My observations for what their worth …

My observations for what their worth … Flights of fancy being what they are this is the time of the year, which gives thoughts to what will happen next in the sporting world. I have still not engratiated myself with the goings on within NASCAR, as I believe it to be a second-tier sport, filled robotic characters and a lone female said to represent the best that the sport has to offer. Personally, I believe the best Danica Patrick has to offer, is less of her inside a car and more of her, without her fire retardant suit, naked lying on a Persian rug, suggesting something provocative she would like for her male partner to come up wit a sexual act showing a great deal of initiative in performing that said ” act “ . That’s my take and I will stick with it ! However, I can understand the selling point of NASCAR, but to my mind having the most prestigious race on your schedule , the Dayton 500 begin your year of racing makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, especially when the thrill and excitement of the race easily forgotten, to make up for a mundane series, building up to a pape- weight crescendo of the final event at Homestead , Florida, and that is without delving into the format that decides the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Champion .

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Baring all, for her art form or is she not as talented as many claim her to be ? NASCAR driver Danica Patrick.

This year within NASCAR their fans will get to witness the good , the bad and the downright ugly side of the sport and I believe it is the one thing that keeps them so engrossed in a sport now struggling to maintain its presence on the sporting landscape from a television viewership standpoint and struggle to go beyond its current demographics.

So Tiger Woods is back to struggling on the PGA Tour ? And I was under the impression with his recent signing of a multi-year , multi-million dollar endorsement deal , things were back on track as this era’s once most dominant golfer had righted the ship and he was ready to make a spirited attempt to increase his tally (fourteen) of Grand Slam Majors’ wins , as he seeks to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ tally of eighteen career Grand Slam victories. The less consistency shown by Woods , the less likely it will be for him to pass his idol and add to his own legacy . That asides, it certainly doesn’t help that Woods has shown himself to be now , a mere mortal , rather than the most intimidating golfer on the PGA Tour . His ranking has taken a tumble while Irishman, Rory McIlroy has become the ” new wunderkind” on the PGA Tour as well as the number one ranked golfer in the world , a ranking that I believe will not be regaining anytime soon ! Such has been the dominance of McIlroy not just on the Tour, but also worldwide, where he is now challenging Woods in terms popularity, visibility and earnings on and away from the course , albeit , McIlroy still has a long way to go, before he can match Woods’ sexual avarice and wealth.. Do the two go hand in hand , might I ask ?

If there is nothing else to be said for Tiger Woods, it has been that he has kept us all constantly entertained throughout his almost two decades as a professional within the PGA ranks. Hard to believe in that time the headlines concerning the players has reached the highest of highs and then sank to the lowest of lows . Other than the indignities suffered by Mike Tyson , Lance Armstrong , Alex Rodriguez and O J Simpson , I can think of no other athlete whose own self inflicted wounds and utter stupidity has led to such a rapid decline with not only their character coming into question but also their ability to perform at the highest level possible. Simpson’s incarceration lets him off the hook to perform having already retired at the time of his alleged criminal offense , but I cannot help but wonder , how proficient was he in the kitchen with a paring or carving knife and what role did Al Cowling play in that infamous homicide ? The question was never really broached or answered by anyone much less come under the investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department , Homicide Division . I guess crime dramas on television do get it right some times, but in reality, the justice system becomes blind where the alleged assailant just happens to be a high-profiled athlete or celebrity. Simply go ahead and pick your poison.

The ” No Fun League ” , not sorry about the intended pun ! With the NFL having ended its regular and postseason in something of a spectacular fashion , that this league and sport continues unabashed , with the year-round volley of stories , covering all of the teams and the ensuing drama as it unfolds , then fed to the fans and public alike.

How will the new Superbowl champions fare during the off-season as the coaching staff of Bill Belichick and GM Nick Caserio assess the current roster deciding which players are likely to be kept and the players thought to be superfluous to their needs will simply be jettisoned .

This much we do know , as long as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady continue as a coaching quarterback tandem, the England Patriots’ continued strive for ” Five “ will
continue
to be reality . You cannot deny those facts when placed in-front of you and that even after the stupidity of Spy-gate and now ” Deflate-Gate ” and the cries of foul. Does anyone truly believe the New England Patriots are the only NFL team to have practiced such antics in light of the claims being made ? Check all of the anger, acts of surprise at the door , show some damn intelligence and maturity of for once. There have been maneuvers in this league to get ahead and an edge, ever since this game came into being and only an idiot would try and contend otherwise .

This is certainly not the NFL so many of us grew up on anymore , as some have repeatedly stated , this league has become a business and it is in the business first and foremost to make money, , where winning affords those the privileges of wealth , notoriety , great deal of acclaim. Some of it will either be positive or a great deal of it negative. If you want the uncensored truth , then be prepared to handle it, welcoming or not , just don’t cry off , to bitch and whine continuously like a petulant child , perhaps out of jealousy, because things are not to your liking.

There are now so many plot-lines unfolding of which the biggest might be the decision likely to be made by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as they prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft as the franchise has the first pick in the first round of this draft. The consensus appears to be, the top two players in this NFL Draft are Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston , the last two recipients of the Heisman Trophy . Whether or not Buccaneers’ GM Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith concur on their choice in taking one of the two quarterbacks mentioned , will be now be a matter of great deal of conjecture and debate . Mariota might well have been the best quarterback in College Football this past season , but his showing in the national championship game belied those claims . Winston for his part, remains an individual lacking maturity , discipline and leadership , without delving into the issues of character , honesty and whether not the Seminoles’ quarterback (Winston) has the aptitude to play at the next level or lead a team with any degree of authority.

If there were any doubts in the minds of the fans of Peyton Manning this past season might well have been the last played by him in the NFL, then they were firmly put to rest with the four-time League MVP informing the front office of the Denver Broncos that he would be indeed back for his eighteenth season in the league. Longevity asides , Manning is a likely first ballot Hall of Fame player beyond all of his accomplishments on and off the field of play.

Manning’s return was of the utmost importance to the Broncos’ plans this off-season , as it would provide them with the guarantee they sought to proceed with any major plans to revamp their roster . Any thoughts that the quarterback might well have been willing to forgo his $2,500,000 million roster bonus , to walk off and simply retire , might well have been valid, but it appears pride amongst other things has been the driving force behind this decision. For two successive postseasons , Peyton Manning’s performances have been lackluster by even his own lofty standards. The loss to the Indianapolis Colts during this past postseason was not only stunning in its manner , but also by the margin of victory over the Broncos, as it further emphasized why the Colts’ fans are now extremely happy with Manning’s successor , Andrew Luck .

It will be strange entering into this off-season , watching how the Denver Broncos now proceed in going about things , as this franchise , within the space of two years, has literally fallen from being a contender , to a team now in transition with a new head coach , Gary Kubiak and a veteran quarterback in the twilight of his career , looking for that one last glimmer hope to add to his already astonishing career and legacy. John Elway as Head of Football Operations for the franchise will undoubtedly be mulling over a number of moves likely to be made. What we do know for sure , as the lead executive in charge of the franchise’s personnel operations . his reprieve was the return of Peyton Manning, as anything short of that would have been viewed as disastrous .

In the past eighteen months, we have witnessed the travesty of a sport having grown in popularity , now floundering in its own ineptitude , brought on by an executive who has become egotistical , self-absorbed in the belief the sport he presides over remains his brainchild for him brandish to the rest of the sports’ world . UFC President Dana White , who governs the sport of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) like an Emperor wielding a scepter waiting for everyone to do his bidding. Dictatorial in nature, would not even come close to describing White in recent months , with his criticism of fighters , opposing promotional entities and even the sport of boxing , which has been bedeviled by its own incompetence and lack clear direction for the past decade. With recent return to the octagon by former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva , the stage had been set for the return of MMA’s most honored and recognized champion . His two losses to current champion Chris Wiedman have been the only recent blemishes on an astonishing career. Silva’s clash with Nick Diaz at UFC 183 was something of a one-sided and uninteresting contest, between the braggadocios talent of Diaz against the wily veteran skills the Brazilian , Anderson Silva.

The former champion came away with the victory , but in the aftermath of it all, the victor tested positive for an illicit banned substance prohibited by UFC. Silva declared his innocence , stating he did not take any substance banned his sport , but his explanation seems to be a little condescending and hard to believe. White for his part, has not leveled any type of criticism this time around, after haranguing Anderson Silva once before, knowing that another slight could possibly lead to one of the biggest draws in the sport walking away for good .

With the UFC Welterweight Division awry and no charismatic athlete within the division there is now a void that is sorely missed with the long-term sabbatical of Georges St Pierre . Having vacated the title he once held, St-Pierre and fans of the sport have seen that title exchange hands in two successive and uninteresting bouts between Johnny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler , the current champion within the division. Add in the fact , White misjudged the backlash with his non-too believable excuse after Jon Jones tested positive for cocaine use , prior to his most recent title defense , for which the UFC President has yet to explain how and why the Light Heavyweight title bout was allowed to proceed , in light of the UFC having been made aware of the positive test, prior to Jones’ defense of his tile against Daniel Cormier at UFC 182.

Money may well have been the determining factor behind White’s decision to go ahead with the bout, as it was the marquee contest on the PPV broadcast, which had been a sellout reaping several million dollars for UFC ,as a major financial windfall. By all estimates, the overseas’ rights to UFC 182 , netted the sport’s governing body an estimated $45 million, though those figures are on the conservative side. UFC as the governing body , rarely discloses final sales’ figures for many of their scheduled events, unless they feel it is necessary to do so . Consider the fact however, the UFC brand is now a billion dollar ($1,000,000,000) behemoth , where its gross revenues for 2013, exceeded $1.45 billion worldwide . That figure is likely to be surpassed in 2015, if their projections are met, given the pace of their schedules and proposed fights being lined up by the UFC’s promotional arm, , affiliates and through their well oiled sales and associated business concerns.

Dana White has a great deal to answer for at present and none of it, can be said to be viewed, in a positive light.

As a fan of the Atlanta Braves, to suggest I was extremely disappointed with their lackluster showing during last season would be an understatement ! Team manager Fredi Gonzalez and his managerial staff were as complacent as the players they managed over the course of 2014. The fact that this team barely challenged the Washington Nationals for divisional supremacy within the NL East , leads me to believe there was a great deal more than complacency being exhibited by the players. Fredi Gonzalez’s approach was never to demand more from his team , instead being reliant on the fact they would be able play themselves out of trouble which clearly was never the case , as seen by a number of their results.

Missing the MLB Postseason was nothing short of disastrous and the fact Fredi Gonzalez managed retain his position, might well have been the biggest surprise of all , with the Braves entering the the start of the season as a legitimate favorite to win the NL East. Braves’ GM John Hart and team President John Scheurholz have set about revamping the roster , leading to the departures of Jason Heyward and Justin Upton . If this was meant to be a money-saving exercise or simply the front office looking to save face, then the fans might now be asking, what is likely to happen next ? It remains to be seen which player currently on the playing staff, will be seen to take up the slack after two of the more prominent and productive players on the Braves’ roster from last season have been traded elsewhere.

Members of the Braves’ managerial staff and the front office might well believe that the reashaping of the team , was the .best way to move forward , but my question would be at what cost to the long and short-term future of this franchise ? The loss of both Jason Heyward and Justin Upton could prove to be devastating in the long run, if players such as Freddie Freeman , Evan Gattis , Chris Johnson , Andrelton Simmons and BJ Upton are not able to produce this upcoming season .

Chances are , management will place enough faith in these players , along with the likely promotion of a number of youngsters from within their farm system to get the job done alongside a number of the veterans now part of the roster. The team’s Spring Training schedule could go a long way in determining how good the Braves are likely to be , before they begin their regular season slog of one hundred and sixty-two games , with their opener against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark, Miami Florida , as part of a three-game road trip beginning on the 6th April , 2015. All thirty teams within MLB (Major League Baseball) will have begun their regular season sojourn as of that date.

When the NBA resumes its schedule the two dominant teams from within the Eastern and Western Conference will be the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks . Few could have foreseen that either the Hawks or Warriors would be playing such great basketball, while fearing no one at home or on the road . Such has been the dominance of these two teams , there now seems to a great deal of talk as to the legitimacy of a potential NBA Finals’ match-up between the two franchises . Personally, I do not place a great deal of credibility in such a premise , not when there is the entire second-half of the season still be played, where injuries could factor into a teams’ final standings and overall play heading into the NBA Playoffs.

With a slew of games taking place on the 20th February , with the previous night’s opening soiree’ as a precursor , teams will have to up their game and presence with play having resumed. For James Harden and the Houston Rockets their season has been extremely good , with Harden now seen as a legitimate candidate for League MVP after a stellar first half to the season, where he has been the leading scorer in the NBA.

The Houston Rockets will get the chance to further legitimize their League MVP candidate’s credentials when they take on the take on their instate and conference rivals the Dallas Mavericks on Friday evening at the American Airlines Center in Dallas , Texas,.

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Picture gallery.

Though 2015 is still in its infancy, what are you most looking forward to on the sporting calendar this year ? Also , which stories do you feel as a carry-over from last year, will still be ongoing throughout this sports’ season ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit on this and anything else you feel to be relevant to the subject matter.

:)

Tophatal ….

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(1) Jeff Gordon celebrates after posting the fastest time to win the pole position during qualifying for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015. Gordon a four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion will retire after the 2015 season , leaving one of the most impressive racing resumes` in the modern era of the sport. However, he will still be involved with NASCAR with the day-to-day operations of Hendrick Motorsports where he is a minority stakeholder in the racing outfit as well as the joint-owner o teammate’s Jimmie Johnson race vehicle. AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Stephen M. Dowell

(2) Carl Edwards , right, talks with Ricky Stenhouse Jr . before qualifying for the Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. AP Photo/Terry Renna

(3) Danica Patrick talks about how unpredictable the Daytona 500 will be and how she’s prepared for the 2015 season. Patrick has yet to win a race at the highest level of NASCAR’s elite racing series. AP Photo / Terry Renna

(4) Racing celebrity, Danica Patrick poses along a Florida beach for the Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit 2008 issue. Courtesy of SI .

(5) LA JOLLA, CA - FEBRUARY 05 : Tiger Woods walks off the course after withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open due to injury at Torrey Pines Golf Course on February 5, 2015 in La Jolla, California. Wood issued a public statement , stating he would be taking a long leave of absence from the PGA Tour to recuperate from his latest bout of ill-health and to work on his golf game. i Donald Miralle/Getty Images/AFP

(6) Denver Broncos’ owner , Pat Bowlen (left), is seen here alongside the team’s quarterback Peyton Manning and Head of Football Operations , himself a former player with the Broncos, John Elway . Manning made the decision to return for an eighteenth season in the NFL, the last three with the AFC West based franchise . A disappointing postseason in 2014 played a part in the decision, but the loss in Superbowl 48 to the Seattle Sehawks left an indelible mark on Manning’s playoff legacy, where his one Superbowl victory with the Indianapolis Colts has been his lone success in the postseason. Getty Images North America / Martin Walker

(7) UFC President Dana White is seen here at the podium while he addresses the media as UFC Heavyweight Champion , Cain Velazquez seated, listens as the executive speaks concerning the upcoming bout between Velazquez and Junior Dos-Santos at UFC . Courtesy of MMA Inc .

(8) Atlanta Braves’ GM John Hart , left , team President John Scheurholz , former team manager and Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Cox . In an off-season of upheaval , several players have left the franchise via trades initiated by Hart and Schuerholz . Jason Heyward and Justin Upton were two of the most high-profiled and visible players who were traded during the off-season to the St Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres, respectively. AP Photo / Mark Shaw

(9) Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, left, looks to make the defensive play against point guard Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks . These two teams currently have the best two records in the entire NBA with Eastern based Hawks firmly seated atop of the Eastern Conference with Warriors holding the same position in the Western Conference. A potential NBA Finals series’ match-up is now being discussed in some circles, because of the dominance shown this season by both teams. Curry and Teague are just two of the primary reasons by behind their respective teams’ success this season . Getty Images / Paul Morris

(10) James Harden and his Houston Rockets’ teammate Dwight Howard are seen here during an NBA game in the first half of the season. Rockets’ head coach Kevin McHale has his team playing an up-tempo style, giving the Rockets one of the best records in the NBA . AP Photo / Chris Moore

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MLB

MLB news

MLB schedule important dates

MLB transactions (February 2015)

M LB Postseason picture and postseason play (by round )

2014 MLB World Series

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NFL and news

2015 NFL Draft and combine news NFL transactions (February)

NFL free agents

NFL team caps (projected 2015)
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PGA Tour and news

PGA Tour schedule 2015

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NBA

NBA news

NBA standings (division)

NBA standings (conference)

NBA standings playoff picture and playoff picture (games remaining )

NBA stats offense

NBA stats (defense)

NBA seasonal leaders (PTS)

NBA Rookies’ stats

NBA league lineup 5 man starting rotation best records

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UFC

UFC news and archived stories

UFC Fighter news

UFC schedule

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From left to right , Jon Jones , Anderson Silva and Georges ‘Rush’ St-Pierre .

The Killer Elite ….

The Killer Elite

Well, baseball season (MLB) is almost upon us , with certain position players due to report to their respective teams within the next few days. For a number of franchises , this off-season has proven to be dramatic, suspenseful and dare one say, even exhilarating ? The MLB Postseasonprovided us with several stories and theplot-lines came thick and fast , so much so,that not even the script writers of Hollywood could have provided us with more drama. Who could’ve foreseen the Kansas City Royals blowing the frames off the doors, as they brushed aside their postseason opponents with a great deal of ease , only to succumb to the wily experience of Bruce Bochy, his managerial staff and the players of the San Francisco Giants , in dramatic fashion of an intense seven-game thriller of a World Series. A perfect ending to the 2014 MLB regular and postseason. Some might say, the Cinderella Story of the Royals would have been the perfect ending, but it was not to be, simply because the lack of postseason experience on the Royals’ roster of last season.

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With baseball’s Winter Meetings taking place in the aftermath of the Fall Classic, deals were being made with an alarming speed and regularity. Topping them all , was Giancarlo Stanton’s record- breaking deal with the Miami Marlins. Leaving many flabbergasted and surprised by the contract’s value and length , never-mind where the financial resources might be coming from, considering the Marlins’ menial attendance record for the Marlins’ Ballpark, in Miami , Florida and the fact, since its inception, it has been rarely filled to capacity. That asides, should Mike Redmond and his coaching staff not have this team not in a position to win the NL East or actually gain a postseason berth. The common thread of thought, appears to be the front office led by Michael Hill will be quick to pull the trigger on dealing Stanton elsewhere, rather than having to bear the brunt of a $25 million payout, in the first year of the deal.

From my own standpoint, I believe the Miami Marlins will be hard-pressed to make a serious enough challenge against what appears to be not only something of a revamped Washington Nationals’ lineup , but also on paper, what might be the ” deepest” roster in the entire National League (NL). It will be interesting to see how these two NL East teams are likely to fare over the course of their regular season series in 2015. If the Marlins are to have any semblance of success this season, then Giancarlo Stanton and his teammates will have to be playing their very best baseball right out of the starting gates on Opening Day of the regular season schedule. A one hundred and sixty-two game arduous slog, will prove to be a matter of attrition, stealth and a great deal tenacity on the part of the players and managerial staff, as things begin to play out.

Rob Manfred has succeeded Bud Selig as the MLB Commissioner and as the highest-ranking executive within the game. Whether or not Manfred can succeed where his predecessor repeatedly failed, will be dependent upon how he deals with the issues that have bedeviled baseball and the league hierarchy’s often contentious relationship with the MLBPA (Players’ Union) . The union’s recently elected Executive Director , Tony Clark is a former player whose career in the Majors could be deemed passable. Clark’s predecessor, Michael Weiner’s death cut short his tenure in an executive role, leaves the newly elected union leader as the players’ voice in the collective bargaining agreement for all issues involving the game, beyond the union’s own failure to deliver their concise formal statement on the matter of steroid abuse and the still prevalent deliberate misuse of performance enhancing drugs at the Major League Level and especially within the Minor League , where it now seems to rampant, but widely reported by the mainstream media, whose priority just seem to be the events as they unfold at the Major League Level. Yet, they would have the fans believe, their reporting of their so-called facts, has never been clouded or simply a white-wash, when it comes to the truth or their un-avowed bias of their reported stories .

Coming off his first win of the AL MVP, of which in the future I am sure there will be others, Mike Trout will be looking to cement his position as not only the best young player in baseball, but also the best player to have been drafted in the game since 2009 , the year he was taken by the Los Angeles Angels. Trout in his brief career in the Majors to date, has now become the best player on the Angels’ starting lineup, which has been devoid of leadership. Some might believe it to be an astonishing statement, when you consider the fact, there are experienced veterans on this team, where Albert Pujols , Josh Hamilton and C J Wilson are the most recognizable names. The fact remains however, Mike Scioscia and his managerial staff have not put the Angels in a serious position win the World Series in spite of their most recent appearance in the 2014 postseason . The Angels’ missteps there were well-chronicled and something of a major disappointment to their fans after the team’s triumph in succeeding the Oakland Athletics as the AL West divisional champions.

This season might prove to be a horse for a different course as I expect the A’s to rebound back after a disappointing sojourn in 2014 ! If there is one thing I do know, it is not to underestimate a general manager such as Billy Beane , whose portrayal by Brad Pitt in the hit movie ” Moneyball” has just about everyone convinced they could become a great front office executive in Major League Baseball. Separating fact from fiction, we all know what Beane has been able construct and quite remarkably succeed in repeating, and that is to make the A’s competitive team in spite of a cash-starved ownership group and the very fact , Bud Selig has somehow refused to come to the organization’s aid in assisting them to obtain a new baseball stadium. Though somehow , the former commissioner was front and center when Citi-Field, Yankees’ Stadium and Marlins’ Ballpark took shape at the expense of the taxpayers within the cities of New York and Miami , where the final cost exceeded for all three venues exceeded $2.3 billion ($2,300,000,000). Never let it be said, Selig doesn’t know how to maneuver his way around the corridors of power, while making so many political dignitaries at the municipal , state and federal level look like complete morons. Personally, I don’t believe it to be that difficult a task whether or not it’s a Democrat or Republican, whose largesse is being sought. Simply look at the idiocy of the political bickering now taking place at the national level and the continued partisan discord between both parties and then ask yourself, why you would be willing to trust a congressional member from either party , let alone someone at the municipal or state level ? Add in the fact, Bud Selig’s, greatest accomplishments as commissioner could be written on the back of a first class stamp and be posted to the North Pole , addressed to Santa Claus, for all of the use that would do. Yet I digress, as Claus based on a fable, has been far more successful in bringing joy to many , than anything accomplished by Selig during his tenure as the lead executive in Major League Baseball.

Mike Trout has more than repaid the Angels’ faith in him, which has resulted in a contract commensurate to his talents. Trout’s maturity is there to be seen and he has most definitely become the face, voice and undoubted leader of this team. As to whether or not his teammates are now willing to follow his lead can be best judged by your perception of their overall performances during the 2014 postseason, where Trout I believe, led by example, but there was no one else around willing to assist their teammate.

Angels’ GM Jerry Dipoto has to be wondering , if not second-guessing himself as to whether or not it was prudent investing over $300 million of team owner Arte Moreno’s money into acquiring Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Moreno is known to be a shrewd businessman with a keen eye for detail and seeking out deals, which will more than maximize a return on that particular investment. Having made his name showing a keen eye for an investments specifically in the world of sports and broadcasting. One thing becoming abundantly clear at this juncture and it is, with each passing season where Mike Scioscia comes up short, he one step closer to becoming the next managerial casualty in the world of baseball. If Scioscia fails this season, then he is likely to become one the first casualty of an ongoing policy which has become the norm not just in baseball but in professional and collegiate sports. The dismissal of a coach or manager, as the case maybe.

The Angels will begin their regular season schedule with a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners , with the first of those games on 5th April, 2015 at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington,. However, before Los Angeles embarks upon their regular season schedule, they have their Spring Training Schedule and the chance for Mike Scioscia and his staff to assess their non roster invitees as well as their newly acquired players from this off-season. Chances are, several players will play their part in contributing to Angels’ endeavors over the course of their schedule.

For the third straight season the Los Angeles Dodgers will enter the year with the highest payroll in baseball. Several of the players on the roster are among the highest paid players in the game by way of their salaries and contractual compensation. With the franchise having failed miserably in the postseasons of 2013 and 2014 , each time falling to their nemesis the St Louis Cardinals, most notably in the NLDS last season.

Magic Johnson has been the front officeimage of the Dodgers’ organization, but now with Andrew Friedman having been brought in to oversee the franchise’s Baseball Operations, it does appear Johnson will have to take a back seat to to the new front office executive as he looks to create a resurgent and competitive on field product this upcoming season. That tall order has led to the departures of Matt Kemp , Josh Beckett and several other players during the off-season as Friedman looks to provide Don Mattingly and his staff with the tools needed for the Dodgers to win their first World Series title since 1988 .

While I believe the Dodgers to be a good team, they are far from being a great team and that is what is needed in the postseason if the franchise is to make it their ambition to win a world title. NL MVP and Cy Young winner in 2014 Clayton Kershaw , teammates Zack Greinke , Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig will have to show a great deal more than what was witnessed during 2014, especially during the postseason.

Don Mattingly and his team will begin their regular season with a home game at Dodgers Ballpark in Los Angeles California against the San Diego Padres on the 6th April, 2015. For Matt Kemp, it provides the player with the chance to renew old acquaintances with former teammates, as he gets the chance to play at the stadium where some of the most famous exploits of his career took place. Padres’ GM A J Preller and team manager Bud Black will be looking to make this team worthy challengers to the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants this season within the NL West , which I believe will be one of the toughest divisions in all of baseball this upcoming season.

Where would we be without some drama being provided by baseball’s most illustrious ball-club? This season will be the first time in over two decades , where the now retired Derek Jeter will not be part of the New York Yankees’ opening day lineup. Major changes have taken place within the organization , among the playing staff, with several players departing , while the Yankees seek to reshape the roster, which at its core, is still one, with several players at the twilight of their careers . It cannot have escaped anyone’s notice, in the midst of this all, Alex Rodriguez was welcomed back into the fold, but I feel that the player, while being closely scrutinized, he likely to make another misstep and as before, then look to apportion blame elsewhere for his own misdeeds, as so often been the case over the past eight and a half years. If nothing else, Rodriguez has been more consistent off the field with his repeated lies than he has been on the field for the Yankees during the time-span in question.

The New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman has continually been afforded the means necessary to craft a team, he believes capable of winning a World Series, but last season’s disastrous showing had more to do with disjointed performances and an aging roster riddled with injuries throughout the year. Out the window it appears, has been the notion of paring down payroll to a manageable size , because clearly Cashman , Joe Girardi , the managerial staff and ownership place no faith in the organization’s farm system. Granted, a number of players made appearances at various points during last season, having been promoted up from AAA, but I believe, it had more to do with Cashman being at a loss, not willing to splurge and taking something of conservative approach. Now it all comes down to, which player on the roster can Joe Girardi look to , in providing the leadership necessary for the Yankees to be successful this upcoming season ?

The New York Yankees have a great deal of money tied up in players , such as Alex Rodriguez, C C Sabathia , Masahiro Tanaka , Mark Teixeira , Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran . Salary commitments for the New York Yankees in 2015 will top $210 million , which pales into comparison to the monies being paid out this year ($267 million) by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Inasmuch, as many try to point out there is parity within the game of baseball, there is nothing at all to really bear this out, because in essence, what it all does come down to more than anything else_______ talent on the field of play and extremely good managerial skills. Overlooking that premise and simply using the analogy of parity suggests pragmatism and laziness on the part of those watching the game. However, it should be noted, of the participants in last season’s postseason, several were among the top paying teams in all of baseball.

I certainly do not believe Alex Rodriguez can or will provide the leadership sought by Joe Girardi ! Among the players on the team, where the trait needed for team success to become a reality, the most likely candidate would appear to be Jacoby Ellsbury, a player ,whose career with the Boston Red Sox was well-chronicled, albeit, his last season and a-half with the franchise was more injury riddled, with a noted decline in his productivity . Last season , there were glimpses of Ellsbury back to almost his very best and providing the leadership sought which will surely be missed with the retirement of Derek Jeter ! The Yankees will kick off their regular season schedule with a three-game home series’ opener against divisional rivals the Toronto Blue Jays , beginning on the 6th April, 2015. The AL East , where both teams reside, will likely prove to be another competitive season, with the Baltimore Orioles looking to fend off the challenge of their their divisional foes in defense of the divisional title , while also seeking to steer away the rest of the AL and their NL opponents in 2015.

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What are you hoping to see come out of the first two months of the MLB season ? Also, at the half-way point of the schedule which teams and players do you believe will have made something of a statement as to their intent ? Merely leave a comment as you see fit on the questions raised and anything else you believe relevant to the article.

o_O

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(1) San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner , left, and manager Bruce Bochy stand by the trophies after their 3-2 win against the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 of baseball’s World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. Bumgarner’s scintillating postseason displays were just one of the many reasons why the Giants prevailed in a drama driven and thrilled packed World Series . AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

(2) Oct 29 , 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; MLB commissioner Bud Selig (right) presents San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (left) , chief executive officer Larry Baer (middle) and general manager Brian Sabean with the Commissioners Trophy after game seven of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium . Charlie Neibergall/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

(3) Howie Kendrick (47) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is congratulated by teammate Albert Pujols (5) after driving in the game winning run in the tenth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 4-3 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 28, 2014 in Anaheim, California. Far right , is Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout. rtfied;a222) Getty Images North America / Lisa Blumenfeld

(4) Mike Trout (27) celebrates with Mike Scioscia (14) of the Los Angeles Angels after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. Getty Images / Jamie Squire

(5) Giancarlo Stanton is seen here hitting a home run off Jonathan Pettibone during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies . The Marlins’ slugger signed a $325 million contract with the franchise, making it the most expensive deal in baseball history and the most expensive in any of the four major professional team sports in North America . AP Photo / Alison Fisher

(6) A pensive looking Alex Rodriguez looks up from the dugout to the scoreboard during a game . The New New York Yankees’ third baseman has not played in regular season game for the ball-club since the latter half of the 2013 season . Having sat out all of last year due to a league mandated suspension, Rodriguez will be returning to a team , missing two of its most popular players after the retirement of Derek Jeter and the departure of Ichiro Suzuki who during the off season signed a one-year deal with the Miami Marlins . It remains to be seen whether or not Alex Rodriguez can contribute to a team lacking leadership and a great deal of productivity in terms of overall offense. AP Photo / Keith Slocum

(7) New York Yankees’ teammates Derek Jeter , left and Jacoby Ellsbury leave the field after a game between the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels . Jeter’s retirement after a two-decade long career with the organization , leaves a tremendous void and vacuum, with their now being viewed as what is likely no real on-field leadership. Ellsbury might be seen as the ideal replacement for such a role. but there doesn’t appear to any signs from management or the front office as to whether or not Jacoby Ellsbury will succeed Jeter as the captain of the New York Yankees . A role of stature which has only ever been held by five players during the franchise’s illustrious history during the past four decades. AP Photo / Keith Wallace
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Revenge is a dish, best served cold … Dominance on the other hand, can take shape in different forms and guises, dependent upon one’s view …

Revenge is a dish, best served cold … Dominance, on the other hand, can take shape in different forms and guises, dependent upon one’s view …

Well the NFL season is now over and the fallout from an unbelievable end to the Superbowl (SBLVIX) still has not subsided five days after the event. Seattle Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll has staunchly defended offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and has suggested the decision in many respects, was Bevell’s alone and that he agreed with the coordinator’s take and final call. My question remains, if Marshawn Lynch throughout much of the game gave the New England Patriots a great deal more than they could handle, why would the Seahawks seek to change course at such a pivotal moment in the game ? Lynch, during this contest, scored a touchdown on a short yardage gain after a reception, yet this actually escaped both Carroll’s and Bevell’s notice ? Call me naive, but the head coach’s post-game explanation given during his interview, smacks of sheer stupidity and utter nonsense !

New England ascends back to the top of the NFL world, and simply cementing their dominance of this league, as a ” true dynasty, one of the most discussed, if not one of the most alienating also, in the world of professional team sports across the North American landscape over the past twenty-five years.

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Five months into the NBA season and the talk in recent weeks has been the unbelievable play of the Atlanta Hawks and their ongoing dominance within the NBA. In the month of January, Mike Budenholzer’s vastly improved team went a staggering 17-0 , unbeaten for the entire calendar month of their scheduled games. Consider the fact, the Chicago Bulls’ team of their championship winning season of 1995-96, where they went 72-10, setting an NBA franchise record for wins in a season. The team coached by Phil Jackson was never able to achieve that feat with a roster which boasted Michael Jordan , Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman among the starting lineup , which was also well-served by several role players who contributed greatly to the Bulls’ success of that season.

There is a great deal to be said, for the days of dominance once had by the Chicago Bulls, as for years the franchise was waylaid by the fact the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics held center-stage within the Eastern Conference, while the Los Angeles Lakers were simply extending the glare of the Showtime Lakers’ extravaganza. During that time, the Chicago Bulls grew to overcome their fears and went about beginning their historic run, which rang in a new era and perhaps the most popular reign in NBA history, most certainly from a fan and global standpoint. Michael Jordan reigned supreme, as the most dominant player in the NBA and one of most recognized athletes on the face of the planet . With it, came the wealth and acclaim, few athletes today can match. LeBron James , currently, the best player in the NBA and rightfully so, the latest NBA star, seen as the heir-apparent to Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant’s era of supremacy is slowly winding down and with it, the Los Angeles Lakers’ most recent chapter of NBA dominance. .

As good as the Atlanta Hawks appear to be and what they have achieved has been fascinating . The true test for any NBA franchise can be judged by what they have been able to do during the NBA Playoffs. For Atlanta the type of success sought, has been fleeting for an organization still seeking acceptance as an elite franchise in the NBA. This might be the season, in which the Hawks can finally stake that claim , if they make the NBA Playoffs and then go on a prolonged run, all the way to the NBA Finals.

The Atlanta Hawks’ exceptional month of January has heightened expectations for the month of February, even with the upcoming All Star Game Weekend fast approaching. Between now and then, it will be interesting to see how this team fares as it is being led by Paul Millsap , Al Horford , Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll , Kyle Korver and John Jenkins . Needless to say this has been a collective effort from the Hawks’ players over the course of the season . They have been able to eke out their victories on the road as well as at home against divisional , conference and Western Conference opponents .

Having gone 9-1 in their last ten games the Atlanta Hawks are as sure a bet, as you can get, for them to make the NBA Playoffs, where if things were to remain as they are, their first round opponents would be the Miami Heat , last eat season’s losing NBA Finalists . It would be definitely be an enticing first-round contest to survey , with the Heat seen as an opponent , good enough to cause an upset.

I believe the Atlanta Hawks are good enough to make a solid run through to the end of the season , winning their division outright and making the NBA Playoffs. Where they then go from there, is anyone’s guess, because during the postseason, it then becomes about the teams and their players standing tall , excelling at critical points of a game. Recent signs show the Hawks are not yet at the standard required for them to be seen as a credible contender to win it all .

If ever there was a sign to indicate , Phil Jackson erred in the hiring of Derek Fisher to succeed Mike Woodson as the head coach of the New York Knicks. Then look no further than what has been achieved by Steve Ker, the successor to Mark Jackson as head coach of the Golden State Warriors . The Knicks continue on their season of sheer ineptitude while the Warriors have not only slain the dragon, but chopped off its head. Leading me to believe, Jackson’s ego has gotten the better of him at this stage of his career.

Golden State behind the solid play of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have led the team to the best record the Western Conference and along the way lead the Pacific Division by healthy 7 1/2 game margin over the Los Angeles Clippers. Coming off a fourteen-point victory over the Dallas Mavericks it is becoming hard to envisage any team within the Western Conference actually challenging the dominance of the Warriors over the remainder of this season.

To comprehend how the guile and tenacity shown by Golden State this season, has been such a success, you simply have to look at the margin of victory in their games where they overpower an opponent. Next up for the Warriors will be a cross-conference game against the Atlanta Hawks on the road, where the team has been very good. It’s pretty much safe to suggest, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will be looking have their division and conference sewn up by no later than mid-March . It gives Kerr the opportunity needed, to rest a number of his front-line starters, while assessing what his bench players are able to do before the end of the season on the 15th April, 2015

Defending NBA champions the San Antonio Spurs have slowly plodded along while the elder statesmen on the team have sought to gain some semblance of consistency to their season. Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker have been the mainstays of the franchise’s successes and one of the reasons why they have been a perennial playoff team and contender for the NBA title. Seventeen straight NBA Playoff appearances and yet when fans, tend to talk about dynasties and dominance, rarely has the name of the San Antonio Spurs been mentioned in the same sentence as the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls or the Motown Bad Boys of Detroit under the coaching acumen of Chuck Daly, as he engineered the success of the Detroit Pistons. I suppose not playing in what is deemed to be a major-market, has a tendency of taking the gloss off a team’s achievements. While many, were surprised the Spurs were able to get past the highly favored Miami Heat in last season’s NBA Finals. It should not have come as any great surprise,if the suggestion was made, LeBron James and his teammates were simply complacent and went into the postseason foray, with the expectation of simply waltzing through through a seven-game series, merely based on having defeated San Antonio in the previous season’s Finals Series.

San Antonio now has a competent lineup beyond their Big Three of Duncan , Ginobli and Parker now joined by last season’s Finals’ MVP of Kawhi Leonard , it must be said the team does have have a formidable lineup , which I believe to be among the best in the NBA for a starting five, without delving into the contributions from the bench. It would also be remiss to not take into account the coaching staff of Gregg Popovich, a staff which includes the NBA’s only lead female assistant, former WNBA player Becky Hammon. As to whether or not this league will ever have its very first female head coach remains to be seen , but I am sure, it is something Hammon will seek to achieve !

With only the Cleveland Cavaliers , Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks over their last ten games having a better record, it indicates at present, how competitive the NBA happens to be. San Antonio’s thirteen-point victory at home over the Miami Heat was indicative of what we know to be the frailties of a weak Eastern Conference as another franchise drops a game to a Western Conference foe. The Spurs’ next game takes them North of the border to face the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. For both teams this should prove to be a fascinating contest as they seek to maintain their momentum in the run-up to the All Star Break .

A ninety million dollar ($90 million) payroll doesn’t appear to have aided the Brooklyn Nets this season as the team struggles to make sense of their failures at this point of the NBA schedule. It would be fair to suggest the Nets have been a major disappointment for their fans and the NBA alike. Personally, I believe the team to be lacking in leadership with Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams being overpaid and offering the franchise absolutely nothing on all levels at this stage of their respective careers.

For Nets’ head coach Lionel Hollins and his coaching staff at a loss for an explanation,while GM Billy King and team owner, Mikhail Prokhorov wondering if changes will have to be made before or at the trade deadline, if the franchise is to make some sense of their season. In their last ten games the Brooklyn Nets are a paltry 5-5 , simply mirroring what they represent as a team, to the NBA fans at large, being average and representing mediocrity !

Saturday night, the Brooklyn Nets will take to the court to face conference rivals the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. This will be game, between two teams of similar ambitions, seeking to make their presence felt within the conference as well their respective divisions could very well make or break their seasons from hereon-in. The All Star festivities to be staged at the Barclays Center, home to the Brooklyn Nets will provide a timely respite for the teams as they take stock and then prepare for the second half of the season. This will be the point where executives and team owners look to make some major deals and naturally shed players for salary cap reasons.

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As the first half of this NBA season comes to a close, which team or teams have been the biggest surprise in your opinion ? During the second half of the schedule which franchise and players will play a decisive role of making a playoff push within each conference ? Also, of the teams in the league (NBA) over the past two decades, which do you believe is the most deserving to be thought of as a dynasty ? Simply leave a comment or comments as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site, as it has always been appreciated ! Thank you !

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(1) Marshawn Lynch (24) of the Seattle Seahawks completes a catch against Tyler Gaffney (31) of the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Rob Carr

(2) Marshawn Lynch(24) of the Seattle Seahawks runs with the ball against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Jamie Squire

(3) John Wall of the Washington Wizards handles the ball against the Brooklyn Nets during the game on February 7, 2015 at Verizon Center in Washington, DC. NBAE/Getty Images/ Ned Dishman

(4) David Lee of the Golden State Warriors goes to the basket against Travis Wear(6) of the New York Knicks on February 7, 2015 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Getty Images / Nathaniel S Butler

(5) Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans on February 7, 2015 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Getty Images / Mike Hamilton

(6) Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors on February 6, 2015 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images / Scott Cunningham

(7) Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs shoots against the Miami Heat on February 6, 2015 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. Getty Images North America / D. Clarke Evans

(8) Becky Hammon , left , is seen here with San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich . Hammon is the first full-time lead assistant head coach with any franchise in the NBA . The NBA might just be the most progressive of any of the four main professional team sports , with Michele Roberts also recently being named the Executive Director of the NBPA (Players’ Union) . Popovich believes Hammon due to her vast experience as a former WNBA player and now an assistant coach , could become the first female head coach in the NBA . AP Photo /Gary Ross
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Horton Hears A Who ….


Horton Hears A Who ….

In the aftermath of the mental breakdown ,which took place during the waning moments of the Superbowl (SBLXIV) leading to the New England Patriots’ dramatic win. The real cause-celebre’ has been Seattle Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll’s explanation as to the reason behind why and his last minute change of play .

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With running back Marshawn Lynch having caused the Patriots’ secondary all kinds of problems through large segments of the game, the defending champions needed only a red-zone rushing play to guarantee themselves a successful defense of the title won last season. Instead, as millions of us witnessed, inexplicably , Russell Wilson rifled a pass meant for Seahawks’ wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, only for rookie defensive player, Malcolm Butler to make the game-saving interception, leading to New Englands’ historic win and their their placein Superbowl history. As to what this now means for and to the psyche of the Seahawks’ players and the fact, Carroll’s explanation in his post-game interview seems somewhat unconvincing, leads me to believe a great deal of blame for the loss rests squarely upon his shoulders, as well as that of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell for the play-calling and specifically, this one play, likely to be repeatedly shown on television and become a bone of conjecture and debate among fans across the NFL.

Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) carries the ball for a touchdown in the second quarter past New England Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins (91) and Brandon Browner (39) in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Even to the uninitiated, this maneuver by the Seattle Seahawks made absolutely no sense, but somehow the head coach and offensive coordinator felt it the right thing to do at the time. The ramifications of this loss will be far reaching without delving into the fact as to where the blame ought to be apportioned for this mea-culpa and undeniable mess. There have been games in Superbowl history with a great deal of controversy, but never one where within the blink of an eye , victory was simply snatched away because of the sheer idiocy of a decision made by the coaching staff of a team. Seahawks’ players never one to shy away from their own self-belief and specifically, their defense known as the “Legion of Boom”, must now be wondering how and why things got so out of hand, when they played to the best of their ability in keeping the offense in the game, only for the coaching staff and offensive players to have irrationally choked away this contest through their sheer stupidity.

“Deflate-Gate “ and whatever idiocy, else comes out of that particular storyline , leaves the league hierarchy in an impossible situation. Allegations,being what they are, the real blame does lie with the game officials(referees) who oversaw the AFC championship game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots, staged at Gillette Stadium , Foxboro’, Massachusetts, on the 18th January, 2015.

Colts’ owner Jim Irsay and GM Ryan Grigson have said very little on the issue, leaving it instead for the ongoing league investigation to take its full course, with their findings and outcome yet to be made public. For the Indianapolis Colts the abrupt end to their postseason foray, was epitomized by the loss to the Patriots, but where the highs of the postseason, was represented by their complete annihilation of the Denver Broncos and what was said to be one of the best defenses entering into the postseason and for much of the regular season. That was clearly not evident in their divisional round contest played at Sports Authority Field-Mile High Stadium in Denver , Colorado on the 11th January , 2015.

Tom Brady now joins Hall of : Fame quarterbacks , Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw as the only players to have won four Superbowl titles, while being the quarterback for the very same team. Bradshaw achieved that feat with the Pittsburgh Steelers, while Montana’s success was borne out of his career with the San Francisco 49ers As to where Brady might now rank among the all-time greats to have played the position will be the subject of many debates and obvious conjecture. Now as a three-time winner of the Superbowl MVP . Tom Brady’s postseason legacy has been set, with an indelible mark left on NFL postseason history play among quarterbacks . Needless to say, the player will still have his critics, borne out of jealousy and the ongoing allegations of cheating which continues to surround the Patriots’ franchise. My question for the naysayers out there, if Brady were the quarterback on the team you allegedly support, would the feelings of hatred still remain the same ?

From my own standpoint, while the adjudicators felt Brady was worthy of the Superbowl MVP, my own choice would have been the team’s wide receiver Julian Edelman, whose performance was scintillating to say the very least. New England’s head coach Bill Belichick may well have won the plaudits’ praise ,but defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has now found his niche among the league’s top coordinators. The Patriots’ defense was very good and negated the best the Seahawks had to offer.

Away from the field of play, it will be interesting to see what steps are likely to be taken as the New England Patriots seek to defend their title next season. The first step likely to be taken by GM Nick Caserio and the impending free agents on the team’s roster and the cap obligations the franchise will face. Darrelle Revis , Devin McCourty , Shane Vereen , Stevan Ridley and Jonathan Casillas are among the list of players who are free agents, where the team’s cap figure will be in excess of $152 million and the projected cap for next season at an estimated $160 million , leaving the franchise with very little wiggle room should they seek to retain many of the aforementioned players.

Tom Brady’s ‘window of opportunity’ for possibly a fifth Superbowl victory at present doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility , not when you consider the tandem of he and his head coach Bill Belichick continuing their quest for NFL ” immortality” . Certainly , we know with the ongoing claims as to the veracity of several of their seasons continually coming into question , what cannot be denied, is the very fact the success achieved has been astounding , if not incredible , six Superbowl appaerances , four wins , six AFC conference championships as a coaching quarterback tandem , twelve AFC East divisional titles , of those twelve , six have been consecutive , since 2009, with the duo along the way, having won just about won every singular regular season award possible for their respective fields. What is likely to dictate this pursuit, will be the willingness of Brady’s teammates to follow his lead, while at the same seeing the challenges ahead, acquiescing to the need for not only to continuity, but also to make necessary financial sacrifices and resources available to GM Nick Caserio for that pursuit. It is not often something done in today’s NFL, when far too often, the real issue among far too many of the players is that real ‘need to get paid’ , and to be paid what they believe to be commensurate to their talent-level , skill-set.

Somehow , I am beginning to wonder if Jay Cutler , with the “yoke around” his neck of his seven-year, $127 million contract, wouldn’t trade that all in for another appearance in the Superbowl and an actual victory, rather than the continued notion of his being an overpaid and talentless buffoon, as he’s now deemed to be and ridiculed in NFL circles ! The same I might add, has to be true of Tony Romo and his continued mediocrity witnessed during the postseason, albeit, with his group of supporters, they , very much like the player , continue to apportion blame elsewhere for his failures, rather than acknowledging his lack of leadership and the very fact the Dallas Cowboys are not only overrated, but the mere fact, de-facto GM and team owner , Jerry Jones over the past eight years, has simply been allowed to run amok, unchallenged, with a number of his personnel decisions, far too often coming into question. Yet, those Cowboys’ fans remain ever-royal, showing an unwillingness to question the authority of the owner and those recent failures by Jones or Romo. I guess apathy remains strong, alongside stupidity, as has often been the case with ” America’s Team ” and their vapid fans .

It never ceases to amaze, the apathy shown among fans of the NFL who seek to overlook the bad behavior the players while like the league’s commissioner Roger Goodell , all they simply point to, are the ever-increasing revenues, the popularity of the game, while Goodell’s glaring incompetency is being embraced by these anal retentive fans and the franchise owners alike. Pornography remains popular, but not everyone subscribes to it as a wantoned piece of pleasure and the same should be said about the league in its present guise. The Players’ Union (NFLPA) remains a constant joke, with their proxy, the commissioner oversteps his boundaries , however the Executive Committee of the NFLPA and its Executive Director DeMaurice Smith have failed miserably, in addressing the repeated misconduct of their members throughout the years, while pointing to what they believe to the autocratic and dictatorial rule of Roger Goodell. I am suppose to believe the popularity of the NFL, far outweighs the glaring issues , that besets this league each season ? One postseason finale , does not make the NFL an ideal league or the game itself, at its zenith, but yet that remains the asinine proxy lame @ss fans are prepared to adhere to. Being anal retentive, seems to have found its niche among the majority of NFL fans !

With so many teams having failed their fans miserably during the NFL regular season this off-season, becomes more about rebuilding and throwing mis-assembled pieces placed together to make up many of last season’s rosters . Nowhere was that more glaring than with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose season was one big mess , with the team setting out on what appeared to be a predetermined desire to be viewed as not only incompetent, but also without a clue in any aspect of their game . Head coach Lovie Smith and his coaching staff were brought in to instill discipline, a defensive mindset , consistency to the team and to a franchise, long lacking in those very same traits. Instead, beyond the injuries , what their fans witnessed , were the repeated prat-falls and the continued idiotic post-game rhetoric so often associated with a head coach, when they are at a complete loss for words, when his players are continually incompetent.

Statistically, the Buccaneers’ league-worst 2-14 record was a true reflection of the team and all of the vagaries therein. Not once, was their any real semblance of urgency and the two regular season victories eked out, may well have been seen as a god-send, but in a number of ways, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should have considered themselves extremely lucky their season did not mirror that of the Detroit Lions’ win-less season of 2008.

For the privilege of having the NFL’s worst record of last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the occupants of the top spot in the 2015 NFL Draft and where the question will be , will they make Marcus Mariota their choice , or go with a position player ? The Buccaneers are in need of so many pieces, but the common thread of thought appears to be they would be stupid, to forgo a player of Mariota’s abilities , when they are definitely in need a dynamic passer on the field. Neither Mike Glennon or Josh McCown could supply the team with what was needed last season concerning a passing offense.

With Tampa’s needs, being so glaring at a number of positions, on the current roster and with the defense being so poor, it would not surprise me if Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht traded down in the order, giving up the top pick for an abundance of second, third and fourth round picks, for a player many believe to be the best quarterback in College Football this past season, although those signs were not seen in Oregon’s national championship loss to Ohio State , where Cardale Jones’ play for the Buckeyes in their fantastic victory over the highly favored Ducks, made it seem, he ought to be the player NFL head coaches should be salivating over.

In recent seasons, the Buccaneers’ draft picks have proven to be more misses than outright hits . While it is too early to truly assess the talents of their top rookie draft pick of 2014 , one might conclude Mike Evans barring injuries could be around for a long time serving the franchise’s best interests. He may well have been the sole reason to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014.

This off-season will prove to be a difficult one for the Buccaneers , with their being several decisions likely to be made concerning the future look of the team’s roster and what transactions the Buccaneers’ front office deems to be necessary to secure the long-term ” future success” of the NFC South based franchise. The NFL Draft alone may not predetermine the future of this organization, but it will indeed play a significant part in a strategy now being hatched up by Lovie Smith and Jason Licht as they look to secure some semblance of success.

Zygi Wilf and his fellow executives within the Minnesota Vikings’ hierarchy have managed to finagle a publicly financed stadium out of the Minnesota State Legislature with Governor Mark Dayton (R-Mn) having done about- turn, far more than John Kerry is said to have done during his presidential run for the White House. Dayton for his part, is now seeking to suggest his stance was brought about by Wilf’s commitment have this venue be of benefit to the state and its residents. Personally, I believe the governor has shown his naivete’ in believing the Vikings’ owner has any thoughts about the well-being of the fans, much less the state’s residents. The NFL’s franchise owners’ remains the image of the league, the overriding wish to reap billions in profits while, Roger Goodell continues to wax on lyrically about the league , not ever truly addressing the continued social issues currently engulfing the NFL .

Cynicism suggests the NFL hierarchy has never cared what the hell the fans think, while the apathy of the fans, is the response of, the NFL is is simply a business and not much else . The league’s moral compass was lost long ago and the idiotic rhetoric, forthcoming from the league, owners and union,simply shows it to be bereft of real leadership. If the fans who continue to point to the idiocy of the popularity will be the lone concept which will benefit the NFL’s long-term success will sooner, rather than later be rationale, which will begin to have major corporate sponsors shy away from the NFL. Consider, Roger Goodell’s response concerning the fallout of the Ray Rice affair and how it was viewed by women, who in shape or another make up a large portion of the NFL’s fan-base, without acknowledging the fact they are also mothers, daughters, without also acknowledging the fact, female victims of sexual abuse and assaults are victimized not just by their assailants, but also the entire legal process, from its start to not necessarily what is deemed to be a just ending to the legal process.

The NFL with Goodell’s asinine comments and response, shows him to be without a clue and most definitely no idea , what a woman has been subjected to , after a sexual assault, without his ever acknowledging how poorly he and the league have dealt with the actions of the players and their continued misconduct, especially where allegations of assaults have taken place. What more now needs to be said ? Oh, your response remains, the NFL is really popular and can withstand this type of negative publicity ? Only a complete idiot would continue to hide behind this premise.

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Picture gallery .

What were your impressions of the events, that unfolded during the Superbowl and do you believe the Seattle Seahawks will be able to overcome the psychological aspects of the loss suffered at the hands of the New England Patriots ? Also, if there is blame to be apportioned in the defeat, where it should it lie ? Is it with Pete Carroll and Darrel Bevell or the Seahawks players ? Finally, with the disastrous season of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, having just passed , do you believe the front office should draft Oregon quarterback, Marcus Mariota as their number one pick in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft , or should trade the pick and move lower down the order , seeking multiple picks in the latter rounds ?

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Picture and slideshow details below.
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(1) GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 01: Malcolm Butler (21) of the New England Patriots intercepts a pass by Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks intended for Ricardo Lockette (83) late in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. A pass play involving Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch was thought to be the strategy for the team in the red-zone , but head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Revis went with “the pass “ leading to the game-winning defensive interception and play by Butler. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

(2) Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) carries the ball for a touchdown in the second quarter past New England Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins (91) and Brandon Browner (39) in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

(3) Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks looks on after his pass is intercepted by Malcolm Butler (21) of the New England Patriots late in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Kevin C Cox

(4) Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks makes a pass in the second half against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images / Andrew Lyons

(5) Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) catches a touchdown pass in front of Seattle Seahawks corner-back Tharold Simon (27) during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

(6) New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady is seen here alongside head Bill Belichick after the team’s triumph in Superbowl 49 over the Seattle Seahawks, the franchise’s fourth triumph in their seventh Superbowl appearance . The tandem have won four Superbowls together, joining Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw for the most titles won together. Brady also joins Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with four Superbowl victories. Brady may well seek to win an unprecedented fifth victory if franchise can keep this current roster together with Belichick remaining as the head coach , Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniel as part of the Patriots’ coaching staff. GM Nick Caserio has been the architect of the franchise’s most recent appearances and successes in the postseason. Getty Images / Grant Wilson

(7) Patriots’ GM Nick Caserio , left, is seen here with head coach Bill Belichick at the team’s practice facility in Foxboro, Massachusetts ,. Caserio in conjunction with Belichick , have been the main architects of the franchise’s most recent success as well as the ongoing rebuilding of the roster over the past six seasons. AP Photo / Mark Howard

(8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Josh McCown (13) is seen here congratulating teammate Mike Evans (13) from the sidelines after Evans made decisive play during a preseason season game against the Miami Dolphins played at . Seen in the background is Buccaneers’ head coach Lovie Smith whose first season as the head coach has been an unmitigated disaster . AP Photo/ David Ross

(9) Marcus Mariota , left, of the Oregon Ducks is seen here congratulating Jameis Winston of Florida State after a game between the two teams . Mariota and Winston are the last two winners of the Heisman Trophy and considered to be the consensus top-two picks in the upcoming NFL Draft as well as being the two best quarterbacks in College Football . Buccaneers’ GM Jason Licht will be making a decision which is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the franchise as well as the whole draft process this off-season . AP Photo / Amy Douglas

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Seattle Seahawks’ offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell , left is seen here alongside head coach Pete Carroll on the sidelines talking to the team’s quarterback Russell Wilson .

Big game , no shame ….

Big game, no shame …..

As the big game is merely four days away and with the countdown clock clicking down hours, minutes and seconds to the NFL’s postseason showcase event of the Superbowl . The two teams in preparation have been the center of attention for an event through the usual media thrust, which has attracted the world’s press as well journalists not normally associated or known to cover the NFL and specifically the Superbowl. Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks will be viewed as the home team when they take to the field fend off the quest of the New England Patriots seeking to gain their fourth Superbowl victory in fourteen years and their sixth appearance in the event , all coached by Bill Belichick , who alongside quarterback Tom Brady will be seeking their fourth postseason victory and the raising of the Lombardi Trophy.

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The NFL will know that their showcase event will be the most watched televised program nationally, with an estimated viewership exceeding 105 million viewers and a global audience in excess 1.4 billion watching this sport’s spectacle. With advertizing revenues exceeding $4 billion and major corporations willing to pay $4 million for a thirty-second slot , this averages $130,000 per second and most televised ads for the Superbowl are no longer than two minutes, it easy to understand why the Superbowl has become so lucrative for the league , as well as an economic impact worth tens of millions of dollars, national and worldwide exposure for the city staging the event. The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale , Arizona will be the venue staging Sunday’s game , with Pete Carroll seeking to win the Seattle Seahawks’ second Superbowl and making a successful defense of the title they won with a great deal of ease last season in defeating the languid Denver Broncos with a lopsided 43-8 victory. last season

This season’s Superbowl provides us with two evenly matched teams, where both their defenses and offenses have proven to be extremely resilient. The opposing running backs LeGarrette Blount and Marshawn Lynch have had their fair share of success during this postseason, postseason with Blount being spectacular in New England’s 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts where the running back claimed three touchdowns in the game.

For team owners Paul Allen, billionaire entrepreneur owner of the Seahawks and Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots this gives both of these high-profiled individuals a chance to make themselves visible to not only fans of the NFL but also the global recognition perhaps they would not be usually accustomed to , but it should be noted, Allen was one of the main driving forces behind the inception of software giant Microsoft , whereas Kraft, is the owner of The Kraft Group of Companies , a privately owned and held conglomerate. Bragging rights are on the line for both of these NFL franchise and where for the second time in two seasons we have the two best teams contesting the right to be called a Superbowl champion. With the word ” dynasty” being so often being thrown about to describe teams who have aspire to attaining success winning multiple titles within a specific time-frame, it must be said the Patriots and Seahawks are genuinely seeking to have their names placed among the elite of the NFL’s most successful franchises during the Superbowl era .

With Russell Wilson, now seeking to achieve what no other NFL quarterback with less than sixteen postseason games to their resume’ has been able to do, in winning a second Superbowl. It could be said the 2012 third round drafted quarterback is now well on his way to NFL immortality. Tom Brady for his part, his regular season and postseason resume’ speaks volumes as to what he has been able to achieve. A fourth Superbowl victory would place the famed Patriots’ quarterback alongside Hall of Fame inductees Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana , with four Lombardi Trophy wins to their name . With both of these quarterbacks likely to be at their very best, I believe this game could be one of the very best in recent NFL Playoff and Superbowl history !

Richard Sherman and his opposing counterpart Darrelle Revis will also be center-stage, as the Seahawks’ corner-back looks to justify his claim of being the best in the NFL, whereas the Patriots’ Revis, after his great season will simply be looking to aid his teammates in their historic quest.

The 2015 NFL Combine will provide teams and their coaching staffs with the opportunity to assess the college players who have declared their eligibility and looking to be a high draft prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14) who have the top draft pick in this upcoming draft will be hard pressed to overlook the talents of Oregon (Ducks) quarterback Marcus Mariota the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner . The Buccaneers had a slew of woes, which cast a giant shadow of the course of the team’s regular season and obviously explained their dismal regular season record. Head coach Lovie Smith, his coaching staff and GM Jason Licht will be facing a tough decision, do they forgo Mariota, trade down and gain several additional picks or take a player who many believed to be the most dynamic in College Football during 2014 ? With neither Mike Glennon or Josh McCown being able to provide the Buccaneers will a passing game competitive enough to compete within the league and a defense which was simply mediocre at best , it has to be said the NFC South based franchise is caught between a rock and hard place .

Where the Buccaneers seek to go in terms of their draft choices will be based upon the needs Lovie Smith and Jason Licht best fits the needs of the franchise. Several free agent players on the team’s roster will likely be jettisoned , as both the head coach and general manager seek to avail themselves of even more cap space for the upcoming season. With their being several marquee free agents looking for a big payday , Tampa may well seek to obtain to make a big splash in the free agency market by way of an acquisition. From this point forward , it will be interesting to see what rumors are likely to emanate from within the organization as they they seek to position themselves for the NFL Draft.

Jerry Jones may well have been satisfied with the fact the Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East and made the postseason for the first time since 2009. Yet, for all of the bravura by the lugubrious owner, this team still failed miserably. I can only surmise apathy remains the norm for a franchise and a fan-base, who believe it preordained that beyond a rite of passage, they are meant to be in the postseason each season. Tony Romo’s playoff record is simply one of the many reasons why the Cowboys are unlikely to win a Superbowl in the near future beyond the fact Jason Garrett is simply a lousy big-game head coach, especially during the postseason , never mind the regular season, when all is said to be on the line. Other than the Philadelphia Eagles’ , a team whose head coach Chip Kelly remains clueless when it comes to the fact that defense is needed when it actually comes to winning games. The the Cowboys were never seriously challenged within the division throughout the season, with the Eagles simply throwing away the opportunity to win the NFC East outright.

This off-season the biggest obstacle face Jerry Jones as the general manager of Dallas Cowboys , will be decision of retaining either DeMarco Murray or Dez Bryant , two of the primary reasons why the franchise was so successful this season by way of their record . Bryant and Murray as highly prized free agents at the running back and wide receiver positions will certainly be looking to be offered contracts commensurate with their standing in the NFL .

Having to make the decision between the choice of Bryant and Murray , will not be tough, even with the salary cap likely to exceed $156 million for 2015, it does not leave the Cowboys with a great deal of wiggle room, unless Tony Romo is willing to redo his contract and lower the sum of $27.7 million he is due in 2015 . It remains the only way Jerry Jones can retain both players, unless he is willing to jettison several members of the current roster he believes to be superfluous to the Cowboys’ needs. I would hazard a guess, Jones will keep his cards close to his chest , rather than letting on what his final decision is likely to be !

The fallout this off-season, with the customary managerial firings witnessed, should not have really come as a big surprise. Marc Trestman , Rex Ryan and Mike Smith were either complacent or simply did not do enough to motivate their respective teams . Just looking at the poor performances of the Chicago Bears, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons provided us with enough of an indication how poor a season all three teams had during 2014.

The fallout this off-season, with the customary managerial firings witnessed, should not have really come as a big surprise. Marc Trestman , Rex Ryan and Mike Smith were either complacent or simply did not do enough to motivate their respective teams . Just looking at the poor performances of the Chicago Bears, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons provided us with enough of an indication how poor a season all three teams had during 2014. Jay Cutler , Geno Smith and Matt Ryan , it could be said they led the NFL by way of their inconsistency over the course of the season.

While it seems highly unlikely the Bears , Falcons and Jets will pursue a quarterback in the NFL Draft or via free agency , one way or another these teams will have to address the issue and the reasons why, all three players failed so miserably, beyond looking at their respective salaries and value of their contracts . Former Bears’ GM Phil Emery must have been in a drunken stupor or was he was actually cajoled into making Jay Cutler among the highest paid players in the NFL with his seven-year $126.7 million deal ?

The more things are said to change , the more they tend to remain the same. Not much has changed for the Oakland Raiders over the past three seasons in terms of their play or seeking to improve their divisional record . Another season and yet another coaching change, with Jack Del Rio succeeding the departures of Tony Sparano and Dennis Allen who were at some point during 2014 season the head coaches of the Raiders. If the situation , which unraveled leading to a 4-12 season was not enough of a disaster , then consider the fact some fans of the franchise tried to suggest Derek Carr was the future of the Raiders in terms of having a quarterback who could lead this team. The Raiders proved to be no more of a challenge for their opponents during their season than their record would suggest. Those four victories if nothing else, simply suggested how mediocre this season just happened to be , without delving into the fact that neither Tony Sparano or Dennis Allen brought anything new to the table by way of their coaching acumen.

Del Rio will assemble his own coaching staff , while having to deal with GM Reggie McKenzie and team owner Mark Davis have shown a propensity to make the most asinine of decisions concerning the player personnel for the franchise. There is likely to be another rash of “in-house cleaning” as McKenzie seeks to cut away the “dead weight” from the roster. There are more pieces to be found on the Raiders , than a patch-work quilt, but at least a quilt , is likely to have its uses . In the case of the Oakland Raiders, they were about as useful as a bucket filled with holes and used as a receptacle to hold water.

This NFL postseason has seen its fair share of controversy , highs and lows . Yet for all of the drama which has unfolded, we will still be drawn to the spectacle of the Superbowl. Whatever the outcome might be, the best the league can now hope for is a competitive game, rather than another blowout, as was the case in 2014.

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Picture gallery.

Of the two teams participating in this season’s NFL showcase event, which franchise do you believe will prevail on Sunday evening ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery.

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(1) Russell Wilson (3) greets Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots after a game which took place at Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington , on 14th October , 2012 . Wilson engineered a come from behind win defeating the Patriots 24-23 on the day. The two teams will meet again this Sunday in Superbowl 49 , where the Seahawks will be looking to make a successful defense of the title they won in Superbowl 48 , defeating the Denver Broncos with ease in a lopsided victory . Seattle Times / Dean Ruiz .

(2) Tom Brady , left and Russell Wilson . The two quarterbacks will both be seeking a another win of the Superbowl, while possibly looking to add their name to the Superbowl MVP . Something of which Brady has done before as a player for the New England Patriots . Wilson was among the Seahawks’ nominees when his team won Superbowl 48 . AP Photo / Paul Brooks

(3) The opposing head coaches of Sunday’s big game are Bill Belichick , left, of the New England Patriots and Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks . Carroll preceded Belichick as the head coach of the Patriots where he spent three years in his capacity at the position of head coach of the AFC East based franchise. USA Today Sports/ Joe Nicholson

(4) Robert Kraft , billionaire and team owner of the New England Patriots. Kraft will be looking for the franchise to win their fourth Superbowl this upcoming Sunday , becoming only the third ownership group with such a distinction . The Rooney family, owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Bartolo’s of the San Francisco 49ers are the others with the honor of achieving the feat in question. AP Photo / David Murray

(5) Paul Allen , owner of the Seattle Seahawks and one of the wealthiest individuals in America and among the richest people in the world . Allen is often seen at the home games of the Seahawks played at Century Link Field in Seattle , Washington , where he is known to be extremely passionate about the franchise he owns . Getty Images North America / Bill Patterson

(6) Darrelle Revis (24) and Richard Sherman (25) , considered to be among the two best corner-backs currently playing in the NFL today , with both players being outstanding defensive players for their respective teams . Sherman will be looking to add a second Superbowl ring to his list of accomplishments , while Revis seeks the first of his career. Courtesy of ESPN .

(7) Teammates , Dez Bryant (88) and DeMarco Murray (29) of the Dallas Cowboys , had outstanding seasons for the franchise breaking single season records , while leading the Cowboys to their first playoff appearance since 2009 . Bryant and Murrary are free agents during the off-season and it is not known if Jerry Jones will be able to retain both players , signing them both to long-term contracts. The only possible way for the situation to work in the Cowboys’ favor would be a restructuring of Tony Romo’s contract where the player is due to receive $27.7 million for 2015 or the franchise cutting several other players from the roster thought to be superfluous to the team’s needs. A decision is likely to be made in the run-up to the NFL Draft . AP Photo / Chris Jones

(8) Jan 16, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Jack Del Rio (center) with Oakland Raiders’ general manager Reggie McKenzie (left) and owner Mark Davis at press conference to announce his hiring as Raiders’ head coach at the Raiders practice facility. Del-Rio becomes the franchise’s ninth head coach in the last eleven seasons . USA TODAY Sports/ Kirby Lee

(9) Dec 13, 2014; New York, NY, USA; (left to right) Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper and Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon and Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota pose with the Heisman Trophy during the pre-announcement Heisman finalists press conference at the New York Marriott Marquis . All three collegiate players are likely to be first round draft picks in the 2015 NFL Draft . The question remains to be seen , who will become the number one overall pick in the first round. USA Today Sports / Brad Penner

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The Lombardi Trophy .

A legacy … aspiring to be a legend in baseball

A legacy …… aspiring to be a legend in baseball

With the rash of trade maneuvers which have taken place during the off-season within baseball. One has to wonder how and where the teams in question are able facilitate the deals in terms of their finances . Granted , year in and year out were are repeatedly being told by the league’s hierarchy the game has nothing to worry about with regard to their finances. Yet it is difficult to try and justify how the Los Angeles Dodgers in the last two seasons have spent close to half-a-billion dollars ($500,000,000) in payroll to come up short in the postseason twice in sucession. OK, you could point to the fact the team’s owners are well backed financially, with their being owned outright by Guggenheim Baseball Properties LLC , whose parent company just happens to be one of the nation’s largest venture capital firms with asssets exceeding $125 billion ($125,000,000,000). Guggenheim Partners Inc whose lead executives are Todd Boehly and Mark Walter , joined forces with Magic Johnson and Hollywood media mogul Peter Guber to purchase the Dodgers after the franchise was taken out of bankruptcy proceedings in US Federal Bankruptcy Court .

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Now while this whole chapter, may well have been beneficial for the game of baseball. The fact of the matter cannot be denied, the dealings which took place concerning this,was all clouded in a great deal of secrecy , with very little being made known to the public , in spite of the claims of former commissioner Bud Selig , everything was done above reproach. Having Bud Selig make those claims is tantamount to having a fox in a hen-house taking care of the occupants. Selig during his years has simply made sure this game has been presided over by buffoons , while he and the team owners take pride in the fact , apathy remains among the majority of the game’s fans , the print and television media as well as municipal and state agencies. The ongoing imbalances within the baseball beyond the very fact the game is still unable to rid themselves of steroid cheats , has been the fact Bud Selig and his successor Rob Manfred are either afraid to address the issue or choose not to initiate a hard salary cap which is equitable for all thirty teams within the game .

The Dodgers’ meltdown during this past postseason was enough to suggest Don Mattingly and his managerial staff were ill-prepared, complacent and felt it preordained they would waltz their way through the postseason. Perhaps buoyed by the fact they possessed the best pitcher in baseball during the regular season. Clayton Kershaw was meant to lead the Dodgers through their playoff foray. Unfortunately , for the team , their opponents had other plans and the explanations behind the team’s postseason demise bordered upon being comical to downright ridicule of a group of players, who were simply overconfident and had little respect for their opponents .

Don Mattingly and his team will enter into 2015 with a payroll exceeding $260 million and not exactly in a position to try and justify anyone’s belief they can be considered one of the best teams in the National League this upcoming season. With Andrew Friedman coming to head up the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Baseball Operations , it was believed sweeping changes would be made among the player personnel. Friedman saw a need for the change after the abject failure seen during the past two postseason forays for the Dodgers. It would be foolish to believe the front office would accept these failings and not let their angst be known. Magic Johnson may well be the public face of the Dodgers’ organization from an executive standpoint, but Johnson should not be thought of only in the complexity of being one the NBA’s all-time greats, because he has now become an extremely successful businessman and philanthropist , whose corporation runs a gamut of business entities with revenues exceeding $1.8 billion annually. Profits and success are at the forefront of the Dodgers’ desire within this ownership group by just about any means necessary , but after the vast financial commitment made in 2013 and 2014, it became obvious something was missing from the template engineered by the management staff for the players.

Gone from last season’s roster are Josh Beckett , Matt Kemp, Brian Wilson , Dee Gordon and Dan Haren. The most notable acquisition for the team was short-stop Jimmy Rollins, whose presence could add some stability and leadership , which were sorely lacking and missing from those traits last season. I firmly believe , if Don Mattingly is unable to turn things around for the Dodgers this upcoming season , then the likelihood of his remaining would prove to be a disastrous . This season is likely to prove to be very competitive against baseball’s current World Series’ champions the San Francisco Giants . If the Giants are not seen as prohibitive favorites for the NL Pennant in 2015 , then the dominance seen from this ball-club over the past six seasons can only be viewed as bewildering . Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy will be seeking to replicate the success witnessed last season as the franchise won its third World Series’ crown in the past six years.

There is no denying a ball-club such as the Los Angeles Dodgers with a legacy of such famed stars and Hall of Fame players as as Jim Bunning , Gary Carter , Don Drysdale , Sandy Koufax , Pee Wee Reese , Don Sutton and Jackie Robinson to name but a few . The vestiges of those halcyon days are long-gone with the franchise having not made the World Series in over twenty-five years , it begs the question , if the Dodgers are not able make another serious run in the postseason, will they ever succeed winning another title ? What I believe to be sorely lacking on this current Dodgers’ roster is someone willing to assume the role of a vocal leader both on and off the field of play. If the addition of Jimmy Rollins can provide the trait sought then so be it , but it is astonishing to think with such veterans already on this team as Carl Crawford , Adrian Gonzalez , Juan Uribe , Darwin Barney and AJ Ellis . How is it , that a team with such highly paid stars can continue to fail so miserably ? Is it a lack of managerial acumen from Don Mattingly or quite possibly the simple fact, this ball-club was never that good to begin with ?

An undeniable talent, but either the Miami Marlins are over-stretching in their belief that paying slugger Giancarlo Stanton a whopping $325 million will be a cure for what ails the organization can either be viewed as outrageous or an act pure genius on the part of GM Michael Hill and his fellow front office executives . Stanton’s thirteen-year deal averages out at $25 million annually , but it would still not make him the highest paid player in the game . Yet this is somehow the trait so many front office executives believe they need to exhibit. It’s either pay up, or you are likely to miss the boat . In baseball , few players have been able to live up to those live up to or meet the expectations or even surpass them. Simply ask Alex Rodriguez if he feels ,that his accomplishments within the game have not been tarnished by wantoned misuse of performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) ? I am sure New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman must now be ruing the day he re-signed Rodriguez to the second of his two multimillion dollar deals . Twice in a lifetime , two $250 million deals have been “inked” by Alex Rodriguez and not once was an eyelid raised over those contracts , even in the aftermath of the player’s admission of guilt for the use of a banned substance , which begs the question, why is baseball still filled with such apathy and hypocrisy , not just among the fans , but also within the game’s hierarchy ?

One of the decade’s best players found himself a new home during this off-season when Ichiro Suzuki joined the Miami Marlins signing a one-year deal with the hope his presence will prove to an adequate complement to the team’s roster . Ichiro is likely to maintain the productivity we have come to know over the years. The former AL Rookie of The Year and AL MVP is nearing a career milestone as he approaches the 3,000 career hits’ plateau . A first ballot future Hall of Fame inductee , it will be interesting to see how Ichiro will be feted upon surpassing the mark many hitters aspire to reach , but few are seen as legitimate legends of the game. Ichiro Suzkuki is definitely a legend within the Major Leagues and his career bears this out !

This upcoming season, I believe both the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees will live and die by the accomplishments of Giancarlo Stanton and Alex Rodriguez ! Stanton is lucky enough to still be in the infancy of his career, whereas , there is now nothing Rodriguez can now do to remove either the stain or stench associated with his past or his future . Two futile acts of contrition, cannot hide the fact he remains one of the most despised and hated athletes in all of major professional sports , bar none .

I believe it would be fair to suggest, both Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen offer the best hope for baseball, as the faces of the game and its likely saviors, if the sport is to truly prosper and for its long-term future ! Both have been recipients of the AL and NL MVP’s within their respective leagues. Though postseason heroics have been fleeting for Trout and McCutchen , there is no doubt in my mind at some point in their respective futures both are likely to be recipients of a World Series’ ring or a World Series’ MVP for their exploits. Granted , in the past three seasons neither the Los Angeles Angels or the Pittsburgh Pirates have met the expectations sought by their fans or prominent MLB analysts . Respective team owners Arte Moreno and Bob Nutting having willingly spent millions of dollars over the past few seasons painstakingly seeking a championship, but coming up short at various points of the postseason in recent years. This season, will hopefully promise a great deal and bring out the very best in the Angels and the Pirates. Certainly , that will be what respective managers Mike Scioscia and Clint Hurdle hope to obtain from the Los Angeles Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates as they enter the first month of the 2015 regular season schedule beginning on the 6th April .

A confident start could go a long way in determining how good or great their respective seasons are likely to be. If both Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen can reproduce the form shown during last season, then it could also aid their teams to the desired success of possibly winning a World Series’ crown. The Los Angeles Angels will begin their season with a game against the Seattle Mariners at Angels Ballpark in Anaheim , California , whereas , the Pirates will play the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati , Ohio , in the Reds’ home opener .

It is way too early to try and define the careers of Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout ,but if either can remotely live up to a number of their predecessors with either the Pirates or Angels , then there is absolutely no reason not to believe why they cannot go on to have long and distinguished careers within Major League Baseball . In my honest opinion these two great young players are exactly what the game needs , fresh faced and talented individual players who simply excel, while showing a great deal of leadership skills and maturity !

Safe to say , with the ” stain ” associated with the careers of Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez , perhaps the best player in baseball over the past decade might well have been Albert Pujols whose list of career achievements have been well- chronicled . Since being acquired by the Los Angeles Angels his statistics have ebbed and flowed, but at his very best, there was no denying he was one of the most dominating , intimidating and best hitters in the game , while also showing his power as a home-runs’ hitter .

Many of Pujols’ current peers over past eight years have had their fair share misfortune either through their misdeeds or a decline in productivity. Pujols for his part remains an extremely popular player, with a large fan-base , while becoming a highly paid and lucrative marketing tool for a major corporate sponsors. The Angels’ slugger is one of a rare breed within baseball, whose image allows him such privileges in and outside of the game of baseball. Yet, I do not believe this is what defines Albert Pujols as a player or as a human being, because it has been his humanitarianism and philanthropy that has continued to stand out, throughout much of his decade-plus career. As he earnestly strives to win a third World Series’ title and his first World Series’ MVP Award , the sole individual award he has yet to win over the course of his astonishing career.

The common thought remains, if the Angels are to succeed in their goal to win their first World Series since 2002 when Troy Glaus was the hero of the series in their triumph against the San Francisco Giants. Then Albert Pujols , Josh Hamilton , David Freese , Chris Iannetta , Erick Aybar , CJ Wilson , Jered Weaver and Huston Street will certainly have to play a great deal better , while following the lead of Mike Trout, now considered to be the real leader on this team.

This season might well prove to be the last for Mike Scioscia, if the Los Angeles Angels should fail to make the postseason. Inconsistencies over the years have led to gaps in the Angels’ postseason appearances in recent years. Prior to last season’s playoff foray the Angels’ last such appearance came as a participant in the 2009 ALCS where they would fall to the New York Yankees , who would go on to win the 2009 World Series . Heading into this season there are at least six AL teams teams likely to be considered contenders for this year’s ” Fall Classic ” . The Angels are one of those ball-clubs, I believe can make a credible challenge for the AL Pennant , along with the Oakland A’s , Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers , Seattle Mariners and last season’s ” Cinderella Story ” the Kansas City Royals if they can retain a number of last season’s stars and keep their momentum going in 2015.

The four inductees for the 2015 14 Hall of Fame Class were nominees deserving of the accolade. The careers of Craig Biggio , Randy Johnson , John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez not only warranted serious consideration but these four players at one time or another were dominant at certain points during their respective tenures in the game. While there were other eligible candidates for this year’s class , many of those eligible were closely associated with the “steroid era “ of baseball , something Major League Baseball will never entirely escape in spite of the statements attributed to Bud Selig and the very fact the continued misdeeds of the players at the Major League and Minor League Level still has not brought about an abatement of the players’ use of banned substances (PED’s, anabolic steroids , Stanazolol) and a lack of response and a clear line of unison between the league hierarchy and union (MLBPA) leads me to believe, both parties are only prepared to pay the issue mere ” lip service “ as they see fit , when there appears to be outrage on the part of the fans. Not there has been any type of outrage from within the media , covering the game, in particular by the always hypocritical BBWAA (Baseball Writers’ Association of America) .

The years in which Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were laying siege to and obliterating the single season home run record , even when there was possible evidence to suggest, not everything was completely above board , the baseball writers were simply lauding the players’ efforts, as if were actually witnessing history in the making. Now we know Bonds’ 2001 mark was not only dubious but even the seven-time NL MVP still refuses to properly address and explain whether or not at any point during his career he knowingly used a banned substance. To my mind Roger Maris’ mark of sixty-one home runs (61) remains the legitimate record in the baseball annals , along with Hank Aaron’s career home runs’ tally of seven hundred and fifty-five (755). Correct me if I’m wrong , even during the era of segregation and the civil rights’ era , was the sport of baseball ever in such disarray , as it was known to be in this and the past decade ? Answers please ? Or should we continue down the merry road of apathy as constituted and led by Bud Selig and now his successor , Rob Manfred ?

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Picture gallery .

Spring Training is just around the corner , merely less then six weeks away and the plot-lines within the game of baseball are now being written. Like last season we are likely to see a fair share of controversy being played out both on and off the field of play. So what should the fans expect during the first few months of this upcoming season ? Which players and teams do you believe will be taking away the individual and team honors at the end of this regular and postseason (MLB) schedule ?

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Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) Matt Kemp, center, , once considered a mainstay within the Los Angeles Dodgers’ franchise but during the off-season he was traded to fellow NL franchise the San Diego Padres . Kemp is seen here with Padres’ front office executives , left GM A J Preller and manager Bud Black. . AP Photo / Gregory Bull …

(2) Mark Walter lead managing partner in the ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Getty Images / Mark Powers

(3) Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins . During the off-season the player signed the largest contract in baseball history , a thirteen-year $325 million deal to remain with the franchise . He will be joined by former AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP Ichiro Suzuki , who signed a one-year deal with the NL East ball-club. AP Photo / Paul Ross

(4) Andrew McCutchen , left of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels . These two outfielders are considered to be the two best players in Major League Baseball . Few would consider to the contrary, given their list of accomplishments , since entering the Big Leagues . AP Photo / Mike Potter

(5) Ichiro Suzuki seen here in a New York Yankees’ uniform for whom he played last season , but will enter 2015 as a member of the Miami Marlins, with a view to aiding the team from an offensive and defensive standpoint. Getty Images / Mike Thomas

(6) ) Alex Rodriguez , picture inset , is seen here striking out during a game in 2013 for the New York Yankees . The third basemen sat out the 2014 season for the team , having to serve a league-mandated suspension for violation of the league’s steroid policy . Rodriguez hopes to make a successful return to the ball-club in 2015 with the organization in transition after retirement of Derek Jeter and departure of several players , notably Ichiro Suzuki who joins the Marlins in a one-year deal . Rodriguez’s return also will also place once again among the top-twenty earning players in terms of annual salary and a contract , bearing in mind, he is the only player in MLB history to have signed two deals paying in excess of $240 million for each contract . He is also the top-earning player in league history by way of life-time contract earnings. At this stage of his career , it is not hard to suggest how Alex Rodriguez’s career is likely to be remembered . A two-time league substance abuse offender , dubious career statistics , top career-earnings , the public’s disdain and dislike of him as a player. Getty Images / David Hughes

(7) From left to right , Barry Bonds , Sammy Sosa and Mark McWire . For the decade covering the nineties and the early part of this past decade , the trio were part one of the most inglorious eras in baseball’s history , as they laid siege to the single-season home run record . The figure of sixty-one home runs first held by Roger Maris who hit 61 home runs for the New York Yankees during the 1961 season , is still looked upon and revered as the legitimate record in baseball history . though it was surpassed by Bonds in 2001 with seventy-three home runs. The mark is currently recognized by statisticians for MLB , the Hall of Fame , BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) and Elias Stats Bureau . Barry Bonds also holds the record for career home runs , (762) surpassing the total (755) of Hank Aaron , a Hall of Fame inductee in a game for the San Francisco Giants played against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver , Colorado on 5th September , 2007. . The pitcher who gave up the home run was Ubaldo Jiminez . AP Photo / Emmanuel Ortega

(8) ) Roger Maris who alongside teammate and close friend Mickey Mantle set the season alight in 1961 , where along the way Maris would break the single season home run record with a total of sixty-one home runs . In that same season the New York Yankees would go on to win the World Series defeating the Cincinnati Reds and where Whitey Ford would be named World Series’ MVP . UPI Archives

(9) Baseball legend Hank Aaron and his wife, Billye Aaron , smile as they listen to Hall of Famer Willie Mays reminisce during the dedication of the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum April 14, 2010 at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Aaron’s childhood home, originally built by his father, was moved to the stadium’s “Gaslight Park” and restored in November 2008. The celebration, which included a ribbon-cutting and private reception, was attended by a star-studded roster of Hall of Famers and baseball dignitaries, including Mays, Reggie Jackson , Ozzie Smith , Bob Feller , Rickey Henderson , and Bruce Setter , along with President of Minor League Baseball Pat O’Conner, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Jeff Idelson , MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , and Hall of Fame senior director of exhibitions Erik Strohl . Hank Aaron, in many circles, is still recognized as the all-time career home-runs’ king , having surpassed the mark achieved by Babe Ruth of seven-hundred and fourteen . Aaron’s tally (755) has since been superseded by Barry Bonds . The Braves’ icon , now successful businessman with a themed style restaurant chain and several auto dealerships in the greater Atlanta area , is now , one member of a consortium close to buying NBA franchise the Atlanta Hawks , currently the best team in the league , record-wise . Apex Media-wire photo by Carmen K. Sisson

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Former MLB Commissioner Allan ‘Bud’ Selig seen on the dais at National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York .

Deficits, balanced budgets and the world of sports …….LOL,LOL !!

Deficits, balanced budgets and the world of sports …….LOL,LOL !!

Well, having seen his party (Democratic Party) decimated in the midterm elections , Barack Obama in his second term of what will likely be recorded in history as a lame-duck Presidency , will set about with his own strategy for the final two years of his tenure. His administration along with the Congress have failed the electorate miserably , with partisan politics and the constant bickering being the sole achievement of both legislative chambers of the Congress during that time. The President’s foreign policy remains a constant joke, with John Kerry providing about as much insight and confidence in the country’s stance, as a blind man walking a tightrope , one-hundred feet above the ground without any formal aid. Granted, there is said to be light at the end of the tunnel, with the economy said to taking positive traction , unemployment declining, but with so few high-end jobs being created, it is hard to suggest where there have been major positive signs the country is back on track and on an even keel.

The country’s debt-crisis remains unresolved, the raising of the debt-ceiling solves nothing of any note, in facilitating a balanced budget. Barack Obama will be giving his sixth State of the Union Address of his Presidency on Tuesday evening and I doubt he will provide us with anything new in terms of a domestic or foreign policy !

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Slideshow.

In the world of sports , this past weekend provided us with several surprising results within the NFL and the NBA . Superbowl 49 (SBXLIV) will provide us with the two teams seeking to become this season’s Superbowl champion. The Seattle Seahawks will be looking to make a successful defense of the championship they won with such ease in 2013. Their opponents will be the New England Patriots , in many circles the franchise has been viewed as the best team of this past decade, having made six appearances in the Superbowl since 2002. Seattle got by the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game with a come from behind victory that will become an instant classic.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers fell short of their aim, having with the game within their grasp, only to let things slip out of their hands, as Russell Wilson regained his composure leading his team to a well-deserved victory. Now as the world awaits the league’s postseason finale, fans continue debate where, when and why things went so horribly wrong for the visiting team in Seattle, Washington this past Sunday.

The AFC Championship Game pitted Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts against the New England Patriots . Clearly, seen as the underdogs, the Colts were riding on the arm of a young quarterback who has shown a great deal of growth and maturity over the course of this season. However, a great deal was being asked Andrew Luck in this game, as he was seeking his first professional victory against the Patriots. No easy task, when you consider in four previous tries the 2012 NFL top-draft pick, has never been able steer the team past their conference rivals. What unfolded in this contest was a prime example why the postseason can be such a misnomer . No could have guessed that Indianapolis would be on the wrong side of a lopsided 45-7 loss , the biggest postseason victory in Patriots’ history and most certainly the largest margin of defeat ever inflicted on the Colts during their postseason forays. The ensuing story coming out of this all, have been claims that the New England Patriots knowingly deflated the game balls to give themselves an advantage over the Colts. Spy-gate and now Deflate-Gate ? What will they think of next ? Furthermore, would it not be in the best interests of the NFL to have the game officials inspect the game balls being used for a game prior to kick-off ? Just my way of thinking, rather than another asinine notion and claims of cheating within a sport where sportsmanship at times has been something of a rarity.

With fans now having to wait two weeks before the “Big Game ” , the NFL will serve up their customary postseason staple of the Pro Bowl Game, where the two opposing captains are Hall of Fame wide receivers Cris Carter and Michael Irvin. Imagine that, Team Carter versus Team Irvin in a meaningless contest ? Where the incentives are not so much a competitive game, but merely players actually turning up, because they know the financial inducement has been laid out in their contracts apart, from the perceived notion, fans actually care about this game. NFL fans have shown about as much interest in this event, as they would in a political debate between two tongue-tied Congressmen unsure how best to put across eloquently their political views on array of subjects.

The NBA this season has been rife with competency on so many levels . Phil Jackson is still cutting his teeth as NBA executive and it simply doesn’t pain to me to say this, all of the awe and shine surrounding Jackson’s accomplishments as a coach , are now the only things, that do not place his legacy beyond doubt. In his first season Head of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks his decision-making has come into question and it clearly has shown with the team’s play and exceedingly poor results.

Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher and his coaching staff were just able to steer the team to their first win after a sixteen-game losing streak . While the victory against the New Orleans Pelicans might well provide the New York Knicks with some respite , it clearly points to a bigger picture and issues concerning the very fact Derek Fisher was the wrong choice to be the head coach of this team. Experience was clearly needed , rather than this idiocy of Fisher being brought in to impart Phil Jackson’s coaching philosophy and the use of the ‘ The Triangle ‘ . When you have a roster whose Basketball IQ might be considered among the worst in the NBA, there can no clear use of the scheme and its effectiveness under the Knicks’ current guise .

Quick fixes or not, with the trade deadline on the horizon, Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills will certainly have to make some changes to the roster, even if it is meant to provide the franchise with some much-needed cap relief . If the Knicks are to play themselves into either divisional or conference contention , then the front office will have to consider further changes beyond those already made . Next up for the New York Knicks will be a road game against the Philadelphia 76ers in a contest to be played at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the 21st January , 2015. What better way to decide which of these two Eastern Conference franchises might just be one of the worst teams in the entire NBA ?

There is no denying the league (NBA) remains a profitable concern for the franchise owners around the league. The Los Angeles Clippers was purchased for a record sum of $2 billion , with the price paid by billionaire, Steve Ballmer, hardly making a dent in his reputed $22 billion fortune. Ballmer has been welcomed by his fellow owners and the league hierarchy with open arms. For his part , the first order of business for the new owner , was to issue an emphatic statement of his wish to see the franchise become one of the most popular and highly visible teams within the league as well as striving to bring an NBA title title to the city of Los Angeles , and not having to play “second fiddle ” to their co-tenants at the Staples Center, in Los Angeles, California , the Los Angeles Lakers . With the Lakers having such a torrid time in the league and seemingly as a loss , in how to go about winning on the road or at home , it has been left to the Clippers to the lead the way and be the “standard bearer” for the city of Los Angeles this season within the NBA .

With both of the Los Angeles’ franchises taking to the court on Monday night and having differing results , it must be said, the change in fortunes for both of these teams, is now said to be having a drastic effect on how one looks at the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Doc Rivers is proving to be an inspirational coach, motivating his players to get the job done, whereas , the struggles for Byron Scott and the Lakers have been well-chronicled over the course of this season. Undoubtedly, injuries have played a part in how both teams have fared , but cannot be continually be used as an excuse for poor play , especially where it concerns the the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe Bryant and his teammates coming off a fifteen-point loss (115-100) to the Phoenix Suns must now be wondering , where do they now go from here. The veteran guard hopes to return to the franchise next season , but at what price to the organization ? Now in the last year of his two-year , $48.5 million deal, I am not inclined to believe he would be willing to give the Lakers a hometown discount entering into the 2015-16 season. Other than in baseball, I am not so sure you can find more players earning in excess of $20 million annually , while showing paltry production for their respective teams , than within the NBA . Granted, the NFL also has a number of players earning considerably more , but a great deal of that comes down the structuring of the contracts of an NFL athlete.

The Los Angeles Clippers summarily dismissed the Boston Celtics in a home victory , with the win being all-round effort from the Clippers’ players , in their most recent contest. While I believe the Los Angeles Clippers to be one of the teams to be watched over the remainder of the season in what is proving to be an extremely competitive Western Conference . It remains to be seen, whether or not Doc Rivers’ players can prove themselves worthy of being considered a legitimate contender within the conference as well as for the NBA title.

” Long Live the Beard” and if you are unsure to who I am referring to, then simply look at the statistics of James Harden . I am not about to suggest he is the sole reason for the Houston Rockets’ success this season , but his contributions cannot be overlooked. Kevin McHale and the members of the Rockets’ coaching staff have to be extremely happy with what they have witnessed from the team over the course their schedule at this point of the year .

I firmly believe Harden is now one of the elite players in the the NBA , since his acquisition by the Houston Rockets as a free agent. He has done more than enough to justify my belief in his abilities ! Dwight Howard is now riding on the coat-tails of his teammate and it has to be said, the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year is now Robin to the James Harden persona of Batman . Houston’s record of 29-12 places them as the fourth seed within the Western Conference , but second place within the Southwest Division , a mere half-game behind the Memphis Grizzlies (29-13).

Kevin McHale’s team are 7-3 in their last ten games games and it bodes well, as they head into a match-up against the high-flying Golden State Warriors , when the two teams face off </ on Wednesday 21st January, 2015 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland , California,. The match-up of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson against James Harden and Dwight Howard should prove to be more than intriguing, as two of the NBA’s most explosive offenses meet in this showdown.

Defending NBA champions the San Antonio Spurs may well have started off their season slowly, but the return of Finals’ MVP , Kawhi Leonard has been more than welcomed by Gregg Popovich and his coaching staff. Leonard’s addition to the lineup after missing several games due to injury has re-energized the team .

Five NBA titles and seventeen successive seasons in the NBA Playoffs doesn’t seemed to have quenched the franchise’s appetite for success. Add in the fact they currently have three future Hall of Fame candidates on the current roster and you can well understand why the Spurs are considered on of the few NBA dynasties to have truly reigned supreme during their era . Elder statesmen Tim Duncan , Manu Giniobli and Tony Parker have formed one of the most successful trios in league, combining together to have notched up collectively, over five-hundred (500) regular season wins , along with a slew of individual regular and postseason awards . Gregg Popovich for his part , with his distinguished coaching career, is one of a handful of coaches with more than three NBA coaching titles to his name , along with what must be considered a slight of only three NBA Coach of The Year Awards . Begs the question, in the years the San Antonio Spurs did not possess the best record in the NBA , which coach was said to be actually a noteworthy recipient ?

Currently, sitting as the seventh seed in the Western Conference, were the NBA season to end today , the San Antonio Spurs would have a first round draw against the Portland Trailblazers , who presently hold a 2-1 regular season series’ lead over the Spurs. On a current eight-game winning streak, San Antonio must make greater inroads into the divisional lead of the Memphis Grizzlies , whose three-game margin is not too great a deficit for the defending champions to make up over the coming weeks. A three-point victory over the Denver Nuggets was clearly a step in the right direction . A nationally televised match-up against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center, in Chicago , Illinois, on Thursday night will provide the San Antonio Spurs with a chance to gauge themselves against one of the better performing teams within the Eastern Conference.

Of the ten highest paid players now playing in the NBA only LeBron James figures high enough in each of the main statistical categories, which tends to determine the best player in the the league (NBA). As a four-time winner of the League MVP , it could be said James is having something of an indifferent season with the Cleveland Cavaliers . Granted, he leads the team in the customary statistical categories, but in of-itself , that might not be enough why it is in some circles many believe Cleveland have been definitely under-achieving this season and it has been reflected in their record . Team owner Dan Gilbert’s decision to give the go-head for GM David Griffin to hire rookie head coach David Blatt, can either be see as naivete’ on the part of the front office or sheer bravado, in wanting to make a big splash. James’ return should have been enough to signal the organization was indeed serious in making a serious challenge to win their first NBA title.

Alongside Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love , Anderson Varejao , Lebron James and the supporting crew , there should have been enough pieces in place for this team to be far more competitive. Two games over .500 and you can well understand why the Cavaliers have struggled this season . Two upcoming home games against the Utah Jazz and Charlotte Hornets on the 21st and 23rd of January should tell us a great deal more about the Cleveland Cavaliers and the direction they are said to be heading in .

Hype can mean nothing and in some circles it can mean a great deal , yet in the NBA, more is placed sensationalizing a player and team , rather than more often that not the substance of their achievements? How else can one explain the catastrophic seasons of the Brooklyn Nets , New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Utah Jazz ?

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Picture gallery .

During the NFL postseason which results , do you believe were of the biggest surprise and which team will ultimately prevail in the Superbowl ? Your thoughts on this and anything else you feel to be pertinent to the subject matter are more than welcome .

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Picture and slideshow gallery.

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(1) President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, in Washington, as Vice President Joe Biden applauds and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, listens. This was the President’s sixth State of the Union Speech during his tenure. AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool

(2) Head coach Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks celebrate after the Seahawks 28-22 victory in overtime against the Green Bay Packers during the 2015 NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field on January 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. Tom Pennington / Getty Images North America

(3) Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates as Letroy Guion (98) of the Green Bay Packers is in anguish after Wilson threw a game winning touchdown pass in overtime of the 2015 NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field on January 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. Getty Images / Ronald Martinez

(4) New England Patriots’ owner , Robert Kraft celebrates with Tom Brady (12) after defeating the Indianapolis Colts in the 2015 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Colts 45-7 .

(5) Tom Brady(12) of the New England Patriots and Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts shake hands after the 2015 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Colts 45-7 . Getty Images / Maddie Meyer

(6) Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks takes a shot against the New Orleans Pelicans on January 19, 2015 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.Getty Imagres / Nathaniel S Butler

(7) Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers handles the ball against the Boston Celtics on January 19, 2015 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. NBAE/ Getty Images / Andrew D Bernstein .

(8) LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers smiles during the game against the Chicago Bulls on January 19, 2015 at The Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

(9) HOUSTON, TX – JANUARY 19 : James Harden (13) of the Houston Rockets before the game against the Indiana Pacers on January 19, 2015 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.NBAE/ Getty Images / Bill Baptiste

(10) Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Utah Jazz at the AT&T Center on January 18, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. Getty Images / D Clarke Evans
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Bored to your wit’s end, don’t think, just do something …

Bored to your wit’s end, don’t think, just do something …

With the regular season of the NFL coming to a close and the postseason about to reach its penultimate stage, there is not a great deal for the erstwhile sports’ fans to really their teeth into. The NBA season remains one of missed opportunities , the over-hyping of teams and players , the asinine and apathetic ongoing morass of comparing players of one era to another of the past. If you lack the intelligence to realize the fact, this type of debate is merely there to create conjecture then you are simply as dumb as you look in trying to perpetrate this ongoing premise.

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MLB (baseball) continues to lapse into its own continued cesspool of inequality, between the have’s and have nots , never mind the ongoing stupidity of the franchise owners’ continued pursuit of overpaying for mediocre talent, while serving up a banal on-field product. Let us not forget also, the sport has its own cabal of self-absorbed and egotistical bastards currently playing or in retirement. Curt Schilling still remains aggrieved he was denied induction into Baseball’s Hall of Fame , blaming his not garnering enough votes because of his political beliefs . I guess this is why those of a Conservative ‘bent’ cannot understand why their pompous and supercilious behavior grates on the nerves of the rank and file, not that those on the other side of the political aisle are any better to begin with.

The 2015 season will present us with the return of Alex Rodriguez in the New York Yankees’ pinstripes as the disgraced third-baseman seeks to resurrect his tarnished career and reputation after his year-long league mandated suspension. Personally, I do not believe the addition of Rodriguez to a Yankees’ lineup devoid of talent and leadership will see the team winning their division much less adding to their tallyof World Series’ titles. There remain far better teams in baseball not just within the AL East, but also the American League and baseball in general. It will be interesting to see how Rodriguez fares in his first eight to ten games of this upcoming season within MLB and whether or not he can regain the form that made him one of the best players in the game with the use of steroids and dare one say , without it ?

Monday 6th April when the Yankees take to the field in their home opener of the regular season against the Toronto Blue Jays , Alex Rodriguez will have a great deal to prove without the added pressure of the press monitoring his every move on and off the field of play.

At the halfway-point of the NBA season, let’s just say the failure of several teams should not come as any major surprise. LeBron James does not walk on water and he can only be asked to do so much , can only succeed when he is surrounded by talent commensurate to his own very intimidating skill-set. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ record is currently a true reflection of what this team is said and meant to be about. Personally, I never bought into the premise of James’ return to Cleveland would to immediate success, in spite his playing alongside the caliber of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love . Anyone with an ounce of common sense, still has to realize this team is only as good as the players on the court and the coaching acumen of the staff led by David Blatt. And the head coach’s lack of NBA experience has led to the Cavaliers’ current issues both on and off the NBA court. An impressive win over the Los Angeles Clippers was very good indeed, but against the top teams in the Western Conference, Cleveland has not fared very well at this point of the season.

OK, so the season in the NFL provided more excitement off the field than anything witnessed on the field , with the continued misconduct of the players and ineptitude shown by Roger Goodell , the team ownersand of course not to be left out of the equation, the continued piousness of the NFLPA (union), whose unwillingness to address or reprimand the egregious behavior of their members continues to be not only baffling but also astonishing. Needless to say , with the imminent start of the Aaron Hernandez murder-trial we will either get to see the gullibility of the jurors as they remain awe-struck or the incompetence of the prosecuting attorneys, conducting the case on behalf of the State of Massachusetts’ Attorney General’s Office . A guilty verdict does seem likely , but it would come as no surprise , if the jurors made a mockery of their judicial system , with a not guilty verdict or the District Attorneys simply showing how inept they just happen to be. Trusting them to even indict a ham sandwich , would not necessarily prove to be that difficult were they handed concrete evidence , but hey , look at the makeup of the US Congress and the litany of legal minds within the federal legislative chambers and then ask yourself , how competent and productive have those morons been ? Answers , please on a legal size paper, cursive writing, in no less than five-hundred words.

As a die-hard New England Patriots’ fan , not only am I looking forward to Sunday’sAFC Championship Game game between New England and the Indianapolis Colts, but the fans will be get the privilegeof seeing one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL’s history by way of Tom Brady as he faces the young upstart hoping to rewrite the Colts’ history books as well as further enhancing his reputation as the best quarterback to have been drafted in this league since 2006. It is hard to question the success of Andrew Luck at this juncture , with his this having led the Colts to the postseason in each of his first three seasons in the NFL. Tony Romo is now conducting his own investigation as to the reasons why he’s failed so miserably in the postseason, while the Dallas Cowboys’ fans continue to walk around with their heads shoved up their own proverbial @ss, unwilling to accept the patently obvious.

Romo while very good in the regular season, he is like a baby takings its very first steps when it comes to postseason play in the NFL . And all of the bitching , whining and seeking to blame game officials for another postseason loss cannot make up for the fact the “Dallas Cowgirls” are what they are and meant to be , soft as butter melting off a hot knife !

The two opposing quarterbacks in Sunday’s AFC contest , will both be wearing number twelve, so at least someone with that number will also be on hand in the NFL title game on the 1st February, 2015. Oh by the way , don’t hold you breath waiting for any excitement to be provided next weekend in the league’s annual “schmuck-fest” of the NFL Probowl Game, as the opposing captains Cris Carter and Michael Irvin, each in their own unique way try and lively up that particular idiotic event with their character and levity. There’s more action to be found in a dead corpse than anything you are likely to see from what has repeatedly turned out to be an uncompetitive and meaningless gathering of players, simply turning up to ensure their guaranteed contractual incentives have been met and not much more beyond that.

The momentum is building up towards this season’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and though brackets have yet to be set, fans of the college game are up, for the one time of year on the sporting calendar where everything else takes a back seat, as this tournament takes center-stage for an exciting month of games from the sixty-five original participants.

John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats sit atop of the rankings , unbeaten and playing very much like the best team in the nation. Perennial powerhouse programs Duke (Blue Devils) , Kansas Jayhawks and Florida (Gators) have made some uncharacteristic slip-ups with losses you wouldn’t normally associate with the programs at this stage of the season , but they are likely to place them in good stead as they move forward. However, with the Blue Devils having suffered two consecutive losses , I am not yet saying it’s time to throw the baby out with the bath water , but there now seems to no sense of urgency with this Mike Krzyzewski coached team . Those back to back losses coming against North Carolina State and Miami (Hurricanes) , has me wondering what is the current mindset of the Blue Devil players and who among them will likely to step up to the plate and assume the role of the leader on the roster . The first of the two losses in question, against North Carolina State explained a great deal about Duke and what appeared to be a lack of preparedness for the contest . Yet , the defeat suffered at the hands of Miami might have been even more inexplicable as the team simply lacked cohesion throughout the entire contest. Yet, the defeat suffered at the hands of Miami might have been even more inexplicable as the team simply lacked cohesion throughout the entire contest. If neither Quinn Cook or Jahil Okafor are scoring for then the Blue Devils will likely suffer a loss .

Saturday afternoon saw Mike Krzyzewski take his team on the road to Louisville , Kentucky to face Rick Pitino and his Louisville Cardinals in a game which pit two of College Basketball’s most well-respected, celebrated and successful coaches in a contest, best described as entertaining and thrilling. Duke came away with an eleven point victory setting the Blue Devils back on track, while also seeking to cement themselves as legitimate contenders this season within the ACC .

Boxing longs for a charismatic figure to prolong its existence and to be face of its future. Over the last decade it has been left to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to represent its present persona, one which can be best described as lackluster. Neither of these two multifaceted boxers have sought to face each other at the peak of their careers, instead choosing to harangue each other with jibes and idiotic petulant taunts. Now with 2015 in its infancy, there seems to be a reality setting in for both fighters, that if both are to be viewed as among the best ever to have ever to have stepped into a boxing ring, then a meeting between the two have to take place. A multi-million dollar payday awaits both fighters will the split likely to be split of 60-40, favoring Mayweather, which sees the Las Vegas based fighter have the biggest payday of his heralded unbeaten career. $110 million for one fight might well seem outrageous but if this bout takes place, then look for Floyd Mayweather not only boast about this payday, but also his name being placed along the likes of Muhammad Ali , Rocky Marciano , Joe Frazier, Marvin Hagler and “Sugar” Ray Robinson , boxers deemed to be among the greatest of any era to have stepped into a boxing ring.

Executives within Top Rank Inc and Mayweather Promotions Inc , speaking on the condition of anonymity, have stated both fighters , Mayweather and Pacquiao are prepared to put their differences aside and make this fight a reality at some point in 2015. From my own standpoint, with both fighters past their prime, this bout should have taken place five years ago. Unfortunately , for a sport now dying on its knees, common sense has never been a driving force behind anything sought to make the sport remain relevant. In the midst self deprecating idiocy consider the fact the sport of boxing does not have an undisputed champion on any of their weight divisions , most notably among the heavyweights long seen as the most prestigious division in all of boxing. It has been almost a decade since Lennox Lewis ruled the roost as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Since then, there have been a litany of claimants to the crown, where until recently, in one form or another the Ukrainian siblings, Wladmir Klitschko and Vitali Klitschko held at least one version of the belts, signifying themselves, as a title-holder within that specific weight category.

With Vitali Klitschko having retired last year , the WBC crown was on the line and Bermane Stiverne became the most recent recipient and claimant of the title. On Saturday night, Stiverne made his first defense of the crown when he faced challenger , Deontay Wilder in their title clash at the MGM Grand Casino Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas , Nevada, on Saturday, 17th January , 2015,. Stiverne’s first defense, would be his one and only , as he was pummeled mercilessly by the challenger, who won by a unanimous decision, with all three ringside officials scoring the Wilder the winner, by wide margin. So now we have an unbeaten homegrown US born fighter, whose record was simply padded , having not met anyone of note in a thirty-three fight career, with 32 KO’s and only one of his fights having gone the distance. If this what fight fans believe, adds credibility to the world of boxing, then sadly , they remain delusional and completely out of touch as to what currently ails this sport. A proposed unification bout between Deontay Wilder and Wladimir Klitschko appears to be on the cards, but I won’t be holding my breath for the proposed event to take shape and materialize, Let’s put it bluntly, boxing has seen its heyday long past and we are currently witnessing its death knell, with a lackluster bunch of characters leading it off into a massive graveyard of buried carcasses. Not much more needs to be said, beyond that !

If UFC President Dana White wants to be taken seriously , not only as an administrator and a legitimate representative within the world of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), then he will have stop with his boorish behavior , pomposity and be more consistent in his rulings. White’s behavior has been less than gracious with his comments concerning many of the genre’s most prominent fighters who placed the sport on the global map over the past decade. Imagine former NBA Commissioner David Stern mocking either Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson at the height of their careers, when the NBA as a sport, was far more popular than both MLB and the NFL combined . It would have constituted ridicule and dare I say it a great deal of backlash against the then commissioner. However, in the case of White , he continues to backtrack on the comments attributed to him or dismissing the statements made as being taken completely out of context. Now the UFC President has to deal with a situation of his own making and one where his stewardship of this sport must come into question.

Jon Jones , the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, having recently defeated challenger , Daniel Cormier , for his record-breaking ninth title defense , suddenly saw his pristine image come crashing down with an almighty fall. Jones having tested positive for cocaine use , a I might add which cu is manadatory for all UFC title bouts , the UFC hierarchy knowing full well the test results, prior to the scheduling of UFC 182 , where the title defense was made, allowed the champion to go ahead with his bout. Yet all of this seems to have been overlooked by not only the fans but also the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) whose own integrity in recent years, has come into question alongside that the commissioner who presides over this particular state agency, which covers all professionally sanctioned sporting events within Nevada. The fact , that both boxing and MMA falls under the NSAC’s governing umbrella, comes as no surprise, but what now comes as a surprise , must be depths of of malfeasance and incompetence now taking place, with White either being complicit in this all or his just turning a blind eye, all for the sake of the “Almighty Dollar” .

With the absence of Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva from the octagon, Dana White has suddenly realized , Jon Jones’ stupidity and the fact Ronda Rousey has no credible challengers leaves his sport in something of a quandary , because there have been no real breakout stars currently drawing fans to the sport in even greater masses than witnessed in the past five years. Jones’ mea-culpa , has White hoping Silva’s return to the octagon for a third saga of a trilogy against Chris Weidman will bring about a welcome return of fans , along with the possible return of the former welterweight champion GSP (St Pierre). The Welterweight Division division at present has become something of farce with St Pierre’s successor , Johny Hendricks losing his title in his very first defense. with a less than striking performance. Far be it for me to suggest, but Dana White should not only be bending over trying to kiss his own @ss, but he should also be practicing pressing his lips firmly against the sphincters of Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre , requesting that they ” pucker up ” , while he also slips his tongue into their orifice, giving them some welcomed pleasure after the undue criticism leveled at both fighters and former champions.

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Picture gallery .

What to your mind in recent weeks, has brought about your close attention in the world sports, be it on the field of play or away from it ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Doug Baldwin of the Seattle Seahawks holds aloft the NFC Championship trophy , after the Seahawks’ late game heroics and then overtime play , earned the team their victory and second successive Superbowl appearance . Seattle will meet the New England Patriots in Glendale , Arizona on the 1st February , 2015 in Superbowl 49 . AP Photo / David J Phillip …

(2) Members of the New England Patriots’ secondary celebrate after the team’s 45-7 blowout victory over the Indianapolis Colts . Patriots MVP of the game was running back LeGarrette Blount who had another astonishing postseason performance with a three touchdown game for the Patriots . This will be the franchise’s sixth Superbowl appearance in the last fourteen years all coached by Bill Belichick . AP Photo / Chris Moore …

(3) Andrew Luck (12) , left, of the Indianapolis Colts is congratulated by Tom Brady after the Patriots’ victory over the Colts . Luck remains win-less in four attempts against the Patriots in his professional career with this 45-7 loss the biggest defeat during his postseason appearances for the Colts. AP Photo / Adrian Myers …

(4) Curt Schilling currently a baseball analyst with ESPN , voiced his disapproval having been omitted from being inducted into the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame class , claiming his omission was because of his political beliefs. Schilling could provide no proof to substantiate his claims , further opening himself up to the inevitable ridicule , which most certainly will come his way . Getty Images North America

(5) Having sat out the 2014 season due to a league mandated year-long suspension Alex Rodriguez will return to the New York Yankees in 2015 , hoping to reestablish his career and lead the franchise to another World Series title , with the ball-club’s last appearance in baseball’s Fall Classic coming in 2009 . His presence on the team will likely come under close scrutiny throughout this entire season, as he will once again will have to shrug off any suggestions of returning to the use of PED’s (performance enhancing drugs). AP Photo / Barry Young …

(6) LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks to move against the Los Angeles Clippers during the game on January 16 , 2015 at STAPLES Center in Los Angles , California . Getty Images/NBAE/ Andrew D Bernstein

(7) Marshall Plumlee (40) , Matt Jones (13) and Jahlil Okafor (15) of the Duke Blue Devils celebrate with fans following their game against the Boston College Eagles at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 3, 2015 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke defeated Boston College 85-62 . The Blue Devils seeking to avoid a third successive defeat this season defeated the number sixth ranked Louisville Cardinals 63-52 . Getty Images North America / Lance King

(8) Floyd Mayweather (left) considered the linear champion within the welterweight division has actively suggested he wants to fight Manny Pacquaio , but in the five years since a fight was first proposed to take place , a bout has never taken place . Mayweather remains unbeaten , the Filipino fighter has encountered a number of losses along the way , while recently coming back into form avenging his loss to Timothy Bradley and then successfully defending his version of the welterweight crown (WBO) in a rather nondescript bout against Chris Algieri .

(9) UFC President Dana White is seen here standing at the dais , while UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones speaks to the convened press at a press junket publicizing UFC 128 . The fighter recently tested positive for cocaine use, prior to his most recent title defense against Daniel Cormier at UFC 82 . It is alleged White knew of the positive test results but allowed the contest to go ahead rather than promoting one of the under-card bouts from the event . Something the UFC President refuses to address publicly , while expressing the fact Jones was fined $25,000 and mandated his taking a drug rehabilitation stay at a facility . It has since come to light Jon Jones merely had an overnight stay at a drug prevention facility and is now back in training for his next title defense. No formal statement has been forthcoming from White on this latest new,s but has led to a number of fighters now questioning Dana White’s leadership and inconsistencies when dealing with fighters known to have violated the UFC drug policy . MMA World / Outright Features Inc. all rights included @ copyrighted material

(10) LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 17: Deontay Wilder (L) connects on WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne during their title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wilder took the title with a unanimous decision. Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

(11) LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 17: Deontay Wilder (L) celebrates after going 12 rounds with WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne during their title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wilder took the title by unanimous decision. Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

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A la-carte menu ? As the world turns, the NBA still meanders

A la-carte menu ? As the world turns, the NBA still meanders

Early in the season , the NBA was in awry as the return to the league of two its most high-profiled and visually recognized faces made impact-ful returns to franchises where initially their names were made. With LeBron James having left the Miami Heat after a postseason of angst and tremendous disappointment with the Heat falling to the San Antonio Spurs in five games , James felt it best to resume his career elsewhere and where better than with the franchise where he got his professional start , having been drafted as the number one overall draft pick in the 2003 NBA Draft?

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Slideshow .

Phil Jackson’s return to the New York Knicks was treated with equal regale as the former player and eleven time championship winning head coach was introduced to the convened press fans as the Head of Basketball Operations and SVP with the New York based franchise. While this might well have been somewhat surreal , the reality has been as the season got underway for the Knicks with a new head coach Derek Fisher and coaching staff in tow , the real issues for the team this season has been the fact winning has become something of a rarity on the road or at home.

The four-time or League MVP’s return to the Cleveland Cavaliers was heralded as a coup-de’-gras for team owner Dan Gilbert and fellow executives . The fans in their appreciation , simply went out and began a feeding frenzy , as they purchased LeBron James’ memorabilia and season tickets , single-game home tickets for the team’s games at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Ohio,.

Now at the midpoint of the season and it would be fair to suggest both the the Cavaliers and Knicks have failed miserably in meeting the expectations of the fans and NBA analysts alike and I believe it is reflected in their conference and divisional standings ! The Cleveland Cavaliers as of the 13th January have gone 1-10 in their last ten games, losers of seven consecutive. Only the New York Knicks have managed to exceed the futility exhibited during that spell .

I certainly believe the woes affecting both the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks comes down to the fact both teams are in transition having changed their coaching staffs during the off-season , with the hire of David Blatt in Cleveland and Derek Fisher with the Knicks. While Blatt’s experience in Europe goes without question , his NBA experience has been this season’s ” baptism of fire” and the same with his New York counterpart. As to this idiocy , Phil Jackson will provide Fisher with his coaching acumen and insight , well that has failed to take place at any point during this season , as seen with the team’s record and play.

LeBron James led his teammates to their last victory on which came by way of ” downing ” the Charlotte Hornets on the 2nd January , 2015. New York with their recent player upheaval , last gained a win when they defeated the Boston Celtics on the 12th December , 2014. If there is any frustration brewing within the front offices of the Cavaliers and Knicks then it is not being outwardly shown by the respective executives.

Derek Fisher and the Knicks will continue their quest for a meaningful victory when they face what appears to be a rejuvenated Milwaukee Bucks’ team coached by Jason Kidd . LeBron James and his teammates will face a Los Angeles Lakers’ team sorely in search of something meaningful to their season. . Kobe Bryant’s presence has been as competitive as usual but his being sidelined , leaves the Lakers missing real offensive output and no one on the ready to step up and follow the veteran’s lead.

Having a billionaire owner in the NBA hasn’t done the league any harm, by way of the image of the teams or having the owners display their often outrageous behavior . As to the idiots , who have tried to suggest because of the philanthropic deeds of some , it outweighs their pubic comments , my question to those fools , what happened to common courtesy and decency ? Hiding the veils freedom of speech, without facing the fact such behavior has its ramifications, seems to be lost on those , who continually to use this premise as a proxy.

Mikhail Prokhorov , the Russian billionaire and owner of the Brooklyn Nets . For this past fiscal year the Eastern Conference based franchise has seen mounting financial losses and a team not in sync with the ambitions sought by their owner. Hard to see how the Nets can try and justify entering the season with a payroll exceeding $90.4 million and little to show for it by way of respectability within the NBA. Lionel Hollins and his coaching staff have struggled to get this team of overpaid stars playing with any semblance of credibility. A six-game losing streak has not helped the Nets’ credibility or standing in the belief the team is simply good enough to be viewed as a legitimate playoff contender , no matter how mediocre the East Conference just happens to be . Granted , injuries have plagued the Nets this season , but it should not be considered an excuse for a franchise , which in recent years has been known more for trying to outspend their rivals , rather than for their achievements on the court . As if to further emphasize how bad the Nets are , their current six game losing streak places them as the eighth seed 1 1/2 games ahead of the Charlotte Hornets and a game behind the sixth placed Miami Heat. The Brooklyn Nets’ last victory came on the road when they defeated the Orlando Magic , with a two-point road win (100-98) .

There can be no denying whoever comes out of the Western Conference as the representative in the NBA Finals will be battle-tested and ready to take on their Eastern Conference opponent. Year in and year out the teams in the West have been involved in their annual dogfight for the right to the conference representative. Last season the San Antonio Spurs posted a 62-20 record , best in the conference and then played with a great deal of resilience on their way to a fifth NBA title .This season Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich has the team playing with the usual type of consistency one would come to expect of the champions with the coach resting his mainline stars as he sees fit . No fines being meted out by Adam Silver , but then again , what would you expect when his predecessor, David Stern treated the league as if it were his own personal fiefdom and stomping ground , with his imbued idiocy and piousness .

To overlook San Antonio at this point of the season by , waxing on lyrically about teams such as the Golden State Warriors , Portland Trailblazers , Houston Rockets , Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks would be extremely foolish , but it does seem to be the norm at present . Nonetheless, as the season progresses, we will get to see the best of this team and the conference in general .

James Harden has proven to be an extremely productive player for the Rockets this season and even more versatile than anyone might have imagined. Harden has been by far the best player on the Rockets’ roster leaving no one in any doubt who is more pivotal on the team . Dwight Howard is simply an adequate foil for his teammate’s exploits as Kevin McHale guides Houston with the aim of making the playoffs.

Currently, the third seed in the West , with a record of 27-11 the Houston Rockets are comfortably placed to make a solid run during the second half of the season. Next up for McHale and his players will be a game against the Orlando Magic at the Amway Arena in Orlando , Florida on the 14th January , 2015.

Mark Jackson outlived his usefulness in the state of California and in particular, his tenure with the Golden State Warriors . It was one thing to try and force feed your beliefs upon the players, but it is another to then repeatedly ignore the warnings from your employer , concerning your behavior and intent . Jackson’s ideology led to his demise, without delving into the issues of his hypocrisy. Joint team owners , Joe Lacob and Peter Guber wasted no time with the hiring of Steve Kerr to succeed his predecessor and Kerr to for his part, has imparted a great deal of wisdom , player oversight, but above all a keen eye for details as well as coaching acumen , which has been of a great deal of benefit to this young Warriors’ team . Perhaps there’s room for learning for the likes of Derek Fisher and Jason Kidd, from someone with Kerr’s abilities ? The Warriors are riding high with the best winning percentage in the league and on course to break the franchise record for most wins in a season . Led by players Steph Curry , Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes this is not a team solely built around offense , but clearly under the auspices of head coach Steve Kerr, this team will also willingly play defense when called upon to do so.

Golden State’s current seven-game win streak is not their best of the season, but it does point to the fact how consistent the team has become over the course of the NBA schedule . The Warriors’ most recent game , saw the team simply trounce the Utah Jazz by an eleven-point margin and prior to that , clinically dismantled the Cleveland Cavaliers with the utmost of ease . A home game against the Miami Heat on Wednesday evening at the Oracle Arena in Oakland , California will tell us a great deal about the Warriors and their season-long quest to be seen as legitimate contenders within the NBA. I am inclined to believe this Steve Kerr team could make things extremely difficult for their conference rivals over the remainder of the season and into the playoffs !

There are no do-overs in the NBA and it is something which will not be afforded the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers with their abysmal season , they will not be offered the opportunity of reversing their tide of mediocrity on any level . With their fans pointing to the future and hopes of obtaining marquee free agents in 2016 , 2017 and 2018 , perhaps it hasn’t occurred to their myopic fans , team owner Jim Buss , GM Mitch Kupchak and SVP Jeanie Buss have failed miserably in placing a competitive product on the court over the past two seasons without taking into account their current situation . It begs the question , where is there any common sense to be found within the organization beyond the idiotic pragmatism being imbued by Jeanie Buss , in the wake of the sheer stupidity exhibited by her brother and Kupchak ? If it is her belief the franchise will be competitive three years from now , then surely , she can show a morsel of evidence to support her claims ? To paraphrase Don King ” only in America ” or in this case, only in the mind of a Lakers’ executive would you hear such absurdities .

The Lakers are likely to fix their woes by spending a great deal of money to acquire a a free agent, because they sure as hell haven’t shown the acumen to draft a player of any note over the past eight years . Yet I digress , because what use is it to point out those facts when their fans are simply oblivious to such realities ? Snooze , you lose __________ bit#hes .

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12-27 is a sold recipe for disaster and a season and it not have been concocted up any worse , even without injury woes of Kobe Bryant . The eighteen-year veteran is now on the decline and nowhere near the competitive force which once made him the most dominant player in the league. Those years are long gone and we rarely now see those moments of brilliance from the future Hall of Fame inductee. As if to further exacerbate the ongoing idiocy to be found within the Lakers’ organization, head coach Byron Scott believes it will be in the franchise’s best interests to rest their veteran guard once the team is out of playoff contention. Perhaps there is a great deal of naivete’ on my part , but at 12-27 , the Lakers’ chances of making the playoffs this season are beyond remote, when you consider the team sits 11 1/2 games out of the eighth and final playoff position within the Western Conference and they not even close to being competitive enough to challenge within the Pacific Division for the divisional title. Byron Scott must believe in divine intervention or he remains the eternal optimist at heart.

Having won just three of their last ten games , hopes of the Los Angeles Lakers being able to pull themselves out a mess of their own making, is something I have no wish to see ! This team was simply assembled from ill-fitting pieces, with no real means of assuring victory on any level , at home or on the road. A three-point home loss to the Miami Heat , shows the Lakers continue to do themselves no favors and simply in the self implosion mode as it relates to their season . One seriously doubts in their next contest they will fare any better when they face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California on the 15th January ,2015.

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Picture gallery .

As the first-half of the NBA season comes to a close, what do you believe to be the best the league has had to offer their fans and what do think has been the most disappointing aspect of the league this season ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details .
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(1) Dennis Schroder (17) of the Atlanta Hawks attempts to control the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on January 13 , 2015 in Philadelphia. Getty Images / Jesse D. Garrabant

(2) LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives the ball past Alex Len of the Phoenix Suns of the NBA game at US Airways Center on January 13, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona . Getty Images / Christian Petersen

(3) Bismack Biyombo of the Charlotte Hornets goes for the tip off against Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs at the Time Warner Cable Arena on January 14, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina . NBAE/ Getty Images/ Brock Williams-Smith

(4) Mason Plumlee of the Brooklyn Nets backs up to the basket against the Memphis Grizzlies as Zach Randolph seeks to make the defensive play in the game at the Barclays Center on January 14, 2015 in Brooklyn. NBAE/Getty Images Jesse D Garrabant

(5) Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball against Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons on January 14, 2015 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills. Getty Images / Allen Einstein

(6) Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against John Wall of the Washington Wizards on January 14, 2015 at the United Center in Chicago. . Getty Images / Joe Murphy

(7) Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball in a game played against the Miami Heat on January 14, 2015 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. Getty Images / Noah Graham

(8) Cleanthony Early of the New York Knicks shoots the ball against the Charlotte Hornets during the game on January 10 , 2015 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. The Knicks were on the wrong side of a lopsided loss to the Hornets . Getty Images/ Nathaniel S Butler

(9) Jeanie Buss and her brother Jim Buss are co-owners of the Los Angeles Lakers . The team has been through a rough season and seemingly out of contention in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference . The Lakers have also struggled when Kobe Bryant has been out of the lineup and not much has gone right for head coach Byron Scott and his coaching staff over the course of the season . AP Photo / Giles Parrish

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Out with the old , in with the new …

Out with the old, in with the new …

In a none too surprising and rather climactic weekend in the NFL in the divisional round of the postseason, we may well have seen a changing of the guard. Losses were suffered by teams thought to be favored to make it to their respective conference championships games . The Denver Broncos inexplicably fell to the Indianapolis Colts , where Andrew Luck has not only has eradicated the name ” Manning” from the lips of the fans in Indianapolis, but he may well have now placed himself above his predecessor in terms of the fans’ appreciation of his craft and the fact he has now had more initial success with the franchise in his first three years than Peyton Manning actually achieved. The 2012 number one overall draft pick has led the Colts to the postseason in each of his first three season whereas , Manning had to wait until his fourth season in 2002 , before he would have his first taste of postseason play that year .

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The disappointment of this postseason for the Denver Broncos will not be lost on John Fox , his coaching staff and John Elway , Head of Football Operations for the franchise. Having spent millions of dollars to load up on a defense which included a slew of Pro-Bowl caliber players such as Vonn Miller , DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib , the wheels on the Broncos’ bus completely fell off with Peyton Manning having what some might deem to be a disastrous outing against his former team. As to what this loss might suggest about the Denver Broncos , may well be seen from differing points of view , with claims Manning actually played injured or as suggested the four-time League MVP had over the last six games of the regular season had seen a decline in his play leading into the postseason. Make of it what you will , but there are now growing signs that the Peyton Manning of old is no longer here. Signs were clearly seen in last season’s Superbowl and the complete annihilation suffered by the Broncos in their lopsided loss (43-8) to the Seattle Seahawks .

John Elway will now be left with several decisions to be made concerning the makeup of the roster during the off-season and which of the players are or should be retained . Peyton Manning has already stated he would like to play at least one more season with the Broncos, looking to fulfill his quest for a second Superbowl title. Yet it is now my belief, the window of opportunity for this esteemed veteran is now firmly closed ! This year should have been the best opportunity for Manning to make his way to a second successive Superbowl but it was not to be , as the Indianapolis Colts waylaid the best laid plants of the Broncos by clinically besting the home team in-front of their highly raucous fans. Mile-High Stadium became something of a burial ground as the death knell was sounded on Denver’s postseason aspirations.

As the Denver Broncos’ season fell apart , the growing stature of Andrew Luck cannot be denied, as he has now placed himself among the elite quarterbacks now playing in the NFL. Colts’ owner, Jim Irsay in a recent interview stated the timing was right for the departure of Peyton Manning, and that it was time for a change, for the franchise. Many felt it impudent and a rash decision to send Manning into the wilderness, but the choice has proven to be fortuitous for the franchise, with it, the success of Luck and several of the younger players on the roster. Who would have guessed that T. Y . Hilton would now be considered one of the best offensive threats on the team which still has Reggie Wayne active and productive for the Colts ?

If there is said to be a flaw on the Indianapolis Colts , then it would certainly have to the defense of the team and the inconsistency shown over the course of the season . If they are to prevail further then they most certainly will have to raise level of the play within the secondary. Andrew Luck and his teammates may not view it as a gathering storm, but their meeting in the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium , Foxboro’, Massachusetts, on Sunday evening in prime-time should prove to be a thoroughly entertaining match-up . Luck has yet to have a win in the regular or postseason against the Patriots, having gone 0-3 in their meetings during in his career.

Bill Belichick and his coaching staff will certainly have to prepare for this contest against an Indianapolis Colts’ team looking to upend their hosts on Sunday afternoon. New England’s quarterback Tom Brady after his now legendary contests against Peyton Manning and the Colts has a new adversary in Andrew Luck who will not be looking to take any prisoners in what will be the most important game of the young quarterback’s career to date. Though I do not believe a Colts’ win would come as a shock, because I believe the Patriots have proven to be very complacent at the most inopportune of moments, but as long as Tom Brady can work his miracles during the postseason , then I am entirely happy that he and his teammates will come away with a victory and make their third Superbowl appearance in the last decade and the franchise’s sixth consecutive playoff appearance since 2009.

America’s Team the amiable and affable Dallas Cowboys, having made the postseason for the first time since 2009 brushed aside the Detroit Lions in the wildcard round with the utmost ease and it was felt, that finally , Tony Romo was in fact surrounded with a team capable of making a deep playoff run. Unfortunately, Jason Garrett as a head coach, has proven to something of an incompetent oaf in many of his game-time and playing strategies, so often the Cowboys’ downfall during the regular season . Now granted, while the Cowboys were t 8-0 on the road and 8-4 within conference, they were simply mediocre at best at home (4-4) , with a defense which was far from compelling or convincing. DeMarco Murrray and Dez Bryant may well have had career years, but beyond that, there was nothing to suggest the Dallas Cowboys would indeed pose a serious threat to either the Green Bay Packers or Seattle Seahawks , long considered the two best teams in the NFC , in spite of the surprising season by the Arizona Cardinals .

Dallas came into their divisional round contest at the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in Green Bay , Wisconsin, looking to derail Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers’ well-rounded season . Rodgers for his part, has been playing at an extraordinary level and might just be considered the consensus favorite for this season’s League MVP alongside Andrew Luck and that is with due respect to the play of JJ Watt this season for the Houston Texans , but to my mind Watt is more deserving of the Defensive Player of the Year Award , than he is of the league’s most prestigious individual regular season award !

The Cowboys jumped out to an early lead but you simply had the impression the Packers were not about to let their guests off the hook lightly . While there may well have been a great deal of controversy surrounding Dez Bryant’s catch and his possession of the ball in the end-zone , you simply cannot fault the officials concerning the call and the legality of the play. Jason Garrett’s players had several other chances to put this game away beyond the reach of the Packers , but they simply forsook the opportunities that came their away , allowing Green Bay back into the contest, closing out the match-up with the win and their appearance in the NFC championship game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Jerry Jones will now spend the off-season mulling over what might have been, the makeup of the roster and what possible changes are likely to be made. From my own standpoint , I simply do not believe Tony Romo possesses the mindset to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a Superbowl victory, neither does he show any signs of leadership on the field of play. If there is said to be no vocal leader leader on the team to actually lead by example, how hell does anyone expect that team to win ?The Cowboys’ failure will be looked upon with some reservations , but let us not overlook the fact this team while great during the regular season, they simply showed that during the playoffs, there were simply ordinary with no real appetite to play hard or any real competitiveness during the postseason.

Mediocrity took on a new face during the regular season as teams within the NFC South offered up little to get the fans truly vested in the division. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints were made to look extremely mundane and it would be fair to suggest the quartet of teams had defenses which ranked among the lower rungs of the NFC and the league as a whole. Division winners the Carolina Panthers got by the Arizona Cardinals with considerable ease, with their being never truly challenged by their conference rivals in their wildcard round contest .

Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera may well have prepared his team for the Cardinals, but in their divisional round game , neither Cam Newton and his teammates seem prepared to take on the Seattle Seahawks at QWest Field in Seattle , Washington this past weekend. Seattle’s 31-17 dismantling of the Panthers was a clear indication as to what happens when you have an overwhelmed team simply being in a contest where they have no right to be , much less showing the wherewithal to be competitive in the game. The margin of victory for the Seahawks could have been far greater than the two-touchdown differential might have suggested.

If there were any doubts as to how good Russell Wilson just happens to be, you simply have to look at the players’ playoff record (5-1) , the impressive statistics gathered by the three-year quarterback from the now highly impressive 2012 NFL Quarterback Draft Class from that year . Wilson and the Seahawks will play host to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship gameon Saturday 18th January, 2015, with the winner going on to be the conference representative in 29orperbuoer Superbowl 49 (SB XLIX) to be staged on 1st February , 2015 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona ,. This contest will likely provide us with the favorite for the Superbowl in the match-up against the winner of the AFC title game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots .

Quarterbacks may well come and go , and the life-span of an elite quarterback in the NFL averages at least eight to ten-years. So it might suggest, that the likes of Tom Brady , Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger have proven to be, not necessarily exceptions to the rule, but one undoubtedly one has to take into account the level of consistency maintained by the players in question and the success attained within this league. The brave new face of the NFL , with the torch being passed to the next generation, I believe has began in earnest with the likes of Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson coming to the fore and into their own, as the next chapter of quarterbacks taking centerstage. Your thoughts if any, on that premise ?

Before Superbowl 49 takes to the stage , once again the idiocy of the Pro Bowl will have its day in the sun. After the nonsense of last season , I have to question the NFL’s insistence on staging this annual and uncompetitve farce ? The players are simply there not to compete , with many of them simply turning up, because of the incentives likely laid out in their contracts . Other than that, this season’s spectacle which pits Team Irvin against Team Carter , will have Hall of Fame wide receivers Michael Irvin and Cris Carter selecting their rosters for this annual game which remains meaningless and simply idiotic on so many levels

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With the NFL postseason now entering the closing stages, which teams or players have you been most impressed by ? Also with the likelihood of the passing of the torch, now evidently taking place among the league’s top passers, do you believe any of the quarterbacks drafted from classes of 2012, 2013 or 2014 can emulate the success of the likes of Brady , Brees , Manning or Rodgers in the upcoming years ? By all means simply leave a comment as you see fit on this and anything else you believe relevant to the subject matter .

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(1) Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts leaves the field after defeating the Denver Broncos 24-13 in a 2015 AFC Divisional Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 11, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. Getty Images/ Ezra Shaw ….

(2) Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts meets Peyton Manning (18) of the Denver Broncos following a 2015 AFC Divisional Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 11, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.The Colts defeated the Broncos 24-13. . Getty Images /Doug Pensinger ..

(3) Andrew Luck (12) and Dan Herron (36) of the Indianapolis Colts have a word before a play against the Denver Broncos during a 2015 AFC Divisional Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 11, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. Getty Images / Ezra Shaw …

(4) Aug 29 s, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach John Fox and vice president of football operations John Elway (left) in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Cardinals won 32-24. There now seems to be mounting speculation as to whether or not Fox will be returning to the Broncos for the 2015 season , but it seems more than certain , several players currently on the roster will likely be cut during this off-season . Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

(5) Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots jogs off the field following the 2015 AFC Divisional Playoffs game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. …

(6) Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots directs at the line of scrimmage during the first quarter of the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoffs game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images/ Jared Wickerham …

(7) Aaron Rodgers (12) of the Green Bay Packers shakes the hand of the Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett after the Packers win the 2015 NFC Divisional Playoff game 26-21 at Lambeau Field on January 11, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. . Getty Images Mike McGinnis ….

(8) Tony Romo (9) of the Dallas Cowboys congratulates Aaron Rodgers (12) of the Green Bay Packers after the 2015 NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 11, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Cowboys 26-21 . Rob Carr /Getty Images …

(9) Cam Newton (1) of the Carolina Panthers throws a pass in the second half against the Seattle Seahawks during the 2015 NFC Divisional Playoff game at CenturyLink Field on January 10, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. Getty Images / Johnathan Ferrey ….

(10) Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks looks to throw a pass in the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers during the 2015 NFC Divisional Playoff game at CenturyLink Field on January 10, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. Getty Images / Otto Gruel Jr …

(11) Former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter , left, talks with Thursday Night Football analyst Michael Irvin , right, before an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, in Minneapolis. The two players former players and current Hall of Fame inductees will be the opposing team captains for 2015 NFL Probowl . AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt

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From left to right , Andrew Luck , Robert Griffin III, Brandon Weeden , Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson . All five were members of the 2012 NFL Draft class , now considered one of the best groups of quarterbacks’ classes to have been drafted over the past twenty years , thought I do have my doubts as to where this particular class would measure up against to the class of 1983 !

NFL What ? NFL Who ? Is this League being ran by fools ?

NFL What ? NFL Who ? Is this League being ran by fools ?

The NFL regular season wound down with its usual aplomb , with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seemingly, not wanting to apologize for his poor lack of judgment or the fact his league is still in disarray both on and off the field of play. Just when you thought it was safe to dip your toes back into the water , there is news emanating where St Louis Rams principle owner , Stanley Kroenke is seeking an executive board on possibly relocating the franchise to the greater Los Angeles area. What is it with this continued fascination, in bringing an NFL franchise back to the city of Angels, where the municipality itself has its ongoing financial woes, with their being no signs the city council can deal with its deficit or any of the other matters affecting the City of Los Angeles ?

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Stanley Kroenke with the exception of Seattle Seahawks’ owner Paul Allen might be the wealthiest owner in the NFL and his fortune far exceeds that of Washington Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder . The St Louis Rams for their part, had a poor season barely offering any resolve and a fourth place finish in the NFC West was a clear reflection of the team just happened to represent under Jeff Fisher and his coaching staff.

Stanley Kroenke’s fixation might well have more to do with the fact he believes the Rams can no longer be self-sustainable in a mid to small-market such as the greater St Louis , Missouri ,area, and were it not for his wealth and the fact his marriage to Ann Walton-Kroenke (Walton family , daughter of the late patriarch , Sam Walton founder of Walmart) and all of the visibility her name provides, is in a position to perhaps persuade the league hierarchy might well be time have a franchise back in Los Angeles. However, there has to be a caveat in the midst of this all, if Kroenke believes he can pull of such a coup, without the assistance of the assistance of the city or Los Angeles County or at the state level. It has been one of Roger Goodell’s main goals to have an NFL franchise back in the nation’s second largest ad-market , purely from the economical standpoint and the income derived from such a move.

At a time when revenues are on the rise within the league, much of it coming by the television deals, with expiring contracts being renegotiated as well as several cable broadcasters entering the fray , it seems only feasible that the commissioner wants to not only maximize his league’s exposure, but also profit financially from that exposure. Of even greater importance has to be the funding for a stadium to house the St Louis Rams on a permanent basis , as repeatedly different entrepreneurs and investors have tried to formulate a plan for a stadium to be built with a mix of private and public funding. To date, nothing concrete has materialized with these efforts and the list of names involved in these endeavors have read like a who’s who of commercial real estate or venture capital world within the state of California , with their being political backing, but no real evidence of success or actually getting anything off the ground. Like I have always maintained the state of California remains a law unto itself without outsized egos and even greater stupidity to be found at just about every level of government and within their business world , in spite of claims to the contrary. Has anyone heard from Ed Roski lately and his ambitious plans to bring professional football back to the greater Los Angeles area ? I thought not !

The rapid fall from grace for the Pittsburgh Steelers was in evidence as they fell to the Baltimore Ravens. Now one could be forgiven into thinking Ben Roethlisberger , James Harrison and Troy Polamalu had the leadership and experience necessary to lead the team and their making a deep run in the postseason was all to no avail as the Ravens swept aside their divisional rivals with clinical ease. John Harbaugh could be unto something with his claims , the team’s quarterback Joe Flacco is the best passer in the NFL during the postseason. Granted, Flacco during the 2012 postseason was simply sensational as he led the Baltimore Ravens to their second Superbowl victory in the franchise’s history and the player’s playoff record record would even bring a smile to the face of Tony Romo , who has repeatedly become the face of postseason futility among the league’s more prominent active quarterbacks with playoff experience.

Flacco will get the chance to try and prove the claims of Jim Harbaugh are justified, when the Baltimore Ravens meet the New England Patriots in the divisional round of this season’s postseason schedule. With an AFC championship berth at stake for the winner, this game could prove to be be one of the highlights of the round if not the entire postseason, itself. For the Patriots this will be the first time the team led by Tom Brady enters the fray, as he seeks to win his fourth Superbowl. Brady in conjunction with head coach Bill Belichick are currently the most successful coaching quarterback active tandem in NFL history. If this is meant to the season, which offers the franchise its best chance to add to its tally , of three postseason triumphs, then this game could prove to be defining point of the Patriots’ season.

While there are mounting questions concerning the direction of the Washington Redskins their future and the travails of quarterbacks’ Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III. It must be said , beyond the removal of Bruce Allenas the general manager and the disappointment of the Redskins’ season , you simply cannot deny the ” writing was on the wall” was on the wall for the franchise and the futility shown over the past two seasons. Hard to imagine how Cousins and Griffin having been in the same draft class as Andrew Luck Andrew Luck , have seen their stock fall so far , while Luck’s ascent to becoming an elite quarterback has seen a rapid rise in the fortunes of the Indianapolis Colts after the departure of Peyton Manning from the AFC South South based team.

Indianapolis in their divisional round game played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, India, last weekend, summarily left no one in any doubt about their pedigree, as they took apart the Cincinnati Bengals and cast doubts on the Bengals’ long-term future concerning the makeup of their roster. Marvin Lewis must be at a loss for words having seen his team perform so poorly . It was not as if this were the first playoff run for Lewis’ team, led by quarterback Andy Dalton who has made consecutive playoff runs for the franchise in his still young career.

Andrew Luck will now avail himself another chance to match wits with his predecessor , Peyton Manning, as the ‘Master’ and Pupil take to the field .

As great a regular season as the Arizona Cardinals were able to put together, during their wildcard game against the Carolina Panthers, Bruce Arians’ team became a ” Paper Tiger” ripped to shreds by a Panthers’ team looking to make up for lost time. I am not sure Cam Newton will have as much ease in dealing with the Seattle Seahawks in their upcoming game at Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington , on Sunday afternoon . As defending Superbowl champions the Seahawks will be looking to make a statement and cast any doubts they are the best team in the NFC and the entire NFL.

We’re ” America’s Team ” , we’re America’s Team and we aim to prove it. If that proclamation were not so asinine, it would be believable when applied to the Dallas Cowboys . Jerry Jones believes he has finally crafted a team capable of winning a Superbowl. Having engineered a come from behind victory over a complacent Detroit Lions’ team , Tony Romo will take his supporting cast on the road to face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin,. It’s now or never for the Cowboys, because if this team fails , there will roars of laughter belittling the team and the organization for their ongoing ineptitude over the past decade. The Cowboys have a chance, but if they allow the Packers to take an early lead, I certainly cannot see the visitors pulling off another postseason victory behind the skill-set of Romo , it’s just not within him pull off back-to-back victories for Dallas. I may well be wrong,but I doubt it !

It will be interesting to see how the events unfold this weekend within the NFL and which teams will rise to the occassion.

Not quite the ” Last Man Standing” , but College Football’s long-awaited Playoff Format ,at last, has its final pairing. Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks after their trouncing of Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles , will now have the privilege of taking on Ohio State (Buckyes) , coached by two-time national championship winning head coach Urban Meyer . in the national championship game and the inaugural contest of the newly instigated system. Love it or hate , it is now here to stay, even though it is likely to be tinkered at some point in the future, as the empaneled body seeks to make this format more equitable for all. Meanwhile, what would the postseason format be, without its customary slate of meaningless postseason Bowl Games ? Let’s just say, tweaked or not, there was still plenty of food left on table, including the scraps left for the dog. In other words, everyone got a meal and hearty one at that, by way of the financial benefits of these Bowl Contests.

This is likely to be more about which team desires the win the most and whether not Buckeyes’ third-string quarterback Cardale Jones is ready once again step up to the plate after a solid game in defeating the number one ranked Alabama (Crimson Tide).

Mariota will be hoping to cement his legacy after a stellar career with the Ducks as well as being this year’s recipient of the Heisman Trophy . If he can bow out with a national championship to his resume’ then the sky is the limit for a player like to be taken in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. As to ESPN’s College Football analyst and draft guru , Mel Kiper and his assessment of Mariota, not being the prototypical NFL quarterback, with the required talent for the NFL, has about as much credence, as perhaps one of his most infamous claims ____ of which he stated, Akili Smith would go on to have a long successful NFL career while being a perennial Pro Bowl player. Smith’s career statistics/ a are paper thin and about as appealing as Kiper’s neatly coiffured hair . I can only surmise, Mel Kiper and Donald Trump might share the same hair stylist and barber ?

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Throughout the NFL season, which teams do you believe provided the fans with the least and most excitement ? Also , with the College Football national championship game set for Monday 12th January,2015 , do you believe Marcus Mariota can round out his season with a national championship title ? Or will Urban Meyer add a third national title to his coaching resume’ ?

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(1) St Louis Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher ,left, is seen here with team owner Stanely Kroenke center and GM Les Snead at the Edward Jones Dome Stadium in St Louis , Missouri, prior to a regular season game. Kroenke is said to be seriously contemplating the relocation of the NFL franchise back to the greater Los Angeles area , but he must first seek board approval for such a move . Kroenke is unwilling to discuss to discuss his plans his publicly , but he may well already have broad-based support for the move, without having to be totally reliant upon a vote from the executives within the organization . All that would be then required for the move, would be the seal of approval from the Board of Governors of the NFL and Roger Goodell’s blessing. AP Photo/ Phil Jones

(2) Billionaire commercial real estate developer Ed Roski whose plans for an NFL stadium to be built in the greater Los Angeles area never quite took of because of bureaucratic red-tape and a failure to obtain the financial backing and widespread support from interested parties from the city of Los Angeles, the city of Industry , Los Angeles County and at the state level. It is not known if Roski is now on board with Stanley Kroenke’s own ongoing effort to have a state of the art venue built for the St Louis Rams . Getty Images / Mike Cooper

(3) Head coach Mike Tomlin ,left , of the Pittsburgh Steelers meets head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens after the Ravens defeated the Steelers 30-17 in their AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Getty Images North America / Gregory Shamus

(4) Ben Roethlisberger (7) of the Pittsburgh Steelers meets Joe Flacco (5) of the Baltimore Ravens after the Ravens defeated the Steelers 30-17 in their AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Getty Images / Justin K Aller

(5) Ben Roethlisberger (7) of the Pittsburgh Steelers scrambles against the Baltimore Ravens during their AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Getty Images / Jamie Squire

(6) Tom Brady (12) hands off the ball to Shane Vereen (34) of the New England Patriots during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images / Jared Wickenham

(7) Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts begins his snap count during a game played against the Minnesota Vikings . Luck is widely considered to be the best quarterback drafted into the NFL since 2008 . The Colts’ quarterback was the number one overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft , considered to be one better quarterback draft classes of the past decade . AP Photo / Phil Carr

(8) Marcus Mariota (8) of Oregon and Cardale Jones (12) of Ohio State will square as the opposing quarterbacks in the national championship .game being played on the 12th January , 2015 at the AT&T Stadium , in Arlington, Texas . AP Photo / Phil Miller

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Death, taxes and other certainties in life and sports

Death, taxes and other certainties in life and sports

Well, this past weekend the NFL opened their postseason schedule and once again the league simply did not fail to disappoint. If you consider the result of the Arizona Cardinals going into Carolina to face the Carolina Panthers and the Cardinals’ loss to their NFC rivals an aberration, then consider that to be a real disappointment. All season long , Arizona found ways to win, withtheir offense or a resolute defense.

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On Saturday afternoon , Ryan Lindley as the starting quarterback for the visiting team was being asked to lead to the Cardinals in his first postseason contest to a victory, which would have been Arizona’s first in over five years. Their last coming in the 2009 postseason in a high-scoring contest against the Green Bay Packers .

Both Ryan Lindley and the opposing quarterback Cam Newton had their highs and lows in during the game between the Arizona Cardinals and Green Carolina Panthers. Yet you could not help but feel the Cardinals came into this contest as the prohibitive favorites but there was an even greater possibility they could come away from this contest with the defeat. Bruce Arians may well have placed a great deal of faith in his quarterback , but you simply got the feeling Lindley’s postseason inexperience would lead to his and the Cardinals’ own undoing.

You can either love or hate the Dallas Cowboys. America’s Team and the empathy some might have towards the franchise, can be either one of loathing or under-handed appreciation . I have never really been a great admirer of the Cowboys or the larger than life presence of team owner , Jerry Jones ! Sunday afternoon , Dallas had as their guests Matt Stafford and the Detroit Lions in their wildcard match-up .

The Cowboys were seeking their first playoff win in almost six years and it should serve as a kindly reminder, why this franchise has been so overrated during the time-span in question, when each year inexplicably bumbling buffoons continually decide to make the Dallas Cowboys perennial favorites to win the Superbowl or at least be a contender within the NFC. In a season where the NFC was so mediocre and yes I am taking into account the Philadelphia Eagles managed to notch a double-digit tally by way of wins , but somehow as only Chip Kelly can , his propensity to believe that only offense can win games led to the Eagles’ chance and demise in winning the NFC East. I can only conclude the former Oregon head coach simply doesn’t know how to spell the world defense or comprehend its meaning as determined by their statistical standing in the category and their failure to make the postseason.

Dallas came away with their victory over the Detroit Lions and I can’t help but wonder beyond the errant misjudgement by the officials , I believe the Lions were simply overawed by the occasion . Matt Stafford and his teammates all but had this game sewn up and well within their grasp during the latter stages of the contest but they somehow found a way to screw things up without Ndamokung Suh actually contributing to the loss, with his never-ending stupidity. The Cowboys came away the victors and the Detroit Lions , just like the city, were bankrupt of creativity and ideas when it mattered the most. At least they can take heart in the fact their infamous 2008 season still remains intact when it comes to sheer ineptitude .

Dallas will certainly have to raise the level of their play when they face the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of their game to be played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wisconsin, Sunday , 11th January, 2015. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers will take their show on the road when they face a stern test by taking on the Seattle Seahawks . If that Seahawks’ offense gets going, then the Panthers are likely to be on the wrong end of a lopsided loss .

While some may well have their doubts about the Indianapolis Colts because of the inconsistency shown this season , but you simply cannot deny Andrew Luck’s play for the team has been the main reason why the Colts are now in the postseason for the third consecutive year , and the belief he might just be the best quarterback to have been drafted in the NFL since 2008. Now you may well disagree with the statement in question, but simply take a look at the facts as they stand and then decide for yourself.

Luck and his teammates clinically took apart with the ease of a surgeon performing a routine procedure . The Bengals were never remotely in this game and it begs the question, where do Marvin Lewis and the coaching staff now go from here concerning this team ?

In the day’s other AFC contest, the Baltimore Ravens and Joe Flacco put an end to the quest of Ben Roethlisberger seeking a third Superbowl victory to add to his resume’ . The Pittsburgh Steelers may well have won the AFC North , but they were far from being the best team within the division . Statistics may well tend to create the illusion and perception of competitiveness , but when it came to determination , there was none to be found from anyone on the Steelers’ roster during this game . This is likely to be the game played in a Pittsburgh Steelers’ uniform by their defensive player Troy Polamalu after a distinguished career with the franchise.

With a great deal of bravura the signing of Phil Jackson and his being brought in to head the Basketball Operations of the New York Knicks , was meant to herald in a new chapter for the NBA franchise. The legendary NBA coach has a resume’ unmatched by no other coach in NBA history and the feeling was , if Jackson’s presence alone, was enough to reignite the Knicks, then all would be right with the world . Unfortunately, those behind this idiocy, failed to acknowledge there was not an experienced head coach leading the coaching staff and the very fact, beyond Carmelo Anthony the talent level on the roster was extremely poor if not threadbare . As to the feeling Iman Shumpert was an adequate foil to Anthony’s abilities on the team , well let’s just look the facts this season and how that all bears out . Shumpert’s offense and defense are at best , average and the player is not and never will be a game changer on any level .

I can only surmise the choice of Derek Fisher to coach this team was simply one of vanity by Phil Jackson and the fallacy that the ” Triangle Offense “ would still be be effective in today’s game. Jackson may well have not correctly assessed the basketball acumen and IQ of this roster , because plainly put , this Knicks’ team simply isn’t good enough to comprehend the concept, much less put it into effect with any semblance of success. Fisher’s players have already accomplished a season’s first, by being the first team to accumulate thirty or more losses on the season . This may well have not been part of the Knicks’ plans for the year , but clearly things have now gone terribly awry for the franchise and with the lack foresight from anyone within the front office led by Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills .

To understand how inept the New York Knicks have become , consider the fact they are now on an eleven-game losing streak and they seem incapable of winning at home or on the road . With Carmelo Anthony now sidelined by an injury , the chances of the New York Knicks being competitive, much less putting together a winning streak now seems more remote than ever. The team’s last victory, came in a road win over the Boston Celtics on the 12th December , 2014 with the six-point defeat of their conference rivals .

Sunday night, brought even more incompetence from the New York Knicks as they succumbed to the Milwaukee Bucks in a thirteen-point loss (95-82) at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York . Their task will not be any easier in their next game when they face the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum in Memphis , Tennessee ,.

At 5-31 the Knicks’ projected win total for the season will be 15-67 and it is hard to imagine how this organization can take away anything positive out of such a mediocre display and the ongoing optimism being shown by the fans . With the trade deadline due on the 19th February and you get the feeling some drastic moves are likely to be made as the Knicks look to salvage something out of the season while looking to the future . The only asset on the team is Carmelo Anthony and though there have been rumors the player had been approached by senior executives , requesting his waiving of the no-trade clause in his contract and such a move would suggest they are willing to abandon any future hope rebuilding the franchise with Anthony as the centerpiece for their future livelihood. Having signed a five-year $124 million deal , at the start of this year , one could imagine this would not sit well with the Knicks’ fans were the player traded and their being left with almost nothing in return , even if there were some pieces added to the roster seen as a positive sign . The rationale behind the maneuver would still come as a shock , but this has been a mess of the Knicks’ own making , one presided over by the lackadaisical and nonsensical approach to the franchise taken by owner James Dolan . Profitability seems to have been his only concern with regard to the organization rather than the on-court product. Come full circle , the Knicks seem to be back at square one and no real idea what approach they ought to be taking.

The death of ESPN sports’ anchor Stuart Scott at the age of forty-nine , was a reminder of one’s mortality . Scott’s untimely demise cast a giant shadow over the NBA this past weekend , as his association and love of the game was well-known . He befriended many of the game’s top players and his passing was known to be heartfelt not just within the player fraternity , but also among the league hierarchy , general managers and team owners . Anyone who witnessed his 2014 ESPY Award speech after his accepting the Jim Valvano Award had to be taken aback by his humility , eloquence , challenges he met , while undergoing chemotherapy and other medical treatment, as he and his family sought a cure for the diagnosis of his cancer ailment. Stuart Scott became the gold standard for many of the African-American journalists who would later join the broadcast outlet . Yet, his professionalism , personality and passion stood out, as he covered sports in such an unbridled way , leaving us with a number of catch-phrases , which will live on even after his passing.

Keifer Sutherland presents Stuart Scott with the Jim Valvano Award at the 2014 ESPY’s . Scott’s full speech is seen here in its entirety.

The Winter Meetings are over within MLB (baseball) and teams won’t yet be making any major preparations concerning Spring Training , but a number of players sidelined due to injuries, still in the process of rehabilitation , while looking to the upcoming season . Trades came and went with a number of surprising moves . Nonetheless , baseball will likely enter this upcoming regular season with team payroll commitments topping $ 3 billion ($3,000,000,000) for the third successive season .

The San Francisco Giants coming off their World Series’ triumph , their third in the past five years ,will have a bulls’ eye as a target on their backs , as each of the league’s twenty-nine other teams will be looking take them down , in particular, anyone of the fifteen from the AL . A tough season ahead awaits the Giants, as baseball’s latest dynasty looks to add to its illustrious history . Bruce Bochy and his managerial staff will be looking to add to their legacy , while the team itself, must know the task ahead will be a difficult one . The NL West is likely to be competitive , with the main challenge coming from what will be a somewhat revamped Los Angeles Dodgers’ team.

Meetings between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants this season will have some added flavor to it all , as Don Mattingly and his staff would like to prove the defending World Series’ champions are not the only ” team in town” or the best in the state of California. Did I hear someone mention the Los Angeles Angels , Oakland A’s and San Diego Padres ought to be added into the mix ? That would be great were it not for the fact recent postseason success seems to be lacking for the teams mentioned.

Baseball’s Hall of Fame for 2015 have been announced , with the new additions as well as the hold-overs from years past are on the ballot for the BBWAA’s approval and final voting . The continued hypocrisy shown by the Baseball Writers Association , their ambivalence and dare I say it lack of transparency with their process indicates to me the continued farce of the institution and all it claims to represent. With their being no clear stance being taken by them concerning players associated with the ‘ steroid era’ which still casts a giant smear and shadow over the game indicates to me , much like baseball’s ambivalent and clueless hierarchy the sport definitely needs to be infused with creative ideas and leadership. You simply have to look at the makeup of the senior-most executives in the game’s upper ranks to realize that fact and their current length of tenure .

Several of the names on this season’s Hall of Fame Ballot are certainly credible , but several are tinged with more than controversy ,concerning their possible association and the use of steroids or other illicit substances . Roger Clemens , Barry Bonds , Gary Sheffield , Sammy Sosa , Curt Schilling and Mark McGwire to name but a few , put into perspective what we are likely to witness over the coming years , if their names are reappointed to the list, having failed to be inducted. Randy Johnson , Pedro Martinez , John Smoltz , Nomar Garciaparra , Carlos Delgado , Aaron Boone and Cliff Floyd lead the list of first-time nominees .

Of the newest nominees , I believe the John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez , Curt Schilling are the most likely to obtain seventy-five per-cent of the votes needed to gain their induction into Cooperstown ! Borderline , are Carlos Delgado , Nomar Garciapparra , with the remaining candidates being considered for induction at some point in the future. Now while many decry the fact Pete Rose has not been inducted into the game’s most prestigious fraternity , let us remember Rose failed to acknowledge his misdeeds , lying repeatedly to anyone willing to listen , stating he did not break one of baseball’s most ” cardinal sins” , betting on the game . OK , one can bring up the Black Sox ‘ scandal’ as one of the game’s most stained chapters , yet those directly involved , paid a price , which can never be forgotten , overlooked or wiped from the pages of baseball’s history. It remains an indelible mark and reminder of one of the game’s most sordid chapters and a reason why, the rules are in place to be obeyed and not to be broken , purely for financial gain.

From my own perspective , while I believe the Hall of Fame to be a noteworthy bastion where the greats of the game are eulogized and immortalized in print ! I am not so sure many of the game’s most recent candidates , are really worthy of the accolade of induction. Here is my issue with these individuals , why were they so silent and was the choice their own or mandated upon them by a union (MLBPA) who to this day ,in many ways were just as complicit in the fraud perpetrated on the fans by the steroid cheats. Less we forget also , Bud Selig’s handling of the affair , culpable or plausible deniability , lack of action from the league hierarchy and baseball’s team owners . If you are still looking for common sense and intelligence within this sport , there is none to be found at all , in spite of opinions to the contrary.

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Picture gallery.

Over the past seventy-two hours which of the most recent sporting events stands out the most ? Just state your reasons why and what outcome you would like to see in the future, concerning the points raised within this article.

o_O

Picture and slideshow gallery details below.
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(1) Quarterback Cam Newton (1) and fullback Mike Tolbert (35) of the Carolina Panthers celebrate after Tolbert caught a second half touchdown pass against the Arizona Cardinals during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers defeated the Cardinals to go on to the divisional round of the postseason where they will face the Seattle Seahawks . Getty Images/ Rob Carr

(2) Cam Newton (1) of the Carolina Panthers runs to congratulate Fozzy Whittaker (43 ) after his 3rd quarter touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Getty Images / Robb Carr

(3) Cam Newton (1) of the Carolina Panthers and Ryan Lindley (14) of the Arizona Cardinals exchange words after their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Getty Images North America / Streeter Lecka

(4) Quarterback Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts calls a play at the line against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half during their AFC Wild Card game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts annihilated the Bengals in contest which was not remotely competitive. Getty Images / Andy Lyons

(5) Owen Daniels (81) of the Baltimore Ravens tries to avoid a tackle by Troy Polamalu (43) of the Pittsburgh Steelers during their AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Getty Images /Jamie Squires

(6) Troy Polamalu (43) of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the bench against the Baltimore Ravens during their AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers would fall to the Ravens in their postseason clash . Getty Images / Jamie Squires

(7) Tim Hardaway Jr(5) of the New York Knicks shoots against Beno Udrih of the Memphis Grizzlies on January 5, 2015 at the FedExForum in Memphis. The Grizzlies inflicted the Knicks’ with their twelfth consecutive loss and placing them among the bottom rung of teams with a sub.500 record . Getty Images / Joe Murphy

(8) Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks , pictured in this montage with Phil Jackson Head Of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks . There is mounting speculation the organization might seek to trade the player with their season now asunder and no chance of making the NBA Playoffs . AP Photo / Chris Palmer

(9) San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy , left , celebrates with the team’s catcher Buster Posey after the Giants’ game seven triumph in the 2014 World Series in the series’ finale played against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffmann Field , in Kansas City , Missouri,. This was the third postseason finale series’ win of the past five seasons for the San Francisco Giants . AP Photo/ Mark Powers .

(10) Barry Bonds , left and Roger Clemens , two players whose names have been routinely linked to the use of steroids within the game of baseball . Bonds a seven-time NL MVP and Clemens , himself a seven-time recipient of the Cy Young Award , are both on this season’s Hall of Fame Ballot List , as they were last season . It remains to be seen whether both will be looked upon favorably by the voters from the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) at the time of voting. AP Photo/ Tom Marsh

(11) Pete Rose the all-time hits’ leader in Major League Baseball is seen here with his fiancee’ Kassie (Kim). The former Cincinnati Reds’ player and manager yearns to be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame and even after his act of contrition , apologizing for lying to the league hierarchy , he has yet to receive a reprieve , with his lifetime ban being lifted by MLB . UPI Archives @ all rights reserved

(12) From left to right , John Smoltz , Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling . Quite possibly seen as the three leading candidates to be inducted in Baseball’s Hall of Fame . Randy Johnson a former teammate of Schilling , when the two combined to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to their sole Word Series’ triumph, is also considered a contender for the esteemed honor. AP Photo / John Marshall
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:)

Tophatal

Tophatal’s Blog on Facebook.com

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The late Stuart Scott , who died at the age of forty-nine , due to complications from cancer.

A year to savor …

A year to savor

In the blink of an eye the remnants of the last few monents of 2014 disappeared before our very eyes and from a sporting standpoint it was mainly a big disappointment from my own point of view. Nothing said or suggested mediocrity more than a regular NFL season so embarrassing , with the incompetence of a litany of teams. Major disappointments came thick and fast , along with the customary off-season firings and walkouts by either front office executives of head coaches. Jim Harbaugh now rides off into the sunset , assured that he will be welcomed with open arms by the Michigan faithful as he seeks to resurrect their fortunes and status among College Football’s fraternity. San Francisco 49ers’ front office executives may well have parted ways with their former head coach by mutual agreement , but if the rumors are to be believed , Harbaugh’s relationship with GM Trent Baalke , CEO , Chairman & team owner , Jed Yorke had deteriorated to such an extent , communications between the executives and Jim Harbaugh were simply cordial , professional , and nothing more than that. Off the field issues may well have also played a part in Harbaugh’s downfall beyond the complacency shown by the team throughout the course of the season, with the players simply lacking leadership and Colin Kaepernick seemingly more concerned with his growing public image and own self-importance , rather than his performing at a very high level in comparison to last season.

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Slideshow.

The San Francisco 49ers failed to make the postseason and barely challenged within the NFC West , where they finished a disappointing third within their division, behind the Seattle Seahawks as the newly crowned divisional champions and perhaps the NFC’s surprise team of the season the Arizona Cardinals who finished in second place. Where San Francisco now goes from here will be solely dependent upon the choice made by Trent Baalke as he goes in search of a successor to fill the vacant head coaching position with the NFL franchise. There will be a litany of candidates qualified and not so qualified looking to be interviewed for the position. It’s safe to say, the question now becomes about who wants to be out on the West Coast coaching a team with a great deal of talent, but now lacking direction and a real sense of purpose ?

Having won their sixth AFC East title in succession the New England Patriots will now be looking to cement their status as the best NFL franchise over the past decade and a-half. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady remain the main building blocks of this franchise , but the Patriots’ long-term future will soon be about the younger players on the roster and the organization seeking a successor to Belichick , at the time of his choosing to ride off into retirement. As the number one seed in the AFC , New England has a bye in the first round of the postseason . Their closest rivals within the conference the Denver Broncos squandered their chance of positioning themselves to take that mantel by falling apart in the last few weeks of the regular season . Hopes of a Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning match-up is still very much on the cards, if both of these teams play to their true potential during the postseason. That very premise could take place in the AFC championship game.

The wildcard round of this postseason has some very intriguing games on the schedule, where the match-up between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys takes center-stage among the NFC contests . In the AFC , the ongoing rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers takes off on another chapter of what has been often described as one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL and certainly one, which tends to provide a great deal of drama , if not explosive outcomes . John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin will also get the chance to match wits against each other as the opposing coaches on the sidelines .

The drama surrounding this postseason will not be lost on the fans or the broadcast outlets alike , as they seek to pour over the events as they unfold. One can only hope the fans are not disappointed by the games or the sense of foreboding as things unfold over the course of this weekend.

Money is aid to be the ” root of all evil “ and that definitely would be the case in the world of politics, where the politicians’ greed is not only furthered by their avarice , but also by their sheer contempt of the electorate and the very fact that they believe themselves to be above reproach . That same analogy I believe can be used in the world of baseball (MLB) , where during this off-season we have seen some major moves in the free agency marketas well as a number of teams striving to either deplete themselves of talent or take on the pretext of proving to their fans they are ready to compete .

For the past two seasons the Los Angeles Dodgers have been the biggest spending team in Major League Baseball , making an outlay in excess of a half-billion dollars ($500,000,000) during the time span in question. Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff have proven to be adroit during the regular season, but in 2013 as well as last year the ball-club failed to meet the expectations of their fans and the front office , with abysmal performances during the playoffs . The decision by Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten to hire Andrew Friedman to become the Head of Baseball Operations indicates the franchise has decided to change their philosophy somewhat, when it comes to acquiring talent and not overpaying , but taking into account, there are several players on the current roster earning in excess of $15 million a year , it is hard to see how anyone can take the Dodgers seriously as they seek to turn over a new leaf.

Don Mattingly and his team capitulated to the St Louis Cardinals in this past season’s NLDS , a series where it was inexplicable to surmise how bad the Los Angeles Dodgers were said to be on all counts . The Dodgers’ offense may well have been anemic , but their pitching by comparison was nowhere to be seen . As the Dodgers embark upon their off-season sojourn before they begin their preparations for Spring Training and then the 2015 regular season , there will be some new faces as part of the roster , after the departure of several familiar figures who were a staple of the club over the past few seasons. One of those departing faces was Matt Kemp , now a member of the San Diego Padres .

It would be fare to suggest the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants provided baseball fans with one of the more memorable World Series in recent years , with the perceived underdogs the Royals looking usurp the NL franchise . Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy and the team triumphed in a thrilling seven-game series downing the Kansas City Royals in a climactic final game . In a pitching performance for the ages Madison Bumgarner brought back memories of the postseason performances of pitching legends Sandy Koufax and Don Larsen . It seemed only fitting Bumgarner was named World Series MVP . GM Brian Sabean during the off-season replenished the team’s roster with several acquisitions likely to make the ball-club stronger at several key positions while also knowing there are a number of players within their farm system ready to make that leap up to the Majors .

The “stain” which remains part of baseball’s folklore, beyond the ” Black Sox ” scandal will forever be the “steroid era ” and the fact Bud Selig failed miserably in reining the abusers , who sought to cheat the fans and the game of baseball by smearing some of the most historic feats within the sport. With the departure of Roger Clemens and others associated with that sordid chapter , baseball still has the remnants of Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun still within our midst , albeit , both players have served league mandated suspensions for their egregious transgressions with somewhat asinine acts of contrition on both their parts. Rodriguez will make his long awaited return to the New York Yankees and to a ball-club in the midst of change with the retirement of Derek Jeter after a two-decade long career with the ball-club. In the throes of this upheaval GM Brian Cashman will be looking to several of the veterans on the current roster to assume the mantel of leadership , the role Jeter assumed for several years as well as being the team captain. If Cashman now believes Rodriguez can fit the role , then he is sadly mistaken, along with the belief the player can provide the productivity needed to challenge within the AL.

New beginnings and a resurgence of a franchise still seeking its first NBA title. This was meant to be the storyline for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season . The return of LeBron James brought back Cavaliers’ fans to the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio in droves. The four-time League MVP brings with him his productivity and an all-round game that has become the envy of the league and erstwhile fans alike. James’ departure from the recent two-time defending NBA champions the Miami Heat shook the foundations of the organization and simply took everyone off guard including his former former teammates. Miami’s failure in last seasons NBA Finals indicated a flawed team whose over-reliance on LeBron , was simply overwhelming the player during that Finals’ series. That heartbreaking loss may well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back and led to his decision to leave the Miami Heat.

As The Prodigal Son, whose return was welcomed with open arms by the organization led to the upsurge in ticket sales , increased merchandize revenue and the appreciation in the value of the Cavaliers. This has been the impact LeBron James on the NBA and the franchise. Beyond his salary , the player’s annual income along with corporate endorsements places him among the upper echelons of international athletes and the top-paid NBA star . Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin sought to bring in also ,a wealth of experience by way the team’s roster . Point guard Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are meant to be the complementary foils guiding the ambitions of the team this season. A rookie head coach , David Blatt and his coaching staff have struggled to gain any real semblance of consistency the Cavaliers this season .
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Cleveland’s record (18-14) places the team five games behind the the Central Division leading Chicago Bulls (23-10) . Now with the reported loss of LeBron James for two to three weeks due due to a lingering injury , this will likely put a severe dent in Cavaliers’ divisional title hopes as well as the possibility of a high conference seeding within the Eastern Conference. James in the Cavaliers’ lineup offers the team the best chance of winning , rather than his being seated on the bench . The Cavaliers without LeBron James in the lineup after the announcement of his injury , saw the team take on the Charlotte Hornets in a road game at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte , North Carolina . All hands were on deck for the Cavaliers as Kevin Love led the team in scoring as they defeated the Hornets 91-87 .

Next up for Love and his teammates will be a home game on the January 4th , when they clash with Dirk Nowitzki and Rajon Rondo of the Dallas Mavericks at the Quicken Loans Arena . This contest could one of the highlights of the games scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Dallas comes into the contest on a four-game winning streak , with Rondo’s acquisition having set the tone for the team , as they move forward . The trade of the former Boston Celtics’ point guard immediately provides an uplift for the Mavericks and gives the a facilitator who is among the best in the NBA and who will also provide them with a very good defensive presence. Mavericks’ Mark Cuban’s insistence and pursuance of this deal that acquired Rajon Rondo , has certainly made the team a lot better and an almost certainty of being among the top contenders for the number one seed within the Western Conference this season. It would take a rather foolish individual to bet against this team and its pursuit of a second title, to add to the crown won in 2011 .

I’ll fight the good fight in support of a sport , just as long as I feel it will be of benefit to the masses ! Yet for all of the showmanship and acknowledged popularity of Floyd ‘ Money’ Mayweather , I have gotten to the stage , where I find the sport of boxing to be a complete comedy of errors and tragic parody of a once proud sport , which captured the fans’ imagination and held it drawn with its excitement and intensity !. No longer can it be case or where anyone can try to justify it, as still being truly relevant. Other than the world welterweight champion, there is not really a major draw in spite of the fact his greatest rival just happens to be an aging Manny Pacquiao . These two fighters for one reason or another have never sought to face each other at the prime of their careers , instead , often choosing to face lesser opponents along the way , to pad their statistics and the pursuit of multi-million dollar payday .

Mayweather and Pacquiao have passed the pinnacle of their respective careers and the legitimacy they each now seek will not be determined by final contest between the two , because in essence it will prove nothing at all. A proposed mega-fight would likely gross well over $200 million in revenues worldwide with each fighter guaranteed a minimum of $50 million apiece , but in the end of what profit would be to a sport now dying on its knees when there are no other high-profiled boxers on the horizon with the charisma or talent to be seen as the face of the sport and its long-term future? Multiple international governing bodies preside over boxing and there is no real uniformity other than the mandatory twelve rounds of boxing for a world title fight at the international and national levels dependent upon the allegiances of the national boards of the sport worldwide.

The alphabetical melange of who’s who , and the pecking order of the IBF, IBO , WBA , WBC and WBU created this actual nonsense within the sport of boxing and even now , with the pursuit and support shown by current WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman for a unified world champion primarily within the heavyweight division . The appeal for such distinction is lost on the fans and the litany of claimants of the various versions of the crown in question . It has been almost two decades since boxing had a undisputed heavyweight champion , with the last claimant being Lennox Lewis and it should be noted there is not an undisputed champion in any of the weight categories in the sport of professional boxing . Yet , this is the sport Senator John McCain (R-Az) , by his rationale believes relevant , while denouncing its upstart rival the genre of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) as being barbaric , with their being no rules or etiquette ? McCain’s idea of barbarism should be considered a joke , while he ought to be looking at his own legacy within the Congress and its lack of productivity over the last six years .

The rise in prominence of the UFC and the sport of MMA over the past decade and half , ought to be seen as how to brand , manage and package sport , where its reach is now global and in many ways has surpassed the branding and marketability of both the NBA and NFL. NFL combined . Dana White , UFC President along with the Fertitta brothers own the UFC and its affiliated concerns , a company with an estimated value of over $2 billion ($2,000,000,00) , making the three primary partners in this enterprise , extremely wealthy individuals . Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta , were already self-made billionaires , having made their fortunes in the casino and hospitality and hotel management business . Now their primary goal is to expand the growth of the sport globally , which they have been extremely successful in doing , with a stable of fighters from around the world signed to their company , as well as having affiliated associations across the globe.

In 2015 , UFC will ring in its schedule (UFC 182) with its first major title bout of the year, when Light Heavyweight Champion , Jon ‘Bones’ Jones makes a defense against challenger Daniel Cormier . Jones , the division’s best fighter is making his record ninth defense of his title. On January 3rd , 2015 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas , Nevada , UFC will unveil UFC 182 with an under-card of several terrific bouts, along with the marquee title title fight , with Jones’ Light Heayweight crown being on the line. Jon Jones , can be seen as the protagonist , with Cormier viewed as the antagonist , but there is the feeling the titleholder may well be looking to play ” the villain ” of the piece , because of the apparent ‘bad blood’ between he and the challenger , Daniel Cormier. Undoubtedly, Jones has become one the biggest names within the sport , with perhaps only Ronda Rousey , UFC’s most prominent female fighter, Cain Velasquez , Anthony Pettis and Jose Aldo among active fighters , considered to be extremely popular among the genre’s mass appeal of fans . The title fight itself , could be a contest, where Jones’ experience will out-match the simple bravado of his challenger Daniel Cormier . A thrilling five rounds of combative MMA should tell us a great deal about the champion and his opponent on Saturday night .

Tiger Woods remains the biggest draw in the world of golf, but he is no longer the best player in the game . I once read an asinine comment by someone, who determined because of his drawing power , it made him not only the best but also the only relevant person on the PGA Tour . Granted his having won his own version of the Tiger-Slam and having a career Grand Slam (the feat of winning golf’s four major tournaments [ US Open, PGA Championship , The British Open & US Masters]) gives him that aura of actual invincibility. Quite rightfully so, but over the past eighteen months , Woods’ game has been on the decline , he knows it and only an idiot would try and suggest otherwise , much like the buffoon and his comments concerning the former world number one ranked golfer. Tiger Woods’ legacy is unquestioned, but my question____ is beyond his off the course sexual peccadilloes , where he does he stand on social activism, his well-staged and manufactured philanthropic efforts ? Tiger Woods remains a damn hypocrite of the highest order, while trying to be a role model to young kids . Far too many of today’s professional athletes as well as those within the collegiate level, fit that very mold. Unfortunately, the media and fans alike, with a great deal apathy and naivete’ would prefer the salaciousness and candid sordid details , rather than witnessing great feats of athletic achievement . Never-mind the fact , when many of these athletes are continually caught in a lie, they will repeatedly seek to apportion blame elsewhere.

This upcoming season on the PGA Tour , it will be interesting to see whether or not Tiger Woods can wrestle away the number one ranking from Rory McIlroy , by far the greatest challenger to Woods’ once dominant presence on the PGA Tour . Phil Mickelson remains an afterthought , because more often than not , his challenges to Woods have ” petered out”, because of his missed opportunities. With over $265 million in official prize money being offered on the Tour(PGA Tour) , golf has now become one of the most lucrative way of earning a nice income from professional sports, without taking into account the enormous bye product of commercial endorsement from national and international corporate behemoths .

At the peak of his earning power, Tiger Woods earned well in excess of $100 million annually , now that figure is down to $65 million , still not bad for a player whose last Grand Slam Major victory came by way of the 2008 US Open in La Jolla, California ,. Yes, I can see why Woods is still considered a draw , with that victory , six years later , still toiling for his fifteenth Grand Slam victory , while Jack Nicklaus’ giant shadow and his own accomplishments in the Majors are simply glossed over by idiots and a buffoon with little knowledge of the sport or the African-Americans who created the legacy for Woods’ access to the game. Far be it for me to suggest this @sshole , has any damn idea what he is talking about to begin with .

Billy Horschel (three career wins) was feted , having won the FedEx Cup (2014) and with it a $10 million annuity as prize , but even with his consistency on the Tour in 2014 , the player was never a fixture or a major threat in any of the Grand Slam Majors , but yet I am being asked to be transfixed by character-less stereotypical androids who now make up the bulk of the players on the PGA Tour ? I think not !

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Picture gallery .

What sporting event of 2015 is likely to have you closely watching a performance or set of performances during this year ?

:D

Picture and slideshow gallery below.

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