Highlights, low-lights and no lights at all

Highlights, low-lights and no lights at all …………..

With a mere two days to go , before the culmination of the NBA season and with many of the divisional races all but sewn up , the conference records have yet to resolved, as are the final seedings. In the Eastern Conference the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat are now in a rabid dogfight for that number one spot within the conference . For head coaches, Frank Vogel and Erik Spoelstra , theirs has been a season of thrills and suspense, during which, both have proven themselves to very successful in their endeavors. Whether or not , both are viewed as leading candidates for the NBA Manager of the Year Award , remains to be seen . While I believe, both to be credible and likely vote-getters , the leaders in this field I believe are Dwane Casey , Mark Jackson , Gregg Popovich and Tom Thibodeau ! As an avowed fan of the San Antonio Spurs , in spite of his unprecedented success as a head coach , having won this title only twice during his career . This is unlikely to be the year, that Popovich has a third triumph, in winning these prestigious awards.

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In spite of the ballyhooed surrounding the New York Knicks late season acquisition of Phil Jackson to head that franchise’s operations as Head of Basketball Operations , will not bring about as triumphant a year-end as their fans might have hoped . Unfortunately, poor play , lack of commitment from the players and their not buying into the coaching philosophy of Mike Woodson and coaching staff , has pretty much summed up why the team has failed miserably, while their fans continue make the most infantile and immature excuses for the franchise’s failings this season. A rather convincing eleven-point win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden , in New York City , is simply too little too late , as the games now come fast and quick , with the Knicks’ shot at the eighth and final berth in the Eastern Conference all but dead and buried. A fate, that was created by the Knicks, due to their inconsistency, season long and it is likely to be something that will be addressed by Phil Jackson.

The individual awards, for this season, are likely to be debatable in some contact ,with the biggest of them all , now producing arguments on both sides of the scales, in support of LeBron James and Kevin Durant for the NBA League MVP Award . The outcome could very well be the tightest race, that the league has seen in several years , with it quite possibly , coming down to the wire as who, the winner is likely to be . A fifth victory for James, would place the player in rarefied air, as a multiple winner of the award, as Durant seeks to win his first such honor, in winning the game’s highest individual regular season award. It is my opinion, that it would be a fitting triumph for Kevin Durant to win the award , after a record-breaking season for the player on so many fronts and for the Oklahoma City franchise !

A pitiful season for the Philadelphia 76ers and the simple resolve behind the front office for the franchise to remain uncompetitive, while having fans pay for such a rancid on-court product that protagonists of the NBA and that of the league’s former commissioner believe as acceptable. Personally, if the imprint of David Stern has been over the entire gamut of the NBA for the past three decades and fans are seeking to excuse that mediocrity, then it simply alludes to their ongoing apathy and lack of understanding, of what has taken place within the league during his tenure . For the Sixers fans, perhaps the only bright spot , on an otherwise, mediocre season, has been the play of rookie Michael Carter-Williams , who is likely to be viewed as the most credible candidate on a short-list of no more than four real top-flight nominees , for the Rookie of the Year Award .

The Sixth Man of the Year Award and that of the Most Improved Player are pretty much self-explanatory and not a situation, where there will be a cavalcade of players being lined up as nominees for either award. I believe, that the two leading candidates, in the aforementioned categories, just happen to be teammates , Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford ! Crawford , should win the Sixth Man of the Year , pulling away from the other likely nominees , simply because of his productivity , most notably during the fourth quarter of game . Griffin , is likely to be pressed by the Chicago Bulls’ center Joakim Noah for the Most Improved Player , with quite possibly , with Noah , coming away the victor, solely because of his presence, his resilience and that of the Bulls’ surprising showing within their division and the Eastern Conference overall , this season . From my own perspective , I believe the Tom Thibodeau coached team to be the most dangerous of the top five teams in the conference , outside of the top two contenders, now jockey conference supremacy and that is with all due respect to the third seeded Toronto Raptors .

Out in the Western Conference, while others were making hay while the sun shone brightly , while analysts and fans alike, gathered like flies around fecal matter, in making the likes of the Oklahoma Thunder , Los Angeles Clippers , Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets as likely the teams with the best record in the conference . The San Antonio Spurs , simply put together another regular season display , with the franchise making it sixteen consecutive seasons in the NBA postseason , along with having the best record in the conference as well as the NBA . The Spurs in many respects, they have unnecessarily become, the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA , as they do not seem to get the due recognition they deserve or the reverence for those astonishing achievements . Four NBA titles during that aforementioned time-span , while averaging, just over fifty wins, per season . Am I missing something here , but are the fans of the league really that anally retentive and apathetic ? I guess the smoke, that gets into their eyes, actually has a great deal more than smoke , but also a great deal of mucus !

Two weeks into the MLB season and there happens to more money sitting in the teams’ dugouts, with regard to players’ injuries , than can be found to make up the payroll of several of the ball-clubs at the lower end of the payroll spectrum. Who would have thought, that Clayton Kershaw and his contract , would now be looked at with bewilderment , but yet by comparison , baseball still has to contend with Alex Rodriguez wanting to offer his advice on the game and its present predicament? Yet , this has been how the game has evolved , with their now being no discerning leadership being shown by the league hierarchy and where the likes of Rodriguez are still given quarter to offer up any type nonsensical stupidity , that the press deems fit for print for the fans , to swallow up.

Newly installed union Executive Director Tony Clark has yet to offer an opinion on his own views, on the punishment meted out to his members concerning steroid abuse in recent months, but I can only surmise that the relationship between Major League Baseball and the MLBPA (union) will continue to be antagonistic , as it has been throughout the reigns of Donald Fehr , his successor Michael Weiner and now likely , Clark , himself !

Already this season, we have seen a number of great single game performances , perhaps none more than the play of Chicago White Sox rookie Jose Abreu and his almost single-handed onslaught and demolition of the Colorado Rockies , in the team’s 15-3 pounding that took place at Coors Field in Colorado on the 8th April , 2014. Abreu, has been everything, that Robin Ventura , the coaching staff, front office , led by owner ,, Jerry Reinsdorf and GM Kenny Williams believed he would be, when he was acquired as a free, agent in October of 2013 , having been a member of the Cuban national team . It will undoubtedly take a great deal more than simply Abreu’s productivity to lift the White Sox out of the doldrums and prove to be competitive enough a challenger to the likes of the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins , Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians .

Far too early, to start making claims, as who, the best team in baseball just happens to be, as the teams are still finding their rhythms , while we are still in the infancy of the season. Granted , the play of the Houston Astros , is leading me to believe, that the team could be back on route to having a fourth consecutive season of one hundred losses or more . That type of mediocrity, has to be setting a real precedence in the modern-day era of baseball, as we have come to know it . Then again , if the fans are willing to accept the years of mediocrity, exhibited by the Kansas City Royals , Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays , over the past two decades , then why should the Astros’ plight be considered to be any different ?

With a record of 5-8 within the AL West , the Houston Astros are already 3 ½ games behind divisional leaders the Oakland Athletics (8-4) as of 13th April , 2014. At this point last season, the Astros were not in a similar position and by no means should the same date be viewed as something of a precursor, to what was about to unfold over the course of the team’s schedule , but suffice to say , from April 14th onwards things seemed to have spun out of control for Bo Porter , his managerial staff and in particular GM Jeff Luhnow , who was unable to “right a sinking ship ” , with a year-end record , merely indicating how bad the team was said to be and that the level of play by the players was simply below average . Should the fans, be expecting, more of the same, at Minute Maid Park , in Houston this season? Well , dependent upon who one listens to, the Houston Astros are likely to be markedly better or they will remain a cellar-dweller among the AL teams and baseball in general. I am liable to believe that it will be the latter , because there has been no real indication that the front office , has made the moves necessary to improve the roster overall .

With no scheduled game for Monday , the Astros will play host to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday afternoon, when Yordano Ventura takes the mound for the Royals against Lucas Harrell of the Astros , in what is likely to be a solid contest between these two young pitchers .

It’s strange what a flying start out of the gate can do to for the moral of a team . In less than six days , in going, from having the best record within their division the Miami Marlins have found themselves in a place that they now seem so accustomed to. As a one-time fan of the franchise , I have seen the highs lows of the ball-club having won two World Series ,while the owners of the teams at the time, having won those titles , sought to implode the rosters , plead poverty and then seek to use the league hierarchy as befits them in gaining greater dispensation by this league’s idiotic tax revenue sharing scheme , which to this day, no one from Bud Selig’s office can explain succinctly how it is has benefited the league much less the low market teams, as a whole . MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner has proven to be no more competent in his current position , than Tim Geithner might have said to be in his former position as Treasury Secretary. As we know , Geithner , though thought to be a financial wunderkind , proved to be nothing more than a boorish ass, while trying to placate the all too moronic and sophomoric policies of the incumbent President , while his agency failed miserably, in working in conjunction, with the financial sector and FRB in bringing about any real tangible benefit to the economy. Likewise, it has been the same thing with Mariner and his antics with being the league’s highest ranking financial executive. Need we be also reminded, it was Johnathan Mariner, who also suggested that the issue of steroids within baseball, was merely a press’ idea of giving the game a bad reputation.

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MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner

MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner , not the brightest of people within the MLB hierarchy but somehow his sentiments are shared by some around the game of baseball as it relates to the issue of steroids . AP Photo / Phil Reid ….

I may well be mistaken, but long before the era of steroids, the game of baseball, used segregation as a prominent part, of its terrain, to omit minorities from being participants in the sport ? Yet , here in 2014, we have a fairly prominent African-American within the upper echelons of baseball’s hierarchy , making such a statement? And I was once told by a patron , that this country had advanced along the path of racial convergence , where we need not worry about such issues ? The statements were made by an individual, who within his locale seemed blind, to the racial epithets and attacks were taking place against young women and children entering a place of worship. Now in light of the most recent incidents, having taken place in Kansas City , Missouri and Jasper , Texas , I wonder what this apathetic fool might have to say ?

Mike Redmond as the manager of the Marlins and a former player in the Big Leagues as well as with the team he currently manages . In having to succeed Ozzie Guillen and his year of incredulity , stupidity , slapstick style of management , has been placed in a position where he is unlikely to succeed. Giancarlo Stanton , the Marlins’ best player , alongside Jose Fernandez , 2013 NL Rookie of the Year , are seen as the two players likely to spearhead the Marlins’ resurgence within the division and NL . Unfortunately, I do not believe the evidence is there , nor is there the depth to the roster needed , in order for the Miami Marlins to be seen as a legitimate contender for the NL Pennant , much less a World Series title .

Monday afternoon’s result , was simply, a further indication, why I believe that the Miami Marlins will continue to struggle throughout this season! The team was outplayed in every aspect of their contest, in succumbing 9-2 to divisional rivals the Washington Nationals , where at no point during the game, did the home team have an answer for the pitching of Ryan Zimmerman , much less an answer for the Nationals’ offense. It was plain to see, that the Miami Marlins were outgunned and out-manned by an opponent , whose ambitions this season are certainly greater than anything going on inside of the Marlins’ front office headed by team owner Jeffrey Loria and David P Sansom , GM Michael Hill and Andre Dawson . The Marlins’ struggles on the field may well be well chronicled , but it should also be noted, over the past six seasons , game attendance for the Marlins’ games have been among the lowest in the entire league. Doubt my word, there figures are there, for everyone to witness , so please someone explain to me succinctly why a new baseball stadium has to be built for the Tampa Bay Rays , much less any professional sports’ franchise on within the state?

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Slow week , in the NFL ? No , the shakeout among the teams continues , as they get rid of what they believe to be “dead weight” by way of the players, in order, to remain cap-friendly . At this point of the off-season , I am not particularly interested in the machinations of the league , much less the idiocy and the ongoing debate, as to who should be taken number one overall in the upcoming NFL Draft . The players having declared their eligibility , will either be able to play or they are likely to become monumental busts . Need we be reminded the goddamn hype over Tim Tebow , whose NFL career was vaguely memorable and for all of Gators’ fans out there who feel that the Heisman Trophy winner was sorely done by . Please get a life , as the quarterback was never good enough to play in the league in spite of a number of results . Simply look at the lack of consistency from the player and the very fact that he was unable to read defenses , much less, that technically, it was very much like watching a child stumbling, while take their very first steps and their idiots, who actually believed he possessed the skill-set to play in the NFL at a high level ? There remains a great deal of apathy and ignorance among the fan-base, within the NFL and among the on air personalities who cover the game.

With the NBA Playoffs about to begin , which teams do you believe will be at the forefront of making a major impact during the postseason ? Which team, teams or player, do you believe has been the most impressive this early in the baseball season ? Finally, with all, of the hyperbole, concerning the proposed number one overall pick in this NFL Draft, do you believe the ongoing discussion has been justified ? By all means, chime in with your thoughts as you see fit and thanks always for the continued support of this site as it greatly appreciated !

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(1) NBA head coaches from left to right , Dwane Casey, of the Toronto Raptors , Terry Stotts of the Portland Trailblazers and Jeff Hornacek of the Phoenix Suns . Casey and Stotts, will be leading their teams into the Playoffs but Hornacek and Suns narrowly missed a playoff berth in the Western Conference . Getty Images/ Gregory Ralston ….

(2) Opposing head coaches from last season’s NBA Finals , Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs and Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat are seen here prior to the start of game five of the 2013 NBA Finals Series at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas,. Miami would go on to prevail in the Finals winning the series 4-3 , with LeBron James being named Finals MVP for the second successive time of his career. James also led all scorers in the series and has one of the highest postseason playoff averages in NBA history. AP Photo / Matt Slocum ….

(3) Phil Jackson . left , recently hired to oversee the Basketball Operations of the New York Knicks is pictured here, in-framed with head coach Mike Woodson . Rumors are rife , that Woodson’s tenure with the franchise, is likely to be terminated at the end of the season , with Jackson seeking to replace the beleaguered head coach with a person of his own choice . For the moment the context remains mere speculation , as neither the front office executive, the head coach or team owner, James Dolan have gone on record as stating what is likely to happen in the future concerning the head coaching with the franchise. Getty Images / David Green …

(4) Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is seen here before a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodgers Stadium on May 6 , 2013 in Los Angeles, California. With the season in its infancy , the high-priced pitcher is one of a litany of players across the league on the MLB Disabled List . During the off-season Kershaw signed a multi-year , multi-million deal, that made him among the highest paid players in the league and one of the highest salaried starting pitchers in the game . The Los Angeles Dodgers this season surpassed the New York Yankees with the highest payroll in baseball , with teams’ payroll commitments exceeding last year’s record Opening Day figure of $3.065 billion . Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …

(5) Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox who has had a spectacular start to the season for the team as the White Sox seek to make inroads this season , while seeking to be more competitive within the AL Central. AP Photo / Garry Lloyd …

(6) MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner , not the brightest of people within the MLB hierarchy but somehow his sentiments are shared by some around the game of baseball as it relates to the issue of steroids . AP Photo / Phil Reid ….

(7) Nov 2, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins vice president & general manager Michael Hill (left) listens as Marlins new manager Mike Redmond fields questions during a press conference at Marlins Park . Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports …..

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You cannot blame the manager and players alone , when the owners have a responsibility themselves …

You cannot blame the manager and players alone , when the owners have a responsibility themselves …

As the Premiership season within English soccer winds down , there has been a sense of disappointment among several teams thought to be viable contenders for the Premiership (EPL) title at the start of season. For teams, viewed as the mainstays of the league, Arsenal , Manchester United , Manchester City , Chelsea , Liverpool , Newcastle, Everton and West Ham United , this was thought to be where , each in some way could be seen as a viable contender , if not for the title , but at least for a qualifying berth for UEFA Champions’ League status .

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For team owners , Stanley Kroenke of Arsenal and the Glazer family, owners jointly, of Manchester United and the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers , theirs might, well be a season, that each would rather forget. Granted, Manchester United, managed by David Moyes , have somehow managed to make their way to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League , Europe’s biggest club competition and seen as a major financial windfall for the participants throughout the length of the competition, but even more so in the latter

With Manchester United , having now bowed out of the Champions League competition, losing 4-2 on aggregate to Bayern Munich of the German Bundesliga. The ramifications, from that total defeat and with fortunes of the club, now looking more threatening than ever before , concerning their aspirations for the Premiership title . Rumblings of major a upheavals, could be taking place within the Manchester United organization , with their being calls for the manager David Moyes’ firing as well as the Glazer family’s ouster as the club’s owners. These cries for this all , comes down to the disappointing season achieved by Manchester United in the Premiership, where they now lie in seventh position , some seventeen points behind divisional leaders Liverpool FC , whose tally of seventy-four points with five games to play , puts the Northern based English team in the driver’s seat, as they seek to win their nineteenth divisional title in the club’s famed history .

Moyes succeeded the most successful manager in English soccer history, in Alex Ferguson , while being handed the keys to Ferrari , in terms of a team seeking to make a successful defense of their title of last season . What the incumbent manager has seemingly managed to do, has been take this squad of players and have them play like a bunch of amateurs , with all the skill-set that would make even the most vocal of fans cry out, with a great deal of rage . With resources at Moyes’ disposal , along with the coaching staff assembled, it seems inconceivable that the manager has repeatedly managed to stumble so badly. At the same time, Joel , Bryan and Avram Glazer , have seemingly looked on, and watch this manifestation of incompetency play out over the course of the season, within the Premiership , as well as the team’s failings in other major domestic club competitions , such as the FA Cup and Carling Cup . If that was not enough for the United fans having to digest , they are now seeing the resurgence of their crosstown rivals Manchester City , whose astute manager, Manuel Pellegrini and the influx of the cash rich laden ,family of billionaires , by …. Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and H E Khaldoon Al Mubarak , has seen the club return to the upper echelons of the game, with the side being the 2011-12 EPL champions .

Manchester United , for their own part , have continued to show inconsistency, all season long , with David Moyes apportioning blame elsewhere , rather than being man enough to admit that he has made numerous mistakes, concerning the player personnel for several games during the season . What might well grieve the fans more so, concerning the malaise of the famed United soccer club , has been the indifference shown by the Glazers and their complete lack of understanding, concerning what has unfolded within their midst. That should not really come as any great surprise, considering the same incompetence shown by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this past season, where former head coach Greg Schiano and . his staff simply, had no damn idea what the hell they were doing and the clueless fans watching , could only point to the fact that they did not . end up with the worst record in the league .

The fact that the Buccaneers were close to the bottom of the NFL in almost every team category that mattered by way of defense and offense , was merely another pointer ,about how bereft of talent, the organization was said to have been, on the field , as well as among the coaching staff and within the front office , headed by general manager Mark Dominik who was again, answerable to the aforementioned members of the Glazer family , as the team’s owners. That type of incompetency cannot be taught , it has to be ingrained and those who claim the family to be astute and business minded , should be begin to completely review that entire premise altogether, as nothing could be further from the truth.

While their soccer team remains , highly profitable, it should be noted, that Manchester United, still carries a great deal debt , burdened by it being used as collateral, in the Glazers’ purchase , by their holding company Red Devils Holdings . In a strange turn of events, US investment firm Baron Capital Inc has bought 20% of the outstanding shares of the soccer team on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) , representing a mere 2% capitalization of the club, for a reputed $90 million , valuing the club at an astonishing $ 4.5 billion pre-liability write-downs .

To his credit, about the only worthwhile thing done this season by David Moyes , by way of a positive standpoint , was his persuading striker, Wayne Rooney to commit to the club long-term, after the player had been linked to several clubs, with his contract due to expire. Had Rooney been allowed to leave , then quite possibly the manager’s fate might well have been sealed , as the player had become a fan favorite , while a living legend in terms of his productivity with the club , as being the third leading scorer in Manchester United’s history , behind only Dennis Law and only to Bobby Charlton , now a distinguished member of the United Board of Directors . Rooney , in signing one of the most lucrative contracts in the club’s history, will now put to rest , his joining Chelsea , Arsenal , Real Madrid or AC Milan of Serie’ A.

With six games left in their season and now out of the running, for the Premiership title, even the hopes of a Champions League qualifying berth, now seems beyond Manchester United’s reach , with them having to finish no less than fourth in the Premiership. Once the schedule has reached its climax , there are likely several moves made within the organization , likely to bring about the end of the careers of several players on the current playing squad . Whether or not , David Moyes also becomes casualty of the likely overhaul remains to be seen , but it has become abundantly clear that something has to be done. Unfortunately, putting your trust in the Glazer family, to even do something remotely credible, might be beyond, and even their own realization. I can only pray, that the rumors now ongoing, are true and that former United player David Beckham and a several his former teammates are indeed serious in purchasing a controlling interest in his former team , with the financial backing, coming from a prominently wealthy , Kuwaiti family, who are said to be longtime admirers of Beckham and staunch supporters this world-famous soccer club.

Manchester United’s next scheduled game, will be on the 20th April , when they are the guests of Everton at Goodison Park , in Merseyside. That contest, will undoubtedly tell us a great deal about the players’ mindset and that of the coaching staff as the season meanders towards its inevitability.

Billionaire , Stanley Kroenke , with an estimated $4.5 billion fortune , also happens to be the son-in-law to the late, Sam Walton , founder of the world’s largest retail and grocery store chain , Walmart . Kroenke’s wife, is none other than , Ann Walton-Kroenke , who also happens to be on the Forbes’ 400 Richest Americans’ List , as well as being one of the richest women in the world, with a multi-billion dollar fortune . Her husband, also presides over one of the largest sports’ conglomerates and concessions’ company in North America. Kroenke’s ownership of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment , encompasses the ownership of the Denver Nuggets of the NBA , the St Louis Rams of the NFL , the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL , sporting goods’ chain , Dick’s Sporting Goods , the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League and Arsenal FC of the EPL.

Now while I have no real objection to an American, owning an English soccer team , what I cannot condone, is said to be the utter stupidity that has been shown by owners, such as Stanley Kroenke and the Glazer family, the latter, whose now close to ruination of Manchester United , have the fans in complete apoplexy. While supporters , may well point to the fact, that since family assumed control of Manchester United in 2005, the club has seen marked success. While that may well be true , it still cannot hide the fact , that Joel and Bryan Glazer , have used less than due diligence , in their operating the club , from a business standpoint. Profits have slowly been eroded , because of the club’s debt obligations and that is something that cannot be overlooked , as they now seek to place themselves within the constraints of the soon to be ,UEFA edicts concerning a team’s debt to asset ratio , which seeks to pare down teams’ debts , while also creating something of a level playing field , among the teams within the various European domestic leagues , seeking to compete in UEFA sanctioned club competitions. While clubs were given waivers this season for the Champions League , that will not be the case in 2015, when UEFA President Michel Platini expects all teams to comply with those edicts or risk being banned from all UEFA sanctioned club tournaments .

Stanley Kroenke’s presence, in the world of sports , was once described, as to his being the most powerful and influential in North American sports . That article, in Sports Illustrated , was either written by a ranked amateur , or by someone who at the time was under a deadline , simply did not want to plagiarise a piece and simply offer it up as an original piece of content . To allude to Kroenke, as being the most powerful or most influential person or owner in North American sports , would certainly being doing an injustice to the likes of the late George Steinbrenner , who was alive at the time of this article hitting the news’ stands and to the likes Robert Kraft, Dan Rooney , David Stern , Dick Ebersol , Sean McManus , Roger Goodell , Bud Selig , and Tim Finchem , Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods . Am I supposed to take this level of journalism seriously, when this type of diatribe and stupidity is on display with alarming regularity , especially when it is said to come from a respected magazine ?

Long an admirer of Arsenal FC , as a youngster , then as a teenager , I have witnessed some of the greatest moments of this famed club’s history over the past thirty years. While Arsene Wenger , has been the manager , leading the club to other trophies and triumphs , this current spell , with Stanley Kroenke as the team’s owner, might well become the driest spell of the manager’s tremendous coaching career . However, coming off a 3-0 loss to Everton , where the team performed poorly in the defeat at Goodison Park , in Merseyside. One cannot help but wonder what Wenger now has to do, to have his players, play at a higher level. Calls for the roster to be bolstered with some bold acquisitions being made, were met with an almost damning silence from the board , led by Stanley Kroenke and his subordinates . Finally, having relented , Wenger was offered a mere pittance , to go out and acquire players , with the result being Mesut Ozil , a gifted midfield player , but simply not enough to aid the team in its ambitions for the season .

Stanley Kroenke’s only wish, in owning a Premiership soccer team , has been the purchase as a bauble , to show to friends within his social circle and by way of watching the club’s value appreciate for more than that of an NFL franchise . Furthermore, with revenues far exceeding that of the NFL, with a global audience far exceeding that of North America’s grandest pastime and in terms of game attendance, albeit, that more games are played (thirty-eight) in the Premiership , than in (sixteen regular season) the NFL over the course of their respective schedules .

Arsenal, also known as ‘The Gunners’ , are due to face West Ham at their palatial home venue , Emirates Stadium in , North London, on the 15th April in what will be a highly anticipated contest , between these two London teams. Clearly, a victory for the home team, would be to their advantage and end of season hopes of gaining qualification for the Champions League. How things pan out , will greatly be dependent also , on the form shown over the rest of their schedule .

As if to further emphasize, how out of touch Stanley Kroenke remains when it comes two more of the jewels in his sports’ crown . Consider the seasons, of the Denver Nuggets and St Louis Rams and where they currently are, in terms of their status. The Nuggets might as well be afterthought, within the Western Conference, as the regular season schedule zeroes in, on its finality. Coached by Brian Shaw , who has a very experienced coaching staff to help him , this team has simply failed miserably, on so many levels , as the players have somehow failed to buy into Shaw’s coaching philosophies . The front office , with GM Tim Connelly leading the way, made a few subtle moves during the season , but nothing that would simply give you the impression that those acquisitions would place the franchise in a position to mount a serious challenge for divisional supremacy , much less a postseason berth for the upcoming postseason.

This past season, the St Louis Rams at times played hard , but within the NFC West , two dominant forces prevailed and the Rams were never in with a chance of bringing down either San Francisco 49ers or Seattle Seahawks . Both teams, proved to be, among the very best, that not only the NFC had to offer , but also the entire NFL. Yet, the Rams’ 7-9 record within the division that led to a last place finish and being the only team not to notch sort=OVERALL_WINS&sort=desc&colSel=0> double-digit wins , tells how tough the NFC West has now become and perhaps the toughest division within the NFL , based on final record and the play from the quartet of teams.

Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher , has proven to be a competent successor to Steve Spagnuolo in so many ways , that the team’s future now rests in assured hands , with the head coach and his coaching staff . The issue now becomes, will Stanley Kroenke , Chip Rosenbloom , Kevin Demoff and GM Les Snead allow Fisher a free rein , to get the job done , by way making the team more competitive in terms of acquiring players and through the draft or will they seek to impede him at each and every turn , thereby making the franchise irrelevant ?

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This idiocy at times, that the coach has to shoulder the blame when a team fails, is in actuality, absolute bull#hit ! A great deal of the time, the front office of an organization is equally to blame , when they seek , not to make the resources available to the coaching staff , in order , to make that franchise competitive. Yet, you would be hard pressed to actually make some fans believe that to be the case , because their heads more often than not , has been lodged up their own ass, that they cannot tell the difference between night and day. Chime in with your thoughts, on the points raised and thanks as always for the continued support of this site , as it is greatly appreciated !

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(1) Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea and coach David Moyes faces the media during a Manchester United Press Conference ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Real Sociedad and Manchester United at Estadio Anoeta on November 4, 2013 in San Sebastian, Spain. Getty Images North America / Mike Hewitt ….

(2) From left to right , Bryan Glazer , Joel Glazer and Avram Glazer , board members and the owners of Premiership soccer team Manchester United and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL . The trio are seen here, in the stands of a Premiership game at United’s home venue , Old Trafford Stadium , in Manchester , England ,. A disappointing season in 2013 will see the team miss the lucrative UEFA Champions League club competition next season, for the first time in a several years . If the current rumors are to be believed, the family are likely to rebuff an alleged $4 billion bid for the soccer team from a yet to be unidentified source . Getty Images Europe / Chris Rogers …..

(3) Alex Ferguson , second from the left is seen here members of the Glazer family as they discuss a team issue . Ferguson who served as manager of the team for two decades was succeeded by David Moyes , at whose insistence, his successor was hired , much to the annoyance of fans, who felt that Moyes was not a suitable candidate to fill the vacancy , having little success in his earlier stops in his managerial career. Courtesy of Daily Mail UK /Alex Ogden …

(4) Josh Kroenke is seen here alongside his father Stan Kroenke, are seen here in attendance of an NBA game at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado , home to the Denver Nuggets , the franchise owned by Kroenke through his company Kroenke Sports & Entertainment a multi-billion dollar conglomerate based in Colorado,. AP Photo/ Collin Matthews ……

(5) Ann Walton-Kroenke, a direct descendant of Walton family and one of the heirs to the multi-billion dollar fortune . Ann is married to Stan Kroenke , self-made billionaire businessman . Getty Images North America/ Christina Matthews ….

(6) Jeff Fisher head coach of the St Louis Rams , whose final eighteen months as the coach of the Tennessee Titans were said to be the most tumultuous of his considerable coaching career , in having to deal with the adversarial nature of Vince Young and then owner , Charles K ‘Bud’ Adams . Fisher has been able to turn around the fortunes of the Rams , having succeeded Steve Spagnuolo , in what might be now the ‘toughest’ division in the entire NFL . AP Photo / Tom Walsh …..

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tophatal ………..

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English Premier League (EPL)

English Premier League (EPL) news and clubs

English Premier League (EPL) league table

EPL schedule (year-long)

EPL schedule 12th April

EPL results (year-long)

EPL match form guide

Stanley Kroenke profile and bio of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment

Malcolm Glazer profile and that of his family

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I guess, neither Rihanna nor Shakira have a problem with their sexuality ?

Bill Clinton , eat your heart out . LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

Posted in EPL, EPL (Premiership), Soccer, Sports, Sports, Sports & Social Commentary, Sports Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

A recap of sorts

Well, the NCAA Tournament has to come a close , with the vestiges to that competition reaching a finality . Two storied programs were there the combatants in the Finals , were John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats facing the University of Connecticut (Huskies) coached by second-year coach, Kevin Ollie , a former mainstay within the NBA . With U Conn prevailing in a six-point triumph , Ollie joins a select group of coaches to have won a national title within their first three years of coaching a program . For Shabazz Napier and the leadership shown in leading his teammates to this triumph, is likely to open doors , not previously thought about in great depth , with several general managers around the NBA , likely to be showing an interest in a player , who should he declare for the upcoming NBA Draft , is likely to be taken quite high in the first round .

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Slideshow .

I am sure that the administration within Storrs, Connecticut, are truly overwhelmed at this triumph and the Huskies’ second title in the past four years , with the program’s last triumph in the Men’s NCAA Tournament coming in 2011 , when Jim Calhoun and that team triumphed over Brad Stevens and Butler . As we know, the Huskies women’s program , coached by Geno Auriemma , has been triumphant several times , with six national titles during his reign, as the coach of the now famed women’s program. Auriemma is back again as a finalist in this year’s tournament where the opponent will be a heated rival , with Notre Dame (Fighting Irish) staring across at their adjoining number one tournament seeds. That game , will be played tonight at the Bridgestone Arena , in Nashville, Tennessee,.

A week into the MLB season and there is not really a great deal to report , beyond the fact , there appears to be more money now seated ? on the disabled list , than would actually make up the payroll of the league’s lowest paid team , in this case , that privilege belongs to the Houston Astros with an estimated payroll of $44.5 million . Yet, somehow , it was the intent of Jim Crane and Jeff Luhnow to field a competitive team this year , while trying to avoid a fourth consecutive season of one hundred losses or more ? I guess , Astros’ manager Bo Porter and his managerial staff were fed another boatload of “ bull” , by the executives entering the season , about the ball-club’s ambitions for the year.

With a record of 3-4 , the Astros are competing in what is likely to be a competitive AL West division this season , where the main competitors for the divisional title are likely to be the defending champions the Oakland Athletics , who in turn , are likely to be challenged by the Texas Rangers , Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners . For Robinson Cano and his hefty $240 million contract , signed in the off-season, having left the New York Yankees , for what he believes to be greener pastures. This season , is likely to prove to be a tough one for the former Yankees’ infielder, as he seeks to prove that contract. Coming off a 6-3 loss to the Oakland A’s , Seattle will in their next game face the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington , where James Paxton will take to the mound for the Mariners to face off against Hector Santiago , in what should prove to be a very competitive pitching match-up , between the two starting pitchers .

As beleaguered as the issues are for the Houston Astros are now , I am not so sure, that the team will simply be good enough to avoid another one hundred loss season for a fourth consecutive time. Bo Porter’s staff simply does not have the acumen , and there is not a player on the staff ready, to assume any type of role of leadership or be presumed to be, looked upon as a leader. Tuesday’s scheduled meeting against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Center ,in Toronto, Ontario, where Brett Oberholtzer will pit wits with his opponent for the Blue Jays’ Mark Buerhle .

It is beginning to look as if Mark Teixeira’s career will become known for being injury prone , rather than for anything achieved on the field of play , since he was acquired by the New York Yankees to bolster the team’s roster and add to what was believed to be an already explosive lineup by way of the team’s offense. In his first season with the team in 2009, Teixeira proved to be as productive and well worth the contract , as it appeared to be at the time. The player we are told, will resume light exercise with a view to returning to the team and perhaps playing in his first regular season game by mid-April, but in all likelihood , I believe that Joe Girardi and the staff will not have their first baseman return too soon , until they believe that he is fully fit .

The Yankees’ 4-2 victory, over the Baltimore Orioles , places them atop of the AL East with a one game lead over the second placed Tampa Bay Rays (4-4) . How the season, now plays out for the New York Yankees will undoubtedly be predicated upon the play of mainstays, such as Teixeira , Derek Jeter , Ichiro Suzuki , Brian McCann , Kelly Johnson, CC Sabathia , Hiroki Kuroda , Carlos Beltran , Alfonso Soriano , Masahiro Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury . The team will once again , play host to the Orioles today, when they meet at Yankees Stadium , in New York City, New York on Tuesday afternoon , where the opposing pitchers will be Wei Yin Chen and Ivan Nova .

On this date in MLB history , one of the great achievements within the game of baseball was attained , when Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hit , what was his seven-hundred and fifteenth home run (715) to move ahead of Babe Ruth in the all-time career home runs’ list. Granted, that record has since been surpassed by Barry Bonds , whose legitimacy about that mark , still comes into question, but not by the MLB hierarchy or that of the Elias Stats’ Bureau . While, there has never been a positive drug test on record to somehow negate Bonds’ achievement of the career home runs’ record or that of the single season mark for home runs. The persistent questions still lingers, about Bonds’ claims, that he never intentionally or knowingly, took what he believed to be a banned substance. In the court of “public opinion” , the now retired player’s claims, are not believed and the legal system has deemed Barry Bonds to be untruthful and indeed deceitful, with his denials and the statement offered at his perjury trial .

For Hank Aaron and the opposing pitcher on the day , when the record was broken , Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the event have been posthumously recorded . However, in the run-up and the aftermath, of Aaron , having broken the record, baseball historians have tended to gloss over the fact, the Hall of Fame inductee came under death threats , racial threats , along with the lives of the immediate members of his family being threatened by bigoted racists . Poignant, when you consider the claims being made at the time that , the nation had indeed progressed , that the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr , the integration of baseball and it being woven into the fabric of society , had indeed made the world a better place. Four decades later, those claims do not hold true , even with the nation’s first African-American President Barack Obama midway through his second Presidential term and the deaths of James Byrd Jr and Alfred Wright are seen as mere footnotes and the apathy of idiots are still within our midst , about the claims of racial bigotry has in fact ended .

We are now less than a week away from the culmination of the NBA regular season and several of the divisional races have been all but decided. In the Eastern Conference, only the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat , are the two teams apiece, to have garnered more than fifty wins. Counterparts within the West, where the San Antonio Spurs , Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers , are three of five teams to have accumulated more than fifty wins each . Somehow, one gets the feeling that in the East, theirs is a conference, where competitive basketball, which is claimed to being played, is simply an acronym for complete mediocrity .

For the New York Knicks , the past seventy two hours has seen the team play themselves into contention for a playoff berth, to once again showing the trait, that has been on display , all season long and that simple inconsistency . Their fans and the print media within the local market , may well decry the fact, the team, is now likely to miss the postseason , altogether. Yet, what else can you say, when there really has been absolutely no one willing to step up to the plate? As to this utter idiocy, that Carmelo Anthony ought to be given a worthy mention as a legitimate MVP candidate , has to be viewed with the utter contempt that the claims deserve. Anthony, has been playing on a team , that at no point during the regular season, have they led their division , nor have they strung together double-digit wins in terms of a consecutive wins’ stretch.

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An eleven point loss to the Miami Heat , may well have placed the “nail in the coffin” of Mike Woodson’s players and any last vestiges of hope, that they might well have had, in gaining a playoff berth. The team’s only hopes, now rest with the Atlanta Hawks simply imploding, with six games remaining on the Hawks’ schedule.

The seismic shock waves from the Superbowl and the lopsided loss suffered by the Denver Broncos , must be seen as something of a precursor, about what we have witnessed by way of the waiving of players and the contracts lengths now being offered new contracts by their new teams . It’s pretty much safe to say, with a number of franchises, seeking to make themselves “cap-friendly” , the luring of marquee free agents , while preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft , has been the one thing , that the front office executives have been using a great deal of due diligence in some of that preparation.

Veteran quarterback , Michael Vick has now found himself a new home , having signed with the New York Jets , where he is likely to be the backup to incumbent starter, Geno Smith , whose propensity throw interceptions during a game , are as frequent, as the guests at a wedding, throwing rice to celebrate the nuptials of a just-married couple. I am not suggesting that Smith is a terrible quarterback, but he has shown no inclination to improve his game and the coaching staff of the Jets, have done little to aid the player during his rookie season. The team’s problems during the season and the fact, they were simply of no relevance within the AFC East , simply summed up the Jets’ year and the fact , they performed so poorly.

It will be interesting to see how the New York Jets do during the off-season in the build-up to the NFL Draft, as GM John Idzik , seeks to rebuild and revamp the roster, while also seeing the type of influence, that Michael Vick will provide for Geno Smith.

The waiving of running back Chris Johnson , is likely to come back and haunt the Tennessee Titans , at some point , during their future . Yet, I am not entirely surprised by the move , considering the ongoing stupidity that we have witnessed from team owner , Bud Adams , down the years. Cap issues or not , the explanation now being offered by the front office , makes about as much sense , as Sarah Palin offering up her assessment as to the country’s foreign policy or what her alternatives might be to Barack Obama’s healthcare initiative and the program that has now taken effect. Johnson , at the time of his release, was one of the franchise’s most productive offensive players, and all, but a mere handful of running backs in the NFL, have more rushing yards in the league, over the past five seasons .

With a slew of teams, now said to be interested, in Chris Johnson , many of them in need of a productive running back, to aid a franchise with a woefully inept rushing offense . Rex Ryan is said to be keenly interested in acquiring the free agent running back , but the asking price , might well be too high for the New York Jets to meet at this juncture .

Johnson and his agent, Joel Segal are likely to look for an offer, that best meets the need of the player, while giving him the chance to play for a legitimate Superbowl contender. As to where that offer is now likely to come from, will be open to a great deal of conjecture and speculation over the next few days. With the NFL Draft, just over a month away , one seriously doubts that Segal would still like to have his client unsigned, with their being some depth to the ” draft class” of running backs said to be part of this group of rushers , as well as the other unsigned free agent running backs , who might come at a less steeper price, than his own client, Chris Johnson.

“Bang the drums more loudly” , as the consensus seems to be, that the South Carolina Gamecocks’, Jadeveon Clowney , is still being viewed as the number one pick for the NFL Draft. Now, whether or not, the Houston Texans and their front office led by GM Rick Smith decide to go this route, in making Clowney that number one overall pick , will be clearly dependent upon the assessment of the player made by head coach Bill O’Brien and his staff . The Texans’ needs, as a team overall, are great and the simple thought, that the defensive player is an answer to all of their needs , is merely ludicrous and not warranting an answer, that is simple. Defensively , the secondary was a mess, throughout last season , and that fourteen-game losing streak was a clear indicator as to several of the reasons why, beyond the poor play of the often injured Matt Schaub and an offense, that has been nowhere near as explosive, as in seasons past . Yet, for all the talk of Clowney’s impact as a defensive player , one cannot help but ask, is Bill O’Brien actually willing to pass up on an array of quarterbacks in this upcoming class , that many feel might be as good and is being compared to in some circles , as good as the 2012 NFL quarterback class , that saw Andrew Luck , be taken as the number one overall pick , a grouping that I might add, that also included Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles , Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins .

Quarterbacks, may well come and go , but can a team that certainly in need of one afford to pass on the likes of Blake Bortles , Johnny Manziel , Teddy Bridgewater , Zach Mettenberger , Bryce Petty , Tajh Boyd , A J McCarron and Tom Savage ?

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Picture gallery .

One way or another , Jadeveon Clowney’s fate, might not rest in the Houston Texans’ hands, but actually the perception that he created, that has been perpetuated and bought into by the press , pundits and fans, alike . I believe, he is likely to be drafted in the first round, as one of the top ten picks, taken on the day. Anything short of that , will clearly be viewed as something of a major disappointment for a player , looking to be handsomely rewarded for his collegiate exploits .

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Kevin Ollie , head coach of the U Conn Huksies’ Men’s Basketball team is seen here cutting down the nets after his player’s triumph over Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament . Ollie in his second year as the head coach, simply had his players playing at a high level throughout the tournament , with them upping the tempo in the championship game , itself against the Wildcats . AP Photo Keith Mannix …..

(2) Shabazz Napier (13) walks the length of the court being cheered on by Huskies’ fans after the team’s 60-54 victory over John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats in the finals of the NCAA Tournament . It is widely believed that Napier is likely to declare his eligibility and enter the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft . AP Photo / Keith Mannix ….

(3) Mark Teixiera of the New York Yankees , for whom much of the 2013 season was a loss, is once again back on the team’s DL , uncertain of when his season is likely to begin in 2014. As one of the highest paid players on the roster , as well as having one of the most lucrative contracts among all of the ball-club’s players , Teixeira is afforded a luxury not often shared by a player of his stature . Getty Images / Tim Walsh ….

(4) Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his historic 715th home run which would surpass the all-time career home runs’ record (714) at the time held by Babe Ruth . Aaron hit that record-breaking home run on the 8th April , 1974 at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, in a game between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers . The pitcher on the day, who gave up the home run was the Dodgers’ Al Downing . AP / REUTERS Inc/ Pathe ….

(5) Veteran quarterback Michael Vick who was acquired by the New York Jets and signed to a one-year deal by the franchise to be the backup to incumbent starter , Geno Smith , a first-round quarterback draft pick in 2013 NFL Draft by the Jets . In his rookie season , Smith’s continued struggles were ever-present throughout the season , with their being little real evidence that his game was progressing, in spite working diligently with quarterbacks’ coach , David Lee . It remains to be seen what type guidance and influence Vick will provide for Geno Smith , as he enters his sophomore season in 2014 . If Smith shows signs of regression , then in all likelihood the veteran will be called upon the replace his young charge . AP Photo / Rod Fletcher ….

(6) Free agent running back Chris Johnson who was waived by the Tennessee Titans for cap reasons . The player who was among the franchise’s leading rushers in their history , is now said to be one of the most desired free agents now on the market . It remain to be seen where Johnson’s final destination , is likely to be. AP Photo / Phil Prentice ……

(7) Robert ‘Bob’ McNair , (left) owner of the Houston Texans , is seen here with the team’s general manager Rick Smith. The general manager , scouting department of the franchise and head coach will have a tough decision to make, whether or not, to take Jadeveon Clowney, as the number on overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft or as is being forecast by many , the organization is likely to go with a quarterback , with instate hero Johnny Manziel said to be atop of Smith’s wish-list, along with Blake Bortles , Teddy Bridgewater and the fast rising stock of Tom Savage. The Texans have never made a quarterback their top pick , over the course of the franchise’s history. Getty Images / Austin Morris ….

(8) Jadeveon Clowney of the South Carolina Gamecocks and Texas A &M’s Johnny Manziel , right . Both players , high achievers , have the wish to be taken as the number one overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. With the Houston Texans’ afforded the first pick , it remains to be seen whether or not the AFC South based franchise takes either player as that privileged first choice .

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tophatal …………………

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NCAA Men’s Basketball and the Women’s NCAA Basketball

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MLB news and MLB disabled list

MLB schedule

MLB results 7th April

MLB probable pitchers

MLB standings

MLB league standings overall

MLB transactions

This month in MLB history

This day in MLB history

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NBA news

NBA standings by division and by conference

NBA schedule

NBA results 7th April

This month in NBA history

On this date in NBA history

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NFL news

NFL team transactions

NFL

NFL transactions

This date in NFL history

NFL Draft

2014 NFL Draft Order

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Simply soaking up the sun while making an imprint in the sand .

 

Posted in Basketball, College Basketball, Collegiate Athletics, MLB, NBA, NCAA, NCAA Tournament, Sports, Sports Economics, Sports & Social Commentary, Sports Commentary, Sports Recap, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

An ode to the NBA , get real or simply get the hell out of the damn way !

An ode to the NBA , get real or simply get the hell out of the damn way !…..

With most teams now in the NBA winding their seasons and the schedule due to culminate on the 16th April with a slew of games to close the calendar. We can perhaps, look back on the year and discuss the biggest stories and the major disappointments. For those choosing not to question the antics and ills, that have now engulfed the Philadelphia 76ers and then seek to view it as part and parcel of business in the NBA, without apportioning blame, either on the Sixers’ owners or the league hierarchy . Ask yourself this question , when making a purchase of an item , are you not expecting the vendor to make a sale to you of a product, that you believe worthy ? Then why should the fans of an NBA franchise, be treated any different, when purchasing a ticket to view their team, at their home venue? It is this type of idiocy and apathy that has now become the fabric of the majority of fans at present, who seek with their ongoing stupidity , to simply accept mediocrity and any excuse offered as being acceptable .

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One would hope that with the retirement of David Stern , we are likely to see some real vestiges of leadership from his successor Adam Silver , as he seeks to make the brand more amenable to the fans , rather than the ongoing puerility seen in recent years, and then this incessant idiocy, that Stern has been in no way to blame for the league’s malaise. The former commissioner ‘s one and only concern, during the latter years of his tenure, was simply increasing revenues , while seeking his own salary increase from a mere $ 2.5 million a year, to in excess of $20 million , on par with some of the highest salaried players in the league , but somehow this was overlooked by fans as being nothing out of the ordinary. Again, apathy among a fan-base, that in actuality, has the intelligence of a toad. They are not ready to question , , why a league executive who is paid such an exorbitant salary , but at the same time , that very same person sought to impede the right of the players and their union (NBPA) , themselves who sought a greater share of the league’s ever-growing revenue pie. What’s wrong with that picture, but most of all, how damn stupid are the fans in general with their ongoing gullibility?

If there was ever any doubt, as to the ability of Kevin Durant and the spectacular season he , has been, having, for the majority of the season , as he leads the Oklahoma City Thunder . Then consider the player’s most recent feat, in scoring twenty-five points or more for his fortieth consecutive game this season, but yet , some are still questioning whether, or not, the season achieved thus far, makes him a noteworthy League MVP candidate and in turn trying to suggest that the award should merely go to the best player in the NBA. LeBron James , as a four-time winner of the award , might be just that , but by comparison his season , has been nowhere as spectacular as his Western Conference counterpart. Also, need we be reminded that James and the Miami Heat take part and play n the less competitive conference , known as the East ? Suffice to say , the competition there , night in and night out, has the bearings of chess match, between a Grand Master and that of a novice, new to the game.

With both the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder as well as the San Antonio Spurs having already garnered playoff berths and in the case of the Heat , Spurs and Thunder having won their divisions , it now remains to be seen, how the rest of the regular season will now pan out , by way of the other divisional races and that of the final conference seeds. . The league’s individual title may well now come down to the to the final few games of the season, but it all looks assured to return to Kevin Durant , after it was claimed last season by Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks . With Durant now averaging 32.07 per game, that statistic will be the highest scoring average among active players since Kobe Bryant averaged 35.06 per game during the 2005-06 NBA regular season .

The New York Knicks for their part, ever since the formal introduction of Phil Jackson as the newest executive within the organization , where he immediately becomes the Head of Basketball Operations , with GM Steve Mills reporting directly to Jackson with regard to all player personnel decisions to be made. At this juncture, there seems to be no sense of certainty, that head coach Mike Woodson will be returning to his position, in the same capacity next season. Albeit, that as of late, the team seems to be responding to his calls for more resilience, as they seek to chase down the Atlanta Hawks for that final playoff berth , the eighth and final spot within the Eastern Conference.

Coming off a narrow one-point loss to the Washington Wizards , the New York Knicks will have to completely refocus their efforts, if it is their intent to get that final playoff berth, but it could appear that those efforts will be in vain, having left it far too late in the season to show their fans what they are actually made of . For much of the season, the team has been inconsistent and solely reliant on the efforts of Carmelo Anthony to pull them through. Just about everyone else on the team, has contributed very little, by way of a wholehearted, effort, with the goal of actually winning . Next up for the Knicks, will be a prime-time Sunday afternoon game , against a nemesis and conference rival in the Miami Heat, where LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony , will be looking to match wits and display their scoring prowess , as the two teams meet, as part of their regular season series .

DeMar Rozan , Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross have proven to be the main reasons , why the Toronto Raptors have been one of the big surprises of this NBA season , with quite possibly , head coach Dwane Casey being viewed as a possible candidate for NBA Coach of The Year. Casey , alongside the Chicago Bulls’ head coach Tom Thibodeau , Frank Vogel , Erik Spoelstra , Scott Brooks , Doc Rivers , Rick Adelman and Mark Jackson are likely seen as the other viable candidates. Noticeably missing from my list is the name of Gregg Popovich , but that may well come down to the fact that for the last sixteen seasons, of his real brilliance , he has been often overlooked for the award , having only won it twice during the time-frame mentioned.

For Casey and the Raptors, if they make the postseason , it will be the first playoff berth for the franchise in almost six years , with their last appearance coming during the 2008 season . A first round loss to the Orlando Magic , brought about the Toronto Raptors’ foray in the NBA Playoffs for the season, with something of a lopsided 4-1 series’ defeat to their conference rivals that postseason. . Chris Bosh , Jason Kapono , Jose Calderon and T J Ford led the way for the Raptors in that series’ loss, , with Sam Mitchell coaching the team that season . The Toronto Raptors are now vying with the Chicago Bulls for the third seed within the Eastern Conference , where holding unto that position would give grant them something of a favorable match-up in the first round of this postseason, against the Washington Wizards ,who as the sixth seed , the Raptors do lead 3-1 in the regular season series of meetings . Though I do not believe, an upset is on the cards, in such a potential contest, there is always the possibility, of the impossible suddenly happening.

While Tom Thibodeau and his staff continue to work miracles with the under-manned Chicago Bulls , given the fact, that they lost pointy guard Derrick Rose for the season and then sought to trade Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for cap reasons . It is simply amazing to see the resilience of the team and the very fact that they have played themselves into contention for a playoff berth ahead such teams as the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks , thought to be better teams on paper, but obviously lacking the coaching acumen of Thibodeau , when one looks at the resumes of both Jason Kidd and Mike Woodson . Therein, lies the issue , about both New York based teams, high on talent , but lacking a real coach, with depth of knowledge , in knowing how to deal with real adversity . Multi-million dollar team payrolls and overrated players , simply cannot make up for applying one’s self on a basketball court, when grit and determination , are actually called for. What we have witnessed from the Bulls for much of this season, has been a great deal of both, in far more abundance than witnessed from the Knicks and Nets , jointly .

Joakim Noah seems to have added depth, to his game , while assuming the role of leader, in the absence of Rose and the departure of Luol Deng. That bodes well, for the short and long-term future of the Bulls , if the front office seeks to keep the veteran forward around, whose compensation in comparison to many of his peers at the position of center or power forward , comes extremely cheap, by way of a contract or salary . Chicago’s next scheduled contest, will be a Saturday evening meeting with the Washington Wizards, in a game that will be played at the Verizon Center in Washington , DC .

If there has been one thing, that continues to be true, concerning the NBA season over the past decade. It has been that the Western Conference will remain the true test of what competitive basketball is all about , in terms of the competitiveness of the teams and the coaching within the conference in general. Teams such as the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat , being the only two franchises to register fifty wins apiece within the East , would be hard pressed to register that very figure , were they playing in the West , and meeting such teams as the Los Angeles Clippers , San Antonio Spurs , Houston Rockets , Oklahoma City Thunder , Portland Trailblazers or the Golden State Warriors . Yet, be that as it may, we are , still being sold a “bill of goods” by the league hierarchy , owners and union, about a diluted brand, where the level of play all-round , has actually been on the decline , rather than the fans, actually seeing a genuine upswing . I mean, if a highlight reel of a dunk is all that concerns you , then the brand of basketball on view , will be for you , because in the true sense of the word, there are very few , real teams in the NBA actually, playing as a team, and as part, of a cohesive unit.

I have to admit, that this season , the more I have seen of the Golden State Warriors , the more I am impressed with the team and in particular with the coaching acumen of Mark Jackson . I would be the first to admit , that initially , I had my doubts about Jackson , as a head coach, but I have been very impressed with the acumen shown by the former veteran point guard and that of his coaching staff . The play of the team has been very impressive , with the obvious standout , being , Steph Curry and his continued maturity into one of the best young players and someone whom I now consider to be one of the top-ten players now playing in the league !

For Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , as the owners of the Golden State Warriors, having purchased the team for a considerable sum. They now get to see the fruits of their labor and that of the organization finally having some real tangible value to it all . The front office led by GM Bob Myers and where the calming influence of Jerry West , is often called upon, to provide the expertise and advice , beyond being an Executive Board Member . It now seems somewhat to redundant to see how far the Lakers have fallen from grace, since West was ousted from that particular organization , after the larger than life ego of Phil Jackson , whose success with the franchise would not have taken place , were it not for West to begin with, while the Hall of Fame great was an executive with the franchise . How quickly, some forget, when placing so much of that recent success, jointly , in the hands of Mitch Kupchak and Jackson, alone .

As the sixth seed in the Western Conference , a first round match-up against their instate rivals the Los Angeles Clippers , might just be the most enticing potential contest within the conference , with a conference semi-finals’ berth at stake for the winner. The season series between the two teams have been very much what any fan would have anticipated and that has been a high level of basketball, being played at times, at a frenetic pace . With their series , now tied at two games apiece, both franchises will undoubtedly to like to round out their seasons on a high with a flourish, of consecutive year-ending victories. Pivotal to that first round series will be the likely duel between Chris Paul and Steph Curry, while Blake Griffin will meet his match in seeing a somewhat younger version of himself , while looking across at Klay Thompson , whose year , has been sensational and a great deal more .

Coming off the thirty-three point demolition , of what appears to be, a hopeless Sacramento Kings’ team and organization in general . . The Warriors will meet the equally abysmal the Utah Jazz, at the Oracle Arena , in Oakland , California , on Sunday afternoon , before closing their season with games against the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers , Portland Trailblazers, Minnesota Timberwolves and finally, the Nuggets , once again . A fifty-win season might not be beyond the Warriors , if they can gain the three wins needed to reach that mark , which would be the franchise’s best win feat, in several seasons, while standing at 47-29 within the conference and in second place , 6.5 games behind division leaders the Los Angeles Clippers of the Pacific Division . All in all, it has been a great regular season for the Warriors, but now the question becomes , can they answer many of their critics by showing them , that they are capable of making a deep postseason run in the playoffs? For many , the team are seen as a “ fashionable pick” , because of the odds laid in Las Vegas , but do not be fooled for one minute , that it can be justified . The odds-makers, make those wagers , simply to lure in, the most passionate of gamblers , but also as a way to lure in the first time novices with little or no idea , what they are actually doing .

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Picture gallery .

As a fan of the NBA, in reality , it has reached the point, where my loyalties are now being severely tested, by the ineptitude continually being shown by the league hierarchy and the never-ending excuses being made, by apathetic fans, who actually believe that the league has been as good, as it has ever been . Clearly, delusional and apathy, now seems to be going, hand in hand , with their stupidity, as well ! As I alluded to earlier, if a highlight reel dunk wets your appetite , then this is the league you want , but if you are actually looking for an abundance of technically proficient players , then you will not be seeing an abundance of that , if at all ! Three or four great players , does not a league make , with the rest being marginally above average , but at the same time the coaching and constant tinkering with the rules and the explosion in the players’ salaries have now made the NBA what it now has become , along with college players making the leap to the professional , ranks , where within five years more than forty percent of those athletes will have departed from the league because of their poor skill-set. Your thoughts on the points raised within this article and what if anything , are you hoping to see this postseason during the NBA Playoffs ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery below .
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(1) Former NBA Commissioner , David Stern , who , having stepped down in February of this year , after an almost three-decade career as the league’s highest ranking executive , stepped down from his role. He was succeeded by his immediate deputy , Adam Silver , who now takes over the reins of a label and brand, that has become recognizable through the efforts of Stern , but more so , with the advent of prime-time television broadcasts and the exploits of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls , during the nineties . Perhaps , the “richest vein ” in the sport’s history . Getty Images / Anthony Price ….

(2) Head Coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat watches his team against the Oklahoma City Thunder at American Airlines Arena on January 29, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The Thunder defeated the Heat 112-95 . This postseason , Spoelstra and the Miami Heat will be looking to win a third consecutive NBA title and the franchise’s fourth overall. Getty Images / Marc Serota ….

(3) Forward Kevin Durant (35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder is defended by Forward LeBron James (6) and Chris Bosh (1) of the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on January 29 , 2014 in Miami, Florida. The Thunder defeated the Heat 112-95 . Getty Images / Marc Serota ….

(4) DeMar Derozan (10) seen in a game played against the Oklahoma City Thunder, at the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma , earlier this season . DeRozan is seen as pivotal to the franchise’s future , with the front office likely to offer the player a hefty contract when it expires in 2017 , but with rumblings around the league that the player is unhappy at the opportunity of not playing for a perennial contender it seems unlikely that they would relent and trade the star at this juncture . AP Photo/ Marcus Holt …..

(5) Dwane Casey , head coach of the Toronto Raptors, is seen here speaking to his players on the court sidelines, during a game . Casey has the Raptors on the cusp of making their first playoff appearance since 2008 , where a first round loss to the Orlando Magic ended their season that year. AP Photo / Rashida Williams …

(6) Steph Curry ,left is seen here with teammate , Klay Thompson are seen here congratulating each other after Warriors’ victory this season . The two young stars, are one of the primary reason why the team is being viewed as one of the most dangerous within the conference in the run-up to the NBA Playoffs , where they are currently ranked as the sixth seed and a first round match-up against the Los Angeles Clippers awaits and that of a conference semi-finals’ berth for the victor. Getty Images / Harry How ….

(7) From left to right , Mark Jackson , head coach of the Golden State Warriors , Executive Board Member , Jerry West , co-owners , Peter Guber and Joe Lacob . The two billionaire entrepreneurs , are now entering their third year of owning the franchise , during which the encouraging results under Jackson has led to a rise in attendance as well as in the profitability and value of the Warriors overall. Guber and Lacob are now seeking to have a new venue built for the team , that will rank among the best arenas within the NBA . Getty Images / Keith Matthews …….

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Posted in Basketball, http://wp.me/poxLH-8in, NBA, Sports, Sports, Sports & Social Commentary, Sports Commentary, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

If we build it they will come …………

If we build it they will come ……….

The MLB season , has started with some gusto and Opening Day , saw some record crowds for a number of the day’s schedule contests. Defending World Series champions the Boston Red Sox started the defense of their title with a 2-1 loss to divisional rivals the Baltimore Orioles in a contest played at Camden Yards in Baltimore , Maryland . From my own standpoint , seeking to speculate on who might end up winning this season’s title , this early in the season , is akin to counting grains of sand on the beach, while the tide comes in . It is of benefit to no one, at the time of the exercise!

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This season should be one of growth among many of the young stars who blossomed in terms of their play last season and it will be interesting to see how the AL and NL Rookies of the Year from 2013 acquit themselves for their respective teams as they seek to make themselves Big League stars , while looking to be well-compensated for their play. Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays , will certainly be looking to add to a robust season for the team from 2013, while his NL counterpart Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins will certainly look beyond being the only bright spot on what was a lackluster team last season, summed up by the Marlins’ last place finish in the NL East and being completely out of contention for a wildcard berth for the majority of last season.

In many respects I believe that this season, will be one of even more struggles for the Miami Marlins , as Mike Redmond and his managerial staff try to steer this team into contention within the division , which is likely to be more competitive, after the issues now encompassing the Atlanta Braves , with the team having lost two of their prominent starting players due preseason injuries . In all likelihood we could very well see something of shift in the favoring of the Braves to repeat as divisional champions , to perhaps the Washington Nationals being seen as the new prohibitive favorites within the NL East for the title this season.

Braves’ pitcher Brandon Beachy is out for the season , but the loss of Kris Medlen and Mike Minor might be the toughest losses to take, as both played prominent roles in the team’s success during 2013 . Yet, with not even the first ten games of their schedule having been contested , Atlanta’s disabled list , reads like the bulletin board from a hospital triage unit. Atlanta began its season with a well-deserved victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee , Wisconsin , with the home team ….. succumbing to their opponents in defeat 5-2. The two teams will meet again on Wednesday afternoon in game two of their two-game series , before Atlanta departs to take on the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital for a trio of games starting on Friday , 4th April and culminating with the final game of that trilogy on Sunday, 6th April .

For the Tampa Bay Rays, I expect this to be a make or break season and therein once again lies the dilemma as it relates to the organization. Cost-cutting by way of team payroll , has very much played a part in the Rays’ subsistence living and success in recent years . GM Andrew Friedman continues to seek out bargain basement free agents to place around a core group of players and Joe Maddon and his staff . continue to work miracles. My question is, beyond that success, how is it that in the eight years that Maddon has managed the team , he has only one the AL Manager of the Year Award twice, in 2008 and 2011 ? There are few managers in either league with Maddon’s managerial acumen, that would have been able to achieve the extraordinary success that he has attained, with the menial resources afforded him by the franchise. Yet, around the game the short-sightedness and stupidity being shown by alleged observers and fans alike have shown that their knowledge and a complete lack of understanding as to the economics of the game of baseball .

The Rays began their season with a 9-2 home victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on the 31st March , only to then follow-up that win with a loss the Blue Jays , with a . lackluster performance in losing 4-2 on Tuesday afternoon. The final leg of their opening trilogy, will take place on Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field , when Matt Moore takes the mound to face Mark Buehrle in their contest. A robust start to the season, I believe is needed for the Tampa Bay Rays, if they are to gain any semblance of success , as they can ill-afford to continue to show the type inconsistency exhibited last season , that eventually led to their demise , where they were summarily dispatched by the Boston Red Sox with consummate ease in the ALDS , in four games , 3-1.

Just when you thought that the idiocy of last season might well have been abated , baseball still proves again, that they have learned absolutely nothing from their mistakes . Having topped $ 3 billion last season for the Opening Day payroll, Team payroll, in 2014, MLB has once again trumped itself, teams’ financial commitment to their players, will exceed that figure, with the Los Angeles Dodgers trumping the other twenty-nine teams in the league , with a payroll of just over $235 million, with pitcher, Zach Greinke being the highest-salaried player on the roster , but by no means having the most lucrative contract , either in its length or value . Greinke’s six-year, $144 million deal , was surpassed during the preseason, when team President Stan Kasten and GM Ned Colletti negotiated the deal that allowed Clayton Kershaw the reigning Cy Young Award winner, a deal that makes him the highest paid pitcher in the game of baseball, as well as being one the highest paid players in the game. Somewhat surprisingly, this has been the first time, in several years, that the New York Yankees have not held the honor of being the team with the highest payroll in baseball.

Don Mattingly, his staff and the Dodgers’ team, got off to a great start, with their opening series, in defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks in their two game series played in Brisbane , Australia, . As to the relevance of those two games being played in the Antipodes region , I can only surmise, that it comes about, with the commissioner wishing to see the growth of the game “Down Under” . With just over a year to go, before he steps down from his position , Bud Selig will be looking to and hoping that the game of baseball, is still not mired, deep in controversy . Let’s just say , his handling of the litany of player suspensions, due to the prolific use of PED’s was poorly executed , with the MLBPA at times , being able to subvert the league’s form of justice. Tony Clark , has succeeded the late Michael Weiner, as the union’s Executive Director and the relationship between the league hierarchy and the union, remains strained and often contentious. What next, using a Band Aid to cover a gunshot wound to the abdomen, while the victim is still bleeding profusely ?

Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will take to the mound , on Wednesday night , when he faces Tyson Ross of the San Diego Padres at Petco Park , in San Diego, California, In what should be a very good contest , we can assume that the Padres will seek to it something of a competitive affair , unlike their season-long series of last year, when the Dodgers were simply dominant throughout the season within the NL West. Anything short of a deep playoff run and a World Series’ berth at the end of it all, will have to be viewed as a major disappointment for the Dodgers’ organization and their fans in particular . High hopes of last season, simply evaporated , when they wilted, showing little effort against the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS . There is an abundance of pitching </a and offense to the makeup of this Dodgers’ team, but the issue to my mind , must be , who is seen as the actual leader of this lineup and can be looked upon to be not only vocal, but also show it , with regard to their play? Is it Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp , Carl Crawford , or anyone of their litany of pitchers ? That has to be the defining element and question that still remains unanswered by Don Mattingly and by the likes of joint-owners , Magic Johnson , Peter Guber , Mark Walter and Todd Boehly , who paid the record sum of $2.156 billion , for the apparent privilege of owning this proud franchise .

Young stars, such as, Mike Trout, Yasiel Puig , Jose Fernandez and Wil Myers were certainly making impacts for their teams, as I alluded to earlier. I expect this season to be no different , but will it be to the point, where their ball-clubs will become greatly reliant on the prowess of their young rookies ? For the likes of Jose Abreu, Aaron Barrett , Tyler Collins , Alex Guerrero , Mario Hollands, Seth Rosin, Bo Schultz , Gus Schlosser and Ian Thomas . Whether or not they make it , will be totally dependent upon the determination that they each show , while still being coached in the intricacies and rudiments of the game of baseball . An AL and NL Rookie of the Year is likely to come out of the field mentioned or it could come from a player, who is called up at some point later in the season. Either way, it will be interesting to see what these young players are able to offer, once they have had their ” first taste” of the Majors.

As always, the biggest draw in the game, remain the big market teams and amongst those others who have loyal fans. Without a doubt, last season, it should not come as any surprise that in total home attendance , it was left to the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers , St Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants , New York Yankees and Texas Rangers to lead the field . The aforementioned teams were amongst a list of eight ball-clubs that drew more than 3 million fans to their respective ballparks . The lowest figure in terms of overall attendance were those of the Tampa Bay Rays , with just over 1,500,000 attendees , at an average of just over 18,600 per home game schedule, in attendance at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida in 2013. Simply put, the front office cannot try to justify why a new ballpark is needed, when they are still drawing such low crowds, for each of their home games. Inasmuch, as their fans continue to decry the fact that, their present venue is archaic.

There remains no real reason to suggest that a new ballpark is likely to attract an even larger crowd , where in truth, the real hardcore fan-base of the franchise is at best , no more than 15,000 to 18,000 devoutly loyal fans . I have yet to hear, a Tampa Bay Rays’ fan explain succinctly , an argument as to why a new ballpark can and should be built, at the local taxpayers’ expense. Amongst the local media market , where intelligence is not of the highest order, the only reason for their proposing a new ballpark, is simply not to run afoul of the ownership group , led by Stuart Sternberg and Matthew Silverman , whose interviews within the local media market are rare and more inconsequential than anything else . More often than not, it is either Silverman or Sternberg , pleading for the local municipality to make the financial outlay for a new stadium , without the owners themselves, offering something in good faith , never mind the fact , that their lease on Tropicana Field is not due to expire until 2027 . One would have thought that whoever provided the legal counsel to both Stuart Sternberg and Matthew Silverman, as the lead managing partners, would have advised them to seek their renegotiating the lease on the ballpark at the time of their purchasing the team, from then owner , Vince Naimoli . I guess in large part, Sternberg sought to own a Major League Baseball, team, showing his naiveté as an alleged businessman, when buying that franchise. Monkey see, monkey do , there is no other way to explain that sort of utter stupidity !

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Picture gallery .

With Bud Selig due to step down at the end of this baseball season , do you believe that he will leave the game in a better position than he found it in , having succeeded Francis ‘Faye’ Vincent ? Also, with the escalating salaries of the players , do you believe that is now time for baseball to adopt a hard salary cap at the top-end and lower-end of the teams’ payroll scale ? Chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be of relevance to the subject matter , as you see fit .

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
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(1) Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester throws to the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of an opening day baseball game, Monday, March 31, 2014, in Baltimore. Baltimore would defeat the Red Sox 2-1 . AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …

(2) Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones , bottom, collides with Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia after being forced out on a ground ball by Chris Davis in the fourth inning of an opening day baseball game, Monday, March 31, 2014, in Baltimore. Davis was safe at first. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …..

(3) Wil Myers ,left, of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Miami Marlins’ Jose Fernandez were last season’s AL and NL Rookies of the Year , with both players having made impactful efforts for their respective teams during 2013. Myers and Fernandez will be looking build on the foundations laid , by improving this year , in terms of their play. Getty Images / Sean Leahy …..

(4) Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman is greeted by teammates after hitting a solo home run off of Milwaukee Brewers’ Zach Duke during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Milwaukee. Both pitchers in this contest were on course for a no-hitter before being broken up by the opposing offenses . AP Photo/Tom Lynn …

(5) Los Angeles GM Ned Colletti ,left , is seen here alongside team President and minority owner Stan Kasten . The two front office executives this off-season offered a lucrative contract to pitcher Clayton Kershaw , the 2013 NL Cy Young Award winner , making him the highest paid player on the Dodgers’ roster and amongst the highest paid players in the game. Having lost the 2013 NLCS in a lopsided series’ defeat , the franchise bolstered their team with several off-season moves , meanwhile looking for improved seasons in 2014 from Yasiel Puig , Adrian Gonzalez , Carl Crawford , Zach Greinke , Hanley Ramirez , Andre Ethier and Chone Figgins . The ball-club will also be looking to make a successful defense of their 2013 NL West divisional title , won with a great deal of ease in a dominant fashion last season. AP Photo / Matthew Morris …..

(6) Zack Greinke and teammate , Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers in whom the ball-club have guaranteed and committed over $ 365 million . The two pitchers are amongst the highest paid players on the team’s roster and two of the highest paid starting pitchers in baseball, as well as having to of themost lucrative contracts amongst starting pitchers and players overall . The team’s success this season will be greatly dependent on both having career years if the Los Angeles Dodgers are to have any chance of winning their first World Series’ title in over twenty-five years. Getty Images / Greg Holt …..

(7) Rookie , Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox is seen here with the team’s general manager , Rick Hahn. The player made his debut with the team in their game against the Minnesota Twins on the 31st March , 2014 at US Cellular Field in Chicago , Illinois,. AP Photo / Anthony Smith …..

(8) Tampa Bay Rays’ managing partner , Stuart Sternberg, left is seen here alongside Matthew Silverman , GM Andrew Friedman and the team’s manager Joe Maddon , far right. The franchise’s home field Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida is deemed archaic by current standards . With the ownership group pleading with the city of Petersburg for a new venue , albeit that the lease to their current venue does not expire until 2027, neither side is somehow prepared to accede to the other by seeking out an agreement where a compromise can be reached . Sternberg and his partners would like to see the city build a multifaceted 40,000 seat venue at their municipality’s expense , with their being no proposal from the ball-club to fund any part of the venture. Commissioner Bud Selig , whom , having assisted the Miami Marlins , New York Mets and New York Yankees to each obtain a new ballpark in the past six years, has been of no assistance to the AL East based franchise , also having been critical of team and stating that they will be never be allowed to stage an All Star Game until a new stadium is built . Selig has not only been critical of the Tampa Bay Rays over the issue of a new venue , but he has been extremely critical of the city of St Petersburg , the former mayor , Bill Foster , recently his successor Rick Kriserman and the Pinellas County government and their reluctance to build a venue for the MLB franchise . It might not have occurred to the commissioner that the state of Florida is still in the midst of an economic crisis , where state , county and municipalities are facing severe budget deficits , as well as high unemployment rates that are above the national average . Tampa Bay Times/ Keith Marsh ….

(9) Bud Selig , MLB Commissioner, who is due step down from his position as the league’s highest ranking executive in February 2015 , after almost twenty-five years in the current position , having first been the acting commissioner in 1992 , then accepting the position full-time in 1998. Often criticized for his managerial style and lack of communicative skills, his biggest blight, was in curtailing the 1994 MLB season , which brought about a league wide stoppage and strike . The MLBPA (Players’ Union) , then led by Donald Fehr , who now holds a similar position within the Players’ Union (NHLPA) of the NHL and the commissioner were often at loggerheads on a wide variety of issues and the distrust between the league hierarchy and the union, still remains to this day , in spite of the often asinine comments forthcoming from both sides. Getty Images/ Mark Snow …..

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Posted in Baseball, MLB, Sports, Sports Commentary, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

The grass is not always greener on the other side …..

The grass is not always greener on the other side …..

If there is one thing I know, then it is when someone is blowing smoke to create the perception that everything is OK , more to the point, blowing it up my ass ! Clearly , that has been the point concerning the antics of the Philadelphia 76ers and the ownership group led by venture capitalist Joshua Harris , who also just happens to be the owner of the NHL’s , New Jersey Devils . As many of you might now be aware, the Sixers’ equaled a league record , in reeling off twenty-six consecutive losses , which just happens to be franchise and league record. An ignominious feat for a once proud franchise , that produced such great players as Wilt Chamberlain , Julius Erving , Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson .

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Inasmuch , as with each season , the common thought is that all of the NBA’s teams are in with an equal chance of making the postseason , in reality, with only eight berths up grabs within each conference, the chance of being amongst those contenders is not assured as some might think. The level of competition also , in particular within the Eastern Conference , where the Philadelphia 76ers are domiciled, , has been a boon to the game of basketball , that is in a dire state of disrepair.

Coming into the season, the Sixers had a threadbare team with very little experience on the roster , beyond that of Thaddeus Young , James Anderson , Byron Mullens and Jason Richardson . Then throw in the fact that head coach Brett Brown is a rookie coach , along with a very inexperienced roster of coaching assistants and you simply have a natural recipe for a ready-made disaster.

Joshua Harris , who made his considerable wealth as venture capitalist , founding the firm , Apollo Global Management , where risks are taken , with start-up companies or the way he seeks to buyout under-performing companies and then either seeks to turn them around , break or split them up , selling off discarded pieces , or where possible , seeking to use such deals to enable a tax write-off and an inevitable gain for the company. If, this is Harris’ intent, with regard to the Sixers’ franchise without making the die-hard fans aware of his intent. Then, he is certainly going about the right way in alienating those loyal fans , as well as, creating an atmosphere and discontent amongst the fan base and thereby bringing about a great deal of unrest . .

It is certainly hard to envisage, how anyone can take any positives out of a season, where a team with a 16-57 record within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference , can be seen as a competitive franchise. There has been absolutely no leadership from the seasoned veterans on the roster and even with the somewhat refreshing play of Michael Carter-Williams and to a lesser extent Nerlens Noel , there are no signs that the Sixers will be viewed as competitive force. Rookie head coach, Brett Brown , was thrown in at the deep end along with an equally inexperienced coaching staff , that was meant to assist with regard to this season. I may well be mistaken, but there also seems to be a great deal of stupidity amongst some fans, who see the travails of the 76ers as a way to aid them in the future , especially as far as attaining a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Granted , with the NCAA Tournament still ongoing , but with a number of players now declaring their eligibility , the varying consensus would appear to be that beyond Jabari Parker , Andrew Wiggins , Shabazz Napier , Doug McDermott and should he declare his eligibility , Scottie Wilbekin of the Florida Gators , whom, if he leads the program to their third national title in the last ten years , he is likely to be the most sought after player in this draft.

Sixers’ GM Stan Hinkie has not seen fit to give any type of explanation, as to his decisions as it relates to the player personnel moves , since he assumed his position , but given his relative inexperience , I cannot see how anyone can believe, that because he is prepared to gamble on a sense and premise, that the team is likely to get blue-chip player from this lottery , it well set the franchise on the right path. Someone should remind him, the coaching staff over this past season, has shown little , if any type of coaching ingenuity and for that, a great deal of the blame has to be placed upon the general manager’s naïve and conceited shoulders.

Coming off a moral boosting twenty-five points win over the equally abysmal Detroit Pistons at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , on Saturday night, the Sixers’ next scheduled contest will be on Monday night , when they are the guests of the Atlanta Hawks at the Philips Arena in Atlanta , Georgia,. With a mere nine games left on their schedule, we should be able to tell a great deal about the mindset of the Philadelphia 76ers and not this idiocy of them being deemed a team, much less a credible NBA franchise. Nothing, about the way that they have conducted themselves would indicate that, and the lack of candor from the front office , is a clear indication of the continued disdain shown for the fans over the course of the season. Doubt my words, then look for any for an indication by or from either Joshua Harris or Stan Hinkie, as to their motives and then ask yourself why it is , that they have remained silent, while subjecting the fans to a monstrosity of a totally and noncommittal season from the playing staff and organization as a whole ?

I have always found it fascinating to listen to the idiocy of some , who try to give an explanation about their local teams , when they in actuality, have no damn idea, what they are said to be talking about . Case in point, here in the local Tampa Bay area sports’ market , the MLB franchise is a profitable one , but in large part that would not be the case , unless they were not propped up by the aid given, by way of the MLB tax revenue sharing scheme , but yet for some reason, the clueless fans and the local print and television media tend to spin the myth, that through the ingenuity shown by the franchise’s front office , that has been the case for a considerable period of time. Tends to be the way, when those seeking to proffer up the knowledge would rather not spend the time to use any due diligence in coming up with the correct information concerning the Tampa Bay Rays’ financial means and stability.

This season for the Rays will be , make or break, because one more season of missed opportunities and in all likelihood , GM Andrew Friedman will have to gut the roster once again , as a face-saving exercise. It becomes the same old story , season in and season out , concerning the Rays and there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel at all , and that also pertains to the ongoing saga of the franchise’s stadium issue. This may well be the last year in which Bud Selig remains the MLB Commissioner and the idiotic article written by USA Today’s …. Christine Brennan , praising the league’s highest-ranking executive , paints a picture of someone, who at every turn, has been able to handle any problem , that the league has faced with a great deal of intellect and ingenuity . Now, I was not expecting a hatchet job to be done on the commissioner , but at the same time , the article on Selig, was simply not objective enough , nor did it seek to show his flaws or the numerous miscues, that he has made during his tenure . Unfortunately, this is now the price one has to pay, if you take the print media seriously , as they still believe themselves to be paragons of virtue , while seeking out the truth. To my mind , that is simply a crock of bull#hit , with this article by Brennan having as much merit to it , as a piece of plagiarism written by the infamous Jayson Blair !

The Glazer family, it can be said, in owning two professional sports’ franchises, may well have had one of their worst years on record , One of the franchises owned , the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , simply stunk up the joint within the NFL and once again their less than intelligent fans , were making excuses as to the woes of the team , when it was simply clear for all to see that head coach Greg Schiano lacked even less discipline than his entire playing roster. So much so , that at varying points during the Buccaneers’ season , you had to wonder which of the two entities were said to be the more incompetent. Was it the players on the field of play or Schiano and his entire coaching staff ?

A 4-12 season, has a way of bringing an organization back down to earth and giving you a clear indication of who and what they are and that was clearly the case with the Buccaneers . The franchise entered the off-season , dismissing Greg Schiano and not extending the contract of GM Mark Dominik . Replacing the former head coach is a face well-known to Buccaneers’ fans with Lovie Smith now succeeding his predecessor and Jason Licht brought in to head the front office as the new general manager. Smith and Licht, have been quick to start their era with some bold moves with regard to players they thought to be superfluous to the team’s needs, as they seek to get under salary cap and in preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft . Where the Buccaneers now go from here, will come down to the decisions made by the new head coach and that of the general manager, with Glazer family finally being aware and in tow with what is actually going on around them, not that they were over the course of the entire NFL season .

Joel Glazer , alongside siblings Avram , Edward and Bryan Glazer , have been entrusted by patriarch Malcolm Glazer to exercise due diligence in the running of English Premiership League (EPL) soccer team Manchester United and to ensure that the continued success of the soccer club is ongoing . With the stepping down of soccer’s most successful manager in Alex Ferguson , who as manager of the soccer club won just about every domestic trophy possible in English domestic soccer, as well as most prized trophy in club soccer, the UEFA Champions League Trophy . Ferguson’s successor, David Moyes , was thought to be the person best suited to succeed the most successful manager in English soccer history.

One of the issues that was never addressed and should have been by the board of directors of Manchester United, was to have allowed Ferguson some latitude , but not be totally reliant upon his counsel as to who his successor should have been . Unfortunately, with success comes power and Alex Ferguson was able to wield a great deal of it , even after having stepped down as the manager . At the same time , fearful of the fact, that fans still remained entirely unhappy in the way the family was able to purchase the club for almost $2 billion, without having to use any of their own money, but instead , using the club as collateral , they leveraged team and its assets, therein increasing its debt, while being given access to some $300 million in liquid assets (cash) , which was never used at the time, to bolster the team’s roster. Such were the vagaries of the takeover in which the existing shareholders walked away entirely happy cash-rich and several major financial institutions were now left to ponder , the next move of the Glazer family, as the owners of soccer’s most famous club in the world . They held the debt, but the club had now become Joel and Avram Glazer’s own personal bauble to do with as they pleased , within certain parameters off-course .

Nine years after the team’s purchase by the Glazer family in 2005 , and here we are , now in 2014 and all of the success attained in between then and now , will be for nothing, in terms of a domestic league title . The team fell by the wayside in the FA Cup , fell apart in the League Cup (Carling) and they are languishing , completely out of contention for the Premiership title , which guarantees qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League and the lucrative cash windfall that comes out of that particular European club competition .

The only saving grace for David Moyes at present, just happens to be the fact that he has led the team to the quarter-finals of this season’s UEFA Champions League competition where the team has been drawn against Bayern Munich of Germany, and where the first-leg of the two game aggregate contest, will be on the 1st April , 2014 being played at Old Trafford in Manchester, England , Anything short of a victory and the ire of the fans will continue, as there are already calls for Moyes’ dismissal, after his failure in each of the domestic competitions in England. With those mountings calls of discontent from the game’s most passionate fans , have come for the call for the Glazer family to actually sell the team , rather than their continued incompetence at various levels within the organization, from the boardroom on down. From the very beginning , it was very clear, that when the team was bought, Malcolm Glazer was truly out of his depth and the alleged acumen that his sons are said to have, in running a commercial concern , was not evident when it came to running this particular soccer team.

All of the familial incompetency had already been on show, as it related their continued idiocy, when it came to the Buccaneers and it was simply transferred across the Atlantic , where it was continued., , concerning how they sought to change the inner workings of Manchester United which was already successful, even profitable , and valuable concern . Leveraging the club and placing it with so much debt and then having to twice renegotiate with the financiers , again shows that Joel Glazer’s business acumen is not as astute as was first being claimed by a multitude of individuals within the Bay area and within the NFL fraternity. United has managed to lessen its debt obligation , but it may well be in for something of a scramble , if it is not able to fully meet the criteria set by UEFA for the 2015 season, wherein, teams qualifying their sanctioned competitions cannot carry debt totaling more thirty per-cent of their book value. Get the feeling the Glazers are not as smart, as some claim them to be?

In recent weeks there have rumors, highlighting even more discontent concerning malaise within the Manchester United organization , with evidence that former player David Beckham and several of his teammates from the 1992 side will lead a consortium backed by a wealthy Arab family providing the financing for the takeover of United , with Beckham , Ryan Giggs , Gary and Phil Neville fronting the consortium, with each of the players holding a stake in the team.

David Beckham , however, in partnership with business partner and manager, Simon Fuller and billionaire Mauricio Claure are busy in trying to get an MLS franchise off the ground in Miami in time for the 2017 season , but first, an agreement must be hammered out with regard to the building of a 40,000 seat venue in the downtown Miami area, with negotiations set to begin with the city of Miami. The blight that has already hit the city economically and they have yet to learn anything from their stupidity, in acquiescing to the whims of Bud Selig and Miami Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria in building the Miami Marlins’ Ballpark that has yet to be filled to capacity for a ball-game ever since its opening during the 2012 MLB season . Beckham and his partners, may well fare a great deal better, than Loria , given the demographics within the greater Miami area and the passion for soccer. On the flip side of the coin, baseball struggles to attract fans within the state of Florida, amongst the two professional Major League franchises and barely have decent attendances for their home games during the regular season. Spring Training is one thing, but during the regular season, one would expect a great deal more out of the fans of the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays, rather than the continued excuses.

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Picture gallery .

Are you of the belief, that the actions of Philadelphia 76ers’ owner Joshua Harris can be justified even when there is no actual guarantee of future success based on his apparent intent ? Also given the lack of success by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since 2003 , where do you believe that the blame lies for their failure, subsequent to that Superbowl triumph ? Out of their depth or not, should the Glazers now look for a buyer of their soccer team , where in all likelihood they would be able to sell Manchester United and make a tidy profit after sundry expenses ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always, for your continued support of this site , as it is greatly appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow details below.
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(1) PHILADELPHIA – MAY 14 : Managing Owner Josh Harris ,left, of the Philadelphia 76ers introduces Sam Hinkie as President of Basketball Operations and General Manager during a press conference on May 14, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Copyright 2013 NBAE — Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images …

(2) An emotional Allen Iverson addresses the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , on the night that his number three jersey was retired by the franchise . Iverson began his career with the franchise having been drafted out of Georgetown University by the 76ers as the number one overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft . AP Photo / Denny Rogers …..

(3) Sixers’ teammates Nerlens Noel, left , seen here with Michael Carter-Williams , are seen as two of the main pieces that GM Sam Hinkie would like to build a team around . Both players have been moderately successful on what has been a thoroughly disappointing season , for the franchise which sees them languishing at the bottom of their division , as well having the ignominy of equaling a league record for mediocrity having lost twenty-six consecutive games during their regular season schedule. For rookie head coach , Brett Brown and his staff , it truly has been a difficult year, with very little progress being made on-court. USA Today/ Eric Hartline …..

(4) Avram, Bryan and Joel Glazer, pictured at Old Trafford in 2008, say they are not interested in selling Manchester United. However, if the rumors are to be believed the family are prepared to relinquish their ties to Manchester United if the right offer is made , that figure is thought to be in excess of $ 3.75 billion . Photograph: Mike Egerton/Empics Sport/PA …

(5) Newly installed Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Lovie Smith ,left is seen here with GM Jason Licht after the two were introduced to the convened press , with both replacing dismissed former employees Greg Schiano, Smith’s predecessor and Mark Dominik , who prior had been the Buccaneers’ former general manager. After a 4-12 season , Smith will seek to resurrect the fortunes of the NFC South based franchise , which has not made the postseason since 2007. During the off-season both the head coach and general manager have already began to make moves with the discarding of Darrelle Revis who has since been signed by the New England Patriots . It has but one of several moves engineered to make the team more cap friendly as they also prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft . AP Photo / Mike Patterson ….

(6) Former managerial adversaries , but now both on the same side. Seen here are Sir Alex Ferguson , left, himself the most successful manager in British soccer history , having won major trophies with SPL team Aberdeen before becoming the manager of Manchester United and leading the club to the most successful era in their history , winning in excess of thirty major trophies . Ferguson stepped down from his position , but not before his own personal recommendation to the Board of Directors that his successor should be David Moyes , pictured here . An indifferent season for Manchester United sees them languishing currently in seventh place in the English Premiership League (EPL) some seventeen points behind league leaders Liverpool FC (71 pts) with only six games remaining to their regular season schedule . The lone trophy that the team is now contention for , remains the UEFA Champions League , where they meet Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga in the first leg of a two-leg quarter-final , where the winner advances to the semi-finals of the most important European club competition . Getty Images Europe/ Arthur James ….

(7) Bolivian billionaire , Marcelo Claure and founder & CEO of Brightstar is seen here with soccer star David Beckham at a Miami Heat game at the AA Arena in Miami , Florida ., The two have partnered up entertainment mogul Simon Fuller , creator of American Idol and CEO of XIX Entertainment the holding company for Fuller’s business properties . The trio bid an astonishingly low asking price of $50 million for the MLS Miami franchise which is due to become operational during the 2017 season . Don Garber , MLS Chairman , who was pressed on the issue as to why the rights’ fee for the franchise, was so considerably low , when the New York franchisee was asked to pay in excess of $125 million , stated that as part of Beckham’s original contract, when he joined the MLS as a player with the Los (LA) Angeles Galaxy , wherein, a codicil was added to his contract giving him the right to operate a franchise with a predetermined fee . The consortium is now in discussion with the city of Miami with regard to the building of a 40,000 seat venue in the downtown Miami area but there also signs that the consortium would be open to site close to the Port of Miami close to the current home of Miami Heat , NBA franchise . Miami Herald / Jose Garcia ………

(8) Former teammates and close friends , David Beckham is seen here with Ryan Giggs. The duo tasted unprecedented success as players with Manchester United having won every domestic trophy together as players and then triumphed also when club won the UEFA Champions League Trophy for the first time since it was one for the first time under the late Sir Matt Busby as the Champions League precursor (European Cup) in 1968. The two are rumored to be part of a consortium made of up several members of the 1992 Manchester United team that are said to be interested in purchasing the soccer club , in which they would be backed by wealthy Arab family , whose name has yet to be disclosed . Weary of his name being attached this deal , David Beckham has neither confirmed or denied that such a proposal , as having been discussed . Yet , unconfirmed sources , have stated that Giggs and his friend, have repeatedly discussed the situation in the past several months , with now a number of teammates coming on-board , to be part of such a deal . At the same time, a number of major English newspapers are now headlining many of their back page,s with the assertion that beleaguered manager David Moyes is likely to be fired at the end of the season campaign, based on his failure during the domestic season , notwithstanding the fact of his guiding United to the quarter-final stages of the UEFA Champions League. Speculation has continued to rise that, Ryan Giggs would be the suitable successor to Moyes , having played his entire twenty-year career with the team, where he is well-respected by current teammates and beloved by the fans at Old Trafford , home ground of the Premiership’s most widely respected team. Guardian UK / Ian Ogletree ………..

(9) Simon Fuller , left, is seen here with close friend , business partner David Beckham and his wife Victoria ‘Posh Spice’ Beckham , singer and fashion designer . Fuller also happens to be the manager of both celebrities , advising them on a wide variety of issues , as it relates to their respective images and ongoing careers. Getty Images / Alicia Markham …

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2014 NBA Draft

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English Premier League (EPL) and EPL news

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EPL divisional table

EPL form guide

Premier League schedule (season long)

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Manchester United profile ———- Old Trafford (Stadium)

Manchester United News (official website)

Manchester United Club Board of Directors

Manchester United squad and David Moyes

Manchester United team’s statistics

Manchester United club schedule (Premiership)

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Manchester United Premiership position , in seventh place with 54 points having played thirty-two of their scheduled thirty-eight games .

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Who says that the nation’s greatest ever pastime is dead ?

Who says that the nation’s greatest ever pastime is dead ?

Unofficially, the MLB season has started with a two-game series having already taken place between NL West teams the Arizona Diamondbacks (0-2) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2-0) playing their series in Brisbane, Australia,. For managers Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson . this has been a start to a season, in which , both will be seeking to compensate for poor regular seasons, albeit, that Mattingly was able to lead his Dodgers to the NLCS against the St Louis Cardinals , where the team would fall to the NL Central based Cardinals , in six less than thrilling games , where the overrated Los Angles’ franchise simply fell apart . As to the reason , why this All Star laden team would succumb so easily , can be best summed up by the fact , that there was a great deal of complacency on the part of the players as well as Mattingly and his managerial staff .

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For the defending World Series’ champions the Boston Red Sox , led by manager John Farrell , this past season and their achievements , were nothing short of astonishing. From a last place finish within the . AL East , in 2012, to overcoming the ineptitude showed that season, along with the summary dismissal of Bobby Valentine . The latter, of whom, was simply hired for style over substance.

Farrell was able to lead his team with great deal of aplomb, as they weaved their way through an arduous regular season schedule and then without breaking much of a sweat , romped through the postseason , with a great deal of ease. Now the question becomes for one baseball’s most revered organizations , _____ can they make a successful defense of their title or simply fall by the wayside ? The Boston Red Sox are likely to be the initial prohibitive favorites within the AL East , where the division is likely to be a three-horse race between themselves , the Baltimore Orioles and either New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays, dependent upon which the way the wind is blowing or moreover , dependent upon whom the Vegas odds-makers believe to be the more credible of the two candidates.

As usual the MLB off-season posed a number of questions , of which the biggest had to be , how would the New York Yankees fare in the upcoming season , knowing that this would be Derek Jeter’s last season with the franchise after an two-decade career with the ball-club. A player of his stature, cannot easily be replaced, in spite of the now ongoing debates within baseball circles concerning the player’s career and where he now ranks the all-time greats to have donned a Yankees’ uniform . From my own perspective, I believe Jeter to be amongst the top twenty players in the ball-club’s history and where he might ranks within that number , would be entirely based upon how one might feel about his list of achievements and the era in which he played.

The New York Yankees made a splash during the off-season committing over $300 million to players they acquired to bolster their roster , while having the lost the likes of Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson to free agency. That being said, GM Brian Cashman and senior managing partner, Hal Steinbrenner know that this will be a season upon which they will be judged , with the added pressure the fans will want to send off the team’s revered captain with another World Series’ title , which would be in-fact Derek Jeter’s sixth , with baseball’s most successful franchise .

Coming into this season, with another bloated payroll , once again close to , if not exceeding $200 million , one has to ask how much longer the front office can continue to simply splurge on players , while having no real trust within their farm system having drafted presumed talent, in the hope that they would simply blossom and be productive for the franchise. Granted , the measure of success attained over the years , has somewhat downplayed those assertions to an extent , but in reality , they simply cannot be overlooked. Were it not for the benefits, offered by of the club’s ownership of the YES Network and being domiciled in the nation’s largest ad market . I seriously doubt that the New York Yankees would have achieved the measure of success attained under former manager Joe Torre and most recently with their last postseason triumph in 2009 with current manager Joe Girardi .

Girardi and his players will begin their season, with a series against the Houston Astros on the 1st April ,2014 at Minute Maid Park , in Houston , Texas. The likely starters will be CC Sabathia of the Yankees against Houston’s Scott Feldman . For the beleaguered Astros’ franchise , besides their ongoing off the field issues , their biggest hope has to be to avoid and enduring another loss of one hundred games for a third consecutive season , having been able to achieve that feat in 2012 and 2013 . An ignominious feat, while team owner , Jim Crane claims that his ball-club is in a healthy and competitive state. One has to wonder how that can be, while he seeks to sue broadcast partner CSN Houston , parent company Comcast Inc as well as Drayton McClane , the a Astros’ former owner. More to the point, given the fact that Bud Selig was a conduit for the sale , I have to ask, why Crane also has not focused his attention at the MLB Commissioner, with regard to the pending litigation and the very fact that Selig played a large part in the engineering of the sale of the franchise and its relocation from the NL Central in 2012 to the AL West in 2013 ? Bear in mind, that, Crane and the franchise, received a hearty financial “sweetener” n of $100 million to aid in the purchase and in the Astros’ subsequent move to the AL . Conspiracy theory or not, something, really ” stinks “ , concerning this deal, the actions of Jim Crane and that of the MLB hierarchy , as countenanced by Bud Selig .

I will say this for Detroit Tigers’ , owner , Michael Ilitch, he is certainly not afraid of throwing money at players , he believes to be talented enough to aid his franchise in their quest for a World Series ! Something, that has not been achieved by the ball-club in over two decades. The fact that pitcher , Justin Verlander, is one of the highest paid players in the game as well as one of the highest paid pitchers simply has not deterred the owner , who seeks the advice of the team’s general manager , in , Dave Dombrowski . Now with their Tigers’ two-time AL MVP , Triple Crown King and perhaps the best “pure hitter “ in the game , in slugger , Miguel Cabrera . With the player having reportedly ” inked “ a eight-year $248 million deal , with their still being two years left on his existing contract that will pay him $44 million . One has to wonder, what other maneuvers are likely to be engineered within the Tigers’ front office .

The end to this episode, has not yet come to a satisfactory conclusion within the Tigers’ organization with pitcher, Max Scherzer at first turning down an initial offer of a contract extension , said to be an offer worth six-years and $144 million . Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras said to have found the offer derisory and beneath what he believes his client would be worth on the open market. An agent of Boras’ stature and someone who has come to be the bane of general managers around the league, has simply been the main reason why the sport of baseball has become ” financially imperiled ” . Far too many, idiotic fans, believe that MLB remains on sound financial footing, merely because the game’s revenues have been increasing each season. Inflationary issues asides, a great deal of this, has to more to do with the renegotiated television rights , increased ticket , concession prices and corporate endorsement deals . Yet above all , players’ salaries , contract and team payrolls are on the increase , while the quality of the baseball being played is actually on the decline . Granted, Bud Selig can always point to the fact that game attendances , are at a high , but nowhere near an all-time as associated with the game during the fifties , sixties seventies and early eighties . While we have seen larger venues being built, over the past few years, it has not followed through in creating bigger attendances for a number of teams. Small market teams struggle to attract a fan-base big enough to be actually self-sustaining, without the aid of an assist from the MLB hierarchy . Cases can be justified, with the number of teams assisted by the league’s tax-sharing revenue scheme.

In refusing the Tigers’ offer Scherzer puts himself on the part to become a free agent this off-season and it seems highly unlikely that GM Dave Dombrowski to resume negotiations with either the player or his agent. Scott Boras for his part , as an agent over the past decade , has negotiated contracts totaling in excess of $5 billion , and having negotiated the most contracts of clients such as Alex Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira , Stephen Drew , Kendry Morales , Barry Zito , Jered Weaver , Shin Soo Choo and Michael Bourn , through his successful sports’ management agency the Boras Corporation .

With appearances coming in 2006 and 2012 in the World Series for the Detroit Tigers , with the team failing on both occasions , you would have to go back to 1984 , when the ball-club was triumphant over the San Diego Padres in baseball’s postseason fare . Three decades later and one wonders, if a curse was placed over the franchise after that series’ victory. Here, am I thinking , Wrigley Field , the infamous goat and Steve Bartman might be the only things , that fans can have fun with, when it comes to comedic anecdotes concerning the game ! I guess I was wrong in that context and can only hope that when the Tigers begin their 2014 schedule, with their opening home game against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park in Detroit , it will be the start of something special for the ball-club this season.

As much as it pains me to say this , having watched the Chicago Cubs swoon over the seasons , has brought a great deal emotion and in many respects, a great deal of laughter. In spite of, the club’s history and the many great players , that have passed through the locker room down the years. The continued struggles of the franchise, as they seek to win a World Series and to appease and placate their long-suffering fans and the shedding of the myth of the “goat” has been something of a long running soap opera. Steve Bartman’s infamy and stupidity, in some respects, gives you an indication, why the franchise remains in a quagmire , beyond the sheer conceit shown first, by Sam Zell and the current owners of the Cubs , Tom Ricketts and his family . If Ricketts believes spending $100 million refurbishing and upgrading the ballpark is money well-spent, rather than bolstering the current roster , then it gives you an indication as to where his priorities may well lie , even with Theo Epstein being brought in to weave some magic in heading up the team’s Baseball Operations . Epstein’s tenure with the ball-club at present, two years in and the franchise has been moving at a snail’s pace , showing very little sign of progress either on or off the field of play.

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Catching hell doesn’t do Bartman justice ! A bullet to the head , would have been justified .

Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer will seek to bring back some semblance of success , having worked together before, in a similar capacity , while both were with the Boston Red Sox , where they saw a considerable amount of success together as a pairing, in bringing about the first of that franchise’s three most recent World Series’ titles. The Cubs’ long-suffering fans have been waiting for over hundred years to witness a World Title and but for Steve Bartman’s idiocy during the 2003 NLCS , the common feeling might well have been , this was to be their year . Instead, one moment of lunacy, brought about angst , anger, pent-up frustration , threats to endanger the life of Steve Bartman and ,members of his immediate family. Meanwhile , Moises Alou can only feel hard done by, and wishing that if the ball had been struck with a little less strength , it would have been the Chicago Cubs quite possibly winning out , in that now infamous series against the Florida Marlins and then making their way to the World Series that year . If, only and but , all commonly used words in the English language ,and yet when acquainting them with the Chicago Cubs , memories of Alou’s outstretched arms and Bartman snatching that fly ball from within his grasp, spelt disaster for the franchise in more ways than one .

The Cubs will begin with their season, when they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in their regular season opener , where they will also be opposing the 2013 NL MVP winner Andrew McCutchen, as that team , seeks to take a few more positive steps, after languishing on the outside looking in , having not made the postseason in two decades . Last year, in some respects, was a season of firsts for this ball-club, with a number of players showing a great deal more maturity? Although their postseason foray was not long-lasting, , it was enough give the Pirates a great hope for this upcoming season as Neal Huntington has been finally been given the go-ahead to actually spend some money the roster in acquiring players . A major turnaround , when you consider that for a number of years, team owner , Bob Nutting repeatedly, plead poverty while the ball-club was actually profitable, even if it came by way of the largess of the > baseball hierarchy .

Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle and his managerial staff will have a tough season in seeking to repeat many of the team’s triumphs of last season . Nonetheless , with McCutchen leading the offense and providing his stealth in the outfield as one of baseball’s best defensive players . A great deal is expected of the Pittsburgh Pirates this upcoming season where they are likely to face a stiff challenge from the likes of the St Louis Cardinals , Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers . If the team can simply show some of the form of last season and specifically within their division , then there could very well be a possibility of the ball-club coming away with their first divisional title since 1992 . As I alluded to earlier, the Pirates have spent a long time on the outside looking in and then some !

Exploding salaries and payrolls and the general managers, are expected to work miracles in conjunction with the managers around the league. Moreover, the owners , themselves, many of them are amongst some of the wealthiest individuals in the country or they happen to have been either successful businessmen or quite possibly successful in other chosen endeavors . Peter Angelos a successful attorney and owner of the Baltimore Orioles, not often seen in public , has become something of a recluse. In the past seven years , during his tenure, as the franchise’s owner , I truly believe he and the front office to have been completely negligent in their running of the ball-club ! Granted, a great deal of the idiotic analysis suggested by fans of the team , have merely made suggestions about their draft needs in order to build their farm system for the future and free agent acquisitions , never once questioning the mindset of the owner and the lack of concern or motivation on his part of that of the executives within the front office. Perhaps , it really does come down to the apparent lack of intelligence of the fans and their having little or no damn knowledge as to the inner workings of a business , much less a professional sports’ franchise .

Peter Angelos for his part, may well have left the day-to-day running of the Orioles to his son, John P Angelos , H Russell Souse , Chief General Counsel, Dan Duqutte and former Baltimore Orioles’ player , Brady Anderson . A great deal was expected of the team last season , but unfortunately for Buck Showalter and his staff , the players were not readily equipped to get the job done and garner a wildcard berth . At one point during last season, it looked as if the Baltimore Orioles were capable of actually winning the AL East, but beyond the fascination of Chris Davis and his seeking to <a href=http://mlb.mlb.com/bal/history/uy break the franchise’s single season home run record and the increasing maturity being shown by Manny Machado , there was not a great deal that evolved out of the Orioles’ season during 2013. Their failure in large part, was in simply playing their divisional rivals , tough , during the season and it essentially led to their own undoing . There may well now be a common belief that this season, they are going to be in a position to challenge the might of the might of the Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays , but I do not believe that the team in its present guise is simply good enough to pull off that feat , in spite of their off-season moves !

While Mike Scioscia and Ron Gardenhire look to start their respective seasons, within the AL, for the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins . I cannot help but wonder, with the combined managerial career between the two , all they have to show for that their respective tenures , just happens to be, one World Series’ title , one AL Pennant , several divisional titles and collectively , well over 2000 career wins ( Gardenhire 998 wins and Scioscia 1233 wins) . Yet , I truly believe that both of these well-respected managers, are now past their prime ! Wherein, for owners Arte Moreno and Jim Pohlad , this may well be the season , where should both managers fail to meet expectations, then their careers within the Majors, will come to an abrupt end , with their summary dismissals . It could also mean the end, for general managers, Jerry DiPoto and Terry Ryan . Though, in some circles, it is believed that Ryan will be allowed to remain in his current position, with the Twins, as he seeks turn things around, after the somewhat , recent lean years of under-achievement by his predecessor, Bill Smith . . As the season gets underway, determined by the progress made, we will all be able to judge the fate and outcome of both of these managers. Could a World Series’ win be in the picture for either ? Your thoughts on that and anything else, you believe pertinent to the subject matter, is more than welcome !

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(1) (L-R) NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell and NSW Minister for Arts, George Souris present signed cricket bats to Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers and Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks during the MLB Welcome to Australia Press Conference at Sydney Cricket Ground oon March 18, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Getty Images Asia-Pacific/ Brendon Thorne …..

(2) Diamondbacks manager, Kirk Gibson speaks during the MLB Welcome to Australia Press Conference at Sydney Cricket Ground on March 18, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Getty Images Asia-Pacific / Brendon Thorne …..

(3) Prince Fielder is seen here with Detroit Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski , after the player was acquired as a free agent by the franchise . Two years of somewhat lackluster productivity having signed a multi-year multi-million deal , Fielder was sent packing along with the remainder of his contract to the Texas Rangers , where the player hopes to resurrect his once prolific career . AP Photo / Joel Harper ….

(4) Scott Boras, baseball’s most well-known and sought after agent . As CEO & Chairman of the Boras Corporation . the agent has a clientele list , that boasts some of the most recognizable and well paid players in the game . Being on this side of the business has made Boras an extremely wealthy man , having harbored dreams of playing in the Big Leagues , where his career did not really pan out . American Pathe Inc @ copyrighted material …..

(5) Steve Bartman and Moises Alou of the Cubs battle for a foul ball in the 2003 National League Championship Series . One moment of apparent infamy and stupidity by Bartman on an October night in 2003 , led to threats on his life and that of his family’s being threatened . Photo by Elsa Martinez/ Getty Images ….

(6) Brady Anderson , right, is seen here with Dan Duquette , as both front office executives within the Baltimore Orioles’ franchise discuss a number of team issues . Anderson , a former player with the ball-club was one of the Orioles’ most popular players during his playing career with the organization. AP Photo / Mason Fuller …..

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The always delectable Bria Myles ! More of Bria for your perusal .

Gotta loves those “lady lumps” !

Damn !

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If a tree falls in the woods, can it be heard from afar ?

If a tree falls in the woods, can it be heard from afar ?

As the NBA season now enters the final dozen games of the NBA. regular season schedule, there now seems to be an inevitability about the year for several teams . There are likely to be some tumultuous off-season moves , with quite possibly one or two executive upheavals and perhaps two or three head coaches, losing their current positions. Such is the price of failure, that if the success sought , is not with the immediacy of here and now , then the decision is made for the executive or head coach to jettisoned from that organization.

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With Phil Jackson , having accepted the position to become the Head of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks , the widespread feeling around the league , is that head coach Mike Woodson and several members of his coaching staff will not be asked to return next season. Moreover, Jackson , is now likely to use these final few games of the Knicks’ regular season to assess the makeup of the roster and what are likely to be the team’s overall needs , as they head into the off-season, in preparation for the 2014 NBA Draft .

Phil Jackson has been extremely critical of the New York Knicks and their play , and that is in spite of the team’s recent ten-game streak , during which they posted an 8-2 record . This however, came to an abrupt end, when they succumbed to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers with a four-point 100-96 loss and then follow-up that abomination, with an even more embarrassing defeat , in losing , in a thirty-one point blowout loss 127-96 on Tuesday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles California , to the Los Angeles Lakers , who currently have one of the worst records in the entire NBA. Yet , in recent days , because of this run, there have been some idiotic rumblings amongst Knicks’ fans and analysts alike, that the team might just be capable enough of mounting a credible run , leading them to gain a playoff berth .

Were it not for the pragmatist in me , I would resoundingly state that these fans have lost their minds, but in reality to find an intelligent New York Knicks’ fan nowadays, is somewhat like trying to seek out a completely honest member of Congress or better yet, someone within that hallowed chamber as befitting their intelligence, who is actually capable of succinctly telling and explaining to the public, how the economy still remains in a quagmire in spite of the claims and the statistics yielded by the Commerce Department and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Knicks are simply not good enough to mount serious challenge, whereby they can jump ahead of the eighth placed Atlanta Hawks (31-38) or seventh placed Charlotte Bobcats( 34-37) , two teams with a five and two game lead over the ninth placed New York Knicks (29-42) .

With eleven games remaining on the New York Knicks’ regular season schedule , of which four of those contests , at their home venue of Madison Square Gardens in New York City, New York, for which that stage has been a less than pleasant domicile, as a place for the Knicks to defend their home turf. On the road , they simply fare not much better , but somehow , there we have many, singing the praises of a team with a sub.500 record , as if they are a major contender for this season’s NBA title. As absurd as that sounds , it is something one has come to expect of the franchise , who still have ideas of grandeur way above their station. With Phil Jackson, now firmly on-board and looking to entrench himself in the day-to-day workings of the organization, supposedly working alongside GM Steve Mills , it will be interesting to see the dynamics that will take place between Jackson and his subordinate .

The biggest issue Phil Jackson is likely to have , will be seeking to dissuade Carmelo Anthony from opting out of the final year of his existing contract to ‘test’ the free agency market. In knowing that he can obtain a more lucrative contract by resigning with the New York Knicks, I do firmly believe that unless , the front office can prove to the player that it is their intent to bolster the roster. I do fully believe , that he is likely bolt and make a move to a major contender within the NBA. A team such as the Los Angeles Lakers , with a great deal of money under the cap, are likely to try and entice Anthony to make the move to the West coast to play alongside Kobe Bryant , who would undoubtedly welcome the Knicks player’s presence in taking the burden off his back as being the franchise’s primary offensive weapon . Yet , the Lakers too , are not without their own internal problems and struggles , with their being mounting criticism coming from within and outside of the organization.

Former players, Magic Johnson , James Worthy and most recently Byron Scott , have been extremely critical of GM Mitch Kupchak and senior executive Jim Buss , de-facto managing partner of the venerable franchise , where his younger siblings , Jeanie Buss , SVP of Business Operations and Johnny Buss , assistant Head of Scouting , all having significant roles within the organization. Jeanie Buss, the fiancée of Phil Jackson, now has a decision to make, as to ultimately, where her loyalties may well lie. Does she remain in support of Jackson, standing at his side ? Also, what happens when the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks face off in a regular season contest , never mind the fervor likely to be raised , were the two teams to meet in a future NBA title series contest , with the couple on opposing sides of the court ?

Not to be left out of the controversy of the inward struggle within the Los Angeles Lakers, has been Kobe Bryant’s vocal dissent and the very fact that the franchise did not seek to lure Phil Jackson back to an organization. that he coached to five NBA titles during his two tenures with the team. It now makes you wonder what the current intent may well be of Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, as they seek to engineer a turnaround of a franchise , that for the most part has been mired in mediocrity all season long .

With Kobe Bryant, seeing his season come to an early end, with a recurrence of an earlier injury, curtailing the shortest playing spell of his extraordinary career . The player has been left strolling the sidelines, watching his teammates , labor for the greater part of the year, under the impression, that they were capable of playing a great deal better , than they have been. Granted, the shellacking of the New York Knicks, provided one of the few positive respites of what has been otherwise, a simply monstrous season, under a clueless ‘ Mike D’Antoni and his beleaguered coaching staff ! With their clearly being no real thought process, as to how he prepares his players for each ensuing contest , one has to wonder what the hell, the Lakers’ head coach feels that he may have achieved , during this season of adversity ?

A Thursday night contest against the struggling Milwaukee Bucks (13-58) at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin , is simply another sign of how far the Lakers have fallen, as their continued swoon, is proving to be so fateful. Not that the decline, likely to continue to the point, where the franchise would become one of the array franchises, deemed a lottery pick in seeking to avail themselves of the number one draft pick , in the upcoming NBA Draft. It has been a considerable period of time, where the Los Angeles Lakers were placed in a position where they had a first round draft pick, that was inside the top five of any draft in recent NBA history.

Before the Brooklyn Nets’ billionaire owner, Mikhail Prokhorov entered the NBA , purchasing the franchise for what appears to be an astonishing sum and along the way simply opening up his check book like a rich benefactor. The capricious spending, amongst NBA team owners , was once led by the Dallas Mavericks’ , Mark Cuban , as the franchise chased after that elusive first NBA title. Having been able to achieve that feat, while feeling the wrath of former NBA Commissioner David Stern , the Mavericks’ owner has paid over $2.5 million in fines levied by the former league executive for the continued criticism of the league itself , as well as the officiating . With the former commissioner , now having stepped down , to be succeeded by Adam Silver, it will certainly be interesting to see the dichotomy of the relationship between the self-absorbed and publicity seeking owner and that of the somewhat taciturn Silver.

Silver has yet to bring about many major edict, as he seeks to stamp his own identity on a league that for almost three decades, was simply viewed as David Stern’s fiefdom, to do with as he pleased . Stern’s dictatorial rule, would make the likes of Pol Pot, Idi Amin , Muammar Gaddafi and even Saddam Hussein shudder. Things were either done to his liking, or you would somehow, feel his wrath directly or indirectly. As to this repeated idiocy, that the commissioner, built the NBA into what it has become. The league’s explosion, into a global phenomenon had more to do with the charisma of Michael Jordan and the marketing ingenuity shown by Phil Knight and his then fledgling sports’ apparel company Nike Inc , with Stern riding in on the coattails of the five-time League six-time Finals’ MVP .

For the Dallas Mavericks, since their decisive series’ victory over the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals, the franchise has sought to regain that sort of form. An aging Dirk Nowitzki , around whom the team is still centered , has now become somewhat more athletic , with Rick Carlisle and his coaching staff presiding over the player personnel changes and the revamping of the roster, altogether. GM Donnie Nelson has seen fit to be fiscally responsible paring down the team’s payroll to a manageable size , yet at the same time , the front office executive has his eyes on the upcoming free agency period, where there will be a litany of players , that he feels might be able to assist the organization in winning a second NBA championship.

With the likelihood that this will be the last year with Dirk Nowitzki leading the Mavericks, the task of steering their way through the Western Conference and specifically the conference playoffs , within the conference , will be the toughest thing for the team to achieve. The conference and the divisions themselves, are truly competitive , unlike the morass of mediocrity that the fans have been subjected to within the Eastern Conference and the divisions there. The Miami Heat , as defending NBA champions, might well be everyone’s favorite at present, but in recent weeks, the team has looked far from infallible . If anything, Erik Spoelstra’s players, have looked nothing like NBA championship caliber material, much less defending champions.

As the eighth seed in the Western Conference and if things are to remain as they are, until the end of the regular season . Then, a first round match-up, between the Dallas Mavericks and their instate rivals, the San Antonio Spurs would provide the conference with one of the more enticing contests . That, is not to suggest, that the other prospective clashes are any the less meaningful. Bragging rights, as to who ultimately is said to be the best NBA franchise in the state of Texas will be up for grabs and while fans of the Houston Rockets might beg to differ. I would suggest that the fans there, simply ask themselves the question, when was the last time your team made a deep run into the NBA postseason?

The Mavericks’ recent victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder , was certainly a morale booster for the franchise, as they look to wind down their regular season schedule , in the run-up to the playoffs.

Sixteen consecutive seasons and counting , with the likelihood that this season, once again the San Antonio Spurs (55-16) will make it to the NBA Playoffs for a seventeenth consecutive year . It will be an unprecedented feat , but somehow it will be lost on the rest of the NBA, while not even being appreciated by the league hierarchy or the league’s fan-base . The franchise is simply not seen as one of the NBA’s more glamorous teams or organizations. Granted, there remains a healthy respect of head coach Gregg Popovich , his achievements, while he seeks to win a fifth NBA title as the head coach of the Spurs . Yet, Peter Holt, RC Buford and the rest of the organization are simply viewed as an afterthought around the league and in no way , were they even thought of as a likely contender for this season’s championship. Now with the best record in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference, as well as the conference and league overall . What are the fans, much less the odds-makers to make of another astonishing season from the Spurs?

A fifteen-game win streak has pretty much summed up, why record-wise, the San Antonio Spurs have been the best team in the NBA over the time-span covering this streak and might one now suggest the best team in the NBA all year-long ? Fans and analysts alike, over the season, have been gushing about the Golden State Warriors , Indiana Pacers , Los Angeles Clippers , Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder . On balance, it will be pretty tough to now suggest, that the Spurs will actually come out of the Western Conference playoffs unscathed . The competitiveness within the conference, is far greater than that of their Eastern counterparts , and the consensus remains that the conference champion within the Eastern Conference will come through, far fresher and ready to compete at a far greater preparedness , than their Finals’ opponent.

A five-point win over the Denver Nuggets and leading their season series’ meetings 2-0 , Popovich will take the San Antonio Spurs to the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado on Thursday evening , seeking to push that mark to 3-0 , after Wednesday’s home victory over the Nuggets in San Antonio , Texas at the AT& T Center . The Spurs’ head coach has in recent games, been using his triumvirate of All Stars sparingly , in order that Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker are ready for the arduous postseason sojourn . Parker at present , remains the team’s biggest health worry , having missed several games over the season , with some form of a malady . A Finals’ MVP in the Spurs’ most recent triumph in the NBA Finals , where a return to that form , would certainly help the franchise in their quest for a fifth title and what would be Parker’s fourth with the team , having part of their success in 2003 , 2005 and 2007 .

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What, to your mind, has been the biggest disappointment within the NBA this season ? In light of the previous question, which team and player do you believe have to be legitimately taken as serious contenders during this postseason ? ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit, on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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(1) Larry Drew , head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks , whose season has been mired in mediocrity with the team currently holding the worst record within their division , conference and the league . Team owner , Herb Kohl , while seeking to sell the franchise under the understanding that the new owner would retain the team the city of Milwaukee , may well now have to consider the on-court issues of the franchise and what may well be necessary, in order to resurrect the fortunes of the team. The firing of Drew and his coaching staff , is likely to be considered amongst the number of options at the front office’s disposal . Getty Images / Keith Ferguson ….

(2) Milwaukee Bucks’ general manager , John Hammond is seen here alongside head coach Larry Drew . After a tumultuous season with the Bucks’ current record of 13-58 , makes it extremely difficult at this late a stage of the season to see how Drew can bring about some semblance of resiliency to what has been a very dysfunctional team . Getty Images / Mark Hurst ……

(4) LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 27: (L-R) Assistant coach Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (L) of the Los Angeles Lakers is congratulated by former Laker champions James Worthy and Magic Johnson and Michael Cooper , after receiving his 1988 NBA Championship ring before the season opening game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on October 27 , 2009 in Los Angeles, California. In recent weeks , Johnson , Worthy and Byron Scott have been extremely critical of the Los Angeles Lakers’ organization and the lack of direction under GM Mitch Kupchak , team managing partner and owner Jim Buss . Copyright 2009 NBAE /Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images …..

(5) Dallas Mavericks’ GM Donnie Nelson is here alongside team owner , Mark Cuban . The rambunctious owner always an attention seeker , has been overly critical of the franchise’s all-time leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki, claiming his lack of productivity has been one of the main causes behind the Mavericks’ lack of success this season . AP Photo / Tim Riggins …..

(6) San Antonio Spurs’ GM RC Buford is seen here with team owner , Peter Holt at the AT&T Center in San Antonio , Texas . Buford has been the main architect of the franchise’s three most recent triumphs in the NBA Finals, having been a been a behind the scenes front office executive before ascending into his present position . For the Spurs in making the postseason this year, this will be their sixteenth straight appearance in the NBA Playoffs since 1997, an NBA league record in terms of consecutive postseason appearances . The team’s head coach Gregg Popovich is the longest continued tenured head coach in the NBA and one of the longest tenured coaches in each of the four major professional team sports covering baseball , football (NFL) , hockey and the NBA , itself . AP Photo / Chris Hodges …….
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That’s not a crossover dribble .

Definitely not a part of either Bucks or Lakers’ team film watching after regular season losses .

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It is what it is …………

It is what it is …………

Well the sports’ environment at present has taken a back seat to the NCAA Tournament , with the event itself , having provided the fans with a number of stunning upsets , while there have been some that were not totally unexpected . With the number one ranked Florida Gators having now made their way to the ‘Sweet Sixteen ‘ , the road in some respects does now seem all but clear , for Billy Donovan and his team to capture the program’s third national title in the past eight seasons . Were the Gators’ head coach able to manage that feat , it would certainly make him the school’s most successful coach in terms of national titles won , beating out the likes of Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier .

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From my own perspective , I believe Donovan the equal of both of the aforementioned coaches , albeit that, Meyer and Spurrier left Florida to further their careers , elsewhere . In the case of Urban Meyer, his departure and subsequent criticism of his former employers and the program he coached to two BCS titles , may well have more to do with his egotistical character and the level of criticism aimed at him , with the failure of Tim Tebow to become a resounding success in the NFL . A great deal of that criticism is more than justified , when you simply bear in mind that Tebow’s collegiate career while stellar , at the next level of his evolution , his game simply did not materialize into anything more than that of a moderately average quarterback , who could barely read defensive tendencies , much less make a pass attempt in excess of fifteen yards or more , without their being a tendency of an interception or the pass simply falling short of its target , but there were , the vast majority of less than intelligent Gators’ fans, still singing Tim Tebow’s praises as a player. With his career now coming to an abrupt end , he has now been hired by cable sports’ programming network ESPN to provide fans with his insight into the Collegiate Football and the games , where he will be covering . One can only wish Tebow, all the success possible in his new endeavor , in the hope that he is likely to be more successful in his new vocation.

With a number of programs now having fallen by the wayside, in this particular NCAA Tournament, by contrast , at this point last season , things in some respects were somewhat similar. Florida for its part, have more than justified that national number one ranking , and proof of that , come by way of their regular season schedule and their run through the SEC (Southeast Conference) ,where the team went undefeated , a first for conference play, within the Southeastern Conference. Leading the way for Florida, in terms of the team’s play , have been Casey Prather , Patric Young , Michael Frazier and Scottie Wilbekin , but it has truly been a collective team effort , along with that of Billy Donovan and the coaching acumen shown by his coaching staff , which has taken them this far and proven their season-long dominance this year.

Through their first two games of this tournament, Florida has not truly been tested , with their first round contest against Albany NY being nothing more than a cakewalk , with their 67-55 defeat of that team , before facing an even less sterner test in taking down the Pittsburgh (Panthers) with another somewhat lopsided victory 61-45 . The Gators’ path to the ‘Elite Eight’ in the NCAA Tournament, will see them having to overcome the UCLA Bruins , in what is likely to be the best game scheduled during the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ .

Of the games , still to be played in the round of the Sweet Sixteen , beyond the featured contest, which I believe to be the best at this stage of the tournament. There are games between Iowa State versus Connecticut , Tennessee and Michigan , Louisville (Cardinals) and Kentucky , Baylor and Wisconsin , Arizona and San Diego State , finally Dayton versus Stanford . All great match-ups befitting a tournament, that now lures shall we say, degenerate gamblers into wagering billions of dollars, into the most lucrative sports’ event, for the gaming industry in North America .

Rick Pitino , as the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, when he faces off against an old foe and nemesis in John Calipari , in a contest , of well-versed coaches , that will be a match of wits . What might also make this match-up also intriguing, with both coaches, having reached the pinnacle of collegiate coaching in winning a national title. Pitino, will now seek to take down a program , where, he was once a head coach and a well-respected one at that.

There are few coaches as well-respected as Tom Izzo within Collegiate Basketball and while one can be critical of the game at this level . It has to be said, that with the continued controversy of tainted programs , abuses of privileges and the ongoing issues of recruitment violations . Rarely, has Izzo’s tenure at Michigan St (Spartans) raised any suspicion of the program being mired, in any major impropriety. However, that is not to suggest, that Spartans athletics’ program has been pristine and above-board. Collegiate Athletics has become embroiled and awash, with far too much money , that the temptation to do something amiss, has become even more tempting than ever before. At the same time, the continued incompetency of the NCAA does not cover the distrust that the public has not only the entire landscape of college sports but also the hierarchical structure of the that particular body , under its current President , Mark Emmert , who came to the position, carrying a great deal of baggage of his own, concerning a number of improprieties and a lack communicative and administrative skills .

Izzo and the Spartans, while seeking to make their way to the Elite Eight, are not likely to have an easy time when they face the Virginia (Cavaliers) . Cavaliers’ head coach, Tony Bennett will undoubtedly want to pull off the upset , in taking the program this deep into the quarter-finals of the tournament for the very first time ever. The outcome of this contest, between Michigan and Tennessee , will definitely be predicated upon the offensive prowess shown by both teams and the coaching acumen of the respective staffs.

This NCAA Tournament has certainly lived up to expectations so far and the contests have provided the fans with a great deal more than most would have expected .

The big news within the NBA over the past eight days , has been the New York Knicks’ acquisition of Phil Jackson to head up the franchise’s Basketball Operations and being entirely responsible for all player personnel decisions. Jackson , himself, has been quick to point out, that the level of the play by the current roster has bordered on being inadequate and lacking the basic fundamentals , that the team itself , simply looks like a group of individuals at play on a high school playground. Subsequent to that statement by the Knicks’ front office executive , the players have responded in kind rolling off eight victories in their last ten games , perhaps reminding Jackson that they are capable of playing as a cohesive unit. As to what this might suggest as to the coaching strategies of Mike Woodson and his coaching staff , may well spell doom and his departure from the franchise at the end of this season. Woodson, might not be a proponent of the “Triangle Offense” and Phil Jackson has suggested that the scheme need not be adhered to, by the team, but , what he would like to see, is a great deal more resilience and tenacity from the players.

The New York Knicks’ continued malaise over the past seven seasons at least , has been brought on by the negligence of team owner , James Dolan and the litany of general managers heading up the front office during that time-span. Anyone who would try to suggest that under Isiah Thomas’ tenure , or that of Dave Checketts , Ernie Grunfeld , Scott Layden and in some respects Donnie Walsh , have in some way brought about some semblance of competitiveness to the franchise, need only look at the Knicks’ overall record from 1999 to 2013 and the number of playoff appearances made . In large part, the organization has spent more time acquiring nondescript talent and simply overpaying for the players assembled to represent the team during that time. It is certainly something, that will clearly have to be addressed by Phil Jackson and the staff that he will likely assemble to assist him in that stead, as he seeks to build a roster that will be viewed as a perennial contender, rather than being seen as an also-ran.

A playoff berth is now beyond the New York Knicks’ reach for this season, but in large part several players on the roster will be playing for their long-term future and livelihood with the franchise , in light of Jackson’s wish to revamp this roster. The team (29-41) at present , is lying in ninth place , within the Eastern Conference and three games out from that final berth , which is currently held by the Atlanta Hawks(31-37) as of 23rd March , 2014.

As if to further emphasize the numerous reasons why the Knicks have been woefully inept , consider the fact that at home, they are amongst the worst teams in the entire NBA , never mind the fact that they are simply unable to close out games, but yet the asinine analysis provided by on air commentators would have you believe to the contrary. Sunday’s six-point loss (106-100) at home at Madison Square Gardens in New York City, New York, to the Cleveland Cavaliers , is a damning indictment of not only the poor play of the New York Knicks , but also how damn awful , the Eastern Conference just happens to be overall , in terms of the poor play.

Inconsistency has now become the norm for the New York Knicks , while the air-headed print and television media within the New York market tend to be enraptured by Phil Jackson’s arrival , what they seem to be forgetting is actually how bad this team just happens to be and that is even with Carmelo Anthony having to carry his teammates on his shoulders for the majority of the season. One can choose to spin the tale of the New York Knicks for this season and then suggest that next year all of the events of 2013 , will be forgotten, because Phil Jackson , by then, will have begun to work miracles. Let’s get something clear, Phil can only work with the tools given him and what he has been provided with at this juncture , are a bag of nuts , bolts, and rusty tools, in seeking to get the job done . As to what transpires, in the coming months of this off-season, remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see whether or not, Jackson can indeed revamp an impoverished franchise, with them regaining some semblance of respectability.

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The events of the NCAA Tournament, as they have unfolded, which result has been of the greatest surprise to you ? Which program do you now believe to be in the driver’s seat, with the easiest task of making it to the Final Four and then going on to win the Men’s NCAA title outright ? With Phil Jackson’s introduction as the new Head of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks , do you believe his task will be an easy one to turn things around for the franchise and how much time in your estimation, will it take for him to make the Knicks relevant and competitive ? Simply take time to leave a comment, as you see fit and thank you for the ongoing support of this site, as it is greatly appreciated !

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Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin, bottom, gets past Pittsburgh forward Lamar Patterson for a shot during the second half in a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, March 22, 2014. Florida won 61-45 . AP Photo/John Raoux ….

(2) Florida coach Billy Donovan gestures during the second half in a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament against Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/John Raoux…

(3) Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin (5) and center Patric Young (4) talk on the court during the second half in a second-round game against Albany in the NCAA college basketball tournament against Albany, Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(4) Louisville coach Rick Pitino , right, yells at guard Russ Smith (2) during the second half in a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament against Saint Louis , Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(5) Kentucky head coach John Calipari works from the sideline against Wichita State during the first half of a third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament Sunday, March 23, 2014, in St. Louis. A highly rated Wichita State team that seemingly could not match the intensity shown by the Wildcats during this contest, which ended in disappointment for the Shockers. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ……..

(6) Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison (2) passes the ball as Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet (23) defends during the first half of a third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament Sunday, March 23, 2014, in St. Louis. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson …..

(7) Tony Bennett head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers . Bennett’s team face the MSU Spartans on Friday , with the victor guaranteed a berth in the Elite Eight as the prize . AP Photo / Rafael Gomez …..

(8) Michigan State’s Tom Izzo whose long and proud coaching resume’ indicates an impressive track record . Getty Images / Keith Turner …..

(9) NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 23: Jarrett Jack (1) of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the New York Knicks during a game at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images …
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(10) New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony talks with New York Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson during the second half of the NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden, Sunday, March 23, 2014, in New York. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 106-100 . .AP Photo /Adrian Miller …..

(11) New York Knicks’ executive Phil Jackson is seen here, inlaid, team head coach Mike Woodson’s ,whose tenure with the Knicks’ franchise now seems more perilous than ever , with the team not completely responding to his coach style, in spite of a recent impressive run of eight consecutive victories . Yet, the team’s home record remains one of the worst in the entire NBA and one of the numerous reasons why they have fallen out of contention within the Eastern Conference this season. It seems highly unlikely that Woodson will be returning to coach the team next season , with their being no guarantee whatsoever, from the front office , even if there have been some reassuring words coming from unconfirmed sources within the hierarchical structure of the franchise. AP Photo / Lou Mason …..

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College Basketball & NBA related pieces :

The running of the Bulls

It’s that time of the year again , and things are said be right with the world ….

You can talk a good game but can you play one ?

Stick to what you know and not what you’re told is the truth

Full steam ahead

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NCAA Men’s Basketball & news

NCAA Men’s Basketball (bracket)

NCAA Men’s Basketball schedule

NCAA Men’s Basketball champions

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NBA news

NBA results 23rd March 2014

NBA standings (division) and by conference

NBA playoff picture (indicates game remaining)

This month in NBA history

Posted in Basketball, College Basketball, Collegiate Athletics, Florida Gators, NBA, New York Knicks, Phil Jackson, Sports, Sports & Social Commentary, Sports Commentary, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

Tic-tac-toe …………..

Tic-tac-toe ……

In spite of his off the course issues, Tiger Woods still remains the most high-profiled and visible athlete on the planet. Granted, one could surmise that NBA player LeBron James , and Barcelona soccer star , Lionel Messi and his counterpart with Real Madrid , Cristiano Ronaldo , might now rival Woods , rival the PGA Tour player, in terms of popularity , if not commercial endorsement earnings . Tiger Woods has regained his status as a global marketing icon and world number one ranking , having earned on average in excess of $65 million a year , over the past six years, far exceeding that of the aforementioned athletes in question .

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Slideshow .

In recent years, however, questions surrounding Woods, have been whether or not, he remains capable of winning another Grand Slam Major. Firmly entrenched for the present in second place, with fourteen Grand Slam titles to his name , four behind his icon and hero , Jack Nicklaus , who leads that illustrious list with eighteen titles over the course of his historic career. Needing another four to tie Nicklaus, seems to have been the toughest thing for Tiger Woods to achieve at this juncture, with his last Grand Slam Major win being the 2008 US Open , where he defeated fellow American , Rocco Mediate in a three-hole playoff contest , which was played at the Torrey Pines Golf Course , in La Jolla , California , a club and course well-known to the Californian native.

Woods’ recent off the course issues have been well chronicled and his handling of the issue and the well-orchestrated presentation of the facts, still leave a lot to be desired, as the player in some respects did seek to apportion blame elsewhere , for his personal infidelities , that led to the breakup of his marriage to former model Elen Nordegren . The golfer, is still represented by Mark Steinberg and his Excel Sports Management Agency Boutique . In stepping away from IMG , which still remains the world’s largest sports’ management company, encompassing a wide a variety of areas, beyond representing a litany of athletes around the globe. Woods now has an agent and a glut of Steinberg’s subordinates to deal with his almost every whim, be it something small, to the more complex , in terms of a grandiose request. In many respects, I believe that may well have been what led to Woods’ fall from grace, beyond his sexual peccadilloes!

In having so many people around him, always willing to say yes and to cater to his very need, made Tiger Woods believe that he was impervious to any type of criticism that was likely to come his way or be leveled at him , even when it came to his play on a golf course .

Having won the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award for the eleventh time of his career , when he won only five times on the PGA Tour last year , without a Major to his name. It could be said that Tiger Woods may well have won the award by default , but consider the fact, that in 2013 , no other golfer on the Tour was as successful, in terms of wins. Phil Mickelson , a considerable talent , has long been considered Woods’ greatest rival , but in the true sense of the word, it has been a rivalry built upon a myth, rather than the evidence being there to suggest otherwise. Rarely have the two played alongside each other , when there is said to have been a Major tournament on the line and when that has said to have been the case , one or the other, has failed to live up to expectations, normally , with Woods gaining the upper hand .

The Washington Post

Tiger Woods faces major decisions about his health and future

By Sally Jenkins , Columnist

View pictured timeline gallery of Woods’ career

By Sally Jenkins, Published: March 19 E-mail the writer

It’s impossible to know how serious Tiger Woods’s back problem is, whether it’s a temporary twinge or a serious herniation. But something more is going wrong with his game than back spasms. Woods is having cramps between the ears as well, the kind that come with fraying nerves, the betrayal of aging, and mental self-doubt.

Woods would not have withdrawn Tuesday from his favorite seasonal fire-starter of a tournament, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, unless he was in genuine physical distress. Bay Hill has long been his favorite tune-up, and obviously he sacrificed it because he’s concerned about his ability to be healthy for the Masters.

The problem is that Bay Hill has always been the place where Woods gets his mind right for Augusta. With eight victories in 16 entries, it’s where he convinces himself he’s in good enough form. The larger and more worrying context to his withdrawal is that, at 38, Woods seems increasingly unable to pull together his game, his body, and his head all at the same time in order to compete for major championships . A bad back, for example, isn’t why he’s become so susceptible to three-putts.

The notoriously close-mouthed Woods won’t describe the exact nature of his back problem except to say he’s treating it with “protocols.” Which has set off a frenzy of speculation over what is plaguing him. Which is the cart and which is the horse, his scattered swing or the injury? Has he become so chronically tweaky and injury-prone, with consecutive seasons of knee, elbow, Achilles’, and back ailments, that he’s less able to work on his game? Or is he more tweaky precisely because he has overworked himself, pushing his body in the gym and on the golf course with constant, torquing, insecure swing experiments?

Woods himself may not know the order, the cause and effect of his problems. There just is an overall sense of physical disorganization: in February in Dubai he seemed healthy but was wild off the tee, so he fiddled with his grip. That seemed to fix something. But then he needed 29 putts on 13 greens.

Woods’s former coach Hank Haney hazarded on his SiriusXM radio show back in January that one of Woods’s problems is that he has over-emphasized upper body bulk, at the expense of other parts of his game.

“My opinion is he did too much of that,” Haney said. “He does a lot of the gym stuff. I know you need to do some for golf, no doubt about it. You need to be in shape, you need to avoid injury, but my opinion is he really overdoes that.”

You wonder if Woods compromised his back with so much weight work.

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If the PGA Tour is to remain vital, as well as vibrant, then beyond Woods’ presence , Phil Mickelson, as well as Rory McIlroy , will have to provide more of a presence and a challenge for the best player of this generation and over the past sixteen seasons. As I alluded to earlier, the World Golf rankings , have Woods, back at the top of the table , with Australian , Adam Scott now standing at number two in the rankings . The 2014 PGA Tour schedule now has a revamped format , with the events starting even earlier than usual, for what now has become almost a calendar year-long season . Tiger Woods, is a five-time winner of the event and was due to be a participant , but has withdrawn, due to recurring back spasm pains . If at this stage of his career, the world’s number one of golfer is now suffering from this type of malady , then the likelihood of his surpassing Nicklaus’ eighteen Major Grand Slam wins, may well be insurmountable , never mind the fact that his seventy-nine career wins now stands second all-time on the careers’ list behind the legendary Sam Snead .

Were it not for Tiger Woods , the PGA Tour would not be in a position, where it has gone from a twenty event schedule and with total prize money of just over $ 6 million year , to where it has now become a multi-billion dollar entity, with over fifty-five events , of which officially , forty are PGA sanctioned for the scheduled calendar , with total prize money exceeding quarter of a billion dollars ($250 million) . I doubt that there are very few professional sports’ circuits, where there are such riches to be garnered, even for non-winners of an event , when a tenth place finish, can attract in excess of $100,000 in prize money, if there is not a tie amongst the top ten finishers !

I believe that Woods still remains capable of surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ all time Majors’ win tally , but much of that will be undoubtedly be predicated upon the player’s continued health issues and that of his mental mindset. There is no denying, at his every best or just slightly below it , he remains leaps and bounds , better than over ninety percent of his fellow competitors on the PGA Tour . The continued idiocy, of his peers having caught up to him, in terms of talent , is merely a way to create further debate , when in reality there is none to be had. Woods may no longer be winning at a constant clip , as first witnessed, in the early part of his career , or at the point , where he won four consecutive Majors , a feat not completed by any other golfer in history . To be truly that dominant, does take talent . and none of his current peers of this generation have been able to achieve that . Furthermore, as if to emphasize Woods influence and dominance on the game , consider the fact that , he is currently the only golfer on the PGA Tour to have won a career Grand Slam and to have won more than eight tournaments in a single season . So when we talk about dominance , why not put it into a real perspective and not through the idiocy of the type of asinine analysis that at times has been provided by the likes of buffoons, such as Johnny Miller and Jim Gray or a columnist such as Christine Brennan !

Were Woods still competing at the Bay Hill Invitational and in contention , then in all likelihood the television viewership is likely to be considerably less than anticipated , another reason why the PGA Tour has become reliant upon Woods more than any other golfer in the game’s history for its rise in prominence, beyond the player’s ethnicity. On the flip side of this equation, it is somewhat unfortunate , that the game especially on the PGA Tour has not seen a greater participation of players of ethnicity that are home-grown and of American origin . Other than, Notah Begay III , the only other minority to compete in PGA Tour sanctioned event just happens to be only Tiger Woods. Neither Woods or PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem have been able to give a convincing enough explanation for such an absenteeism , given the disparity and the very fact that perhaps golf’s most prestigious tournament outside of the British Open , The US Masters , until a few years ago was very much restrictive in its allowance of female members at Augusta , Georgia , never mind the fact, that until Woods’ first appearance in that event in 1997 , when he won the tournament. The last player of color to compete in the event as an invitee who happened to be an African-American or ethnic American , was in fact Lee Elder in competing , in the 1975 Masters.

Golf still has a long way to go before it can actually find an acceptance amongst minorities , wherein the game itself is more affordable amongst the masses, rather than continuing to be a sport, that primarily meets the economic reach of a select few. Tiger Woods and his foundation , may well be trying to change that image as such, but with the main emphasis of the organization being to provide a safe haven for at risk youth and that of a starting point in getting an education and learning self-respect. The fruits of the labor, by way of the PGA have yet to be met , nor have they made their own evidence public , as to having met any of the goals that they are said to have set, in making the game more accessible to minorities at large .

The third round of the Bay Hill Invitational is still in progress , with the lead being held by Adam Scott at -14 , a seven-stroke advantage over second-place J B Holmes , shared also by Chesson Hadley and Francesco Molinari , with Keegan Bradley , a further shot back at -6 under par. Scott will be looking at this , as making further inroads into the world ranking points’ lead that Tiger Woods maintains over him at present , while also seeking to find some form with the first Grand Slam Major of the season less than a month away. The 2014 Masters at Augusta, April 10th to 13th, will be where Adam Scott will be looking to become the first player to make a successful defense of the “Green Jacket” , since Tiger Woods in 2002 , with the world’s number one golfer having won that tournament in 2001 , the year previously.

With the Valero Texas Open , at the AT&T Oaks Course in San Antonio, Texas and the Shell Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble , Texas , being the only two intervening tournaments between now and The Masters , it will be interesting to see whether or not Tiger Woods makes an appearance in either contest in the lead-up to the first Major of the season. Without an appearance , it would be extremely difficult to view the four-time winner of that prestigious event, as a prohibitive favorite , but at the same time , it would also be foolish to count him out altogether , given his experience in the event.

Phil Mickelson will be making an appearance at the Valero Open, hoping to sharpen up his game, in preparation for The Masters . Adding another Major to his career , would prove to be of benefit to a former winner of the Green Jacket and solidify his place as one of the best US golfers of the past decade and a half. Elevation into the World Golf Hall of Fame awaits both Woods, with the duo having already met the criteria for induction into that hallowed vestige of golf’s very best. For the moment however, we can simply watch their exploits on the course , with the continued hope, that they can provide us all, with a great deal more excitement , thrills and great golf over the remainder of their collective careers !

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Picture gallery .

Share your thoughts with regard to this article and what if anything, do you believe Tiger Woods has actually done for the sport of golf overall ?

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Arnold Palmer , is seen here with PGA Tour professional Tiger Woods after the player won the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitational at the Bay Hill Course , in Orlando , Florida , in 2013. It was one five tournament wins for Woods , last season , during which he won over $8.556 million in prize money , pushing his career earnings from golf alone to over $105 million , in prize money alone . He is the first such golfer to achieve that feat , even if one were to take into account inflation , concerning earlier earnings . AP Photo / Chris Belcher ……

(2) Tiger Woods shares a few moments with golf legend Jack Nicklaus as they walk the course prior to the start of the 2000 PGA Championship , which was held at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville , Kentucky ,. Woods go on to defeat Bob Tway to win the tournament . Getty Images / Scott Messner …..

(3) From left to right , Phil Mickelson , Tiger Woods and Adam Scott are seen here at the 2013 Tour Championship , which was played at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta , Georgia . Long considered by the Tour professionals as one of golf’s best tournaments , outside of the four Grand Slam Majors , the event was won by Henrik Stenson of Sweden . Stan Badz/ Getty Images ……..

(4) Golf pioneer Lee Elder gets all emotional, having been greeted by Tiger Woods , after the player had just won The Masters . Elder was the first African-American player to be granted an invitation to play in the event , when golf as a professional sport on the PGA Tour became desegregated in 1961 . Ames Bishop / Ebony Magazine ….. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …….

(5) Adam Scott hits from the fairway on the fifth hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Orlando, Fla ,. Will Allen Jr/ AP Photo ….

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tophatal ………………

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PGA Tour and news from the PGA Tour

2014 PGA Tour schedule

Fedex Cup standings

Official world golf rankings and news

Posted in Golf, http://wp.me/poxLH-8C9, PGA Tour, Sports, Sports Economics, Sports & Social Commentary, Sports Commentary, Tiger Woods, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments