Heap It On ………… Pile It On … You Can’t Beat The Events Of This Sporting Weekend …..

Heap It On ………… Pile It On … You Can’t Beat The Events Of This Sporting Weekend …..

Well after the climactic events of Wednesday that brought to an end an exceptional regular season there’s not much more that can be said . And now the postseason awaits the fans and in particular the MLB hierarchy who could not have asked for anything else in terms of excitement. . As the divisional rounds progeess it will be very interesting to see how those series will be played out. Certainly with the hyperbole created from the last day of the regular season the league hierarchy could not be much happier at present than they now appear to be .

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Slide show for your perusal.

With College Football now entering its fifth week many of the programs are now seeking to position themselves further up the rankings . With Les Miles and the LSU Tigers now seated atop of the polls it is understandable to understand the reason why the SEC titan is now so highly lauded . Following the Tigers are the Oklahoma Sooners and their respected coach Bob Stoops as their march towards another national title as well as Big Twelve conference title . Inasmuch as I am enthralled by the college football season I can’t help but wonder when the major BCS conferences and their respective commissioners will come around to seriously considering a genuinely productive format to determine a national champion. It has now become completely asinine to hear university presidents and athletic directors bicker like infantile children and it certainly doesn’t help that programs are calling in the moving trucks to change conferences. Personally , I find a complete affront to the fans and public alike to suggest that these moves are merely being done to form somewhat more of a competitive balance. In reality this has more to do with money than anything else . Greed has been the only reason for these maneuvers and will continue to be until otherwise told . God knows , if the NCAA can’t smell the odorous shit that’s now within their midst then NCAA President Mark Emmert is a bigger fool than I could ever have thought !

Courtesy of NCAA.org

‘Cheating will not be tolerated’

Let’s make no mistake: Today’s violations in collegiate athletics are utterly indefensible. They overshadow all that is good in college sports. They cast doubt over the motivations of all involved and give credibility to the cynical view. Worse, they encourage others to cheat. That is why they cannot be tolerated.

These concerns — among others — prompted me to gather a group of Division I college presidents this month to address these problems and resolve them quickly. The result was a strong consensus and a clearly stated agenda for action, an agenda the Division I Board of Directors and I will enact in the coming weeks and months.

First, we agreed student-athletes must be just that, students who are athletes. Winning on the court or field is not enough. College athletes must also perform well in the classroom. The board took an important first step by creating serious academic standards that teams must meet to play in NCAA championships. Higher eligibility standards for college freshmen and junior college transfers are also coming shortly.

Second, we all agreed that the NCAA’s rules need to be simplified with clear emphasis on integrity — weed out unenforceable and irrelevant rules and focus on serious threats.

Next, we are addressing the needs of student-athletes, looking to increase grants to cover the full cost of attendance and providing opportunities for multiyear scholarships and greater support for summer school.

Finally, I am committed — with the full support of our presidents — to hold all those involved in college athletics responsible for following the rules. It is not too onerous a burden to expect participants in college sports to not cheat. For those who do, we must be clear about the consequences.

We are changing our enforcement practices and our penalties to reflect these common-sense values. There must be shared responsibility — among presidents, athletes, administrators, coaches, conferences, agents and boosters alike — that cheating will not be tolerated and the cost of doing so outweighs any benefit. Words, of course, do not mean much; only action counts. We cannot legislate integrity. But we can and will define it, expect it and hold ourselves accountable.

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A formal statement by the NCAA President .

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With the Heisman Trophy ” watch” already going on , unabated , the talk is of Stanford’s quarterback Andrew Luck alongside Marcus Lattimore , Robert Griffin III , Tajh Boyd , Trent Richardson and Denard Robinson to name but a few . From my own perspective , Luck might appear to be a shoo-in for the accolade but I do feel that the title is his to lose but the reality is all it takes is for one of the candidates to have an exceptional season and that could very well sway the voters ! And that decision could very well come down to the season had by the Stanford Cardinals as they seek the Pac 12 title .

The NFL schedule comes around with a great deal at stake for the teams that still remain winless and afoot of their respective divisions . Injuries have played and caused a rather daunting effect for a number of franchises , most notably the Indianapolis Colts who may well have lost Peyton Manning for the entire season . Statistically the players are off to something of a flying start most notably the quarterbacks around the league .

Of the match-ups taking place this Sunday one of the more intriguing games on the schedule is that of the Pittsburgh Steelers taking on the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas. Gary Kubiak , his coaching staff know that the time is now for the team and in particular with the Colts having lost their Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning . The 2-1 Texans lead the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans matching the current mark of Kubiak’s team.

With questions being asked as to why we have yet to see Titans’ running back Chris Johnson perform up to the standards of last season where he was one the most productive players at the position within the league . With Johnson’s productivity down this season and newly incumbent quarterback Matt Hasselbeck having lost wide receiver Kenny Britt for the season it remains to be seen how Mike Munchak and his coaching staff will seek to make the offense more productive . With the loss of Britt is incumbent that Chris Johnson be involved with regard to the team’s offense and in particular its running game . If the Tennessee Titans are to have any chance of success as their season unfolds then this will have to be mainstay of their strategy .

There have been so many times when I have wondered whether or not Andre Johnson will ever get the chance to prove himself in the postseason ! God knows, he is one of the most dynamic and productive wide receivers in the league . But for the life of me it simply infuriates to see such a God given talent at times be wasted on this Texans’ team . Either Gary Kubiak is gunshy to get his players playing to the best of their abilities or he simply is not that good an NFL coach . From my own perspective it could well be the latter, as I now firmly believe that the coaching talent at present within the NFL has taken something of a downward spiral .

In light of the New England Patriots’ loss (34-31)to the high flying Buffalo Bills in a game which showed the flaws in the Patriots’ defense . In the last few seasons I do believe that Bill Belichick has become conceited , complacent and this seems to be mirrored in the play of this team . For Tom Brady if he’s to prove that he is simply more than the face of this franchise then he has to step up to the plate at this juncture rather than giving the customary sound bytes that have now become his persona . Clearly the loss to the Buffalo Bills angered a number of Patriots’ fans who are beginning to question the mindset of the coach . But at the same Bill Belichick still has his loyal band of followers .

The Patriots’ coach and his coaching staff in conjunction with GM Nick Caserio and senior consultant Floyd Reese have always been astute judges of talent and it has fared well for the organization over the years . This offseason with their free agent acquisitions as well as the draft choices made it was felt the coach would see an improvement by this team over last season . Clearly that has not been the case with defense ranked near the bottom of the AFC and NFL as a whole . The team acquired Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth as free agents but these two malcontents could very well prove to be harbinger of things to come should things not work out for both players.

Brady has an abundance of weapons at his disposal but it has been the defense that seems to slip into these bouts of sheer complacency that led to last Sunday’s debacle at the hands of the Buffalo Bills . This Sunday with the New England Patriots taking on what appears to be a confident Oakland Raiders’ team at the Oakland Coliseum /(Alameida County Stadium) in Los Angeles , we shall we see whether or not Tom Brady and his teammates can acquit themselves well enough against a vibrant Raiders’ team . With both organizations having matching records (2-1) albeit that the Raiders sits atop of the AFC West due to the fact that they have a better win streak going for them at present and the due that with the Patriots having lost that divisional game to the Buffalo Bills which leaves them in second place within the AFC East behind the 3-0 Chan Gailey coached team .

This Patriots Raiders’ match-up ought to go a long way in telling us about both teams in particular as to the aspirations of Hu Jackson’s team. And clearly with the division up for grabs and the continued inconsistency of the teams residing there this may well the chance Oakland Raiders seek to truly establish themselves as a resurgent team not only within the division but also the AFC and league as a whole . There are weapons there on this roster to do some real damage if they can continue to play with the confidence that they have been showing on both sides of the ball. And this is clearly what Hu Jackson and his coaching staff have been working towards since he succeeded his predecessor Tom Cable .

I don’t believe that we really need to emphasize what a horrendous season the Indianapolis Colts are now having . At 0-3 the team still seeks their first win and their task doesn’t get any easier knowing that they will be facing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team whose city is now riding on a wave of euphoria , having seen their local hometown heroes the Tampa Bay Rays make a miraculous comeback to gain the AL wildcard berth by defeating the New York Yankees —- 8-7 to make the MLB postseason . Clearly Raheem Morris knows what is expected of his team when they play the Colts at Raymond James Stadium in the city of Tampa , this Monday night in a nationally televised game .

The Buccaneers with their star quarterback Josh Freeman have made themselves prohibitive front runners within the NFC South at present and there now seems to be a clear indication that the team could well give both the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints a run for their money within the division this season . And though there are those who may well view this as a “trap game” for the Buccaneers I sincerely doubt that they will take their opponents lightly on Monday night . In doing so , it would clearly indicate that the team is not yet ready to be legitimately considered a contender within the NFC .

Morris has sought accountability from his players and Freeman the presumptive leader has reciprocated in kind with his play . But it has to be said that the team has stepped up to the plate and have answered all of the questions asked of them by the coaching staff . Young and hungry there is still the thought of last season when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers missed out on the playoffs by simple factor of not being able to win an eleventh game and thereby denying either the New Orleans Saints or Green Bay Packers for that final wildcard berth within the NFC . It was a bitter pill to swallow for Morris’ team and it has been this disappointment that makes the players want to redeem themselves this season . Whether or not they are capable of doing that remains to be seen but this game should give us all a clear indication as to the ambitions of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a whole .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In light of the spectacular events that provided a phenomenal ending to regular season for baseball what if anything are you looking forward this weekend in terms of the sporting events taking place ? Granted , there seems to be plethora of scheduled events taking place with the start of the MLB playoffs , college football and week five of their schedule as well as the NFL . Simply chime in with your thoughts as you deem fit .

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – JULY 15: Manager Terry Francona (47) of the Boston Red Sox scratches his head during the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 15, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Terry Francona met with Boston Red Sox management September 30, 2011 and is expected to announce he is leaving as manager . Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

(2) Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon ponders a reporter’s question during a baseball news conference for the AL division series, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. The Rays and Texas Rangers are a scheduled play in Game 1 on Friday. AP Photo/LM Otero ….

(3) LSU coach Les Miles confers with quarterback Jarrett Lee (12) in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi State at Davis Wade Stadium, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, in Starkville, Miss. LSU won 19-6 . (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) ……

(4) Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, left, greets university President David Boren before an NCAA college football game against Missouri in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 . AP Photo/Alonzo Adams ……

(5) NORMAN, OK – SEPTEMBER 24: Running back Roy Finch (22) of the Oklahoma Sooners rushes up field during the first half against the Missouri Tigers on September 24, 2011 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma leads Missouri 24-14 at the half. The Sooners would go on to defeat Missouri 38-28 . Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images …..

(6) Quarterback Andrew Luck (12 )of the Stanford Cardinal scrambles to pass during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. The Cardinal defeated the Wildcats 37-10 . The Stanford Cardinals are due to meet the UCLA Bruins at Stanford Stadium on 1st October 2011. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……

(7) Andre Johnson (80) of the Houston Texans avoids a tackle by Scott Shanle (58) of the New Orleans Saints at Louisiana Superdome on September 25, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints would go on to defeat the Texans 40-33 . Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images ……

(8) NASHVILLE, TN – SEPTEMBER 25: Chris Johnson (28) of the Tennessee Titans runs the ball against the Denver Broncos at LP Field on September 25, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Broncos 17 – 14 . Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) ……

(9) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gestures as he walks away from the podium after a media availability at the NFL football team’s facility in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday morning, Sept. 28, 2011. Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders matches the NFL’s top passing offense, led by Tom Brady’s 442.3 yards per game, against the No. 1 rushing attack with Darren McFadden, who leads the league with 131 yards per game. AP Photo/Stephan Savoia …….

(10) New England Patriots NFL football team head coach Bill Belichick answer questions from reporters during a news conference, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots were defeated by the Buffalo Bills 34-31 on Sunday, Sept. 25th 2011. Photo/Steven Senne ……

(11) Josh Freeman (5) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers walks off the field after beating the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers defeated the Falcons 16-13 . Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images ……

(12) Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris throws the challenge flag during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011, in Tampa, Fla. AP Photo/Brian Blanco …..

(13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount (27) hurdles teammate Luke Stocker (88) as he cuts through the Atlanta Falcons defense during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011, in Tampa, Fla. AP Photo/Margaret Bowles ……..

(14) Josh Freeman (5) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs with the ball during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …….
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MLB news

MLB postseason schedule game of the 30th September 2011

NCAA Football news

NCAA FBS (D1) schedule

NFL news

NFL week four schedule

NFL standings

NFL player stats thru’ week 3

NFL team stats thru’ week 3

NB: If only we could take Mark Emmert’s statement on sheer faith instead of the hypocrisy we know it to actually be filled with !

Who’s To Blame And Who Not To Blame …. Better Yet What Do You Do After That ?

Who’s To Blame And Who Not To Blame …. Better Yet What Do You Do After That ?


I am delirious at present , having watched the excitement and suspense unfold last night in a number of games that closed out the baseball season. And as we are now all aware the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox …. folded like tents being blown away in a sandstorm . God knows , there are about to be some serious repercussions within the city of Boston . And I do believe that the fans will be lambasting not just the players on that Red Sox team but also the coaching staff and front office . There’s every reason to believe that quite possibly because of this Terry Francona could very well end up losing his job in the same manner as his predecessor Grady Little . The city’s flagship radio sport’s talk station WEEI’s switchboard has to be now lighting up with the fans now looking to apportion blame while some may well be seeking some sort of consolation and solace out of this all.

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Slide show for your perusal .

With the season having ended and the standings reflecting what one might suggest was an unbelievable year . I am not so sure that this postseason can live up to the drama that we may have all witnessed in the last forty eight hours much less over the last month of arduous season. The biggest disappointment for myself was to see the Braves simply wilt under the pressure but at the same time with this young team having endured this sort of pain I can only hope it makes them stronger and more attentive as to what it takes to become champions. Certainly manager Fredi Gonzalez , his coaching staff and the entire front office can feel proud of their accomplishments this year but at the same you can only wonder as to what might have been had they managed to eke out one or two more wins over the course of their season.

Opportunities when they’re thrown your way cannot be wasted and I think that this happened to be the case here with both the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox ! In the case of the Braves it came down to their inexperience and that of the manager’s own intuitive experience and what to expect when placed under pressure and real adversity . The seasoned veterans on the team such as Chipper Jones , Derek Lowe , Tim Hudson and Alex Gonzalez were meant to the leaders for the young members of this team but it simply would not be enough with the advent of the pressure placed upon them . In losing out on the NL wildcard berth with that privilege going to the St Louis Cardinals the Atlanta Braves missed out on making another postseason appearance . Last season their divisional series loss to the eventual World Series champions the San Francisco Giants was enough to suggest that the organization was heading in the right direction under the tenure of Fredi Gonzalez and GM Frank Wren . Now it’s back to the drawing board and the travails of the offseason making deals , acquiring players and winter ball .

Congratulations to Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays for an improbable season and pulling off what has to be said must be one of the truly great finishes to a schedule for any franchise under astonishing circumstances . I certainly hadn’t envisioned this team coming from 7 plus games behind with less then a month to go in the season. But as they say ….” you never what to expect “ and certainly the players began to believe in themselves and what was possible. This was certainly epitomized in the play of the team and in particular by the young players who were thrown into the lion’s den by Maddon and his coaching staff . Clearly the likes of Jeremy Hellickson , Desmond Jennings , Sam Fuld , James Shields , Evan Longoria , B.J Upton and Ben Zobrist never felt under any undue pressure as they simply did all that was asked of them and a great deal more .

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Fans of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate the Rays victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

Now comes the hard part of the Tampa Bay Rays in their divisional series against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington , Texas . And though things might favor the Rangers , given what we have seen from the Tampa Rays during the month of September I firmly believe that nothing is off the table by way of the unforeseen or the unexpected !

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Manager Joe Maddon (70) of the Tampa Bay Rays hugs Sean Rodriguez (1) after the Rays victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

There is no denying that this last month of the season gave the fans more than they could ever have expected . As the scenarios began to unfold , who could have known that the final day of the season would have meant so much to the teams vying for those two final playoff berths . Now comes all of the hard questions …… with the fans and analysts within the genres of sports journalism looking for the answers . It simply won’t just be about the teams who missed out on those playoff berths but also about the ball clubs who simply failed to live up to expectations and to my mind there are many who can be categorized within that area. Big money teams asides and the salaries afforded for those organizations at the end of the day it all comes down to the competitiveness of the teams and their play on the field . But it would be remiss not to suggest the part played by the general managers and team owner who are simply chasing after the glory for their teams by simply looking to spend big with the chance of reaping the rewards that await .

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Picture and slide show for your perusal .

As the postseason awaits I am not so sure that the thrilling suspense afforded the fans can actually be lived up to ! I mean that’s unless the teams involved give it their all with some thrilling displays of baseball that we could never have thought possible . What thoughts if any do you have about the regular season finales and of the postseason itself ? Chime in with your thoughts and expectations .

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

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Picture and slide show for your perusal .

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ATLANTA – SEPTEMBER 28: Jack Wilson (1) of the Atlanta Braves turns a double play against John Mayberry, Jr. (15) of the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on September 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves would go on to lose the game in extra innings 4-3 to the Phillies . Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images …..

(2) ATLANTA – SEPTEMBER 28: Chipper Jones (10) of the Atlanta Braves paces the dugout after striking out in the 13th inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on September 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images ………

(3) HOUSTON – SEPTEMBER 28: Nick Punto (C) of the St. Louis Cardinals is showered with champagne by Chris Carpenter, right, as they celebrate winning the National League wildcard at Minute Maid Park on September 28, 2011 in Houston, Texas. The Cardinals would defeat the Astros 8-0 to clinch the NL wildcard and deprive the Atlanta Braves of the spot that they held for the last six weeks . Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …….

(4) Carl Crawford (13) of the Boston Red Sox walks in the dugout with first base coach Ron Johnson (50) after a 4-3 loss against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images …………

(5) Manager Terry Francona (47) of the Boston Red Sox argues a call with first base umpire Scott Barry in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images …….

(6) The Tampa Bay Rays celebrate their victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Rays came back from a 7-0 deficit to defeat the New York Yankees 8-7 . Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

(7) Infielder Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays rounds the bases after his bottom of the twelfth inning walk off home run against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

(8) Fans of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate the Rays victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ………….

(9) Manager Joe Maddon (70) of the Tampa Bay Rays hugs Sean Rodriguez (1) after the Rays victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……
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MLB news

MLB results 28th September 2011

MLB final standings of 2011

MLB final wildcard standings of 2011

MLB postseason schedule

Divisional series games scheduled 30th September 2011

Probable starters 30th September 2011

Divisional series games schedule 1st October 2011

Probable starters 1st October 2011

Pick ’em At Your Peril ……………..

Pick ’em At Your Peril ………

Well with the baseball season now climaxing in a schedule of games that may well impact the playoff scenario it is extremely hard to believe that after a 162 game schedule it all now comes down to this . The divisional winners are set but we have a quartet of teams now vying for the wildcard berths within both leagues . Those teams are the Atlanta Braves , St Louis Cardinals within the National League with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays within the American League . This all bodes well for the league hierarchy of baseball and in particular for both TBS and TNT who will broadcast the divisional and league championship series before Fox Sports takes over the tenure to televise the World Series , itself.

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Slide show for your perusal .

At this point the questions now being asked and the reverberations caused , have to be about the meltdowns of both the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox who less than three weeks ago held sizeable leads over their respective wildcard rivals coming into the last day of the season . The troubling fact is that for the managers in question they now have to their teams playing with added vigor because of what’s said to be on the line for both of these ball clubs . For Fredi Gonzalez he knows it is imperative tonight that the team is victorious against the Phillies Phillies in a game to be played at Turner Field , Atlanta , Georgia. For Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa he knows that this is the last chance for his team to make something of what many believed to have been something of a disappointing season as they were favored to win the NL Central . That privilege went to Ron Roenicke and the Milwaukee Brewers and in doing so that could conclude with the manager being named NL Manager of the Year . But I do believe that he could well be challenged for that honor by Kirk Gibson of the Arizona Diamondbacks !

The St Louis Cardinals in their pivotal game face the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park , in Houston , Texas . And there is no one on this Cardinals’ team who does not know the importance of this game and what it means to their season . Certainly for the St Louis Cardinals’ fans they are cheering on the players in the fervent hope that they can make the postseason . Add into this all the intrigue surrounding whether or not this could well be Albert Pujols’ last season with the organization and you can begin to feel the fervor and excitment arising out of this scenario as it plays itself out .

I have said repeatedly when teams such as the Boston Red Sox with their financial wherewithal simply act as if money is of no object as they chase down talent in the search of glory , sooner or later you’re bound be undone by your own avarice . The organization led by GM Theo Epstein and team President Larry Lucchino have the league’s second highest payroll behind the venerable New York Yankees . And inasmuch as that might sour the taste for some fans one cannot be denied is the very fact that when spent wisely no one can argue with the success attained by that organization. For the Boston Red Sox front office the question now being asked is…. how could this all have spiraled out of control so quickly ?

With there now being rumors of discord between Francona and Theo Epstein there is a thought that the same fate that befell his predecessor Grady Little could now await Terry Francona should he and the team fail to deliver . From my own standpoint it has been the inconsistent pitching from the front end of the rotation led by Josh Beckett that has been the primary cause of the Red Sox’s woes . It will be left to Jon Lester pitching for the ball club tonight against the Baltimore Orioles ____ to acquit himself well and the team still into contention for that AL wildcard berth.

If there is one thing that Joe Maddon has going for himself and the Tampa Bay Rays at present then it would have to be the momentum and the hunger of this young team . And granted , there are some seasoned veterans at the heart of this roster but it has been the welcome play of the youngsters on this squad that has brought about this surprising turn of events . The likes of Desmond Jennings , Sam Fulds , Alex Cobb , Sean Rodriguez and Jeremy Hellickson have all contributed to the success of the organization this season . And for Joe Maddon and his managerial staff this has to be one of the most pleasing moments of his distinguished career .

As to what may transpire tonight no one can really say but I am sure that the events as they unfold will have all of us riveted to our screens and for those of us able to witness the events live at the venues in question . I can only surmise that you too will be enthralled by the games as they take place . Trying to determine a winner however might not be as easy as it looks and I for one can only hope that the intrigue will only add to the competitiveness of the games !

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

Which teams do you favor or actually envisage attaining the resepective wildcard berths ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Atlanta Braves’ pitcher Derek Lowe walks off the field after giving up two runs to the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, in Atlanta. The Phillies would go on to defeat the Braves 7-1 . AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton …..

(2) ATLANTA – SEPTEMBER 27: Chase Utley (26) of the Philadelphia Phillies is congratulated by Ryan Howard (6) after hitting a home run against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on September 27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images ……

(3) Allen Craig (21) of the St. Louis Cardinals receives congratulations from Yadier Molina (4) after hitting a three run home run in the eighth inning scoring Albert Pujols (5) and Lance Berkman (12) at Minute Maid Park on September 27, 2011 in Houston, Texas. The St Louis Cardinals would defeat the Astros 13-6 . Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images ….

(4) St. Louis Cardinals’ Yadier Molina, left, slides safely into home plate to score as Houston Astros catcher Humberto Quintero (55) handles the throw during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, in Houston. Molina and Allen Craig scored on a triple by Ryan Theriot. AP Photo/David J. Phillip ……

(5) Manager Terry Francona (47) of the Boston Red Sox walks back to the dugout during the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 27, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Red Sox defeated the Orioles 8-7 . Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……..

(6) Boston Red Sox shortstop Marco Scutaro, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, from left, high-five teammates after a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, in Baltimore. Boston won 8-7. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …..

(7) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – SEPTEMBER 27: Catcher Kelly Shoppach (10) and pitcher Kyle Farnsworth (43) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate their team’s victory over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on September 27, 2011 in St.Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

(8) First baseman Mark Teixeira (25) of the New York Yankees takes the throw at first as Johnny Damon (22) of the Tampa Bay Rays gets back safely during the game at Tropicana Field on September 27, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Rays would defeat the New York Yankees 5-3 and now tie the Red Sox atop of the AL wildcard berth standings (90-71) Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……
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MLB news

MLB standings

MLB wildcard standings

MLB schedule

MLB probable starters 28th September 2011

MLB results 27th September 2011

MLB Standings final day of 2010

MLB widcard standings final day of 2010

MLB results final regular season games of 2010

Never Too Late To Apologize It’s All In How You Say It ………..

Never Too Late To Apologize It’s All In How You Say It ………..

You can either choose to be part of the news or simply read about but in no way do you want to be seen to be creating worthless tidbits , simply to have to recant a statement . We tend to see it all the time when it comes to celebrities further looking to parlay their fifteen minutes of fame . Albeit , that now with Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay I am not so sure that he knew by tweeting that Peyton Manning is out for the season be it inadvertently or not this seems to have created a furor that neither Irsay , Bill Polian or Jim Caldwell would really care to address publicly and with any degree of certainty.

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The Indianapolis Colts’ season has now taken on turn for the worse as this team seems to have lost all confidence when it comes to its play on the field . One patron had suggested to me that I was being completely overzealous in my statement when made the claim that the Colts’ season was over before it had began but I think that this patron was simply too naive to think that Peyton Manning would be back and playing under any circumstance for the Indianapolis Colts. The four time league MVP is the heart and soul of this team and has been so since he was drafted by the organization in 1998 as the number 2 overall pick behind Ryan Leaf .

The Indianapolis Colts for their part having brought in Kerry Collins have suffered three successive defeats to their start of the season which now has them firmly rooted at the bottom of the AFC South . Inasmuch as I would like to think that there is hope for the Colts for this season with the play that the team has offered simply isn’t enough to convince me that they are able of containing and steering their own destiny. Now it would remiss to suggest that Peyton Manning’s career with this organization is over but sooner or later the fans and the front office may well have to realize that this era could very well be coming to a close .

All of this talk about a resurgent Chicago Bears’ team came to a quick and abrupt close when they were ceremoniously dragged across the turf by the Green Bay Packers in a decisive 27-17 victory for the defending Superbowl champions. It is pretty safe to say that this Bears’ team still has flashbacks nightmares from their NFC championship game loss (21-14) to the Packers . This time around the Bears’ defense simply couldn’t cope with the passing game of Aaron Rodgers and the play of tight end Jermichael Finley who accounted for the first three touchdown game of his career in the team’s 27-17 win .

Jay Cutler as the quarterback of the Chicago Bears has a lot to be answerable for , especially when one bears in mind his performance during that NFC championship game . There are those who genuinely believe that the player was hurt and that was the reason for his leaving the game. But I would suggest to the contrary because when your team needs you the most that is when as a presumed leader you have to step up to the plate and lead by example.

And as good as we’re led to believe this Bears’ defense is said to be they were clearly exposed by a Packers’ offense simply chomping at the bit. Aaron Rodgers simply carried on from where he left from last season . And it is easy to understand the reason why the team made the player their first round draft choice in 2005 (24th pick first round) by the Packers’ front office and coach Mike McCarthy . With the way that the Green Bay Packers now seem to be performing amongst their divisional and conference rivals . All the talk may well be about the surprising start of the Detroit Lions but until this team led by Matthew Stafford has played full season unscathed and have a winning season then perhaps we may well get to learn something about this organization as a whole . In spite of the added history of the franchise and the apparent direction that they now seem to be taking with Jim Schwartz as the coach working in conjunction with the front office led by GM Martin Mayhew .

The turnaround in the fortunes of the Detroit Lions has coincided with the recent draft choices made by the organization . And clearly with the additions of Nick Fairley , Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson this is a team capable of contending but as I have repeatedly stated until Matthew Stafford is able to play an entire season and at the same be protected by his offensive line then I will continue hold my reservations about the competitiveness of the team .

It is hard to believe that a month ago the Boston Red Sox led the AL East and held a seven and a half game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays within the division . Now as of the 27th September that divisional lead is no longer there with the New York Yankees having won the division and secured a berth in the postseason , we now have an almighty dog fight brewing as the Tampa Bay Rays look to chase down the Red Sox to gain the wildcard berth as the AL entrant into the playoffs. Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona and his coaching staff have to be perturbed by what they are now seeing from his team that has lost eighteen of their last 22 games .

What might be even more distressing for the Boston Red Sox front office has been the very fact they have an outlay of an extortionate amount in salaries to pay for free agent acquisitions that in part have been productive but the overall expectations just wasn’t there . Clearly Theo Epstein , Larry Lucchino and the entire front office cannot be entirely happy with the thought that the team could once again miss the postseason . If ever there was a certainty as to why things started to spiral out of control for the Boston Red Sox then one would have place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the players and their lack of consistency .

As rabid as the Red Sox fans are said to be , I am not so sure that they are willing to tolerate the meltdown of their team especially when one bears in mind that their perpetual nemesis the New York Yankees has won the AL East and now await postseason play. It would certainly burn the fans even more also to know that the Tampa Bay Rays would once again be part of the playoffs.

The fans of the Tampa Bay Rays are all giddy with the very thought that they could be making a quick return to the playoffs when one considers their swift exit from the postseason last year . This time around I am sure that Joe Maddon would like to see his team perform to the best of their abilities with the advent of making the playoffs. The players have hit a rich vein of form that has seen them win five of their last 10 games but also on a two game win streak .

For the younger players on this roster such as Desmond Jennings , Sam Fulds , Alex Cobb , Matt Joyce and David Price this offers these teammates a further chance to show that this simply is not another aberration for the Tampa Bay Rays and their fans. Most certainly this may well have been the season that GM Andrew Friedman had envisaged alongside senior partners Stuart Sternberg and Matt Silverman .

It has been well chronicled as to the financial constraints that the Tampa Bay Rays now finds itself under and this is solely being done at the discretion of the front office as it is the only way for this organization to simply remain viable as a baseball franchise . And when adjudged against the rest of baseball one can see why it is that the ball club chooses take this route . Perhaps in light of the movie ” Moneyball” and the fact that the movie while now receiving critical acclaim it has to be said the box office (grossed slightly under $20 million opening weekend ) expectation doesn’t seem to have met with the expectations of the studio and one bears in mind that it placed second behind a fifteen year old animated classic “The Lion King” .

I am not so sure what to make of the Atlanta Braves’ meltdown within the NL East and the mere fact that they have allowed the St Louis Cardinals to simply erase their lead in the NL wildcard standings . Both Tony La Russa and Fredi Gonzalez are now vying to have their respective teams playing hard down the stretch as the waning days of the schedule winds down . With the St Louis Cardinals losing to the lowly Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves falling to the Philadelphia Phillies the margin between the two teams is now a mere half game as of Monday night. With two regular season games now left on the schedule it certainly will interesting and suspenseful to see how things play themselves out over the ensuing days .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Given what we are now witnessing within the NFL and MLB are there further surprises that you feel could very well occur ? And what thoughts if any do you have concerning the statements made by Colts’ owner Jim Irsay concerning Peyton Manning ? Simply leave a comment on the points raised within this piece and any other points you believe to be pertinent .

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

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(1) Indianapolis Colts football head coach Jim Caldwell talks about the quarterback situation and the 0-3 start in Indianapolis, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011. AP Photo/Michael Conroy ….

(2) FILE – This Sept. 1, 2011 file photo shows Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on the sidelines in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Cincinnati. At rear right is quarterback Kerry Collins. Colts owner Jim Irsay says there is an “outside chance” Manning might return in December. Irsay used Twitter on Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, to update Colts fans on Manning’s status after remarks he made during a private breakfast with Super Bowl donors. AP Photo/Tony Tribble ….

(3) CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 25: Jermichael Finley (88) of the Green Bay Packers catches a touchdown pass in front of Craig Steltz (20) of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 27-17 . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

(4) Aaron Rodgers (12) of the Green Bay Packers talks with Jay Cutler (6) of the Chicago Bears after a game at Soldier Field on September 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 27-17. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

(5) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 25: Donovan McNabb (5) of the Minnesota Vikings and Keiland Williams (34) of the Detroit Lions talk after the overtime win by the Lions at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 25, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Adam Bettcher /Getty Images ……..

(6) Matthew Stafford (9) of the Detroit Lions is chased by Chad Greenway (52) of the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 25, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Adam Bettcher /Getty Images …….

(7) Carl Crawford (13) of the Boston Red Sox (L) and teammates Jacoby Ellsbury (2) (C) and Josh Reddick (16) [(R)] leave the dugout after losing to the Baltimore Orioles 6-3 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 26, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……

(8) Infielder Ben Zobrist (18) of the Tampa Bay Rays congratulates Reid Brignac (15) after he scores against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on September 26, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Tampa Bay Rays would defeat the Yankees 5-2 . Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(9) Matt Diaz (23) of the Atlanta Braves slides into second base safely under the tag of Jimmy Rollins (11) of the Philadelphia Phillies after hitting a double in the second inning at Turner Field on September 26, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Phillies would defeat the Braves 4-2 . Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images …….

(10) Chris Carpenter , right, of the St. Louis Cardinals high fives Matt Holliday (7) and Albert Pujols (5) after they scored in the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 26, 2011 in Houston, Texas. The Cardinals would go on to lose the game 5-4 to the Astros . Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …….
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So It All Comes Down To This …..

So It All Comes Down To This …..

Well as the MLB season enters its final week several of the divisional races seem to be all but sealed . Albeit , that the divisional wildcard races are still up for grabs the competition there seems to be very boisterous with the teams seeking the final berths within the the leagues are of the greatest importance to these ball-clubs. In the AL what seemed to be an insurmountable lead for the Boston Red Sox over the Tampa Bay Rays has been all but erased but for a mere two game margin between the two teams. The AL East has been sealed with the New York Yankees triumphant making the postseason for the forty ninth time over the course of their long distinguished history .

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For New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi this has been a season that pretty much was one that truly tested his resolve and that of his coaching assistants . And certainly when one takes into account all of the drama that has surrounded the season by the team you simply know that it’s back to business as usual for the organization. With GM Brian Cashman yet to sign a contract extension it would appear that this will be situation soon to resolved if if Hank and Hal Steinbrenner know what is best for the New York Yankees. The team itself has performed with the due distinction you would come to expect that has a litany of highly paid and praised All Stars .

Curtis Granderson , Mark Teixeira , Robinson Cano , CC Sabathia , Derek Jeter , Jesus Montero and the ever dependable Mariano Rivera have all contributed to the team’s success this season.

One of the more bewildering issues of the baseball year I do believe has been the disappointment in seeing a number of teams that have simply not lived up to expectations . Now you can spin it anyway that you want by saying injuries do play a part in ball-club’s season but at the same it is incumbent upon those teams , their respective managers and general managers to make sure that the parts in place for those teams to attain the success that they strive for. Instead , I hear repeatedly the excuses that continue to be used repeatedly by fans and purists alike who use that as a crux for their own comfort . I mean if a manager simply cannot get the best out of his players or those teammates simply cannot step up to the plate then it is a clear indication that the team just isn’t on the right track.

At this point of the season last year it would be safe to say that the fans of the game were simply satisfied with what they had seen with the expectations that the postseason would live up to the usual intrigue. The San Francisco Giants as defending World Series’ champions have seen their season virtually slip away due to the team’s inconsistency and the simple fact that the Arizona Diamondbacks came out of nowhere like a buzz saw felling everything in their way and leaving all in their wake. For Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy I am sure that he and GM Brian Sabean had hoped for a more productive season from the team . Most certainly for Kirk Gibson and his coaching staff the fact that the Arizona Diamondbacks seem to be on the cusp of another postseason appearance only adds to the allure and ongoing history of this ball-club. And for the Diamondbacks’ manager there is very reason to believe that he could very well end up being named the NL Manager of the Year .

This young Arizona Diamondbacks’ team bought into everything that Kirk Gibson was selling and their play was simply epitomized by the character shown by Gibson as a player . Certainly Dustin Upton has been everything that the front office had come to expect and a great deal more by way of his productivity this season. But it has been a collective effort on the part of this team that has put this organization back in the postseason. It gives hope to the small market teams around the league with the ambition to succeed where the brevitas is actually also shown by the team owners as well.

Now it goes without saying that although much of the season has eclipsed by the drama off the field of play with ongoing saga of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the fact that beleaguered owner Frank McCourt sought to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in US Federal Court in the state of Delaware. McCourt has remained steadfast in his resolve to retain control of the team albeit that time now appears to be running out . Having received financing in the form of a $150 million loan courtesy of Goldman Sachs which will aid in the funding of the organization’s expenditure until the end of the season. However, while this saga continues there seems to be no clear sign that Frank McCourt has been able to negotiate an amicable agreement with the team’s creditors , whilst in litigation. So much of this could have been avoided had MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the league hierarchy used due diligence in monitoring this situation from the beginning instead of absolving themselves of any responsibility and then choosing to intervene as a face saving image exercise . Now all the talk appears to be the expanding of the postseason with the addition of two teams from each league . If the commissioner really wants to address the real issues facing the game then he had better wake to the real problems that the game now finds itself in rather than creating the premise that this new format would actually be of benefit of the game.

Selig has shown as much insight for the business side of the game as a blind man would feel at ease playing hopscotch in a minefield . And while the ongoing saga continues with the Los Angeles Dodgers let us not forget the fact that the New York Mets now sits on a precipice which the owners simply cannot extricate themselves from at present . Having seen a prospective investor in Wall St hedge fund manager David Einhorn pull out of a deal to purchase a minority stake in the team with a view to then gaining a 51% stake at a later date Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon as the senior managing partners and co-owners of the team .

With the New York Mets and the two principal partners now defendants in a civil suit that seeks the return of $750 million determined as a small part of the monies received by Katz and Wilpon which they say are genuinely derived profits recouped by way of their investments in the Bernard Madoff ” Ponzi Scheme” . Representing the plaintiffs seeking the returns of the monies mentioned is renowned attorney Irving H Picard . The plaintiffs’ case from a prima facie viewpoint is very strong but in reality neither Katz, Wilpon or any other senior executive within the Mets’ organization has sought to openly willing to answer in depth any of the questions sought by Irving Picard. Clearly the longer this maelstrom continues the more acute the situation seems to be for the New York Mets because should the presiding judge in this civil case find for the plaintiffs in this hearing then it will not bode well for the ball-club . The team from a financial standpoint is losing money and that is even with the benefit of that $755 million all purpose built stadium at the taxpayers’ expense courtesy of the city of New York and Mayor Michael Bloomberg who has made sure that this white elephant sits proudly in Flushing New York while the city commission furloughs municipal employees , city wide .

The New York Mets for their part have had a woefully inept season and that is even with the advent of having both Sandy Alderson and J. P. Ricciardi within the front office of the organization. Plagued by anemic pitching but an even more mediocre offense pretty much summed up the New York Mets’ year , albeit that the sole bright spot on the team has been the play of Jose Reyes , the presumptive favorite many believe for the NL MVP this season. Given the financial constraints that will now be placed upon the New York Mets I do believe that in part this team will be gutted with the organization seeking to complement this roster with many of their prospects and players from within their farm system. Certainly there’s a great deal that manager Terry Collins and his coaching staff can work with within this organization

The “crazy train” seems to have left the station as there appears that Albert Pujols , his agent Dan Lozano and the St Louis Cardinals are no closer to agreeing to a contract. The player prior to the start of the season intimated that once Cardinals began their regular season play he would not enter into negotiation with organization. GM John Mozeliak has to make the re-signing of the All Star slugger the team’s major priority entering this offseason. The team can ill afford to lose the player to free agency and signing any one quite possibly at five or six suitors prepared to pay the asking price for this productive first baseman . With the team having resigned Lance Berkman to a one year contract extension the organization has to be cognisant of the fact that the Chicago Cubs , Chicago White Sox , Los Angeles Angels and quite possibly the Texas Rangers could make a bold attempt to sign Albert Pujols. Cubs’ owner Tom Ricketts in light of his team’s abysmal showing this season has made it abundantly clear that he’s willing to spend and spend big in bringing some semblance of success to Wrigley Field .

John Mozeliak knows that he’ll be hard pressed to outbid Tony Reagins , Kenny Williams and Jon Daniels should it come to an outright bidding war. Certainly the owners of the quartet of teams mentioned have the financial wherewithal to lure the Cardinals’ first baseman but at what price within the market place and precedence that could very well be set ? If the statements are to be believed then it could well amount to a contract that would certainly make Albert Pujols the highest paid player in baseball annually and quite possibly lead to largest contract signed by a player in professional sports . Pujols believes he is worth a contract commensurate with his talent and when one bears in mind that Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees will earn in excess of $30 million this year alone , then who can argue with the player’s stance ? Productivity wise , there is very little to choose between the two players and without a doubt both are future bound for Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame having met the criteria for enshrinement . Herein lies the caveat to this all , once the bar is raised that high with the exorbitant salaries that are now being paid then where does that leave the small market teams who simply cannot compete with that sort of financial resourcefulness ? Truth be known , baseball is now on a slippery road to a downward spiral into an abyss and now amount of tinkering with the playoff format can hide the real acute issues that the game of baseball faces . Bud Selig is merely trying to place a Band Aid unto open wound to the abdomen that has been hemorrhaging blood profusely !

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As to what the postseason now holds for the fans we can only wait and see but as an avid fan of the game I sincerely hope that we can be provided with the excitement we have come to expect with some truly competitive series throughout the divisional series , pennant championships and the World Series itself !

What have been the highlights for you as a fan of the game and what do you hope to see during the MLB playoffs ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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

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(1) Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals slides into third base as Blake DeWitt (9) of the Chicago Cubs waits for the throw during the game played at Busch Stadium on September 24, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images …..

(2) Rafael Furcal (15) of the St. Louis Cardinals moves out of the way of a wild pitch by <a href="http://baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=marmoca&t=p=&year=2011"&gt; Carlos Marmol (49) of the Chicago Cubs which allowed the game winning run to score in the ninth inning at Busch Stadium on September 24, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images ……

(3) Geovany Soto (18) of the Chicago Cubs walks off the field as the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate a walk off victory at Busch Stadium on September 24, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images …….

(4) Manager Kirk Gibson (23) , center, of the Arizona Diamondbacks and coach Alan Trammell (3) , left, congratulate players Alberto Castillo (33) and Henry Blanco (12) following their 15-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants during of a MLB game at Chase Field on September 24, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images ….

(5) The lights go out at Chase Field and also on the San Francisco Giants’ season . Manager Bruce Bochy (16) of the San Francisco Giants talks with umpire Gary Darling as their game with the Arizona Diamondbacks is interrupted by a twenty-minute power outage in the seventh inning of a MLB game at Chase Field on September 24, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images ….

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Figure It Out ……………

Figure It Out ……………

Well Monday Night Football brings us a conference and divisional —— matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins . For these two NFC East teams comes the first of two divisional games where the duo will look for dominance between both parties. Mike Shanahan as coach of this Redskins’ team is off a 2-0 start and one of the surprises of the season , albeit that the schedule is in its infancy. The Redskins’ coach seems to have this team playing with a great deal of resilience with the offense seem to be leading the way with the play of incumbent quarterback Rex Grossman taking the helm and leading by example .

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From my own standpoint this game should prove to be something of an eye opener as to the ambitions of both teams. Cowboys Stadium will play host to these two divisional rivals with team owner Jerry Jones still singing the praises of his $1.3 billion homage to ostentatious opulence , albeit that the Cowboys simply have struggled in the early part of their schedule , having lost a winnable game to the New York Jets inexplicably. For some reason Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo would like to have us believe that he should be seen as one of the elite players at the position within the league but fortunately for many of us we know that’s simply not true . And for the ever consuming idiot analysts within ESPN who continue to drool over the player’s alleged abilities my question for them is when will they simply wake up to the fact that Tony Romo is not an exceptional talent ? He may well be statistically the second most successful quarterback in the franchise’s history sitting behind Hall of Famer Roger Staubach . But that counts for nothing when you have yet to lead the Dallas Cowboys to successful run in the NFL postseason and therein lies the dilemma facing the Cowboys’ organization .

For Jones’ counterpart there’s the equally ambitious Dan Snyder whose millions seems to be limitless when it comes to spending money needlessly on overpriced talent . The Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb experiments were a case in point where neither player were at all productive for the team last season .

Both the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins garnered themselves some highly regarded talent in this past NFL Draft and it seems to have paid dividends for the Cowboys and Redskins as both seek to complement their respective rosters. Jason Garrett having succeeded his predecessor Wade Phillips seems to have the Dallas Cowboys playing with a great deal of confidence but as I alluded to before the Achilles’ Heel for this team just happens to be Tony Romo.

Now while Romo has a litany of offensive weapons at his disposal with the likes of Dez Bryant , Miles Austin , Jason Witten , Felix Jones , DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice the real problem has been the inconsistency of the Dallas Cowboys to close out a game decisively . If they are to succeed then it will be incumbent of Jason Garrett and the coaching staff to emphasize that to his players.

With what appears to be a renewed belief amongst the Washington Redskins’ fans as well as the front office of the organization it would appear that Mike Shanahan and his coaching staff led by his son Kyle Shanahan has this team playing with a great deal of resolve . Given the mindset of Dan Snyder and the very fact that he’s a mirror image of Monday night counterpart without the title of general manager . As much as Jones and Snyder are viewed as two of the more high profiled owners within the league it has been their mere presence with interjecting themselves in the day to day affairs of the respective franchises that they own which has led to the ongoing lack of success for both teams over the last decade. Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder may feel that as owners it is their right to dictate the terms under which their teams operate and what they expect their coaches to do . Unfortunately for both success has been fleeting and it would appear that both Jason Garrett and Mike Shanahan are in for an uphill battle if they are to succeed for their respective franchises.

Results they say can be misleading given the premise of the schedules set by the league . But I would susgest it all comes down to how the teams prepare themselves leading up to gameday . And clearly this seems to have worked out and favored the Washington Redskins but I would suggest that their season while in its infancy has yet to convince me that this team is capable of being considered a legitimate contender within the NFC for the Superbowl .

Rex Grossman for his part has shown why he was preferred over counterpart John Beck . And as good as both appear to be for this team it would very well lead to the Redskins struggling for much of the season . The long held belief that the game has passed Mike Shanahan by may well have been justified but that now seems to give us a moment to rethink mindset.

Monday night’s game could provide us with several clues as to the aspiration and direction of the Cowboys and Redskins . Both are proving that on both sides of the ball they are capable of showing playing at a reasonably high level . I am not convince that either the Dallas Cowboys or Washington Redskins are truly capable of being considered amongst the very best that the NFC has to offer by way of being the best teams the conference has offer much less win the Superbowl.

The NFL season while still in its infancy won’t give us a a clear indication as to an outright favorite as of yet but by week 9 or 10 we should be getting a much clear indication as to what lies ahead for the real contenders as they look to separate themselves from the pretenders . As to the coaches on the perceived ” hot seat “ we may well see a casualty . My own thought as to who are the likely candidates ………….. well you can count Norv Turner , Chan Gailey , Tony Sparano , Jack Del Rio and Tom Coughlin should he not be able to corral the New York Giants ——– lead them to at least the divisional round of the playoffs . Anything less , and I believe that the coach’s tenure in New York with this franchise will come to an abrupt end !

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What if anything has come as a complete surprise to you as the NFL embarks upon another season ? And do you believe that either the Dallas Cowboys or Washington Redskins are viable contenders within the NFC for the Superbowl ? Simply chime in with a thought as to this piece and anything else you believe to be pertinent .

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

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(1) Tony Romo (9) of the Dallas Cowboys throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game at Candlestick Park on September 18, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Cowboys won the game in overtime 27-24 . Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ….

(2) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) is sacked by New York Jets linebacker Calvin Pace (97) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Julio Cortez ……

(3) Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan watches the action in the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Landover, Md., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. Washington won 22-21. AP Photo/Nick Wass ……

(4) Quarterback Rex Grossman (8) of the Washington Redskins hands the ball off to running back Tim Hightower (25) during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at FedExField on September 18, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …….

(5) Two of the NFL’s more high profiled owners seen here at Fedex Field in Landover , Maryland . Dan Snyder (left) owner of the Washington Redskins is seen here with his Dallas Cowboys counterpart Jerry Jones prior to a game between their respective teams . Getty Images / Harry How …………….

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All Time #1’s NFL Style ………. A Brief Glimpse Into Reality ……

All Time # 1’s NFL Style A Brief Glimpse Into Reality …..

Much has been made over the exemplary start to the professional career of Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton . And while impressive as those stats are by the player for his team it still has yet to lead to a win for the Panthers as they have started off the season 0-2 within the NFL .

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Taken number one overall in this past NFL Draft and it portends as to what we have unrealistically come to expect . That is for the players selected in that select spot to be an immediate success , especially in the situation where the position is said to be in the skilled positions such as wide receiver or quarterback . But herein lies my point , with the ever growing need for success within the NFL general managers , head coaches and team owners are under a great deal of pressure to make that prudent decision that that the player taken in that first round will be the one needed to complement their franchise. And as far as NFL glory is concerned the executives and team owners are looking to reap the dividends by way commercial as well as competitive success .

In the case of that number one overall pick over the years there has been a number hits and misses . Some might subscribe to the fact there have been simply been more misses than hits . Cam Newton is now a work in progress with the Carolina Panthers that Ron Rivera and his coaching staff will have to make this young player their top priority if the franchise is to have any semblance of success , albeit , with the added scrutiny and pressure that Newton will have to constantly endure .

Ryan Leaf for his part was thought to be the savior that the San Diego Chargers were said to be looking for when he was drafted by the organization . Drafted in 1998 which in a class that also included Peyton Manning , Charles Woodson , Kevin Dyson and Kyle Turley in that first round one wonders what might have been going through the minds of the executives within the Chargers’ front office. The San Diego Chargers would simply see a player who would become a boon for the franchise and who simply did not live up to the preconceived belief that he was all he was shown to be at the collegiate level . Leaf’s professional career within the NFL could only be described as a complete bust and even though GM AJ Smith along with the front office subsequently made the decision then to make Eli Manning their choice , only to have Manning and his father Archie Manning to refuse to have his son play for the team .

The San Diego Chargers for their part have been lucky enough to have found a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback in Philip Rivers whose success for the franchise speaks for itself . What might now be elusive and worrisome for the Chargers’ fans is the very fact that the team cannot seem to find a way to get pass the likes of the Indianapolis Colts or New England Patriots when the postseason beckons. Rivers has become the heart and soul of the San Diego Chargers, beloved by the fans and community alike but where I have an issue with this organization is the very fact that Norv Turner simply is not the coach to be leading this team on the journey they wish to embark upon. Turner has simply rid on the coat-tails derived of his being associated with Jimmy Johnson . Without that the success attained by Jones at the collegiate and at the professional level I seriously doubt that Norv Turner would be amongst the ranks of NFL coaches at present !

2003 brought us Carson Palmer being chosen number one overall by the Cincinnati Bengals . In Palmer’s subsequent years with the franchise he has seen share highs and season lows with little to show the fans and front office for their support . With the Bengals’ front office having sought to bring in Andy Dalton this past NFL Draft as Palmer sought to distance himself from his teammates and the organization as a whole . It has to be said that this simply has become what a number of these players and their demeanor appears to be about. In the last few months and in the offseason with Carson Palmer goading the Bengals’ executives in not meeting his demands for a trade . With his demands having not been met the player now has an option , reiterate his original statement and retire from the NFL or simply sit out the season , know that there might be a remote possibility that he could be called upon . With the front office having made a number of changes to the roster by way of the draft and free agency acquisitions it remains to be seen whether or not Andy Dalton can lead this franchise to some real semblance of success . For coach Marvin Lewis and his entire coaching staff this might just be the final season in which he can prove himself worthy of being looked upon as a coach in the NFL . Chances are if he cannot get this team into the postseason then it my belief that the Bengals’ front office will have no other option that to relieve Lewis of his duties .

It is easy to be critical of an organization when they are down on their luck it is another to repeatedly bear down on them when that franchise repeatedly seems to make the choices that not only seem befuddling to their fans and analysts alike but also the public en masse . There seems to be a kindred wish by the San Francisco 49 ers and the Oakland Raiders to merely show that they have an affinity for making some hideous personnel decisions . The Raiders under the auspice of Al Davis continues to make those personnel choices that no longer seem feasible . Having drafted JaMarcus Russell as their top choice in 2005 it did not take long for the fans and coaching staff to realize that a monumental mistak had been made in obtaining the player. And Russell did not disappoint in proving the naysayers right with his error proned plays , erratic leadership skills and a complete lack of quality in terms of his abilities to communicate with his teammates. But what might be even more prevalent and telling about Russell as a player was his inability to keep himself in good physical shape . Weight issues were a serious a problem and perhaps the main reason why the player was jettisoned by the organization.

Fresh start , new beginnings and with Hu Jackson installed to succeed Tom Cable it seems that the Raiders have hit their stride . And nowhere was that more telling than in their complete and tacit defeat of the New York Jets . And though the season for the Oakland Raiders is still in its infancy this may well have been the team’s best performance yet in besting a conference rival . Jason Campbell though not everyone’s choice to be a starter within this league but he has proven to be adequate to the needs of this team and the coaching staff .

At some point it should begin to dawn upon the San Francisco 49ers that Alex Smith is not the answer they seek to the team’s needs at the position . The franchise has been lucky enough to have had two Hall of Famers in Joe Montana and Steve Young helm this franchise to considerable success . The duo garnered five Superbowl titles between them , along the way cementing themselves and this franchise in the annals of NFL folklore .

Though the blame shouldn’t all be placed squarely on the shoulders of Smith alone because of his tenure there has been a revolving door of coordinators and coaches that would send the player to a mental facility. But here is my bone of contention with the player and it is simply that he has yet to show that his accomplishments during his collegiate career . I am not so sure that Smith will be a great success within the pro ranks albeit that Jim Harbaugh has placed his faith in the veteran quarterback.

I cannot yet jump on the train and regale the Detroit Lions , albeit that they now have a healthy Matthew Stafford . As the quarterback goes , then so does this team and for Jim Schwartz and his coaching staff this has to be something that he now relishes in seeing this roster perform . A healthy Matthew Stafford means a ball club ready to play and become one of the surprises not only within the NFC North but also within the conference . This is a team that could well be looked upon as one of the “dark horses” within NFC to quite possibly make the postseason. Now playing at a high level of competitiveness and with Calvin Johnson playing like an elite wide receiver this could well be the moment when I should reconsider my first thought about Stafford as well as this team . But as I alluded to earlier unless the quarterback can remain healthy over the course of this season then my options are liable to remain open at this juncture .

The NFC North this season could prove to be a very interesting division as it now appears we are seeing a resurgent Detriot Lions’ team . With that in mind the ball club will have to prove their mettle against the likes of the Green Bay Packers , Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears . And given the fact as to how thankless the Bears and Vikings now appear to be , this could prove to be something of a fortuitous season for the Detroit Lions and their fans .

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As an ardent fan of the game what thoughts if any do you have with regard to how the analysts and fans view the number one picks within the NFL down the years ? Do you feel it is justified in terms of the expectations one places upon these players ? Simply chime in with comments as you deem fit .

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Cam Newton (1) of the Carolina Panthers throws a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers would go on to defeat the Jaguars 16-10 . Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images …..

(2) Cam Newton (1) of the Carolina Panthers runs with the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images ….

(3) Ryan Leaf seen here having been drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the 1998 NFL Draft . The player’s career was short-lived within the NFL due to his inability to play competitive and the mere fact talent on display at the college level simply wasn’t displayed upon entry amongst the professional ranks . AP Photo archives ……

(4) Quarterback Matt Cassel (7) of the Kansas City Chiefs greets quarterback Philip Rivers (12) of the San Diego Chargers after their game at Qualcomm Stadium on September 25, 2011 in San Diego, California. The Chargers won 20-17 . Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ……

(5) CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 25: Andy Dalton (14) of the Cincinnati Bengals drops back to pass during the game against the San Francisco 49ers on September 25, 2011 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The 49ers defeated the Bengals 13-8 . Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images …..

(6) Alex Smith (11) of the San Francisco 49ers is sacked by Jonathan Fanene (68) of the Cincinnati Bengals during their game on September 25, 2011 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The 49ers defeated the Bengals 13-8. Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images ……

(7) SAN DIEGO – SEPTEMBER 25: the Kansas City Chiefs the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on September 25, 2011 in San Diego, California. The Chargers won 20-17 . Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ……

(8) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 25: Chad Greenway (52) of the Minnesota Vikings puts pressure on Matthew Stafford (9) of the Detroit Lions in the third quarter at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 25, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Lions would defeat the Vikings 26-23 . Stafford and the Detroit Lions are now off to the best start for the franchise in the past fifteen years at 3-0 to a joint lead ( Green Bay Packers) the NFC North . Photo by Adam Bettcher /Getty Images ……

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NFL news

NFL Alltime # 1 draft picks

NFL Draft 2000

NFL Draft 2005

NFL Draft 2006

NFL Draft 2010

All Time Number 1 Draft Picks
Year Player Position School Team Years Played Pro Bowls
2010 Sam Bradford QB Oklahoma St. Louis Rams 1 0
2009 Matthew Stafford QB Georgia Detroit Lions – –
2008 Jake Long OT Michigan Miami Dolphins 1 1
2007 JaMarcus Russell QB LSU Oakland Raiders 2 0
2006 Mario Williams DE N. Carolina State Houston Texans 3 1
2005 Alex Smith QB Utah San Francisco 49ers 4 0
2004 Eli Manning QB Mississippi San Diego Chargers 5 1
2003 Carson Palmer QB Southern Cal. Cincinnati Bengals 6 2
2002 David Carr QB Fresno State Houston Texans 7 0
2001 Michael Vick QB Virginia Tech Atlanta Falcons 6 3
2000 Courtney Brown DE Penn State Cleveland Browns 7 0
1999 Tim Couch QB Kentucky Cleveland Browns 6 0
1998 Peyton Manning QB Tennessee Indianapolis Colts 11 9
1997 Orlando Pace OT Ohio State St. Louis Rams 12 7
1996 Keyshawn Johnson WR Southern Cal. New York Jets 11 4
1995 Ki-Jana Carter RB Penn State Cincinnati Bengals 8 0
1994 Dan Wilkinson DT Ohio State Cincinnati Bengals 13 0
1993 Drew Bledsoe QB Washington State New England Patriots 14 4
1992 Steve Emtman DT Washington Indianapolis Colts 8 0
1991 Russell Maryland DT Miami, (Fla.) Dallas Cowboys 10 1
1990 Jeff George QB Illinois Indianapolis Colts 13 0

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If at all interested do take time to take part in the above mentioned poll .

It’s Football The Gift That Keeps On Giving …. Dependent Upon What You Like ……………..

It’s Football The Gift That Keeps On Giving …. Dependent Upon What You Like ……………..

Week three of the NFL season and suffice to say the league is up and running with a number of teams all vying supremacy within their divisions and respective conferences . Already injuries seemed to played a dubious part to the start of the season for a a number of franchises and nowhere has this been more felt than with the Indianapolis Colts and St Louis Rams . The Colts have lost their quarterback Peyton Manning quite possibly for team’s entire season . In the case of the St Louis Rams it has been their losses though less acute but never the less with a team aspiring to take the next step up the ladder to be viewed as a legitimate Superbowl contender .

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The coaching staff and Colts’ front office are no doubt hoping that Manning can make a return at some point in the season but it would appear that the likelihood of that happening won’t happen until perhaps week 12 or 15 at the earliest . And that would be under the premise that the team is in with the chance of making the postseason . Manning’s replacement Kerry Collins having been signed by the organization has struggled to make his presence felt and that of this team playing with its usual aplomb. Having started the season at 0-2 within the AFC South the Colts find themselves rooted at the bottom of the division with the Houston Texans seeking to take advantage of the situation . As to whether or not Gary Kubiak’s team can prove themselves worthy of the gift placed within their midst remains to be seen at this juncture .

As an avid New England Patriots’ fan the team’s match-up against divisional rivals the Buffalo Bills promises to be one of the more riveting game within the NFL . And bear in mind this is a game between two unbeaten teams , one of this franchises will endure their first loss of the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick has proven to be the leader many felt that he might could not be but herein lies the caveat the Bills seem to be proving that last season was something of an aberation . The Bills’ quarterback and this team has proven to be one of the more pleasant surprises of the schedule so far with their aggressive play.

Chan Gailey may have done enough to secure his job for the present because as we all know the NFL season is a long an arduous one filled with highs and a great many lows . I am sure that the Bills’ coach , his staff and team will witness that as their season begins to unfold .

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are no doubt looking carry on where they left off after the team’s stellar display in their defeat of the Miami Dolphins . The Patriots will be without their one of their more potent offensive weapons with Aaron Hernandez having sustained an injury that will keep him out of this weekend’s game. The tight end just happens to be one of Brady’s favorite weapons in his arsenal of productive artillery and Hernandez has proven to be one of the most productive players at the position within the NFL at present .

It would be remiss to think that the New England Patriots have been solely about offense but the team has come flying out of the gates laying waste to their opponents . And as I alluded to earlier the season is a long one filled with potholes that can simply become an even bigger obstacles for the team who simply are not prepared for the long haul.

With the college football season having kicked off with its auspicious start week four promises the fans something special . For the UCLA Bruins under Rick Neuheisel this happens to be a season where everything might just be on the line for the coach . Certainly if he cannot make this team competitive over the course of their schedule and be viewed as a legitimate contender for the PAC 12 title then we may well see the beleaguered coach given his marching orders. Granted , the boasting and bragging by Neuheisel that there is just more than one collegiate team within the city of Los Angeles means nothing when you can’t dethrone that rival when called upon to do so. And that has clearly been the case for Rick Neuheisel’s team over the last few years . The playing field may well now have been leveled with the sanctions levied against the USC Trojans . But you may well be hard pressed to think that will be enough to derail Lane Kiffin’s team as they seek to show the world that in spite of the NCAA probation and punishment meted out this is a program the coach , his coaching staff and AD Pat Haden would like to see continue in a similar vein on the field of play.

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UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel, right, talks into his headset during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Texas won 49-20. (AP Photo/Bret Hartman)

Neuheisel’s career has been well chronicled and it goes without saying that controversy has followed the coach much of it of his own making . And when that comes into being then so does that coach’s integrity. Let us just say that Rick Neuheisel has been such a man albeit that he has tried to shed that persona in order to prove he is still a capable coach . I have never followed Bruins’ football with any great interest as it has been the mens’ basketball program that has brought about the success of this establishment under the achievements of John Wooden . His feats and that of the players under his tutelage are part of collegiate basketball folklore with multiple national championships and that now heralded consecutive win streak now surpassed by Geno Auriemma’s Lady U Conn Huskies .

UCLA for their part at 1-2 are not looking to good in being thought of as a contender within the PAC 12 and this weekend presents a tough task as they face Oregon State in Corvallis , Oregon in what’s surely to be viewed as a “must win” game for the Bruins . Rick Neuheisel and his coaching assistants know that they must have this team well prepared if they are to have any hope of winning . Oregon State are unlikely to treat this game lightly, as they have something to prove ins showing that they are worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as their instate rivals Oregon ( Ducks) . Whether or not the Beavers can be viewed as worthy challengers to the Ducks remains to be seen . Mike Riley is sure the have his team ready to face the challenge of whatever is thrown their way courtesy of the UCLA Bruins .

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Joseph Fauria (8) of the UCLA Bruins fumbles the ball as he is hit by Adrian Phillips (17) and Jordan Hicks (3) of the Texas Longhorns during the fourth quarter at Rose Bowl on September 17, 2011 in Pasadena, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …….

In suffering a humiliating 49-20 loss to the Texas Longhorns in Pasadena , California you could clearly see the many flaws on this Bruins’ team. It will be incumbent upon players such as Richard Brehaut , Johnathan Franklin , Derrick Coleman , Joseph Fauria , Sheldon Price , Tony Dye and the rest of this roster to prove their mettle against Oregon State in Corvallis this Saturday. As these players are looked upon as the likely leaders on this Bruins’ team. If they can acquit themselves by showing the leadership skills and maturity sought then this game is likely to be a close one , however , if that’s not the case then look for Oregon State to steamroll their way to a decisive victory .

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At this point of both seasons within College Football and the NFL the teams have their aspirations as to how they would like to see their year culminate . For the fans it is no different , as they throw their support behind the respective programs at the D1 Level and that of the franchises within the professional ranks . As an avowed fan of both disciplines I am merely hoping that the entertainment proffered up is exhilarating to say the very least . Anything beyond that would be viewed as an added bonus but who can say how things are likely to turn out ? Within the FBS and NFL , what if anything are you most looking forward to in terms of the match ups on offer ? Simply leave a comment on your thoughts on the salients points of this article and anything else you feel is of relevance . Thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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

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Picture and slide show details below.

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(1) This Sept. 18, 2011 file photo shows Indianapolis Colts quarterback Kerry Collins making a call over center Jeff Saturday in the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, in Indianapolis. Without Peyton Manning spending 30 seconds pointing and shouting at the line of scrimmage before each play, the Steelers say they should have plenty of time on their hands. AP Photo/Michael Conroy …..

(2) INDIANAPOLIS, IN – SEPTEMBER 18: Kerry Collins (5) of the Indianapolis Colts is sacked by Ahtyba Rubin (71) of the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images ………

(3) Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots looks for an open man against the San Diego Chargers in the second half at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……..

(4) FOXBORO, MA – SEPTEMBER 18: Julian Edelman (11) of the New England Patriots gains yardage during a game with the San Diego Chargers at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……

(5) Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) of the Buffalo Bills throws a pass to Scott Chandler (84) against the Oakland Raiders at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September18, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 38-35 . Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images …….

(6) D.J. Grant (18) of the Texas Longhorns makes a catch and run in front of Tony Dye (6) and Sean Westgate ( 11) of the UCLA Bruins during the second quarter at Rose Bowl on September 17, 2011 in Pasadena, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …….

(7) Texas linebacker Emmanuel Acho (18) attempts to block a pass by UCLA quarterback Richard Brehaut (12) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Texas won 49-20 . AP Photo/Bret Hartman …….

(8) UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel, right, talks into his headset during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Texas won 49-20. AP Photo/Bret Hartman …..

(9) Derrick Coleman (33) of the UCLA Bruins scores a touchdwon to trail 35-20 to the Texas Longhorns during the third quarter at Rose Bowl on September 17, 2011 in Pasadena, California. Texas won 49-20. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images ……

(10) Joseph Fauria (8) of the UCLA Bruins fumbles the ball as he is hit by Adrian Phillips (17) and Jordan Hicks (3) of the Texas Longhorns during the fourth quarter at Rose Bowl on September 17, 2011 in Pasadena, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …….
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NFL Standings by division

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NFL week 3 fixtures

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College Football news

College Football (FBS D1) Week 4 schedule

College Football polls (assorted)

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Rick Neuheisel Bruins’ head coach

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UCLA Bruins 2011-2012 football schedule

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PAC 12 Standings

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The Madness of King George …………..

The Madness of King George …………….

Contrary to popular belief baseball’s hierarchy does not possess all of the answers to what ails the game . If anything Bud Selig , the league hierarchy , teams owners and the union have found a way to make the game itself somewhat of a laughing stock amongst the vast majority of the fans . Those who take the opposite view , simply see the game as being under the premise of the glass being half full .

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If ever there was a cause for concern then it would have to be ongoing continued meltdown of the Boston Red Sox within the AL East as their wildcard lead over the Tampa Bay Rays seems to be melting like butter having touched a hot knife . Red Sox fans are either holding their breath with deep concern or they’re contemplating suicide . This team having lost three straight , including a rather haphazard and totally inexplicable 7-5 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park is now beginning to look like a rudderless vessel at sea. If this were the Titanic then all of the hands on deck would have bailed on this bitch long ago ! At this juncture I don’t know which is more painful to endure , having to watch the Boston Red Sox at play or listen to their fans now bitch and whine on the flagship radio station WEEI . Anyone who knows how passionate the Red Sox fans are will also know that when things are getting tough they can also be some of the most obnoxious fans within the game of baseball , not unlike the fans of their bitter rivals the New York Yankees .

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Baseball fans stand to leave Fenway Park as Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Alfredo Aceves , left, and designated hitter David Ortiz react as they linger in the dugout after they were defeated 6-4 by the Baltimore Orioles in a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

Though the front office doesn’t appear to be panicked into making any foolhardy moves , I can only surmise that team President Larry Lucchino , general manager Theo Epstein will for the moment continue to allow Terry Francona and his assistants to do what they believe to best to get this team back on track . The real struggles for the team does appear to the the inconsistency of their pitching in particular with back end of the rotation and that of the bullpen . But it would be remiss not to suggest that the team’s offense isn’t without its own challenges .

Now in terms of leadership on this team one would expect the likes of seasoned veterans Jason Varitek , Tim Wakefield , David Ortiz , Josh Beckett , Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford to be amongst the players seemingly having the wherewithal to step up to the plate as and when needed . But such has been the inconsistency of the team that it is hard to see how they can now fend off the Tampa Bay Rays without the aid of others within the AL East as that team embarks upon its own schedule down the stretch .

As the season moves into its final weeks this AL wildcard race is now heating up into a suspenseful thriller that now has all the makings of quite possibly becoming an epic battle. It would come as a complete surprise to me were the Tampa Bay Rays able to erase the two game deficit and somehow gain that wildcard berth spot ! I felt that earlier in the month the deficit would be too great a burden to overcome but little had I foreseen that the Boston Red Sox would be able to make such a damn mess of things . So much so , that should they actually derail the ambitions Terry Francona’s team , then I would be the first to offer a profound apology to one patron (SportsChump) who I doubted , when he stated ……. ” that the Rays weren’t about to go away at all ” . And that has clearly been the case here as the Tampa Bay Rays have hung around and caused mayhem amongst the Red Sox organization with their apparent will win to win and stubbornness in refusing to go away quietly .

Well with all of historical feats that tend to take place within the game one can’t deny that Mariano Rivera’s achievement in surpassing the time saves’ record (601) was something special . Indeed in passing Trevor Hoffman’s mark Rivera now adds one more indelible reason why he ought to be enshrined as a first time ballot Hall of Famer . Only a complete idiot would dare to suggest otherwise at this juncture !

As the postseason beckons I would like to think that the individual races amongst the players now becomes a major draw for our attention even more . Would it be intrusive to suggest that Justin Verlander has all but nailed the Cy Young award within the AL ? His closest challenger may well be CC Sabathia but unless the New York Yankees’ ace can do something spectacular then I seriously doubt that he will be able outshine Verlander’s sensational season ! As to the other individual awards those most certainly will play themselves out as the season winds down .

What can actually be said about the College Football Season that hasn’t already been said ? The polls have the usual suspects one might deem fit sitting atop of the tables in question . If anything however, it has been the ongoing divergence of communiques and views as to where certain football programs will end up with regard to a major football conference . So asinine has been the assertion of many of the conference commissioners to suggest that the invites for teams join them is purely being done to create a competitive balance ! The bottom line to this all is the simple one sheer avarice and greed . Never mind the fact that we have the rather gross litany of bowl games that clog up the college football postseason much like traffic simply congests the 405 within the state of California . What is ultimately gained from this all , is simply mutli million dollar payouts that in large part does nothing for the real benefit of the student athlete in spite of the public statements forthcoming from the NCAA and a number of college football coaches alike . When one considers how well these commissioners are compensated it begs the question who’s kidding whom here ?

Courtesy of ESPN & Associated Press

Four BCS commissioners made $1M

WASHINGTON — Four of college football’s six powerhouse conferences paid their top executives $1 million or more, an Associated Press analysis of tax records shows, far eclipsing the compensation of most university presidents.

A review of 2009 IRS returns, the most recent available, shows that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was the highest paid, receiving total compensation valued at $1.6 million, followed by Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford ($1.1 million), Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive ($1 million) and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe ($997,000). The other two commissioners each started in July 2009, so their compensation figures are only for the last six months of the year: PAC-10’s Larry Scott ($735,000), and Big East’s John Marinatto ($366,000).

Those figures include base salary and benefits such as health insurance, as well as other forms of pay such as retirement and deferred compensation. On an annual or prorated basis, only Marinatto made less than the median pay of presidents of the nation’s large research universities, which was $760,774 in 2008, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education survey published last fall.

The new data about commissioner salaries comes at a time when, driven by a series of controversies at major programs, there’s a growing chorus about the problems of enforcing amateurism in college football, saying it may be time to rethink the system as everyone but the athletes are making big money.

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Conference commissioners such as Mike Slive , John Swofford , John Maranatto , Larry Scott and James Delaney have all tried to suggest that these maneuvers in engineering these moves are in the best interests of the collegiate sporting landscape .

With both Pitt (Panthers) and Syracuse now seeking to make the leap from the Big East to the ACC we are seeing seismic shifts in the collegiate athletics landscape . And with each college program’s intent to move there’s no denying that the statements being made by these commissioners has no veracity at all to it . There are moves adrift to lure the Texas Longhorns , Texas A & M , Oklahoma and Oklahoma State but the likelihood of that happening could very well be countered by moves made by a number of tv broadcast networks with a vested interest in seeing thing remain as they are .

From my own perspective it is my belief that things started to go downhill when ESPN sought to align itself with the Texas Longhorns their co creation of a sports network that will provide the sports programmer with exclusive content . The deal between the broadcaster and the Longhorns will net the university $300 million over the next two decades . but that by comparison is a meager sum for a athletics program that derives approximately $70 to $75 million annually in revenues . Mack Brown and the school’s AD Deloss Dodds had no hesitation in negotiating this deal to the benefit of the University of Texas . This is a harbinger of things to come within the environment of collegiate athletics but at the same time this certainly will not abate the express intent of these schools to make the leap from one college conference to another .

If the NCAA under its president Mark Emmert seems to be at a loss to show some sort resonance on this issue albeit that it is the BCS conference commissioners and university presidents who are now dictating what takes place within the NCAA’s midst. Emmert for his part has addressed one sensitive issue that deals with the payment for the student athlete while their collegiate career is in place . The push back began immediately with a number of coaches opposing the president’s initiative for no other reason than they would prefer the status quo remain in tact . As crazy as it might seem if coaches such as Jim Calhoun , Lane Kiffin , Chip Kelly and the potential allegations now surrounding Steve Spurrier of South Carolina can somehow choose to circumvent rules and not be punished directly for those violations then what does that suggest to you about the charade that is now being created as these schools see fit to act in the way that they are doing ? Not all programs are said to be malevolent but then again not all of these programs are always willing to abide by the rules . Now within the world of collegiate sports , if you’re not making money and not winning , then you’re not trying .

Courtesy of WTLX.com

I Hope We’re Not In Serious Trouble !

Columbia, SC (WLTX) – USC Coach Steve Spurrier briefly commented Tuesday on the allegations made by the NCAA against USC athletics.

He made his remarks during his weekly address to the media Tuesday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Monday, USC President Harris Pastides received a letter outlining possible violations the NCAA believes the school made have made between 2009 and 2010. The allegations involved players staying at the Whitney Hotel in Columbia for reduced rent and the actions of the co-founders of a group called Student-Athlete Mentoring FoundationPrevious Coverage: USC Receives “Notice of Allegations” from the NCAA” .

“I hope we’re not in serious trouble,” Spurrier said. “I don’t think that we’re going to be.”

On the Whitney Hotel allegations, Spurrier said he had no knowledge this was occuring.

“Obviously, we wish we’d have known what was happening, but we didn’t,” Spurrier said.

The coach said the situation would have to play itself out over the next several months.

In 1990, when he was at Florida, Spurrier was called before the NCAA’s Infractions Committee because of the alleged actions of his predecessor, so he has been through this process before.

“I don’t think it’s embarrassing to get a letter,” Spurrier said. “I realize these kind of things can happen.”

When asked if the allegations would taint his reputation, Spurrier quickly pointed out that none of the allegations involve him.

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Spurrier is now trying to distance himself from this latest faux-pas but here’s the thing the players in question were being housed in this hotel at a reduced rate and in some cases per gratis , which contravenes NCAA rules . Something of which I know the coach and his coaching staff must have been aware of and knew that this broke the rules but somehow the blame will be apportioned elsewhere by the coach and no doubt the faculty headed by university president Harris Pastides and school AD Eric Hyman . Somehow this atypical hypocrisy and idiocy will never cease to amaze me under any circumstance ! We have come to expect this as being part and parcel of everything that is contemptible within collegiate athletics , as no one is willing to be held accountable for their actions .

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What thoughts if any do you have concerning what appears to disconcerting as to the Red Sox’s misfortunes ? Do you believe that they will be triumphant in obtaining the AL wildcard berth ? Also with the apparent intent of a number of collegiate programs seeking to move to another conference do you believe that the landscape of college basketball and football will be severely disrupted ? Also in light of the proposed moves do you believe that it will be of benefit to those respective sports ? Simply proffer up your thoughts on the topics raised within this article as you deem fit .

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

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(1) Vladimir Guerrero (27) of the Baltimore Orioles knocks in Nick Markakis (21) of the Baltimore Orioles against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park September 21, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Getty Images / Jim Rogash …….

(2) Baseball fans stand to leave Fenway Park as Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Alfredo Aceves , left, and designated hitter David Ortiz react as they linger in the dugout after they were defeated 6-4 by the Baltimore Orioles in a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

(3) Josh Beckett (19) of the Boston Red Sox regroups as Mark Reynolds (12) of the Baltimore Orioles rounds the bases after hitting a home run at Fenway Park September 21, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images …….

(4) Nick Swisher (33) of the New York Yankees is safe at second base for an eighth inning pinch hit double ahead of the tag from Ben Zobrist (18) of the Tampa Bay Rays on September 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images …..

(5) Manager Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays walks to the mound to make a pitching change against the New York Yankees on September 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images …….

(6) Jorge Posada (20) and hitting coach Kevin Long of the New York Yankees celebrate after clinching the American League East division against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images …….

(7) The big screen at Yankee Stadium congratulates New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera after he recorded his 602nd career save as the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4 in a baseball game on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek ……

(8) New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin (55) congratulates New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera after the Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 in the first baseball game of a double header on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek ………

(9) Jorge Posada (20) of the New York Yankees pushes his teammate Mariano Rivera (42) back towards the mound after Rivera broke the career saves record in a game against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium on September 19, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Rivera recorded his 602 save . Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images …….

(10) University of Texas at Austin President William Powers Jr. , center, Women’s Athletics Director Chris Plonsky , left, and Men’s Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds, right, announce the athletics programs will continue competing in the Big 12 Conference June 15, 2010 in Austin, Texas. Getty Images North America / Eric Schlegel …..

(11) From left to right, Mack Brown, Lynn Swann , Joe Paterno and President William Powers Jr. at the May 16 dinner benefiting The Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved UT Photo / Matt Hempel ……

(12) FILE – In this Sept. 10, 2011, file photo South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier talks his players during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Georgia in Athens, Ga. Spurrier says he follows the rules and doesn’t believe South Carolina will face serious punishment as a result of the NCAA’s allegations regarding his program. The NCAA outlined three potentially major violations in its letter of allegations sent to South Carolina on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. AP Photo/John Amis ……..

(13) : Running back Marcus Lattimore (21) of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates a touchdown run against the Navy Midshipmen September 17, 2011 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. The Gamecocks defeated the Midshipmen 24-21 . Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images …..

(14) Coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks talks with coach Ken Niumatalolo of the Navy Midshipmen after play September 17, 2011 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images ……..

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I Don’t Drink The Kool Aid Simply Because I Don’t Like It !

I Don’t Drink The Kool Aid Simply Because I Don’t Like It !

I’ve never been one for hyperbole myself but it appears that the analysts of ESPN would rather come out with some of the most asinine statements imaginable simply to create that furor media frenzy needlessly . The Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton is off to a tremendous start as a rookie for the team throwing for over 850 yards in his first two games as a professional . Granted, the number one pick overall in this past NFL Draft has been lauded as the best player available of the talent to be had . Opinions being what they are , there is no denying the player is something special but it’s one thing to show that prowess in the college game , within the NFL it becomes a whole new ball-game altogether .

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Now as much as I respect the analysis provided by these individuals simply brought in to host these shows on ESPN but there comes a time when Chris Carter and Keyshawn Johnson make the statement that Newton should be seen as the “Chosen One “ amongst the players that were recently taken in this past draft . As talented as many believe Cam Newton to be , there is a growing belief that until he becomes more attuned to the NFL and his teammates then there’s no way in hell the Carolina Panthers will be viewed as a success in the NFL . Coach Ron Rivera and his coaching staff are in for an arduous season and though playing as well as can be expected the team has yet to register its first win in the NFL . At 0-2 there is a belief that once having notched that first victory the Carolina Panthers might just be able of acquitting themselves well in enough within their division (NFC South) and the league as a whole .

There’s no doubt that expectations were high for Cam Newton coming out of college given the success attained by the player while attending at Auburn . And now that player has to take his talents to the NFL he’s now being viewed as “The Messiah” and ” Prodigal Son” all rolled into one as the Carolina Panthers seek to become relevant in the NFL once again. Rivera and his staff sought to obtain the best possible talent available in the draft to complement an already experienced roster which has a mix of youth and seasoned veterans .

The Carolina Panthers will host the Jacksonville Jaguars in week three that is bound to be of real interest to the Panthers’ fans. Jacksonville at 1-1 look to be a staunch test with coach Jack Del Rio and his team facing the challenge of taking advantage of the problems that have beset the Indianapolis Colts and make an outright challenge to the now presumed favorites within the division to win the AFC South the Houston Texans (2-0). As to whether or not those teams within the division can actually take advantage of the woes of the Colts remains to be seen .

From my own perspective , I do believe that Cam Newton can be a success within this league but he’s still a work in progress , as too is his Tim Tebow whose current status with the Denver Broncos seems to come into question with each passing week in the league. It simply has become idiotic to witness the sheer ineptitude shown by the front office of the organization led by EVP John Elway . Team owner Pat Bowlem and newly installed coach John Fox have certainly got to address this issue before it gets completely out of hand and sinks this organization to even lower depths than could be imagined . It is bad enough that the team’s incumbent starting quarterback Kyle Orton has performed miserably for the Broncos during the first two games of their season schedule .

Certainly for Tim Tebow , he has done himself no favors with his alleged poor performances during team practices but it seems somewhat hard to be believed . Either that’s simply due to poor coaching by John Fox’s coaching staff and in particular from quarterback’s coach Adam Gase or quite possibly due to the fact Tebow was simply coddled as a player by his former college coach Urban Meyer while the player attended Florida . Now while the fans’ calls seem to be for Tebow to be on the field , one simply cannot be sure that the player is a sure fire guarantee to be the presumed savior of this organization . Draft choices asides and the organization’s history in that field , it has been troubling to see the Denver Broncos struggle to make their presence felt within the NFL .

The Denver Broncos for their part have had something of an inauspicious start to the season with a 1-1 record within the AFC West where they sit jointly atop of the division alongside the Oakland Raiders , San Diego Chargers with the winless Kansas City Chiefs seated as the cellar dweller in a hapless division. Kyle Orton and the Broncos next play a conference game against the Tennessee Titans in a match-up that should tell us a great deal about the temperament of this Broncos’ team under the leadership of John Fox and his coaching staff.

Perhaps it’s me but with the NCAA —- football season now up and running is now filled with more scandal than collegiate athletics would willingly care to admit . With Butch Davis having been fired the school ( UNC[ Tar Heels]) is now having to endure multiple sanctions for violating NCAA rules with regard to recruitment violations and several other transgressions that the school’s now former AD Dick Baddour has seen fit to address before stepping down in his role . I am not about to suggest that this will be the last time that we will hear or bear witness to such indiscretions across the collegiate sports landscape . Suffice to say …… where there’s smoke there is fire and there are several schools at present in college sports either fanning the flames or simply looking to put out those flames because of their incendiary nature . Think Ohio State , Miami Hurricanes , Oregon and Boise State and USC (Trojans) ? Let’s just say that until the landscape is cleaned up with any sense of urgency we will continue to see such malfeasance on the part of these schools . Never mind that we have the idiocy of college football conferences simply looking to become bigger by luring teams from one conference to another , simply through sheer financial greed . It has absolutely nothing to do with bringing about a competitive balance because as we all know the system is skewered to favor the teams within the major BCS conferences in terms of college football . Anyone who believes otherwise obviously is living in complete denial !

Now while the various polls are now out there ranking the teams within D1 football , I am of the opinion that until we are at the midpoint of the season we will not truly get a true glimpse of how things are about to pan out over the course of the year ! Certainly the rankings seem to bear out what we have longed felt about a number of teams . Oklahoma ( Sooners) , LSU , Alabama , Boise State and Stanford seem to be the standouts this early in the season . And that is with good reason as each of the teams remain unbeaten but as they get into the meat of their schedule I would preface this by saying that one or two of those very same programs are likely to slip up . Whether it this upcoming week or down the line it remains to be seen .

For myself the college football season only becomes really interesting down the stretch of the schedule when everyone seems to be aggrieved once the BCS rankings simply skewers what many of feel to be to be a brokens system and what is wrong with college football to begin with . We know that the minnows of the game will never truly be given the chance to go up against the big boys within college football . Oh , once in a while when the beat writers and fans alike show their resentment , we may well see the subterfuge take place with a proposed match-up of one of those teams on the outside looking in , as they’re given the privilege of playing in one of the lesser tiered Bowl games or BCS games . But God forbid ….. we will ever see the day of seeing the likes of Boise State perhaps taking on Auburn or perhaps Florida for the BCS national championship . What do you think would happen then amongst the likes of conference commissioners or even an idiot such as Ohio State universtity President Dr E Gordon Gee who still believes that a program outside any of the major bowl conferences is not entitled to play for the national title ? I feel that Gee should simply stick to cleaning up what we now know to be an utterly corrupt athletics program , with both he and AD Gene Smith then stepping down in shame ! I mean only these two assholes could still maintain that they were completely unaware as to the deceit , lies and subterfuge that was taking place that was being orchestrated by the program’s former football coach Jim Tressel ! Imagine that ….. ?

Amongst the presumed Heisman Trophy candidates this season the names of Andrew Luck , Landry Jones , Marcus Lattimore , Kellen Moore , Robert Griffin , Trent Richardson and Chris Rainey are being bandied about . And though there may well be justification for those names to be mentioned let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet . It’s still too early in the season to be making these type of prognostications , so give it a while and let things simply play themselves out as the season progresses .

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I know that Kool Aid can be viewed as a great elixir but in reality it’s all down to one’s preference . Do you like it sweet and mixed in with something else or do you simply drink it , as is ? It’s the same with the opinions that tend to be proffered up by the analysts on tv , so simply make of it what you will ? For myself , I tend to like my drinks shaken (preferably with alcohol) and not stirred much as in the same way as that fictional character James Bond does ! Which are you in that context ? Chime in with a comment as you deem fit with regard to the subject matter and anything else you deem to be pertinent .

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Seen here from left to right are ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman joined by analysts Mike Ditka , Keyshawn Johnson , Cris Carter and Tom Jackson . courtesy of ESPN …..

(2) CHARLOTTE, NC – SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Cam Newton (1) of the Carolina Panthers takes the field for play against the Green Bay Packers September 18, 2011 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Packers would go on to defeat Carolina 30-23 . Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images ….

(3) Quarterback Cam Newton (1) of the Carolina Panthers runs for a gain against the Green Bay Packers September 18, 2011 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images …..

(4) Fans wear jerseys in support of Tim Tebow (15) of the Denver Broncos as the Broncos face the Cincinnati Bengals at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Bengals 24-22 . Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images ……

(5) Fans dispaly a sign in support of quarterback Kyle Orton (8) of the Denver Broncos as the Broncos defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 24-22 at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images ……..

(6) Something of an ambiguous sign by fans in support of Tim Tebow (15) of the Denver Broncos as the Broncos face the Cincinnati Bengals at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Bengals 24-22. Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images ……

(7) DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach John Fox of the Denver Broncos watches a video replay during the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images ……

(8) Quarterback Kyle Orton (8) of the Denver Broncos fumbles the ball and as he is sacked by Michael Johnson (93) of the Cincinnati Bengals in the third quarter at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The fumble was recovered by Domata Peko (94) of the Cincinnati Bengals as the Broncos defeated the Bengals 24-22. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images …….

(9) Wide receiver Tim Tebow (15) of the Denver Broncos tries to avoid cornerback Leon Hall (29) of the Cincinnati Bengals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images ……

(10) Quarterback Andrew Luck (12) of the Stanford Cardinal scrambles to pass during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Wildcats 37-10 . Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ………

(11) Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones (12) fires a first quarter pass during an NCAA college football game against the Florida State Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, in Tallahassee, Fla. Oklahoma would go on to defeat FSU Seminoles 23-13 Getty Images / Ahmad Kilyan ……

(12) Running back Trent Richardson (3) of the Alabama Crimson Tide breaks away from defensive back Ryan Downing (22) of the North Texas Mean Green and defensive back Royce Hill (21) of the North Texas Mean Green for a 71-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter on September 17, 2011 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Alabama would defeat North Texas 41-0 . Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images …..

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Pitiful ……….. Well It Happens In The NFL And MLB & Other Sports As Well …….. ‘nough said !

Pitiful ……….. Well It Happens In The NFL And MLB & Other Sports As Well …….. ‘nough said !

Does it really now be to be said but the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seawhawks just might be the two worse teams in the NFL . There has nothing that has simply indicated to me how either of the teams made the postseason last year but then again they duo do play in what might two divisions that simply are not that good to begin with ! Anyone who simply believes that either the AFC West or NFC West are simply worthy of watching had better begin to rethink that thought ! .

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I am not about to lambast the Oakland Raiders as of yet but their pass defense has become as porous as a used feminine hygiene product . I am sorry but Raiders’ head coach Hue Jackson has some major problems with the defense and if they are not able to shore up the play then over the course of this season they will simply be seen as a complete fraud . Much of this was borne out by the ineptitude shown in the team’s
loss to the Buffalo Bills .

Needless to say but the Indianapolis Colts’ sorrowful season continues and it is clear to see that the loss of Peyton Manning cannot be quantified . It has to be said that whatever the coaching staff and front office may have thought in bringing in Kerry Collins as Manning’s replacement just doesn’t seem to working out for the team . And when adjudged when against the NFL it’s clear to see the problems for the Colts may well go way beyond the loss of Peyton Manning. For coach Jim Caldwell this will be a season to test his will and intestinal fortitude as they seek to embark upon what might describe as a battle of us against the world . It is plain to see at no point had this organization really planned ahead for the day that would be without Peyton Manning as the team’s signal caller . This certainly has been borne out by their draft history and even one does point to Curtis Painter as a peek into the future , let’s just say that the player simply hasn’t the size to fit into Manning’s shoes !

Now while the season is still in its infancy it is becoming increasingly a clear that a number of teams have already fallen by the wayside . There is a chance that a number of these ball-clubs could play themselves back into contention but at this juncture it’s hard to see how that that can be unless they are capable of playing themselves back into some semblance of consistency .

So the Philadelphia Phillies and Detroit Tigers have essentially played themselves into the postseason having won their respective divisions. The Phillies have simply strolled through the NL East with some semblance of ease and now await an opponent in the divisional round of the playoffs . And looks if Charlie Manuel’s team . Suffice to say the organization is looking to make a quick return to the World Series and prove that the team’s triumph in 2008 simply wasn’t an aberration.

If there was a point where you simply thought that the Cleveland Indians had a chance to be competitive within the AL Central then this simply wasn’t going to be it . This team simply wasn’t consistent enough over the course of their season and for Manny Acta this had to be profoundly disappointing for the organization and their fans .

Dave Dombrowski could very well be viewed as one of the primary reasons behind the team’s resurgence this season. He gave manager Jim Leyland free rein to get this team playing with a great deal of conviction. If there’s a real reason to point to the team’s success this season then it would largely have to come down to the contributions of Justin Verlander for the Detroit Tigers accompanied by a rotation that has simply been too good to be believed .

While Verlander can be complimented on having an excellent season his teammate Miguel Cabrera has been the tip of the spear that has made the offense of the Detroit Tigers so potent. Now the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees are in all likelihood seen as the presumptive favorites to be playing for the ALCS I would like to think that the Tigers cannot be overlooked in this conversation !

Now while there are fans out there bitching and whining about their teams or in some cases making excuses for their poor play over the course of this baseball season with comments such as ………. you’re saying harsh things about my team “ …….. I’d say shut the hell up and simply grow a pair and stop acting like an infantile child ! The year within baseball has been filled with highs and lows but to my mind more highs than lows .

The NFL thus far , has indicated to me that the lockout has simply done more harm than anyone within the league hierarchy would care to admit. But you would hardly think it worthy of an admittance from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell or the team owners themselves . As for NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith coming to the aid of the NBPA and giving the players’ union of the NBA advice on whether or not it is worthwhile in the union decertifying . In doing so it would give the NBPA the legal recourse they might seek in challenging the NBA hierarchy in this now two month plus long lockout . The NBA under the leadership of David Stern now seems to be fighting for the hearts and mind of their fans while team owners for the present seems to be backing the commissioner . But now one has to wonder …….. for how long ?

The time has now come for the sport of boxing to simply deemed outmoded and completely irrelevant ! . Anyone who believes that Floyd Mayweather can take pleasure in depriving then WBC welterweight title holder Victor Ortiz of his title . This fight was simply an affront for very poor sportsmanship and showed how the fans having been duped to pay an exorbitant price for witnessing this fiasco at the venue with an even bigger injustice in having to pay $69-95 for the privilege of watching this fight via HBO PPV.

To witness the events that took place between Ortiz and Mayweather and their ignorant behavior does the sport of boxing and the fans a great disservice. Victor Ortiz showed that he has no class having deliberately head butted the challenger but Mayweather’s subsequent behavior in sucker punching his opponent , when Ortiz approached him to apologize for the head butt took place earlier in the bout. With the challenger having won the bout via a TKO , Mayweather now looks to pursue a big money fight against his biggest nemesis Manny Pacquaio in what’s sure to be a real barn-burner . But that issue could very well be derailed by the WBC hierarchy and the Nevada State Athletic Commission given the behavior of both fighters. For the hosts at the MGM Grand Resort & Casino in Las Vegas , Nevada I am not so sure this is the type of event that they could have wished for with the controversy that surrounded this title fight.

And if you thought that the fight itself was the only reason to take an affront then the post bout interview between the new title holder and HBO boxing analyst and commentator Larry Merchant may well have given a fan even greater cause as that episode further shed light on how low this sport has indeed fallen. Mayweather would chide both Merchant and HBO for showing him the lack of respect he feels he’s due . Larry Merchant retorted …. ” if I were fifty years younger I’d be ready to whup your ass ” ! Now that would be a fight I would gladly wish to see only if it were being televised by HBO rather than being sprung upon the fans as a PPV event . But alas , boxing needs something far more than that to peek the interests of the discerning fan .

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

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

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Picture and slide show details .

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(1) Tyler Palko (4) of the Kansas City Chiefs gets ready to hand the off the football to teammate Thomas Jones (20) during a NFL game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 18, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions won 48-3 . Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images …..

(2) Jahvid Best (44) of the Detroit Lions leaps into the end zone for a touch down against the Kansas City Chiefs during a NFL game at Ford Field on September 18, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions won 48-3 . Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images ……..

(3) Pittsburgh Steelers’ LaMarr Woodley covers Seattle Seahawks receiver Zach Miller (86) on an incomplete pass from quarterback Tarvaris Jackson during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. The Steelers won 24-0 . Getty Images / Gene J. Puskar …..

(4) Hines Ward (86) of the Pittsburgh Steelers is flipped over Walter Thurmond (28) of the Seattle Seahawks after catching a pass in the first half during the game on September 18, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images ……

(5) BUFFALO, NY – SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach Hue Jackson of the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills would go on to defeat the Raiders 38-35 . Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images ……

(6) Michael Bush (29) of the Oakland Raiders is tackles after rushing for a gain during an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images …….

(7) Chase Utley (26) of the Philadelphia Phillies gets a base hit against the St Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park on September 18, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Cardinals defeated the Phillies 5-0 , however the Phillies having clinched the AL East is now assured a berth in the playoffs . Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images …..

(8) Detroit Tigers’ Ramon Santiago, left, tags out the Oakland Athletics’ Scott Sizemore on a steal-attempt in the first inning of an MLB baseball game on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011, in Oakland, Calif. The Tigers would go on to defeat the A’s 3-0 AP Photo/Dino Vournas ……

(9) Justin Verlander (35) of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum on September 18, 2011 in Oakland, California. Photo by Tony Medina/Getty Images ……

(10) Miguel Cabrera (24) of the Detroit Tigers is congratulated after the Detroit Tigers beat the Oakland Athletics 3-0 at Oakland Coliseum on September 18, 2011 in Oakland, California. Photo by Tony Medina/Getty Images …….

(11) Floyd Mayweather (R) slams a left to the head of WBC Welterweight champion Victor Ortiz in the 3rd round during their fight on September 17, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Mayweather controversially knocked out Ortiz in the fourth round to win the WBC Welterweight title. AFP PHOTO/ JOHN GURZINSKI / Getty Images …….

(12) WBC Welterweight champion Victor Ortiz (L) falls towards the canvas after being hit with a right from Floyd Mayweather in the 4th ending the fight on September 17, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Mayweather controversially knocked out Ortiz to win the WBC Welterweight title. Referee Joe Cortez looks on as the knockdown takes place . TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO/JOHN GURZINSKI (Photo credit should read JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP/Getty Images ……

(13) Referee Joe Cortez counts out WBC Welterweight champion Victor Ortiz as he tries to get up from the canvas after being knocked out in the fourth round after being hit with a right from Floyd Mayweather in the 4th ending the fight on September 17, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Mayweather controversially knocked out Ortiz to win the WBC Welterweight title. TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO/JOHN GURZINSKI ……

(14) Argument: Mayweather with HBO anchor Larry Merchant, who hit out over the boxer’s dirty tactics. HBO boxing commentator and analyst is seen here alongside newly crowned WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather. The two individuals had a very heated and profanity laced exchange during their televised post fight interview . courtesy of Youtube & Daily Mail UK . ……..
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They Say You Can’t Take It With You Or Ever Return Home …………

They Say You Can’t Take It With You Or Ever Return Home …………

Week two of the NFL season is now upon us and there are one or two intriguing match-ups . That being said perhaps the game that may draw the greatest attention could very well be Michael Vicks’ return to Atlanta where his high flying Philadelphia Eagles’ team are the guests of the Atlanta Falcons , his former team.

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For Vick this will be his first game against against the Falcons who got off to an inasupicious start with an overwhelming 30-12 loss to the Chicago Bears in their season opener . We all have read of Vick’s problems off the field and the fact that he was incarcerated for his crimes , served his sentence and now seems to have accepted back into the NFL with open arms by his peers and the league hierarchy alike . The player himself has gone out of his way in atoning for his misdeeds by working in conjunction with PETA in a number of PSA’s with regard to animal cruelty .

For the Falcons’ fans who may still feel aggrieved at the player’s actions and the very fact that he had if anything lied to them and the organization as to his misdeeds may still not sit well with many of them. But at the end of the day with the player no longer being a part of their staff they have moved and seemed to have found a successor to Michael Vick in Matt Ryan . If nothing else the quarterback knows that he will have to perform at his very best if he is to outduel his predecessor . And given his somewhat error filled and average performance against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field you have to know that he and his teammates will have take their game up a notch or two at least against a hungry Philadelphia Eagles’ team .

Eagles’ coach Andy Reid and his coaching staff they have to be pleased with what they have seen from this team this early in their season . And the coach obviously has to be pleased with his quarterback’s performance , maturity but no doubt his growing leadership skills as well . With the Philadelphia Eagles being viewed as the presumptive favorites not merely for the NFC East but also the conference and Superbowl the bullseye has firmly been placed on their backs as a target . Whether or not this is justified remains to be seen .

Michael Vick seems to have acclimatized himself well with his teammates and there is growing mutual respect between the player , the veterans and even the new draftees on the roster . The player’s breakout return last season may well have provided the Eagles’ fans with a sign of things to come not merely for this season but quite possibly for the future . Clearly the organization’s sights are set on the Superbowl (SBXLVII) and raising the Lombardi Trophy in February 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis , Indiana .

With a plethora of offensive weapons at his disposal Michael Vick will be given every chance to show his prowess and further enhance his reputation as being perhaps the best quarterback playing in the league today. Certainly no expense has been spared with regard to Andy Reid setting about acquiring players for this team as they seek to improve and justify their new found position atop of the NFL. That being said the defending Superbowl champions the Green Bay Packers are not about to give up their crown without a fight. And an anticipated match-up in the postseason should there be one would be seen as one of the highlights of the NFL calendar .

While Vick seems to be excelling this season with the Philadelphia Eagles his two former teammates Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb seem to be having their own struggles as they seek to acclimatize themselves with their respective teams. To say that McNabb underachieved with the Minnesota Vikings in their season opener would be to suggest that Van Gogh could paint a masterpiece with his eyes closed and one hand tied behind his back . Suffice to say that the Vikings front office , coaching staff and their fans cannot be entirely happy with what they witnessed from the veteran so far . Is there room for improvement you may ask ? The jury is still out on that I guess ! Kevin Kolb for his part the newly acquired starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals not only has to prove himself worthy of the faith shown in him by Ken Whisenhunt , the front office but also in the fact he’s signed a lucrative multi year contract with the team . His play this season may well prove to us whether or not this was a prudent decision made by GM Rod Graves .

It is clear that the Philadelphia Eagles will want to send a clear and resounding message to the NFC as well to the rest of the NFL that they ready to take on all comers . And the best way to do that would be to defeat the Atlanta Falcons decisively on their home turf at Fulton County Stadium / Georgia Dome in , Atlanta , Georgia . I expect this game to be a highly competitive one with both defenses being tested . But it may well come down to the offensive prowess shown by the Eagles that could be the determining factor in this match-up in what is sure to be an emotionally charged game.

If you are a Boston Red Sox fan you cannot be entirely happy with what you’re now seeing from this team . Losers in eight of their last ten games the Red Sox’s season appears to be spiraling out of control and with the Tampa Bay Rays now bearing down on them in their rear view mirror there now has to be cause for concern. If last night’s game [9-2] ( loss to the Rays) at Fenway Park against their divisional foes was anything to go by then the Boston Red Sox had better get this show back on the road , rather than now being subjected to a great deal of ridicule . These two teams are now battling it out for the wildcard berth within the AL and it has to be said that at this stage of the season this might just the most suspenseful event happening in baseball at present .

For Carl Crawford the former Rays’ player this has to be one of those situations as to what might have been . But circumstances being what they are the player signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent when it became apparent that his former team could simply not afford him. He was signed to a lucrative 7 year $154 million deal that placed him alongside stars such as David Ortiz , Josh Beckett , Dustin Pedroia , Jon Lester and all of the other highly paid players on the Red Sox roster .

For Terry Francona and his coaching staff it cannot be pleasing to the eye to witness his team fail so miserably through the month of September , thus far. And I am sure under the watchful eye of GM Theo Epstein and the rest of the front office questions are now raised as to why this roster is now wilting under pressure . Suffice to say that when the pressure is brought to bear there are some who can and withstand it and there are others who cannot . At this moment in time deliberations are now taking place as to what guise this takes in the case of the Boston Red Sox. And for Carl Crawford this has been a season where he simply hasn’t delivered the goods as expected when adjudged by that of his teammates from an offensive standpoint .

To simply apportion blame solely one player would be remiss , as it has been a collective effort this has placed the Boston Red Sox in the predicament that they now find themselves in. The team has simply struggled and been errant through their last six or seven series that in that time they have seen their lead amongst the wildcard aspirants simply being whittled down by the Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays.

Now while everyone watches this race between these two teams unfold there’s a lot to be said for who could now be viewed as a favorite and who ought to be deemed the underdog. From my own standpoint I am in apoplexy merely watching the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays play. One minute we are seeming one team find a semblance of consistency only for the next to completely succumb and do the inexplicable . Granted , one could say that this simply mirrors the form of the Red Sox as of late but given the importance of the next three games to be played in their current series now unfolding at Fenway Park , who’s to say what the likely outcome will be in the end ? I am sure that Carl Crawford would not be able to answer such a question succinctly and neither would anyone else from the opposition for that fact .

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With regards to the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit and anything else you feel to be pertinent to the subject matter in question . Thanks as always for the continued support as it greatly appreciated !

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

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick throws a pass during practice at their NFL football training facility, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011 in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Alex Brandon ..

(2) Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid speaks during a media availability at their NFL football training facility Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011 in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ……

(3) Michael Vick (7) of the Philadelphia Eagles prays with teammates and St. Louis Rams players after a game at the Edward Jones Dome on September 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Eagles defeated the Rams 31-15 . Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images ……

(4) Michael Vick (7) of the Philadelphia Eagles scrambles as Chris Long (91) of the St. Louis Rams dives for him at the Edward Jones Dome on September 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Eagles defeated the Rams 31-15. Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images ……..

(5) Mike Aviles (3) of the Boston Red Sox kicks the dirt in the ninth inning during a game with Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park September 15, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox lost 9-2. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) …..

(6) Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays and B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate a 9-2 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park September 15, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ….

(7) As rain falls, Boston Red Sox’s Carl Crawford heads back to the dugout after popping out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the second inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011. AP Photo/Charles Krupa ……

(8) Carl Crawford (13) of the Boston Red Sox fouls off a pitch in the second inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on September 14, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images …..

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PSA …… Warning …… Being A Fan of A Team In The AL East Can Cause Serious Damage To Your Health

PSA …… Warning …… Being A Fan of A Team In The AL East Can Cause Serious Damage To Your Health

Well as the final month of the season steadily winds down it would appear that the Boston Red Sox somehow are finding numerous ways of simply derailing their ambitions of appearing in the postseason . From what appeared to be an insurmountable lead over the Tampa Bay Rays a mere fortnight ago that lead has now been whittled down to a mere 3 1/2 games between the two teams for wildcard berth within the AL .

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Granted , the New York Yankees it would appear has the AL East all but sown up I would like to think at this juncture there’s still a great deal to play for between these trio of teams . Certainly for the Tampa Bay Rays their task will not be made any easier , knowing that they will have to face both Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at least eleven more times over the remaining ir 16 games of the season in their exhausting schedule. And that particular scenario will not be lost on either of the Rays’ divisional foes. I would now be looking over my shoulder in constant fear were I Red Sox GM Theo Epstein or team President Larry Lucchino ! The thought that this team could simply place themselves now in such a position where they would have to be fighting for their very survival and having to play second fiddle to New York Yankees cannot be lost either of the two executives . And certainly for senior managing partner John Henry , he has to feel that this would be a tremendous disappointment were this organization to fail in making the playoffs.

From a financial standpoint the postseason is a tremendous bonus for the Boston Red Sox with their loyal rabid fans and the ever present fact that with the NESN as their one of their proprietary revenue streams in televising their games , it makes for a bountiful windfall for that subsidiary of the ball-club. What has plagued both the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays in recent weeks , has been the overall lack of consistency from both teams . Much of this has been due to the fact that neither has been able to find the rythm needed winning games or series with any regularity. And it has been that imposition that has been a cause of concern for Terry Francona , his coaching assistants and also for Joe Maddon and his coaching staff as well for the Tampa Bay Rays.

There is a sense of urgency this season for the Rays as their year has hinged on a great degree of uncertainty as it relates to the financial well being of this team. Pared down salary of the roster and subsequent trades has all but left the cupboard bare but for the belief that the team’s prospects and farm system are bountiful by way of the talent on display there . Most certainly for team GM Andrew Friedman , senior managing partner and majority stake owner Stuart Sternberg this is now the best way forward for the organization.

Recent postseason success for the Tampa Bay Rays would suggest that this team is quite capable of taking up from where it last left off with regard to the MLB playoffs . But if that is to happen we will have to see a much more concerted effort from the perceived leaders of this team .It is not without great reason that Evan Longoria , BJ Upton , David Price , Johnny Damon , James Shields and Matt Joyce are viewed as the players in those roles.

As I alluded to earlier it is imperative for the Tampa Bay Rays to have a successful season competitively both on and off the field of play. Away from the field it come about by way of the profitability of the ball-club. And this is where the guile of GM Andrew Friedman comes into play with his financial acumen and art of making deals that are of benefit for the entire organization . Friedman along with managing partner Matt Silverman are seen as one the driving forces behind the Rays and the success attained by this team. But that success now could be short-lived as the general manager’s ties with the organization is now being debated on numerous levels . Andrew Friedman’s contract with the Rays’ organization expires at the end of the season and if the rumors are to be believed he is at the top of the list of a number teams who are in search of an experienced and successful front office executive . Friedman’s name would be out there alongside the likes of Brian Cashman and Billy Beane , all general managers whose contracts are set to expire at the end of this season.

If the Rays are said to be seeking that silver lining for their season then for the Boston Red Sox and its’ team of high priced stars it would suggest any form of failure would not be looked upon gracefully by the fans who attend Fenway Park with a religious like fervor in support of the Red Sox . To understand the support and passion derived by the fans in their support of the team is to comprehend how it was possible for them to endure the years in the wilderness before the organization was able to reel off two World Series wins in the space of of five years ( 2004 & 2007 ) .

For stars such as Adrian Gonzalez , Carl Crawford , John Lackey , Jon Lester , Jacoby Ellsbury , Dustin Pedroia , Jason Varitek and Josh Beckett to stand alongside what is a very productive offense when it actually gets going . As of late however it has been the pitching and the inconsistency of the team’s bullpen that has been a cause of concern for Terry Francona and his staff .

At the start of the season with the usual aplomb the thought process would be that the Baltimore Orioles would be in the mix with Buck Showalter leading this young talented team . In reality however with an ownership group led by bespectacled owner Peter Angelos and GM Andy MacPhail it has to be said that this organization is simply devoid of competitive ambition on the part of its executives . And this sort of idiocy is simply mirrored around the game by a plethora of owners and general managers . There are purists and alleged insiders within the game who simply believe that the fans ought to endure ineptitude but simply bitch and fucking whine when they’re subjected to the ineptitude of the federal government ! If they can harangue those legislators for their ineptitude then why the hell don’t they harangue the owners and players when they simply fail to meet their expectations ? You know what …………. fuck it let it be and simply take it for what it is …….. the simple dumbing down of America !

A brief but passing mention for the Toronto Blue Jays and the managerial staff . To put it mildly, the day this team seeks to be truly competitive might well be the day when the Rogers Center is actually filled to the rafters . Care to guess the last time that actually happened ?

These final two and a half weeks of the MLB season should tell us a great deal about the ambitions of both the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays . Apart from the what now appears to be an intriguing divisional race between the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers in the AL West I do believe that this upcoming series between the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays could very well settle the outcome as to who the AL recipient will be for the wildcard berth .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What if anything has peeked your interest with regard to the closing month of baseball season ? And which teams of the prospective aspirants for the postseason do you believe will ultimately be triumphant ? Simply chime with a comment as to your own thoughts .

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 14: Mark Teahen (20) of the Toronto Blue Jays scores a run in the eighth inning as catcher Jason Varitek (33) of the Boston Red Sox cuts off the throw and pitcher Daniel Bard (51) of the Red Sox backs up the play at Fenway Park on September 14, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Blue Jays won 5-4 . Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images …

(2) The Toronto Blue Jays slap high fives after getting the final out against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on September 14, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Blue Jays won 5-4 . Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images ….

(3) Boston Red Sox starter John Lackey hands the ball to manager Terry Francona as he is taken out of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth inning during a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011. The reeling Red Sox lost for the sixth time in seven games as the Blue Jays took a 5-4 win. At right is second baseman Dustin Pedroia. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …….

(4) The Baltimore Orioles bat against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Rays 6-2 . Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …….

(5) Manager Joe Maddon (70 [R]) of the Tampa Bay Rays removes pitcher Wade Davis (40) during the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Rays 6-2. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……..

(6) Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter, left, speaks with right fielder Nick Markakis after a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011, in Baltimore. Baltimore won 6-2. Photo by Rob Carr/ Getty Images ……..

(7) Second baseman Robert Andino (11) of the Baltimore Orioles throws to first base to complete a double play after forcing out B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays at second base during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Rays 6-2. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……….

(8) Johnny Damon (22) of the Tampa Bay Rays waits to bat against the Baltimore Orioles during the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …..

(9) BALTIMORE, MD SEPTEMBER 14: Vladimir Guerrero (27) of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates in the dugout after scoring against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Rays 6-2. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……..

(10) Matthew Silverman, left, Andrew Friedman and Stuart Sternberg are overhauling the Rays. photo appears courtesy of New York Times/ Phillip Diedrich ………………
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MLB Important Dates Postseason 2011 :

September 30th – 7th October Divisional Series

8th October -17th October League championship series

19th October – 27th October World Series

For Half A Billion Dollars You Simply Can’t Beat Another Fucking Screw Up ……… Business 101 Courtesy of A Now Bankrupt US Government …………

For Half A Billion Dollars You Simply Can’t Beat Another Fucking Screw Up ……… Business 101 Courtesy of A Now Bankrupt US Government …………

OK so someone please explain to me how it is that the government can somehow sink $500 million (half a billion dollars) into a now defunct Fremont , California based company Solyndra that was trumpeted by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as the wave of the future in the country’s commitment to energy conservation _____ the specific use of this technology with regard solar panel and cylinders in creating energy efficient usage and products . Now comes what might be unbelievable , the company filed for bankruptcy ( Chapter 11) in the US Federal Court in the state of Delaware . Once again , more taxpayers’ monies simply sank without a trace and there being no one within the administration much less from the President’s own staff readily available to issue a formal statement . Jay Carney , White House Press Secretary , usually available to take the press’ questions on numerous public issues , himself , a well known journalist has yet to make any formal statement on the bankruptcy filing that leaves the taxpayer on the hook for this debt .

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It has been one thing for the government to use the TARP facade in assisting their paymasters (major financial institutions) in placing Obama and select GOP and Democrats in the Congress and Senate . It is now one thing to watch the eight Republican nominees seeking that party’s blessing as the opponent to Barack Obama in 2012 but it is equally idiotic to hear them each opine on the economy , with little knowledge of what’s actually happening in the real world.

Barack Obama will have a hard time explaining another misstep by this administration and even more so from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner whose department it is to oversee the government’s spending while the country’s economic monetary policy itself is dealt with by the Federal Reserve under the auspices of Ben Bernanke as its chairman. Clearly with all of the divergence in thought , ideology being placed ahead of bipartisanship and doing what’s best for the country , we are now seeing this administration and both legislative chambers simply throwing fecal matter up against the wall just to see what sticks and then using that as a legislative policy and statute. If that’s not completely fucked up then what is ?

With the none partisan Office of Management & Budget having forewarned both the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Finance Committee as to the irregularities and the guaranteeing of this $500 million loan to Solyndra it appears those warnings went unheeded with legislators such as Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) championing the loan ___ stating that it would be of great benefit to the her home state of California and for the employment prospects of the residents within in the state . Well this white elephant, of all of three years has gone up in a cloud of smoke and there is simply no one willing to answer questions as to what went wrong . When the US government seeks to become a venture capitalist it speaks as to its very arrogance and their use of the taxpayers’ monies in such a case ! Now with the FBI and attorneys from the Justice Department having removed countless documents from the Fremont , California based company in the last 24 hours it remains to be seen whether or not there will be any senior executives of Solyndra indicted by the Justice Department in possibly perpetrating a felonious and larcenous act against the US taxpayer !

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

Solyndra executives back out of congressional hearing

By Neela Banerjee & Jim Puzzanghera of the Los Angeles Times

The solar equipment maker’s executives cite the demands of a complicated bankruptcy and a federal investigation they now face.

Reporting from Washington—
Executives of beleaguered solar equipment maker Solyndra Inc. canceled their Wednesday appearance before a congressional investigative committee at the last minute, citing the demands of a complicated bankruptcy and a federal investigation they face.

Solyndra got a $535-million loan as part of the U.S. stimulus package in late 2009 and was held up by the Obama administration as a powerful example of the kind of innovative manufacturing that would revive the economy. But in the last few weeks, the Fremont, Calif., company has closed shop, laid off most of its 1,100 workers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and had its offices and executives’ homes raided by the FBI.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hear testimony from administration officials about the government’s loans to Solyndra. The company said in a statement that its executives were busy with the bankruptcy and were discussing a new hearing date with the committee.

The events surrounding Solyndra’s government backing and now bankruptcy have become a political hot potato in Washington.

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Click on link provided to read this article in full .

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It is good to see that while the President is doing the rounds trying to sell the country on his latest posturing on jobs and the economy , he has been evasive on answering questions raised with regard to the bankruptcy filing of Solyndra . Bear in mind also that this has been the fourth such company in the past eighteen months to have filed bankruptcy proceedings due to their failure . What is it , that is said to be remiss about this all , other than a clear case of mismanagement and an over eagerness to delve into an industry still in its infancy and without there being any real due diligence being used by a number of the entrepreneurs in question ? At the same time countries such as China , Brazil and the UK , all seem to be prospering somehow but with there being accountability and clear oversight by the respective governments in question. regard to the Congress itself rather the continued asinine and infantile behavior we now see repeatedly from both sides of the political aisle . Lack of leadership ? Yes ! Lack of integrity ? Certainly ! But overall , a total lack of respect for the electorate , their wishes at large and neither of the two political parties actually seem to give a damn ! For them , it now has become all about ideology and how much money can be made at the expense of the taxpayer !

As this whole picture unravels you can be sure that the executives of this company will simply hide behind their litany of lawyers not wanting to make any formal statements on this issue . And with Congress now wishing to enact a speedy hearing to ascertain what these executives may or may not have known as to the financial well being of their company . Is anyone at all surprised to see the government once again with egg on its face ? After all these are the very same imbeciles who made sure that this deal essentially went through without much scrutiny by anyone that mattered . Certainly they failed to heed the warnings raised by senior officials not only from within the OMB but also the CBO ( Congressional Budget Office ). Once again we’re back to the same damn issue ……..” follow the fucking money trail ” and you can who made sure that things simply went ahead smoothly without there said to be any problems arising !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What now awaits , is where the apportioned blame will be placed and who seeks to gain from this all . We may each have our own thoughts on this matter but it is clear to see that once again the government has failed the electorate and populace with its gross stupidity and naivete’ . Care to guess as to how this shit will be spun by the parties concerned ? Chime in with your comments as you deem fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Executives of solar equipment maker Solyndra Inc. canceled their appearance before a congressional committee . Above, Solyndra headquarters in Fremont, Calif. Paul Sakuma / Associated Press ….

(2) An FBI agent walks inside the Solyndra headquarters building in Fremont, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. The FBI are executing search warrants at the headquarters of California solar firm Solyndra that received a $535 million loan from the federal government . AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ……

(3) FREMONT, CA – MAY 26: Ben Bierman (left) and Chris Gronet (right) explain solar technology to U.S. President Barack Obama on a tour of the Solyndra solar panel company May 26, 2010 in Fremont, California. President Obama toured Solyndra Inc., a growing solar power equipment facility that is adding jobs as they expand their operation . The $535 million loan provided by the Department of Energy is now lost with the company having filed for bankruptcy. (Photo by Paul Chinn/Getty Images …

(4) President Barack Obama is seen here with both Chris Gronet and Ben Bierman at Solyndra’s plant and headquarters in Fremont , California . Getty Images / Paul Chinn ……

(5) Former Director of the National Economic Council Lawrence Summers (L), Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Dr. Christina Romer (2L), Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner (C) and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke (R) listen as President Barack Obama (2R) speaks after a daily economic briefing in the Roosevelt Room of the White House March 23, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama said the administration’s plan to purchase toxic assets from banks is a move in the “right direction” to unlock credit markets. Both Romer and Summers no longer sit on the board of the Council of Economic Advisers . Getty Images North America / Brendan Smialowski ……

(6) U.S. President Barack Obama (C) walks into the White House briefing room while flanked by White House White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (R) and White House Chief of Staff William Daley (L) on April 5, 2011 in Washington, DC. President Obama addressed the media about his meeting with Congressional leaders in hopes of coming to a agreement on funding the Government to avoid a shut down. Getty Images North America / Mark Wilson ……..

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Oops Upside Your Head I Said Oops Upside Your Head !

Oops Upside Your Head I Said Oops Upside Your Head !

Well week one of the NFL season came about with a bang and in some cases something of a whimper given the rather morbid performances of some noted players. Anyone who witnessed the performance of Donovan McNabb in the Minnesota Vikings loss 24-17 to the San Diego Chargers . And though Chargers’ fans may well feel that they can take a great deal out this victory , in truth the team’s performance wasn’t really something to be desired . A seven point win but it was simply the woefully inept performance by Donovan McNabb that surely indicates that the player’s best years are behind him . Anyone who simply felt that McNabb would be the answer to the team’s woes has to be now rethinking that premise .

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From my own perspective , Zygi Wilf and the entire front office of Vikings clearly were sold a “bill of goods” in terms of the McNabb acquisition . As for Minnesota Vikings’ coach Leslie Frazier if he has pinned his hopes on the veteran quarterback leading this team to unprecedented heights then he clearly hasn’t learned anything in the aftermath of the Brett Favre fiasco under his predecessor Brad Childress and then last season with himself at the helm as coach of the team. And with the team’s quarterback Adrian Peterson having signed a multi year multi million contract this looks as if it could be a season of discontent for the Minnesota Vikings . McNabb’s stats from this season opener might just be the most anemic a performance of any quarterback in the league over the past five seasons . 7/15 , for 35 yards 0 TD’s and 0 INT’s and you have to wonder what happens next for the now beleaguered player. .

For those of you out there who are intrigued as to who Leslie Frazier may well choose to step into McNabb’s shoes . If not Joe Webb or Christian Ponder then you might as well say that the Vikings’ goose has been cooked . Without an adept quarterback to lead this team then there’s not a cat in hell’s chance of the Minnesota Vikings having a legitimate chance doing anything meaningful within the NFL this season .

From winning the AFC West last season and then garnering a postseason berth the Kansas City Chiefs had sought to improve on their showing last season . Todd Haley and his coaching staff along with quarterback Matt Cassel were looking to bolster their claims that they could be viewed as a legitimate contender within the AFC . Offseason acquisitions and a draft class thought to be the best amongst the teams within the conference and there might have been every reason to believe the claims made by the staff. Well if you have ever seen an anvil being dropped from a great height then the Chiefs’ 41-7 bludgeoning by the Buffalo Bills . If anything we can all attest to the fact that the Bills might well have been one of the worse performing teams in the NFL last season.

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Matt Ryan (46) of the Atlanta Falcons fumbles the ball against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Falcons 30-12 . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

In this game the Bills’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had the type of performance that cast him as the second coming of Jim Kelly the Buffalo Bills’ Hall of Fame signal caller . There’s nothing to suggest that this Chiefs’ team possessed anything that was the equal of their conference opponents this past Sunday .

Care to suggest how the Kansas City Chiefs are likely to fare over the course the remainder of the season ? But simply base that thought upon the team’s woefully inept play against the Buffalo Bills . If you believe that the Chiefs are liable to improve then simply say “yes” , if not then obviously you’ll say ” no ” .

Mike Smith as coach of the Atlanta Falcons if he’s improve the goal of this organization . Smith over the past two seasons has seen gradual improvement not only in team’s play but also in the leadership qualities of his quarterback Matt Ryan . The player for his part is seen one of the bright young players at the position within the NFL . The Falcons for their part often regarded as a very good regular season team but come the postseason they simply floundered under the weight of great expectations .

In the Atlanta Falcons’ season opener against the Chicago Bears , wherein we saw an onslaught that the Falcons simply had no answer in a completely lopsided loss that not even most NFL fans would could have envisaged . Jay Cutler and his Bears’ teammates mauled the Atlanta Falcons 30-12 leaving the team in a complete daze. I have to admit that of all the games that took place this past weekend the result that I found to be the most surprising happened to be the lopsided defeat of the Atlanta Falcons .

One could surmise that the entrenched battle . between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers and the absolute bloodbath in terms of the adversarial demeanor between these two heated NFC North foes had to be seen to be believed . Seven turnovers and a slew of mistakes by Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger amongst others on what is usually well disciplined Steelers’ team coached by Mike Tomlinson .

To suggest that anyone could have foreseen the Baltimore Ravens laying waste to the Pittsburgh Steelers 35-7 would simply be a complete lie . The margin of victory was one thing but for the Steelers to be so thoroughly outplayed had to have come as a complete surprise . Joe Flacco , Ray Rice , Terrell Suggs , Ray Lewis and Anquan Boldin simply had a day at the office that they could all be pleased with . And for Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh this might be just the evidence needed to suggest that gutting of the roster from last season and the subsequent offseason moves that coincided with the draft picks was a vindication for the Ravens’ front office and coaching staff that the decisions made were simply the right ones at the time.

It is pretty much safe to say that the NFC West might just be the least competitive of all the divisions in the NFL . Anyone of the belief who simply belief that a team that wins its division with a sub .500 record should be viewed as a team with a legitimate chance of winning the Superbowl must be either satisfied with that type of mediocrity or they simply view those teams as viable within the NFL .

Each season the more I simply take in the events of the NFC West it is the more I feel that the appropriate action to take would be get a paper bag and simply begin to regurgitate the food I may well have ate earlier ! To describe the football being played within the division as mediocre would be to describe a painting by Van Gogh as average . Simply put , it’s diatribe being served up on a silver platter for the fans’ edification , not that the NFL fans should be subjected to this over the complete NFL regular season schedule by the teams within that division. But that’s ….. c’est la vie !

The Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll is amongst the highest paid NFL coaches in the league earning in excess of $7 million a year . Granted , team owner Paul Allen is amongst the wealthiest individuals on the planet but I’m sure that even he and GM John Schneider could have imagined wherein the team would simply have regressed rather than taking a step forward . I have never really thought Pete Carroll to be a very good NFL coach as his previous tenures has proven that coaching in the NFL isn’t within his wheelhouse . But this where the front office executives and team owners simply become at times too enamored with a college coach who’s said to have attained unprecedented success. Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier should have been a clear indication that ………. all that glitters isn’t clearly gold .

The Seahawks were hosted by the San Francisco 49ers this past weekend and the effort put forth by Pete Carroll’s team can be best described as being anemic and completely devoid of any aggression . Funny how a team who made the playoffs last season can now be looked upon as quite possibly one of the worst performing franchises in the NFL , on both sides of the ball. The Niners came away with the bragging rights in the divisional game clearly laying waste to their opponent 33-17 . With the loss of Matt Hasselbeck to the Tennessee Titans as a free agent somehow the coach felt that former Vikings’ quarterback Tarvaris Jackson could be seen as an adequate successor to the seasoned veteran . Given Jackson’s performance in that game I somehow think that Pete Carroll’s problems have now increased immeasurably ! The coach’s options at the position are not that great beyond Charlie Whitehurst and Josh Portis , so it is hard to view this team as a viable contender within the NFC much less the league as a whole .

It has to be said that there would be no doubt that the Indianapolis Colts would suffer this season with the long term loss of their celebrated quarterback Peyton Manning . You simply knew that this team wouldn’t be the same with his loss. GM Bill Polian and the front office may well have felt that acquiring seasoned veteran Kerry Collins would indeed make a difference but in reality the Colts are not a team that play on par with a nemesis when they simply haven’t got their best offensive weapon at the helm as the signal caller and in truth you cannot expect them to be .

Colts’ head coach Jim Caldwell and the coaching staff may well now have to keep the playbook simple for Collins and the team to have any semblance of success this season . Given the experience and the shock to the system of their season opener I am inclined to believe that the Indianapolis Colts are likely to struggle over the course of this year . The humiliating defeat the Colts suffered at the hands of the Houston Texans was enough to suggest that we might well be seeing the decline of a team who having the lost its leader has now become a rudderless vessel about to be capsized at sea. That 34-7 loss more than suggested how devoid of leadership this team becomes , without Peyton Manning but even more so , when you realize that there was no one willing to step up to the plate and assume the role as a leader . Say what you will , but if they are to fare well this season then someone has to be seen as the new leader on thus team .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

The NFL lockout may well have played its part in the rust we have seen from the teams in their performances in this first regular season scheduled game . But if anything it has to be said the coaches and their staffs had more than enough time to prepare their squads for expectations of what is always expected to be an arduous season . Simply put some of the teams in question may well have performed badly , much of it from their own doing and complete lack of preparation . If nothing else this could well be what we could very well expect over the next few games . But from my perspective these teams on the wrong side of these lopsided losses must have felt that they had been hit upside their heads ! What thoughts if any do you have from this first week of the NFL schedule ? Do you expect to see more of the same or could it be that this was merely a minor blip on the screen for many of the franchises in question ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) SAN DIEGO, CA – SEPTEMBER 11: Donovan McNabb #5 of the Minnesota Vikings in the huddle with his teammates against the San Diego Chargers during their NFL Game on September 11, 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium in San DIego, California. Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images ….

(2) Donovan McNabb (5) of the Minnesota Vikings in action against the San Diego Chargers during their NFL Game on September 11, 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images …….

(3) Adrian Peterson (28) of the Minnesota Vikings is tackled by Donald Butler (56) and Takeo Spikes (51) of the San Diego Chargers during their NFL Game on September 11, 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium in San DIego, California. Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images ……….

(4) Quarterback Matt Cassel (7) of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts after a turnover during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images …….

(5) Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) of the Buffalo Bills in action during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images …..

(6) Matt Ryan (46) of the Atlanta Falcons fumbles the ball against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Falcons 30-12 . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

(7) John Abraham (55) #55 of the Atlanta Falcons sacks Jay Cutler (6) of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Falcons 30-12. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

(8) Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) of the Pittsburgh Steelers scrambles while being pressured by defender Arthur Jones (97) of the Baltimore Ravens during second half of the season opener at M&T Bank Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …….

(9) Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll walks the sidelines during their season opener against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on September 11, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images …….

(10) Tarvaris Jackson (7) of the Seattle Seahawks drops back to pass against the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game at Candlestick Park on September 11, 2011 in San Francisco, California. the 49ers won the game 33-17 . Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ……

(11) Quarterback Kerry Collins (5) of the Indianapolis Colts is blind sighted by linebacker Mario Williams (90) of the Houston Texans on September 11, 2011 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Texans won 34-7 . Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images …

(12) Head coach Gary Kubiak talks with quarterback Matt Schaub (8) of the Houston Texans during a time out against the Indianapolis Colts on September 11, 2011 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Texans won 34 -7 .(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images ……..

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