It’s that time of year to reflect , review and then ponder as to what happens next …

It’s that time of year to reflect, review and then ponder as to what happens next …

There can be no denying this year within the world of sports we all witnessed the highs and lows of the sporting season. Basketball crowned a new champion in the NBA with Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs winning the title, the franchise’s fifth in their admired and revered history. The fact the Spurs defeated the Miami Heat with so much ease , came as a major surprise to many who favored the LeBron James’ led lineup that boasted Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen among their ranks. Complacency and a lack of support for James, were the contributing factors leading to Miami’s demise. With James departing during this off-season, a bewildered Pat Riley , the organization and the coaching staff of Erik Spoelstra will now have to start from scratch rebuilding the roster which hopefully, will have some semblance of competitiveness this season.

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Off to what might deem a favorable start to their schedule , the Miami Heat are no longer a team to be favored or feared, though I believe they are good enough to gain a playoff berth this season, given the mediocrity of the play encountered in the Western Conference , in a season where in its infancy, the basketball in the conference has been truly astounding and banal. The results bear z this out , without delving further about the reasons why beyond stating , two obvious factors, bad coaching and no depth of talent by way of the rookie players .

While of late, singular achievements have been given a great deal of praise, with Kobe Bryant having surpassed Michael Jordan on the all-time career points list (third) and LeBron James moving ahead of Charles Barkley for twenty third in the rankings. While I believe this all to be commendable achievements, it begs the question, why are fans now beginning to make comparisons with today’s players and those of the past ? The game has changed drastically during the respective eras, along with a number of rule changes initiated by outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern. This is all overlooked as fans and analysts alike try create a debate that will be filled with conjecture and a great deal of nonsense behind the supposed logic by a number of the debaters on the matter.

On the court the Golden State Warriors led by their dynamic duo of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are seen as capable of leading the team on a dominant run in the NBA and to a deep NBA Playoff foray, albeit, they have encountered some stiff opposition resulting in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies (20-4) the Warriors still maintain a healthy lead within the Pacific Division of the
Western Conference . No major fallout from this loss, as the loss ,as the team has been able to show its resilience over the course of the season .

In the collegiate ranks of basketball, the NCAA Tournament . Kevin Ollie and the U Conn Huskies won another title which heightened the prestige of the program and the fourth title in the school’s history. The Huskies’ victim in that tournament victory, the John Calipari coached Kentucky Wildcats are once again atop of the college rankings with an unbeaten season and the deemed the best team in the country. They are likely to be a team to be reckoned with as Calipari seeks a second title win to add to his burgeoning resume’. Kentucky has cut a swath through their opponents , but I feel we are reading far too much into the accomplishments at this stage of the season ! The run up to this season’s NCAA Tournament and the event itself will place an d even greater emphasis on how good the Kentucky Wildcats are likely to be. Hard to suggest where a likely challenge is likely to come from in stopping the Wildcats’ dominance.

With its inaugural format within College Football now in motion , last season’s defending national champions the Florida State Seminoles will be looking to make a successful defense of their title. Jameis Winston the program’s 2013 Heisman Trophy winner in spite of his off the field problems has been able to lead the team to their unbeaten run this season. The Seminoles ended the regular season ranked in the top four availing the chance to be part of the playoff schedule which has been essentially adjudged a four-team semi-finals’ playoff format with contests’ winner playing in the national title game.

The four programs who are the recipients of this inaugural system are Alabama , Oregon , Ohio State (Buckeyes) and Florida State making up the quartet. While there will be continued debate as to the veracity of this format , many feel a four-team playoff is by no means the best way to decide a national champion . Yet for all of the criticism leveled and the fact an empaneled body were arbiters on this whole scheme, not everyone can state this was of satisfaction to the doubters as well as some protagonists of the new format. Money remains the driving force behind this all, without anyone trying to suggest this system has been the best possible solution after years of idiocy with the BCS format and a system so void of legality , that it was simply ridiculous for anyone to try and justify its legitimacy. Come full circle, in reality the progress made is simply miniscule , even if the new format is tinkered with at various points in the future, as is likely the case.

This year’s Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota can go out on a high if he is able to lead Oregon past Florida State in their highly anticipated game on the 1st January, 2015. Mariota is highly regarded within the college ranks and seen as one of the most dynamic players in the game as well as perhaps the best quarterback in college football. A victory in that that game, to be followed with a championship victory , will lead to certain financial gain, a high draft pick the upcoming NFL Draft of 2015.

In light of the recent disaster of Johnny Manziel’s first professional start in the NFL this season was such a catastrophe it is hard to see any positives which could come out of the debacle, where the Cleveland Browns were shutout by the Cincinnati Bengals in their divisional clash 30-0 . The fact this was a home game for the Browns was all the more embarrassing for the fans. Manziel in the aftermath of his disaster has suggested he can play better , but that must now come into question after the idiotic decision made by Mike Pettine to sit Brian Hoyer merely to gauge what the team’s 2014 draftee was capable of doing. We’ve now seen what Manziel is not capable of doing and that is to lead a team with any great authority, much less play competently at the NFL level.

As the NFL season has unfolded we have witnessed the disasters of teams thought to be contenders , merely to have their hopes blown asunder, because of sheer complacency or simply bad play and extremely bad coaching. Jim Harbaugh’s tenure with the San Francisco 49ers (7-8) is likely to come to an abrupt end after a disastrous season for a franchise which has he taken repeatedly taken to the postseason in four of the five years of his tenure .

As the NFL season has unfolded we have witnessed the disasters of teams thought to be contenders, merely to have their hopes blown asunder, because of sheer complacency or simply bad play and extremely bad coaching. Jim Harbaugh’s tenure with the San Francisco 49ers (7-8) is likely to come to an abrupt end after a disastrous season for a franchise which has he taken repeatedly taken to the postseason in four of the five years of his tenure . San Francisco’s home loss in week sixteen to the San Diego Chargers put an immediate end to their postseason hopes. The fallout from it all , has been the growing speculation Harbaugh will fired or he resigns and accepts the vacant coaching position at Michigan (Wolverines). An 8-8 is the best the San Francisco 49ers can now hope for , something no might have envisage at the start of this season’s NFL schedule.

It is extremely difficult to now try and justify any reason why Rex Ryan should be retained as the New York Jets’ head coach for next season. In spite of their narrow one-point loss o to the New England Patriots(12-3) the defeat dropped the Jets’ record , with a with a penultimate game left on their schedule, they now find themselves bearing a mark of 3-12 . The franchise’s front office will have several decisions to make beyond Ryan’s immediate future, there is also the questionable performances of Geno Smith and Michael Vick over the course of this season. It remains to be seen wheter not both players are likely to be retained for the upcoming season, but clearly , GM John Idzik and the front office staff have to ponder the drafting of a quarterback or acquiring a reliable free agent to fulfill their needs .

The NFL enters its final week of games, with a number of divisions having been decided . Yet,for all of their accomplishments, there still remains the preposterous diatribe served up within the NFC South all season long . With the Carolina Panthers (6-8-1) now holding a slender one-game lead over the New Orleans Saints (6-9 and Atlanta Falcons (6-9) , a great deal still remains on the line as they each head into the final week knowing that a defeat could end their hopes of winning the division and gaining a playoff berth . Atlanta made sure, they still remain in the hunt, with their total annihilation of the Saints in Sunday’s game, beating a demoralized New Orleans’ team 30-14 . Carolina for their part, kept up their side of the ongoing equation by making sure the Cleveland Browns’ woes continued as the team suffered their second successive defeat . Thankfully, for the Browns’ fans, Johnny Manziel was kept on the sidelines for the entire game,as his services were not needed , not even for mop-up duty .

While I thoroughly enjoyed the exploits of the Kansas City Royals during this MLB Postseason . The AL Central franchise became the rallying cry for the underdogs within the game of baseball, as they wore down team after team on their way to the World Series . Alas, for the Royals it wasn’t to be, as the San Francisco Giants and Madison Bumgarner had more in store for the underdogs than they could ever have imagined . The series’ statistics may well stated the Giants won their third World Series’ title in five years . with some ease (4-3) and in part they actually achieved that. Yet to my mind, the Royals were never in with a chance of winning game seven , simply because of their lack of postseason and veteran experience being part of their lineup !

During this off-season with the Winter Meetings in full swing , teams made their play a> to acquire the free agents sought, while also jettisoning players they believed superfluous to their needs. The Miami Marlins made the headlines for the right and wrong reasons, dependent upon your point of view , but their signing Giancarlo Stanton to his now ridiculous $325 million contract smacks of sheer lunacy and a great deal of narcissism and conceit on the part of the organization . Two years ago this very same ball-club had a burgeoning roster of high-paid stars who simply flamed out under the misguided managerial acumen of Ozzie Guillen . A last place finish in the NL East games out behind the the divisional winner and a further out of card berth sealed Guillen’s fate for the year, leading to his dismissal after a disastrous season where the team was uncompetitive and > in complete disarray on and off the field . In the aftermath of the disaster, GM Michael Hill summarily initiated the fire sale which led to the trading away of those highly paid players from 2012.

A great deal will be expected of Mike Redmond and his managerial staff this upcoming season, because of the high and renewed expectations of this team led by Giancarlo Stanton and their NL Rookie of the Year pitcher Jose Fernandez , who was also signed to a very lucrative deal by the Marlins.

For the greater part of my youth and into my teenage years, I was an avid and voracious boxing fan and aficionado . My two biggest idols from the sport are still remain Muhammad Ali , ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler with former light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins not far behind . All three fighters were great champions during their prime with each rewriting the history books with records likely to be surpassed. I now champion the world of MMA and as an actual martial arts’ practitioner (karate & tae-kwon-do) this sport I believe has far exceeded what has boxing has failed to do in the last decade and that is to draw fans in, rather than systematically pushing them away . The death of another peer of Ali’s , at the age of seventy-five Ernie Terrell died but his career was memorable for the bout in which a charismatic , flamboyant Ali taunted Terrell in a lopsided contest where Muhammad Ali showed his dominance and gave light to what he would go on to achieve in the future . .

Muhammad Ali faces Ernie Terrell for the WBA Heavyweight title at the Houston Astrodome on the 6th February , 1967.

In light of the recent news, that Ali has been admitted into hospital with what is alleged to be a slight bout of pneumonia and with the former champion’s health having deteriorated over the past two-and a half decades. It may well seem sordid, in surmising he could now be at death’s door , wherein, if Parkinson’s disease doesn’t take him from within our midst, this latest health setback, likely will. Ali remains to this day not only the biggest icon in the sport of boxing, but his name and face are the most universally recognized in the world of sports. Outside of Michael Jordan in the NBA and Pele’ in the world of soccer, I sincerely doubt that there has been a more revered icon in the world of professional sports on a global scale.

Boxing has now become a sport, lacking in a charisma , where the top fighters in the various weight categories, simply avoid each other while formulating their prowess and claims of being the ‘true champions’ of their weight divisions . Personally, for all of the hype surrounding a potentially lucrative fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao, I will continue to maintain, it is a fight a number fans have become completely disinterested in ! Is there anyone willing at this juncture, to pay in excess of $55.00 for the “privilege” of seeing these two fighters, who have spent the past three years padding their stats with meaningless bouts , while earning exorbitant fight purses ? This has become the ” new norm” within the sport, along with the petulance of the fighters, promoters , connivance and continued corrupt practices of the various international governing bodies which preside over the boxing. Yet we wonder why the sport no longer truly resonates with fans and how it now lacks a broad-based appeal ?

Meanwhile, a viewed as a pugilistic upstart, continues to dominate the landscape and has become a multi billion-dollar industry under the main promotional flagship of UFC . MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) has now become the fastest growing sport in the world , with an increased audience participation , rising viewership and gate attendances for many of their biggest events staged around the globe. Idiots such as promoter Bob Arum and ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard continue to question the legitimacy of the sport , but have failed to recognize , while boxing has become pallid and stagnant, the growth of Mixed Martial Arts has been explosive. . In little over a decade, this combative style of fighting has caught the imagination of fans around the world and now has a growing legion of female fans, while holding on to its main demographic of males aged between eighteen to thirty-five . If you think fans of the the sport , is strictly confined to adults alone , then you would be wrong, as martial arts’ dojos are now beginning to incorporate MMA within their criteria , while still teaching their main forms of combat , such as karate, judo , taekwondo , Ju-jitsu , Krav-magav and other lethal forms of fighting.

Dana White rules the roost of the UFC, but he has now become more a totalitarian dictator, rather than a lead executive and arbiter of the sport. His apparent idiocy, in chastising many of the biggest names in the sport, who helped place it on the global map, shows not only White’s bombastic attitude, but also his naivete’ and complete stupidity. Can you imagine David Stern questioning the abilities of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson , Kobe Bryant or even LeBron James at the height of their careers ? Well, White has managed to do that with the MMA fighters, while becoming the antithesis of what is expected of a governing sports’ executive.

It may well be a great deal of schtick and panache’ on the part of Dana White, but before too long his idiocy will being to grate on the nerves of not only the fans but also the fighters themselves. The two biggest names in the sport at present are Cain Velazquez and Jon Jones , but with neither fighter having recently defended their respective titles, a small void has been created , yet to be filled by any other fighter, with the character or genuine appeal to strike a note with the masses. Ganted, the likes of Jose Aldo , Anthony Pettis and of late the sport’s only genuine female ‘star’ Ronda Rousey have a growing fan-base , but that might not be enough, unless there is a major title bout involving Jones, Velasquez or former champions Anderson Silva or Georges St Pierre. Rousey and St Pierre may well carved out side careers having appeared in a couple of Hollywood action movies, but their ” bread and butter ” remains the UFC for now .

Having been justifiably critical of the UFC and the lack transparency shown by the hierarchy concerning the drug testing of its fighters with repeatedly violations , most notably by Chael Sonnen , it will be interesting to see if Dana White is willing to welcome back the former UFC welterweight champion Georges St Pierre. Johny Hendricks’ first championship defense of the title , he won in an vacant title bout title as the successor to St Pierre, ended with his loss to Robbie Lawler. . All of the hype and actually nothing to back it up, simply indicated, Hendricks , was not all he was cracked to be .

With no major event on the schedule until January 3rd , 2015 , when Jon Jones defends his Light Heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier in a bout that will see the finality to what has already become contentious period between the two fighters , name calling asides , it’s time for both Jones and Cormier to sort their ” beef out”, rather than act like petulant children . I know the fight scene has to create an angle , with a ” hero” and a ” villain” , but when you are being asked to choose between two self-absorbed individuals, there isn’t much to actually throw your support behind. Your thoughts on that ?

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Picture gallery.

This was my simple breakdown of some of the interesting events I witnessed during the sports’ year and granted, I failed to touch on the PGA , NASCAR the NHL and even the WSOP (World Series of Poker) . So by all means chime in with your thoughts on the event or events of this sporting year which piqued your interest.

o_O

Picture and slideshow gallery .

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(1) Dec 16, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra gestures against the Brooklyn Nets during the fourth quarter at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn , New York . The Heat defeated the Nets 95-91 . Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports …

(2) Dec 16 , 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) reacts to losing the ball against the Brooklyn Nets during the first quarter at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports …

(3) Dec 16, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Johnson (7) holds his head as Miami Heat guard Norris Cole (30) and Miami Heat forward Luol Deng (9) high-five late in the fourth quarter at the Barclays Center. The Heat defeated the Nets 95-91. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports ..

(4) Nov 11 , 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr (right) pats guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena . The Spurs defeated the Warriors 113-100 . Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports …

(5) Kentucky players from left, Devin Booker , Tyler Ulis , Trey Lyles, and Willie Cauley-Stein celebrate their 83-42 win over UCLA during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game , Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in Chicago. AP Photo Nam Y. Huh …

(6) Left , Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State . Both college quarterbacks are one of the primary reasons why their respective programs will be part of the inaugural college playoff format which will decide this season’s national champion at the FBS Level of College Football . Both players will likely declare their eligibility status at the end of the playoff season , seeking to enter the 2015 NFL Draft . Mariota and Winston are considered consensus first round draft picks . Yet , there is a common belief teams in need of a passer might well be weary in light of the recent issues of Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel . AP Photo / David Parsons …

(7) Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers runs off the field after the 49ers lose 38-35 in overtime to the San Diego Chargers at Levi’s Stadium on December 20th, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images / Ezra Shaw …

(8) Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) of the San Francisco 49ers shakes hands with free safety Eric Weddle(32) of the San Diego Chargers after the Chargers defeat the 49ers 38-35 in overtime at Levi’s Stadium on December 20, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images/ Ezra Shaw ….

(9) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks to his team in the huddle during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …

(10) New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan , left, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, right, shake hands after an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Patriots won the game 17-16 . AP Photo/Julio Cortez

(11) Quarterback Geno Smith (7) of the New York Jets is tackled by defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (75) of the New England Patriots in the first quarter during a game at MetLife Stadium on December 21, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. AP Photo/ Julio Cortez …

(12) Miami Marlins’ manager Mike Redmond left and Giancarlo Stanton are seen here in the dugout at Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida during a home game on 2nd September , 2014 played against the New York Mets . Miami would go on lose the contest 8-6 . …

(13) In what is believed to be the last known public appearance by former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali is seen here attending the funeral of boxer Joe Frazier in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , in November of 2014. Ali was recently admitted to a local hospital where he is said to be suffering from a mild respiratory problem and a bout of pneumonia . Ernie Terrell whom Ali beat during his illustrious career recently died at the age of seventy-five. AP Photo / Steve Woods … …

(14) Ernie Terrell gets advice from his advisor Joe Louis between rounds of the vacant 1965 WBA World Heavyweight Title fight versus Eddie Machen at the International Amphitheatre , Chicago, Illinois on the 5th March , 1965 ,. UPI Syndicate ….

(15) Anderson Silva (left) is seen here with UFC President Dana White prior to Silva’s defense of his world welterweight title against Chris Weidman . The challenger would score a surprising knockout of the champion and then follow up that victory with a successful defense against Silva in their rematch which ended with a TKO after the former champion suffered a broken leg in their bout at UFC168 . Courtesy of MMA Magazine . @ all rights reserved …

(16) From left to right , Georges St Pierre , Anderson Silva and Jon ‘Bones’ Jones . St Pierre relinquished his welterweight title, taking a prolonged leave of absence from the sport . The former champion has been critical of Dana White for his lack of consistency and a stringent drug testing policy. White in retaliation, was less than salutary to one of the sport’s biggest attractions and most successful fighters in MMA history . MMA Junkie … …

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Tophatal ……..

Tophatal’s Blog on Facebook.com

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NBA

NBA news and archived stories

NBA archived stories 2013

This month in NBA history

NBA standings (division)

NBA standings (conference)

NBA results 20th December

NBA schedule 21st December

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NCAA Men’s Basketball

NCAA Men’s Basketball news

NCAA Men’s Basketball results 20th December

NCAA Men’s Basketball schedule 21st December

:smile:

NFL and news

NFL week sixteen injuries

NFL standings (division)

NFL standings (conference)

NFL week sixteen schedule

NFL week seventeen

NFL Playoff Picture

This month in NFL history

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MLB news

MLB transactions

o_O

Boxing news and MMA

Boxing schedule (recent bouts)

Current boxing rankings (also denotes champions and weight categories)

UFC Schedule

UFC champions and current rankings

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It’s the silly season and we’re having fun …

It’s the silly season and we’re having fun …

MLB’s off-season has proven to be a .folly of sorts, with teams now spending at will , capriciously on free agents who are likely to be overpaid for their alleged productivity. Many of these franchises will be looking to position themselves for the arrival of Spring Trainingand the regular season which begins on the 4th April , 2015. Reigning World Series’ champions the San Francisco Giants will enter the season having won their third title in the past five seasons, with both Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean back to lead this roster as they seek a fourth win of baseball’s most prestigious prize.

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San Francisco wasted no time in re-signing their World Series MVP pitcher Madison Bumgarner whose postseason exploits were simply scintillating and beyond the perception of the most ardent fans of the game. Bumgarner in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals was a one-man wrecking crew bewildering the Royals’ hitters, leaving them dismayed and completely perplexed .

Heading into 2015, San Francisco will be without another of their postseason heroes with 2012 World Series’ MVP Pablo Sandoval having been allowed to leave the team as unrestricted free agent . Sandoval signed a very lucrative contract joining the Boston Red Sox where he is likely to be hitting in the Red Sox batting order ahead of DH David Ortiz. GM Brian Sabean may have felt it prudent to eschew Sandoval’s financial desires , instead choosing to take his chances with a projected lineup of Buster Posey , Hunter Pence , Travis Ishikawa, Gregor Blanco, Brandon Crawford , Joaquin Arias and a number of players likely to be promoted from their minor league system as the club seeks to bolster an offense that wasproductive throughmuch of the regular and postseason.

There may well have been doubters of Sabean, who made the decision allowing the departure of Pablo Sandoval , but the mercurial general manager has been quick to make a number of moves likely to improve the lineup for the upcoming season. One would be hard pressed to question the moves of an executive, thought to be among the best general managersin all of baseball. Brian Sabaen’s record speaks for itself. San Francisco is likely to be a considerable favorite to win the NL West division in spite of the likely moves being made by the Los Angeles Dodgers under their new Head of Baseball Operations & SVP Andrew Friedman.

Friedman’s departure from the Tampa Bay Rays caught off, just about everyone by surprise, including his former fellow executives , the fans and analysts around the game. Add in the fact, the team’s manager Joe Maddon also made an abrupt departure to take a similar position with the Chicago Cubs and one might suggest the franchise got hit with a ” double-whammy ” . Matthew Silverman has succeeded Andrew Friedman and the ball-club hired former hometown hero Kevin Cash to succeed Maddon as the team’s new manager. How this will all be viewed by the Rays’ fans will now be open to a great deal of conjecture and debate. Cash is a first time manager with no managerial experience, though he does have playing experience with an eight-year career in the Majors having played one season with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2005.

Having spent in excess of half-a-billion dollars ($500,000,000) by way of salary commitments over the past two seasons. It is understandable, that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ executives felt it necessary to take a fresh look at the direction this ball-club was taking. In explicably, they had the best pitcher in baseball, but Clayton Kershaw’s postseason productivity had to be considered a monumental disaster. The team may well have pinned their hopes on Kershaw this past postseason, but the player was nowhere to be seen with his ERA among the highest of the starting pitchers during the 2014 playoffs’ foray. It would be easy to suggest the Dodgers’ pitching was their Achilles’ Heel, but that would be the farthest thing from the truth their offense being almost anemic and pedantic during this Fall.

It is my belief Don Mattingly and his managerial staff did little to provide his players with any impetus or the desire to win, relying merely on the fact a jigsaw puzzle of ill-fitting pieces made up of highly overpaid stars would be enough to get the job done. It will be interesting to see whether not Andrew Friedman will be able to keep the team’s payroll for the upcoming season at a manageable level and by that I mean lower than the $200 million threshold , where baseball’s luxury tax kicks in ,with team, then having to pay a penalty for going above the aforementioned figure.

Money would be of no object, where the Dodgers’ is almost half that of the value of several teams within baseball and then you add in the fact , the organization has a two-decade $3 billion ($3,000,000,000) television deal , which reaps this organization $150 million annually. Not bad for a ball-club, whose lastWorld Series’ triumph came as far back as 1988. Magic Johnson, Mark Walter , Todd S Boehly , Peter Guber and several other partners are intent on making this franchise the most recognized within the game. Certainly , the Los Angels Dodgers’ name still resonates within the game of baseball , but that is all it has been able to do , because success remains hard to come by, with an uncompetitive brand on the field of play, especially with regard to their two most recent postseason appearances.

Bold moves might not be necessary, but there has to be a shakeup in the Dodgers’ roster, if they are to be seen as credible challengers this upcoming season. Dan Haren, Dee Gordon, and Hanley Ramirez have since departed from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ roster and there is the belief that several otherswill meet the same fate as those jettisoned this off-season. Pitcher Josh Beckett having pitched a “no-hitter” for the team during the regular season in a 6-0 thrashing of the Philadelphia Phillies achieved little of note in the aftermath of the achievement. A free agent in 2015 , it seems highly unlikely he will be making a return to the Dodgers unless it is at a reduced salary , bearing in mind he was paid $15.75 million in the final year of his original eight-year deal signed with the Boston Red Sox.

I’ve often been told how insightful the fans of the Tampa Bay Rays are said to be, but to my mind, I find the fans of the this ball-club eternally optimistic. For whatever reason, year in and year out, repeatedly , I am told this franchise can survive on their meager pickings and a fan-base that in reality , is no more than an average of 15,000 hardcore fans and that is in spite of the reported attendance levels for the team’s home games at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida,, In what can only be described as another down year for this organization. The Tampa Bay Rays finished a distant fourth behind the AL East division winners the Baltimore Orioles , nineteen games out of first place . If that wasn’t a sign of how deplorable the team’s season was said to be, then consider the fact, they missed gaining a wildcard berth within the AL by eleven games . Inasmuch, as Joe Maddon and his coaching staff tried to motivate the team, the talent or level of play simply was not good enough to make a sustainable challenge over the course of the season.

The Rays are never really going to be able to compete with the likes of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees , Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers , Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs , much less teams considered to their market equivalent in terms of size. Furthermore , pointing to the fact the Rays are profitable without acknowledging the fact they are able to eke out such gains by way of an assist from the league hierarchy , indicates the complete lack of knowledge among this team’s fan-base. Yet, in spite of it all, the success attained by the Rays cannot be overlooked. Now comes the hard part, with the loss of such assets as Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon , how will this organization seek to rebound and reacquaint themselves to former heights of glory achieved ? Matthew Silverman comes in with a clean slate , but having to fill an extremely large pair of shoes left by his predecessor Andrew Friedman. Kevin Cash faces an even more daunting task , having to follow in the footsteps of the club’s most beloved and successful manager , Joe Maddon. This upcoming season might be the toughest this organization has had to face on record. Upheavals aside, the ball-club has reverted to ways of old , as they jettisoned players during and prior to the off-season, seeking to pare down the team’s payroll.

You can tell a great deal about an organization , when they are on the verge of losing their perhaps their best player. So, it was with the New York Yankees , as Derek Jeter’s career came to an uncompromising end. No postseason heroics or the raising of another World Series’ title, just a disappointing year for the player and the ball-club as Joe Girardi came up with a litany of excuses for a lackluster year-long performance by a team of undeserving players . Granted, the Yankees finished second in the AL East, yet, it was simply fitting the division’s champions, the Baltimore Orioles fell at the very first hurdle, when they succumbed to the Kansas City Royals in the championship series’ of the postseason, losing emphatically 4-0 in the ALCS. Emphasizing how poor the play just happened to be in the AL East, all season long.

A payroll of just over $200 million , much of it misspent , brought about lackluster returns, with Brian Cashman and members of the front office at a loss to explain what went wrong last season. An aging core of players who failed to deliver, with the likes of CC Sabathia , Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner , Alfonso Soriano , Brian McCann , Hiroki Kuroda, Shane Greene , Mark Teixeira and others were said to be a core unit, this ball-club could rely on, to bring back some semblance of success, Instead they performed like a damp squib, lit to celebrate an event , but they simply fail to light up that event and make it a success. In the aftermath of it all, Brian Cashman is now said to be counting on the return of disgraced Yankees’ star Alex Rodriguez to resurrect the fortunes of this franchise in 2015. I liken that premise, of trying to place a square peg into a round hole ! Nothing about Rodriguez’s return to the game, will be of benefit to the sport, much less to the benefit of the organization. Idiotically, Cashman , Hank and Hal Steinbrenner stood idly by, as the player lied repeatedly, about his wantoned use of steroids, but they failed to reprimand the Rodriguez , leaving it instead , to a bumbling and incompetent hierarchy, first led by Bud Selig , who has handed over the reins to the equally inept , Rob Manfred ,succeeding his predecessor as the new incoming Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

What has become abundantly clear, is the very fact, the Yankees’ managerial staff and Cashman have no implicit faith in their farm system and the talent said to be on display within the lower rungs of the organization. The franchise has now become overly reliant on buying its way out of trouble rather than seeking to groom the alleged talent within its ranks. This off-season , we are likely to see an influx of new faces and a completely new lineup when the team takes to the field in their first regular season game of 2015. That contest, will be their home season opener against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankees Stadium , in the Bronx, New York City, New York on the 6th April , 2015,.

There is no denying , as a professional sports’ franchise owner and businessman Jerry Reinsdorf has tasted success at the highest levels. His ownership of the Chicago Bulls during the well-chronicled era of Michael Jorda’s dominance of the NBA and their six NBA titles highlighted one of the brightest eras of the NBA’s history. Yet, the forlorn years of his ownership of the Chicago White Sox has brought that particular baseball franchise one championship , coming in 2005, when the team defeated the Houston Astros with in an easy 4-0 sweep of the then National League franchise. In the subsequent years things have not been so beneficial for the White Sox or their long-suffering fans. Since that historic second World Series’ win, the Chicago White Sox have made only one other postseason appearance , where they made it to the ALDS in 2008, only to suffer a series’ defeat (3-1) at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The White Sox organization has seen some major upheavals by way of the player personnel staff, managers and general managers over the past decade and a half. Through the midst of it all , the one bright spot has been knowing they have succeeded, where the Chicago Cubs have failed so dramatically in achieving> and that is to win a world championship. One hundred years and counting, the “monkey” has yet to come off the neck or shoulders of the downtrodden Cubs’ franchise. 1908 was the year the Chicago Cubs were anointed champions of the baseball world and there still seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for the Wrigley Field faithful.

The White Sox, this off-season have begun to spend lavishly , acquiring free agents as if they were an endangered species , with GM Rick Hahn now overseeing Baseball Operations for the ball-club. . Adam LaRoche , Zack Duke, Melky Cabrera and David Robertson have joined the staff of the Chicago White Sox. There is a clear thought process behind these maneuvers , and it may well be Hahn feels the window of opportunity for the Detroit Tigers is rapidly closing with their failure to make a spirited run to win a World Series’ title. The Tigers’ recent postseason failures have proven to be a bitter and ” hard pill to swallow for team owner Michael Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski, but the owner and executive continue to toil on.

With Dombrowski not being able to come to contractual terms with Max Scherzer , it would appear that the pitcher’s time with the Detroit Tigers could be coming to a close. Scherzer wants to be paid like a superstar based on his award winning 2013 season , but one of year stellar production is not the basis to be given a multi-year, multimillion dollar contract. Wisdom suggests calmer heads may well prevail, but yet in the world of baseball, logic tends to be thrown right out the damn window, as exhibited with the recent idiocy by the Miami Marlins and their signing Giancarlo Stanton to the most lucrative contract in baseball history and professional team sports’ history in North America.

Perhaps , only in the NBA and baseball, where the players’ contracts are guaranteed, do we tend to see this type of financial extravagance , while idiots try and suggest, both sports are being well-ran by their respective hierarchies and where financial expediency is actually being shown in both sports .

A meeting of the minds, has yet to happen, with the overwhelming presence of the NBPA and MLBPA sending the unions into conniptions, each time the words ” mandatory salary cap” are mentioned . I have always maintained, you can tell a great deal about a business or a sports’ enterprise simply based upon the trust between the two parties , the union, who represent the employees and governing bodies as the employers. If there is continued mistrust, then the likelihood , is that entity is in dire trouble, even when there is said to be millions of dollars being reaped , annually. Profits may well go a long way, but it clearly does not represent common sense or intelligence, being shown . Ask yourself this question, in spite of the popularity of the NFL, how is it, they repeatedly have so many pratfalls, many of which, are self-induced ? Have you been able to come up with an answer ?

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Picture gallery.

This upcoming season in baseball, which teams or players do you believe will provide the most excitement ? Also, do you believe the dominance of the San Francisco Giants can be quelled successfully by an NL opponent over the course of the year ? By all means, leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site, as it’s gratefully appreciated !

:)

Picture gallery and slideshow details below.
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(1) San Francisco Giants’ catcher Buster Posey left , is seen here with World Series’ MVP Madison Bumgarner , as the two celebrate the team’s Game 7 , 3-2 win , a victory over the Kansas City Royals , The series’ victory gave the Giants their third World Series’ triumph over the past five years and fifth overall . The Giants will enter 2015 without Pablo Sandoval , the ball-club’s 2012 Series’ MVP , who joined the Boston Red Sox during the off-season . AP Photo / Andy Addams …..

(2) Giants’ pitcher Madison Bumgarner celebrates in the locker room after his team’s 3-2 Game 7 triumph over the Kansas City Royals. Bumgarner’s exploits this postseason placed him in the upper echelons of baseball’s postseason pitching history , with a number eye dazzling feats. The player was signed to a five-year contract extension by GM Brian Sabean securing their young star on very exceptional pitching rotation in 2015. quite possibly the best in the NL and MLB overall. AP Photo / Ezra Rodriguez ..

(3) Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington(left) is seen here with the team’s newest acquisition , slugger Pablo Sandoval . The Red Sox also acquired Hanley Ramirez from the Los Angeles Dodgers as an unrestricted free agent, signing both players to lucrative deals . Cherington hopes the duo will be able to provide the Red Sox offense with some additional firepower this upcoming season . Getty Images/ Alexander Hough …

(4) Chicago Cubs’ general manager Jed Hoyer ,left, is seen here with Joe Maddon as he is formerly being introduced to the convened press at the Cubs’ official press meeting, announcing Maddon has succeeded Dale Sveum as the club’s sixtieth manager in franchise history. The former Tampa Bay Rays’ manager left that organization after several successful years , taking the franchise from worst to one of the most competitive teams in baseball during his tenure. However, there seems to be some change of discord and the lack of leadership being shown within the front office , leading to Maddon’s abrupt departure along with the team’s former GM Andrew Friedman who joined the Los Angeles Dodgers to become their Head of Baseball Operations. Also pictured , Cubs’ President & SVP Theo Epstein. AP Photo / Michael Holmes …

(5) Los Angeles’ manager Don Mattingly looks on at his pitcher Clayton Kershaw as the pair , along with members of the coaching staff and trainers are in the dugout during a game played at Dodgers Ballpark in Los Angeles, California ,. The team made it to the 2014 MLB Postseason where they swept aside in the NLDS with consummate ease by the St Louis Cardinals . It was the second year in succession where the club had fallen to their NL rivals . Kershaw performed miserably throughout the postseason along with his teammates. With Andrew Friedman being hired to take over all personnel decision making and the lateral promotion of Ned Colletti , lead managing partner Mark Walter was adamant , sweeping changes had to be made. Several players have since been released by the ball-club , including Josh Beckett and Hanley Ramirez . More moves are expected to me made in the coming weeks . The Los Angeles Dodgers have at least four players on their current roster who will be earning in excess of $20 million this upcoming season , among the highest tally of the league’s thirty teams . Getty Images/ Hugh Davidson ….

(6) Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn (2nd from the right) introduces Jeff Samardzija , David Robertson and Melky Cabrera on Tuesday , Dec. 16, 2014 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago , Illinois,. Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune

(7) Detroit Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski ,left, is seen here alongside Prince Fielder , center and team owner Michael Ilitch after the team formally introduced the player to the convened press at Comerica Park in Detroit Michigan , on 26th January, 2012. The player was signed as a free agent by the team, after Fielder chose not to re-sign with the Milwaukee Brewers. Prince Fielder’s tenure with the Tigers was short-lived and he was traded to the Texas Rangers where the AL West based team will assume the remainder of his existing contract . AP Photo/ Xavier Harris …

(8) February 17th , 2009 , Alex Rodriguez followed by GM Brian Cashman and Derek Jeter on their way to the press conference where A-Rod admitted using Steroids. With the retirement of the Yankees’ short-stop at the end of the 2014 season , Cashman hopes the beleaguered and still despised Rodriguez will be able to provide the team with the impetus needed to have a successful season . During his league imposed ban, Alex Rodriguez has chosen not to offer any public interviews to discuss his suspension , choosing instead, to prepare himself mentally and physically for the long haul of a one and hundred and sixty-two game schedule of the regular season . The player’s cousin , Yuri Sucart was recently indicted in US Federal Court alongside Anthony ‘Tony’ Bosch , (founder of Biogenesis) for running an illegal drug ring , along with the transportation and selling of steroids and other illicit drug paraphernalia . Getty Images / Tate Reynolds ….

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I can feel the burn just as much as she does ! So , what’s not to like ?

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Audrey Bitoni reveals more than natural beauty, she’s got a nice rack ”
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It’s still bad , at the top or the bottom and that’s as good as it’s liable to get .

It’s still bad , at the top or the bottom and that’s as
good as it’s liable to get .

College Basketball’s season has began and in many respects, the level of basketball of being played is not seen as glamorous as its professional counterpart within the NBA. Atop of the rankings remains one of the NCAA’s basketball powerhouses with the Kentucky Wildcats (9-0) casting its eye over the landscape where they reign supreme. John Calipari and his coaching staff having guided this team to the best record in College Basketball . This early in the season and one shouldn’t place a great deal in those standings as the teams have yet to find any type of consistency to their respective schedules.

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With the Wildcats ranked at number one, the second spot in the rankings is held by the Duke Blue Devils) coached by their acclaimed head coach Mike Krzyzewski, he seeks to win his fifth national title with the program. Krzyzewski and his team will be looking to be the dominant program once again within the ACC. Duke will likely be part of ” March Madness”,the climactic postseason soiree of College Basketball, unlike any other collegiate event. The Blue Devils’ next game will be against Elon in what is sure to be a lopsided contest. Kentucky will have a battle on their hands when they face the Pac-12 storied program UCLA (Bruins) in their next game .

To my mind, while the College Basketball season still remains in its infancy, we will not begin to witness the real resilience of the teams until mid January, when many of the programs have their sights set on the postseason fare and all of the visibility it brings. At the same time, there will be several players looking to shine with their displays in the run-up to that particular event.

Last season, in College Basketball the general belief and hype concerned players such as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker , Joel Embiid and the litany of rookies drafted into the NBA. The presence of these freshmen, has simply proven to be one of the many reasons why the play in the league continues to be dire. Granted, there were always going to be bad teams in the NBA , but this season at this stage , how many of us could have imagined that so many of them would be playing so badly , with their being little coaching acumen being shown by the coaching staffs of these franchises ?

The Los Angeles Lakers have proven to be a monumental bust this season, with the team simply failing to show up, even then, it tends to be rather sporadic before they once again shift back to the depths of mediocrity . Not that Kobe Bryant and his teammates have been able to climb out of the morass frequently, judged on their play. Head coach Byron Scott could very well meet the same fate as his two predecessors if this continued ineptitude shows no signs of changing. Bryant for his partremains single-minded,not in chasing team goals , but more now at this stage of his career chasing personal goals. He is now nine points behind the career points’ total of Michael Jordan and his protagonists are trying to suggest it places the Lakers’ player on the same plateau as the NBA’s greatest player. That notion is simply asinine, needs to be seen as just sheer stupidity and without merit . Bryant will never be viewed as Jordan’s equal , never-mind being remotely close to him in stature or character.

Los Angeles will be on the road today, when the team meet the Minnesota Timberwolves . A game I might add, has a great deal at stake , with both of these Western Conference franchises looking to steer themselves away from the lower rungs of the conference. I have never been a great admirer of Byron Scott as a head coach even with his success coaching the New Jersey Nets, where he was able to take the franchise to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

The Brooklyn Nets as they are now known , owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov . This season in particular, Prokhorov has seen his team struggle with head coach Lionel Hollins , seeking to instill a great deal of discipline into a lineup that seems to have no intent on playing an iota of defense on both ends of the floor. The fact that the Brooklyn Nets have by far the highest payroll in the entire NBA should not be lost on the fans or league hierarchy , who seem to have little sense of being financially prudent , much less the executives and owners around the league being prepared to show that sense of urgency on the matter.

Lionel Hollins will takes his team bearing a 10-12 record as they sit 6 1/2 games behind the Atlantic Coast Division leading Toronto Raptors (17-6). Brooklyn just happens to be 5-5 in their last ten games and on a two-game win streak. Brooklyn’s next contest will be against the Miami Heat on Tuesday evening when the two teams meet at the AA Arena in Miami, Florida,. Miami after the abrupt departure of LeBron James have sought to build their roster around the talents of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade , with head coach Erik Spoelstra seeking rebuild his lineup around this duo of stars.

Coming off a lopsided twenty seven point victory over what appears to be the hapless Charlotte Hornets , where the Nets sank sixteen three point attempts in this contest. The Hornets I believe are a team who remain an aberration in spite of last season’s success and their having made the NBA Playoffs this past year . Michael Jordan in his new found role as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats must hope his players are able to show the discipline needed to make another run at the playoffs. As good as we might assume the Hornets’ team to be there is clear evidence the front office and coaching staff cannot be entirely happy with what they have witnessed so far this season.

Kemba Walker remains the face of this Hornets’ franchise and it will be interesting to see what moves are made if any, by GM Rich Cho at the behest of head coach Steve Clifford as they seek to bolster the roster. Next up for this franchise will a game against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the guests hope to place a dent in the hopes of the Cavaliers, as that team seeks to make a push at gaining the top seed in the Eastern Conference . James for his part, has lost none of scoring prowess as he leads the team in scoring and is well-placed in a number of other offensive categories . Yet, LeBron’s offensive prowess cannot be the sole proviso for the Cavaliers if they are to be successful this season, because his teammates will have to step up to the plate, along with David Blatt and his coaching staff showing a great deal more ingenuity than we have witnessed so far this season. Defensively , the Cavaliers have yet to prove themselves as one of the better teams in the conference or in the NBA overall . James and the Cavaliers’ next contest will see them line up against the Charlotte Hornets at home when they take the court at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio in front of a sold-out crowd on Monday night.

Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans might be considered to be having a great season, with the power forward consistently being among one of the topscorers in the league on a consistent basis during the infancy of the Pelicans’ schedule and this NBA season. This is a far cry from what the fans witnessed last season from the team as they struggled to find some consistency during 2013.

The addition of Tyreke Evans has given the lineup a great basis for their progress with their being a greater emphasis on defense as well as offense from this young team . Davis has played like an early season leading contender for the League MVP and it would prove to be extremely difficult to state he is not justified to be listed among the leading candidates for the trophy at this juncture, one quarter of the way through the NBA schedule. There might be no more than five players who considered to be having great all-round seasons , but among those names, one might consider Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, James Harden of the Houston Rockets , DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings and LeBron James .

A narrow six-point loss to the the Golden State Warriors was a clear sign , that the New Orleans Pelicans are on the right track, but there is still a great deal of work to be done by this team , with head coach Monty Williams and his coaching staff undertaking the task to the best of their abilities. Team owner, Tom Benson having bought the franchise, rather than seeing it be relocated with the organization’s previous owner, George Shinn , only all too willing to plead poverty, has begun to engineer a turnaround , that will hopefully see a return to competitive play , but also a profitable economic return on his investment for the owner.

Steve Ballmer paid an exorbitant and outrageous $2 billion for the privilege of owning an NBA franchise. In doing so he merely helped the NBA hierarchy out of a hole of their own making, with the gutless David Stern showing that he has no stomach to come down hard and punish an owner for their egregious actions and behavior. Even when left to his successor, Adam Silver to mete out punishment to the now departed Donald Sterling , the league still found a way make themselves look like complete fools , in their handling of the former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner. Come full circle , with Ballmer assuming control of the organization and still within the fans’ midst remains, Rochelle Stein-Sterling , the estranged wife of the former owner. Somehow, the continued idiocy to be found within the NBA remains , even when a new e owner comes within its midst , with Steve Ballmer acknowledging Stein-Sterling and making her an honorary lifetime member of the organization, albeit, she is said to have been well aware of her husband’s despicable racial beliefs and overtures, during his tenure as the owner of the Clippers. In this case , not only has complicity being rewarded but also he sheer mendacity of Rochelle Stein-Sterling.

As the Golden State Warriors’ ascent has been well-chronicled , with the franchise having the best record (20-2) in the NBA, there can be no denying Steve Kerr has this team heading in the right direction. Joe Lacob , Peter Guber and the members of the front office knew the successor to Mark Jackson had to be someone with skilled basketball IQ, a disciplinarian and an individual who would fit in with the ideals the owners had in mind for their franchise. Jackson for his part, proved to be far too outspoken on a number of issues that bore no relation to the Warriors’ principles or that of basketball. Along the way , he showed his ignorance and some might say bigotry , yet this should be not lost on the public when one bears in mind how out of touch the league remains on a litany of social issues which David Stern and the league hierarchy barely paid lip service to.

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have been the primary reasons why the Warriors are off to a flying start , with the team now on a sixteen- game win streak, easily their best start to a season and a franchise record. Curry has fast become a fan favorite, with Thompson not too far behind, with his growing influence and popularity among the Warriors’ fans around the league. These two players are likely to be among the list of candidates to be team’s representatives on the Western Conference All Star Ballot for the NBA’s mid-season showcase. The prowess shown by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson make the pairing a force to be reckoned with in the NBA and be looked upon favorably against any other duo of offensive players in the league.

Kerr and the Warriors will have their next outing against the Memphis Grizzlies , a team with the second-best record in the Western Conference , while leading their division with a great deal of ease. This contest will provide us with a great deal of insight about these two teams, where Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph will lead a Grizzlies’ team intent on proving , they are to to be taken seriously as a legitimate threat within the conference as a playoff contender. I am certainly beginning to think the landscape has shifted within the Western Conference , where the only known commodities as perennial playoff contenders are the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, the defending NBA champions.

Two of the NBA’s most storied franchises are certainly having indifferent seasons. The Boston Celtics under second-year head coach Brad Stevens are still in the early stages of their rebuilding phase . A maneuver , I certainly believe GM Danny Ainge should have started at least three years ago, but inexplicably he chose to wait and here we are with a Celtics’ team still getting its feet wet and showing incrementals signs of improvement in their overall play. The New York Knicks remain an undisciplined team with their being little of positive recommendation to be made about this Derek Fisher coached lineup . To top it all , the Knicks’ front office remains clueless and that is with all due respect to Phil Jackson as Head of Basketball Operations for the franchise, but even he has to see , his task has now become a great deal tougher than first thought. Anyone of the belief that a roster made up of players such as Samuel Dalembert , Tim Hardaway Jr , Iman Shumpert , Pablo Prigioni, Amare’ Stoudemire, JR Smith and Carmelo Anthony were going to possibly compete n this league would have to be delusional or simply long-term diehard Knicks’ fans who welcomed the torture they have been subjected to over the past decade.

Personally, I do not believe fans of the franchise are either eloquent or intelligent enough to succinctly state the problems this team faces but yet they appear to be of the belief Jackson will be able to engineer a quick turnaround. Well, the famed head coach will not be stepping back into his coach’s shoes anytime soon and it is clear to see Fisher is way in, over his head. As to this continued idiocy, the coaching staff is experienced enough to guide these players, clearly that has become a farce of epic proportions. If anyone is trying to suggest Kurt Rambis and Roger Hinds can provide the tutelage needed, let alone assist Fisher to the best of their abilities in making this roster remotely competitive. The evidence is there for all too see, as borne out the team’s record without the continued asinine excuses being made for their plight. A five-point loss suffered at the hands of the Toronto Raptors on Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden , served notice as to how soft the New York Knicks have becomeand the fact this team is simply not that good by any stretch of the imagination to compete in the NBA.

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While I know the NBA season remains very much in its early stages , we have already reached first quarter of the schedule. The troublesome and prevailing premise has to be, when are we likely to see any type of improvement from the teams at the bottom end of the pedestal ? Certainly there is a great deal of room for improvement from the likes of the Brooklyn Nets , New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, but their issues are of their own making and not likely to get any better anytime soon. By all means, leave a comment as to your thoughts on the NBA and what you would like to see come out of this season concerning the teams ?

:)

Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) North Carolina’s Marcus Paige , middle, looks for a teammate amid Kentucky defenders, from left, Aaron Harrison , Dakari Johnson , and Willie Cauley-Stein during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game , Saturday, Dec. 13th, 2014. Kentucky won 84-70 . AP Photo/James Crisp

(2) North Carolina’s Marcus Paige , left, draws a charging foul on Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. AP Photo/James Crisp …

(3) Duke’s Tyus Jones (5) shoots past Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Duke won 80-70 . AP Photo/Andy Manis …

(4) Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski , left, and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan greet each other before an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Madison, Wis. AP Photo/Andy Manis ….

(5) Oct 7 , 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) posts up against Indiana Pacers guard George Hill (3) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana , Indianapolis . The Pacers would go on to defeat the Timberwolves 103-90 . Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports ….

(6) Klay Thompson , Shaun Livingston and Festus Ezeli of the Golden State Warriors during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on December 14, 2014 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Getty Images / Lane Murdoch Jr . …

(7) Anthony Davis (23) of the New Orleans Pelicans looks to make an offensive play as DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers looks to defend . Davis has been one of the league’s most explosive players offensively , during this season and by far the most effective power forward at this juncture of the NBA schedule. The Clippers would go on to defeat the Pelicans 120-100 in a high scoring game played on the 6th December , 2014 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California ,. Getty Images / Paul Fleming …

(8) LOS ANGELES – FEBRUARY 23: The Los Angeles Lakers coaching staff (L-R) Brian Shaw, Kurt Rambis , Phil Jackson, Frank Hamblen and athletic trainer Gary Vitti share a laugh on the bench during the game game against the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on February 23, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 122-96. Rambis is now the lead assistant on Derek Fisher’s coaching staff of the New York Knicks where Jackson is now the Head of Basketball Operations for the Knicks’ organization. Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images …

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Tophatal ………..

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Lana del Ray …. “Ultraviolence ”

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News, views and a whole lot of crap from the world of sports …


News, views and a whole lot of crap from the world of sports …

Well once again as we approach a festive period , in this case, Christmas and all of the alleged joy it is meant to bring .Sports’ fans are left to ponder what is happening within the realms of professional sports. The NFL remains a complete farce and once again we had a Thursday Night Game which failed to live up to expectations. The Arizona Cardinals (11-3) found a way to eke out a victory over the rather inept St Louis Rams. Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians , believes incumbent starting quarterback Drew Stanton has what it takes to lead the team all the way to the Superbowl . Based on the events of the last night’s contest , I believe the head coach is delusional and definitely jumping ahead of himself !

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For the present Arizona has the best record in the NFC and will be looking for home field advantage throughout the postseason. The NFC West, where Arizona has a comfortable lead over their closest rivals , is now a division, which is theirs to lose . As to the continued idiocy and buffoonery by some, who believe the San Francisco 49ers (7-6) were good enough to gain double-digit wins for the season , well their year has been completely turned upside down with the head coach Jim Harbaugh no longer being seen in a favorable light by the front office led by CEO Jed Yorke and GM Trent Baalke. Whether not Harbaugh returns next season is now open to a great deal of debate and conjecture. The Niners have a divisional clash on Sunday afternoon against the defending Superbowl champions the Seattle Seahawks and that contest will certainly be a ” make or break game ” for the team.

Colin Kaepernick will certainly have to now prove his worth beyond his audacious contract , one which he now has to live up to in more ways than one.

With the Cleveland Browns (7-6) still in the thick of things within the AFC North and fighting for their very lives, looking to make the postseason for the first time in almost twelve years , it remains to be seen whether or not this team can make that premise a reality. Head coach Mike Pettine has decided to sit starting quarterback Brian Hoyer in favor the team’s draftee Johnny Manziel and so the era begins for a player, many believe lacks the maturity to play in the NFL. The Browns’ coaching staff may well live to regret this decision, should the team fall at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1) when these two AFC North teams meet in a decisive and pivotal division game on Sunday afternoon. Manziel will get the chance to show what he is made of and perhaps persuade his doubters and actually prove to them , he is the future of this franchise.

The NBA season continues with a number of teams already in complete disarray. The Toronto Raptors (16-6) and Golden State Warriors (20-2) are the respective conference leaders within the league as we reach the first quarter of the NBA’s eighty-two game schedule. Undeniably , there is still a long way to go before the season reaches its climax , but already we are beginning to see the frustration among the fans as well as a number of players , because of the continued poor play of the teams. Needless to say , teams such as the New York Knicks (4-20) , Philadelphia 76ers (3-19), Detroit Pistons (3-19) , Charlotte Hornets (6-15) , Minnesota Timberwolves (5-16) and Los Angeles Lakers (6-16) are no longer having to prove why they are so inept . Just take my word for it they are and will remain so over the course of the season based on their current play. Neither of the teams mentioned, have shown any signs of real competitiveness and clearly that has been shown in the results seen this season.

For all of the praised heaped upon Phil Jackson as a head coach , it has to be said, the expectations and his being able to work a miracle by turning around the misfortunes of the New York Knicks have been way beyond his control. The team is in complete disarray , with no signs of life now being shown. The situation will not be helped with Carmelo Anthony being sidelined due to an injury and as the team’s best player and offensive threat , it becomes easy to understand how dire the situation has become for the franchise. Jackson was brought in to head up the Knicks’ operations and now as the Head of Basketball Operations as well as holding a position as a Senior Vice President, the former head coach is witnessing the fact , the job of an executive is not as easy as first thought. Add in the culture of the New York Knicks’ fans and fan-base who have been starved of success for years and weight of expectation from the perceived savior, may well be now in doubt.

The indignity now being suffered by the New York Knicks apart from their dire record and the fact they are on a ten-game losing streak adds to the ineptitude witnessed from this team. Their last victory came in defeating the lowly and even less effective Philadelphia 76ers in a 91-83 win , which took place on the 22nd November , 2014. Hard to say where there are meant to be any positives to be found concerning the Knicks without delving further into the fact, they have a rookie coach , Derek Fisher and a coaching staff who are clearly out of their depth . The team’s next game will be on the road when they face the Boston Celtics (7-13) at the TD Banknorth Gardens , in Boston , Massachusetts on Friday evening .

To now understand how dire things have become for the New York Knicks , consider the fact at the start of the season the franchise did their utmost in getting Carmelo Anthony to re-sign with the team with the player signing a five-year $124 million deal , tying him to the Knicks for the next years. Now comes word, the front office is said to be contemplating trading the NBA All Star and former scoring champion , but the premise would be based on Anthony waiving his no-trade clause. Anthony is not due to become a free agent until 2019 and his $ 22.5 million salary is not necessarily cap-friendly to a team wishing to acquire the player much less obligate themselves to the remaining four years on his current deal. Undoubtedly, Anthony would be a desired player by a franchise looking for offensive firepower , but it is my belief the forward’s desire would have wish to be traded to a credible contender. The New York Knicks for their part are obviously seeking pieces which would complement their roster while looking to the future , whatever that may well be. Though this current situation is by no means the fault of Phil Jackson, it is my belief his arrogance and sheer complacency in not seeking improve the roster during the off-season, has led to this current debacle. For years this franchise has stumbled with their repeated pratfalls and lack of sheer insight as to what what was needed to improve their plight , without delving into the fact team owner James Dolan remained negligent in his responsibilities as the senior executive within the Knicks’ hierarchy. Come full circle and the New York Knicks are now heading aimlessly nowhere and an organization without a clue as what to do next .

It becomes asinine when fans try compare the careers of players from one generation to the next , before one of the athletes in question has actually retired .Yet like the ever anal retentive idots within the sports’ world, there will always be the fan or pundit seeking make an argument as to the merits in such a case . With Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant recently passing the plateau of 30,000 career points , the lead among active players and placing him among the top-ten all-time scorers in NBA history. Now as Bryant inches closer to the career points’ total of the player the greatest in the game’s history , the comparisons are now being made between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan . The former Chicago Bulls’ great, his career being well-chronicled , as been littered with accolades at every level of the game and it should be noted Jordan won an NCAA title at the collegiate level , whereas, Bryant made the jump straight from high school directly to the professional ranks of the NBA, forgoing a college career. Both players have won multiple NBA titles , Jordan’s six to Bryant’s five. Each has been a recipient of the Finals’ MVP Award and League MVP Award. Yet, the comparison should end there , because Bryant has become an anathema and petulant child, now resorting to chastising his teammates and the Lakers’ organization , publicly . Something, Jordan chose not to do publicly , and it was only with the advent of the breakup of the championship winning team in the Bulls’ last triumph under the auspices of general manger Jerry Krause , where the player was critical of the Bulls’ organization. specifically of Krause and his wish to breakup the winning team from that season. The similarities can end there , in-as far as the players may well have been critical of their respective hierarchies .

Kobe Bryant now finds himself in something of a dilemma as he plays on an uncompetitive team short on talent and coaching prowess being brought to the table by Byron Scott and his coaching staff. One could go as far as to suggest, Scott might be doing an even worst job than his two previous predecessors, Mike D’Antoni and Mike Brown , two former Lakers’ coaches who simply struggled to lead the franchise to any type of meaningful success during their respective tenures. Steve Nash remains unavailable to the team and Jeremy Lin , has proven to be about as useful as a dish-cloth being used to mop up an oil spill in the middle of an ocean. Beyond Lin, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill , there is very little to suggest the Lakers can survive the long haul of an eighty-two game schedule , let alone remain being competitive.

With a 6-16 record the Lakers find themselves at the bottom of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference 13 1/2 games behind the division leading Golden State Warriors . To put it mildly , the Lakers are no longer the best NBA franchise in the state of California , a mantel they have held for a number of years , in particular in recently history , up until the 2012-13 season .

The Los Angeles Lakers are equally abysmal at home as they are on the road , further enforcing the fact they cannot win anywhere , let alone provide an opponent with some meaningful competition . Coming off a 98-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings their next opponent will be defending NBA champions the San Antonio Spurs in a game to be played at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The resilience shown by Los Angeles could go a long way in defining the remainder of their season and whether not drastic changes are likely to be made at the trade deadline by GM Mitch Kupchak .

You have to admire rapper, entrepreneur , budding media mogul and now owner of an upstart sports’ management empire , seeking to challenge the likes of CAA , Top Rank , IMG , Golden Boy Promotions Inc as the next big thing in sports’ management and promotions. Jay-z , having accomplished a great deal as a musical artist , has now set his sights on becoming not only a boxing promoter , but also the manager of a stable of fighters. His fledgling agency RocNationSpotrts under the umbrella of parent company RocNation has entered the field of boxing promotions and management. Having been granted a license by the New York State Athletic Commission , his company will now seek to sign up and coming fighters to his stable of established sports’ personalities and athletes. Nevermind his coterie of renowned musical talent within the RocNation empire. Anything, which furthers the profile of boxing and can drag it out of the depths of mediocrity has to be seen as a welcomed thing , but given the lack and dirth of talent , I am not so sure, Jay-z will be as successful in this endeavor as he has been with his other commercial enterprises . Far be it for me to suggest , with the likes of Victor Cruz , Geno Smith , CC Sabathia , ,James Young said to be having indifferent seasons within their respective sports. It has to be said, an upswing of sorts , is needed for the agency. The biggest high-profiled athletes within the agency remain , Robinson Cano, Kevin Durant , Ndamukong Suh and Dez Bryant .

Boxing needs a dose of fresh air and creativity, because the likes of Don King and Bob Arum have been about as beneficial for the sport as the US Congress can be likened to have been of benefit to the country over the past six years. Inactivity, continued partisan bickering and infantile behavior, have become synonymous on Capitol Hill , just as much as it can now be witnessed within the sport of boxing. Needless to say, there are those who might think otherwise , perhaps due to their ongoing stupidity and complete lack of intelligence.

MLB’s Winter Meetings are not yet in full swing , but there has been abundance of trade activity since the postseason came to an end. A newly crowned World Series’ champion in the San Francisco Giants , and the witnessing of the largest individual contract being signed in professional sports’ team history, when Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins signed an outrageous $325 million deal , far dwarfing the next biggest contract in baseball. Needless to say, there are those , now questioning the wherewithal within an organization , which has been just as quick to jettison high-salaried players , as it has been to feign poverty , while team owner and billionaire art dealer Jeffrey Loria continues to pull the wool over the eyes of the Marlins’ fans as well as the league hierarchy , whom it appears have willingly let Loria get away with his unscrupulous behavior. Yet, baseball remains a law unto itself , with their being very little financial prudency being shown by the teams let alone with some of the most senior leaders within the league’s management .

Can anyone actually justify the $25 million salary paid to outgoing commissioner, Bud Selig , this past season or the fact , his successor Rob Manfred is likely to be paid in excess of that sum in 2015 ? All of this, coming at a time when a number of teams can barely survive on their gate revenues and still turn a profit even with endorsement deals from major corporate sponsors and that is without taking into account the ever growing payrolls around the league .

The Miami Marlins were far from convincing last season within an NL East division, which was sub-par and mediocre . One only has to understand that fact , in seeing how easily the the division’s winner , the Washington Nationals were brushed aside with the utmost ease during the postseason. Miami for its part, will continue to make good on its promise, to bolster their roster for the upcoming season with a number of deals, as they seek to make themselves competitive , in face of the alleged stiff competition within their division , the NL and the league. This might be just as good as it gets for the franchise, before they are back to ways of old , and the jettisoning of high salaried players.

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Picture gallery.

During 2014, which major sporting event has provided you with the greatest pleasure and which to your mind has been the most disappointing ? Chime in with a comments as you see fit on this and anything else you believe of merit concerning the subject matter.

:)

Picture and slideshow gallery details below.
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(1) St. Louis Rams’ Kenny Britt (81) sits on the field following an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 in St. Louis. Arizona won 12-6 . AP Photo/Tom Gannam ..

(2) St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill (14) reacts after the Rams turned the football over on late downs late in the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 in St. Louis. Arizona won 12-6 . AP Photo/Tom Gannam …

(3)St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher left, talk with Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians following an NFL football game Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 in St. Louis. Arizona won 12-6 . AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

(4) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) scrambles from Oakland Raiders linebacker Miles Burris (56) during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014. San Francisco would go on to lose the game 24-13 . to the Raiders. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez ..

(5) Johnny Manziel will be making his first professional start in a regular season game when the Cleveland Browns take on the Cincinnati Bengals in an all AFC North clash on Sunday afternoon , the 14th December during week fifteen of the NFL regular season schedule. AP Photo/ Reece Carr …

(6) New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony reacts after a foul in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 4, 2011. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 119-115 . There now seems to be mounting speculation the Knicks might be willing trade the player with their season now spiraling out of control , but it would take Anthony to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate such a deal, likely to involve multiple teams and several players. UPI/John Angelillo

(7) Michael Jordan, left and Kobe Bryant whose careers are not intertwined by a great many meetings on the court , but clearly Bryant’s game was modeled on Jordan’s iconic stature . UPI / Roger Powell ……

(8) Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins having signed the most lucrative deal in baseball history hopes lead the franchise to greater glory this upcoming season . The organization has also signed their NL Rookie of the Year , pitcher , Jose Fernandez (16) to a long-term deal , using both players as marketing chips to lure fans back to Marlins Ballpark , in Miami , Florida . A venue, which in recent seasons has been sparsely attended . Miami Herald / Octavo Figueroa …

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You can’t squeeze those to make lemonade, but you can get a whole lot of milk and a great deal of pleasure from giving her an assist .

Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Boxing,, Football, http://wp.me/poxLH-9qk, MLB, NBA, NFL, Sports, Sports & Social Commentary, Sports Commentary, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

A case can be made ….

A case can be made ….

The four teams have been set for College Football’s playoff format and while there will continue to be disagreements as to the merits of the four programs atop of the rankings. While no one can deny Alabama has been the best team in College Football this season , questions are likely to be asked as to why TCU (Hornfrogs) was not given a higher ranking . Yet based on the merits , we can only accept findings of the panel as being diligent. With the Bowl games still in tact , those programs not rewarded with the chance of taking part in the inaugural playoff system will still be part of a lucrative postseason extravaganza. Make no mistake , money remains the sole driving force behind this new format, alongside College Football’s wish to be seen as changing with the times . The first of those Bowl Games will be on the 20th December when Utah faces off against Colorado State .
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Slideshow.

Squaring off the right to be designated as the national champion in what will amount to the semi-final round of the Playoff Format will be the number one ranked Alabama (Crimson Tide) staring down to face Urban Meyer and number four ranked Ohio State (Buckeyes) . The two opposing coaches Nick Saban and Meyer have a combined six national titles between them. In the other title bearing contest we have Oregon (Ducks) and their Heisman Trophy leading candidate Marcus Mariota leading the team against the defending national champions Florida State (Seminoles) . With so much at stake for the quartet of teams , it will be interesting to see how both contests will come to their respective conclusions on the 1st January, 2015.

I am not about to suggest that either Alabama or Oregon will have their way with their opponents in their contests, but the prevailing thought might well be these two teams would provide the fans of College Football as well as the nation at large the best possible finale sought ,with their being ranked number one and number two in the nation. Granted, Ohio State and Florida State will have other ideas with view to upsetting the perceptions of those favoring the top-two contenders.

There has been little to suggest this has been none of the more memorable seasons in in the annals recent NFL history . If anything this year has provided us with a litany of games we would rather forget , with so many teams playing sub-par football and their being very little defense being shown in a wide variety of ways . Week fourteen provided us with another reason why you can never take anything for granted in today’s NFL and that point was so well emphasized in the San Francisco 49ers’ embarrassing loss to the lowly and hideously abhorrent Oakland Raiders . To suggest Jim Harbaugh’s players were simply complacent would be an understatement and while the Raiders should be lauded for a splendid effort, let us not forget the team’s record and their play over the course of this season. As to what one think of the Forty-Niners and their rapid fall from being the title contenders to quite possibly also-rans, can quite clearly be answered as speculation continues to mount Jim Harbaugh’s future and whether or not he will be returning to the organization next season. Harbaugh’s name has been linked to a number of positions around the NFL as well as within the College ranks , but for the moment, there has been no formal statement from the head coach or anyone within the Niners’ front office .

San Francisco has a 7-6 record and even if this team manages to notch up double digit wins , which seems highly unlikely at this juncture , with their play being so inconsistent and their remaining schedule decidedly shaky. Ten wins will not be enough to secure them a sixth seed conference berth and postseason guarantee , much less a chance of actually winning the NFC West. The division remains in the Arizona Cardinals’ hands and theirs lose if they begin to show any signs of complacency.

Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers will be on the road when they face divisional rivals the Seattle Seahawks in ” must win game” for the visiting team as well as the hosts. A loss for Seattle loss would put a dent in their postseason ambitions, but their position as a wildcard team still remains intact for the moment , but as I alluded to earlier , a victory if of the utmost priority for Pete Carroll and his players . Kaepernick may well feel that he bears a certain amount of responsibility for the team’s failures this season , but it has been a collective effort the players as well the coaching staff led by Jim Harbaugh , who have provided the inept performances we have seen from the team this year.

Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals will head to St Louis , Missouri to face the St Louis Rams in an all NFC West clash in the Edward Jones Dome Stadium , to open up the regular week fifteen schedule on Thursday night. Hopefully, both teams will show a sign of solidarity in the aftermath of the tragic events which took place in Ferguson , Missouri,. The violent protests which have taken place cannot be condoned , yet at the same , it gives credence to a much broader based tide of discontent that many simply do not understand or wish to acknowledge, there remains inherent racism within their confines. This is one sign of which, much of America has no wish to address , instead, seeking to show its apathy, continually burying its head in the sand on the “issue of race” .

I wholeheartedly believe Bruce Arians has to be seen as the front-runner for the NFL Manager of The Year ,after a fantastic job done in coaching his team one of the best records in the NFL . A mark currently shared by three other teams , likely to be looked upon as the prohibitive favorites for this season’s Superbowl . Whether or not the Denver Broncos , New England Patriots from the AFC will be there, joining the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers in their respective conference championship games remains to be seen.

It would not be an understatement to admit the NFC South has been the worst division in the NFL all season long . How anyone can equate or justify their brand of football as being relevant, let alone acknowledge the winner of the division will gain entrance into the postseason is beyond belief. Just as College Football decided to make change in its playoff format , the time has now come for the NFL to do the same where a division winner does not have a better record than a conference rival .If it means that team having won its division has to miss the postseason because one more teams have the advantage then so be it . However, with that in mind and the league’s Competition’s Committee and Roger Goodell looking to expand the postseason from eight to twelve teams , I get the impression isn’t seeking increase the level of competition , but solely looking to extract more revenues which comes courtesy of the NFL’s major corporate sponsors without taking into account the hundreds of millions of dollars which comes the NFL’s way at the time of the Superbowl . Avarice within this league remains limitless and the boundaries are forever being broadened and sought by the league hierarchy.

It would not be an understatement to admit the NFC South has been the worst division in the NFL all season long . How anyone can equate or justify their brand of football as bein relevant, let alone acknowledge the winner of the division will gain entrance into the postseason is beyond belief. Just as College Football decided to make change in its playoff format , the time has now come for the NFL to do the same where a division winner does not have a better record than a conference rival .If it means that team having won its division has to miss the postseason because one more teams have the advantage then so be it . However, with that in mind and the league’s Competition’s Committee and Roger Goodell looking to expand the postseason from eight to twelve teams , I get the impression isn’t seeking increase the level of competition , but solely looking to extract more revenues which comes courtesy of the NFL’s major corporate sponsors without taking into account the hundreds of millions of dollars which comes the NFL’s way at the time of the Superbowl . Avarice within this league remains limitless and the boundaries are forever being broadened and sought by the league hierarchy.

The Atlanta Falcons (5-8) jointly lead the NFC South alongside the New Orleans Saints , with Sean Payton being overly optimistic , suggesting the Saints have yet to play their best football and can still contend not only for postseason berth but also for the Superbowl itself. New Orleans’ struggles can be emphasized with the other three divisional occupants the fact, all four teams rank in the lower rungs of the NFL defensively. For head coaches Mike Smith, Ron Rivera , Sean Payton and Lovie Smith , this has been a season where not only have their teams underperformed but I believe their coaching abilities have to come into question ! A year on from having won the Coach of the Year Award Ron Rivera has seen the Panthers stumble to a (4-8-1) record with only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-11) seated below them within the NFC South. With Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton likely to be sidelined for the rest of the season after suffering non life threatening injuries in a car accident. One could suggest the team’s the season is now likely over and their now having to rely on backup quarterback Derek Anderson . Misfortune or not , with or without Newton, there can be no denying the Carolina Panthers have performed poorly throughout this season.

Carolina will play host to Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a game likely to be high-scoring contest, but not necessarily an entertaining game. The Atlanta Falcons will look to stymie the ambitions of the Pittsburgh Steelers , who are in a tough divisional race within the AFC North. Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints will have a Monday Night contest against the Chicago Bears whose season has capitulated under the poor performances of Jay Cutler and a very under-achieving Bears’ team.

It has been almost six years since the Dallas Cowboys(9-4) had a winning season but now having found themselves tied in dog-fight of a divisional race with the Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) , Jason Garrett and his team’s intestinal fortitude will be tested over their remaining three games of the season. That test will begin in earnest when they face the Eagles in the late Sunday night game to be played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania,. This contest will be a make or break shoot-out for both teams with a divisional crown at stake and Nick Foles and Tony Romo on opposing sides of the ball. The quarterback providing his team with the most consistent play is likely come out of this game , leading his side to the victory. For Jerry Jones , this gives the Cowboys’ owner something finally to ” crow about” , but I get the feeling, should his team fail to make the postseason his embarrassment will not be hindered in any way , as he suggests, there have been positives coming from this season. Jones simply loves the sound of his own voice, even when he makes the most ridiculous of statements.

If Gus Bradley , Rex Ryan and Mike Smith return to the NFL in their current capacities , will be honestly surprised. Ryan in particular , has been a monumental bust in his role as head coach of the New York Jets (2-11). His team sits firmly rooted at the bottom of the AFC East and showing absolutely no signs of life without looking at the play of both Geno Smith and Michael Vick over the course of this season . Ryan seems nonplussed that the Jets have squandered their opportunities and even with hindsight anyone who believes this team with its current makeup was good enough to compete within its division let alone the rest the NFL has to be extremely misguided.

For Gus Bradley it has not been about what if, but more so to do with , where do we now go from here ? Having drafted quarterback Blake Bortlesin the 2014 NFL Draft . The player has shown he is capable of playing but unfortunately he is not surrounded by a great deal of talent in the specialist areas needed on offense for the Jacksonville Jaguars . Needless to say , a 2-11 record will not cut it for a franchise starved of and for success without knowing the organization has one of the lowest attendance level in the NFL , something which has been ongoing for several seasons. Team owner Shahid Khan having spent almost $800 million to purchase the Jaguars , he has tried in earnest to rebuild this organization from the ground up. He has yet to see anything tangible one would equate with success and with the team yet to have a winning season since he assumed control of the franchise in 2010.

As losers of three of their last four games Jacksonville will head into Baltimore to face the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC clash. John Harbaugh and the Ravens will be looking to make some inroads into the slender divisional lead held by the Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1) , in what has turned out to be the tightest divisional race in the NFL .

It is extremely difficult to have any empathy with the NFLPA (union) much less the NFL under the leadership of Roger Goodell . While the commissioner has not been able to distance himself from the incompetence shown in dealing with the Ray Rice issue . With the team owners having voted unanimously to initiate a revamped code of conduct policy , it does appear rather recalcitrant for the union to question the right of the league to initiate such a policy while having shown little propensity to rein in the behavior of their members . NFLFPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith remains a hypocritical @ss with Executive Committee and Board of Player Representatives showing little concern , if any, concerning the events reported concerning Rice , Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald. Idiots have even come forth, trying to use the law and tenets of innocent until proven guilty to excuse the behavior of McDonald, who jokingly an interview with the press, acted bemuse as why all the fuss over his laying his hands on his pregnant girlfriend. Begs the question if a female remains not off limits to to abuse then what they do they believe to abhorrent and distasteful in terms of personal conduct ? McDonald may well have plead not guilty to the charges with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office then stat there was insufficient no evidence to suggest there was ever an act of abuse , but what they failed to actually detail, was this was not the first time such an accusation had been ever leveled against the Forty Niners’ defensive lineman. Pattern of behavior ? Go figure .

It is extremely difficult to have any empathy with the NFLPA (union) much less the NFL under the leadership of Roger Goodell . While the commissioner has not been able to distance himself from the incompetence shown in dealing with the Ray Rice issue . With the team owners having voted unanimously to initiate a revamped code of conduct policy , it does appear rather recalcitrant for the union to question the right of the league to initiate such a policy while having shown little propensity to rein in the behavior of their members . NFLFPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith remains a hypocritical @ss with Executive Committee and Board of Player Representatives showing little concern if any , for the events reported concerning Rice , Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald. Idiots have even come forth, trying to use the law and tenets of innocent until proven guilty to excuse the behavior of McDonald, who jokingly an interview with the press, acted bemuse as why all the fuss over his laying his hands on his pregnant girlfriend. Begs the question if a female remains not off limits to to abuse then what they do they believe to abhorrent and distasteful in terms of personal conduct ? McDonald may well have plead not guilty to the charges with the Santa Clara County District Attorney , then stat there was no evidence to suggest there was ever an act of abuse , but what they failed to actually detail, was this was not the first time such an accusation had been ever leveled against the Forty Niners’ defensive lineman. Pattern of behavior ? Go figure .

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As the NFL season heads down its final stretch run what do you believe to be the event to have taken place in the NFL by way of the games or story which you think the most relevant ?

o_O

:)

Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Nick Saban , left, head coach of Alabama meets with Urban Meyer , head coach of Florida in a press interview prior to the 2009 BCS title game , between the two programs . The pair will meet again when Alabama faces Ohio State in newly formatted playoff system in College Football . The winner will then play for the national title against the winner of the contest between Florida State and Oregon . AP Photo / Chris Dempsey …

(2) Marcus Mariota (8) of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State will meet in the second of the two semi-finals games which lead to the winner of that contest having the privilege of playing for the national title. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper in a recent statement made the prognosis that neither Mariota or Winston are elite NFL franchise caliber quarterbacks . Kiper has very little credibility when it should be noted he spends a great deal of time consorting with agents than he does judiciously assessing college talent . That asides, should anyone really take note of what he necessarily has to say , when his only spiel is one of guaranteeing debate and very little else of merit ? Getty Images / Sam Turner …

(3) Brandian Ross (29) of the Oakland Raiders gets his arms around Colin Kaepernick (7) of the San Francisco 49ers in the second quarter at the O.co Coliseum on December 7, 2014 in Oakland, California. Getty Images/ Brian Bahr ….

(4) Head coach Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals is seen here on the sidelines with quarterback Drew Stanton . In the absence of the injured Carson Palmer , Stanton has assumed the role of starting quarterback for the team . Arians believes the player good enough to guide the Cardinals all the way to the Superbowl . AP Photo / Claire Howard …

(5) Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach Gus Bradley , left , is seen here alongside the team’s 2014 draftee Blake Bortles , center and team GM David Caldwell . AP Photo / Matt Harris ….

(6) DeMaurice Smith ,left , Executive Director of the the NFLPA is seen her alongside NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The continued discord between the two entities , the league hierarchy and union, remains adversarial , with the union now question the veracity o f the league’s new player conduct policy , voted into effect unanimously , by the NFL’s thirty-two franchise owners. AP Photo / Rich Morris …
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Shit does roll downhill, but it is even harder to try and push it uphill …

Shit does roll downhill, but it is even harder to try and push it uphill …

It has to be either naivete’ or a complete lack of intelligence , when fans try and suggest a team “tanking” their season and then hiring a legend will actually lead to an immediate turnaround for that franchise. Rarely does that happen in the world of sports today , and much the premise is predicated upon the staff being in place and their being able to acquire the right talent to put their plan into play. In the NBA this season, we are seeing that the New York Knicks is an organization still in transition , but even more so, a complete mess in terms of their performances during the schedule. While the hiring of Phil Jackson has to be lauded, the hire is no guarantee of success down the road , in spite of his legacy and the level of success achieved during his coaching career. This current chapter of Jackson’s career is completely a new one in its entirety and we should be reminded, he will have deal with one of , if not the most incompetent owners in the NBA , with James Dolan presiding over this franchise as its senior most executive and owner. Dolan’s ineptitude can be measured in a litany of ways , with perhaps the most infamous being, the decision to hire Isiah Thomas to head the Knicks’ Basketball Operations. A chapter which failed miserably on so many counts, with Thomas himself, having assumed the head coaching position during his tenure. The less said about those episodes , the better the case can be made the franchise is now in a better position, but not by much based on their current play.

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Twenty games into the season and the New York Knicks are an abysmal 4-16, and based on their current pace this team is unlikely to win more than twenty games when it is all said an done. Granted, Jackson hired a rookie head coach, with Derek Fisher succeeding Mike Woodson into the coach’s roll, but here too, it is hard to fathom what type of coach Fisher is likely to be, given his lack of experience then assessing his staff of coaching assistants. As experienced as many of them are said to be, it is likely to Fisher’s decision and his alone likely determine the strategies we see on the court , even with the input of Phil Jackson there for him to fall back on. Carmelo Anthony remains the lone offensive threat for the Knicks, but here too the team has failed miserably , with no one else on the roster willing to step up to the plate on nightly basis for this franchise. From a defensive standpoint the team has been woefully inept at home and on the road.

In one of the Knicks’ most contests the team just hhappened to be on the wrong side of a heartbreaking loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James had less than memorable performances in the in the match-up of two of the Eastern Conference’s less than competitive franchises this season .

Derek Fisher’s team will get the chance to redeem themselves when they face the Charlotte Hornets at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte , North Carolina on Friday night , in one of the NBA’s night of scheduled contests. New York currently leads their season series 1-0 , having won their first meeting by a narrow three-point margin 96-93 on the 2nd November , 2014. Friday’s contest might not prove to be as compelling, given their present status within the conference or their respective divisions.

A one game win-streak doesn’t season make, but in the case of the Philadelphia 76ers, it could be the victory that either defines the Sixers’ season or continues their morass as the worst team in the league at this point of the NBA schedule. Head coach Brett Brown remains forever optimistic, trying to suggest his young corps of the players , the youngest in the league are still capable of being competitive. Having gained their first victory of the season, defeating the Minnesota Timbeberwolves the climb out of the depths mediocrity has just become slightly less embarrassing, but not my much.

At 1-17, it is hard to imagine how things could get any worse for the Sixers , beyond the fact the league hierarchy seems to be condoning this style of ineptitude by several teams around the NBA. Changes in the format of the NBA Draft Lottery has done little to dispel this type of ongoing charade by Philadelphia , when you bear in mind their standing at the end of last season and their draft position in the first rounds of the drafts of 2013 and 2014. Sixers’ team owner Joshua Harris and GM Sam Hinkie suggest they are showing the inclination that the franchise’s wish is to build for the future , but I find that concept hard to believe when there is no veteran experience on the roster to lead by example for young players such as Joel Embiid , Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams. Carter-Williams , last season’s Rookie of the Year has proven to be good , but not great or a leader by example. Granted , he might just be the best player on the Sixers’ lineup , yet that is by no means of any real consolation for a team that has been a constant reminder of sheer ineptitude in the NBA this and last season .

Philadelphia will have as their guests the Oklahoma City Thunder when the two teams meet on Friday evening and where Russell Westbrook will hope to lead his teammates in the absence of Kevin Durant , who remains sidelined by an injury. After an ignominious start the Thunder are back to playing some semblance of competitive basketball. The point guard has been very impressive upon his return to Thunder lineup this season. Westbrook is averaging 26.5 ppg in his last two outings, and providing the offensive firepower sorely missed by the team with Durant out of the lineup.

Currently lying in third place of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference 9 1/2 games behind the division leading Portland Trailblazers (15-4), Oklahoma City Thunder will have to make some inroad in to the lead if they are place themselves in contention a competitive assault on the second quarter and half of the season. Scott Brooks and his coaching staff will be looking to his players to remain consistent as well as competitive in what is turning out to very tough divisionand conference.

I may well be mistaken , but Flip Saunders and team owner , Glen Taylor created the mess that has engulfed the Minnesota Timberwolves this season . Saunders the Timberwolves’ head coach , minority stakeholder and Head of Basketball Operations in conjunction with Taylor, made the decision to trade Kevin Love , rather than seeking build a competitive roster around the power forward. There has been nothing at all endearing about the Timberwolves this season and with the never ending rumors as to the dissatisfaction of Ricky Rubio , it simply makes you wonder whether or not , the mercurial and talented Spaniard might be bold enough to seek a trade. Can the Timberwolves do enough to dissuade the player from leaving the franchise. It as not as if the head coach brought in any refreshing ideas that might be of benefit to the team ? Having been the first team to fall at the hands of the 76ers was bad enough, but it has been plain enough to see , Flip Saunders remains clearly out of his depth as a head coach , along with his coaching staff.

Going into Friday night’s game against the Houston Rockets the Timberwolves must be aware their season is on the line for this franchise along with its long-term well-being. A playoff berth has eluded the Minnesota Timberwolves for the past several years , with their last appearance coming during the 2003 NBA season . first-round loss to the Los Angeles Lakers sealed their fate (4-2) in the NBA Playoffs , where they were the top seeds in the Western Conference that year. Hard to imagine a decade later and the team entering into the playoffs during that season was led by Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell, Fred Hoiberg, Mark Madsen , Wally Sczerbiak ,Michael Olowokandi and Oliver Miller , to name but a few.

If it is December and the Los Angeles Lakers are playing badly , then expect Kobe Bryant sooner or later to begin to harangue and chastise the organization and indirectly a number of his teammates. There is not a great that can or needs to be said about a team so lacking depth and overall talent. Needless to say, you can point an accusing finger at Mitch Kupchak and the exceedingly poor job he has done in drafting players over the last few , seasons as well as the failures of free agent acquisitions , most notably Dwight Howard . The center’s failure to acclimatize himself to the rigors and task of playing in a major market , indicated that he not only lacks the maturity to perform on the “big stage”, but the hyperbole surrounding him was never really justified , even with his having won multiple Defensive Player of the Year Awards .

A year on from his departure , Howard is now playing “second fiddle” to James Harden of the Houston Rockets’, while his former team , the Lakers continue to look for semblance of consistency , character and dare I say it , leadership ? Kobe Bryant still yearns to be viewed as a winner , but clearly this team is not going to provide him that all elusive sixth NBA ring and title . Head coach Byron Scott and his staff have their work cut out for them in having coach one of the worst defensive teams in the entire NBA. Needless to say, with Bryant supplying the brunt of the offense, while customarily throwing up more bricks than a bricklaying mason , the question has to asked, who on on the team steps up to the plate to share the load with Kobe Bryant , or are we likely to see the player repeatedly just put on a one-man show night in and night out over the remainder of the season ?

As of the 5th December the Los Angeles Lakers held the bottom rung of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference , while clinging to a mediocre record of 5-15. Pretty much sums up the Lakers’ season so far. Kobe Bryant has signaled his wish to sign on with the team for another two years , but I am not sure he is willing to offer home town discount , with his now averaging just over $24.25 million per year on his existing contract. May be , the Los Angeles Lakers can live with that type of risk-reward , but given the stage of his career where Bryant now finds himself at, there seems to be no real advantage in taking the player up on the offer at the time he becomes a free agent in 2016 and it is not as if the organization has used any type of due diligence in assembling a roster to complement Kobe Bryant over the last two seasons. A seventeen-point loss to the Boston Celtics summed up the ongoing issues the Lakers continue to face with any last vestiges of dignity, having been flushed down the crapper after another dismal display . When they face Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans at the Staples Center on Sunday , I can only hope for the sake of the Los Angeles’ Lakers fans’ sake, their team actually show them (fans), they do possess a backbone . This season, there has been little evidence to suggest the Lakers even have that amongst their artillery.

Just as the Los Angeles Clippers can be considered to be the Lakers’ bi#ch or lapdog ,whichever colloquial term you feel fits the the persona. Then, so too, do the Brooklyn Nets as it equates with the New York Knicks. Granted, neither the Knicks, Nets or Clippers have won an NBA title in the last two decades and their combined appearances in the league’s showcase finale in the time-frame mentioned , would amount to two visits , all by the Nets.

Bearing a record of 8-10 the Brooklyn Nets are struggling and for GM Billy King and team owner Mikhail Prokhorov this has already become another season of discontent , with a team payroll among the highest in the NBA. I have to believe that some drastic changes are needed for the makeup of this roster, either before the trade deadline or at the time of its being. A twenty-three point loss to the Atlanta Hawks was not only a cause for concern, with Lionel Hollins and his coaching staffobviously bewildered why this team has performed so poorly to start their season. With experienced players such as Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett , Andrei Kirilenko , Jarrett Jack and Brook Lopez there is clearly a disjoint as to why a team thought to be so talented cannot get out of the way of their own mediocrity on both ends of the court .
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Personally, I have never had an inclination to believe the Nets were ever good enough to win an NBA title, even with the wealth and resources of their billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov. The Barclays Center ,home to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA’s most lavish venue remains an extravagant edifice to opulence and a “White Elephant” . Attendance levels notwithstanding, there is little to suggest the Nets’ front office has the wherewithal to place a competitive product on the court, much less having an economic template to make this franchise a profitable endeavor beyond the value of the commercial and residential value of the entities which surround the Barclays Center, many of which are owned by the Russian billionaire , Prokhorov,through his US business holdings, Onexim Sports & Entertainment Inc and parent company Onexim Group .

Next up for the Brooklyn Nets will be a home game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn , New York when they will have as their guests LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers . With the Cavaliers on a six-game winning streak and point guard Kyrie Irving recently scoring a season high 37 points in the team’s demolition of the New York Knicks on Thursday night in a road victory , there is every reason to believe Cleveland’s winning streak is likely to be extended against a Nets’ team completely devoid of any defensive capability. LeBron James and Deron Williams will also get the chance to renew an under-appreciated player rivalry in the NBA .

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Given what you have seen up to this pointof the NBA season do you believe there can be room for improvement among the teams as they enter the second quarter of the schedule in the build up to the All Star festivities and thereon after ? Simply chime in with your thoughts as you see fit on this particular subject matter and anything else you believe relevant to the NBA.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below.
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(1) Dec 5, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets center Jefferson (25) shoots the ball over New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire (1) during the second half at Time Warner Cable Arena. Hornets defeated the Knicks 103-102. Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports ..

(2) Dec 5, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA;New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher looks on during the second half against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena. Hornets defeated the Knicks 103-102. Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports ….

(3) Dec 5, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) shoots the ball over Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller (40) during the first half at Time Warner Cable Arena. Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

(4) New York Knicks’ owner James Dolan, left , is seen here alongside Phil Jackson who returned to the Knicks in the capacity of Head of Basketball Operations &SVP within the Knicks’ hierarchical structure . GM Steve Mills will take his lead from Jackson and cede to him all personnel decisions made concerning player personnel . During the off-season the Knicks will have several decisions to be made concerning the makeup of the team’s lineup entering into next season. AP Photo / Marty Cooke ..

(5) PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 5: Nerlens Noel (4) of the Philadelphia 76ers looks to pass against the Orlando Magic during the game on November 5 , 2014 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Noel along with Joel Embiid and Michael Carter-Williams it was hoped would make a solid impact for the Sixers , but instead the team has failed miserably, while having the league’s youngest roster , where the average age is twenty-two, as well as seven un-drafted making up the twelve-man roster. Even with the experience of head coach Brett Brown , formerly an assistant to Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. NBAE Photo by Jesse Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

(6) Minnesota Timberwolves’ point guard Ricky Rubio is having an indifferent season as is the team in general . Flip Saunders might well be left contemplating the trading away of the talented Spaniard who is not due to become free agent until 2018 . There has been a great deal of indifference among the fans of the Timberwolves’ , who have seen the departure of Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers. AP Photo / Mary Morris ..

(7) Kobe Bryant (24) is seen here court-side as he and head coach Byron Scott discuss a game plan. Not much has gone right for the Los Angeles Lakers this season . The team has struggled on both ends of the court , with only the guard seemingly providing the brunt of the offense. Unfortunately, it has not been all to the benefit of the Lakers, but more so to the personal benefit of the player as he recently broke the 30,000 career points’ plateau , leading active players and ranking him inside the all-time top ten in NBA history. UPI Syndicated Press …. @ copyrighted material …

(8) From left to right , Joe Johnson , Deron Williams and Bojan Bogdanovic are seated court-side during a game this season. The Brooklyn Nets have been adisaster on the court with their being little resilience being shown with a team that is the highest paid in the NBA. Team owner , Mikhail Prokhorov for the past two years has been willing to have his franchise carry that dubious honor, while failing to gain any type of meaningful success . The Nets’ most recent NBA Playoff appearances have ended with the players showing little appetite to perform to the best of their alleged abilities . AP Photo / Chris Hendricks ….

(9) Brooklyn Nets’ head coach Lionel Hollins, left, is seated next to GM Billy King, as Hollins is introduced the convened press announcing his signing to succeed Jason Kidd as the head coach. Kidd was abruptly fired by organization after the former Nets’ player made it known he wished for more input /on all personnel decisions concerning the team . The Nets made the NBA Playoffs last season, but fell short of their goals that year . Getty Images / Amy Hughes … …

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Tophatal 2014-12-07

Tophatal’s Blog on Facebook.com

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NBA news and the season’s important dates

NBA schedule 5th December

NBA schedule 6th December

NBA schedule 7th December

NBA results 4th December

NBA standings (division)

NBA standings (conference)

NBA free agents

NBA team cap hits (2014)

NBA teams’ salaries (2014-15) [salary cap $63.075 million]

NBA player stats

NBA teams’ offense

NBA teams’ defense

History of NBA champions chronologically

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This month in NBA history

On this date in the NBA

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The Larry O’Brien Trophy . A championship, each of the NBA’s teams will be in pursuit of this season .

Posted in Basketball, http://wp.me/poxLH-9Oq, NBA, NBA team owners, Sports, Sports & Social Commentary, Sports Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

It’s the economy and this time also, it’s the NFL, stupid …

It’s the ‘ economy ‘ and this time also, it’s the NFL, stupid .. ..

When George H W Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan to become the country’sforty-first President, it was felt he inherited an economy and a bright prospective era to lead the US to even greater prosperity. Unfortunately, Bush’s economic template set forth and his own ideas as to the direction the country ought to be heading, went South with, such rapidity that it was beyond belief, but of no real surprise to those who had their doubts as to the merits of his legacy as President. While he served the country with dignity , which is all one can really ask of the Commander-In-Chief, the question also has to be what accountability is there when we have an executive who skirts the Constitution and the laws of the land for political and personal gain ? These questions are most certainly being asked of and aboutBarack Obama , the nation’s forty-fourth President.

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Roger Goodell succeeded Paul Tagliabue and it was seen as the mentor handing over the keys to a Ferrari to his protege’. In the subsequent years , Goodell has managed to force this vehicle the NFL right off the road and into an abyss of sheer ineptitude both on and off the field of play. Image-wise, the league is now at an all-time low and with the recent reinstatement of NFL running back Ray Rice, many have now began wondering whether or not Goodell can remain in his position as the league’s highest-ranking executive. The commissioner for the moment, still has the backing of some of the most prominent franchise owners in the NFL, namely Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, Steve Bisciotti, Jed Yorke, Arthur Blank, Dean Spanos, Jim Irsay and Woody Johnson.

While many now question whether or not the NFL can withstand another high-profiled incident, we should be reminded the league has withstood a great deal more and manage to survive, but what has brought this moral blight into the spotlight, has been the league’s mishandling and lack of understanding concerning the issue of domestic violence and spousal abuse. I mean hell, you simply have to look at the idiocy of Roger Goodell’s statements in the aftermath of the Ray Rice incident, the lack action from Steve Bisciotti and the Baltimore Ravens’ front office executives, never mind the coaching staffled by John Harbaugh whose own actions were not only troubling, but also, his lack of candor on the matter.

Ray Rice’s arbitration case found in his favor, leads to his automatic reinstatement, but now comes the question as was to which NFL franchise will likely sign the player to their roster, knowing full well they are most certainly going to face a backlash by some fans , the press , women’s groups (NOW) and most certainly a number of the league’s corporate sponsors. We have seen the financial loss and cost to Adrian Peterson as well as the Minnesota Vikings , and with that franchise’s season already in tatter and no signs of real leadership amongthe playing staff, you have to wonder how they will go into their inaugural season in their new multi-billion dollar stadium and the likelihood of being without the best player in that franchise’s history. It seems inconceivable team owner, Zygi Wilf will seek to retain Peterson’s services when fans , corporate sponsors and certain areas of the press are calling for his dismissal from the team once and for all. His current suspension ongoing until the end of the season might not be seen as harsh a punishment for his transgression, but one has to also bear in mind that this was not the first such incident involving the player , but the first where he was charged by law enforcement and the act of child abuse for which Peterson pled guilty and now has to undergo parenting classes , probation and financial penalties , beyond the legal costs of his case.

The results this season in the the NFL, have not been unlike any other year and with it comes the poor coaching , lack of real playing ability among the teams and the players , in many ways I believe to the over expectations of the fans ! Prognosticators making predictions as to who the best teams are likely to be, are purely doing so to create a debate which will be ongoing throught the season and let’s be honest, that debate certainly doesn’t hurt the odds-makers in Las Vegas whose lines are used to lure in the bettors like insects being drawn to an incandescent light. The “house always wins” and they generally, do with a greatdeal of ease .

Coming into week fourteen there is still a great deal to play for , with several divisions still up for grabs as well as the conference berths determining which teams will be added alongside the two top seeds from each conference as well as the divisional winners. Being brutally honest, the NFC has now become a minefield, with far too many of the top teams showing not only their inconsistency, but alsotheir vulnerability in so many ways.

Opening up this week’s schedule will be an all NFC clash between the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears when these two teams meet at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois on Thursday night , 4th December , 2014,. Marc Trestman and the Bears are as much as in need of this win as are the Cowboys. The opposing quarterbacks Tony Romo and Jay Cutler are at the point in their careers where looking ahead doesn’t seem to be as advantageous or beneficial when you consider what they have achieved up to this point, during their tenures in the NFL.

From my own perspective, this game between the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears will be either highly entertaining or a complete eyesore. Contests between two teams have either been exhilarating just understated and a great of that has been predicated upon the play of both Romo and Cutler during those games. With the Bears and Cowboys coming off losses in week thirteen, trying to determine winner between these two teams, will be like trying to separate soiled diapers from the rest of the family’s dirty laundry . Not an enjoyable prospect at all .

You can either choose to harangue Eli Manning and the New York Giants (3-9) for for a forgettable season and the fact that the two-time winning Superbowl quarterback has been just as responsible for the team’s poor play as his teammates and the entire coaching staff of head coach Tom Coughlin who should consider himself extremely lucky if he asked to return for next season. All the signs seem to be pointing to the fact, he will join a list of at least four NFL head coaches likely to lose their jobs at the end of this season, if not sooner.

As of seven straight games the New York Giants have not endeared themselves to their fans or the analysts covering the NFL and if anything, they have now become the butt of so many jokes , that it has become extremely hard to try and justify how anyone can still consider Eli Manning to be among the best quarterbacks playing in the NFL. Without his postseason record the player has very little fall back on to even remotely justify those previous claims. This being a team , coming off a loss to one of the worst teams in the NFL when they fell the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10). In watching the Giants play has become a constant reminder why the NFL can at times be exacerbating as well as overrated by means of the alleged quality of the teams. New York has become a complete anathema unto itself , with a defense sorely lacking> and an offenseas incompetent as any to be found in the NFL today.

Eli Manning and the Giants will be seeking to gain their fourth win of the season when they go on the road to face the Tennessee Titans (6-6) at LP Field in Nashville , Tennessee,. The odds might narrowly favor the home team but at this juncture that is about anyone’s guess as to the outcome of this game. The hype surrounding Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham may well be great, but when measured up against the team’s incompetency witnessed this season, can someone explain to me what it all means at the end of the day ? Comments at this juncture are more than welcome !

New York Jets’ Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath believes there will be sweeping changes be sweeping changes made to the Jets’ roster as well as within the front office at the end of this season. Duh ! That has to be blatantly obvious to anyone with an ounce of damn common sense , but then again we are talking about the New York Jets, where common sense and intelligence have not necessarily gone hand in hand when it comes anything concerning this organization has tried to achieve over the last two seasons. Let’s just say, this franchise has become an affront to anything one might have found decent concerning the NFL . Has there been any time over the last year and a half when Rex Ryan’s position might have been in more jeopardy ? His coaching ability has come more into question this season than at any other time during his tenure and that is without his belief in second-year quarterback Geno Smith , whose play this season has me now wondering why the franchise was in such a haste to get rid off Mark Sanchez , simply because of the infamous ” butt fumble ” incident and his apparent lack of command in securing the ball during a game. By comparison Smith’s play makes Sanchez look like the second coming of Joe Montana. The Jets’ starting quarterback and his back-up Michael Vick just might be the worst tandem and that is with due respect to the teams who are equally as inept as the AFC East franchise.

A Monday night loss to the Miami Dolphins has sealed the Jets’ fate and almost certainly made them among the teams likely to have first round pick among the top ten in the 2015 NFL Draft . As to whether not the New York Jets will make the choice of a quarterback their primary pick remains to be seen but given the evidence on display with Smith and Vick , it is my belief that is the likely route to be taken by whoever the general manager is likely to be. John Idzik’s position is just as much in danger after just two seasons as the lead personnel executive for the franchise. That situation is likely to become even more dire should the Jets fall to the Minnesota Vikings when the two teams meet this Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis , Minnesota ,.

How the mighty have fallen and the fall from grace for Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III might be the most unexpected thing we have witnessed this season. Often injured , performing poorly and now head coach Jay Gruden has seemingly lost all faith n the franchise quarterback and the face of this organization on the field of play. The fact that back-up Kirk Cousins has been just as inept. It has been left to the team’s third-string quarterback , Colt McCoy to lead this franchise to two of their three wins this season, all of this by a player whose salary ranks him among the
lower echelons of the NFL’s quarterbacks.

Having no wish to be dismissive of Jay Gruden and the Redskins , this mess was of their own making , right from the beginning, from the very moment Griffin first went down injured and the very fact there was an extreme rush to have the player back on the field, but at the same time the quarterback has done himself no favors with his sporadic play and lack deference to his teammates and coaching staff while believing himself privileged . Now that he has been humbled, it also appears his career with the Redskins could come to an abrupt end. Rumors are now circulating the franchise might be prepared to listen to offers for their beleaguered first round draft pickfrom the 2012 NFL Draft . However, before that scenario comes into being Griffin and the team will have to play out their season schedule, hoping to gain some semblance of consistency over the time-frame in question.

Fedex Field will be the scene of the crime when the Redskins play host to the St Louis Rams in week fourteen. The Rams for their part will be looking to make things more difficult for their opponents in a “statement game” for both NFC franchises .

Ex NFL players tend to have a high regard for their insight on the game, even when N their own careers tend to be nondescript and offering very little by way of success. Such as been the case, with Shaun King, former quarterback in the league and whose own career failed to provide any memorable highlights on his stops around the NFL.

King in a rather blatant statement, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback has been candid in his belief Johnny Manziel will be a ” complete bust “ in the NFL . Right or wrong, Shaun King has provided little clarity as to his reasons why, Manziel will be a failure, other than to declare his love-fest for Teddy Bridgewater the second quarterback taken in this season’s NFL Draft . The initial calls were for Manziel to be inserted into Mike Pettine’s lineup from the very start , but I believe the over-zealousness came from everyone thinking Manziel would be an instant “smash” leading the the Cleveland Browns to instant success, merely because of his college career. Pettine chose instead to go with Brian Hoyer as the Brown’s starter this season, with the team having a great deal of success while in the divisional hunt for the AFC North crown. The Browns face a tough conference game when they play host to Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in what is sure to be one the highlight games during this weekend’s schedule.

Have I missed something, but this constant idiocy of there being a need for an NFL franchise outside North America seems to be taking on new tones stupidity by fans without a damn clue as to what is exactly entailed in acquiring a team from its very start-up , never-mind the underlying costs ? So much so, that when I hear this bull#hit being g be reawakened and talk of a team in London , England. I have to ask myself which imbecile will be prepared to stump up the half-billion dollars ($ 500,000,000) or more needed to make this all a reality ! No one seems prepared to answer the question, but many , are all too willing to offer up where a new franchise outside North America ought to be. Well, if there’s yet to a renewed interest from vested parties in the topic, other than Jerry Jones offering his laughable ideas on the subject . given the fact his franchise might be on the cusp of missing the postseason. Is it possible Jones is seeking to take the spotlight off Jason Garrett and Tony Romo, even if it is momentary ?

The wealthiest individuals in the United Kingdom have shown little interest in owning an NFL franchise and if anything, they know they can derive even greater revenues from owning an English Premiership soccer team than a franchise an NFL team. Profitability might be skewered, but the global exposure is far greater from Premiership soccer than their being calls for the NFL across the globe.

Proponents of the issue will continue stir the pot on this matter , issue while being able to offer little of note to the ongoing debate. The one thing we are able to gather from this all and it is , there is less appeal for an NFL franchise in the city of Los Angeles at present, even when you have the likes of Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ownership group seeking that to be their next goal, beyond bringing a World Series’ crown to “City of Angels”. For two years in succession the Dodgers have failed miserably in that particular quest and in reality , their concentration should be centered on what ails the team, rather than their egos being massaged by another commercial sports’ endeavor outside of baseball. Los Angeles may well house the nation’s second largest ad-market, but its appetite NFL franchise does not appear to be all that palatable at present. Certainly not with the city having to deal with its fiscal woes, even with the local political dignitaries trying to convince their residents this would be in the best interests of their city.

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Picture gallery.

Throughout this NFL season what do you feel might have been the biggest obstacle overall the league had to overcome ? Was it the adverse publicity because of continued player misconduct ? Or was it, the lack truly entertaining games over the course of the schedule at present ? By all means take time to offer up your thoughts on the matter as you deem fit.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below.

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(1) George H W Bush, the forty-first President of the United States of America . His Presidency has often been ridiculed, as one , lacking in depth and stature. Bearing in mind , those who have succeeded him , one can see it as high praise or simple ridicule .

(2) Left , Barack Obama , President and the current occupant of the White House. Right , Roger Goodell , NFL Commissioner and the NFL’s highest ranking league executive. Both men have been rounded on by the press and public alike for their autocratic rule and lack of communicative skills . It is difficult to suggest, which of these two executives might be viewed as the most incompetent in their respective positions. Washington Times / Keith Cardell …

(3) Arthur Blank , owner of the Atlanta Falcons and one of the most prominent backers of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. This season , Blank has seen his team falter within the NFC South and there seems to be an ongoing feeling thought, head coach Mike Smith will not be asked to return next season . Getty Images / Darren Woods …

(4) Adrian Peterson(28), left and Ray Rice (27) , perhaps two of the most despised athletes professional teams sports at present.. Rice having won his arbitration hearing hopes to sign on with a new team before the end of the season . Something that on the face of it seems unlikely , but given the propensity of this league to routinely overlook a player’s egregious behavior the former Ravens’ running back could on a roster before the end of this season. Peterson has been suspended by the league hierarchy in adherent to the NFL Personal Conduct Policy . His return to the NFL this season seems unlikely and it remains to seen if the Minnesota Vikings will cut all ties with the player. AP Photo/ Ed Harper …

(5) Tony Romo (9) of the Dallas Cowboys and Jay Cutler (6) of the Chicago Bears . The two players will lead their respective teams in the Thursday night game which opens the week fourteen of the NFL schedule. This will be the third career meeting between Romo and Cutler over the course of their professional careers. Dallas Morning Star ….

(6) Eli Manning (10) of the New York Giants reacts after throwing an interception in the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on November 23, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Dallas would go on to defeat the Giants 31-28 . Getty Images / Al Bello

(7) Eli Manning(10) of the New York Giants throws a pass against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 23, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Getty Images / Al Bello …

(8) Robert Griffin III (10) is seen here on the sidelines with Washington Redskins’ head coach Jay Gruden during a game against the Houston Texans . The Texans would go on to defeat the Redskins 17-6 inflicting another loss for Washington . AP Photo/ Sarah Aldridge …

(9) Shaun King former NFL quarterback with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals . King is now an NFL analyst with NBCSports and covers the league, offering his insight on the game. Courtesy of NBCSports …

(10) Johnny Manziel,left , is seen here with his Cleveland Browns’ teammate Brian Hoyer. It has been Hoyer who started the season taking the majority of the snaps with the rookie contributing sparingly this season for the team . USA Today / Tim Fuller …

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Up in the air , heads above the clouds ….

Up in the air , heads above the clouds …

By Tophatal

It was interesting weekend in the weekend in the world of sports , acclaimed Hollywood actor and former Oscar, Best Actor nominee, Mickey Rourke at the age of sixty-two decided to to resurrect his boxing career. Well, with his acting career , somewhat on the decline, Rourke has painstakingly fought to get himself back into shape, for what he says is a serious attempt to legitimize himself as serious athlete in the sport. At an age in Hollywood, where leading man status are so few and far between , Mickey Rourke’s attempt as a boxer now seems comical. His bout in Moscow , Russia against a journeyman boxer , the loser of nine of his last ten bouts was not only idiotic, but his this contest against Elliot Seymour , was simply a non-event.


Rourke’s bout in its entirety against Elliot Seymour .

Rourke’s opponent in this match, put up as much resistance as the French, when they were under siege in Paris during the second World War (WWII) . Claims that the bout and result was staged as nothing more than a gimmick, with the state authorities governing the sport under pressure to conduct an in depth investigation in the match, has to be met with a state of realism and I would say derision ! Personally, from my standpoint, nothing concerning the outcome happens to be a surprise at all anymore ! The sport of boxing has now become a paradoxical paradigm and a complete joke ! With fans now yearning for a multi-million dollar mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao , the thought process has to be any damn gimmick to heighten the interest in a waning sport has to be better than nothing at all.

Elliot Seymour , left , looks to take evasive action as Mickey Rourke attempts land a left hook to the body . AFP / Alexander Nemenov …

Elsewhere , within the AFC West both the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers came away with victories, that kept their divisional and postseason hopes alive. Peyton Manning and the Broncos had an easy victory over the Kansas City Chiefs , while the Chargers came away with a narrow win over the Baltimore Ravens, leaving John Harbaugh’s team in a tightly contested divisional race in the AFC North. John Harbaugh’s sibling , Jim Harbaugh head coach of the San Francisco 49ers saw his team put up a rather inept performance as the Forty Niners went down without much of fight in a 19-3 shellacking at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. The loss might well have sealed the fate of the Forty Niners with this divisional loss and their chance of the NFC West divisional title outright. There remains mounting speculation also, concerning the future of Jim Harbaugh, as there seems to be a growing discord between the head coach and senior executives within the organization’s front office. GM Trent Baalke and CEO Jed Yorke may well come to the decision to relieve their head coach of his duties at the end of the season. Among the NFL teams said to be interested in the services of Harbaugh are the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders.

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The best contest of this past Sunday in the NFL was the eagerly anticipated match-up between Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. This was only the second professional meeting between two of the league’s most outstanding quarterbacks. With everything to play for including the best record in the league, this contest lived up the expectations and a great deal more. Brady was unable to mount a game-winning drive or come from behind win as the Packers came away with a home victory.

Green Bay not normally known to have a stout defense held the Patriots’ offense to five first-downs and under one hundred rushing yards in the contest .New England for their part face a tough clash when they go on the road to play Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium , in San Diego, California on Sunday afternoon.

The College Football season has seen its highs and lows but this past weekend may well have sent reverberations around the game’s landscape with the death of Ohio State Buckeyes’ player Kosta Karageorge . The defensive lineman died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, with his body being found in a dumpster not far from the college’s main campus in Columbus , Ohio,. Columbus Police Department are not treating his death as suspicious, but their ongoing investigation has revealed that Karageorge had been suffering with bouts of depression as well as repeated headaches brought on by concussions likely suffered during his playing career with the Buckeyes. Kosta Karageorge was also an accomplished wrestler and member of of the Buckeyes’ wrestling team as well as being part of this season’s sixth-ranked team in the nation. It has been seen as a devastating blow to the program as well as to his teammates and his fellow students on campus .

Buckeyes’ head coach Urban Meyer has offered his condolences to Karageorge’s family on their loss, but I cannot help but wonder where were the coaches and the team’s medical staff as well campus counselors in the midst of this all ? For years we have been told by the NCAA and many of the more prominent coaches within the game, stressed that safety has been of the utmost importance, but neither NCAA President Mark Emmert or Urban Meyer himself, have ever stressed that to be of utmost importance and whereby the schools or college athletics’ governing body have jointly conducted an in-depth study of the cause and effects of blunt force head trauma from an extremely physical and violent sport such as College Football. While this issues still remains something of a ” hot potato” in the NFL , with Roger Goodell either backtracking or seemingly trying to be proactive on the issue, it is becoming abundantly clear, the only things that seems to matter to the conference commissioners and coaches , are the burgeoning financial windfalls to the sport and the level of publicity raised for the respective programs. Whether not Karageorge’s death will lead to a rethink on the part of the NCAA or Ohio State and how they treat the issue of concussions suffered by athletes will be predicated upon the actions of the athletics department and coaching staff moving forward. As to the NCAA itself, it continues to be an archaic and corrupt organization devoid real leadership and ingenuity.

Ohio State (11-1 ,8-0) stand atop of the Big Ten Conference and on track to garner a playoff berth for the inaugural season of the postseason format in College Football. Next up for the team will be the Big Ten Conference Championship game against the Wisconsin (Badgers) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis , Indiana on the 6th December , 2014. That contest should be a rip-rousing affair with both teams seeking to impose their will against each other.

As Mississippi State’s season has been curtailed after their loss to Alabama (Crimson Tide) in a classic SEC game as has often been the case with the best conference in College Football. With the Bulldog’s fall from grace , so too possibly has the chances of Dak Prescott to win the Heisman Trophy . The Bulldogs’ quarterback is having an exceptional year and though the defeat has led to their dropping down in the rankings, while Alabama’s ascent to the top seems to have happened with the utmost of ease, although they are are a one-loss team. Defending national champions Florida State (Seminoles) and their troubled Heisman Trophy star Jameis Winston remain unbeaten and on track it would appear, to make their way back to the national championship game. Any slip-up by the Crimson Tide or the number two ranked Oregon (Ducks) and the Seminoles will be a ” shoo-in for one of the two final berths for the title game.

Oregon’s quarterback Marcus Mariota and his team am are in still in the running for a championship berth and a case could very well be made they might be more deserving of one of the two berths than Florida State whose schedule might well be deemed inferior to the Ducks’ over the course of this season. The upcoming games for both teams are likely to prove to be intriguing with Florida St taking on Georgia Tech (Yellowjackets), while Oregon will pursue Arizona (Wildcats) in an all Pac-12 clash.

The NBA season has been dire and were not yet one-quarter of the way through the schedule. Suffice to say, a number of teams’ seasons are essentially on track to franchise leading paths to possible ineptitude and most certainly at this juncture it is definitely the case of the win-less Philadelphia 76ers, who now bear the mark of starting their season on a sixteen-game losing streak. At this point, it would be fair to suggest that the Sixers haven’t a shot in hell of winning the NBA title though they might well be on the path to leading the NBA for the second time in three seasons> for sheer ineptitude .

It is hard to imagine how the league hierarchy and a number of NBA analysts can continue to look the other way, when a franchise such as the Philadelphia 76ers can continue to demonstrate such monstrous ineptitude, while trying to point to the fact that the level of play in the league, is said to be great, when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Brett Brown and his Sixers’ team will have the privilege of facing the defending NBA champions at home on Monday Night when the San Antonio Spurs come to town. Neither defense or offense have been prerequisites of a 76ers’ team actually starved of creativity and the very fact Brown and his coaching staff appear to be out of their depth. A seventeenth consecutive loss does seem to be on the cards and the league’s longest losing streak of twenty-six games ought to be Philadelphia’s for the taking .

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If someone can impart some wisdom upon me, as why I should have any belief in two of the NBA’s most storied franchises, then I would like to hear from right now ! To witness how bad the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks have become is a question as to how inept their owners and respective coaching staffs are said to be . One can wax on lyrically about the fact Mitch Kupchak has won four NBA titles as a front office executive and Phil Jackson’s legacy as an NBA head coach makes him, perhaps the greatest NBA coach in the league’s history. Let us however, put it all into context, Kupchak has not actually been able to assemble a roster without the talents of two superstars to provide the Lakers with their most recent successes. I would dare say, without the insight of his predecessor Jerry West, their five most recent titles would not have come into being without the acquisitions of Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O’Neal. With the last of the franchise’s triumphs coming in 2010 , albeit, that O’Neal was no longer part of those two final series’ victories.

This season the Lakers’ 4-13 mark places the team at the bottom of the Western East Conference with no respite in sight. As to what this might suggest about the coaching acumen of Byron Scott and the mediocrity of the roster will play a great deal in how this organization is likely to move forward, as they approach the trade deadline. Coming off a seven-point victory over the Toronto Raptors may well provide the Lakers with the momentum needed, but it has become abundantly clear this team is far from being competitive enough to be in with a remote chance of winning their division, much less a conference berth as an eighth seed or better for the NBA Playoffs .

I am not saying the New York Knicks have capitulated , but even Phil Jackson had to have known James Dolan’s request for him to assume control for all player personnel decision moves, was not going to make his job any easier. He has a player roster that has marginal talent with the exception of Carmelo Anthony and beyond that the pickings are threadbare.

The saying is , ” it’s not easy being cheesy “. Well , the Knicks have been that and a great deal more, with it being a reflection of their current record in the NBA. Feeling sorry for this team is akin to seeking to make an amends for an obese individual, who has no intent to look after their health .I mean, it is not as if this New York Knicks have actually shown a propensity to improve over the course of this season, as borne out in their standing within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference, where only the Philadelphia 76ers lies beneath them in the division. To bear this out further, on Sunday night, Derek Fisher and his rag-tag of a team hosted their heated conference rivals the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York. As hosts, the Knicks succumbed to the Heat , with the utmost of ease, and their being no resilience shown by New York throughout this entire contest. Once again, it was left to Carmelo Anthony to try and carry the Knicks on his back, as he has so often done throughout his career with this franchise. If Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills cannot recognize the real issues on this roster, without this incessant idiotic belief that the ‘ Triangle Offense ‘ will aid this team , then the proponents of that idiocy, clearly have no damn idea as to what the hell they are talking about concerning this roster and their play , ultimately in this case, the lack of it .

Next up for Fisher and the New York Knicks will be a game against the Brooklyn Nets 6-9, the Big Apple’s other franchise whose own woes are no better than their conference rivals. New York ” bragging rights” or not , this is likely to be one spectacle that the NBA’s fans can do without as two pitiful teams face off against each other.

A last place finish in the AL East was enough to convince Tom Werner and John Henry , owners of the Boston Red Sox that something drastic had to done to bolster last season’s roster . GM Ben Cherington wasted no time in making a big splash signing Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez . Boston’s acquisitions are unlikely to be over as they may well seek to make further additions to their projected roster as well losing several players to through attrition via free agency.

Having committed almost $200 million in acquiring both Ramirez and Sandoval , you simply get the impression the Red Sox will not stand idly by while the Baltimore Orioles , New York Yankees , Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays seek improve their rosters. Oh wait, let’s be real, the Rays are unlikely to make that sort of financial sacrifice to begin with, as the front office would rather penny-pinch , bitch and whine all the way into next season , as to their dire situation, financially and dare I say it , logistically ?

The Rays lost their two biggest assets during this off-season when GM Andrew Friedman sought to take his services elsewhere, rather than having to deal with an off-season of uncertainty and the constant whining among the local political dignitaries as well managing partner Stuart Sternberg, as to how close the franchise might to getting a new venue to replace the archaic Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida. Following Friedman through what has now become the Rays’ postseason turnstile, was the franchise’s most successful manager Joe Maddon. His signing a five-year $25.5 million deal to manage the Chicago Cubs , may on the face of it seem comedic. However, the Cubs are likely to move heaven and earth to give their new manager the tools necessary to get the job done , as they seek their first World Series’ title in over a century. Could the same thing be said of the Rays while Maddon’s tenure brought about a lone appearance in baseball’s showcase finale ? Tampa’s last postseason appearance came in 2013, when they were summarily dispatched with a great deal of ease by the the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS .

Tampa has yet to name a new manager to succeed Joe Maddon and it appears the interview process remains ongoing, but topping the list of potential candidates is Raul Ibanez . Rays’ GM Matt Silverman has not confirmed or denied that the ball-club is still pursuing the former player, but it would appear the organization would rather their cards closely to their chest, than divulge their apparent choice of a successor to Maddon.

While the Boston Red Sox will be hoping for quick turnaround in 2014, a return to the postseason, where their last appearance came in 2013 and unlikely run to the World Series’ that year. For the Tampa Bay Rays, it could very well be another forlorn season where the team lacks leadership both on and off the field of play. Evan Longoria continues to play the part of a Major League star, but what the franchise actually desires from the player are ” superstar exploits “ and a great deal more vocal leadership, none of which has ever really appeared to be evident with Longoria, during his time with the Tampa Bay Rays.

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What if anything, may well have piqued your interest, of the sports’ stories which came into being during this past weekend ? Chime in with a comment as you see fit and thanks for the continued support of this site, as it has always been greatly appreciated !

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(1) Mickey Rourke, right , is seen here taking on his opponent Elliot Seymour in what was said to be legitimate bout, but in some circles the contest is being viewed as simply an exhibition fight. The fact remains , it was something of a sham event , that took place at the Moscow Concert Hall as an under-card event . Elliot was said to be a former Golden Gloves’ champion with a credible record as an amateur . What is known about Rourke’s opponent, was that he has been homeless, living on the streets of Los Angeles and was used as a sparring partner for some of the stable of fighters within Golden Boy Promotions Inc , the boxing , managerial and promotional arm of Oscar De La Hoya’s sports’ interests . De La Hoya was not involved in the promotion of the bout and has distanced himself the controversy surrounding the fight. . Getty Images / Mattheus Huchtner …

(2) Mickey Rourke lands a blow to the head of his opponent Elliot Seymour during the first round of their five round bout . Rourke managed to knock down Seymour six times during the fight , three times during the second round . The bout was eventually stopped by the referee to stop the Los Angeles’ based fighter from suffering further punishment . UPI Press Syndicate Europe ….

(3) Elliot Seymour , left , looks to take evasive action as Mickey Rourke attempts land a left hook to the body . AFP / Alexander Nemenov …

(4) Alex Smith (11) of the Kansas City Chiefs passes against DeMarcus Ware (94) of the Denver Broncos during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium on November 30, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. Getty Images North America /Peter Aitken …

(5) Tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) of the New England Patriots runs with the football after a reception past free safety Clinton-Dix (21) of the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter of the NFL game at Lambeau Field on November 30, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Getty Images / Christian Petersen …

(6) Kosta Karageorge a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes’ football and wrestling team. The player’s body was found in a dumpster in what the local law enforcement agency believe to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound . The weapon was found close by with the victim’s body in close proximity to the main campus of Ohio State University. The Columbus Police Dept will be carrying out their ongoing investigation , but it is not believed there are any suspicious circumstances behind Karageorge’s death . AP Photo / Keith Jardine …

(7) Oregon Ducks’ starting quarterback and almost certainly the Heisman Trphy favorite for 2014 Marcus Mariota . AP Photo/ Chris Harper … ….

(8) Brett Brown head coach of the Philadelphia 7ers , the team currently with the worst record in the NBA. Getty Images / Angela Harris …

(9) Boston Red Sox senior executives , John Henry , left and media mogul Tom Werner . The pair are hoping to see an immediate turnaround for the franchise this upcoming season . Courtesy of The Boston Globe ….

(10) Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays, long considered to be the franchise’s best player and the outward face of the organization . Questions have arisen about Longoria’s ability to lead and be more vocal on a team , that is certainly desperate for success, where in the AL East they have to deal with the burgeoning financial resources of the four other occupants of the division . Tampa Bay Times ….. all rights reserved @ copyrighted material …..

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The fine art of incompetency and how it has found its way into the world of professional team sports, while ambivalent sports’ fans make light of it all … …

The fine art of incompetency and how it has found its way into the world of professional team sports, while ambivalent sports’ fans make light of it all … …

By Tophatal….

In the aftermath of the Thanksgiving Day trilogy of NFL games played on Thursday afternoon and evening. It cannot have escaped the the view of the fans how incompetent the losing teams were said to be. A sign of the times might one think or purely endemic of a league where the talent level and coaching seems to have been on the decline? This season the NFL has seen its fair share of issues on the filed and also off it, with player misconduct taking place center-stage , with the league hierarchy not showing a great deal of intelligence in such matters without the diatribe and downright pomposity of the NFLPA (Players’ Union) being on show for all to witness. Roger Goodell’s lack of communicative skills and lack of candor supports the thought process he remains in over his head. The same can also be said of the franchise owners around the league and their lack of action in dealing with such matters.

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Game one of the trilogy offered up on Thanksgiving Day might have lead us to believe the fans would be in for a treat , but even having ate way too much turkey , with the Tryptophan yet to take effect, it has to be said the level of play from defeated teams would have led the fans to become sick, suffering with gastrointestinal problems and in some cases, loose stool, leading to bouts of diarrhea. Hell, the shit was piled so high by Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler , you could have smelled the odor emanating from Ford Field in Detroit , Michigan , as the Detroit Lions and Matt Stafford feasted upon a Bears’ defense lacking in creativity and real competitive zeal. Detroit came away with a rather lopsided victory where the NFL North divisional opponents succumbed with the utmost of ease .

If ever there was time, to be convinced Jay Cutler never had what it took to lead a team with any degree of success, Cutlers’ performance in this game was a clear indication of that fact. The loss dropped the Chicago Bears’ record to 8-4 a mark shared with the Dallas Cowboys (8-4) within the NFC . With only three games left for the teams to jockey themselves within their divisions and conference as they make a push for a berth in the postseason. Chicago’s position now becomes all the more precarious precarious within the division, the conference and their only hope remains, in winning out their remaining games and a wish to see their fellow conference rivals slip up along the way.

Tony Romo’s playoff record has been well-chronicled, ridiculed and debated. Yet , for all of the missteps by the quarterback, his regular season record though impressive, his unwillingness to lead with authority , never-mind the fact he continues to apportion blame elsewhere for his team’s woes and his own incompetence, clearly seen also in the Cowboys’ lopsided loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, who were led by the team’s backup quarterback Mark Sanchez, having one of his performances as a starter over the past two seasons.

Mark Sanchez not only outplayed the more experienced Tony Romo, with any memories of the infamous “butt-fumble” now being pushed back into the past. Nick Foles now sidelined by injury might not be pushed back too quickly into his starting role. Head Chip Kelly will certainly have to think long and hard before coming to a decision about whether or not to reinsert Foles into the lineup , especially with the team’s backup performing so well. As to what this loss meant to the Dallas Cowboys and the fact , it was all the more bitter , the defeat took place at home inside the cavernous Cowboys’ Stadium in Arlington, Texas,. Jerry Jones might not be seething over the defeat of his beloved Cowboys, but you can bet the organization and their fans have to be embarrassed after such a demoralizing and disastrous display.

If you tend to flirt with disaster one way or another it is likely to come back and bite you in the ass . Over the course of this season the San Francisco 49ers (7-5) and the Seattle Seahawks have courted and flirted with the remnants of that premise far too often the course of this year. These two teams met on Thursday in the late evening game and there was a great deal on the line within the NFC West. The Arizona Cardinals now seem to be running away with the divisional lead needing only a victory in Sunday’s game to guarantee themselves a postseason berth. I have no doubt in my mind the Cardinals will come away with an easy road victory over the Atlanta Falcons whose season has not only spiraled out of spiraled of control, but it is now mired in the depths of mediocrity.

Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson have been part of some epic battles during the regular and the postseason . These two young quarterbacks are thought to be among the future of the NFL and two of the young passers to have been drafted over the past three years. Both have been part of the postseason foray and it has been Wilson , who prevailed , as he led the Seattle Seahawks to their lone Superbowl victory in the franchise’s history. Since that success, Russell Wilson has been a model of consistency for Seattle. Kaepernick, while having considerable postseason success, the big win sought, has not come into being.

Seattle’s decisive 19-3 demolition of the San Francisco 49ers was a case in how to negate a team’s offense which has spluttered through this season. The Forty-Niners will now have to win out, if they are to secure a berth in the postseason and even a double-digit win tally of ten wins might now seem improbable, given their performances over their last five games , going 3-2 , which now places them third within their division and the likelihood of scrambling to obtain a berth in the postseason. Not exactly the way GM Trent Baalke, CEO Jed Yorke or Jim Harbaugh and the members of the front office had envisaged seeing the season actually pan out. Thankfully, perhaps the knowledge of knowing their next scheduled game will be against the like-minded and offensively challenged Oakland Raiders (1-10) will offer a reprieve for San Francisco when they meet their opponent on the road in week fourteen. Failure to win there and the team might as well call it quits on their season.

Putting your best foot forward has taken on new meaning in the NFL this season especially within the NFC South. It seems almost unfathomable the winner of the division could end up with as few as seven wins and still make the postseason at the expense of a team within the NFC with a better record. Personally, I would rather not go in depth and describe the seasons of the Atlanta Falcons (4-7), New Orleans Saints (4-7) , Carolina Panthers(3-7) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-9), other than to suggest what you see is exactly what you ought to get . All four teams within the division have given a new meaning to the words, “banality”,” ineptitude” and sheer ” mediocrity “ this season . Unfortunately, with the top three teams still in with a chance of winning the division , the fans of the NFL will still have to witness their ongoing performances over the remainder of the regular season schedule. This is what has been endemic about the NFC South all season long, with their being few positives to point out whatsoever.

No one can deny the league’s handling of the Ray Rice “affair” has been an act of sheer stupidity on the part of Roger Goodell, the league hierarchy and in particular on the part of the Baltimore Ravens’ organization . Team owner Steve Bisciotti’s explanation as to why he and the front office failed to act has been met with a great deal of skepticism and the fact that Goodell’s office have stumbled their way through this whole spectacle with repeated pratfalls , while being economical with the truth leads me to believe another misstep by the NFL over another ordeal of this nature and the same steps will almost certainly be repeated. At no time was there any transparency shown by the league , other than during this arbitration case where the arbitrator a former Federal Court judge Barbara Jones found in favor of Rice with the disgraced Ravens’ running back now given a reprieve and being reinstated back into the NFL. As to whether or not another NFL franchise will re-sign Ray Rice will be dependent upon their needs and if they are willing to be subjected to the likely backlash by a number of women’s groups. Now some might point to the fact Michael Vick was allowed back into the league having paid his debt to society after his wrongdoings. Those said to be deserving of a second chance are given that reprieve and a chance to make amends . Rice may well have been contrite after his heinous actions , but his then fiance , Jenay Parker-Rice did little to serve the best interests of women with her statements her husband had been made a scapegoat by the NFL and society in general.

The NFL has failed miserably in their efforts to deal with a number of social ills and the issue of player misconduct, the incompetence of the union and in large part a great of apathy and ambivalence shown by the fans and how they have viewed the issue of domestic violence and spousal abuse.

An old adage …. ” the more things change the more they are said to remain the same” . Quite clearly, this season within the NBA the Philadelphia 76ers (0-15) are well on the way to proving that very point. There is nothing noble or gallant in seeing a professional sports’ franchise display this type of ineptitude while fans try to shrug it off as being part of the game. This very same franchise spent much of last season performing so deplorably , it all seemed lost on the NBA hierarchy as they sang and heaped praise on their departing commissioner David Stern . Proponents of the former commissioner continue to point to how he assisted with the growth of the NBA. I will put it more succinctly, when you can ride on the coattails of the NBA’s greatest player and perhaps one of the greatest sports’ personalities and professional athletes this country has ever produced. Only an imbecile could have failed in not being able to expand the reach of the NBA domestically and globally, while witnessing and using the exploits of Michael Jordan to market their brand.

Stern’s successor Adam Silver is now having preside over the 76ers as this team for the second successive season seeks end their schedule with the worst record in the NBA. The best and the worst have been on show in league over the course of its schedule at this point and it is pretty much a safe bet, no one expected to see the Memphis Grizzlies (14-2) and Toronto Raptors (13-3) possess the two best records in the league , with the Grizzlies leading a very competitive Western Conference.

Brett Brown and his Sixers’ coaching staff have a long way to go before they match the infamy of having worst regular season losing streak(twenty-six games) , but they are making damn sure of taking aim of matching that ignominious feat. Fifteen games and counting with each loss to start this season, has been by an average margin of 15.5 points. That sort of ineptitude is either ingrained or by taught by Brown and his coaching staff to the roster of players. I will use the term ” players ” loosely, because there has been absolutely nothing to suggest that this group can actually play the game of professional basketball competitively .

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Next up for Philadelphia will be a game against the Dallas Mavericks (12-5) at the Wells Fargo Center , in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ,. Sixers’ owner Josh Harris and his fellow executives have shown little propensity in changing the mindset of the organization in spite of claims to the contrary by others within the game. Little has been done by this league to even remote chastise owners who merely seek to make a profit from their franchise while producing a bad product on the court. The NBA has become indicative of that over the years and nothing is likely to be done by Adam Silver or the league hierarchy. If left to idiots to such as Mark Cuban to sell the current brand of the NBA as a solid product , the self-absorbed and publicity seeking entrepreneur would have us eat his crow, while telling us what a great Hors-d’ouevre and appetizer the entree and main course just happen to be.

Sixers’ roster led by the mercurial talents of Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid , Drew Gordon , Luc Mbah a Moute and Tony Wroten are hardly names meant to instill e fear in any opponent , never mind the coaching staff lacking a great deal of experience . Yet somehow , there are fans who believe the team being a work in progress, will become competitive in years to come. This lineup is unlikely to be the same a year from now, much less at the trade deadline this season (19th February). GM Sam Hinkie will likely to strip away pieces from the roster under the pretext once again that he is building for the future . Attendance levels at the Wells Fargo Center are lower now than they were last season when the Sixers were not even remotely competitive. The same can now be said of this season as they continue struggle in the NBA.

Phil Jackson since returning to the New York Knicks (4-13) has seen the team struggle this season. The expectations were said to be high , but it is hard to envisage how a roster team devoid of talent with the exception of Carmelo Anthony could be seen as a worthy challenger to the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors within the Eastern Conference this season . Derek Fisher is still learning on the job in his freshman year as a head coach and it does not instill any confidence, if you are an observer , watching this team from afar.

Fisher’s career as a player is littered with success, but so far in his first coaching stint , he is beginning to see how tough this job is going to be. Coaching many of today’s top stars in the NBA is not unlike dealing with a petulant child. The Knicks’ head coach will likely find this out while also having to deal with Phil Jackson in his position as Head of Basketball Operations for the franchise. The “buck stops here” , but in the case with this particular franchise, it will be deferred and failure by the team this season, will likely lead to Fisher’s firing. New York is not at all forgiving when their professional sports’ franchises are failing and when the finger-pointing begins and it tends to be the head coach taking the fall as the ” fall guy “, when the players themselves are in fact the real reason behind the team’s failure.

In their most recent game on the 28th November the New York Knicks were on the wrong side of a lopsided twenty-seven point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder . . Returning to the Thunder lineup was the team’s point guard Russell Westrbook , but the Thunder’s best player and League MVP , guard , Kevin Durant is still several weeks away from returning the starting lineup. Westbrook led all scorers in their defeat of the New York Knicks, where the leading scorer for the Knicks’ loss was Amare’ Stoudemire in the absence of the injured Carmelo Anthony.

Any thought that Jackson would have Derek Fisher install the “Triangle Offense” and have it, up and running with a great deal of efficiency has been lost in terms of the Knicks’ play this season. This team , as with last season has yet to show any signs of being a great defensive unit. The Knicks’ strengths will continue to be their offense, especially with Carmelo Anthony on court to display his offensive arsenal .

The New York Knicks and Miami Heat will renew one of the NBA’s most heated rivalries . Dwyane Wade and Chis Bosh are the lone survivors of the franchise’s former ” Big Three” , with the departure of LeBron James and his return to the Cavaliers. New York will play host to Wade and his teammates at Madison Square Garden , New York City , New York. The contest will one of the highlights of Sunday’s schedule. Regular and postseason games between these two storied franchises have in many respects represented the animosity which still exists between the two Eastern Conference teams. For Dwyane Wade this will also offer him another opportunity of going up against Carmelo Anthony in another contest, where the two will seek to show off their vast array of offensive skills.

As the NBA is about to enter the third month of the season, it is hard to envisage how a number of these teams with poor records will actually survive while playing a less than competitive brand of basketball .

It would be fair to suggest the MLB postseason provided the fans with an astonishing array of events. The Kansas City Royals and their improbable run to the World Series gave us great drama and theatrics. Now in the aftermath of the series the Royals are now build on that success. Unfortunately, it now appears one of the team’s regular and postseason heroes will not be returning to the ball-club. Billy Butler was traded by the Royals to the Oakland A’s . In what has to be a strange turn of events the team Kansas defeated in the AL wildcard game would be the recipient of Butler’s services with the player garnering a three-year $30 million contract . As to what this now indicates about the AL Pennantwinners and their apparent wish to be seen as long-term contenders for the World Series has now taken a backwards’ step in my opinion ! For years the front office of this organization has systematically traded away players, rather than pay what was deemed to be fair market value .

Now in light of their recent success, it would appear team owner David Glass and GM Dayton Moore seem to be intent on reverting back to ways of old. An almost three-decade wait for a postseason appearance and now this ? It may not be viewed as a slap in the face of the Royals’ fans, but now trading players away, because you haven’t the financial resources to retain some of your stars on your roster does seem crass and impudent.

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Billy Butler is unlikely to be the last player to be let go by the Kansas City Royals during the off-season and as admirable their season was said to be, all of that will now be forgotten, as the team prepares for their Spring Training Schedule schedule and then unto the regular season. Their regular season schedule will begin with a two-game series against the Houston Astros , an AL franchise still looking for some semblance of consistency and success since Jim Crane assumed control of the Astros .

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Picture gallery.

With the NFL season now entering its final quarter what do you believe has been the biggest disappointment by way of the players or teams ? Meanwhile, in the NBA do you think the league hierarchy will make an attempt to improve the level of play by possibly making rule changes ? Finally, after the unbelievable postseason by the Kansas City Royals do you believe they are capable of keeping the momentum going and competitive in 2015? Your comments are always more than welcome, so by all means chime in with your thoughts as you see fit.

Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) Matthew Stafford (9) of the Detroit Lions signals to his team in the fourth quarter while playing the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on November 27, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Getty Images North America / Gegory Shamus

(2) Matthew Stafford (9) of the Detroit Lions looks to throw a first quarter pass against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on November 27, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Getty Images / Gregory Shamus …

(3) Ezekiel Ansah(94) of the Detroit Lions sacks Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter at Ford Field on November 27, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit Lions won 34-17 . Getty Images /Gregory Shamus …

(4) Tony Romo (9) of the Dallas Cowboys is hit by Brandon Graham (55) of the Philadelphia Eagles in the second half at AT&T Stadium on November 27, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. Getty Images Tom Pennington ….

(5) Quarterback Tony Romo(9) of the Dallas Cowboys talks with quarterback Mark Sanchez (3) of the Philadelphia Eagles after the Eagles beat the Cowboys 33-10 at AT&T Stadium on November 27, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. Getty Images /Tom Pennington …

(6) Richard Sherman (25) of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates an interception in the fourth quarter on a ball intended for Steve Johnson (13) of the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium on November 27, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. . Getty Images / Thearon Henderson …

(7) Colin Kaepernick (7) of the San Francisco 49ers is seen here with his NFC West counterpart and fellow quarterback Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks . These two young stars of the NFL have been very prodigious since entering the NFL. The duels between the two , have proven to be very exhilarating for the players, the fans and their respective teams. AP Photo / Matt Hammond …

(8) Former Baltimore Ravens’ running back Rice is seen here leaving the arbitration hearing on the 5th November in New York City , New York , along with his wife Jenay Parker-Rice . The player has been reinstated , after former Federal Court Judge Barbara Jones found that Rice had not lied in his statements to the NFL league hierarchy , who claim Rice’s statements were misleading not totally honest . The player who now is an unrestricted free agent can only wait for a team to now offer him a roster spot and possible contract . Yet it seems unlikely for the present given the adverse publicity his case has received and the gravity of the original incident of domestic violence. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s position seems all the more tenuous not only by this outcome but by the league’s failure to act with transparency and in a timely manner . AP Photo / Paul Monroe …

(9) From left to right , Philadelphia 76ers’ players Michael Carter-Williams , Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel . The team is off to horrendous start to the season , with a sixteen-game losing streak and with their being no apparent sight as to where the Sixers’ first win of the season is liable to come from. Losing by an average margin of almost 16 points per game , from a defensive standpoint Philadelphia is simply devoid of talent in various aspects of their game. AP Photo /Emily Carpenter ..

(10) Kansas City Royals’ Mike Moustakas (8) is congratulated by teammate Billy Butler (16) after hitting a two-run home run off Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco during the sixth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, April 18, 2014. AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

(11) Owner Jim Crane (center) of the Houston Astros talks with former owner Drayton McLane Jr (left) and owner David Glass of Kansas City Royals before a game between the Astros and Royals at Kauffman Stadium on June 7, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri. Getty Images / Ed Zurga ….

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Witnessing the good , the bad and the ugly ….

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Witnessing the good , the bad and the ugly ….

Twelve weeks into the NFL season and in reality there is not a great deal to rejoice about , as several teams have simply failed to live up to expectations. Needless to say at the end of the regular season or perhaps the postseason, a number of head coaches are likely to be dismissed along with their coaching staffs. Topping that list is likely to be the New York Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan who has led his team to a 2-9 season, with the Jets firmly rooted at the bottom of the AFC East .

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To realize how bad the New York Jets have been , you simply have to look at their performance against their divisional rivals the Buffalo Bills. The fans were subjected this monstrous perversion as being great football in the NFL. Laughable to say the very least when you consider the team’s two quarterbacks combined for a performance that would make an NFL fan cringe in revulsion, as to what they had just witnessed. Geno Smith and Michael Vick together went for seventeen of thirty-one in their completions , with 165 passing yards and one interception . If this is what the Jets insist upon selling to their fans and the rest of the NFL in what turned out to be a 38-3 blowout and travesty of a game . Then we need not lament the loss of Rex Ryan , Geno Smith or Michael Vick at the end of this season. As to the idiots, who believe Smith can still become a serviceable quarterback in the NFL , then my answer to you all , bring back Mark Sanchez . Even at his worst , Sanchez was never as incompetent as we have witnessed with Smith this season and last year in particular .

From a defensive and offensive standpoint the New York Jets have been woefully inept and the very fact Rex Ryan and his coaching staff have failed to address those issues have led to their present predicament.

In week thirteen the New York Jets will play hosts to the Miami Dolphins in a home game played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford , New Jersey. I am not so sure that the Jets’ fans will be there to cheer on their home team or simply boo them , while welcoming the Dolphins with open arms ! In all honesty , all this team has provided their fans all season long , has been nothing but never-ending heartache and little else beyond that . Ryan and the Jets will look to seek their third win of the season, while seeking to make up for a disastrous three-quarters of the schedule having pass the Jets’ fans by .

A five-game losing streak can tell you a great deal about a team and the direction they are said to be heading in. Perhaps no other franchise epitomizes that fact than the Carolina Panthers . They may not be rooted at the bottom of the worse division in the NFL at present . Yet there is little to suggest last season’s NFC South divisional champions can now equal that feat in what has been a disastrous season for the team . Head coach Ron Rivera has to be at a loss in explaining how things could have gone so ” far south” for a team where a great deal had been expected from them in 2014. Were it not for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-9) and their mediocre showing , we might be discussing which of the quartet of teams within the division might just be the worst. All four teams within the NFC South bear a sub. 500 record a and it seems a travesty, the likely winner of the division will have the privilege of being a part of the postseason at the expense of a team likely to better record overall within the conference (NFC). Such are the vagaries of the system and rules put in place by the NFL.

A bye in week twelve gave the Panthers a chance to recuperate while injured players could regain their active status but their their loss in week eleven to the Atlanta Falcons provided us with litany of reasons why the Carolina Panthers’ season has been so woefully inept. Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton seems to be off his game for a variety of reasons . Without a passing game to assist the team and a running game barely consistent there seems to be nothing left in the tank for this team.

Carolina will be on the road in week thirteen when they face conference rivals the Minnesota Vikings in a “must win game ” if they are to have any chance of making inroads on the divisional lead of the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons for their part will be taking on the best team in the NFC this season, when they host the Arizona Cardinals (9-2) , the surprise of the NFL this year. A win for Bruce Arians’ Cardinals guarantees them a playoff berth and leaves the three remaining teams beneath them within the NFC West scrambling to make good on the remainder of their season. As to what might this suggest, specifically for the San Francisco 49ers (7-4) and the Seattle Seahawks (7-4) with their being so much at stake , will likely lead to one, if not both of these teams quite possibly missing a postseason berth.

When Lovie Smith succeeded Greg Schiano as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , it was thought he would bring a great deal of discipline to the franchise , something lacking in his predecessor. Granted, for the one season Schiano was in charge of the team , they played hard , but unfortunately , playing hard does not equate to wins or success for that matter . This season Smith has failed to instill discipline into this team , a fact borne out by their record , fumbles and penalties accumulated throughout their entire schedule. The one bright spot one might care to acknowledge, has been the play or their rookie wide receiver and best player this year , Mike Evans . Anything else can simply be viewed as being downright mediocre .

Coming off a ham-fisted loss (21-13) to the Chicago Bears, it easy to understand why the Buccaneers have been so inconsistent this season. At no time during this game , were you ever given the impression they had the chance to win the contest . Certainly not in the second half of the game , where they could only muster three points and that was solely through a field goal attempt. It certainly does not paint a pretty picture of this team from an offensive standpoint , let alone delving into the fact their defense has been mind-bogglingly absurd and inefficient. We are likely to see more of that ineptitude when the Buccaneers entertain the Cincinnati Bengals (7-3) at Raymond Stadium in Tampa , Florida this upcoming Sunday. A game which is likely to be used as a springboard for the Bengals as they seek to maintain their slender lead in the AFC North .

As a precursor to Sunday’s games , as is usual at this time of the year, the traditional Thanksgiving Day rollout , has the customary participants the Dallas Cowboys (8-3) and Detroit Lions (7-4) vying for the privilege of making the fans’ festivities on the day seem that little bit more special . Yes, the Cowboys might be in the midst of a competitive battle with the Philadelphia Eagles (8-3) for divisional supremacy in the NFC East. A division to my mind which has been brought back down to earth by the ineptitude shown of the New York Giants (3-8) and Washington Redskins (3-8) or whatever they are likely to call themselves at some point in the future, pending their litigation in US Federal Court . The fact of the matter remains Tony Romo is one hit away from having his season come to a debilitating end. Equally as important to his team , Matt Stafford has to know his game has to be played at more rational pace rather than helter-skelter, as has often been the case.

When the Dallas Cowboys take aim at knocking off the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium on Thursday afternoon, it will be part of a three-game trilogy on the day. The Detroit Lions will host the Chicago Bears at Ford Field in Detroit , Michigan , with the final game on the Thanksgiving Day schedule being a match-up between the Seattle Seahawks playing the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara , California , . All three games promise to be highly competitive divisional contests and likely to add a great deal more intrigue to the season with so much being at stake for all six teams involved.

Sunday’s games will also also likely to provide the fans with their fair share of suspense, but we can also count on several of those contests to be bone chillingly lopsided affairs or worse . One game likely to have the fans on the edge of their seats will pit Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (9-2) as they go on the road to face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (8-3) at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin,. This game will pit two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks over the past five seasons as these two titans of the game square off for the for only second time in their careers . Hard to believe, given the legacies both Brady and Rodgers have established for their respective franchises. In that first meeting in 2006 , where the Packers were on the wrong end of a 35-0 humiliation at Lambeau Field, something ideally the Packers’ quarterback and his teammates are not likely to forget . This contest I believe, will be a great deal closer and it is my opinion , the visiting team will come away with the victory , purely from the standpoint they are a more well-balanced team and their defense has been very consistent over the course of this season , and specifically over their last five games where they have managed to shut down their opponents with consummate ease.

Perennially bad teams in the NFL are not uncommon, and this season the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10) and Oakland Raiders(1-10) seem intent on making it a reality of upholding that longstanding tradition which embodies ineptitude. These two teams are a combined 2-20 , and 1-4 in their last five games. The fact they possess the two worst records in the NFL should not be looked upon with deference at all.

It is clear what ails the Jaguars and Raiders goes far beyond ineptitude and has everything to do with bad coaching and some whimsical and often asinine notion by fans and analysts alike , that teams can simply create their success by spending big , acquiring talent via free agency , often overrated and they will be well on their way to success. It has not worked for the Raiders over the past six seasons and it definitely has not worked for Jacksonville since Shahid Khan assumed control of the Jaguars’ franchise. From a draft standpoint , both teams have failed miserably bolster their respective rosters to be competitive enough this season , let alone last season. Yet, he we are once again watching both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders swoon while both franchises have seen a precipitous drop in their attendance levels in comparison to 2013. With both teams now subject to relocation rumors it begs the question, which municipality would really try to endear themselves to a losing NFL franchise solely on the basis of the perception of it all making sound economic sense ?

As popular as the league( NFL) is said to be on the North American landscape and with the NFL now having global tentacles .The he fact of the matter remains , the greater Los Angeles area has no wish for an NFL franchise , where the city itself will be on the ” financial hook” for a venue to house that team. No matter how anyone tries to spin it , the NFL is now being ran by a by a bunch snake oil salesmen . Roger Goodell , is simply leading the charge , while pulling the wool over the eyes of everyone . with a diluted and mediocre product, where he can simply point to the increased revenues of the NFL and not much else.

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Picture gallery .

The popularity of the league’s marquee players will remain popular , until their retirement, but what then happens when the cupboard is bare and there is no one yet deemed ready to step into the shoes of a Tom Brady , Peyton Manning , Drew Brees , Aaron Rodgers , Larry Fitzgerald or Reggie Wayne for that matter ? Care to have take on it all ?

:)

Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) Scott Chandler(84) of the Buffalo Bills scores on a nineteen yard second quarter touchdown as Jaiquawn Jarrett (37) of the New York Jets defends during the game at Ford Field on November 24 , 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Bills would go on to defeat the Jets 38-3 in a lopsided contest. . Getty Images North America / Leon Halip …

(2) Quarterback Geno Smith (7) of the New York Jets throws against the Buffalo Bills in the fourth quarter at Ford Field on November 24, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Buffalo defeated New York 38-3. Getty Images/ Jamie Sabau …

(3) New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) and New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick (1) on the sideline in the first quarter of their NFL preseason football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, August , 22, 2014. Reeling at 2-9 this season the Jets are firmly rooted at the bottom of the AFC East with the duo quite possibly the worst tandem in the AFC and the league this season, with no signs the Jets’ passing game is likely to improve over the remainder of the season. AP Photo/ Ray Stubblebine …

(4) New York Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan is seen here on the sidelines during a regular season game. The beleaguered Ryan is seeking to save his job as well as the team’s season , but it is beginning to look as if he is in the last throes of coaching this franchise , along with a roster of players who have greatly underperformed this season. No formal statement has been made by anyone from within the front office , as the belief seems to be the coach will be fired at the end of this season. AP Photo / Paul Hobbs …

(5) Cam Newton (1) quarterback of the Carolina Panthers is seen here during a game played against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania. The Eagles would defeat the Panthers in the contest and prolong their losing streak . AP Photo / Amy Hughes …

(6) May 9, 2014 – Tampa, Florida, U.S. – DANIEL WALLACE | Times.Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith , left, listens to wide receiver Mike Evans as he answers questions after being introduced to local media at One Buc Place on Friday, May 9, 2014. Evans was named the Buccaneers 2014 NFL Draft first-round pick on Thursday night. . Evans has been a revelation for the Buccaneers this season and one of their most productive players on a consistent basis all season long. Credit Image: © Daniel Wallace/Tampa Bay Times/ ZUMAPRESS.com copyrighted material all rights reserved ..

(7) Matt Stafford (9) ,left, of the Detroit Lions and Tony Romo of the Detroit Dallas Cowboys will lead their respective teams into this season’s Thanksgiving Day games against divisional rivals . Both players are hoping to be as productive for their teams as they were last season at the same point of the 2013 schedule. Getty Images / Adam Holmes ..

(8) Tom Brady of the New England is seen here with his Green Bay Packers’ counterpart Aaron Rodgers , basking in the revelry of the Kentucky Derby . The two players will be on opposite sides of the field when their two teams meet on Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin ,. This will be only the second professional meeting between these two much heralded quarterbacks , with Brady coming out the winner in that first contest and a Patriots’ 35-0 victory over the Packers. Sunday’s contest is unlikely to be that lopsided a game between the two franchises. AP Photo / Matt Holcomb …

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:smile:

Tophatal …. 11/26/2014 02:45 AM EST

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It never ceases to amaze ………

It never ceases to amaze

Another political news’ cycle and the apathy and stupidity of the nation’s electorate, remains . As an expat Brit,now residing and working here in the US , I have to admit coming across of the posturing self-righteous group of inviduals is no longer a surprise . The political establishment of Democrats and Republicans, in reality, are no different from one another. But, for the levels of their depths and depravity , the singular thing which clearly defines the two parties, has been how much they can do to ” pull the wool “ over the eyes of the electorate without them catching unto their levels of greed. After the Democrats’ hammering in the midterm elections, where they lost control of the Senate along with several seats in the House and numerous gubernatorial races. They now seem to be lost for words as to the reasons why they suffered such horrendous defeats. Look no further than to the leadership of Barack Obama, who is proving to be just as un-inspirational in his second term as President as he was during his first. There are very few positives the President can point to during his administration’s tenure and his mishandling of so many foreign policy initiatives have become bewildering. Say nothing of which , his domestic policies s have proven to be either ‘hit ‘ or ‘ miss’ , dependent upon one’s views.

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With his recent announcement that he would use his ‘executive powers’ to bring about changes in the country’s immigration policy and certain reforms . The question must ask of those questioning the President’s actions has to be why all of the furor , when previous administrations and the Congress have failed repeatedly to enact any meaningful reform, never-mind this idiocy of upholding the laws of the land , when in many respects it is not just the illegal immigrants who are said to be breaking the laws, but the employers who see fit to hire them , without any real fear of punishment whatsoever. No one seems to be overly concerned specifically on the issue , yet I am suppose to believe the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants have become a burden upon this country ?

The US Congress has been more of a burden on the nation , than the individuals now being thrust into the news cycle because the Neanderthal idiot political hacks on both sides of the aisle have nothing better to disgust or seethe over in anger. You would certainly be hard pressed to find Conservative much less a Liberal actually acknowledge that fact , instead it has been the constant diatribe of name calling and finger pointing from both sides of the political aisle without the idiocy of the political hacks intent on their rancor . I guess once you have published a book , sat on the sidelines, while providing nonsensical analysis , makes one an expert without ever really experiencing the real world issues ? How the fu#k can the likes of Anne Coulter , Mark Levin , Bill Maher, Dennis Miller, James Carville , Joe Sarborough , David Axelrod and Chris Matthews actually relate with the public at large ?

On the sporting landscape it is not entirely different to what we have been witnessing on the political front. In the NBA , fans have become so distraught concerning the ills that currently effect affect the Los Angeles Lakers(3-10) , New York Knicks(4-10) and the Philadelphia 76ers (0-13). These three NBA franchises have gone 7-33 through their first fourteen games of the season . The very fact that all three teams have been playing badly belies the fact their fans continue to postulate and speculate what the real issues are said to be concerning all three franchises.

Byron Scott and the Los Angeles Lakers’ fans are going through the ignominy of seeing this team remain uncompetitive without delving into the fact we have yet to witness Kobe Bryant berate his teammates or the Lakers’ organization , led by team owner Jim Buss and general manager MitchKupchak . Injuries might well be plaguing the Lakers but this should not hide the fact the team has no real depth or character , without pointing to the coaching staff of the head and their not being able to show any coaching acumen. Los Angeles have lost seven of their last ten games and the team’s defense now seems to be in complete apoplexy showing very little by way any type of capability in stopping an opponent’s offensive prowess. In the Lakers’ 140-106 loss to the Dallas Mavericks was the team’s most humiliating defeat of the season, with no one member on the roster showing any type of resilience throughout this contest . These traits have certainly embodied the ongoing hypocrisy witnessed with the team and the lack real competitiveness shown by the Los Angeles Lakers . Yet, somehow the Lakers’ fans are trying to point to what they see as positives. Next up for the franchise will be a home game against the equally abysmal Denver Nuggets coached by former Lakers’ assistant head coach Brian Shaw .

As great a coach as Phil Jackson was said to be , his acumen as an assessor of NBA talent can be described as marginal at best . Jackson’s trait beyond the “Triangle Offense” has been his being able to motivate players to succeed , specifically when he has a complement of superstars to coach. Clearly the case , when you have such players as Michael Jordan , Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Jackson , now assuming the role as Head of Basketball Operations with the New York Knicks, is now being looked upon with a great deal of incredulity and in many circles for its comedic value, with the team now being so incompetent on the court.

The Knicks currently lie third within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference above the win-less Philadelphia 76ers. Derek Fisher as a rookie head coach along with his coaching staff have not only struggled but this idiocy where it will take some time instill the Triangle Offense as a successful strategy , has to be lost on a roster of players who basketball acumen and IQ would barely qualify for them for admittance into a DIII Level NCAA program much less MENSA . At 2-8 in their last ten games , consistency has not been the norm for the Knicks much less the belief Carmelo Anthony can lead the team all by himself without any able support from his “overrated “ teammates .The New York Knicks’ 91-83 victory over the 76ers has typified what has become so wrong with the Conference and why it has been continually seen as a conference lacking in stature in terms of the level of play.

New York and the 76ers will meet again during the course of this season and I seriously doubt Brett Brown and his Sixers’ playing staff will be ready for their next meeting never mind the previous thirteen contests which have made up their schedule at this point of the the season. The 76ers chose ” to tank” the latter half of their schedule in 2013 , seeking to obtain a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft . Adam Silver as the NBA Commissioner might not have seen anything wrong in the organization’s actions, but clearly the fans are being sold a “bill of good” , if there’s said to be any ambition the part of team owner Josh Harris much less any from any of the executives within the front office.

There has been absolutely nothing to suggest the Philadelphia are capable of turning their season around based solely upon their play and the evidence of last season .Josh Harris has turned out to be a monumental fraud much as in the same way are his promises of establishing competitive franchise which the fans would be prepared to follow. Dwindling attendance this year and last season beyond the fact of a mediocre product on the court have played a part in what the fans are being forced to witness this season has led to the change in identity of this franchise. If a Sixers’ great such as Allen Iverson can now become critical of the 76ers , then it should tell you great deal, not only about this club’s fall from grace, but also their continued failure to be productive.

With the NBA still trying to find a rhythm to its season, we cannot escape the fact the league is still mired in controversy. The announcement of his retirement by Jason Collins has done nothing to stymie the fact that league still remains homophobic and racially divisive among the league hierarchy and a number of the team owners . With league stating Jeff Taylor of the Charlotte Bobcats would be suspended for domestic assault and that his punishment would be a twenty-four games suspension, it seems rather perplexing the NBPA (Players’ Union) and their new Executive Director Michele Roberts would go so far to state the league’s suspension was drastic and an overreach of its boundaries , while also contravening the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). One would have thought with all of the adverse publicity received by the NFL on this issue , the union league hierarchy would seek to be on the same on this most acute of issues. Somehow this seems to be the farthest thing on the mind of Roberts , the first female Executive Director the Players’ Union and now one of the most powerful women in all of professional sports.

At a time when sports’ fans in general are getting sick and tired of the bombastic and repeated lax actions of the athletes at the professional and collegiate level, there is a great cause for concern when a female executive, albeit , she believes as the NBPA’s Executive Director she is acting in the best interests of her members , it does beg the question would Roberts have taken the same stance had Taylor killed his victim? Michele Roberts with her statement has not only served her union poorly but it creates the perception is not all overly concerned with the issue of domestic violence of the misconduct of her members. Much as in the same way DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA seems intent to point the finger of blame at the NFL for his members ongoing stupidity . I have to wonder what is it , that both of these executives cannot understand about this issue and how it is actually viewed by the public in general ! Absolute stupidity on the part of both Michele Roberts and DeMaurice Smith remains a constant , as it has been within their respective sports and the unwillingness of both the NBA and NFL tackling a grave social issue head on .

An appeal of Taylor’s suspension is likely to take place , but at the same time clearly the Bobcats’ owner , Michael Jordan would rather see this matter dealt with expeditiously given his team’s innocuous start to the season in year where the Hornets are likely to struggle, even if though they were able to raise the hopes of their fans with a spirited finish to 2013, having made the NBA Playoffs where they would fall in the first round of the Eastern Conference postseason . It will be interesting too see if the Hornets can improve upon last season’s display.

Histrionics asides, the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers are struggling this early in the season should come as no surprise . Yet many were ready to anoint this LeBron James’ led team as the next coming of another NBA dynasty in the making . Pardon me for saying this, but how the fu#k is a rookie head coach , his staff and this team are going to create a symbiotic and synergistic relationship when James has never played with either Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love prior to this season ? The only player of on this Cavaliers’ team where LeBron is known to have played alongside and have any type of relationship with is the Brazilian center Anderson Varejao .

Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert and his fellow executives were extremely delighted with the return of their Prodigal Son , and the fact James did everything to make the Cavaliers’ fans forget their anger after his departure in , 2010, with the franchise now seeing a tremendous spike in their home attendance as well as on the road means a great deal to Gilbert economically. Four straight losses has emphatically shown why the Cleveland Cavaliers remain a work in progress, along with the team’s rookie head coach David Blatt. Idiocy among fans and analysts alike, who tend to overlook what is plainly in front of their very eyes , but no one willingly wants to admit they can make a mistake . Posturing and lame ass machismo tends to be the norm among the dumb ass morons with no real insight or knowledge at all. Cleveland’s next game will be a home contest at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, against the Orlando Magic in a game which will tell us a great deal about both teams as they each seek to move forward .

If Cleveland should fail to make the NBA Playoff this season, I would not see it as a great surprise ! The fans yearn to see what they believe to be elite teams rise to the top , yet in reality there are but a few teams in the league that can now be considered great, much less among the elite. The defending champions the San Antonio Spurs are the yardstick against which every other NBA franchise ought to be measured against , but neither the league or the fans are prepared to pay the team their due respect , simply because they are not seen as glamorous or the fact their stars are not considered to be among the top players currently playing in the league. The hard sell for the NBA has always been their teams when the fans are just gravitating towards the marquee players .

The NBA has yet to actually capitulate to the NBPA , a union still trying to get to grips with their own internal issues and legal woes concerning their previous Executive Director Billy Hunter , who seeks to sue the his former employer for wrongful dismissal , defamation of character , slander and libel. Something I believe Michele Roberts should be more concerned with rather than her idiocy in believing Jeff Taylor should be treated with ” kid gloves” and not made an example of . Great just what the fans want to see from a league executive or a union leader . WTF!

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Picture gallery.

With the NBA season still in its infancy what do you believe has been the biggest surprise of the season ? Also which player or team has proved to be the biggest disappointment so far ? Your comments are more than welcome and thanks as always for the continued support !

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Picture and slideshow gallery details.
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(1) President Barack Obama addresses the nation on his wish to use executive privilege initiate immigration reform , something that has drawn the ire of members of his own party , the Democrats as well the Republican Party and majority of members within Congress. The members there have been ambivalent as to the reasons why they have themselves failed to formulate a comprehensive immigration policy and reform in general. AP Photo / Michael Carbonell ..

(2) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant sits on the floor after being fouled during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Warriors won 136-115 . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill … ….

(3) Nov 22, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire (1) shoots a free throw during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden. New York Knicks won 91-83. Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports ….

(4) Joshua Harris owner of the Philadelphia 76ers. For two straight years , Harris has presided over a franchise which is not only bereft of talent but also leadership within its front office and on the court.. The Sixers are off to a thirteen game losing streak with a defense which ranks as the worst within the NBA in points allowed and points’ differential . Clearly head coach Brett Brown and his coaching staff have no idea how to right team’s issues on the court. Getty Images / Paul Wyatt ..

(5) Jeff Taylor of the Charlotte Hornets is seen here in a courtroom in East Lansing , Michigan, where he plead guilty to misdemeanor domestic abuse , property damage and an employee of the Marriott Hotel where the incident took place . The player has been given a twenty-four game suspension by the NBA . AP Photo/ Mark Jones …

(6) NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts is seen here with her NFL counterpart DeMaurice Smith as the two took part in a discussion concerning athlete misconduct and how their respective leagues can best deal with such issues. Getty Images/ Tony Moore ….

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Tophatal ….. 11/23/2014

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A funny thing happened on the way to the Land of Oz …

A funny thing happened on the way to the Land of Oz …

Tophatal ….

Baseball’s Winter Meetings have yet to take place, but already the big top has been blown off the tent. The meeting of the league’s top executives , ownersand members of the league hierarchy to discuss the vagaries of the game and then to negotiate deals that will see the movement of several players, many of them likely being rewarded with major contracts will be set into motion.

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Slideshow

Over the past five years there can be no denying the Miami Marlinshave been one of the worst performing teams in Major League Baseball (MLB). The very fact that the Marlins have at no time in their history has ever won a divisional title or place higher than second within the NL East should tell you a great deal about the organization, in spite of their having won two NL Pennants and two World Series titles . The last of those postseason series’ coming in 2003 . Since then, things have steadily rolled downhill for the franchise, along with a succession of managers and turnover in front office executives.

The big news’ story of the month within the game of baseball, was the audacious move by the Miami Marlins in signing Mike Stanton to a long-term deal. Stanton signed what is now believed to the largest contract in professional sports’ and quite clearly the biggest in baseball history. Stanton signed a thirteen-year $325 million contract, averaging $25 million a year . Though I do not expect the floodgates to be opened by this deal , it does now place a great deal of pressure on other teams in similar position, looking to sign one of their marquee players. Miami for a number of years has been on the lower end of the payroll scale, albeit in 2013 , they sought to remedy the situation when they splurged on signing some major free agents in an assault on trying to win the NL East that season as well as the World Series title . They failed miserably in both attempts , with then manager Ozzie Guillen providing more entertainment away from the field of play, than was provided by the team during the entire season .

MLB is definitely not known for its financial frugality among its big-market teams and when left idle to their own devices teams in the small-market tend to prove how incompetent they are. The Miami Marlins have become the epitome of that, along with their instate rivals the Tampa Bay Rays and that is with due respect shown to the acumen of former Rays’ general manager Andrew Friedman , whose departure from the franchise to take on the more high-profiled role as a SVP & Head of Baseball Operations with the Los Angeles Dodgers caught just about everyone off-guard including senior executives within the Rays’ organization. With the recent departure of Joe Maddon to become the manager of the Chicago Cubs , Tampa is now left in a quandary. Throw in the departure of their AL Rookie of the Year, pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and you could say it’s back to business as usual for the Rays. Their off-season annual ” fire sale “ is just about to begin.

Now while the Miami Marlins’ fans can only be pleased with the outcome , the signing of Mike Stanton to a long-term deal , the question has to be asked , what type commitment and sacrifices will have to be made by this ball-club? Financial resources for the Marlins are not enormous and we have seen repeatedly the actions of this franchise over the years during their triumphs and letdowns. Jeffrey Loria has proven to be no different from one his predecessors H D Wayne Huizenga, whose ownership the Florida Marlins were well-chronicled. Huizenga’s gutting of the team that won the franchise’s first World Series title left the fans in dismay and utter disgust, has since been repeated by Loria.

As the incumbent owner of the Miami Marlins , I have no real reason to believe Jeffrey Loria will remain a man of his word. Deceit , deception , lies and an un-willingess to show transparency concerning the inner workings of the Marlins along with the alleged brow-beating of the Miami City Council leading to their capitulating , in the ball-club’s wishes to have the city finance the building of Marlins Ballpark , where undue pressure was brought to bear by former commissioner Bud Selig, really does cast a light on how Loria and Major League Baseball likes to conduct its business. Unfortunately, those same character traits are not shared or instinctive with Tampa Bay Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg who continues to whine like a spoiled brat, because he cannot get his own way. Michael Hill and Mike Redmond will now seek to bolster the Marlins’ roster during this off-season , but they will also have to deal with trying to resign a number of their impending free agents as well players whose arbitration rights they might want to expedite quickly.

Mike Stanton had an excellent season in 2014 , where he was one of the most productive members on his team as well as in the NL and MLB overall. His second place finish to Clayton Kershaw in the NL MVP race was of no great surprise, considering the astonishing regular season by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher, who also added the NL Cy Young Award to his trophy case for the third time in his career. I believe their might be at least two more Cy Young Awards waiting in the wings for Kershaw, who has to be seen as the best pitcher in baseball without a doubt. Granted his postseason forays for the Dodgers left a great deal to be desired. The team’s malaise was nothing new and simply part of their DNA over the past two years. Don Mattingly’s players seem to be great during the regular season, but they become a deer caught in headlights once the postseason comes around , as witnessed in 2013 and then again during baseball’s end of season ritual. Let’s just say this Dodgers’ team cannot even hit or pitch their way out of trouble . even if they were being aided by the mishaps of their opponents during the postseason.

As I alluded to earlier the floodgates may not necessarily open up with players being offered overly large contracts, but the Marlins have now set a precedent where it will prove hard for any team not be able to meet a free agents’ requests. With the likes of high-profiled sports’ agents such as Scott Boras , Sam and Seth Levinson of Aces Inc Baseball , Dan Lozano , corporate entities such as LSW Baseball , CAA , the upstart IMG and sports’ management agency Roc Nation Sports, all vying to make deals on behalf of their clients. It is easy to understand why general managers such as Brian Cashman, Brian Sabean , Dave Dombrowski , Billy Beane , Sandy Alderson , Michael Hill and Jerry Dipoto are never operating from a position of power. They will more often than not overpay for a player , rather than actually showing some real acumen.

Having won their third World Series title in the past five years the San Francisco Giants are now seated among the elite dynasties of the game. Make no mistake, this is a dynasty , albeit a quiet and unglamorous one. Brian Sabean might just be the best general manager in the game today. His guile and an eye for talent , his acumen in the free agency market, have not only made the Giants a success , but they have laid down a blueprint that a number of teams are now likely to follow. Furthermore , Sabean is not one to neglect his farm system and then seek to implode those affiliates , as he sees the lower rungs of the organization as a treasure trove of future talent. In the aftermath of their most recent success this franchise will now seek build upon their most recent achievement.

San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy and his entire managerial staff are likely to return for next season , but opportunities may well arise where one or two of his assistants will be offered the opportunity to interview a vacant managerial position. Beyond that, the question now becomes what are the integral pieces to kept on this roster and can the Giants afford to pay what is deemed to be “fair market value”? The fly in the ointment was the outrageous contract signed by Mike Stanton and offered by a team, that two years began shedding their high priced players like driftwood being cast away, because it was of no further use. Miami remains a small-market team, with grandiose schemes and big-market ambitions. They are a baseball team that rarely sell out their home games in a venue , which remains sparsely attended. The flip side of that coin are the San Francisco Giants and their ravenous fans and fan-base nationwide. They have the success and a legacy which has been quietly built upon over the years.

The Giants’ 2012 World Series MVP infielder Pablo Sandoval will be looking to get paid commensurate to his status and in line with the top active contracts active within the organization . As an impending and unrestricted free agent Sandoval knows he can go elsewhere and quite possibly obtain long-term contract making him financially secure. Yet, the thought remains with the player being such a part the team’s postseason success , it would seem idiotic for the Giants to let him go , knowing he is not only a clubhouse favorite but also a leader on and off the field. Beyond that , take into account his productivity and being able to come up with some clutch hitting , it places Brian Sabean in something of a dilemma .

If Sandoval does return to the Giants in 2015, along with the core elements of last season’s roster, then San Francisco have to be seen as a prohibitive favorite for the NL Pennant this upcoming season. Granted, they are likely to face a stiff challenge from the St Louis Cardinals , Washington Nationals , Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates , Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds .

Alex Rodriguez’s return to New York Yankees and their lineup for 2015 cannot come around fast enough for many of the ball-club’s fans . The player’s last appearance in a Yankees’ uniform was uninspiring and simply confirmation that Rodriguez is now past his prime. The Yankees’ third baseman having spent the entire 2014 Yankees’ schedule under suspension will look to reinvent himself on and off the field of play. With the retirement of Derek Jeter after a two-decade long career with the franchise. One could surmise, Brian Cashman sees Rodriguez as the “face of the Yankees” moving forward. I firmly believe the organization erred in not tearing up Alex Rodriguez’s contractas they were quite within their right to do so. Incompetency, in their repeatedly mishandling of the players transgressions , breaking the league’s substance abuse policy, spoke volumes as to the numerous reasons why baseball’s policy has no real teeth to it and the complete lack of leadership from Bud Selig and his successor Rob Manfred. Rodriguez’s contract remains intact , albeit , he lost in excess of $23 million, having not played for the New York Yankees this past season .

Joe Girardi and his staff will certainly look to Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira , Jacoby Ellsbury , Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Brian Robertsand Brian McCann to give the Yankees’ more ‘pop’ to their offense where the team was found wanting last season. The Yankees’ pitching was left somewhere in between the depths of mediocrity and the ‘bowel’of Hades .

The Yankees’ free agents for this upcoming season include veteran Ichiro Suzuki , unlikely to return next season, with Dave Robertson , Hiroki Kuroda , Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew, Heath Bell and Chase Headley are several of the players Brian Cashman will have to make decision upon their possible return to the New York Yankees. Cashman has shown very little faith in the organization’s farm system and he is unlikely to do so for years to come. With their failure to make the postseason and decidedly ignominious finish in the NL East the pressure will be on the front office to do something drastic to bring this franchise back to some semblance of respectability. Last season the acquisitions of Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Ichiro Suzuki were meant place the team at the forefront of the AL but their play nowhere near good enough to remotely place them in control of their own destiny.

With the 2014 payroll commitment of baseball’s thirty teams topping $3 billion ($3,000,000,000 for the second year in succession. The two teams at the top of the heap, were the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees. At a time when the game’s financial disparities so glaring there has been little to suggest baseball has the wherewithal to get its own financial house in order. The team owners and hierarchy have failed miserably in reigning in team expenses and yet owners are either seething because they cannot their own way in trying to deceitfully have municipalities to finance their venues.

Billionaire and millionaire owners unwilling to go out and do what is necessary in showing their real business acumen, to obtain private financing, rather than repeatedly have the public funds being used to finance such endeavors. It will be interesting to see the moves made by teams during this off-season the guile used by agents, seeking to have their clients be rewarded with the best contract possible. The sheer lunacy of MLB and the antics of the players leave a great deal to be desired and it will continue to be that way for the foreseeable future.

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Picture gallery .

With the salaries and contracts now on the rise within the game of baseball and no clear sign from the league hierarchy they show any initiative in reining in team expenses or have any idea how to so. What direction do you believe the game is likely to take and can the executives who preside over the game really deal with the issues which adversely effect baseball ?

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Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is seen here with Mike Stanton . The Marlins’ player signed a thirteen-year $325 million deal which will pay him $25 million annually. The deal is the highest paid contract in North American sports’ history . Loria and Team President Michael Hill believed it incumbent the organization retain the Stanton for their viability and long term future. AP Photo/ Matt Holmes ..

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers’ SVP & Head of Baseball Operations , Andrew Friedman is seen here alongside team President Stan Kasten . Friedman whose departure from the Tampa Bay Rays took just about everyone by surprise, has now moved to an organization where the resources of the baseball franchise far exceeds anything remotely close the Rays have at their disposal. With Friedman’s departure also came Joe Maddon leaving to join the Chicago Cubs as their new manager. Matt Silverman succeeded Andrew Friedman as the Rays’ general manager but the ball-club has to name a successor to Maddon . Getty Images North America / Paul Hughes … …

(3) ATLANTA, UNITED STATES : Florida Marlins manage Jim Leyland (L), general manager Dave Dombrowski (C), and team owner Wayne Huizenga with the National League Championship Series (NLCS) trophy after their 7-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves 14 October in game six of the NLCS at Turner Field in Atlanta, GA. The Marlins advanced to the World Series a with the win. AFP PHOTO/Robert SULLIVAN …

(4) Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout left , winner of the 2014 ALMVP and the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher and NLMVP recipient Clayton Kershaw . Both players invariably made the postseason , but their teams failed miserably . Trout and the Angels fell to Kansas City Royals 3-0 in the ALDS . Kershaw and the Dodgers fared no better, losing to the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS where his postseason performances were miserable with the posting an ERA in excess of 7.50 . AP Photo/ Tim Martin …

(5) Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays an AL Rookie of the Year for the franchise in 2011 was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. This seems to be a customary ploy with the ball-club on annual basis , further emphasizing the organization’s lack of resources and the emphasis of year-to-year cost cutting . AP Photo / Matthew Donald … …

(6) Scott Boras a prominent MLB sports agent, seen here in front of the facade of his company Scott Boras Corporation. Boras has negotiated contracts worth in excess of $4.7 billion in the last six years . Feared around the league as one of the most fearsome and ruthless agents in all professional sports. Boras puts the characteristic trait down to the fact he works hard for his clients and to their benefit.. AP Photo / Robin Thomas …

(7) CHICAGO, IL – AUGUST 05: Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees speaks to the media before the Yankees take on the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 5 , 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Rodriguez was forced to miss the entire 2014 season after league mandated suspension . Rodriguez will return to the Yankees’ lineup in 2015 hoping to make a solid contribution for the team. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …

(8) Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates who over the past two seasons has been one of the primary factors in the ascent of the Pirates and top-five finishes in each of the last two years of the NL MVP voting. McCutchen hopes to lead the ball-club to another postseason berth in 2015 and deep run in the postseason playoff schedule. as well as the winning of a second NL MVP Award with the Pirates. Getty Images/ Adrian Parker ….

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Tophatal 11/19/2014

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Shake it off , shake it up and down .

A few light touches makes the scenery all the more appealing don’t you think ?

Posted in Baseball, http://wp.me/poxLH-9He, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, Miami Marlins & Tampa Bay Rays, MLB, Sports, Sports Economics, Sports Commentary, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Learning Curve ….

By Tophatal

There seems to be a disconnect in the world of sports at present with so many stories now ongoing. The NFL provided fans with its usual litany of events which have blotted the horizon. Off the field, the saga of Adrian Peterson has taken center-stage.The league hierarchy has seen fit to pursue the Minnesota Vikings’ running back and his refusal to meet with the league to discuss their ongoing issues as to what they believe fitting a punishment. Adrian Peterson plead his case within the legal system in the state of Texas, where Peterson and the District Attorney’s Office agreed to a plea deal. The running back has already sat out nine of the Vikings’ ten games this season , leading to their miserable standing within the NFC Northand conference.

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Coming off a road loss to the Chicago Bears,dropped the Minnesota Vikings to a 4-6 recordwithin their division, with little to suggest Mike Zimmer and his coaching staff have any idea how to take theteam out of their present rut. The league’s handling of the Peterson saga has left many wondering how Roger Goodell’s inconsistency in dealing with player misconduct can be so incomprehensible. This whole saga along with the Ray Rice episode casts a dark image over the NFL and the league’s continuous misguidance and the statements now coming from their head office. Rice is in the midst of an arbitration hearing where he seeks his reinstatement back into the league may well be the last straw for the commissioner, as he seeks to resurrect his own standing among the fans. Goodell is still backed by the team owners, but one more misstep by the commissioner could lead to calls for his ouster by at least one senior franchise owner , if they feel the NFL’s image has been dragged further into the dust.

The Vikings’ fate now lies in their own hands with their being no sign of an imminent return of their Pro Bowl running back , well at least not by week twelve of the NFL season. In their upcoming game the Minnesota Vikings will play host to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers has been on a blistering pace this season as he and his teammates seek to sow up the NFC North with a number of the leading competitors suddenly falling by the wayside. Green Bay for its part , took care of the Philadelphia Eagles with a robust 53-20 victory , inflicting the Eagles with their biggest loss of the season. Somehow , I get the feeling Chip Kelly and his team have yet to learn the meaning of the word defense , let alone playing conservative football. The “gung-ho” attitude seems to be prevalent with the Eagles.

Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles will certainly get their chance to hop back into the saddle when they face a disappointing Tennessee Titans’ team in week twelve of a home game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the 23rd November, 2014,. With Nick Foles currently sidelined due to injury Mark Sanchez will continue in the role as the team’s starting quarterback.

The Oakland Raiders’ (0-10) season continues to no avail with the team on a ten-game losing streak, showing no signs of life as the season has progressed. Raiders’ head coach Tony Sparano could very well in the throes of his last gasp of coaching the franchise, with team owner Mark Davis and GM Reggie McKenzie likely to make the decision to fire their head coach at the end of the season. The futility shown by the team has been comparable to the Detroit Lions’ season of 2008 when during their sixteen-game schedule, the Lions failed to win a game.If there is fault to be apportioned , concerning the ineptitude of the Raiders , then it rests squarely on the shoulders of both Reggie McKenzie and Mark Davis , as they have repeatedly squandered the opportunities offered to make this franchise competitive. It is hard to believe the last time the Oakland Raiders won a divisional title , the AFC West or made the postseason came in 2002, the year in which they also won the AFC championship , only to then lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superbowl. In the aftermath of the postseason appearance, things have steadily gone downhill for the franchise, with their fans simply reliving the past of a bygone era of the Raiders.

It is difficult to suggest there are any bright spots to be found on this current Raiders’ roster. Quarterback Derek Carr has struggled to maintain a presence for the team. Defensively , the Oakland Raiders find themselves in a familiar position and with defensive coordinator Jason Tarver struggling to get this secondary going it has become abundantly clear to understand the many reasons why the Raiders have been so inept, without also pointing an accusing finger at Tony Sparano and offensive coordinator Greg Olson .

Darren McFadden , Maurice Jones-Drew, Andre Holmes , Denarius Moore , Sio Moore , Khalil Mack and the veteran Charles Woodson have floundered for the Raiders over the course of this season. When the Raiders play host to the Kansas City Chiefs at the O.Coliseum in a Thursday night game , there will be a great deal riding on the contest. Oakland will be seeking to gain their first win of the season, while Andy Reid and the Chiefs will be looking to get a leg up on the Denver Broncos , as these two teams fight it out for divisional supremacy within the AFC West. I would dare say, the San Diego Chargers (6-4) have no wish to be left out of the equation, as they remain a game behind both the Broncos and Chiefs for the divisional lead.

The Arizona Cardinals (9-1) keep on winning even with the sidelined Carson Palmer not being able to contribute a great deal to the team’s success this season. Head coach Bruce Arians, I believe is a justified front-runner to win the NFL Coach of the Year Award , but a great deal may well be predicated upon whether or not he can lead this team to their first divisional title(NFC West) since 2009 . You can either make the assumption the Cardinals are doing it all with “smoking mirrors” or state the San Francisco 49ers (6-4) and Seattle Seahawks(6-4) have been very inconsistent. The fact of the matter remains neither 49ers or the Seahawks have been able to match the consistency of the divisional rival , all season long.

Inasmuch, as the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks were dominant last season within the NFC West and the NFC as a whole, this season , both teams have played “second fiddle ” to the upstart Cardinals, who are a mere two gamesaway from clinching themselves a postseason berth within the conference. Peter Carroll and Jim Harbaugh can only hope Arizona slips up over the remainder of their schedule , allowing either of their teams an entrance into the postseason. Arizona will hope to inch closer to that goal when they play the Seattle Seahawks at Century Link Field on Sunday afternoon in one of the best games scheduled during week twelve of this season.

Nothing in life is ever deemed to be fair, unless you happen to be privileged, by way of social status and wealth. The same might be said of the NFL seedings as the postseason beckons. Unfortunately, the league hierarchy under NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has never seen fit to revamp the system in order to allow teams with a better record than a divisional winner to be given a higher seeding. Looking at the prospect likely to unfold within the NFC South and we could very well see a team with a sub .500 record make their way into the postseason and at the same time deny another franchise a higher ranking (seeding) a berth. Granted, the wildcard entrants allows the the next four teams below the top two seeds within a conference , their chance of advancing further . I cannot help but wonder, how a number of these teams are likely to feel, should a 7-9 or 8-8 team from within the NFC South make it to the playoffs ! To say the the quality of football seen within the division where the Atlanta Falcons (4-6), Carolina Panthers (3-7), New Orleans Saints(4-6) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) reside gives credence to the fact the NFL is urgently in need of a dearth of talent as well as several really good head coaches would be an understatement. All four teams do not possess a winning record and for head coaches, Mike Smith , Ron Rivera , Sean Payton and Lovie Smith , this might be the worst season of their collective careers as a head coaches within the NFL .

The Buccaneers coming off their second win on the season , defeating the lowly Washington Redskins embodied the sheer ineptitude seen all season long within the NFC South. Perhaps, the lone bright spot on the Buccaneers’ season has been the play of their rookie wide receiverMike Evans who provided a scintillating display of speed and maturity beyond his years. How the Buccaneers go about resurrecting their season will be determined by the mindset instilled into the team by head coach Lovie Smith.

Smith will take the Buccaneers on the road to Soldier Field in Chicago , Illinois to face his former team the Chicago Bears whose season now seems to be spiraling out of control , with quarterback Jay Cutler being harangued from all quarters for his lack of leadership and dire performances this season. Marc Trestman might now be emerging as one of the leading candidates among the coaches whose heads are likely to be on the ” chopping block”. Trestman and GM Phil Emery could very well be on the outs once this season is over. Lovie Smith was fired in his last season with the Bears , having narrowly missed the postseason in 2012. A winning record (10-6) that year seemed to be lost on the Bears’ front office and the admirable effort made by Lovie Smith and his coaching staff that season. All signs now seem to be point to the fact the Chicago Bears may well seek to trade Jay Cutler rather than retain his services . His tenure with the Bears has seen more lows than highs and it must be said his contract with the team has not proven to be a prudent investment.

There is no denying Washington Redskins’ owner Daniel Synder has continued swinging for the fences , making audacious moves either via free agency or through the NFL Draft. Having acquired both Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins in the now heralded quarterback class of 2012. Things now seem to have taken a turn for the worst with neither Griffin or Cousins being able to perform adequately for the team this season. Injuries asides, with both quarterbacks having been sidelined at some point during their schedule. Jay Gruden’s faith in third string quarterback Colt McCoy was short-lived in spite of the player leading the Redskins to two of their three victories on the season. Neither side of the Washington Redskins’ offense seems to be clicking . On the wrong side of a lopsided defeat suffered at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has embodied the Redskins’ season and justifiably shows why they remain at the bottom of the NFC East.

Washington will head West to face the San Francisco 49ers and Colin Kaepernick, as the host team looks to keep abreast with the Seattle Seahaws while still trailing the Arizona Cardinals by three games within the NFC West. This particular division was orginally viewed as a two-horse race between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks but this season along come the Cardinals to upset the applecart and turn everyone’s world upside down . There is a reality beginning to set in, either the Seahawks or Forty Niners could quite possibly miss the postseason if things continue as they are. In a recent discussion with an acquaintance , he made the statement that he felt San Francisco were still capable of notching double-digit wins and still make the postseason . Given the inconsistency shown by the team , their possible failure in missing the NFL’s end of season showcase spectacle, could come back to to haunt Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff.

Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seawhawks are the defending Superbowl champions and their quest to make a successful defense of their title doesn’t yet appear to be in jeopardy , but there has to be a cause for concern for a team which has been sporadic with their performances over the course of the season. Russell Wilson has continued with his progress and now seems to be on his way to joining the elite players at the position within the NFL . Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington will be the ” place to be” as the red hot ticket game of the day on Sunday when the Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals and it will be interesting to see how opposing quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Drew Stanton will fare in this highly anticipated contest with their being so much at stake for both teams.

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Picture gallery.

With the NFL season almost three-quarters of the way through its schedule, what do you feel has been the most disappointing event to have taken place during the year ? Also , which teams are likely to make a spirited push to gain a postseason berth as the schedule now becomes more suspenseful for the fans and the franchises with so much at stake ? It has been a learning experience not only for the rookie head coaches in the NFL this season but also for the rookies and sophomore players seeking to make their presence felt in the league. Simply chime in with your comments on this and anything else you believe relevant to this article and thanks as always for the continued support of this site as it has always been appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow gallery below.
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(1) Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson pictured here , has been reportedly suspended without pay for the rest of the season as the league hierarchy continues with their own investigation and possible further disciplinary action against the player for conduct detrimental to the league. Peterson reached a plea agreement with the State Attorney’s Office in Texas, after his being charged with child abuse . It was not the first time the player had been investigated for such an action. However, this latest incident was the first , in which law enforcement and Texas Dept of Child Welfare saw fit to file charges against Peterson . The league’s handling of this matter has come in for a great deal of criticism , with much of it being leveled at Commissioner Roger Goodell . Getty Images / Hugh Parker …

(2) Matt Forte (22) of the Chicago Bears runs past Sharrif Floyd (73) of the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter on November 16, 2014 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Bears defeated the Minnesota Vikings 21-13. Getty Images/ David Banks …

(3) Jay Cutler (6) of the Chicago Bears tries to score on a run but is stopped by Xavier Rhodes (29) of the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter on November 16, 2014 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Speculation has began mounting the Bears will seek to trade the quarterback after a troubled season with the franchise. GM Phil Emery has not issued a public statement on the matter but there appears to be mounting speculation a trade is likely . Cutler is still owed $16.5 million of his original $126.7 million deal signed in 2012 of which $54 million was guaranteed . Getty Images /David Banks …

(4) In the foreground Oakland Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano and the team’s GM Reggie McKenzie . The Raiders are off to a dismal start this season , having gone win-less and they are now 0-10 , still seeking their first victory of the season . McKenzie and team owner , Mark Davis recently traveled to San Antonio to visit with local politicians , with a view to gauging their interest in having the franchise relocate to the city . No details were imparted by the franchise and the NFL have not made their thoughts known on the issue , where league approval would be sought before such a move could take place. AP Photo/ Philip Davis …

(5) Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback Drew Stanton (5) attempts a pass during a game against the St Louis Rams . With Carson Palmer still sidelined, Stanton has been inserted into the lineup stepping up from his backup role on the roster . The Cardinals have the best record (9-1) in the NFC and the league overall. Arizona seeks to upset the apple cart by dethroning the Seattle Seahawks the NFC West champions for this season . AP Photo / Matthew Osgood ….

(6) Washington Redskins’ quarterbacks Robert Griffin III(10) , Kirk Cousins (8) and Colt McCoy (16) . McCoy has accounted for two of the team’s three wins this season, but for some apparent reason Jay Gruden does not appear to have any implicit faith in the third-string quarterback . This off-season there is likely to be a major upheaval of the playing roster with a number of players being traded or simply waived . GM Bruce Allen and Gruden will be left to make the decisions but there is likely to be a great deal of input from team owner , Dan Snyder . Getty Images / Matthew Robbins .. .

(7) A.J. Green (18) of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a pass as Rafael Bush (25) of the New Orleans Saints defends during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 16, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Cincinnati defeated the Saints 27-10 in the contest . Getty Images / Kevin C Cox …

(8) Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints calls an audible during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 16, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Getty Images / Kevin C Cox

(9) Wide receiver Mike Evans (13) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by corner-back Bashaud Breeland (26) of the Washington Redskins late in the third quarter at FedExField on November 16, 2014 in Landover, Maryland. The Buccaneers beat the Redskins 27-7 in a lopsided game . Getty Images / Patrick McDermott ….

(10) Colin Kaepernick (7) of the San Francisco 49ers meets his opposite number Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks center-field after a game between the two teams. This season both the Forty-Niners and Seahawks are having to play catch-up to the Arizona Cardinals who lead the NFC West by a three-game margin heading into week twelve of the NFL season. AP Photo / Mark Harris

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8-)

tophatal … 11/17/2014

Tophatal’s Blog on Facebook.com

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8-)

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Where’s the soap ?

The 0-10 Raiders have been the butt of so many jokes this season , but here’s a butt and two boobs , I for one am not laughing at ! Round and juicy , and pleasing to the eye.

Posted in Football, http://wp.me/poxLH-9G9, Minnesota Vikings, NFL, Sports, Sports & Social Commentary, Sports Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Act like you’ve got a pair , …balls that is

Act like you’ve got a pair , balls that is ……..
Strangely enough, hearing a sports’ fans continue to opine on the ills within the game, be it baseball, football, basketball or hockey. My take on it all, if your teams suck , don’t just look at the players , but also the coaches and owners in particular . How they act , will trend to give you a clear idea as to whether or not they know how to handle real adversity. The NBA season remains in its infancy , but we already witnessing several teams struggling to step away from their own ineptitude . There were high hopes for the New York Knicks after Phil Jackson was brought in , to lead their Basketball Operations where GM Steve Mills would be ultimately answerable to Jackson within the Knicks’ hierarchal organization . Owner James Dolan remains the one constant within the organization , whose decision-making continues to come into question. Granted , the franchise remains popular among its fan-base , profitable and still the most valuable team in the NBA.

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Nine games into the regular season and the New York Knicks are 2-7 , just above the win-less Philadelphia 76ers(0-7) within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference . For rookie head coach Derek Fisher it would be fair to suggest having seen his team get off to such a sluggish start should be cause for concern. The players themselves have been lackluster with only forward Carmelo Anthony actually showing signs of life .

In their two most recent games the New York Knicks suffered a six-point home loss to the Atlanta Hawks , then followed that up again with another defeat , where their guests, the Orlando Magic inflicted more pain upon what has become a troubling start to the Knicks’ season. Fans of the New Yorks, all too often, tend to point to the positives about their team , one , mainly from an offensive standpoint they can put up points on just about anyone , what they fail to indicate has been the very fact the team simply has no idea how to defend leading their ever increasing issues , which have yet to be addressed by Derek Fisher and his coaching staff

New York came into the season with one of the highest payrolls in the NBA , but nonetheless , Phil Jackson and Steve Mills felt they could live with just as long as the players lived up to expectations . Hard to believe this current roster is no better than the lineup from last season that failed to make the NBA Playoffs . As good as the New York Knicks believe themselves to be , this is not a team currently showing it can compete with the best that the NBA has to offer. Next up for Derek Fisher’s team will be a home game against the Utah Jazz , a contest which will likely tell us a great deal about the mindset of the host.

For two straight years the Chicago Bulls (6-2) have been heavily reliant on Derrick Rose being around for the long haul . In 2012 and again in 2013 , the Bulls’ point guard was felled by an injury . Come full circle and here we are , already wondering about the fitness of Rose after another injury scare. I doubt Tom Thiboadeau wants to head into the next three to six weeks of the Bulls’ schedule without their most prized asset .

In their two defeats the margin of victory for the Bulls’ opponents have been less than seven points in each case. This points to the fact Chicago remains a resilient defensive force , one of the best in conference as well as the entire NBA .

The departures of Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer , two of the Bulls’ best scoring options from last season may well prove to hinder the team’s chances this season, but there is every reason to believe with the addistion of Paul Gasol and the ever-improving play of Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson , Joakim Noah , Mike Dunleavy and Aaron Brooks , there is every reason to believe the Chicago Bulls can make a long and spirited run during the NBA Playoffs for this season . Chicago’s next scheduled game will be a match-up with the surprise of the team of the early part of the basketball season, the conference leading Toronto Raptors.

There will come a time when a price has to be paid for the alleged belief the NBA and its idiocy of a soft salary cap has been of benefit to the game. Not unlike the idiocy within baseball (MLB) , where Bud Selig and his successor Rob Manfred are still mired with their own hierarchical ineptitude . It begs the question, which idiotic fans of professional basketball actually has a clue as to what happened with regard to the economic vagaries of the NBA . Last season the Philadelphia Sixers’ willingly ” tanked “ the final quarter of their schedule , all with the hope gaining a lottery pick from the NBA Draft . Sixers’ owner Joshua Harris has given cart-blanche to ruin the franchise while fans think nothing of the destruction now taking place . Win-less and off to an 0-7 start , there seems to be clear evidence that this team cannot win a game no , matter who the opponent just happens to be .

Sixers’ head coach Brett Brown and his coaching staff have been far from inspiration for this team . Nerlens Noel , Luc MBah a Moute , Jason Richardson , Tony Wroten and Michael Carter-Williams are simply not enough to lure anyone to see the Sixers