Round up, round up, and then sound off !
Well, with the NBA season, having reached its midway point the divisional and conference pictures provide a stark contrast for the fans and TV pundits alike . The Charlotte Bobcats and Washington Wizards appear to be the two worst teams in the NBA at present, based simply upon their records , beyond the fact of their poor play and the fact that, they are each poorly coached . Add in bye-line of the ongoing woes of the Los Angeles Lakers and the league has itself a storyline that even the most appreciative of Hollywood moguls would be proud of .
With the pending approval of the Board of Governors , the fans will see the relocation of the Sacramento Kings from the California state capitol , to Seattle , Washington , after the Maloof family agreed in principle, to the sale of the franchise to a consortium of Seattle based investors , led by billionaire venture capitalist , Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chairman , Steve Ballmer . The rumored sale price of the Kings’ franchise is believed to be $535 million. A tidy sum to be gained by Joe and Gavin Maloof , as the principal owners of the impoverished franchise. This whole episode paints a sorry picture of the NBA , and an even more embarrassing picture of the political scene within the state Capitol, especially when one considers the actions of the city’s mayor , Kevin Johnson and his begging for the NBA franchise to remain within his city’s locale. One would have thought that Johnson and the city council would have far more acute issues to deal with , rather than plead and be at the mercy of billionaire professional sports’ franchise owners . who are simply gaining a financial windfall from the municipality without ever really offering anything tangible by way of reciprocity , in return .
So we will have ourselves a “Harbaugh Bowl” , when the final game of the NFL 2012-13 season , gets underway. The AFC representative will be the Baltimore Ravens , coached by John Harbaugh , whose team will play the San Francisco 49ers , coached by Jim Harbaugh , in the NFL’s showcase event , the Superbowl (SB47) , which will be played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome , on Sunday , 3rd February 2013.
The emotional bye-lines here , with regard to the Ravens , beyond the familial rivalry between the Harbaugh brothers , will be the end of a historic career , as win or lose , defensive lineman Ray Lewis will retire from the game as perhaps one of the best defensive players in the NFL history ? Lewis’ dynamics at the position has redefined the game , in many ways just as much as another heralded defensive player stamped his mark on the NFL , as Hall of Fame inductee Lawrence Taylor had done over the course of his famed career .
Now while the main storyline will be that of the John and Jim Harbaugh , with the Lewis subplot , thrown in for good measure . How cans anyone, simply ignore the astonishing success of Colin Kaepernick this season? The attributes shown by the player during the regular season was carried over into the postseason and it was essentially one of the primary reasons why the 49ers’ franchise now finds itself making a sixth Superbowl appearance , with the ball-club having won five , with their last appearance coming in 1994 , when they triumphed (49-26) over the San Diego Chargers in Superbowl XXIX . Superbowl MVP Steve Young would go on to have an historic game passing for a record six touchdowns in the 49ers’ rout of the San Diego Chargers . No one is expecting Kaepernick to emulate those feats , but I would dare say that this game could very well provide us with an aerial display from both quarterbacks , Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco.
As an Atlanta Braves’ fan Spring Training is just around the corner , but the common feeling is that if this team is to truly compete this upcoming season against their divisional rivals within the NL East . Then it is my belief that the front office will have to bolster their offense , beyond the acquisitions made during the off-season. GM Frank Wren pulled the trigger on the deal that brought B J Upton to the Braves , where it is hoped that the player can replace the productivity provided by Chipper Jones . In what was undoubtedly a Hall of Fame career , Jones left baseball , as one of the best hitters in the game from both sides of the plate. That asides , the real issue for the Braves this season , specifically for manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff will be to get his players in the right frame of mind , after the disappointment of the playoffs in 2012, when the team fell at the first hurdle in the wildcard round . . The team’s postseason in a lopsided 6-3 loss to the St Louis Cardinals .
The rumors now are circling , that the Braves’ front office are seeking to bring in the Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton , the younger sibling of B J Upton . Should that deal come to fruition , it would certainly bode well for the aspirations of the organization this upcoming season. Another productive bat on the Braves’ offense would certainly add to the team’s potency when measured against their NL rivals . The Atlanta Braves are a fundamentally sound team , and if they are truly to prevail throughout much of this upcoming season , then, the team’s pitching will have to be at its very best . In 2012 with a team ERA of 3.42 , the Braves placed fourth amongst the National League’s sixteen teams . I believe that placement can be improved upon this season with what should be the improved play of Kris Medlen , Tim Hudson , Mark Minor , Paul Maholm , Brandon Beachy , Craig Kimbrell , coming out of the bullpen when the situation arises .
I’ll say it repeatedly , but it is now time for Stuart Sternberg to cut his losses and simply look to relocate the Tampa Bay Rays’ baseball franchise outside the state of Florida . There is no real sustainable fan-base, in the greater Tampa Bay area , and the organization can barely survive on the revenues it generates without the assist of the MLB hierarchy , never mind the repeated goddamn asinine statements forthcoming from the fans media pundits within the local market . Sternberg , the managing general partner in the Rays’ ownership group , today addressed the St Petersburg City Council , reiterating his position that he has no desire to move the baseball franchise from the only real home it has , known , that being, the now archaic Tropicana Field , in downtown St Petersburg. Florida.
Courtesy of Baseballnewssource.com
The Tampa Bay Rays has made it clear that they don’t expect to be playing at Tropicana Field through 2027 , when their current lease expires with the city of St. Petersburg. Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg took a trip across the bay to Tampa to speak to the Hillsborough County Commission about the future of the team in the Tampa Bay area. The team is bound by an agreement that prohibits the Rays negotiating or even discussing other locations for new stadium.
Sternberg told officials that major league baseball is frustrated with the teams attendance despite producing a winning product on the field. ”Major League Baseball does not believe anymore in the Tampa Bay region,” Sternberg told the county commission during a session that ran beyond its scheduled 30 minutes.
To his credit, Sternberg said that he personally has not lost hope that the franchise could be successful in the Tampa Bay area. ”We do think about the future,” he said. “We have to take some time to plan a stadium. You don’t just snap your fingers.”
Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan simply stated, “it’s not a matter of whether the Rays will relocate but when and where it will happen.” St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster maintains that he plans to hold the Rays to the terms of their lease and the Rays should not discuss building a stadium outside of Pinellas County. Sternberg added, ”I’m not frustrated with Mayor Foster, I’m just frustrated,” Sternberg said afterward.
One of the things that Stuart Sternberg reflected upon and made it abundantly clear to the city’s council members , was the very fact that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has no implicit faith in either the Rays’ organization or the city of St Petersburg , which has simply fortifies the belief that the commissioner sees no real value in the Tampa Bay Rays as a viable baseball concern, in spite of the franchise’s recent successes during the regular and postseason . Sheer frustration or not ,it is becoming apparently clear with the lease on Tropicana Field not due to expire until 2027 , the baseball franchise has no other option but to meet its contractual obligations with regard to the lease and to continue playing at ballpark for the foreseeable future. Sternberg and his partners clearly do not have the financial resources to break that lease and pay the financial penalties that would be incurred. And that is in spite of the asinine rants from the local media pundits and the anally retentive fans who feel that the organization can simply walk away and break that lease . Clearly , you now see the real reasons why the fans within this locale lack the intelligence to truly appreciate the real issues at hand , that baseball organization faces , when they come out with such ridiculous statements, that the baseball club can simply choose not to honor its lease agreement .
What should be telling but it appears that the ongoing intransigence of the Rays’ fans simply knows no boundaries as to their ongoing stupidity , if they believe that baseball’s hierarchy has any wish to assist the Tampa Bay Rays in their endeavors , in the pursuit of new baseball venue. Neither the city of St Petersburg , the county governments of Hillsborough County , Pinellas County’s neighboring county, and within whose domain the Rays reside , can afford to make the financial undertaking needed , when their own financial state remains somewhat precarious. And it is highly unlikely that the state legislature or Governor Rick Scott would favor any sort of deal using state revenues , even by way of the state’s hotel taxes.
My contention is that if Stuart Sternberg really wants to make the Tampa Bay Rays not only competitive and a financially viable concern , it may well be now time for him to seek either out a silent partner with ” deep pockets” , or sell the franchise to an interested investor.
With the College Football season , finishing with an emphatic thud , after that embarrassment, which had the audacity to be called the BCS National title game . Somehow , you simply knew that as we entered 2013 , the off-season within the game’s landscape had one or two more idiotic episodes to be offered up for the fans’ consumption. Beyond the idiocy of Manti Te`o’s imaginary girlfriend and his continued falsehoods , which now seem to be proving to be as embarrassing for Notre Dame and AD Jack Swarbrick , as it repeatedly has been for the player , himself . Well , now comes word that the NCAA’s investigation of the Miami Hurricanes’ football program has come into question , as there now seems to be a great deal of cause for concern in how the Infractions’ Committee conducted their investigation into the allegations and claims by Canes’ booster , the now incarcerated , Nevin Shapiro. Shapiro’s claims of monetary payments made to current and former players on team’s football roster has taken on more than a life of its own , with the US Justice Department Criminal Division actually conducting their own in-depth investigation, of which details in part were passed on to the NCAA . Collegiate athletics’ governing body, led by its President, Mark Emmert, promised an in-depth investigation which would be fully transparent. Well, those words now feel empty, in light of the latest revelations that the investigation was botched by the investigators of the NCAA.
Courtesy of the Huffington Post
By Michael Marot,
INDIANAPOLIS — The latest black eye for college sports belongs to the NCAA.
In an embarrassing blow to its watchdog image, the NCAA said Wednesday its enforcement staff had botched the high-profile investigation of the University of Miami by improperly conducting at least two depositions while working with an attorney for disgraced booster Nevin Shapiro. Miami has been under investigation since the convicted Ponzi scheme mastermind said he had provided improper benefits to Hurricanes recruits.
President Mark Emmert said he was disappointed and angry with the misstep, acknowledging he had not seen anything like this since taking the NCAA job 2 1/2 years ago. He said some “people” involved in this case were no longer working for the NCAA, though he declined to say who they were or whether they had been fired.
He said none of the evidence collected improperly would be used against Miami and that the long-awaited notice of allegations would be delayed until after an external review is completed in approximately two weeks.
It was an ugly stumble for the NCAA, coming less than a week after its annual convention resulted in another round of reforms intended to firm up recruiting rules and other guidelines. And it comes as the organization faces more than a half-dozen lawsuits that could reshape how it does business, including one challenging the $60 million in penalties levied against Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
“Of course it hurts, any nick to a public perception that’s not favorable to begin with is a problem,” said Jo Potuto, former chairwoman of the NCAA infractions committee and a constitutional law professor at Nebraska. “The public perception has never been really favorable to the process or the infractions committee and so this is another hit.”
Emmert tried to reassure schools that the principle of playing by the rules extends into NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.
“We can’t just say it, we’ve got to do it,” Emmert said. “While I have great confidence in the vast majority of cases, when you have something as candidly dramatic as this, you can’t just offer words; you have to demonstrate that you’re getting this right. The reason I wanted to get this out is to make sure that this is right. We want to hold ourselves to the same standards we hold others to.”
What happens next is anybody’s guess.
The external review, which will be conducted by former Justice Department official Kenneth L. Wainstein, a Washington attorney perhaps best known in sports for representing Gilbert Arenas after he brought guns to the Wizards locker room and confronted a teammate.
Wainstein will focus on Miami’s case, but he will have the authority to investigate the NCAA’s actions in additional cases, too.
The potential list could include the suit brought by former Southern California assistant football coach Todd McNair, who claims the NCAA was “malicious” in its investigation into his role in the benefits scandal surrounding Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller has already said he was convinced the actions of NCAA investigators were “over the top.”
Wainstein also could look into the UCLA case involving freshman Shabazz Muhammad. In December, The Los Angeles Times reported that NCAA investigator Abigail Grantstein had been fired after her boyfriend was allegedly overheard discussing the case on an airplane. The NCAA has not confirmed the firing. The outside review could have potential ramifications, too, in a lawsuit brought by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett in the Penn State case.
This is not unfamiliar ground for the NCAA, and it could be that Emmert fears a lawsuit from Miami no matter how the investigation turns out. Former Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel won a $4.5 million settlement from the NCAA and university in 2005, saying he was wrongly fired for gambling in an NCAA basketball pool and failing to be forthright about it with NCAA investigators. Among other accusations, Neuheisel’s attorney said the NCAA failed to provide Neuheisel’s legal team with an updated version of its bylaws during discovery.
In this case, Emmert concluded something was wrong in the Miami case last fall when bills for an outside attorney showed up on an expense list, a hiring normally approved by the NCAA’s general counsel. Emmert said it was not, and that’s what initially caught the attention of those inside the Indy headquarters. He also said the person who had hired the lawyer was no longer working at the NCAA, making it more difficult to get information.
The fallout could lead to additional personnel moves, too, Emmert said.
Miami President Donna Shalala said she was “frustrated, disappointed and concerned” that the NCAA may have compromised the investigation. Potuto said she was surprised, describing the enforcement staff she dealt with as “open-minded” to investigations.
“I don’t know about a rogue one or two people, but it is not at all representative of my experience with the enforcement staff people who I dealt with over the years,” Potuto said. “Generally we found them (the enforcement staff) to be exceedingly fair to the point that we sometimes thought it impeded forceful investigations.”
Just last week, Emmert told The Associated Press he was pleased that the number of salacious and high-profile cases that dominated 2011 — a list that included the football programs at Miami, Ohio State and Penn State — had dissipated, though he was cautious about another big scandal popping. Within days, the hoax about Manti Te’o's girlfriend broke, and Emmert was briefing two NCAA committees on the Miami case.
“The NCAA Executive Committee expects the enforcement program to operate within approved procedures and with the highest integrity,” said Lou Anna K. Simon, the NCAA’s executive committee chair and Michigan State president. “Although we are deeply disappointed in this turn of events, we strongly support the actions President Emmert is taking to address the problem.”
What Emmert wants now is answers about how this “severe issue of improper conduct.”
“My concern is that the policies and procedures are consistent with our values,” Emmert said. “Whether it produces good information or no information, there’s no way to cut corners on this. It’s a very difficult task, but you don’t do things inappropriately.”
At some point someone has to ask what the hell is going on , and how incompetent is the NCAA , if as a governing body , it cannot conduct an investigation without showing this sort of incompetency , then how should the public view that collegiate body. I’ve long held the contention , that the organization presided over by Mark Emmert has become cumbersome archaic and all too self-absorbed , with their own importance, that they actually forget why they exist ! University President Donna Shalala, voiced her displeasure at this latest disclosure, that has cast a giant shadow over the university’s already tarnished reputation, which has embroiled the athletics’ program in its entirety , as well its AD Shawn Eichorst and head football coach Al Golden .
It seems completely asinine, with the mountains of evidence already at their disposal , much of it gathered by the Justice Department , it would then somehow, take the goddamn incompetency of the NCAA , to now make a complete ass of themselves , while throwing this whole investigation into a complete tailspin. This whole episode, has been playing itself out, over the past eighteen months, and the tardiness shown by the NCAA , now makes it unlikely that there will be a satisfactory outcome to this matter.
PGA Tour golfer, Phil Mickelson in a recent statement complained that he was entirely unhappy that he would be taxed at the rate of 62% on his 2012 earnings from golf and endorsement deals. The former #2 ranked golfer, on the Tour, earned $57 million last year , surpassing Tiger Woods , in total earnings on and endorsement deals on the PGA Tour . These taxes are not those specifically from federal income tax , that became in part retroactive , but the golfer’s concerns comes from California’s own state income tax , which is exorbitant , and amongst the highest in the nation.
Mickelson has since apologized for his statement , saying that it was somewhat insensitive , citing the plight of the unemployed and hard-working families, struggling to make ends meet . However, Mickelson’s, nonsensical response was asinine , when one considers that he failed to speak of California’s failed economic policies, that has left the state in a financial blight and with a burgeoning deficit and estimated $617 billion debt, and a $28 billion budget deficit. Governor, Gerry Brown , pointed to the fact that his office , and the state legislature are addressing this acute issue, but it is clear that Brown inherited a litany failed policies , and debt from his predecessor , Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’ve always felt it asinine , when I hear an athlete speak on an economic or social when issue , when it is abundantly clear that they have no fucking idea what they are actually talking about ! Unfortunately, you chalk this one up , to sheer stupidity on the part of the famed golfer.
Tennis tantrums now come, a dime, a dozen, and on the WTA circuit , it would appear to be no different . With the first Grand Slam tournament, underway , with the Australian Open now in full swing in Melbourne , Australia , . The preeminent female player on the women’s circuit over the past decade , Serena Williams , ranked #3 in the WTA rankings and seeking to make a gainful entrance to the semis of the Ladies Singles’ tournament , had an all too uncharacteristic mental breakdown in her match against fellow American , teenager , nineteen year old Sloane Stephens , in their quarter finals’ match. The normally physically imposing Williams, would prove to be, no match for her younger and more aggressive opponent . In a game, that was thrilling from start to finish , Sloane Stephens, simply let her battery of ground strokes and forehand volleys do “ her talking “ on the court , over three arduous and tantalizing sets of women’s tennis . Stephens won the match , coming back from one set down , to defeat Serena Williams, 3-6, 7-5, and 6-4 , in three sets , to earn a place in the semi-finals .
For Serena Williams , this was not so much the shock of defeat, but the way she handled herself during the match , showing a great deal of petulant anger during the match, albeit that she suffered a slight injury to her ankle during the game , but in no way should it excuse her childlike behavior as he violently smashed her racquet, repeatedly on the hard-court, while center stage in-front of an audience thousands watching and millions globally . “ Time they say waits for no one” , and at thirty-one years old , it looks as if, not only has time caught up to Serena Williams , but so too have some of her younger American protégé , in this case , a young teenager by the name of Sloane Stephens , who will move up several places in the rankings after this victory , before celebrating her twentieth birthday , in mid-March.
Picture gallery .
What thoughts if any , do you have concerning the salient points within this article ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe pertinent to subject matter .
Picture and slideshow details below.
(1) Washington Wizards’ A.J. Price (12) defends against Utah Jazz’s Jamaal Tinsley (6) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game , Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, in Salt Lake City. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer …
(2) FILE- In this Sept. 11, 2011 file photo, Jackie and Jack Harbaugh, parents of San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, stand before an NFL football game between the 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks in San Francisco. The entire Harbaugh family already got its Super Bowl victory last Sunday, when each coach did his part to ensure a family reunion in New Orleans next week. The Ravens face off against the 49ers in the first Super Bowl coached by siblings on opposite sidelines. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ….
(3)FILE – In this Nov. 24, 2011 file photo, Jack Harbaugh, far left, and his wife Jackie, second from left, chat with sons Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, second from right, and San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh before an NFL football game in Baltimore. The entire Harbaugh family already got its Super Bowl victory last Sunday, when each coach did his part to ensure a family reunion in New Orleans next week. The Ravens face off against the 49ers in the first Super Bowl coached by siblings on opposite sidelines. AP Photo/Gail Burton …
(4) FILE – In this Sept. 28, 2012, file photo, Arizona Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton waits on deck during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs in Phoenix. A person familiar with the situation says Arizona has traded Upton to the Atlanta Braves in a deal that sends All-Star third baseman Martin Prado to the Diamondbacks. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, because the trade has not officially been announced. AP Photo/Matt York …..
(6) Sloane Stephens, foreground, is seen here looking to retrieve a forehand volley, made by her opponent , Serena Williams, background , during their quarter-finals’ match at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia . Stephens won the match 2 sets to 1, 3-6, 7-5,6-4. Getty Images /AFP/Reuters/ Thomas Kenzie ….
(7) Phil Mickelson drives on the fourth hole of the North Course at Torrey Pines during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, in San Diego. The golfer created something of a stir when he suggested that he wasn’t entirely happy to be taxed at the rate of 62% on his 2012 earnings of $57 million , also stating that he would be prepared to relocate to a more tax friendly locale . He would later recant that statement , by claiming his insensitivity in the plight of the unemployed and hard-working families striving to make ends meet. AP Photo/Gregory Bull …
Were you ever kept in detention by a schoolteacher , who looked liked this , and was offering that type of extra curricular activity ?