Tag: Boston Red Sox

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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 .
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(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 .

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The 1,000lb Gorilla In The Room Still Remains The Pittsburgh Pirates …..


The 1,000lb Gorilla In The Room Still Remains The Pittsburgh Pirates …..

I’m not about try and verify the mess that we now know as the Pittsburgh Pirates and their decline into sheer ineptitude . This is a baseball franchise that hasn’t had a postseason berth or winning season in almost two decades . If that’s not an indication of the ballclub that doesn’t know how to win then I don’t know what is . PNC Ballpark home to the Pirates has essentially become a graveyard of sheer ineptitude and the mere fact that this team still has a core of brave and loyal fans remains not only a mystery to myself but I’d dare say the vast majority of baseball fans out there ! I find it hard to believe that each season fans are of the belief that the Pittsburgh Pirates willingly begin the season as lambs to the slaughter . Were this team incarcerated I’d dare say that the apt description for them would be that they’re about to become someone’s prison’s bitch !

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Remarkably team manager Clint Hurdle and his coaching staff believe that this season the team can compete quite successively within the NL Central . If that’s not enough team owner Bob Nutting with each passing moment makes the most asinine of statements concerning the team’s immediate future and past. As we know the Pirates are one of the teams with one of the lowest payrolls in all of baseball but that in of-itself hasn’t been the main problem as to the team’s misfortunes over the last decade. GM Neal Huntington’s idea of assembling a roster is not unlike watching a blind man trying discern differing colors on a paint board through a sense of touch and smell. Given his lack of success thus far ; I’d say he’d better off relying on a soothsayer or psychic for that matter !

As much as I believe that the Pirates are essentially part of the game’s existing fabric I personally don’t believe that they’re good for the game. It’s all but certain that you can’t count on it as fact that the Pittsburgh Pirates are assured of losing in excess of 85 to 95 games a season without fail and end up posting a sub .500 record in baseball. I mean that’s simply been their mantra over the last decade and then some and it’s not about to change anytime soon. What I’d like to know is why repeatedly fans within the game have to be subjected to this monstrosity each season with the Pittsburgh Pirates ? It’s not as if this team knows how to play much less play with any great zeal or passion. I’d long to know what MLB Commissioner Bud Selig thinks when teams such as the Pittsburgh Pirates repeatedly show such ineptitude on the baseball diamond ? Perhaps the only other major professional sport’s franchise that has shown as much mediocrity in recent memory has been the NBA’s —- Los Angeles Clippers under the ownership of Donald Sterling .

As I alluded to earlier the Pirates will have to contend and compete within the NL Central and there they will have to face the St Louis Cardinals , Cincinnati Reds , Houston Astros , Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers . The division itself is competitive enough but it’s clear that the Pirates aren’t about to show that they’re anywhere competitive enough to even be in with a remote chance of competing with this division. And that has become the anathema of this mess within the game as we have owners who seemingly are only interested in being part of the fabric of baseball merely because of the financial inducements offered by the game in terms of its tax sharing revenue scheme which is primarily used to create the perception that there’s a balance between the small big market teams. In reality nothing could be further from the truth because there’s no way that the Pittsburgh Pirates can compete with the likes of the Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees , Texas Rangers , St Louis Cardinals or the Philadelphia Phillies . The teams mentioned are financial behemoths within the game of baseball which strangely enough not many people would as such believe that the Rangers would be considered such an organization.

Since the Texas Rangers were bought by a syndicate group led by Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg who’ve made it their goal of not only building a competitive team but also a financially sound organization. The Texas Rangers in spite of them not being able to retain Cliff Lee in the offseason, both Ryan and Greenberg made it their option to build a financial base that would avail the organization of all it needed to be and remain competitive . Apart from having several multi billionaire members on its board the team was able to obtain a multi billion broadcast contract ($3 billion [$ 3,000,000,000]) that will secure its short and long term financial future.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said of the Pittsburgh Pirates under the tenure of Bob Nutting and his willingness to succeed. He’s been to this organization what the US Congress and Senate has been to the economy , as they’ve literally buried their heads in the sand while all around them has simply failed. As we now see the likes of John Boehner and Harry Reid have seen fit to lay blame for the country’s woes elsewhere instead of looking at themselves in the mirror. Not unlike the stance that has been repeatedly taken by Bob Nutting and his partners within the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization . Nutting essentially has no business acumen nor does he know what the hell he’s doing when it comes to running a successful professional sports franchise . Anyone who believes that Bob Nutting has been good for the game of baseball much less the Pittsburgh Pirates really needs to pull that stick from up their ass , wake up and simply look at the mess the organization still remains in !

There are many fans out there who believe that the state of the game of baseball is indeed a healthy one but there’s absolutely nothing there that ought to lead anyone to believe that. Attendances are essentially down in comparison to a decade ago but albeit that for some teams that’s not necessarily the case as we’ve come to see that the vast majority of the baseball teams within the league are struggling simply to survive from a financial standpoint. Bud Selig and the game’s hierarchy would simply like to point to the positives that there’s said to be within the game but in reality they are few and far between of what one might consider to be a success. It’s all being done with smoking mirrors and is liable to implode at some point in the future without there being much that Selig , himself will able to provide as an answer .

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

The impending future for the Pittsburgh Pirates might not seem all that bright at this juncture and though the team’s fans hold out hope that they can be a success this upcoming season I can’t really see this team being able to turn things around with any great resolve . Bob Nutting simply has proven to me that he’s not capable of running a concern such as the Pirates without showing any idea as to what he and boardroom of executives are said to be or have been doing since he assumed control of this team.

What thoughts if any do have concerning the Pirates and their immediate future and how do you view the 2011 season for the team from a competitive level ? Simply chime in with a comment as to your thoughts on the matter .

Picture and slide show details.
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(1) BRADENTON, FL Manager Clint Hurdle (13) of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 20, 2011 in Bradenton, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …….

(2) Pittsburgh Pirates non-roster invitee Josh Fields takes hits during spring training baseball practice, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011, in Bradenton, Fla. AP Photo/Eric Gay ……..

(3) (3) Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen prepares to run bases during spring training baseball practice, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011, in Bradenton, Fla. AP Photo/Eric Gay ……..

(4) Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle talks with some of his players during spring training baseball practice, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011, in Bradenton, Fla. AP Photo/Eric Gay …….

(5) Pirates’ senior partner Bob Nutting (left) is seen inset with team GM Neal Huntington (center) and manager Clint Hurdle just after the formal announcement of the manager’s hiring by the organization. AP Photo / Gene J . Puskar ………

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Pittsburgh Pirates’ front office

Pittsburgh Pirates active roster & depth chart

Pittsburgh Pirates’ coaching staff

PNC Ballpark

Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2011 schedule

Pittsburgh Pirates’ team statistics

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Alan aka tophatal ……………………………………

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Eye candy …………. Playboy model Corrie Loftin

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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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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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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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