Category: Philadelphia Phillies

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 .

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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 ?

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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 .

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(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 …….

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It’s Not Always About The Money But Common Sense And Where The Heart Takes You


It’s Not Always About The Money But Common Sense And Where The Heart Takes You …..

I don’t know if I should feel nonplussed or bewildered by the naivete shown by some people be it from a lack of intelligence on their part or just sheer stupidity. It’d appear that several baseball fans many of whom are Texans and writers of a certain blog post are surprised that Cliff Lee has chosen rejoin the Philadelphia Phillies rather than opting for more money that had been offered by both the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers . The Yankees with their burgeoning pockets and vast financial resources in reality had met their match in the Texas Rangers who were backed financially by several noted Texas billionaires and the fact that team President Nolan Ryan and CEO Chuck Greenberg had recently negotiated a $3 billion television deal (20 year) with a prominent cable and broadcast outlet.

The Yankees who’d upped the ante in this ever increasing stake of ‘chicken’ went as far to offer the player an option of a six year $150 million deal which was something of a sticking point originally for Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman as he was reluctant to offer Lee’s agent Darrell Braunecker such a deal on behalf of his client, with an option for a seventh year.. The Rangers’ for their part may well have felt that they had the inside track given that the player and his family were happy being in Texas and with his home being relatively close in his native state of Arkansas . Ryan for his part along with manager Ron Washington and GM Jon Daniels had hoped that with Lee’s performances in the postseason and his camaraderie with his teammates that a decision would be something a formality. What many hadn’t realized was that the Phillies along with their GM Ruben Amaro Jr. had been in contact with the player and his agent gauging his interest in returning to the Philadelphia Phillies where he’d played for the team last year.

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Slide show for your perusal .

Another determining factor in Lee’s decision to forgo the chance of playing for the Yankees was the treatment received by Lee’s wife and family at several of the games attended by them in the ALCS when the Rangers took on the Bronx Bombers for the AL Pennant at Yankees Stadium . Typically up to their somewhat obnoxious behavior for which an apology hasn’t been forthcoming from anyone within the Yankees’ hierarchy Lee’s family was subjected to a torrent of verbal abuse and profanity, some of which was directed to his children and in particular his son who happens to be a leukemia survivor but who still has some health related issues because of the illness. If that wasn’t a precursor to perhaps one of the reasons why he chose not to join the Yankees then I can’t think of another pertinent reason.

The Yankees as always are viewed as the presumptive favorites to win the World Series year in and year out . But given the fact that we’ve now begun to cracks in their armor many believe that the team is now on something of a downslide . Their pitching remains suspect beyond their ace CC Sabathia and with an aging Mariano Rivera one can never be sure what you’re now going to get. Beyond that there also seemed to be something of a cooling of the relationship between team captain Derek Jeter and Cashman while that player’s contract was being negotiated . Tensions rose and it appears that Cashman rather callously sought to offer Jeter an out if he didn’t feel amenable to the team’s offer . Calmer heads prevailed but you got the feeling that although denials have been forthcoming there was reason to believe that all wasn’t well within the …….’ house that Ruth built’. And beyond Sabathia and Rivera one has to also look at the Yankees’ pitching roster and realize that the effectiveness and resilience one had come to expect just is no longer there. Andy Pettite remains but a back spasm or shoulder injury away from having a prolonged stint on the disabled list and does anyone truly fear Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes for that matter ?

What we do know is that the Yankees’ offense remains prodigious in the regular season with the like of Robinson Cano , Nick Swisher , Alex Rodriguez and Jeter setting the trend. But things seems to have dropped alarmingly this past postseason wherein Rodriguez was non- existent and little or nothing was seen from Swisher or Curtis Granderson during the postseason albeit that they had their way with the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS . What we can be sure of however is that the Yankees will once again resort to whatever means necessary to strengthen their roster. And one can assume that managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner can’t have been too pleased seeing their divisional arch rivals the Boston Red Sox acquire both Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez this off-season . Suffice to say that things will be highly combustible and competitive in the AL East this upcoming season .

As I alluded to earlier the Texas Rangers with their now vast financial backing may well have felt that they were major players in the ‘Cliff Lee sweepstakes’ but clearly what they hadn’t counted on was a third party entering the fray and bidding for Lee’s services. And as resourceful and amenable as they were to the player it was becoming clear that he wasn’t necessarily happy with his tenure in Texas. So much was placed upon his shoulders as the mainstay and ace of the team and in terms of a reliable enough rotation to back him up beyond C J Wilson and closer Neftali Feliz there wasn’t a great deal there that was awe inspiring as can be witnessed from the rotation’s and team’s overall performances in their World Series’ loss to Bruce Bochy’s _____ San Francisco Giants . That too could have weighed heavily on Lee’s mind and the mere fact also that the Giants dealt with them with such ease . For Reuben Amaro Jr this is a coup-de-gras as the Phillies now possess quite possibly the most formidable pitching staff in all of baseball headed up by Roy Halladay , Roy Oswalt , Cole Hamels , Joe Blanton and now with the addition of Lee and less we forget the Phillies’ wily veteran Jamie Moyer who can still befuddle batters with his pitching after two decades plus in the game . Never mind taking to the account the bullpen and closer Brad Lidge . Does anyone now not believe that Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel , his coaching staff aren’t now licking their chops and can’t wait for Spring Training to come around ? The Phillies once again have to be viewed as the prohibitive favorites in the National League and that’s with due respect to the reigning World Series champions the San Francisco Giants .

For the Rangers’ fans or for that matter any baseball fan out there just because the money being bandied about is seen as grotesque it doesn’t always mean that the player is willing to pursue that treasure trove . Clearly this wasn’t simply a decision taken by Lee to be simply about the money because it all boiled down where he felt comfortable and perhaps where he felt the best opportunity to win actually lay. Merely because the Yankees have the cash doesn’t make them the perfect fit or the ‘perfect team’ for that matter ! If anything in spite of their success what they seem to have a problem with a great deal of the time is to truly function as a team when it really matters most. Unequivocal success or not the New York Yankees showed that this past postseason when placed under undue pressure they are not always able to rise to the occasion .

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Picture gallery for your perusal . By clicking on each frame you can view that picture in its original formatted size.

As to the immediate future of the Texas Rangers they will now have to rethink their whole strategy moving forward and how best to proceed. The Phillies for their part now have the prized free market acquisition of the off season and simply feel that a five year $120 million contract is money well spent on their part given the vagaries of the market and the ambiguity that has taken place this off-season concerning the ever escalating salaries now being paid. And for Cliff Lee can anyone truly fault him for the decision that he made given the opportunity that now arises ? Chime in with your own thoughts on the matter anything else concerning the baseball off-season that caught your attention .

NB: Click here for the latest MLB news

MLB Important Dates for the upcoming season .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………… 🙂

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Keyshia-Dior

Eye candy ………. Keyshia Dior

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It’s true good things do sometimes come in small packages and a package like Keyshia certainly doesn’t come any better ! Chime on in with a comment about her if you so wish .

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