ? With Andrew Friedman’s departure from the Tampa Bay Rays , can the franchise maintain its current stance while trying to be competitive within its division and the AL moving forward ? Your thoughts on this and anything else you believe relevant are more than welcomed as a response

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below.

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(1) May 30, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals interim hitting coach George Brett (left), general manager Dayton Moore (center) and head coach Ned Yost (right) talk with the media during a press conference to announce Brett as the interim hitting coach before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Yost and Moore have seen their team make change in course from 2013 to 2014 where have now reached the World Series for the first time in twenty-nine years. Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports …

(2) Alcides Escobar (2) of the Kansas City Royals scores on Eric Hosmer (35) of the Kansas City Royals grounder into fielder’s choice to first base against Miguel Gonzalez (50) of the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning to score Alcides Escobar(2) and Norichika Aoki(23) during Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 15, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. Getty Images / Ed Zurga …

(3) Andrew Friedman , general manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. The front office executive has accepted a senior executive Angeles Dodgers , much to the surprise of several baseball analysts and executives within the game . AP Photo / Chris Marshall … (4) Joe Maddon manager of the Tampa Bay Rays is seen here withdrawing pitcher Drew Smyly from a regular season game . The Rays failed miserably in 2014 , with the ball-club having expectations of
making
the postseason , which they would ultimately fail to do . AP Photo / Mark Barron …

(5) From left to right , Matt Silverman , Andrew Friedman and Stuart Sternberg of the Tampa Bay Rays . Friedman’s departure may well leave a void within the organization but is felt in some circles , Silverman is the right choice to succeed Andrew Friedman as the team’s general manager . Tyler Paul / Getty Images …

(6) Ned Colletti , left , is seen here with team President Stan Kasten . Over two years the Los Angeles Dodgers have spent over $485 million in payroll, with the team having little to show for their two years of missed opportunities. Getty Images/ Paul Thompson …

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The fault lies in their play, but you could also say the stars …….

The fault lies in their play, but you could also say the stars …….

Inasmuch as I love the game of baseball , I have to admit this might be one of the worst seasons on record in recent history. The AL East is barely recognizable and the level of play in what is said to be the best division in baseball has been truly dire. Defending World Series’ champions, the Boston Red Sox have now become an afterthought as the season has progressed. Say nothing of which, a great deal is being made out of a rivalry between the Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays , which resonates about as much as a rancid piece of cheese that has been left out for days on end, merely sticking up the joint. Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles merely have to play .550 baseball or better to have the division sewn up for themselves and thereby win their first AL East crown in over a decade.

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If the Baltimore Orioles were to falter, then the likely recipients of their fall, would likely be the Toronto Blue Jays , whose play this season has been moderate though not overly inspiring. John Gibbons and his managerial staff , have a team that appears to be on the cusp of achieving something special this season, but a great deal of the success they are seeking will be dependent on the play of many of their seasoned veterans on the team’s roster, as well as the coaching acumen shown by Gibbons and his staff. The Blue Jays will be the guests of the Seattle Mariners when the two teams meet on Monday afternoon, with Drew Hutchinson taking the mound for the visiting team against Felix Hernandez of the Mariners. The game itself could provide us with something of a precursor as to the ambitions of two teams wishing to remain in the midst of the wildcard hunt if not their respective divisional races .

Buck Showalter and his team , will play host to the New York Yankees at Camden Yards , in Baltimore , Maryland on Monday afternoon. For the Yankees, their season now seems to be fading fast , as too are the hopes of team captain Derek Jeter and the team making the MLB postseason. For Joe Girardi , this might well have been a season where injuries may well have played a part in his team’s faltering , but in large part it has come down to the lack of productivity from his pitching staff and the inconsistency of the offense of the players. Jeter in his twentieth and final season with the franchise , may well go down as of the Yankees’ greatest players and given the ball-club’s achievements and their captain’s own astonishing career , it must be said, his departure from the game of baseball will be seen as the end of an era.

Hope springs eternal, but year in and year out the Tampa Bay Rays have simply promised more than they can deliver for their forlorn fans. In spite of the idiocy of some among the Rays’ fan-base, who will continue to make excuses for a front office which now seems devoid of real creativity. The recent trade of All Star pitcher David Price put an end to any chance the Rays might have had for the postseason. Price, being traded to the Detroit Tigers gives the AL Central based team a leg up on their divisional rivals in their chase for the division, while the Rays themselves continue to languish at the mid to lower end of the wildcard contestants .

Six and a half games out of the wildcard placing and the Tampa Bay Rays remain a long shot for one of the two AL berths. Consistency remains the key , but this team has not remained consistent in terms of winning series much less winning games over the course of the season, when needed . All of the enduring optimism from Joe Maddon cannot make up for the fact this remains a very average team in spite of claims at to the depth of their pitching. As good as the rotation may well seem to be, you simply cannot discount how woefully inconsistent their offense tends to be. Whatever leadership is said to be on the team , no one can seem to point to a vocal leader, certainly not Joe Maddon with his ongoing whimsical anecdotes and the same can be said of their all too less than knowledgeable fans. Excuses are now the norm from almost every quarter when it comes to the organization, be it from the local media, the fans or from members of front office and their ongoing cries of either disillusionment, or the simple fact they have become defeatist. Whining from the likes of players such as Chris Archer simply amplifies one of the ongoing issues within the organization and the lack of a competitive spirit.

If there is one manager within baseball who is expected to succeed this season , then it would have to be Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels . With a team that is said to possess one of the strongest lineups in the AL from a batting standpoint, there should be no reason for the Angels to falter this season. Everything Scioscia and his staff have asked for, has been granted by team owner Arte Moreno and GM Jerry Dipoto , along with a six-figure payroll for a team which now has the best player in the game among its lineup. If there are doubters as to the talents of Mike Trout , then I would gladly like to hear the arguments from those who think to the contrary ! ! Albert Pujols may well command the respect of his peers within the game, but the Angels are now Trout’s team for him to lead and his teammates willingly follow his lead.

If the Los Angeles Angels are to have things their own way, then they will have to overcome what is proving to be a very competitive and resilient Oakland Athletics’ team , who are not yet ready to relinquish their dominance of the AL West , much less the defense of their divisional crown. The two teams this season have proven to be highly combative in their seasonal meetings with the A’s currently holding a lead in those contests (6-3) in 2014. The most recent contest between the two divisional rivals, ended with an emphatic 7-1 mauling of the Angels by the A’s at Anaheim Stadium , in Anaheim, California on the 11th June.

Three-and-a half games separate the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Angels within the AL West , but Mike Scioscia’s players seem to be in the driver’s seat in terms of the wildcard berth at present by virtue of a better record than their two closest rivals the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners . Tuesday pits the Angels against the disappointing Philadelphia Phillies , with CJ Wilson on the mound taking on Jerome Williams , when these two teams meet at Anaheim Stadium. The Tigers will face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates with the opposing pitchers being Robbie Ray against Edinson Volquez of the Pirates , in a game being played at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ,. Seattle will square off against the Toronto Blue Jays , with J A Happ looking to improve on his 8-6 record for the season , when he opposes Chris Young at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. All three contests should prove to be interesting and highly competitive given what is likely to be at stake , at this point of the season.

It doesn’t seem so long ago, where fans thought of the Texas Rangers as an organization likely to succeed at the highest levels of the game. Hall of Famer and Rangers’ great Nolan Ryan held sway as a senior executive within the organization , but then wheels on the Texas juggernaut became deflated and then suffered a large puncture. Ryan was made the scapegoat for the ball-club’s ills , but in many respects it was simply the arrogance of the franchise , starting with the front office , down through the managerial staff and several of the players , some of whom are no longer with the organization. GM Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington are now left holding the bag , as the team now wades through a season of sheer mediocrity. The Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies now share the worst records in the entire Major Leagues, a sad indictment of two teams showing little ambition this season.

In all likelihood, this will prove to be Ron Washington’s last season with the Texas Rangers , because it seems highly unlikely he will be asked to return for next season. The team has become listless , uncompetitive , totally lacking in leadership both and off the field of play. Having assumed the contract of Prince Fielder in a trade that simply made no sense whatsoever , the Rangers have now burdened themselves with an unproductive slugger whose prime came and went at least three or four years ago . As to what this indicates about the mindset of Jon Daniels and the ownership group of the Rangers is anyone’s guess , but clearly, this was a catastrophic blunder on the part of the organization in acquiring the player from the Detroit Tigers.

Fielder has been limited to forty-two games this season, having been placed on the sixty-day disabled list(DL) , likely to miss the rest of the season and undergoing neck surgery. Injuries asides, which has plagued the Rangers for much of the year, it has been a lack of leadership all-round which has played its part in the team’s lousy play and record (46-71). If Texas are to now any real signs of life, then their current series against the Tampa Bay Rays which resumes today when the two teams meet at the newly renamed Global Life Park in Arlington , Texas. Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays will face opposing pitcher Nick Tepesch of the Rangers in what should prove to be a riveting pitchers’ duel.

If the Texas Rangers are to avert a disastrous season then series such as the one being played against the Tampa Bay Rays will have to be won decisively and the consistency has to be maintained over the remainder of their schedule. Ron Washington’s long-term future is now intertwined with his team’s play, and if failure is to play a part in the ongoing drama now unfolding, the manager is likely to become a managerial casualty during the off-season along with several other possible candidates around the game of baseball.

Call me naïve, but I believe the NL Manager of The Year is likely to be Matt Williams of the Washington Nationals . Williams seems to have managed to achieve the impossible, having his team play with a great deal of consistency while keeping at bay the Atlanta Braves , Miami Marlins and New York Mets out of contention for the divisional crown in the NL East. In his first season as the manager of the Nationals, it now looks as if the incumbent manager has been able to do what his predecessor Davey Johnson failed in doing and that is getting a team mixed veterans and youth to believe in themselves. A great of the credit has to go to Matt Williams and his managerial staff , the faith shown in the staff by the ownership group and GM Mike Rizzo . The Nationals’ billionaire owner Ted Lerner and his partners are certainly intent on bringing a World Series’ title to the ball-club and are ready to do whatever it takes to achieve the goal.

Matt Williams and the Nationals will be seeking to make their first postseason appearance since the 1981 MLB postseason and the team reaching the NLCS and their 3-2 series’ loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. With a four-game lead over the Atlanta Braves within the NL East and Fredi Gonzalez’ Braves looking nothing like reigning divisional champions, it has to be said Washington now has the division practically sewn up. The high-flying Nationals will take their show on the road, when they meet the New York Mets at Citi-Field in Flushing , New York, in the first game of their three-game series against their divisional rivals. Doug Fister of the Nationals takes the mound for the visitors against Rafael Montero in a pitching contest between two of the NL’s best young pitchers. It will be interesting to see how the season now pans out for the Washington Nationals where star players Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg will be seeking to make their mark over the remainder of the season for the team.

Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper were first round draft picks by the Washington Nationals in 2009 and 2010 respectively, with both players now seen as major reasons why the team is now having some semblance of real success. Yet, until the ball-club itself has made a deep run in the postseason with the pair in question contributing to the success , what we have witnessed so far, are the players living up to the expectations first seen as collegiate players and then within the Nationals’ farm system before their debuts in the Big Leagues. MLB agent Scott Boras will no doubt be making sure both of his clients are likely to be handsomely rewarded when their existing contracts are due to expire. Boras has certainly made his presence known among the general managers around baseball , where he has proven to be a thorn in the side of these front office executives. His zealous representation of some of baseball’s most high profiled and highest paid players by way of their contracts and salaries , has been a major reason why their remains a financial imbalance among the haves and have-nots within baseball .

Some of the individual regular season awards will be hard to decide but I believe we could well see repeat winners for a number of the top prizes. Clayton Kershaw seems to be an odds on favorite to repeat as the NL Cy Young Award winner, and in the AL, the award is being fiercely contested by Chris Sale , Felix Hernandez , Rick Porcello and Jon Lester . League MVP in the AL is Mike Trout’s to lose, albeit, many believed he would have been a worthy winner of the award in 2013, only for the voters to go with Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. Though this season both Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano are staking valid claims as worthy candidates, but Trout’s all-round presence and contributions have greater weight than either of his competitors for the award.

NL honors for League MVP is not a foregone conclusion, but Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Morneau , Yasiel Puig , Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton are making solid claims why they should be atop of everyone’s list for the award. The rookies and their debuts within the AL and NL will simply be about the impressions made and how dynamic they happen to be. Hard to believe however, Derek Jeter during his playing career, having won the AL Rookie of the Year Award , was never afforded the prestige of winning the AL MVP. The AL Manager of The Year Award , I believe will come down to Buck Showalter of the Orioles, Bob Melvin , Ned Yost and John Gibbons, should he be able to pull off of the improbable and lead the Blue Jays to a divisional win in the AL East.

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Picture gallery.

As baseball enters the final third of its season what has impressed you the most in terms of the teams’ play or that of a player’s? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit, on this and anything else you believe to be of importance.

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell , left, is seen here with David Ortiz. This season the Red Sox have been abysmal , showing little competitive spirit within their division ,lying in fifth and last place within the AL East , often described as the toughest division in all of baseball . AP Photo/ Dave Walsh …

(2) A pensive Buck Showalter looks on from the dugout during a regular season game being played by the Baltimore Orioles . Getty Images North America / Steve Jones …

(3) Jays slugger Jose Bautista , right, is congratulated by manager John Gibbons after hitting a walk-off single in the 10th inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday 22nd May 2013 . After a slow start, Bautista is posting better numbers, but the Jays need him to start producing the way he has in the past . This year the Toronto Blue Jays are definitely looking like divisional contenders . within the AL East while seeking to make inroads on the Orioles’ lead within the division . REUTERS/ Mark Blinch ….

(4) Los Angeles Angles’ GM Jerry Dipoto ,left , is seen here with Mike Trout center and team manager Mike Sciocsia . Trout was the recipient of the Jackie Robinson Award as AL Rookie of The Year. Trout has been spectacular for the Angels over the past three seasons leading the team in a number offensive categories. AP Photo / Mark Daniels …

(5) Texas Rangers’ manager Ron Washington left is seen here with GM Jon Daniels . The team has failed miserably this season and with Prince Fielder limited to forty-two games , now on the sixty-day disabled list . The Rangers are mow mired in mediocrity , while having one of the worst records in all of baseball. A great deal of the failure has been attributed to Daniels’ capricious off-season moves via the free agency market and several other far-reaching trades, saddling the team with Fielder’s exorbitant contract . AP Photo/ Jack Marshall …

(6) Washington Nationals’ manager Matt Williams greet Bryce Harper at the end of the game , where the Nationals were victorious in a home contest played at Nationals’ Ballpark in Washington , DC . AP Photo/ Garry Mason …
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It’s about that time of year again, where stupidity is front and center, as MLB makes all of the right and wrong moves

It’s about that time of year again, where stupidity is front and center, as MLB makes all of the right and wrong moves

If there is one thing I have become accustomed to , it is knowing that baseball and their fans are a fickle bunch of individuals. If nothing else, the league itself as well as the hierarchy beyond their being a lack of leadership. MLB simply cannot get out of its own way when it comes to making repeated pratfalls, but as of late, the NBA and NFL, have somehow sought to show they are no fools when it comes to making complete assholes of themselves either. Your simply have to read the latest headlines to see what has recently taken place within the NBA and NFL for clarification of the very fact.

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Slideshow .

The divisional races within the AL and NL are heating up with many of the teams in contention now seeking to bolster their respective rosters. There will be some takers , some shakers, but most of all , a number of losers. The Philadelphia Phillies with their $160 million payroll have been one of the biggest disappointments of this entire season, with the managerial staff and the players themselves at a loss to explain their season’s woes. Philadelphia seem to be unwilling to even put up a fight within the NL East against their divisional opponents never mind the rest of baseball overall. As winners of four of their last ten games , it is hard to suggest how the Phillies can fight their way out of their quagmire, with Ryne Sandberg in first season as the Philadelphia Phillies’ manager struggling to make sense of the team’s troubles this season. A 6-0 drubbing of the equally dismal New York Mets may well have provided Sandberg and his managerial staff with some respite , but the front office cannot be entirely happy with what they have witnessed from the team over the course of this season.

Phillies’ joint general managers Reuben Amaro Jr and Pat Gillick are likely to make some drastic cost cutting moves, while seeking to pave the way for next season. Out of the postseason hunt as well as a divisional race, it only makes sense for the organization to simply implode the team and trade-off needless pieces. Certainly, the two executives are likely to listen to reasonable offers several players thought to be likely targets for teams in need of some pitching as well as a productive bat. At the top of the list might well be pitcher Cole Hamels along with his teammate Ryan Howard, albeit , I now feel no Phillies’ player is likely to off the table given the plight of the franchise and what they seek in return. The Phillies’ farm system is said to be a very good one , but I get the impression neither Gillick or Amaro are yet ready to anoint anyone there, ready to be called up to the Majors. Philadelphia will resume their series with the New York Mets on Wednesday afternoon at Citi-Field with Kyle Kendrick taking the mound for the visiting team against Zack Wheeler of the Mets in a National League contest .

As an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves, my biggest disappointment was to see the team falter under a great deal of expectation during the 2013 MLB postseason . Fredi Gonzalez and the Braves easily won the NL East with a least of effort and the belief was after years of false hope they were indeed ready to return to the wondrous heights of success achieved under former manager Bobby Cox . With Cox now inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame this past Saturday, alongside five other distinguished members , it would be fascinating to see Braves perhaps make a spirited effort to make another return to the postseason in honor of the franchise’s most distinguished manager.

This season the Braves have not lived up to or shown the form many had expected, with the Washington Nationals now perhaps seen as the presumptive favorites to take the NL East with first-year manager Matt Williams having a great deal of success with his team . Braves’ GM Frank Wren , if it his intent to have the team make the postseason, then there is the possibility he might well seek to bolster the lineup by making several changes by way of a trade or demoting a member of the starting lineup by bringing up someone from within their farm system. Consistency has been the thing lacking with the Atlanta Braves over the course of this season where their longest winning streak being nine games and a losing streak of seven games. If the team are to be viewed in any way, as a credible contender for the NL Pennant much less the World Series then Fredi Gonzalez will have to get his players playing with a great deal more zeal than has been shown through the first half of the season. BJ Upton , Aaron Harang, Mike Minor , Julio Teheran , Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis , Justin Upton and Ervin Santana will have to prove to the fans and public alike they can be viewed as one of the teams to beat within the NL during the second half of the season.

Atlanta will renew an old rivalry when they are the guests of the high-flying Los Angeles at Dodgers Ballpark over the next two days , with the first game taking place on Wednesday afternoon. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the two contests will be, as the Dodgers are seeking to fend off the challenge of the San Francisco Giants, with the two teams contesting the divisional supremacy within the NL West . For Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly , this might well be the last chance he will be given to take this team deep into the postseason. With a payroll close to a quarter of a billion dollars , the common thought in most circles are that , managing partners Magic Johnson , Peter Guber and Mark Walter may well have given the manager their blessing , but one more misstep could lead to his ouster as the manager of this highly paid team. Players Matt Kemp , Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier are just three of the names being bandied about as the organization seeks to bolster the lineup . Kemp, Crawford and Ethier trade bait might have seem highly improbable a month ago, but such are the ambitions of the Dodgers , that nothing now seems off the table in terms of fulfilling those ambitions. I firmly believe the greatest pressure rests squarely upon the shoulders of Don Mattingly and his managerial staff to succeed, but as usual, the players are not seen as the last resort for failure, yet , it has always been the manager who is left to be seen as the culprit, when all else fails.

Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti may have initially been blessed with an enviable task of presiding over the task of assembling this team under the watchful eye of team President Stan Kasten , but I cannot help wonder, if either executive thought winning a World Series for this baseball club would prove to be so difficult. Last season’s failure in the NLCS was so embarrassing , but a twenty-five year absence from the showcase finale itself, has proven to be equally undermining for the organization as well. I have no doubt there will be some takers for the talents of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, because this has simply been the way the game of baseball has tended to run.

It has been a long time since a current World Series’ champion has fared so badly in the defense of their title. Yet witnessing the fall from grace of the Boston Red Sox this season has proven to be so embarrassing and unexpected. This team has failed to show any life whatsoever and it is hard to point out one positive aspect to the Red Sox’s play over the course of this year. I am not about to suggest John Farrell is an extremely bad manager, but it would seem beyond the aspect of his having caught just about everyone off-guard during the postseason, 2014 has been littered with surprises by way of the lack of enthusiasm being shown by the Red Sox players. It were as if they are ready to rest on their laurels, with the evidence of 2013 being the measure of their success. David Ortiz seems to be a shadow of the player witnessed in the postseason , when he won the World Series’ MVP . Likewise the same can be said of many of his teammates from that roster who still remain current members of the Red Sox lineup.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has a great deal to think about concerning the immediate and long-term future of the franchise. Rumored to be on the trade block are pitchers Jon Lester , John Lackey , Burke Badenhop and a number of outfielders on the roster. Fire sale, might one ask ? The Boston Red now are not the Red Sox old ,who between 2004 through to 2010 were so dominant , but then came the era of Bobby Valentine before things got turned upside down. Valentine’s subsequent firing led to John Farrell’s introduction as the manager with a World Series’ title coming in his first season as the manager. The expectations for this season were high, but the reality has been one of abysmal mediocrity and little evidence to suggest the players are motivated to turn things around. I have no doubt in my mind this team will be imploded with several mainstays from last season being jettisoned , with John Farrell and the managerial staff looking to the farm system and acquisitions as the ball-club looks to the future.

It is also that time of year again and the fans of the Tampa Bay Rays wait with bated breath concerning the next episode concerning the franchise come the trade deadline. All Star and Cy Young Award winner David Price is once again the scene of a number of speculative rumors concerning his future. Joe Maddon has been saying the right things concerning the player and his wish to see him be retained, but in all probability with this franchise, simply not willing to pay the player his worth , it would be in their best interest to seek the best offer available for one of the AL’S best pitchers. Claims as to Price being a top-five pitcher in baseball are vastly exaggerated, but what would we come to expect of the Rays’ fans to begin with , much less fans who claim to be in the know concerning the game of baseball?

It would be fair to suggest the Tampa Bay Rays have failed to deliver on all counts this season their record is simply another indication of that reason. No more continuous excuses of the organization being paupers, because it is now time to put up or simply shut the hell up , once and for all. The continued apathy of the fan-base has played an even bigger part in this dilemma of the continued belief, the team has always been good enough to contend . An AL pennant and a sole appearance in the World Series and all of a sudden, the Tampa Bay Rays were considered “world beaters” . Well their fall back to earth has been quick and the organization has been exposed as one of aimlessly heading nowhere, where their sole assets are the acumen of Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon. Beyond that, there has been very little to suggest the Rays can be considered perennial contenders, much less lacking real leadership among the playing staff . If anyone can point to their being a vocal leader on the roster, much less the player leading by example , then I would like to hear or see the name of the player in question be mentioned and the reasoning behind the choice in question?

Yet with the news revealed today (Thursday) at the trade deadline, a decision was made to trade David Price to the Detroit Tigers , this further emphasizes that the franchise has now given up on their season and are now looking ahead to their long-term future. It may not be too long, before they are likely to contemplate trading away Evan Longoria who in many respects has been nothing more than a figurehead for the baseball franchise and little else beyond that. When and if such a scenario should happen, it will be interesting to see how this is played out and viewed by Rays’ fans within the area as well as nationwide.

The Rays’ first game without their Cy Young Award winning pitcher will be a contest against the Los Angeles Angels in a match-up to be played at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida. How the team performs in this game could tell us a great deal about the determination of the players over the second half of the season. A divisional title is out of their reach and only the implosion of several of the teams ahead of them in the wildcard standings would be of benefit to Joe Maddon’s players and their chances of making the postseason. Beyond that , I do not believe there is much more that needs to be said !

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Picture gallery .

In your honest opinion who do you believe benefits the most at this time of the year in terms of the trades made within baseball ? Is the teams giving up a major impact player on their roster or the recipients of the transactions in question? Simply leave a comment as you see fit on this and anything else you believe to be of importance with regard to the subject.

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Philadelphia Phillies’ GM Reuben Amaro Jr is seen here with team manager Ryne Sandberg as the tow watch members of the team in the outfield during warmups prior to a Spring Training game . This season for the Phillies has been an unmitigated disaster with the team barely competitive within the NL East or the NL wildcard standings . Some major decisions are likely to be made concerning the future makeup of the roster as it enters the second half of the season. AP Photo/ Paul Garnett …

(2) Tony Gwynn Jr of the Philadelphia Phillies was released by the franchise at the trade deadline in what was seen as the first of many moves likely to be taken by the organization between now and the end of the season. Gwynn’s father , Tony Gwynn Sr a seven-time NL batting champion and Hall of Fame inductee died earlier this year from cancer. AP Photo/ Sandra Potter ….

(3) Emilio Bonifacio of the Chicago Cubs was traded by the organization to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday afternoon. For the Cubs simply another milestone in another recent lackluster season for the ball-club. Getty Images North America/ Hugh Perez …

(4) Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly is seen here alongside the team’s batting instructor Mark McGwire as they look on from the dugout during a game played at Dodgers’ Ballpark in Los Angeles , California earlier this season. With a bloated $241 million payroll, high expectations await the franchise over the remainder of this season . Failure and some major decisions are likely to be made by team President Stan Kasten and GM Ned Colletti . AP Photo/ Ben Thompson ….

(5) Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester who was dealt by the team to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes . Boston appears to be unloading a players with a view to lowering their payroll while placing an emphasis on their farm system for the future and actively seeking out bargains by way of productive players who can aid them in their task ahead. AP Photo/ Chris Charles …

(6) BOSTON, MA – JULY 29: David Price (14) of the Tampa Bay Rays smiles after he gives up the second hit of the night, a home run , to rookie Brandon Snyder (23) of the Boston Red Sox in the 6th inning of a game played at Fenway Park on July 29, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts . Price was dealt by the Rays to the Detroit Tigers , in what has to be considered another sad chapter in the franchise’s history in their turnover of star players, dealt away . Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……

(7) Detroit Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch left and team GM Dave Dombrowski are seen here addressing members of the press during a preseason meeting concerning their thoughts on the season. Dombrowski and Tampa Bay Rays’ counterpart Andrew Friedman engineered the trade that brought David Price to the AL Central contenders and may well have strengthened their position to keep that divisional title. Getty Images/ Kent Turner …

(8) Tampa Bay Rays’ player Evan Longoria is seen here with Rays’ senior executives , GM Andrew Friedman , Matthew Silverman and senior managing partner Stuart Sternberg . After a great deal of consultation between the trio and manager Joe Maddon the decision was made to send David Price to the Detroit Tigers. Fans will get their voice to show their approval or disapproval of this deal when the team plays host to Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels this Friday at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida . AP Photo / Dave Mason …

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And today’s double-header will be headed by Julie’s assets .


Nor even my “kicks” ever looked this good !

On the mound …..

On the mound …..

We are now two months into the MLB season and things are looking rather perilous for a number of teams within baseball , as their seasons are sitting perilously close to being viewed as disastrous. In the AL , both the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays sit at the bottom of their respective divisions. Tampa as of Sunday evening , stood 10 ½ games behind the division leading Toronto Blue Jays , who sat atop of the AL East . Somewhat surprising when you consider that in 2013 the Blue Jays with all of their acquisitions proved uncompetitive and barely challenged within the division or the AL for that matter. A year later and he we are looking at a team that appears to have all the confidence in the world , with pitcher Mark Buerhle leading the AL in a number of pitching categories beyond his own statistics this season.

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Far be it for me to suggest, but this continued belief that the small market teams are still able to compete even when their payrolls are said to be nowhere as competitive as the top teams within the league. Last season, the New York Yankees led the way with a team payroll well in excess of $200 million , and the Yankees failed to make the postseason. This year it is their NL West counterparts the Los Angeles Dodgers and their newly bloated commitment of over . $218 million that leads the way within MLB , paying out over $3 billion in salary commitments for the second consecutive year. . And we are to believe, Major League Baseball can remain solvent , with their teams not failing from an economic standpoint, when seven-figure salaries and contracts have now become like confetti (rice) being thrown to celebrate the nuptials of a newly wed couple , without their being any serious future ramifications for the game ?

The Tampa Bay Rays are losers of seven of their last ten games with seven consecutive losses being part of that tally , with their last victory coming against the Boston Red Sox on the 25th May. The struggles of the team beyond their injuries woes simply stem from the fact the Rays are not afforded a situation where they can go out and obtain the best players available , as they are severely restricted by fiscal constraints . It has been left to the ingenuity of GM Andrew Friedman and the managerial acumen of Joe Maddon in determining how the obtain the best players possible without having to pay above market prices , in acquiring the resources needed. Monday’s 3-1 loss to the Miami Marlins , was a further indication , as to where the Rays are now at and how far they have fallen , without delving further into the ambiguity and apathy now being shown by their lackluster fans, who barely come out in support of the team , when their games are played at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Florida. Joe Maddon and his players will once again be the guests of the Miami Marlins when they are scheduled to meet at Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida, on Tuesday afternoon . On the mound for the Rays will be Chris Archer for the Rays against the Marlins’ Henderson Alvarez in what should be a very entertaining contest between two of the league’s best young pitchers playing today. As to an outcome , I believe that can be best summed up by simply looking at the between these two teams over the past five seasons to perhaps guessing the likely outcome.

It would be fair to suggest that over the past ten years the Kansas City Royals have perhaps been one of the most inept organizations in all of baseball over the last fifteen years. One simply has to look at their record during that time span and the very fact that the Royals have not made the MLB Postseason in over fifteen years, with their last appearance coming in 1985, when they made the World Series and faced the St Louis Cardinals , with Kansas prevailing in that series 4-3 . In the later years , after that triumph, the years have been lean and not exactly kind to this beleaguered AL Central franchise and their now well chronicled history.

It would also be fair to acknowledge, that team owner , David Glass has failed miserably , in steering this organization with any semblance of urgency or seeking to make the ball-club competitive . Instead, it has been this continual idiocy by their fans and media savants alike in suggesting that the development of their farm system will bring about their long-awaited return to success. This season, that has definitely not been the case and last year was just as demonstrative , in their lack of competitiveness within the division and around the AL overall. A 27-30 record has the Royals now sitting just above the last placed Minnesota Twins and having only won four of their last ten games , you simply have to wonder how likely it is that there would be any type of life seen from this team. Ned Yost and his managerial staff have steered through the calm and the storms of uncertainty during his managerial career with this franchise. Yet, is my belief the Royals will continue to be a ball-club not suited to challenging for a divisional title , pennant , or World Series’ title, while David Glass is unwilling to bolster the team’s payroll . For years, they have remained close to being at the bottom rung of teams by way payroll and that appears unlikely to change for the foreseeable future under Glass’ tenure.

A 6-0 triumph over the St Louis Cardinals in a game played at Busch Stadium in St Louis , Missouri, might well have provided some respite for Yost’s players and that series will continue with a Tuesday afternoon contest that sees James Shields taking the mound for the Royals against Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals . A win for the Kansas City is a necessity rather, than dropping another game and then further endangering their season at this point of their schedule. If nothing else, it would be great to provide a certain amount of positivity for their fans , rather than the constant feeling that the effort shown is simply meaningless .

In 2013 the Texas Rangers’ starting pitcher Yu Darvish was simply spectacular and were it not for a late season injury , I firmly believe that he would have won the AL Cy Young Award , rather than the accolade going to the Detroit Tigers’ pitching ace Max Scherzer. The Tigers’ pitcher for his part, chose to turn down the offer from GM Dave Dombrowski , that would have seen the player be awarded a six-year $144 million contract . I get the feeling that Scherzer’s agent might well be cursing his client for not signing on the bottom line of a deal that would have made him one of the highest paid starting pitchers in the Majors . At the same time, you have to wonder whether Scherzer has made a tremendous mistake in turning down that deal. An injury at this point of the season and the likelihood of his value plummeting as a free agent, beyond his perhaps seeking a more lucrative deal.

Scott Boras , one of the premiere agents within the game of baseball , may well feel that he will be in a suitable position to drive a hard bargain in the off-season with the Tigers’ front office , should Max Scherzer remain healthy over the course of the season , while ending up with a winning record . Yet , we all know that the agent is also likely to start a bidding war for his client’s services , as has often been the case in his negotiating ploys with many of the general managers within the game of baseball. . For the moment Scherzer’s $15 million deal will have to be one where the player feels is justified as he seeks garner something more commensurate with a player of his stature .

Since being acquired by the New York Yankees , their Japanese starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (8-1) has been among the best pitchers in the AL , certainly on the Yankees’ pitching staff this season . If nothing else, he could prove to be just as dynamic as his Japanese counterpart Yu Darvish of the Rangers. If there was said to be a weakness with the New York Yankees this season , many believed that it would be their pitching and what many believed to be a sub-par lineup, when measured against the rest of the AL and MLB overall . Tanaka’s seven-year $155 million deal now seems worthwhile, as the team remains in contention within the AL East. Now comes the hard part for the pitcher, can he and his teammates on the pitching rotation , to remain consistent over the course of this season. If they are able to do so, while their offense remains potent , this could all bode well for the New York Yankees as they seek to make a return the postseason and win their first World Series’ title since 2009. Yankees’ short-stop and team captain Derek Jeter would certainly like to end his career on a high note, winning a sixth World Series’ ring , joining distinguish group of players with more than five titles to their name.

The New York in their last game against the Seattle Mariners , in a contest played at Yankees Stadium in New York City , New York , were on the wrong side side of a lopsided 10-2 loss at the hands of Mariners . Losing pitcher David Phelps performed poorly , but the team’s woes went far beyond their pitching , because this loss was a collective one , with the offense nowhere to be seen throughout this entire game. . Joe Girardi’s players can perhaps exorcise that loss, when they take on the Oakland A’s on Tuesday afternoon, with Hiroki Kuroda on the mound to face off against Scott Kazmir of the A’s .

One of the more intriguing pitching contests of the day, pits the Blue Jays’ Drew Hutchinson against Anibal Sanchez of the Tigers , in an AL duel of two of that league’s brightest stars. I would like to think that the Detroit Tigers this season can make up for some weak postseason appearances over the last few years . Certainly , in the aftermath of Jim Leyland’s retirement , the lasting impression I have of the Tigers , is that of their famed former manager placing his teams in a position to win a World Series , but each time , they failed miserably , with many questioning the acumen of Leyland, when in reality, the fault laid with the teams in question .

Brad Ausmus , has now been entrusted with the managerial role of guiding the Tigers to their first World Series’ win since 1984, with this season marking the thirtieth anniversary of that triumph. It will be very interesting to see how this team fares over the remainder of the season , with just about everything on the line including their trying to win the AL Central title , which of late has been the franchise’s personal bauble.

Rare feats within baseball, are things , which excite the fans and MLB analysts alike . A no-hitter , the perfect game , a four home run game , unassisted triple play and hitting for the cycle , are feats which we all enjoy and will continue to applaud , no matter era of the game. Josh Beckett’s, recent chase at perfection, ended with the pitcher capturing the first “no-hitter” of his career. The fact that he achieved that feat against the hapless Philadelphia Phillies should in no way be seen, as the diminishing of that accomplishment achieved at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , was a great day for the player and his Los Angeles Dodgers’ teammates.

Beckett’s later outing was not as relishing as his last , with his losing that particular game to the Pittsburgh Pirates by a narrow margin , with the Pirates eking out a 2-1 victory . The Dodgers’ starting pitcher, was unable to carry out another rarity, with back to back ” no hitters” . With the Dodgers having the biggest payroll in the game and several of their pitchers and players among the highest paid in the game, it is easy to understand why there will be added pressure on the team to succeed, as well as upon the shoulders of Don Mattingly and his managerial staff. The manager has now been given just about every tool at his disposal , with an All Star at almost every position possible ,as they seek to win their first World Series’ crown in over two decades. Say nothing of which , with the recent news of the pending sale of the Loss Angeles Clippers , this franchise is not the biggest news’ story in the City of Angeles now. And with the tailspin of the Los Angeles Lakers and their no longer death defining fall from grace , one has to wonder , who now takes up the slack of providing the biggest story in the world of sports within the city. Oh sorry , I almost forgot , the Los Angeles Kings have garnered themselves a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals , as the Western Conference representatives, where they will meet the New York Rangers , in what might be the most highly anticipated Finals in recent years , in a meeting of two of the NHL’s most popular teams . Anyone interested, in that particular morsel of information ?

Roughly a third of the way through the MLB schedule and there is not really much that we have really learned about the season, so far. We know , there are some very good teams , but also , several franchises that are under-achieving and a number of players who have yet to hit their stride by way of their productivity with the bat or off the mound . One could gauge this point of the season and then look at the same state of affairs in the month June of last year to see how things might well possibly pan out. In reality, that might be something of foolhardy exercise , as it simply cannot account for any number of variables that might possibly take place.

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As baseball meanders towards the midpoint of its season , what if anything , do you feel has been missing from the game ? Also which rookie or major star will have the biggest impact on the season and quite possibly lead their team to a postseason berth ? Take the opportunity, to leave a comment on this topic and anything else you believe to be relevant .

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(1) Kansas City Royals Chairman & CEO David Glass is seen here with team GM Dayton Moore as the pair peruse the outfield at Kauffmann Field in Kansas City , Missouri. The Royal have remained uncompetitive over the past decade and have failed to meet the expectations of their fans. As to the organization itself, there appears to be a constant stream of rhetoric and little by way of action in terms of seeking to bolster the team’s roster or actually increase the payroll by a considerable amount . AP Photo / Ken Walker ….

(2) Miami Marlins starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez , right, shakes hands with catcher Jeff Mathis (6) after Alvarez pitched a complete game and the Marlins defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 in an inter-league baseball game , Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …

(3) Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria walks to the dugout after striking out in the fourth inning of an inter-league baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …..

(4) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer throws during the first inning of an inter-league baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ….

(5) Miami Marlins’ Christian Yelich , right, is out at second on a fielder’s choice as Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar , left, throws to first during the first inning of an inter-league baseball game, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ….

(6) New York Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium in New York, Tuesday, June 3 , 2014. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(7) Masahiro Tanaka (19) of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the first inning during MLB action against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 4, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Japanese star is off to an impressive start this season leading the Yankees’ pitching staff in wins , while being among the top pitchers in the AL and a likely candidate for AL Rookie of the Year. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images ….

(8) A jubilant Josh Beckett is seen here being hugged by teammates after he pitched a “no hitter” on the 25th May, as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in a lopsided 6-0 victory in a game played at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania. This was the first no hitter pitched by Beckett of his career and the first in the Majors this season . AP Photo / Eric Temple …

(9) Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly left, speaks with players Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe (right) in the dugout at Dodgers Ballpark , in Los Angeles , California during a game . Mattingly and his managerial staff are under a great deal of pressure to deliver that long-awaited first World Series since their last appearance in the Fall Classic some twenty-six years ago , when the franchise was triumphant in winning their fifth World Series’ title . AP Photo Hector Munoz ….

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No quick takes just a take …….

No quick takes just a take

The NBA postseason still remains a mess , with the clouds still hovering over a rather unsavory episode that neither the press or the fans fully comprehend . Instead it has been the constant apathy among both parties, that continues to be clear as everyone tries to make sense of Donald Sterling’s comments and the fact the NBA hierarchy chose not to reprimand the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner for his prior actions. This whole incident, has cast a giant shadow over this entire postseason , where the quartet of teams now remaining and now playing in the Conference Finals must now be wondering if there are likely to be any other events likely to overshadow the postseason , as it meanders towards a conclusion.

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With the Eastern and Western Conference Finals now taking shape , it is becoming clear that the defending NBA champions the Miami Heat are going waltz their way towards a third consecutive Finals’ berth , with their opponents the Indiana Pacers , having all but given up in making the series an actual competitive contest . The first game of the Eastern Conference Finals was won by the number one seed, with the belief being that Frank Vogel’s players were ready to avenge last season’s Conference Finals’ loss , but within the space of five days this Pacers’ team has fallen back down to earth and have shown the competitive nature of a docile cat afraid of their own shadow.

Now up 3-1 in their series, LeBron James must now be relishing the fact, that he and his teammates are now five wins away from securing a third consecutive NBA title.

If the contest in the East is said to be lacking in drama, then game three has breathed life into the Western Conference Finals with Serge Ibaka’s presence for the Oklahoma City Thunder and their contest against the San Antonio Spurs. Ibaka’s presence has given renewed energy to the Thunder , who now seek to overcome a 2-1 deficit , where a pivotal game four contest tonight , will tell us a great deal about the makeup of this team and whether or not they are indeed capable of defeating a Spurs’ team looking to make a quick return to the NBA Finals and seeking to avenge last season’s loss to the Miami Heat.

The coaching merry-go-round has begun in earnest with Steve Kerr having shunned the overtures by Phil Jackson to succeed Mike Woodson as the head coach of the New York Knicks . If that situation was not as asinine as it now looks , consider the fact that for the second time in four years Mike Brown has been fired by Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert and that particular organization. I am beginning to feel that Gilbert , has little acumen, when it comes to owning a professional sport’s franchise , much less knowing what it is needed to make that an outright success ! As for this idiocy , that LeBron James would seek to rejoin that franchise to play alongside Kyrie Irving now makes about as much sense as James joining the Sacramento Kings because in being paired with DeMarcus Cousins would make that particular franchise a legitimate contender for an NBA title.

As if the comedic travails of the Cavaliers were not idiotic enough as they now seem to be , in conjunction that with of the New York Knicks , then consider the ongoing idiocy now unfolding within the front office of the Los Angeles Lakers . Anyone now believing that the Lakers would now be a desirable destination for anyone seeking to further their NBA coaching career either has to be delusional or a downright idiot to believe that the franchise under the auspices of Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss has any inherent idea about what they are actually doing. These past two seasons alone, should prove to anyone with an ounce of common sense that a great deal of intelligence is lacking within the alleged acumen of both front office executives. Mike D’Antoni’s resignation and the next fallout with his actions , speaks volumes about the sense of unrest , that there was said to be within the Los Angeles Lakers as a franchise this past season. Beyond the team being uncompetitive , excuses in part could be made for the absence of Kobe Bryant , but the team was lacking heart and there was never any leadership forthcoming from the coaching staff or seasoned veterans on the team’s roster . Buss’ search for a successor to D’Antoni , is now likely to be a long drawn out protracted process that is likely to be speculated upon by an ever-growing circle of fans and observers alike.

Well, so much for the NFL Draft , the expectations thereof and the first round of the process, befitting the idiocy of the hyperbole and drama that surrounds this annual event, now becomes one of the teams now looking to sign their draftees to their rookie contracts. If that was not enough, the one player where a there was said to be great deal of scrutiny of and where he would likely be picked, still draws a great deal of news , for all the wrong reasons . The Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel seems to be drawing as much undesired attention to himself without yet having proven himself worthy of the stories now unfolding .

Manziel’s maturity level was continually questioned throughout this NFL Draft process and it may well have led to what many believed was the justification his being drafted so low . From being thought to be the likely first quarterback taken in the Draft , the player was taken as the twenty-second overall pick by the beleaguered Browns , who were in search of a passer for more competitive than the now departed Brandon Weeden than many of the quarterbacks to have filled the position for the franchise over the past eight seasons . As to why Johnny Manziel would feel it necessary to be seen in Las Vegas at a UFC , albeit , that it was on the weekend , but with the player and his agent trying to suggest, that the party and “Playboy Image” was said be surrounding Manziel was nothing but a creation by the press and his detractors , in no way should be seen as a detriment about his skill-set as a player. Those issues, may well be overlooked, if the rookie can lead the Cleveland Browns to a successful season in 2014. For head coach Mike Pettine and his coaching staff , their futures as well as that of the Browns’ fan-base, will be looking to the young rookie to bring about what they feel to be some long and overdue success to a franchise, that has seen very little success over the past decade.

Johnny Manziel will be given every opportunity to display his craft over the Browns’ preseason where he is likely to share a great deal of the playing time with the team’s likely starter Brian Hoyer . Though on the team’s depth chart , Manziel is likely to be seen as third in that role behind Tyler Thigpen , with a fourth alternative being Connor Shaw. Cleveland’s opening regular season schedule , begins with a week one contest at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania, against their AFC North rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers on the September 7th , 2014. Manziel, as the Heisman Trophy winner , undoubtedly has a great deal of expectation to live up to and without the other added distractions, the player must now prove his detractors that he is indeed capable of leading this franchise to some semblance of success, while also displaying the skill-set we all witnessed during his collegiate career with Texas A&M and his tenure with the program.

I am sick and tired of hearing repeated and the most banal of excuses, about why a team that becomes hamstrung by injuries cannot compete during the MLB season. Unless, that the players lost to the roster represents more than one half of their front-line starters , then there should be no reason for the constant whining of the fans. And therein lies the idiocy recently and claims concerning the under-achieving Tampa Bay Rays and a team that was said to have the best pitching roster within the Majors , as well as being capable of winning ninety to ninety-five games this season. A languid start has seen this team fall short of what many felt that Joe Maddon’s playing staff were capable of achieving at this point of the season , albeit, the Rays compete in one of the most competitive divisions in all of baseball . As contentious as the AL East is known to be , several of the teams there can now be judged and now be said to be under-achieving, including the defending World Series’ champions the Boston Red Sox , who now find themselves rooted at the bottom of the division , eight half games behind division leaders, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Toronto for its part, coming off a rather lopsided victory over the Tampa Bay Rays , were never thoroughly tested at any point , during the game played at the Rogers Center , in Toronto , Ontario , on Sunday afternoon . If the Rays are said to be a flawed team , then this contest against the Blue Jays , gave the fans every reason to see why , with their being mental lapses throughout the game, both competitively , as well as mentally . The two teams are set to meet again on Tuesday afternoon , with Alex Cobb of the Rays facing the Blue Jays’ Mark Buerhle in what should be a very good pitching contest .

Call me naïve, but I have always felt that “spending big “ , does always necessary means a team will , ” win big “ , when it comes to the World Series ! Case in point , has to be , both the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees , as this season’s two biggest spending teams by way of their payrolls. This season alone the two ball-clubs will combine to surpass almost 20 % of the over $ 3.1 billion that will be committed in team payrolls , with several of their players being among the highest paid in the game by way of their annual salaries or the contracts or contract value .If that is not an ongoing indicator about how out of whack the game of baseball has become, by way of the economic imbalances . Then I for one , would like to hear a concise explanation from any baseball fan, who now believes that the game can be self-sustainable with the ever-increasing contracts among the top teams , while their mid and small-market counterparts, are left in their wake !

In 2013, both the Dodgers and Yankees were atop of the spending pile , in terms of payroll commitments , with only the Los Angeles’ based franchise making the postseason , where they fell to the St Louis Cardinals in a rather lopsided NLCS Pennant Series. Out-managed and outmaneuvered by a stealth Cardinals’ team in the series , that Don Mattingly, as the manager of the Los Angles Dodgers, will be under even greater pressure and scrutiny to take this team further into the postseason this year , than he was able to do in 2013. That stinging failure, still lingers deep within front office of the Dodgers, with owners Peter Guber and Magic Johnson among the partners showing their concern , as to the team’s failings this past postseason.

In a division where now, three of the four teams are above .500 , the Los Angels Dodgers find themselves 4 ½ games behind the hard charging San Francisco Giants , who themselves have the best record in baseball with a 33-19 mark . Now in spite of Josh Beckett’s recent superlative outing in pitching a no-hitter in the team’s 6-0 trouncing of the Philadelphia Phillies . I still believe that the Dodgers will be hard pressed to equal their feat of last season , in running away with the NL West divisional title . It will indeed, take a great deal more than the Dodgers’ pitching , of which the rotation is plentiful in terms of their starters , if the team is to be truly successful this season . The effort will have to be collective one , with the offense being the primary emphasis , if Don Mattingly’s players are to obtain their first World Series’ appearance in over twenty-five years , with that feat being accomplished in 1988 , with their 4-1 triumph over the Oakland Athletics .

The Dodgers followed up that victory over the Phillies , with two positive results against the Cincinnati Reds . Those teams will meet again on Wednesday the 28th May at Dodgers’ Ballpark in Los Angeles , California , with Homer Bailey (4-3) taking the mound for the Reds against his NL counterpart Clayton Kershaw (3-1). As the Dodgers go this season, so rests the fate possibly of Don Mattingly’s long-term future with the ball-club , with the likelihood, that the team’s failure might well lead to his ultimate dismissal . However, his leading the franchise to that long-awaited World Series’ triumph would certainly cement his legacy in the annals of Dodgers’ postseason history , as being one of the few managers to have led the ball-club to a series’ victory in baseball’s showcase finale.

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Picture gallery .

The sports’ world is forever in search of stories that will whet the appetite of the fans and generate the debates , discussions , call them what you will. For the most part, without those tidbits to actually to nibble on, there is simply nothing to lure us in and to keep us galvanized on the events taking place at any given moment . What recent events, have piqued your interest in the world of sports and has there been a sports’ story , that you feel that has in some way been over exposed in terms of its coverage ? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit on this and anything else you feel to be relevant.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) MIAMI, FL – MAY 26: Frank Vogel of the Indiana Pacers looks on against the Miami Heat during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 26, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The Pacers face the Miami Heat in a pivotal Game Five , on the brink of elimination from this season’s NBA postseason with a 3-1 deficit now staring them in the face. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …

(2) Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives to the basket over Indiana Pacers forward David West (21) during the second half of Game 4 in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals playoff series, Monday, May 26, 2014, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Pacers 102-90 . AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ……

(3) Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against Kendrick Perkins of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first quarter during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 27, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This series is now tied at two games apiece (2-2) with the Thunder having overcome a 2-0 deficit . Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images …

(4) Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder look on in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 27, 2014 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City,Oklahoma. Getty Images / Andrew D Bernstein ….

(5) Cleveland Cavaliers’ team owner Dan Gilbert ,left, is seen here with Mike Brown , center and team GM Chris Grant . Brown was fired for the second time during his second stint with the Cleveland based NBA franchise . Likewise , Chris Grant was not given a contract extension by the Cavaliers with his being succeeded by David Griffin , who has now has sole responsibility for player personnel decisions as well as seeking a new successor to fill the vacant coaching position. AP Photo/ Gary Mason …..

(6) Johnny Manziel of the Cleveland Browns is seen here on NFL Draft Day , having just been selected by the franchise , where he is likely to be third on the team’s depth chart . Manziel has been the center and focus of news’ media attention in recent weeks , but over the past weekend the player was seen at UFC event in Las Vegas Nevada , in the lead-up to the Browns’ OTA’s (organized training activities) , with many questioning his willingness to be team player and shying away from the constant glare which he seems to seek out at almost every opportunity. Erik Burkhardt , Manziel’s agent , has suggested , it has been the press seeking out his client, rather than the player placing himself in front of the media . In a recent turn of events, a lawsuit has been filed against Johnny Manziel by an unnamed victim . claiming sexual harassment in which the plaintiff is seeking $25 million in damages . Burkhardt claims that the lawsuit is frivolous, without merit and will be challenged within the Florida courts , where the suit was originally filed. AP Photo / Martin Jones ….

(7) Toronto Blue Jays’ Adam Lind celebrates a home run with third base coach Luis Rivera , left, during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim ……

(8) Tampa Bay Rays’ Alex Cobb reacts after getting hit by a ball from Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Reyes during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim ……

(9) Starting pitcher Josh Beckett (61) of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the ninth inning during a game in which he threw a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dodgers won 6-0 . Getty Images North America /Hunter Martin ….

(10) Starting pitcher Josh Beckett (61) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with teammates after throwing a no-hitter during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dodgers won 6-0. Getty Images/ Hunter Martin …….

(11) Starting pitcher Josh Beckett (61) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with teammates after throwing a “no hitter” against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Beckett became the first MLB pitcher to throw a “no-hitter ” this season, joining select group of players to have accomplished the feat in baseball history. Getty Images /Hunter Martin …..

(12) From left to right , seen are Peter Guber , Stan Kasten , Mark Walter and Magic Johnson , who make up part of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ senior managing partner and ownership group for the Los Angeles’ based franchise . The ball-club was purchased for a record-breaking sum of $ 2.156 billion in 2013 , making it the largest purchase in North American sports’ history for a professional sports’ franchise. AP Photo / Matt Peters ….

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It’s not the journey itself, but the first step taken that tends to be the hardest

It’s not the journey itself , but the first step taken that tends to be the hardest …

By Tophatal ……

The first month of the baseball season is now in everyone’s rear view mirror and the divisional tables now, show the teams that are playing with a great deal of resolve . Biggest issue so far on the schedule season, has been the health of so many players already being down injured , with the Los Angeles Dodgers already seeing their starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw being on the team’s disabled list and the team being able to find a rhythm of consistency without having their high-priced starting pitcher and his arm. It is pretty much safe to say that the managerial staff of the team will not solely be reliant on Kershaw, but their entire pitching roster. The team has started off fast, right out of the gate , but now find themselves 2 ½ games behind the San Francisco Giants (21-12) and the Colorado Rockies (21-14) in the NL West . As competitive as the division is likely to be , I do believe that Don Mattingly will be under even more pressure this season, than he was in 2013 , when the team made the postseason only to falter in the NLCS in a lopsided series’ loss to the St Louis Cardinals . Managing partners Magic Johnson , Mark Walter and Peter Guber , along with team President Stan Kasten are likely to believe that baseball’s highest salaried team will be able to get over the hump this season and for the Los Angeles Dodgers to make their first World Series’ appearance in twenty-six years ,

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Wednesday afternoon pits the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game , in the nation’s capital, when they face the Washington Nationals at Nationals Ballpark in Washington DC. One the mound for the visiting team, will be seasoned veteran Dan Haren as he faces off against Nationals’ starting ace Stephen Strasburg in a match-up of two of the National League’s top pitchers . Strasburg has been one of the reasons, why the NL East based team has been off to a pleasant start , with the expectations for franchise for this season, said to be high on all fronts. Clearly the disappointments of 2012, left something of bitter taste in the mouths of the fans, as well the organization in general, when a postseason berth , it was felt was clearly within their reach, if not the division itself.

For Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten it will be a homecoming of sorts as he was once a front office executive for the DC based franchise . While the Nationals have sought to bring some relevance back to DC by way of baseball, it must be said that their fortunes have also been tied to fate of the Washington Redskins in recent seasons. The NFL franchise has itself, seen something of a rise back to relevance , but their 2013 season, can be best described as a major disaster , with a lack of competitiveness of the team and the later firing of head coach Mike Shanahan and the front office not willing to extend the contract of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan .

The fact that the Redskins have since hired Jay Gruden to succeed Mike Shanahan , can either be seen as an act of desperation or one of genius , based on Gruden’s alleged success as a coordinator in the NFL , as his career is said to have flourished in that attempt. . This may well be the risk that Bruce Allen and team owner , Dan Snyder feels is relevant, if the Redskins are to succeed after the woes of last season, which saw a last place finish within the NFC East division.

As impressive a start to the season that the Milwaukee Brewers (22-13) have to their calendar , while leading the NL Central . There remains still the ongoing controversy of the team’s All Star slugger Ryan Braun and his return to the game after his league mandated suspension . Braun has slowly played himself back into the consciousness of the public at large, while still looked upon some circles as a pariah and a cheat. As the NL MVP , an award that many feel that Braun should have been stripped of, but the hypocrisy of the BBWAA still remains, along with the sheer gullibility of the MLB hierarchy under Bud Selig . Ryan Braun’s actions, in not only lying to the press and public alike , about his use of a banned substance, spoke to the fact that baseball’s testing protocols, the use of an independent laboratory and a failure of proper oversight , continues to the show that the claims of Bud Selig, that baseball has the sternest testing of all the four major professional team sports, does not pass the test. Though it is still early in the season , MLB is carefully watching the actions of the players , in the aftermath of Alex Rodriguez’s a year-long suspension and the now disgraced player’s actions in seeking to sue baseball’s hierarchy. The MLBPA under its new Executive Director Tony Clark , has done little to suggest that he and his members are acutely aware of their actions as it relates to the use of performance enhancing drugs .

The Milwaukee Brewers own ambitions for this season will be severely tested by their counterparts within the NL Central , perhaps with the exception of the Chicago Cubs , who continue to flounder , even with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer still clueless about what it will take to make the team actually competitive and a legitimate contender within their division much less the rest of the National League . Three years into his tenure and Epstein still has not assembled a managerial staff worth a damn , let alone an on the field product by the way of a team that plays attractive and entertaining baseball . A three-game losing streak and only victorious in four of their last ten games and it is hard to explain how anyone can suggest that the Cubs are in with a chance of being viewed as a viable candidate for the NL Pennant , something that they have not been a part of in several years. Eleven years on, from their infamous pennant series against the Florida Marlins , there are more than goats and idiot named Steve Bartman that have run amok at Wrigley Field , as team owner , Tom Ricketts and his family seem hell-bent on carrying on the tradition of seeing this once revered organization remain the laughing-stock of baseball.

As if to further emphasize the morass of the Chicago Cubs , they succumbed to their crosstown rivals the Chicago White Sox in a game played at US Cellular Field in Chicago , Illinois , on Wednesday afternoon . The two teams will meet again on Thursday with the same venue in play for that contest , which is likely to have the same result based on the evidence of Wednesday . On the mound for the Cubs, will be Jake Arrieta as he faces off against his opposing number Scott Carroll .

It takes a great deal for a baseball club to have three consecutive seasons of losing at least one hundred games . Yet somehow, the Houston Astros have managed to achieve that feat with effortless ease . Coming into 2014, not only were the Astros seeking to avoid further embarrassment., but team owner Jim Crane had begun what is likely to be an ugly legal fight with broadcast partner CSN Houston and the broadcaster’s decision to file for bankruptcy . Crane also names Drayton McClane , the former Astros’ owner in his lawsuit, claiming that the two , sought to hide the gravity of the ball-club’s dealings with the broadcaster and that the duo also, hid many of the financial obligations CSN had with McClane, that allowed the former franchise owner to profit to the tune of some $65 million , prior to the sale of the ball-club. CSN Houston’s parent company Comcast Inc , have stated that the intent will be to file for bankruptcy, because the outlet remains unprofitable, even though the cable outlet has the proprietary broadcast area rights for games of the Houston Rockets as well games for the Astros and several collegiate events.

From my own standpoint , I believe that Jim Crane simply salivated in wanting to own an MLB franchise and the lure of Bud Selig’s tempting offer of $125 million in paid expenses , for the franchise to move from the NL Central West at the end of the 2012 season to the highly competitive AL West was to good an offer to refuse. Due diligence, clearly was not used by Crane in his purchase of the Houston Astros and the team’s record since their move between the two divisions, seems to be just as disastrous as the sale now appears to be , beyond the franchise’s ongoing woes on the field of play .

Thirty-four games into the season and the Houston Astros are now projected to lose one hundred and eight games , winning only fifty-four on their one hundred sixty-two game regular season schedule. It has been that type of futility that the fans have now come to expect while in attendance at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas, along with a pared down team payroll and a proliferation of excuses from Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow . . It should come as no surprise that the Astros’ front office and managerial staff coaching staff continue to believe that the team remains competitive in spite of having a league low team payroll of $44.985 million and one of the worst records in all of baseball. The Astros’ 3-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan was simply another reminder why the baseball club remains a blight on the game and why there has to be a consensus among the owners , union and league hierarchy , that there either has to be a hard salary cap or contraction within the game leading to perhaps the subtraction of at least four teams .

There may well be opponents for contraction within baseball , but with teams such as the Houston Astros , Chicago Cubs , Kansas City Royals , Miami Marlins and of late the Minnesota Twins continuing to be uncompetitive . A decision will have to be made, to the direction that Major League Baseball should take , by using a number of determining factors based on support , a team’s viability without being aided by the luxury tax and finally their competitiveness . League revenues may well be increasing , with much of that coming from the renewing of television contracts , whereby the broadcasters are being asked to pay more for what on the face of it, appears to be a deteriorating on the field product.

If this is the year that the Tampa Bay Rays are to take advantage of what is said to be a weak AL East division, which I do not believe it to be ! Then this would be the season, in which Joe Maddon and his team ought to be taking advantage of their inhabitants within the division . Instead, the Rays find themselves rooted at the bottom of the AL East looking up at the Toronto Blue Jays , Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles , who currently lead the division . Maddon’s team, based on their pitching rotation , is said to be the best in the Majors , though that is clearly not the case now .

The Rays were on the wrong side of a 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida , where Buck Showalter’s players showed why they are leading the AL East . It is games such as this , that Tampa do need to win , if they are to be considered legitimate contenders for the AL Pennant as well as the World Series , a title that the franchise has yet win, but made their sole appearance in baseball’s postseason showcase finale against the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2008 World Series , which resulted in a 4-1 series’ loss . The two combatants will meet again today, with David Price taking the mound for the Rays against the Orioles’ Ubaldo Jiminez . Thursday’s contest should tell us a great deal about both teams , as well as how they are likely to fare over the course of the season.

In the aftermath of the fallout that has taken place within the NBA concerning that particular league’s action in dealing with Los Angeles Clippers’ owner , Donald Sterling with his being banished and fined $2.5 million for his inflammatory racial remarks , which were delivered in private between Sterling and number of acquaintances . It has now become an issue, where the other major professional teams sports will now have to take a deep dark look at how they themselves, deal with the issue of race , and that of their owners’ behavior around and away from their respective sports. Bud Selig, before had to deal with the antics of Marge Schott , the former owner of Cincinnati Reds and her racially insensitive remarks. In truth , Selig, like Adam Silver , was slow to act , given the prior bad acts of Donald Sterling , and the issue of race , in spite of the recent idiocy of the NAACP in wanting to give Donald Sterling their highest civic honor , a Lifetime Achievement Award .

Donald Sterling was well-known to have the views now shown to the public, by the airing of his comments, as they went viral over the internet , and the later interview granted by his girlfriend , V Stiviano . I do believe, that Sterling’s views are his alone and any punishment meted out will not stifle the issue of racism or bigotry and their growing elements within the sports’ environment ! While Donald Sterling’s views, are likely to be shared by a number of his counterparts, within the NBA , NFL and NHL. Yet, they have simply chosen to keep those comments and views to themselves, rather than their being aired in public. Better to be prudent , than making a complete ass of yourself, while tarnishing not only the image of the franchise you own , but also the brand and the image of the NBA. Something that the newly installed commissioner is not going to tolerate, having assumed his position and thereby looking to stamp his own authority on the sport he is likely to preside over for the next decade or more.

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Picture gallery.

Through the first month of the baseball season, what do you feel has been the biggest surprise overall ? Also, do you believe that baseball’s hierarchy, is likely to keep a careful watch on the behavior of their teams owners, in light of the fallout witnessed in the NBA ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Washington Nationals Adam LaRoche connects for a two-run single against Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Dan Haren during the first inning of a baseball game , Wednesday, May 7, 2014 in Washington. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais …

(2) Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) throw against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, May 7, 2014 in Washington. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais …..

(3) Brewers’ outfielder Ryan Braun , presently present on the team’s DL , but hoping to make a quick return to contribute to the Milwaukee Brewers’ efforts this season . AP Photo / Matt Hamlin …..

(4) Chicago Cubs’ Head of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein is seen here with team GM Jed Hoyer , with the newly installed executive given charge to rebuild the organization, under the auspices of his superior, Epstein. It has been some considerable time since the Cubs made a postseason appearance and the organization’s record has been abysmal since that last foray . Getty Images / Phil Carson …

(5) Houston Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow is seeking to resurrect the fortunes of the franchise that has fallen on hard times over the past eight years, but a great deal of the ball-club’s recent misfortunes does appear from the continuing indecision of team owner Jim Crane in raising and then paring down the team’s payroll while seeking to make the organization financially viable . AP Photo / Paula Warren

(6) Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (31) delivers to Tampa Bay Rays’ Matt Joyce during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, May 8, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tampa would go on to lose the game 3-1 suffering their third straight loss, all to their divisional rivals the Orioles . AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ….

(7) Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria (3) lines an RBI single off Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, May 8, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Rays’ Desmond Jennings scored on the hit. Catching of the Orioles is Caleb Joseph. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ….

(8) Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig poses with the winners of the Hank Aaron Awards , (best overall offensive performer of 2004), Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants and Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox, before Game 4 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals on October 27, 2004. In the aftermath of the Donald Sterling affair within the NBA , the commissioner may well now take it upon himself to discuss with team owners , concerning their conduct and their issuing of statements with regard to their personal views , when in a public setting, where it directly involves the game and its image . AP Photo / Jason Black ……

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If we build it they will come …………

If we build it they will come ……….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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tophatal ………………….. 11/13/2013

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Wendy Fiore .

Somewhere over the rainbow …..

Somewhere over the rainbow

Well the baseball season is now entering its final three weeks and the biggest cause for concern to my mind has to be the meltdown by the Tampa Bay Rays . A little over two weeks ago the form of this team was not in doubt and it would have been generous to suggest that they would be on the way to sowing up one of the two available berths for the AL wildcard spots . I went even so far as to suggest, that Tampa needed to secure the division (AL East) to secure a position in the postseason. Yet, who knew that a catastrophe awaited the team , whose play over their last thirty games has simply been abysmal . In the midst of this all , manager Joe Maddon , for from being troubled , remains upbeat and acting as there should be nothing at all to be worried about. For the Rays’ fans , they have to be troubled not only by the demeanor of the manager but also by the lackluster performances of the players and their laissez-faire approach to each game and series over the past three weeks .

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Slideshow gallery .

Another loss at home last night (Wednesday) by the Tampa Bay Rays to AL East divisional leaders the Boston Red Sox , may well have added another nail in the coffin for the Rays’ season and quite possibly their postseason ambitions. Seemingly , they have been unable to play themselves out of their slump and there seems to be absolutely no leadership being supplied by anyone on the team’s roster , much less from the manager or anyone amongst his staff . The conclusion that I have come to , concerning the Rays and their fans , is that they are extremely happy with their lot when the team is winning, but simply too afraid to be critical of the organization , when things are not going right . Chalk that all up to the apathy and simple mindset of the fans, and the continued stupidity shown by the local beat writers and television pundits in the locale who cover this MLB franchise . Ideas of grandeur, way above their station and not one clue as how to remedy what ails the ball-club on the playing field or by way of the front office hierarchy .

For a pitching rotation that was deemed to be amongst the best in all of baseball , the Tampa Rays’ staff have performed unevenly throughout much of the year . Matt Moore the pitching staff’s leader in wins , has himself been up and down, in terms of his recent performances . And the rookie, Chris Archer , although he has been something of a pleasant surprise , but it simply cannot be left to the player to be the one, upon whom the management can pin their hopes on. The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, David Price has been somewhat inconsistent and I do not believe that he is fully fit , even after two spells the team’s disabled list. Jeremy Hellickson , another mainstay of the rotation, can guarantee you the quality starts, but only if the run support is also there . Here we go again , as it relates to the Rays , if the offense is not going then the struggles are quantified even more so .

Tampa Bay will resume their current series with the Red Sox , with the final game of the trilogy on Thursday ,where a win is of the utmost importance. With the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles now playing out a highly competitive and controversial series , there is no further room to falter for Joe Maddon’s team. With a three-game series next up for the Rays, against the Minnesota Twins , away at Target Field in Minneapolis , Minnesota . It will be intriguing to see how the team acquits itself against one the AL’s more disappointing teams this season. Ron Gardenhire‘s days with this ball-club must now be numbered and no amount of excuses can be made for the team’s continued failures . . On the mound for the first game of that set, beginning on Friday, will be Chris Archer of the Rays against Kevin Correia of the Twins. Two young starting pitchers looking to make a name for themselves amongst the litany of quality pitching now within the AL .

As the AL East divisional race now plays itself out , with the Boston Red Sox now seem assured of the title , we are left with a three-horse race between the Tampa Bay Rays , Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees , seeking to become one of the two wildcard aspirants from the AL. Throw in the fact, that the Kansas City Royals , Cleveland Indians , Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics are also pursuing those berths , this all adds up for an all too intriguing and suspenseful closure to the regular season , which ends on the .final day of September .

One of the more disappointing stories of this baseball season once again, has to be the continued failure of the Los Angeles Angels. A team , built around the talents of Albert Pujols , C J Wilson and Mike Trout . And here we are, now wondering what has gone wrong for this Mike Scioscia managed team . The prevailing thought now has to be that team owner Arte Moreno and GM Jerry Dipoto will have to reassess the future of the team’s manager , his assistants , as well as several players on the roster and their immediate future within the organization . If Trout can be developed from within the farm system, , then why hasn’t there been other successes from within , rather than Moreno opening up his check book to make a big splash, solely to try and keep up their more renowned in-state rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers ?

Anaheim are now faltering within the AL West and likely to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive year , something that is unlikely to sit well with the owner and many of the team’s primary sponsors . At 70-76 , currently lying third within the division , the Angels are 9 ½ games out of an AL wildcard berth and it would take a calamitous chain of events, as well as the team playing some extraordinary baseball for the Los Angeles Angels to climb into that particular race. Mike Scioscia and his team will travel to Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas to begin a three-game weekend series , starting on Friday against the Houston Astros . Let us just say, that at this juncture, both teams will be playing for pride and a great deal of self-respect, with Jason Vargas of the visiting team taking on Dallas Keuchel of the Astros in that opening series’ game .

I have always maintained that the financial imbalance in terms of the payroll scales within baseball , will be the thing that will ultimately drag it to its knees , along with the ongoing issue of illegal substances being used on a widespread basis ! Purists and fools alike, are now talking about instant replay being introduced within the game , something that has been long overdue , but the MLB hierarchy remains delusional along with the vast majority of the fans, who are of the belief that the game can continue in its present structure. Creative accounting will not stop the hemorrhaging of red ink on the balance sheets of a number of teams . Add in the idiocy of those who lack the knowledge, to know that some of the small market teams around the league , who actually turn a profit , do so at the largess of the MLB hierarchy , by way the asinine luxury tax-sharing scheme . The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees , are the two teams with the highest payrolls in all of baseball , within their combined total salary obligations for 2013 being just under $500 million (a half-billion dollars [$500,000,000]) . For the first time in baseball history the opening day salary of Major League Baseball topped $3 billion ($ 3,000,000,000) , covering all thirty teams in the league. Yet it should come as no surprise, to know that over one-quarter of the teams in within baseball actually struggle to break even on an annual basis.

Continuously, we hear , Bud Selig state, that the financial health of the game remains safe. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the league’s highest-ranking executive lives in a world of delusion.. And need we be reminded, that during the past six years, three teams within baseball have faced the brink of financial ruin , with two in particular ( Cubs and Dodgers) having placed themselves into bankruptcy reorganization (Chapter 11) , after the financial manipulation and mismanagement by their previous owners . All of this under the not so watchful eye of the MLB Commissioner, whose own CFO Jonathan Mariner , shows as about as much financial acumen , as the auditing accountants who oversaw the disastrous failure of the Enron Corporation . There you have it, baseball’s finest at their alleged best, showing all of the oversight of a federal governmental agency and being equally as incompetent .

If to singularly show how asinine the luxury tax sharing scheme (a fraudulent maneuver to my mind ) has become . It is now being widely reported that the New York Yankees whose team payroll for 2013 will be $ 228.835 million , will have to pay a surcharge of $29.1 million to the MLB hierarchy . Yet somehow the now $ 2 billion ($2,000,000,000) concern known as the Los Angeles Dodgers , the only other team in baseball with a payroll exceeding $200 million , will only have to pay $9.1 million back to baseball’s governing body . Somehow, these figures do not add up or make sense , no matter what the formulaic solution might be, in how the league determines the sum to be paid as a tax. Clearly, there seems to be a bent here, in punishing a team unfairly , while simply slapping the wrist of another team, whose payroll is a mere twelve million dollars less than that of the New York Yankees . Questions have to be posed to either Jonathan Mariner or Bud Selig as to the disparity in the taxes paid , with only these two teams having to pay this surcharge , albeit, that they are the only two teams to exceed the $200 million threshold . No formal statement has been forthcoming from Bud Selig or any major executive of the league’s hierarchy concerning this disparity in terms of the Yankees having to pay the aforementioned sum of $29.1 million against that of the Dodgers having to pay just over $ 9 million.

The Yankees’ own fate also seems as their regular season winds down, does seem imperiled. Though of late, they have been on a spirited run, having made up a margin of almost six games on the Tampa Bay Rays over the last six weeks in the divisional standings . A big psychological blow, came for the franchise, when it was announced by manager Joe Girardi that team captain Derek Jeter’s season would come to an abrupt end, with the player being placed on the team’s disable list . Jeter was only able to compete in seventeen games during 2013, the second lowest figure of the player’s now distinguished eighteen-year career. With the team now looking to make even greater inroads into that lead , with it now being down to a mere one game , and with the Red Sox’s lead being now down to 9 ½ games, the upcoming weekend series between New York and their heated rivals the Boston Red Sox , now takes on even greater meaning . That series begins on Friday, with Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees taking on John Lackey in the first of that trilogy of games. With Jeter likely to be in the dugout at Fenway Park , in Boston , Massachusetts, to support his teammates , it will be interesting to see how the Yankees acquit themselves in the series . At the same time , there is likely to be a great deal of speculation raised as to whether or not the front office is likely to take up the option of the $ 9.5 million that would be due to Jeter, were he to return for his nineteenth season in 2014. Teammate, Mariano Rivera , has already stated that this would be his last year , although GM Brian Cashman and senior managing partner Hal Steinbrenner are said to be pressing baseball’s all-time saves’ leader to return for what would also be his nineteenth season in the Majors. Rivera is adamant, that this would be his last season, and that it is now, his wish to spend more time with his wife, Clara and their three children.

The New York Yankees of 2013 , might just be the last remnants that we see of this team, with an aging core of players all in their mid to late thirties . Injuries, off-field controversies , unproductive segments by several high-priced individuals have all added to the drama and ongoing saga of this famed ball-club . Need we also be reminded, that Alex Rodriguez remains a part of this ongoing circus, with the player of late contributing to his team’s drive for the postseason , while seeking to appeal his now two-hundred and fourteen game suspension. That appeal process will take place after the postseason, much to the chagrin of fans and a number analysts alike, who feel that the player has made a mockery of the process , while others believe that it has been Bud Selig who has dropped the ball, in not having sought an expedited , earlier hearing , once Rodriguez made it known , that he would appeal his suspension for contravening baseball’s steroid policy . My own belief on this issue , is that Rodriguez would have been willing to take a ban similar to that of Brewers’ slugger Ryan Braun, whose sixty-five game suspension was in fact negotiated by his agent , Nev Balelo . So for the unenlightened, who felt that this was Bud Selig showing his authority and bringing down the hammer on Ryan Braun, simply think again . The commissioner may create the impression, that he wields a great deal of power, but that power is in fact limited in its parameters , as it has been the MLBPA (Players’ Union) that more of than not, has the league hierarchy and team owners , weak at the knees and falling all over the place like drunken stooges .

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With the MLB postseason set to begin on October 1st , what if anything are you as a fan, most looking forward to seeing ? Which teams do you feel will prevail in the playoff races, as the regular season now winds down ? By all means , do leave a comment as you deem fit on this article and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Rays’ closer Fernando Rodney celebrates the last out after the Boston Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia pops out to end the ball game played between the two teams on Thursday night at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Florida . Tampa would defeat the Red Sox 4-3 to stop their two-game skid . AP Photo /Chris O’Meara ….

(2) Red Sox catcher Mike Napoli , right , breaks his bat during the game , as he grounds out , while Rays’ catcher Jose Lobaton looks on . AP Photo / Chris O’Meara ……

(3) Red Sox DH , David Ortiz homers in the sixth-inning of the game played on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida . Although the Rays won the contest the series was in fact won by the visiting Boston Red Sox . AP Photo / Chris O’Meara ……

(4) Umpire Bill Miller (26) ejects Ron Gardenhire (35) of the Minnesota Twins as umpire Dale Scott (5) looks on during the fourth inning of the game against the Oakland Athletics on September 11, 2013 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The AL Central Twins have been abysmal this season and a non-factor in the divisional race , leading to the speculation that the manager may not be returning to the organization next season . Getty Images North America / Hannah Foslien …..

(5) Los Angeles Angels’ owner Arte Moreno , left , is seen here with the team’s general manager Jerry Dipoto at Anaheim Stadium , Anaheim , California . . With the team now likely to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive season and a lackluster year in the AL West . There is the widespread belief that Moreno must come to a decision , does he retain his general , manager who over the last two seasons has committed to the organization to salary commitments in excess of $ 275 million or does he sever ties with one the league’s longest tenured managers in Mike Scioscia ? All signs point to the latter , with Scoscia likely to lose his managerial position with the Angels . Getty Images / Matthew England …

(6) Mike Scioscia (14) and Collin Cowgill (19) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim show home plate umpire Laz Diaz (63) ,where they claim Cowgill was hit by a pitch during the sixth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on September 9, 2013 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Getty Images / Hannah Foslien ….

(7) Derek Jeter (2) ,right, of the New York Yankees celebrates their win against the Oakland Athletics with teammate Mariano Rivera (42) at Yankee Stadium April 21, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Nick Laham / Getty Images ……

(8) Yankees’ lead managing partner Hal Steinbrenner , left, is seen here talking with the team’s general manager Brian Cashman . At the start of the season the organization sought to lower the payroll to conservative figure of $185 million, but with multiple injuries to Mark Teixiera , Curtis Granderson , Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez , Michael Pineda and Andy Pettite. The decision was made to acquire a number of players to fill the positions made vacant ,with the minimum amount of promotion of players from within the team’s farm system . An aging roster beyond the possible long-term ramifications of Alex Rodriguez’s possible multi-game suspension could prove fateful for the franchise . This off-season the ball-club will be paying to the MLB hierarchy $29.1 million as a surcharge by way of the luxury tax scheme . The Yankees’ NL counterparts the Los Angeles Dodgers , whose payroll of $216.6 million , will be paying $9.1 million by way of the same tax burden . Clearly there is something awry, with how MLB seeks formulates its system with regard the tax scheme . In 2012 the New York Yankees , Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox were all subject to the luxury tax scheme , with the teams in question paying varying sums to the league hierarchy . The scheme is meant to benefit the small-market teams around the league in assisting with their salary commitments. Yet it is commonly believed that a number of ball-clubs systematically abuse the system , with a number of owners pocketing the funds in question . Miami Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria is a prime example of someone who abused that system , in the years prior to 2012, before that organization went on an outlandish spending spree , signing several high-priced free-agents , only for the team to then falter that season finishing with a sub .500 record within the NL East that year. AP Photo/ Peter Matthews ……

(9) MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner , the league’s executive in charge of their financial operations , who oversees much of the hierarchy’s finances and audit protocols . Unfortunately , for baseball under Mariner’s and Bud Selig’s tenure, the hierarchy has failed miserably in overseeing the financial morass that now encompasses the game. AFP / Keith Parsons …….
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tophatal …………..

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MLB news

MLB schedule 13th September 2013

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New York Yankees’ remaining regular season schedule

Tampa Bay Rays’ schedule (remaining regular season games)

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This week in MLB history

This day in MLB history (13th September)

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Hot chic pic of the day , actress , Paula Patton .

Same time next year , but this year appears to be no different from last season

Same time next year , but this year appears to be no different from last season

A month into the baseball season and fans are now exhilarated with the play of the teams and their impressive starts in several cases. With that in mind it should be noted , that there are a number of teams that have fallen short in failing to meet early expectations . Injuries have played their part but none more so than per usual . The New York Yankees have Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson still sidelined , in various stages of recovery , but with no timetable actually set as of yet for their return . Consider the fact , that the five players in question , account for more than $83 million of the team’s annual $227 million payroll for 2013 , which currently are not on the playing field for a team that now has posted a 18-13 (.581) record , good enough for third place within the AL East .

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Slideshow .

For the Yankees’ fans , I believe that they will continue to rally behind the team , in spite of their off the field issues , as it relates to their still ailing and troubled star Alex Rodriguez . The third baseman is once again embroiled in another sordid affair , in which his name and that of several other Major League players are in engulfed in a further story of illicit banned substances , that have been allegedly supplied to them by a South Florida supplements’ company , Biogenesis , owned by Floridian businessman , Anthony Bosch . The company is at present subject of joint investigation by the DEA , FBI and US Justice Department . Meanwhile, MLB Commissioner , Bud Selig is said to be closely monitoring the ongoing investigation from afar . I liken Selig’s interest in the matter , much as in the same way he monitored the financial misdeeds of Frank McCourt , as he financially ruined the Los Angeles Dodgers , Saul Katz’s and Fred Wilpon’s continued “ idiotic” stewardship of the still financially embarrassed and uncompetitive New York Mets . Need I remind you all, of the ongoing mess that remains the Miami Marlins and the very fact that team owner , Jeffrey Loria still seeks to apportion blame elsewhere for the team’s ineptitude in 2012 , while then seeking to conduct his own “ bargain basement sale “ , in terms of trading away many of the team’s high-priced acquisitions of last season ?

The Miami Marlins, losers of two straight and are 5-5 in their last ten games . It does beg the question , how much more will the fans of this impoverished team continue to tolerate , in spite of the claims by many analysts, that baseball , Major League Baseball , remains a viable option within the state of Florida . Granted , the state does remain a hotbed for excellent talent and the Spring Training (Grapefruit League) home for several teams around the league , as well as their Minor League affiliates . Yet beyond that , for Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays , there has been either a steady decline or sparse attendance for their home games , as well as what appears to be an anemic fan-base .

Having been a one-time supporter of the Miami Marlins , I long shied away in my continued support of the franchise , after the inherent lies perpetrated by the team’s ownership , that has been continually been suborned by Bud Selig and an “ absolutely clueless” hierarchy , that is seemingly supported by the also clueless on air radio and television analysts , and personalities who cover the sport . As to the print media and their idiocy , well let’s just say if those assholes cannot succinctly inform the public of anything worthwhile, as it relates the real underlying issues of baseball . Then under what circumstances, are we to believe that they would be able to explain to us in depth , the reasons behind the continued economic imbalances as well the continued cheating that still runs the gamut of Major League Baseball ?

This season if anything , we have seen a string of great performances from several pitchers within the AL and NL , that has given us a clear indication as to the reason behind the “rise of the pitcher” and less of an emphasis in terms of run productivity . . The Texas Rangers’ starting ace , Yu Darvish came within “ two outs” of pitching what would have been baseball’s twenty fourth “perfect game “ in baseball’s history earlier in this season , in an exemplary display of a controlled pitching performance that was simply scintillating to say the very least . On the receiving end of that 7-0 loss , were the woefully inept Houston Astros (9-24) , whose record this season , is the worst in the Majors , and it is looking increasingly like that this team could very well end up surpassing last season’s mark within MLB for the worst record (55-107) in the game.

Speaking of teams, that are, and will remain inept, beyond the Astros , Miami Marlins. There is a growing belief that the Chicago Cubs , New York Mets and San Diego Padres , simply show no wish to be competitive . The continued excuses , especially amongst the Mets’ fans has become mind numbingly stupid and beyond belief ! No amount of excuses can be made for the ineptitude shown by the front office staff , even after the dismissal of former general manager , Omar Minaya , with the influx of Sandy Alderson and J P Riccardi , to now assume control for all of the executive decisions made , with regard to the acquisition of player personnel , either through the draft or free agency . . The Mets are not even remotely competitive within the NL East this season , and in all likelihood , if Terry Collins and his managerial staff are unable to turn things around . Then, we are likely to see the dismissal of the manager, from his first managerial position within the game .

Wednesday afternoon , the New York Mets will play host to another struggling ball-club , when they take on the Chicago White Sox at Citi-Field , in Flushing , New York . A game , where I expect that the attendance is likely to be somewhat dour , if not anemic ! Taking the mound for the Mets will be Jeremy Hefner (0-3, 4.34 ERA) who faces Jake Peavy (3-1, 3.38 ERA) .. At 12-16 , the Mets are in need of victories , as well as series’ wins , if they are in anyway of having a chance , much less of keeping in close proximity of the division leading Atlanta Braves (19-12) , . who are closely followed by the Washington Nationals , Philadelphia Phillies , followed by the Mets and the barely recognizable Marlins at the foot of the division.

As I alluded to earlier , this season the pitching within the Majors seems to be significantly better than I expected it to be ! In the past few seasons there has been the propensity see a significant rise in home runs and , RBI’s , but one of the more startling statistics that has come to the fore, has been the fluctuation in the number of “walks” from season to season . Either the batters are simply not that good , or the pitching , however cyclical it might well be , is now back at a level where the likes of Yu Darvish , Matt Cain , Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez , Clay Buchholz , Clayton Kershaw and Jordan Zimmerman being dominant this season .

It has been a number of years since the game has seen a player reach one of the pinnacles within the game and that is forty home runs and 40 stolen bases in a season . Seven years in fact , a feat that has only been accomplished four times in the game’s history . Alfonso Soriano , then playing for the Washington Nationals was the last player to achieve that feat in 2006 , which now seems to have become something of a rarity within the game of baseball. Personally , I now find that feat somewhat more enthralling, far more than the single season home run record . Albeit , that the taint and stain now associated with the players that have surpassed Roger Maris’ mark over the past decade and a half , does make the game of baseball all the more tawdry and dare one say , meaningless in terms of Maris’ feat ? It must be said , the “era of steroids “, simply has been a blight , casting a giant shadow over the game today , while the league hierarchy still remains at a loss , how best to address the issue . Meanwhile, the game’s revenues increase exponentially , primarily from the re-negotiation of the television contracts and less from the profitability of the league’s thirty teams.

As to the aspirants , seeking to succeed the reigning World Series’ champions , the San Francisco Giants . It must be said that one of the prohibitive favorites before the season started , might well have been the cash-laden and definitely ambitious Los Angeles Dodgers . Lead managing partners , Mark Walter , Todd S Boehly and Magic Johnson , have simply let it be known “ no expense would be spared “, as the Dodgers seek to bring back a title to the city of Los Angeles and to a ball club simply starved of that success.

It will be a quarter of a century since the Los Angeles Dodgers were triumphant in baseball’s biggest postseason fare. As the 1988 team proved to be successful in defeating their fame instate , rivals the Oakland Athletics 4-1 in a best of seven series finale to the season of that historic finale series . World Series MVP , Orel Hershiser had an “ outstanding series” as mirrored in his stats for several of his electrifying performances for the Dodgers , who were managed by legendary franchise icon Tommy Lasorda .

The Los Angeles Dodgers managed by Don Mattingly is suddenly struggling to get an an injury riddled …. team competent to compete against divisional rivals within the NL West . It`s pretty much safe to say that if Mattingly isn`t able to at least guide the Dodgers deep into the postseason . Then there is the likelihood that GM Ned Colletti will have to consult the front office as to whether or not it would be in the franchise`s best interest to retain Don Mattingly`s services as the team`s manager .

A knock against the was the bravado sown by their fans and owners alike , was in thinking , that merely because of franchise`s monetary resources, backed by a multi-billion dollar television contract and the $125 billion in assets of venture capital firm Guggenheim Partners Inc , parent company of Guggenheim Baseball Properties , owners of the Dodgers` ball-club. With a payroll now exceeding $233.1 million of which , there is now $68.9 million now committed to players on the team`s disabled list . It is easy understand, one of the numerous reasons behind the Dodgers problems this season , specifically as it relates to the team`s play . If there is one thing that we know about this team , it is that from a pitching and from an offensive standpoint the Dodgers are capable mounting a mid-season assault that could very well place them amongst the thick of things within the division as well as the NL overall . From an offensive and pitching standpoint the team does possess the weapons to get the job done , but much of that will be dependent upon the leadership shown by the likes of Matt Kemp , Clayton Kershaw , Adrian Gonzalez , Josh Beckett , Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford , whose combined salaries make up a large part of the financial commitment that the front office has made to the aforementioned players .

Mattingly will lead is players into a three-game series starting on Friday 10th May at home in Dodgers` Ballpark , in Los Angeles California, against the Miami Marlins , led by first-year manager Mike Redmond . This is a series that should tell us a great deal about the apparent directions that the teams are said to be heading in and their overall ambitions over the course of this season.

For the moment the Boston Red Sox (21-13) seem to be riding on the crest of a wave with the best record in the American League . A mark , which they currently share , with the Baltimore Orioles and the Texas Rangers , however , to my mind , the team that has been playing the best baseball over last ten games has to be the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers (19-12) , who over their last ten games , have gone an astonishing 9-1 , best in the Majors , and most certainly by far the best in the American League .

Yet , for all of grit and determination shown there is a common belief that the Tigers lack real leadership quality and the very fact that for all sense and purpose , the team`s manager, Jim Leyland appears to be too laid back a coach . I could very well be wrong in my summation of Leyland , but last season`s World Series` loss to the San Francisco Giants , I believe was a damning indictment of what was said to be wrong with the team and organization , from top to bottom . Add in the laissez-faire approach of the managerial staff and what could be further from the truth ?

The Tigers were brushed aside with the utmost of ease , in a rather embarrassing 4-0 series sweep , in what could only be described as one of the more embarrassing series’ defeat MLB postseason history . For Detroit Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike Ilitch , these are trying times for a franchise that has labored for years and who have not won a title since 1984 , when they defeated the San Diego Padres 4-1 for the last of the ball-club’s four titles that they have won over the course of their history. Bittersweet memories , when you consider also , that prior to last season’s appearance against the Giants , Jim Leyland and the Tigers would also come up short in 2006 , when the team fell to the St Louis Cardinals and the heroics of the diminutive David Eckstein , who was named World Series MVP after his heroic performances for the Cardinals .

In spite of their being three legitimate All Stars on the Tigers’ roster . I am inclined to believe that Miguel Cabrera , the game’s most recent Triple Crown winner , along with Cy Young and AL MVP winner , Justin Verlander and the always prolific Prince Fielder are likely to struggle should they make another return the postseason . Last season’s anemic postseason displays were simply endemic of what appears to be an ongoing problem for the franchise, as a whole . The Detroit Tigers appear to be gun-shy and all too afraid of even their own shadow being cast across a baseball diamond . Your thoughts , on my assumption concerning the Tigers?

The consensus coming into this season, was the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays might possess the best pitching staff in the Majors . Last season’s AL Cy Young winner David Price was said to be confident and the fact he was the recipient of a one-year $10.1 million contract was a boost in confidence for the player and presumed leader amongst the Rays’ pitchers . Instead for Price , his season has been one of indifference , and some shoddy pitching from a number of his teammates , thought to be able to provide Joe Maddon with the biggest weapon that the Rays have in their arsenal and bag of tricks .

Amongst the Rays’ pitching staff , it has been Matt Moore (6-0, 2.14 ERA ) off to a surprising 6-0 start that seems to have caught everyone by surprise and placed him among the best pitchers in the AL as well as the league (MLB) as a whole , with the season barely just over a month old .

Coming off a decisive 10-4 victory over a struggling Toronto Blue Jays’ lineup , the Rays will again play host to the team at Tropicana Field on Thursday evening . Taking the mound for the Tampa Bay Rays will be David Price against R A Dickey (2-5, 5.36 ERA) in what should a fascinating match-up the game’s most recent Cy Young Award winners from the AL and NL , respectively.

Given, the season that Dickey had in 2012 with the Mets , where he was the sole reason to watch that impoverished team play . Now the fortunes of the Blue Jays seem to have taken a turn for the worst and it would appear that even in light of their propensity to make a lavish splash in the off-season with a number of high-priced acquisitions . Someone, may well need to remind GM Alex Anthonopolous that a team cannot be made up from ill-fitting parts, that is completely lacking chemistry as well as leadership both on and off the field of play .

Blue Jays’ manager John Gibbons and his staff will be thoroughly tested throughout the course of this season , and it should come as no surprise if once again , this franchise were to have another failed season .

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Picture gallery .

At this point of the MLB season , what if anything, has been the biggest surprise to you as a baseball fan ? And by the All Star Game , do you believe that a number of teams can be ” written off “ as lost causes , in terms of their perceived expectations ? Chime in with a thought on this , and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below.

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(1) Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Juan Nicasio, front, reacts as New York Yankees’ Vernon Wells , rear, rounds the bases on his two-run home run in the first inning of a baseball game in Denver on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. AP Photo/David Zalubowski …

(2) New York Yankees’ Vernon Wells , left, follows the flight of his two-run home run with Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario in the first inning of a baseball game in Denver on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. AP Photo/David Zalubowski …

(3) Injured Derek Jeter (2) of the New York Yankees looks on from the dugout with teammate Jayson Nix (17) during a game against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium on May 4, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. There does not seem to be a timetable set for the short-stop’s return after complications related to his recuperation , from his leg injury . Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images …

(4) Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria and David Sansome seen here at the inaugural opening the 34,500 seat Marlins’ Ballpark in Miami , Florida built at taxpayers’ expense and now having become something of an elephants’ graveyard for the teams’ home games since its opening in April 2012 . Miami Herald / Hector Rodriguez ….

(5) Yu Darvish (11) is seen in a baseball game played against the Astros , in Minute Maid Park , in Houston , Texas , where he was on the cusp of becoming the twenty fifth player to have thrown a perfect game in baseball history . The Houston Astros were able to derail Darvish’s bid for baseball immortality . AP Photo / Sam Parish ……….

(6) Matt Kemp (27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his three run homerun with manager , Don Mattingly(8) during the fifth inning to trail 5-4 to the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on September 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Mattingly’s contract with the Dodgers at the end of this season and it would appear that Stan Kasten , SVP of Baseball Operations appears to be noncommittal with regard to the manager’s future. After thirty-three games into the season and with a plethora of injuries to several All Stars on the team’s roster . The Dodgers are 13-20 , firmly placing them at the bottom of the NL West . Harry How / Getty Images …..

(7) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Moore has gotten off a fast start going 6-0 with a 2.14 ERA , which places Moore in the upper echelons of the AL pitchers in terms wins as well in MLB as a whole . AP Photo/Mike Carlson …..

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MLB related stories :

A’s-Indians tilt takes controversial turn in ninth

Goldy tags two more homers for D-backs sweep

Papi goes 0-for-5 as 27-game hitting streak ends

Moore gets 6th win, Rays beat Blue Jays 10-4

Hit by liner, Happ says ‘I feel really fortunate’

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MLB pieces within this site . Merely click unto the link provided below.

MLB archived articles

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Tophatal …….. 05/8/2013

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MLB news and news from around the league

MLB team injuries

MLB transactions

MLB standings and wildcard standings

MLB schedule 8th May 2013

MLB probable pitchers

MLB results 7th May 2013

MLB team payrolls 2013

This week in MLB history

This day in MLB history (8th May) and 9th May

MLB World Series overview

World Series champions by franchises

MLB World Series appearances and titles by leagues : American League (AL) & by National League (NL)

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All good things must come to an end, and they will, at some point !

All good things must come to an end, and they will, at some point !

This baseball season will have an inevitability about it , but perhaps none more so than when Mariano Rivera takes the mound for the final time of his illustrious career . Granted , there remains the common belief that the team in its current guise can make it to the World Series , while seeking to win that title for an unprecedented twenty-eighth time in the New York Yankees’ history . Team owners , Hank , Hal Steinbrenner and their younger female sibling , Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindahl have sworn to carry on their late father’s legacy , which was one of steady and unprecedented success , while seeing the economic growth of the ball club seemingly increase exponentially at an impressive rate .

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Slideshow.

Brian Cashman as the general manager of the Yankees , remains under a great deal of pressure to succeed , as the heightened expectations have always been there , ever since he ascended to his current position within the franchise’s hierarchy . The late George Steinbrenner III , whose death saddened baseball’s fraternity , remains a constant reminder of his striving for success.

Joe Girardi and the team’s coaching staff have seen this team struggle while still remaining somewhat competitive within the AL East this season . With a mark of 15-10 , good enough for second place within the division , the ball-club sits three games behind the Boston Red Sox (18-7) . With their being a growing concern over the team’s pitching , it will be left to Mariano Rivera , CC Sabathia , Andy Pettite and Hideki Kuroda to spearhead the pitching staff , which remains one of the weakest within the AL and the league altogether . With that in mind , it should be noted with a litany of injuries , Joe Girardi knows that he can no longer afford to have any more shortfalls with regard to the health of his roster .

The New York Yankees are now severely challenged in terms of run productivity , albeit, that Robinson Cano remains the lone constant and the team’s best player . A more telling issue might well be the fact that the Yankees’ most recent game , which ended in a 9-1 loss to the Houston Astros played at Yankees Stadium , in New York City ,New York on Monday afternoon . If nothing else , it would suggest that this team remains far off from where it needs to be if it is to make a serious challenge in taking on the might of the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays , Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays .

The Yankees will host the Houston Astros and Bo Porter’s struggling team , two more times as part of a three-game series . It must be said , as the New York Yankees proceed over the course of their season , I do believe that they will continue struggle throughout their schedule . While Brian Cashman spares no expense in assembling a roster , it does seem ludicrous that in spite of the claims that Hal Steinbrenner sought to pare down the team’s payroll , instead it has increased back above $215 million for the 2013 season . And while this is nothing new for a franchise whose estimated value is estimated is in excess of $1.8 billion , with their being added resources available , via the team’s wholly owned cable sports’ programming outlet the YES Network Inc . It does beg the question, at what point will the ball club cease to be merely reliant upon the premise of being built upon , solely existing , because of their financial excesses , rather than building organically from within , in terms their competitive presence . It certainly has been a long time , during which one could point to the fact that the franchise could point to having produced a prominent and perennial All Star over the past decade.

If Mariano Rivera, is said to be, in the twilight of his career , it should be noted that Derek Jeter , the Yankees’ third baseman , who is still recuperating, while on the DL. Jeter yearns to be part of the present roster , but with the team’s orthopedic specialist noting that the player still has a cracked bone in his right foot , that still has yet to heal . There is no foreseeable situation, that indicates that Jeter’s return will be imminent, with the player making a contribution to the team.

With Jeter sidelined , questions also, still remain as to the well-being also of Alex Rodriguez, and his name now being associated company founder, Anthony Bosch and his South Florida based medical supplements’ company Biogenesis Inc . Bosch and where his company is at present, under investigation by the US Justice Department , after the revelations that Biogenesis supplied several prominent Major League players with PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) A denial, categorically and wholeheartedly denied by the company’s founder , Anthony Bosch. In his first public interview, with ESPN’s …. Pedro Gomez , Bosch was noncommittal in several answers concerning the claims and allegations , and with regard to the documents now said to be in the Justice Department’s possession , documenting the sale and distribution of the illicit substances in question .

Rodriguez , along with 2011 NL MVP , Ryan Braun have denied their association with Bosch’s company , albeit that Braun’s agent , Nez Balelo has issued a public statement on his client’s behalf, stating that Ryan Braun was merely a paid consultant for the company , in his role as an endorser of one of the company’s various supplement products. However, Anthony Bosch, when questioned by Pedro Gomez directly on the claims made by Balelo , they were immediately unanswered , with the company founder stating that Braun was not a paid endorser for any of his company’s products . It now begs the question, will Bud Selig and the MLB hierarchy simply still sit around with his fingers stuck in their rectum, while the game of baseball is further tainted by the misdeed and ill-gotten gains of the steroid cheaters within the game ? It is not as if Selig has front and center in his handling with the whole steroid debacle to begin with ! Never mind the simple-minded idiocy and complete denial shown in the legitimate circles of journalism that was said to be covering the sport . It should also be noted, that for many of the ass rendering purists within the game, who still live in a bygone era , who believe that the game still has a purity and character, when nothing could be further from the truth !

If there is one thing that is a certainty with the season still in its infancy , it is that both the Miami Marlins and New York Mets remain a goddamn mess from a competitive and economic standpoint , and that is with due compliment to the genuine Mets’ fans out there , who are of the belief that because the ball club was a afforded financial backing from several prominent Wall Street financial institutions , that simply creates a “stay of execution” for a franchise that has been mismanaged thrown to the wolves by the team’s ownership group headed by Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz. Even with the alleged acumen of Sandy Alderson and J P Ricciardi , it is now becoming clear that the Mets remain a work in progress , and that is in the aftermath of the idiocy shown by Alderson in giving David Wright an exorbitant and outrageous contract that now places a stranglehold on the franchise’s growth. As productive as Wright is said to be , without their being any semblance of competitive spirit and play from anyone else on the roster beyond Lucas Duda , there is simply nothing at all that would suggest that the Mets have the wherewithal to compete with the likes of the Atlanta Braves or the Washington Nationals over the course of this season .

The Mets are currently playing .435 borne out with a 10-13 mark as of the 29th April , ranking the ball club in the lower half of the NL and MLB as a whole. Surely , something good can come out of this season for the franchise beyond the continued mediocrity we have witnessed over the past six seasons with this organization .

Mets’ manager Terry Collins and his coaching staff will have a great deal to prove, as I believe that Collins’ tenure could very well be short-lived if he is unable to guide this team to at least a winning season ! Anything short of that and the front office will have to act aggressively , by bringing in a manager with wholly different attitude and a background of proven success . I don’t believe that claim can be made with regard to Collins’ managerial experience and resume`.

If the New York Mets’ season in 2012 could be a described as unabated disaster , then the Miami Marlins’ year was simply a mess , with the front office , managerial staff led by Ozzie Guillen , simply clueless as to what was needed to create a winning formulae for success. Less we forget also , through a great deal of connivance by team owner Jeffrey Loria and with the intervention and collusion of Bud Selig , the city of Miami now finds itself the subject of federal investigation. And with that ongoing investigation being conducted by the Criminal Division of the US Justice Department , this could have some serious repercussions and ramifications for the city of Miami , and in particular for the game of baseball, and how the sport conducts its business and specifically the actions of the team owners .

The city of Miami remains under investigation by the federal government after the allegations were made that city commission members may well have been paid to change their vote , on the financing bill, that became the source the building of the 34,500 seated Miami Marlins Ballpark , built at the cost of an estimated $600 million , which is being completely funded with public financing . And with the Justice Department, having subpoenaed documents in the city’s possession, as evidence, that they believe will assist in the building of their case. From my own standpoint , I believe that far too often , city and state politicians would rather fall in line and side with sports’ hierarchies , rather than doing what is in the best interests of their constituents and residents . Bud Selig has been reluctant to speak openly on the matter of the Marlins’ Ballpark , and the ongoing investigation.

Meanwhile , Jeffrey Loria , and senior executives from the Marlins’ hierarchy have been reluctant to speak publicly on the matter , citing the ongoing actions of the US Justice Department . It begs the question , what and when will Bud Selig show that there is transparency to be found as to how the league conducts its everyday business ? Repeatedly , I read fans continually complaining about their being overtaxed, but I have yet to read of any complaints wherein , the fans are actually calling for Selig and the team owners being taken to task and that of cities where the teams reside , and the fact that there remains a gross misuse of public funds . Personally, I don’t believe the fans intelligent enough to fully comprehend what is going on within their midst ! And nowhere is that more evident than with the continued idiocy being shown by the fans of the Tampa Bay Rays , calling for the building of a new stadium to house the two decade old franchise .

When subjected to the questions as to where the funding for such an endeavor should come from the fans and media within the local area , clearly cannot give a definitive answer as to how the financing should be realized . With the cities of St Petersburg and Tampa , as well as the state having their ongoing budgetary woes , it is clear that the fans are at a loss to give succinct and logical explanation , as to how the financing would be in place for the building of a new venue.

Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg continually complains , giving numerous reasons as to why new stadium is needed for his ball club , but yet the owner has been completely noncommittal in stating , that he would in part fund such an endeavor from his own personal fortune . Yet the anal retentive fans of the Rays , and the local media show their complete stupidity and lack understanding of the underlying economic realities . That should really come as no surprise given the complete lack overall understanding of the fans , ingenuity and leadership at all levels within the state’s political hierarchy. The state of Florida remains locked in a fucking time warp , which is still embedded, in the era of the sixties and seventies . Doubt my word ? Then simply consider the actions of the state’s unpopular and much ridiculed governor , Republican Rick Scott , and it should be noted that the Democratic Party within the state , remains a complete oddity , and a mirror image that we continue to witness at the national level for both of the political parties in question. Both are aimlessly heading nowhere , without a sense of urgency or an understanding concerning the economic woes of the country . Likewise the same thing remains a constant within the game of baseball , which is mirrored by the financial woes of several teams around the league .

The AL Central once again , looks like a division that will be highly contested but I do believe that it remains the Detroit Tigers’ to lose ! Granted, we repeatedly here that the Kansas City Royals will be a team to be reckoned with , and will play their part in competitive season and divisional race. Yet consider the fact , that, this organization as been one of the most mismanaged and incompetent franchises in all of baseball over the last decade . One would have to be either increasingly optimistic in seeing this team currently ascend to the top of the AL , while remaining competitive enough to be seen as a legitimate contender for the World Series . Ned Yost and his staff have been given the reins to guide this team over the course of the season . And while Yost can relish in the fact that his pitching staff has been bolstered by the addition of James Shields and Wade Davis , it might not prove to be enough to get the franchise where they desire to be .The Kansas City Royals are in the midst of a series against Tampa Bay Rays , with the two teams meeting tonight at Kauffman Stadium , in Kansas City , Missouri , for a night game .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Your thoughts at present on the state of play within baseball ? Also what opinions do you have on the league’s current situation as it relates to the South Florida based medical supplements’ company Biogenesis ? Do you believe that the league hierarchy should carry out their own investigation or simply leave it once again in the hands of the federal government to deal with the matter ? By all means do take time to chime in with a comment as you see fit .

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Tophatal ….. 04/30/2012

Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Houston Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez (30) fields New York Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki’s fifth-inning infield single in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens ….

(2) New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera delivers in the ninth-inning of their 7-4 victory over the Houston Astros in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(3) ESPN’s Pedro Gomez , right, is seen here with Anthony Bosch , the founder of the South Florida based pharmaceutical and supplements’ company Biogenesis . The company at present is under investigation by the US Justice Department and FBI for what is believed to be a widespread case of Bosch’s company supplying several prominent Major League players with PED’s and other banned substances prohibited by baseball’s hierarchy. Bosch was very noncommittal with his answers when pressed on his association with several players mentioned in the confiscated documents now in the federal law enforcement’s possession . Courtesy of ESPN & AP Photo /Matt Cohen ….

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MLB news and news from around the league

MLB transactions and transactions in the month of April

MLB standings 30th April 2013 and wildcard standings

MLB results 30th April and teams’ schedule 1st May 2013

MLB probable starting pitchers

MLB standings 1st May 2012

This week in MLB history

This day in baseball history 1st May

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Hot chic pic of the day Melanie Iglesias . One hot piece of Latina @ss ! Your thoughts on that ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tophatal 04/15/2013

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We’ll start with the sublime and then move on to the ridiculous . Oh sorry we’re talking baseball , so it remains ridiculous

We’ll start with the sublime and then move on to the ridiculous . Oh sorry we’re talking baseball , so it remains ridiculous

By Tophatal , 2nd April , 2013

So yesterday , marked the official Opening Day as such , for the majority of teams within Major League Baseball . Many of those games just happened to be, noted rivalries between of many of baseball’s most heralded teams. At Yankees Stadium , the New York Yankees’ played host to their heated AL East rivals , the Boston Red Sox . And if the events are anything to go by , then the Yankees , are about to have a long an arduous season . We knew that the team’s pitching was likely to be suspect , but who could have imagined that the offense would be so anemic ?

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For the Yankees’ Opening Day starter , CC Sabathia , I suspect that this was a game , that the left handed pitcher would rather forget . Decidedly more so , given the meager run support , given to the player by his teammates during this game .

With the Yankees not set to play again until Wednesday , when they will resume their series against the Boston Red Sox. Tuesday becomes a rest day , during which Joe Girardi and his coaching staff can assess the damage done , as well as the psyche of his players. Granted , excuses can , and will be made, that the team has a litany of injured players on the DL . Yet in no way , should that really be an excuse for an organization , where losing is simply seen as unacceptable .

One thing that there can be no denying , and it is now, the false bravado of the New York Yankees , and the very fact that their window of opportunity to add the mantel pieces for Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera , in terms of additional silverware by way of a sixth World Series title , is now becoming narrower by the year. This season , will be the last for Rivera , the all-time saves’ leader within baseball and one of the most prolific pitchers of any era in baseball history .

On the mound, on Wednesday for the Yankees , will be Hiroki Kuroda , facing off against Clay Buchholz . Should the New York Yankees start the season at 0-2 , there will be no need to start the alarm bells as of yet , but , should they lose four or five consecutive games open the start of their season , then look for Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi , seeking to make some not so drastic changes , if only stave off the criticism of the front office and their continued failure to develop talent from within their farm system over the past several years . Strangely enough at a time, when senior managing partner and team owner , Hal Steinbrenner sought to pare down the team’s payroll . The franchise simply resorted to what they do best, and that is to simply buy their way out of a bad situation. How else, can one explain the idiocy of acquiring an unproductive malcontent such as Vernon Wells ? Wells is still owed $42 million on the final two years of an extortionate and exorbitant seven-year $126 million deal , originally signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008 . . Chances are , Wells , will simply be counterproductive , or he may well surprise the naysayers by contributing greatly to the Yankees’ fortunes over the course of the season.

Call me naïve , but if you’re looked upon as the presumptive leader on a team , then should it not be incumbent on that player to act accordingly , rather than presenting themselves as something of an immature blowhole ? Evan Longoria has become a bona-fide star within baseball , but I am not so sure that he is simply capable enough handling any real adversity , let alone , leading the Tampa Bay Rays to any tangible success . However, comments attributed to the Rays’ third baseman , in which he came across as an imbecile , in being critical of his former teammates , BJ Upton and James Shields . Longoria tried to suggest that neither player was on board , with the Joe Maddon’s managerial style , or the fact that they knew how to handle the adversity of the team’s consistent misfortune of losing on a regular basis before the franchise’s recent run of success . Unless , I am mistaken , you win and lose as a team and not simply single out players whom you believe to be giving a less than convincing effort .

Evan Longoria is lucky enough to now be richly rewarded by the Rays, having signed a multiyear deal that gives him $105 million and the safety net of six years guaranteed income . Unfortunately, his former teammates were not so lucky , having to go elsewhere to seek their fortunes , because plainly put , the Rays are an organization that will continue penny-pinch in order to remain competitive as well as being financially viable . Something that the franchise has not been able to achieve without the advent of the baseball hierarchy’s archaic and asinine tax sharing revenue scheme , that penalizes teams with payrolls in excess of $150 million , by taxing them on a prorated basis as much as 25% of that nominal figure , which is then disbursed for the league’s small market teams , which is allegedly determined on their fan-base and the market in which they are domiciled , based upon the Nielsen’s ratings and their market research . Which begs the question why was it from 2004 through until 2011 , the Florida Marlins, soon to become the Miami Marlins were afforded this luxury ? When for those intervening years , team owner Jeffrey Loria and his sidekicks , David Sansom , Larry Beinfest and Michael Hills , plead poverty as to the franchise’s resources , only for the ball club to go out on an exorbitant cash spending spree in 2012 on acquiring high-priced free agents , that saw the team’s payroll become a bloated $125 million boondoggle that culminated with a sub . 500 record (69-93) within the NL East and a last place finish within the division that season . This season we will see the Marlins resort back to the ways old with a sparse payroll , which will be amongst the lowest in all of baseball , with a team salary of $44 million in salaried commitments based upon known records .

I don’t believe that this beleaguered Marlins’ franchise will have any tangible success within the NL East this season ! Rookie manager Mike Redmond and his staff will have a hard time to get this team contending with the division and against their heated divisional rivals domiciled there .

As to the Tampa Bay Rays and what the season has in store for Joe Maddon and his players , will rest primarily upon the effectiveness of the team’s pitching and their leadership shown by their 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner , David Price . If he, along with Jeremy Hellickson , Roberto Hernandez , Alex Cobb can spearhead what is said to be the best . pitching staff in the Majors , then there is no reason to believe why they cannot be a major force to be reckoned with . And in spite of the managerial ingenuity shown by Joe Maddon , unless Longoria can show that he has the leadership skills , the Rays could be in for a long an arduous season .

The team’s home opener on Tuesday afternoon , pitted the Rays against divisional rivals the Baltimore Orioles , who under their erstwhile manager , Buck Showalter , will be looking to get the team back to their excellent highs of last season . Joe Maddon’s players in front of a sellout crowd at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Florida would come away on the wrong side , of a rather lopsided 7-4 loss to the Orioles. However , the two teams are scheduled to meet again , twice more in games scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday , at the team’s home venue , in St Petersburg.

It would be remiss, to suggest that Sandy Koufax is not one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history . The former Dodgers’ great statistics speaks volumes to a prolific career and the accolades won . Koufax was given the privilege of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ opening game of their schedule , played against the San Francisco Giants , played at Dodgers’ Ballpark , in Los Angeles California . On the mound for the Dodgers, in this match-up of two well-respected NL West franchises , we had Clayton Kershaw and Matt Cain . Kershaw since his drafting by the Dodgers in the 2006 MLB Draft , his career has been on an upward spiral, from the minors on through ,

In recent seasons , Kershaw has been amongst the very best performing pitchers in the National League , but this oh so early comparison , to a legend , such as Sandy Koufax, is simply asinine , and in many respects, insulting to both players . If Kershaw can maintain the current pace as to the success attained , then there is no reason not to believe why he cannot become a future inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame , but for now , the comparison to the legendary left-handed pitcher becomes nonplussed, and not of any real significance .

Dodgers’ owners , Magic Johnson , Mark Walter , Todd Boehly , Peter Guber , and team President , Stan Kasten , will certainly look to assess the performance of this team over the course of the season . There is no denying , that coming after the failings in 2012 , a great deal more was expected of this high-priced assembly of stars . It’s one thing to accumulate a roster of players , reward them in some cases , with astronomical salaries , but if there’s no cohesion on the field of play , then surely, that will be equated with a lack of success .

For the Dodgers, in 2013 , it will be “do or die “ and according to Magic Johnson , “ no expense will be spared on or off the field of play as this ball club seeks to win a World Series’ title” . Take into account that it has been twenty-five years (1988) since the Los Angeles Dodgers won the last of their five World Series titles . To be a part of that particular equation in 2013 , the Los Angeles Dodgers will have to be a truly dominant team , led by their erstwhile manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff.

Not yet ready to throw out the baby with the bath water , but , if I hear one more damn prognostication about the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates , and the expectations for both ball clubs this season , I am likely to let loose with several bits of profanity ! Has there ever been two more misguided and lackluster baseball franchises , who continue have you salivating with excitement , one minute , only to disappoint the next ? With the exception of the ongoing woes and the misguided maneuvers of the Chicago Cubs , I truly believe that the Pirates and Royals, are now , the two most inept franchises in all of baseball ! simply, look at the records of the Pittsburgh Pirates and that of Kansas City Royals , as evidence of that over the past decade and a half . Not to be outdone mind you , in recent years , it could be said that the Seattle Mariners should be equated amongst these misguided and mismanaged baseball franchises ,

A strong could be made that David Glass , Bob Nutting and Howard Lincoln as the owners or senior managing partner in the aforementioned triumvirate of teams , have simply obfuscated their responsibilities , in seeking to make the Royals , Pirates and Mariners a resounding success financially , as well as competitively . That being made , much of this , all comes down to how the ball club seeks to go acquiring their talent , by way of the MLB Draft ,