Alive And Kicking In Kansas Or Not ………. But Dorothy And Toto Are Still Popular

Alive And Kicking In Kansas Or Not ………. But Dorothy And Toto Are Still Popular

There’s no reason to think that the mindset of an organization is about to change merely because the ownership makes certain pronouncements . The idiocy of this all is that nothing has changed with the Kansas City Royals . Merely because within the AL Central they sit mid table with an under .500 record (22-28) simply means nothing . Based on the team’s most recent form and the fact that this cannot simply find any consistency much less form in their play , consistency some observers feel that the team and organization simply aren’t warranted of any criticism. Well I say this, if abject futility is something that you feel a team is obliged to offer their fans then you simply can’t understand the premise of objectivity much less being subjective .

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In their most recent game played against the Texas Rangers played at Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington , Texas . The Royals were simply out-matched and outplayed by a Rangers team that got the better of the Kansas City Royals and made this team look less than ordinary. I’ve no doubt that team owner David Glass wants the best for this team given the organization’s history but at this juncture I for one feel that this team is so far off from where they need to be that they won’t be challenging for any postseason honors anytime soon ! The Texas Rangers’ offense in this game simply was on fire hitting back to back to back to back home runs and the Royals starting pitcher Sean O’ Sullivan was made to look ordinary at best in the Royals’ 10-1 loss to the Texas Rangers .

At this juncture there’s not much more to say concerning the Royals other than to suggest that their time may well come but it certainly won’t this season or anytime soon . And that’s in spite of their minor league system , draft choices or their top 10 prospects that the organization obviously has a great deal of faith in. Now I might add that although baseball has seen a gamut of financial mismanagement from its hierarchy on down to the general managers and team owners . Please someone tell me how the hell that this travesty within the game can be allowed to continue ? But yet there are those who carry on as if baseball is in a healthy financial state ?

Is it me but the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista is making a mockery of the season in terms of having hit 20 home runs in a mere 50 games for the Blue Jays this season . If Bautista keeps up this pace then quite possibly the single season home run record could very well be in jeopardy . Granted , Barry Bonds’ 73 home runs is still looked upon as being tainted but herein lies the odyssey of this all MLB simply as well as Elias Sports Bureau recognizes this as being a legitimate statistic that’s duly recognized. Can’t say that I blame either organization because as things continue and the records are assailed they will still come under a great deal more suspicion !

In their last ten games the Boston Red Sox (28-22) are 7-3 and are a mere .03 of a percentage point behind the New York Yankees (27-21) within the AL East . The division itself now seems to be a three horse race with the Tampa Bays Rays also making their presence felt , that the AL East is liable to be so competitive and contentious that you’d be hard pressed to pick an outright favorite within the division at this juncture . Each of the three teams in question have been playing at a high level and the mere fact the teams also have their flaws makes the season within the division all the more suspenseful from the fans’ standpoint .

Adrian Gonzalez has had a terrific season thus far for the Red Sox and their initial start to the season now seems to be something of the past . Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona has to pleased with what he’s now seeing from his team and in particular now with Carl Crawford having hit his stride as a Red Sox player. GM Theo Epstein may well have had his doubters when he acquired both Crawford and Gonzalez but the general manager knew that having the duo would make this team a great deal more formidable. All that’s now needed is for their pitching to be far more consistent over the course of the season .

As the first half of the season I’d like to think that the second half will provide us with a great deal of suspense as things play themselves out ! The upcoming All Star Game being played at Chase Field in Phoenix , Arizona could very much be surrounded in a great deal of controversy with the state legislature having passed into law the state’s immigration bill ( SB 1070) which provides law enforcement with the power to request a suspect provide identification as to their immigration status. Now one might take umbrage at that proposal but Gov Jan Brewer (R-Az) felt the need to address this issue knowing full well that the passing of that law would have its consequences amongst its detractors as well as its supporters . With certain provisions in the bill having been struck down by the Appellate Courts at the request of President Obama of which task had been undertaken by the Justice Department . This new bill still gives statewide law enforcement the right to question a suspect as to their immigration status . Something of which many believe should be an issue dealt with by the Department of Homeland Security through the Immigration & Natural Service .

This immigration bill obviously hasn’t sat well with the Hispanic players around the league and I would certainly like to think that the players would be willing participants in the All Star Game but at the same time I understand that they may not favor the enactment of this law within the state of Arizona . This much I do know furor surrounding this emotional issue isn’t about to die down anytime soon , as both sides feel that they have something to prove . The Obama administration may well feel that the state of Arizona has overstepped their boundaries but I do feel that successive Presidential administrations down the years have simply shied away from having a comprehensive immigration bill on the books as a statute. Make of it what you will but simply ask yourself who benefits from the idiocy we are now seeing on both sides of political aisle ?

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To the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have on those mentioned and how do you see the season panning out within Major League Baseball ? Simply chime in with a comment as you’d deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ………………………………

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) Kansas City Royals’ Jeff Francoeur (21) tosses his bat after striking out against Texas Rangers relief pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama in the eighth inning of a baseball game on Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Arlington. Francoeur went 1-for-4 with no runs in the 10-1 Rangers win. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ….

(2) Texas Rangers’ Mike Napoli (25) is greeted at the dugout by Ian Kinsler, right, and the rest of the team following Napoli’s solo home run off Kansas City Royals’ Sean O’Sullivan in the second inning of a baseball game on Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ……

(3) Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Sean O’Sullivan (37) walks to the back of the mound as Texas Rangers’ Mitch Moreland, rear, rounds the bases following his solo home in the second inning of a baseball game on Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …..

(4) Toronto Blue Jays Aaron Hill swings at a ball from Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Harrell as catcher Ramon Castro and home plate umpire David Rackley look on during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Sunday May 29, 2011. The Blue Jays would defeat the White Sox 13_4 . AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young ….

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(5) Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista watches his three-run home run hit during the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Toronto. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese …..

(6) Detroit Tigers’ Andy Dirks, right, scores against Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek from first base on a double by Brennan Boesch in the first inning of game two of a baseball double-header Sunday, May 29, 2011 in Detroit. AP Photo/Duane Burleson……

(7) Adrian Gonzalez (28) of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by teammate Carl Crawford (13) after Gonzalez scored in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs on May 22, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Before this series, the two teams haven’t played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. Elsa Martinez / Getty Images North America …

(8) Digger Phelps throws the ceremonial first pitch prior to the start of the Chicago Cubs’ baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Chicago. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ……

(9) Chicago Cubs starter Randy Wells wipes his face after Pittsburgh Pirates’ Ronny Cedeno’s three-run home run, during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Chicago. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ….

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NB: Can someone remind Digger Phelps that the Chicago Cubs play baseball and not college basketball ! His thoughts during his rendition of ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame ‘ and the thinking that Cubs could overcome a 10-0 deficit with three innings to go against the Pirates simply shows what an asshole this guy is at times ! The Cubs would actually be blanked 10-0 at Wrigley Field by the Pirates .

As of 28th May when this piece was originally written the MLB standings having changed .

Take Two …………. Say What ?

Take Two …………. Say What ?

Former NFL running back Robert Smith who’s now a college game day analyst for ESPN on the network’s show College Game Day was discussing the improprieties surrounding his alma-mater Ohio State . A running back for four years with the school the player excelled with the program before becoming a highly prized and productive player in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings .Now to my mind if there’s anyone who could provide the public with inner workings of that program then it would be Robert Smith . A highly intelligent individual who if he hadn’t become a player in the NFL I have no doubt that he would have become a medical professional , as the player studied medicine at Ohio State with a view to becoming a pediatrician specializing in neo natal medicine.

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Smith in his analysis suggested that as the NCAA is in effect powerless and has no legal powers to to negate the actions of the schools or players and that perhaps the best thing to do would be for the Federal government to be involved with the IRS being given additional powers to investigate any wrong doing where there is monetary gain that’s not reported as income by any students athletes at the collegiate level. He further suggested that state agencies as such could not be truly thought to be impartial in such an endeavor as there would most certainly be a conflict of interest were they placed in a position where they would have to conduct an investigation into a state ran university. Though I don’t fully agree with Smith’s premise I do fully understand that he too like many other fans of collegiate athletics are completely angered and dissatisfied with the malfeasance that is now rampant within collegiate athletics , seemingly at all levels. You have the ongoing situation with Ohio State itself , wherein the actions of Jim Tressel are merely written off as a mere child being caught with his hands in the cookie jar and the punishment exacted upon him by AD Gene Smith at the insistence of university President Dr E Gordon Gee comes across as nothing more than a slap on the wrist .

Another player on the 2010 team is wide receiver Ray Small who in a recent interview went so far as to suggest that a number of Buckeye players had been selling memorabilia and that the coaching staff were fully aware of their actions. However , Small would recant the statement saying that his statement had been in fact been misconstrued by the journalist conducting the interview. Small would state that he and no one else that he knew of had in fact sold their memorabilia for financial gain. I can well understand the change in the player’s statement after his statements had been reported in the college’s own in-house news publication , much to the annoyance of his former teammates . Smalls we would later be advised had failed a drug test and was thrown off the team in late 2010 causing him to make a none appearance in the Buckeyes’ postseason. Insomuch as this is nothing new, what we are finding out is the very fact that the actions of Small is very much widespread. The player himself stated that he knew his actions contravened NCAA rules but he simply didn’t care . And should anyone be surprised by the player’s claims at this juncture ?

My own view is that any form of intervention by the government never serves a real purpose merely because the government cannot be trusted to act with any expediency let alone with any real sign of competence. Be it the Justice Department , IRS or for that matter any a governmental committee which in this could be either the House Oversight Committee or Senate Judiciary Committee . The idiocy of this all however may well be a statement attributed to Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe who suggests that the NCAA and the schools can adequately police themselves but the real problems stems from the actions of sports agents , boosters and other outside influences. Unfortunately Beebe completely ignores the actions of Tressel and the lies he told not only to the faculty but also to journalists and members of the public. And for certain ESPN analysts to suggest that Jim Tressel is still a man of honesty and integrity is akin to suggesting that the late Osama bin Laden would somehow seek a peaceful resolution in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Jim Tressel is no more a man of integrity or honesty as his most actions all along have belied those statements . Tressel’s less than contrite apology and the idiocy of both Smith and Gee in not firing the coach smacks of their own and innate stupidity ! If anything, their actions have been simply about greed and the very fact that because of the financial gain because of the countless million brought into the football program by Tressel because of his notoriety over the course of his tenure and the team’s success derived thereof.

The chances are that we will never see any of the suggestions made by Smith could ever come to fruition merely because both the NCAA , BCS and major college conferences would rather keep the status quo as is !

Am I mistaken here in thinking that the unfortunate injury suffered by San Francisco Giants’ catcher Buster Posey in a collision with the Florida Marlins Scott Cousins during the game in which the Marlins would defeat the Giants 7-6 . That in ofitself isn’t the real story but the real issue is now the number of fans who are now stating that they feel that baseball’s hierarchy should be doing more to protect its catchers . Well considering that MLB simply has never done enough to protect the players in lieu of the steroid era . I mean, who here is of the opinion that during that period in which Commissioner Bud Selig the MLBPA knew of the inherent dangers from the abuse of steroids and the health concerns in the aftermath of its abuse . Cardiac problems , neurological disorders and the obvious harm to the reproductive system but somehow this isn’t something that the league hierarchy , union or the team owners would actually care to address. And we now have idiotic fans wanting to protect a catcher because of the inherent dangers posed to him during a game ? Granted the injury to Posey , a broken leg and the fact that he will be lost the team for the rest of the Giants’ season . But there are far more grave dangers that the players face during a game beyond a home plate collision . Anyone yet within baseball’s hierarchy care to address those issues as of yet ? I guess not !

The San Francisco Giants are on a three game losing streak and are 5-5 in their last 10 games but lead the NL West by two games over the Arizona Diamondbacks (25-24). Now it goes without saying that the loss of Posey to the Giants will be a tremendous to this team as he provides a great deal of offense . Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff will most certainly be looking to boost the moral of the team with the loss of their All Star catcher . Curiously enough with the loss of Posey I do feel that the Giants are still capable of winning their division but at the same time it will come down to how prepared they are in terms of their mindset.

The likes of Aubrey Huff and Aaron Rowand as seasoned veterans on the Giants will now have to assume the mantel of being the leaders for this team if they are to really fare well over the course of the season. If they can show the leadership which I believe that they can , then they they can claim the division outright . I certainly don’t believe that the wildcard entrant will come from the NL West or NL Central for that matter ! That scenario more likely than not will arise from the competitiveness within the NL East . That division with teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies viewed as the presumptive winners of the NL pennant as well as the division will be in a tight race with the Florida Marlins and Atlanta Braves is liable to become highly contested three horse race. At present a mere 3 1/2 games separate those three teams atop of the division with the Phillies (31-19) holding a one game lead over the Marlins with the Braves in third place .

The month of June could very tell determine how these teams will fare. It promises to be a very exciting nonetheless.

On much more somber note I found it heartwarming to read that former Giants’ slugger Barry Bonds has made a magnanimous gesture in stating that he’s prepared to meet all future expenses in the education of Giants’ fan Brian Stow’s children. If you remember Stow was the victim of a heinous assault by three assailants at Dodgers Stadium in a game earlier this season between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants . One assailant is now in custody and the LAPD through Police Chief Charlie Beck
has asked for the public’s assistance with any information that will lead to the apprehension of the remaining suspecrs in this ongoing investigation. The three remaining suspects , two men and a female are believed to be of Hispanic origin. The suspect in custody is a known felon to the LAPD who also happens to be a member of one of the most prominent Hispanic gangs within the city of Los Angeles . Giorgio Ramirez a convicted felon has a long and varied arrest record . I’ve no doubt that the city Los Angeles DA’s office will prosecute those responsible to the full extent of the law given the viciousness and barbarity of this crime .

Hopefully, this will be something of a wake up call to the league hierarchy , the team owners and in particular the fans . This sort of violence cannot be tolerated under any circumstance but that in ofitself might not be enough to deter a repeat action of this magnitude. The victim’s family has filed a lawsuit against the Dodgers’ organization seeking compensatory and punitive damages in light of the assault on Brian Stow. As to what course such a legal matter may well take remains to be seen given the present circumstances of the Dodgers and their financial well being. There are some fans in the game who feel that it would be in the team’s best interest to settle the matter out of court rather than there being a trial but as I alluded to earlier we can only speculate as to the outcome of this matter for now .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on this matter as you would deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal …………………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) ESPN College Football analyst Robert Smith seated right discusses the Big 12 with his co-host. ESPN/ABC …..copyrighted material all rights reserved ….

(2) University President E Gordon Gee, Jim Tressel (center) and AD Gene Smith (right) on the podium as they address and take questions from the convened press . It is now being reported that the once embattled coach has since resigned his position as coach of Buckeyes’ football team . AP Photo/Gene J Puskar ….

(3) Former Buckeyes’ wide receiver Ray Small discusses his own improprieties as a players with Ohio State . His interview with ESPN was conducted in conjunction with the network’s magazine program Outside The Lines . Small offered plenty of evidence of misdeeds but would not openly name names as to the cast of characters involved. However in light of an earlier interview given to a school campus journalist it’s hard to know what is in fact the truth and where the lies come into play. courtesy of ABC/ESPN …..

(4) Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe whose opinion it is that the NCAA and major conferences are quite capable of policing themselves without any outside intervention by the federal government or state governmental agency. Somehow Beebe has overlooked the actions Tressel and that of senior executives of the Fiesta Bowl . Political donations that have contravened state federal laws as well as in some cases payments made to a numerous escort agencies that were found to be the committee’s way of payment for the hiring of prostitutes allegedly for entertainment purposes. AP Photo/Chris Carlsson …..

(5) Florida Marlins’ Scott Cousins, top, collides with San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) on a fly ball from Emilio Bonifacio during the 12th inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Cousins was safe for the go ahead run and Florida won 7-6. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez ….

(6) San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) is carried off the field after a collision with Florida Marlins’ Scott Cousins during the 12th inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Cousins scored the go-ahead run on the play as Florida won 7-6. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez ……….

(7) Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks (23) leaps overt San Francisco Giants’ Pat Burrell (5) to turn a double play on a ball hit by Cody Ross during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Milwaukee. AP Photo/Morry Gash …

(8) San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez throws during the third inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Milwaukee. AP Photo/Morry Gash ….. ……….

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Ship Ahoy ………. Look Out For Another Mystery That’s About To Take On A Life Of Its Own

Ship Ahoy ………. Look Out For Another Mystery That’s About To Take On A Life Of Its Own

So here we are and with the ongoing NFL work stoppage now looking as if it’s liable to be a prolonged situation . It no longer comes as a surprise to me that the players are looking to paint the league and the team owners in a poor light. At the same time the league hierarchy isn’t about to make any concessions only seeking to further make this embattled situation more intolerable for the fans . At this juncture it’s pretty safe to say the longer the situation goes on the more suspect that I am the league schedule for the proposed 2011 season won’t commence on time as projected for the 3rd September . Suffice to say that both Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith as the highest ranked executives within the NFL and NFLPA might just be the most despised individuals in professional sports at present.

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Drew Brees in a public statement made the claim that the NFL were circled _____ that their target was indeed the NFLPA like sharks smelling blood after the death of former union executive director Gene Upshaw as they left it would be the right time to seek a change in what was the collective bargaining agreement as it stood at the time. I’m not so sure that I’d disagree with the claims being made by Brees but at the same time I’ve also got to question the confrontational approach of the union as this has all played itself out. From my own standpoint as this idiocy plays itself out and with there now being talk of the NBA quite possibly having their own problems with there also being a lockout there as well I can’t help but wonder when the next shoe will drop. David Stern and his counterpart Billy Hunter are now trying to create the perception that they are capable of acting like mature adults , albeit that the league hierarchy seems to be frustrated at the divergence in the differing views as to what’s best for the league. Union President Derek Fisher and the executive committee has said that the union isn’t prepared to make any concessions without the league itself acceding to the union’s own demands . Given the financial instability of the NBA and the fact that they are projected to lose in excess of $450 million for the fiscal year 2011 .

The NFL is up the creek without a paddle and it appears that the NBA isn’t that far behind as to their stupidity . The NBA’s postseason show case event the NBA Finals are now front and center with the Dallas Mavericks taking on the Miami Heat . A clash of styles and with a quartet of All Stars in Dirk Nowitzki , <a href=”http://nba.com/playerfile/lebron_james/”&gt; LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade . This series has the makings of being a classic if both teams play up to their true potential . But with that being said I can’t help but wonder if the outcome could once again be the same as before when these two teams last met in an NBA Finals in 2006 . The Mavericks would go on to lose that series 4-2 in what turned out to be very much a lopsided finals’ series . The Heat for their part during that series saw Finals MVP Dwyane Wade have a memorable NBA Finals in leading the team to their sole win of a championship. For then coach Pat Riley that would be his fourth NBA title as a coach over the course of his already legendary NBA career.

With Riley now as the team President he now has his protege` Erik Spoelstra coaching this star studded team . The young coach along with his Dallas Mavericks’ counterpart Rick Carlisle are both looking for their first title as a coach. And for Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban and team GM Donnie Walsh they may well now see this as the organization’s chance at redemption. The acquisition of Tyson Chandler has certainly bolstered the mindset of this Mavericks’ team . Certainly throughout this postseason Dirk Nowitzki has been playing like a man on a mission and he’s been ably assisted by a supporting cast that have simply stepped up to the plate .

The Dallas Mavericks for their part made light work of the Oklahoma City Thunder in a thoroughly convincing fashion defeating Scott Brooks’ team —- 4-1 . For many this result may not have come as a surprise but I for one certainly didn’t feel that the Thunder would wilt so easily but then again with this being such an inexperienced team it is understandable that they would succumb under such circumstances.

The Miami Heat are heavily favored to win this series match-up and with their dynamic trio all playing at a </ahigh caliber this postseason showcase event could either be suspenseful or an unmitigated disaster with the Heat simply walking over the Dallas Mavericks with a great deal of ease. I’d certainly like to think that Mavericks will abate all our fears and make this a memorable NBA Finals ! I’ve no doubt that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade would like disprove that although the Mavericks may well have won their regular season series 2-0 the postseason becomes a completely different environment altogether. There’s a great deal more on the line and as such NBA immortality and a legacy to play for as well as an NBA title. That should be enough an incentive for both teams to showcase their undoubted talent and supply the discerning NBA fan with the best possible extravaganza that they can witness . With a worldwide audience approaching 500 million hoping to witness the event ABC as the host broadcast network will be looking to magnify the brand of the NBA as well as their own broadcast talents. And I am sure that David Stern will be hoping that the emerging markets will like what they see. The NBA brand has reached its maturation and saturation point within North America and the league hierarchy now has to look elsewhere to see how best to make the game still a viable and profitable concern. God knows with the mismanagement of the league and the financial mismanagement amongst the teams by their owners and the respective general managers and you can well understand why the league wants a thoroughly entertaining series . Anything that can showcase the league as a entertaining concern would undoubtedly make the NBA a lure for the fan.

As a bye note can someone explain to me how it is that all of a sudden idiocy rears its ugly head with the regard to the comparisons and contrasts with regard to the careers of LeBron James and Michael Jordan . Now looking to add their own thoughts on the matter happens to be none other than Jordan’s former teammate and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Scottie Pippen . The former Bulls’ player stated in a radio interview with hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on their morning radio show “Mike & Mike” would state that Jordan being the game’s greatest scorer but James to his mind can be considered to be the game’s greatest player. Perhaps his statement can be misconstrued but in reality the idiocy of that statement at this juncture simply doesn’t make that much sense . James has yet to win a title and when I last looked two consecutive league MVP awards simply means nothing albeit that there’s a a couple of scoring titles to be added to that resume`. LeBron James needs to win NBA multiple titles before the contrasts and comparison can actually be made . Scottie needs to take a chill pill , quieten down before he alienates himself not only within the city of Chicago but also with his former teammates . If there’s one thing I know…… you simply don’t bite the fu#king hand that feeds you and for Scottie Pippen the hand that fed him was indeed Michael Jeffrey Jordan ! Enough said on the matter I do believe !

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Simply chime in with a comment on your thoughts as to the points raised within this piece and thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 03: New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees makes his way into the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building for the NFL negotiations on March 3, 2011 in Washington, DC. Photo by Rod Lamkey/Getty Images ……….

(2) Drew Brees has organized workouts for his teammates while trying to organize labor negotiating efforts with NFL owners.
Jonathan Bachman/Cal Sport Media ……

(3) Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, right, watches fellow teammate Jason Terry, left, during practice on Sunday, May 29, 2011, in Dallas. AP Photo/Mike Fuentes ……

(4) Miami Heat basketball players LeBron James (left) and Dwyane Wade talk to the media after a practice session in Miami, Sunday, May 29, 2011. The Heat will play the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the NBA basketball finals on Tuesday . AP Photo/J Pat Carter ………

(5) Jordan and Pippen in a moment of triumph , one of many that the duo had over the course of their career with the Chicago Bulls. Also pictured is Steve Kerr a multiple title winner himself.

(6) A young LeBron James (left) gets the chance to meet his idol Michael Jordan . courtesy of je520wordpress.com ……

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It’s Often Best To Be Seen And Not Heard ……………

It’s Often Best To Be Seen And Not Heard ……………

Well with the ongoing NFL lockout you simply knew that ESPN couldn’t live without getting a sound byte no matter how inane it might be. And you can simply count on ESPN to sink to the lowest common denominator to make sure that scenario arises . Reporter Sal Palantonio  in an interview with the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Lewis had me chuckling when he correlated that the prolonged labor stoppage would lead to a rise in crime because the discerning NFL fan would have nothing to with there being no football. I simply wanted to say …” nig_a shut the fu_k up for God’s sake ” ! Ray Lewis knows about committing a crime and actually getting away with it because of the fact that the legal establishment simply obfuscated their responsibility as they often do , when taking a plea agreement or in this case, Lewis simply got off ” Scott free” in the manslaughter death of a victim in a deadly brawl during which two of Lewis’ accomplices actually committed this heinous act . ==================================================================================

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Courtesy of USA Today

Ravens’ Ray Lewis warns of spike in crime if NFL season is lost By Nate Davis , USA Today Ravens star LB Ray Lewis believes if the players and owners don’t soon find a way to resolve the ongoing lockout that people outside the NFL’s family could suffer far more severely than the ones squabbling within it. “We really got to remove pride. Seriously,” he said in an interview with ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio. “There’s no other reason the issue is going on. That’s why I don’t get into words and all that other stuff, because it takes away from life — itself. Man there are people who’s really struggling — for real. There’s real struggles out there. What we’re going through right now, we’re affecting way more than us. “There’s too many people (that) live through us, people live through us. Yeah, walk in the streets, the way I walk the streets, and I’m not talking about the people you see all the time.” Lewis goes on to suggest that the livelihoods of many fans and some of the NFL’s subsidiary employees — such as stadium workers — hang in the balance. “Do this research if we don’t have a season,” Lewis says. “Watch how much evil — which we call it crime — watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game. … There’s nothing else to do, Sal.” —————————————————————————————————Click on the link to read this article in its entirety . =================================================================================

Ray Lewis ought to recognize that crime usually goes up primarily because of the harsh realities of an economy goes into the tank ____ it’s now there for all to see. Without a doubt Lewis is either showing his ignorance or he’s merely looking for a way to show that he feels aggrieved because of the league’s actions in initiating the stoppage . And the very fact that the stoppage itself has been legally upheld by a judicial ruling by the 8th District Court of Appeals in Minneapolis , Minnesota he of all people should be concerned with his own union (NFLPA) body has been doing while all of this plays out . The NFLPA has simply been about its own image and self worth while painting the league hierarchy as the villains of the piece . It’s at times like this I’m simply happy that the idiots within the NFL and the NFLPA show that what they lack in common sense is only exhibited by the stupidity that either side has shown in trying to further play to the public’s sympathy by simply looking to blame the other for something that they collectively brought into being .

As respected as Lewis may well be by his peers within the league and some fans across the NFL panacea , I do believe that he could have expressed himself considerably better . Emotional as he may well be about this stoppage , he should remember also that the average fan out there isn’t as lucky to have been attributed with the Lewis’ God given talents and the fact that they would be able to earn a multi million dollar salary each year . And in spite of his image makeover after his legal issues in the aftermath of the trial that took place in the manslaughter death of that male victim by his two accomplices I still believe that Lewis is considerably lucky not to be behind bars ! Were this a mere civilian rather than a high profile athlete the outcome might well have been different. At this juncture there’s not much more that can be really said other than the words I’ve already directed at the Ravens’ player !

We all know the idiocy that has taken place concerning the New York Mets  and the fact that the organization as well two of the team’s most prominent owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon  as defendants are being sued in a Federal Court by the plaintiffs in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme scandal . The plaintiffs are being represented by noted attorney Irving Picard . In light of this Katz and Wilpon have plead their innocence in any wrongdoing and have stated that they are if anything victims of Madoff’s malfeasance rather than being enablers that have profited financially wherein the duo have received in excess of 700 million over the decades that the scheme had been enacted.

Given the grave financial instability of of the New York Mets I found it quite comedic that Fred Wilpon was being critical of several players on this team most notably Jose Reyes , Carlos Beltran and David Wright . Wilpon stated that he felt that Reyes, in the process of seeking a contract extension isn’t good enough to be earning a Carl Crawford type of a contract (7 years / $140 million ) and that Beltran isn’t the same player they signed to a 7 year $119 million contract. Furthermore , he went on to state that the team’s All Star and team captain David Wright isn’t a star in the making or simply good enough to be compared to his cross-town counterpart Derek Jeter  . Strong words indeed for an owner who simply signed the checks on the say so, of then general manager Omar Minaya  . And during Minaya’s tenure it simply wasn’t about attaining players for the sake of it but merely gaining back page coverage in order to compete with the New York Yankees for that coverage on the sports’ pages within the nation’s largest ad market and also on the local television there within the Big Apple. I’ve got to say when you’re that envious, there’s got to be something that you can do better in order to obtain a higher profile rather than spending money so capriciously ! Keeping up with the Joneses ?

This season much like last season it would appear that the New York Mets are simply mediocre and I seriously doubt that things are liable to change anytime soon . And even though the organization sought to bring in Sandy Alderson , J P Riccardi  to head the front office as Exec VP, general manager , assistant EVP general manager it still has me wondering whether or not this will be enough to turn things around for a team that has been engulfed in such an abysmal situation where much of that has been self inflicted by the idiotic personnel decisions made . But it appears even with a new manager Terry Collins and coaching staff in tow it appears that things haven’t changed all that much from his predecessor Jerry Manuel was leading this team. Minaya and Manuel simply took this team to depths of mediocrity and beyond if that’s actually possible . And Minaya simply tried to justify the personnel decisions made that brought this club to where they became somewhat of a laughing stock . Never mind that uber-agent  Scott Boras  and many of his clients made off like thieves in the night as the Mets simply overpaid for mediocre talent .

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Mets owner Fred Wilpon sounds off on his beloved team’s troubles By Tom Verducci , Sports Illustrated New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, as profiled this week in Sports Illustrated, provided a blunt picture of the team’s finances: The team is “bleeding cash” at the rate of a possible $70 million loss this year and his ownership of the team could be jeopardized by the $1 billion lawsuit against him and his Sterling Equities partners. The suit was filed by the trustee of the liquidation of Bernie Madoff’s investments. What does it mean for the baseball operations? In the short term, the Mets likely will cut payroll next year by about 30 percent and give a voice to a new investor that Wilpon expects to introduce in about three weeks — an investor he will treat as a limited partner. Is Wilpon worried that the lawsuit — in which the trustee wants about $300 million in fictitious profits and another $700 million in principal the Sterling partners put into Madoff accounts — could cause him to lose the team? “Not right now, no,” he told SI in an exclusive interview last week. “Because I don’t think anybody thinks that 700 is realistic.” ————————————————————————————————————————-

Click on the link shown to read this article in its entirety .

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At present the New York Mets  6-4 in their last ten games coming off a two game losing streak but they’re already 4 1/2 games behind the division leading Philadelphia Phillies  (28-18) within the NL East . And as spirited a change as many well have thought might have taken place with the Mets this team continues to perform monstrously in the most inexplicably of ways . Injuries or not the explanation being given by Wilpon as to the team’s present woes while in part justifiable it simply doesn’t go anywhere in explaining how it is that he and the front office have simply let things get to where they are at present . Most team owners I would have thought would desire some real effort put forth by its players even in the face of real adversity . Instead all we have seen from this team is an exceptionally inept organization from top to bottom in terms of its performances both and off the field of play.

Now some might say it is still too early to judge Alderson , Riccardi and Collins at present but if things continue to get any worse I can assure you that the fans in attendance at Citi Field for the team’s home games can’t continue to endure the mediocrity that seems to be part of this organization’s current mantra. Er’go it’s akin to the laughable excuses I’ve heard being uttered when some patrons try to state that because a change are in the offing, it solicits that the changes being made even if they are incremental , will be for the better . Since when was the game of baseball not been about what you’re doing now but what you’ll be doing four to five years from now . And that's especially true when teams are struggling not only from a competitive standpoint but also financially as well ! If one is going to delve also into the business of sports at least one should show the acumen to understand that the game simply isn't just about winning but also being a profitable going concern. After all the owners are simply doing this all out of the goodness of their heart but some idiotic fans seem to be under the impression and that making money is the last thing that the team owners simply want to do !

Fred Wilpon and his partners within the Mets’ organization and at his company Sterling Equities of which Katz happens to be a co-founder have a lot to be concerned with given their reluctance to comply with many of the requests of the plantiffs’ attorney Irving Picard with regard to certain financial documents still in their possession concerning monetary movements between the New York Mets and the financial concern under their command. I get the feeling that Wilpon has made this statement simply to deflect the attention he feels that has been unwarranted concerning his actions and Saul Katz’s as it relates to the financial scandal that has engulfed the Mets and their company ! He may well be justified in calling out certain players but he also should be taking a close look at his own actions in all of this , as an owner , he too has a responsibility to voice his concerns but it was clear that was the furthest thing from his mind at the time when he , in conjunction with Minaya and Jerry Manuel decided to make many of the outrageous personnel decisions that have brought the New York Mets to where they presently are.

As this season plays itself out it will be very interesting to see how things pan out for the New York Mets and the steps that might well be taken by the front office come the trade deadline . Win or lose , as of now , the clock is ticking on this organization’s immediate future and the shape that it will ultimately take. The league hierarchy under Bud Selig may well be watching this all with a great deal of close scrutiny because simply put, in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ debacle , their financial woes and the assault of a San Francisco Giants’ fan, Brian Stow , at Dodgers Stadium . The last thing the game now needs is another black eye to further taint its already tarnished image .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? And do you believe that the statements attributed to both Lewis and Wilpon in any way are somehow justified ? Chime in with your thoughts as see fit .

Alan aka tophatal …………..

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Lewis seen here in his interview with ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio speaks of what he sees as the ramifications of what he sees will embody and impact this lockout with regard to the NFL fan . ESPN/ Mark Gustaffson …….

(2) Linebackers Ray Lewis (52) and Terrell Suggs (55) of the Baltimore Ravens celebrate a play during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on January 9, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. Getty Images North America / Dilip Vishwanath …..

(3) From left to right Fred Wilpon , GM Sandy Alderson , team manager Terry Collins , Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon  and team President Saul Katz . Collins was being formally introduced to the public and New York press as the team’s new manager after the abrupt firing of his predecessor Jerry Manuel . Getty Images / Chris McGrath ……

(4) Mike Pelfrey (34) of the New York Mets reacts after giving up a first inning home run to Curtis Granderson (14) of the New York Yankees on May 22, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Yankees defeat the Mets  9-3 . Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images …..

(5) Chris Dickerson (27) of the New York Yankees hits a double in the seventh inning against the New York Mets on May 22, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Yankees defeat the Mets 9-3. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

(6) Mike Pelfrey of the New York Mets is pulled in the seventh inning as teammates Daniel Murphy(28) , Willie Harris(22), and manager Terry Collins (10) look on against the New York Yankees on May 22, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Yankees defeat the Mets 9-3. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images ……

(7) Derek Jeter (2) of the New York Yankees and Jose Reyes (7) of the New York Mets share a laugh on May 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Yankees defeat the Mets  7-3 . Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images ….

(8) David Wright(5) of the New York Mets who’s on the team’s DL sits on the bench during the game between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees on May 20, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Mets defeat the Yankees 2-1 . Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images ……

(9) Mark Teixeira (25) of the New York Yankees (not pictured) hits a home run just over the leap of Carlos Beltran(15) of the New York Mets in the bottom of the third on May 20, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images ……..

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Can Baseball Save Itself ?

Can Baseball Save Itself ?

As much as I enjoy the game of baseball I can’t help but wonder when the game’s hierarchy led by Commissioner Bud Selig will actually come to a decision regard the game’s most hallowed records. With the both the all-time home run and single season records having been broken by Barry Bonds and the player himself having been found guilty of perjury and obstruction of Justice by a Federal Court jury with a sentence still awaiting , it remains to be seen what stance will be taken by the league concerning the player’s sentencing and the very fact that those records remain in tact and are still recognized . The game has been tainted by a vast array of controversies over the years but certainly the stigma attached to the “steroid era” will be the one thing that defines this game for years to come . It has been bad enough that Selig showed as much tenacity in going after the players who broke the rules as a Klansman would have an aversion in speaking out against one of his own members . The idiocy of it all, is while icons of the game see their records be surpassed the league hierarchy , team owners and the MLBPA have made out quite handsomely from a financial standpoint while those records were obliterated .

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Hank Aaron the former home run king and the late Roger Maris I feel have been done a great disservice but clearly until with no real action being taken those records now await a new player to come along and surpass those marks . Amongst the active players in terms of the home run tally it now lies in the hands of Alex Rodriguez to take aim at the 762 home runs set by Bonds . For the present it doesn’t appear that the single season home run mark is in imminent danger but it is becoming increasingly clear that once broken by a player , that feat will come under even more intense scrutiny . As time goes by history will judge the feats and the fans as of now can only either show their disdain or approval as the case maybe. The idiocy of it all is that for some players having retired their sole aim after that is to be an enshrinee in Baseaball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York joining the other illustrious Hall of Famers within that hallowed edifice.

Rodriguez isn’t without controversy himself having first lied about his use of performance enhancing drugs only then to come clean in rather contrived interview process that left a lot to be desired and the player coming off as complete embarrassment to the New York Yankees’ organization . And even in light of that contrived apology things are still unclear with his name also being linked to Orlando medical professional Anthony Galea who is under indictment for the illegal transportation and sale illicit substances including HGH , anabolic steroids , oxycodone to name but a few . The Justice Department’s ongoing investigation may well lead to other indictments but given the idiocy of prosecutors in charge of many of these cases I do believe that the taxpayers’ money is simply being wasted on these cases . The Bonds’ episode including the investigation of BALCO has cost an estimated $15-$20 million from start to finish in an investigation that has shown little tangible evidence that the indictments and guilty verdicts levied against Bonds , former track stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery has effectively stopped the misuse of PED’s within the game or sports in general . Case in point , as wide as the net has now been cast by the Justice Department in its investigation there still seems to be the belief by some athletes that they’re indeed above the law.

Money if anything has been the cursory issue as the players here chase after what they deem to be baseball immortality and financial bounty. And as we know with the ever increasing salaries and the mere fact that the owners as well as general managers act as if they’re completely oblivious as to the financial vulnerability of the teams and stability of many of these organizations.

Cyclist Lance Armstrong the seven time winner of the “> Tour de France is now under investigation by the Justice Department and it appears that the tip of the iceberg as there appears to be an onslaught as they now Armstrong within their sights . The cyclist has always denied his use of performance enhancing drugs but with the latest statements attributed to former cycling teammates George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton in their testimony to authorities it appears that the cycling champion’s credibility could now become all the more questionable given the weight of evidence of the testimonies of both Hamilton and Hincapie , whereby they each state that they have seen Armstrong use PED’s. Sooner or later in spite of the denials Armstrong will have to face the facts and tell his own story verbatim to the authorities rather than merely issuing rather terse statements through his legal representatives.

At the start of the season it was felt that the Boston Red Sox would be hanging tough and perhaps walking away with the AL East . Having got off to an inauspicious start through their first eleven games left many wondering if this team would be good enough to be challenging the likes of the New York Yankees and others within the division . Terry Francona and his coaching staff came under a great deal of scrutiny as did GM Theo Epstein after the organization’s big off-season acquisitions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez . Things being what they are , the Boston Red Sox struggled as many questioned the travails of the team and the fact that they were problem areas manifesting itself all over this roster . Slowly but surely as their confidence grew the Red Sox played themselves back into contention .

Now as the month of June approaches it will be interesting to see if the Boston Red Sox can maintain their momentum . The month of May has been if anything a very benevolent one for the Red Sox , having won seven straight and 8 of their last 10 games the team now finds itself a 1/2 game behind the division leading Tampa Bay Rays (25-20). And based on Friday night’s evidence where the team summarily dispatched the Chicago Cubs at Fenway Park in an emphatic 15-5 victory over the beleaguered Cubs .

The series between the Red Sox and Cubs resumes as Francona’s team looks to make that leap over the Tampa Bay Rays and take control of the division. The Rays in an inter-league game take on the Florida Marlins at Landshark Stadium , in Miami , Florida . If anything what has been remarkable about the Red Sox’s within the league has been the play of Adrian Gonzalez as he now leads the league in RBI’s . But this hasn’t been simply about it being a one man show as it has been a collective effort from all the members of this team in one form or another. The pitching is starting to pay dividends and Jonathan Papelbon seems to be back to his customary self . And that if anything has to be an added bonus for the Red Sox and their overly boisterous fans .

There’s still a great deal to play for this season and I’ve no doubt that the AL East as a division is still very much a competitive one . It will most certainly be a three horse race to my mind and in all likelihood the third placed team at the end of the season will be the one to miss out on a postseason playoff berth. The wildcard berth will most certainly come from within the division as there doesn’t seem to be any reason to believe that from within the AL Central or AL West there is contender playing anywhere good enough to be thought of as contender for that playoff spot.

As the months of June , July , August and September approach we will continue to learn a great deal more about the teams and their play . And for the likes of the Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays , they are about to make that AL East all the more enticing as a spectacle to be observed from afar as a discerning baseball fan. As to what the outcome will be is anyone’s guess at this juncture but I know that it will be all the more entertaining to find out over the coming months as we see how things actually pan out.

Inasmuch as I have asked the question within this piece ” Can Baseball Save Itself” I might also add …….. has the league done enough to even assure the game remains safe and a viable going concern ? It’s a question that I think we all seek an answer for but in reality the answer itself has to come from the league hierarchy and not from the fan ! We may well have our own idea on the matter and how we’d like to see things change for the better but as I’ve alluded to earlier it will be left in the hands Bud Selig and his subordinates to lead this game into the direction that needs to be taken.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this topic ? Simply leave a comment or comments as you deem fit on anything you feel to be pertinent to this article .

Alan aka tophatal ……………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Three giants of the game from left to right Roberto Clemente , Willie Mays and Hank Aaron . courtesy of ftl.pinecrest.edu …….

(2) Chicago Cubs’ Carlos Pena (22) walks back to the dugout after grounding out against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning of an interleague baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Friday, May 20, 2011. The Red Sox won 15-5 . AP Photo/Elise Amendola ………

(3) Kevin Youkilis (20) and David Ortiz (34) of the Boston Red Sox celebrate after they scored against the Chicago Cubs on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox have not played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images ……

(4) Kevin Youkilis (20) 20 of the Boston Red Sox hits a two run homer in the fourth inning as Koyie Hill (55) of the Chicago Cubs defends on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox have not played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images …..

(5) BOSTON, MA – MAY 21: Carlos Marmol (49) of the Chicago Cubs celebrates the win with teammate Aramis Ramirez (16) on May 21, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Tonight the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox are wearing replica uniforms from 1918. Before this series, the two teams haven’t played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. The Chicago Cubs defeated the Boston Red Sox 9-3 . Photo by Elsa/Getty Images ……

(6) BOSTON, MA – MAY 21: David Ortiz (34) #34 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates his two run homer in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs with teammate Kevin Youkilis (20) on May 21, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Tonight the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox are wearing replica uniforms from 1918. Before this series, the two teams haven’t played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images …….

(7) Koyie Hill (55) of the Chicago Cubs holds David Ortiz(notes) at third base after tagging out Adrian Gonzalez (28) of the Boston Red Sox on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox have not played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images ……..

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The More You Know ……….. In Reality It’s The Less You Know

The More You Know ……….. In Reality It’s The Less You Know

As the NFL lockout looks as if it’s running its prolonged course I find it all the laughable when I hear fans stipulate that there’s nothing that’ll be lost for some of the teams from a financial and economic standpoint. Well as things now progress we’re now learning that a number of teams are gravely struggling to even sell preseason game tickets much less season tickets for the upcoming season . Amongst the teams looking to stave off the problems now besetting them are the Oakland Raiders . In light of the fact that during the 2010 season the Raiders in terms of their attendance for their home games were amongst the lowest in the NFL . Team owner Al Davis as an added incentive to his staff at all levels within the organization has requested that they each try sell no less than 10% of their salary in terms of ticket sales . This is something that he’s not only asking of the sales staff but all employees within the Raiders’ organization. If the front office is on board in terms of this then it can only benefit the Raiders’ organization as a whole .

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There’s a feeling that as the lockout shows no signs of an accord being met between the parties concerned in terms of the damage done to the NFL’s image is now beyond irreparable . NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell along with the team owners now find themselves trying to how best spin this situation wherein in order the premise of the situation is in their favor.
The fans however don’t actually see it that way and if anything they do feel alienated by this whole situation. The NFLPA for its part along with its members are looking to challenge the NFL’s antitrust exemption status within the Federal Court System . Signees to this civil suit are some of the most prominent players in the NFL , each are Superbowl winning quarterbacks Tom Brady , Drew Brees and Peyton Manning . The trial itself is still ongoing and it looks as if it will be a while before the judge renders a verdict in this particular case.

We all can look back on the fact that the 2010 season was quite an enthralling one with the Superbowl itself turning out to be quite an exciting spectacle with the Geen Bay Packers finally hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in their defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers . Superbowl MVP Aaron Rodgers stood tall in the saddle and has pretty much eradicated the memory of Brett Favre amongst the Packers’ fans at Lambeau Field . And given Favre’s antics in the past few years with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings I feel that it’s a great thing that the player has since walked away from the game under his own steam !

In light of Favre’s retirement I must say that in the latter years of his storied career I found the player to be self serving and an ingrate ! If nothing else I have to admit the longer Brett Favre stayed in the game thinking that he could in fact bring a championship to any franchise willing to meet his asking price like a mercenary for hire simply showed what a narcissistic asshole …… Brett Favre had become ! What might be even more comical was the mere fact that the idiot analysts covering the game within ESPN and Fox Sports clung unto Favre’s every word as if he were a deity rendering his thoughts on the NFL and his own aspirations. Statistics asides it’s almost certain that Favre will become a first ballot Hall of Famer having met the criteria for his induction .

I’m not so sure that the Western Conference Finals of the NBA postseason is all that enticing . Granted , we have two offensively minded teams in the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder . Defense seems to have gone out the window as both teams are intent in merely showing us their offensive prowess . In this series we also have two of the most prominent scorers in the game with Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki .

With the series tied at 1-1 , game three’s resumption of this series in Oklahoma City with the Mavericks looking to take the upper hand in the series by taking a 2-1 lead in this best of seven playoff match-up. For Scott Brooks as the coach of the Thunder can ill afford to go down to 2-1 at home in this series knowing full well that they will have dug themselves int a hole. Brooks will have to emphasize to his players that they need to step up their game and be fully aware as to the dangers that this series brings if they continue to remain complacent. Durant in conjunction with Russell Westbrook will have to be weary of what their contributions must be throughout this series . Anything short of their regular season performances and this series will end up being beyond the Thunder’s retrieval .

Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle has in large part instilled a workman like commitment from his players in doing what’s best for the team from a collective standpoint and we’ve seen that in the contributions from a number of players on this roster . Asides from Nowitzki we’ve seen aging veterans Jason Kidd , Jason Terry show their guile . But if anything it has been the play of the bench players such as J J Barea , Tyson Chandler , Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood that have played their part in the Mavericks’ success this season and in the playoffs. Now that the success is now being replicated in this series it augurs well for the Mavericks and their ambition to win their first NBA title .

Mark Cuban as owner of this franchise has long sought to bring success to the organization. Now it may well be finally be within his grasp . The fact that in the organization’s sole appearance in the NBA Finals they came up short to an enlivened Miami Heat team that simply outplayed them in every facet of that particular series . A humbling 4-2 series loss was enough to send the Mavericks packing their bags home and back to the Lone Star State.

I’d like to think that the Dallas Mavericks in their endeavor to make it to the NBA’s showcase event can actually redeem themselves. In the aftermath of that NBA Finals series’ loss I felt that the window of opportunity may well have closed on this organization. But now I know that to be oh so false as the Mavericks have shown me that they finally possess some grit and determination . As this series plays itself out it will be interesting to see how both teams will acquit themselves knowing that there’s a great deal on the line for both of these organizations.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In terms of the NFL’s continued lockout what remedies do you feel would best bring the two sides together in reaching an amicable accord ? And as you observe the NBA Playoff series has there been anything that has come a complete surprise to you as it’s about to reach its latter stages ? Simply chime in with your own thoughts on the points raised within this piece and as always thanks for the continued support .

Alan aka tophatal …….

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) New Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson (L) looks on as Raiders owner Al Davis (R) speaks to reporters after introducing Jackson as the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders on January 18, 2011 in Alameda, California. Hue Jackson was introduced as the new coach of the Oakland Raiders, replacing the fired Tom Cable. Getty Images North America / Justin Sullivan …..

(2) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates winning Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 with his family at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on February 6, 2011. Kevin Terrell/NFL) ….

(3) Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre leaves the field after warmups at Ford Field before their their NFL football game against the New York Giants in Detroit, Monday, Dec. 13, 2010. Favre is inactive for the game with the New York Giants, ending his record consecutive starts streak at 297, dating back to 1992. The Giants would defeat the Vikings 24-3 AP Photo/Paul Sancya …..

(4) James Harden (13) of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes up for a shot against Jason Kidd(2) of the Dallas Mavericks in the second half in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Mavericks would go on to defeat the Thunder 93-87 to take 2-1 lead in the best of seven Western Conference Finals . Getty Images / Ronald Martinez ……

(5) OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – MAY 21: (L-R) Jason Terry(31) , Peja Stojakovic (16) , Brendan Haywood(33), Dirk Nowitzki(41) and Jose Juan Barea (11) of the Dallas Mavericks celebrate on the court in the second quarter while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Getty Images / Ronald Martinez ………

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Questions I’ve No Wish To Be Answered But Yet They Remain Within The Public Domain So Does Anyone Have An Answer ?

Questions I’ve No Wish To Be Answered But Yet They Remain Within The Public Domain So Does Anyone Have An Answer ?

Well inter-league play is now front and center within MLB and though the purists may well be dead set against the idea here it now is. Personally from my own standpoint I see it as a chance for teams within the AL and NL a chance to play each other and for many of the fans to see their heroes up close and personal. Though I’m not an overly admirer of this format until the World Series as I alluded to , it does give the fans a chance to see their favorite players .

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As the season progresses I know that we’re bound to see the teams at their very best and at their worst. But you can be sure that won’t last long as the season heats up and reaches its halfway point by late July . By then a number of the divisions should be taking shape albeit that there still will be a great deal to play for . I’m not about to make any quick announcements as to what I think will happen other than to suggest that the teams playing the best baseball should actually be stepping up to the plate and making their present felt and their class known .

Well over the weekend several of the top NFL’s rookies gathered on the campus of UCLA Berkley for a charity event . Amongst those attending were Cam Newton , Von Miller , Blaine Gabbert and Andy Dalton to name but a few . Many of the players in question suggested that in spite of the league lockout they were happy to be part of the fraternity but their biggest disappointment was not being able to participate in any drills amongst their new teams or at their respective training facilities. In the midst of this all the NFL hierarchy , team owners and the NFLPA , there still remains a chasm as to their differences . Meanwhile the lockout still remains in place after being upheld by the 8th District Appellate Court . The New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees in an interview granted to ESPN’s Ed Werder during which he stated that the reason why he was a willing participant in a civil suit against the NFL wherein he , Tom Brady and Peyton Manning had all signed on to challenge the league’s antitrust status . One of the points that Brees brought up during this interview was the very fact the players are doing this mainly to represent the veteran players that have retired and the very fact that they have been inadequately assisted by the NFL . If anything this might well have been one of the most pertinent points raised in this whole unsavory episode . Because to my mind it certainly hasn’t been only the NFL that has failed the retired players but also the very union who say that they represent those players’ interests. Certainly neither Gene Upshaw or his successor DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA have spoken publicly of their wish in obtaining better benefits for their members, in particular the retired veterans . But such has been the idiocy of this lockout and the very fact that the two sides seem to so far apart in trying to reach an accord as it firmly remains about money and how best to split a $9 billion piece of pie .

Well the daggers are now out for seven time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong as the Justice Department seeks testimony and evidence that would indict the former champion of using performance enhancing drugs (PED’s). Such has been the absurdity of this whole spectacle where we have seen former champion Alberto Contador have his own suspension lifted after positive test which he asserts was due to having ate tainted meat at a restaurant . In light of this all I find it rather asinine that the Tour organizers L’Equipe and the sport’s governing body UCI have yet to reach an accord where there is in fact a really comprehensive drug testing policy. The IOC which oversees the Olympic Games has a part to play in this all but they appear to be taking a hands off approach as WADA and UCI try to make the best of a bad situation by trying to get the appropriate testing protocols in place that is universally recognized.

Much of Armstrong’s problems will now manifest itself even more so with the allegations now being made by former teammates of Lance Armstrong as Tyler Hamilton has stated that he repeatedly saw the former champion inject himself with steroids and other illicit PED’S . In an interview conducted by CBS’s Scott Pelley for their magazine news program ’60 Minutes’ , Hamilton emphasizes that Lance Armstrong was a frequent user of PED’s throughout much of his career , especially during the run-up to the Tour de France. Now it’d be naive to even suggest that Armstrong might not be guilty of anything but at the same time one certainly would have doubts . The other teammate of Armstrong who also has also given testimony to the Justice Department is George Hincapie . OK , so Lance Armstrong has never tested positive while in competition or during the cycling off season but yet the allegations appear and reappear with even more frequency as time goes by . Now while Hamilton has given his sworn testimony to the Justice Department the question I would ask is what does he actually gain from all of this ? He would be an idiot to perjure himself at this juncture knowing full well that lying would mean a jail sentence in a Federal penitentiary . But at this juncture until an indictment is handed down all one can do is merely speculate on the matter . 60 Minutes who tried to get in contact with Armstrong and his legal representatives seeking a statement from the beleaguered cyclist were not met with a response of any kind. However , Armstrong has always maintained his innocence in any wrong doing on his part. For someone who was so beloved after his heroics and the fact that he overcame testicular cancer it would appear that his days now seem to be numbered as he looks keep his legacy and integrity in tact.

The vultures are now hovering and it appears that they are looking gorge themselves on the carcass of Lance Armstrong . Witch hunt or not , this might be one of the most unsavory moments in recent l history as it relates to the sport of cycling, especially as to its relevance here in North America , where Armstrong is still very much seen as the face of the sport.

As the NBA postseason takes shape with the conference finals I can’t help but wonder how the fans now view things as they begin to play themselves out ? The Eastrn Conference Finals have worked out well as the top two seeds meet for the right to represent to the conference in the NBA Finals . The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat so far , have given us an exhilarating two games wherein the series is now tied at 1-1 . And for both coaches Tom Thibodeau and Erik Spoelstra are on the cusp of leading their respective teams to what will their first appearance in the league’s showcase event as coaches. It is extremely hard to believe that other than Phil Jackson , Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers there are no other active coaches in the league that have won an NBA title . But such has been the dominance of that triumvirate as coaches within the NBA that it easy to understand the reasons why they have had the success that they have attained. They are the consummate individuals within their fraternity and have the respect of their peers and their players no less.

The stars on both teams have shone as this series has progressed and it may well take one of those stars to raise their game to another level if their team is to succeed. For league MVP —- Derrick Rose this has been an outstanding season as he has vindicated himself to many by showing why he has been so successful as a player and a leader of this Bulls’ team . With the series now resuming this upcoming Sunday at the AA Arena in Miami , one should expect an explosive and raucous atmosphere in that arena as the Heat’s Dwyane Wade , LeBron James , Chris Bosh and the rest of this roster showcase their skills as they seek to take a lead in the series.

All evidence would point to the fact that should the Heat take game three then they would be viewed as being in the driver’s seat and expected to perhaps look to close out this series . At this juncture I would say that nothing is off the table because this season’s playoffs while exciting , have also been full of a number of surprises as we’ve seen both the San Antonio Spurs and the reigning two time defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers being summarily embarrassed by their respective opponents in the earlier rounds .

In the Western Conference Finals the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder look to up the ante in their series as they each look to regain the upper hand in their series . Dirk Nowitzki after his dominant performance in game one with an emphatic 48 point offensive output in the Mavericks’ 121-112 defeat of the Thunder . This series has see-sawed up and down because of the over powering offensive display of both teams . At the same time I look at the situation where it would appear that defense appears to the last thing on the mind of either team. For both Scott Brooks and Rick Carlisle this is something that has to be remedied if either team is to prevail in the series outright .

Game three resumes in Oklahoma City this Saturday with the series tied at one game apiece . In tying the series the Thunder knew that taking a game at American Airlines Center in Dallas this series is now up for grabs . Much of the post-game scenario played around the benching of Russell Westbrook by Scott Brooks for the entire fourth quarter of the game. Inconsistency or not Westbrook is uniquely aware that he’s not the leader of this Thunder team as that right belongs to the two time league scoring champion Kevin Durant . Westbrook must know that if the Oklahoma City Thunder is to be successful then he will have to defer to Durant as and when necessary . Any other alternative will ultimately lead to the team’s demise and a chance of making their first appearance in the NBA Finals as the NBA’s youngest franchise .

As this NBA postseason unfolds it will be interesting what drama now awaits the participants left the respective series .

After what appeared to be an enthralling bout a rematch was made between former light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and the reigning champion Jean Pascal of Canada. In their first dramatic fight that ended in a highly contested draw , the animosity between the two antagonists actually grew. What is now undeniable is the that Hopkins seeks to further cement his legacy in becoming the oldest world champion in boxing history. The former champion is 46 years old and some eighteen years the senior of his opponent. Their title bout will take place in Montreal this upcoming Saturday (10:00 pm EST) and will be televised by HBO .

Though the state of boxing has now become mundane and pedantic , Hopkins and Manny Pacquiao remain perhaps the two biggest draw in the sport. Unfortunately however , once these two legends of the sport retire boxing will become bereft of real talent and characters that the fans can actually identify with. Pascal for his part knows that if he actually beats Hopkins his ascent up the ranks will only gain him more exposure and greater financial reward. It seems strange at the age of five Pascal he probably wouldn’t have been aware that his opponent would be making his professional debut in the sport. That being said when these two meet again at the Bell Centre , Montreal , it won’t be about Pascal showing any deference to his more experienced foe and it will certainly be vice- versa with Bernard Hopkins. The former champion felt he was cheated out of the decision on the champion’s home turf in their first outing and for that, he expects to right a wrong . And as impressive as Pascal’s 26-1-1 (16KO’s) record might appear to be the quality of opponents he has met over the course of his career pales into comparison when adjudged against that of Hopkins’ and multi-divisional championship record (51-5-1 [32 KO’s])would and resume’ would indicate.

This rematch has the makings of being an instant classic given what is on the line for both fighters. And I think that there is a distinct possibility that the challenger may well walk away with the title belt as he feels that he has something to prove . Certainly Pascal being the much younger fighter knows that he can ill afford to take Hopkins lightly as he had done in their first meeting. And if anything he was extremely lucky to have retained his title with that favorable decision of a draw by the judges . This time around there may well not be a need for the judges to actually give a verdict as this bout may well be decided by knockout . Either way this could be a fight that will dictate the careers of both fighters and the directions that they may well be heading in .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What opinions might you have as to the topics raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts as you deem fit and anything else you may well feel pertinent .

Alan aka tophatal ………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Atlanta Braves’ Joe Mather celebrates his one run double in the twelfth inning of an interleague baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Anaheim, Calif. The Braves won 5-4 . AP Photo/Gus Ruelas …..

(2) Alex Gonzalez (2) #2 of the Atlanta Braves scores a run in front of Hank Conger (16) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to take a 5-4 lead during the 12th inning at Angel Stadium on May 21, 2011 in Anaheim, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …..

(3) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 17: Former NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith (second from left), NFL retired players’ lawyer Michael Hausfeld and NFL players’ lawyer Jeffrey Kessler arrive for court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in place mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down in March. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ……

(4) Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (8) of the Seattle Seahawks converses with quarterback Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints after the Saints 34-19 win at Louisiana Superdome on November 21, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. ….

(5) Cyclist Lance Armstrong holds a press conference during Day 1 of the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting on September 24, 2008 in New York City. Armstrong was speaking on his return to competitive cycling and the work of the Lance Armstrong Foundation in conjunction with the Clinton Global Initiative to fight cancer.2008 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting – Day 1New York, NY United StatesSeptember 24, 2008 . Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage.com @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ……

(6) Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) goes up for a shot attempt as Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki of Germany, right, and DeShawn Stevenson, bottom left, defend in the second half of Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference finals basketball series Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Oklahoma City. The Mavericks won 93-87 . AP Photo/Larry W. Smith ….

(7) Dirk Nowitzki (41) of the Dallas Mavericks reacts in the fourth quarter while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Getty Images / Christian Petersen …….

(8) Bernard Hopkins of US shows his tongue after a hit by Jean Pascal of Canada during their light heavyweight championship fight for the WBC light heavyweight championship, on May 21, 2011, at Bell Centre, Montreal in Quebec, Canada. Ring veteran Bernard Hopkins beat Jean Pascal by decision in a World Boxing Council light heavyweight bout to become the oldest major world champion in boxing history at 46 years old. Hopkins came on strong in the middle rounds and hung on in the 12th against the hard-hitting Canadian Pascal to get the decision in front of a crowd of 17,750 at the Bell Centre arena May 21, 2011. Hopkins won a unanimous decision against Pascal in an entertaining rematch of their December 18 draw in Quebec City, Canada. TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES/ ROGERIO BARBOSA …….

(9) Bernard Hopkins misses a punch on Jean Pascal during the WBC Light-Heavyweight Championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre on May 22, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images …….

(10) MONTREAL, CANADA – MAY 21: Bernard Hopkins punches Jean Pascal during the WBC Light-Heavyweight Championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre on May 22, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images ….

(11) Both Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal raise their hands in victory after twelve rounds of action during the WBC Light-Heavyweight Championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre on May 22, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The challenger would defeat his younger adversary in obtaining a unanimous verdict from all there judges . In winning the light heavyweight title Bernard Hopkins became the oldest world title holder in boxing history at the age of 46. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images ….

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Too Late To Apologize ………………

Too Late To Apologize ……

As MLB celebrates the Civil Rights games scheduled over the weekend I found it quite fascinating to see the interview that took place between Hank Aaron and CNN’s Don Lemmon . The interview with baseball’s former home run King shed light on what is now a glaring disparity within the game of baseball and that is that the African American’s participation within the game , is now said to be at its lowest level in years. I know that the game’s hierarchy has done its utmost to honor Jackie Robinson and his contribution’s to the game but I feel that Aaron summed it up best when he said that …..” baseball simply doesn’t do enough to lure young African American fans to the game “ . If anything it has been how the game is now marketed and the mere fact that Commissioner Bud Selig has set his sights on the Latin America , the Caribbean basin as well South Asia to bring the game of baseball to a wider audience. And granted , the game has seen a growth in those areas but what cannot be denied is the waning interest in the game amongst young African Americans . So much so , that their participation in the game at the professional level is now at its lowest level in two decades.

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It wasn’t that long ago that Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder Torii Hunter made the comment that ….” Latino males who are of African ancestry can’t be considered to be black “ ……unfortunately for Hunter even if that wasn’t his intent to generate the resentment that may well have brought up amongst the Latin players but after those comments if anything , it simply didn’t stir much of a response amongst prominent African American players in the league . I’d like the to think that the contributions of such players as Reggie Jackson , Willie Mays , Robinson and Aaron would actually mean something to young African American players at the youth level but the fact of the matter is now they are simply no real African American icons within the game today that they can simply identify with. They’ve seen the game brought to its knees by the antics of Barry Bonds the steroid allegations that have surround him and the game’s handling of that very issue amongst other things may well be one of the main reasons for their choosing to shy away from the game of baseball. Most certainly as Hank Aaron stated the league hierarchy has indeed done a poor job of actually bringing back the game at the grassroots level .

OK, it’s said that they have specific programs within the elementary schools , high school and inner cities within their recreation departments . But that in of-itself simply hasn’t been enough to actually heighten the interest sought by the game . And that if anything is really a sad indictment of the game and how much of a waning interest that there now is with the African American community. If anything the NBA and NFL have simply stepped up their branding and marketing of their respective sports and the financial opportunities there are far greater and the chance of immediate success would seem to be far greater given the right set of circumstances for a player seeking entry into the those sports .

One of the points also raised by Hank Aaron also was that during lean economic times we tend to see it hit the African American community hard in terms of their attending games and taking an interest in recreational events . But I think that comparison can be made for the whole demographic of the community at large because if fans aren’t simply turning up for games then there’s also to be less of an interest in participating in that sport as a recreation. Certainly , I do believe also that when public schools are making budgetary cuts within physical education it makes the situation much more stark as to the gravity of the events that are now taking place. Even within the game itself where we now see that there’s also a glaring disparity with the haves and have nots amongst the large and small market teams I can’t help but wonder what might be the next step to be taken by Bud Selig , the team owners , in particular the MLBPA and what they might do to remedy the situation that facing them as they see a fall-off in the presence of African Americans within the sport at the professional level amongst the players. Certainly at the executive level amongst the general managers and managers there is a presence there with prominent African Americans . But I for one have yet to hear a public statement from any of the individuals in question concerning this issue much less a public statement on this issue from Bud Selig, himself. I think if anything Selig’s handling of this all has been like everything else that he at times deal with , it tends to be haphazard and rather laissez-faire attitude as he simply seeks to put a positive spin on any issue that tends to show the image of the game in a bad light . And nowhere was this more self evident than his handling with the whole steroid issue and the hearings that came with this all he gave his own testimony to the House Oversight Committee .

I don’t know that there’s a clear cut answer for this situation but I do feel that the league hierarchy has been lax in dealing with this and several other issues that now seems to have befallen the game of baseball. Even when I hear statements being made by Rob Manfred even addressing the financial disparities within the game I simply know that he’s not at all sincere much less does or any of his colleagues within baseball’s hierarchy have a real answer for the disparities and problems . It would appear problem solving isn’t even the highest priority within the game of baseball but merely keeping up this facade that they’re simply the ones who still carry this flag of social conscience as it relates to the issue of racial integration within team sports. If anything it’s simply now doing the game a disservice as it fails to really deal with a number of issues within its own parameters.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning this piece and are you at all in agreement with the statement made by Hank Aaron ? And what changes if any do you believe would be of benefit to the game concerning this specific issue ? Simply just chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron watches a tribute video showing him hitting his 715th career home run at the Major League Baseball Beacon Awards Banquet at the Omni Hotel on May 14, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images North America / Mark Zarrilli …….

(2) (From left to right) Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, Billye Aaron and Beacon Award winner Ernie Banks gather after the Beacon Awards Banquet at the Omni Hotel on May 14, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images North America / Mark Zarrilli …….

(3) Baseball Hall of Famers wave to fans following ceremonies opening the Hank Aaron Museum at the Hank Aaron Stadium on April 14, 2010 in Mobile, Alabama. From left: Bob Feller , Ozzie Smith , Reggie Jackson, Hank Aaron and Rickey Henderson . Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images North America …….

(4) Robinson is seen here alongside his wife Rachel at his Hall of Fame Induction . Also pictured is Branch Rickey whose courageous act brought Robinson into the Majors . Post Archives Inc….

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ABCDEFG ……………

ABCDEFG ………………..

Ah the rather self absorbed Jason Whitlock once again espousing views that simply at times has no rhyme or reason. Whitlock in his latest masterpiece has written that the NBA’s ” most dynamic duo “ of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat are now a better duo than Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were at their best with the Chicago Bulls . For a duo that has yet to win anything of relevance within the NBA I get the impression that Whitlock’s love the duo might well be bordering on being homo-erotic rather than based on anything tangible. Never let it be said that his idiocy also has no boundaries when it comes to Whitlock and his ideas .

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This season the Heat have been efficient not necessarily spectacular in making their way to the Eastern Conference semi finals where they’ll meet the Derrick Rose led Chicago Bulls . Kind of ironic don’t you think that in the midst of subject on the Bulls Whitlock as such would take a mocking jibe at perhaps that franchise’s best duo in its history ? Jordan , Pippen and their cast of supporting players won six NBA titles within an eight year span and during the season they won a record <a 72 games that season as well as winning the NBA championship . If the Miami Heat indeed are to prove their worth then this team will not only have to vindicate themselves by winning this season’s title but do so in a convincing fashion .

Whitlock for his part has done little to state succinctly his reasons behind this thought process , other than to suggest that the two Heat players are athletic , dynamic and entertaining . But my question to Jason Whitlock since when have those facets won anything in the NBA ? As impressive as the Heat have been in dispatching the Boston Celtics in their conference quarter final series this is still somewhat a flawed team . The Heat’s ‘Big Three’ of Chris Bosh , James and Wade have been placed under the microscope , dissected , analyzed and criticized to the nth degree . In the midst of this all team President Pat Riley has hit back at those critical of the organization’s moves that brought both Bosh and James to the Heat in the offseason. Erik Spoelstra as coach of the Miami Heat knows that a great deal is now expected of him in leading this team to what many now feels is their destiny. As one of the quintet of coaches left in the latter stages of these playoffs , Spoelstera, Scott Brooks , Tom Thibodeau , Lionel Hollins and Rick Carlisle are now aspiring to be first time winners of an NBA title as a coach. And given the fact that with the impending retirement of Phil Jackson there are only two other coaches in the NBA to have won an NBA title. That duo would be Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers and then beyond that the cupboard as they say …..” becomes bare ” .

The substantive issues raised by Whitlock goes a long way in showing how much I believe that the NBA has changed as a league over the past decade and a half ! Players during this decade, if anything aren’t necessarily as skilled as their predecessors . More is made about hype over substance concerning today’s players and the image that’s portrayed , albeit that the league now more so than ever is very much consumer driven. That could very well be the premise behind Whitlock’s perspective on making these comparisons or the very fact that he genuinely believes that James and Wade are that much better than Jordan and Pippen. Granted , Jordan had yet to win a title at the stage where both James and Wade now find their careers . But bear this in mind , Jordan led by example and that’s something that is clearly missing from LeBron James’ resume’ as a player. Indecision or not , the way he bolted from the Cleveland Cavaliers left a bitter taste in the mouths of the fans and in particular within the front office of that organization . It left Dan Gilbert an angry owner whose behavior in the aftermath of what he felt was a genuine betrayal by the player. If anything that situation was handled badly by both parties as James came off as being immature and petulant . Whereas, Gilbert simply acted out as enraged, owner who’d lost the team’s biggest asset in an unsolicited takeover bid that simply broke up the company merely leaving him with the remnants of a shell company. Incumbent coach Byron Scott has his work cut out for him in turning this team around and it will take a great deal of work by him and his immediate coaching staff .

To my mind Jordan and Pippen have epitomized what a duo and a team are about and although Jason Whitlock chose the duo to make this comparison it has me wondering how it is he came to this judgment ! This journalist’s work over the years has raised eyebrows as to the volatility and emotions he chooses to put on display with regard to the themes he chooses to address . He has been vilified by many and has the respect of others but in large part he’s either someone that you either love or hate as a journalist.

If one remembers the idiocy of the displays after James and Bosh’s arrival the trio talked of themselves winning ………. not one , not two but five or six championships . As of yet the Miami Heat with this trio in lock have yet to win anything of merit but it has been Whitlock’s idiocy and his piece that makes his subjective article to an extent all the more ridiculous in its premise and what he’s trying to substantiate as a case in making his argument . But in this day and age where journalism no longer has any real integrity to it , rather it being about the journalists simply wanting have you bear witness as to what they believe to be right rather than allowing the readers to make a judgment for themselves with the facts being laid out there for them all to see. Inasmuch as there are somewhat controversial journalists out there such Jason Whitlock , it has to be said without his smorgasboard of morsels to offer the public I seriously doubt that anyone would take the genre of sports journalism with any degree of sincerity !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on this piece and in particular Jason Whitlock’s comparisons between the duos of James and Wade , Jordan and Pippen ? Simply chime in with a comment on your thoughts concerning the topics raised within this piece .

Alan aka tophatal ………. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details

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(1) Jason Whitlock noted sport’s columnist and journalist . AP Photo / Eric Clarke ……

(2) Jordan (23) and Pippen seen here in one of the Bulls’ many NBA Finals triumphs . In the background is former Bulls and now NBA tv analyst Steve Kerr . AFP/Reuters Inc/ Gustav Nillson ………..

(3) Chris Bosh , Dywane Wade and LeBron Wade seen here just after their formal introduction to the Miami Heat fans this past offseason at the AA Arena ,in Miami , Florida . AP Photo / John Raoux …..

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Do The Right Thing ……………….

Do The Right Thing ……………..

There’s a great deal to be said about the legacy of baseball , its history and the fact that Jackie Robinson played a part in integrating team sports, being the first African American to play a professional sport where its embodiment was integrated . And granted, were it not for Branch Rickey willing to take a chance on a social experiment that would have lasting ramifications that would reverberate across the landscape of the country , I seriously doubt that we’d have seen the integration of the game at the time we did. Consider this, at the time that Robinson suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers the US military still hadn’t been fully integrated wherein African American soldiers could be part of the same platoon and serve alongside their Caucasian counterparts but yet this myth continues here within this country that it’d rather gloss over this whole episode concerning African Americans within the US military. The US military wouldn’t be fully integrated until 1953 , some eight years after World War II had ended .

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In light of the above evidence a patron (chappy81) of my site and I mulled over the situation with regard to the image of the NFL and that of MLB and the fact that both sports are so image conscious . He remarked about the fact baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day and that baseball also has its Civil Rights —– games played this weekend . But that in of-itself I find to be a real misnomer as it simply means nothing in the greater landscape of things , given the fact that now we’re seeing an attack to repeal many of the advances made under the Civil Rights Act . And whereas Jackie Robinson’s number has been retired by the league I do find it somewhat asinine that the league especially now under the tenure of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has somehow refused to retire Roberto Clemente’s number in honor of the player and his accomplishments but specifically as a human rights activist and philanthropist . If Selig and the league hierarchy simply can’t view Clemente’s accomplishments other than to institute an award in his name , I think it somewhat inane that they simply believe that honor only ought to be bestowed upon Jackie Robinson , merely because he was simply the first person of an ethnic minority to have the game as part of an integrated team at the professional level ! Baseball while steeped in its traditions has become archaic and fully out of touch with the realities of the world .

Given the current problems within the league , financial instability of teams around baseball , team owners who’ve simply put greed above common sense and a hierarchy who for the most part simply show the naivete of an immature child that it’s hard to imagine that the game has made the advancement that it has over the years. Character issue asides of the players past and present I do feel that it is now time for Bud Selig do the right thing and actually retire Roberto Clemente’s number , not just simply as an act of benevolence but also to acknowledge his achievements as a philanthropist .

Now one might suggest that in allowing Clemente’s number to retired it would diminish what Jackie Robinson’s entry at the major league level meant to the game . But I say …no ………. because if anything these are two great players who by their own deeds and willingness to beat the odds has done a great deal to establish the game of baseball across a broad demographic and therein making it relevant socially as well being viewed as America’s pastime .

Well now that the conference finals appear to be set with regard to the NBA Playoffs . The Eastern Conference Finals sets up an intriguing match-up between the top two seeds within the confrence . The Chicago Bulls will host the Miami Heat at the United Center in Chicago on Sunday 15th May in a game one of this best of seven game series . For LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade they see this as a form of vindication having defeated the Boston Celtics in their conference quarter semi final series 4-1 .

So clinical was the defeat of the Celtics that it had many wondering whether or not this might the last charge of the Boston Celtics’ ‘Big Three’ of Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Ray Allen . To my mind I do feel that this Celtics’ roster labored because of the fact that is in large part an aging one . And whereas Doc Rivers was able to lead the Celtics to an emphatic triumph in the 2008 NBA Finals . This might very well be a time for a changing of the guard in some part . GM Danny Ainge and senior general partner Wyc Grousbeck may very well have to overhaul this roster if the Celtics are to have any serious chance of challenging for an NBA title next season .

And while it is being widely reported that Rivers is now in the process of accepting a renewed five year $35 million deal to remain with the organization . It may well pretty much put into effect that the Big Three will likely also remain with the Celtics . Beyond that it remains to be seen what now becomes the next saga of the Boston Celtics’ history.

In going back to address this conference finals’ matchup between the Bulls and Heat it will most certainly be an intriguing one. The Bulls swept the season series between the two teams with some ease but that was in large part before the Heat had found any real consistency in their play . If the Bulls are to prove that those results during the regular season were no fluke then they will have to play with a fluidity and resolve that they’ve shown throughout the large part of the postseason . League MVP —- Derrick Rose and his teammates have to be mindful as to the knowledge that will be imparted to them by their coach Tom Thibodeau and his coaching staff if they’re to have any chance of beating the Heat in this series . And for the Heat who’ll no doubt be looked at as the presumptive favorites for coach Erik Spoelstra , he knows that it is now or never for this team which has been looked at to win it all ever since team President & Head of Basketball Operations Pat Riley engineered the moves that brought Bosh and James to the Miami Heat during the offseason.

Not since the Michael Jordan era led Bulls of the 1995-96 season has there been this much fervor over this organization for which the expectations are now extraordinarily high. Should the Bulls prevail in this series then it could be viewed as one of the biggest shocks in recent NBA history , in terms of postseason upsets .

Amazingly enough while the Dallas Mavericks awaits the winners of the series between the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder . I’ve now got to ask myself after this monumental disastrous display by the Thunder in their fourteen point loss to the Grizzlies on Friday night how is it that Scott Brooks can feel that his team can now close out this series ? On a night when league scoring champion Kevin Durant had an abysmal night shooting , that this was a game that I believe that the Thunder would rather forget ! Once again it was left the heroics of Zach Randolph as he led the team in scoring and in taking the lead as its vocal leader in erasing a 3-2 deficit to even this series with everything to play for as game seven brings the two teams back Oklahoma City to bring this conference semi finals to a fitting culmination. As to what that might be , we now all wait to see what unfolds in this exhausting and thrilling series .

If the rumors are to believed as it is now being reported that the Los Angeles Lakers have allowed Phil Jackson’s assistant Brian Shaw to speak with both the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets as to both vacant coaching positions. Strange as this may seem , unless the Lakers are extremely confident that Jackson will be returning to the organization then I feel it somewhat less than prudent of them to allow Shaw to seek out an initial interview with either organization . Shaw if anything has to be the favorite for the position as he has the respect of a number of players on the team. But it may well be that GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Dr Jerry Buss may well feel that it is indeed better bring someone anew to be Jackson’s successor. From my own perspective although I’ve heard the name of Rick Adelman being bandied about as a likely successor I do feel that it’d be step backwards for the Lakers should they hire this well respected coach. A retread is very much the last thing that this organization needs in light of their rather embarrassing 4-0 series loss to the Dallas Mavericks . The one candidate I feel who fits the bill as the successor to Jackson would be Tom Izzo of Michigan State and his given his coaching pedigree I think he’d certainly be the appropriate choice ! However , that decision is now in the hands of the general manager and owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and it may well be some time before they come to a final decision .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment and thank as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal …………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) From left to right Branch Rickey , Jackie Robinson and his wife Rachel seen are as the former player receives his plaque after his enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame . AFP Archives ………

(2) Pirates’ outfielder Roberto Clemente whose tragic death is still mourned to this day . Baseball archives ….

(3) LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat gets emotional after closing out the series against the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2011 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(4) Omer Asik (3) reacts with Luol Deng (9) of the Chicago Bulls after Asik drew a foul from the Atlanta Hawks in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C Cox / Getty Images …….

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MLB News

MLB Standings

MLB Scoreboard

MLB Results & scores 14th May 2011

Probable starting pitchers 15th May 2011

Probable starting pitchers 16th May 2011

MLB Schedule 3 days at a glance

NBA News

NBA results 15th May 2011

NBA Playoffs 2011

The Real Funny Side Of Sports You’d Think ………….

The Real Funny Side Of Sports You’d Think …………

The longer this facade goes on the more asinine I know that baseball has become in terms of the game’s hierarchy , the team owners and the mere fact that they’ve never been known to show any common sense . The sharks are now circling the Los Angeles Dodgers as they smell blood and the idiocy of the team’s owner Frank McCourt only further adds to the illusion that when the league hierarchy saw fit to grant him the right to purchase the team from Fox and its parent company NewsCorp when they simply hadn’t used due diligence .

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The organization is now mired in so much financial mismanagement that it’s hard to understand how McCourt and the rest of the executives within the Dodgers’ front office could have been so financially irresponsible . But herein lies the caveat the league hierarchy rarely looks into the finances of its teams unless they believe there to be something inherently wrong. What might be even more surprising is that even in spite of there being clear cut evidence that something was awry with the Dodgers from a financial standpoint Bud Selig chose not to intervene until things had got to a point where one now has to question whether or not the Dodgers can now survive in its present format. If McCourt and his now ex-wife Jamie McCourt were using this organization as their very own personal ATM then questions have to now be answered with a great deal of veracity by not only Frank McCourt by the entire hierarchy of the Los Angeles Dodgers. This so called $3 billion tv contract that awaits the league’s approval has been the sole basis for McCourt to suggest that the organization has no financial worries as it also asks for $ 300 million upfront as an advance from the local Los Angeles Fox tv affiliate . What gave McCourt the impression that $ 300 million would be the cure to what ails the Los Angeles Dodgers when it is clear that he and his subordinates have contravened many of the league’s very own rules ? Now it’s becoming transparent that McCourt and those very same subordinates have been less than truthful as it relates to the organization’s financial stability.

Now the ante may well be upped in lieu of the fact that neither McCourt and Selig have met publicly to discuss the team’s issues . And with it now being reported that the Dodgers simply doesn’t have the cash available to meet its budgetary expenses for the months of May and Junes ____ you simply have to ask how much longer this idiocy can be allowed to carry on , in allowing to have McCourt even be associated with this team in any form whatsoever ? Gross negligence on his part , much of it no doubt suborned by the front office as they may well have been powerless but at the same time they also have a responsibility to the league hierarchy to report any serious malfeasance within their organization . Either Ned Colletti and CFO Peter Wilhelm are that stupid or they simply went along with the insipid moves and his then wife Jamie Court in raiding the organization’s coffers for their own malevolent needs . Frank and Jamie McCourt it is suggested were loaned $108 million between 2004-09 to fund their lavish lifestyle . If this is indeed true then I can only surmise that Frank McCourt’s estimated wealth of $1.2 billion had to have diminished immensely for him to be taking money from the coffers of the organization while they struggled to actually be competitive within NL West.

Granted this season we’ve witnessed some competitiveness from the team but as of late things have tailed off somewhat for organization as the off the field troubles has simply become a major news sports story within the game of baseball this season . The NL West as competitive as some may well believe it to be in large part has been a division that has been viewed as where the baseball being played there between those teams can be best described as being marginal . The division is now led by San Francisco Giants with a 21-16 mark followed by the Colorado Rockies (19-16) and Dodgers some 3.5 games behind with an 18-20 mark. That being said with all of the off the field controversy and mayhem taking place within the Dodgers’ organization the events taking place on the field have been forced to take a back seat as this idiocy simply plays itself out as a spectacle within the public’s domain.

It’s sad that one of baseball’s great organizations has been allowed to sink such depths but in reality this merely shows the complete ineptitude that is now on display at all levels of the game from the league hierarchy on down to the very players themselves .

If Chad Ochocinco can’t have the glare of the limelight placed upon him this NFL player simply becomes bereft of all common sense . Not content with having tried out for a roster spot with MLS soccer’s Sporting Kansas City the player is now said to be interested in riding a bull on the PBR (Professional Bull Riding) circuit . Well given the amount of bull served up last season by Ocho and the Cincinnati Bengals I just hope that the bull he’s given to ride simply stomps his ass into several hundred pieces ! The more he’s around in the NFL , the more you simply know that any team that he’s a part of is almost certainly doomed for failure . Granted, coming off a 2009 season where the Bengals were the AFC North champions 2010 was merely an afterthought as the Bengals simply slipped into a season sheer ineptitude posting a 6-10 record for the year . If that wasn’t bad enough you then had the team’s Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer demanding a trade rather than remaining with the Bengals . That situation seems close to resolving itself as the team took Andy Dalton as their second pick 35th overall in this season’s NFL Draft .

From my own perspective the problems of the Cincinnati Bengals are many , from a defense that’s simply become non-existent to an offense that on its best days would simply have problems making a first down, much less putting up points on the board as and when needed . It simply wasn’t merely about Palmer’s problems both on and off the field but the mere fact that Marvin Lewis lost control of these players and little of what he or his coaching staff imparted on those players actually manifested itself on the field of play last season. This season the Bengals could very well be at odds with itself as well as the incumbents within the AFC North. This much is certain if the Bengals are to have any chance being legitimately viewed as contender within the AFC much less the rest of the NFL then Ochocinco and this team will very much have to prove themselves worthy adversaries of their opponents this season . A great deal is being asked of Andy Dalton if he’s chosen to be the team’s quarterback but in lieu of that fact his being thrown in at the deep end may not be the wisest of choices but it may well be the only one that can be made by Marvin Lewis and his staff.

Well now that the Boston Celtics have been unceremoniously dumped out of this season’s NBA Playoffs in their series loss to the Miami Heat . The orbituaries are now being written as to the demise of several players on this team . It appears that negotiations are underway to retain the services of Doc Rivers as the team’s coach . But if anything GM Danny Ainge , senior managing partner Wyc Grousbeck and the other managing partners can’t have been entirely happy in the way that this teams was summarily dispatched by this Heat team .

This 4-1 series loss by the Boston Celtics to the Miami Heat in essence explained a lot about the two diverging paths that these two heave have taken over the course of the regular season. Having won their regular season meetings 3-1 the Celtics may well have felt that they had the upper hand were they to meet again in the postseason. But if anything it was the Heat who took heart from those meetings knowing that they had to up their game and play with a great deal more resolve. Erik Spoelstra having got this team play much more cohesively, began to see the fruits of his labor . At the same time team President Pat Riley and team owner Micky Arison now know that all of the maneuvering and the subsequent work done by Dwyane Wade in persuading both Chris Bosh and LeBron James to sign with the team was not only in the players’ best interests as it offered them the best chance of winning an NBA title but it also benefited the Heat organization from a competitive and financial standpoint as well.

For the Boston Celtics Ainge alongside Rivers and the coaching staff must now look at how best rebuild this team and what if any major roster changes need to be made if they’re return back the playoffs as a formidable postseason opponent. We surely have seen the last of both Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal as players within the NBA . Collectively the duo offered little if anything to the team during much of the postseason. However my greatest gripe concerning the fall from grace by the Celtics was the absurd notion by Danny Ainge that his trade deadline moves of trading both Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson actually made the Celtics better , when he got little , tangible in return from those deals . He may well have done that to pare down the Celtics’ payroll but that all seems redundant when you consider that jointly Jermaine and Shaquille O’Neal were earning more than Perkins and Robinson combined this season. Contract lenght asides who in their right mind would want two aging veterans who between them offered nothing to this team throughout much of the regular season other than being a complete waste of space on the bench ?

It remains to be seen the steps to be taken by Ainge and his staff but this much is certain for the large part this current roster will most certainly change in its current format and for the large part we will be seeing a number of new faces on this team be it via free agency or through the upcoming NBA Draft.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the topics raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment .

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Tom Schieffer , the man charged by Major League Baseball with sorting through the finances of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is interviewed in New York, Thursday, May 12, 2011. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews …..

(2) Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno, right, watches his throw to first after forcing out Los Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier during the second inning of a baseball <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2011_05_12_lanmlb_pitmlbgame in Pittsburgh on Thursday, May 12, 2011. Juan Uribe was out at first. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar ….

(3) Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig listens to a question during a news conference on Thursday, May 12, 2011 in New York. Selig gave Frank McCourt the face-to-face meeting the Los Angeles Dodgers owner wanted, but provided no timetable on approving a proposed $3 billion television deal with Fox that would keep the club from running out of cash at the end of the month. Selig and McCourt met Wednesday when owners began a two-day quarterly meeting at Major League Baseball’s office. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews …..

(4) Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti (left) and the team’s owner Frank McCourt . This was Colletti’s formal introduction to the public as the team’s new GM in November 2005. Icon SMI/ Larry Goren ……. .

(5) A.J. Green(4) overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals, poses for a photo on stage with family members during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ….

(6) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton(notes), left, a quarterback from TCU, and third round draft pick Dontay Moch, a linebacker from Nevada, right, pose with their jerseys during an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/ David Kohl ……..

(7) Cincinnati Bengals first round draft pick A.J. Green, right, speaks at a news conference with head coach Marvin Lewis, Friday, April 29, 2011 in Cincinnati. Green, a wide receiver from Georgia, will wear number 18 for the NFL football team. AP Photo/Al Behrman ……….

(8) Chad Ochocinco begins tryout with Sporting Kansas City on March 23, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. The player having gained a roster spot with the team is now said to be interested in riding a bull within the PBR circuit . Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images ……

(9) Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge talks with reporters during a news conference at the team’s NBA basketball training facility in Waltham, Mass., Friday, May 13, 2011. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer …….

(10) MIAMI, FL – MAY 11: LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat gets emotional after closing out the series against the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2011 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images …..

(11) Mario Chalmers (15) of the Miami Heat is congratulated by Ray Allen (20) of the Boston Celtics after Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 11, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Getty Images /Mike Ehrmann ………

(12) Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers reacts on the sideline during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on May 11, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NBAE/Getty Images/ Mike Ehrmann ……….

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MLB News

MLB Standings

MLB Schedule 3 days at a glance

Probable starting pitchers 13th May 2011

Probable starters 14th May 2011

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MLB results & scores 12th May 2011

NFL News

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NBA Playoffs

NBA Schedule

NBA Conference Finals

Eastern Conference

Chicago Bulls ……. vs ……. Miami Heat

Western Conference

Dallas Mavericks …… TBD …….. winners of the series between Memphis Grizzlies …… & ….. Oklahoma City Thunder

Don’t Hate Appreciate ………… Have You Had Your Can Of Whup Ass Today ?

Don’t Hate Appreciate ………… Have You Had Your Can Of Whup Ass Today ?

I’ve said it repeatedly the tough teams know how to win when it matters most and case in point was proof positive of that as the Los Angeles Lakers simply gave up in their quest having succumbed to the Dallas Mavericks 98-92 in a decisive game three played at the American Airlines Center in Dallas , Texas. Instead of being composed we saw a Lakers’ team pressed and playing rather in consistently throughout this series .

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If there was an unsung hero during this game for the Mavericks then it had to be jointly Jason Terry , Peja Stojakovic and that wily veteran Jason Kidd who belied their years in the league. Now pardon me for saying this but each time I hear TNT or ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy I simply want to throw up ! Is there no time wherein this guy can simply be observant report on what he observes rather than coming up with asinine comments and analysis. Now down 0-3 this series is now beyond the reach of the Lakers as no team in playoff history has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit to come back and win that series .

This was simply a collective effort from this Mavericks’ team and it was a thoroughly convincing result and this series now seems to the Dallas Mavericks’ for the taking . If you’ve any doubt about that then simply look at the box-score and the stats for the Mavericks ? Game four of this series resumes on Sunday and we’re liable to see the Lakers be swept out of this series as the Dallas Mavericks make their way to the Western Conference Finals . Personally I can see the Lakers quite possibly taking game four but beyond that this team is liable to lose one if not two of the next three to be played at the Staples Center after the series’ departure from Dallas .

Anyone who was in any doubt why Derrick Rose became the youngest league MVP in NBA history then you simply had to witness his display against the Atlanta Hawks in game three played at the Philips Arena in Atlanta , Georgia . The Chicago Bulls simply laid the wood to the Hawks as they took them behind the woodshed and literally beat the shit out of this Hawks’ team . Forty four points simply sums up this player’s play and the fact that the Bulls’ bench took up some of the slack . Joakim Noah , Kyle Korver and Taj Gibson played with a great deal of aplomb as and when needed, as they harried the Hawks’ offense and made them look lethargic .

By midway through the fourth quarter this game was simply beyond the Atlanta Hawks’ reach and their two All Stars on this team in Joe Johnson and Al Horford simply couldn’t do anything to bring the Hawks back into this game. On this series resumption with game four we could well see the Chicago Bulls take a 3-1 lead in this series .

Can someone explain to me how it is that Cliff Lee can strike out 15 batters in a game and still come up with a loss (5-0 ) in a game played at Citizens Ballpark in Philadelphia as the Philadelphia Phillies took on the Atlanta Braves ? Lee’s opposite number Derek Lowe also had the prospect obtaining a no hitter in this game in what was an exemplary display by both pitchers. In the end however this was more about the mistakes defensively made by the Phillies and solid resolute play by the Braves as they inched closer to the the Florida Marlins and Phillies within the NL East .

Andre Ethier’s amazing season continues as he embarks on rewriting the Los Angeles Dodgers’ record book. Ethier is on the cusp of becoming the Dodgers’ consecutive single season record in terms of a consecutive games hit streak . Now at thirty games and counting Ethier looks to surpass the Dodgers’ record of Willie Davis’ streak of 31 and hopes to top the mark of forty before he can think about even coming within range of Joe Di Maggio’s 56 game hit streak which is the all time record within MLB . It’s now becoming redundant to continue talking about the Dodgers’ off the field problems as nothing can now simply change that particular landscape as it now stands. The idiocy of it all is that the team’s owner Frank McCourt continues to wallow in the fact that he’s now become a victim in the aftermath of the league hierarchy taking over the day to day running of the organization. Suffice to say that the league , its team owners enabled McCourt and his executive subordinates to enact this madness . And for those opining that the Dodgers and their $3 billion tv contract signed with Fox and its parent company NewsCorp let’s just say if you’re unable to pay the staff salaries for your employees for the months of April and now May please don’t come up with the bullshit about this organization being in a viable financial position. Simply let it be , and get a dose of reality as to how business is conducted in the real world .

Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams effectively announced his retirement as coach of the Terrapins’ basketball team . Having assumed tenure of the Terrapins as its coach in 1989 while the team was under NCAA probation Williams single handedly resurrected this program and put it back on the map. In doing so he won the 2002 NCAA Basketball Tournament . That title has been Maryland’s sole NCAA Men’s title but it has been the programs consistency over the years that has made Gary Williams stand apart as a collegiate basketball coach . He leaves an indelible record having won over 630 games and a run of eleven straight NCAA appearances as well as the Sweet 16 on multiple occasions . Thirty three years as a coach of, which 22 were spent as the coach of Maryland and I’d like to think that makes Gary Williams something of a special talent within the world of collegiate basketball !

Well it appears now apart from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff looking to challenge the BCS’ antitrust exemption status and its stand as a monopoly within collegiate football. It now seems that the US Justice Department and its antitrust division will now serve notice that they intend to send letters to NCAA President Mark Emmert and the BCS seeking their reasons as to why there isn’t a playoff format in place for the national championship at the D1 level. If that’s not enough to peak your interest assistant US attorney general Christine Varney within the antitrust division of the Justice Department says that she is quite prepared subpoena records from both the NCAA and BCS to seek out how they conduct their business practices as it relates collegiate football . Considering the NCAA is already facing a civil suit challenge by several former NCAA athletes as to the use of their likeness for business purposes within the Federal Court System this couldn’t have come at a worse time for both the NCAA and BCS.

If it hasn’t been enough that we’ve seen the idiocy of the NCAA and the belief that the BCS and its subordinates feel that they’re above reproach . We now have to see them having to defend themselves from what we already know to be a grossly corrupt system that is in place and that’s being defended by an idiot in Ohio State university President Dr E Gordon Gee . How in God’s name that buffoon believes that the system is above reproach tells you all you need to know when you simply survey the 2010-11 and 2011 schedule of the Buckeyes to see how they affix their schedules , wherein they’re literally playing a bunch of no name programs to pad out their stats. In the midst of this all, Gee has the temerity to suggest that mid major conferences ought not to be allowed to have the privilege of attaining a BCS Bowl game berth because they’re simply not good enough. If anything, Gee ought to be more concerned over the image of his school and the fact that its football coach Jim Tressel has no moral character or integrity and the very fact that he’s self consumed a liar and a cheat . Those ought to be Gee’s biggest concerns rather than his asinine notion that the BCS system is above reproach.

I’ve longed felt that were it not for Severiano Ballesteros the European Tour and the PGA Tour wouldn’t be what is today . Having won five grand slam majors and over 68 tournaments worldwide Ballesteros’ legacy has been well chronicled . Long before Tiger Woods held the world as a captive audience on the golf course it was the spectacle of seeing Ballesteros simply play with a fluidity not often seen on any major tour today. His shot making was uncanny and anyone who knows anything about the sport of golf will know how special Seve’ Ballasteros was . Unfortunately , the Spanish star and a successful Ryder Cup captain is suffering from cancer of the brain , having gone through repeated bouts of chemotherapy and undergone several neuro surgeries over the past eight years ever since it was discovered that he had malignant tumors on his brain. Having removed several of the tumors it was felt that Severiano Ballesteros’ would be able to make a slow and successful recovery from his illness .

Ballesteros died at age 54 in the early hours of Saturday morning, in the arms of his family, a national treasure within the country of Spain and a worldwide celebrity . A wealthy individual in his own right , from his professional earnings and as a businessman from his the off the field business ventures , he married Caroline Boutin , whose family founded one of Spain’s largest financial institutions Banco de Santander . He will be sorely missed by the golf word but it was his larger than life character , respect for and of the game as well as his fellow competitors that made Ballasteros stand apart. His dominance of the game goes without saying and for those who’ve never witnessed Ballesteros at his very best , simply imagine the shot playing of Tiger Woods at his best with the power of Jack Nicklaus and you can imagine how special Ballesteros was at the height of his game.. Thanks Seve’ for all the grace you brought to the game and in particular the world of sport , you’ll be sorely missed !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as to your thoughts and thanks as always for the continued support as it’s greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) DALLAS, TX – MAY 6: Dirk Nowitzki (41) of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after hitting a three against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2011 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images …….

(2) The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant looks at his bench as Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki , left, Peja Stojakovic , center and Jason Kidd , right react during the final minutes of Game 3 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Friday, May 6, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks won 98-92. NBAE/Getty Images / Danny Bollinger ….

(3) Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol shoots over Dallas Mavericks’ Jason Kidd, left, and Peja Stojakovic during the first half of Game 4 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Sunday, May 8, 2011, in Dallas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …….

(4) ATLANTA, GA – MAY 06: Derrick Rose (1) of the Chicago Bulls drives against Joe Johnson (2) and Al Horford (15) of the Atlanta Hawks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 6, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images / Kevin C Cox …..

(5) Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Derek Lowe(notes) delivers to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 6, 2011, in Philadelphia. AP Photo / Barbara Johnston ….

(6) Atlanta Braves’ Jason Heyward (22) steals to second base as Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Michael Martinez (19) is late with the tag during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Friday, May 6, 2011, in Philadelphia. The Braves won 5-0. AP Photo/Barbara Johnston ….

(7) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Jamey Carroll(14) greets teammate Andre Ethier (16) at the plate after Ethier’s seventh-inning two-run home run as New York Mets catcher Ronny Paulino , center, looks on during a baseball game at Citi Field in New York, Sunday, May 8, 2011. AP Photo/ Kathy Willens ……

(8) University of Maryland basketball coach Gary WIlliams (L) hugs his wife Dana WIlliams after announcing his retirement on May 6, 2011 at the Comcast Center in College Park, Maryland. Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images ……..

(9) University of Maryland basketball coach Gary WIlliams speaks while announcing his retirement on May 6, 2011 at the Comcast Center in College Park, Maryland. Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images ……..

(10) Seve Ballesteros (C) of Spain poses with Per Ericsson (R) and German Lopez of Volvo Event Management during the press conference of the Volvo World Match Play Championship 2009 presentation at Intercontinental Hotel on October 14, 2009 in Madrid, Spain. Ballesteros, who is recovering from cancer which has left him partially blind in his left eye, is hopeful that he’ll be able to take part in the upcoming Volvo World Match Play. October 13, 2009 – Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images Europe ……..

(11) Ballesteros seen here in receipt of the Green Jacket having won the 1983 Masters Tournament at Augusta National G&C Augusta , Georgia ,. Photo archives / Reuters/ Peter McKinnon ……

(12) Christine Varney (left) head of the Antitrust Divsion of the US Dept of Justice . Her department has been asked by the AG Eric Holder to look into possible grounds to see if the BCS can be considered a monopoly in terms of its business practices as it relates to D1 collegiate football . NY Times Susan Etheridge ……

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MLB News

MLB Scoreboard & schedule 7th May 2011

MLB results 6th May 2011

MLB Schedule 8th May 2011

MLB Standings

NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

NBA Results 6th May 2011

NBA Schedule 7th May 2011

NBA Schedule 8th May 2011

It’s Time To Put Up Or Shut Up …………

It’s Time To Put Up Or Shut Up …………

It now becomes a battle and test of wills but somehow the Los Angeles Lakers as two time defending champions will have to prove that they’re worthy of the mantel of being champions . Now down 0-3 in series that most on paper would have the Lakers winning with ease the Lakers now find themselves caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea. The Dallas Mavericks have all but placed that last nail in the coffin of the Lakers during this less than suspenseful series . It’s hard to explain but the Lakers faltering at this juncture has more to do with the mindset and complacency that has beset not only this team but also the organization as a whole. The acquisitions made by the Lakers as an addition this team if anything hasn’t improved the Lakers albeit that they ended up with the second best record within the Western Conference .

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Slide show for your perusal .

It seems inconceivable that Phil Jackson and the two time —— defending champions could find themselves in such a position . I don’t know about you but until the white flag of surrender has been raised I think that no there’s no way in hell that the Lakers will give up this series without a fight . That being said if Kobe Bryant is the only one prepared to step up to the plate then there’s really not much else to be said concerning the complete ineptitude shown by the Lakers shown throughout this series . Bryant may well be of the belief that there’s still a great deal to fight for but he ought to remind his teammates that they ought to get their fat asses off the sidelines and man the fu_k up !

I don’t know about you but I’ve long held the opinion that boxing is actually on its last legs . I find it ironic that a sport that once gripped the nation has now become nothing more than after thought amongst the vast majority of sports fans . The heavyweight division and the title itself was once deemed the most prestigious individual title in sports now that division as well as the title itself has become a parody and metaphor for that is actually wrong with the sport. Manny Pacquiao may well be viewed as the face of the sport at present but once he retires this sport may as well fold its tent and pack it all up. There are no longer any real legitimate stars that can be viewed as the future of the sport and those who are now coming to the fore in many respect they lack a personality and if anything they lack a great deal of skill. Promoters such as Don King , Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya have made the sport a complete laughing stock as the pre-eminent promoters within boxing . The welterweight title bout that took place this past weekend between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosely which was staged at the MGM Grand Casino & Resort in Las Vegas , Ne was if anything , something of a non- event. For twelve utterly boring rounds these two champions of the sport staged a fight that was simply so boring that I for one thought the fans would have been better off seeing two octogenarians in the ring trading blows . Mosely a three time three division champion fought a lackluster fight and and his Filipino opponent simply was unable to live up to the hype that many have now come to expect from the all action spectacles he’s given us the majority of his long and illustrious career.

Pacquiao won a unanimous twelve round decision and with it his legacy is still in tact as the best pound for pound fighter on the planet. At this juncture I do believe that it would be in Pacquiao’s best interest to retitre as there are no more challenges left for him to attain. A potential blockbuster bout against Floyd Mayweather seems to be a thing of the past and with Mayweather’s ongoing legal troubles I for one seriously doubt that fight will ever take place .

Two no hitters have been thrown within seventy two hours and the latest was attained by the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander in his team’s —– 9-0 shellacking of the Toronto Blue Jays . This has been the second time that Verlander has achieved this feat and if anything he’s proven why it is that he may well be one of the main contenders for the AL Cy Young Award this season. I don’t know about you but I’ve never considered the Blue Jays a team that could compete within the AL East much less the rest of baseball ! They’ve not been competitive in a decade and a half at least and while the feat of that no hitter can be considered an excellent feat . Come on now we’re talking the Blue Jays ! . Watching that team hit is like watching the likes of Mitt Romney , Joe Biden and Tim Geithner explain the inherent problems that plague the US economy. They’re simply too stupid to explain it even in laymen’s terms that anyone could actually comprehend and likewise with anyone who actually feels that the Blue Jays are a team that can be viewed as being competitive.

As to the Tigers’ own aspirations this season within the AL Central I do believe that once again they’ll simply underachieve as they have done over the past five seasons . This team has been way too inconsistent for my liking and I feel that Jim Leyland and his coaching staff I do believe are bereft real ideas as to how best to get the optimum out of this team . GM Dave Dombrowski will no doubt make the appropriate acquisitions at the trade deadline needed to make the Tigers competitive enough to be considered a legitimate contender for the World Series .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on this topic .

Alan aka tophatal ………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant leaves the floor after the Lakers lost 122-86 to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Sunday, May 8, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks swept the series. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …..

(2) Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, right front, and business partner Todd R. Wagner embrace after the Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 122-86 in Game 4 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Sunday, May 8, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks swept the series. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ………..

(3) Teammates rush out as Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander(notes), center right, and catcher Alex Avila(notes) celebrate Verlander’s no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays in a baseball game in Toronto on Saturday, May 7, 2011. The Tigers won 9-0. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese ……

(4) Shane Mosley of the US falls down after being punched by Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines (L) in their bout for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title at the Garden Arena in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 7, 2011. Pacquiao retained the WBO welterweight title by beating Mosley to extend his winning streak to 14 bouts. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS ……

(5) (L-R) Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines throws a right at Shane Mosley in the WBO welterweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 7, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP/Photo Gabriel Bouys …….

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MLB News

MLB Scoreboard

MLB Scores & results 7th May 2011

NBA News

NBA schedule Sunday 8th May 2011

The Determining Factor ……………………..

The Determining Factor

It’s crazy but with the end of the NFL Draft and we already have the analysts and draft geeks assessing which team actually had the best draft class from this most recent endeavor . Now don’t get me wrong but the draft has its merits but in reality until those players actually have played down in a regular season game within the NFL we will never truly know what these players are or will be actually capable of. Can’t miss players are merely speculation and conjecture . And now where a first round draft pick especially one that is picked in the upper echelons of the first round, the financial cost and commitment for a player to a team can be well into tens of millions of dollars over the course of an initial contract. Do you think that the Oakland Raiders regret making that initial $ 65 million commitment to JaMarcus Russell right about now ? One simply has to look to their front office of the Raiders to see the cause of their demise . To put it more succinctly Al Davis no longer knows how to assess talent in spite of the continued idiocy that’s misplaced by an overbearing oaf such as radio personality and employee of the organization the nationally syndicated sports talk radio host J T The Brick . Here’s a guy who when it comes to showing any form of impartiality to an issue concerning the Raiders , well let’s just say he’d make a Klan member feel proud !

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In reality success has been fleeting for the Raiders over the last decade and half and that is in spite of the organization’s rich history within the NFL . But as with a number of teams and in particular with each generation of fans it’s not merely about those by gone years but what you have you done for me lately by way of success ? And to my mind the determining factor and in relation to the success that any organization wishes to attain be it within MLB , NBA , NBA , or the NFL itself .. It is predicated upon the front office of each organization ,from the ownership on down to the executives and coaching staff. Consider this , think of the most successful franchises within each of the four major sports and what has each got in common apart from winning ? It is the fact that each has had an owner who has remained consistent with what works for it as an entity . The Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils within the NHL , the Pittsburgh Steelers , New York Yankees , the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have simply stuck to that tried and tested method of having sound fiscal policies , as well as competent coaches and executives within their respective organizations.

During the NBA Playoffs without a doubt the most disappointing display to my mind was that of the Orlando Magic and their lopsided 4-2 series loss to the Atlanta Hawks . Anyone who was witness to the sheer ineptitude of the Magic’s performances throughout this series would realize that without Dwight Howard this team simply isn’t worth a damn . What might be even more perplexing was the sheer idiocy and the belief shown by GM Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy that the mid-season trades made would in fact improve the team . If anything the team simply became even more inconsistent , lackluster and completely devoid of creativity on either end of the floor . Not only that but they were simply those who labored under the fact Dwight Howard because of his stats made a viable MVP candidate while his teammates simply were mediocre .

Anyone who actually has an ounce of common sense would know from the very fact that the vast majority of the winners of the league’s regular season trophy to the individual recipient has in fact made those around him considerably better as their respective teams statistically have shown signs progress during that season. Case in point , was this season’s runaway winner of the league MVP trophy , Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and the 21 game turnaround engineered by Tom Thibodeau from last season to this where the team became a 62 game winner and the top seed within the Eastern Conference never mind the fact that they’ve now made the Eastern Conference Semi Finals where they face the Atlanta Hawks who as I explained earlier dethroned the Magic with effortless ease.

The Orlando Magic and its front office in conjunction with Otis Smith I feel were capricious. Smith and Bob Vander Weide team President & CEO made a gamble that simply didn’t pay off . Not only that but in acquiring Jason Richardson , Hedo Turoglu and Gilbert Arenas the organization is financially on the hook for $65 million in salary for the players in question over the remaining years of those contracts. Call me naive but the productivity by the players during the regular season as well as the postseason has been minuscule and not deserving of the Magic’s fans undoubted expectations. And with this loss the Magic and its management have a great deal of contemplating to do as it regards the moves that need to be made in order to make this team better. Dwight Howard whose contract expires at the end of 2012 can actually opt out of the contract prior to its culmination rather than seeking to start the whole negotiation process. Clearly Van Gundy and Otis Smith will have to be very persuasive in convincing Howard that he ought to remain with the organization. And at this juncture that scenario isn’t as clear cut as some would believe or would like it to be.

In baseball we have all seen the idiocy of the team owners there and their ostentatious spending. Is it any wonder Los Angeles Dodgers and in particular the New York Mets are in a mess financially with regard to their own existence and financial viability ? Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt seems to be under the misapprehension that he will be successful regaining control of the team he bought in 2003 from the local > News Corp through their wholly owned Fox Inc subsidiary. Since then, even though the team has averaged 3 million attendees per season the organization has struggled to remain financially a viable concern . Now with collateralized and none- subordinated debt in excess of $ 1.2 billion McCourt feels that the team and organization still remains a viable concern. He must feel that the his creditors will continue remain lukewarm to his overtures should they feel that he’s having problems paying down that debt. In this sort of economic climate there tends not to that type willingness from many of the nation’s major financiers and their respective institutions. And even with the league hierarchy having assumed control of the Dodgers I would like to think that Bud Selig is closely monitoring the situation as it now unfolds with Mets , in particular with co-owners —- Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon !

Success for both the Dodgers and Mets seems to have been fleeting over the past decade and it remains to be seen whether or not their aspirations remains the same and that is to win a World Series title . And as ambitious as those front offices appears to be it seems that they have lost sight of their ultimate goal . Much of that malaise has to be laid squarely upon the shoulders of McCourt and his executives within the organization . Ned Colletti may well be enjoying the prestige of running the personnel side of the organization but he too like McCourt may well have lost site of the organization’s goals. It certainly most telling that when questioned by the press as to who now controls the Dodgers and its day to day running Colletti’s response was one that seems to be an individual who just doesn’t care either way . If that is indicative of how this organization is being ran then it shows that they’re completing deserving of their fate.

The New York Mets face a civil suit that at present is being determined through a mediator appointed by the US Federal Courts and at the heart of it all appears to be whether or not the organization knowlingly gain financially from the monies received as profits from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme of which several thousands of investors were defrauded of $59 billion. Irving Picard the plaintiffs’ lead attorney in this suit has filed a motion seeking to recoup some $750 million from both Katz, Wilpon their Sterling Equities as well as the New York Mets. The lead defendants Katz and Wilpon deny any wrongdoing on their part but have stated that they are victims of the fraud perpetrated by Madoff and his associates. However , it has been the Mets unwillingness to open their books up for public scrutiny that casts a doubt upon the veracity of the argument now being put forth by the Mets as the defendants and in particular by Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon . A federal subpoena has a way of making the truth be known in the end and hopefully several of those will be put to use in the course of this case. And inasmuch the Mets once again are having a mediocre season one can’t help but feel that through the connivance and mismanagement from the executives and managerial level over the past few years that this organization is thoroughly deserving of its present predicament.

I’ve long maintained that the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns as teams within the NFL clearly have some way to go before they can be thought of as serious contenders within the league and as a legitimate team to win the Superbowl . Bengals’ owner Mike Brown and team coach Marvin Lewis are now having to deal with Carson Palmer’s petulant behavior and his wanting to be traded to a contender . If this is what is indicative of what was now being produced by USC as to quarterbacks from the Pete Carroll era then clearly there are some questions that really do need to be asked . I think that things are now likely to get a great deal murkier with the team’s drafting of Andy Dalton as the de-facto successor to Palmer as his reign is about to come to an abrupt end with the Bengals . From AFC North champions in 2009 to a team with a lackluster 6-10 record last season .

The Browns for their part have been in more of a tailspin having dumped Romeo Crennel and hired Eric Mangini only too see the team fail miserably under Mangini’s tenure . And given Mangini’s coaching record in the NFL I’ve got to ask myself what the hell was Mike Holmgren thinking as the team’s President ? Last season this team competed gallantly but in large part they faced an uphill battle trying to usurp the dominance of both the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers within their division (AFC North ). Now with Pat Shurmur as the team’s head coach and there being a revamped assistant coaching staff it remains to be seen what this upcoming season may well have in store for the Browns. The team had a breakout star in Peyton Hillis and as always the dependable Josh Cribbs was at his very best and it would appear that team now has a quarterback in Colt McCoy who can actually commands the respect of his teammates.

In stark contrast to the teams that have been consistent and have attained success, much of that can be put down to the fact that apart from making the right personnel decisions . It has been the continuity not only from within their coaching regime but primarily through the fact that at the executive levels as with regards to the general manager that is in place , there has been little , if any , real turnover in that staff. It’s not always been about the coaches because that in essence comes down to the coach’s resume’ and his ability to communicate with the players and if anything above all with his general manager. Simply look at the success attained by the Steelers and New England Patriots over the years and the one constant there has been the ownership , the fact that the general managers there have been tenured with those respective organizations for a number of years and the actual willingness of the owner to defer to subordinates within the organization. And even though Scott Pioli has since left the Patriots to assume a similar position with the Kansas City Chiefs we’ve seen that even there also once Pioli was allowed to show his acumen in assessing talent the team has progressed showing a marked display last season in winning the AFC West (10-6) and making the playoffs where they would succumb to the Baltimore Ravens —- 30-7 in the wildcard round. And for head coach Todd Haley and his coaching staff though the loss had been been a tremendous disappointment , it also points to the fact that the organization has to be now heading in the right direction after so many barren years in the wilderness .

The Patriots for their part having seen their postseason woes continue with their lackluster performance in losing to their divisional rivals the New York Jets —- 28-21 in a game that pretty much summed up the team’s season. In light of that however they’ve gone about things in their usual business like manner garnering picks for future drafts and at the same time picking up the usual talent they’ve been accustomed to down the years . Much of that by design as Bill Belichick has worked in conjunction with Floyd Reese the team’s senior consultant charged with the task of dealing with personnel matters for the team.

We may well feel that in large part that success is actually achieved on the field of play because of the performances of the players. But it does essentially start with the eager willingness of the owners and their front office executives actually having the right staff in place being able assess the talent that is there to be had and as necessary spend prudently in order to get the best possible player available . How often have we seen a situation where in fact a team that simply looks good on paper just tends to implode because of the undue pressure and the very fact that the coach simply hasn’t done their job adequately ? At times we can blame the players for their lackluster performances but doesn’t that also have something to do with the coach not being able to get his point across as to what needs to be done at a given moment ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In coming to this conclusion I do firmly believe that any professional sports organization has to have all integral parts on the same page working in cohesion . If that isn’t evident within an organization then by the very evidence we tend to see the vast majority of the time that team does tend fail in its endeavors. We’ve seen it this postseason within the NBA , NHL , also within the NFL and MLB as well . What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? And as such do you feel that I may well have missed some pertinent factor that should have been included ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) New Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson (L) looks on as Raiders owner Al Davis (R) speaks to reporters after introducing Jackson as the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders on January 18, 2011 in Alameda, California. Hue Jackson was introduced as the new coach of the Oakland Raiders, replacing the fired Tom Cable. Getty Images / Justin Sullivan ……

(2) JaMarcus Russell (2) of the Oakland Raiders walks off the field against the Baltimore Ravens during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on January 3, 2010 in Oakland, California. Jed Jacobsohn/ Getty Images ……

(3) Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic questions a call by the official during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia . Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox …..

(4) In this photo taken on April 14, 2010, from left, Orlando Magic president and chief executive officer Bob Vander Weide, chief operating officer Alex Martins and general manager Otis Smith chat prior to an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Orlando, Fla. Smith, by his own admission, is a risk-taker. He’s the general manager who traded three starters from an NBA finals team, moves that either will show Smith’s brilliance or become a symbol of a gamble gone wrong for the Magic in the playoffs. AP Photo/John Raoux …….

(5) Andre Ethier (16) of the Los Angeles Dodgers swings and loses his bat in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on May 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Cubs defeated the Dodgers 4-1 . Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ……

(6) Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti (left) and the team’s owner Frank McCourt . This was Colletti’s formal introduction to the public as the team’s new GM in November 2005. Icon SMI/ Larry Goren ……. ……..

(7) Cincinnati Bengals first round draft pick A.J. Green, right, speaks at a news conference with head coach Marvin Lewis, Friday, April 29, 2011 in Cincinnati. Green, a wide receiver from Georgia, will wear number 18 for the NFL football team. AP Photo/Al Behrman ……..

(8) Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren watches from the back of the room as first-round draft pick Phillip Taylor holds a news conference at the NFL football team’s headquarters in Berea, Ohio Friday, April 29, 2011. AP Photo/Mark Duncan ……

(9) Cleveland Browns general manager Tom Heckert, right, presents a jersey to first round-draft pick Phillip Taylor during an NFL football news confernce at the team’s headquarters in Berea, Ohio Friday, April 29, 2011. The Browns took the Baylor defensive tackle with the 21st overall pick Thursday night. AP Photo/Mark Duncan …….

(10) FILE – In this Feb. 6, 2009, file photo : Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley, left, talks with general manager Scott Pioli before a news conference announcing Haley’s hiring in Kansas City, Mo. Pioli and Haley are deservedly drawing praise for taking the Chiefs from 10 wins in three years to 10 wins in 16 weeks. But they don’t deny they were blessed with a core of solidly talented young players when they got to Kansas City after a 2-14 2008 season. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ……

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MLB News

MLB Scoreboard

Results & scores 3rd May 2011

NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

NFL News

NHL News

MLB Team owners

MLB Team General Managers

MLB team managers

NBA team owners

NBA general managers

NBA coaches

NFL team owners

NFL coaches

NFL general managers

NHL team owners

NHL team general managers

NHL team head coaches

They Came , They Saw , They Conquered ………………..

They Came , They Saw , They Conquered …………….

Well they came, they saw they conquered and the post-game interview by San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich essentially was magnanimous in defeat but clearly couldn’t explain his team’s inauspicious departure from the NBA Playoffs in the first round . A 99-91 defeat on the Memphis Grizzlies’ home-court at the Fedex Forum , in Memphis , Tennesse left the home crowd fans ecstatic as their team will now make their first appearance in a conference semi finals where they will face the high flying Oklahoma City Thunder .

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Now for only the second time since expansion of the playoff format from a five game first round to the best of seven series’ format has a number one seed bowed out the of the NBA Playoffs in the first round. This 4-2 series loss will certainly have its ramifications and repercussions as the Spurs’ management assess and reassess why they failed so miserably . GM R C Burford and Popovich’s coaching staff will certainly have to look at this roster and note where their deficiencies are . Most certainly to my mind the contributions of Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess were minimal at best but what might be even more disturbing was the fact that the Grizzlies man-handled the Spurs with seasoned veteran Zach Randoplh being allowed to shred the defense almost at will . Randolph’s heroics was indicative of what has gone on throughout this series all along with him being allowed to roam free _____ but he was also ably abetted by Marc Gasol , Shane Batter and Mike Conley whose play at the point guard position has developed since his entrance into the NBA . It has been a profound disappointment to me in seeing the San Antonio Spurs bow out of the playoffs but I’ve seen the highs and lows of this organization. Remarkable as this might seem the Spurs have made the postseason for fourteen straight consecutive seasons and have averaged 55 wins per season over that time frame . As an avowed Spurs’ fan it goes without saying that in the aftermath of this series loss the organization will undoubtedly have to make some changes .

As to the Memphis Grizzlies their postseason is now in their own hands and they can essentially write their own story as to their aspirations . This much we do know their season has shown us all what to expect when you have no doubts as to your own will to win . That if anything to my mind was most definitely lacking in the persona of the San Antonio Spurs !

Just when I thought things simply couldn’t get anymore asinine with regard to the NFL lockout it has been reported that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals have rescinded Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s original verdict , which now allows the NFL owners and league enforce the lockout . Never mind the fact that the league hierarchy has gone ahead with the NFL Draft which is being staged at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City and culminates with the seventh and final round of picks this Saturday 30th April , 2011. As contentious and litigious as this episode has become I can’t but help wonder why bother with all the facade being created by the league with the staging of the draft ?

I’ve always maintained that the league created this monster with the alleged labor relates issues and that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seriously underestimated the hierarchy of the NFLPA which has now become a trade association. That being said neither party is without fault here with the asinine stance that each party has taken in being unable to decide how to split the $ 9 billion in revenues that the league has coming into its coffers each season . And as ridiculous as it may sound , neither side wants to be viewed as being the culprit here but in essence this has simply been about sheer greed with little if anything really having to deal with any inherent labor issues ! Question if you can’t find a way to seriously deliberate how best find a solution sharing $ 9 billion amenably then what would that suggest to you about both of the parties involved ? Greed or merely that both the league hierarchy and union are simply too stupid for their own good ?

Andy Dalton welcome to the NFL and you now more likely than not will supplant Carson Palmer in the pecking order for the quarterback position with the Cincinnati Bengals . Given the Bengals’ disastrous 2010 season where Palmer and his teammates were an immense disappointment having been the AFC North divisional champions in 2009, 2010 simply showed how much the team had simply regressed.

Bengals’ coach Marvin Lewis knows that his job is on the line this season and anything short of a divisional title and postseason berth and effectively his managerial career with the organization will come to an abrupt end . As for Andy Dalton this now becomes his team to lead in light of the continued displeasure of Carson Palmer and his wish to be traded . However with the player’s demands having not been met and the continued scenario within the NFL his only option appears to be to proceed with his original announcement that he would retire if his demands were not met . Personally, if this is indicative of quarterbacks coming out of USC and the fact that they have no heart or will a will to win once in the NFL then my advice to Palmer would be ………. “see ya wouldn’t want to be ya and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out ” !

Unequivocably the game of baseball is in a complete mess and this season has simply been indicative of that. If anything it hasn’t been the play of of the teams on the field that have made the headlines but namely the stories off it. Frank McCourt is now prepared to challenge the league’s hierarchy in providing an outside presence to deal with the day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers . McCourt as the team’s owner has if anything been a complete ass in thinking that he can place this organization in dire financial straits but at the same time fails to address the issue as to why he needed to borrow some $30 million from the local LA Fox affiliate to meet the team’s budgetary expenses for the month of April. Frank McCourt has also maintained that the league hierarchy has within their possession documents related to a possible television deal with Fox that woud pay the Dodgers $3 billion over the next two decades . At this juncture it simply means nothing if that document remains unsigned with the deal not physically in place awaiting league approval .

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for his part stated that his greatest concern were the dire consequences that McCourt had placed the organization in . But here’s the caveat, if as such the Dodgers met all of the league’s rules as it concerns the conduct of its business affairs then how is that they’ve allowed McCourt to systematically d to use the Dodgers repeatedly as collateral in many business deals with outside parties not related at all with the game ? Having installed former US Ambassador to Japan J Thomas Schieffer as the league’s representative while the Dodgers undergoes this period of intense scrutiny . I’ve now got to ask what now awaits the team and organization over the course of the their season ?

If anything this is what has been endemic within the game of baseball and the unwillingness of the team owners and the hierarchy itself to be openly transparent in the conduct of their business affairs . And it goes without saying that this conduct has been suborned by the fact that MLB’s antitrust exemption status allows it carte-blanche /free rein as to how they conducts themselves in almost every facet of their dealings both on and off the field of play . And I’m led to believe that the House Oversight & Gov’t Reform Committee weren’t aware as to the league’s conduct over the past decade and a half ? The league has become archaic , its leadership structure as are the team owners , the MLBPA are simply clueless and are a bunch of blithering idiots ! With the New York Mets’ episode yet to be addressed fully by the league do you get the feeling that MLB would rather the respective owners there Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon removed from their executive posts as well ? Where else could one find such mismanagement within the game but in essence the league hierarchy continues to act as if they’re rearranging the life boats on the Titanic thinking that they’re in no imminent danger .

I know that the MLB season is one of 162 games but the way that the Cleveland Indians have been playing as of late you’d be under the impression that they’re now on the cusp of making the postseason. Winners of five of their last seven games the Indians sit atop of the AL East . If anything they’ve been the surprise team within the division with their play and seems to be infectious amongst the younger members on this Cleveland Indians’ roster .

In their game against the struggling Detroit Tigers the Indians simply showed why they have been playing with the resolve that they have shown since the very start of their season . In a fitting way to end the game Indians’ slugger Carlos Santana hit a walk off grand slam to deny the Tigers victory on their way to a 9-5 win over their divisional rivals . And although it’s still early in the season it’s good to see that for now the Cleveland Indians appear to be relevant once again. With that win the Cleveland Indians now share the best record (17-8) in baseball alongside the Philadelphia Phillies . A nice resurgence for a franchise that seems to have been in the doldrums over the last decade but now appears to be back where they and their fans feel that they belong.

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Whether or not you’ve been watching the initial part of the NBA postseason unfold what to your mind has been the biggest surprise or disappointment from your own standpoint ? With regard to the NFL its Draft and everything that now seems to be unfolding how do you envisage this episode finally ending ? From your own perspective do you feel that there’s now time for a real drastic change within the hierarchy of MLB and also do you feel that the owners should be more transparent in their business dealing in and outside of the game when they are as such using their team as any part of a business transaction ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts as to the points raised within this piece .

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) MEMPHIS, TN – APRIL 29: Zach Randolph(50) of the Memphis Grizzlies talks with Greg Popovich after the Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs 99-91 in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on April 29, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images …..

(2) San Antonio Spurs players watch the final moments of their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of Game 6 of a first-round NBA basketball series on Friday, April 29, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 99-91 to win the series 4-2 . From left are Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, Daniel Green, and Steve Novak. AP Photo/Lance Murphey ……….

(3) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, and his fiancee Jordan Jones, left, pose for a picture being taken by the Bengals third round draft pick Dontay Moch, right, after an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ……….

(4) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, left, a quarterback from TCU, and third round draft pick Dontay Moch, a linebacker from Nevada, right, pose with their jerseys during an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ………

(5) Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, left, poses with the team’s first round draft pick A.J. Green during an NFL football news conference, Friday, April 29, 2011 in Cincinnati. Green, a wide receiver from Georgia, will wear number 18 for the Bengals. AP Photo/Al Behrman ……

(6) Gary Guyton (59) of the New England Patriots carries the ball in for a touchdown as Carson Palmer (9) of the Cincinnati Bengals tries to tackle during the NFL season opener on September 12, 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Guyton intercepted Palmer’s pass. Getty Images North America / Elsa Martinez …….

(7) LOS ANGELES – APRIL 29: the San Diego Padres the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 29, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …….

(8) Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Santana watches the flight of his game-winning grand slam off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5. Tigers catcher Alex Avila, left, looks on. AP Photo/Amy Sancetta …….

(9) Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana celebrates as he jumps to home plate after hitting a game winning three-run walk off home run off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5 . AP Photo/Amy Sancetta ……..

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