Month: April 2011

Shut Up Already This Isn’t American Idol ………..


Shut Up Already This Isn’t American Idol ………..

Ah the somber days of early Spring and all is meant to be well . At least across the sporting landscape it’s meant to be. The MLB season has started off in its usual indomitable fashion with teams rising to expectations while others have simply underperformed . That being said it’s still early days yet and the season is a long one of 162 arduous games over the course of six tenuous months before the postseason kicks in .

==================================================================================

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

================================================================================

Slide show for your perusal .

As of now the divisions are looking rather interesting with the teams jockeying for position with regard to early season series . Now in the midst of finally making a decision as to where I’ll throw my hat in terms of supporting a team I’ve come to the decision that it’ll end up being a team within the NL . Well right off the bat let me say this without further ado it won’t be the Pittsburgh Pirates , Los Angeles Dodgers , Milwaukee Brewers , New York Mets or Florida Marlins . The latter for the reasons of which I’ve repeatedly stated because of the mismanagement of the team and organization as a whole by the ownership group ! The teams that seem to have my attention are the Colorado Rockes , Atlanta Braves and the St Louis Cardinals but I hate to say this as much as I like the Cardinals as a team I simply cannot stand their manager Tony La Russa ! He’s disingenous , an ingrate and someone whom I believe to be completely dishonest ! Suffice to say that to my mind he makes the fictional character Pinocchio seem like almost angelic nature !

So a choice has to be made and ultimately I choose the Atlanta Braves ! This has been a team and organization I’ve long admired because of their sheer longevity in terms of their success within the NL East and though they may only have that one World Series title to their name . It has to be said that period of consistency where they were repeating as divisional champions and making the playoffs had to be admired no matter where one’s allegiances may have laid . Now in their present guise this team is managed by Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff with a front office led by GM & EVP Frank Wren .

In terms of veteran presence the team is in that of the hands of Chipper Jones but his heir apparent to be sure is Jason Heyward , a player who has all the attributes desired to lead this ballclub long into the future and hopefully some real semblance of success. But there’ll also be contributions from teammates such as Dan Uggla , Brian McCann and Nate McClouth That being said with a pitching staff led by Tim Hudson , Jair Jurrjens , Derek Lowe , Tommy Hanson , George Sherrill and closer Craig Kimbrel , I’m fully hoping that this will undoubtedly be a season of success for the team and its fans who show up in attendance at Turner Field .

It’s long been felt that the Braves’ fans only came out in droves when they had perennial success or when the Hawks , Falcons or Thrashers were simply pedantic or downright mediocre . I’ll leave you all to be the judge of that because any and every team tends to have its ups and downs , no matter what their sporting endeavor might be . And the Braves are no different from no other professional sports franchise unless they happen to be the Los Angeles Clippers or Cleveland Browns for that matter !

The NL East the team will have to contend with the defending divisional champions the Philadelphia Phillies who look to be not only to be class of the division but the clear cut favorite to be the NL pennant winner this upcoming season . Whether or not that scenario actually pans out remains to be seen but I’m of the belief that the Atlanta Braves will do their utmost to deny the Phillies of that privilege ! . And I certainly believe that the Braves have as good a chance as any to make the postseason albeit that their division on the face of it isn’t an overly contentious one . I do believe that they will be challenged by the Florida Marlins and quite possibly by the Washington Nationals . And unless Terry Collins can in fact pull off the improbable , I certainly don’t see the New York Mets doing all that much this season within the division. Their situation is already tenuous at best from a financial standpoint and with both managing partner Fred Wilpon and team President Saul Katz under investigation by the Justice Department as well as there being a multi million civil lawsuit being lodged against the two as well as the organization their company Sterling Equities . I can’t help but wonder if the Mets can survive this season under its present ownership without Bud Selig , the league hierarchy and team owners intervening in some form or another to make sure that the team doesn’t fall into bankruptcy or be forced to cease operating should the Federal verdict go against the defendants Katz and Wilpon . At stake is in excess of $750 million and the very financial viability and existence of the New York Mets .

No word has been forthcoming on this matter from anyone within the MLB league hierarchy . Certainly no formal statement from Bud Selig or any of his subordinates such as EVP ,Administration & Chief Information Officer, John McHale Jr , EVP , Labor Relations & Human Resources Rob Manfred or EVP , Baseball Development Jimmie Lee Solomon . Kind of makes you wonder who’s in charge of the lunatic asylum otherwise known as Major League Baseball (MLB) ? With there now said to be a great deal of speculation that if Katz and Wilpon aren’t able to find a willing investor to purchase a stake in the team they could very well be forced to sell the team . A number of interested parties are said to have made private inquiries as to the duo’s willingness to sell at a stake in the team at a reasonable price .

This season within baseball could be one those that surpasses the events last season and the postseason by a long way . Granted the World Series itself ended up being something a one sided affair with the San Francisco Giants easily taking command of the series in defeating the Texas Rangers with a great deal of ease .

I’d certainly like to think that teams thought to be in contention won’t fail to deliver and at the same time I’d like to think that Commissioner Bud Selig and the owners are finally coming around to seeing that their game cannot continue to survive under its present financial structure . Especially where teams at the top of the pecking order in terms of payroll are now having to subsidize their small market peers . It simply hasn’t created that perceived level playing field that the owners and Selig had hoped for . And as far as the MBLPA is concerned, seeking any common sense from Executive Director Michael Weiner and his members is akin to trying obtain blood out of a stone . This being the very same union that had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twentieth century along with baseball’s hierarchy merely adopt a steroid policy that could be even remotely considered to be fair. It’s rather idiotic to think that Selig as commissioner can’t even be succinct even when it comes to explaining the game’s most acute problems it now faces. I’ve heard so called purists and fans try to explain how the game has made great strides from those infamous years during the nineties , wherein the illicit use of PED’s was at its most rampant .

I’ve read on a contributor’s site and a baseball fan who fan even tried to justified the fact that both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa can be considered appropriate candidates for Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame ! The fact that the two players in essence are cheats doesn’t seem to have bothered this individual or the mere fact that they each profited financially in terms of the fraud perpetrated upon the fans of the game . Guess what , the duo both broke not only the law but also one of the most inherent doctrines of the game. That patron in particular who tries to justify this hypocrisy is an out and out idiot in making a case where it was wrong for two consenting adults ,one of whom happened to be an athlete (basketball player) at a parochial establishment of higher education chose to have sex , within the hallowed halls of Brigham Young University . The player was suspended albeit that there’s an honor code involved at the establishment but given the fact that there have been far more serious incidents that have gone unreported of at the school . Unless I’m mistaken there’s been more hypocrisy going on within the Mormon Church and on the campus than most would even care to admit . But that’s what you tend to get with the hypocrisy of organized religion and the de facto piousness that it espouses and that concerns all forms religion , be it Islam , Judaism , Christianity , Catholicism or otherwise . It breeds intolerance and it purveys it even to this day, with the still rather asinine notion that theologians and preachers , priests or Imams are above reproach . They’re human and they have their fallibilities or hadn’t anyone noticed ?

=================================================================================

=================================================================================

Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the season and as it slowly meanders along its arduous path ? And how do you see things panning out for the Atlanta Braves this season in terms of their fortunes within the NL and the league as a whole ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and the points raised within this piece . .

Alan aka tophatal …………………..

http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

———————————————————————————————————–

(1) LOS ANGELES – APRIL 18: Jake Harris of the reality TV show Deadliest Catch throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the game between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 18, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …….

(2) Left fielder Jerry Sands (47) of the Los Angeles Dodger, playing in his first major league game, chases down a fly ball ball against the Atlanta Braves on April 18, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers won 4-2 . Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ……..

(3) Pinch hitter Brooks Conrad (7) of the Atlanta Braves reacts after striking out to end the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 18, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ………

(4) Alex Gonzalez (2) of the Atlanta Braves reacts as he strikes out during a ninth inning Braves rally which fell short against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 18, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dogers won 4-2. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ……

(5) James Loney (7) of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a two RBI single in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves on April 18, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) ……

(6) Tim Hudson(15) of the Atlanta Braves throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 18, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ……..

(7) Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones (10) swings for a solo home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Florida Marlins on Wednesday, April 13, 2011, in Atlanta. The RBI was the 1,500th of his career. Only two other switch-hitters have reached the 1,500 milestone. AP Photo/John Bazemore …….

(8) Atlanta Braves’ Jason Heyward runs to first after connecting for a home run in the fourth inning of a baeball game against the Florida Marlins on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 5-0 . AP Photo/John Bazemore …….

———————————————————————————————————-


MLB news

MLB Standings

MLB scoreboard scheduled game 19th April 2011

MLB results 18th April 2011

MLB Schedule team by team schedule

MLB Team Stats

MLB Player stats

Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves news

Atlanta Braves’ history

Atlanta Braves front office

Atlanta Braves coaching staff

Braves’ active roster

Braves’ depth chart

Atlanta Braves team stats

Atlanta Braves’ team stats 2010

Braves historical team records Single game

Braves historical team records – season

============================================================================

It’s Their Time To Shine ………….. Who’s In It To Win It ?


It’s Their Time To Shine ………….. Who’s In It To Win It ?

So the MLB season has kicked off to inauspicious start and already there seems to be some clamor for some teams to have remained at home . Forbes columnist and contributor Mike Ozanian states that the Tampa Bay Rays should they not be able to lure more fans to Tropicana Field over the next two years then quite possibly league’s hierarchy should look to contracting the team along with several other leading candidates . Having not read Ozanian’s article I’m not exactly surprised by the columnist’s findings but then again this has been something that MLB has failed to address when broached on the subject. I certainly think that the owners aren’t entirely happy with the present scenario in particular where teams such as the New York Yankees , Boston Red Sox , Philadelphia Phillies , Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets have paid out in excess of $ 250 million over the past five years as part of Bud Selig’s rather idiotic tax sharing revenue scheme that is supposed to assist the small market teams around the league in order that they become more competitive . Given the fact that in large part there doesn’t really seem to be any real parity within the league but merely lulls in the competitiveness of the so called big market teams , as and when they show the presence of mind to be legitimate contenders with any real consistency.

==========================================================================================

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


==========================================================================================

Slide show for your perusal .

Courtesy of Forbes.com

Contraction Looming For The Tampa Bay Rays

By Mike Ozanian , Sports Money

Groundswell building in Major League Baseball to dump the Tampa Bay Rays. From what I am hearing, I doubt there will be any baseball at Tropicana Field after 2014 even though the team’s lease runs to 2027.

The harsh reality is the Rays still have no fan support despite winning the AL East two out of the past three seasons and making it to the 2008 World Series. Stuart Sternberg’s group has done a good job of turning the team around on the diamond and developing and trading for young players since taking control in 2004. But the Rays have averaged only 23,000 at the gate the past three seasons even though prices have been slashed and in 2010 the team had the second-lowest ticket prices in the AL ($19.75).

======================================================================

Click on link to read this article in its entirety.

======================================================================

When the owners themselves such Frank McCourt , Fred Wilpon , John Henry , David Montgomery and others can’t even agree upon whether or not it’s in their best interests to have a hard salary cap within the game , I found it really naive of them to even think that a tax sharing revenue scheme actually makes things better for the game as a whole ! In large part when you have owners such as Jeffrey Loria and Bob Nutting pleading poverty while pocketing countless millions that were meant to benefit their respective rosters , it becomes all the more asinine that either team (Florida Marlins Pittsburgh Pirates) can even be viewed as being competitive. The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t been competitive within MLB in almost two decades and it becomes all the more laughable to consider that there remains a place much less a purpose for this team to even exist within the game . The day the Pirates once again becomes competitive within the league it could well be the day that hell actually freezes over !

The Rise Of The Rays: All-Stars And Arbitrage

By Steve Schaefer , Forbes Magzine

Arbitrage, synergy and “buy low, sell high” are all terms that at one time made about as much sense on the diamond as a pair of spikes on a trading floor. That has changed drastically though, and nowhere more so than in Tampa Bay where a trio of Wall Street veterans have been trying to redefine how to build a winning baseball team.

To understand the rebirth of the Rays you need to go back to their first incarnation as the Devil Rays, says Jonah Keri, author of ‘The Extra 2%’, an account of how the club went from from league laughingstock to pennant contender.

Original owner Vince Naimoli came from the world of finance too, but his fortune was built as a turnaround specialist, taking over struggling companies, streamlining operations, stripping out costs and then cashing out at a tidy profit.

======================================================

Click on link to read this article in its entirety .

==========================================================

Three games into the season and there really isn’t much to be really all that hyped up about given the fact that it may well be at two months before we really the teams start to gain some traction and play with a great deal of consistency . The Baltimore Orioles seems to have gotten off to a good start and it bodes well for Buck Showalter , his coaching staff and the team should they actually make their presence felt within the AL East . It’d be great to see a truly competitive race within the division but it appears as if it’ll about whether or not the Yankees can have a resurgent season while competing with the Red Sox . I’d preface this by saying as good as the Tampa Bay Rays have been over the last two seasons this year I don’t believe will be their year to compete.

Offensively the Rays have been struggling and now the team’s best player Evan Longoria will be sidelined for up to three weeks with an oblique injury to his right side. And this scenario couldn’t have happened at a worse time for the team as it seeks to be a contender for the World Series . A playoff berth for the Tampa Bay Rays would have to come from the team playing not only competitively but also looking to win a minimum of 85 games merely to be sure of gaining the wildcard berth within the AL . And that’s not something I’m sure that this team in its present guise is even capable of doing in spite of the optimism that’s being shown by their most erstwhile fans !

Contraction is somewhat a dirty word to be using within the game but in essence it’s something that MLB may well have to address if they can’t get their financial house in order . Here again though it’s all going to become subjective rather than objective because in reality can the league hierarchy be trusted to make the right decision much less the owners ? It’s bad that they had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twenty first century merely to adopt some form of a drug testing policy . And it certainly didn’t help that the MLBPA under their then Executive Director Donald Fehr hiding behind invasion of privacy, as to a reason why the union and didn’t want a comprehensive drug testing policy in place . Since when did a union’s wishes trump what happens to be the laws of the land ?

I don’t believe that in light of Mike Ozanian’s piece that the league or owners will actually contemplate contracting one or more teams unless they’re pressed into such a situation or it’s because of a team’s dire financial straits ! . That certainly had to have been the case surrounding Drayton McLane’s sale of the Houston Astros to Houston businessman Jim Crane . Apart from that the very fact that the Astros haven’t a competitive force within the NL Central for a number of years .

Over the ensuing months we’ll learn a great deal more about the teams and that of their competitiveness as the season unfolds . And it could well be that we’ll no doubt be surprised by some teams whereas with others we will not ! We can all subscribe as to the teams we feel will make a genuine run of least trying to make it to the Fall Classic and if anything those are the ones that’ll be worth watching . Others will most definitely fall by the wayside and that if anything is what makes the long and arduous baseball season of 162 games such an intriguing and suspenseful one. As to the players who’ll make the season itself all the more enjoyable to watch you can make case that players such as Albert Pujols , Alex Rodriguez , Josh Hamilton , Joey Votto , Dustin Pedroia , Miguel Cabrera , Roy Halladay , Joe Mauer , Tim Lincecum and Robinson Cano will all make a case as to why they’re worth watching and paying the price of admission merely to see them play. As to what the fans may well think of it all remains to be seen but one can be sure that the most ardent fans among us will be watching closely while cheering on our teams.

==========================================================================================

==========================================================================================

Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you feel about the possibility that the hierarchy of MLB could very well down the road consider contracting a number of teams, in order not only to curb costs but merely get rid off teams that as such aren’t viewed as being competitive or drag on the finances of the large market teams that seemingly come to the aid of the small market teams ? Do you feel that in the long run such a maneuver would be of benefit to the game or to its very detriment ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the points raised within this piece as well as any other topic you might feel pertinent to the game of baseball and the prospects for the season. .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………………

http://tophatal.wordpress.com/

Picture and slide show details below .
——————————————————————————————-

(1) Infielder Ben Zobrist (18) of the Tampa Bay Rays is late with the tag on Mark Reynolds (12) of the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

(2) Infielder Elliot Johnson(9) of the Tampa Bay Rays bunts against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

(3) Infielder Mark Reynolds (12) of the Baltimore Orioles is congratulated after scoring a run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Orioles would go on to defeat the Rays 5-1 Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …….

(4) Pitcher Wade Davis (40) of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ………

(5) Infielder Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays was placed on the 15 day disabled list just prior to the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……..

(6) Billionaire entrepreneur Drayton McLane the former owner of the Houston Astros having agreed to sell the team to native Houston businessman Jim Crane for an undisclosed sum . All that now awaits is a formal vote approving the sale by the game’s hierarchy and board of governors made up of owners and executives of the league’s hierarchy . AP Photo / Michael Parsons …………….

(7) From left to right socialites Kase & Eileen Lawal , Houston businessman Jim Crane and his wife Franci seen here at a charity gala event in Palm Beach , Palm Beach County , Florida . courtesy of the The Palm Beach Post …….. copyrighted material …. @ all rights reserved .

———————————————————————————————

MLB News

MLB Standings

MLB Scores for 5th April

MLB Results for Monday 4th April 2011

MLB Team Stats

MLB Team Stats …… Pitching

MLB Team Stats …….. Fielding

MLB Hierarchy

MLB Team owners

MLB Team General Managers

MLB Teams’ Front Office Staff

By all means do take time to participate in the above listed poll placing a vote with regard to the question shown .

========================================================================

Bone Crusher ……. feat’g …….. Killah Mike & …… TI …………………………… ” Never Scared ”

———————-

King Tubby …………. ” Murderous Dub”
==========================================================================