Can Cam Newton Step Up To The Plate This Season ?

Can Cam Newton Step Up To The Plate This Season ?

Week 3 of the NFL preseason and one doubts that there’s anymore that can be learned from the teams within the league . Certainly from a statistical standpoint as impressive as some teams appear to be there’s a great deal to be said for the fact that your starters will get their accustomed workouts but it will be the rookies who will look to acclimatize themselves with the rigors of the NFL.

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And perhaps nowhere will the spotlight be than upon more , than , the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton as he looks justify the faith shown in him by the Panthers’ front office , and the team’s coaching staff led by Ron Rivera . And though Newton has showed his guile and athleticism there has been nothing yet to suggest that he may well be the answer to the team’s needs at the position . The player and his presumed backup Jimmy Claussen now have one more game to prove to the fans and staff in particular that they are ready to embark upon the regular season in with the right frame of mind and the ability sought , in order for the Carolina Panthers to be successful.

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CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 25: Cam Newton (1) and Jordan Gross (69) of the Carolina Panthers celebrate after Newton’s 16-yard touchdown run during an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images …….

After a rather lackluster and disappointing 2010 season where the Carolina Panthers finished with a 2-14 record much to the disdain of their fans , it was felt the organization would embark upon a major personnel upheaval on both front within the playing and coaching staff. Jon Fox was seemingly allowed to depart along with several members of the coaching staff and this offseason the purge began amongst the playing personnel along with the players acquired through the NFL Draft .

As with any number one player taken in the draft a great deal is placed upon the shoulders of that athlete . They’re often seen as the presumed savior and future face of a franchise and for Cam Newton it will undoubtedly be no different. If the player can have half the success during his final year at Auburn then one could deem it a success for Cam Newton and his new teammates . Now it would be true to surmise that for any rookie quarterback starting in the NFL success isn’t expected to immediate but for the Panthers who have so much riding on the player , that anything short of an 8 win season would as such be deemed a failure for the organization . Granted , as with any team said to be going through this type of transition there will always be growing pains and a great deal of uncertainty not only about the team as a whole but also upon the expectations of the coaching staff , as well. Ron Rivera , it has to be said a rookie coach in the NFL will have his work cut out for him but with his credentials and insight into the game , one would expect the coach to fare well this upcoming season.

Unfortunately , for the Carolina Panthers they find themselves in a tough NFC South division where three of last year’s most promising teams within the conference reside . The Atlanta Falcons , New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cannot be overlooked as teams that are not capable of holding their own and being competitive in what can be best described as one of the better divisions within the NFL.

It might be at this juncture however that one now begins to question whether or not this team might be capable of usurping the dominance of their neighbors within the NFC South. I do believe that with that even with the changes on the roster , the team will be in for an arduous season ! The six games played within the division will be tough enough without considering the typical conference schedule overall for the Carolina Panthers. And ccertainly the team’s celebrated wide receiver Steve Smith will be looking to regain the form that made one of the more prolific players at the position .

It would be remiss to think that an offense led by Newton and Smith alone will be enough or for the Carolina Panthers to garner any semblance of success if this team is to show any semblance of progress beyond the mediocrity shown last season , then the team will have put forth a collective effort that is of their very best . There’s no denying that last season injuries had beset the 2010 team and as with any organization the coaching staff underestimated those losses to the roster as a whole . And it’s clear as a result of that the franchise ation believes it best to have players complemental and befitting a team that seeks the game’s ultimate prize _______ the Superbowl .

Noted veterans on this Carolina Panthers’ roster such as Steve Smith , Jeremy Shockey , Chris Gamble , DeAngelo Williams , Jordan Gross , Chris Massey and Jason Baker will have to step up if this team is to have any semblance of success over the course of this season.

By way of production shown in the preseason by the team’s young rookies the fans can expect something of note . Cam Newton , much like the players drafted alongside him by the Carolina Panthers have something to prove Albeit , that the quarterback’s own baptism of fire has been somewhat unspectacular . His rookie classmates Terrell McClain , Sione Fua , Brandon Hogan , Kealoha Pilares , Lawrence Wilson , Zachary Williams and Lee Ziemba are hoping that they too can offer something to this beleaguered franchise. If nothing else , it certainly will be interesting to see what transpires for this team as to their overall play.

For this season’s rookies in their first within the NFL this could very well prove to be an interesting year. Undoubtedly, even for the the players taken in the supplemental draft they too have something to prove . Terrelle Pryor in spite of his off field problems will have to justify the faith shown in him by the Oakland Raiders’ front office . I’d dare say that this is one gamble Al Davis might truly believe in, given his past forays with regard to over-hyped talent that simply didn’t measure up to much . With Pryor at this juncture who knows what he may well be able to offer the team ? Their travails of last season were well documented.

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Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, left, listens to instruction from head coach Hue Jackson, right, during their NFL football training camp in Napa, Calif., Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg …..

Certainly with the moves made by the organization and through the draft it has to be said the Oakland Raiders are positioning themselves to have a successful run within the AFC West and conference as a whole this season . The team certainly has the offensive capabilities to be amongst the best within the NFL and certainly within the AFC . If the team is able to reproduce that sort of form over the course the season then the Raiders’ fans could very well be for not only a wild ride but perhaps a shot of making the postseason .

Hue Jackson and his coaching staff must be hoping to get the very best out of this team . There’s enough veteran experience on the roster to suggest that Jason Campbell and his contemporaries are capable of providing enough leadership for the rookies on this team . But if there’s said to be a problem for the Raiders it has the consistent lapses by the defense in particular that of the pass defense that has let them down repeatedly over the course of last season . These are the things that John Marshall as the defensive coordinator will be lookin g to tweak over the preseason while Al Saunders will be looking to fine tune the skill-set of the team’s quarterbacks and that of the offense .

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What traits do you believe Cam Newton has that may well convince you that he is capable of being a success in the NFL ? Or do you believe that he will essentially be a work in progress over the next couple of years ? And are you of the opinion that the Oakland Raiders can be a legitimate contender within the AFC West and conference this upcoming season ? Simply leave a comment on the points raised within this piece and as usual thanks for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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

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(1) New York Jets’ David Harris intercepts a pass by New York Giants’ Eli Manning during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets won 17-3 . AP Photo/Julio Cortez …..

(2) Brandon Jacobs (27) of the New York Giants greets Plaxico Burress (17) of the New York Jets after their pre season game on August 29, 2011 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images ……..

(3) CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 25: Gibril Wilson (27) of the Cincinnati Bengals makes a tackle against DeAngelo Williams (34) of the Carolina Panthers during an NFL preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13 . Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images ……

(4) Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera looks on during an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images ………

(5) Jimmy Clausen (2) of the Carolina Panthers runs away from pressure while trying to pass during an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13 . Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images ……

(6) CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 25: Cam Newton (1) and Jordan Gross (69) of the Carolina Panthers celebrate after Newton’s 16-yard touchdown run during an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images …….

(7) Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) meet after the Bengals defeated the Panthers 24-13 in an NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011 in Cincinnati. AP Photo/Tony Tribble ……

(8) Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson walks off the field after the Raiders lost to the New Orleans Saints 40-20 in a preseason NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ) …….

(9) OAKLAND, CA – AUGUST 28: Taiwan Jones (36) of the Oakland Raiders runs twenty two yards for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the third quarter during an NFL pre-season football game at the O.co Coliseum August 28, 2011 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ….

(10) Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor (6) warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011, in Oakland, Calif. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ……

(11) Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, left, listens to instruction from head coach Hue Jackson, right, during their NFL football training camp in Napa, Calif., Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. AP Photo/Eric Risberg …..

(12) Jason Campbell (8) of the Oakland Raiders drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter during an NFL pre-season football game at the O.co Coliseum August 28, 2011 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ………
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It’s Not My World But It’s The One That I’m Enjoying At Present ….. !

It’s Not My World But It’s The One That I’m Enjoying At Present ….. !

Well due to the fact of Hurricane Irene depriving me of the chance to travel up to the nation’s capital for the formal unveiling and dedication of the MLK monument on the Mall in Washington , DC , my weekend was spent at home. With the girlfriend having traveled off to the West Coast for a family emergency , for myself it would be one where I would be left to my own devices . That meant scouring the sports pages to peruse what was happening in the world and how it all pans out in terms of the environments there .

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In baseball the divisional races seem to be taking on a life of their own , with some simply being up for grabs while other are all but over bar the shouting . Certainly the wildcard races haven’t really left us with a great deal of intrigue at all. Although there’s the idiocy within the local market here that the Tampa Bay Rays will somehow be able to overcome their six game deficit to the New York Yankees and gain that AL wildcard berth . One could attest to the fact that the teams are looking to play themselves into contention and in some cases out of contention .

With the recent moves made by teams concerning their postseason ambitions it’s clear that a number of teams that are of of the belief that they can make a run at their divisional foes . That now seems to be the case with the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers within the AL Central . With the respective managers Mike Sciocsia and Ron Washington leading the charge for both the Angels and Rangers .

If anything for the Los Angeles Angels the play of Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver have been stellar , as have been the rest of the team . It’d be remiss of me to suggest that the Rangers are good enough to run away with the division make a return to the World Series after last year’s escapades .

While Michael Young is viewed as a player who’s said to be in the declining years of a productive career , this season if anything , Young has proven to be the catalyst for this team not only by his presence but also his veteran leadership. And while Elvis Andrus , Adrian Beltre` and Josh Hamilton are seen as the star players on this Texas Rangers’ roster , were it not for Michael Young I seriously doubt that the team would be leading the AL West and playing with such command .

One of the major stories during this baseball season has been that of future free agents Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers and Albert Pujols of the St Louis Cardinals . Both players whose contracts expire at the end of the year are seen as the most desirable unrestricted agents coming to the market in 2012. The thirty one year old Pujols …” the face “ of the Cardinals and perhaps that organization’s second best player when one considers the Hall of Famers associated with the team over the years. Albert Pujols has made it abundantly clear to the front office and GM John Mozeliak that it is his wish to remain a life long St Louis Cardinals’ player. Pujols remains the one constant and draw on this team and while there’s no denying that many of the team’s active records and historical records could well be surpassed by the player . The off-season deliberations between Albert Pujols and the organization could be very interesting indeed. The All Star slugger wants to be compensated befitting a player of his worth and whether or not that is a seven year or ten multi million dollar deal remains to be seen. Many prognosticators are suggesting that the player may well be looking for a deal that is northwards of $200 million over eight years .

Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals scores a run against Michael McKenry (55) of the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium on August 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …….

Averaging out at $25 million a year one doubts that the St Louis Cardinals would seek to financially hamstring themselves to such a long term commitment . But then again the team salaries seem to be escalating for the big market teams while those mid to small market ball-clubs seem to be struggling to remain amongst the fray. If Pujols were unable to commit to an offer from the St Louis Cardinals then it would appear that there would be a number of teams vying for Albert Pujols’ services. Amongst those thought to show an interest would be their divisional rivals the Chicago Cubs who’ve long needed some star appeal and real offensive productivity within that ballclub. The team itself having seen the upheaval with the firing of GM Jim Hendry by team owner Tom Ricketts are now looking for a change of direction both on an off the field of play.

Prince Fielder five years younger than Pujols , is seen as a player whose best years are ahead of him, as the 27 year old first baseman on the Brewers’ team . The Milwaukee Brewers have seen their years of highs and lows within baseball with little postseason success in recent years . It has been a cautionary tale for this organization and the present ownership group after they assumed control from the Selig family.

This season we have seen the Brewers simply smash their way to success leaving all else in their wake , especially within the NL Central . They’ve distanced themselves from the St Louis Cardinals and now have an eye on the postseason, as they prepare for the divisional series. For Fielder , Ryan Braun , John Axford and the players on this roster who’ve made hay while the sun shines this has been much more than a fortuitous year for the ball-club. Team owner Mark Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin have a major decision on their hands as they seek to make an offer that doesn’t do irreparable financial harm to the organization.

The pay structure of the Milwaukee Brewers has to be held in check given the limited resources of the ball-club as a whole . Prince Fielder knows that he has a choice to make at the end of the year that will provide him with long term security no what the outcome of the choice made by the player or front office . What may well matter is the financial weight of the contract offered to the player in terms of its worth . Are the Milwaukee Brewers in a position to make Prince Fielder the highest paid player on the roster and what might be the seismic shot sent across the bow of the game ? How will that decision be viewed by the general managers and team owners around the league ?

I am not so sure that Prince Fielder can be deemed a person said to be worth in excess of $20-$25 million a year no matter what length the period of the contract offered to the player . But herein lies the idiocy of the game today , a player such as Vernon Wells this year will be paid in excess of $26.5 million for an unproductive and lackluster season with the Los Angeles Angels .

Having not taken much interest in the NFL preseason I have to admit that the latest results have not really come as a great surprise ! . Certainly if the teams are said to be seeking consistency during these preseason games then for the San Francisco 49ers their games if anything have been an indication of the sheer ineptitude in terms of the play offered by the quarterbacks on the team .

Team general manager Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh may well have hastily made the decision to announce that his regular season starter would be Alex Smith .

For those of us who have witnessed the productivity of Smith over the years , we can all attest to the fact that the player has had his moments but when it has mattered most he has struggled to show any real command or the trust of his teammates . In the preseason once again, it has been more of the same from the five year veteran and it is becoming extremely hard to understand how it is that the player was taken first overall in the 2005 NFL Draft .

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Alex Smith (11) of the San Francisco 49ers roles out to pass against the Houston Texans during an NFL pre-season football game at Candlestick Park August 27, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …..

From my own perspective given the travails of the 49ers during the preseason I do believe that this team will struggle over the course of the regular season ! For Jim Harbaugh , his coaching staff and in particular quarterbacks’ coach Geep Chryst this will be a year during which their mental psyche will be tested by the play of Alex Smith. It has been the player’s inconsistency but more so the fact that during his time in the NFL at no point of his career has the coaching staff remained constant. The staff of the Forty Niners has been changed more often than that of a newborn baby’s diapers on a daily basis. If Geep Chryst can keep things simple not only for Smith but also his primary backup Josh McCown then there’s no reason to believe why the team cannot be competitive over the course of this season . But as of now that remains a big “if “ in the minds of not only the fans in general but quite possibly also the Forty Niners’ coaching staff , themselves.

With the off-season moves made by the 49ers and the draft choices it would be easy to suggest that the team is back on the road to being competitive within the NFC West . Although the division may well seem ripe for the taking , with teams such as the Arizona Cardinals , Seattle Seahawks and St Louis Rams all vying for overall supremacy. I do feel that NFC West has and always remain a division where there’s more uncertainty bound to happen than any fan could hope to wish for. It has been the inconsistency of the teams over the past few years that leads me to believe that trying to predict an outright winner of the division is akin to playing “three card Monty” !

Alex Smith will have to justify the faith shown in him by Jim Harbaugh this season , if not then I can see his NFL career coming to an abrupt end with him being jettisoned by the organization. Given the fact that he was so highly touted and taken as a number one overall pick , I am now beginning to wonder what it was that the front office saw in the player that originally that convinced them that he had the makings of NFL quarterback ? Anyone care to hazard a guess and provide us all with an answer ?

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What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this article ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and as always thanks for the continued support !

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

Contact tophatal via these social media services

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(1) TORONTO, CANADA – AUGUST 28: Desmond Jennings of the Toronto Blue Jays of the Tampa Bay Rays during MLB game action August 28, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Rays would go on to defeat the Blue Jays 12-0 . Photo by Brad White/Getty Images …..

2 Home plate umpire Jeff Nelson looks on as Jose Bautista (19) of the Toronto Blue Jays walks off after striking out during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays August 28, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Brad White/Getty Images …….

(3) ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 25: Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals flips the ball to first base at Busch Stadium on August 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Pirates 8-4 . Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ……

(4) Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals scores a run against Michael McKenry (55) of the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium on August 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …….

(5) MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 28: Corey Hart (1) of the Milwaukee Brewers is congratulated by Prince Fielder (28) after scoring a run during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park on August 28, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers would go on to defeat the Cubs 3-2 Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images …….

(6) MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 28: Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers catches the baseball from Zack Grienke (13) as Starlin Castro (13) of the Chicago Cubs dives back to the base at Miller Park on August 28, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers defeated the Cubs 3-2. Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images ……..

(7) SAN FRANCISCO – AUGUST 27: Chris Culliver (29) of the San Francisco 49ers returning a kick off gets tackled by Shiloh Keo (31) of the Houston Texans during an NFL pre-season football game at Candlestick Park August 27, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Texans won the game 30-7 . Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …….

(8) Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers looks on against the Houston Texans during an NFL pre-season football game at Candlestick Park August 27, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …….

(9) SAN FRANCISCO – AUGUST 27: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers roles out to pass against the Houston Texans during an NFL pre-season football game at Candlestick Park August 27, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …..
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NB : In the Forty Niners most recent preseason game they suffered a decisive 30-7 loss to the Houston Texans .

Ricky Don’t Lose That Number ………….

Ricky Don’t Lose That Number ……….

Well week three of the NFL preseason is upon us and as of Wednesday night the Washington Redskins remained one of the unbeaten teams within league . No great surprise as not many of us tend not to place a great deal on these games to begin with . They’re merely there to test the consistency of the teams and their play making abilities .

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For Mike Shanahan and coaching staff this has to be something that he relishes in seeing this team play to the best of their abilities . With both John Beck and Rex Grossman seemingly in tune with the offense it’s hoped that the players can overcome their misfortunes of last season . In the offseason Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen saw fit to make the moves necessary to compliment their roster through the arrival of free agents and the NFL Draft .

The Washington Redskins may well find themselves in something of a dogfight within the NFC East should they be able to raise the level of their play and be highly competitive within the division against their foes the Dallas Cowboys , New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles . Clearly Mike Shanahan believes that after the drama of last season with the inconsistency of Donovan McNabb the coach saw fit to jettison the veteran quarterback and look to both Grossman and Beck to secure the starting quarterback position .

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Ricky Williams answers questions posed to him by the convened press at M&T Bank Stadium after the player was formally announced as the latest free agent signed by the Baltimore Ravens . The eleven year NFL veteran still seeks an elusive piece of silverware to adorn his finger a Superbowl ring. AP Photo / Brian Cross ………

For John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens who hosted the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore , Maryland . This was a chance for the coach and his staff to assess the team after their own off-season moves sought by GM Ozzie Newsome .

One of the more surprising moves of the Ravens was to acquire former Miami Dolphins’ running back Ricky Williams to complement the offense led by Ray Rice . Certainly with all of the changes made on this roster apart from that of the coaching staff in particular with Cam Cameron now the offensive coordinator with Chuck Pagano now the defensive coordinator , both the defensive and offensive players now have a whole new premise as to their play-making. For quarterback Joe Flacco with the weapons he now has around him this season will be a true test of his abilities in set situations .

For the veteran Ricky Williams in what has been an up and down career filled with a great deal of controversy both on and off the field . I can only surmise that the player feels that he still has something to offer to the Baltimore Ravens and the organization’s front office feel that he would be of benefit to the team. Now there may well be many who would question the mindset of Ozzie Newsome’s decision and they may well be justified in their thinking. Granted, with the Miami Dolphins feeling that both Ronnie Brown and Williams were superfluous to their needs some may well have felt that this was a major mistake by GM Jeff Ireland and coach Tony Sparano .

From my own standpoint this may well be the last hurrah for Ricky Williams as a player in the NFL . He may well be productive enough to indeed offer this team whatever it is they seek but I do feel that the Ravens’ best chance will lie in the productivity of Joe Flacco and that of his offense . This season the Ravens start off running right out of the gates with two conference games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and then the Tennessee Titans . We will definitely get to see the character of this team in both events and a great deal more about the Baltimore Ravens , in terms of their overall aspirations.

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From left to right Baltimore Ravens’ president Dick Cass , GM Ozzie Newsome , team owner Steve Bisciotti and head coach John Harbaugh. The quartet took questions posed by the convened press concerning the NFL Draft , their own thoughts on the event as well as the NFL lockout and what effect it would pose to their decision making. AP Photo Rob Carr …….

Last season for the team was reflective of what they felt could be achieved , having made the postseason . Their wildcard defeat of the Kansas City Chiefs with the demonstratively easy 30-7 win was met with a somewhat less exhilarating display , with a subsequent loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers —- 31-24 in the divisional playoffs and the chance of making the AFC Championship game. That letdown may well explain the decision by Ozzie Newsome to implode the roster and start afresh with the influx of youth and speed , while at the same time still relying on the traits that has given the organization that it has been known for over the years. A hard hitting defense that’s miserly with points allowed per game and a running game that’s used as and when needed . I’ve no doubt that Cam Cameron will refine the attributes of the offense to get the best possible results and the same must be said of the defense that is now under the tutelage of Chuck Logano . This should be a very interesting season indeed for the Baltimore Ravens and their legions of loyal fans.

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What if anything to your mind has been of real interest to you this preseason within the NFL ? And what thoughts if any do you have on the upcoming regular season for the Baltimore Ravens ? Are you of the opinion that this may well be the last hurrah for Ricky Willams as a player as he strives to obtain that elusive Superbowl ring ? Simply leave comment as to your thoughts .

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

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(1) LaQuan Williams (15) of the Baltimore Ravens returns a punt against the Washington Redskins during the second half of a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Redskins 34-31 . Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ….

(2) Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron (L),Jason Murphy (61) , and head coach John Harbaugh (R) celebrate scoring against the Washington Redskins during the second half of a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Redskins 34-31. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……

(3) Quarterback John Beck (12) of the Washington Redskins throws a pass against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half of a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Redskins 34-31. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …….

(4) BALTIMORE, MD – AUGUST 25: Quarterback Joe Flacco (5) of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with Anquan Boldin (81) after the pair connected for a touchdown against the Washington Redskins during the second half of a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Redskins 34-31. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……….

(5) Ricky Williams answers questions posed to him by the convened press at M&T Bank Stadium after the player was formally announced as the latest free agent signed by the Baltimore Ravens . The eleven year NFL veteran still seeks an elusive piece of silverware to adorn his finger a Superbowl ring. AP Photo / Brian Cross ………

(6) Wide receiver Lee Evans (83) of the Baltimore Ravens catches a touchdown pass against defender DeAngelo Hall (23) of the Washington Redskins during the first half of a preason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …..

(7) Running back Ray Rice (27) of the Baltimore Ravens leaps into the end zone for a touchdown in front of Ryan Kerrigan (91) of the Washington Redskins during the first half of a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …….

(8) Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman is sacked by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Cary Williams during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Baltimore, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky ……..

(9) DeAngelo Hall (23) of the Washington Redskins returns an interception for a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of a preaseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …….

(10) From left to right Baltimore Ravens’ president Dick Cass , GM Ozzie Newsome , team owner Steve Bisciotti and head coach John Harbaugh. The quartet took questions posed by the convened press concerning the NFL Draft , their own thoughts on the event as well as the NFL lockout and what effect it would pose to their decision making. AP Photo Rob Carr …….

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John Harbaugh head coach

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Baltimore Ravens’ roster

Baltimore Ravens’ preseason team stats

Baltimore Ravens’ preseason schedule 2011

Baltimore Ravens’ team stats 2010

Baltimore Ravens’ regular season schedule 2011

Baltimore Ravens draftees 2011

Washington Redskins news

Washington Redskins’ draftees 2011

Washington Redskins’ preseason schedule 2011

Washington Redskins regular season schedule 2011

Thrill , Spills And Whatever Else Befalls The Game of Baseball Down The Stretch ……

Thrill , Spills And Whatever Else Befalls The Game of Baseball Down The Stretch ……

It’s now extremely hard what to make of the baseball season and how things seem to playing out . There now seems to be only one divisional race of real intrigue or interest . And that would appear to be the AL East , although there’s still a great deal to be said about the intrigue and suspense taking place within the NL West where a mere two games separate the division leading Arizona Diamondbacks (70-59) from the San Francisco Giants (68-61).

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With the always competitive AL East we have come to expect seeing both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees fight for divisional supremacy. So much so , that it comes a surprise when neither team sits atop of the division at season’s end. At this point last season the races were somewhat different in terms of the teams vying for a divisional title as well as a wildcard berth and one would expect it to be the same for this year .

Within the NL Central it would appear that the St Louis Cardinals may well be out of the running for the division as they now sit some ten games behind the Milwaukee Brewers . And as with any ball-club around the league injuries and team inconsistency has played its part in the problems for Tony La Russa’s team . Certainly the manager and his coaching staff have tried to get the best out of this team but if anything it has been the dominant and overpowering play of the Milwaukee Brewers that has simply bewildered the Cardinals throughout the month of August . And with the Brewers now intent on making a postseason run it will be interesting to see what Ryan Braun , Prince Fielder and their teammates are able to achieve over the remainder of the season .

To say that I am surprised by the play of Arizona Diamondbacks this season would be an understatement ! If anything I felt that the NL West would be a division where the duel would be between the reigning World Series champions the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers . If anything there’s more drama to be had off the field concerning the Dodgers than there is to seen on the field in terms of their play . And even if Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw are said to be having exemplary seasons for the team , it has been the odious behavior and idiocy of the organization’s front office executives that has shone more light on the Dodgers that is unfavorable than the ball club would prefer to have. Team owner Frank McCourt has hamstrung the Los Angeles Dodgers in such a way that it would seem impossible that anyone could look upon this organization favorably in terms of it being a viable takeover target . The ball-club’s situation hasn’t been helped by the complete ineptitude shown by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the league hierarchy . Selig’s own lack of real action has to come into question concerning this matter. If anything , it has been all too little , and all too late !

I am not so sure what to make of the Cleveland Indians this season , as they’ve simply lured their fans the public alike into thinking that this was a resurgent team once again. Nothing could be further from the truth as their play or should one lack of play , has led them to simply fall from grace within the AL Central . I’ve no doubt that Manny Acta and his coaching staff have to be disappointed with the effort put forth by this team but if anything I feel that a preponderance of the blame lies with the front office led by GM Chris Antonetti under the auspices of team owner Lawrence Dolan . The organization has sought to pare down salary but at the same time the moves made this season during the trade deadline haven’t at all panned out . The team’s biggest acquisition Ubaldo Jiminez has simply been average this season and in particular during his spell with the Cleveland Indians . But to suggest that it has simply been the pitching that has let the team down would be remiss because from an offensive standpoint , here too ball-club has been nondescript .

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Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (30) of the Cleveland Indians sits on the bench after being taken out of the game during the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images ………….

Now as we approach the final month of the season with there still be a number of teams still vying for some semblance of consistency as their year winds down. Most definitely within the AL and NL we have seen the teams give the best of themselves by way of their play. But at the same time I am very sure that a great many fans have at times been disappointed with their respective ball-clubs and their lackluster effort .

There’s a great deal to be said also for the players in contention for the major individual awards this season. The usual suspects are front and center wherein we could well see one or two surprises amongst the claimants for the Cy Young Award , Rookie of The Year , MVP Awards within both divisions as well as the Manager of The Year . Last season those winners offered up a mirror image on the year as a whole in terms of the performances and that of the divisional winners .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What are your impressions of the MLB season and how do you view things panning out given the fact the waiver deadline will soon be upon us ? Leave a comment as to your thoughts and always thanks for the continued support !

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

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(1) New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi , left, talks to starting pitcher CC Sabathia during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Athletics won 6-4 . AP Photo/Frank Franklin II ….

(2) Ryan Roberts (14) and Chris Young (24) of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate after a 4-2 victory against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on August 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images ……..

(3) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Juan Rivera , right, scores ahead of the tag from St. Louis Cardinals catcher Gerald Laird during the third inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011, in St. Louis. The Dodgers won 9-4 . AP Photo/Jeff Roberson …….

(4) CLEVELAND, OH – AUGUST 24: Catcher Miguel Olivo (30) and closing pitcher Josh Lueke (31) of the Seattle Mariners celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Indians 9-2 to take the series 3-1 at Progressive Field on August 24, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images ……

(5) Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (30) of the Cleveland Indians sits on the bench after being taken out of the game during the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images ………….

(6) From left to right , GM Chris Antonetti , alongside Cleveland Indians’ owner Larry Dolan and minority stake owner Mark Shapiro , far right . Shapiro remains with the ball-club serving in a role as its President . AP Photo/ Mark Sturridge ……

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MLB news

MLB Standings as of 24th August 2011

MLB Wildcard standings

MLB Schedule 3 days at a glance

MLB results 23rd August 2011

MLB results 24th August 2011

MLB probable starters 25th August 2011

ML team stats : Overall

American League

National League

MLB Team salaries 2011

NB: Written as of 08/24/11 but set for publishing 08/25/11

Midnight In The Garden of Good And Evil ……….

Midnight In The Garden of Good And Evil …….

No angst here , considering that the NBA lockout now shows no signs of abating and the team owners still solidly behind David Stern in their support I’m wondering how this mess will all be sorted out ? NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter and the members of the executive committee remain steadfast in not acquiescing to the demands of the league hierarchy and owners .
The longer this impasse remains the more tarnished the image of the NBA certainly becomes .

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Players are now seeking to ply their trade elsewhere it now seems more likely that there won’t be an NBA season to be had which will be to the lament of the fans who simply love the game. Economic strife or not this morass was simply one of the NBA’s own making and David Stern , the owners and general managers are reluctant to admit that very fact. It appears somewhat idiotic that while the league pleads poverty the teams themselves simply haven’t the temerity to rein in their spending especially in terms of the salaries . A soft salary cap of $57 million in place but somehow this all seems lost on those very same teams as they seek the game’s highest prize , an NBA title.

At this juncture with neither side reaching any type of accord it would appear that the union will seek to de-certify and file a legal action against the NBA hierarchy in the US Federal Court system . Mediation is also an option for both parties with a federally appointed judge to oversee those hearing under the auspices of the Federal Mediation & Conciliary Service , a governmental agency within the Department of Labor . The judge’s arbitrary decision would be binding but I seriously doubt that this would be the path that either the league or union will follow.

David Stern like his NFL counterpart Roger Goodell may well have misjudged the tenacity of the union’s demands and the voracity of Billy Hunter’s wish to see his members prevail. The claims of the owners and league appear to be overstated but at the same one has to question how it its that the claims are being made those very same team owners have spent capriciously , merely showing little by way of anything tangible in return.

If there’s a lesson to be learned then it is that the NBA hierarchy can take a lead from the NFL and look to reach a quick accord with the NBPA . David Stern and the union can ill afford to have this dispute be prolonged to the point where the season is irretrievably lost or that there’s a shortened season . In doing so it simply it devalue the game and in particular any type of schedule agreed upon . At some point we could well see one if not three or four of the more prominent owners of the NBA seeking to force the commissioner to take a more conciliatory stance with the union . Certainly team owner Mark Cuban , James Dolan , Jerry Buss , Mikhail Prokhorov, Peter Holt and Glen Taylor would like nothing more than to see this episode ended , much to everyone’s satisfaction. Whether or not that will be the case remains to be seen at this juncture .

With the NFL preseason now upon us , we are about to embark on three of the schedule , we can see that a number of teams have spluttered out of the gates. If there’s one team that I will be watching closely, it will be the Buffalo Bills and the coaching staff of Chan Gailey . Given the problems of this team last season and the inconsistency shown this could very well be the last chance for the coach to really prove his worth .

The moves made by the front office led by EVP& GM Buddy Nix and the draft picks made it’s clear that the Bills are seeking to make themselves heard this season within the AFC East . For and the members of this Bills’ team this will be a test of wills as I firmly believe that many of the veterans on the roster are playing for their very livelihoods and long term security !

Certainly given last season’s results and the final divisional standing for the Buffalo Bills , the fans are expecting something better from the organization as a whole . A 4-12 record was indeed a reflection as to how bad this team actually was and the poor effort shown by the players all-round. Much of the malaise from the team came from the fact that the defense simply didn’t stack up whereby they were in the bottom half amongst the franchises of the NFL . And a more stark contrast in terms of a statistic were the points allowed per game (26.6 ppg) which placed the Buffalo Bills sixth in the entire league . A clear indicator as to the real problems on this team , apart from the ineffectiveness of the offense overall.

Buddy Nix and the coaching staff have certainly made sure that the off-season moves as well the players are drafted will offer a sign of things to come in terms of the all-round improvement sought. Marcell Dareus , Aaron Williams , Kelvin Sheppard , Da’Norris Searcy , Chris Hairston , Johnny White , Chris White , Justin Rogers and Michael Jasper are all looking to acquit themselves during the preseason , as a way of proving to this organization that their faith in them has been justified. The team’s first two preseason games have resulted in losses to the Chicago Bears 10-3 and Denver Broncos 24-10 .

For the Buffalo Bills as an organization , these are simply growing pains as the core of this roster is exceptionally young . The veteran leadership will have to come from the likes of Brian Moorman , Nick Barnett , Andra Davis , Drayton Florence , David Martin and Ryan Fitzpatrick . It may well be Fitzpatrick who holds the key to this all, as the starting quarterback on the team. His play has to improve and be of a consistently high level if the team is to have any real chance of mounting a serious challenge within the AFC East against the likes of the Miami Dolphins , New York Jets and the New England Patriots . If he fails to do so then the problems for the Buffalo Bills over the course of this season could very well insurmountable .

Ralph Wilson the owner of the Buffalo Bills and an enshrinee in the Hall of Fame is perhaps one of the most respected of his peers within the NFL . Long thought to be one of the most knowledgeable of the owners in the league and often viewed as a voice of reason this bespectacled patriarch has now become totally disillusioned with the game and in particular the mindset with the league hierarchy led by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . Wilson , though not voicing his opposition to the latest collective bargaining agreement wasn’t at all happy with the concessions made to the NFLPA and their members . However, having voted to ratify the agreement , the owner felt that this was the best way forward and to have a peaceful accord within the league.

The Buffalo Bills are a proud franchise with a great deal of history which encapsulates Ralph Wilson’s involvement as the founder of the franchise . Apart from the Hall of Famers associated with the team over the years , perhaps their most celebrated achievement were the four consecutive Superbowl appearances under then coach Marve Levy . Unfortunately , for the franchise each of those appearances ended in defeat but it still remains a feat unmatched by another other NFL franchise . There’s a great deal to be said for the accolades that have been lauded upon this organization but the inescapable fact is that the one thing more than anything else the fans would like to see most happen with their team , would be for them to proudly hold aloft the Lombardi Trophy. In reality , it may well be a while before we are able to witness such an event as this team in my honest opinion is still a long way off from where they really need to be , in order to be taken seriously as a Superbowl contender.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Given the impasse between the NBA and union , do you foresee there being a season within the league ? Or are you of the opinion that the lockout will be a long and protracted event over the course of the NBA calendar year ? What thoughts if any do you have on the upcoming regular season for the Buffalo Bills and how do you view Ralph Wilson as the franchise’s owner ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the points raised within this piece .

Alan aka tophatal ……………

Contact ………. tophatal …………. via the following social media services

Facebook.com ………. http://facebook.com/tophatal

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(1) Maurice Evans arrive at a mid town hotel for a meeting 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. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer ….

(2) Tristan Thompson from the University of Texas greets NBA Commissioner David Stern after he was drafted #4 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round during the 2011 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center on June 23, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. Getty Images North America / Mike Stobe ……

(3) Mikhail Prokhorov for the moment , a bystander as the NBA hierarchy deals with the now contentious impasse between the league and the players’ union. The Russian billionaire like many of associates are firmly behind the NBA Commissioner David Stern for the present but it remains to be seen how much longer the league is prepared to hold its stance. Getty Images / Jesse D Garrabant ………

(4) DENVER, CO – AUGUST 20: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) of the Buffalo Bills throws a pass against the Denver Broncos during the second quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 20, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images …..

(5) Running back Knowshon Moreno (27) of the Denver Broncos splits the defense of safety Jairus Byrd (31) , Alex Carrington (92 )and linebacker Nick Barnett (50) of the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 20, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images …..

(6) Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey argues with referee Jim Mello in the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011, in Denver. AP Photo/Jack Dempsey ……

(7) Buffalo Bills first round draft pick Marcell Dareus, center, poses for a photo with Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr., left center, coach Chan Gailey, right, and general manager Buddy Nix, left, before an introductory NFL football news conference in Orchard Park, N.Y., Friday, April 29, 2011. AP Photo/David Duprey ……..
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NBA News

NFL news

NFL preseason schedule 2011

NFL Standings divisional 2011

NFL team stats 2011 preseason

NFL player stats 2011 preseason

Buffalo Bills news

Buffalo Bills’ profile

Buffalo Bills’ roster

Buffalo Bills’ preseason stats

Buffalo Bills’ team stats 2010

Buffalo Bills’ preseason schedule

Buffalo Bills regular season schedule

Pick Your Poison …… With Manning ….. Without Manning ?

Pick Your Poison …… With Manning ….. Without Manning ?

It seems strange that the Indianapolis Colts could go into the preseason without their four time winning league MVP and Superbowl winning player Peyton Manning . The player having had off-season neck surgery is now committed to a full recovery in time to make the regular season for the Colts’ roster . With the team having Austin Collie now their injury list along with Manning the trials and travails of coach Jim Caldwell and his coaching staff could come undone before it has even started .

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Clearly the Indianapolis Colts’ fans would like nothing better than to see Manning taking the first snap of the regular season rather than Curtis Painter , Mike Hartline , or Dan Orlovsky for that matter . I am not so sure that the Colts’ front office led by Bill Polian has really thought ahead about the day ahead when Peyton Manning is no longer available to this organization . And given the success that the that the Colts have had over the years with Manning at the helm of this team , it has to be said that the loss would be seen as seismic to say the very least . Over the course of his outstanding career Peyton Manning has led this organization with class and distinction and there is not a doubt in anyone’s mind that once his career has come to an end he will be Canton bound to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame .

This organization during the off-season made some moves to bolster the roster as well making the customary draft choices one would deem to be prudent . It certainly gives the fans the impression that the organization is once again set to be dominant not just within the AFC South but also the conference as a whole . Certainly there’s a lot to suggest the Colts are once again the team to beat within the division as I simply don not believe that either Houston Texans , Jacksonville Jaguars or Tennessee Titans will be a match for this organization over the course of this season . The indications are were that the Texans were making great strides but that simply wasn’t borne out over the course of the 2010 regular season as they simply petered out when it mattered most . For the Houston Texans’ Gary Kubiak this may well be his last chance to prove himself worthy as the coach of this team .

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN – AUGUST 19: Mike Hartline (9), Dan Orlovsky (6) and Curtis Painter (7) of the Indianapolis Colts look at play sheets during the game against the Washington Redskins at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 19, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ………

In the preseason for the Indianapolis Colts we have seen the frailties of this team without Manning at the helm quarter-backing the team . And it could very well be that if the player hasn’t fully recovered enough in time for their regular season opener against the Houston Texans on September 11th we could see Manning’s longevity in terms of consecutive games’ record will come to an end . From my own perspective I feel that the player will have recuperated enough to don his number 18 jersey and be his customary and efficient self ! There are few players amongst the elite within the NFL who perform with the prowess of Manning at the quarterback position .

I certainly do believe that the Indianapolis Colts will very much have the AFC South to themselves and that is in spite of the offseason moves made by the teams within the division . What may well detract from the possibility of the team repeating as divisional champions could very well be the health of Manning and his ability to last through the rigors of a regular season .

The rookies drafted by the staff will almost certainly be looking to have a productive season having had their initial baptism of fire in the preseason games . Anthony Castonzo, Ben Ijalana , Drake Nevis , Delone Carter and Chris Rucker are sure to prove that the faith shown in them by Jim Caldwell and his coaching staff is justified .

If anything however , it will be imperative for the seasoned veterans on this roster to lead by example should Peyton Manning not be available to them for the first couple of games of the regular season . That has to be the caveat here with regard to the fortunes of this team and how they could very well fare over the course of this year . Certainly last season we saw what the team was capable of in terms of adversity when they were faced with the possibility of failing to make the postseason . The fact that they were able to do so having fought tooth and nail to win the division (AFC South) in spite of the injuries and other obstacles showed the true mettle of this team .

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Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, left, and running back Joseph Addai talk during the NFL team’s football training camp in Anderson, Ind., Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. AP Photo/Michael Conroy ………

Amongst the seasoned veterans that I believe will step up to the plate for this team are Reggie Wayne , Dallas Clarke , Joseph Addai , Dwight Freeney , Gary Brackett and Robert Mathis . But in reality the Indianapolis Colts’ way has been there to be a collective effort from all the members of this team. Most certainly that was something instilled into them by Jim Caldwell’s predecessor Tony Dungy , a coach who simply communicated with his players and made them fully aware as to what was expected from each, on game day .

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By your own estimation do you feel that Peyton Manning could miss the first two or three games of the regular season given his ongoing health concerns ? It hasn’t been confirmed that he will miss the entire preseason but all estimations that seems the likelihood with neither Caldwell , Bill Polian or for that matter Jim Irsay will to make an emphatic statement on the matter . How do you see the Indianapolis Colts faring over the course of the regular season ? And do you feel that without their league MVP quarterback their chances to win the division will be less likely ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on this subject matter and any other thoughts you believe to pertinent . Thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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

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(1) FILE – This July 31, 2011, file photo shows Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning speaking during a news conference with the NFL football team’s owner Jim Irsay, right front, at the teams training camp, in Anderson, Ind. Manning says he won’t play the last two preseason games and Colts owner Jim Irsay says his team must be prepared to open the season without Manning behind center. AP Photo/Alan Petersime …..

(2) Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, left, talks with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning following an NFL preseason football game in Indianapolis, on Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. Washington won 16-3 . AP Photo/Michael Conroy …….

(3) Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, right, greets Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan following an NFL preseason football game in Indianapolis, on Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. Washington won 16-3. AP Photo/Michael Conroy ……..

(4) INDIANAPOLIS, IN – AUGUST 19: Mike Hartline (9), Dan Orlovsky (6) and Curtis Painter (7) of the Indianapolis Colts look at play sheets during the game against the Washington Redskins at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 19, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ………

(5) Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, left, and running back Joseph Addai talk during the NFL team’s football training camp in Anderson, Ind., Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. AP Photo/Michael Conroy ………

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NFL news

NFL results preseason week 2

NFL Preseason schedule 2011

Indianapolis Colts news

Indianapolis Colts’ team roster

Indianapolis Colts’ team statistics preseason 2011

Indianapolis Colts regular season schedule 2011

Colts’ head coach Jim Caldwell

Indianapolis Colts’ coaching staff

Colts’ history timeline

It’s Time To Put Up Or Shut Up !

It’s Time To Put Up Or Shut Up !

Well the furor over the latest shenanigans of the Miami Hurricanes’ program carries on unabated and that’s largely in part to the claims now being made by incarcerated felon Nevin Shapiro . University President Donna Shalala along with AD Shawn Eichorst and senior compliance officer David Reed all now seem to be a loss to explain what went wrong on the campus of the school during their tenure. I would suggest that there has been an environment of calculated misdeed that has been ingrained within this university for the better part of two decades ! And at no time has anyone within the athletics department faculty governing the program has seen to address this matter and stem the tide of malfeasance . So on goes this saga as Shapiro makes his claims that now have embroiled current and former players of the school’s football and basketball programs .

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As things now stand I certainly would like to see what the outcome will be after the findings of the NCAA’s now five month ongoing investigation. Mark Emmert has seen fit to have legal counsel undertake this exercise on the collegiate body’s behalf . At some time the NCAA will have to take a stance and make an example of the university, very much in the same as they had previously done with the SMU Mustangs over two decades ago.

It certainly will interesting to see if Paul Dee as chairman of the NCAA’s Infractions Committee will recuse himself from any deliberation , as it relates to the University of Miami when it comes to a decision as to what form of punishment will be levied against the school. Dee served as a former AD of the program and to my mind it would be seen as a conflict of interest , albeit that his tenure ended with the school over ten years ago . Pat Haden currently serving as the athletics director of USC would certainly have a valid claim were Paul Dee seen to be part of any discussion concerning what form of punishment if any is levied against the Canes. As chairman of the Infractions Committee he played his part in making sure that the punishment meted out to USC was severe , with the loss of multiple scholarships, postseason play in any football games or for that matter BCS sanctioned games . One cannot deny that the athletics director of USC would have a valid argument against Dee presiding over the deliberations as it relates to Miami but this is simply what we have now come to expect from the NCAA ! As the governing body of collegiate athletics this institution is simply bereft of any intelligence much less integrity to begin with. Much of this came into being long before succeeded his predecessor Myles Brand as the body was thought of as corrupt and open to any form surreptitious activity just as long as they were able to profit from those actions financially .

Did I miss something but overnight , did the sky suddenly turn a different shade of blue ? Suddenly the whole baseball world is awry as the game’s first player has tested positive for HGH . Minor league player Mike Jacobs has become the first North American athlete to test ” positive” for the steroid and it certainly doesn’t bode well for the claims now being made by the league and in particular Bud Selig ——— that baseball (MLB) has the most stringent drug testing policy in all of professional sports . Unfortunately, the game simply doesn’t test the players playing at the major league level , where the union’s collective bargaining agreement prohibits such testing but allows for it at the minor league level , ostensibly because of the power of the MLBPA (union).

Rob Manfred states that can foresee the day where the players at the major league level will be tested for steroids then quite possibly someone has failed to pass on that information to Michael Weiner and his members of the MLBPA . Given the fact that the league hierarchy has simply been powerless to even have the temerity to truly discuss the matter in depth with the union they have chosen instead to cower like a child in the corner that has been rebuked simply for doing nothing at all. Bud Selig is ” spineless” and it speaks to his incessant stupidity as the baseball commissioner ! And all this for an executive who’s compensated with an extremely exorbitant salary if the rumors are to be believed . It is said that Selig’s salary for the fiscal year ending 2010 hit $20 million . Given the team salary of the New York Yankees , that wage would place Bud Selig alongside Mark Teixiera , CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez and most certainly in line with the 15 highest paid players in the league .

If Bud Selig cares as much as for the game of as much he invokes the names of Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson , Hank Aaron , Willie Mays , Lou Gehrig and Sandy Koufax in the way that he has done . I certainly believe that the commissioner has simply been about creating sound bytes, merely for the sake of making them because he believes it is in fact what the fans would like to hear ! His actions hasn’t simply borne out what he aspires to see for the game .

Certainly if baseball wants to remain resonant amongst the fans then issues such as steroids and how best to deal with having a policy that is fair and seen as equitable in the eyes of the fans rather than the idiocy that we are now seeing . It is time now for the league hierarchy along with the team owners and the union to seek a remedy where there is some consistency as to how MLB addresses the issue of steroids and its testing policy. Perhaps it is the frustration of the fans who have seen Alex Rodriguez , Rafael Palmeiro , Mark McGwire , Sammy Sosa , Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds simply evade the wrath of the league in spite of either the allegations , speculation or proven case where these players’ names have been closely associated with presumed steroid abuse and the inevitable “Mitchell Report” which simply cast an even bigger cloud over the game .

Even with the advent of causing his school complete embarrassment Terrelle Pryor is in for a rough start to his NFL career. At the insistence of commissioner Roger Goodell the player will have to forgo the first five games of the NFL regular season . With the ongoing investigation of the Ohio State program and that is even school president Dr E Gordon Gee and AD Gene Smith now feeling that this sordid affair is now behind them . The school’s former football coach Jim Tressel has relinquished his role riding off into the sunset but knowing whether or not he will be able to hold a similar post at some point in the future.

Pryor’s agent Drew Rosenhaus now has to impress upon any team willing to take a chance on the player that his problems are far behind him . With the NCAA ,themselves having imposed a five game suspension on the player after he was embroiled in numerous allegations that upon investigation had been verified and found to be true. In light of that showing, the player decided to forgo his junior season with Ohio State and making himself eligible for the NFL Supplemental Draft . It is my belief that Rosenhaus will do utmost to sell his client as someone who’s capable of leading a team especially at the quarterback position . Pryor, himself , will have a hard time proving that he is the right man for the job. Quarterback’s taken in this past draft have found their way unto teams seeking either backups , starters or simply someone (third string) to carry the clipboard.

If Terrelle Pryor isn’t able to prove himself worthy enough of a starting position as a quarterback then there is always a possibility for the player to switch positions and become either a tight end or wide receiver . There’s an increasing belief that this may well be the best possible option for the player. Is Pryor good enough to have a successful career in the NFL ? Only time will tell but most definitely there is a great deal of intrigue being built up in anticipation to see how the player will fare. If he is unable to matriculate what was a moderately successful career at the collegiate level , step up within the NFL , then there’s every chance that Terrelle Pryor can become a star in the NFL .

Well now that Chad Ochocinco seems to have found a resting place for his languid career . I just hope that the player can live up to the claims that he’s a Canton bound future Hall of Famer ! Bill Belichick , his coaching staff and New England Patriots’ general manager Nick Caserio took a chance in acquiring the player via a trade from the Cincinnati Bengals . It certainly looks as if Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth another cast off who has joined the Patriots and found themselves welcomed , for both players this is their last chance at redemption.

In their first two preseason games of the New England Patriots seem to have hit their stride having not really lost a step from last season in spite of their postseason upset at the hands of the New York Jets .

Having decisively won the AFC East in 2010 with a 14-2 mark the letdown of that loss to the Jets remains fresh in the minds of the players , perhaps none more so than Tom Brady . The Superbowl winning MVP player knows that shocking loss and the fact that questions arose not simply about his play but the lack of heart from the team had many wondering if Brady’s heart was still in the game and not elsewhere . After-all , he’s now married to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen , father of two children , has immeasurable wealth alongside Peyton Manning , the duo it has to be said are the ‘faces of the NFL’ .

Once again building through the draft and the acquisition of free agents seems to be the path that Bill Belichick seems to be taking . Complacency on the part of the team , the coach and his staff may well have the main reason behind the Patriots’ fall from grace last season. Certainly, this season the team will have to prove themselves worthy and in particular the new additions to the roster , notably Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth.

At some point during the season we well begin to discover what the New England Patriots will be about over the course of their schedule. Character , depth , heart and force are the traits I am hoping to see from the team ! A set-back for the organization and it’s once again back to drawing board , something I believe that neither Belichick or the members of the team will simply want . Their goal will be a berth in the Superbowl and the end scenario of this team raising the Lombardi Trophy .

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What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit on this topic and other salient points you feel pertinent .

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

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(1) Shawn Eichorst the current athletics directors of the Miami Hurricanes . Only in his current position for a little over a year , he succeeded Kirby Hocutt who now holds a similar position with Texas Tech . Miami Herald / Hector Garcia ……

(2) David Reed compliance director for Miami Hurricanes’ athletics program . It would be an understatement to suggest that Reed has simply sat idly by as the program has slipped down the ladder further into an abyss of shrouded malfeasance and lack of oversight during his tenure . courtesy of University of Miami . ……

(3) Mike Jacobs, seen here at Rockies spring training in March, says he took HGH to treat knee and back problems . Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

(4) Bud Selig , Rob Manfred and former MLBPA Executive Director Donald Fehr who now holds a similar position with the NHLPA are seen here being sworn in before giving testimony to the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee up on Capitol Hill , Washington DC in 2008 . AP/Getty Images /Jamie Squires …….

(5) JEANNETTE, PA – AUGUST 12: Terrelle Pryor works out at a practice facility while quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson looks on on August 12, 2011 in Jeannette, Pennsylvania. Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images …….

(6) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) smiles as he talks to teammates Rob Gronkowski (87) and Sebastian Vollmer (76) in the huddle during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 in Tampa, Fla. The Patriots would go on to defeat the Buccaneers 31-14 AP Photo/Brian Blanco ……..

(7) New England Patriots’ Albert Haynesworth during NFL football training camp in Foxborough, Mass. Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. AP Photo/Winslow Townson ……….

(8) FOXBORO, MA – AUGUST 11: Chad Ochocinco (85) of the New England Patriots talks with teammate Tom Brady (12) in the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars on August 11, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The New England Patriots defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 47-12 . Photo by Elsa/Getty Images …….

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MLB news

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MLB results 20th August 2011

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Ah Those Lovable Scoundrels …….. !

Ah Those Lovable Scoundrels …….. !

It seems the depths of ineptitude continue for one of baseball’s great franchises in the Chicago Cubs . The ownership group led by Tom Ricketts sought to fire GM Jim Hendry after his seventeen years loyal service with the organization . Given the history of the players associated (Hall of Famers) with this organization many of whom have been enshrined in Cooperstown , at the Hall of Fame it has to be said that their fall from grace has been absolutely horrendous .

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I would hazard a guess that Tom Ricketts and the members of the family could no longer withstand the ridicule and the mere fact that the long faithful and loyal fans in attendance at Wrigley Field essentially had enough of the lackluster displays and the sheer ineptitude of the team and managerial staff . To say that this team has underachieved this season would be to suggest that Peyton Manning had an off-day at the office but that he’d been doing so repeatedly over the last decade. Highs and lows over the course their history , more lows than highs if anything but it has to be said that the Tom Ricketts had high hopes for the organization . And as we know the postseason hasn’t exactly been kind to the Chicago Cubs . There’s a saying …… “always the bridesmaid never the bride ” . In the case of the Cubs that hasn’t happened in over 100 years for this ballclub laying claim to the World Series .

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Chicago Cubs interim general manager Randy Bush talks to the media before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 21, 2011 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by David Banks/Getty Images …….

It’d be remiss to suggest that Jim Hendry might just be the worse front office executive in the game today but given the slim pickings in terms of the sheer ineptitude shown by the now defunct executive one might hazard a guess that Hendry’s name would be considered a worthy nomination. Cubs’ manager Mike Quade now has to endure a season of speculation as to whether not he’ll retain his job until the end of the year . And at this juncture no one can actually be sure of that , with no successor named to succeed Hendry , and no formal statement coming from the owners .

At this point it’s hard to say what the all consuming Chicago Cubs’ fan ought to expect from this organization . Certainly , ever since Tom Ricketts assumed control of this team having purchased the organization that had been placed into bankruptcy proceedings by then multi billionaire mogul Sam Zell . I am not about to suggest that Zell gave up on this organization by jettisoning the ball-club but you simply get the impression that the “curse of the goat” simply remains in tact. No amount of refurbishment to Wrigley Field can offset the ineptitude shown on the diamond by this team . What glimmer of hope there might have been, has been few , if at all ! Certainly from the future standpoint of the club everything points to the future as the moves made by front office and the draft choices made. The bright spots also are the prospects within the organization and its farm system where there appears to a number of players looking to contribute for the Chicago Cubs .

As we have all come to know injuries will play a part in team’s season and how the players they simply chooses to acquit themselves . There seems to be no real leadership coming from the veterans on this team and for the likes of Alfonso Soriano , Carlos Pena , Geovany Soto , Kerry Wood and Starlin Castro have offered little hope if anything to show the fans there’s imminent hope that things are about to make an immediate turnaround .

There are few teams within the game of baseball that in terms of attendance that can consistently draw in excess of 2,500,000 fans each season and the Chicago Cubs just happens to be one of those teams . Considered a big market team with a storied history , loyal supporters and litany of devoted followers nationwide it is extremely hard to see how a ball-club can seemingly remain in such an abyss of mediocrity. But herein , lies the drama and ever evolving cycle that encapsulates what the Chicago Cubs seems to be about.

The now infamous Steve Bartman ‘incident’ and his confrontation with Moises Alou over a fly ball in a postseason game played between the Cubs and Florida Marlins will go down in Chicago Cubs’ folklore. If ever there were a time to sympathize with the ball-club then that might have been it. Bartman was vilified not only by the fans , the city of Chicago but also the team’s broadcasters who covered the game.

Tom Ricketts may seek to promote from within in terms of a successor to Jim Hendry or they may well seek to go outside that comfortability zone and bring in someone with the experience they seek in terms of a front office executive. The opportunity is there for the right candidate but the speculation remains as to when a decision will be forthcoming from the ownership group.

One of the major fallouts from the whole unsavory episode now surrounding the University of Miami and its now soured athletics program could well be the form of punishment imposed on the school by the NCAA . Mark Emmert as president of collegiate athletics’ governing body that upon the finality of its investigations into the claims made by the now disgraced Canes’ booster Nevin Shapiro , who is now serving a multi year sentence in a federal penitentiary will make a decision as to what punishment he feel is appropriate to be levied against the university. Watching all of this closely will be USC Trojans’ athletics director Pat Haden with the school having been severely punished in light of school’s own problematic program _____ in particular the football program and the allegations surrounding former player Reggie Bush .

Donna Shalala , Shawn Eichorst and David Reed in conjunction with Hurricanes’ football coach Al Golden have all tried to suggest that the school still has a great deal of integrity and that the students have been the embodiment of what character is all about. But such has been the systemic violations and the mere fact that the aforementioned quartet closely aligned themselves with one of the school’s major boosters in Nevin Shapiro , that it is hard to believe any statement uttered by Shalala and her subordinates.

Pat Haden having succeeded Mike Garrett will watch with a great deal of interest as to the form of punishment that is meted out to the university of Miami. Clearly with the sanctions placed upon USC , with the school having to vacate a championship season , multiple student athlete scholarships and postseason appearances _____ anything short of that as a form of action levied against the Canes’ program will be viewed as being biased . What might be even more suspect as this situation unfolds is that Paul Dee a former athletics director of the University of Miami now chairs NCAA’s Infractions Committee . My own opinion , is that Dee will have to recuse himself if a decision has to be made over a program that he was once an administrator of , as by perception alone , the appearance of a conflict of interest comes into being. Haden would have a valid point in appealing any ruling that Paul Dee is a part of , in rendering a decision that imposes any sanction that is viewed to be somewhat light in terms of its severity.

I am not about to suggest that the NCAA isn’t above some type surreptitious activity , given the inconsistency shown in the forms of punishment levied against certain programs. But herein lies my biggest concern , if the NCAA shows its unwillingness to punish the school with impunity then what does that say about that institutional body as a whole ? Mark Emmert and the institution he presides over (NCAA) not only has a credibility problem but also an image problem that certainly needs to be addressed. It’s one thing to suggest changes that he would like to see but at this moment in time the NCAA president has done little to suggest that he is indeed a man of action. Instead he seems to be ready foist upon the public meaningless and asinine sound bytes merely to curry favor with the public at large .

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With the firing of Cubs’ general manager Jim Hendry where do you now see the ownership going in terms of a successor and do you view Mike Quade’s job as still being safe at this juncture ? Also how do you team’s season panning out over the remainder of the year ? Do you also feel that any that Pat Haden will be justified in lodging an appeal should Paul Dee preside over any deliberations as it concerns the punishment that may well be levied against the University of Miami ? Simply leave a comment on the points raised as you deem fit .

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

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(1) St. Louis Cardinals’ Yadier Molina, left, and Fernando Salas celebrate the Cardinals 6-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs after a baseball game on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, in Chicago. AP Photo/Jim Prisching …..

(2) Chicago Cubs’ catcher Geovany Soto, left, looks on as the St. Louis Cardinals’ Albert Pujols celebrates his solo home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, in Chicago. AP Photo/Jim Prisching ………

(3) Chicago Cubs interim general manager Randy Bush talks to the media before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 21, 2011 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by David Banks/Getty Images …….

(4) Hendry (left) is seen here alongside Tom Ricketts whose family are the primary owners of the Chicago Cubs . Ricketts wealth came from the online stock trading company Ameritrade founded by his father patriarch J. Joseph Ricketts . The company now known as TD Ameritrade Inc. . Ricketts is also the CEO of Chicago financial concern Incapital LLC . He plays an active concern in both companies as well as the day to day operations of the Chicago Cubs of which each of his siblings are also involved with the organization in various capacities . AP Photo/ Matthew Barnhart ……

(5) Hendry ,left is seen here alongside now incumbent manager Mike Quade , center and Tom Ricketts , owner of the Chicago Cubs. There is now mounting speculation as to whether or not Quade will be retained by the club beyond this season . Interim general manager Randy Bush hasn’t indicated what the organization’s plans are other than to suggest the Mike Quade remains the team’s manager for the moment. AP Photo/ Rich Howard ….

(6) Donna Shalala right is seen here alongside former Miami booster and now incarcerated felon Nevin Shapiro (center) . Shalala has tried to distance herself and the school’s athletics department staff from all of the perceived wrongdoings concerning Shapiro and his claims. Courtesy of Miami Herald .

(7) Paul Dee (background-far left) is seen here with Donna Shalala . Dee , now the chairman of the NCAA’s Infractions Committee would have to preside over the hearings concerning the University of Miami’s alleged improprieties . However, in lieu of this Pat Haden the AD of USC is questioning the impartiality that can be shown as Paul Dee once served as the athletics director of the Miami Hurricanes’ program . ……….. AP /Getty Images / Humberto Cruz …..

(8) Pat Haden the current AD of USC having succeeded Mike Garrett . He has been entrusted to clean up the school’s tarnished image in light of the violations and subsequent punishment meted out by the NCAA. The USC Trojans’ AD has made it public that he will be closely scrutinizing actions of the NCAA and how they treat the University of Miami in light of the allegations and any sanctions levied against the school. Also coming into question as broached by Haden will be the fact that Paul Dee as chairman of the Infractions Committee will preside over the hearings concerning the school . One has to bear in mind that Dee served as a former athletics director of the Canes’ program as well as teaching law at the school. AP Photo / Mitch Marshall ……..

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College Football news

It’s All In The Numbers Stupid ……………..

It’s All In The Numbers Stupid ……..

Much is being made of the fact that Arizona Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is now what is reported to be the largest contract offered to a wide receiver in NFL history to a wide receiver . Cardinals’ GM Rod Graves at team owner Bill Bidwill’s behest gave this all his seal of approval in formally granting this deal. The player’s contract is said to be worth $120 million covering eight years , of which $50 million is guaranteed money.

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Now pardon me for saying this but at what point did Rod Graves and Bill Bidwill thought it appropriate to simply show their complete stupidity ? The NFL hierarchy , front office executives (general managers) and team owners have simply pled poverty as to their financial plight . Have NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the hierarchy been “juicing” ? This whole idiocy as to the lockout itself and the very fact that we simply have the owners themselves making the most asinine of decisions as it relates to financial matters ! At what point did it not occur to either Rod Graves and the Cardinals’ ownership that this wouldn’t have some serious ramification for the NFL ?

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In this photo taken Aug. 11, 2011, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) smiles in the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif. The Cardinals and Fitzgerald have agreed to an eight-year deal that could pay the star receiver as much as $120 million, making it one of the richest deals in the NFL. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez …..

There’s no denying that Fitzgerald isn’t one of the most productive and dynamic wide receivers in the NFL as can be proved by his career statistics . But herein lies the caveat , this now raises the bar as to the expectations of other high profiled offensive players looking for their payday. At the same this provides an incentive for agents such as Drew Rosenhaus and Mark Bartelstein to seek even bigger compensation for their clients .

In the midst of this all now stands the impasse between Tennessee Titans’ running back Chris Johnson and the Titans’ front office of which the team’s general manager Mike Reinfeldt has to deal with a dissatisfied running back who feels that he’s not being properly rewarded with regard to his perceived worth. And amongst the running backs in the league Johnson has been one of the most prolific in the past five years . Now with Titans’ owner Bud Adams mocking the player , calling him petulant , one wonders when and how that ongoing saga will now end ?

I’ve always maintained that this most recent stoppage in the NFL had more to do with greed than it had to do with being about a labor dispute ! The NFLPA led by DeMaurice Smith essentially ran over the league hierarchy and all that was left was the road-kill ! To suggest that the owners and the league hierarchy are entirely happy with the outcome of the NFL lockout and its aftermath would be suggest that the French were entirely happy with being invaded by Germany during WWII . In the wake of this all the team owners have are trying to paint a rosy picture as to the present setting but in reality the picture that has been painted on the canvas isn’t quite as impressive as Roger Goodell would have us believe.

If the Arizona Cardinals are to have a successful season then much of that will be predicated upon the play of their new starting quarterback Kevin Kolb acquired in an off-season trade from the Philadelphia Eagles . Now for those who might view Kolb as the answer to the Cardinals’ needs , given the inconsistency of the play last season from the team’s quarterbacks , I would say that while this move could viewed as an upgrade, it isn’t as great as one might perceive it to be on the surface. Kevin Kolb at best, is a moderately talented quarterback who doesn’t even place amongst the top 12 players at the position within the NFL . But such are the vagaries of the game that we have analysts simply lauding mediocrity for the sake of creating a sound byte that resonates with the fans . And nowhere is this more indicative than the rather asinine commentary that’s provided by the wide eyed analysts of ESPN .

Ken Whisenhunt and his coaching staff will be asked to get this team back on track and fighting for at least fighting for the division (NFC West) or at least a wildcard berth within the NFC . Whisenhunt saw fit to players that he feels will be complimentary to this roster . The veterans on this Arizona Cardinals’ team will be asked to lead this young roster as they embark on the season and it remains to be seen as to the challenge that will be mounted amongst their in-house rivals within NFC West. The San Francisco 49ers , St Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks while not being viewed amongst the elite within the conference it has to be said
these teams have their inconsistencies that we have all witnessed throughout the course of last season .

Defensively the Arizona Cardinals are a team that has its deficiencies within its secondary which essentially has become their Achilles Heel . Now while the bone of contention appears to be over the contract signed by Larry Fitzgerald , would we be actually discussing this all were it not a player , playing on a team that has struggled to make their presence felt , albeit that they made an appearance in the Superbowl that ended with a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers . That defeat and the subsequent retirement of Kurt Warner simply led to the Arizona Cardinals’ fall from grace that seemed all the more emblematic of an organization that no longer had a sense of purpose or direction.

I do believe with the additions of Patrick Peterson , Ryan Williams , Robert Housler , Sam Acho , Anthony Sherman , Quan Sturdivant , David Carter and Demarco Sampson we would see some great contributions from these rookies drafted by the organization. Granted, it will be up to the likes of Larry Fitzgerald , Kolb , and the seasoned veterans on this roster to lead by example if this team is to have any semblance of success over the course of this season. Hamza Abduallah , Clark Haggans , Darnell Dockett , Vonnie Holliday , Mike Leach , Todd Heap , Paris Lenon and Joey Porter will have to step up to the plate and contribute greatly . The prevailing thought however, will be that Kevin Kolb has to prove that Rod Graves and Ken Whisenhunt’s faith in his abilities are justified . From my own perspective I believe that the jury will be out until that first snap of the season is taken and then we will be able to see what the player is truly made of .

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From your own perspective do you believe the contract offered to Larry Fitzgerald was warranted ? Or do you feel that this further typifies the stupidity of the owners and general managers of the NFL , especially given the league hierarchy’s claims of the imbalance of the revenues shared between the league and union ? Simply chime in with a comment on the subject matter and any other points you feel pertinent to this article .

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

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(1) In this photo taken Aug. 11, 2011, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) smiles in the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif. The Cardinals and Fitzgerald have agreed to an eight-year deal that could pay the star receiver as much as $120 million, making it one of the richest deals in the NFL. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

(2) GREEN BAY, WI – AUGUST 19: Ken Wisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals looks on against the Green Bay Packers in a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 19, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images …

(3) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) tries to avoid the rush of Green Bay Packers’ Howard Green (95) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, in Green Bay, Wis. AP Photo/Mike Roemer …….

(4) Kevin Kolb (4) of the Arizona Cardinals looks to hand off against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on August 11, 2011 in Oakland, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty ……..

(5) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) can’t come up with a pass while being defended by Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson (21) an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, in Green Bay, Wis. AP Photo/Morry Gash …..

(6) Bill Bidwill (left) , Cardinals’ team owner is seen alongside Ken Whisenhunt (center) and Arizona Cardinals’ general manager Rod Graves . Getty Images / Nick Doan …….

(7) Chris Johnson (28) of the Tennessee Titans speaks to members of the media after being named the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year at a press conference held at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center as part of media week for Super Bowl XLIV on February 3, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Getty Images North America/ Doug Benc ……

(8) Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak , left, and general manager Mike Reinfeldt, right, answer questions during a news conference on Friday, July 29, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. The NFL football team’s training camp begins Saturday. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey …….

(9) Tennessee Titans’ owner Bud Adams who’s said to be aggrieved by the actions of the team’s running back Chris Johnson and his demands for a new contract. Adams has told GM Mike Reinfeldt to hold firm and not acquiesce to the player’s demands . However , further heating up the impasse has been the owner’s intent to resort to name calling and belittling the player . Hardly conducive to creating an environment under which an agreement can be worked out between the two parties . Courtesy of Forbes.com / Matt Holt ……..
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NFL news

NFL preseason schedule

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NFL Standings by division 2011

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Arizona Cardinals preseason schedule 2011

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Arizona Cardinals team statistics 2010 season

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NFL team stats 2010

If Curiosity Killed The Cat Then Who Led The Cat There In The First Place ….. ?

If Curiosity Killed The Cat Then Who Led The Cat There In The First Place ….. ?

Well now that there’s a peace accord within the NFL and all parties appear to happy the preseason is under way questions will abound as to what we the fans ought to expect from the teams this upcoming regular season as well as what we have all witnessed so far in the preseason ? And as such it’s pretty much safe to say we will have our contenders and pretenders within the league this year.

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Certainly questions will abound as to the lofty expectations for teams such as the San Francisco 49ers , Carolina Panthers , Denver Broncos , Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns . The Forty Niners come into this season with a new coach in Jim Harbaugh along with new coaching assistants and once again the onus will be upon Alex Smith to prove that he’s capable of leading this team . Far be it for me to suggest but the player has had his gamut of criticism over the course of his career , much of it valid ! . But then again, consider what he’s had to endure since his introduction into the NFL ? A coaching carousel , several changes in offensive coordinators and the very fact that the front office of this organization led by John York and his wife Denise DeBartolo York have never really had the presence of mind to even give this team their undivided attention. Instead they’ve simply paraded it around as a bauble for their socialite friends to gaze upon .

In the NFC West where the San Francisco 49ers reside their regular season schedule dictates that they take on their inhouse rivals the Seattle Seahawks , St Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals . Given the impressions of last season within the division you get the feeling that the quality of football played there won’t be up to the usual standards one would come to expect . Albeit , that last year the Seattle Seahawks would make the postseason , go on to knockout the then defending Superbowl champions , New Orleans Saints in the wildcard round of the playoffs.

This season if I had to pick a team to come out of the NFC West to make the postseason then I might have to go with the St Louis Rams ! Steve Spagnuolo has proven to me that he’s a good coach who can get the best out of his players. And in Sam Bradford he has one of the young rising stars in the league who may well go on to do some great things in the NFL if given the prerequisite tools , in being surrounded by a very good team . That being said this season the Rams will have to give it their all and show that the progress made under Spagnuolo hasn’t all gone unheeded . Certainly from an offensive standpoint you would expect this team show signs of progress based on last season’s figures . Most certainly with the offseason moves made and the draft choices you would expect to see some solid contributions from the likes of

Defensively if this team can hold its own and take heed of the lessons being taught by defensive coordinator Kevin Flajole then they ought to fare well over the course of the season . Certainly there’s reason to believe that the St Louis Rams can have and make this division truly competitive . Granted , the NFC West has never really been highly looked upon as one of the more competitive divisions within the NFL as it has its detractors as well as supporters across the nation. That being said every division within this league has its highs and lows , some more so than others .

If there’s one thing that Jim Harbaugh has to deal with and make it an absolute priority , then that will be settling upon of a starting quarterback for the regular season . Other than Alex Smith the coach has Colin Kaepernick and McLeod Bethel-Thompson but it is being rumored that the coach will be bringing in seasoned veterans Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper . This may merely be a backup plan should things not work out concerning Harbaugh’s insistence that Alex Smith is the team’s starter but given the player’s inability and lack of productivity in preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints where the team was simply outplayed in a rather lopsided 24-3 defeat . If anything , the coach had to have been perturbed by what he saw from his starter but he’s prepared to show his implicit faith in Smith until all else fails. Given that display , I’d say that scenario is likely to happen sooner rather than later !

The Forty Niners have been prudent in the draft seeking to bolster the roster with prudent choices that will complement this team overall. Along with their offseason acquisitions it is thought that Harbaugh and coaching staff will seek to progress with this squad systematically looking for improvements over the course of the season from their rookies as well as greater contributions from the veterans on the team. And for the likes of draft choices Aldon Smith , Colin Kaepernick , Chris Culliver , Kendall Hunter , Daniel Kilgore and Ronald Johnson .

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ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 13: St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo talks to quarterback Sam Bradford (8) during the first half of the NFL preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts at Edward Jones Dome on August 13, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images ……..

We certainly know what the San Francisco 49ers are capable of from an offensive standpoint given the right set of circumstances as can be seen from their play over the course of last season . But it has been the defense that has been as such the team’s Achilles Heel apart from the inconsistent play of Alex Smith over the course of last year.

Clearly this will be a season of can we , or will we be able to overcome all forms adversities placed in our way as far as Jim Harbaugh and his team are concerned . The task ahead for this rookie NFL coach will be an arduous task but the faith shown in him by GM Trent Baalke and team President & CEO Jed York must have been fortified in the success achieved at Stanford as a college coach .

As much I believe that the St Louis Rams are capable of winning the NFC West outright, my choice is predicated upon there being an immense contribution from seasoned veterans on this team such as Steven Jackson , Jerious Norwood , Brady Poppinga and Josh Brown to lead this squad throughout the season . Last season these players played their part contributing to the success of the team which narrowly missed the postseason by failing to win an additional game that would have guaranteed the St Louis Rams winning the division , thereby toppling the Seattle Seahawks .

The moves made by GM Billy Devaney in conjunction with Steve Spagnuolo and the coaching staff sets this organization up for the future and the immediacy of now. Most certainly with the draft choices and the existing roster in place there’s a very good reason that we ought to see real progress throughout the course of this season . It is clear that the organization now feels that they have found their man in Sam Bradford as the franchise quarterback to lead this team well into the future . And if the player shows the growth and maturity already exhibited then we are liable to see this team reach excel once again . The fans yearn for it and so too do Bradford’s teammates at this juncture after some pretty languid years , ensuing their Superbowl ( SBXXXIV) triumph .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the upcoming NFL season and in particular with regard to the teams within the NFC West ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and anything else you believe to be pertinent .

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

Contact tophatal via these social media devices

Facebook.com …. http://facebook.com/tophata2

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(1) FILE – This Aug. 12, 2011 file photo shows San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh prior to an NFL football game at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Before he transformed Stanford from a laughingstock to a powerhouse and achieved his goal of being an NFL head coach tasked with rebuilding the floundering San Francisco 49ers, Harbaugh got his full-time coaching career started across the bay in Oakland AP Photo/Bill Feig …..

(2) In this Aug. 12, 2011 photo, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) calls for the snap from New Orleans Saints center Olin Kreutz (50) during an NFL preseason football game against the San Francisco 49ers at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Drew Brees is coming to grips with the fact that a couple familiar faces will be missing from the table when he takes the offensive line out for dinner each week. New Orleans lost their starting center of the past three seasons when Jonathan Goodwin opted to go to San Francisco in free agency and then head coach Sean Payton released starting right tackle Jon Stinchcomb. AP Photo/Bill Feig …….

(3) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith pulls back to throw during NFL football training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu …….

(4) San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Jeremiah Masoli (3), Alex Smith (11), Colin Kaepernick (7), and McLeod Bethel-Thompson practice during NFL football training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu …….

(5) St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford drinks on the sidelines between drills during NFL football training camp Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011, at the Rams’ training facility in St. Louis. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson …..

(6) FILE- The July 31, 2011 file photo shows St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson runs with the ball during NFL football camp at the Rams’ training facility in St. Louis. The Rams have planned to get Jackson on the field for the second preseason game. Jackson missed much of Tuesday Aug. 16, 2011 practice, though, with a hip flexor issue . AP Photo/Jeff Roberson …….

(7) ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 13: Robert Quinn (94) of the St. Louis Rams gets past a block by Anthony Castonzo (74) of the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL preseason game at Edward Jones Dome on August 13, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams defeated the Colts 33-10 . Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images …….

(8) St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, left, shakes hands with Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell at the end of an NFL preseason football game Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011 in St. Louis. The Rams won 33-10 . (AP Photo/Tom Gannam ….

(9) ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 13: Mardy Gilyard (81) of the St. Louis Rams looks for room to run on a punt return against the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL preseason game at Edward Jones Dome on August 13, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams defeated the Colts 33-10. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images ….

(10) ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 13: St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo talks to quarterback Sam Bradford (8) during the first half of the NFL preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts at Edward Jones Dome on August 13, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images ……..
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Bud Selig Puts The Emphasis On The Letter “D” In The Word “Dumb” …. !

Bud Selig Puts The Emphasis On The Letter “D” In The Word “Dumb” …….. !

I’m now trying to fathom how it is that the MLB hierarchy having agreed in principle to the sale of the Houston Astros by Drayton McLane to Houston businessman James Crane seems to have hit a snag . For some reason after a meeting of the team owners and league hierarchy having met at the Otesaga Hotel , in Cooperstown, New York , commissioner Bud Selig chose to postpone the vote for the approval in the sale ( $680 million) of the baseball club. Pardon me , for being out of the loop on this but what the hell are Bud Selig and his compatriots thinking , stalling this procedure ? Isn’t it bad enough that the fans have had to endure the utter stupidity of the league hierarchy in their handling of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the odious actions of Frank McCourt and the entire front office of the organization ? The formal statement issued from the commissioner’s office on the matter(sale of the Astros) is that the vote will be dealt with at a latter date .

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I’ve long held the opinion that Bud Selig might just be the most gullible and naive executive in all of professional sports ! His tenure as the game’s highest ranking executive has been filled high and low points throughout this era . But it’d remiss to simply carry on chastising the commissioner without pointing to some of the good that he’s done for the game . But to hell with it , why should I ? From my own perspective I do believe that this sale will be approved , with Crane gaining outright control of the team after the free-fall of the organization during the tenure of McLane’s ownership in recent years . The lack of success postseason or otherwise over the years have been fleeting for Houston Astros .

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Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane, left, listens as Jim Crane, right, speaks during a news conference to announce a group led by Crane is purchasing the baseball team from McLane, pending approval from Major League Baseball, Monday, May 16, 2011, in Houston. AP Photo/David J. Phillip …….

This season has been one lowly expectations and derisory play by this Astros’ ballclub . If nothing else it leaves the fans with a sense of abject failure and nothing positive to take away from the experience while in attendance at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas. In the Astros’ most recent game played against the lowly Chicago Cubs , themselves fellow residents within the NL Central _____ a meeting of two of the worse teams in all of baseball. There’s a great deal of mediocre baseball being played at present but perhaps none more so than by both the Astros and Cubs.

Courtesy of Foxsports

What’s holding up Astros’ sale ?

By Ken Rosenthal & Jon Paul Morosi

When Jim Crane agreed to purchase the Houston Astros in mid-May, baseball officials estimated that the approval process would take two months.

The process is now at three months and counting.

Baseball announced Monday that a vote on Crane’s bid is not expected at this week’s owners meetings in Cooperstown, NY, stunning ownership representatives throughout the sport and raising questions about the sale’s viability.

As recently as Monday morning, Crane was under the impression that his purchase of the club for $680 million would become official this week, according to one source.

Two separate issues account for the delay, sources say.

• Baseball’s efforts to resolve the Dodgers’ ownership situation, which is diverting manpower from the vetting of Crane and his partners.

• Commissioner Bud Selig’s discomfort with one or more aspects of the Astros sale, which makes him unwilling to submit Crane for approval to the owners at this stage.

“The standard due diligence that must be completed before any transaction of this magnitude can close remains ongoing,” baseball said in a statement.

“Because that procedure is continuing, it is not expected that the proposed sale of the Astros will go to the approval process at this week’s owners’ meetings. Major League Baseball will continue to work as expeditiously as possible to complete the process.”

The next owners meetings are scheduled for November in Milwaukee. Baseball could conduct a phone vote on the Astros sale before then, and both Crane and the team’s current owner, Drayton McLane, might lobby for such an outcome. The team is on pace to lose 111 games, and the delay could complicate its offseason planning, sources said.

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Click on link to read article in its entirety .

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For his part, I think that Jim Crane will be aggressive in trying to make this organization more competitive and most certainly looking to facilitate a much more consummate business approach altogether for this ballclub. Granted, over the years Drayton McClane has spent capriciously on free agents while seeking to win a World Series title . The draft choices of the organization have reaped some dividends for the Houston Astros but overall there had been the tendency to accept that when failure arose it was accepted and that would be it . With the ball-club having traded Hunter Pence their best player to the Philadelphia Phillies at the trade deadline, this sent a sense of foreboding as to what the fans are to expect over the remainder of the season .

At this point last year the Houston Astros were striving to make their mark within the division and the league as a whole . Much of what we have come to expect of a team that struggles tends to come from poor play , compounded with multiple team injuries and in some cases poor a management style but in reality simply put , these are the things one would come to expect of a beleaguered organization . Jim Crane will have to assert himself and make demands of this organization if things are to change for the better . If not, then one could foresee that the changes made as determined by the owner that could very well be drastic indeed . At the end of this year , I do believe that those changes will be made one way or another !

Iriving Picard as the plaintiffs’ attorney in the lawsuit filed against the New York Mets’ organization as well as the ballclubs two primary owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon has won an initial ruling that would allow Picard to receive an initial sum of $300 million from the club as part of the approximately $750 million originally sought in damages. If one recalls , the case against the New York Mets and the two owners , were , that they knowingly profited from the monies derived from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme that defrauded thousands of clients to the tune of $59 billion ($59,000,000,000) . Reiterated by Irving Picard in the suit that bears the brunt of the plaintiffs’ claims are that the defendants knew that the monies received over the course of time had been derived fom an illegal act .

Courtesy of the New York Times

Madoff Trustee Gets a Green Light on Clawbacks

By Peter J. Henning

Irving H. Picard , the trustee overseeing the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff’s investment advisory firm, received good news from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Tuesday when it affirmed his position on how investor claims should be treated.

Under his approach, those who invested more than they received from Mr. Madoff’s huge Ponzi scheme , the net losers, can pursue claims for reimbursement, while those who took out more than they put in, the net winners, are subject to lawsuits to recoup their gains.

The Second Circuit found that Mr. Picard’s position for assessing investor claims, called the “net investment method,” was more consistent with the applicable legal standard “than any other method advocated by the parties or perceived by this court.”

The appellate ruling comes on the heels of a recent decision by Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the Federal District Court in Manhattan rejecting the trustee’s authority to pursue claims against banks and others who were accused of helping to perpetuate Mr. Madoff’s scheme.

That decision throws into doubt some of Mr. Picard’s multibillion-dollar claims against deep-pocketed defendants like JPMorgan Chase , Bank Medici and UniCredit.

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Click on link to read this article in its entirety .

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Both Katz and Wilpon , as the two prominent defendants in the case have denied all culpability and any wrongdoing with regard to knowlingly profiting from Madoff’s scheme . However , much of their defense juxtaposes and hinges on the premise that the duo were also victims of Bernard Madoff’s malfeasance . It has been intimated that Katz and Wilpon’s investment company Sterling Equities Inc used their company to siphon off the monies they claimed to be profits from their original investments in the Ponzi Scheme __ moving those funds around various resources at their disposal including the New York Mets and other associated companies within Sterling Equities Inc . It is hard to actually quantify the misdeeds of Madoff but it is even harder to believe that both Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon would think that the public at large are susceptible to their claims that they did not know that the person, who they personally knew and trusted had been in fact been compliant and complicit in perpetrating a massive fraud and grand larceny. And the two defendants are said to be investment gurus , beloved by investors and financial institutions on Wall Street, alike .

Now far be it for me to suggest that Bud Selig’s handling of the Mets’ affair has been a classic case of a bungling executive who’s simply clueless as to how dire this situation has become . Now as we all know David Einhorn CEO of Green Light Capital Investments Inc. has plowed $250 million of his own money to purchase a stake in the New York Mets . I can only surmise that that Einhorn and his legal counsel were advised that this was a prudent investment by the business entrepreneur . Far be it for me to suggest this but it is my honest opinion that Selig sought Einhorn’s intervention in purchasing this stake as a way and means of avoiding any further misconception that he’s (Bud Selig) not fully aware of the ongoing saga and how best to deal with that situation . Public statements from the commissioner’s office have been minimal at best , other than to suggest that they are closely monitoring the matter . If that means , Selig’s scrutiny was along the lines of watching the Los Angeles Dodgers’ saga unfold to the point where owner Frank McCourt took the team and filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceedings , then it leads me to believe that the commissioner is an even bigger ass than I originally took him for ! He has simply watched as McCourt and his associates have maliciously caused irreparable damage to the image and reputation of the ball-club. And though the organization are the recipients of a $150 million loan from JP Morgan Chase until the end of the baseball season.

I’m no conspiracy theorist but JP Morgan Chase as a major financial institution was also one of the biggest recipients of taxpayers’ monies under the federal government’s TARP Program ( Troubled Assets Relief Program) which was overseen by the US Treasury Dept and its head Tim Geithner . If an institution the size of JP Morgan Chase can be the recipient of $45 billion ($45,000,000,000) of the public’s money and then simply have the brevitas to state that they are now lending more money to small and mid-sized businesses across the nation than ever before , then I would have to believe that Los Angeles Dodgers would now have to be considered a small to mid size business ! How do you feel about that as a perception in the grand scheme of things ?

Over the ensuing months I would like to think that the league hierarchy under Bud Selig’s tenure would now show some common sense in dealing not only with the Los Angeles Dodgers and now the New York Mets’ situation . But given the commissioner’s premise that under the watchful eye of C. Thomas Schieffer the league can closely assess the ongoing actions of Frank McCourt during these deliberations , it would be safe to think that the commissioner has the fortitude to do what is right . In the case of the New York Mets , well that is one saga that as it unfolds has become a soap opera that still has many episodes to played out for the public’s consumption.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Given the ongoing saga of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets how would do you now view the commissioner’s handling of both situations ? And do you feel that the decision by the league hierarchy will prove to be a hindrance in the sale of the Houston Astros at this juncture or merely the process being delayed until a time more fitting for league and owners to take a vote on the matter ? Last but not least , how do you believe that Jim Crane will fare as the owner of the Houston Astros and do you feel that he will ultimately be a success ? Do offer up your comments as to the points raised and thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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

Contact tophatal via these social media devices

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Picture and slide show details below.

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(1) Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane, left, listens as Jim Crane, right, speaks during a news conference to announce a group led by Crane is purchasing the baseball team from McLane, pending approval from Major League Baseball, Monday, May 16, 2011, in Houston. AP Photo/David J. Phillip …….

(2) MLB Commissioner Bud Selig seen here at the dais addressing the press and fans prior to the commencement of 2011 All Star Game staged at Chase Field in Phoenix , Arizona home to the Arizona Diamondbacks . In what was thought to be a straight-forward process in approving the vote in the sale of the Houston Astros the commissioner sought to postpone the vote in order to ratify what he believes to be are several anomalies that do not meet his approval . There is now some speculation that Jim Crane the Houston businessman whose consortium bid $680 million for the team may well withdraw that offer and walk away from the deal altogether. Courtesy of AFP/Photo/ Mark Templeton ……….

(3) Pitcher Bud Norris (20) of the Houston Astros talks with manager Brad Mills (2) at Minute Maid Park on August 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. The Astros would go on to defeat the Chicago Cubs 4-3 . Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images ……..

(4) Third baseman Jimmy Paredes (38) of the Houston Astros tags out Darwin Barney (15) of the Chicago Cubs who was caught in a rundown at Minute Maid Park on August 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Houston won 4-3. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …….

(5) David Einhorn, part owner of the New York Mets, watches the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on May 28, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America …….

(6) Irving Picard the court appointed trustee entrusted in seeking to recoup the losses of the plaintiffs in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme. Bloomberg News / Daniel Acker …….

(7) New York Mets team President Saul Katz (left) and principal partner and owner Fred Wilpon seen here at the team’s new venue Citi Field in Flushing , New York. The two as well as the Mets’ organization and their jointly owned investment company Sterling Equities Inc . are defendants in a civil suit filed by plaintiffs who are victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme. Getty Images / Andrew Burton …………

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MLB news

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MLB Results 18th August 2011

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MLB schedule 3 days at a glance

Houston Astros profile

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Houston Astros’ active roster ……. 40 man roster

Houston Astros’ team stats

Houston Astros coaches

More Bang For The Buck … Or Let’s Just Say Simply More Fizzle For The Money ………… !

More Bang For The Buck … Or Let’s Just Say Simply More Fizzle For The Money ………… !

It’s not strange to realize at this time of the baseball season fans are opining on how their teams are doing and where the letdowns appear to be if those ball clubs aren’t faring well. Much of that could very well be put down to the fact that certain players haven’t been playing up to par. And nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to the highly paid players who’ve essentially been a bust over the course of the season.

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Nothing could be more apparent at present than the premise prescribed when you have players such as Vernon Wells , Jayson Werth , Alfonso Soriano , Carlos Zambrano , Adam Dunn and Barry Zito simply coming up firing a blank . Having read an article in the sports’ pages of Tuesday’s edition of USA Today I thought it only appropriate to look at Bob Nightingale’s article more closely . Wells the the Los Angeles Angels’ slugger has had a monstrous and unproductive season for the team . At this juncture I’m not so sure if Arte Moreno as the team owner had it to do all over again the front office would have acquired the player from the Toronto Blue Jays by way of a trade .

Vernon Wells is owed $63 million through 2014 and it’s apparent that any takers for such a contract would have to be willing to undertake that commitment long term . How and why Mike Scoscia and GM Tony Reagins would have sought to add Wells to the roster under the premise that he would add some potency to the the team’s offense must now have the Angels’ fans in something of a quandary ! And though the ball-club now seems to be out of contention within the AL West in mounting a serious enough challenge to the Texas Rangers , it has to be said that trade has proven to be a monumental failure . Money can’t always by happiness but most certainly can buy great deal of damn misery as the Los Angeles Angels are now finding out .

It’s pretty safe to say that the Chicago Cubs have pretty much underachieved this season as can be attested to in their standing within the NL Central . And if nothing else the fallout after Carlos Zambrano’s meltdown in the game against the Atlanta Braves where the player abruptly left the clubhouse bailing on his teammates and abruptly announcing his retirement . However, in lieu of that the player has since reneged on that announcement simply stating that he was angry. Team GM Jim Hendry has , however , suspended Zambrano without pay but a grievance has been filed by the player’s agent Barry Praver with the union (MLBPA) on the player’s behalf , which will be forwarded to the MLB hierarchy .

The failings of the Chicago Cubs have been well chronicled and given the ball-club’s lack of success in the postseason they can either be lamented or simpy chided for their complete mediocrity .

As prolific as Alfonso Soriano was said to be while with the New York Yankees it has to be said the player has been less of an asset and more of a liability with the Chicago Cubs . From one moment to the next one never simply knows what to expect from the player. And it’s not as if this season has proven to be any different for Soriano as we have seen the Cubs simply give up on the year . And for team owner Tom Ricketts and his family even with the multi million dollar refurbishment of Wrigley Field , the loyal fans still coming to the ballpark in droves it has to be said that the fans are still be short changed by the organization at large.

Can someone please explain to me how it is that Mike Rizzo can still remain the general manager of the Washington Nationals ? Isn’t it enough with the hooplah over the drafting of Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg the organization has nothing to show for it at all ? Building for the future is one thing but I doubt that the fans will want to become members of AARP before this team actually shows some semblance of being competitive .

Last season the hooplah was the furor was with the Nationals acquiring Jayson Werth from the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent. The player lauded by the front office as being a leader and someone who would tutor the younger players on the roster , it has to be said that Werth has been a complete disappointment. And at seven years $126 million ($18 million a year), can we all agree that agent Scott Boras has found a way to con another idiotic general manager in baseball.

I’ve heard fans opine on the fact that when a marquee free agent hits a slump then he ought to be viewed as crap but what about the general manager who signed that player how should they effectively be treated ? Shouldn’t they also be denigrated and chewed out for their stupidity ? It appears the fans are not always willing to go that far but I would simply pose this question ….. why the fu#ck not ?

Another of Boras’ high profiled clients is Barry Zito and his season can be best described as being caked in utter bullshit ! To see the San Francisco Giants’ fall from grace though not quite out contention in the NL West divisional hunt or the wildcard berth is to witness a team that simply seems to have ran out of steam at present. As defending World Series champions it’s hard to imagine a team could be viewed as being self destruct mode . Zito , himself has $46 million remaining on a contract that if anything will be a boon for Brian Sabean and the organization at large .

If there’s to be an absolute baseline in mediocrity this season simply in terms of productivity from a highly paid player in baseball then that mantel would clearly belong to Adam Dunn ! Suffice to say his season productivity in terms of his BA ( .162 ) isn’t even in line with his own body weight . I am not about to lambast the player much less the Chicago White Sox organization at large . GM Ken Williams along team owner Jerry Riensdorf and manager Ozzie Guillen must’ve undergone a strange transformation of sorts , wherein , they felt that Dunn was still a valuable asset to this team at large . Clearly this season that simply has not been the case as the White Sox have simply struggled to remain competitive within the AL Central . Barely above .500 within the division with a 61-60 mark it has to be said that the team will have to fight tooth and nail to pass both the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers who lay ahead of them within the AL Central .

One could be critical of the job that Ozzie Guillen has done this season but in reality the failings of this team are not simply Guillen’s alone . It has been a collective effort all round much of that blame has to laid squarely on the players who have simply not stepped up to the plate . Adam Dunn being the primary example of that with his meager productivity this season and that of his teammates . But that asides if Guillen’s only premise is to be verbose and simply use profanity as a way of instilling his wishes from his players then you can comprehend why it is that the team has as such failed to respond with resolve throughout much of the season.

It’s hard to try and explain the reasons behind the failures of the aforementioned players other than to suggest that they’re simply not as good as advertized or previously thought . One thing is definitely certain, any organization choosing to take any of players mentioned had better make sure to be diligent in the process , and know exactly what the hell it is that they’re doing . This much I do know , given the actions of the general managers of the teams in question who sought the services of these high priced free agents, it is obvious that they simply craved the idea of having what they thought was a productive asset but instead they’ve simply ended up with a dud !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In light of the points raised within this piece and that of Bob Nightingale’s article do you feel that it is primarily a general manager’s responsibility or that of the player to actually prove their worth ? Do bear in mind however , the premise behind any deal is that the player is being rewarded based on his ability and the executive in this case is simply being rewarded for his professed astuteness in making a deal that’s said to be beneficial for both parties. Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it greatly appreciated !

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

Contact tophatal @ rapptu@gmail.com or via these social media services

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(1) Los Angeles Angels’ Vernon Wells, a former Toronto Blue Jays, evades a ball from Blue Jays pitcher Ricky Romero during the second inning of their baseball game in Toronto, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young ….

(2) Vernon Wells (10) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs out a hit against the Toronto Blue Jays in a MLB game on August 13,2011 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images ……

(3) Jayson Werth (28) of the Washington Nationals walks to the dugout after striking out against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park on August 16, 2011 in Washington, DC. Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images …….

(4) Alfonso Soriano (12) of the Chicago Cubs makes an attempt on a line drive against the Washington Nationals on August 11, 2011 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Nationals 4-3 . Photo by David Banks/Getty Images ………..

(5) Pitcher Carlos Zambrano (38) of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on August 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The player would be ejected during the game subsequently announce his retirement but would soon renege on the comment . However he has since been suspended by the club without pay for 30 days. The suspension of which he’s now fighting having lodged an appeal through the union which will be reviewed by the MLB hierarchy . Mark Zarrilla / Getty Images North America ………

(6) Adam Dunn (32) of the Chicago White Sox argues with home plate umpire Bill Miller after striking out in the eighth inning of the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 10, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images ……..

(7) Dave Righetti (19) the pitching coach of the San Francisco Giants talks with Barry Zito (75) and Eli Whiteside (22) during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 31, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio . Zito would then be immediately be place on the team’s DL with a sprained right foot . The player’s productivity this season can be best described as meager when one bears in mind he’s due $18.5 million this year . Getty Images North America / Mark Parrilla …………..

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MLB news

MLB Results 16th August 2011

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To read Bob Nightingale’s article in USA Today click on the link provided Zambrano contract among bad deals

Link provided … List of highest paid MLB players

Everything In Its Place Much Like Things Being Put Into Perspective …………..

Everything In Its Place Much Like Things Being Put Into Perspective …………..

Well now that the Dan Uggla hitting streak is over perhaps the furor over the streak and what it represented can now be put to rest . The player and his teammates on the Atlanta Braves have pretty much spent the greater part of the season trying to play catchup to the Philadelphia Phillies within the NL East . And as much as I’ve admired the player’s 33 game hit streak the greater good for the team and organization is for them attain a postseason berth .

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The Altanta Braves currently sit some 9 games behind the division leading Philadelphia Phillies within the NL East but they do hold the wildcard berth lead amongst the NL contenders. That lead at present is four games over the rapidly descending San Francisco Giants whose own problems of late have come about from poor play with the pitching but also from the lack of productivity with the team’s offense . And this certainly has to be a real cause for concern for manager Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff . As defending champions and often seen as perhaps having the best chance of any team in recent years with the thought of successfully defending their World Series title . But it has been the team’s inconsistency to play at a high level over their last 12 games that has simply brought about this collapse .

For Fredi Gonzalez and the Braves’ coaching staff the intent is to ingrain it into the players that there’s still a great deal to play for over the remainder of this season . The falloff in the play of Jair Jurrjens was to be expected as I’ve always felt that as a pitcher he tends to succumb to fatigue in the latter part of the year . And from a team standpoint his travails of late have also mirrored the team’s own failings . Certainly the pitching has come into question from in terms of the increase in the overall ERA . And with regard to the team offense , well there too the problems have arisen .

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Atlanta Braves’ Martin Prado reacts as he scores the winning run on a Freddie Freeman base hit in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 in Atlanta. Atlanta won 5-4. AP Photo/John Bazemore …….

Coming into this season I certainly didn’t know what to expect , as I sought a new team with which to cast my loyalties . I had completely abandoned the Florida Marlins as I no longer felt that team owner Jeffrey Loria and the entire front office could be trusted to be entirely truthful in any aspect whatsoever as it relates to the organization. And as to be expected the odious lame ass politicians within the greater Miami area like lap dogs , having completely bought into the rhetoric and bullshit that the owner was selling . So much so that the city of Miami already with a burgeoning deficit is been willing to pay in large part for a new facility for the team with an assist also coming from the state legislature in Florida. But somehow in the midst of this all Loria hasn’t had to make an outlay out of his own pocket in the building of this new stadium , which will be at the team’s disposal in 2012.

Much has been made about the travails within baseball and the mere fact that a number of teams around the league have their own financial worries. Perhaps none more so at present than the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets . But it would be remiss to think that these two teams that are the only ones actually on a precipice waiting to be pushed. Unfortunately , Bud Selig along with the MLB hierarchy and team owners would rather have the fans believe that all is well within the game. If anything , Selig would simply point to the divisional races that are heating up around the league rather than face the reality of what is actually happening within his midst . His handling of the Dodgers’ financial failures and the very fact that in some respects he suborned the actions of Frank McCourt and the front office executives only further enhances the sheer stupidity and lack of foresight coming from within the commissioner’s office.

The season itself for the Atlanta Braves in the advent of Bobby Cox’s retirement brought about not only the end of an era but in some respects the change needed if this organization was to take the necessary steps forward. GM Fran Wren along with the front office , the coaches and scouting directors led by Kurt Kemp and Tony De Macio have seen fit to replenish this Braves’ organization with the talent prerequisite to take this team forward for years to come . The draft choices made also by Wren and the staff have been fortuitous over the years but as with any organization you can sometimes let one or two gems simply slip from within one’s grasp. At the minor league level the organization is well represented Brandon Drury , Lucas La Point , Edward Salcedo , Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado will no doubt have something to offer the Atlanta Braves at some point in the future .

As the season approaches its final months the Braves face a number of series that they will no doubt inevitably have to be playing their very best baseball. They start a four game series against the San Francisco Giants at Turner Field in Atlanta , Georgia , before then taking on the NL West leading Arizona Diamondbacks in a three game set at home once again . These seven games are of the utmost importance to the Atlanta Braves as they seek to widen the margin between themselves and their nearest rivals for the wildcard and further erase the deficit they have against the Philadelphia Phillies.

It is at this time of the baseball calendar year where we tend to see the real separation that takes place between what we deem to be the contenders and pretenders in terms the precursor in the run-up to the postseason . And it could very well be that some divisions and the wildcard races might not reach a conclusion until the final day of the regular season. I am of the opinion that anything that the Atlanta Braves can do to make it a foregone conclusion that they will be the wildcard entrant before then would be to my complete and utter satisfaction ! This is where I would expect the veterans such as Chipper Jones , Uggla , Derek Lowe , Alex Gonzalez and Brooks Conrad to set the example for the younger players on this team . Players such as Jason Heyward , Craig Kimbrel and Tommy Hanson can profit greatly from the knowledge that will be proffered up by these seasoned veterans.

As an Atlanta Braves’ fan I would certainly like to see how far this team can go should they make the postseason ! The Philadelphia Phillies may well be deemed as the prohibitive favorites for the NLCS pennant . But I have always maintained that merely because you’re the presumed winner , the games themselves have to played before a victor can be decided upon . And that is what we will certainly be finding out once the postseason comes into being . It makes for an interesting scenario all round for those at the center of the events in question .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the ongoing divisional races now happening within baseball at present ? And which team if anything has been a complete surprise to you in terms of their play be it competitive or otherwise ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the points raised within this piece .

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

Contact – tophatal …………….. via Facebook or Twitter

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(1) ATLANTA – AUGUST 15: Freddie Freeman (5) of the Atlanta Braves is interviewed after knocking in the game-winning run against the San Francisco Giants at Turner Field on August 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves would go on to defeat the Giants 5-4 . Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images ……

(2) Brian Wilson (38) of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on August 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images …..

(3) Freddie Freeman (5) of the Atlanta Braves is congratulated by Alex Gonzalez (2) after knocking in the game-winning run against the San Francisco Giants at Turner Field on August 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images …….

(4) Atlanta Braves’ Martin Prado reacts as he scores the winning run on a Freddie Freeman base hit in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 in Atlanta. Atlanta won 5-4. AP Photo/John Bazemore …….

(5) Dan Uggla (26) of the Atlanta Braves throws out a runner against the San Francisco Giants at Turner Field on August 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images ………..

(6) Aubrey Huff (17) of the San Francisco Giants scores on a sacrifice fly against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on August 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images ……..

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It’s Not What You Know But It’s Also Who You Know ….

It’s Not What You Know But It’s Also Who You Know ….

I must admit that few things to my mind have really changed since I lived in South Florida and was a frequent attendee to football games played by the Miami Hurricanes . Having moved from South Florida up to the central part of the state, I try when I can to attend a few scheduled games of the program. Not since the heydays of Howard Schnellenberger , Dennis Erickson , Jimmy Johnson and Larry Coker when the football program was winning national titles and lauded as being one the premiere college teams in the nation ___ has there really been much to laud concerning the the Miami Hurricanes . However in the last few years the program has seen a decline in its attendance , the loss of Randy Shannon because it was deemed he wasn’t high profiled enough to lead the team.

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With that fall from grace has come criticism from former players who are now lauded within the NFL or who have entered into the Hall of Fame but who still see the school as their fraternity of brothers . Players such as Michael Irvin , Ray Lewis and Clinton Portis have all been pretty vocal as to what they see as the way that things have been done wrong by the school. What no one can deny is the mere fact that the Miami Hurricanes has always been the center of controversy and some might say the school simply courted incidents merely to gain even more notoriety . Now comes word that the NCAA is conducting an investigation into the school and the fact that a now indicted felon Nevin Shapiro , who conducted a multi-million dollar Ponzi Scheme , is said to have lavished members of the football team with monetary gifts , invites to numerous sporting events whereby they attended per-gratis. It is also being alleged that Shapiro for his part made sure that students were aided in aided obtaining none specific off campus work for which it is unclear how the players were being compensated .

Courtesy of The Boston Herald

NCAA visiting University of Miami regarding allegations

By Barry Jackson and Susan Miller Degnan / McClatchy Newspapers

MIAMI — The NCAA is investigating claims that convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro gave gifts and services — such as use of a yacht — to Hurricane football players while they were attending the University of Miami, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation and Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez.

Perez said Monday she has been in contact with the NCAA, on Shapiro’s behalf, for several months and has conveyed Shapiro’s claims that more than a dozen former or current Hurricanes players have received gifts and other benefits that would constitute a violation of NCAA rules. Shapiro also has spoken to the NCAA directly, she said.

Perez said the NCAA informed her that it would visit the Coral Gables, Fla., university on Monday. When reached by phone Monday night, University spokeswoman Margot Winick said, “My understanding is the NCAA was on site, but we’re not prepared to comment now until we know what they’re looking into.”

Though there is a four-year statute of limitations on NCAA violations, Perez said some of the incidents occurred within the past four years, while others occurred before that.

“It’s not about giving money — it’s about giving favors,” Perez said of Shapiro’s allegations. “It’s giving suits, giving jewelry, paying for entertainment, letting them use his boat twice a week.”

Perez said she has not tabulated the monetary value of gifts and benefits that Shapiro said he gave players, but “it’s well over thousands of dollars. It took $2,000 just to fuel up the gas tank of the yacht at Riviera Club.”

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Somehow in the midst of this latest mea culpa that has embroiled the University of Miami , the school’s president former cabinet member Donna Shalala , now has to try allay the fears of the fans and public in general that the school isn’t once again embroiled in a mess of its own making . What I would like to know in all of this , is how is it that a school can allow either boosters or for that matter any individual full access to the campus merely to heighten their presence amongst the student athletes ? It is clear that problems will always continue to arise when such an incident as is now being reported concerning the actions of Nevin Shapiro ___ his interaction with the school. There is a great deal that we have yet to be made aware of concerning the ongoing investigation by the NCAA but it is now becoming clear that there were errors in judgment not simply by school but also the lack of accountability from within the school’s own system.

And this upcoming season coach Al Golden not only has to deal with these allegations now surfacing but he and his coaching staff will now have to how to get the very best out of a football team that very much underperformed (7-6) last year within the ACC .

If there’s one thing that has become abundantly clear with the college coaches be it within basketball or football it is that they are self serving and think of themselves above the law. In a recent symposium that was hosted by ESPN to which they had a number of well known coaches , college sport’s analysts participate in this panel. It became clear that Nick Saban , Mike Bellotti , Bob Stoops feel that they are not answerable for the actions of their respective coaching staffs or even where they may well have stepped into a gray area as it relates to the NCAA regulations .

Stoops, Saban and Bellotti stated that nothing gives them greater pleasure than meeting a potential athlete in the parents’ home and discussing their future . And as altruistic as that may well seem we all know what lies beneath the maneuvering that is made by these coaches. It certainly has nothing to do with the players actually gaining an education but more to do with how the school can gain financially from acquiring that athlete if they are especially talented in their chosen sport. I am not about to suggest that the antics of Nick Saban , Mike Bellotti or Bob Stoops are untoward , but it does beg the question when Nick Saban begins to state that the real issues facing the underlying collegiate athletics , is the mere fact that agents are ruining college sports through their illicit acts . I might hasten to add nowhere has Saban sought to question the actions of one of his former peers in Jim Tressel and his culture of deceit and likes while coach of Ohio State and the school’s football program. If nothing else Treseel’s actions were culpable and the inaction by university president E Gordon Gee and school AD Gene Smith left a great deal to be desired . And in the midst of this all has been the inaction of the NCAA and their complete lack of action when necessary .

At some point I would like to know when it is that coaches such as Stoops , Saban and Bellotti will choose to question either their own inaction or for that matter the lack of action by a compliance officer or an athletics director when they choose not to act appropriately in the case of their lack of not wanting to do the right thing ? If cases such of Ohio State and the ongoing investigation of Auburn as it relates to the Cam Newton’s eligibility status while attending the school . Gene Chizik the school’s football coach has denied culpability in any action that might have violated any NCAA rules. Chizik in a recent confrontation with a senior official of the NCAA had been quite vocal in asking why the body was still investigating the school , in the aftermath of Auburn’s own internal investigation. That official stated the NCAA wasn’t of the belief that the school’s own investigation was as thorough as they were led to believe and that was in light of further allegations that have since arised .

So the Bernie Machen the president of the university of Florida has let it be known that the SEC for the time being will remain a conference of twelve schools . As we know this is simply a university president posturing for the public at large . Machen knows that sooner or later the conference will have to be enlarged if it is to compete with the other major conferences bowl or otherwise as they seek to a greater source of the monetary pie courtesy of the nation’s sports broadcasters. The Texas A&M Aggies are being courted and a move into the ACC or but moreover the SEC would be highly profitable for the school. With the school’s highly publicized and successful athletics program it would prove to be a great coup for any conference acquiring the school. And it has to be said that the SEC would deem it more of a triumph than perhaps the ACC.

The SEC already boasting a plethora of top notch schools that have made the BCS national championship its own fiefdom over the past few years , they would welcome Texas A&M with open arms. But such a maneuver has to be achieved in a way that it doesn’t create a backlash against either the school or conference itself. Inasmuch as we have seen recent realignments of number of conferences , anyone who believes that it is being done for altruistic motives clearly can’t see the overall big picture. These moves aren’t being done to create a more competitive balance within collegiate athletics but merely to create an even bigger cash windfall for the schools and conferences in question. Collegiate athletics is simply no longer about the apparent education or producing more productive citizens but a way and means of garnering talent as production for the schools themselves and then on to the professional level for the students in their chosen sporting endeavors.

There’s a great deal of money to be made but on the face of it one at times has to question the motives of the schools when one tends to see little if anything that is tangible coming out as a bye product of the activities in question. So much so that now instead of the landscape being about competitive athletic prowess much of the dialogue surrounds alleged acts of malfeasance not only the part of the student athletes but in some cases the AD’s , coaches and compliance officers of the very schools themselves. And in the midst of this cesspool of deceit and corrupt action stands the NCAA at times playing Pontius Pilate one minute and then meting out punishment like Judge Roy Bean the next.

Mark Emmert as president of the NCAA, either has to act swiftly and corral the activities of the schools or he can simply keep the status quo as is , by looking the other way and then choosing to punish with impunity as he sees fit merely to create the perception that he and his esteemed body are not without power . But in reality we know that the NCAA has already aligned itself with the Devil , in this case their paymasters , the broadcast and cable networks who pay out hundreds of millions of dollars each year for the broadcast rights for collegiate sports. As to the money trail and where much of those funds actually ends up, is anyone’s guess at this juncture , even if we are being assured that is to benefit the schools and student athletes as a whole . We can only those establishments at their word but in reality in this day and age what can we actually believe ? It is not as if a university president or athletic director isn’t above being culpable in an act of stupidity or simply being naive to begin with ! Simply look at the actions of E Gordon Gee , Gene Smith, Jim Tressel , Butch Davis and Dick Baddour of the former athletics director of UNC and ask yourself who can you really trust to tell the truth ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Are you at all surprised by the alleged improprieties that has now further tarnished the image of the University of Miami ? And what actions if any do you believe appropriate for the school if the allegations are found to be true ? Also in light of the statements of Nick Saban and some of his peers who were participants in that recently sponsored ESPN symposium do you feel that the NCAA really should have the power as to how a school goes about recruiting a potential college athlete beyond the measures already in place ? Leave a comment as to your thoughts on this topic and anything else you believe to be salient as to the points raised within this piece.

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

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) FILE – This Feb. 2, 2011 , file photo shows Miami head coach Al Golden during an interview in Coral Gables, Fla. Golden says some of his player may have made mistakes that prompted an NCAA investigation into convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro’s role with the program. AP Photo/Alan Diaz ……

(2) Ex President Bill Clinton is greeted by university President Donna Shalala of the University of Miami . The former cabinet minister has held the post as president of the college since 2001. She now has to deal with the current controversy concerning members of the football team receiving gratuities from now indicted felon Nevin Shapiro . The school itself is also expected to conduct its own internal investigations as what improprieties took place in lieu of the NCAA’s own inquiry into the matter . Courtesy of AP Photo / Miami Herald / Hector Guttierrez …………

(3) In picture Paul Fishman the US attorney in the state of New Jersey whose indictment of Nevin Shapiro the former co founder of Capitol Investments USA Inc . who was indicted on grand larceny and creating a Ponzi Scheme said to have defrauded clients out of $ 800 million . Shapiro is also embroiled in the latest controversy surrounding the University of Miami and the fact that he’s said to have lavished gifts upon current and former players of the Canes’ football team. The NCAA as well as the school are now conducting separate investigations concerning the matter . The Star Ledger (N.J) / Mitsu Yasukawa …………

(4) Nick Saban standing addresses Jay Bilas (right), and ESPN College Football analyst Robert Smith during a symposium conducted by the broadcast outlet on the state of college sports and in particular on College Football . Courtesy of ESPN Jay Faraoni ……

(5) Bernie Machen president of the University of Florida has been somewhat adamant that the SEC will not be seeking to increase the number of schools within the conference in spite there being rumors that Texas A&M was said to being courted by the SEC and ACC to make the jump from the Big 12 . Sooner rather than later the the Aggies may well make the jump if it proves to be financially advantageous for the school. Getty Images / Michael Sprouse ……

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Link provided here to the Miami Herald’s own coverage of this ongoing story . NCAA visiting University of Miami regarding allegations

Change We Can Belive In …….. Uh , Uh !

Change We Can Belive In …….. Uh , Uh !

With Barack Obama , Joe Biden having defeated Senator John McCain (R-Az) and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin in the Presidential elections of 2008 ___ we were force fed the rhetoric of …… ” change we can believe in ” . Some two and half years later and let’s just say it’s simply been business as usual . Unemployment is at an all time high and the country’s economy is now in a tailspin that neither political party has an idea how to deal with the problems at large . Suffice to say, the lunatics are still running the asylum and there’s not much that the electorate are able to do about it ! .

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Long time coming but somehow the NCAA under its new president Mark Emmert would like to bring about change within the collegiate athletics landscape . One of the changes Emmert would like to see and initiate is where all college programs would have to meet an academic eligibility criteria as it relates to postseason play . The bench-form requirement being proposed is the APR (Academic Progress Rate) of 930 measuring how well teams keep players in school , their overall graduation rate and not merely failing to fulfill their four years . After-all isn’t a scholarship as such a promissory and contractual agreement of which an athlete is being asked to make an obligation to that institution covering those four years ? Somehow with the expense involved the driving force as always for all of the parties concerned isn’t about education at all but simply about dollars and cents ! Both sides profit greatly from this all and in some cases where an athlete tends to contravene the rules it is the college that tends to get punished with impunity . Such has been the case with Jim Tressel and Ohio State . And there as we know both the school , athletes and the coach himself has profited financially to measures that we have yet to really quantify . And anyone who believes that the punishment to meted out by the NCAA will end up acting as a deterrent to the schools nationwide are sadly mistaken .

Inasmuch as Mark Emmert would like to bring about these changes , I do believe that he faces an uphill battle in trying to initiate those proposals. Granted , after meeting with the AD’s , school presidents , coaches and a number of professors of education to gauge their insight on those measures. In the proposal if agreed upon in principal by the board of governors and schools in general the initiative would be phased amongst the schools. However , at the D1 level they would take effect right away with schools being notified formally of the introduction. Education Secretary Arne Duncan , a former athlete himself , stated that he’d like to see all schools entering postseason play at the D1 level meet a requirement of having graduated not less than 45% of their student athlete body from the previous year in order to meet eligibility the criteria he would like to see. Frowned upon by a number of coaches , university presidents as well as boosters up and down the country , this only further indicates how corrupt and the amount of collusion there is going on within collegiate athletics at the highest level . It has been money that has driven the desire of not higher academia but all parties involved including the broadcasters covering collegiate athletics .

If one had worked under the premise that Arne Duncan’s initiative had been put in place by the NCAA then more than 56% of the schools participating in the 2010 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament would not have made it . And within the BCS System and lower tiered bowls that statistic would have been far higher at 62% of all teams making the postseason. I am not so sure that this is a figure that inside the NCAA or anyone for that matter within collegiate athletics would at all be satisfied with ! But therein lies the caveat of the mess created not just by college athletics governing body but the whole cabal within this entire landscape . This is a sad indictment of what we know to be wrong collegiate sports and the very fact that university presidents , athletics directors and even the coaches themselves are so averse to any real change that would somehow lessen the financial windfalls of the schools .

Somehow , after reading where ESPN would now align itself in a business deal with the University of Texas in co-owning Longhorns Sports Network a new broadcast outlet that would cover all of the college programs’ athletics activities in a deal that’s said to be worth as much as $3 billion to the school over the next two decades in revenues . With that sort of financial clout at the school’s disposal it is now becoming increasingly clear the school will hold sway over all of its rivals . At the same time does anyone now view this as a conflict of interest on the part of ESPN ? How will the sports program provider be able to show any type of impartiality when it comes to the coverage any sporting event that Longhorns (University of Texas) is said to be involved . Can you imagine a football game that is being covered by the outlet this season ? I sure as hell can’t see there being any form of impartiality being shown in such a case ! And for Mack Brown when he grants that initial interview there’s no doubt that his first port of call will be to go straight the school’s own in-house broadcast provider .

I doubt that over the past five years in the NFL there has been as prolific a wide receiver in the league as the Houston Texans’ wide receiver Andre Johnson . The player’s stats over the course of his career speaks for itself and last year for the Texans he was perhaps the primary reason for watching the team beyond the talents of running back Arian Foster and Steve Slaton .

To see the Houston Texans repeatedly underachieve season in , season out has become an exercise in abject futility. Gary Kubiak and his coaching staff have reached the end of their tether but yet somehow for some unknown reason the team’s owner Bob McNair has seen fit to retain the coach . Inconsistency has been the underlying tone of this organization as could be seen last season over the course of their schedule .

Matt Schaub may well be a proficient quarterback the failings of this team has been magnified by his inability to lead it with any great authority . One could surmise that much of this comes down to poor coaching by Kubiak and his staff who have let down the fans in their expectations of the organization.

Beyond the moves made by the organization in the off-season and their draft choices I am not so sure that they are now heading in the right direction ! The AFC South goes through the Indianapolis Colts and about the only way things fall apart under which the premise that the Texans are in with a chance of usurping Peyton Mannging and his teammates put up the white flag of surrender. Within the division I certainly cannot see the Jacksonville Jaguars , or Tennessee Titans bearing down on the Indianapolis Colts, either ! There are things one sees in a team that would indicate that what on appearance looks great , isn’t what it first appears to be. And the guise of the Jaguars , Texans and Titans certainly fit that bill.

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Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak, left, talks with cornerback Johnathan Joseph (24) during NFL football training camp, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, in Houston. AP Photo/David J. Phillip …..

If Gary Kubiak is unable to have the Houston Texans in their current guise playing at a consistently high level over the course of this season and at least gain a playoff berth , then it is my believe that the coach will be sent packing by team owner Bob McNair .

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If the proposals being discussed by NCAA President Mark Emmert are enacted do you believe that it will be of great benefit to college sports overall ? Or do you feel that somehow the educational establishment will be able to circumvent any initiative that comes into being ? And what thoughts if any do you have on the upcoming season for the Houston Texans ? Do you feel that the talents of both Arian Foster , Steve Slaton and Andre Johnson are being wasted on this Texans’ team ? Please leave a comment as to your thoughts on the points raised within this piece and as always thanks for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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

Contact tophatal rapptu@gmail.com or via

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(1) NCAA President Mark Emmert address the media during a press conference before the second round of the 2011 NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Verizon Center on March 17, 2011 in Washington, DC. Getty Images North America / Nick Laham ……….

(2) Education Arne Duncan who has proposed changes in the criteria concerning eligibility for collegiate athletics’ postseason play . The response has been muted from across the academic landscape , in large part because the schools oppose the changes being suggested by the education secretary . AP Photo / Paul Malcolm ……

(3) Longhrorns men’s AD Deloss Dodds , left, is seen here with NFF President Steve Hatchell (center )and Mack Brown (right) . Both Dodds and Brown in conjunction with the university’s board of regents are thought to be the driving force behind the $3 billion deal wherein the university and cable broadcast outlet ESPN are joint owners in a business venture that gives the program provider proprietary rights in the the broadcast programming content of the University of Texas’ athletics program . Courtesy of NFF ( National Football Foundation ).

(4) Houston Texans quarterback Matt Leinart (11) joins teammates Kevin Walter (83), Matt Schaub (8) and T.J. Yates during NFL football training camp Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, in Houston. Leinart was allowed to practice with the team for the first time after the collective bargaining agreement was ratified Thursday afternoon. AP Photo/David J. Phillip ….

(5) Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak, left, talks with cornerback Johnathan Joseph (24) during NFL football training camp, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, in Houston. AP Photo/David J. Phillip ……

(6) Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson wraps a towel over his head as he wears a bandage on left index finger during NFL football training camp, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011, in Houston. Johnson did not practice with team after dislocating his finger during Tuesday’s practice. AP Photo/David J. Phillip ………..

(7) Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) stretches with teammates during NFL football training camp Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, in Houston. Foster was allowed to practice with the team for the first time after the collective bargaining agreement was ratified Thursday afternoon. AP Photo/David J. Phillip …

(8) Houston Texans running back Steve Slaton (20) carries the ball during an NFL football training camp practice Friday, Aug. 5, 2011, in Houston. AP Photo/David J. Phillip ….

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