The Silly Season Has Begun ………. What Else Is There Left To Say ?

The Silly Season Has Begun ………. What Else Is There Left To Say ?

Well with the NFL lockout having ended all that was now left is to witness the mayhem as teams summarily jettisoned players superfluous to their needs. One has to wonder whether or not this was the madness envisaged by the fans , team owners , league hierarchy and the general managers ? The $120 million salary cap has somehow got teams envisioning themselves as Imelda Marcos on a shopping spree looking to fill their shoe closet . How much does a pair of Bruno Magli cost nowadays ? And if so did OJ Simpson auction off his infamous pair on E-bay ?

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Somehow with all of these cuts made and then with players being acquired by new teams there had to be one or two surprises that would leave the fans in shock . As a New England Patriots’ fan I was completely taken aback with the moves made by Bill Belichick and the front office staff in acquiring both Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco . I can only surmise that Robert Kraft , GM Nick Caserio and senior consultant Floyd Reese had to have given this all their blessing ! Unless hell had frozen over in the forty eight hours since the lockout ended this to me was something that not even I had seen coming . Anyone who has witnessed the play of Haynesworth during his tenure with the Washington Redskins will know that like a clock that has stopped chiming he will only be right twice during the day . That has essentially summed up the player’s ability and commitment to being a team player . As for Ochocinco, he like Haynesworth must be viewed as another reclamation project by the coach and his assistants .

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FOXBOROUGH, MA – JULY 29: Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots chats with teammate Aaron Hernandez (85), who wears the number that new teammate Chad Ochocinco wore as a Cincinnati Bengal, during training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images …

For the life of me I’m beginning to wonder whether or not Bill Belichick really believes that he can turn around the career of any player who just happens to be considered on the downside of their career . First came Randy Moss who would then chose to basically talk his way off the roster in midseason like any other self serving individual . And if that wasn’t enough we then had Adalius Thomas thinking that he could simply act the fool by simply not being part of a team . If there’s one thing that’s made clear when it comes to the Patriots , the egos are simply left at the door as it’s business as usual with a view to acting like a professional. Granted , Bill Belichick belies that at times with something of a rather conceited attitude but with him , it is what it is !

Last season was something of a tremendous disappointment from my own standpoint seeing this team fall flat on its face when it mattered most during the postseason in their loss to the New York Jets . It is at times like this when I wonder whether or not if this team has become completely complacent or is it more down to the lackadaisical approach of Bill Belichick and his coaching staff ? This season however with the acquisitions made and that of the draft picks added to bolster the existing roster has me now believing that the New England Patriots’ window of opportunity is slowly closing but now more than ever before they will have to acquit themselves rather than thinking that they can merely stroll their way into the postseason.

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Tom Brady (12) and Chad Ochocinco of the New England Patriots chat during training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

If the Patriots are to be successful this upcoming season and make inroads not just within the AFC East but across the league as a whole , then the likes of Wes Welker , Deion Branch , Aaron Hernandez , ;Danny Woodhead , Rob Gronkowski , Devin McCourty , and others will have to step up to the plate and be held accountable . The signing of both Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco would suggest that Bill Belichick believes that the duo are indeed the pieces needed to make this team much more formidable but from my own standpoint this is such a gamble that if things don’t work out , then given the mindset of Haynesworth and Ochocinico , that when things simply are not going their way they are both inclined to be truculent and to act infantile . But this all can be allayed if Tom Brady and the senior members of the Patriots make it clear that nothing short of their best efforts on the field will be accepted . If that situation can be broached then there’s no reason to believe why they can’t be successful . But as of now that has to be viewed as a big “if “ given the egos of the two players in question !

Consistency has never been the real issue with the New England Patriots , if anything it has been those momentary lapses at the most inopportune of times that has ultimately led to their demise . Repeatedly we have seen this happen when the team has a game within its grasp only to see them let it slip away. Now comes the hard part for the organization and that’s to prove that as perennial contenders they are justified as being viewed __ as just that !

The AFC is as strong as ever with the teams we have come to expect who will be vying for dominance within the conference. With franchises such as the Baltimore Ravens , Indianapolis Colts , New York Jets and San Diego Chargers looking to vie for the honor of being the AFC’s representative for the Superbowl it certainly will be interesting to see what transpires as the season unfolds.

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Nate Solder the Patriots’ number one overall pick seen here during the NFL Scouting Combine at the Indianapolis Colts’ facility in Indianapolis , Indiana . AP Photo/ Ryan Walters ……..

This season is now fraught with danger in so many ways as I do believe that a number of teams could very well stumble out of the gate . Much has been made of the fact that during the offseason the players were unable to practice at their training facilities under the auspices of their respective coaches . And I am sure that with newly installed members Pat Shurmur , John Fox , Jim Harbaugh and Ron Rivera all looking to acquit themselves well with their respective new teams as this season has the makings of one being literally full of surprises in more ways than one !

Curiously enough given the fact the New England Patriots seem to be prudent in their draft assessment and the choices they make . I for one will be looking forward to see what possible contributions can be made by the rookies on the team . Ryan Mallett is no doubt being groomed as the possible successor to Tom Brady down the line and the team’s number one overall pick (17th in the first round). Defensive lineman Nate Solder along with DB Ras I Dowling have to be viewed as the players who are likely to make an immediate impact should they be given the chance to perform. But it’s still early days yet and one simply cannot take it as written in stone that these players will matriculate into something special . We have seen along the way that with highly prized college talent many of them simply have fallen by the wayside failing to fulfill the expectations first thought . Simply look no further than the likes of Vince Young and Matt Leinart for the answer as to the high praise heaped upon two players that failed to live up to the perceived hype !

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In this off-season what moves as such have simply comes as either a momentous shock or surprise to you ? And how if anything do you feel that the players in question will fare this upcoming season ? Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support .

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

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick smiles at a news conference during NFL football training camp in Foxborough , Mass., Friday, July 29, 2011. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …..

(2) FOXBOROUGH, MA – JULY 29: Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots chats with teammate Aaron Hernandez (85), who wears the number that new teammate Chad Ochocinco wore as a Cincinnati Bengal, during training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images …

(3) Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots participates in training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……

(4) Tom Brady (12) and Chad Ochocinco of the New England Patriots chat during training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……

(5) Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (92 ) of the Washington Redskins stands on the sidelines during preseason NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 2, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Redskins 20-10 . The player was obtained in a trade by the New England Patriots this offseason after the NFL lockout had ended . Getty Images / Christian Petersen ……

(6) FOXBOROUGH, MA – JULY 29: Quarterbacks Jonathan Crompton (7) and Ryan Mallett (15) of the New England Patriots participate in training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……

(7) Nate Solder the Patriots’ number one overall pick seen here during the NFL Scouting Combine at the Indianapolis Colts’ facility in Indianapolis , Indiana . AP Photo/ Ryan Walters ……..

(8) San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh shakes hands with a well-wisher during an NFL football press conference in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, July 25, 2011. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez ….

(9) Cleveland Browns’ President & Head of Football Operations Mike Holmgren is seen here as the formal introductions are made of Pat Shurmur as the new head coach of the team . AP Photo/ Matthew Jennings …..
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We’re Back ………. !

We’re Back !

Well it appears all is back to the norm within the NFL with the lockout apparently ended , the league hierarchy, owners and union reaching an accord that allows for a decade of peace , goodwill amongst all the parties concerned . NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell comes off smelling of something but I’m not quite sure it’s of roses ! More in line with some form of fecal matter and the same could be said of the NFLPA as they now seek to re-certify and once again become a fully fledged union. I can’t help but wonder how the retired veterans feel about this all being that they were in essence shut out for the most part during the course of the deliberations. But ah well it simply takes the death of a number of aged NFL players before both the NFL and union actually show some form compassion as to their grievances all along !

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Now with many of the owners simply glad to have their teams back at work there’s a great deal of money to be made ! And made it will be by hook or by crook as they simply have done their best to portray themselves as the wronged party and the victim ! The players for their part are no doubt happy in particular union President Kevin Mawae who having retired from the league will leave his position as president once his term is over . Mawae along the union’s Executive Director DeMaurice Smith may well have gotten all that they wanted and perhaps a great deal more but now comes the hard part for a number of players returning back to the team facilities . The bloodletting is about to begin as coaches and general managers make the unkindest cut of all and that’s the shedding of talent they believe to be obsolete to their needs . Granted , there are a number of players who became free agents over the course of this four month standoff and it is to be expected many of them may well be resigned by their respective teams but in large the vast majority will be kicked to the curb. Let’s put it this way the carnage is about to become a feast and famine for some players.

In the midst of this all stand the agents who will be looking to secure the best possible deal for their clients . Drew Rosenhaus , Eugene Parker , Tom Condon who heads the Football division of sports agency CAA Sports , Mark Bartelstein and Leigh Steinberg will be handsomely rewarded for their endeavors , as too will some of their clients . Especially those thought to be amongst the marquee free agents thought to be the prime recipients of the contracts that will be on offer for their very special skillset. That being said there are bound to be several players who will be in receipt of contracts that simply do not measure up to the presumed expectations .

With there being varying rumors that the Washington Redskins’ much maligned quarterback Donovan McNabb said to be interested in leaving the team to ply his trade elsewhere and it should come as no surprise to anyone that the Minnesota Vikings are said to be interested in the player . Call me naive but after the Brett Favre debacle this past season why go down that road once again with McNabb whose best years are in his rear view mirror ? At the same time Redskins’ coach Mike Shanahan , himself , has been about as productive a coach in his tenure with the organization as the seated members of the 112th Congress since they returned to session after the midterm elections . And that’s saying a fu_king lot considering that they have not produced one meaningful piece of legislation over that entire period !

Now inasmuch I welcome the return of the NFL my problem with the whole scenario that now arises is seeing the number of teams simply shedding players in order to acquire replacements quite possibly cheaper or in some cases simply overpaying even if we’re led to believe it’s at market related prices . Somehow if Peyton Manning is on the way to becoming the league’s first salaried player at $20 million a season then for all sense and purpose the NFL hierarchy has simply lost their god damn mind ! Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay , GM & Vice Chairman Bill Polian and the team’s coach Jim Caldwell may well feel that the player is well worth such a deal and the very fact that he’s coming off an offseason surgery I can’t say that such a decision would be a prudent one . But I think that it’s not necessarily the player determining this deal but more so the sway and power held by his agent Tom Condon who is amongst the most powerful men in all of sports .

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FILE – In this Feb. 6, 2010, file photo, Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning, left, talks with then-offensive coordinator Tom Moore during practice in Davie, Fla,. The Jets have hired Moore as a consultant, according to a person familiar with the situation. Moore, credited for helping Manning develop into a four-time NFL MVP, will work during the season from his home in South Carolina, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team hadn’t announced the hiring. AP Photo/Eric Gay …..

It would be be remiss to suggest that the Colts won’t be amongst the contenders for the Superbowl this upcoming season . But until we see Manning in full flight , displaying his vast array of skills then many of us will be wondering whether or not the $20 million was actually worth it ! And as of now the jury is still out on the matter .

With all of the expectations coming this season it will be interesting to see how Cam Newton steers his way through the professional ranks of the NFL , given the fact that he was coddled for much of his career with Auburn . The Carolina Panthers coming off a disastrous 2010 schedule , great deal of discontent amongst the coaching staff and front office saw the departure of John Fox . Team owner Jerry Richardson and GM Marty Hurney brought in Fox’s successor Ron Rivera and an upheaval in the assistant coaching staff with a view turning things around for a team that posted a 2-14 record last season.

There’s not said to be a quarterback controversy brewing but I am sure that Jimmy Clausen knows that if he’s not able to prove himself worthy of the starting position then for all sense and purpose he will be spending the greater part of the season holding a clip board , showing his support for his teammates and Cam Newton , as the latter is given his baptism of fire within the NFL . The player has a great deal to prove not just to the fans in general but also to himself because if he fails to any signs of maturity and ability to play within the NFL then much of that perceived hype about him will be considered to be just that ………. nothing but hype !

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It took four months of mayhem , madness for the NFL and union to reach an accord . Over the next 72 hours the events that will take place will make the league’s deliberations seem somewhat miniscule by comparison . Was it really all said to be worth it in the end ? The NFL at this juncture should be careful what it actually wished for because if this is what they had to do to reach a peaceful accord I would hate to think what they may well seek to do when they realize that their own perception of tranquility was nothing but a fairy tale !

With all of the upheaval that will now undoubtedly take place with the teams around the NFL how do you think that things will pan out for the franchises as they embark on the upcoming season ? Simply chime in with a comment .

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

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth catches a pass during warmups before an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011. AP Photo/Keith Srakocic …..

(2) EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 21: Santonio Holmes (10) of the New York Jets scores a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the third quarter of their game on November 21, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) …..

(3) Donovan McNabb (5) of the Washington Redskins passes the ball against the New York Giants apply pressure during their game on December 5, 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Jersey. According to reports July 27, 2011, there is an preliminary agreement in place for the Washington Redskins to trade McNabb to the Minnesota Vikings. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images …….

(4) Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (8) of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after a score in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints during the 2011 NFC wild-card playoff game at Qwest Field on January 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. According to reports July 28, 2011, Hasselbeck reached an agreement with the Titans for a multiyear contract. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) ……

(5) In this Sept. 2, 2010 file photo, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson throws a pass during an NFL pre-season football game against the Denver Broncos in Minneapolis. A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday, July 26, 2011, that Jackson has agreed to terms with the Seattle Seahawks and is expected to sign a contract Friday. AP Photo/Andy King …….

(6) FILE – This Sept. 19, 2010, file photo shows Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (21) at an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif. The challenge: taking more than 1,000 players and sorting them onto 32 rosters , working out contracts that must be signed and then processed by the league office , with every deal from rookies to free agents fitting under the salary cap and falling within the other boundaries of the new, still-being-understood labor agreement _ and getting all this done in time for the start of the preseason , preferably by the start of training camp. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma …. ………

(7) FILE – In this Feb. 6, 2010, file photo, Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning, left, talks with then-offensive coordinator Tom Moore during practice in Davie, Fla.,. The Jets have hired Moore as a consultant, according to a person familiar with the situation. Moore, credited for helping Manning develop into a four-time NFL MVP, will work during the season from his home in South Carolina, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team hadn’t announced the hiring. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File …….

(8) NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 28: Cam Newton receives a hug from his mother Jackie on stage after he was round selected #1 overall by the Carolina Panthers during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images …..

(9) Panthers’ GM Marty Hurney (left) is seen here with team owner Jerry Richardson and team president Danny Morrison , far right . AP Photo /Chuck Barton …..

(10) Former San Diego Chargers’ assistant Ron Rivera is introduced to the convened press as the Carolina Panthers new head coach by team owner Jerry Richardson . Charlotte Observer/ Jeff Shiner …..

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Not Anymore ………………

Not Anymore

It seems strange the heavyweight scene of boxing cannot be identified with as having a champion that the fans can actually identify with . At present that niche within the sport has been carved out by the Ukrainian brothers Vladimir and Vitali Klitschko who between them hold all four of the pre-eminent titles that are duly recognized by the major governing bodies of boxing .

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From my own perspective the sport and in particular the heavyweight division took a downward spiral the moment that Lennox Lewis stepped away from the ring and announced his retirement as the last undisputed champion of the world . Since then there have been a plethora of claimants to the title in one form or any other with no one champion standing out or having the ability to unite the division . What might now be even more detrimental for the sport is that neither Vitlali or Wladimir Klitschko would care to fight each other and bring about a unified champion within the division . Instead the two have refused to consider such a bout stating that this is in fact due to a promise made to their mother . That asides this only further adds evidence as to the fact that there’s little discerning interest within the division and even less so throughout the sport beyond the names of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather .

And though the fans long for a bout between the two most recognizable names within the sport that prospect now seems further off then one would have thought possible. Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum has simply scuttled such an instance and Mayweather through his own sheer stupidity simply makes such a scenario seem even further unattainable either through his own outrageous demands or the very fact that he’s still embroiled with a number of legal issues that have yet to be resolved . As a fight fan who longs to see meaningful fights in all of the weight categories I now find it where that simply watching a bout in what we’re told is an title fight more often than not simply turns out to be a monotonous bore !

Here within the US many of the states are either aligned to multiple boxing authorities for their own self aggrandizement more than anything else . Furthermore domestically the rules governing the various state athletics commissions simply makes an outright mockery as to how the sport is actually regulated in North America , albeit that Las Vegas and New York city are seen as the Meccas for the sport .

Now there’s no denying that the loss of Mike Tyson from the sport in spite of his own misdeeds and the fact that Don King seemingly sucked the life blood out of the boxer like a vampire explicably led the fighter’s downfall. Those who simply state different are obviously not acutely aware as to King’s dealing with the fighters whose interests he claims to actually take care of. Simply look at the number of legal entanglements that he has had over the course of his career where he has been sued by fighters formerly associated with him ? It reads like a who’s of the sport from Muhammad Ali on down to the likes of Larry Holmes , Pernell Whitaker , George Foreman and Leon Spinks ___ all fighters who at one time or another had the rather dubious distinction of having to do business with the renowned promoter . This further emphasizes why the sport still remains corrupt and the strangle-hold that both Arum and King have on the sport as the two most dominant promoters in boxing .

I have long maintained that after Tyson’s mentor and former trainer Cus D’Amato died with King intervening seeking to lure Tyson away from his then co-managers Bill Clayton and John Jacobs simply led to the downward spiral of his professional career and private life . Given that King merely saw the young fighter as his way to numerous riches creating conflict within the Tyson camp were the means to the necessary ends for the promoter and all that he sought to achieve . And as impressive as Mike Tyson’s ascent to the top of the boxing world was said to be , his downfall if anything was all the more startling and the numerous events that led to it all. His incarceration for the rape of pageant contestant Desiree’ Washington and those three ” infamous fights” with Evander Holyfield was enough to suggest that as the biggest draw in the sport we simply yearned for more from Mike Tyson as we were all interested in seeing the train the wreck that his life had now become.

In watching fight during e early part of his career was simply to witness a ferocious animal intimidating , tormenting and then devouring its prey. What Tyson was able to achieve in becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history by defeating Trevor Berbick for the WBC heavyweight title sent shock waves through the sport and especially within the division . Granted , the fighter had been mowing down opponents the way the machine gun had been used during the St Valentine’s Day Masscare led everyone to believe that Mike Tyson’s longevity as the world champion might well be a long one . And for all of his attributes as a fighter the one lingering issue I had with the boxer was the mere fact that biggest advantage was also to my mind his weakest attribute ! He intimidated his opponents to such an extent that he felt he was impervious , unbeatable and if anything complacent . His power lay within the fact that he could knock a fighter out with either hand but if anything his boxing skills were simply not as good as many purists believed it to be. Historians would suggest that his uppercuts and right cross were his most dangerous weapons in his arsenal but if anything what we would then find out over the course of Mike Tyson was the fact that his chin was indeed made of glass .

When Mike Tyson lost his title having made nine successful defense and the fact his demise came at the hands of what many believed was a journeyman in James ‘Buster’ Douglas at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo , Japan , was all the more unbelievable . Douglas to my mind brought with him solid credentials in terms of his fight resume’ ! But it would appear that odds-makers simply viewed Tyson as the prohibitive favorite and the Douglas as simply another stat to pad the fighter’s already impressive record . What would follow then and all of the controversy that surrounds the fight to this day simply attests to the fact that no matter what you came to expect from a Mike Tyson fight there was always a chance that you get to see the unexpected . Tyson crawling around all on fours unable to beat the count of a rather surprised Octavio Meyran , the referee who presided over the bout left over 70,000 fans and a global audience of millions absolutely shell-shocked . The bewildered Tyson who had earlier knocked down the challenger in an earlier round (eighth) would lose in by a knockout in the tenth round . In the aftermath of that fight Tyson’s claim as the ‘baddest man on the planet’ clearly was now a thing of the past .

Don King as the promoter sought have the fight verdict overturned but that simply didn’t happen and Douglas’ own reign as the champion itself was somewhat short-lived as he would lose the title in his very first defense in a lackluster performance in a third round loss to Evander Holyfield at the MGM Mirage & Casino Complex in Las Vegas , Nevada in October of 1990 .

As I survey the boxing scene especially within the heavyweight division I simply no credibility within the division . It has become so asinine in seeing the ridicule being heaped upon the whole landscape of the category . What might be even more incredible this is the very same division that has given us great champions such as Joe Louis , Rocky Marciano , Muhammad Ali , Floyd Patterson , Larry Holmes and Lennox Lewis who have all distinguished themselves as former heavyweight champions of the world. The division no longer has any real legitimacy or credibility to it at all and while this all happens the category has simply become the laughing stock of the sports’ world and boxing in particular . One simply can no longer count on any of the major governing bodies to do what is morally right in bringing about a unified division as they simply have too much vested in their own well being from a financial standpoint rather than seeing the integrity of the sport rise to where it should be . But in reality I now believe that the hierarchies in question have now lost the opportunity to bring their sport back amongst the masses along the lines where the fans feel that they can once again take an interest in boxing .

The sport of boxing is now losing out to the upstart genre of MMA and the fact that the premiere governing body UFC stages bouts around the globe that has fans attending in droves , gives credence as to one of the main reasons why boxing has been steadily on the decline for almost a decade . Boxing for its part simply markets the brand to a select demographic base , those willing to spend $49-95 for PPV and major title bouts . And it now has becomes a rarity to find a major network broadcast of a bout much less a fight that is actually worth watching . Not so in the case of the UFC and the events that they stage for mass consumption and that of their major title bouts.

As to what the future holds for the heavyweight division doesn’t bode well without there being an undisputed champion . If anything it leaves the whole division with a void and a vacuum , moreover , the fans yearn for something far more exciting and meaningful. Mike Tyson may well have had his flaws but you simply knew that while he was in the ring he brought about a great deal of excitement lured us all to watch his fights . Now you’d be hard pressed to show any interest to watch either of the Klitschko brothers fight much realize that they’re said to be heavyweight champions of the world .

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In your honest opinion do you feel that the sport of boxing actually is of any importance on the sports panacea ? Also what thoughts if any do you have on the career of Mike Tyson and the reasons behind his abrupt fall from grace ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on the points raised within this piece .

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

Picture and slide show details below.

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(1) Vitali Klitschko, left, from Ukraine and his brother Vladimir pose with their world champion belts after Vitali defeated Samuel Peter from Nigeria during a WBC heavyweight boxing world championship fight in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008. Klitschko defeated Peter by technical knock out in round nine. The Ukrainian now hold all four of the internationally recognized organizationally belts within the heavyweight division. AP Photo/Herbert Knosowski ….

(2) Bruce Seldon (left) seen here facing Mike Tyson at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas , Nevada for Seldon’s WBA heavyweight title in September 1996 . The challenger , Tyson would end up defeating Seldon with a 12th round TKO. courtesy of stuff.co.nz @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …..

(3) Don King (left) of Don King (Promotions) Inc and Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc are the two most dominant promoters within the sport of boxing . The duo have promoted in excess of 500 world title fights in their cumulative careers spanning in excess of four decades. courtesy of AFP / Ronald Canter ……

(4) Lennox Lewis (left) is seen here defending his world heavyweight title against Mike Tyson at The Pyramid in Memphis , Tennessee. The champion would go on to defeat the challenger with an eighth round knockout to retain the undisputed heavyweight title . REUTERS/ Phillippe Gaston …….

(5) The challenger James ‘Buster’ Douglas is seen here on the canvas in the 8th round as referee Octavio Meyran carries on the count . Tyson also in picture is seen in a neutral corner watching the count . Douglas was able to continue and went on to defeat the champion, Mike Tyson with a 12th round knockout that shocked the world of boxing and ended the champion’s claim of being “the baddest man on the planet” . courtesy of BBC Sports / Cameron Gyles …….

(6) The left hook that led to the now memorable “long count” and Tyson’s demise at the hands of challenger James ‘Buster’ Douglas in their undisputed heavyweight title fight held at the Tokyo Dome , Tokyo , Japan in 1990. BBC Sports / Boxing ….

(7) Referee Octavio Meyran looks to escort Buster Douglas to a neutral corner before commencing the count over the prostrate Mike Tyson during the twelfth round of the duo’s world title bout . BBC Sports/ Boxing …

(8) Evander Holyfield (right) grimaces in pain having just been bitten on his right ear by Mike Tyson during their bout . Referee Mills Lane seen here looks to separate the two fighters after the incident for which Tyson would later be disqualified . Getty Images / archives …..

(9) Both fighters look to connect with solid shots aimed at each other during their now infamous bout staged at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas , Nevada on the 28th June 1997 . Mike Tyson would be disqualified at the end of round three with the verdict being awarded to Evander Holyfield . Getty Images / archives ……
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Out Of The Chaos Now Comes The Bedlam ……… And A Great Deal More

Out Of The Chaos Now Comes The Bedlam ………. And A Great Deal More

So out of the chaos even more bedlam will be created as the NFL seemingly returns to work. The NFL team owners of have voted with a majority decision to approve the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA ) which will by all accounts if we’re led to believe there will be peace for the next decade between the league hierarchy and the new soon be re-certified NLFPA . That being said in the midst of the vote there just happened to be one abstention in the voting by the team owners. Suffice to say with those very same owners glad handing and patting themselves on the back but it remains to be seen whether or not the player representatives and their members will vote to ratify the agreement from their end.

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Team facilities will now be open for the players to conduct training activities , meet with the coaches and their respective staff members to discuss their own fitness level and no doubt other issues that should arise . To my mind now comes the hard part not only for the teams but also general managers because there will now be a plethora of free agents that will come to the market . Imagine if you will an abundance players and the very fact that the coaches and the GM’s will now act like kids in a candy store looking to pick out the best out of a selective assortment of edible confectionery . I am not so sure that the carnage that will no doubt take place because of this whole scenario is exactly what the league would like to see ! But such has been the idiocy shown by both sides throughout this whole episode that as a fan you can have absolutely no sympathy for either side . And as much as this now appears to be all over bar the shouting the one thing I find somewhat suspicious has been the league’s wish to have the details sealed as to the $1 billion set aside to aid the retired veterans of the NFL. Somehow all of the hard work of Carl Eller could well be for nothing even in light of the fact that he has been part to some of the deliberations that have taken place between the two sides . My question is if the league is now open to such transparency then why the facade with regard to the agreement as it relates to the veterans ? What have they to hide and what is it that they simply don’t want the public to know ?

And though Roger Goodell and his chief aide Jeff Pash will try and sell this all as the best deal possible and the owners such as Jerry Jones , Jerry Richardson and Jim Irsay have to be entirely happy with this all . I can’t help but wonder if say five or six years down the road their might well be disruptive to the peace . It is not out of the realms of possibility even if this is meant to be a ten year deal. Wars have been have been fought over less and it only takes one skirmish and disquiet to the accord and the ramifications could be once felt again _ litigation ensuing or not there is now a lot hanging on this agreement being a long lasting one over the next decade.

For coaches such as Marvin Lewis , .Tom Coughlan , Jon Fox , Gary Kubiak and Chan Gailey it will be very interesting what they seek to do to improve their teams during this period of free agency . There’s a great deal that the league has made public about the agreement and one of the most salient points seems to be the salary cap which we are informed will be in the area of $120 million for the 2011-12 season. A sizable figure to say the least and one that will not be lost the teams or the players for that matter . But I am sure that agents such as Drew Rosenhaus , Tom Condon , Eugene Parker and Mark Bartelstein to name but a few will be amongst a throng of movers and shakers chomping at the bit to get their clients signed to a lucrative deal. It’s now open season and the NFL teams are the prey in question .

If this off-season is anything to actually go by then the upcoming regular season itself and what will now be a shortened preseason will become a comedy of errors. There is no way in hell that teams will be game ready when the season commences on the 8th September as I feel that in large part that the vast majority of the teams won’t be anywhere near where they need to be in terms of preparation . And that is even with many of the players meeting amongst themselves and carrying out their conditioning and training regimen . What may well be a season of redemption in the eyes of the league could very well turn out to be initially one monstrous eyesore for the fans who choose to attend the first two or three games of the schedule .

For certain finesse teams such as the Indianapolis Colts , New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints where timing is certainly everything ____ I do believe that Peyton Manning , Tom Brady and Drew Brees may well struggle initially with finding their receivers so we could well see a great deal more of a ground attack with the running backs bearing the brunt of their teams’ burden .

Inasmuch as this whole spectacle has all been put to rest with the both now sides seemingly back on the same page I can’t help but wonder what might have happened had the league hierarchy , team owners and the NFLPA been more cordial with one another during their deliberations. Instead it all came down to each trying side trying to outdo each other with Judge Arthur J Boylan having to sit in the midst of this all cajoling and scolding the individuals like prepubescent schoolboys to merely sit down and break bread together . So much of this could have been avoided had calmer and cooler heads prevailed in the first place . But then again we are discussing the NFL are we not ? You could not ask these idiots to show common sense unless their very lives depended on it !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As a fan of the NFL are you happy that the stoppage is now over ? And how do you see the season unfolding ? Simply chime in with your thoughts as you deem fit .

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces that NFL owners have agreed to a tentative agreement that would end the lockout, pending player approval, on Thursday, July 21, 2011, in College Park, Ga. Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson looks on in the background. AP Photo/John Bazemore ….

(2) Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney speaks during a news conference where it was announced that NFL owners have agreed to a tentative agreement that would end the lockout, pending player approval, in College Park, Ga., on Thursday, July 21, 2011. In the background is Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. AP Photo/John Bazemore …..

(3) NFL general counsel Jeff Pash listens to a reporter’s question during a news conference where it was announced that NFL owners have agreed to a tentative agreement that would end the lockout, pending player approval, in College Park, Ga., on Thursday, July 21, 2011. AP Photo/John Bazemore …….

(4) Agent Tom Condon (center), counts Eli Manning , left, and Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning ,right , amongst his NFL clients . Getty Images / Chris Trotman …….

(5) Chan Gailey, head coach of the Buffalo Bills readies to to call a timeout against the Cleveland Browns at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. Getty Images / Rick Stewart ……..

(6) Quarterback Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints warms-up before taking on the Seattle Seahawks during the 2011 NFC wild-card playoff game at Qwest Field on January 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Getty Images North America / Johnathan Ferrey …….

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In The Words Of Steve Urkel …… Paraphrase ….. Did They Just Do That ?

In The Words Of Steve Urkel …… Paraphrase ….. Did They Just Do That ?

I simply don’t get ! I just don’t get at all , how is it that an abomination can continue to take place and the fans are subjected to such diatribe both on and off the field of play ? I look at the Seattle Mariners and I can only think that the fans are gluttons for punisment ! This is a team that for all sense and purpose shouldn’t be playing in the major leagues but for some reason here they are stinking up the joint and there’s nothing to suggest that they are about to improve anytime soon .

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It is hard enough to believe that talented players such as Ichiro Suzuki , Felix Hernandez , Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda whose talents are simply being wasted on this team and in large part by the organization . Eric Wedge may well have had a well chronicled career as a manager but this might well be his finest hour in terms of the sheer ineptitude and effort being put forth by himself and his coaching staff . To suggest that this team is bad would be an understatement to say the very least as they have simply underachieved in almost every aspect of the game from their offense , to their pitching to their defense . Suffice to say if there’s a worse team in the league at present based on their play then I have yet to witness it .

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” So Carl you’re saying I can’t have sex with Laura unless the Mariners start winning ” ?

Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik has simply squandered what acumen he’s said to have in terms of the moves made in assembling this team. And granted the front office led by Howard Lincoln as its senior partner is answerable to a board of directors who to my mind would rather endure the mediocrity knowing full well that they can somehow profit from it all from a financial standpoint. The league hierarchy of baseball continues to reward underachievement by way of the luxury tax sharing scheme for the small market teams . But somehow fans of the game simply don’t want to discuss this as they would rather continue to see the obvious imbalance while suggesting that’s just the way that things need to be done.

The Seattle Mariners reside in the AL West where let’s suggest say the baseball being played there isn’t of the highest caliber . You would be hard pressed to remain awake while the Texas Rangers , Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics lay siege to each other as they seek divisional supremacy. It is hard to believe that the Mariners are on a 10 game losing streak and are now 13 games behind the division leading Texas Rangers ( 56-42). The more one looks to assess the strengths of the Mariners it is the more one asks how is it that this has been allowed to happen ? Certainly as I alluded to earlier there has been nothing to suggest that the ownership is ambitious and wants to win but yet the fans who are asked to attend the games at Safeco Field are continually asked to endure this debacle while everything thing seems to be falling asunder . Needless to say Eric Wedge will continue proffer up statements that the team is giving the fans their best effort possible as they seek a real sense of purpose . I personally am not buying it and I seriously doubt that a genuine baseball fan would as well !

There’s simply very little reason to believe that the Mariners are capable of competing within the division and acquitting themselves with any real dignity . They have an upcoming series against the Boston Red Sox . And if anything their task becomes tougher as the Red Sox would like to increase their lead over their rivals within the AL East . It will be interesting to see how the team acquits themselves against the division leaders and whether or not Eric Wedge gets the best out of his players .

For much of the season there have been highs and lows for Seattle Mariners , perhaps more highs and than lows . And this certainly has been borne out by the team’s record of 43-54 a mere one game lead over A’s who are rooted at the bottom of the AL West.

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Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (51) of the Seattle Mariners is flanked by CEO Howard Lincoln (L) and COO Chuck Armstrong as he receives his Gold Glove Award prior to the Seattle Mariners’ home opener against the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field on April 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Getty Images North America / Otto Greule

There’s a great deal to take away from this all as we can learn something about the plight of the Seattle Mariners because there are a number of teams around the league that are in a similar state . The problem is many of their fans would rather not acknowledge that fact and simply have their heads up in the clouds simply hoping for something better and that the change is just around the corner. And for that venerable patron who’s so wrapped in his own little world do remember to pray for your Kansas City Royals as I think that divine intervention may well be the only way to help their sorry ass out ! Have you seen them play lately ?

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There is no denying that the Seattle Mariners are having an abysmal year but in your mind what are the primary cause for the organization’s sub-standard play this season ? Do you believe to be the players or the very fact that over the past few years the owners have failed to address the needs of the team overall ? Do leave a comment as to your thoughts on this subject matter .

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

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) Jaleel White (aka Steve Urkel) seen here in a scene from the hit sit-com “Family Matters” alongside Reginald Veljohnson (aka Carl Winslow) ….

(2) Toronto Blue Jays’ Mike McCoy, right, celebrates as he crosses the plate to score the game-winning run in front of Seattle Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo during eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday July 21, 2011, in Toronto. The Blue Jays defeated the Mariners 7-5 . AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn ….

(3) TORONTO, CANADA – JULY 21: Ichiro Suzuki (51) of the Seattle Mariners runs to first during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays July 21, 2011 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Brad White/Getty Images ….

(4) TORONTO, CANADA – JULY 21: Doug Fister (58) of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays July 21, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Brad White/Getty Images ….

(5) Edwin Encarnacion (10) of the Toronto Blue Jays slides safely into second avoiding the tag of Dustin Ackley (13) of the Seattle Mariners during MLB game action July 20, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Brad White/Getty Images ….

(6) New manager Eric Wedge (R) of the Seattle Mariners is introduced to the media by Executive Vice President & GM Jack Zduriencik at Safeco Field on October 19, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. Otto Greule / Getty Images North America ….

(7) Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (51) of the Seattle Mariners is flanked by CEO Howard Lincoln (L) and COO Chuck Armstrong as he receives his Gold Glove Award prior to the Seattle Mariners’ home opener against the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field on April 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Getty Images North America / Otto Greule ….

(8) SEATTLE – JULY 16: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) of the Seattle Mariners throws out Elvis Andrus (1) of the Texas Rangers on a ground-out at Safeco Field on July 16, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images …
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Oh The Tom Foolery ………..

Oh The Tom Foolery ……..

In the aftermath of the All Star Game and the shambles that we all witnessed was in essence a clear indication that the league hierarchy couldn’t sell donuts to a room filled with cops , much less have the fans wanting for more. Much of the idiocy stems from the mere fact that the team owners and hierarchy are bereft of creativity and ideas . Can we have a show of common sense from anyone within the game for merely a brief minute ? I was once told by a patron that my ideas as it relates to talking about sports economics were way off base. But herein lies the fact this individual’s idea is to opine about the young players and that the teams are building for the future and they will somehow garner success .. He simply works on supposition, rather than the realities in the midst of the game at present . It may well work within his own mind but in the real world that’s simply not the case .

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There have been a number of suggestions to try and make the game more appealing to the fans , many of which are plausible but on the whole they would not necessarily cure what ails the game . Realignment of the divisions is simply placing a Band Aid on an open festering wound which in the end will do more harm than good . Not that I am not partial to a great deal of blood but that scenario simply creates false hope when there is none ! The one issue that the league hierarchy and owners refuse to get themselves involved in is that of the financial imbalances as it relates to the teams and the mere fact that they are unwilling to adopt a hard salary cap . They would rather simply continue to shoot themselves in the foot until they either end up crippled or paralyzed . And as we can see this is now being borne out by the ever growing problems for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets .

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New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson (14) is helped to first base by manager Joe Girardi after being hit by a pitch form Tampa Bay Rays’ David Price ) during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, July 20, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Yankees won 4-0 . AP Photo / Joe Blanco …

New York Yankees’ out-fielder Curtis Granderson in a candid interview with the Ft Worth Star -Telegram stated that when he now looks up into the stands he finds it a rarity to see an African American face in attendance . The player then went on to suggest that with a dwindling of ethnic players from his own race leads him to believe that the league hierarchy is doing a poor job of luring the fans to the game . And that is in spite of baseball’s RBI (Reviving Baseball In The Inner Cities) initiative in the inner cities across the country . I wonder how that is actually working out , given the expense and working in conjunction with a number of organizations as well as various school systems ? According to the league hierarchy there are over 200,000 participants across the country involved in this (RBI) all but it is difficult to decipher what the findings have led to at the professional level. From my perspective this is simply another one of Bud Selig’s warped ideas that is akin to throwing up fecal matter against the wall and then going with what sticks ! The commissioner hasn’t had an insightful or succinct idea in two decades but if anything should their be an act of flatulence on his part you can’t be sure whether or not he’ll sneeze or his head might explode .

Courtesy of USA Today

Curtis Granderson: Where are all the black fans?

By Seth Livingstone USA Today

New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson isn’t telling Major League Baseball anything it doesn’t already know.

Baseball appears to lack appeal and access to some blacks , whether they are participants or fans. And Granderson wasn’t necessarily trying to stir the pot when he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “Count the number of African-American fans.”

On a recent trip to Texas, Granderson said it was difficult to push the count to double digits.

“At first, it starts off as a joke (with teammates),” Granderson said. “As the game moves on, you’ll get to 10, or maybe 15. Depends on where you are, too. Places like Chicago or New York, other places it’s easy. (In Texas), it’s hard. So after a while it becomes, ‘Told you so.

As it was reported in April , the percentage of black players dropped to 8.5% on opening day this year, down from 10% at the start of last season and its lowest level since 2007, according to the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. More than 80% of NBA players are African-American and the percentage of black players in the NFL is more than 60%.

Possible reasons appear myriad for baseball’s drop in black players. The Star-Telegram cites costs for equipment and league participation as possible reasons for baseball’s lack of appeal, to say nothing of admission prices.

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I’ve long held the contention that Branch Rickey’s social experiment to integrate the game by bringing Jackie Robinson and making him the first minority to play in MLB was simply done for business reasons and little else . Integrating the game was one thing but given the fact that those attending the games were separated along racial lines while at the same time the US military itself still had yet to be fully integrated shows that not only had the game along way to go socially but also the country as well . Robinson as a player was not only open to a torrent of racial abuse but also threats upon his life by racially intolerant fans as well as many of his fellow players and from the owners within the game .

Now I would like to think that the game of baseball has made enormous strides and it has in a number of areas but the game has yet to have an African American owner in the modern era . Though it can claim that it has had a select number of managers and executives holding the position of general manager of a ball-club. The game has yet to have an African American owner and at the highest level of the game where ownership of a team would be a sign of a real break through this has yet to happen. Baseball has a number of acute issues that it needs to address , their RBI initiative being one of them but I certainly don’t believe that Bud Selig is the man to be leading that charge ! What he lacks in outright candor he more than makes up for that with his asinine edicts and complete lack of intelligence ! That asides the team owners simply love the fact that his lips are placed so firmly on their sphincters as and when needed . At the same time Michael Weiner who succeeded Donald Fehr as the executive director of the MLBPA has shown little to suggest that his tenure will be any different from that of his predecessor . Suffice to say that the game of baseball is now being ran by a group of individuals who are akin to headless chickens running around in a chicken coop waiting to die as they bleed to death profusely.

Did I miss something ? The NBA hierarchy has seen fit to publicly release the 2011-12 NBA schedule while they are involved in the midst of what they claim to be a labor dispute . Last I looked this was simply about money and who was actually garnering the bigger slice of a multi billion dollar piece of the pie ! The NBPA guided by executive director Billy Hunter and their President Derek Fisher have all but said that they are not prepared to concede to any request or requests from the league unless they are prepared to make concessions themselves . This dispute has all the making of being a bitter contentious battle from which no side will come out of it unscathed . The union’s executive committee have kept their members abreast of the ongoing deliberations much of it behind closed doors with the press and public not really being informed of the meetings . But as usual we can rely on ESPN to inform us of the latest by their usual group of insiders.

David Stern may well have bitten off more than he can chew in seeking to institute a stoppage and no doubt his ego has taken a beating . The team owners may well be sticking behind him at this juncture but sooner or later the likes of Mikhail Prokhorov , Jerry Buss , Peter Holt , Mark Cuban and James Dolan will decide to voice their opinions as to the impasse between the two sides .

The NBA hierarchy and owners have been a law unto themselves showing their gullibility , naivete but above all sheer idiocy in thinking that they could spend money at will while seeing their revenues decline . The soft salary cap instituted by the league of $ 57 million but several teams have exceeded that figure as they chased winning an NBA title . The two finalists from this past season’s Finals between them had a combined salary exceeding $125 million , hardly a figure that David Stern would actually care to discuss .

I find it somewhat ironic while the teams are pleading poverty they’re spending money as if there’s no tomorrow . Leading the charge are the idiot general managers of the game who’ll do just about anything including selling their first born if it guarantees success . Perhaps a clear indication of such inanity were the trades made by the Orlando Magic and their GM Otis Smith as they sought a championship. One only has to look at the team’s roster and their salary implications to see that Smith simply encumbered the organization with so much dead weight that it was laughable to watch the team play .

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Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard sits after the Magic’s 84-81 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 28, 2011, in Atlanta. AP Photo/John Amis ….

For Bob Vanderweide the COO & President of the Orlando Magic and the other senior executives this will be a trying time for the club. Not only do they have to deal with the financial implications of the team commitment in salaries but there’s also the growing belief that Dwight Howard may well seek to opt out of the final year of his contract and seek to ply his trade elsewhere . There’s no denying that a player of Howard’s caliber would be the envy of the teams around the league willing to acquire the player. But what would the Magic be seeking in return for the player if a deal were to be made ? Given the stakes as they stand and what this could very well mean for the organization it is hard to see anything advantageous for the team coming out of such a transaction ! Dwight Howard may well now feel that the Orlando Magic are not capable of winning a championship and the best opportunity for him as a player lays with another team. That team could very well be the Los Angeles Lakers if the rumors circulating are to be believed .

There’s no doubt in my mind that Mitch Kupchak , Jim Buss and Jerry Buss would pull the trigger on such a deal to land Dwight Howard and then for all essence and purpose the Lakers would have their own equivalent of the Miami Heat’s “Big Three” of Chris Bosh , LeBron James and Dwyane Wade . The Lakers’ answer would be the teaming of Howard to play alongside Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant . And I’m sure for newly installed coach Mike Brown this would give him the added assurance that the teaming of the three along with the other players on the roster would be of benefit to the organization and fans . Whether or not such a scenario arises remains to be seen but there’s no denying that this would be an enticing situation for all of the parties involved should it start to foment within each of the front offices in question.

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NBA Commissioner David Stern, right, pictured with Deputy Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer Adam Silver , said in a news conference Thursday that the league is seeking to cut payroll and benefits for players by about a third. AP Photo/ Phil Reed …

As to David Stern’s own ego , it may well be plausible to make next season’s schedule public as a means of showing the fans the NBA ……. is still business as usual . But at present there is nothing at all to suggest that the league and the players are any closer to reaching a compromise much less the fact they are ready to actually get back to the courts . For a number of player who have sought to ply their trade overseas until the lockout ends they get the chance to hone their skills and take in some culture while pocketing a sizable amount in compensation. For others at the lower rungs of the food chain that are not so lucky there’s isn’t a great deal that they can do other than to sit , wait to be notified as to what is going on by their player representatives from the NBPA. Chances are that they too after a while will become fed up of the situation and voice their concerns but I’m guessing that’s a long way off if they now view the situation where they have both and Stern and the owners by the balls !

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

As to the points raised within this piece do you feel that Curtis Granderson’s claims are to an extent valid ? And what recommendations would you make in order to lure not just more minorities to take an interest in the game but also to make baseball more appealing for the fans ? And where do you see the NBA now going from here in terms of the ongoing dispute ? Please leave a comment as you would deem fit and thanks for the continued support !

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

Contact ……… rapptu@ gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) A fan holds up a sign during the ninth inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 20, 2011 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Rangers 9-8 . Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ….

(2) Ryan Braun (8) of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates with teammates in the dugout before umpires review instant reply on a possible home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the eighth inning of the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on July 20, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The ball was called foul and the home run was taken back. The Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks 5-2 in 10 innings . Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …

(3) New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson (14) is helped to first base by manager Joe Girardi after being hit by a pitch form Tampa Bay Rays’ David Price ) during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, July 20, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Yankees won 4-0 . AP Photo / Joe Blanco …

(4) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – JULY 20: Outfielder Curtis Granderson (14) of the New York Yankees scores on a first-inning home run against the Tampa Bay Rays July 20, 2011 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images ….

(5) Branch Rickey (left) seen here with Jackie Robinson holding the plaque denoting his official enshrinement into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York . Also pictured is Robinson’s wife Rachel . Courtesy of White Archives …

(6) Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard sits after the Magic’s 84-81 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 28, 2011, in Atlanta. AP Photo/John Amis ….

(7) NBA Commissioner David Stern, right, pictured with Deputy Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer Adam Silver , said in a news conference Thursday that the league is seeking to cut payroll and benefits for players by about a third. AP Photo/ Phil Reed …

(8) From left to right Orlando Magic executives Alex Martins , Bob Vanderweide and Otis Grant take questions from the convened press at the team’s headquarters the Amway Center in downtown Orlando , Florida . Orlando Sentinel/ Michael Halloran ….

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Put Up Or Simply Just Shut The Fu#k Up !

Put Up Or Simply Just Shut The Fuck Up !

I’ll say this repeatedly when it comes to the analysis being provided within the sports’ world can be so ridiculous and no amount of asinine jingoism and xenophobia can hide my disdain for many of these commentators. The third major of the season on the PGA Tour The Open has no rhyme or reason when you have the likes of Andy North be ing so ridiculous with his analysis in insisting that the American players have what it takes to be dominant in the majors and win . When it mattered most other than Phil Mickelson no one amongst the American players thought to be in with a chance had the stomach to show what they’re capable of in terms of facing real adversity.

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The British Open is by far the most difficult of the four majors to win and where a player simply doesn’t rely on his talent alone but also with their mental abilities . Well with the workman like effort of Darren Clarke and along the way Ireland secure its second successive major after Rory McIlroy’s historic 2011 US Open win . The course at the R&A’s Royal St George at Lytham St Anne’s , Sandwich , Kent , has always proven to be a very difficult with its numerous obstacles on this par 72 course . And for the competing players who sought to tame the greens and fairways on the fourth and final day of the tournament , well let’s just say if you choose to play with fire then you are liable to get burned .

It would appear while being passionate about the game Andy North’s insight of it tends to be inflated and over the top ! I’d hate to think how he will try summarize Clarke’s win and what it now means to the game . What I do know, it simply will prove that America’s once dominant stranglehold on the game is now slipping . The world rankings would suggest that its upper echelons that tree now is more diversified than ever before . And with the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club, Johns Creek , Atlanta , Georgia , being the lone major left on the Tour schedule it will be very interesting to see who steps up to walk the walk .

Are my eyes mistaking me ? But scouring the papers in search of the latest tidbit of new within the world of baseball I almost fell out of my seat. But low and behold, it would appear that the once lowly Pittsburgh Pirates are riding high within the NL Central and are out to prove that they’re capable of challenging the likes of the Cincinnati Reds , Milwaukee Brewers , St Louis Cardinals . And what might be even more scary is that Clint Hurdle’s team is playing above .500 ball , enjoying themselves and they could very well be on their way to posting their first winning season almost two decades . Strange as it may seem the eyes of the world now appear to placing a great deal of scrutiny on on this team assembled with a mixture of youth and some veteran experience . Hurdle and his coaching staff along with GM Neal Huntington have to be very pleased what they are seeing from this team and their play this season at PNC Ballpark in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania .

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HOUSTON – JULY 17: Center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) of the Pittsburgh Pirates is congratulated by Neil Walker (18) and Alex Pressley (44) after making a sliding catch on a fly ball off the bat of Clint Barmes (12) of the Houston Astros in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park on July 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

If there’s a star on this Pirates’ team then one has to consider it to be Andrew McCutchen the outfielder and the exuberant leader of this young roster . As eventful as the season seems to have be for the Pirates the very thought that the organization could possibly be a part of the postseason now seems to be dawning on their fans as what could be in the offing . From my own standpoint I think that the biggest surprise would be to finally post winning season for the first time in over decade and a half . If that were to happen then you cannot deny Clint Hurdle the NL Manager of the Year Award in having led the team to a winning record for the season . Now over the final two months of the season we may very see the true character of this team and how they acquit themselves down the final stretch of run of the season .

The Pittsburgh Pirates through a great deal of resolve have proved themselves worthy adversaries for their rivals within the NL Central as well as the rest of the National League at large . And though I do believe that the team in its present guise are very good, I simply do not believe that they are good enough to win the division ! However , with that being said with the undoubted character and it appears the maturity being shown , it does bode well for the future of the team. I still have my doubts as to the intention the team’s owner Bob Nutting and his partners as I view the senior partner as being nothing more than a predatory raider or more akin to a vulture hovering above the dead carcass of animal looking to gnaw away at its remains ! For years Nutting has literally complained and plead nothing but poverty as the team has struggled to be competitive on the field of play and also from a financial standpoint. And having bought the team from the McClatchy family every effort we were led to believe would be sought in turning this organization around.

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Bob Nutting has made sure that the team’s payroll has remained amongst the lowest in the league but while that facade has continued the team has profited greatly from the league hierarchy’s tax revenue sharing scheme . If only one could simply take Nutting at his word when he continues plead his case that the team isn’t making any money. But the benefits reaped from paring down the the salary of the team and then reaping the dividends of the revenue scheme leads me to believe that the owner has less than economical with the truth ! So much so that now with the team now playing with a great deal more zeal it could very well be that the organization will be forced to become a buyer in the free agency market if they are to prove to their fans that there intent is to win. And with that very deadline due on the 31st July it could determine what we are to expect from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As the NFL lockout continues and with both sets of lawyers for the league and union now intent on working out the legal verbiage for what will be a new 10 year CBA (collective bargaining agreement) , I would like to think that the owners within the NBA and league hierarchy are carefully taking note of the events taking place between the two sides. If it’s apparent that the NBPA is not at all interested in conceding to any of the requests being made of the by the league then the fans will bear witnesses to what very well be a very contentious battle .

Commissioner David Stern and his opposite number within the union executive director Billy Hunter are now looking for the league accede to their wishes. And once again both sides are showing their intransigence while at the same not wanting to back down in the eyes of the public. It seems abundantly clear both sides are underestimating the goodwill and patience of the fans and much like the idiocy shown by their counterparts in the NFL it may well take a prolonged lockout before we see both sides actually come to their senses.

From being a scoring champion to perennial All Star the fall from grace of Tracy McGrady simply has been astounding . Last season the player simply slipped further down in our conscience from that once formidable offensive threat to someone who if anything has become more of an enigma and conundrum all rolled into one. The player this upcoming season should there be one will be a free agent and he has stated that he feels that he can be a contributor to any team willing to take a chance on him.

In 2010 we saw Tracy McGrady as a member of the Detroit Pistons and as we all know the team had a miserable season . GM Joe Dumars had a contentious relationship with coach John Kuester and it has to be said with new owner , billionaire Tom Gores now in place I for one seriously doubt that the Pistons in their present guise will be a team to be reckoned with. Dumars’ own position within the Pistons’ front office could very well become somewhat tenuous as I firmly believe that the new ownership could very well be intent on bringing in someone who they feel that they are more likely to work alongside . Kuester was summarily fired by Dumars after last season’s disappointing record and lack of play all round.

At this stage of his career , as a fifteen year veteran in the league I seriously doubt that Tracy McGrady has that much left to offer a team , other than his experience . Most notably as a player his skills simply have declined to a point where he has become more of a liability rather than an asset to a team . And that to my mind simply doesn’t bode well for any franchise who might take a chance on the player .

The coaching position with the Detroit Piston still remains vacant and with Tom Gores , incoming as the new team owner , there’s no doubt that he will assess the situation and needs of the organization before coming to a decision as to who ought to succeed John Kuester . Joe Dumars may well feel that it is either time to step down or continue to work within the Pistons’ organization in conjunction with the new owner.

And so the Women’s World World Cup comes to an abrupt end with Japan defeating USA on penalties 3-1 in a shootout after regular and then overtime play. What gave anyone reason to believe why the US ought to be deemed favorites is completely beyond me ! They may well have the experience but in straight laced terms , there were not the best team in the tournament and certainly not based on their play ! If truth be known the Japanese having beaten the two best teams in the quarters and semi finals simply showed why they were deserving of this victory. And this is not meant to demean the achievements of the US team in this tournament . Emotions and the fact that with all that the tiny nation had been through in the aftermath of a natural disaster may well have made Japan an heartwarming favorite . But I believe them to be favorites coming into this game solely based on their play. Throughout the tournament you simply see the Japanese team raise the level of their play and wherein they just played to their strengths and showed that technically they were that much better than their opponents and most notably so in the final match of the competition .

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Bob Ley (left) , Brandi Chastain and Tony DiCicco discuss the role of nerves in the Final, and how this team fits into the legacy of US Women’s Soccer. Courtesy of ESPN ……..

As is usual in such cases ESPN brings in what they deem to be people with knowledge of the game of soccer . Granted , the game still has its detractors and supporters but in all honesty if they are bringing in analysts with insight , then let it be someone whose bloviated bias won’t be so pronounced that you simply are going to be resoundingly bored by their observations and commentary . And that has certainly been the case throughout their coverage of the competition. Brandy Chastain , Briana Scurry and Tony DiCicco simply have been an adulterated busts as commentators and analysts . No amount of impartiality could be shown by either of the trio even if their lives depended on it . Whether or not you are associated or have been associated with the teams as each have at least have the temerity to provide the viewers with something more than your blatant bias . With the loss came the perfunctory excuses as to their views as to why the US failed but their lack of candor in acknowledging the team on the day was simply outplayed leads me to believe that they viewed Japan as a minor hurdle in what they felt to be a victory that was guaranteed prior to the start of the game ! Don’t get me wrong if you’re going to state a reason why a team ought to win you have also got to be prepared to state the reasons why they could also fail . Something I feel that ESPN and their so called analysts seemingly forget whilst on air !

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What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

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

Contact ….. rapptu@gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Northern Irish golfer Darren Clarke poses with the Claret Jug on the 18th green the morning after winning the 140th British Open Golf championship at Royal St George’s in Sandwich, Kent, south-east England, on July 18, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Getty Images/ Peter Muhly ….

(2) SANDWICH, ENGLAND – JULY 17: during the final round of The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George’s on July 17, 2011 in Sandwich, England. Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images …..

(3) Scott Van Pelt (left) of ESPN is seen here with co-host Andy North a former PGA Tour professional and two time Major winner . Courtesy of ESPN/ABC ……

(4) HOUSTON – JULY 17: Right fielder Xavier Paul (38) of the Pittsburgh Pirates leaps but can’t make the catch on a home run by Humberto Quintero (55) of the Houston Astros in the eleventh inning at Minute Maid Park on July 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …

(5) HOUSTON – JULY 17: Center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) of the Pittsburgh Pirates is congratulated by Neil Walker (18) and Alex Pressley(44) after makeng a sliding catch on a fly ball off the bat of Clint Barmes (12) of the Houston Astros in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park on July 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …

(6) Former Pirates CEO Kevin McClatchy and Chairman of the Board Robert (Bob) Nutting discuss the “change of control” within the Pirates ownership. The McClatchy family who owned the team outright sold the concern to Bob Nutting and a consortium of investors in 2007 . Phil Rombach/ Pittsburgh Post Gazette ….

(7) In this April 10, 2011, file photo, then-Detroit Pistons coach John Kuester reacts to a call in the first half of the Pistons’ 112-101 win over the Charlotte Bobcats in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C. The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Kuester as an assistant under new coach Mike Brown, reuniting the duo who worked in Cleveland together. AP Photo/Chuck Burton ……

(8) Pistons’ owner Tom Gores is seen here with the team’s GM Joe Dumars at the Palace of Auburn Hills , Auburn Hills , Michigan, home to the basketball franchise . Gores purchased the team from the Davidson family whose patriarch Bill Davidson died in 2009. AFP/ Chris Gould ……

(9) Tracy McGrady (1) of of the Detroit Pistons drives against James Jones (22) of the Miami Heat during a game at American Airlines Arena on January 28, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Getty Images North America / Mike Ehrmann …..

(10) TOPSHOTS: Japan’s midfielder Homare Sawa (C) celebrates with the trophy and teammates after the FIFA Women’s Football World Cup final match Japan vs USA on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany. Japan won 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out after the final had finished 2-2 following extra-time. AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLLARZ

(11) FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY – JULY 17: (L-R) Homare Sawa of Japan winning the adidas golden shoe award as the best player of the tournament and Abby Wambach of USA, winning the adidas silver golden shoe stand on the podium after being rewarded during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final match between Japan and USA at the FIFA World Cup stadium Frankfurt on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Japan against USA 5-3 after penalty shoot-out. Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images ….

(12) FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY – JULY 17: Tobin Heath of USA (3rd R) comforts Sahnnon Boxx of USA (R) after failed shooting a penalty during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final match between Japan and USA at the FIFA World Cup stadium Frankfurt on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Japan won 5-3 after penalty shoot-out against the USA. Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images ……

(13) Bob Ley (left) , Brandi Chastain and Tony DiCicco discuss the role of nerves in the Final, and how this team fits into the legacy of US Women’s Soccer. Courtesy of ESPN ……..
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It’s All In The Contract Read Between The Lines ….

It’s All In The Contract ….. Read Between The Lines

I read with a great deal of interest that New York Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman who is in the final year of his contract with the team and is said to be reluctant to discuss a contract extension with the organization until the end of the season. The team now in the hands of Hank and Hal Steinbrenner are are intent on carrying on their father’s legacy . But in reality the organization still remains a family business and it appears the brothers will rule with a rod of iron. To bear this out, the duo were in conflict with Cashman over the acquisition of reliever Rafael Soriano . They prevailed with the general manager having to back down over the issue and continue his duties under the premise of being a loyal subordinate .

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The bone of contention with Brian Cashman has always been would he have been able to accomplish the success attained by the organization over his tenure were it not for financial resources of the ball club . Five World Series titles and seven appearances in all over the last fifteen years ____ not much else needs to be said. And the same comparison was made about former Los Angeles Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson while he was the coach of the Chicago Bulls . Could Jackson win without a superstar and with another team ? Were it not for Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen leading those Bulls’ teams to their unprecedented success it is believed that Jackson would never have succeeded to the extent that he did. The former coach would also lead the Lakers to a further six NBA titles over his tenure with the organization , proved a point that it’s not merely about the team but the environment you’re actually placed in.

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Yankees GM Cashman done at season’s end ?

By Mark J Miller

The last time New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman signed a contract extension, George Steinbrenner was still alive. Now sons Hank and Hal Steinbrenner are running the show and Cashman may be out.

Cashman’s three-year, $6 million contract expires at season’s end and the New York Post suggests that the Steinbrenners may want to put their own stamp on the team and bring in someone else.

Cashman has been working for the Yanks since he was 19, the paper points out. Now 44, Cashman refuses to attempt to negotiate a new deal for himself in the middle of the season, the Post reports. After all, Cashman was the one who eight years ago “introduced a policy of not doing contract extensions in the middle of a season,” the Post notes.

“If I couldn’t do it with Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and [manager] Joe Girardi, how can I do it with myself,” Cashman said, according to the Post. “I can’t be a hypocrite. It will come up at the appropriate time.”

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Now it’d be remiss to think that the success achieved by Cashman was solely down to talent alone . But it’s clear to see that the Yankees’ general manager would not have achieved the success attained without the financial resources of the organization. With the burgeoning cash cow that are the New York Yankees and with the team being in the nation’s largest ad market how could Brian Cashman actually fail ? Never mind the fact that the ball club owns its very own cable sports broadcast provider the YES Network . With those financial resources at his disposal it is easy to understand the choices that can be made by the organization as it relates to acquiring free agents and then paying them handsomely.

Over the years we have seen the acquisitions made by the Yankees and clearly with the team having obtained such high profiled free agents in recent years as Mark Teixeira , Alex Rodriguez , CC Sabathia , A J Burnett and Curtis Granderson . The common denominator in many cases has been uber-agent Scott Boras . Anyone who knows how the agent has conducted his business over the years will know that he tends get teams to vastly overpay for talent even when they tend to be average at best.

Should Brian Cashman decline the offer of a contract extension which isn’t out of the realms of possibility then it would be reasonable to think that a number of teams around baseball might well be interested in hiring the general manager . But in my honest opinion, I feel that Cashman knows that his best and only opportunity is to remain within the Yankees’ organization ! The financial resources of the ball-club has been predominantly the reason behind the team’s success more than it having been to do with astute scouting and draft acquisitions by the organization in recent years . The fans of the team will continue to point to the success of the organization in their recent draft choices during which they obtained Derek Jeter , Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada . The trio remain the only remaining teammates that won multiple titles from 1996 through to 2007.

Now we could ask the question if Brian Cashman were not the general manager of the New York Yankees how would he contend with an organization not named the Yankees ? And while the team remains the 1,000lb gorilla in the room you can’t help repeating the question. Would Cashman be as successful were it not for the financial wherewithal of the organization and would he be a success as a general manager ? When one considers that in the last decade and a half, only three teams have ever won multiple World Series titles and two organizations in question happen to be two of the highest salaried teams in the game . It should come as no surprise that the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees sit atop of that pile with a cumulative salary total that is in excess of $360 million . And though I have read where patrons would suggest that there remains a competitive balance within the game because we have multiple teams over the last decade win the World Series . That may well be the case but consider the fact that in large part , repeatedly it tends to be the teams that are atop of the pay structure that are part of the postseason , champion series or the World Series itself.

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Rafael Soriano (C) of the New York Yankees poses for a photograph during his press conference with (L-R) assistant general manager Jean Afterman, manager Joe Girardi, agent Scott Boras, president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman, and COO Lonn Trost on January 19, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees signed Soriano to a three year contract.

Granted , last year we had the distinction of seeing the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers play the game’s biggest prize one simply cannot deny the fact that it all comes back down to the usual suspects repeatedly when it comes to the postseason. One simply cannot hide behind the fact that those teams will be there . But in what some deem to be a competitive balance when it just isn’t borne out by the very fact the fact the game from a financial standpoint is markedly imbalanced . And like some of the financial problems we have now seen disrupt the NBA and NFL we are seeing the same situation arise within baseball . Some fans are actually in denial about this as they would rather see the purity of the game rather than seeing the reality of it all . It’s pretty much safe to say that the problems of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets simply reflect what I am actually saying ! The league hierarchy’s belief that their tax sharing scheme has assisted the teams in being competitive doesn’t seem to bear out what their actual intent in giving all of the teams a possible shot at the brass ring .

In waiting to see what may well transpire between the New York Yankees and Brian Cashman I wonder how many of the other general managers around the league are envious of Yankees’ general manager’s position ? They say don’t knock it ’til you try it but I get the impression that the vast majority of executives in questions wouldn’t mind being in Brian Cashman’s position right about now !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Should Brian Cashman choose not to return to the New York Yankees is it your belief that he will be hired by another team within baseball in the same capacity ? Or do you believe that he remain with the organization and sign a long term contract ? Simply chime in with a comment on the points raised within this piece .

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

Picture and slide show details

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(1) TORONTO, CANADA – JULY 16: Greg Golson (22) of the New York Yankees looks out from the dugout against the Toronto Blue Jays during MLB action at The Rogers Centre July 16, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images ….

(2) Mark Teixeira (25) of the New York Yankees hits during MLB action against the Toronto Blue Jays at The Rogers Centre July 16, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images ….

(3) Francisco Cervelli (17) celebrates the win with Mariano Rivera (42) of the New York Yankees during MLB action against the Toronto Blue Jays at The Rogers Centre July 16, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images ….

(4) (L-R) Manager Joe Girardi, Mark Teixeira, Hal Steinbrenner and General Manager Brian Cashman pose for a photo during a press conference to announce Teixeira’s signing to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on January 6, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images …..

(5) Rafael Soriano (C) of the New York Yankees poses for a photograph during his press conference with (L-R) assistant general manager Jean Afterman, manager Joe Girardi, agent Scott Boras, president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman, and COO Lonn Trost on January 19, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees signed Soriano to a three year contract. Getty Images North America / Jim McIsaac ….
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Stupid Is , Can’t Be As Stupid Does , Can It …. ?

Stupid Is , Can’t Be As Stupid Does , Can It …. ?

So just when you thought that all that would appear just when we had seen it all concerning the rabid stupidity that exists within collegiate athletics. It would appear that Auburn Tigers’ football coach Gene Chizik is extremely unhappy that the NCAA is still continuing its investigation of the school. Chizik had an impromptu conversation with the NCAA’s vice president for enforcement Judie Loah Roach during which the officer informed the coach that the school and its recruitment of Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton was still under investigation. As we all know there said to be a number of improprieties concerning the player’s recruitment . The player’s father Cecil Newton is said to still be a person of interest in this ongoing investigation . It’s plain to see that there is a great deal at stake should the school be found to be in violation of any type of NCCA rules . The jury is out and the blow-back from this all could very well be another nail in the coffin of another very prestigious collegiate athletics’ program.

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So the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive player James Harrison is simply proving once again why players from the NFL are better to be seen on the field of play rather than being heard . The player fresh off last season’s numerous fines has become a bona-fide asshole of the highest order ! . In criticizing the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling him “a crook” , “a devil “ , “a tyrant” and an ” autocratic despot “ whose power simply knows no bounds . At the same time the player was also critical of his teammate Ben Roethlisberger and the very fact that the player at times was simply not playing to the best of his abilities and was being reliant on the defense to bail out the team far too often over the course of last season . Pardon me for saying this , but shouldn’t Harrison be the one to voice these opinions behind closed doors amongst his teammates and the coaching staff as it relates to the team’s play ? As to his criticism of the commissioner , once it’s out there it becomes too late to take it all back . And that is now what the player now seems to be doing by stating that his statements were completely taken out of context. I certainly believe that when it’s all said and done if it is not Mike Tomlin who ends up speaking to James Harrison about his comments then quite possibly look a senior official from the front office to hold a private conversation with the player .

The Pittsburgh Steelers has always been an organization that chooses to conduct their problems behind closed doors and to try and make sure that the players as such are of the highest order in terms of their character. It is easy to undersstand why the are considered one of the most respected teams within the NFL and the success achieved in large part has come down to the fact here has been very little volatility within the organization and turnover in terms of the coaching staff. Unfortunately , with the antics of Santonio Holmes , Plaxico Burress and in particular Roethlisberger , his infantile and rather asinine antics over the last few years has led the Rooney family to once again scrutinize the players on the roster. Recently we had the team’s veteran wide receiver Hines Ward busted for DUI and with the player initially stating that wasn’t intoxicated, only for the police to later inform us that Ward was indeed driving over the legal limit . He would later offer an apology to his teammates and the organization for his behavior .

Shit we know rolls downhill but boy , oh boy the NBA and in particular the league hierarchy now looks as if they will try and do anything to shovel it uphill. The hierarchy feels aggrieved that the NBPA (union ) will be allowed to retain the larger part of $160 million from an escrow account that they funded based on the terms that should their cumulative salary exceed 57% of the basketball related income . Now with the teams owners and hierarchy now under siege with their position now looking all the more perilous David Stern seeks into increase their profile and take the upper hand in the ongoing lockout . It would appear that management would seek to impune the integrity of the union. The league feels that the funds in question should be placed back into a general fund rather than be at the players’ disposal . Somehow you simply knew that the league could not be trusted to show any type of integrity at all.

The NBA is still at odds with the players and the fact that they are still asserting that they are losing money. But many of the league’s problems can be traced back to the fact that Stern allowed the teams and in particular the general managers run amok with in terms of the team salaries as they seek success with apparent abandonment . David Stern has long maintained that the teams are on track to lose hundreds of millions of dollars for the fiscal year. Last season’s losses were in excess $300 million and this year it is projected to be considerably higher . It seems rather ridiculous to think that the league having set a soft salary cap in place would then seek to allow those very same teams to far exceed the figure of $57 million and then expect there not to be any serious ramifications for the league’s excessive spending .

It seems rather strange that many of the league’s high profiled owners such as Mikhail Prokhorov , Jerry Buss , Michael Jordan , James Dolan , Peter Holt and Michael Heisley have all remained steadfast behind the commissioner . However , the longer this situation goes on there is the likelihood that we may well begin to see some dissent amongst the owners who may challenge the stance the league hierarchy is taking . From my own perspective , the lockout has become simply an issue of egos and which party feels that their stance appears to be the best option available. At some point this impasse has to be resolved because before we actually know it the preseason training schedule will be upon us. It’s pretty much safe to say that neither side wants to be in this for the long haul and now with a number of players envisioning that this dispute may well be for a prolonged period we are seeing a number of them considering the lucrative option of playing abroad. It certainly will be advantageous for New Jersey Nets’ point guard Deron Williams who has signed a one year $ 5 million contract with the Turkish side Beseitkas.

Unless I missed something which I am glad that I did but the MLB All Star Game had to be one of the most boring in recent memory. Never mind the 5-1 lopsided result and win for the National League but the game had one of the lowest ratings in almost a decade and this can’t have been what Fox actually wanted from the game’s midseason show case event. At the same time the question now being asked is how best the whole format of the All Star Game can be changed where it is more of an exhilarating event not only for the participants but also for the fans in attendance and those watching the broadcast. Given the actual idiocy of the whole damn format with the fans picking the actual players they want to see on the respective rosters makes this whole event all the more asinine to begin with.

Baseball is a sport that in large part looks to its past in terms of its legitimacy and legacy as the nation’s pass-time . But once Bud Selig assumed control as commissioner of the league his reign and the fact that the league hierarchy has essentially become clueless as the most acute needs of the game , it should not have surprised anyone at all as to the outcome of the spectacle. One listless team simply didn’t turn up at all but somehow they were assured of their respective team incentives. The NL simply dished out an ass whupping of the highest order leaving the AL with their tails hanging between their legs . At this point will there anyone at all interested in the fact that next season’s game will be held at the home of the Kansas City Royals ? Well , I guess not ! The league hierarchy much like the team owners have become totally bereft any ideas and creativity when it now comes to the marketing of the game , its brand in general and likewise as it relates to the All Star Game . Tuesday night was very much a clear indication of that and it was there for all to bear witness to !

Well at last someone had the foresight to hire Brian Shaw with the former Los Angeles Lakers’ assistant coach being overlooked for several of the offseason vacancies that came about . Indiana Pacers’ general manager Larry Bird having interviewed Shaw , hired the former player to be the assistant to Frank Vogel and his staff. Bird has made it clear the new assistant’s role will to teach the players on the Pacers’ roster how best to improve their all-round game . I’ve no doubt that Shaw will prove to be a valuable asset to the team and with being able to provide to a great deal of insight as to what it takes to be successful from a player’s standpoint . If anything this steadies a listless ship and all but assures the team of retaining their best player Danny Granger who could opt to become free agent after the upcoming season.

The Pacers’ organization is flushed with youthful talent but Vogel’s biggest problem has been to harness it all into one cohesive and effective unit. With the addition of Brian Shaw and the existing members of coaching staff we could very well see something of a resurgence from this team. Not since the days of Reggie Miller and Rik Smits have the Pacers been deemed worthy to be considered a legitimate force within the NBA . And granted over the years the organization has had its problems stemming from neglect and the fact that the team was seen as one of the back-water stop offs in players’ career when they’re said to be on the decline. If things are to change with the thought of a turnaround in mind then perhaps with Brian Shaw and Frank Vogel working in tandem there could very well be something beginning to foment within the organization.

On the outside looking in I am not so sure to make of the situation now encapsulating the furor of the US women’s soccer team having made it to the finals of the World Cup . As great an accomplishment as this has been and the fact that the country will be chasing its first Cup win since 1999 the game barely registers a blip on the consciousness of the masses domestically here at home . Granted , all of the patriotism comes to the foreground in the times of triumph but what one sees as a triumph then is simply eroded when you considers that attendances for games at the club level within the WPSL ( Womens Premier Soccer League) averages no more than 2,500 per game . Salaries for players at the club level where the median is approximately $25,000 per year offers the players little by way of comfort with many of them choosing to hold down a civilian position beyond playing or for many of the top stars , some choose to split their time playing overseas.

The 2011 World Cup has to be considered a success for FIFA and in particular for the entrants to this year’s competition. Some of the matches have been competitive while others have been what one might consider to be extremely boring. But the back-drop to this all has been the very fact that the US team has sought redemption and they now have a chance at that by defeating their upcoming opponent Japan in the final game of the tournament .

Both sides have reached this stage of the competition having defeated two teams in semi-finals thought to be their equal at the international level. Japan defeated Sweden in a thoroughly convincing fashion 3-1 and the US had their problems with Brazil having to overcome a deficit before defeating the team in a penalty shootout (5-3) after a 2-2 tie in regulation .

In the final itself , we should expect a highly competitive game between two evenly matched teams . Team USA brings along the experience and a more physical style of play but Japan has speed , exuberance and a technical aspect that one would not normally associate with a team from the Far East. But much of that may well come down to the fact that there are a number high quality European coaches at the club level within the country where fan support for the game reaches rabid proportions. Obviously something that the WPSL yearns for here in the US but it still lacks support of the fans in general and the willingness of the networks to give the game much or airtime than it is now obtaining . Coverage of the game has been primarily with ESPN where basically much of women’s sports now finds its support from a viewing standpoint not only at the professional level but also at the collegiate level. Somehow one can only imagine that Title IX (Title IX) was meant to create something of a level playing field but in reality the success attained by the enactment by this legislation has not really done enough to put women’s sport on the map in the true sense of the word.

Should the USA win Sunday’s final match then we may well see something of an advancement in the game here domestically but considering the missteps along the way previously in trying to create a professional league at the club level , I firmly believe that soccer at the women’s level here much like their male counterpart still has a long way to go before it gets any real level of respect that they feel they rightly deserve . The nation has yet to take the game into its heart , feel as if it is something it can truly appreciate and that is in spite of the fact that now the game is now being played by more children at the middle , high school level and by collegiate players than baseball and basketball combined . Something to think about don’t you think ? And while the game of soccer resonate around the globe with its throng of fans it remains a bewildering back-drop for most here simply because the NBA , NFL , MLB , NASCAR and NHL rule the roost when it comes fans wanting to see something a great deal more exhilarating than 22 players chasing a round ball up down a field .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In light of the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have ? Do leave a comment as to your thoughts and thanks as always for the continued support !

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

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Auburn coach Gene Chizik watches the first day of spring football practice for the national champion Auburn Tigers in Auburn, Ala., Wednesday, March 23, 2011. AP Photo / Garry Finkel …..

(2) FILE – In this Nov. 13, 2010 file photo, Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton (2) dunks coach Gene Chizik following a 49-31 win over Georgia in an NCAA college football game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. Chizik wants Auburn fans to remember Newton “as a great individual,” not just a Heisman Trophy-winning player. The Tigers coach defends the No. 1 NFL draft pick in the upcoming book “All In” but says it is “really a story about football, family and faith.” Chizik discussed the book Wednesday, June 29, 2011, ahead of its July 5 release that will have him hit the road for a promotional tour with nine stops in four states. AP Photo/Dave Martin ….

(3) FILE – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell listens to questions during a news conference at the NFL football owners meetings in Rosemont, Ill., in this June 21, 2011 file photo. Heavily fined Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison calls NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “crook” and a “devil,” among other insults, in a magazine article in the August issue of Men’s Journal. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ….

(4) FILE – Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) warms up before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Pittsburgh, in this Dec. 23, 2010 file photo. Heavily fined Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison calls NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “crook” and a “devil,” among other insults, in a magazine article in the August issue of Men’s Journal. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar ……

(5) NBA union chief Billy Hunter speaks to reporters after a meeting with the NBA, Thursday, June 30, 2011 in New York. The NBA is headed to deadline day, with perhaps one last chance to avoid a lockout. Negotiators for owners and players will meet Thursday, about 12 hours before the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement and seemingly nowhere close to a deal. That meeting however would lead to the league mandated shutdown of the NBA . AP Photo/Mary Altaffer ……

(6) National League All-Star Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers and his sons Jaden (R) and Haven pose with the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award after the National League defeated the American League 5-1 in the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Jeff Gross ……

(7) National League All-Star Lance Berkman (12) of the St. Louis Cardinals is tagged out at second base by American League All-Star Robinson Cano (24) of the New York Yankees in the bottom of the second inning of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix,Az . Getty Images North America/ Jeff Gross ….

(8) Indiana Pacers new assistant head coach Brian Shaw responds to a question during a news conference in Indianapolis, .Wednesday, July 13, 2011. AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(9) Pia Sundhage (2nd L) coach of the U.S. laughs as she listens to striker Abby Wambach (2ndR) during a practice session for the upcoming final of the women’s soccer World Cup in Frankfurt July 15, 2011. The U.S. will play Japan in the World Cup final on Sunday in Frankfurt. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach ….

(10) USA’s goalkeeper Hope Solo is stretched during a training session on July 15, 2011 in Frankfurt/Main, two days before the final football match of the FIFA women’s football World Cup Japan vs USA at the FIFA Frauen-WM-Stadion in Frankfurt/Main, central Germany, on July 17, 2011. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE …..

(11) Members of Japan’s women’s soccer team pose with placards from Japanese children from Frankfurt’s International School prior to a practice session in Frankfurt July 15, 2011. Japan will play the U.S. in the World Cup final on Sunday, July 17, in Frankfurt. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach …….

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College Football news

ESPN news

FIFA Women’s World Cup

MLB News

NBA News

NFL News

Pittsburgh Steelers news

Tick Tock , Tick Tock , Time Is Now Moving Fast In Baseball ……..

Tick Tock , Tick Tock , Time Is Now Moving Fast In Baseball ……..

Well it’s that time of the year when the eyes of the sports’ world is now peering on baseball’s showcase event. The 2011 All Star Game is set for tonight with the AL taking on the NL with with it comes to the privilige of having homefield advantage throughout the World Series . And given the idiocy of the events that took place in 2002 with the game ending in a tie and Commissioner Bud Selig looking to explain that this was the best possible outcome from an extremely exhilarating game. Somehow I simply hope that that the commissioner has the temerity to show some common sense in determining a fair result . Perhaps the commissioner may well have the players from both rosters spoon each other until they reach that height of ecstasy . Given the stupidity of the many judgments rendered by him over the years I really do believe that it is now for him to hang it up and ride off into the sunset !

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Slide show for your perusal .

I’ve read a number of pieces questioning whether or not realignment of the divisions would be of benefit to the game , bringing in a much more competitive nature and rivalries within baseball. To me that’s simply dressing up a pig and then asserting that it now looks like a sow ! It’s simply a damn stupid idea that makes no sense at all. The problems within the game have more to do with the financial imbalances and the mere fact that the owners , league hierarchy and general managers haven’t got a God damn clue ! Rather than looking to solve the problem they are ignoring it , and carrying on as usual. And we are now seeing how that is working out for the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets ?

Seemingly it had to take Frank McCourt to create his own web of deceit , lies that would all but bring the Dodgers to the brink of financial disaster (in filing Chapter 11 [ financial reorganization]) before the league hierarchy under Bud Selig sought to act with any real action. It’s a pity that the team hasn’t gone under then perhaps the other idiot owners around the league would perhaps pull their heads out of their ass and begin to address the inherent problems that are now encircling the game beyond the financial strains that no doubt many of them are now facing ! And if anyone is under the impression that the dye has been cast concerning this episode then they are mistaken . One now simply has to preamble over to the mess that’s now unraveling within the New York Mets’ organization . And that is even with the advent of the $200 million cash infusion made by hedge fund manager David Einhorn into the ball-club in taking a minority stake in the team. I can only surmise that principal partners and co-owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon have assured the young Wall St phenom wunderkind that his money is indeed safe . At present the organization and both principal partners are the defendants in a civil suit that seeks to recoup in excess of $750 million as part of the monies received by the New York Mets and the owners’ associate company Sterling Equities Inc which we are told is from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon have plead their innocence stating that they ……… “are victims themselves having lost countless millions”. Though not inconceivable I find it somewhat ironic that two men who co-founded an investment company some three decades ago could have been so easily duped given their alleged financial experience and those the of the executives of Sterling Equities Inc ! But these are merely my own suspicions and thoughts on the matter ! Afterall we can only take them at their word can’t we ? But then again did you know that the Golden Gate Bridge is up for sale at a reasonable price ?

With several marquee players now taking their leave in not playing in the game due to injury we will still see the event with many of its stars on parade. The New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez won’t be participating in the All Star Game with Jeter recusing himself and Rodriguez bowing out due to surgery to repair a torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee. With that said it now remains to be seen how this will be viewed by the fans in general with two of the game’s biggest stars not appearing.

Jeter having come off attaining his 3,000th hit as a player and along with the New York Yankees’ alltime hits’ lead . But for Jeter this simply isn’t about attaining feats but more to do with leading this team to another World Series title . The division within which the New York Yankees reside is now turning into a real barn burner and I’ve no doubt it will be long drawn out dog fight between all of the participants there ! The AL East has always been viewed as perhaps the most competitive of all divisions within baseball. This year I’ve no doubt that the race for the wildcard berth and division will all hinge on the play of the Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays down the final stretch run of the season . It’s pretty much safe to say that both the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles won’t be in the thick of things as far as this divisional race is concerned.

Now it goes without saying that we have seen considerable amount to be pleased about concerning the play of the teams during the season. Earlier on this year I had a rather contentious and often ridiculous interface with a patron who would suggest that the Kansas City Royals are in the midst of a turnaround in terms of their play . Suffice to say that turnaround has yet to come into being and when you consider that the team now resides at the foot of the AL Central with a sub .500 record (37-54) can someone explain to me what signs there are that would suggest that this team much less the organization is really in the midst of a resurgence ?

While I’m sincere in seeing all of the league’s teams do well in the game I have never been one to sugar coat what I see as something delusional when I’m being told that a team is on the rise . The game of baseball has become about the immediacy of here and now ………..“what have you done for me lately ” ? And it is certainly not what you’re about to do quite possibly do in thee , four or five years from now ! If that were the case then the game itself simply wouldn’t be a worthwhile endeavor for the fans to be a willing participant as an observer . The fans want to see their teams do well each season not simply struggle then to fall by the wayside . And then it all comes down to excuses as to what might have been or even perhaps injuries played a part in their demise . Does anyone remember where the team finished at season’s end in 2010 ?

There have been strong suggestions this season we are in the midst of seeing the rise of the pitcher and it has to be said the season being had by Jered Weaver , Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia would has me believing that the AL Cy Young Award won’t be that easy to pick an outright winner . All three are worthy candidates and one would simply be naive at this juncture to suggest that we know who the winner ought to be at this juncture .

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PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 12: National League All-Star Brian Wilson(38) of the San Francisco Giants reacts with teammates catcher National League All-Star Miguel Montero (26) of the Arizona Diamondbacks and National League All-Star Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds after making the save to win the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The National League defeated the American League 5-1. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

Speaking as a fan of the teams within the NL I am hoping that Jair Jurrjens with the season he’s having can rise above the fray and succeed and show that the fans it’s not simply about the Philadelphia Phillies’ pitching rotation this season . The Phillies’ trio of Roy Halladay , Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee have lit up the league with their stellar displays and perhaps unequivocally justifying why they’re viewed as the prohibitive favorites for the NLCS .

As I alluded to earlier if Jair Jurrjens can usurp the Phillies’ trio of aces then perhaps Atlanta Braves can make a go of it this season and make light of the thought that many do not believe that they are good enough to win the NL East . They are now proving that and a great deal more by being competitive not just within the division but across the entire league . Manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff now have this team playing with a great deal of passion and I’d like to think that he’s in with a chance of winning the NL Manager of The Year Award but it would appear with the current play of the Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle would appear to be if not the consensus winner then the clear cut favorite for the award.

We are often told that stars are created because we need them to be there to bring about a sense of security and our passion for the game . And I guess that this indeed true of any individual or team sport ! This year however we have seen the ascent of Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista as their stars have risen into the stratosphere . The two players within the AL have all but a strangle-hold on the offensive categories within the AL . Suffice to say that without the duo in question their respective teams might not even be playing with any sort of the competitive juices to be had . And OK , each year for some reason the Blue Jays start fast right out of the gate only to stumble and fall before the halfway point in the season. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays , their fans and their front office they seem to have forgotten that the season is one of 162 arduous games and that you have to be in it for the long haul .

Both Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista could very well be battling it out at the end of the season for the AL MVP Award if there’s to be any justice within the game , as the duo have stood head and shoulders above their rivals within the American League .

National League’s Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers holds his MVP award following the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. The National League won 5-1 . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …….

With the second half of the season resuming as of tomorrow it certainly will be interesting to see what transpires for the teams said to be in contention for their respective divisions as well as the wildcard berths within both leagues. And as a fan of the Atlanta Braves my greatest wish is to see the team make the postseason and simply acquit themselves as against any prospective opponent that they are likely to face . What happens thereafter all comes down to the breaks that they make for themselves rather than the opportunities offered them by an opponent .

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

This season within baseball what thoughts if any do you have on the events that have taken place ? And how best do you feel that the league hierarchy can deal with some of the problems that they now face ? And what team or teams , player or players have actually surprised you with their performances so far ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

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

Contact tophatal @ …….. rapptu@gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) FILE – In this April 26, 2011, file photo former New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez throws a pitch during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. The Milwaukee Brewers acquired former All-Star reliever Francisco Rodriguez and cash from the New York Mets on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in exchange for two players to be named. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta ….

(2) American League’s Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays is tagged out at home plate by National League’s Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves after trying to score on a hit by American League’s Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers during the fourth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. The NL would go on to defeat the AL 5-1 . AP Photo/David J. Phillip ….

(3) PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 12: A general view of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(4) (L-R) National League All-Star Jair Jurrjens (49) of the Atlanta Braves, National League All-Star Starlin Castro (13) of the Chicago Cubs, National League All-Star Brandon Phillips (4) of the Cincinnati Reds, National League All-Star Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds and National League All-Star Jay Bruce (32) of the Cincinnati Reds stand before the start of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……

(5) (L-R) American League All-Star Josh Hamilton (32) of the Texas Rangers stands with American League All-Star Adrian Beltre (29) of the Texas Rangers and American League All-Star David Ortiz (34) of the Boston Red Sox before the start of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images …..

(6) (L-R) Daniel Hernandez Jr. and Joe Garagiola Sr. throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Hernandez is credited with helping to save U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in January and Garagiola was a former MLB player and long time announcer. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ….

(7) American League All-Star Carlos Quentin (20) of the Chicago White Sox swings during an at bat in the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(8) PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 12: National League All-Star Brian Wilson(38) of the San Francisco Giants reacts with teammates catcher National League All-Star Miguel Montero (26) of the Arizona Diamondbacks and National League All-Star Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds after making the save to win the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The National League defeated the American League 5-1. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(9) American League’s Adrian Gonzalez of the Boston Red Sox hits a solo home run during the fourth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(10) National League’s Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers holds his MVP award following the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. The National League won 5-1 . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …….
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MLB News

MLB Standings

MLB Wildcard standings

MLB Schedule 14th July 2011

MLB Probable starters 14th July 2011

MLB Stats

American League Category leaders alongside

Batting Avg —- Adrian Gonzalez

Hits —- Adrian Gonzalez

Home runs —-Jose Bautista

RBI’s —- Adrian Gonzalez

Pitching

Wins —- C C Sabathia

ERA —- Jered Weaver


National League
Category leaders alongside

Batting Avg.Jose Reyes

Hits —- Jose Reyes

Home runs —- Lance Berkman

RBI’s —- Prince Fielder

Pitching

Wins —- Jair Jurrjens

ERA —-
Jair Jurrjens

2010 MLB Awards

What’s Happening ? Nuthin’ ! Hotties Are Needed !

What’s Happening ? Nuthin’ ! Hotties Are Needed !

Well there’s not much on the sports horizon to be overly enamored with at present . Both the NBA and NFL lockouts continue apace with no real clear sign that either side is about to reach an accord anytime soon. At the same we have the usual cabal of analysts and reporters providing us with the customary verbiage that has about as much rhyme or reason as fecal matter being thrown up against a wall and being described as modern contemporary art . ‘nough said !

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The MLB mid season showcase event the All Star Game continues with the game tonight itself at Chase Field in Phoenix , Arizona . There has been little any discord with regard to protests in opposition to the state’s immigration bill . At the same time we now have the about face shown by slugger Adrian Gonzalez , which once again shows why it’s best not lot take any notice of an athlete when they seek to make some sort of social statement . Gonzalez simply does himself a disservice and shows his complete stupidity to begin with concerning his original remarks about Arizona’s immigration bill.

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Lucy Pinder , model and reality tv star in Europe

Well from my own standpoint with there being so little to be really upbeat about when it comes to the world of sports at present . I can’t get into the Women’s World Cup albeit that the hound in me would like to lay the wood to team USA goal-keeper Hope Solo ! Move over Brandi Chastain Hope Solo’s rack and bod’ is far hotter than yours by a damn wide margin !

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So guys indulge me if you can while I simply drop a few tidbits of voluptuous females your way merely to brighten up the day ! If it’s not to your liking then so be it but if it’s something that you’re OK with then by all means do leave a comment .

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) FILE – This April 13, 2011, file photo shows Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Kurt Rambis during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, in Minneapolis. The Timberwolves have fired Rambis after two seasons on the job. A person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, that Rambis has been fired. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been announced by the team. Does anyone actually believe that there’s any common sense to be found within the entire front office of the Timberwolves at present ? Certainly the blame doesn’t rest solely with Kurt Rambis but also with owner Glen Taylor and GM David Kahn . AP Photo/Jim Mone …..

(2) PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 11: American League All-Star Adrian Gonzalez (28) of the Boston Red Sox participates in the final round of the 2011 State Farm Home Run Derby at Chase Field on July 11, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ….

(3) FILE – This Feb. 5, 2011, file photo shows members of the NFL Football Hall of Fame 2011 class, from left, Marshall Faulk, Shannon Sharpe and Deion Sanders, being interviewed following the announcement, in Dallas. Shannon Sharpe has chosen his older brother, former star receiver Sterling Sharpe, as his presenter when he is enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month. The Hall announced the presenters for the Aug. 6 ceremony on Monday, July 11, 2011. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …..

(4) Hope Solo of the U.S. attends a training session ahead of the Women’s World Cup semi-final match against France in Moenchengladbach July 12, 2011. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender -GERMANY – Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP

(5) Team USA goal keeper Hope Solo holds aloft the national flag. Imagine her naked with nothing but the flag adorning her body ? Nice !

(6) Elisha Cuthbert and Mila Kunis . Cuthbert is best best remembered from season’s 1&2 of Fox’s action drama “24” . Kunis also a Fox alumni is best remembered for her role as Jackie Burkhardt from their comedy ” That 70’s Show”. But she’s grown as can be attested to in her girl on girl lesbian scene opposite Natalie Portman in the Oscar nominated movie ” Black Swan” . courtesy of Maxim Magazine …….

(7) Stacey Dash now on the north side of forty and still lookin’ friggin’ hot !

(8) Olivia Wilde . Seen in Fox’s medical drama “House” and the Disney blockbuster hit Tron Legacy” and soon to be seen in Jon Favreau’s Western sci fi drama “Cowboys & Aliens” . Courtesy of GQ Magazine . ….

(9) How ’bout having Esther Baxter slide up and down your pole ? Not such a bad thing eh ? Courtesy of Covergirl Magazine.

(10) Get crunk’d because I’m prescribing some Ashley Logan . God damn !

(11) Jessica Acevedo aka Jessica Rabbit also a doyenne and staple of the hip hop video world .

(12) There’s a reason why Denise Milani’s goodies need to be kept close together !

(13) UK newspaper tabloid model Rhian Sugden .

(14) Lucy Pinder , model and reality tv star in Europe .
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MLB News

NBA News

NFL News

FIFA Women’s World Cup

It’s Never Too Late ……………

It’s Never Too Late ……..

There’s been a lull on the sports horizon and very little of late that has been happening . It was however sad to hear and read about the death of Hall of Famer John Mackey . The 69 year old died in his sleep at an assisted living facility during which he suffered many ailments such as dementia , epileptic seizures and the early stages of Alzheimers but the troubling thing related to Mackey’s untimely demise is the mere fact that this former NFLPA President saw that the NFL has done little to assist former players with aid benefits . John Mackey a prodigious and productive player over the course of his career but the sadness in his passing should be something that the NFL can perhaps learn from.

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And as saddening as it was to heat of John Mackey’s passing , consider this concerning what can be described as part of the former of NFL player’s last moments on the earth . He had to have constant around the clock assistance as he has lost many of motor neuron skills , a colostomy bag was part of the player’s regimen as he was unable use a restroom under his own volition . Unable to care for himself with a sense of dignity this was how this former NFL player spent his final days on this earth , not quite in a place of degradation but it was simply has to be humiliating to know that this simply is an untold story that seems to another episode that the NFL would rather not let the world actually have an eye on . The underbelly and the dark side of what happens to many of the players that sacrificed so much for their love of the game and with a view to finding success and fame. In retirement we are under the impression that many of the players from Mackey’s generation and prior have all the means where they will be able to take care of themselves with all of the amenities one would deem available to them . But that was certainly not the case and it would now appear for many of his contemporaries from the era he played in a similar position .

We are constantly bombarded with the message that the NFL cares about its own but in reality how true is that to begin with ? Far too many players are actually falling through the cracks when it comes to the so called care that’s said to be provided by the NFL and in particular by the players’ own union the NFLPA . And inasmuch as the alleged assistance that was being provided to the player at the time of his death in terms of benefits to assist him in his time of need , so much more could have been done to assist Mackey and many of his kind who are suffering

The sad part to this all is that while the NFL labor stoppage now in its 116th day very little has been mentioned as what the league’s intent will be with regard to retired veterans and how they will be assisted . More we have been led to believe as part of these labor negotiations has been to do with how the league heirarchy and the NFLPA will split their $9 billion revenue stream . DeMaurice Smith as Executive Director of the NFLPA much like his predecessor Gene Upshaw has said little about the issue of current veterans as to their benefits . And though Mackey died in an assisting living facility what might be even more surprising was the mere fact that the former NFL great’s benefits were actually cut to such an extent that it seems inconceivable that the league now feels that is doing more now than ever before in providing assistance for their former now retired members . If that is the case then perhaps they can somehow explain why it was that former Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Webster and Dave Duerson died under such degrading circumstances ? This player part of the Steelers’ Iron Curtain and was a man of honor but his death was in such a stark contrast to what his career was said to be all about. We know that his story has been well chronicled , bouts of alcoholism , depression but again Smith suffered from chronic headaches all due to his career in the NFL .

Throughout the course of his career Mike Webster is said to have suffered as many as a dozen game concussions over the course of his career through much of which the medical observations and advice given to the player was extremely poor. And granted the NFL has progressed a great deal in the years since Webster retired from the game with regard to information and research that the medical establishment has provided from their research into the cause and effect of concussions and head traumas. It hasn’t been the NFL that has actually laid the groundwork in this research but academia and in particular such noted colleges of medicine such Boston University School of Medicine & Neuro Sciences , Harvard School of Medicine & Neurology , Stanford School of Medicine & Neurology as well as the AMA’s own conclusive and incisive research. That being said it has been the NFL’s reluctance even with their own medical counsel who have simply said to the contrary that there was no discerning cause and effect with regard head trauma , concussions and the debiliatating maladies suffered by the players in the aftermath of their retirement from the NFL . Dave Duerson suffered from extreme bouts of depression having suffered multiple concussions over the course of his career but the sadness under circumstances that led to the player taking his own life cannot simply be misplaced as another act of another suicide. There has to be a real reason behind these cases and much of that can be related to the mere fact that the NFL itself has not been there to meet the needs of the retired players.

As I alluded to earlier with Mike Webster’s death came as a shock to many but the conditions surrounding his death are so inconceivable and beyond belief. We know that the player had fallen on hard times that he sought help but little had been forthcoming from the NFLPA and was beyond comprehension to believe that here was a real giant of the game who at the time of his death lived in squalor , suffered with dementia , bouts of severe depression. But what could be even more troubling was the fact that Mike Webster with his medical issues died under such dire circumstances where at times he would defecate and urinate on himself while trying to hold a normal conversation with family members or friends.I am not so sure that in the midst of this all the NFL fully understands the serious ramifications from the course of action that it has failed to take over the years.

I find it rather ironic however that players such as NFLPA President Kevin Mawae and Drew Brees now suggest that this lockout has more to do with asssisting the retired and veteran players than it has to do with dealing with a mere labor issue. Perhaps I’m mistaken but this discussion rarely comes up over the course of their negotiations or the formal statements made to the print and television media . It could well now be that the NFLPA much like the league hierarchy are now seeking to curry favor by seeking the public’s sympathy in the ongoing charade. This has never been a labor dispute in the true sense of the word because it has been in fact merely been about money and how best each side can try to outdo each other while simply not losing face in the eyes of the onlooking public ! It may well be too little too late at the end of the day as it appears that now more than ever before so many former NFL players are living in suffering in such dire circumstances and many of whom may well die in such in such abject squalor or perhaps in other such conditions beyond their control .

In the aftermath of Kurt Warner’s retirement from the Arizona Cardinals it was apparent that the organization would face an uphill battle trying to remain relevant within the league . And for head coach Ken Whisenhunt and his coaches this past season”> season was a trying time for the fans , the team and in particular the Bidwill family as owners of the team.

Given the fact that the team having drafted Matt Leinart his lack of candor and command in learning the nuances of being a quarterback in the NFL . It is extremely understandable to see the reason why this team has failed so miserably in the aftermath of Kurt Warner’s retirement . Leinart with having a heralded career with USC at the collegiate level he has completely failed to live up to the percieved hype that would suggest that he had the makings of a NFL caliber quarterback. His career in the NFL so far can be best described as mediocre for want of a better word !

Coming off a 5-11 season within the NFC West season where the team simply underperformed . Much of that came down to the fact that there simply wasn’t a quarterback on this roster that good enough to command with the respect of the team much less play with any degree of consistency. You cannot imply to me that the likes of Max Hall , Derek Anderson , John Skelton or Richard Bartel are what the coaches of this organization now have the belief in guiding them to the promise land less and a legitimate shot at the Superbowl ! There’s more chance to be had with Andre Bocelli spending a night of passionate unadulterated sex with several porn stars than the premise of seeing that trio of quarterbacks actually leading the Cardinals to a winning season much less raising the Lombardi Trophy in triumph !

From an offensive standpoint the Cardinals are quite an attractive team but without a signal caller of confidence and the ability to lead they will continue to come up short . It would be pretty safe to say that Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best wide receivers in the league and certainly noteworthy enough to be considered amongst the top five overall ! But the real problem has that has simply bedeviled this team over the past season has simply been not being able to close out games with authority when they have their opponents on the ropes . This above anything else has to have been truly worrisome for Ken Whisenhunt and his coaching staff .

This upcoming season it will be very interesting to see whether or not the Arizona Cardinals can acquit themselves with any real degree of authority and simply be considered contenders within the NFC West and the conference overall . They’ve shown signs defensively that they’ve made some progression but clearly there has to be a great deal more consistency on both sides of the ball from this team !

One of the most pressing issues for the Cardinals also will be to quell the rise in discontent with Larry Fitzgerald as the player is now said to be genuinely dissatisfied with the direction that the organization is said to be apparently going in. It is abundantly clear that this organization can ill afford to lose a player of Fitzgerald’s caliber and simply become an also ran amongst the ranks of the NFC . And that is something that clearly Rod Graves as the team’s general manager or members of the Bidwill family would like to see isa disgruntled star player looking for a trade . But let’s face facts here if this team can’t take care of business this season then in all certainty Fitzgerald will want out ………. no matter what !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it greatly appreciated !

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

Picture and slide show details below
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(1) John Mackey, left, and Ralph Wenzel were both on the San Diego Chargers in 1972, but have no memory of playing together. Courtesy of The New York Times /Brendan Smialowski ….

(2) John Mackey, left, seen here some five years prior to his death with his rings from Super Bowl V and the Pro Football Hall of Fame; and Ralph Wenzel at the Annapolitan Assisted Living Community in Annapolis Maryland. Mr. Mackey, 65, and Mr. Wenzel, 64, both have dementia. Brendan Smialowski / The New York Times ……..

(3) Dave Duerson (right) is seen here testifying before Congress in June of 2007 . In the background seated is former Dallas Cowboys’ player Darryl Johnston . Duerson’s testimony to Congress dealt with the issues of neurological disorders suffered by current and retired players . He was a staunch advocate also for the rights of players with regard their medical plight , denial of benefits and numerous other health related issues. He was only 50 years old at the time of his death. AP/ Malcolm Warren …………

(4) Webster and Bradsahaw seen here in Cantion , Ohio, home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame . AP Photo/archives …

(5) First round draft pick, Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals speaks during a press conference at the team’s training center auditorium on April 29, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. Getty Images / Christian Petersen ……

(6) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) catches an 11-yard touchdown in front of San Francisco 49ers safety Reggie Smith (30) in the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. The Cardinals would go on to lose the game 38-7 to the San Francisco 49ers . AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

(7) San Francisco 49ers linebacker Manny Lawson (99) sacks Arizona Cardinals quarterback John Skelton in the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. San Francisco 49ers corner-back Shawntae Spencer was also credited on the sack. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ……

(8) (L-R) Quarterbacks Matt Leinart (7) left and Kurt Warner (13) of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate after winning the NFC championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles on January 18, 2009 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 32-25 to advance to the Super Bowl. Getty Images North America /Jamie Squires ……
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Hashish Is The Spice of Life …………

Hashish Is The Spice Of Life So Says Deron Williams

Let’s get one thing clear and stop with the utter stupidity that the statement in which New Jersery Nets’ point guard Deron Williams whose choice to pursue and offer his talents to top Turkish basketball side Beseitkas BC is all about money. The player who left the Utah Jazz in a trade transaction that was a multi player deal to make his home with the Nets . Multi billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov and the front office had to have given his blessing for this deal even with the advent of the NBA mandated lockout. The vested interest that the organization has in the player and the fact that GM Billy King knows that they would rather have a happy player rather than a discontented one .

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Williams simply doesn’t need the money as he’s the thirteenth highest paid player in the league and has sizable endorsement contracts that simply gives the player all the money he could simply ever wish for. What most patrons who’ve proffered up a commentary on this issue fail to understand is that the NBA players are not covered their teams’ insurance coverage during a labor stoppage so it makes prudent financial sense for a player to seek plying his trade elsewhere. The caveat being however , it does give an NBA team the right to void the player’s contract should they have a serious injury that could curtail their career during their sojourn. In the case of Deron Williams he will be financially rewarded with a $ 5 million one year contract , an assistant , the lease of a brand new car , a luxurious home for the player , his immediate family , round the clock security and all of his living expenses will be paid for by Beseitkas during the player’s stay in Turkey. The team itself is one of the top club sides in Europe alongside Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel .

Nets’ team owner Mikhail Prokhorov is seen here with minority equity stake partner Jay-Z . The two will combine their resources in bringing the team to the Barclay Yard Development in Brooklyn , New York in two years . Courtesy of NESN.com copyrighted material @ all rights reserved ….

Now with Williams’ wish to play abroad it remains to be seen whether or not any of the league’s marquee stars will seek to ply their trade abroad . With all of the rumors currently circulating that Kobe Bryant is said to be interested in playing in Italy , I for one find that premise somewhat misleading with the mere fact with the player coming off surgery , it is highly unlikely that Bryant would seek to have a re-occurence of injury while playing abroad . If anything the player is more liable to rest and recuperate while awaiting an outcome of this work stoppage initiated by the league hierarchy at the insistence of the NBA team owners .

Courtesy of Foxsports

NBA stars going overseas a bad sign

By Dan Wolken

So Deron Williams wants to play in Turkey if the NBA season doesn’t start on time, which is certainly his right. In theory, it’s a decent way to spend a few months: Hang out in Europe, make money and play basketball while the NBA bickers its way through a lockout. It sounds so good, in fact, that within minutes of Williams’ agent confirming the agreement, superstars ranging from Carmelo Anthony to Kobe Bryant indicated an interest in joining him overseas.

But just by entertaining the idea of a European exodus, NBA stars are already showing the kind of selfishness and greed that will ultimately undermine the Players Association in what could be a long, ugly labor war.

A number of basketball people reacted the same way to the news Williams had agreed to play for Besiktas: They’ll believe it when they see it. But even if Williams never makes it to Turkey, the mere notion of it has already caused problems for players on the margins of the NBA.

With the possibility that legitimate NBA players and even some All-Stars could sign for the duration of the lockout, there are some early indications that players who typically go overseas may be squeezed out until European teams see who they can get.

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With that in mind this can’t sit well with the owners knowing that their players would seek to ply their trade elsewhere while the league itself is in the midst of a labor dispute . But so asinine has been the situation that it is hard to see how David Stern , Adam Silver as Deputy Commissioner can seek to resolve this situation when the league hierarchy and the NBPA are so far apart in renegotiating the collective bargaining agreement which expired on the 30th June.
The union’s Executive Director Billy Hunter along with union president Derek Fisher and its <a href=”http://npba.org/leadership”&gt; executive committee are insistent they have no wish to accede and make any concessions to the league unless the owners and hierarchy are prepared to acquiesce and reciprocate in kind. That at present doesn’t, appear to be an option but it remains to be seen over the ensuing days and weeks how things will work themselves out . This much is certain if the hierarchy and players aren’t on the same page by the time by the mini camp and preseason starts , we could well be seeing a prolonged stoppage with the possibility that the 2011-12 season not starting on time until either January of 2012 or perhaps the season being completely abandoned altogether .

The NBA’s teams at present are hemorrhaging money with more than half the teams in the league now said to be incurring multi million dollar losses . A patron of my site tried to allude to the fact that much of what is being stated concerning the teams’ losses is mere subterfuge on the part of the NBA and the fact that there are clear indications that the teams are in fact making millions . A recent article in noted financial publication Forbes Magazine states that much of the NBA hierarchy’s claims are a fallacy but herein lies the caveat with regard to those claims , it is merely that the contributor of that article merely remarked about the fact that much of the revenues derived by the teams are in fact from season and general admission ticket sales and that of concessions during regular season games . Not much was made with regard to revenues streams derived from the NBA’s own marketing and branding operations . Now inasmuch as I’ve a great affinity for Forbes Magazine and what it at times bring to the table I found the article on the NBA’s finances something of a faux pas on their part ! The article failed to touch on the very fact that in 2009 and 2010 respectively the league received cumulatively in excess of $550 million in loans which was shared amongst 22 teams around the NBA . If that is not indicative of a league that is said to be in dire straits then can someone please explain to me what is ? David Stern in his formal statement in 2009 concerning the first series of loans made the suggestive statement ….. ” that this should not be viewed as a financial bailout of the teams in question but merely a way of assisting them in their financial difficulties”. Over this last decade the league’s teams have borrowed in excess of $1.6 billion from major financial institutions across the nation. Clearly a situation that the league now needs to address as to the financial acumen of its teams and their general managers .

After a nine year career much of it filled with a great deal of disappointment Houston Rockets’ center Yao Ming we’re told will make a formal announcement stating that he will retire from the game. Recurring injuries and ill health throughout much of his career led to this decision where the 7′ center feels it necessary call it a day. Drafted in the 2002 NBA Draft first overall by the Rockets Yao Ming would make his home in Houston leading the team in a number offensive categories over much of his career .

The faith shown in Yao Ming by general manager Daryl Morey and owner Leslie Alexander has been implicit but it has been the growth of the game in Yao’s homeland of China that must first be appreciated . Granted , the population (1.6 billion and counting) may well have known about Michael Jordan through jersey , other sports apparel sales and the presence of Nike Inc which has several manufacturing plants dotted all over the country gave a heighten awareness to the game and NBA brand in the Far East.

With Yao’s apparent wish to step away from the game it has to be said that league hierarchy will see this as something of a sad loss . Commercially the player had the second highest jersey sales in his native land behind Kobe Bryant but without the Chinese native’s rise to the top of the game and the legions of fans within China that now follow the NBA , this has all been due to his presence within the professional ranks in North America.

Success though fleeting for the Rockets with Yao’s arrival and the awareness of the Sino American community within the state of Texas and in particular within the city of Houston laid the foundation for the organization and its selling of the player to the community at large . Yao Ming played his role in that task and it became clear that the Houston Rockets and NBA at large would profit greatly from this endeavor. And though it is questionable as to how Yao Ming’s career will be viewed by the fans and analysts at large . A great player in his own right on both ends of the court it has to be said there will be those who will debate overall whether or not he has actually been a success in the NBA . Debate it at will but there will be those who come out in favor of the player and those who will also question where he stands within the game. The preeminent centers within the game as Yao’s peers were Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard once he became a force in the league but it has to be said the thinning of the position with O’Neal now retiring leaves us with not much by way of the prototypical center within the NBA.

From my own perspective with the retirement of Yao from the game it now leaves a large gap of what I believe to be truly good centers within the NBA ! Certainly amongst the centers now playing the game Dwight Howard immediately comes to mind and that of Andrew Bynum with the latter yet to refine his game and live up to the perceived expectations as to how good he can really become. I think that comes more out of conceit on the part of Bynum , the fact he is self absorbed and believes himself privileged . And if the Los Angeles Lakers are to be resurgent once again then he will have to raise the level of his play.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In your opinion do you feel that the departure of Deron Williams to play in Europe will be sign that other marquee players will seek to ply their trade elsewhere ? Also with what is said to be the imminent retirement of Yao Ming what thoughts if any do you with regard to play of the centers that are now playing in the NBA ? Do you believe that it is on the decline or is it your opinion that this is merely a cyclical situation and we will once again see a dominant player at the position ? Simply chime 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) FILE – This Feb. 24, 2011, file photo shows New Jersey Nets’ Deron Williams posing in front of his poster at a news conference, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Turkish team Besiktas says it is close to reaching a deal with NBA All-Star guard Deron Williams. The New Jersey Nets say they can’t comment because of the lockout. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ……

(2) New Jersey Nets draft pick Jordan Williams speaks during an introductory NBA basketball news conference as Marshon Brooks looks on Monday, June 27, 2011, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ….

(3) New Jersey Nets general manager Billy King speaks during an introductory NBA basketball news conference as draft pick Bojan Bogdanovic , left, looks on Monday, June 27, 2011, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ……

(4) Nets’ team owner Mikhail Prokhorov is seen here with minority equity stake partner Jay-Z . The two will combine their resources in bringing the team to the Barclay Yard Development in Brooklyn , New York in two years . Courtesy of NESN.com copyrighted material @ all rights reserved ….

(5) This file photo taken on June 27th, 2011 shows NBA Houston Rockets’ Chinese basketball star Yao Ming listening to a question during a press conference in Taipei. Chinese media was rife with speculation on July 11, 2011 about what basketball icon Yao Ming might do next, after reports the country’s most famous sporting export is set to retire. AFP PHOTO /Getty Images / FILES / Sam YEH …..

(6) LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 26: Yao Ming (11) of the Houston Rockets looks on during their opening night game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on October 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images …..

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Slow But Steady , Slow But Really Steady

Slow But Steady , Slow But Really Steady

It has been really interesting as of late to watch the way things have unraveled within the AL East . And as many prognosticators believe the division may well be the most competitive in all of baseball it goes without saying that the reasoning is very much justified . As an ardent admirer of the game I have a certain fascination with the team that is local to Central Florida. And that happens to be the Tampa Bay Rays who over the last two years , have been twice a winner of the division , an ALCS Pennat winner and made their sole appearance in the World Series in 2008 which ended in sadness with the team losing to the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 in the best of seven series . At the helm as the team’s manager has been Joe Maddon the organization’s most successful coach.

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Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida , is home to this young organization that has had its fair share of highs and lows over the course of its history . For Maddon and his coaching staff , they have essentially been great tutors of which much of that tutelage has come to fruition in seeing the giant steps made in the progression of young stars on the roster . Perhaps none more so than Evan Longoria , Matt Joyce and the team’s two pitching All Stars David Price and James Shields . It’d be remiss however to suggest that the aforementioned trio are the sole cause for the team’s success this season but with the addition of Johnny Damon and reliever Kyle Farnsworth the Rays have proven to a formidable challenge to the likes of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees .

New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter returns to the dugout after being thrown out at first base to end a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, July 7, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Rays won 5-1. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …

The Rays have been very lucky with the fact that their pitching has held up well and the mere fact that there now seems to be a great deal of confidence throughout their starting five as well as the relievers would suggest that they are quite capable of giving the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees a real run for their money down the closing stretch of the season . I firmly believe that if the team is within two games of the lead coming into the month of September then all bets are off as to the division being anything but a two horse race between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees as it now appears to be !

With the All Star Game scheduled this upcoming week the Tampa Bay Rays’ schedule becomes ever so important. The team is a mere four and a half games behind the division leading New York Yankees (51-14) but only a 1 1/2 games behind the second placed Boston Red Sox (51-35). The Rays are coming off a resounding 12-5 shellacking of the Minnesota Twins. If the team can continue with that sort of the momentum then their upcoming series of games against their divisional rivals the Red Sox and Yankees should prove to be very interesting. The New York Yankees host the Rays at Yankees Stadium for home series of three games before the midseason break and the festivities surrounding the All Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona .

First up for the Tampa Bay Rays will be to rein in the New York Yankees , the winners of seven of their last ten games and riding on an offensive that has been very potent indeed . Leading the way for the Yankees has been first baseman Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson in the team’s onslaught. But need we remind ourselves that this team also has the likes of Robinson Cano , Nick Swisher and . Alex Rodriguez all of whom are capable of providing the New York Yankees with the much needed offensive weaponry that any team would enviable of having . .

Now while much of the focus has been the Derek Jeter watch as he makes his way to the 3,000 hits plateau as he is now but three hits away from reaching that milestone and become the organization’s all time hits leader . The fifteen year veteran now sits atop of the mountain and will now be instantaneously be immortalized by the Yankees’ fans . Jeter has already surpassed Yankees’ legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig but if anything this modern day icon and the face of the game to most and in particular the Yankees’ fans. One has to admit that the player is now winding down his illustrious career .

If the Rays can get to the pitching of the Yankees of which I believe is the team’s Achilles Heel then quite possibly they can win this series , cut the deficit that Bronx Bombers has over the other residents within the division. I think it’s pretty safe to say and that Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays are out of the running for the wildcard spot within the AL in terms of a postseason berth !

The contributions of Damon to the Rays this season cannot be underestimated as he’s provided a steadying presence to the team and the younger players I believe are thoroughly appreciative of that fact ! As for the Tampa Bay Rays’ fans their hometown hero has given them something to believe in with the advent of the ongoing financial woes of the organization. Say what you will but team owner Stuart Sternberg , GM Andrew Friedman and the associated partners have remained steadfast that for now the team will remain within this locale . But it appears that with each passing moment the likelihood of the Rays remaining within the area is unlikely as no common ground can be found between the two opposing factions.

Surprisingly enough the Tampa Bay Rays were once again winners in MLB Draft garnering a number of top collegiate prospects further enhancing the reputation of the scouting and coaches within the Rays’ organization of which the Baseball Operations is headed by Gerry Hunsicker . And it should come as no surprise as to the reasons why the Tampa Bay Rays have been so successful down the years with draft choices . Though this past season the team had to release fan favorites Carl Crawford , Rafael Soriano and Carlos Pena because of budgetary constraints it has to be said the organization hasn’t lost sight of what got them to where they are today.

The Tampa Bay Rays for their part have continued to surprise many but there’s a growing belief that what we’re now seeing are the waning moments of a ball-club that is in transition of moving out of the area , as the fans lament what they believe to be a double standard in terms of baseball’s hierarchy of merely leaning towards and assisting those who essentially are financially more well to do. From top to bottom the organization of the Tampa Bay Rays is a well ran operation with a farm system that’s the envy of many organizations around the league. The one stumbling block of the Rays has been the financial constraints because the ownership group is limited in its resources. I will always continue to maintain that a ball club cannot exist on a meager fan base of no more than 15,000 hardcore fans ! That seems to be bearing true as of today, with the Rays averaging no more than 19,000 fans per home game at Tropicana Field this season . In a number of cases the fanbase is simply outmatched with the arrival of either Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees and there we will see the attendance rise to as high as perhaps 25,000 to 30,000 in attendance . Hardly conducive when the away team is actually drawing far more supporters than the hosts of a scheduled home series but such are the vagaries of the game as it relates to the Tampa Bay Rays.

I certainly do believe that the Rays’ organization is now clutching at straws in the belief that an accord can be reached where they will remain in Central Florida ! It has now become abundantly clear with the financial worries of both Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties that neither county government can facilitate the financing needed to build a new venue for the team. Both county administrations are facing acute financial difficulties of their own having to furlough employees , slash budgets and a slew of sundry maneuvers has many questioning whether or not a multi million dollar facility is the right thing to do in order to facilitate the whims and wishes of a multi millionaire baseball team owner . It is not as if Stuart Sternberg or any of his senior partners have shown good faith by even suggesting that they are prepared to assist in the financing of a new venue. Any statement forthcoming , be it from Sternberg , Andrew Friedman or Matt Silverman for that matter , has essentially been about the need of a new venue rather than how best to cooperate in working together in making such a scenario happen.

As many of you know my disdain for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig knows no boundaries ! I find him to be obnoxious , a buffoon , an ignoramus and someone who is now completely out of touch as to the realities of the game and its numerous problems ! Rather than trying to be of assistance to the Tampa Bay Rays in attaining a new venue , he has seen fit to be critical of the organization’s endeavor even going as far to suggest that they will never stage an All Star Game until they have built a new venue that is to his liking and that of the league hierarchy’s . Suffice to say if the fans in the area haven’t seen that as the nail in the coffin to the organization’s efforts it has been heard loud and clear by the officials who sit on the boards of both county commissions in Hillsborough and Pinellas County . I don’t believe that Selig could have put the situation anymore succinctly than that , thereby laying to rest what now may well be a futile exercise on the part of the county governments of each ___ as well as the Tampa Bay Rays. The local sports talk radio hosts and print media may well hold out hope that things may well change but they are facing an uphill battle in their thinking that a venue can and will be built at this juncture .

It would indeed be sad to see the Tampa Bay Rays leave the area but facing a reality that the area cannot sustain a franchise that in essence hasn’t a long history or pedigree of success . Never mind the fact that this is simply a first or second generation of supporters who are now loyal to this franchise . The vast majority of the teams within the game have a long history of support that is steeped in the loyalty of its fans and with familial ties . But here with the Rays the success though only recent cannot hide the fact that there is a glaring and stark reality to this organization’s history. Its first decade under Vince Naimoli has more to do with it being a comedy of errors , with an owner who essentially saw this team as his own personal bauble and fiefdom for him to reign over like a king. Success never manifested itself to any degree and the organization came to be known as a laughing stock around the league .

Now even with its recent successes the Tampa Bay Rays still finds itself bedeviled by worries about its financial security more than anything else . With a payroll amongst the lowest in the league the coaches and front office will have to get by on a squad of good if not great players , their future prospects and as I alluded to earlier a farm system that is amongst the best in the league .

Should the organization in the ensuing years leave the vicinity of Central Florida then the death knell of the game at the major league level within this area will have clearly sounded. Spring Training is all that the area will then have to cling to and that in of itself may not be such a bad thing after all. The teams who make the area their home during the preseason bring with them a burgeoning legion of fans and snow birds into Central Florida all looking to give support to their teams and aid the area with their income and making creating something of a vibrant economy during their time here . Now in spite of that fact it doesn’t lessen the blow that a Major League team now finding success may well have to leave its locale merely because the league hierarchy in its infinite wisdom has been about as helpful in their cause to remain as one could consider Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might be in assisting in a peaceful settlement of the Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiations . Whereas Bud Selig was front and center in assisting the New York Mets and New York Yankees in the facilitating and building of their respective venues ( Citi Field & Yankee Stadium) he has been nowhere to be seen in assisting the Tampa Bay Rays in their endeavor to have a new venue built. But given the fact that as odious as the commissioner is , I can’t help but feel that the fans are now having the last laugh as things have gone to spiral out of control for himself and the league hierarchy as they now try to sort out the ongoing mess of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which will undoubtedly be followed by the web of intrigue and malfeasance that has taken place within the New York Mets organization . . Here’s to you Bud , you ingrate and piece of crap !

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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 ? And how as such do you view the race now taking place within the AL East ? Simply chime on in with your comments as you deem fit .

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

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) Ben Zobrist (18) of the Tampa Bay Rays bats against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 7, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images ….

(2) New York Yankees fans hold up the number of hits Derek Jeter has, during his at-bat in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, July 7, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Jeter grounded out to end the game as Tampa Bay won 5-1 . AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek ……

(3) New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter returns to the dugout after being thrown out at first base to end a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, July 7, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Rays won 5-1. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …

(4) Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth is congratulated by catcher John Jaso at the end of the Rays’ 5-1 win over the New York Yankees in a baseball game Thursday, July 7, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek …..

(5) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JULY 6: Johnny Damon (22) and Kelly Shoppach (10) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate a two-run home run by Shoppach against the Minnesota Twins in the second inning on July 6, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images …..

(6) Casey Kotchman (11) and B.J. Upton(2) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate after defeating the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 7, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images ……..

(7) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JULY 6: Sean Rodriguez (1), Evan Longoria (3) and Casey Kotchman (11) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate a two-run home run by Rodriguez against the Minnesota Twins in the eighth inning on July 6, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rays defeated the Twins 12-5. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ….

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Pop Goes The Weasel ……………..

Pop Goes The Weasel …..

Well it is now being widely reported that the NFL in conjunction with the NFLPA have gotten an accord wherein an agreement has been reached between the two sides. From what I’ve been led to believe it will be that the union and Commissioner Roger Goodell on behalf the team owners have suddenly had their wits about them. It took the two sides just over 100 days to suddenly realize that neither side can do without the other . At the same time I do believe that Federal Court Judge Arthur Boylan simply made both sides an offer that neither could refuse ! Either they reached a compromise or Boylan would render a decision that would most certainly have some serious repercussions for both sides.

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If the teams now get back to full practice mode with them all returning to their training facilities then quite possibly a preseason and some form of a regular season will proceed as planned . From my own perspective I think it is more liable that we will see a preseason of 2 games with regular season of 16 games as planned, kicking off on time on the 8th September . As to what this says about the NFL and in particular for the players of the NFLPA , it may well all come down to wanting to save face rather than being forced into a situation where they may have to come off on the wrong side of a legal verdict .

DeMaurice Smith as the NFLPA Executive Director now knows that he and his members face something of an uphill battle in assuring the player representatives that this is now all in their best interest. Other the flip side of this coin , Goodell’s legacy may well appear to be in tact knowing that he dodged a bullet . And for the fans of the NFL well let’s just say that there are some amongst us who feel that it’s great that the league will be back in action . I simply hope that the news that is now coming down the pike concerning the NFL has some real veracity to it and that the new CBA is equitable and amenable to all of the parties concerned !

If the actions of the NFL doesn’t have a bearing on the NBA and their own situation then quite possibly we could very well see the two sides there reach some sort of a compromise. But herein lies the caveat , NBA Commissioner David Stern as the league’s highest ranking official has ruled the NBA as if it were his own personal fiefdom . Stern’s autocratic rule would make a third world despotic tyrant feel proud of their own accomplishments and achievements. In the case of David Stern he now appears to be fighting his toughest battle yet . The NBPA in all likelihood will most certainly be against making any concessions that has them appearing weak and at the same they are not prepared to lessen their grip on the league revenues which sees them receiving a 53/47 split of the $3.95 billion that comes into the league’s coffers each season .

One wonders how it is that repeatedly when such instances arise in the wake of a hierarchy induced stoppage how it is that no foresight is shown wherein a collective bargaining agreement that the two sides prior to that expiration the two sides don’t start negotiating in advance ? That was most certainly the case with the NFL and also once again here with the NBA ! It would appear reasonable to suggest that they ought to have done that in the first place ____ starting off in good faith rather than the intense , sometimes rather animated and infantile exchanges that are said to have taken place during these negotiations between the NFL , NFLPA and now between the NBA and NBPA. Kind of makes one wonder who actually is the child here and who if anything is the adult overseeing this all ? It may well be that things will indeed have to take a real turn for the worse before any semblance of common sense is actually shown. I’m sure that Stern or his union counterpart Billy Hunter surely are not willing to have the FMCS (Federal Mediation & Conciliation Services ) or the US Federal Court intervene in this matter because should that occur then no party comes out in the end looking like a winner under any circumstance.

Now there’s a great deal to be said about the utter stupidity that has shown by the team owners , league hierarchy and in particular the general managers of the teams in the NBA . And now with a number of players now seeking to ply their trade elsewhere knowing that while a lockout remains in force they know that they are not covered in terms of insurance coverage during a league enforced lockout. Salaries , well it’s obvious that those won’t be paid at all so for the players who choose to play in Europe or elsewhere so that they can then earn a sizable sum in the midst of the stoppage and at the same time remain relatively fit is of benefit to themselves and their financial well being .

I find it somewhat naive of the fans are of the opinion feel that the league isn’t losing money but then again it all boils down the league showing very little by the way of transparency . They certainly are averse to opening their books for public scrutiny and it certainly has made David Stern look the complete idiot , when he , himself has sold the golden goose as a brand that simply was all in good standing. In the last two years Stern has made sure that teams around the league have been the financial recipients of over $600 million in loans , all of which the commissioner stated wasn’t to be viewed as a bailout . Somehow in the midst of this all David Stern is now finding out that all that glitters simply isn’t gold . Admittedly the ratings for this past season’s NBA Finals were a bonanza for ABC but the attendance for scheduled regular season games around the league saw a marked decline . Much of which has led to part of the financial instability for a number of teams. Owners such as Mikhail Prokhorov , Dan Gilbert , Joe Lacob and Peter Guber vastly overpaid for the respective franchises purchased but herein lies the caveat as in the case of Gilbert he’s amongst a number of team owners who are now cash strapped in more ways than they would actually care to admit . Nowhere is this more self evident than in the case of the Sacramento Kings and the ownership group led by Joe and Gavin_Maloof as they’ve simply looked to seek financial aid courtesy of the league hierarchy and advantageous tax exemptions from the city of Sacramento .

The plight of the Kings is by no means clear albeit that they will remain in Sacramento for one more year . Do not be surprised were the Maloofs to take off like thieves into the night with their bags packed and the city of Sacramento is left without an NBA franchise . One simply has to remember what took place with the Seattle Supersonics and their move from that city to Oklahoma City and the lies that permeated through the decision to move all orchestrated by David Stern and the Thunder ownership group led by Clay Bennett . Money may well have exchanged hands to finally facilitate the move but the city (Seattle) remains without a franchise and that simple feeling that they had been duped all along by the NBA . That once again is liable to happen with the city of Sacramento and the Sacramento Kings when it’s all said and done .

Falling attendances in an economic downturn is one thing but when the teams choose not to rein in their expenses and Stern seems to be adverse to actually initiating a hard salary cap rather than insisting that a soft cap now works for the teams. This has proven to be misplaced and even more so given the fact the commissioner has admitted that teams are hemorrhaging red ink like a corpse exsanguinate blood after receiving a nasty abdomen wound from a shotgun. I personally believe that the league hierarchy , the general managers and owners around the NBA have simply lost touched with reality . And the union and its executive committee are not that far behind in this whole asinine charade as they each look to one up each other. The league hierarchy wants to hold on to what little power it still has whereas the union simply wants the status quo to remain as is or perhaps get an even slightly larger slice of that pie.

This stoppage may well be the wake up call that this image enriched league needs to bring it back to reality. And the case can be made that much of this was simply brought about by the ambition of David Stern as he viewed that the best way to market the league was through its stars rather than the marketing of the teams . This scenario worked well when the league was in need of real vibrancy and they found it in a marketing and basketball phenom in Michael Jordan . And the rest as we say is history as the league and Jordan had some rich and wonderful years that have benefited both financially beyond their wildest dreams. Since the six time championship winning player retired from the game it has to be said that the NBA hit some lean years from a fan and attendance standpoint. Competitively the NBA is has had its ups and downs but the teams we expect to see make the NBA playoffs usually do , with there being one or two surprises along the way.

As I have alluded to earlier the league hierarchy simply are averse to any real transparency as to the their business practices and how they actually conduct their operations . The asinine situation remains is the very fact that there are fans out there who simply believe that the league can’t hit upon hard times. If they believe that to be so then simply look at the problems we now see befalling such teams as the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets are not mere hiccups . If only these fans would care to look beyond what takes place on the field of play and look to what is actually going on in the boardrooms of the teams then they would actually understand what is happening. Many of the thought processes I’ve heard _____ “we have a horrible owner and he needs to sell the team then we’d be much better off “ .

Given the situation with the economy and the asinine belief of some fans that billionaires such as Mark Cuban , Larry Ellison , Carlos Slim Helu and Eli Broad would even be interested in overpaying for a franchise that simply has seen its profits decline and many of its streams begin to dry up with the seller seemingly seeking prices that are inflated and not based on being anywhere near being realistic . Buyers simply don’t buy a sports’ franchise on a whim, they look to make sure that the purchase will be of benefit to them and that there is most certainly a chance of success before they would even consider plowing their money into such a venture . But then again that may not have been the case with the purchase made by Frank McCourt of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the sheer ineptitude shown by the team owners and baseball hierarchy in approving the deal to begin with for the sale of the team. Most certainly due diligence can’t have been used by the league hierarchy and anyone who simply believes that to have been the case has to be an idiot to begin with ! This very same hierarchy and owners voted against McCourt when he originally sought to purchase the Boston Red Sox but a mere three years later they saw fit to vote him in amongst the team owners’ fraternity by approving his purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Somehow words escape me as to the mere ineptitude that has been shown by Bud Selig , the league hierarchy and in fact the team owners of Major League Baseball !

Dan Gilbert though a multi millionaire is now finding out the hard way having seen the marked decline in the value of the Cleveland Cavaliers but at the same time he’s having to pay down the principal and interest having purchased the team by way of a loan from a major financial institution. This could very well be one of the numerous reasons why we are now seeing a number of owners beginning to voice their disapproval with the way that Stern has handled the matter but somehow they remain steadfast in their support of the commissioner and league hierarchy for now. Long time owners having bought their teams relatively cheap simply haven’t that much to worry about in large part but there are those recently new team owners that have spent hundreds of millions in their purchase that have yet to see anything tangible from that purchase by way of success or in the form of a profitability standpoint.

So apparently as one door closes another is still left ajar as the NBA continues with its own form of infighting . It will be interesting to see what now permeates between the two sides and how each looks to make their presentation of their case for the public’s consumption. I doubt that the vast majority of the league’s fans actually favor one side or another but they would simply be rather content to see both sides reach an agreement rather than what could turn out to be a rather bitter dispute between the two parties . It’s bad enough that the public has to endure that same sort of stupidity with the members of the House and Senate up on Capitol Hill without it now having to be shown of all places within the domain of big time professional sports . But this simply has become a microcosm of our society and when greed rather than common sense gets in the way of a real issue then for all sense and purpose stupidity sets in and ‘pop goes the weasel ‘.

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If the related news is said to be true are you happy that the NFL will be back in full swing with a scheduled formatted season of games to be played ? And what are your own thoughts on the NBA’s self imposed lockout and how do you see that scenario ending ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and as always thanks for the continued support .

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

NB : At the time of writing this piece the news concerning an agreement having been reached between the NFL and NFLPA _ no formal statement had yet to be issued , so as of now things still remain as they are .

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(1) Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert talks with the media at a press availability at the Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence, Ohio on Tuesday, June 8, 2010. AP Photo/Amy Sancetta …..

(2) Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle Corp., talks about his company during an interview Monday, May 8, 2000, in Dallas. Ellison, who unveiled a $199 Internet machine before an audience of students at a performing arts high school, said Oracle will donate more than 1,100 of the machines to 23 Dallas schools. The machine, which lacks a hard drive, is targeted at the education and consumer markets. Ellison the founder of Oracle is an ardent basketball fan who lost out in trying to acquire the Golden State Warriors earlier this year. AP Photo/Tim Sharp ……

(3) Billionaire real estate mogul and philanthropist Eli Broad . Courtesy of Forbes Magazine / Joe Puglise @ all rights reserved copyrighted material …

(4) David Stern (left) and Oklahoma City Thunder principal managing partner Clay Bennett are seen here at an NBA game in Oklahoma City , OK. AP Photo / Gabriel Barnes …….

(5) NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and National Football League Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith speak to reporters outside the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Sarasota, Fla., after speaking at the NFLPA’s rookie symposium, Wednesday, June 29, 2011. AP Photo/Brian Blanco ………

(6) (L-R) Brothers George Maloof, Gavin Maloof and Joe Maloof watch a preseason game between the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Thomas & Mack Center October 13, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Lakers won 98-95 . Getty Images North America /Ethan Miller ……

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