NFL Combine ………….

NFL Combine

It starts all with the perception, greatness and how one defines it. In this case as the underclassmen and seniors look to take the next step from the college game for NFL stardom. And in Indianapolis at the Lucas Oil Stadium , the stage will be set for players to prove themselves to NFL scouts , GM coaches and their coaching staff. And as usual there will be the plethora of noted NFL writers from the noted from the convened press. The combine itself gives the teams’ front offices the change to gauge the players that they have an interest in and to get a much closer look as to the overall talent available that is there at the time. There will however be some players who’ll choose not to take part in the process of assessing their abilities but who will take the opportunity to part-take in the interview process.

What can be taken away from this all may well amount to the decisions made by the front offices for a number of teams, come NFL Draft Day ? Speculation will be made as to who’ll be the number one player taken will be and whether or not teams will be prepared to trade up or down. By my way of thinking the speculation while warranted won’t in anyway influence what the final decisions made by a team may well be. However , the interview process more than anything will be a determining factor as to any decision made by a team.

When it comes to the NFL Draft and the constant speculation. I don’t really place a great deal by what the pundits state will or will not happen. There’s now no longer ‘a sure thing’ in the draft ! Players can either play or they can’t. The next level will be an indication of that and those found wanting , won’t last in the NFL. Want proof of that ? Then look no further than the likes of Ryan Leaf , Tim Couch , Eric Crouch , AkilIi Smith , Chris Weinke , Jesse Palmer and Jeff George . All of whom were determined to have talent but failed to show it at the next level. As to the reason why ? Well given the fact that their skill-set was suspect to begin with. The idiocy shown by the writers and analysts in hyping up players, for no other reason , than the mere fact they felt these players were the ‘elite of the field’ of noted aspirants looking to take the next step to make their mark in the league. Which begs the question what are the likes of Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay actually looking at ?

Now all we have to look forward to , are the choices that will be made by the teams on draft day and how things ultimately pan out over the course of the seven rounds of the two days which encompass the whole process. Perhaps the NFL Draft unlike any of the four major sports makes its process all the more interesting. Granted , MLB, NBA and NHL see their drafts as real showcase events, that entices the fans the way the NFL‘s draft impacts its fans, as it has done over the years. But in those draft simply plays second fiddle to that of not only the draft but also the NFL Combine , itself !

On the day , though I won’t be watching the event the whole way through , thought I will be taking an interest as to how the procedure pans out though the first dozen or so picks through the first round. These players if anything , tend to have more of an impact for their teams if they’re placed in the right environment. It ought to make for a very interesting day and for the fans an even more interesting fate awaits them. Crazy at it seems, this will be one of those days where an NFL team ‘hits pay dirt’ or they may not. Chances are , they will luck out with at least one the several picks that they will have over the course of the draft. I mean, how tough can a the coaching staff , general manager and coach make it for themselves ? It’s not as if they’re doing this blind folded ? Or are they ?

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………….

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In order to view the pics’ from the NFL Combine at the RCA Dome just click on each individually. photos appear courtesy of Associated Press/ Darron Cummings & Tony Conroy.
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Don’t Just Drop Him Just Don’t Support Him At All …… !

Don’t Just Drop Him Just Don’t Support Him At All !

Well the Pepsi Co. company owned Gatorade , has made the public decision to nullify their association with Tiger Woods . The beverage company, Gatorade, who also has branded product Gatorade G2 which uses Woods’ image and name to market the brand to the consumer market .

Tiger once again proves that he’s not human but a ‘droid. And for some allegedly with a high IQ ? WTF ? He’s shamed himself and his imediately family . What a wuss ! ‘Crocodile tears’ never hurts anyone but one’s self. And Tiger simply proves that fact !

Gatorade is the number one supplement beverage on the market , however with the supplement estimate value said to be in excess of $ 3.5 billion a year . The case is being made that the company is now being duplicitous in still maintaining an association with the golfer. Gatorade will still support Woods and his foundation in public functions that benefits the golfer’s foundation and his work with at risk youth.

One may now view the whole situation or somewhat unsavory, given the fact that Woods and his obviously well choreographed press conference, did nothing to satisfy the public’s wish for Woods’ to acknowledge his misdeeds. The golfer’s apology , if as part of one’s therapy you refuse to state your problem in public. Then in essence, it does nothing to suggest that you’re on the road to a full recovery.

For their part , Gatorade will no doubt use other high profiled athletes to market their brand and product. Amongst those athletes, there are Peyton Manning , Serena Williams , Dwyane Wade , LeBron James , Derek Jeter and the newly minted Superbowl winning MVP Drew Brees .

While a great deal of the world either support Woods as he tries to redeem himself in the eyes of the public. There will also be a number who’ll oppose his return to the PGA Tour . Be that as it may , the golfer will have his detractors.

The PGA Tour in all of its present semblance misses Woods greatly but at the same time , Tour Commissioner , Tim Finchem , knows that there’s no given timetable for the golfer’s return. But given the ‘state of play’ and the very fact that play on the Tour has been lackluster and the crowds have been somewhat sparse.The sooner the ‘world number one’ returns to the game, the better off the sport will be. Consider this, the total prize money on the PGA Tour in 1996 for all of its events totaled less than $ 54 million. In 2009 that amount totaled $274million for the 36 official events the PGA’s calendar.

With the first Grand Slam event on the calendar due in April, with ‘The Masters’ at Augusta National Golf Course, Augusta, Georgia. The whole world will be waiting and watching to see if this will be Woods’ first major and first appearance back as a golfer. Never mind the fact also , Woods was a no show at his own tournament , when the hoopla came about concerning his marital infidelities . From thereon in, everything started to go downhill , a great deal of is obviously of his own making.

Now we await the golfer’s decision as to his pending return to the sport that he has graced so successfully , having won 14 Grand Slam majors and 74 official PGA events will another 14 worldwide that aren’t officially counted official wins as part of the PGA’s statistics unless it’s a sanctioned event by either PGA Tour or the R & A (Royal Ancient Golf Club) the body with the vestige being the game‘s sanctioning body outside North America. Should Woods fail to appear on the Tour this season then it would be the first time that he has missed an entire season of golf’s most prestigious sport’s calendar since his official introduction in 1996 . From there as we know he has rewritten history in terms of feats of achievements. He’s four wins away of tying Jack Nicklaus for major wins and 11 wins short of surpassing Sam Snead for ‘all-time wins’ (82) on the PGA Tour. So what’s next for Tiger Woods at this juncture ?

Current Ravens’ player Donte’ Stallworth and his sit down interview with ESPN’s Michael Smith to discuss the accident that took the life of a Miami man in early 2009. Stallworth refuses to discuss the fact apart from being legally drunk , he also had marijuana within his system.

Of the major sponsors still with ties to Woods, the only one that has shown full support for the player has been apparel and equipment make Nike Inc . The Beaverton based, Oregon company, literally has tens of millions of dollars tied to the player , which analysts have stated accounts for anywhere between 10-15% of the company’s annual sales concerning their golfing division. But that only alludes to half of what the company expects to lose, were they to severe ties with Woods completely. And therein lies the dilemma for Nike and many other nationally prominent companies that still have ties with the player. Do they remain loyal to the golfer or do they take the stance taken by Gatorade and others who’ve simply stepped away and sever their ties with the player ? As egregious as his actions were and how he has since conducted himself . It has left many wondering when are those celebrities or athletes prepared to stand up and be held accountable for their actions ? Instead many have so often chosen to either hide behind the façade of their right to privacy or merely choose to blame others for their own self serving indiscretions ! Now is the time for companies who are endorsers of athletes to act appropriately in such cases . Or simply end up having their own mess to deal with.


Former Olympic US athlete and track star Marion Jones and her seemingly contrite apology. The years she threatened anyone with a civil lawsuit who had seemingly accused her of using steroids, has now come to an end with the very fact that she’d been lying to the public and the US Justice Department all along.

It appears that not even such fallen athletes such as Mark McGuire , Michael Vick, Marion Jones , Donte’ Stallworth or Tiger Woods ‘simply just don’t seem get it’ , that having fallen from grace , with the cursory apology . They still choose not to fully accept that their actions stem from the poor choices that they chose to make . Rather they would have use believe that it was just one poor case of misjudgment . No ! That was most definitely not the case , as they themselves chose the path to walk on that they took and no one else made that decision for them. It was just they and they alone . And absolutely no one was holding a gun to their head at the time that the decision was being made . As I stated …..’ Don’t Just Drop Him Just Don’t Support Him At All ’ !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………….

‘Lies’…… by ‘Evanescence’

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The Other Lopez Boy ………………

The Other Lopez Boy

Well now that we know the New Jersey Nets won’t be making the postseason . Lets look at what the other Lopez is doing in the NBA ? It’s not often that you have siblings competing in the same sport at the same time. Though it’s not a rarity but seldom does it happen where the siblings are said to be comparable in talent. In the case of Brook and Robin Lopez , such was the scenario. case.

Brook  & Robin  Lopez
Brook & Robin Lopez of the New Jersey Nets and Phoenix Suns. Both were drafted in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft by their respective teams out of Stanford University. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Robin Truman ...............

Both were drafted out of Stanford , with Brook going to the Nets and Robin going to the Phoenix Suns . Both were drafted in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft by the aforementioned teams. Each has had their share of struggles acclimatizing with their respective teams and to the rigors of the NBA. Now in their sophomore season they’ve begun to make strides and are contributing to their teams. Though in the case of Brook and the Nets those contributions won’t be recognized in terms of anything tangible by way of on-field success for the team . For Robin on the other hand , he and the Suns are proving to be major threat in the Western Conference of the NBA, as they strive for a playoff berth.

Courtesy of New Jersey Record Herald & News

Nets shock first-place Celtics

By Al Iannazzone

Boston- As the Nets exchanged high-fives and patted each other’s back after an unexpected job well done, Rasheed Wallace removed his headband and slammed it to the floor before walking off in disgust.

The Celtics didn’t want to be that team, but they were. The Nets were going to break through at some point and get a victory over a good team and that time came Saturday afternoon and that team was the Celtics.

Showing tremendous and surprising poise, the Nets didn’t buckle under the pressure of Boston’s fourth-quarter comeback and a deafening arena. The Nets stood tall down the stretch and finished off a stunning 104-96 victory inside TD Banknorth Garden.

“To finally break through against a good team like this shows us what we’re capable of,” Brook Lopez said after leading the Nets with 25 points.

“This is a big win for us,” said Devin Harris, who celebrated his 27th birthday with 23 points. “Hopefully it’s a building block for us.”

In the other locker room, there was frustration, a feeling the Nets know all too well.

“I got nothing to say,” said Kevin Garnett, who scored 26. “I feel disgusted.”

The Celtics (36-21) were humiliated Thursday, losing by 20 here to Cleveland on national TV, but this tops that.

Playing without Paul Pierce, the Celtics opened a 12-2 lead. They were outplayed badly from there as the Nets (6-52) were more aggressive by far. The Nets took the lead at the end of the first quarter and never relinquished it, building an 18-point edge in the fourth.

Last week, the Nets squandered an 18-point lead in a loss to Memphis, and fourth quarters have been their enemies lately. But they wouldn’t let up this time. Their assertiveness showed from the line, where they took 41 foul shots, 30 more than Boston.

The Nets go for their first two-game winning streak this season – a real possibility – tonight with Washington visiting Izod Center. Four wins in their remaining 24 games and the Nets will avoid matching or setting the record for the most losses in NBA history.

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Click on the above link to read the article in its entirety.
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New Jersey Nets center <strong> Brook Lopez </strong>(11) slaps hands with teammate Chris Douglas-Roberts during the fourth quarter of their <strong> 104-96</strong> win over the Boston Celtics in an NBA basketball game in Boston Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010. photo appears  courtesy  of  Associated Press/ Winslow Townson....
New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez (11) slaps hands with teammate Chris Douglas-Roberts during the fourth quarter of their 104-96 win over the Boston Celtics in an NBA basketball game in Boston Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Winslow Townson....

For the Nets and their entire front office this has been a season which they’d rather no doubt forget. Losing their first 17 games , the team now sits with a 6-52 record within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. Atop of the table within the division are the Boston Celtics (36-21) . For Nets’ President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn and the team’s GM Alex Diaz , this can’t have been what they had envisaged for the team at the start of the season. And it certainly hasn’t helped their cause that the organization is said to be financially ‘cash strapped’
because of the development of the development of the commercial venture which will house the team when they proceed to move to Brooklyn, New York. Bruce Ratner the one time team owner and now a minority stake partner in the team, has done as much as he can to bring the franchise on par with the likes of the New York Knicks , Los Angeles Lakers , Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics as a competitive and financial powerhouse within the NBA. I ought to take that back with regards to the Knicks as they couldn’t spell the word competitive much less play competitive , if you spotted them the letters ‘C’, ‘O’, ‘M’, ‘E’, ‘T’, ‘I’ and ‘V’ ! For Russian energy tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov , who recently acquired a majority stake in the New Jersey Nets, he wants nothing more than success for the organization. And he’ll no doubt do whatever it takes to make sure that becomes a reality for the organization and for its fans.

Nets’ coach Kiki Vandeweghe has struggled to gain any semblance of cohesiveness from the team. And with that ‘ 6-52’ record now becoming a yoke around the team’s very neck.. It’s hard to see what else Vanderweghe and his coaching staff can do at this juncture. There’ve been very few bright spots for the team and the fans to be proud of ! There have been glimpses of what one could expect from the team in the future in the play of Brook Lopez, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts , Josh Boone and perhaps the team’s best player , Devin Harris . But it is the immediacy of the ‘here and now’ that is really of importance and not about ‘what might be’, as to the team’s impending future. They may well choose to become a part of the ‘LeBron James’ sweepstakes, once that particular show gets on the road this upcoming off-season. No doubt Lebron will be willing to listen to all offers that’ll be forthcoming his way. One has to remember that, ‘LeBron’ now sees his himself as something of a ‘global commercial icon’ first, rather than as a ‘basketball player’ in the NBA. And if he’s to truly maintain that status, though Cleveland has served him well, it doesn’t match the bright lights and big city atmosphere that can he had in New York and at the same time ‘catch the eye’ of the corporate behemoths of Madison Avenue.

While the malaise of the Jets continues , the Phoenix Suns have quietly gone about their business within the Pacific Division with unassuming confidence under the guidance of their coach Alvin Gentry . And should the team make the playoffs , as I fully feel that they will ! Then it is my belief that Gentry ought to be considered one of the prohibitive favorites for the accolade of NBA Coach of The Year . Quite surprisingly he seems to now have the team playing not only with confidence but showing at times that as and when needed, they can play a modicum of defense. Which has always been the ‘gripe against the team’. It’s one thing to put up 100 points on the scoreboard but it doesn’t help when your opponents put up anywhere between 110-120 points and ends up winning the game. It certainly doesn’t serve you well as the losing team. And it’s something that Gentry’s predecessor Mike D’Antoni didn’t seem to understand.

<strong> Robin Lopez </strong> (#15) of the Phoenix Suns puts a shot up against the Los Angeles Clippers in an NBA Game played on February 26, 2010 at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona.  The  Suns   would   go  on  to  defeat  the  Clippers  <strong> 125-112 </strong>  . photo appears  courtesy  of   NBAE/  Getty  Images/  P Molumby ...........
Robin Lopez (#15) of the Phoenix Suns puts a shot up against the Los Angeles Clippers in an NBA Game played on February 26, 2010 at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns would go on to defeat the Clippers 125-112 . photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ P Molumby ...........

The biggest surprise to my mind as far as the Suns’ organization goes. It may well be with the firing of D’Antoni and the installing of Gentry as the team’s coach . Steve Kerr as the team’s general manager may not only have saved the Suns’ season but his very own position within the organization. As I felt sure that were they to fail then owner , Robert Sarver , would have ‘no choice’ but ‘to fire’ the much beleaguered executive. Now with the team playing as they are and with wily veteran and two time league MVP, Steve Nash playing as he has been. Then there’s every reason to believe that the team could make some noise in the playoffs. ‘And as Nash goes, so does the team’ .

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports

Lopez leads streaking Suns past Clippers

Phoenix (AP)—Robin Lopez went to the free-throw line two points from tying the family’s single-game scoring mark.

He didn’t get it, but his career-best 30 points and 12 rebounds were more than enough to help the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 125-112 on Friday night for their fifth straight victory.

“I wasn’t even aware of it,” said a smiling Lopez, whose twin brother, Brook, leads the fraternal competition with a 32-point game. “I was just trying to catch (teammate) Goran Dragic’s 32 points.”

Lopez made 13 of 16 shots for the Suns, who beat the Clippers for the seventh straight time.

“To shoot that efficiently tells me I’m doing my job out there,” Lopez said. “That shows how much faith my teammates have in me and my coaches have in me.”

Amare Stoudemire added 20 points and Grant Hill had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Suns, who won for the sixth time in seven games since the All-Star break. Phoenix has won 12 of its past 14 overall.

Eric Gordon scored 25 points, Travis Outlaw had 16 and Craig Smith had 16— 14 in the first half—and for the Clippers, whose three-game winning streak ended.

“They stretched us out pretty good,” Gordon said. “We were playing good defense, then they stretched us out and started knowing down a lot of 3s. We just couldn’t score as much as they did.”

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Click on the above link to read article in its entirety
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And while Nash has been playing his customary role , it’d be remiss not to mention that both Amar’e Stoudemire and Robin Lopez have been playing very well for the team. Some might even view Lopez as the ‘heir apparent’ to Stoudemire, should the veteran no be re-signed by the team in the off-season. He becomes a a free agent and can opt out of the final year of his contract which pays him an ‘understated’ $16.97 million . But that asides , it has been the surprising play of the former Stanford Cardinals’ player that has the Suns’ fans rejoicing and hoping that finally this might be their year. As to what might transpire during the postseason , we can only wait to see. But as things are now proceeding it appears that it is the other Lopez boy who seems to be having his day sun while the other seems to be languishing in the Nets own personal form of hell and purgatory all rolled into one.

Somehow this might all seem unfair to some ? One sibling is having the time of his life , while the other can only wish that the Nets could have a life , rather than one of sheer embarrassment and ridicule. At the end of the however , it is what you tend to make of it that in essence defines your character and you also as a person.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal

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Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes …….’If You Don’t Know Me By Now’

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Both  Sportschump  &  I  <strong> love  our <em> 'milque-toast' </em>  as well  as   Denise  Milani  !</strong>   And   there  ain't   nothing   wrong  with  that  at  all  !
Both Sportschump & I love our 'milque-toast' as well as Denise Milani ! And there ain't nothing wrong with that at all !

Is There No One Amongst You ? C’mon Now !

Is There No One Amongst You ? C’mon Now !

Slowly but surely, one can sense there’s some urgency about LeBron James’ game and his initial pursuit of that elusive first NBA title . He and the Cleveland Cavaliers have gone about posting ‘the best record’ in the Eastern Conference . And if nothing else they’re looking to acquit themselves for last season’s loss in the conference finals to the Orlando Magic .

Ray Allen (#20) of the Boston Celtics looks for a play against LeBron James (#23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 25, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Brian Babbineau .....
Ray Allen (#20) of the Boston Celtics looks for a play against LeBron James (#23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 25, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Brian Babbineau .....

With a 45-14 mark, the Cavaliers have the best record within the Central Division and the ‘best overall’ within the entire NBA, besting the mark of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 43-15 in the Western Conference . Now make of that what you will but ‘the great teams’ know how to overcome adversity when placed under real pressure during the regular season. In doing so , it prepares them for the much more difficult task of post-season play , where it’s all or nothing. My colleague, Sportschump had simply put so much into the fact that this Cavaliers’ team had lost three straight games recently to top flight opponents, in the Denver Nuggets , Charlotte Bobcats and the Orlando Magic . Now that asides , were those losses to lesser teams within the NBA , then there would be cause for concern for this Mike Brown coached team. As it would suggest either the rigors of ‘fatigue’ or just ‘sheer complacency’ by the Cavaliers.

Within the Eastern Conference the battle for dominance and supremacy essentially rests between three teams. They are the Boston Celtics , the Cavaliers and the Magic . All three have been playing at an exceptional level. Though it must be said , each each of the triumvirate has had their share of false starts but at the same time they’ve been able to overcome those deficiencies. As to what that might suggest, can be best summed by ‘the very fact that the Eastern Conference won’t be won by a team that is performing inconsistently ! I made this a point to Sportschump, that for Cleveland , the conference is theirs to lose. And that will only happen, if they show complacency on their part. As good as both Boston and Orlando are. And both teams are very good by the way ! But they’ve still yet to show me that when faced with ‘real adversity’ , they both have what it takes to stare it down and beat it with some ease. In Doc Rivers and Stan Van Gundy , the Celtics and Magic possess two coaches with a great deal of experience between them and a coaching staff that is as good as any within the NBA . Each has made an appearance in the NBA Finals as a coach. As too, has the Cavaliers’ Mike Brown and it is becoming more apparent that each would like nothing better than to make another appearance there, this season. This in essence sets up what may well turn out to be ‘one hell of a dogfight between the three’, as they battle for conference dominance and supremacy. It favors the Cavaliers at present and with the playoffs dictating that ‘the team with the best record’ within the conference has home-court advantage throughout the postseason. Let’s just say that the odds still favors the Cavaliers at this point. And it is likely to do so through the remainder of the regular season.

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports


Cavs blow past Celtics in 4th, win 108-88

By Brian Mahoney , AP Basketball Writer

Boston (AP)—The Celtics were better early, then LeBron James and the Cavaliers blew right by them.

Story of this game.

Story of the season.

James had 36 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, Mo Williams scored 14 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, and Cleveland dominated the second half in a 108-88 victory Thursday night.

Unable to stop Rajon Rondo or the Celtics in the first quarter, the Cavaliers turned up the defense in the fourth, limiting the Celtics to 3-of-21 shooting and snapping a nine-game losing streak in Boston, counting playoffs.

“We haven’t had much success here,” James said. “We’ve lost nine times coming into this building. So it gets the monkey off our backs. But don’t read too much into it.”

James kept the Cavaliers in it for three quarters on a night they lost Shaquille O’Neal to a first-half thumb injury, then Williams made four 3-pointers when Cleveland outscored Boston 35-14.

“I think in the second half our level of aggressiveness really stepped up on both ends of the floor,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “There was no panic among our guys. We knew 24 minutes was a lot of time. We just started chipping away from it.”

Ray Allen scored 21 points, and Rondo had 19 points and 11 assists for the Celtics, who badly missed injured All-Star Paul Pierce (right thumb) when their offense went stagnant in the final 1 1/2 quarters.

“They were a lot more aggressive in the second half. They made adjustments to stop Rondo’s penetration,” Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said. “We knew it was a real big test. We can’t play one half and relax.”

Cleveland improved to 20-10 on the road, tying Boston for the best in the NBA, and avenged a 95-89 home loss on opening night.

That came back when Boston looked like the class of the Eastern Conference while the Cavaliers struggled early. But the Celtics have been unable to stay healthy and Cleveland has left the Celtics and everyone else in the East behind, opening a 5 1/2 -game lead over Orlando while dropping Boston 7 1/2 games back in a tie with Atlanta.

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Click on the above link to read this Brian Mahoney article in its entirety.
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Last night the Cavaliers and Celtics met in a game that would give us enough of an indication as to where both teams now stand at this point of the season. And with both teams having added to their respective rosters, it would also give the fans a chance to see those newly acquired players. With Nate Robertson having been acquired by the Celtics via a trade with the New York Knicks . It was presumed that it would give the team some balance, added offense and a certain amount defensive presence from the diminutive Robertson. In the case of the Cavaliers they acquired Antawn Jamison from the Washington Wizards , sending Zydrunas llgauskas in the opposite direction. Jamison gives the team that additional rarity of a player who can shoot ‘the three’ with added ease, just as much as he can be creative around the basket and give the Cavaliers that added offensive productivity that they so desperately required. And this was the main reason why Brown and Cavaliers’ GM Danny Ferry viewed him as better option and fit, than the Suns’ Amar’e Stoudemire . Many probably question the choice , as Stoudemire offer the Cavaliers a proven offensive presence and a very good defensive player. But given the team’s long term view that Stoudemire would no doubt seek free agency at the end of the season. The prudent choice seemed to have been the safer and better choice financially for the organization . We shall see as the rest of the season unfolds for the Cavaliers.

The game prove to be ‘one of missed opportunities’ for the Celtics as ‘their offense spluttered’ over the final two quarters. It resulted with the Cavaliers easily winning the game with the usual customary effort forthcoming from LeBron James, who led all scorers with 36 points, in his team’s 108-88 victory over the Celtics. And though Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo did all that they could to stave off defeat , it simply wasn’t enough on the night for Celtics in front of their home crowd at the TD Banknorth Center, Boston and that of the Celtics’ senior partners ‘Wyc’ Grousbeck and his father H. Irving Grousbeck . For Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge this had to have been a troubling scene, to witness this team suffer such a lopsided defeat at the hands of the Cavaliers. With the fact that one of their veteran All Stars , Pierce Paul Pierce was unable to play due to injury. The defeat only exacerbates the situation even further as it now places the team just a little further behind both Cleveland and Orlando in the conference standings . And now nipping at their heels with a similar record of 36-20 are the Atlanta Hawks . So now what essentially was meant to be a ‘three horse race’ now has the potential of turning into a ‘four horse race’ , with all four teams within 7 1/2 games of one another.

As I alluded to earlier , it’s still my firm belief that the Cavaliers can not only end up with the best record in the Eastern Conference of the NBA but also win the conference championship and outright ! The conference is theirs for the taking and the margin between themselves and the rest of their opponents within the conference just seems to be widening in terms of their play and competitiveness. Whether or not there is a team up to the challenge of upending the team’s postseason aspirations remains to be seen. But as Brad Pitt’s character ‘Achilles’ is heard to have said in the movie ‘Troy’ (2004) ………….’is there no one else ‘…..? ‘ Is no one amongst you ‘ ? This is the challenge that the rest of the conference faces at this moment in time. Who amongst the seven other teams vying for a playoff berth is actually prepared to ‘challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers’ ? Your thoughts on the matter , if any ?

NB : Click here to see the Cavaliers’ schedule . Click here to see the Celtics’ schedule . Click here to see the Magic’s schedule. (In each case schedules shown are the teams’ regular season game’s schedule-through the month of February). Just click on the additional months shown to view their remaining regular season as indicated.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ……………..

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As with Homers’ ‘The Illiad’ (The Battle of Troy). The landscape that is now the Eastern Conference playground for LeBron James, who may well view himself as the league’s version of Achilles. But remember, even Achilles had a weakness and that was, his heel – ” Achilles’ heel “.

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In order to view the gallery’s pictures in full just click unto see each in their full
display. Photos appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images & Associated Press @ copyrighted material ..all rights reserved.

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Israeli  model  Bar Refaeli    seen  here  doing  a  Sports  Illustrated  Swimsuit  edition  phot-shoot.
Israeli model Bar Refaeli seen here doing a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition phot-shoot.

Not Quite The Silly Season In Sports But It’s Still Early Days As Of Yet ……………..

We all know how that at the end of the regular season on the PGA Tour , the sport has its anomaly of post-season events . Wherein, the players can supplement their on Tour earnings with even more astronomical sums in terms of unofficial prize money. Never mind the fact that Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has extended the calendar on The Tour , whereby a number of events were move beyond the end of the official regular season but the winnings attained there wouldn’t count on a player’s official prize money earnings. This part of the season is known as the ‘silly season’ . The same is true of for all of the four major sports.

Not Quite The Silly Season In Sports But It’s Still Early Days As Of Yet ……………..

We all know how that at the end of the regular season on the PGA Tour , the sport has its anomaly of post-season events . Wherein, the players can supplement their on Tour earnings with even more astronomical sums in terms of unofficial prize money. Never mind the fact that Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has extended the calendar on The Tour , whereby a number of events were move beyond the end of the official regular season but the winnings attained there wouldn’t count on a player’s official prize money earnings. This part of the season is known as the ‘silly season’ . The same is true of for all of the four major sports.

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig’s steroids proposal, made to the union last month, calls for a 50-game ban for first offenders, a 100-game penalty for second offenders and a lifetime ban for a third positive test.
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig’s steroids proposal, made to the union last month, calls for a 50-game ban for first offenders, a 100-game penalty for second offenders and a lifetime ban for a third positive test. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press / Adam Roundtree .......

Well low and behold , despite the pontificating by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , his asinine and inane attempts to suggest that there were no tried , tested and reliable methods in testing for HGH (human growth hormone) . Somehow , it has come about whereby there is irrefutable evidence that there is a test that is 100 % full-proof. So much for the blithering idiot and the MLB hierarchy that had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twenty first century when it came to adopting an internationally recognized drug testing policy. Is the hierarchy of major league baseball that archaic ? Or is it being ran by a bunch of simpletons ?

Courtesy of The New York Daily News

British professional rugby player Terry Newton tests positive for HGH as MLB on deck for testing

By Michael O’Keeffe and Christian Red , Daily News Sports Writers

The argument by Major League Baseball that no reliable test for human growth hormone exists took a major hit Monday.

Both the United Kingdom Anti-Doping agency (UKAD) and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) trumpeted the positive HGH test of British professional rugby player Terry Newton as “proof positive” that the drug can be detected in blood tests. Newton, who was tested in November, did not contest the result and yesterday was banned from the sport for two years by UKAD. Newton’s rugby club, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, also canceled his contract. Newton is believed to be the first case of a professional athlete testing positive for HGH using a blood sample.

Baseball has banned growth hormone since 2005, but there is still no HGH testing. Travis Tygart, USADA’s chief executive, Monday blasted baseball’s argument that an effective HGH test is unavailable.

“All of us who have helped develop a test wouldn’t put it in place if it wasn’t forensically sound and reliable.” Tygart told the Daily News. “Particularly in (Newton’s) case, it’s proof positive the test works.”

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With the ‘positive test’ of British rugby league player , Terry Newton , further proves how far and out of touch major league baseball really is with regard to the ongoing medical advances that there are in the meticulous testing of athletes for prohibitive substances. Not that it would really matter to baseball under Selig’s tenure as commissioner. He still believes to this day, that the sport has the most rigorous and meticulous testing policy in all of professional sports. As well as meting out the stiffest penalties available. If I hadn’t realize that he was being serious, I wouldn’t continue to ridicule this oaf ! His mendacity would suggest that he hasn’t the faintest idea as to what the hell he’s talking about. If anything , the ‘Mitchell Report’ and its finding further clarifies that ! God knows, the game itself , still has its problems but Selig’s handling of the issue and the undue intransigence of the MLBPA (union) has only further exacerbated and compounded an already grave situation.

Well what do you know ? A number of teams around the NFL have begun to either place the ‘franchise tag’ on their unrestricted free agents or in some cases, they’ve actually ‘cut’ players whom they feel are no longer of much use to their organizations. It’s business and the ‘nature of the beast’. Nothing in the game of football is guaranteed , other than a signing bonus and the ancillary incentives reached by a player once they attain those objectives. Could some please remind Jeff Garcia why it was that he and former Buccaneers’ coach Jon Gruden had a parting of the ways ? Honesty seems to be something that Gruden was short on , during his professional career as an NFL coach. But that asides , he got the job done.

Carolina Panthers' Julius Peppers saluting fans as he walks off the field after the Panthers' <strong> 23-10 </strong>win over the New Orleans Saints in an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C. The Panthers have decided the price is too steep to keep their all-time sacks leader. It means five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers is about to become one of the top prizes in free agency.  Agent Carl Carey says the Panthers have told him they won't place the restrictive franchise tag on Peppers for a second consecutive year at a cost of more than $20 million.  The move Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010,  comes two days before the tag deadline.  photo appears courtesy  of Associated  Press/ Rick Havner  ......
Carolina Panthers' Julius Peppers saluting fans as he walks off the field after the Panthers' 23-10 win over the New Orleans Saints in an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C. The Panthers have decided the price is too steep to keep their all-time sacks leader. It means five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers is about to become one of the top prizes in free agency. Agent Carl Carey says the Panthers have told him they won't place the restrictive franchise tag on Peppers for a second consecutive year at a cost of more than $20 million. The move Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010, comes two days before the tag deadline. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Rick Havner ......

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports

Eagles release RB Westbrook after 8 seasons

By Dan Gelston , AP Sports Writer

Philadelphia (AP)—Brian Westbrook(notes) could break open a game from almost anywhere on the field.

Lined up in the slot, he could run a slant, beat a linebacker and take off with no one able to catch No. 36. His defining moment with the Philadelphia Eagles came on an 84-yard punt return that stunned the New York Giants in 2003.

Out of the backfield, he was a 1,000-yard rusher who always kept defenses guessing—and flailing.

But in his later years, it was injuries that defined Westbrook more than his dynamic offensive skills. His age, salary and lengthy list of beaten body parts led the Eagles to release him Tuesday and save the team $7.5 million due next year.

“I think we all know that Brian is one of the all-time great Philadelphia Eagles,” coach Andy Reid said. “For what we’ve done here over the years, Brian has been just a huge part of building this program to the level that we’re at now. My heart will always be a Brian Westbrook fan as we go forward here.”

A former All-Pro, the 5-foot-10 Westbrook led the league in yards from scrimmage in 2007 with 2,104. He rushed for 1,333 yards and accounted 12 touchdowns that season.

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Chargers’ GM A. J. Smith made the decision to cut their Pro Bowl running back, LaDainian Tomlinson . The same maneuver has since been followed with Philadelphia Eagles’ running back Brian Westbrook being cut by the team’s GM Joe Banner. Do you seen an emerging pattern here ? Once you’re deemed ‘over the hill’, then that’s it ……’you’re out’.

It’s been often said , that once the San Francisco 49ers saw fit to release their ‘storied quarterback’, Joe Montana , the ‘game’ had essentially ‘lost its soul’. Whether or not that it is indeed true, I’ll leave that up to you, to decide ! And though it’s no longer all that disturbing , there’s still something of a tinge of sadness when this all happens to a much beloved and well respected player.

The NFC South’s Carolina Panthers now face a daunting task , as to whether or not it is still prudent to re-sign Julius Peppers. The Pro Bowl defensive end , last season was a franchise tagged player, who was the league’s highest paid player with a salary of $16.9 million for 2009. Coach Jon Fox would no doubt like to retain the player but at what cost to their bottom line ? Never mind the fact that the needs on this Panthers’ roster goes way beyond trying to persuade Peppers to remain with the team but at a lower salary. Somehow , neither Peppers or his agent are liable to acquiesce and listen to such a request from the Panthers' front office and their general manager , Marty Hurney . There’ll no doubt be a number of teams that are liable to show an interest in the player and who will be quite prepared to meet or surpass his asking price.

Courtesy of NFL.com

Sweet home Chicago for Peppers, Kampman? DEs coveted by Bears

By Jason La Canafora of NFL.com

The Chicago Bears are gearing up for a major run at Julius Peppers, a league source said Tuesday, and Aaron Kampman also is an option for a team that’s intent on landing a pass-rushing defensive end this offseason.

Peppers, who will not receive the Carolina Panthers’ franchise tag, is the Bears’ prime target. However, Peppers will not come cheap — he was seeking around $40 million guaranteed from the Panthers. The Bears traditionally are a frugal team, but in this limited free-agent market, they are prepared to jump into the sweepstakes for Peppers, who had 81 sacks in eight seasons with the Panthers.

Kampman, who struggled to switch from end to linebacker in the Green Bay Packers’ new 3-4 defense, also is someone the Bears are high on, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The Bears know Kampman well from their intense NFC North rivalry games against the Packers.

Chicago’s defense ranked 17th in the NFL last season, and coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo need improvement to ease questions about their job security. After mulling whether or not to part with higher-priced defensive veterans such as linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs and tackle Tommie Harris, Bears management has decided to keep that core together and try to add playmakers through free agency.

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Well a number of my blogging buddies , namely, chappy 81 and sportschump , have been telling me, ne’ persuading me , that the likes of the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic are still legitimate contenders for the NBA title. The veracity of a case can still be made for the Magic , as they’re still the reigning Eastern Conference champions within the NBA. With regard to the Mavericks and their stellar play this season under the guidance of coach, Rick Carlisle . For chappy , I mention these words ‘…..does the meaning swoon in June resonate with you at all ? Because for all sense and purpose that is it what we’ve become use to seeing from the Mavericks over the past few seasons. This team led by Dirk Nowitzki is very, very good, during the regular season . But far too often , once the postseason season comes around they become something of a tease. They’ll lure you in with the belief that this is to be their year , whereby they will fully acquit themselves. But it as I’ve suggested all too often , comes that swoon. And then that obligatory tailspin comes into being. Being a passenger on the Titanic might prove to be much more fortuitous than being a fan of the Mavericks.

Mike Dunleavy (#17) of the Indiana Pacers goes up for the lay up against Brendan Haywood (#33) of the Dallas Mavericks during a game at the American Airlines Center on February 22, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. photo  appears  courtesy  of  NBAE/ Getty  Images/  Glenn  James  ...................
Mike Dunleavy (#17) of the Indiana Pacers goes up for the lay up against Brendan Haywood (#33) of the Dallas Mavericks during a game at the American Airlines Center on February 22, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Glenn James ...................

And needless to say, the acquisitions of both Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood does make them better. But are they as good as their erstwhile rivals in the Western Conference in the guise of the Los Angeles Lakers or Denver Nuggets ? State the case , wherein the Mavericks are as good as either team ? Because nothing they’ve done thus far in the season that bears this out. One can surmise that Mavericks’ GM Donnie Walsh sought to bolster the roster in order to make it more resilient with the additions of both Butler and Haywood. But neither player can be considered clutch performers when it matters most and yet there those who trying to tell me that Haywood can be that and a great deal more ? If he wasn’t that much of presence with the Wizards to begin with . Then why all of a sudden will things suddenly take a turn for the better from his standpoint ? He’s a serviceable player , if that’s what the Mavericks are in fact looking for. And the case for Butler that can be made , is that on certain nights he’ll be able to make a contribution for the team. So lets not pretend that overnight , the Mavericks are about to set the NBA world alight and make Mark Cuban a very happy man. You’d better off making the case that Sarah Palin would be a wiser choice as the Republican nominee for President of the United States. And even though that scenario can’t be anymore less stupid than the one being placed that the Mavericks will be able to challenge usurp the supremacy of both the Lakers and Nuggets. But alas, this is now the world that we live in , where anything can be said without much logic being stated as the basis for an argument.

College Football is replete with good and bad coaches. As a matter of fact that broad based statement runs the gamut of collegiate athletics. The troubling fact now within the game is that there are a number of coaches who choose to eschew the rules, in order to seek an advantage for their program. And little do they care as to the consequences of their actions. That has to be the case for both programs of the USC Trojans and the University of Michigan (Wolverines). Both programs are under new head coaches but in the case of all three current and past coaches there’s a case to be made where each has violated the rules of the NCAA . Pete Carroll and now current coach Lane Kiffin has essentially carried on where his predecessor left off , with the Trojans’ program. The athletics’ program at USC has become so ‘tainted’ that it’s hard to make a case why it shouldn’t be suspended altogether, for a period of not less than year to act as a deterrent to others . Both the men’s football and basketball programs have been complicit in some serious transgressions violations of NCAA rules. And one wonders why it has taken so long even with the ongoing investigations that’ve been conducted by the NCAA. But here’s the kicker to it all, the football program is not only a ‘cash cow’ for the NCAA but also for the BCS system. And one wouldn’t want to be seen as biting the hand that feeds it now, would one ?

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, left, and head football coach <strong>Rich Rodriguez</strong>, right, are shown at a news conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010. The NCAA has found that Michigan's storied football program was out of compliance with practice time rules under coach Rodriguez. Incoming athletic director David Brandon disclosed the finding Tuesday. He says there were no surprises in the NCAA findings. He also says Rodriguez remains the coach. Michigan has 90 days to respond and will appear at an NCAA hearing on infractions in August. photo appears courtesy of  Associated Press/ Paul Sancya  ......
University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, left, and head football coach Rich Rodriguez, right, are shown at a news conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010. The NCAA has found that Michigan's storied football program was out of compliance with practice time rules under coach Rodriguez. Incoming athletic director David Brandon disclosed the finding Tuesday. He says there were no surprises in the NCAA findings. He also says Rodriguez remains the coach. Michigan has 90 days to respond and will appear at an NCAA hearing on infractions in August. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Paul Sancya ......

In the case of the Wolverines and their coach, Rich Rodriguez . He has knowingly flouted the rules concerning the amount of time allowable for his players in terms of their preparational training for a game, contravening the strict rules that all programs have to abide by. Rodriguez categorically denies any wrongdoing on his part , even with the statements from current and past players of the football program detailing otherwise. The situation has become so ridiculous, that both the AD David Brandon and University President Mary Sue Coleman have come out in full support of the beleaguered and embattled coach. And one would’ve thought that in both cases the AD’s of both establishments would be looking to enforce the rules and make a formal statement giving the NCAA assurances that they not condone such actions. But in the case of both Brandon and his counterpart Mike Garrett at USC , this most definitely has not been the case !

Los Angeles -January 13th 2010. New head coach of the USC Trojans Lane Kiffin shakes a hand as he makes his way to his press conference at Heritage Hall  in Los Angeles, California.  photo appears  courtesy of  Getty Images/  Harry How .................
Los Angeles -January 13th 2010. New head coach of the USC Trojans Lane Kiffin shakes a hand as he makes his way to his press conference at Heritage Hall in Los Angeles, California. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Harry How .................

Now there’s no chance of either program coming forward and admitting any impropriety on their part. But consider this , when it was first announced that an investigation was about to get underway into the USC athletics’ program. The school’s AD approached the NCAA about imposing their own sanctions on both the basketball and football programs. And we now wonder why Pete Carroll fled USC under the subterfuge that he sought a new challenge in the NFL ranks , to be a coach with the Seattle Seahawks ? For those in the know , wouldn’t that be considered a step down for Pete Carroll ? LOL,LOL, LOL !!! In large part most people view the Trojans’ program as LA’s only true professional football franchise ? And that’s with all due respect to California Redwoods of the UFL (United Football League). Who see themselves as the transitional answer to Los Angeles’ need for a professional football franchise. Redwoods’ owner Paul Pelosi , husband of House Majority Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca), has all but stated that as a fact. As he ultimately foresees the franchise as the ultimate answer for the city’s quest and yearning for a professional football franchise. Whether not that as well as the UFL comes to full fruition remains to be seen. Albeit, that the Redwoods are based in San Jose, some three hundred miles away from the city of Los Angeles. Nothing like ambition to spread bold , asinine statements and ideas to begin with ! Could it be, that both Pelosi’s are intent on ruling their domains, as they view it from the lofty perches of their ivory towers ? Needless to say there’s some love and hatred there for both.

Duke's Jon Scheyer collides with Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney, left, during the first half. Scheyer scored 25 points and collected 10 rebounds in the win.
Duke's Jon Scheyer collides with Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney, left, during the first half. Scheyer scored 25 points and collected 10 rebounds in the win. The Blue Devils defeated Virginia Tech (Hokies) 67-55 in the game . photo appears courtesy of Associated Press / Sara Davis .................

Would it be remiss for me to suggest that the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) of men’s basketball ‘stinks to high heaven’ ? Now don’t get me wrong there are still some marginal teams but what the hell has gone wrong there ? Other than Duke , there isn’t another team from the conference in the ‘top 25’ of the national rankings . And even with the Blue Devils ranked at number 5 in the rankings, Mike Krzyzewski’s team hasn’t been exactly setting the world on fire with their play. But one could surmise that they’re waiting to shine in the NCAA national championships ? Roll on ‘March Madness’ , as that’s when the ‘men will be separated from the boys’ .

This’ll be the one time of the year that I’d have to be dragged kicking and screaming away from in-front of the television set when the NCAA men’s national championships are on. To my mind it’s the best of the collegiate championships that takes place during the course of the sporting calendar. And in terms of sheer excitement , it ranks up there alongside the Superbowl , itself ! And the real thrilling part of it all , other than showing support for one’s team. It will be to see the future prospective stars of the NBA. And those may well be the names such of such current stars , as John Wall and his Wildcats’ teammate DeMarcus Cousins . Others who also come to mind are Sherron Collins of the Kansas Jayhawks, Ricky Jackson of the Syracuse Orangemen and a slew other players , far too numerous to mention. But over the course of the NCAA tournament , I guarantee that you’ll get to know who those players are. And you’ll definitely be showing your support for them , if not their teams.

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts speaks to the media Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010 at the Chicago Cubs spring training facility in Mesa, Ariz. photo appears  Assoc. Press/ Matt  York  ....
Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts speaks to the media Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010 at the Chicago Cubs spring training facility in Mesa, Ariz. photo appears Assoc. Press/ Matt York ....

A century plus of continued futility and there’s now said to be a breath of fresh air in the environment, as the new Chicago Cubs’, owner, billionaire, Tom Ricketts , addresses the team as well as the rest of the organization . How much this will resonate with the Cubs’ long suffering fans and those devoted faithful who throng to Wrigley Field religiously to watch the team play, remains to be seen. But rest assured Ricketts’ anecdotes about his fond memories of the Cubs and some of their former halcyon days can only provide a respite for what we may well envisage once again this season.

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports

New Cubs owner Ricketts addresses team

By Rick Gano , AP Sports Writer

Mesa, Ariz. (AP)—Tom Ricketts once sat in the bleachers at Wrigley Field, cheering for the Chicago Cubs. On Tuesday, with the players gathered around him in the spring training weight room, he addressed the team that his family now owns.

His message was simple: He and his family will be around and do everything possible to help the Cubs win.

“If there is anything we can do better, let us know,” Ricketts said he told the players.

For his part, Ricketts is already taking steps.

There are new upgrades at Wrigley Field, including an improved clubhouse and weight rooms, a new players’ lounge, a new club in the outfield and better restrooms for fans. The Ricketts also raised ticket prices on some seats at the storied stadium.

“Obviously Wrigley needs a lot of love and a lot of help over the next few years,” Ricketts said. “That will be very challenging. Other than that, we feel the pressure to produce on some winning teams and that will be something that is always with us.”

The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908.

Ricketts said if the Cubs are in contention around the trade deadline, it’s possible they would spend the money to bring in a player needed to make a playoff push.

Manager Lou Piniella sounded confident that would happen.

“The fact they are going to involved and visible and the fact they want to win and are very competitive, and I’m sure if we get in position during the course of the summer and we need something, there’s a darn good chance they’ll step forward,” Piniella said.

“The Ricketts are going to be good for Chicago and for the Chicago Cubs,” added Piniella, who is in the last year of his contract. “This is not just a one-year or two-year thing. They want to keep this team in their family for a long, long time.”

The $845 million sale of the Cubs, Wrigley Field and other assets from the Tribune Co. to the family of billionaire Joe Ricketts was completed in October, more than 2 1/2 years after the baseball franchise went on the market.

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Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella, right, along with coaches Matt Sinatro, middle, and Lester Strode watch pitchers warm up during spring training baseball camp practice Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010, in Mesa, Ariz. photo appears courtesy  of  Assoc. Press/  Ross D. Franklin  ...........
Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella, right, along with coaches Matt Sinatro, middle, and Lester Strode watch pitchers warm up during spring training baseball camp practice Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010, in Mesa, Ariz. photo appears courtesy of Assoc. Press/ Ross D. Franklin ...........

If it wasn’t enough that the Lou Piniella coached Cubs has to contend with the St Louis Cardinals , Milwaukee Brewers , Houston Astros , Cincinnati Reds and less we forget the woefully inept Pittsburgh Pirates >. The NL Central alongside the NL East might just be the two most competitive divisions in the National League. But it’d be enough to suggest that Ricketts is now of the belief that the beleaguered organization is about to turn the corner as its impending fortunes are about to change. Haven’t we all seen this before ? A new owner rides in on his white steed in the hope of regaling the fans and the community at large with the view that they can contend and bring a championship to the city. If only that were the case with the Chicago Cubs . They’ve become more of a tease than a voluptuous scantly clad blond female at a party. She and you both are there but with one thing on both of your mind. But in the end, you’re the one who ends up being disappointed.
It just turns out the blond in question is literally that, nothing more than a damn tease . As are the Chicago Cubs, year in and year out ! Can someone now please slaughter that damn goat and put the Cubs and their long suffering fans out of their misery ? And while you’re at it , call Steve Bartman and tell him , he’s still ‘persona-non-grata’ in the city of Chicago ?

The now infamous ‘Bartman Incident ‘ that happened at Wrigley Field during the NLCS game between the Cubs and Marlins. And the rest say they say ‘……… is history’.

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Bartman had to be escorted out of Wrigley Field , as the Cubs’ hierarchy at the time feared for his safety. On the night was there a more despised person in the city of Chicago ? Or perhaps the state of Illinois ?

The ‘silly season’ in sports will soon be upon us and we’re liable to laugh as much as get upset for one reason or another, as to the stories start to unfold. Personally, I’d rather just laugh my way throughout the season , rather than letting my emotions get the better of me because of another stupid episode during the sporting calendar year. What are your thoughts on the whole thing ?


Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………..

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From the land of my parental birth, Jamaica. Here’s Buju Banton with ‘Champion’ .

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Canadian adult burlesque performer Bianca Beauchamp . Here she is in her wondrous form and self. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the subject and content matter ? To view each picture within the gallery in full, just click unto the individual picture in question.

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In Baseball ….If The Unthinkable Were To Happen ………..Which Franchise Could or Should Be Contracted ?

It hasn’t happened in a number of years but once again an ‘ugly word’ seems to be rearing and raising its head once again. And that’s the word ‘contraction’ as it regards the sport of baseball. MLB is most definitely in some serious trouble and with a number of franchises around the league under some serious financial constraints. It’s beginning to gather an unprecedented pitch within the environment of the sport, altogether. The troubling thing is , it is that reporters such as Buster Olney , Tim Kurkjian and Peter Gammons would rather not touch on this very topic , for the fear of alienating baseball’s hierarchy and in particular the ‘powerful owners’ . But then again since when did the writers within the sport possess any credibility ?

In Baseball ….If The Unthinkable Were To Happen ………..Which Franchise Could or Should Be Contracted ?

It hasn’t happened in a number of years but once again an ‘ugly word’ seems to be rearing and raising its head once again. And that’s the word ‘contraction’ as it regards the sport of baseball. MLB is most definitely in some serious trouble and with a number of franchises around the league under some serious financial constraints. It’s beginning to gather an unprecedented pitch within the environment of the sport, altogether. The troubling thing is , it is that reporters such as Buster Olney , Tim Kurkjian and Peter Gammons would rather not touch on this very topic , for the fear of alienating baseball’s hierarchy and in particular the ‘powerful owners’ . But then again since when did the writers within the sport possess any credibility ?

Rays'  third   baseman  , Evan  Longoria  at  the plate    for  team.   photo  appears  courtesy   of   Getty  Images/  Vic Hallam
Rays' third baseman , Evan Longoria at the plate for team. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Vic Hallam

Last night (Monday), while I was driving home from the office in Orlando to Dundee , in central Polk County. I was listening to one of the local sport’s talk show hosts discuss the continuous woes of the Tampa Bay Rays’ franchise. Unfortunately, the individual in question, whose show appears on 620WDAE in the local market , tends to be too much of an apologist for the professional sports franchises within the area. And that’s to be understood , considering that the radio station derives a great deal of money from its ongoing associations with each of the franchises in the area. My own view is then , that in no way can they appear to be impartial when discussing a number of sensitive subjects candidly. They’ve got to watch their p’s ans q’s at the program director’s behest , at the risk of not having the likes of the Bucs’ ownership, Lightning front office , or Rays’ ownership under the auspices of Stuart Sternberg and Matthew Siverman , draw their ire. The ad revenues run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars year round. And for a station of that size within its specific market, every penny counts.

As the show proceeded , the host was trying to explain to a caller that the Rays’ ownership could ill afford to pay certain players their presumed ‘market value’ , given the team’s budgetary constraints. But that asides simply doesn’t explain the whole situation and the dilemma that the franchises faces. Like the vast majority of clubs within baseball. There’s an indifference at present concerning the game. And it stems not just from the ongoing economic climate but essentially the game has a major PR problem and the fact the league’s hierarchy under Bud Selig has been slow in dealing with many of the game’s inherent problems. Instead of being proactive he the owners and players (MLBPA) have been retroactive in dealing with the game’s inherent problems.

The Rays , this year will be make one last ditch attempt at challenging the supremacy of the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees within the AL East division of baseball. By far in a way , ‘the most competitive division’ within baseball ! And that’s despite the attempt of others to make the suggestion that the AL West is ‘on par’ with the division ? Isn’t that like comparing Kobe beef to a rump roast ? There’s more of a competitive edge and play within the AL East than there is the rest of the American League combined. The teams there are far better in terms of their respective rosters and they quality of play is far superior. But that asides doesn’t address the problems faced by the Tampa Bay Rays. They are in a market where the team is poorly supported by the fans. And that’s mainly because most of the residents within the area have their allegiances tied elsewhere when it comes to the support of a major league franchise. Why in hell’s name it was thought that the are could support a team is beyond me in the first place, given the fact that MLB had to have been aware of this from the club’s inception. But then again, we are dealing with a commissioner whose business acumen rivals that of former executives of Enron.

As I alluded to earlier the talk show host was trying to in his own way explain the problems that the club faces, from their limited financial resources to the apparent lack of support from the community at large. I find it something of a joke that baseball’s official figures shows that the team’s average gate attendance for home games at Tropicana Field , St Petersburg , is close to 23,000 per game. In reality it is barely two thirds of that ! Most games you’d be hard pressed to see more than 15,000 people in attendance for a game at the Rays’ home venue. But yet, we’re to believe that if a new venue is built , all of a sudden that will change the mindset of the fans in the community ? There will definitely be the curiosity factor but once that wears off. Then it’ll be back to minuscule gate attendances and more moaning from team ownership that the fans aren’t turning up to support the franchise. And though the host in all of his wisdom was trying to sell the caller the fact that the franchise now has a viable on the field product what he failed to realize was for all of his ‘hard sell’ the caller wasn’t willing to recognize the Tampa Bay Rays as a baseball brand that now resonates with the fans in general. With the exception of players such as, Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford and B. J. Upton . Most baseball fans across the game much less those within the community could actually name at least six other players on the entire Rays’ roster. And for all of the homely approach of Rays’ manager, Joe Maddon . Would anyone really know who this team were – were they not playing in the AL East and their recent successes ?

Carl Crawford's three-run home run in the sixth inning highlighted Tampa Bay's three-game sweep of the Angels. The Rays are five games over .500 for the first time in team history
Carl Crawford's three-run home run in the sixth inning highlighted Tampa Bay's three-game sweep of the Angels. The Rays are five games over .500 for the first time in team history. photo appears courtesy of the Associated Press/ Mike Carlson .............

This one last ditch attempt by the organization could spell one of two things for the impending future , in terms of its existence. If they cannot contend and compete with either the Red Sox or Yankees. Then there’s very little reason to believe that Stuart Sternberg won’t set about and start a ‘fire sale’ in terms of the roster. All Stars such as Crawford and Longoria , in all likelihood would be traded away, to obtain future prospects. And no doubt given the grave financial situation, GM Andrew Friedman faces. It wouldn’t be out of the realms of possibility to suggest that he alongside Stuart Sternberg, would definitely be thinking about relocating the team altogether. I’d alluded to it earlier and also in previous pieces, that it would be by no means a guaranteed certainty that with a new stadium built, that would be enough to cure what ails the organization. But then again , relocation would be predicated on the league’s approval and of a city willing to have the Rays major professional sport’s franchise. However, if that were to happen then there would be the remote possibility that the franchise could be dissolved and then would cease to exist. The last time such an event took place within baseball ,were, when the Montreal Expos were contracted as organization and then were revamped as the ‘new look’ Washington Nationals of the NL East . That scenario may not be raising its head as of yet but don’t be for one minute be fooled into thinking that Bud Selig and ‘the owners’ wouldn’t contemplate putting that into motion , were things not to work out for the better in terms of the Tampa Bay Rays as a ‘viable concern’. It certainly wouldn’t at all hurt the present ownership who would sell the franchise to the league and in part recoup some of their original investment. From there the league’s hierarchy would look to roll whatever viable assets remained of the concern.
In the end it worked to the benefit of Jeffrey Loria , as then owner of the Expos and now the present owner of the Florida Marlins . And we can all remember ‘the back room shenanigans’ then went on, with regards to the deal-making that took place and facilitated Loria and his purchasing of the Marlins, with an assist of a markedly deceptive loan from MLB at preferential rates. Could there have been anything more disingenuous on the part of Bud Selig and the MLB hierarchy at the time ?

Sad but true , alas, the problems that the game now faces and in particular a number of the league’s franchises. It just doesn’t alone come down to dollars and cents but also to the fact that the wholehearted support isn’t just there. Whether or not the on-field product is a competitive one, it’s clearly not helping the Rays at present. A sales and marketing push hasn’t even created a meaningful wave of interest. And with the team’s fan-fest due to take place this weekend. It’ll be fun to see the sort of widespread turnout that the team’s ownership has anticipated. A hardcore base of 11,000 fans , simply won’t cut it for this or any other organization within baseball (MLB). So how should the Rays or the league for that matter, go about dressing this issue ?

Alan Parkins aka tophatal

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Perhaps Bud Selig should consider making this song by Culture Club his very own ? It’s ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me’ ? Lyrics by John Moss & George O’Dowd (BoyGeorge).
‘Boy George’, actually, was a known associate within the club scene of the ‘East End’ of London during the eighties. I knew him personally as he and a number of high school chums of mine use to organize a ‘few raves’ within the locale during that time.

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Too much ‘much junk in the trunk’ for Serena Williams or simply just not enough that took,your flight of fantasy ? Click on each pic’ of Serena to view them up close and personal.

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Jodeci gives you ‘Feenin’

You Know It’s Been A Bad Sport’s Weekend When …..Insert An Answer of Your Choice ………….

You Know It’s Been A Bad Sport’s Weekend When …..Insert An Answer of Your Choice ………….

Not wanting to rain anyone’s parade but this sports weekend has been about as enthralling as have a barium meal enema ! I mean when NBC is still trying to regale us with the importance of these Winter Games and it has carried with it about as emotional drama as the facial characteristics of David Caruso in his role as ‘Horatio Cane’ on the CBS crime drama , ‘CSI Miami’ ! Then you know things have gotten pretty bad concerning NBC’s coverage and the actual events themselves. They’ve been hyping up the ‘drama’ on such athletes as Lindsay Vonn, Appolo Anton Ohno , Evan Lysacek and the US men’s hockey team , almost as if it were our duty to watch and support the athletes. Though I can well understand the network’s reasoning for doing this . NBC is on its last legs as a network , not just merely from its existence as a network but also from a viable financial standpoint as a stand alone company. Parent company GE can now, no longer stand to keep pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a bottomless pit and seeing nothing in return for its endeavors. Hence the reason for their divesting themselves of the troubled network.

Bode Miller wins gold at the Winter Olympics in the Super G event.

The idiocy of Dick Ebersol (head of NBC Sports) notwithstanding , why in fu_k’s name would you out-bid your nearest rival by tens of millions of dollars for an event where over the past few years , viewership has been on the decline ? The Winter Olympics while somewhat exciting pales into comparison when measured against its Summer counterpart. Never mind the fact the network stands to lose in excess of $450 million for the coverage of the games in Vancover, British Columbia. Who’s minding the shop for NBC ? It can’t be the US Treasury , Dept of Heath and Human Services and the US Department of Defense , can it ? I mean those three federal agencies alone , accounts for up to 66 % of the Federal budget. And what have we seen in return, for their so called expertize ? Much less what has NBC been trying to do recently with their programming overhaul at the network ? How many times can one throw ‘shi*t up against a wall’ to see how it sticks ?

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Danica  Patrick seen  here  at   Fontana International   Speedway,  Fontana ,  California.
Danica Patrick seen here at Fontana International Speedway, Fontana , California. picture appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Alex Gallard

NASCAR still continues its love-fest with Danica Patrick . And once again she didn’t fail to disappoint. I mean when will people simply get it , that this is merely nothing more than a publicity stunt ? Her experience at both disciplines of auto racing , has shown she doesn’t have the temperament to remain a viable competitor within either format. But the press continue bring forth the asinine notion that this will be something tremendous within NASCAR. By finishing 31 st (thirty first) in the Stater Bros. 300 at Fontana Motor Speedway , Fontana , California. Never mind that she twice race out of the pit lane and had to be advised by her crew chief that she was exceeding the speed limit allowed . Where upon she acted as if she wasn’t aware that this was a rule within NASCAR ? Well considering that within IRL, this is also mandated in order cut down the risk of a crash in the pit lanes. I've got think Patrick just isn't as smart as people are trying to make her out to be ? She's still damn fine to look at ! And ‘uncle Al’ certainly wouldn’t have a problem nailin’ her ass like Tiger has been known to ‘nail’ his harem of skanks ! But that asides NASCAR will make Danica the focus of their attention to the detriment of drivers such as Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Mark Martin and others. And this is a sport that now is in the midst of a crisis, that even its own top executives have still to get a handle on. And based on last weeks fiasco at the Daytona 500, I still don’t believe that these idiots simply get it, as of yet ! Thanks Brian France and Mike Helton , for the lack of intelligence shown by you both and the rest of NASCAR’s top executives !

College basketball and its tops-turvy world at present ,continues unabated. The season so far, has seen its comings and goings of those aspirants who we ought to think of as being the ‘top team’ in the men’s game. Unashamedly, in the women’s game it’s U Conn and then everyone else. Geno Auriemma has the women ‘Huskies’ once again on the national championship trail, while seemingly running off 68 consecutive wins as if they were in their sleep. Now if U. Conn should go on to surpass John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins’ feat of 88 consecutive wins, then how should we view the feat of Auriemma and that of the U. Conn women ? I mean it’s a record isn’t ? Be it in men’s or women’s sports and it ought to be respected , no matter by whom it’s broken by !

John Calipari coach of the Kentucky men’s basketball team. Here he speaks about his team and in particular his star player , John Wall .

On the men’s side of that equation there isn’t such a dominant team at present and you’d be hard pressed at this juncture on clearly deciding which is the best team in the men’s game at present. The rankings simply don’t bear this out at present . And that’s despite Kansas (Jayhawks) and Kentucky (Wildcats) being quite evenly matched and sitting atop of the rankings at numbers 1 and 2. That asides , as either team has hit their rough patch , cases are now being made for Villanova and Purdue . My own opinion is , that it’ll all come out in the wash , once the NCAA National Championships starts to unfold. That’s when the ‘men’, will be separated from the ‘boys’ ! Need one say anymore on the matter ?

Ah, the rarefied air of the NBA ! When all is right then things are said to be great ? Now forgive me for saying this but for all sense and purpose , unless Knicks’ GM Donnie Walsh has pictures of LeBron James in a compromising position with a farm animal. Then there’s absolutely no way in hell that I can see the Cavaliers’ player ending up in New York , as a member of the New York Knicks. My buddy, sportschump is trying to convince me that because the Knicks will have up to $30 million worth of cap space , then they’ll be able to take their pick of the pre-eminent free agents that will come to the market, at the end of the 2010 season. James along with Dywane Wade , Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire will be amongst the most desired names of the players in question.

The Knicks got off to something of a start with the newly acquired and sardonic Tracy McGrady . Watching ‘T-Mac’ over the years, has been like watching a spoiled child, bitch and moan around the league , merely because nothing has ever gone his way. At every stop of his professional career, he has simply found a way to alienate the fans , his teammates and the organizations where’s he’s played. At times it’s like watching a malignant tumor just spread across a cancerous body. Fortunately, for the Knicks their form of cancer came in the vestige of Isiah Thomas and his antics when he was in charge of the regime . And that was before McGrady came into the fray . Now they still continue that sort of mindset to this day , with Donnie Walsh. This isn’t just karma with the Knicks but now a way of life ! This organization now makes the likes of the Pittsburgh Pirates , Kansas City Royals, Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Clippers seem respectful. And by my way of thinking, that takes a hell of a lot to achieve such a feat !

McGrady and his $23 million contract in tow, has become the league’s newest vagabond and troubadour. He alongside Allen Iverson , are the things that have epitomized the good and the bad about the NBA and its players . Now as things play out within the Eastern Conference . All that the Knicks have left to play for is there self respect , what little there is left , mind you.

I seem to remember Rafi’ Palmeiro said something of a similar vein with regard to his steroid use. And therein, lies Tiger’s illusions that he wasn’t being attacked by his wife . Tiger just shut the f_ck up and tell the truth, you ass-hole ! And if you can’t state the nature of your ailment publicly , then you’re nowhere near facing your underlying issues.

Much was made of the Tiger Woods’ convened press conference from the TPC Sawgrass Course at Ponte Vedra Beach , Florida- on Friday morning. Now pardon me for saying this , but there was simply nothing there to suggest that Woods being contrite. The words coming out of his mouth were probably not his and more likely than not, they were written by someone at Woods’ behest. It was all to well scripted and the fact that Woods and his agent Mark Steinberg of IMG were unwilling to take questions from the convened press , indicates to me how much of a white-wash this all was ! His act of contrition and the press conference rang hollow ! I think it was best summed up several members of the public who stated the following “…as a parent ……. Woods represents all that is despicable in a person who believes themselves to be entitled but at the same isn’t willing to be held accountable for their actions when the truth initially becomes known’ . Could it have been put anymore succinctly than that ?

These are but a few of my observations of the weekend. Anything in particular that you feel that might be a worthwhile topic of discussion ? I look forward to reading your comments as and when ready. Thanks for the continued support !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………

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Guy performing ‘Groove Me’ (Geffen Records circa @ 1988)

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As a treat to the guys who take time to look at the pics of the chicks and not just read the words. Here are Meagan Good and Lauren London . Do enjoy. Click on the ‘pics’ from the gallery in order to view in full size.

My Relationship With Teams I Support …..Ought They To Be As Impactful As Your Relationship With Your Spouse or Partner ? ……………….

My Relationship With Teams I Support …..Ought They To Be As Impactful As Your Relationship With Your Spouse or Partner ? ……………….

On Valentine’s Day the girlfriend bought me a young puppy , a male by the way. Which I decided to name ‘Buster’. Now one of my patrons who regularly chimes in with a comment on some of my blog pieces jokingly suggested that was one the first signs of the relationship getting a great deal more serious. Because first comes that gift of final approval and that ultimate sign of affection and then comes the ring ? Well , considering that our relationship has now ran over the course of seven years and the fact that I distinctly set the tone under which it would work (divorced-once). I think that marriage and kids will be definitely out of the question ! Anyhow, as I live vicariously through my nieces ad nephews as a surrogate parent , albeit that they’re on the other ‘side of the pond’ in the UK. My girlfriend who happens to be of Asian-American ethnicity and is also several years younger than I. She was ‘more the pursuer’ and I was the pursuee’. That being said, we both know the parameters of the relationship and what to expect out it , by means of those parameter set. With that in mind let’s discuss the type of relationship , we as a fan have with our sport’s teams -i.e the ones that we support ?

Now as many of you may already be aware , I’m an ex-pat Brit now residing in Central Florida for the past seventeen years. I was a former member of British armed forces , having served in the Royal Marines for 6 1/2 years. From there I went to work in city of London in the ‘Square Mile’ otherwise known as the financial center of London. I worked primarily in the areas of international banking , investment banking and also an economic analyst. My education was actually paid for by one of my former employers , as this was a way of retaining staff at that time. I graduated with degrees in Economics , International Finance and then pursued an M.B.A ,which I attained from one of London’s more prestigious educational establishments with a design on a business oriented concept of education. That education alongside my stint in the military has served me well and has given me a greater appreciation of life in general.

On to the teams I support and watch when I can , I’ll watch and support them voraciously ! In the NBA ,it is the San Antonio Spurs. For whom, I’m a great admirer of both the team’s coach Gregg Popovich and their almost certain to be ‘Hall of Fame’ bound center and ‘big man’ , Tim Duncan. What these two individuals have achieved within the NBA speaks volumes, as to the respect they both command from their peers and fans alike. And with it has come the well deserved respect and reverence only given to the truly ‘greats of the game’.

As a fan of the Spurs , it’s not always about following in line and not being critical of the team or the organization, as and when necessary. Because it would be none-sense not be openly critical if they were not playing up to par or if there were indeed doing something that’s not of benefit to the organization. Team owner Peter Holt and the team’s General Manager R. C. Burford have kept this vessel afloat, without there being ever a hint of controversy surrounding the team or organization over the years. And that’s not something that can be said about a number of the franchise within the NBA. The Spurs may well be one of ‘the model franchises’ of the NBA and perhaps one of the best ran within the entire NBA ?

This season, the ‘team’ has been quietly finding their rhythm and with the acquisition of Richard Jefferson and the play of ‘rookie’ DeJuan Blair and from off the bench George Hill . There seems to be a resiliency about the team that we’ve not seen in quite a while. But it’d be remiss not to mention also the duo that makes up perhaps one of the best ‘one-two-three punch’ in the entire league , in that of Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker . The two ably assist Duncan in making the Spurs one of the more formidable teams within the Western Conference . They at present sit just a game behind the Dallas Mavericks (33-21) within the Southwest Division, for the lead in the divisional standings.

And quite interestingly enough a fellow blogger was trying to make the case, where he now views the Dallas Mavericks as the ‘second best team’ within the Western Conference, merely because of the addition of Caron Butler to the team , in the recent trade by the Mavericks of the former Wizards’ player. That position currently belongs to the Northwest Division leading Denver Nuggets (36-18) . The team with the best record within the conference belongs to the ‘reigning NBA champions’, the Los Angeles Lakers (42-14). Regrettably,the individual who was trying to make this assertion, either knows nothing about the game of basketball or he has a chemical dependency problem that he’s trying to overcome ? I sometimes wonder what it is that a person observes for them to come up with such asinine notions or claims ?

With ‘Spring Training’ now upon us and with pitchers and some positional players already reporting for duty. It’s a sign that Major League Baseball (MLB) is set to start. And with both the ‘Grapefruit’ and ‘Cactus’ Leagues getting in motion. Baseball’s many fans will congregate within the states of Arizona and Florida to watch their teams throughout the Spring Training season and also gauge their team’s progress. And with things being so uncertain because of the current economic climate , it will be interesting to see what sort crowds are in attendance once the games get underway. That may well give us enough of an indication as to how much of an economic swoon there might be within the game when it comes to overall attendance , once the regular season begins.

These are dire times for the four major professional sports in North America. And the inherent problems that’s now being faced within the NBA , NFL and NHL is now being mirrored within baseball. Albeit, that Commissioner Bud Selig , the game’s hierarchy and some the owners would have you believe different. As to what that would indicate about Bud Selig and his perception of the game and its financial health is enough of an indication to tell you that for him reality is only something of a sense of perception to begin with. If the glass was half-empty, he’d be telling you that he’ll be able to go and find water in the middle of some arid land or in the midst of a dust-bowl. But then again , who thought that Bud Selig was ever intelligent to begin with ?

Because of work and the mere fact that for much of the time, my schedule is tied to what my colleagues are doing on behalf the firm’s clients. I won’t be able to attend as many games as I’d like to, in seeing the Florida Marlins play, during Spring Training. So granted, whilst in the office with any time on my hands that there might be possible. I’ll try to stream the games via my laptop or even listen to them on the radio. Chances are, it’ll be a little bit both . Productivity is the key as they say , when you’re at work.


With the Marlins playing at the Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, during this session. It will be very interesting to see how they acquit themselves during Spring Training and whether or not this will be enough of an indication as to how they will fare in the NL East against the likes of the Atlanta Braves , New York Mets and reigning the divisional champions and pennant holder, the Philadelphia Phillies .

Cautious as I am about the Marlins, I believe that the team is certainly heading in the right direction under their manager, Fredi Gonzalez. And with team ownership headed by billionaire owner and renowned art lover, Jeffrey Loria . The front office , GM Larry Beinfest and all of the vested parties all seem to be heading in unison, as to where they envisage the team needs to be. And it has helped the players and the fans are now beginning to buy into that very fact. Before there was far too much distrust between the ownership and the fans.

And on the political front, it certainly didn’t help that Loria and his front office were often at times somewhat ambivalent, in dealing with the city of Miami , Miami-Dade County and the state, when it came to stadium issue for the baseball team. Communications between the club and the respective government officials were on par with that of the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israeli’s . It had begun to become an embarrassment for all of the parties concerned. Calmer head did however prevail in the end. But at the expense of the sheer idiocy of Jeffrey Loria and his associates. It is envisioned that a purpose built stadium for the organization will be ready for the team to commence playing in 2012. That will be the very first time that the team will have a venue to call their very own and to derive of the revenues from its existence to facilitate its own operation. That has never been the case, from the team’s inception , even when it was under the ownership of its very first owner, H. D. Wayne Huizenga . One wonders how it is that he was allowed to get away with such a maneuver by the game’s hierarchy ?

On the field of play, the team is led by All Star short-stop , Hanley Ramirez and he’s ably assisted by Dan Uggla , Cameron Maybin , Cody Ross , Jorge Cantu , Wes Helms , Gaby Sanchez and a pitching roster that is steadily growing in confidence. That primarily has been the Achilles’ heel for the team , the inconsistency of their pitching. And most certainly that hasn’t been lost on Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff . A good start to Spring Training and a great deal consistency will augur well for the team in the upcoming season. As they seek to challenge the Mets , Phillies and Braves for the supremacy within the AL East .

‘Spygate’ is over and done with but somehow fans simply just won’t let it go. My God, are people of the belief that the New England Patriots were the ‘only team’ doing this in the NFL ? Never mind the fact that the practice still goes on to this very day. It’s only that the NFL’s competition committee under the guidance of Commissioner Roger Goodell arbitrarily seeks out whom they want to punish, where , when and how . And the thinking was that the punishment meted out to Bill Belichick and the Patriots was deemed appropriate and enough of a deterrent ? Oh please , kids have been punished for doing far worse and more severely than the inane edict and fine handed down to the Patriots.

Now as a fan of the team , I felt that Belichick should’ve have been suspended for a year and a fine of not less than $2 million should’ve been levied against the organization !. Some may think that far too steep ? But I was always told ……. “if you want people to think about their actions, then hit ’em in their pockets where the most pain can be felt”. Perhaps then, everyone would’ve sat up and taken note ?

This past season the Patriots posted a regular season record of 10-6 and rode into the playoffs as AFC East divisional champions for a record seventh time. And the feeling was that the team could contend for the Superbowl this season and perhaps win it. But those thoughts were lost on me ! As I felt that ‘the team’ had been far too inconsistent throughout much of the regular season. Having posted a somewhat shoddy 10-6 record even by the Pats’ own lofty standards was to my mind something of a sense of foreboding. The team and its record reflected a unit that had under-achieved and were somewhat lucky to get by. Belichick and his coaching staff became too complacent and nonchalant , as the season wore on. And it would become their own undoing in the post-season.

And in the divisional round of the playoffs the inevitable happened as the Patriots would succumb to the Baltimore Ravens (35-14) . That ‘ungodly ass whupping’ was so severe , that even now, many of the Pats’ players probably still feel the pain to this day and the ignominy of defeat. And for myself , I didn’t relish watching one minute of that entire massacre. The team performed so badly on their home turf at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts , that in large part the home fans began to boo their players and cheer on the Ravens. One can’t but wonder how Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh must’ve felt on the day ? Suffice to say, it had to have been far much better than that of Bill Belichick and the entire Patriots’ organization and the fans. This works with the old adage ‘…nothing ventured nothing gained’. If the team and the organization haven’t learned anything from this loss. Then the next time around , things could get a whole lot starker for the them altogether.

This off-season a number of changes will have to made to the roster structurally. There’s a need for a player who can actually run the ball consistently and for a high average. Rather than just eking out little ‘hinky-dink runs’ of no more than two or three yards at a time. We know that Tom Brady can pass the ball with efficiency and the aerial attack of this team is as potent as they come. Given the fact that Brady has Randy Moss and Wes Welker to assist him in that pursuit. But beyond that the team’s running attack is anemic at best. And something definitely has to be done concerning the lack of willingness to negate the opposing team’s run offense. Far too often throughout much of the regular season and the divisional round playoff game itself , the team was exposed, warts and all. As to what this might suggest by Belichick and team’s lack of preparedness on the day , goes along way in indicating to me that the team and the coaching staff were not only complacent but also conceited ! And when that happens , you tend to have your ass handed to you on a silver platter. As the Patriots found out to their cost.

Now these have been just my thought on my teams and the avowed support that I have for them each. It’s not just about supporting a team but also being able to level criticism upon them when it is all too necessary. Many fans are too subservient and would rather take the easy way out and simply put up with the mediocrity of their teams. Think I’m wrong in my assessment ? Just look at the idiocy that now goes on within the Pirates’ organization , Clippers’ organization and that of their long suffering fans ? Most of them simply put up with the ‘sh_t’, rather than being vocal in calling out their respective organizations.

NB: Click here to read my bio.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………

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Birdman ‘Number One Stunna’ feat’g Lil’ Wayne, Turk & Juvenile.

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The rather ‘delectable’ Brittany Dailey ‘video vixen’ extraordinaire ! Say what you will but they don’t come any better than this ‘fine young’ “Nubian Princess” ! Click on any of the gallery photos to peruse ‘Brit-Brit’ more closely. You’ve got my permission to do so !
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Might I Have The Pleasure of Introducing You To Esther Baxter ? Yes If You Must ….. Well I Must ! I Must !

Might I Have The Pleasure of Introducing You To Esther Baxter ? Yes If You Must ….. Well I Must ! I Must !

Well guys if like me you love the finer things in life, as in the female form ? Then might I be allowed to introduce you to model, video vixen and aspiring actress Esther Baxter ? This little African American citizen and she-minx has appeared in a wide variety of r&b and rap videos, as well appearing in the print media, in such prominent magazines as FHM and KING. Though primarily known amongst the African American demographics and that particular consumer market. Baxter is now spreading her wings , so to speak, in order to reach a wider cross section of the consumer market. And why not ? When one consider her talents , as can be evidenced in these gallery of photos and videos.

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Slide show for your perusal .

And with those 34″ DD accoutremtents it’s easy to understand why Esther is so ‘in demand’ .

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And here’s Esther again the Usher video ‘ Seduction’.

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Esther discussing her career thus far.

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<strong>  And  oh  guys, Esther  is  still  single .  <em> Nice  !  </strong></em>
And oh guys, Esther is still single . Nice !

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Click on each individual picture to get a close-up of Esther in full view. It enhances her beauty and those attributes don’t you think ?

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Battle of the video vixens. Esther Baxter vs Melyssa Ford .

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Tall of glass of water that even I'd like to drink from !
Tall of glass of water that even I'd like to drink from ! Esther Baxter

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Nothing  wrong  in  being  patriotic  !  Esther  shows her  allegiance  to  the  flag.
Nothing wrong in being patriotic ! Esther shows her allegiance to the flag.

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Showing  us that  even  she  likes  what  she  sees  and   how  good she  looks.
Showing us that even she likes what she sees and how good she looks.

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Esther  the <strong><em> ' Nubian   Princess'  </strong></em>
Esther the ' Nubian Princess'

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Even in  the  water  on a  surf-board  she   looks good   !
Even in the water on a surf-board she looks good !

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<strong><em>Mirror  on  the   wall  who's  the   'fairest  Nubian   Queen ' </em>of  them  all   ?   Why  of  course  Esther  it's  you  !  </strong>
Mirror on the wall who's the 'fairest Nubian Queen ' of them all ? Why of course Esther it's you !

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Make your choice between Esther Baxter and Brittany Daily.

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Well guys there you have it just a mere slice of heaven and paradise all rolled up in that wonderful package I’ve introduced to you in Esther Baxter. I trust that you’ve enjoyed the visual content herein ? And at a later date I’ll introduce to other such wondrous features. Next on tap will be the aforementioned Brittany Daily ,along with Melyssa Ford. That’s two for the price of one. Who says ‘tophatal’ doesn’t look after his patrons ? So bye for now and don’t forget to chime on in with a comment.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ……………..

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De La Soul ‘Me Myself And I’ ………… Does anyone remember how ‘hype’ the 80’s were ?

You’re Sick ? Go To Your GP ….. You Want Funny ? Go See A Comedy Show ……….. You Want Sanity In Sports ………. Well , That’s Something Else ……….. I Ain’t Got No Answer For That ………….

You’re Sick ? Go To Your GP ….. You Want Funny ? Go See A Comedy Show ……….. You Want Sanity In Sports ………. Well , That’s Something Else ……….. I Ain’t Got No Answer For That ………….

Just when I thought there was sanity within the world of sports . Something ludicrous happens to upset the apple-cart once again. First of all MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is back on his pedestal preaching that the AL East‘s Tampa Bays is in urgent need of a new baseball facility, to house the team and to be also in with a chance of staging MLB’s mid-season showcase, the MLB All Star Game. There’s absolutely nothing like an idiotic commissioner who’s completely oblivious to the dire economic situation facing the vast majority of the teams across the league. You get the impression that either Selig’s head has been buried in the sand , much like an ostrich . Or from the mere fact that he’s been away from the game was just suddenly inserted into the position of commissioner and asked by his members to just do the job without seemingly rocking the boat. Proving to me once again that the game’s hierarchy (MLB) much like the very owners themselves, ‘are a bunch’ of blithering idiots !

Allan ‘Bud’ Selig , Commissioner of Major League Baseball, seated alongside President & Chief Operating Officer  Bob DuPuy . picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Roger Scott ……………..
Allan ‘Bud’ Selig , Commissioner of Major League Baseball, seated alongside President & Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy . photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Roger Scott ……………..

Given the fact that the Rays have one of the lowest payrolls in the entire league, as well as having a fan-base that is ‘below the league average’. It would appear that none of this seems to matter at all to Bud Selig. He’s entrenched himself with the notion that bigger is better and that money should be of no object to the teams with baseball. Well , Mr Selig , the owners of the Tampa Bay Rays while being wealthy, they haven’t the advantages or the vast financial resources ‘bestowed upon teams’ such as the Boston Red Sox , New York Mets , New York Yankees , Los Angeles Angels or the Los Angeles Dodgers for that matter. Rays’ principal owner Stuart Sternberg has done his leveled best to provide the fans within the community a brand and product that they can support wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, that’s not being reciprocated by those who turn up in attendance for the games at Tropicana Field. In large part, the only time that the Rays plays in-front of a packed sold-out crowd , is either when the Yankees or Red Sox are in town, as part of their regularly season scheduled games. Or when the Rays’ front office decides that a pre-game free admission concert is apt, in luring some additional fans for a game. If that’s not an indication as to how dire the situation is for the organization. Then obviously, as commissioner, Bud Selig doesn’t know what the hell is going on within the game !

Stuart Sternberg (3rd from l) With Partners Timothy Mullen, Randy Frankel, Andrew Cader, Gary Goldring and Stephen Levick
Stuart Sternberg (3rd from left) with Partners Timothy Mullen, Randy Frankel, Andrew Cader, Gary Goldring and Stephen Levick. photo appears courtesy of Sports Business Daily / Jennifer Santieri ............


Suddenly from his podium , Bud Selig believes he can dictate the city of Tampa , the state and to the Rays what’s needed in order for them to be deemed a contender, as a future recipient of being bestowed the staging of an All Star Game. The fact of the matter is , the cash strapped city and the state of Florida with a burgeoning deficit have no place to go but to place the burden of building a new facility for the team upon its residents. And given the fact that statewide the unemployment level is close to the national average of 9.8% . I hardly think that it’s appropriate for this burden to be placed upon the residents of the community as well as the entire state. But an idiot such Bud Selig wouldn’t know this ! He and his moronic minions seem to have no sense of duty or morals when it comes to exacting their form of extortion upon the fans and the general public. One wonders what might happen were Congress and the Senate to rescind MLB’s ‘anti-trust exemption status’ ? That would obviously put the cat amongst the pigeons and have the league’s hierarchy, as well as the owners running for the hills. But alas, both legislative houses appear to be in bed with the league when it comes to this very issue. MLB’s lobbyists on K Street in Washington D.C. would make sure that event would never take place within either legislative body.

Kings' GM Geoff Petrie   seated  alongside team  coach Paul  Westphal  and  the  team's  owners  Gavin  &  Joe  Maloof.   photo  appears  courtesy  of  Associated  Press/   Ryan Murphy  ............
Kings' GM Geoff Petrie seated alongside team coach Paul Westphal and the team's owners Gavin & Joe Maloof. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Ryan Murphy ............

So it has now come to this, wherein the Sacramento Kings has essentially given up on the NBA season ? The Western Conference team within the Pacific Division has raised the ‘white flag of surrender’ , having traded away their best player in , Kevin Martin and three others to the Houston Rockets in order to obtain Tracy McGrady and his rather ‘outlandish ‘ and ‘exorbitant’ $23 million contract. Salary dump on the part of the Rockets and their GM Daryl Morey. McGrady ,himself, had become something of a diversion and malignant cancer within the Rockets’ locker room. As to what this might suggest to the Kings’ fans is open to a matter of conjecture and a great deal of debate. Suffice to say, it wouldn’t at all surprise me if the fans were to begin hanging effigies of the Sacramento Kings’ ownership and that of their front office in the rafters and outside ARCO Arena , in Sacramento.

Courtesy of Associated Press and Yahoo Sports

Reports: Rockets trade McGrady to Kings

Houston (AP)—Published reports say the Houston Rockets have traded Tracy McGrady and his massive expiring contract to the Sacramento Kings for guards Kevin Martin and Sergio Rodriguez , center Hilton Armstrong and forward Kenny Thomas.

The Kings also reportedly will get forward Carl Landry, Houston’s most productive bench player this season, and seldom-used forward Joey Dorsey.

The deal was first reported by KRIV-TV and the Houston Chronicle early Thursday morning. ESPN.com reported that the New York Knicks will work with the Kings and Rockets on Thursday morning to acquire McGrady in a three-team swap.

The seven-time All-Star is making an NBA-high $23 million this season, the last year of his contract.

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Westphal   (right)  seen here   with  Mayor   of Sacramento ,  Kevin  Johnson.    photo  appears  courtesy  of   Getty  Images/  Ivan  Bressloff  ............
Westphal (right) seen here with Mayor of Sacramento , Kevin Johnson. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Ivan Bressloff ............

And though the Kings were recipients of not just McGrady but also the Rockets’ productive bench player Carl Landry and as well as seldom used forward, Joey Dorsey. As to the opportunities that this opens up for Kings’ coach, Paul Westphal remains to be seen. But it’s clear with the acquisition of McGrady , which isn’t being viewed as a long term solution to the team’s problems. But it should gives him enough time to assess the roster and that of the commitment shown by the players. For team owners Joe and Gavin Maloof and that of GM Geoff Petrie , these have been exacerbating times. And that’s just not from competitive standpoint but also from financial one as well. The organization has struggled with declining attendance and at the same they’re still at an impasse with the city of Sacramento and the inadequacies of their facility- ARCO Arena. And that is in spite of speaking directly with the city’s Mayor Kevin Johnson on this very issue. Johnson ,himself, was once a player in the NBA and he had quite a distinguished career playing for the Phoenix Suns for the majority of his professional career. The parlance between the two sides with them being unable to come to some sort of amicable agreement , puts the city at odds with the NBA franchise.
And it adds to the possibility that once the Kings’ lease at the ARCO Arena has expired , the Maloofs may well look to relocate the franchise either win another part of the state or move across the country altogether. No doubt city of Las Vegas mayor, Oscar B Goodman , would like nothing more than to welcome the Maloofs and their NBA franchise to the city, as its newest professional sports franchise. With the Maloofs already having ties to the city and the state through their hotel , casino ties as well as several other business interests. The synergistic fit would be of benefit to both parties. But for the moment that doesn’t appear to be on the horizon , as of yet.

<strong> Tracy McGrady (#1)</strong> of the Houston Rockets drives the ball around Tyson Chandler (#6) of the New Orleans Hornets on December 26, 2008 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. According to reports on February 18, 2010, McGrady was traded to the New York Knicks in a three team trade between the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Knigs, and Knicks.  photo appears courtesy  of  Getty  Images/  Chris  Graythern .................
Tracy McGrady (#1) of the Houston Rockets drives the ball around Tyson Chandler (#6) of the New Orleans Hornets on December 26, 2008 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. According to reports on February 18, 2010, McGrady was traded to the New York Knicks in a three team trade between the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Knigs, and Knicks. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Chris Graythern .................


As I alluded to earlier , it’s my belief that the Sacramento Kings have given up on the season and the thought of being competitive throughout its remainder. I could well prove to be wrong in my assumption but in all likelihood it’s safe to say that the organization is looking forward to the future and to build the team around their ‘sensational’ rookie Tyreke Evans . It is clear to those with any knowledge of the team and the thought process of both Westphal and Petrie, that this is now best way forward for the franchise. It is sad however, that a player of Kevin Martin’s caliber is lost to the team. As to whether or not a player of McGrady’s clearly declining abilities can reasonably contribute anything to this team , remains to be seen .

Well it appears what semblance of sanity one thought there was within the Knicks’ has left the building, just like ‘Elvis’. Apparently not wanting to be left of back pages of the venerable New York City newspapers and their wonderful sport’s sections. New York Knicks‘ President of Basketball Operations and GM, Donnie Walsh entered into the fray and took Tracy McGrady of the Kings’ hands. And for that the Maloofs and Geoff Petrie will be eternally grateful. As to what this says about the Knicks as an organization, can be best summed up by saying …..’fu_k why did they get rid of Zeke’ ? If he can f_ck up the Knicks, the way that he did , then why the hell did they hire Donnie Walsh to begin with ? I hear can hear Spike Lee now saying, ……… ‘we’re legitimate contenders for the championship . T-Mac’ll ‘take us’ to the promise land’.

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports

AP source: McGrady to Knicks in three-way trade

By Chris Duncan, AP Sports Writer

Houston (AP)—The New York Knicks have acquired disgruntled guard Tracy McGrady and his massive expiring contract in a three-team swap with the Houston Rockets and the Sacramento Kings, a person with knowledge of the negotiations tells The Associated Press.

The person spoke Thursday and requested anonymity because the deal has not been officially announced.

The Knicks will also get Sergio Rodriguez from the Kings, though the lure of the deal was McGrady and his expiring $23 million contract.

The Rockets will get guard Kevin Martin and forward Hilton Armstrong from Sacramento and forward Jordan Hill , Jared Jeffries and draft considerations in 2011 and 2012 from New York. They’re also relieved to have finally found a taker for McGrady, the troublesome seven-time All-Star they’ve been trying to trade for almost two months.

The Kings will get New York guard Larry Hughes and Houston forwards Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey.

The Knicks have been courting McGrady—or at least the financial benefits of his contract—almost since the moment in late December when the Rockets granted him an indefinite leave and announced they were trying to trade him.

While interested in seeing McGrady play for the last two months of a lost season, New York is more interested in dropping their payroll and becoming a major player in this summer’s free-agent sweepstakes.

Jeffries and Hill will make almost $10 million together next year so by including them in the deal, the Knicks will open enough salary cap space to offer nearly two maximum contracts to the free agents available after the season, starting with LeBron James .

The Knicks and Rockets had reportedly been working on a deal for a while, but couldn’t finish it without involving another team.

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Click on the link shown to read Chris Duncan’s article in
its entirety.
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God knows what Mike D’Antoni must be thinking at this moment in time ? I mean he couldn’t get the team’s current roster of players to play as a cohesive unit,under his tutelage as their coach. Who in the hell thinks that the addition of McGrady will actually improve this team one iota ? ‘Not I’, said the fly ! And I hear that both Condoleeza Rice and Jessica Simpson feel the same way ? Now that’s the sort of assurance that’s welcoming to the ears of the devoted Knicks’ fans.

With McGrady’s contract now in its final year , it’s quite obvious that the Knicks feel that they’ll be in play to be part of the LeBron James sweepstakes and when he comes up for free agency. But much of that’ll now also be predicated upon the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations taking placce between the NBA hierarchy and the NBPA under the auspices of NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter . The tension between Hunter and NBA Commissioner David Stern seems to be at ‘fever’s pitch’ and but a moment away from reaching ‘boiling point’. And it would appear that the union is unlikely to fall into line and acquiesce to the league’s demands of a ‘20% pay cut across the board that’d be retro-active’ . And this would also take into account maxed out contracts for players with tenure in the league. Call me naive but does anyone really believe the union will allow that to happen concerning its members ? Never mind the fact that Stern keeps on reiterating that the league is on course to lose in excess of $400 million for the fiscal year of 2010 ? Somewhere along the lines the NBA executives and GM’s seem to have forgotten about budgetary restraint for some reason ? They went on spending sprees the way that former Filipino ‘First Lady ‘ Imelda Marcos spent money on her vast array ‘haute-couture’ fashion accessories and shoes. That asides, until Stern allows the NBA’s books to be publicly scrutinized there’s little reason to be believe what he’s saying is true. Much like our Federal legislators and senior government officials, there’s very little to believe what they now say, that actually passes the ‘litmus test’ , when it comes what’s truthful and what is essentially ‘a white lie’ !

Scott Boras   with  client  Johnny   Damon   and    Damon's  wife  Michelle
Scott Boras (left) with client Johnny Damon and Damon's wife Michelle. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images / Russell Shaw .................

I’ve always maintained that the three most despised people in the world of baseball, are Barry Bonds , Mark McGwire and sports agent Scott Boras . If you need any proof of the latter ? Then consider this, Boras as agent for Johnny Damon , has been unable to land his client with a ‘team’ in MLB. And the reason you may ask ? Well it is this, Boras is under the impression that his client is still worth at least $8-$10 million a year for a player who’s up there in years and declining in talent. But somehow, he and Damon are of the opinion that his client is worth that sort of money in today’s economy and free agency market. One begs the question then what would either Albert Pujols or Joe Mauer be worth ? $15million , $20 million or $25 million a year ?


The asinine attitude of both Damon and Boras doesn’t bear explaining , except to say that they overvalue their self worth through their sheer stupidity and perception of grandeur ! As to whether or not Damon is signed by a team prior to the opening of Spring Training , remains to be seen.

These are but a few of my own observations as to the perceived sanity or lack of it thereof in the world of sports. Is there anything that you’ve observed that has made you wonder what the hell is going on within this particular environment ? Chime on with a comment that you , I and others may discuss within this forum. I look forward to reading your responses in due course.

NB Both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are the respective owners of their own cable sports programming outlets, namely NESN (Red Sox) and the YES Network (New York Yankees). Each of these entities provides both organizations with a vast mountain of cash to facilitate their financial well being and also to replenish their respective rosters as they would deem fit.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………

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Drake feat’g Timbaland ….. ‘Say Something’

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One  man's  wish  but every  man's   dream  and  that's  to  have  <strong>  Esther   Baxter  </strong>  .  And <strong><em> who  wouldn't  want  to  ? </strong> </em>  I   know   I  would  !
One man's wish but every man's dream and that's to have Esther Baxter . And who wouldn't want to ? I know I would !

Dave Chappelle …… Politically Incorrect Or Just Really Observant on Social Behavior And Customs ?

Dave Chappelle …… Politically Incorrect Or Just Really Observant on Social Behavior And Customs ?

I’m an avid fan of comedian Dave Chappelle and not just of his ‘stand-up’ comedy work but also for his rather riotous and often hilarious show on television. Unfortunately , for even his most devoted fans Chappelle walked away from his Emmy award winning show , ‘The Dave Chappelle Show’ (Comedy Central) at the height of its celebrity status.

As a reminder of how funny a comedian he was and how he could seemingly parody any social situation. Below you’ll find a number of video skits featuring the comedian and an excellent ensemble cast of character actors to aid him in his work. Sit back , laugh but also enjoy. If it offends then I apologize . But there’s been far more egregious things that have been done by others that one would find even more offensive than anything being done here by Chappelle to begin with.

Meet the ‘Niggar’ family .

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Grape Drink

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Native Americans

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Racist ?

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Chappelle talks about police brutally and 911 calls

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Chappelle and his white friend Chip

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Terrorists on a plane

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How old is fifteen ?

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Black celebrities

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Chappelle on how women dress

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And from his HBO special ‘Killing Them Softly’ .

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As it now stands it may well be a considerable amount of time before Chappelle should ever make a decision to return to television and this particular format. By my way of thinking , the work done over the course of his irreverent series was simply outstanding ! So make of it what you will but most of all have fun while doing so .


Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………….

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Soon to be the UK’s greatest export to North America, apart from myself that is ! Here’s Keeley Hazell . Enjoy as ‘The Black Eyed Peas’ regale you with ‘Meet Me Halfway’

I’ve Got A Pot To Pi_s In And My First Task Would Be To Pour It In The Direction of The Following …….

I’ve Got A Pot To Pi_s In And My First Task Would Be To Pour It In The Direction of The Following …….

I don’t know about you but I found this past weekend to be something of an uneventful one sports-wise. OK, so it was Valentine’s Day weekend and the girlfriend brought me a puppy as a gift. I’ve decided to name him ‘Buster’. And hopefully he can get me some ‘play’ when she’s out of town away on business or visiting her family on the West Coast ! And the one thing that Buster had better be is domesticated, in the fact that he won’t be urinating all over the home. That’ll be an ongoing thing no doubt. !

As I stated , I found the weekend’s noted sport’s activities to be one big monotonous bore ! And my interest in the Winter Olympics rates up there somewhere alongside my interest in Sarah Palin’s thoughts on the economy. Her knowledge of it, when matched against that of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers is essentially like measuring the difference between night and day. She ought to stick with what she knows best and that’s placing lipstick on a pig and making a complete ass of herself . Any other utterances out of her mouth just isn’t worth a damn !


The NBA All Star Weekend was the personification of exuberance and ostentatiousness . And even thought the events were staged at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington , Texas. One had the feel that everything about the event was superficial and lacking in real substance. There, you had Mark Cuban as host of the event , as the game was meant to be originally set at the Dallas Mavericks’ home venue. But what better way for David Stern , Jerry Jones and Cuban , himself , to show off everything that’s meant to truly gaudy, while still at the same time trying to appease the fans of the NBA ? And it wouldn’t at all surprise us to know that each of the trio has never been known to shy away from the prying eyes of the media. As each craves the press almost as much as a junkie craves a hit of their next fix. They’ll essentially whore themselves out to the highest bidder if it gets them the print or tv coverage that they desire.

Dallas -February  15th ,2010. New Dallas Mavericks player <strong>Caron Butler </strong>(l) and Mavericks' head coach Rick Carlisle appear at a news conference at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. photo appears  courtesy  of  NBAE/Getty  Images/  Glenn James  .........
Dallas -February 15th ,2010. New Dallas Mavericks player Caron Butler (l) and Mavericks' head coach Rick Carlisle appear at a news conference at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Glenn James .........

Well, what was meant to be ‘NASCAR’s showcase event’ of the season , their ‘Superbowl’ , essentially became a comedy of errors. And no one other than NASCAR is to blame for the events that took place at Daytona International Speedway for the Daytona 500 . And though the race was won by Jamie McMurray with Dale Earnhardt Jr finishing a close second. One can’t help but feel that the race and the events in the midst and subsequently surrounding it made it all more of an afterthought. And no amount of PR hoopla that was forthcoming could actually stave off the warranted criticism of the event and of the officials presiding over Daytona , itself. ISC , the holding company and umbrella operation of NASCAR , which owns the track, doesn’t even have the decency to apologize to the fans for the debacle. But then again what would one come to expect of a a hierarchy that has literally lost touch with its fan-base over the years. Brian France as CEO and Chairman of NASCAR alongside Mike Helton , NASCAR’s President , have about as much insight and intelligence as that of a mentally challenged child. But the belief is that as custodians of the sport they have it now going in the right direction. With the loss of several major corporate sponsors and the still acute situation of the domestic auto industry. These are still some very acute times for the sport in general and financially as well as competitively it is becoming extremely tough to remain competitive as well as financially viable. A number of the smaller teams operating within the upper echelons of the sport will either cease operations , scale back or leave the sport altogether . It’s not just the economy that’s playing a factor in this but the mere fact that the rules within the sport isn’t consistent and is forever changing. Hardly an emphatic endorsement for a sport that is meant to be fan friendly.

Team owner Chip Ganassi, left, and NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray are interviewed after winning the Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.  photo appears  courtesy of  Associated  Press/ John  Raoux .......
Team owner Chip Ganassi, left, and NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray are interviewed after winning the Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ John Raoux .......

Much of the pre-hype leading up to the race itself was the official baptism of fire Danica Patrick. She will now drive in the sport but in the lower level of the Nationwide Series for the Jr Motorsports team, co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr and Rick Hendrick . Now considering the hype over Patrick , who has but one win in the Indy Series . I find it somewhat asinine the attention that she’s now getting, when in Jimmie Johnson , the sport has its first four time consecutive NASCAR champion. The PR that NASCAR has used their champion for, borders on being insulting. It has been minimal at best and on a national scale the print media hasn’t shown little evidence of supporting the NASCAR champion. But that’s something that’s best left for their erstwhile fans to discuss. I mean if Jimmie Johnson’s feats aren’t worth discussing then why the f_ck are they falling over themselves concerning Danica Patrick ? When last l looked she wasn’t racing stark naked , nor was she adorning the front of her vehicle scantly clad. So why all the hype ?

 Jamie McMurray, driver of the (#1) Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  photo appears courtesy  of Getty Images/  NASCAR/ Jason  Smith ..................
Jamie McMurray, driver of the (#1) Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images/ NASCAR/ Jason Smith ..................

Can the travails of the New York Knicks get any worse at the moment ? Here you have a team that is so inept and lacking in overall talent. That one has to wonder why they’re simply not playing in the developmental league of the NBA . That way the alleged players on this ‘so called Mike D’Antoni coached team’ can hone their talents. Having posted a 19-32 record within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference . It’s hard to see what direction that D’Antoni is trying to lead the team in. Young and naive at heart this team doesn’t even possess the natural ability to play as a cohesive unit. But yet I’m being told that they have some rather good young players on their roster.

 Nate Robinson (#2) of the New York Knicks celebrates his third dunk title during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night as part of the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at the American Airlines Center on February 13, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. photo appears courtesy  of NBAE/Getty Images/  Nathaniel  S.  Butler ...................
Nate Robinson (#2) of the New York Knicks celebrates his third dunk title during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night as part of the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at the American Airlines Center on February 13, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Nathaniel S. Butler ...................


Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Knicks in serious talks for McGrady

By Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears , Yahoo Sports Writers

The New York Knicks are getting closer to reaching the Houston Rockets’ demands for Tracy McGrady(notes) and his $23 million expiring contract, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Knicks and Rockets have designed the framework of a deal that would unload New York’s Jared Jeffries, Jordan Hill and either Al Harrington or Larry Hughes for McGrady, Joey Dorsey and Brian Cook.

As talks stood on Monday, the price of dumping the burdensome contract of Jeffries – who is owed $6.9 million next season – comes with the Knicks and Rockets exchanging 2011 first-round picks and the Knicks’ 2012 first-round choice going to Houston. New York also might include a 2010 second-round pick.

The Utah Jazz own the Knicks’ first-round pick in 2010.

The discussion on potential draft picks changing hands remains fluid.

The completion of the deal isn’t imminent, but sources involved in the discussions are increasingly confident that after months of back and forth, which intensified over All-Star weekend, an agreement is within reach. TNT’s David Aldridge first reported that talks between the teams had picked up.

One of the hang-ups in the deal, sources said, could be the Knicks’ inclusion of either Harrington or Hughes. There are slight variations of the trade that would change depending on which of the two veteran Knicks’ expiring contracts are included. With Harrington over Hughes in the deal, the Rockets wouldn’t need to include Cook.

For the Knicks, the trade would accomplish two important things: First, it would get Jeffries’ salary cleared out, something general manager Donnie Walsh has tried to do since taking the job. This would give the Knicks even more flexibility to be a major player in this summer’s free-agent market. Also, the Knicks want to take a good look at McGrady and let him play as much of a role as he can handle the rest of the season. They may consider re-signing him for next season, based on his performance.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey would get Hill, the untested eighth pick in the 2009 draft, and first-round picks that could prove valuable. This will get the Rockets a significant measure of value for McGrady, who they exiled in December. McGrady, sources said, is excited about the possibility of joining the Knicks.

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And when the claim to fame of your so called best player is that he’s a three time NBA Slam Dunk champion that doesn’t exactly set the opposition running for cover. But that’s what we see as the evidence in watching Nate Robinson play. For all of his posturing, I seriously doubt that he’d even make it on the bench of the New Jersey Nets the one team in the conference that is considerably worse than the Knicks ! And for my buddy the sportschump , who simply lives to breathe and gush over anything that’s worthy of mentioning, concerning a Florida Gator athlete. I won’t disappoint him, by saying that although David Lee is having a solid year for the Knicks. On any other team he might well be a backup. But for the New York Knicks , he’s the lone star on this seemingly dysfunctional team !


Were the playoffs to start today the New York Knicks would miss that scenario entirely. In fact being some 5 1/2 games behind the 8th placed Chicago Bulls (25-16) in the seedings, indicates how dire the situation is at present for the organization. And with the conference actually now showing signs of competitiveness. It comes as something of a surprise to find the top eight teams playing .500 ball . As to whether or not that will be the situation at season’s end remains to be seen. But raises hopes that within the Eastern Conference there’s signs of life beyond the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics , Orlando Magic and the surprisingly resilient Atlanta Hawks. Never mind the fact that the Charlotte Bobcats might just now be the ‘surprise team’ within the Eastern Conference.


Knicks’ Vice President and Head of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh has his work cut out for him in the off-season. It certainly doesn’t make sense for him at present to enter into the fray in terms of acquiring a player before the trade deadline. And even if it amounts to a salary dump in order to clear the way for a full fledged assault on landing LeBron James , as part of the ‘free agency’ sweepstakes that may well take place in the off-season. What will Walsh be surrounding the player with, in the terms of a complementary roster to begin with ? It’s not as if any of the parts of this current team is moderately good to begin with ! This has been a team assembled from ill fitting pieces that essentially hasn’t understood what it takes to play as a cohesive unit and win as a team. And all this, coming from the tutelage of Mike D’Antoni, whose effective communicative skills when it comes to basketball , borders on that on that of a mute !

Now if the rumors now sweeping NBA circles are true , then the impending departure of the Rockets’ guard , Tracy McGrady to the Knicks would come as a great surprise to many. Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey would like nothing better than to rid himself of the player , who of late has become nothing more than a whining prima-donna. And who if anything, his best days as a once ‘elite player’ is no longer visible on the courts, in terms of his play or his desire to win for that matter ! The thoughts of McGrady being on a Knicks’ team while not necessarily enthralling, brings about as much desire, as being forced to see Rosie O’Donnell naked and her acting provocatively, while enticing you to have sex with her . Not a pleasant sight at all ! And for the devoted Knicks’ fans out there who immediately think that the addition of McGrady will automatically make them a legitimate contender within the Eastern Conference. Think again , as nothing could be further from the truth. Having McGrady on board is essentially like, having Sarah Palin being added to John McCain’s Presidential ‘election race ticket’. On appearance, it was thought to be quite attractive and a winnable prospect. But when the evidence arose that Palin was nothing more than an unintelligent buffoon. Then all bets were off and it’ll be the same scenario with Tracy McGrady and the New York Knicks ! He’ll bring absolutely nothing to the table other than a player with a declining skills and an attitude that still borders on being narcissistic. And any aspirations that the Knicks might still possess with regards to obtaining a playoff spot are somewhat remote at this juncture.

Did I miss something during the college football season ? Can someone help me out please ? Unless , I’m mistaken Notre Dame had a woefully inept season and their coach Charlie Weis was abruptly fired after four lackluster years of sheer ineptitude . Why the school’s AD, Jack Swarbrick didn’t possess the ‘balls’ to do this sooner , is still beyond me ! But given the fact that NBC is by far in a way, the school’s biggest donor in terms of their tie-ins with the establishment and the ongoing relationship between NBC’s Head of Sports Programming, Dick Ebersol . This may well have been one of the primary reasons that it took Swarbrick so damn long to come to a decision. Ebersole as a graduate of the school, has shown far too much obeyance and partiality to the establishment. But when one considers how poor the station has been doing as of late, as a producer of quality programming. It’s easy to understand the reason why they continue to pin their hopes on crap such as ‘Notre Dame football’ and their continuous coverage of the Winter and Summer Olympics . Is there anyone actually still showing a keen interest in either ? With their coverage of the Vancouver Games said to be bringing the station losses estimated that will be in excess of $300-$400 million. One wonders who the hell has the common sense to be over bidding for the so called privilege of covering the games ? Only an idiot, without the business acumen would continue to wonder down this path while continuing to see the mounting losses and diminishing viewership for the spectacle to begin with ! But NBC is no longer being ran by sane people , more like it’s being ran by a bunch of brainless, moronic zombies !

Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly talks to reporters after his press conference about prospective student-athletes who have signed and submitted their letter of intent to Notre Dame on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010 in South Bend, Ind.  photo  appears courtesy  of  Associated  Press/ Joe Raymond ......
Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly talks to reporters after his press conference about prospective student-athletes who have signed and submitted their letter of intent to Notre Dame on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010 in South Bend, Ind. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Joe Raymond ......

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports -Blog ( Shutdown Corner)

Combine Watch List : Quarterbacks

By Doug Farrar , Yahoo Sports


With the 2010 Scouting Combine coming up next week, it’s time to take a look at the potential stars at every position in this year’s draft class. Yours truly will be in Indianapolis to cover the event (it will be my fourth), and we’ll start with the five quarterbacks who will be on most minds.

Sam Bradford (Oklahoma): Bradford might have been the first overall pick had he declared for the draft after the 2008 season, but he stayed to see if he could win a national championship with the Sooners. The departure of four offensive linemen from what had been the NCAA’s best line showed its effects in the 2009 season opener against BYU, when Bradford was slammed to the turf and suffered a shoulder injury. Another injury against Texas ended his season. Bradford has the arm strength and accuracy to make any NFL scout drool, but there are questions about his durability at 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds, his ability to adapt to pro-style offenses. Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen (pictured) is now seen by most to be the most pro-ready quarterback. Bradford, however, is the pick with the most potential over time. Scouts already know about his arm, but it will be good for Bradford to prove that it’s all still there and ready to go.

Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame): Clausen declared for the draft after the firing of head coach Charlie Weis — he had gone to Notre Dame specifically to learn under a coach who had NFL experience. He doesn’t have a rocket arm, but in a slightly depressed class at the position, Clausen’s probably the most interesting to those teams who need a franchise quarterback now. He’s the one draft-eligible quarterback with specific NFL-ready tools, extended experience in the kinds of offenses he’ll work at the next level, and the kind of intangibles that will endear him to his new teammates. As such, he’s a good bet to go first among the quarterbacks, especially if he does well in the throwing drills.

Colt McCoy (Texas): He fell short of a BCS Championship after a shoulder injury took him out against Alabama, but McCoy is an interesting prospect for certain kinds of teams. His high efficiency and favorable touchdown-to-interception ratios tell a story of an offense predetermined to shorter throws, but the Saints just won the Super Bowl with a 70 percent completion rate and a lot of screens and quick outs. McCoy’s toughness and intelligence aren’t questioned, but like Bradford, he’ll do well to answer questions about his shoulder with his throwing session.

Tim Tebow (Florida): No draft prospect causes more division among scouts, analysts and columnists than Tebow. There are those who believe that if the NFL can’t find a place for him, it’s the NFL’s problem. And there are those who believe that Tebow will never make it in the NFL as a quarterback. His experience in option offenses and super-slow delivery are precedents which seem to relegate him to the NFL scrap heap as a quarterback, but his intangibles have some willing to take draft chances they probably shouldn’t. No player will benefit more from a great session on the turf of Lucas Oil Stadium — if Tebow shows a buggy-whip release and an ability to zing 30-yard post-corner routes, he’ll have a lot of draft boards scrambling. Still, he’d probably be wise to catch passes with the tight end group as well…

Tony Pike (Cincinnati): Another guy with size and injury concerns (6-6, 212), Pike blew it up for the Bearcats in 2009 and really impressed during Senior Bowl practices. But he missed three games during 2009 with an injured (non-throwing) forearm, a year after a six-inch plate was inserted in that same arm. Pike met with Ben Roethlisberger before the Senior Bowl to get some tips on the next level, but he’ll certainly want to avoid Big Ben’s tendency to attract sacks.

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Irish QB Jimmy Clausen has never seen the type of attitude in Notre Dame's players that they are showing at this year's spring practice.
Irish QB Jimmy Clausen has never seen the type of attitude in Notre Dame's players that they are showing at this year's spring practice. photo appears courtesy of Getty Imges/ Christian Petersen ............

If the machinations of ESPN’s NFL Draft guru, Mel Kiper Jr, is anything to go by . Then it’s likely that the Irish’s quarterback Jimmy Clausen may well be taken as the first quarterback picked in the upcoming NFL Draft in April. He’s viewed by many as the best NFL ready college quarterback available in this upcoming draft. Now don’t get me wrong it’s Kiper’s and others’ own assessment of Clausen and their belief in the player’s worth. And while I admire what it is that Kiper does. Let’s just say his idea of blowing smoke up everyone’s ass, differs from mine, in the assessment of Jimmy Clausen as a player and most definitely as one of the better college quarterbacks on display last season and for his entire college career. He’s a solid player but he’s nowhere near the player that Kiper and others are making him out to be ! At best he’ll be a mid first round or early second round pick for an NFL team in need of a quarterback . When judged against the body of work and the abilities amongst his peers such as , Sam Bradford , Colt McCoy and Tony Pike, Clausen does leave a great deal to be desired. But then again, I get the feeling that when the likes of Kiper and Kirk Herbstreit assess the talents of Jimmy Claussen. I somehow get the impression that they’re swooning over a busty young female while they’re seemingly enjoying their respective erections ? Oh damn , both Herbstreit and Kiper have both shot their wads at the same time. Talk about premature ejaculation ? These guys are stark staring mad !

Golden Tate #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs the ball past Blake Carter #1 of the Navy Midshipmen on November 15, 2008 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Notre Dame defeated Navy 27-21.
Golden Tate (#23) of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs the ball past Blake Carter (#1 ) of the Navy Midshipmen on November 15, 2008 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Notre Dame defeated Navy 27-21. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images North America/ Jim McIsaac ................

The sole reason why Clausen looked so good may well have been the fact that he had Golden Tate as a receiver on his team, while he was Notre Dame. If Tate couldn’t catch it, then it couldn’t be caught by anyone else within college football. Because of his sheer athleticism ,Tate was able to make the impossible happen when it came the passes of Clausen. And it wasn’t as if Clausen was all that accurate a passer to begin with. Never mind as a player he lacks leadership skills and his character at times has come into question. The great quarterbacks within the NFL possess a number of these traits , and those are leadership, accuracy , being able to adapt under pressure but most of all being able to lead by example. And that’s something, Clausen clearly hasn’t exhibited over the course of his college career. And I’m to believe that an NFL team will be prepared to invest anywhere between $45million-$60 million in his abilities as a player ? Can someone please throw this pot of pi_s I’ve got at both Herbstreit and Kiper, before I do ? These two buffoons are about as insightful on the college game , as Pat Robertson is on the tenets of the bible and Christianity. And given Robertson’s asinine outbursts and his denigration of the Haitian people , I’m inclined to believe that fuc_ing racial bigot wouldn’t know his ass from his elbow, much less what time of the friggin’ day it is !

There you have it guy my pot of pi_s and who I’d now be squarely aiming it at. Is there anyone or any team that you’d be directing a pot of pi_s towards because the sheer stupidity that they’re said to be showing ? By all means vent by leaving a comment on this particular subject matter. I look forward to reading and then responding to each of your comments accordingly. Thanks as always for the continued support. It’s most definitely appreciated !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………

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The Family Stand gives you ‘Ghetto Heaven’. Feel the beat , it’s a great deal better than a lot of the crap that’s been espoused as good music nowadays !

And for the young guys out there who’ve never heard of or even appreciated what Rosie Perez was about . Then sit back and watch as she lays it out all on the line. The ‘original ‘Fly Girl’ who created and choreographed the dance troupe that appeared on the Fox satirical comedy show ‘In Living Color’ . Appreciate also Public Enemy’s socially conscious track ‘Fight The Power’ . This is the theme to the Spike Lee joint ‘Do The Right Thing’ . On a side-note , this is where Jennifer Lopez first came to our attention, as she was an original ‘Fly Girl’ .

Tophatal’s ‘Joint’ of The Day ………..

Tophatal’s ‘Joint’ of The Day …………..

They say it’s the sincerest form flattery and that’s to take an idea of someone else’s and then try to improve on it all. In this case it’s my shout-out to the boys of ‘Too Old For Maxim Too Young For Esquire’ . E’s (Erik) Song of The Day is somewhat of the inspiration behind this all. And for me when I’m at work and poring over financials, I find that the best way for me to work, is to have some music playing. Be it rap, rock , jazz , r & b or reggae. It adds to the ambiance of my surrounding and my work environment.

In light of Valentine’s Day having just passed this is also for the girlfriend Mae-Lin. It’s UGK’s ‘Players’ Anthem (I Choose You)’ feat’g Anrdre’ 3000 and Big Boi of Outkast.

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And the follow up is that of Erykah Badu’s Love of My Life’ feat’g Common.

I trust that you’ll enjoy the content matter ? This’ll be part of an ongoing series from me, from time time . That’ll way you guys get more of an insight as to what make me tick.

Alan Parkins …… aka tophatal

What’s Yours Is Mine And What’s Mine You’re Not Getting Any Part Of It ………………….

What’s Yours Is Mine And What’s Mine You’re Not Getting Any Part Of It ………………….

It’s often been said that divorce can either be contentious or it can be amicable between the two parties. That being said , a lot of that has to do with how each party conducts themselves and whether or not there’s still a great deal of acrimony between the two. Speaking personally , for myself it came down to just signing the divorce papers after seventeen years of marriage but having been with and knowing my ex for over 25 years. That asides , I doubt our divorce has been anywhere as contentious as is being now being played out between Los Angeles Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt and his soon to be ex-wife Jamie McCourt. Such has been the unsavory nature and the salaciousness of the allegations being leveled between the two. That the content would be ripe for a tv ‘movie of the week’ , let alone perhaps several episodes of a daytime soap.

<strong> Frank <em> and </em> Jamie McCourt </strong></em>.   The  couple  are   now  in  the  midst  of  a <strong> very  contentious  divorce </strong> which  could  have  <strong> some very  <em> serious   ramifications</em>  for  the  Los  Angeles  Dodgers'   franchise</strong>    from  the  possible  impending verdict   by  the   judge   in  the   case.    photo  appears   courtes of  Associated  Press/  Richard   Franklin  .....
Frank and Jamie McCourt . The couple are now in the midst of a very contentious divorce which could have some very serious ramifications for the Los Angeles Dodgers' franchise from the possible impending verdict by the judge in the case. photo appears courtes of Associated Press/ Richard Franklin .....

Jamie McCourt for her part, is alleging that she was coerced into signing a pre-nuptial agreement that in essence denies her right as a co-owner of the franchise. With there being communal property at stake in the divorce and under California law , under the determination of a presiding judge . The assets of the two spouses can be split equally under his determination . Frank McCourt is one of the wealthiest Californians nd said to be worth an estimated $1.2 billion but obviously those assets are combined with that of his soon to be ex-wife. At stake in the commercial real estate developer’s empire , is his ‘jewel in the crown’, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The franchise is worth an estimated $ 750 million . The ramifications will be vast if the presiding judge does find in Jamie McCourt’s favor. As it is, the organization and its very structure could be threatened by the legal entanglement within the divorce courts. It’d appear that everyone within the Dodgers’ organization will be waiting on the verdict with baited breath. As to what the fans of the Dodgers might be making of this all , there isn’t much of an opinion to be had at present. Suffice to say , that as long as the club isn’t torn apart then they will be entirely happy with whatever the outcome that the judges deems fit to make as a final decision. But herein lies the rub , the club end up being sold to meet any judgment should it be thought that Jamie McCourt has a right of claim in the part ownership of the club. If some sort of agreement cannot be amicably be reached between Frank McCourt and his ex-wife . Then the judge could seek an order that would in fact McCourt to sell the franchise. This has to be something that Bud Selig and the league’s hierarchy has to be following the situation with intense scrutiny.

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Divorce (Mc)Court drama could impact Dodgers

By Tim Brown, Yahoo Sports

Los Angeles – Frank McCourt picks up the phone on a cold and gray day and there is lightness in his voice.

He has vacationed recently with his four sons, he says, which has filled his heart. And now, after an unusually dark winter, the Los Angeles Dodgers owner is looking forward to spring.

“I can’t wait to get out to Camelback,” he says of the team’s year-old spring training facility in the Arizona desert. “And I can’t wait for opening day.”

If the empire does indeed come apart, it will be draped in red, white and blue bunting.

In the months since Frank and Jamie McCourt announced their separation, an early-evening press release followed closely by Frank firing Jamie as CEO of the Dodgers, and three days later by Jamie filing for divorce, much of it accessorized by random gunning for each other’s knees, concern for the future of the Dodgers has gripped the city like a rush-hour hail storm.

As if to honor the murky taillights ahead, the club sat out the bidding for every major free agent and did not engage when high-end players became available by trade, inactivity viewed by anxiety-prone, post-O’Malley Dodger fans as signs the team would soon be swallowed whole by community property laws, attorneys’ fees, paper fortunes, marital-property agreements and locksmith bills.

Amid speculation otherwise, Frank McCourt insisted he is financially secure and so are the Dodgers, that he had no plans to take on minority partners, and that he would not be forced to share ownership of the club with anyone, including – or especially – his wife.

“I have no trepidation whatsoever,” he said. “I think we’re in a great situation right now with the club. I think the results speak for themselves.”

Further, he said, “I fully expect my boys to own the team someday.”

A court could decide from which parent the Dodgers would be passed down.

Through her representatives, Jamie McCourt declined to be interviewed. Her attorney, entertainment lawyer Bert Fields, argued a custody battle for the Dodgers will not harm the franchise, unless it concludes with Frank as the sole owner.

“Unlike Jamie, I don’t think Frank is willing to spend what Jamie will to keep them competitive,” Fields said. “You might ask him how much money he took out of the organization last year. You might be surprised. Rather than spend it on pitching.”

Through a spokesperson, McCourt said he would not engage in a point-by-point defense of his finances or ownership practices.

In preparation for her return to her Dodger Stadium office, the one she was locked out of in October, Jamie McCourt, Fields said, has lined up “well-funded partners” in order to meet Frank’s price. The Dodgers, Frank said, are not for sale.

At the center of it all is a postnuptial contract signed by both McCourts more than five years ago, in which – Frank’s attorneys allege – Jamie would cede the Dodgers to Frank if the two divorced. In return – they say – Jamie would receive the couple’s many real estate holdings, including two properties each in Malibu, Cape Cod and the Holmby Hills section of L.A., along with a condo in Vail, Colo., and land in Montana and Cabo San Lucas.

While the current value of the real estate cannot be precisely determined, the McCourts purchased the nine properties from 1998 to 2008 for about $115 million. In April 2009, Forbes magazine estimated the Dodgers to be worth $722 million, $300 million more than what the McCourts paid for the team six years ago. In court filings, Jamie estimated the couple’s worth at $1.2 billion.

Jamie’s lawyers suggest she was coerced into signing the contract and claim she is co-owner of the Dodgers. Courts overturn such agreements, Fields said, “all the time.”

Frank says the contract is “very clear, simple, straightforward and binding,” and that his estranged wife has no legal claim to the ballclub. A trial that will determine the validity of the agreement is scheduled to begin May 24 and could redirect the course of the franchise. The sides have agreed to decide other issues related to their divorce at a later, undetermined date.

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Manny Ramirez #99 (2R) of the Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre #6 (L) general manager Ned Colletti and Ramirez's agent Scott Boras looks on during a news conference on March 5, 2009, at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona, after he re-signed with the Dodgers.
Manny Ramirez (#99 - second from the right ) of the Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre (#6) general manager Ned Colletti and Ramirez's agent Scott Boras looks on during a news conference on March 5, 2009, at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona, after he re-signed with the Dodgers. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Kevork Djansezian ...............................

For Frank McCourt , while many Dodgers’ fans were somewhat dubious of the owner’s original intentions , given the fact that initially he was unwilling to open up the purse strings. With the introduction of Ned Colletti as the team’s general manager and that of Joe Torre as their manager. There seems to renewed sense of competitiveness within the organization and in the pursuit of winning. And that drive may well have been brought about with the addition of Manny Ramirez to the team. Often thought of as ‘a cancer’ within an organization . Ramirez has been anything but that , despite his 50 game suspension for the use of a banned substance. That asides , this team with Ramirez there as its lynch pin , is now being groomed for success for the impending future. And within the AL West division , their chances have been made all that much easier , considering the weakness of the teams within the division on the whole. The likes of the San Francisco Giants , Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks can’t at all really be considered effective competitors for the Dodgers, throughout much of the regular season. If anything, ‘the teams’ in question have been somewhat inconsistent in maintaining competitiveness at an optimum level of play . And when teams are said to be in that sort of mode , it’s highly unlikely that they can be viewed realistically as contenders within their division , much less the entire baseball landscape.

With there now being so much at stake, not just for either of the McCourts but also for the very structure of the Dodgers. Whatever verdict that’s forthcoming from the judge in this case. could very well disappoint one of the two parties in question. Whereas, at the same time, it will leave the hierarchy of MLB in something of a rather embarrassing position. One seriously doubts that Bud Selig wants to be forced into a situation where he and his executives are forced to essentially facilitate the sale of one the more storied franchises in all of baseball , merely because of a domestic dispute that could’ve been handled better. If both parties had just taken a step back and shown some common sense to begin with. Instead of showing inherent greed , tinged with a great many half-truths and a complete lack of common sense. Perhaps we wouldn’t have seen this all now being played out not just within the press but also in the court system and the salaciousness that’s now being derived from the case to begin with. There’s nothing like greed and a great deal of money that can drive a wedge between business partners , let alone a spouse or any other family member.


Alan aka tophatal …………………..

The <strong> <em>'delectable'</em>  Kelly  Hu </strong>.   That's <strong> one   hell of   a  tasty  piece  of <em>  'Asian  American   femme-fatale' </em> that  I'd   love  do  the  rounds  with  and  then  some</strong>  !
The 'delectable' Kelly Hu . That's one hell of a tasty piece of 'Asian American femme-fatale' that I'd love do the rounds with and then some ! She is absolutely ravishing !

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I’m Going To Make Them An Offer They Can’t Refuse …………..

I’m Going To Make Them An Offer They Can’t Refuse

Perhaps it’s me but unless NBA Commissioner David Stern is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. We’re to believe that NBA and its teams are said to be losing tens of millions of dollars. For the fiscal year of 2010, Stern states …’ that the combined losses of the league will exceed $400 million dollars‘. Now when I last looked the NBA’s revenues exceeded $7 billion a year from all of its global operations. Somehow either there’s ‘financial mismanagement’ on the NBA’s behalf, courtesy of the owners. Or in fact there are indeed some serious inherent problems within the NBA that was overlooked by the game’s hierarchy from the very outset. Which is it to be ?

<strong>NBPA Executive  Director<em>   Billy  Hunter </em>  seated  left   alongside  NBA  Commissioner <em> David  Stern</strong></em>.   At  present the  two  men  are   in  a  very   contentious   negotiation   scenario  with  regard  to   the  league's   collective   bargaining  agreement.     photo  appears   courtesy  of <strong>  NBAE/Getty  Images/</strong>   Andrew  D  Bernstein  ..............
NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter seated left alongside NBA Commissioner David Stern. At present the two men are in a very contentious negotiation scenario with regard to the league's collective bargaining agreement. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Andrew D Bernstein ..............

Now unless the ‘ executive board’ of the NBA that currently exists mirrors that of the board members of both GM and Chrysler combined . And as we know the board members there, essentially ran both businesses to the brink of bankruptcy . Now we’re meant to believe that the NBA and its owners are actually that financially irresponsible , wherein, they’re now trying to stave off their own financial meltdown and irresponsibility ? If we’re to believe and take David Stern at his word , then each of the teams within the league are on average losing $13.34 million each. Somehow, I for one find that inconceivable but then again unless the NBA is willing to open up their books for financial and public scrutiny. I can only surmise, that the sole reason for Stern and the NBA’s hierarchy to pose this to the NBPA (Players Union) is to merely indicate that they’re in an acute financial dilemma .

Courtesy of New York Daily News

NBA Commissioner David Stern: Teams are in $400M hole

By Mitch Lawrence , Daily News Sports Writer

Dallas – NBA players need to face the harsh economic facts and prepare to take major pay cuts in the next collective bargaining agreement, commissioner David Stern said Saturday night.

During his annual state of the NBA speech at All-Star Weekend, Stern said the league will lose $400 million this season – roughly double its annual losses over the last four years – and has to come up with a new “sustainable” economic model.

“We’ve shown the players the facts,” Stern said. “Our current level of revenue devoted to player salary is too high. I can run from that, but I can’t hide from that. And I don’t think the players can hide, either. We need to make significant changes to deal with the very substantial losses that are in the hundred of millions of dollars.”

Owners presented a proposal Friday to the players that called for massive cutbacks in guaranteed salaries, and cutting the percentage given to players from basketball-related income, from its current level of 56%, to around 43%. In terms of salaries for superstar players, the days of those making in excess of $20 million in a season would be over, with those players likely making no more than $13 million. Maximum contracts would plummet from an average of $18 million per season to around $11 million per season.

The players’ executive director, Billy Hunter, rejected the owners’ proposal out of hand.

“You can denounce it, you can tear it up, you can burn it, you can jump up and down on it, as long as you understand that it reflects the financial realities of where we are,” Stern said, while refusing to detail the specifics of the proposal.

Although the two sides have plenty of time to reach a deal – the CBA runs through next season – Stern gave no indication that the owners’ demands will change over the next 18 months. League sources told the Daily News recently that about half the 30 teams are losing “tons of money.”

Despite the glum outlook for labor peace, Stern tried to leave on an upbeat note.

“There’s always a deal,” he said, forgetting to mention that in 1998-99, his owners shut down the league, for the first time, and reduced the season to 50 games. “We plan to make a deal this time, too.”

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Billy Hunter the Executive Director of the NBPA, his executive committee members and the NBA , are in the midst of a very contentious union deliberations as to their collective bargaining agreement . Stern for his part, wants there to be even more financial constraints placed upon the union as to their share of the league’s revenues and how its shared amongst the teams and its players. The present NBA salary cap is $71.2 million and the league and Stern are said to be looking for a 20 % cut across the board amongst the players in terms of the salaries to override the losses of the league. Now one can surmise that neither Hunter or his members would find this at all amenable . Nor are they prepared to cave in to the request of Stern at this juncture.

For all the guile that David Stern seems to possess , I do believe that he’s now trying to play the ‘capo de tutti capi’ in terms of his demands. In 2009 Stern made the asinine statement that the …. ‘ $250 million that was doled out to 16 franchises within the league was to be viewed not as a bailout but merely a way of helping them all financially to remain stable. The question I for one would like to pose to David Stern is how is it that the teams and the ownership aren’t able to show financial constraint but yet they are prepared to impose increases on the fans ? Somehow if even he and the owners aren’t prepared to be held accountable for their actions then how are we now to believe him when he states the financial problems that the league is now said to be facing ?

If the NBPA is acquiesce and overcome this impasse , then they may well have to climb down from off their lofty perch and at least meet David Stern and the owners at least half way. And by all accounts, Billy Hunter hasn’t ever been that trustful of anything emanating from the mouth of the commissioner. And who can blame him ? It’s not as if Stern has ever been known to be upfront and open as to the transparency of the league and its inner workings to begin with. The league’s hierarchy has been so secretive that they now make the conclave of Cardinals who oversee the papal order and its choice of the Pope seem open. But that would be to surmise that the Roman Catholic order was ever open to begin with. The NBA for its part has proven to be nothing more than a business that now has been mismanaged and through the greed of its hierarchy and that of the commissioner’s office has become a microcosm corporate America , and how much of a mess that it has now become. Instead of actually being to produce profits through the natural order of producing a brand and product that appeals to its customers. We now find the NBA conducting itself, like a business that’s now said to be completely devoid of ideas and innovation and seemingly having to massage the numbers through financial creativity in terms of its accounting practices . What more else that can be said can be best done after we are allowed to view the evidence that the NBA is willing to allow us to see.

Make them an offer they can’t refuse David Stern because in all probability the union will be unwilling to acquiesce to your demands. For far too long you and the owners have ran the NBA as if it were a slot machine wherein yourself and the hierarchy have been the sole profiteers of the business template and its rewards therein. C’mon make them an offer they can’t refuse .

Alan Parkins aka tophatal

The classic line as quoted by Vito Corleone in the movie ‘The Godfather’ ……’I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse’ . If Stern and league somehow uses that approach , I seriously doubt that he’ll get what he wants from the union. They’re no longer intimidated by him the league’s hierarchy or the owners, themselves.

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This could well be how Hunter and Stern will actually carry out their negotiations during the collective bargaining agreement deliberations. That bolt of lightning will definitely be striking someone within either side of the NBA hierarchies. Will it be the NBPA or the upper echelons of the NBA itself ?

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Actress <strong> Freda Pinto </strong> one of the  stars of the multiple  Oscar winning   hit  movie <strong><em>  'Slumdog  Millionaire' </strong></em>.  Worth   slumming over  because  Pinto just  needs is <em> some good  loving </em>  that's  all  !  What   do   you  think  ?
Actress Freda Pinto one of the stars of the multiple Oscar winning hit movie 'Slumdog Millionaire' . Worth slumming over because Pinto just needs is some good loving that's all ! What do you think ?