Keeping your eyes on the prize
MLB (baseball) has ended its regular season schedule with the divisional races having reached a conclusion . The most surprising story of the season must be the Kansas City Royals having claimed a postseason berth and entry into baseball’s postseason foray. In doing so it ended the longest drought professional sports’ team history in North America. The last time the Royals were part of the playoffs , came by way of their triumph in the World Series in 1985 when led by George Brett , the team triumphed over the St Louis Cardinals . For the privilege of being a participant in this season’s foray the Royals will face the Oakland Athletics in the wildcard round of the AL postseason scheduling. In a one and done scenario , the AL Central runners’ up will play host to their AL West rivals at Kauffmann Stadium on Tuesday , September 30th , 2014. In the NL contest the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second year in succession have made the postseason and they will play host to the San Francisco Giants .
The high-flying Los Angeles Dodgers with their $240 million payroll will be taking on the St Louis Cardinals in the best of five game series which are likely to be a highly competitive contests . In the AL with the New York Yankees not being part of the postseason , the presumptive favorites are thought to the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Angels , the two teams with the best record in the league and by far the two best teams in the AL throughout the year. Buck Showalter , manager of the Orioles and Mike Scioscia of the Angels , will be under no illusions about what is expected of both their teams and a likely match-up in the ALCS seems to be the expected result from this year’s playoff scenario . Granted , the Detroit Tigers are likely to want to turn that scenario upside down as are the Kansas City Royals .
If this postseason can match the excitement witnessed in 2013 , then the fans will be in for a treat and where several players will be looking to add to their stature during baseball’s postseason fare .
Perhaps one of the more unsavory moments of the sporting weekend actually took place across the Atlantic, in the wake of 2014 Ryder Cup , where Team USA fell to the European Ryder Cup Team . Phil Mickelson , a veteran of earlier Ryder Cup teams was severely critical of US Team Captain Tom Watson and his strategy for the entire three-day competition held at Gleneagles Golf Course , Gleneagles, Scotland,. Mickelson’s criticisms were pointed and aimed squarely at Watson , whom the player believes underestimated their European rivals in just about every facet of the competition and the strategies put in place by the team captain. Warranted or not , what was abundantly clear was the very fact this US Team was never in the hunt at any point of the competition with Paul McGinley’s players strolling to an easy victory winning the competition and retaining the Ryder Cup by a margin of 16 1/2 points to 11 1/2 points .
Whether not this was dissension by Phil Mickelson , it seems to have an ugly setting for the player , the PGA and how they came into the competition with the hope of reacquiring one of sports’ most prestigious team prizes . Team USA was simply overwhelmed in this competition and their hopes were simply dashed by not only the great play of their opponents , but primarily from the lack of experience on this team captained by Tom Watson. Watson was aided by his assistants , Vice Captains , Raymond Floyd , Andy North and Steve Stricker .
The 2016 Ryder Cup competition will be held at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska , Minnesota and it will be interesting to see how the PGA goes about choosing their next captain and whether or not any major changes will be made in how the team is decided which now is based upon the Fedex Cup with the captain having two addition picks in conjunction with the top-ten players in the standings being mandatory team members.
Four weeks into the NFL season and the dust has begun to settle , with several teams now on the cusp of seeing their year simply go up in smoke . The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to pull off an impressive road victory in defeating the hapless Pittsburgh Steelers in a competitive game , 27-24 . The win provided Lovie Smith and his team with a timely morale booster as they head into week five , where they will face divisional rivals the New Orleans Saints , who coming off a really horrendous display in a lopsided loss (38-17) to the Dallas Cowboys , in week four.
Sean Payton and the Saints will have to rethink their efforts after a game which saw quarterback Drew Brees at times excel , only to then fall back with some inconsistent play against the Cowboys . The NFC South now becomes something of a farcical division , in the aftermath of the Carolina Panthers also falling in something of an uncustomary way with their defeat suffered at the hands of the AFC South based Baltimore Ravens . It is one thing to have an explosive offense , but it simply means nothing when your defense is simply mediocre and nondescript , as is the case with the Panthers and Saints .
The Arizona Cardinals (3-0) and Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) are the only two remaining unbeaten teams now left in the NFL . Bruce Arians and Marvin Lewis are the two coaches are sitting pretty , as their teams are the best within the NFC and AFC , while looking to make their presence felt within those conferences. By week five , I believe we will begin to get a true picture of the NFL as the contenders will start to make the push to separate themselves from the pretenders .
Arians and the Cardinals will be the guests of the Denver Broncos in the league’s week five schedule , while the Cincinnati Bengals will have to be ready for their all AFC clash when they meet the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough , Massachusetts ,. For Bill Belichick and the Patriots , they will have to get over the spluttering start to the season , where the only strength to the team has been the defense , which currently is the second best in the NFL . Belichick however, will have to get his team ready for their Monday night game which closes out the week four schedule , when they meet the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium , in Kansas City , Missouri .
If the rumors are to be believed and the intent is ongoing where Oakland Raiders’ GM Reggie McKenzie will seek to pull the plug on the disastrous tenure of head Dennis Allen . Then it begs the question, why did the franchise enter this season Allen still retaining his position ? In 2013 , he guided the team to a 4-12 season with their being no signs of life on the field and very little actually happening off the field of play in terms of the NFL Draft or through their free agency acquisitions . Oakland sits at the bottom of the AFC West with an 0-4 record and after their hapless showing against the Miami Dolphins , the question has to be , can things now get much worse for the team overall ?
It is the one boxing match everyone wants to see, but if proposed , it will be taking place at least five years after the proper time . Floyd Mayweather has been padding his statistics over the past five years , having posted a 47-0 record (26 KO’s) without seriously being challenged in his last six fights . Manny Pacquaio for his part has seen his career wanes , albeit , recently he is once again a world title holder , having won his title against a less than impressive Tim Bradley . The Filipino fighter now relishes a chance to get into the ring, toe to toe with Mayweather the linear champion in the welterweight and light middleweight division . A big payday is likely for both fighters should the bout ever take place , but with all of the name calling , heckling and outrageous antics from both boxers . One seriously doubts fans would really being interested in super-fight likely to have PPV subscribers paying in excess of $60.00 for the privilege of seeing two of boxing’s most narcissistic and controversial fighters in recent years.
Mayweather in recent weeks has offered up his views on the troubles facing the NFL and the misconduct of the players there . Less we forget , the boxer is no stranger to the issue of domestic abuse and violence , having threatened his ex-fiance , his children and certain members of her family with violence . The fighter was found guilty , incarcerated within the Nevada penal system for his crimes, but showed little remorse , blaming others for his actions including the press. Recently , I read something of asinine article, where the writer suggested Floyd Mayweather was simply a product of his environment and society . In truth , the fighter , is nothing more than an egotistical self-righteous and self-serving bastard , with little respect for his sport or women in general . Mayweather loves the glare of the spotlight , basks in the fame and fortune amassed , while being the self-proclaimed savior of the sport of boxing .
This mega-fight would likely produce the biggest gross in boxing history if one takes into account merchandising the overseas’ rights and the likely 2 million projected North American market buys . A $250 million gross is not out of the question, with Mayweather likely to take home the lion’s share of the revenue pie . Given the fact from his last fight , the American fighter was paid an outrageous $35 million (he co-promoted) without even breaking sweat in his last bout before earning another reputed $25 million in ancillary fees , it is easy to understand why the fighter is now highest earning sports’ personality on the planet , far exceeding the highest paid players in the NBA , baseball and the NFL .
The sport of boxing has become redundant , with their being no real dearth of talent in any of the major weight categories. Floyd Mayweather may well leave the sport looking to win his fiftieth bout, surpassing only Rocky Marciano as the only fighter in boxing history to have won a world title and retiring unbeaten with a near fifty-fight unbeaten record.
If the sport of boxing is to survive in some guise then it will have to discuss the issue at the national level with all of states’ athletic commissions have a meeting of the minds as well dealing with the numerous international governing bodies which preside over the sport internationally.
The NBA off-season was well chronicled, with the main story being the departure of LeBron James and his rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers , the franchise where he first made his mark in the NBA , having been drafted by the Cavaliers as the number one overall pickin the 2003 NBA Draft . Team owner Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin have appeased James in rebuilding the roster with a complete makeover in several of the positions with the key elements remaining Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao .
With LeBron James reacquainting himself with the Cavaliers , the expectations for the team this upcoming season will undoubtedly be high , with the odds-makers in Las Vegas making the Ohio based franchise the odds on favorites to be the Eastern Conference representatives in this year’s NBA Finals . Having been to the Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers, where the team was swept aside by the San Antonio Spurs in four straight games. For James this was bittersweet , but in many respects it cemented the player’s determination to win an NBA title. In his eleven year career, LeBron James has amassed a number of firsts , along with four League MVP’S and two Finals’ MVP Awards . A fifth League MVP Award is likely to be part of the scenario for this upcoming season , but the challenge likely to come from last season’s MVP Kevin Durant , Derrick Rose , James Harden , Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul .
A great deal is likely to be made of this Cavaliers’ team as their season begins , especially under their first-time head coach David Blatt and his coaching staff made up some veteran coaches and former players. Will LeBron James buy into the coaching philosophy and principles of Blatt and what happens when there is likely to frustration on the part of the player ? These are the things which will likely decide how good this team is likely to be and whether or not they can justify the belief of being the prohibitive favorites within the Eastern Conference. As good as the Cavaliers are likely to be several teams in the Western Conference with greater depth and who will be better coached than the rookie head coach now seeking to make a name for himself in the NBA . When Cleveland opens up its regular season schedule against the New York Knicks , where Carmelo Anthony will be hoping to resume his productivity against a team where has been able to have a great deal of success throughout much of his career.
Anything less than a sixty-win season, divisional title , conference finals’ appearance , the NBA Finals will have to considered a major disaster for the Cleveland Cavaliers and specifically for LeBron James , but also for the Cavaliers’ front office who are banking on this team and its best player.
Picture gallery .
What do you believe has been the biggest story of this baseball season and which teams do you believe will provide the biggest surprises of the postseason ? Through the fist four weeks of the NFL season what has been the biggest disappointment in your estimation ? Last but not least , with the ongoing nonsensical hype in the sport of boxing is there any chance this sport can still resonate with the fans even with the now considerable popularity of MMA (mixed martial arts) ? If LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers fail to make it to the NBA Finals where will the blame ultimately lay ?
Picture and slideshow details below.
(1) Paul Konerko (14) of the Chicago White Sox walks the field with his sons for the last time at the end of play against the Kansas City Royals on September 28, 2014 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. Getty Images / Tasos Katopodis
(2) Starting pitcher James Shields (33) of the Kansas City Royals delivers the ball against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on September 25, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Getty Images / Johnathan Daniels …
(3) Steve Stricker , front right , vice captain of the US Ryder Cup Team looks on during play of the Ryder Cup at the Gleneagles Golf Course , in Gleneagles , Scotland . Europe defeated the US 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 for one of the most lopsided defeats in recent history of the competition of the biennial competition . In 2016 the Ryder Cup will be held at the Hazeltine Golf Course in Chaska , Minnesota ,. . Getty Images . Chris Potter ..
(4) Phil Mickeslson , member of the USA Ryder Cup team is seen here greeting fans at Gleneagles Golf Course , in Scotland during this year’s Ryder Cup . The player was extremely critical of team captain Tom Watson and his assistants , suggesting there was no planned throughout the competition , leading to the team’s lopsided defeat at the hands of the European Team captained by Paul McGinley . Getty Images / Chris Potter …
(5) Tom Watson , left , captain of the US Ryder Cup team is seen here with Jack Nicklaus . The two are considered to be two of the very best players to have been part of a US Ryder Cup team , representing the country in the biennial event . Nicklaus’ record in the competition is a monument to his success overall in the competition. Getty Images / Amanda Rice … …
(6) Ben Roethlisberger (7) of the Pittsburgh Steelers is sacked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Gerald McCoy during the game played at Heinz Field this past Sunday . Tampa defeated Pittsburgh 27-24 to get their first win of the season , though the team still remains firmly rooted at the bottom of the NFC South . Getty Images / Harry How … …
(7) Vincent Jackson (83) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers catches a game winning touchdown in the fourth quarter in front of William Gay (22) of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on September 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Tampa Bay won the game 27-24 Getty Images/ Justin Haller …
(8) Jon Gruden , center , is seen here alongside his commentary colleagues Mike Tirico , left and Ron Jaworski . With the firing of Oakland Raiders’ head coach Dennis Allen it is rumored the franchise’s general manager , Reggie McKenzie is seeking to gauge Gruden’s interest in returning to coach the team . A Superbowl winning head coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003 , it is widely believed Jon Gruden would only return to the NFL to a position where he would have complete control in terms of all personnel decisions for a team . Whether or not McKenzie and team owner Mark Davis would be amenable to such control is now open to a great deal of speculation around the game and within the Raiders’ organization . ESPN/ABC @ copyrighted material …. all rights reserved .. …
(9) Floyd Mayweather , left and Manny Pacquiao currently the two biggest names in the world of boxing . The two fighters have never faced each other in the ring after years of antagonism and promises of a meeting will take place . Pacquaio’s promoter Bob Arum is now seeking to engineer a mega super-fight between the two title holders. Mayweather through his promotion’s company Mayweather Promotions Inc have stated their only wish in facilitating such a bout would be for the fighter to gain the largest slice of the proposed $275 million the fight would likely gross , when taking in the merchandising and PPV revenues . AP Photo / Jeff Parsons …
(10) LeBron James , left, is seen here making a defensive play against Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves during a game played between the Miami Heat and the Timberwolves at the AA Arena in Miami , Florida on the 4th April, 2014 . Minnesota won the game in double overtime 122-121 , with James being the leading scorer for the Heat in the contest , while Love led his team in the scoring in this thrilling game. During the off-season , James rejoined the Cleveland Cavaliers and the franchise then acquired Love in a multi-player deal which sent number one draft pick Andrew Wiggins from the Cavaliers to the Timberwolves for the All Star power forward . AP Photo/ Chris Parsons …
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