Baseball, MLB, Sports

Take Me Out To The Ballgame


Take Me Out To The Ballgame ………….

Well now that the AL East looks as it’ll go down to the wire between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in terms of a winner of the division . It appears that whomever comes out as the victor could be the presumptive favorite within the AL for the World Series. Whomever finishes in second is guaranteed the wildcard berth for the postseason with the representatives from the AL Central being the Minnesota Twins and from the AL West there it will be Texas Rangers. And while I’m inclined to believe that the Yankees on paper look to have what it takes to win it all. Their play as of late and the fact that other CC Sabathia , Phil Hughes and closer Mariano Rivera there’s little to suggest that their pitching will be able to pull them through. The problem stems from the fact that manager Joe Girardi is unsure what he’s liable to get from his bullpen and number’s three and four starters. That’s uneasy feeling to have even if the team’s offense is clicking on all cylinders. And with merely a week to go in the regular season it remains to be seen whether or not Girardi can get this team focused and where they need to be.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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

Slide show for your perusal.

Now much has been made as to the situation concerning the Tampa Bay Rays’ financial viability and the stadium issue. But to my mind all of the posturing and the asinine notion that the building of a new facility is a guarantee that fans will come streaming to a new venue is ludicrous ! Never mind the fact that the local politicians and Rays’ ownership have yet to comment as to how the financing of the structure will come into being . Overt statements such as we can raise the funds needed via the state’s hotel room taxes, a bond issue and other ancillary taxes in order to fund the building of the structure. Now while this appears to be a sound decision I think of it as political suicide given the fact that the state of the economy within Florida and the notion that both Hillsborough and Pinellas County are using this matter as some sort of political hot potato. Meanwhile the Rays’ front office led by owner Stuart Sternberg has been less than forthcoming as to how he envisages the venue being built , its financing and even where it will be built. And once again given the fact that it comes down to taxpayers’ monies being used to facilitate the building of a venue for a professional sports franchise that’s owned by a multi millionaire. One has to wonder what the hell is going on ?

I’m no longer amazed by the simple notion that this is what baseball has come to ! I mean when even MLB Commissioner Bud Selig continues to make the statement that baseball is a viable entity even when he has a number of teams struggling to eke out a profit. Now I’ve read where fans are calling for a shortening of the season and where there ought to be a restructuring of the divisions. Well that’s something that’s not about to happen given the fact that the league’s hierarchy won’t even address the issue as their only concerns are the game’s overall image and that of revenues…… and profits. Now whilst there would appear to be nothing wrong in that over the past six months we’ve seen the Chicago Cubs placed into bankruptcy proceedings and then brought back out of it merely to avert the organization become liable for the debt of its parent company the Tribune Group. Now with the team having been sold to the Ricketts family it remains to be seen whether or not the club will ascend to the lofty heights expected of the new ownership.

Beyond the problems of the Cubs , we’ve also seen the culpability shown by the ownership groups of the Florida Marlins , Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays as they’ve been less than forward with the veracity of the argument they’re making concerning their profitability. Now the Rays are on track to lose between $60- $ 80 million this season alone . And it goes without saying that the Rays have been beneficiaries of the league’s tax sharing revenue scheme but the greatest problem this ball club has, is the fact that absolutely no one turns up to see the team play unless the opposition happens to be their division rivals the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees. Now the league would have us believe that the team’s average attendance for their home games is in excess of 23,000. Far be it for me to state the obvious but even with the renewed vigor of this team it’s rarely that there’s in excess 20,000 fans for a game at Tropicana Field . But as I’ve already stated that’s unless the Red Sox or Yankees are in town and then and only then do those figures bear out the stats stated. It hasn’t been uncommon to see less then 15,000 fans for a game between the Rays and an opponent whose legacy isn’t that of the Red Sox or Yankees. And most certainly if the claims being made by the press , fans and ownership that a new purpose built venue will see a spike in attendance. Well if it’s not happening when the Rays have a winning product on the field then what makes them think that it’ll happen with a new venue ? The idiocy of this ,is that feasibility studies done simply don’t address and the information being used to support the claims that a new stadium would ease the problems we’re now seeing with the organization. What we’re now witnessing is the political gob-speak that has become the excess of our county and state legislators. Now matter how much shitone tries to shovel into a hole before trying to cover it the stench will always remain.

The best step forward for the Rays at this juncture is to go out and do their best in trying to win the World Series . It’s clear that with all of the financial ramifications that are in the organization’s midst and the continued rumors that the team will be stripped to its bare bones in order to remain financially viable. Well it’s clear that the talk and the dire situation of the Rays is very much the same for a number of teams across the landscape of the game. And repeatedly we’re told by Selig that the game is in a healthy state but seriously most fans who claim that they know what the real problems that the game is facing have never really sat down and looked at the financial structure of the teams and how they operate on a day to day basis. If the commissioner’s office is disinterested in dealing with the acute issues that a number of teams are facing then be prepared to see a number of teams either go under or be sold to interested investors who may well have the financial wherewithal to steer those teams in the right direction.

This postseason has a great deal in store for the teams that will be in the midst of going after the World Series and while we the fans can appreciate the revelry of the series as they play themselves out. I for one hope that they’re entertaining from start to finish and that they actually live up to the hype . As to the ongoing problems of the Rays well let’s just say reality has yet to set in concerning the fans , the local community and the mere fact that the talk of the team remaining within the state of Florida. In all likelihood should the team remain within the state things are unlikely to change in terms of the meager attendance at a venue wherever it might be. Curiosity or not the fact of the matter is the Tampa Bay Rays even during its success still is unable to draw fans in vast droves. And any thought that a new venue would bring about a change in the team’s fortune is completely misplaced. No one is prepared to face facts on this very topic and it’s clear to see that Stuart Sternberg and his partners have a clear cut decision to make even with contractual agreement in place concerning the team’s location to remain within Pinellas County.

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

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

Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the upcoming postseason and also how do you foresee the ongoing situation concerning the Rays being dealt with ? Chime in with a comment as to your thoughts and as always thanks for the continued support.

Alan aka tophatal …………………… 🙂

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

Candace

Eye candy courtesy of XXL magazine ….. Candace

Football, NFL, Sports

I Left My Heart And Balls In San Francisco


I Left My Heart And Balls In San Francisco …… !

It’s as ol’ Blue Eyes once said “I Left My heart in San Francisco” . Well what else is there that can be said about the Forty Niners because I sincerely doubt that the city now wants its name associated with this team !. Storied as the franchise may well be its lackluster and thoroughly underwhelming performance must have many now wondering what’s next for this Mike Singletary coached team. Alex Smith the team’s quarterback after five years in the NFL still looks as if he’s ill equipped to play a game and in terms of leadership qualities he’s severely lacking on all fronts . And that much heralded defense of theirs was found wanting as they succumbed to the Kansas City Chiefs __ 31-10. Any doubts that one had concerning the fact that the San Francisco 49ers would be challenging for honors within the NFC West this __ season were clearly answered by this anemic display.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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

Slide-show for your perusal.

And while this may not have been the worse performance of the day it certainly ranks up there as being amongst the worse by an NFL team. You also had the Jacksonville Jaguars post in a horrendous display against the Philadelphia Eagles in losing 28-3 and any thoughts that Eagles’ coach Andy Reid may well still have in recalling Kevin Kolb to the starter’s position as the quarterback for this team may well have been slammed completely shut after this overwhelming performance by Michael Vick. The player was able to command his team with confidence and led by example throwing for four touchdowns and then rushing for one himself. There’s not so much of a dilemma facing Reid as all he now has to do is to ride Vick into this journey until things start to change course. Any thought of starting Kolb might just be met with a great deal of disapproval.

If you’re a kicker how difficult really can it be to place the ball in between the uprights from distances of 30 – 45 yards ? There’s a saying that kickers aren’t necessarily at a premium but it does pay to have a very good one on your team. Unfortunately for the likes of Sebastian Janikowski and Garret Hartley of the Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints when called upon to merely place the ball between the uprights they showed about as much aplomb for achieving that feat as Lindsay Lohan would show for trying stay dry and away from alcohol or drugs for a period of no more than 24 hours. Both players were contributing factors in their teams respective losses to the Arizona Cardinals __ (24-23) and Atlanta Falcons __(27-24 [overtime]). Janikowski the much celebrated first round draft pick is clearly showing that being the league’s highest paid kicker doesn’t have all of the privileges one would come to expect. That being said collectively the team lost in part because of the capriciousness of the defense in giving up big plays at the most unexpected of moments and in doing so negated the performance of the team’s leading rusher on the day Darren McFadden.


In the Saints’ loss this was a game of two quarterbacks and the errant play of the Saints’ secondary who were harried by the aerial play of Matt Ryan who found his receivers with a great deal of consistency. But that’s not to say that the New Orleans Saints didn’t have their moments with Drew Brees leading his team in this rather grueling divisional rivalry. And now with both teams sitting atop of the NFC South having posted 2-1 record this could well be a season wherein the division will give us a great deal more than we bargained for.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have come back down to earth after their totally inept display against the Philadelphia Steelers. The defense was woefully inept and any thoughts that this team can play itself into contention when it has to come back from a deficit can be put to rest. When emboldened with such a task it’s clear to see that the inexperience of this team on all fronts is glaringly obvious. Josh Freeman is still learning the nuances of the game and what it takes to become a leader but unfortunately however, the so called veterans on this team don’t seem to want to step up to the plate. The idiocy of the Bucs’ fans who were under the impression that the Steelers didn’t have a defense much less a potent offense was put to rest as backup quarterback Charlie Batch led his team to a rather rousing and lopsided 38-13 victory. I’ve to sometimes wonder how retarded the fans are within the Tampa Bay area are when it comes to their actual knowledge of the game and in particular the professional sports franchises within the local community ? They tend to talk a good talk but when it comes to showing clear common sense it tends to rank up there along with the knowledge shown by members of Congress when they start to talk about domestic policy or anything relating to the country’s standing in the world. Pie in the sky and sheer idiocy for want of a better word ……..Bucs’ fans simply shut the hell up and watch the games as the team is nowhere as good as you believe them to be !

My own impression, this early in the season is that there are a number of teams whose seasons are effectively over if they can’t find a way to play with more resolve and cohesion. Clearly the New York Giants under Tom Coughlin have more than their fair share of problems and Eli Manning and that $100 million contract is being made to look rather asinine at present ! If this team can’t rally around a quarterback whose mental traits as it revolves around the game comes into question then clearly not only does Manning’s decision making need to be looked at but also the plays being called by Coughlin and his coaching staff.

And as grateful as many of the fans of the game are for what has happened so far in the season one can only hope that there’s more entertainment to be had as the year progresses ! If not then we could be in a for a year of discontent and one of very little promise when it’s all said and done.

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

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

Picture gallery for your perusal.

What result if anything was something of a complete surprise to you in the NFL over the weekend ?

tophatal ……………

======

Brandi Vonne

Eye candy courtesy of XXL magazine . Brandi Vonne