Preach , preacher __ preach

The NBA postseason is underway and there is a great deal to be said of the expectations of the participants this postseason. Sixteen teams vying to be this season’s NBA champions and to succeed the San Antonio Spurs . The defending champions face the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of their best of five-game series, with the Clippers holding a one-game lead as the two teams head into game two to be played on Wednesday night at the Staples Center , in Los Angeles, California. Chris Paul led the team to their convincing victory with a very commanding performance , leading all scorers with thirty-two points.

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This Western Conference Quarter Finals series is far from over , but I get the impression, should the Spurs falter in tonight’s game, then the Los Angeles Clippers would be placed firmly in the driver’s seat. Doc Rivers is not about to let his team become complacent and his opposing number , Gregg Popovich will ask his players to become more resolute on defense while playing to their strengths . The Spurs’ veteran trio of Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker are battle-tested, having witnessed the triumphs and tribulation of postseason play for the franchise . Likelihood remains, the defending champions will square the series , by looking to stymie the productivity of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford .

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LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 22: Tim Duncan ( 21) of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NBA Playoffs on April 22, 2015 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Duncan was among the leading scorers for the Spurs as they beat the Clippers in overtime , 110-107 in the second game of their Western Conference Quarter Finals’ Series. Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Mike Budenholzer was rewarded by being named NBA Coach of The Year having led the Atlanta Hawks to the best record in the Eastern Conference this season. While many might well have expected to see the Cleveland Cavaliers romp their way to the best record in the conference solely because of the return of LeBron James to the franchise where he began his career. This season, it has been the Hawks who proved themselves to be the “class of the East” .

Atlanta for its part as the number one seed, have yet to be tested in their series’ match-up this postseason as they take on the Brooklyn Nets. Game two on Wednesday evening will see the Hawks seek to further extend their lead over their conference rivals in a contest, that is pivotal to the Nets’ hope to prolong their stay in the playoffs. For the Brooklyn Nets and in particular team owner, Mikhail Prokhorov with the tens of millions vested in the franchise , beyond his being a majority stakeholder in the Barclays Center and its surrounding development . It is imperative for the Nets to advance deep into this NBA Playoffs’ season. The franchise beyond having moved from New Jersey back to New York and the city of Brooklyn , this organization has been hemorrhaging money at an alarming rate over the past four years. Prokhorov might well be among the wealthiest owners in the league , but one seriously doubts the Russian billionaire can continue to plow money into the franchise without seeing anything tangible in return.

The absurdity of the NFL off-season continues unabated, with the story-line now becoming one of comedic heights. Nowhere has this been more visible, than with the Philadelphia Eagles’ recent signing of Tim Tebow to the team’s roster. Tebow when last seen in the NFL , was inept at best , with their being little to his overall game, albeit, that idiots continue point to the fact the former Gators’ quarterback led the Denver Broncos to the postseason. His foray that year, led to the Broncos

The absurdity of the NFL off-season continues unabated, with the story-line now becoming one of comedic heights. Nowhere has this been more visible, than with the Philadelphia Eagles’ recent signing of Tim Tebow to the team’s roster. Tebow when last seen in the NFL , was inept at best , with their being little to his overall game, albeit, that idiots continue point to the fact the former Gators’ quarterback led the Denver Broncos to the postseason. His foray that year, led to the Broncos being brutalized against the New England Patriots and an indication that Tebow does not possess the skill-set to play in the NFL. The fact he was later acquired by the Patriots only to be subsequently shown the door, may well have been done out of pity, rather than anything else.

Tim Tebow’s lackluster years of unproductive play with the New York Jets emphasized what many knew all along, he is not good enough to play in the NFL. The fact he’s now being provided another chance by Chip Kelly and the Eagles’ organization , I believe now has more to do with Kelly’s ego and the fact the NFC East based franchise now under even more pressure to succeed might well have seen this type of publicity as a way of averting eyes away from the team’s deficiencies. If anything , it will now place the Eagles more under the microscope with Tebow and the Eagles’ head coach receiving the biggest scrutiny of all. GM Howie Roseman and team owner, Jeff Lurie could very well have blundered with this move as much as there now seems to be doubters of Kelly’s abilities as a head coach and his recent decision making with the player turnover and the departures of Nick Foles , LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson , among the players let go by the franchise.

The absurdity of the NFL off-season continues unabated, with the story-line now becoming one of comedic heights. Nowhere has this been more visible, than with the Philadelphia Eagles’ recent signing of Tim Tebow to the team’s roster. Tebow when last seen in the NFL , was inept at best , with their being little to his overall game, albeit, that idiots continue point to the fact the former Gators’ quarterback led the Denver Broncos to the postseason. His foray that year , led to the Broncos being brutalized by the New England Patriots and an indication that Tebow does not possess the skill-set to play in the NFL. The fact he was later acquired by the Patriots only to be subsequently shown the door, may well have been done out of pity, rather than anything else.

Tim Tebow’s lackluster years of unproductive play with the New York Jets emphasized what many knew all along, he is not good enough to play in the NFL. The fact he’s now being provided another chance by Chip Kelly and the Eagles’ organization , I believe now has more to do with Kelly’s ego and the fact the NFC East based franchise now under even more pressure to succeed, might well have seen this type of publicity as a way of averting eyes away from the team’s deficiencies. If anything , it will now place the Eagles more under the microscope with Tebow and the Eagles’ head coach receiving the biggest scrutiny of all. GM Howie Roseman and team owner, Jeff Lurie could very well have blundered with this move as much as there now seems to be doubters of Kelly’s abilities as a head coach and his recent decision making with the player turnover and the departures of Nick Foles , LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson , among the players let go by the franchise.

With Mark Sanchez and the recently acquired Sam Bradford as the only players on the Eagles’ roster with any real depth of playing experience, it is hard to suggest how Tim Tebow fits into any type of role on the team. Matt Barkley , as a fourth quarterback on the depth chart, I can only surmise , any type off or preseason competition for the starter’s role will have to be looked upon with a great deal of ridicule. Bradford with limited experience in a starting role has been ineffective , but beyond that issue , he is also injury prone.

Mark Sanchez for his part, at best, is no more than an average quarterback, whose two and a half years of initial success with the New York Jets was then followed up with what can be best described as mediocrity, heightened by the infamous ” butt-fumble” incident . However, the biggest issue for the Eagles will remain the fact, Chip Kelly has no propensity for his teams to play defense . It has been their Achilles’ Heel and is likely remain so during this upcoming season , even if defensive coordinator Bill Davis has an epiphany. The Eagles are sorely in need of defensive talent, based upon their lackluster play since Kelly assumed his role as their head coach. Last season made that abundantly clear also , where they were among the lower rung of the NFL’s franchises with an inadequate secondary. NFL Draft or not, I doubt things are likely to change this upcoming season !

An eight-game winning streak seems to have sent New York Mets’ fans into an extreme flight of fantasy. Yet considering the streak, the best thing which can be said about these recent turn of events for the NL East based franchise, might be well be the fact , it has been the only tangible success the ball-club might well have had in the past seasons . As good as the Mets appear to be , I do not believe this team is capable enough of sustaining their level of play over the course of a one hundred and sixty-two game schedule !

Terry Collins and his managerial staff may well have gotten the Mets off to a fast start, but for Collins this is likely to be the season where he either sinks or swims with regard to his managerial acumen. The jury is still out on the manager and I dare say front office executives, Sandy Alderson and J P Ricciardi still remain under a great deal of pressure to steer the franchise back on the path of success. Whether or not Collins remains a part of their strategic plans is a matter of conjecture and debate, but this much we do know, failure by this team and the likelihood will be the manager is shown the door along with the managerial staff.

A 3-2 victory over divisional rivals the Atlanta Braves where the Mets simply outplayed the visiting team to Citi-Field in Flushing, New York . The two teams will meet again on Thursday with Julio Teheran on the mound for the Braves facing the veteran Bartolo Colon of the Mets. The match-up should prove to be highly entertaining between these two pitchers. .

An MLB team is said to be only as good as their current win streak might suggest. For the Philadelphia Phillies, having gone 2-8 in their last ten games, , only the Milwaukee Brewers’ current mark of ineptitude over a similar ten-game span (1-9) is deserving of even more ridicule. Phillies’ manager Ryne Sandberg is suddenly finding out his playing career by comparison is nowhere as difficult as his managerial career is now turning out to be. A 6-1 homeloss suffered at the hands of the Miami Marlins emphasized several of the issues that this Phillies’ team is having to face. Age, declining productivity from several players , who are overpaid , beyond a front office continually spinning their wheels, in search of answer to what ails this organization.

How and why Reuben Amaro still remains the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies is a question that many seem to have no answer for . Other than their 2008 success in the World Seriesand a subsequent appearance in the “Fall Classic” , pickings have remained stark for this franchise. Ryan Howard , once a productive player for the Phillies, has now become more of a liability, rather than an asset to this team. Howard’s teammate , Cole Hamels , a former World Series’ MVP winner has not shown the form that once made him one of the most feared pitchers in the NL, let alone the rest of baseball.

Hamels’ $25 million salary might well appear cheap in comparison to his peers within the game, but given today’s ambivalence and the preponderance of the ball-clubs to overpay for talent. Some might well believe the Phillies are getting a bargain with the services of Cole Hamels. Sandberg and his beleaguered Phillies will face the Miami Marlins once again at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia, with David Phelps of the Marlins facing off against Dustin McGowan of the Phillies.

Five years too late , but the press junket has already began, with world titlists , Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao . doing their nationwide appearances to conjure up enough excitement for their upcoming welterweight title fight on 2nd May, 2015 at the MGM Grand Casino Hotel & Resort Complex , in Las Vegas , Nevada. The fight is set to break all gate receipts and PPV records for a title and non-title bout. If the reported purse splits are anything to go by, the estimated take home pay for Mayweather will also be record-breaking , with the undefeated boxer receiving a gargantuan pay-day exceeding $125 million. Gross revenues are expected to top $300 million , with the possibility , the figure could very well exceed $450 million to $500 million u>, when taking into account residuals and the merchandizing revenues.(7)

Manny Pacquiao ,left, is seen here with Floyd Mayweather at an NBA game played at AA Arena in Miami , Florida , earlier this season. The two welterweight title holders will meet on the 2nd May, 2015 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas , Nevada , in what is likely to be the most lucrative fight in the sport’s history . Getty Images North America / Paul Evans

For Manny Pacquiao and his promoter Bob Arum , this offers the pairing a chance to prove Pacquiao’s recent losses over the past three years were simply an aberration. This might well be the bout which will either seal his legacy or hasten his retirement , leading him to fulfill his obligations as a Filipino Congressman.

Once an avid fan of the sport boxing , I now find it tedious , boring , lacking depth in terms of truly talented boxers and where fights more often than not have conjured far more controversy, than than expectations of a thrilling bout ! How else can you explain the sport’s rapid decline into mediocrity ? Inasmuch , as its supporters still believe boxing has something to offer their most avid fans, there is more excitement and competitiveness to be found in five rounds of Mixed Martial Arts’ bout.

The international governing bodies for this sport (IBF, IBO, WBA, WBC , WBO & WBU) are so far behind their combat counterparts, that the image from the MMA rear-view mirror has become a complete embarrassment. For those who seem to be under the belief , MMA has no place in the world of combative or professional sports , they should consider the fact , the IOC might well be considering to dropping the sport of boxing from the Summer Olympics due to its declining popularity on the global stage.

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Which recent events in the world of sports have highlighted what you believe to be either the more comedic or fascinating incidents to have taken place ?

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To read the latest offerings from the Tophatal’s Blog website and the associated content , simply click unto the links shown below. Offering the latest views of the sports’ world from an expat Brit’s perspective. In order to view each article merely click unto the link as shown.

Tophatal’s Blog : https://tophatal.wordpress.com/2015/03/28/imagine-things-getting-really-bad-before-entering-the-2015-nfl-season-its-not-as-far-fetched-as-it-seems

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/bracketsjackets-and-tip-toeing-around-the-patently-obvious

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The always curvacious and effervescent Denise Milani .

Imagine things getting really bad, before entering the 2015 NFL season, it’s not as far fetched as it seems


Imagine things getting really bad , before entering the 2015 NFL season , It’s not as far fetched as it seems

Over the last few days, I have been inundated with so much work, leading my group of research analysts within our section of a large department within the firm where I am currently employed . Trying to stay abreast of the news’ stories in the world of sports is not unlike sifting through a bucket full of fecal matter , looking for the feel-good story of the moment. In the world of golf , Tiger Woods is still trying to figure out if he can still play the game, much less compete at a high level. Well , based on his season , thus far and in 2014 .

I think we can all agree, Woods’ game has sank to an all-time low , without idiots still suggesting that he’s the ticker that still moves the needle within the sport. That was true at the height of his game , when he was winning tournaments at more than a thirty per-cent clip. That has not been the case in over four years , but you would be hard pressed to convince the idiots , who are still sipping from the porcelain pot that Woods continues to defecate and urinate in. . Such has been the apathy of the anal retentive sports’ fan who can be found in the country.

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In the NFL , the off-season has proven to be more of a surprise than any of us could have imagined. Needless to say , many may well be questioning the moves made by Chip Kelly as he has literally made the decision to tear apart his roster of last season, seeking to build a team more to his liking and built around what he believes will make the Eagles winners. Trading away one of the best performing quarterbacks in the NFL over the past two years, is not a convincing way of assuaging and trying retain the loyalty of a fan , especially a Philadelphia Eagles’ fan, who are known to be not only weary , but also lethal to players, whom they believe are not fit to wear an Eagles’ uniform. Nick Foles’ departure was not only a shock , but has many questioning, who is now running the show in terms of player personnel decisions. Is Kelly, as the head coach or is it GM Howie Roseman ?

In 2015, I am not so sure the Philadelphia Eagles will be a force to be reckoned with , not if Chip Kelly is relying on Sam Bradford to be the quarterback to lead this Eagles’ team ! In what I believe to be a puerile NFC East division , the likelihood of their being competitive football being played there this season , will be dependent upon the coaching acumen of Chip Kelly, Tom Coughlin , Jason Garrett and Jay Gruden . If they should fail, then things will be simply mediocre throughout much of the season .

If there is one thing we know to be true and it is the very fact , no matter how hard they try to rid themsleves of the label of being inept. The Oakland Raiders will not fail to confound us by simply making it a reality. The Raiders over the past six seasons have been the epitome of a franchise waywardly heading nowhere , while casting off head coaches like a quick change artist , changing from one outfit to another. The same can be said of the litany of players who have come and gone over that time-span. Jack Del Rio has been brought in by GM Reggie McKenzie and team owner Mark Davis , with a view to his being able to turn around the fortunes of one of the NFL’s most downtrodden franchises in recent years.

Consider the fact , Oakland has not won the AFC West or made the NFL postseason in over eight years , and only then can you comprehend how bad things have been for the organization. Then take into account , in recent years , profitability for the Raiders , has been hard to come by, in spite of their having some of the most loyal fans in the entire NFL . Yet , the franchise remains one of the most valuable in the NFL .

Oakland’s last appearance in the postseason came during the 2002 season when they won the AFC championship game , only to then fall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superbowl , who were being coached a former Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden . In the subsequent years , abject failure has been the name of the game, while one or two players have made something of a name for themselves donning a Raiders’ uniform.

While I believe Jack Del Rio to be a good coach , I am not so sure if is the right coach or capable enough a being to lead, what in all likelihood will be at its core , a team filled with players who were cast-offs from elsewhere. Add in the fact, the team’s quarterback , Derek Carr will be asked to place the Raiders on his inexperienced shoulders , having had relatively little success in the NFL during his short career . It might be far too bold a suggestion to make , but in this upcoming NFL Draft the Oakland Raiders cannot afford to fail .

Jim Harbaugh’s departure from the San Francisco 49ers was a clear case of a front office dissatisfied with a head coach, who simply had lost control of a team , which lacked discipline and one where many of the players thought themselves above the law , while having inflated egos . The issues of Ray McDonald and Aldon Smith have been well-chronicled without delving further into the less than amicable relationship which had deteriorated during its final days between the Niners’ former head coach , GM Trent Baalke and team CEO Jed Yorke. Photo opportunities featuring Harbaugh and Baalke or Harbaugh and Yorke , had become a rarity. It has to be said, when the two senior executives are said to be distrustful of their head coach , they are in fact sending a clear message, that his tenure , is about to be cut short . No amount ill-conceived diplomacy and well-wishing, upon Harbaugh’s departure could hide the fact, Trent Baalke and Jed Yorke wanted Jim Harbaugh out of San Francisco , faster than a high-speed train.

San Francisco’s demise last season was as much of their own making as was the inconsistency shown by quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his teammates throughout much of the season . Kaepernick for his part having had initial success with a Superbowl appearance, making the postseason in each of his first two seasons in the NFL, fell back down to earth in 2014 , with uneven performances during the Niners’ schedule. While I believe the quarterback played a part in the team’s obvious inconsistencies , the majority of their problems came from the lack of discipline instilled into the team by Jim Harbaugh as the season began to spiral out of control.

Harbaugh is now in charge of the Michigan (Wolverines’) program , seeking to place that school’s footballing glories back upon a pedestal where their fans believe it belongs.

For the San Francisco 49ers, their upcoming season under the leadership of a new coaching staff led by Jim Tomsula could prove to be rather interesting for a number of reasons beyond the new head coach’s lack of experience. If the Forty Niners cannot overcome the continued and recent ascent of the Seattle Seahawks , their ongoing and growing confidence. Then , there is every belief , that it will be Pete Carroll and the Seahawks once again walking away with the NFC West divisional crown with effortless and consummate ease.

There is no denying, while in college Reggie Bush had a sensational career ,but unfortunately, a great deal of it, was built upon a web of deceit and lies , carried out with such bravado and countenanced by the atheletics department of USC (Trojans) while Mike Garrett was the Athletics Director of the program . Garrett played the role of the unassuming unknowing administrator , when in all probability , he was aware as to the machinations , all consuming , wheeling and dealings , which denoted academic fraud within the basketball and football programs , beyond Bush’s acceptance of money from known and unknown parties , while a student athlete at USC . The fact, Pete Carroll left the program, with such speed, all under the guise of accepting the millions of dollars thrown at him by Seahawks’ owner and billionaire entrepreneur Paul Allen can be read in a number of ways. None of which, has Carroll smelling like a bouquet roses and looking good at the time of his departure, with his refusal to provide any insight as to what he he might have known about the allegations at the time , surrounding Reggie Bush and number of other players under his tutelage as head coach of the football program.

With Garrett fired , Pat Haden was brought in to clean up the mess , with Lane Kiffin being hired to succeed Pete Carroll . Kiffin’s tenure at USC was riddled with inconsistency and a great deal of controversy , with the coach having repeatedly stretched the limits of what was deemed acceptable by the NCAA concerning a number of growing infractions , all of which Lane Kiffin claimed, he felt were within parameters set by not only the school, but also collegiate athletics’ governing body. Playing the fool , obviously came easy for Kiffin , and he still acts like a fool , while a member of the coaching staff of Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide of Alabama .

Reggie Bush’s first five seasons in the NFL were spent with the New Orleans Saints where his successes were fleeting and nondescript . Now with his fourth team of his nine-year career, having entered the NFL as a first round draft pick of the Saints in 2006 . Bush now hopes to resurrect his stalled career having 0532i signed one-year $2.5 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers during the off-season. I am not so sure what Bush can bring to Niners at this stage of his career and I certainly don’t believe him to be a better running back than Frank Gore , who San Francisco allowed to leave as an unrestricted free agent , with Gore joining the Indianapolis Colts. What that might suggest about the Forty Niners , might well have a bearing as one of the reasons why this team didn’t to get anything meaningful done during the course of last season. If the coaching staff believed Frank Gore was unproductive , then there has to be something seriously wrong with their mindset. Aging veteran or not, Gore was not one of the primary reasons San Francisco failed so miserably, ending their season with an 8-8 record .

Heading into this season Colts’ GM Ryan Grigson will have to deal with the issues of extending the contracts n of head coach Chuck Pagano and their perennial Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck. You would think , the choice would be an extremely easy one to make . Yet, for some reason Grigson has found a way to bring about extreme tension between himself and Pagano as well the player, who has guided the franchise to playoff appearances in each of his first three seasons in the NFL. It might not take a rocket scientist to assist the general manager to make a quick decision, but if he is need of help , then there are several hundred of these engineers and scientists to found at Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL) as well as on the campus of MIT . WTF !

Luck will be in the final year of his original four-year $22.5 million deal signed as a rookie in 2012. Don’t laugh , but by comparison, Jay Cutler last season earned almost as much as Luck has made in his first three seasons in the NFL . You have to pat on the back the decision-makers within the Chicago Bears’ front office for having the temerity of not only offering Cutler that outrageous seven-year $126 million deal , but also the asinine notion of current Bears’ head coach John Fox , whose opinion appears to be Cutler can still guide the Bears to a great deal of success at this stage of his career . Given a choice between Jay Cutler and Andrew Luck , even if I were blindfolded , I would still be able to pick Luck over Cutler, while smelling the stench which still can be tracked, by the fecal matter the Bears’ quarterback calls a career .

The obstacles now facing the Indianapolis Colts will be getting past the New England Patriots be it in the regular season or postseason . Clashes between the two franchises became synonymous with the careers of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning . There is no reason to believe the Colts will be seriously challenged within the AFC South this season . The Tennessee Titans are still struggling to find an identity , the same can be said of the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars , who were among the least competitive teams in the NFL last season .

A great deal is now being made of the NFL Draft and the choices to be made by the teams seeking become relevant within the league. Clearly, with so much conjecture and debate over what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will do as the team with the number one pick in this Draft. The possibility of the Buccaneers not choosing either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston , two players believed to be the consensus two top picks in this year’s draft could come as a shock. Yet , this might not be as big a surprise as pundits believe it will be. Personally, I simply do not put much into the machinations of the NFL calendar at this time of the year ! These college players will either prove to be good or extremely bad and by no means ____ is it a guarantee, a player taken as the top pick is a guarantee of success. The last player taken as the number one pick to have led his team to the Superbowl , was in fact Eli Manning taken in 2004 by the New York Giants . Two Superbowl victories coming from the arm of Manning sealed his legacy, but since that victory, the Giants’ quarterback has not been consistent or led the team another postseason appearance since 2007. Make of it what you will.

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Picture gallery . Narrative can be seen by clicking on an individual frame .

What do you believe will be the likely outcome of this NFL Draft by way of the player taken as the number one overall pick ? Based on the needs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , do you believe it is imperative the franchise take a quarterback or a player of need at another position ? Chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be of relevance to the subject matter.

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Brackets,jackets and tip-toeing around the patently obvious …

Brackets,jackets and tip-toeing around the patently obvious …

The seedings have been decided upon for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and quite rightly so. The Kentucky Wildcats having ended the season ranked number one in the nation, as well having an unbeaten season bearing a 34-0 record will enter the tournament as its prohibitive favorite, to win it all . John Calipari and his coaching staff head into the Tournament knowing, the first slip-up made, will essentially put to an end a season where a great deal more was expected.

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Players on this Wildcats’ team know a winning season and the NCAA Tournament title will certainly insure great deal of plaudits and the near- certainty of a high draft position in the upcoming NBA Draft this upcoming June . With three consensus first round draft picks among this roster of stars. The names of Karl Anthony Towns , Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson simply stand out, as players likely to be taken in the top-ten picks of the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft. If not, then there is something seriously wrong among the general managers and head coaches within the NBA at this juncture.

The four seeds in the regional tournament of the NCAA Championship are Kentucky, Villanova , Duke and Wisconsin . All four teams are in regional draws which will have their pot-holes along the way . where at least one or two upsets are likely to take place as the tournament progress. Opening salvos will be fired in the when the first four teams take to the court on the 17th and 18th March , 2015, as the NCAA Tournaments gets underway to decide the Men’s national champion.

Mike Krzyzewsk and the Duke Blue Devils will certainly have their work cut out for them in this tournament, as their path is unlikely to be easy. As the top seed in the South Regional phase of the Tournament where their biggest challengers could very well be other than their own complacency a , will be the other seeded challengers in the regional phase , with those topping the list said to be , Gonzaga , Georgetown (Hoyas) and Iowa State. As talented as the this Duke team might be considered to be , I do not believe this will be the year in which Mike Krzyzewski guide the program to their fifth national title , all coming under the coaching acumen of the renowned head coach.

With either Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah missing from the Chicago Bulls’ lineup at some point of the season, it easy to understand the reasons why the team has continued to struggle in the aftermath of having lost their League MVP point guard to another season-ending injury , likely curtailing Rose’s long-term future and the rest of his career. Add in the fact, the ongoing relationship between head coach Tom Thibodeau , GM Gar Forman and Head of Basketball Operations John Paxson , is now said to have reached an all-time low, and one wonders how the franchise can gain anything meaningful out of this all, should they fail to make the playoffs .

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Bulls’ forward Jimmy Butler is seen here with Tom Thibodeau . In the absence of either Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose . It has been left to Butler to provide the bulk of team’s offense over the course of the season. Thibodeau’s relationship with the organization has been tenuous at best often becoming heated between the coach and executives, John Paxson and Gar Forman . Courtesy of USA Today/ ..

Not only has the rancor between the head coach and the front office said to have reached an unacceptable level , but it is believed with Thibodeau unwilling to resign, there is no likelihood Paxson or Forman will make the decision to fire their beleaguered coach and their having to honor the remainder of his contract. With Derrick Rose sidelined, it has been left to his teammate Jimmy Butler to step up to the plate in the absence of his more heralded teammate to lead the team by example.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers now raced to the top of the Central Division of the Eastern Conference , the Bulls are now left having to wonder, what to make of their season , while also seeking to play catch-up within the conference. A nine-point road loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder , a road defeat . Butler and his teammates’ next contest will be againstthe Indiana Pacers whom they host on Wednesday evening at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois ,.

In the contest between the Thunder and the Bulls, point guard Russell Westbrook continued his scintillating displays where he almost posted another triple-double . Easy to now understand why he become a consensus favorite for this season’s League MVP. Consider the fact also, Westbrook has been doing this all in the absence of his teammate , Kevin Durant.

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks must be now salivating at the thought of Durant’s imminent return and the chance of his teaming up once again with Westbrook, to provide one of the most dominant and productive duos in the NBA. With only fifteen games left to be played in the remainder of the regular season, it will be interesting interesting to see how the teams acquit themselves as the season winds winds down .

All is fair in love and war . Granted, LeBron James has proven himself to be something of a warrior this season, as the Cleveland Cavaliers seek to justify themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference. Their record suggests otherwise when compared to that of the high-flying Atlanta Hawks , who might just be the surprise team the regular season within the NBA . Hawks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer certainly has to be considered one of the leading favorites for this season’s Coach of The Year Award , as it would a complete travesty , were he not among the top vote-getters for the prestigious accolade.

(7)    Alonzo  Mourning   now a  senior   executive  within   the  Miami  Heat    organization   has   been  extremely  critical  of    former   Heat   player    LeBron  James   after  his   decision  to  leave  the  franchise  and    return  to  the   Cleveland   Cavaliers  .  Mourning ,   failed  to   suggest   why  Heat   failed  to  surround   James     with   players   complementary  to   his    skills    capable  of   actually   of  being   competitive   enough  to  have   won   last    season's   NBA  title  .   Getty   Images/  Paul  Miller

Alonzo Mourning now a senior executive within the Miami Heat organization has been extremely critical of former Heat player LeBron James after his decision to leave the franchise and return to the Cleveland Cavaliers . Mourning , failed to suggest why the Heat failed to surround James with players complementary to his skills capable of actually of being competitive enough to have won last season’s NBA title . Getty Images/ Paul Miller

At present, Atlanta and the Golden State Warriors are the only teams with fifty victories or more to their respective resumes`. A possible Finals’ meeting between the two seems a reality, but I believe it to be unlikely given the competitiveness of the Western Conference. Steph Curry and his Warriors’ teammates are having a terrific season , albeit, many would not have considered this to have been one of the teams to beat at the start of the year, with the transition of easing in a new head coach, and Steve Kerr assuming the reins after his predecessor, Mark Jackson’s idiotic decision to alienate himself by foistering his hypocritical beliefs outside the game , upon his players and then to some extent , denigrating the organization . Joint team-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber had no other choice but to dismiss Jackson, ” freedom of speech” rights or not . There is no longer any space for outright bigotry within the realms of sports , let alone the fact , the former head coach showed a great deal of disrespect for the franchise, with his inflammatory remarks .

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Former Golden State Warriors’ head coach Mark Jackson , foreground and his successor , Steve Kerr. This season the Warriors have not only the best record in the NBA , but the team also happens to be the league’s , most potent offense , leading the NBA in a number of offensive categories . Getty Images

If Mark Jackson wishes to make a point , then let him do so while not representing Warriors and most definitely, if he choosing to express his personal beliefs, it should not be done in such a venal way, with his wantoned disregard of others , his own ethnicity and historically what African Americans have gone through in this country, without then seeking denigrate others, because of their own sexuality. Obviously, Jackson’s own religious beliefs and his comprehension of Biblical teachings, indicates his lack of intelligence and compassion. This has nothing at all to do with “political correctness” having run amok, but more to do with simple bigotry . You don’t cry ” fire ” in a crowded theater , or show downright bigotry of others , without their being severe consequences , and those wishing to excuse such behavior are simply naive or just imbeciles.

In what turned out to be a surprise overtime win over the reigning NBA champions , the San Antonio Spurs . New York Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher suggested the team should be rewarded for the efforts in this victory. Unfortunately, victories for the Knicks have been few and far between.

If Fisher is of the opinion his players ought to rewarded for those victories , then he sure as hell does not hold these very same players accountable, for the losses amassed over the course of the season. Fisher has shown as a rookie head coach, he still has a great deal to learn , and learning on the job when you have an inadequate group of players , and a front office which remains clueless, it becomes patently obvious to see why this franchise has been a complete mess and the ongoing butt of so many jokes around the NBA. Those subscribing to the fact Phil Jackson remains a basketball genius should really rethink that whole synopsis and realize it has been his ego and complete lack of knowledge in assessing talent which has also led to this debacle. Next up for the Knicks will be a road trip to visit the equally abysmal Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday evening.

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New York Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher is seen here two of his assistant coaching staff Jim Cleamons and Kurt Rambis , as they discuss a pregame strategy in the lead-up to a game to be played the franchise’s home venue , Madison Square Garden , New York City , New York . On the road as well as at home the franchise has simply been pitiful , having been the first team this season to have lost in excess of fifty games , with a league-leading fifty-three defeats as of 17th March , 2015. AP Photo / Mark Warren .

With both the Knicks and Timberwolves likely to be part of the Lottery Pick for the right to the top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft , it will be interesting to see which of the two teams in question or one of their other fellow banal franchises will be joining them as part of this ongoing facade created by the league to seek in the Draft process.

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The NCAA Tournament will likely create a great many thrills and spills, with one or two surprises along the way, in terms of the results. This tournament will ultimately provide us with another D1 collegiate champion in Men’s Basketball. Given the excitement created in last year’s tournament, with the 2015 NCAA championship now underway, let all of the excitement now begin. I may well be wrong , but I do not believe there is now an outright favorite for this year’s NBA title , and granted, there have been two or three teams over the course of this season who have proven themselves worthy favorites or perceived contenders. Yet, a caveat remains , buyer beware, beyond stating the obvious , the only conclusion and sure thing , has been the winner from each conference championship will have an equal chance of being named the NBA champion for the 2014-15 season.

Which programs do you believe will rise to the occasion and become this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion ? With NBA regular season now winding down , which teams do you believe have been the biggest disappointment to the league and to the fans ? Also which franchises from the Eastern and Western conferences, will be the Finals’ contestants for this season?

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War is coming ….

War is coming ………….

Well, baseball has began its season, by way of their exhibition games throughout the month of March before the regular season commences on the 5th April , 2015.

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If nothing else this season, will likely tell us a great deal about the teams who will seek to usurp the San Francisco Giants who are the reigning World Series’ champions. Bruce Bochy and his managerial staff will be looking to get his newly revamped team prepeared for the rigors of the 2015 regular season schedule.

The Giants with their World Series’ MVP and ace starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner will be looking to replicate the form shown during the postseason . Inasmuch, as the fairy tale of the Kansas City Royals may well have provided the fans of baseball something to be really excited about , at the end of the day, the Royals simply were not good enough to defeat the Giants in the “Fall Classic” .

With NL teams such as the Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers , San Diego Padres , Milwaukee Brewers , St Louis Cardinals , Atlanta Braves , Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals likely to prove to be formidable challengers to the San Francisco Giants this season, it certainly will be interesting to witness what unfolds over the courseof the schedule in 2015.

Bruce Bochy and Giants’ GM Brian Sabean have worked tirelessly to make the franchise one of the most competitive in all of baseball and that has certainly been the case over the past seven seasons with San Francisco having won three NL Pennants and three World Series’ titles during that time-frame. Dominance has been the name of the game, along with frugal spending and drafting of players and great acquisitions by the front office . Once the regular season gets underway for the Giants, it will be interesting to see how the team fares over the course of their schedule.

If there is one player that will have something to prove in 2015, then it would have to be the three-time AL MVP and New York Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez . A year-long league mandated suspension and Rodriguez will resume his already controversial and already tarnished baseball career under the microscope of the fans, print and television media alike. The player’s somewhat less than contrite apology, may well have fallen on deaf ears , but, it has been his temerity to challenge the Yankees’ organization in seeking to void certain incentives of his contract that may well leave many in bewilderment as to the size of Alex Rodriguez’s ego and the fact he still remains in denial, concerning his misdeeds.

Joe Girardi and his managerial staff get off to a 1-1 start to the exhibition season during the month of March. The team will begin a split series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, then have games against the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals to round-out their weekend schedule series of contests. It might not prove to be enough of a gauge, to judge where players might need to be, as they enter into their regular season schedule, but Girardi knows if the Yankees are to fare well and improve on last season’s disastrous showing in the AL East , then the level of their play will have to be great deal better than seen in 2014. From my own perspective I believe Alex Rodriguez will be hard pressed this season to reproducethe form , that once made him one of the best players of his generation , with or without the stain of the steroids, he is known to have to used at various stages of his well now well-chronicled career.

With the San Diego Padres having made a big splash during the off-season with the acquisition of several players. It will be interesting to how the managerial staff of Bud Black will fare with an entirely new roster of players. The Padres’ biggest acquisition was that of former Los Angeles Dodgers’ slugger Matt Kemp who is expected to be the focal pointof an offense expected to contend within the NL as well the NL West this upcoming season.

While I believe Bud Black to be a very good manager , I certainly do not believe , because the Padres’ front office have gone out to make some very ambitious moves, it will ultimately lead to success by way of their possibly dethroning the San Francisco Giants as the NL Pennant winners ! It is going to take a great deal more than a $94 million payroll to bring about the ambitions sought by the organization. Granted, with the acquisitions of Matt Kemp and Justin Upton the franchise may well have appeared to have placed themselves in something of favorable position , but as I alluded to before it will take considerably more than brandishing a near $100 million commitment to make it all a reality in terms of a World Series’ title .

The San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants will be meeting on Saturday , 7th March in all NL clash at the Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, Arizona in a preseason Spring Training game as the two teams get to acclimatize themselves with baseball and something of a re-acquaintance of sorts among divisional rivals . On the mound will be James Shields of the Padres facing off against Madison Bumgarner. At this early a stage in Spring Training these type of games do not necessarily tell you a great deal about the teams as each seeks to find a rhythm with the view ahead, being the preparation for the regular season onslaught of a one hundred and sixty-two game grueling schedule, for all thirty teams within MLB.

No matter which way you seek to slice and dice it , the year-round fascination with the NFL continues unabated . Yet, this is the one time of the year , when you have to wonder , if there is any real sanity to the game . The litany of movements by way of trades to have taken place, now seem to be not only mind-boggling, but also appear to a case of desperation on the part of the teams coming to such a decision. I am still intrigued how Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly believes the team will be in a better position to win without, their Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy , having traded the player to the Buffalo Bills within the AFC East. The move will likely benefit the Bills, who are indeed in need of a great offensive force , after their rather lackluster season in 2012, where not only did the wheels fall off their wagon but the entire was simply nowhere to be seen on the field of play, as reflected in their year-end record .

For Rex Ryan the incoming head coach who succeeds Doug Marrone , fired by GM Dough Whaley , presumably with the view the new team owner, Terry Pegula wanted to start afresh, with an influx of new faces from the coaching staff on down to the player personnel roster . Given much Rex Ryan is known to have under-achieved with the New York Jets during the final two years of his tenure. I am not so sure there will be an immediate improvement in his record or that of the Bills’ fate this upcoming season.

The Seattle Seahawks’ failure in the waning moments of this past Superbowl provides with a story from two perspectives . It is that , of the losing team, having a chance at glory , taking the gambler’s route, failing , with the head coach , Pete Carroll falling on the sword, taking the blame for an utter ridiculous decision . The other was that of the winning team seeking to redeem itself after the allegations made , and yet to be founded, that there was any concrete evidence to suggest that orders came down from on high , head coach Bill Belichick or a member of his coaching staff ordered the tampering of the game or practice balls used in this most recent Superbowl. Granted, the stains of previous misdeeds have yet to truly dissipate , but I believe it to be more out of dislike of the Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick, rather than the team itself . On the other hand, the NFL cannot hold itself up , to be a game or brand that is above reproach , especially when one continues to look at the misdeeds of not only the players, teams and executives , but also the hapless and rather idiotic edicts and comments provided by Roger Goodell as the NFL Commissioner .

Anyone who truly believes Goodell has been good for this league , must be greatly in need of psychiatric help , if nothing else. If the only thing the commissioner can point to , are the ever increasing revenues within the game as his only evidence of any meaningful success , then there is something clearly wrong within the league , itself. The alleged popularity of the NFL is said to be at an all-time high , but I would beg to differ when it comes to the demographics of its female fan-base ! If any male fan, can legitimately point to the fact, that females fans have not been disgusted by what they have witnessed by way of the behavior of players such as Ray Rice , Greg Hardy , Ray McDonald and Adrian Peterson to name but a few, and still suggest, the league still has an even greater appeal among females. Then , there has to be a great deal of apathy if not stupidity on their part !

The NFL cannot get out of the way of its continued ineptitude by way of the league hierarchy , complete lack any type of accountability by its leadership but even more so by the lack of real leadership show among the union from its highest ranks on down to the off field conduct of the players and continued asinine apathy of many of the NFL’s so-called diehard fans .

Just when you thought there might have been some semblance of sanity within the NFL , leave it to the front office of the Chicago Bears prove us all wrong . With the firing of both Marc Trestman and former GM Phil Emery , you would have the impression that the Bears would be right back on track . No, that could never be, as they are intent on proving us all wrong . Wide receiver Brandon Marshall’s tenure with the franchise has now come to an end , with the organization having sent the player to the New York Jets . All of this, while they still have Jay Cutler and his $17 million salary on a their books , with his being a complete waste of space during his entire stay with the NFC North based team .

I have always maintained , Jay Cutler was never that great a quarterback to begin with , in spite of the many great attributes claimants believed he had . If that were the case then surely the Bears’ quarterback would have led the franchise to at least moderate success. Instead , it has been Cutler simply falling short at just about every obstacle possible , and that is without taking into account Phil Emery’s ridiculous decision to make him among the highest paid players in the NFL not only by contract , salary , but also at his position . Not really all that difficult to understand why there are so many idiot front office executives within the NFL and why they have an IQ barely above that of the counterparts in Major League Baseball or perhaps a member of the Kardashian family. I would also place members member of Congress in among the idiot general managers of the NFL, but it is plain for everyone to see both legislative chambers of House and Senate , when left to their own devices , they are unique and have no need to be harangued any further because , we will always be able to gain even more mileage with their continued stupidity , no matter what the circumstance .

At the time of the NFL Draft in April , it will be interesting to see if Jay Cutler will remain a part of the Chicago Bears or dangled as trade bait as the franchise seeks to move on from his years of inconsistency and lack of positive results .

It’s nut-crunching time in the NBA as the teams begin to enter the home stretch of the season. If franchises are indeed looking to play themselves in the conference and divisional contention . Then now would be the time to let their intent be known . Now is not the time to be raising the ” White Flag of Surrender” , unless you happen to be the Denver Nuggets , Los Angeles Lakers , Minnesota Timberwolves , New York Knicks , Philadelphia 76ers , Orlando Magic , Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings .

The aforementioned teams , have not only been a drag on the league this season, but in reality, anyone trying to suggest that something meaningful can be taken out of their play and the NBA in general, has definitely been missing the fact, that the quality of the basketball overall, has been dire, particularly within the Eastern Conference , which continues to be a monstrous eyesore for anyone watching the games in that conference . Things are liable to get a great deal worse , before we are likely to view them as getting any better .

As the debate rages on , </aas to who this season ought to be named League MVP , there can be no denying that over the past fifteen games played by Russell Westbrook . The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard has been putting up astonishing numbers , a great deal of it being achieved in the absence of his teammate Kevin Durant .

Westbrook has not only willed his team to some astonishing victories , but he has led by example , being extremely unselfish in aiding the Thunder achieve their goals. GM Sam Presti and head coach Scott Brooks must feel privileged in the fact , knowing with the loss of Kevin Durant the franchise has a player who has not only assumed the mantel of leadership , but has willingly embraced with open arms and actually flourished in the role. Unfortunately , in today’s NBA, there might be less than a handful of players in the league capable of such a role. Yet, here we are as fans, now mulling over who should be the League MVP for this season ?

As the Oklahoma City Thunder continue to make their way up the Western Conference ladder. The Golden State Warriors led by point guard Steph Curry have basked in the limelight of being not only the best team in the conference but by far the best team in the NBA throughout much of the regular season , up to this point in time. Curry, alongside , James Harden , Russell Westbrook and LeBron James are considered the front-runners the league’s highest regular season individual award . It will be very interesting to see how things pan out , and how the voters go about making their decision , as to who this season’s winner of the League MVP will be .

Phil Jackson the Zen Master , has seen the New York Knicks’ season blow up in their faces and yet the continued idiotic excuses of Jackson, having a plan is not unlike, the current Congress’ views on the world and where this country stands , as the “moral beacon of light ” to the rest of the world . No substance and absolutely , no real , planned strategy of note . Unless, Jackson was of the opinion , he would be to able throw fecal matter ($hit) up against a wall, then working with what sticks. I truly believe, this has been the premise the famed head coach chose to go with ! How else can you explain the idiotic hire of Derek Fisher as the team’s head coach and then seeing the team simply make one big pratfall after the other, throughout the course of this season ?

Heading into the month of March , and still there are no signs of life with the Knicks . Granted , the loss of Carmelo Anthony due season-ending surgery , led to even further disasters, but in reality , so much burden had been placed on the shoulders of the player , there was no damn way in hell, he alone could have led this team to any semblance of success , but yet anal retentive fools, were still buying into this plan of Phil Jackson. He’s been a legendary coach , but that is all he has been. Jackson is not a great assessor of NBA talent and it is something that alleged fans, seem to be forgetting or simply have no damn idea what they trying to elicit, by way of making an argument for their premise. last victory for the New York Knicks came by way of a rather curt performance in a home win over the Toronto Raptors on the 28th February . Next up for Derek Fisher and his players will be a road contest against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center in Denver , Colorado on Monday evening. I would hazard guess and suggest is not likely to end favorably in the visiting team’s favor !

The New York Knicks may well have their eyes on the future , seeking to build by way of the NBA Draft and free agency . Generals go into battle , equipped with battle tested troops , armaments and a plan of action . Unfortunately, the Knicks entered this season, with nothing more than a a soup ladle, players not hungry or skilled enough to get the job done and coaching a staff , among the most incompetent in the entire NBA. How could anyone actually buy into the idiocy, Phil Jackson and his ego would be able to gain this franchise any semblance of success ?

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By clicking on an individual frame you can see that picture in a reformatted size along with its narrative.

As we come out of a Winter of sports’ stories, which in many ways covered the gamut of social and competitive issues. What are you most looking forward to seeing, during the coming months within the sports’ world ?

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(1) Players from the Kansas City Royals celebrate their victory over the Baltimore Orioles , which guaranteed their appearance in the 2014 World Series . It was not to be for the AL Pennant title holders , as they fell to the San Francisco Giants in a thrilling seven-game series . AP Photo / Mitch Cooper .

(2) San Francisco Giants’ GM Brian Sabean , left, is seen here alongside team manager Bruce Bochy , who looks admiringly at the NLCS Pennant Trophy , the third title won by the paring for the franchise in the last six years. Last season , the Giants would also go on to win their third World Series championship during the same time-span , leading to one of the richest eras in the Giants’ long and storied history. It remains to be seen how San Francisco will fare in 2015, but rest assured , the managerial staff will have the team prepared for each competitive adversity likely to be thrown their way. Getty Images / Danny Fisher

(3) Feb 26, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (13) sits in the dugout as he waits to hit in the batting cage during Thursday mornings workout at George M. Steinbrenner Field . This season Rodriguez and his teammates will have a great deal to prove after a disastrous year in 2014 and rather lackluster performances by the team leading to a poor finish and record in the AL East. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

(4) SAN DIEGO, CA – DECEMBER 19: Matt Kemp (27) meets with Manager Bud Black (20) of the San Diego Padres in the clubhouse after trying on his new uniform top after being traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park on December 19, 2014 in San Diego, California. Photo by Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

(5) Former Philadelphia Eagles’ running back LeSean McCoy who was recently traded by the franchise to the Buffalo Bills . Getty Images

(6) Rex Ryan who has replaced Doug Marrone as head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Ryan will be expected to lead a newly revamped roster , as they seek to stop the continued recent dominance of the New England Patriots within the AFC East. The Bills have not won the the divisional title in several seasons and their last postseason appearance came in 1999 . Getty Images / Chris Thomas

(7) Seattle Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch recently signed a four-year deal to remain with the Seahawks. Lynch sought a contract to make him at least one of the top five running backs in the NFL in terms of salary and contract value . A franchise tag was being bandied about by the Seahawks’ front office and in part by head coach Pete Carroll.

(8) Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler is seen here with his now former teammate Brandon Marshall . The wide receiver was recently traded by the Bears and the common consensus appears to be, the veteran quarterback will not be far behind , with his being shown the door. It is unclear however , if the front office will seek to use Cutler as trade bait for a team, in search of a veteran quarterback . Chicago for some inexplicable reason made the player one of the highest paid quarterbacks by salary and contract value . Cutler’s NFL career has been highlighted by a great deal of inconsistency and lack of postseason success . AP Photo / Mark Curry

(9) Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is a ” man on a mission ” and that quest would appear to the the NBA title . However , over his last fifteen games the point guard has put up astonishing figures , leading the league in scoring , while being one of the leading candidates for the League MVP . Getty Images / Paul Miller

(10) In this June 10, 2014, file photo, New York Knicks president Phil Jackson smiles during a news conference in Tarrytown, N.Y. Jackson hears the question every time he walks around New York: How are the Knicks going to do? The Knicks’ President answers this way: “We believe we’re going to be a playoff team, and then we don’t know how far we’ll be able to go.” AP Photo/Seth Wenig

(11) NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 13: Head coach Derek Fisher and associate head coach Kurt Rambis of the New York Knicks look on before a game against the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden on October 13 , 2014 in New York City, New York. Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

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Crunk the fu#k up ….. War ….. War is coming

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 ….

Tophatal’s Blog on Facebook.com

Tophatal’s Blog

http://wp.me/poxLH-abP

o_O

Picture gallery and slideshow details below.

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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

:)

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

:)

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

Picture and slideshow details below.
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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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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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Slideshow.

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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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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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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