Who’s on first ?
Baseball is now in full swing and three games into their arduous one hundred and sixty-two game schedule. Defending World Series champions the San Francisco Giants led by the managerial staff of Bruce Bochy will be looking to add a third title won in the last six years.
GM Brian Sabean has been quick to make up for the loss of Pablo Sandoval and several other players lost to the winning lineup from last season. I certainly believe the Giants whether or not they win the NL West, they will remain a firm favorite to win the NL Pennant and most certainly favored to win a fourth title in six years, as previously mentioned.
During the off-season, , beyond the obvious player upheavals , with several either retiring or or being traded elsewhere, we also witnessed a changing of the managerial guard , with Joe Maddon leaving the Tampa Bay Rays to join the Chicago Cubs in a similar capacity , to manage the NL Central based franchise.
KANSAS CITY, MO – OCTOBER 29: Buster Posey (28) and Madison Bumgarner (40) of the San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29 , 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
For their part, the Rays still under the ownership of Stuart Sternberg , remain a franchise in a state of disarray , still compounded by the ongoing stupidity of the ownership group led by Sternberg. Beyond Maddon’s departure they also lost Andrew Friedman as the general manager , whose departure was equally shocking as was his decision to now become the Head of Baseball Operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
ST PETERSBURG, FL – JULY 07: Owner Stuart Sternberg of the Tampa Bay Rays smiles just prior to the start of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on July 7, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images
Friedman having left the Rays , has hit the ground running as he seeks to resurrect the fortunes of the Dodgers after two years of postseason disappointments in baseball. Helming this all at the managerial level , has been Don Mattingly whose managerial acumen is likely to be questioned should the team fail to make a deep postseason run with the ultimate goal of winning the World Series. Twenty-seven years and counting since the Dodgers’ last World Series’ win and their last pennant appearance came in 2012 , culminating in a loss to the St Louis Cardinals.
For the Tampa Bay Rays their plight remains the fact they face an uphill battle on the field of play and even worst and an off the field battle , they have no real chance of winning, due to their own ongoing stupidity along with that of the local political dignitaries at the municipal , county and state level. How else can you explain the very fact year in and year out for the last eight years, this franchise has to deal with the issue of a new baseball venue to replace the archaic Tropicana Field, located in St Petersburg , Tampa ? Consider also, former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has been unwilling to come to the aid of the Rays , assisting them in laying the foundations of getting a new venue. Factor in the added fact , Selig had no such qualms in aiding Miami Marlins , New York Mets and New York Yankees, coming to their aid , and actually presenting the case for each of the three teams to get their stadiums built , all three ballparks, having been built in the last six seasons.
Kind of makes you wonder whose interests are actually being served by the MLB hierarchy , especially with these idiotic claims by the fans and owners who still suggest , baseball still has the interests of its diehard fans , when serving them. Utter bull#it , along with the basis of the players also caring about the game , when the reality remains ___ it’s simply about making money and not much else beyond that and whether not it it is being done fairly or as we have often seen over the past two decades plus of the steroid era , with continued cheating among the players , many of them prominent household names .
The players’ union (MLBPA) remains a joke , without an iota of integrity to show in its persona. Yet the apathetic fans of the game, simply point to years past , when there was said to integrity within the game of baseball ? When was that ever the case, given baseball’s less than meaningful history ?
Branch Rickey’s social experiment, with the introduction of Jackie Robinson and baseball’s desegregation , simply opened up the nation’s eyes to the fact, the country remained racially intolerant and that claim was still evident on the night, Hank Aaron broke the career home run record . Idiots really do need to take that into account, rather than continuing to trivialize the matter of bigotry , and racial intolerance within the game and nationwide , in terms of the social diaspora to be witnessed.
Jackie Robinson is seen here with Brooklyn Dodgers’ general manager Branch Rickey . It was at Rickey’s insistence and instigation Robinson became the first African-American player in Major League Baseball during the modern era of the game. Both the player and executive are now enshrined in Baseball’s Hall of Fame for their contributions to the game of baseball . Pathe News
Though it’s still early days yet in the baseball season , a number of teams are struggling and the moves made during the off-season might not point to the fact executives whose decisions were behind these trades were confident to believe they would prove to be a bona-fide success.
Kevin Cash as the successor to Joe Maddon , takes over a revamped roster , seeking to make the Rays competitive throughout this season. Three games into their one hundred and sixty-two game schedule, having posted a 1-2 start Tampa has yet to find any type of synergy, much less consistency with their offense or pitching. Having taken the last contest of their three-game opening series against the Baltimore Orioles. Thursday will be a rest-day before the team heads South to meet instate rivals the Miami Marlins for a two game series to be played at Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida. Mike Redmond , his Marlins’ managerial staff and a revamped roster headed by their $325 million superstar Giancarlo Stanton will be hoping to further put even more of a dent into the Rays’ less than impressive start to the season. When these two teams meet former Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees’ outfielder Ichiro Suzuki will be looking to add to his already formidable legacy . Another new member to the Marlins’ lineup will be veteran pitcher Dan Haren . It will be Haren leading the Marlins’ rotation when the game gets underway on Friday against a yet to be named pitching opponent in this contest.
Miami Marlins’ teammates , Ichiro Suzuki left and Giancarlo Stanton . Marlins’ GM Michael Hill hopes the pairing will provide enough excitement and impact to be competitive enough this season, as well as luring fans to Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida . The Marlins have fallen short of expectations on both fronts over the past several years , with attendance levels having not met expectations since the ballpark had its inauguration and first game played in 2012 . Miami Herald / Jaime Ortega
If there is one thing we know to be true concerning the history of baseball, it has been the fact it prides itself upon the legacy of its heroes , good , bad and indifferent. Granted, this has been a sport not without its fair share of shame , great legacies and in some respect social advances , the greatest of which , perhaps has been the desegregation and integration of the game . Unfortunately , for the perceived advances made , baseball has found a way to repeatedly shoot itself in both feet and its own ass. Its initiatives have been ham-fisted and ill-conceived, without their being any signs of intelligence to be found among the hierarchy, owners and the players themselves. Hypocrisy remains supreme , alongside a great deal of conceit, stupidity and a great deal of ongoing incompetency , even with Bud Selig , having been succeed by Rob Manfred as the MLB Commissioner.
Former Major League player Billy Bean , has been hired by MLB as a special ambassador , in their attempt to be more all inclusive and to lure members of the gay , lesbian and transgendered community to become fans of baseball and to attend the games. MLB has long been seen as a bastion of the testosterone driven male psyche where anything outside the norm is considered taboo . Yet it has also been the hierarchy’s insular thinking and incompetency which has led to many of its biggest mistakes throughout the years. Slow to act , MLB has now become reactive, rather than proactive . AP Photo / Ron Hall
Manfred has yet to stamp his identity on the game, but I am sure at some point during this season , he will not only get the chance to do so , but also make several decisions likely to have far-reaching effects on the sport. The saga of Pete Rose has once again reared its ugly head, with the former Cincinnati Reds’ player and manager seeking his reinstatement to the game. Whether or not it is granted , Rose himself is about as deserving of this act, as one might deem it acceptable for a thief to be given a reprieve , only for him to steal again. In the case of the all-time hits’ leader, his only wish for reinstatement, is the likelihood of seeking induction into the Hall of Fame . It is the greatest recognition a player can have for his career achievements. This is what Rose yearns for, as he seeks to reinvent himself among a new segment of fans within the game, who might know nothing of his past or an in-depth history of the game of baseball.
I have never been a great admirer of Rose or for that fact, any player who seeks to tarnish the reputation of a sport ! Without integrity , what does the player have much less the sport itself ? Honor is rarely used nowadays within the realms of sport , but yet the honorable thing to do , is rarely witnessed within the game (baseball), much less among its leadership , executives, owners and players. So much for the idiom baseball has something to offer as a lesson for youngsters today. Never has it been the case, and it is unlikely to change now or anytime soon.
Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets is seen here with team manager Terry Collins (10) . Murphy and David Wright are seen as the main pairing needed to provide the team with the impetus on offense this season, if the team is to succeed and make their first appearance in the postseason since 2006. AP Photo / Marilyn James
Billy Bean former player in the Major Leagues , whose career , some might suggest was understated, is now more known as the first player retired or otherwise to “ come out of the closet” and declare his sexuality. With the known tendencies not just within baseball , but also the world of hockey , basketball and the football (NFL) and the testosterone driven environment . One might think it odd, with athletes such as Jason Collins , Esera Tualo also coming out , it seems strange baseball for all of its complexities has not tried to embrace those within the gay , lesbian and transgendered community. Then again , everything about the sport remains, closeted and bigoted, beyond the ongoing incompetence we have witnessed within the sport.
Now as Major League Baseball seeks to play catch-up with the rest of the world in terms of social correctness. Bean has been appointed by MLB to become an ambassador , seeking to embrace the gay and lesbian community. Economics asides, the incompetence continually shown by the league leads and leaves me to believe that nothing positive can come out of this all.. Six decades after Robinson first suited up to play a game for the Brooklyn Dodgers , baseball still cannot escape the dogma of its past , much less having advanced with any degree of success and point anything of note.
Hank Aaron came under death threats the night he broke Babe Ruth’s record , simply glossed over by historians. Pardon for me saying this , but how the fu@k can a sport’s hierarchy be so incompetent , much less the fans themselves remain in complete apathy, unwilling to create an open dialog of discussion ? For all the bull#hit espoused about elitism in this country , its superiority , having respect of others , in light of recent event in Indiana , nothing could be further from the truth.
Billy Bean’s recent encounter with New York Mets’ player Daniel Murphy , shows how out of touch the game remains with social issues and the fact even Murphy could not explain his stance on homosexuality, other than expressing his religious beliefs. Yet when pressed to express his thoughts on the recent statute signed into law by Indiana Governor Mike Pence , Murphy seemed nonplussed and at a loss for words. In a case such as this , it easy to understand why some athletes should be seen and not heard. In the case of Daniel Murphy , neither would preferable , given his career with the Mets and their lackluster performances and record within the NL East over the past over the past six years. In that time the Mets have yet to post a winning season including last year, when they finished a distant second behind the Washington Nationals.
Terry Collins will be returning this season to manage the New York Mets and I get the impression this might well the last chance and year he will be given to try and turn things round for a franchise , where his managerial acumen and record have simply been mediocre. What better way to describe the manager , organization and players involved with this ball-club !
Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz as owners of the New York Mets, have shown themselves to be complete idiots, but then again , consider it to be a plus as an owner of a team in baseball, because intelligence was never high on the list of credentials or priorities when it came to being qualified as an owner ! I mean , in what other sport can there be such a vast disparity in the financial wherewithal of the teams , salaries and the contracts of the players, when the CFO of MLB , Jonathan Mariner , himself , cannot succinctly explain the ongoing financial woes . of teams , such as the Tampa Bay Rays , Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals . All of this idiocy of teams being in small-market remains a poor excuse , when the owners and hierarchy alike , choose not create a level playing field for all involved. Even the uninitiated , would know this to be true , but you would be hard-pressed to hear Rob Manfred or anyone among the league hierarchy claim that not to be a fact.
Having lost their Wednesday afternoon game against the Washington Nationals, the New York Mets will begin a three-game road series against the Atlanta Braves , beginning on Friday afternoon . Taking the mound for the visiting team will be Jon Niese who faces Eric Stults in what promises to be a very entertaining contest between these two NL East based teams.
Fredi Gonzalez was lucky enough to have escaped being fired last season by the skin of his teeth. As the Braves’ manager , he presided over a team which underperformed and lacked a sense of urgency throughout much of last season and their failure to make the postseason was seen as a sign of immense disappointment. However, the front office led by John Scheurholz (team President) and John Hart , felt the greater responsibility laid with the players rather than the manager and his staff.
Atlanta Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez . As manager of the team, Gonzalez has been entrusted to put them in a position to win this season and to make a deep run in the postseason, with the ultimate goal , being to win the World Series . Atlanta’s sole triumph in the ‘ Fall Classic’, came in 1995 when they defeated the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series that year. They would make another appearance in 1999 , losing the New York Yankees , being swept in a lopsided series 4-0 . AP Photo / Keith Ryan
From my own standpoint , I believe if Gonzalez wasn’t getting the job done in his capacity or getting the players to exert more of an effort, then he is as much to blame as the team over the course of the season. The Braves’ downfall was due to complacency and their not having respect for their opponents, most notably the Washington Nationals , eventual winners of the NL East in 2014.
To my dismay , as an avid Braves’ fan, I have to wonder how this team in its present guise can survive ! They may well be off to an unbeaten 3-0 start to their season , but it really counts for nothing , if by mid-June , you are barely playing with any type of consistency , as was the case during last season.
Managerial casualties this season ? I would most definitely place Fredi Gonzalez and Terry Collins at the top of my own personal list, were either to fail , in leading their respective teams to at least a wildcard berth and postseason appearance. Anything short of that, and their prospective dismissals would have to be seen as a certainty.
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Particular hopes for this season in baseball ? Where do you believe a major surprise will be seen as coming out of the blue ? Also which players do you consider to be the leading contenders for the regular season individual awards ? Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of Tophatal’s Blog and the associated content !
This day in baseball history
History of MLB Commissioners’ bios
Aptly sums up the incredible and ongoing stupidity within Major League Baseball ! Bud Abbott & Lou Costello perform their classic comedic skit ” Who’s on First ” ?