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Who knows what the MLB was thinking when they created the 2010 schedule but I can only guess that they didn’t think the AL East would come down to the Yankees and the Rays.

While the Yankees play out the final three weeks of the season against the Rays, Orioles, Rays(HOME), Red Sox(HOME), Blue Jays, Red Sox in that order.  Plus, as you probably noticed only two of those 6 series are home or 7 of the total 19 games that will be played.  All are against AL East rivals.

Comparably, the Rays will play out the final three weeks of the season against the Yankees(HOME), Angels(HOME), Yankees, Seattle(HOME), Orioles(HOME), and Royals.  Four of the six series are at home or 12 of a total 16 games.  Only 10 games are against division rivals and 9 of the games are against teams with a losing record, or pretty much every team not named the Yankees.

I don’t think this qualifies as a conspiracy against the Yankees or anything but it is something to think about.  Draw your own conclusions, but the Yankees face an uphill battle finishing the season while the Rays can coast to a potential division title.

A scathing report on the Florida Marlins new stadium came out today on Yahoo Sports, essentially calling out the Marlins franchise for lying to public officials about the need for civil monetary support of the Marlins new stadium.  The report also goes into detail about how this is becoming the norm in American sports – taxpayers footing the bill for gigantic stadiums and keep all or most of the revenues for them.

Check out the article here.  It’s a great read.

One of Commissioner Bud Selig’s objections to the use of Instant Replay in Major League Baseball is that it slows down the game.  I’ve always found that one a somewhat soft argument.  Case in point: I turned on the TV this afternoon and caught a small part of the Little League World Series Ohio vs. New Jersey game.  In the bottom of the third inning, the 3B for Ohio made a great play on a grounder and threw out the runner at first.  However, the first base umpire called him safe.

The Ohio manager came out, asked the umpires to get together and see if anyone got a better view of the play.  When no umpire said he had a better view, the manager asked for a replay.  Obviously the replay showed the runner was out.  After about 1 total minute, the play was reversed.

How did this slow the game down?  If the awesome Derek Jeter can step out the batter’s box after every pitch and readjust both gloves, his helmet and tap almost every part of the plate with his bat, how is that any different?

Under the LLWS rules, the manager can pretty much request a replay of almost all plays as long as the calls continue to go in his favor.

Although I support the use of replay in baseball, I do agree with Selig on one point – replay should never, ever be used to challenge balls and strikes.  The fact that every umpire has a slightly different strike zone is one of the little intricacies of baseball that should never be altered.

A couple of days ago, umpire Joe West spoke out against the Yankees and Red Sox organizations, saying they play too slow. The comments followed a 10 inning affair that ended just under three and a half hours. Some words West used to describe the teams included “embarrassing” and “pathetic”.

“They’re the two clubs that don’t try to pick up the pace,” said West, chief of the umpiring crew that worked the three-game series in Boston. He was the home plate umpire Sunday. “They’re two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest?

The issue of the Yankees’ game pace isn’t new. We’ve heard about it for years. Most recently, Bob Watson, vice president for MLB, spoke about the issue prior to the start of the 2010 baseball season.

Derek Jeter declined to comment, saying “I’m not really one to say much about umpires,” Mariano Rivera spoke out:

“He has a job to do. He should do his job,” Rivera said. “We don’t want to play four-hour games, but that’s what it takes. We respect and love the fans and do what we have to do, and that’s play our game.”

“If he has places to go, let him do something else, what does he want us [the players] to do, swing at balls? … We don’t want to play four-hour games, but that’s what it takes. We respect and love the fans and do what we have to do, and that’s play our game.”

Then tonight, the other team responded. Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia commented about what West said.

“To call the Yankees and Red Sox, two of the best teams in baseball, ‘pathetic’ and ‘embarrassing,’ that’s just ridiculous,” Pedroia said while sitting in the dugout before Friday night’s game against the Royals.

“If he doesn’t want to do Red Sox and Yankee games, he should tell the umpires’ union. Then when we’re in the World Series, he’ll be out of that assignment, too.”

Sox manager Terry Francona was more selective and careful with what he said.

“Obviously, I think I need to be somewhat careful is the right word, selective,” Francona said. “I mean, I think it kind of surprised all of us. When you have somebody in charge of running the game without bias, and then you hear those comments coming out pretty strong, it probably worries you a little bit.”

To me, there isn’t a problem. Baseball is a game of strategy. That’s why the Yankees and Red Sox are among the best teams out there. Umpires shouldn’t come out and complain. Players are fined for speaking against calls. Why set a double standard here?

It’s likely we haven’t heard the end of “Westgate.”

MLB.com is currently allowing fans to select the single best seasons by current and former players on their favorite team to create what they are calling the All-Time 9.  Essentially, fans are voting for the best starting lineup in franchise history.  With the Yankees amazing history at every position, there are a few tossups and many, many great seasons.

The hardest position to choose the single best seasons was outfield.  Obviously, you would select three.  How hard is it?  Well, if I was to compare with say the crosstown Mets, I would say up to 10 Yankee single seasons are better than the top Mets single season for an outfielder.

Put it this way.  I didn’t select Mickey Mantle’s 1956 season as one of the best. That’s how storied Yankees history truly is.

Vote for your “All-Time 9″ at mlb.com.

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