That A-ha Moment …………

That A-ha Moment

By tophatal …….

There are times when one has to wonder if many athletes , coaches or executives actually listen to anything that they actually say in a public comment much less to their peers. As the fallout continues it has been interesting to hear the comments of the beleaguered Sean Payton as he comes under an added barrage of not only insults and criticism from the public and media alike . At the same time , there are those who have been quick to jump to the support of the New Orleans Saints’ coach and the organization . To my mind those coming out in support of the coach and the Saints are simply apathetic to what has in fact embroiled not only the league but also the game itself ! For his part Sean Payton at in a NFL hierarchy meeting in West Palm Beach , Florida , that involved the coaches , front office executives and team owners , the coach made no apology to the parties , as to his involvement in the actions that saw his team hit with an unprecedented set of monetary fines and sanctions . At the same time, it would appear that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell may well be rethinking the issue of suspending Payton , should the coach seek to appeal his suspension , for which the deadline has been set at 3 PM EST on 2nd April , 2012.

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Saints’ owner Tom Benson it must be noted , seems to be gauging the interest of Bill Parcells becoming the interim head coach of the New Orleans Saints for the 2012 season , should his head coach not revisit seeking to have a hearing as to his suspension with the league hierarchy. And as crazy as this might now seem I am not so sure whether or not Benson , himself can be entirely trusted ! Horses for courses as they say but there’s a nasty underlying demeanor about the Saints’ owner that certainly leaves a lot to be desired . Case in point , prior to Hurricane Katrina , he was all set to relocate the franchise elsewhere with the possibility that the franchise would end up being the team that the city of Los Angeles sought after years of being in the wilderness . With the DHS , with its agency FEMA and the state legislature assisting in the refurbishment of the Superdome in New Orleans , Louisiana . Fast forward to today , and you have Benson looking to create the perception that the franchise is seeking an image makeover but as of yet the owner himself hasn’t apologized publicly about the actions of his coaching staff and general manager Mickey Loomis to the other NFL owners .

Bill Parcells seems indifferent to the controversy surrounding his prospective employer , suggesting that he would be willing to assume the role of interim coach for an organization that has been embroiled , in certainly the biggest controversy to have hit the NFL in over a decade ! It begs the question , does the former two-time winning Superbowl coach of the New York Giants really seem concerned as to the deeds of his protege` ? And is this simply a fraternity that simply is one where the NFL coaches simply are not concerned by the misdeeds by their peers , just as long as it doesn’t happen to be anything damning or criminal whilst a part of the NFL ? And what of the NFLPA (union) itself ? That narcissistic body , having agreed to a steroid testing policy last season as part the most recent collective bargaining agreement with the NFL hierarchy , then chose to renege on that deal , drawing the ire of Congress and in particular three separate governmental committees . One can only wonder what concerns the likes of the Senate Judiciary Committee , House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee may well have concerning the NFL when there are far more pressing issues that most definitely need their attention , rather than that of a bunch of quibbling multimillionaire athletes and billionaire owners , who constantly bitch and whine , while being knuckle-head adversaries on what appears to be a wide-ranging group of issues that are relevant to the league (NFL) as a whole ! .

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and the union’s executive committee are now caught in the cross-hairs of a dilemma . If they are to conduct their own in-house investigation into the allegations of the Saints’ coaching staff and in particular many of their own members , where as such do they draw the line in protecting their rank and file members ? Or should they simply bring about a damning verdict of their own concerning the actions of a number of current and former New Orleans Saints’ players ? Your thoughts at this juncture concerning the NFLPA and their possible verdict ?

Is there really any common sense being shown by anyone at all involved in this whole debacle ? Instead the NFL in its infinite wisdom has sought to engage the fans with the fact that they’re back to making rule changes . As if there hasn’t been enough changes made to the NFL product that has seen in many respects the game being “watered down” to the point where offense was the norm and the very fact defensively the game was absolutely abysmal to say the very least from the vast majority of the teams in the league .

Now with the NFL Draft but a month away , all eyes will be focused upon the Indianapolis Colts as they seek a successor to Peyton Manning . Everything seems to be pointing to the fact that GM Ryan Grigson , Jim Irsay and head coach Chuck Pagano will indeed seek to make Andrew Luck the number one pick overall or quite possibly with the impressive showing of Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III , could possibly usurp his college counterpart in the choice to be made . The whole world awaits one of the most anticipated draft decisions to be made in recent NFL history .

Now while we can all attest to the fact the NBA this season has had its fair share of highs and lows . It has to be said that the Western Conference has not failed to live up to expectations . So tight is the race for the seedings four through eight within the conference that Golden State Warriors’ (20-28) head coach Mark Jackson believes that his team can indeed make a last minute run to at that eighth and final berth within the conference. That being said given the fact that the Warriors’ inconsistency over the course of the season has been anemic at best . The team is 3-7 in their last ten games and as of the 28th March they were on a one game win streak , hardly the competitive surge one would expect from a team that looks to be a contender for a playoff berth , much less an NBA title .

With a change in ownership of the franchise , Joe Lacob and Peter Guber having bought the Warriors in 2011 from then owner Chris Cohan . The common feeling was that after years of ineptitude things would certainly change , though not necessarily overnight . Instead , it has been fudged deals , draft choices gone awry and a complete lack of leadership . With the loss of Monta Ellis , perhaps the team’s best player over the past two years , that has in essence seen the fortunes once again plummet to the depths of sheer ineptitude . And it certainly hasn’t helped that first-time coach Mark Jackson and his coaching staff have struggled to get this team playing with any semblance of consistency .

With the influx of Lacob and Guber, who made their fortunes respectively , in the world of high finance and as a Hollywood film executive. It has to be said that for both of these front office executives the struggles they envisaged might not be what they now find within their midst . Nepotism has taken a-hold with Joe Lacob having inserted a family member , Kirk Lacob to head the Basketball Operations of the franchise . One now has to wonder whether or not any input has been sought from Jerry West , a special consultant for the Golden State Warriors . And for GM Larry Riley , not considered to be amongst the best of the general managers around the NBA but someone who merely seeks to make the best of a situation by simply being frugal when comes to the team’s salary needs . Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why the Warriors are not often seen as a primary destination for some of the free agents within the NBA ? Long starved of success and it appears that thus far under the custodianship of Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , it would appear that the franchise are simply taking incremental steps as they move forward . As to whether or not this of any satisfaction to an already fan-base has already been made abundantly clear to Joe Lacob in a recent ceremony honoring one of the franchise’s all-time greats Chris Mullin . The fans simply booed their young owner while cheering on Mullin in the ceremony held at the team’s home venue of Oracle Arena in Oakland, California . It is obviously a clear indication that the fans are not happy with the apparent decision-making of the ownership group.

Things are certainly not going to get any easier they embark upon the remainder of their regular season schedule that culminates with their final game against the that culminates with their final game against the San Antonio Spurs on the 26th April , 2012 . Up Friday , the Warriors will play hosts a to the New Jersey Nets (17-35) , a team that as of late seems to be floundering and who seem to be on the verge of losing their best player, Deron Williams at the end of this season . Mark Jackson , if he’s prove his doubters wrong will certainly have to get the best out of his players . Most notably , David Lee , Steph Curry , Richard Jefferson , Nate Robinson , Dorrell Wright and Brandon Rush .

If this team is to meet the goals being set for it by Mark Jackson , then between now and the 26th April , they will have to be playing at an exceptionally high level . More so, than their peers within the Pacific Division of the Western Conference . A division that is currently led by the Los Angeles Lakers (31-20) , followed by the Los Clippers (29-21) , Phoenix Suns (25-26) , Golden State Warriors (20-29) and bringing up the rear are the lamentable Sacramento Kings (17-33) . Now one could surmise that Golden State could pull off the improbable or dare one say the impossible ? But they are six games out of that eighth and final spot , currently held the Houston Rockets (27-24) . To my mind , too great a margin to overcome from a team that defensively , is amongst the worst within the NBA allowing 100ppg , and within the conference itself, only the Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings have the dubious distinction of being more inept from a defensive standpoint.

Where the inherent problem lies for the team comes from its failure to eke out victories where the games are fairly close and it has proven to be a constant struggle for Mark Jackson’s players throughout the course of the season . Nowhere has this been more prevalent than when an opponent scores in excess of 100 points a game and you see the struggles of the Golden State Warriors and in essence what Jackson and his coaching staff have to try and avert >. Whether or not Mark Jackson is trying to be bold in his attempt to build up the confidence and psyche of his players , it clearly doesn’t seem to be working ! Furthermore , if he is not able right this ship , then in all probability his tenure as a first-time coach in the NBA could very well be a short-lived one . Both Joe Lacob and Peter Guber did not make an outlay of $450 million just to see that purchase be looked upon as a failure . And when a team tends to flounder it has always been the coach who seems to be end up having the blame placed firmly upon his shoulders, not the players …. but the head coach .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In the aftermath of the fallout from the Saints’ “Bounty Scandal” what do you believe would be the best outcome for the NFL in terms of the actions of the New Orleans Saints ? In terms of what must be something of a tentative prediction by Warriors’ coach Mark Jackson , do you believe it to be simply the head coach looking save his job in terms what he believes is a confidence and moral boosting exercise ? Take time to leave a comment on this , and anything else you believe to relevant in terms of the subject matter .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton leaves the NFL owners meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 27, 2012. Facing a season-long suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounties program, Payton planned to meet with Bill Parcells, his former boss, on Tuesday, a conversation that will include who will coach New Orleans this coming season. AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez ..

(2) FILE – In this Dec. 10, 2006 file photo, then Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, right, shakes hands with New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton after the Saints defeated the Cowboys 42-17 in an NFL football game in Irving, Texas. Payton says he will meet Tuesday, March 27, 2012, with Bill Parcells, and part of that discussion will include who will coach the Saints this coming season. Payton says he will decide in the next “two to three” days whether he will appeal the suspension that would keep him off the sideline this season because of his role in the Saints’ bounty system AP Photo/Matt Slocum

(3) FILE – In this Nov. 6, 2011 file photo, New Orleans Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt walks the sideline during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in New Orleans. The NFL has suspended New Orleans head coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is banned from the league indefinitely because of the team’s bounty program that targeted opposing players. Also Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Goodell suspended Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular-season games of 2012, and assistant coach Joe Vitt has to sit out the first six games. Vitt , today through his agent David Cornwell , has stated that he will lodge an appeal in terms of his 6 game suspension , thereby joining head coach Sean Payton in the same process. AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman ….

(4) Colts’ owner Jim Irsay ,left is seen here with team general manager Ryan Grigson . The two in conjunction with head coach Chuck Pagano will have to come to the most important decision team history since they made franchise made Peyton Manning the #1 pick in the 1998 NFL Draft . The choice remains between two of the most accomplished quarterbacks in this year’s NFL Draft , in Robert Griffin and Andrew Luck . The consensus does appear to be that Luck will be taken ahead of Griffin , by the Indianapolis Colts . AP Photo / Peter Thomas …

(5) Golden State Warriors small forward Dominic McGuire (5) gets the ball away from New Orleans Hornets small forward Al-Farouq Aminu (0) in the fourth period of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, March 28, 2012. The New Orleans Hornets defeated the Golden State Warriors 102-87 . AP Photo/Paul Sakuma …..

(6) Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob watches game against the New Orleans Hornets in the fourth period of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, March 28, 2012. The New Orleans Hornets defeated the Golden State Warriors 102-87. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ….

(7) Golden State Warriors forward Jeremy Tyler (3) dunks in front of New Orleans Hornets guard Jarrett Jack (2) and forward Carl Landry (24) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, March 28, 2012. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma …..

(8) Injured Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry yawns on the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Hornets in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, March 28, 2012. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

(9) OAKLAND, CA – MARCH 27: Head coach Mark Jackson of the Golden State Warriors shouts to his team during their game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Oracle Arena on March 27, 2012 in Oakland, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images ….

(10) From left to right , Joe Lacob , Jerry West and Peter Guber of the Golden State warriors . Lacob, and Guber ,as owners of the franchise hired former front office executive , West as a special consultant to assist GM Larry Riley in personnel matters concerning the team . As to the overall input and makeup of the roster it seems somewhat unclear as to the direction sought by the front office . AP Photo /Al Thomas ….

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Lindsay-Price/

Actress Lindsay Price . Hot , or not hot ? That is the question that needs to be answered ! Your thoughts ?

A Tale Of The Two Cities & None Of It Good …….

A Tale Of The Two Cities & None Of It Good …….

By tophatal ……

Troubling for the New York Knicks and interim coach Mike Woodson has to be the fact that the team will be without their All Star center/power forward Amare` Stoudemire , with the player said to be suffering from a bulging disk in his lower back and lost to the Knicks for an indeterminate period . Problematic for a player whose game is predicated upon his ability to give his body a physical pounding night-in-night out . The loss will be counter productive for the New York Knicks but it now give us the chance to see whether or not Carmelo Anthony can show us the leadership abilities that many believe him to have . From my own perspective, I don’t believe Anthony to be a leader , nor does he possess the qualities in question but I can only surmise that former Knicks’ head coach Jeff Van Gundy is still enamored with the franchise he once coached .

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Wednesday night the New York Knicks played hosts to the Orlando Magic in a <a href=”http://www.nba.com/games/20120328/ORLNYK/gameinfo.html”&gt; game played at Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York . And while fans and NBA analysts alike still seem to be enamored with Jeremy Lin it is clear to see the reduced role of the player and the very fact that while an asset he still proves to be a liability in terms of the ball’s safe-keeping . The player on average turns the ball over some 3.7 times per game , amongst the highest within the NBA . That being said in spite of the Knicks’ offensive prowess , this simply doesn’t negate the team’s problems from a <a href=”http://nba.com/statistics/sortable_team_statistics/sortable.2html?cnf=2&prd=1″&gt; defensive standpoint .

The game at the Garden showcased the growing talents of Iman Shumpert and the very fact that the Magic’s defensive strategy had no answer for a player who made a number of the players on the Magic’s roster look rather lethargic , almost geriatric in a number of cases . Dwight Howard had a poor offensive output during this game having fouled out , with coach Stan Van Gundy being somewhat apoplectic as to the reasons behind his team’s poor showing .

Now while Dwight Howard saw fit to honor his contract through the end of the 2012 season , I do believe that the player should have made the decision to opt out and seek a trade away from the organization ! GM Otis Smith , Stan Van Gundy and front office executives have </</aaill served the player and the fans in not assembling a championship caliber roster capable of winning an NBA title .

Now while the Orlando Magic remains firmly in the playoff picture at present , for the New York Knicks every win is an added bonus for the team who just happen to find itself in a battle for the eighth and final berth within the Eastern Conference of the NBA . On the tail of the Knicks are the Milwaukee Bucks with the newly acquired ….. Monta Ellis seeking to inspire his teammates into making a a successful late season run at that berth within the conference . With the season now less than a month away from its culmination it will be interesting to see how the teams within a game or so of the berths in question seek to now play themselves into contention and for those in with a chance of a divisional title , well those races could become very interesting indeed .

It is hard to envisage what steps can now be taken by the Orlando Magic to assure Dwight Howard that he’s an assured part of the franchise’s long terms future . It is becoming abundantly clear that neither Otis Smith or Stan Van Gundy are absolutely sure as to their own long-term future and they clearly know that the only way to secure that is to have the well-respected center remain with the organization. Options that could well have proved beneficial never became a reality when they sought not to acquire Andrew Bynum , Pau Gasol or Brook Lopez . Bynum as of late has been on a tear and over the past dozen or so games might just be the best playing center in the NBA at present . At this juncture at season’s end I firmly believe that Dwight Howard will seek to opt out of his contract as a free agent and would no doubt be richly rewarded for his services .

While the Orlando Magic seeks to solve their problems for the New York Knicks their issues seem to be of a different kind . Mike Woodson now has to figure out his his best starting lineup and the one , which best offers the team a chance to win . Certainly , Woodson has brought a much more committed mindset from the players with a predicated upon playing more defense . And this may well prove to be fortuitous , with Tyson Chandler , JR Smith and now Baron Davis said to be now major contributors in their respective roles on the team .

At this point , with the loss of Amare Stoudemire as I alluded to earlier , it will be about Carmelo Anthony stepping up in his role. Given that his propensity is primarily as a scorer , others will have to off-set his liabilities as a defender . This has always been ” a knock” against Anthony since his entrance (2003) into the NBA and as a player at the collegiate level with Syracuse .

Somehow , for all of the hoopla that surrounded Carmelo Anthony when he was acquired by the New York Knicks , the player has simply failed to live up to expectations. He has yet to have a career defining game for the franchise and it has to be said for the money being paid and the very fact that Glen Grunwald has squarely set his faith in the player. It is not hard to envisage why the Knicks have faced the problems they have in recent years. Front office executives from Isiah Thomas to Grunwald have been excruciatingly awful in terms of their draft choices and trade decisions , that it has me wondering whether or not this organization will ever get things right ! We can all attest to the fact that Thomas much like Michael Jordan have to be two of the worst front office executives in recent NBA history . But then again Dell Demps , David Kahn , Rod Higgins , Joe Dumars and Geoff Petrie are well on the way to giving that duo a run for their money !

To my mind in the NBA’s history we may not have had such a poor bounty in terms of the coaches and general managers the NBA ! Amongst active coaches , Rick Carlisle , Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich to have won an NBA title in their current roles . And amongst the front office executives we have Jerry West , Danny Ainge , Pat Riley , Mitch Kupchak , R C Buford , Donn Nelson . Is it really too much to ask to have some competent individuals in each of the current roles in question ? Your thoughts ? .

From hereon-in , what awaits both the New York Knicks and Orlando Magic is anyone’s guess at this juncture . But with the team’s holding the 8th and third seeds respectively , within the Eastern Conference . Their prospective first round opponents may just be salivating in anticipation of meeting them both in the first round of the playoffs . At that point who knows what unfolds in what has turned out to be a rather dour season overall .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Fan or not of the New York Knicks and Orlando Magic how do you see the remainder of the regular season panning out for both teams ? Do you believe that Dwight Howard made the right decision in remaining with the organization until the end of NBA year ? Chime with a thought on this , and anything else you believe pertinent to the NBA season .

Picture and slide show details below for your perusal .

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(1) NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 28 : Patrick Ewing the former Knicks player and now coach for the Orlando Magic sits on the bench against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ..

(2) Landry Fields (2) of the New York Knicks dunks the ball against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

(3) Iman Shumpert (21) of the New York Knicks lays the ball up against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ….

(4) Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks looks on against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

(5) Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard (12) reacts to a call during the first half of a first half of a NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Wednesday, March 28, 2012, in New York. The Knicks won 108-86 . AP Photo/Frank Franklin II ….

(6) Jeremy Lin (17) of the New York Knicks sits on the bench against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ..

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Kate Upton courtesy of SI

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Dawn Penn ……………….. “You Don’t Love Me ( No, No, No)”

Fitting A Square Peg Into A Round Hole Courtesy of Bud Selig … So What’s New ? ….

Fitting A Square Peg Into A Round Hole Courtesy of Bud Selig … So What’s New ? ….

By tophatal ……….

A number of records are due to be impacted this season within baseball and all eyes will be on power hitters such as Prince Fielder , Jose Bautista and Albert Pujols . Now much has been made about Ryan Braun’s somewhat asinine case of the misuse of a banned substance . One can only surmise that even with Bud Selig’s continued idiocy _____ can things actually get any worse this year ? The final month of the 2011 season offered the fans enough excitement that the postseason delivered greatly , much to the satisfaction of the fans and the watching global audience of tens of millions. Now while the league hierarchy has stated that there was an overall increase in attendance over previous .. years . One of the many stark contrasts were the very facts that while the game still resonates as America’s pass-time there seems to be a downturn in participants amongst high school and collegiate level students . Also the game now seems to be struggling for recognition amongst the African-American demographic. By enlarge , it would appear that the vast majority of young African-American males now gravitate towards the NBA and NFL . One could question whether or not the MLB hierarchy has actually done enough to lure that specific demographic towards the game , albeit that they have several up and running programs within the urban community around the country . But that in of-itself simply doesn’t give us all a clear indication as to why this program hasn’t really caught on across the nation.

One indication as to why the program might give the perception of not taking hold could very well be that a number the league’s prominent teams have taken it upon themselves to set up academies in Latin America , the Caribbean and the Far East . Amongst the teams that have taken this path , have been the Los Angeles Angels , Oakland Athletics , Los Angeles Dodgers , New York Yankees and New York Mets . If nothing else these ball-clubs feel that is where the future growth of the game will come from and a clear indication also to Latinos in North America as the fastest growing demographic in the nation , they are now being recognized in that criteria by Bud Selig , the league hierarchy , team owners and the MLBPA (union) , itself .

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From my own standpoint , I do believe that baseball has in fact done a poor job of promoting the game amongst the African-American community over the last decade ! Given the struggles of Jackie Robinson , Larry Doby and others from that specific ethnicity that followed in Robinson’s landmark footsteps . And it does appear that Bud Selig only uses the famed Dodger as a token reason , to hearken back to a bygone age when for all sense and purpose African-Americans couldn’t find a seat at the table much less drink from a water fountain and need I remind you fight alongside their Caucasian counterparts in a fully integrated military Armed Services ? Undoubtedly , it will be a cause for concern in the future as it sees a decline amongst the younger demographics of African-American participants within the game of baseball .

Another real issue also comes from the very fact that there’s constant gearing of the World Series as televised by Fox to be geared at a prime-time television audience when much of the time it has been of no avail . Ratings for the World Series has declined and the only time there appears to be an overall uptick comes from the involvement of the New York Yankees , baseball’s most illustrious and successful ball-club . And with that franchise’s last success in the World Series coming in 2009 . It has to be said that Bud Selig would perhaps like nothing better than to see the New York Yankees as part of this year’s postseason finale . Tell me if I’m wrong by proving my premise to be one that isn’t at all valid ?

Amongst the changes to be seen this season will be the expansion of the wildcard playoff format with an additional team from each league being added to the postseason fare . And based on last standings both the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves would have been added to that spectacle. In reality given the play of the Tampa Bay Rays and St Louis Cardinals during the run-up to the postseason I seriously doubt that the addition of either team would have changed what appeared to have been an inevitable outcome !

With the Houston Astros now moving from the NL West to the AL West where they will join the Los Angeles Angels , Oakland A’s , Seattle Mariners a and Texas Rangers . It will be interesting to see how this team fares in a new environment and with the change of rules . Given the organization’s recent history and how they have fared within NL West , I am not so sure that we will see this team be as competitive or actually make any waves amongst their fledgling opponents within that division much less the rest of the AL , altogether . And to think that one of the main lures for owner Jim Crane was a financial inducement from the league hierarchy wherein , he netted a discount on the price paid when he bought the Astros for $765 million in 2011 .

The postseason in 2011 and we saw the St Louis Cardinals simply sweep aside all of their opponents over the course of their playoff sojourns without really breaking much of a sweat . David Freese won the World Series MVP and became a hometown hero in St Louis , Missouri . Albert Pujols’ departure though expected , did come as a shock to many , who felt that there might well have been a remote chance that he remained with the only professional franchise he’s known over the course of his career …….. until he joined the Los Angeles Angels and signed that unprecedented contract .

I’m not about to make any prognostication as to the upcoming season but it has become apparent that a number of teams will be starting behind the eight ball , given the fact that there seems to be a plethora of players on the DL . For the Philadelphia Phillies two of their most prominent and productive players will start off the team’s regular season seated on the sidelines. Chase Utley a and Ryan Howard will seek to rejoin the staff as quickly as their ailments allow them to return active duty. The team’s offense was always something of merit but their All Star pitching rotation might well be the one of the major highlights that will have the fans watching in admiration . Roy Halladay , Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are perhaps three of the most prominent and high profiled players at the position within the NL . And that trio will dictate and play a large part in how the Phillies fare this season and based on their performances during 2011 should give us an indication as to how good Charlie Manuel and his coaching staff believes this team will be .

For Charlie Manuel and Reuben Amaro Jr , this season , it will be now or never as to winning a World Series , given the financial outlay and last year’s failure during the playoffs . 2012 , and perhaps we may well see a parting of the ways between the manager , general manager and the organization . Citizens Bank Ballpark would no doubt love to stage another World Series involving the Phillies but that will be predicated upon which players step up to the plate and leads the team by example alongside the leadership of Charlie Manuel and his coaching staff .

Though it hasn’t taken an eternity it would appear that at long last the Los Angeles Dodgers have found themselves a new owner . Though a formal announcement has yet to be made by the league hierarchy but it would appear that the US Bankruptcy Courts in the state of Delaware under the auspices of financial advisory firm Blackstone Group have settled on a consortium led by billionaire venture capitalist Mark Walter and former NBA player Magic Johnson . The proposed bid is said to value the franchise at $2 billion ($2,0000,000,000) , making it the highest sale ever , for of a professional sports’ team in North America . The figure obviously over-inflated reflects also the market in which that the Dodgers resides , being the nation’s second largest ad-market but herein, lies this whole saga , the organization’s debt burden was in excess of $1.45 billion ($1,450,000,0000) , which clearly showed the negligence on the part of now former owner, Frank McCourt , and the front office executives . As to whether or not the likes of GM Ned Colletti and CFO Peter Wilhelm will be retained by the consortium remains to be seen. But I for one think it highly unlikely , with Walters , Johnson and their other partners quite possibly seeking to bring in their own people to deal with the day to day operations of the ball-club , with the managerial staff led by Don Mattingly remaining in tact !

Courtesy of the NY Daily News

Magic Johnson’s group to buy Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion, other clubs question sale

Former LA Lakers star leads group that will purchase storied baseball club

By Teri Thompson and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News

The long and contentious process of selling the Los Angeles Dodgers appeared to end Tuesday night when the iconic but troubled franchise announced that a group led by basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson would purchase the team from owner Frank McCourt for a staggering $2 billion.

By Wednesday morning, however, several clubs had raised significant questions about the sale of the team to Johnson and his partners in Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC, which includes controlling partner Mark R. Walter, Peter Guber, baseball executive Stan Kasten, Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly, including whether McCourt and the group subverted the auction process scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday in New York. Guggenheim beat out several of the wealthiest businessmen in the country, including New York are hedge fund manager Steven Cohen, who recently purchased a $20 million minority share of the New York Mets. Cohen, who runs SAC Capital Advisors LP, was considered the frontrunner to win the bid, followed by Stan Kroenke, who owns the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams and Arsenal of English soccer’s Premier League, and Guggenheim.

The agreement, announced by the Dodgers about five hours after Major League Baseball owners approved the three finalists for the auction, is subject to approval in federal bankruptcy court and is expected to close by the end of April pending questions about the process from bankruptcy judge Kevin Gross and any issues the owners may raise with him. April 30 is the date that McCourt must pay $131 million to his ex-wife Jamie in what became a bitter divorce settlement leading to the sale of the team. McCourt bought the Dodgers in 2004 for $421 million.

According to sources close to the situation, several owners have concerns about the structure of the Guggenheim offer and the fact that McCourt may have cut a television deal before the sale of the team was completed, a move that Major League Baseball had insisted not happen until after the transaction was completed.

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Magic Johnson and Mark Walters may well concede that with that sort of outlay they may well have to pare down salary in the coming years but at the same time assess the roster in its current guise , seeking the input of Mattingly and his staff. No formal announcement has been made by Bud Selig as to the tentative television deal that Frank McCourt had negotiated with a local Fox television affiliate that would net the ball-club some $3 billion ($3,000,000,000) over two decades , a gainful source of revenue for an organization that had been mismanaged egregiously , by McCourt and the senior executives within the Dodgers’ organization . All this happening under the less than watchful eye of Bud Selig and the league hierarchy who saw fit to do nothing until it was actually too late . It is no small wonder that within the last five years three Major League Baseball teams have sought bankruptcy protection after financial mismanagement by their respective owners during that time ? . The three in question , were the Dodgers , Texas Rangers (under former co-owners Tom Hicks & Ken Gillette ) and the Chicago Cubs under the ownership of billionaire real estate mogul Sam Zell . And there are idiots within this forum who would seek to paint not only Selig but the vast majority of owners within the game as being astute businessmen ? Somewhere , someone , has been drinking way too much of the Kool-Aid and a great deal more beyond that !

As to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ future this season , well this news may well give the organization the respite it needs for now . But as to how competitive they can be over the course of their schedule remains to be seen . Clearly, the likes of Matt Kemp , Andrew Ethier and Clayton Kershaw would like nothing better than to reproduce the form shown last season. Albeit , that they fell way short in terms of a spirited challenge within AL West . This season the new ownership consortium , coaching staff and Dodgers’ fans can surely only hope for better . Your thoughts ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this piece ? And as a fan of the game were you surprised by not so much by the sale of the Dodgers but the asking price in terms of the winning bid ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slide show for your perusal .

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(1) TOKYO, JAPAN – MARCH 28: Chone Figgins (9) of the Seattle Mariners bunts during in the top half of the third inning of a against the Oakland Athletics at Tokyo Dome on March 28, 2012 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images …

(2) TOKYO, JAPAN – MARCH 28 : Cliff Pennington (2) of the Oakland Athletics throws to first for the double play as Miguel Olivo (30) of the Seattle Mariners slides in to second during in the top half of the fifth inning at Tokyo Dome on March 28, 2012 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images ….

(3) Albert Pujols (5) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs to first base after hitting a single against the San Francisco Giants during the fourth inning of the spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 27, 2012 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …. ….

(4) LOS ANGELES, CA – FILE: Former Los Angeles Lakers basketball great Earvin “Magic” Johnson speaks during an event announcing naming rights for the new football stadium Farmers Field at Los Angeles Convention Center on February 1, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt announced an agreement March 27, 2012 to sell the Los Angeles Dodgers to a group that includes Johnson. The deal has to be approved in federal bankruptcy court. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images ……

(5) Left: Todd Boehly , president of Guggenheim Partners LLC . Center: Allan D Schwartz and right , Mark Walter , CEO. The trio in conjunction with Magic Johnson and former Braves and Nationals’ front office executive Stan Kasten are part of the consortium Guggenheim Baseball Partners LLC who are the new owners of the ball-club bought for a reputed $2 billion . Questions have arisen concerning the bidding process as well as the television deal negotiated by Frank McCourt prior to his taking the Dodgers into bankruptcy protection . The league hierarchy has yet to address these latest allegations posed by several prospective team owners . Mark Richardson / AP Photo …..

(6) Stan Kasten , a former front office executive with both the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals is part of the consortium that has successfully won their bid ($2,000,000,000) for the ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers . It is thought that Kasten will head the front office in dealing with the day-to- day operations for the new owners led by Mark Walter , Todd Boehly , Andrew D Schwartz and former NBA great Magic Johnson . AP Photo / Elise Amendola …

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Wale , feat’g ….. Rick Ross & Meek Mill ………. “Ambition ”

F_#k You And The Horse You Rode In On You Scumbag ….. !

F_#k You And The Horse You Rode In On You Scumbag ….. !

By tophatal …………………..

I don’t know but this whole NFL “Bounty Scandal” while taking on a life of its own if anything it has shown me what a sniveling wimp Roger Goodell just happens to be ! The penalties notwithstanding are still something of a joke , as monetarily $500,000 is a mere pittance for the New Orleans Saints to pay . It’s pretty much a sum that they can easily recoup merely from perhaps general admission ticket and concession sales from a preseason game . Granted, the suspensions handed down to Joe Vitt , Sean Payton , Micky Loomis and former Saints’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams , may or may not have gone far enough in a number of fans’ eyes . But I now find it incredulous to know that both Payton and Loomis have now been in consultation with team owner Tom Benson in his seeking out Bill Parcells to come in and succeed Payton as the interim head coach for the franchise , this upcoming season ! .

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Now unless I’m mistaken I was under the impression the suspension meant that neither Payton , Vitt or Loomis could be involved in any decision-making that concerns the Saints’ franchise . At the same time Sean Payton at his own insistence has yet to lodge an appeal of his suspension with the league hierarchy but somehow he’s still in consultation with Tom Benson as to whom the owner should hire . From the outset after the edict was made known upon Roger Goodell’s announcement of the fines and suspension , Benson had made the statement that the team’s offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr would be the de-facto head coach . So unless there has been a change of mind within the front office and specifically by the owner , I cannot see how the now disgraced coach could even have the temerity to be suggesting who should succeed him at this juncture ! What might be even more unbelievable from this whole damning episode , has been the very fact that both Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis ,lied to the Saints’ owner as to what they did or did not know as to this whole scandal , engineered by Gregg Williams and readily supported by the then head coach and general manager. To my mind , if Tom Benson had any damn integrity or honor , he would completely ignore the input from both individuals at this moment in time ! It speaks volumes as to his (Benson’s) now own ambiguity if he is even considering anything that either Loomis or Payton has to say as who should actually be New Orleans Saints’ interim coach !

I am now personally of the opinion that Benson , himself may well have something to hide but as to what it might be , remains to be seen . I still feel that , were it not for the events of Hurricane Katrina and its harrowing effect upon the city of New Orleans and its surrounding parishes . Then Tom Benson would have certainly sought to uproot and relocate the franchise altogether and I do believe that he would have been eagerly supported in this endeavor by Roger Goodell ! And it would appear that the commissioner might allow the now beleaguered coach to return to coaching pending his appeal . If the commissioner isn’t prepared to stand his ground even after the repeated lies by Sean Payton during this investigation , then what does it suggest about Goodell as the commissioner and the National Football League as an entity ? The commissioner has punished players over the course of his tenure for bringing the game into disrepute and “conduct “ said to be unbecoming “ . But he would now be prepared to allow the Saints’ coach to return to the NFL pending appeal ? And even then, would he be the one presiding as judge and jury in such a hearing or would an outside adjudicator be brought in to hear this case ? This has now become the hypocrisy of the NFL , whose commissioner just happens to be weak knee’d lilly-livered individual without a god-damn backbone !

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports & Associated Press

Goodell might let Payton coach during appeal

By Brett Martell , AP Sports Writer

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell might allow Sean Payton to coach the Saints while he appeals his season-long suspension for his role in the team’s bounties program.

“I said in a letter they have to appeal by April 2, I believe,” Goodell said Monday at the owners meetings in Palm Beach, Fla. “If he decides to appeal, I probably will allow him to continue and I would expedite the hearing and I would expedite my decision.

“We did meet twice and went through the information. If he has something else for me to consider, I will.”

Payton’s agent, Donald Yee, said “no decisions have been made about an appeal” by his client.

“Sean fully supports the league’s player safety goals,” Yee said. “Given this, he probably won’t address the entire league” when he arrives at the owners meetings.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said Payton was expected to speak later this week at the meetings. NFC coaches are scheduled to meet the media Wednesday morning. Payton has not addressed the media since the suspension, but has issued two written statements apologizing for the bounty system.

Goodell also is waiting for recommendations from the players’ union before punishing any players for participating in the three-year bounty system that targeted opponents for big hits. He has discussed the bounties with NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith.

Goodell added the league approached the Saints before their playoff game with the Lions in January and warned them to make sure the bounties had ceased. He sent Jeff Pash, the NFL’s lead counsel, and Jeffrey Miller, its director of security, to speak with owner Tom Benson.

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As to Roger Goodell’s own stance on the matter , if he thinks that this case is now closed merely because of the verdicts rendered then he’s a bigger fool than I have already taken him for ! For his part as stern as his message sent was meant to be does anyone really feel that at the end of the day this will be indeed the last chapter in this whole sordid affair ? I find the commissioner to be no different to the 535 bumbling assholes now seated within the House of Representatives and Senate who constantly bicker , waffle and whine amongst themselves ! However, in this case Roger Goodell simply waffles to the press , merely alluding to things that he simply thinks that the fans and journalists alike wish to here ! So much so , that the vast majority of the NFL writers and on air personalities who cover the league would rather drink and from the porcelain pot that the commissioner defecates and urinates in , than question at times many of his edicts as the game’s highest ranking executive ! And it should come as no surprise that broadcast outlets while make this story a tour-de-force and part of their 24 hour news cycle simply haven’t gone about reporting many of the salient details of this drama , choosing instead to “water down” in part much of what was said to be have been done by Sean Payton , Mickey Loomis and Gregg Williams . Is it any wonder why no one can take the likes of ABC/ESPN , Fox Sports , NBC Sports and CBS Sports as a reliable source of informative and responsible sports’ journalism ? That’s like entrusting the federal legislators within both chambers of Congress to actually come up with a legislative statute that makes any god-damn sense !

Now should Sean Payton seek to to appeal his suspension then he has to file his grievance and appeal to the league hierarchy no later than the 2nd April, 2012 . And I would dare say that should he seek to file that appeal then I would also expect Mickey Loomis and Joe Vitt to follow suit . It simply makes sense that all three would file , looking for a quick and expedited hearing as soon as possible . Payton’s attorney and agent , Donald Yee may well be seeking to expedite such a scenario in order to perhaps get his client back behind the reins in time for the upcoming NFL Draft . That in of-itself would still allow the coach to be part of the organization’s war-room for the upcoming event in April. The forfeiture of two draft picks in 2012 and 2013 overall, may not have that great a bearing on the Saints’ draft status . But I’d dare say that there may well be a number of NFL franchise owners and front office executives that will be none too happy with such a circumstance , wherein Sean Payton is allowed to return to the NFL under such a premise . The penalty may not fit the crime but what might be even more unpalatable have been his actions , egregious and deceitful lies that simply belies the fact that one would still think that he remains a man of integrity or much less has an ounce of decency ! One wonders if Drew Brees , who jumped to his coach’s support is now still of the same opinion ? And also , would indeed any of his teammates who’ve been at his side over the course of this past season be like-minded with their own opinion ? Your thoughts on the matter , just chime on in with a comment as you would deem fit . The premise from the Saints’ players are that they’re being maligned , victimized and that their reputations are now being trashed and tarnished . But clearly , Roger Goodell believes that there was a veracity behind the course of his actions in meting out this unprecedented punishment to the New Orleans Saints .

For the players of the New Orleans Saints who are said to be still under investigation as to their own actions . One now has to wonder whether or not they will seek counsel from the NFLPA (union) and their newly elected President Dominique Foxworth ? Certainly , DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA Executive Committee and the Players’ Representatives will have to weigh their options as to how best to represent their members in this all ? And there are bound to be supporters and opposition within the union to any form of punishment that might be rendered by the NFL league hierarchy against their members , who Roger Goodell may have felt were guilty in participating in the “said actions ” . God knows, with the union themselves being perhaps unwilling participants in what was said to be an ongoing 2 1/2 year investigation you have to now wonder how this all sits with the union itself . The NFLPA has longed tried to suggest that they have the safety of their members at heart but now you have players from within their own fraternity having been receipt of a large financial incentives , merely for looking to take out an opposing player. Great ! That’s all we now need , a bunch of overpaid psychologically imbalanced lunatics now looking to lay waste to each other ! And here was I thinking that the $1,000,000,000 ($1 billion) set aside to aid the old-time veterans who had been often overlooked as to their medical needs and benefits now have seen their own plight now placed on the back-burner as the union faces a barrage of calls as to its image and that of the NFL , itself .

I would find it an insult , if Roger Goodell were to offer a “stay ” of Sean Payton’s suspension while hearing a case that certainly has no merit !. Not when it has been proven that he colluded with members of his coaching staff to subvert the league’s own form of justice . More to the point he lied repeatedly to the league’s investigators as well as the commissioner but more inconceivable is the very fact that both he and Mickey Loomis lied to the franchise’s owner Tom Benson as to their actions. At this juncture it’s hard to envisage how the commissioner should he preside over the hearing , reversing his original edict . Furthermore, given the premise that Benson , Loomis and Payton have been in contact with Bill Parcells after the Payton’s initial approach . I am now beginning to wonder or not the Saints’ owner Tom Benson can now be truly taken at his word , . that he was unaware as to the actions of his head coach and general manager ! I mean was the commissioner able to look deep into Benson’s eyes and ” see his soul ” as former President George W . Bush was said to have done with Vladimir Putin , all this was a mere six month before the then Russian President launched a brazen attack on what was believed the Chechnyan rebels only to then kill hundreds of civilians , many of whom were young children and the elderly . Ah “Dubya” where would we be without him ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the possibility that Roger Goodell may well back-track and allow Sean Payton to return to the NFL , while an appeal is undertaken on the coach’s behalf ? Do you feel it justified in light of the preponderance of evidence and the veracity of the league’s case against Payton ? Do take time to leave a comment as you see fit and thanks once again for the continued support of the site as it is greatly appreciated !

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1)New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, left, is escorted as he leaves the NFL owners meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 27, 2012. Facing a season-long suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounties program, Payton planned to meet with Bill Parcells, his former boss, on Tuesday, a conversation that will include who will coach New Orleans this coming season. AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez ..

(2) FILE – In this March 11, 2011 file photo, Bill Parcells watches a spring training baseball game in Jupiter, Fla. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton says he will meet Tuesday, March 27, 2012, with Bill Parcells, and part of that discussion will include who will coach the Saints this coming season. Payton says he will decide in the next “two to three” days whether he will appeal the suspension that would keep him off the sideline this season because of his role in the Saints’ bounty system. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio …

(3) In these recent file photos, New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr , left, offensive line coach Aaron Kromer , center, and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo are shown. A person familiar with the situation says Spagnuolo, Carmichael, and Kormer are three strong candidates on the Saints staff to step in as interim coach. The Saints are trying to regroup from penalties handed down by the NFL for running a bounty program. The league suspended head coach Sean Payton for a year, general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six. AP Photo/ Kent Cunningham …….

(4) Sean Payton is seen here being hugged by Saints’ owner Tom Benson after a victory at the Superdome in New Orleans , Louisiana . Getty Images /Gitesh Rahman …

(5) DeMaurice Smith (L) executive director of the National Football League Players’ Association laughs at a comment made by Baltimore Ravens’ corner-back Domonique Foxworth (C) during a news conference July 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. The NFL players and owners are set to agree on a labor deal and end the current lockout. Rob Carr /Getty Images North America ….

(6) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who’s now said to be contemplating New Orleans Saints’ coach Sean Payton being allowed to return to coaching the team pending an appeal . As yet , the coach has not filed his appeal with the league hierarchy , for which the deadline is no later than the 2nd April , 2012 3 pm EST . AP Photo / Richard Carpenter …
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If you would like to read my original piece on the New Orleans Saints “Bounty Scandal” . Simply click unto the links provided herein . One Crime Doesn’t Necessarily Fit All ……. But Then Again It Might !

Hold Unto Them Horns The Heat Are In The House Hoping To Spoil The Running of The Bulls …….

Hold Unto Them Horns The Heat Are In The House Hoping To Spoil The Running of The Bulls …….

By tophatal ………..

The Chicago Bulls in their victory over the Toronto Raptors this past Saturday became the first team to qualify for the NBA postseason . With a mark of . 40-10 the Bulls have a four game lead over their closest rivals the Miami Heat within the Eastern Conference .

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That being said , I do believe that Tom Thibodeau and John Paxson would certainly like to tie up the divisional title (Central Division) and conference # 1 seed by season’s end ! And for their part this Bulls’ team has been playing at an exceptionally high level , with and without their All Star guard Derrick Rose . And while Rose has been sidelined with an injury , it has been John Lucas III stepping up to the plate and proving that you don’t have to be error prone like Jeremy Lin to be deemed a good point guard within in the NBA .

From my own perspective I believe the Bulls to be the most balanced team within the conference with their starting five being amongst the most efficient within the NBA . Now while everyone seems to be favoring the Miami Heat and maybe there is some justification to that . I simply look at one salient point and that is when power forward Chris Bosh fails play with his usual aplomb this Heat team fails to show up . At the same though much isn’t placed with regard to point differential in terms of margin of victory I do still place a great deal of substance in that particular statistic . At the same time this roster crafted by Pat Riley is nowhere as efficient as many believe them to be from a defensive standpoint . And while the fans , NBA analysts and purists alike laud the ” Big Three “ stars on the team , in LeBron James , Dwyane Wade and Bosh . It has to be said that many expected this Heat team to be running roughshod over their opponents not just within the Eastern Conference but also the NBA as whole .

Riley’s protege` Erik Spoelstra is under a great deal of pressure to succeed , especially in light of last season’s failure in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks where they were heavily favored against their Western Conference opponents . That series’ defeat led to many questions being asked not just about the Heat but also the entire organization with regard to their conceit and complacency . If the Miami Heat are to fare well then it will have to come from a concerted effort from every member on the roster , rather than simply seeing James , Wade and Bosh lead apparently by example .

I’ve always maintained that an NBA title isn’t won by being the best team during the playoffs but by being the toughest team physically and mentally . And that is something that I believe we are witnessing from the Chicago Bulls . It has been amazing to see the team play without Derrick Rose but having John Lucas , Carlos Boozer , Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson on a given night simply step up and prove that they too can lead when their team is facing some real adversity. Now while a great deal can be made that the fans will ultimately want to see style over substance , which I do believe is an appropriate way to describe the play of both Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat ! The Heat is prepared to give you style while Thibodeau’s players will give you the substance . As to how this will all play out in what many believe will be the perceived conference Finals’ match-up. It can only add to the element of excitement expected over the course and anticipation expected during the upcoming playoffs.

In the Western Conference it would appear that the smooth running Oklahoma City Thunder is the engine that could and still is running like a precision and finely in and tuned machine . Of the teams now vying for the top berth within the conference , it is Kevin Durant and his teammates who stand head and shoulders above everyone else . Specifically, with both the San Antonio Spurs and a now resurgent …. Los Angeles Lakers , the conference no longer seems to be a one horse race .

Durant, Serge Ibaka , James Harden and Russell Westbrook are now looking acquit themselves after the last season’s mala-prop in the playoffs . Once again a young team making waves with a very good coach at the helm in Scott Brooks .

As an ardent fan of the San Antonio Spurs and the always meticulous Gregg Popovich in conjunction with GM R C Buford have reconstructed a new team built around their celebrated triumvirate of Tony Parker , Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli . This season however the Spurs have seen the rise of young players Kawhi Leonard , DeJuan Blair and Gary Neal all contributing to the team’s cause which has seen them rise to the # 2 seed within the conference as the season winds down into the final month of the regular season schedule .

As to what we should look to expect as the schedule winds itself down should be as expected . Those teams still in with a chance of a playoff berth will fight tooth and nail to the very last drop in terms of a divisional race which is tight or for that eighth and final spot in the conference standings . This much do already know the Charlotte Bobcats will have the undoubted privilege of being amongst the teams in question participating in the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery . Unfortunately , for team executive and owner , . Michael Jordan and the rest of the front office this may well be the one season in the organization’s history they would rather forget altogether . This Bobcats’ team has set a historic number team and NBA lows that simply denotes the fact as to how poor their season has been . I certainly don’t believe that it is something that the players craved or that David Stern envisioned in seeing from the NBA’s most noted ambassador . Jordan may well have been a tremendous success on an NBA court but off it as a front office executive , he has left a great deal to be desired , as his contributions during that time have been well chronicled and ridiculed more often than not .

Kemba Walker may well have made a big splash in college basketball having won an NCAA title with Connecticut in 2011 but his NBA career thus far has been littered with an array of moderate displays on a totally inept and what some might describe as a totally dysfunctional team .

Once the regular season reaches its culmination I would dare say that head coach Paul Silas will meet with Michael Jordan to discuss his immediate future . As I cannot envisage this much and well-respected coach remaining with an organization where the players simply are not listening or appear to be willing to learn. At the same time one has to what indeed was behind the thought process of Jordan and his fellow executives before the Bobcats embarked upon their now disastrous season . This team will be extremely lucky if they hit the double-digit total in terms of their collective total in wins for the 2011-12 season . Such has been the mediocrity on display from the Charlotte Bobcats that I seriously doubt anyone would have expected this from an NBA franchise at all ! I certainly didn’t and I am one of those fans who will at times question the work ethic of not only the teams but also their players ! I simply look at the Bobcats and I see a franchise that is besieged with a number of issues that they have simply failed to address and until that is done we are liable to see more of the same over the ensuing seasons . Your thoughts ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

With the NBA Playoffs due to begin on the 28th April what are you most looking forward to from the teams that you expect to see in the NBA postseason showcase ? And what have been your overall impressions of the curtailed season within the league ? Do you believe that it has met most expectations or are you somewhat disappointed with it overall ? Chime in with a comment as you see fit .

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(1) Luol Deng (9) of the Chicago Bulls puts up a shot between Amir Johnson (15) (L) > and Andrea Bargnani(7) of the Toronto Raptors at the United Center on March 24, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Raptors 102-101 in overtime. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …

(2) Carlos Boozer (5) of the Chicago Bulls tries to get off a shot as Amir Johnson #15 of the Toronto Raptors hip-checks him at the United Center on March 24, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Raptors 102-101 in overtime. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ….

(3) John Lucas III (15) of the Chicago Bulls puts up a shot over Jose Calderon (8) of the Toronto Raptors at the United Center , Chicago , Illinois . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ….

(4) Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (35) and Russell Westbrook (0) celebrate after scoring against the Miami Heat in the third quarter a NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March 25, 2012. Oklahoma City won 103-87 . And the Thunder lowered “the boom” on the Heat’s ass . AP Photo/Alonzo Adams ….

(5) Kendrick Perkins (5) of the Oklahoma City Thunder dunks the ball during the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat on March 25, 2012 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images ……..

(6) Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant defends as Miami Heat forward LeBron James, right, drives to the basket during the second quarter of a NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March 25, 2012. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams

(7) San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich , center, argues a call as Manu Ginobili , left, of Argentina, listens during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Sunday, March 25, 2012, in San Antonio. The Spurs won 93-76 . AP Photo/Eric Gay ….

(8) San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker (9), of France, shoots as Philadelphia 76ers’ Elton Brand, center, and Evan Turner defend during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 25, 2012, in San Antonio. AP Photo/Eric Gay …..

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Hot Latina model Vida Guerra .

This Isn’t Your Mother’s Idea of Fun …… That’s Why It’s Baseball ……….

This Isn’t Your Mother’s Idea of Fun …… That’s Why It’s Baseball ……….

By tophatal …….

It’s never too early to talk baseball especially as the Spring Training schedule winds down and with it being a precursor to Opening Day on the 4th April 2012 . That being said , unofficially MLB does kick off its regular season with a game between Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners at the Tokyo Dome , Tokyo Japan on the 28th March , 2012.

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A number of publications I’ve read leading up to the start of the season seem to be making their own prognostications as to their final season standings and the teams they believe to be in the playoff hunt and for the World Series , itself . Sports Ilustrated and Baseball Today , both well-respected publications are there no doubt simply to inform while at the same time create an avenue for debate and conjecture amongst the fans . If nothing else it beats listening to the inane rants of Joe Buck , Joe Morgan and former ESPN analyst , now manager of the Boston Red Sox , Bobby Valentine . I’ve no doubt that each means well by way of their observations but let’s get real , does anyone really take them seriously ?

Valentine assumes his role as the manager of the Red Sox in th aftermath of last season’s debacle , with the team missing the postseason and there being talk of a lack commitment on the part of the players. No leadership , no accountability and the front office then led by Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino seeking to apportion blame squarely upon the shoulders of the organization’s former manager . Less we forget Terry Francona brought this organization two World Series titles in the space of 5 years ( 2004 & 2007 ) where before they actually went without the sniff of the series for over a century .

This season Valentine leads somewhat of a reconstructed team looking to make up for last season’s mind numbing failures in the final month of 2011. The Red Sox went 7-21 before imploding and missing the playoffs . The pitching as well as the team offense was an eyesore for those who witnessed the calamity and debacle first-hand . This season for the fans in attendance at Fenway Park they can only hope for something better , well at least from my perspective that’s what I think that they hope to witness !

Now the talk this season specifically within the NL may well be how good the San Francisco Giants will be . It’s my firm belief that alongside the Miami Marlins , Philadelphia Phillies this Giants’ team may well have one of the best starting rotations within the league . Brian Sabean , Bruce Bochy and the coaching staff knows that this team merely has to play solid baseball to perhaps have the AL West all to themselves . If there is to be a credible challenge coming from anyone within the division it might prove to be from the Arizona Diamondbacks or quite possibly the Los Angeles Dodgers . But given the uncertainty that faces the Dodgers and the very fact that a formal n announcement has yet to made as to who will take control of the team as its new owner . That sort of scenario I don’t believe plays out well for a team , the coaching staff , much less the fans of the organization ! At the same time I certainly don’t believe that Ned Colletti , Peter Wilhelm or anyone else within the front office of the Dodgers now has any damn credibility whatsoever . Not in light of these executives simply allowing Frank McCourt and his ex-wife , Jamie McCourt run amok while plundering the coffers of the organization . So much for the accountability of the owners within baseball as such , being held to a higher standard ! The actions of McCourt and those of Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz do leave a lot to be desired but then again simply look at the idiots upon whom the game has been entrusted to as custodians ? The day the game sees fit to rid themselves of Bud Selig , the better off they will be !

With the return of catcher Buster Posey the Giants gets instant offense as well as one of the best defensive catchers in the game. And Posey alongside teammates …. Pablo Sandoval , Aubrey Huff and Melky Cabrera should prove to be all that Bochy desires from the team over the course of the season . At the same time the two-time NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum , Matt Cain , Madison Baumgartner , Ryan Vogelsong and Brian Wilson will make sure that the San Francisco Giants remain relevant throughout this season .

The Diamondbacks as good as they were last season the one thing reason why I believed they came up short was simply through inexperience . That being said with a manager like Kirk Gibson , whose tenacity knows no bounds and he is liable to have this team fighting all the way to the very end . If the pitching staff led by Ian Kennedy can produce anywhere near the sort of form shown last season then they will give their opponents a great deal more than they can actually handle in 2012 .

From an offensive standpoint Justin Upton has to be viewed the consummate leader of this team . Besides from his all-round ability as a player he brings with the type of maturity not often seen in a player this young . Both Upton and teammate Chris Young are the focus of the team’s offense and they will be relied up to lead Diamondbacks with their prowess if the Diamondbacks are to have a genuine chance of making the postseason .

With the wildcard format expanded for this year with an additional team from each league being part of the playoffs it will be interesting to see whether or not the ball-clubs who missed out on that opportunity from 2011 will be able to acquit themselves even better in 2012. Certainly seeing the likes of the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox fail so miserably in their endeavors it’s hard to see how they could do any worse this season . But then again who really knows at this juncture ?

While Barry Zito still remains part of the Giants’ pitching roster with his outlandish salary providing no respite for the organization . I have to ask myself and those of you out there what the hell was Brian Sabean thinking to begin with ? I can only surmise that Zito’s agent Scott Boras had some compromising pictures of the Giants’ general manager perhaps doing something inappropriate with a farm-yard animal . Because that has to be only explanation possible to make such an outlay for a player who failed to live up to that exorbitant contract ! Seven years $126 million and as of yet Zito has offered absolutely nothing at all to the organization . And as crazy as this might seem this isn’t the only Boras’ client who just happens to have been overpaid because of an idiotic general manager and owner simply being duped by an agent . And there are fans within this forum who are of the opinion that these owners and general managers are some of the most astute individuals within the game with the business acumen to match . In what frigging universe is that still proving to be true ? Your thoughts ?

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What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? And are your expectations for the upcoming season ones which will far exceed those of 2011 ? By all means simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on this and anything you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .

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(1) Colorado Rockies’ Jordan Pacheco (22) slides safely into home plate past the tag-attempt by San Francisco Giants catcher Hector Sanchez , left, on a ground ball by Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki . during the third inning of a spring training baseball game on Saturday, March 24, 2012, in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez ….

(2) San Francisco Giants first baseman Buster Posey makes a play on a ground ball by Colorado Rockies’ Eric Young Jr. during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game Saturday, March 24, 2012 in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez …

(3) San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws to the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a spring training baseball game , Friday, March 23, 2012 in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez … ……

(4) SURPRISE, AZ – MARCH 12: Starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the spring training game at Surprise Stadium on March 12, 2012 in Surprise, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images … ….

(5) SCOTTSDALE, AZ – MARCH 01: Pitcher Barry Zito (75) of the San Francisco Giants poses during spring training photo day on March 1, 2012 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

(6) San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey celebrates his solo home run with teammate Aubrey Huff, center, during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday, March 14, 2012, in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez …..
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Don’t Look Now ….. But Something Rotten Smells ………. And It’s Not In Denmark

Don’t Look Now ….. But Something Rotten Smells ………. And It’s Not In Denmark

By tophatal ………

So surprisingly enough this Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament is making a few heads turn and for myself as an ardent Duke (Blue Devils’) fan , having seen Mike Krzyzewski’s players all but fold their tents in an embarrassing loss . I was under the presumption that the three Florida programs left in the tournament would provide me some hope . Well unfortunately , that would not be the case as South Florida , FSU (Seminoles) and finally the Florida Gators have all bowed out . In the latter , it Billy Donovan’s ….. team having led Rick Pitino’s …. Louisville Cardinals for large stretches of the game only to succumb Peyton Siva and his teammates through the Gators showing a complete lack of defensive presence when it was needed the most .

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All the more surprising may well have been Ohio State’s (Buckeyes) somewhat easy defeat over the number one ranked Syracuse (Orangemen) coached by Jim Boeheim . Suffice to say , as those top seeds are being weeded out and this tournament now becomes even more wide open . And for those who still feel that John Calipari and his Kentucky (Wildcats) team have had an easy go of things during this tournament . Well , that is now about to change as they meet their in-state rivals Louisville in the Elite 8 , with the state’s bragging rights up for grabs. And at this juncture I am not so sure that you can simply state that this game is definitely the Wildcats already gift-wrapped .

What I have seen from the games that I have viewed is that nothing can be taken for granted , no matter how clear things might just appear to be . The only people who have some semblance of relief , are those still with their brackets in tact and the odds-makers in Vegas who laid the odds that simply induced the bettors to place their wagers . And right about now I would think that the odds-makes are doing well for themselves !

It is now going to be interesting to see how things play themselves out in the next series of games as precursor for the events of the Elite 8 . Say nothing of which, if anymore of those top ranked seeds do go down , where will that leave us now ?

In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh Steelers disappointing season , it would appear that there was something of an upheaval within the organization . Team offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was let go and brought in was former Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach Todd Haley . This apparently didn’t sit well with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and he chose to let his thoughts be known to Mike Tomlin and the front office , likewise . That being said perhaps the most surprising move may well have been that of the organization to cut wide receiver Hines Ward , after his fourteen years of service to the Steelers . Now whether or not this had something to do with what they believed was a lack of productivity or basically a cost-cutting exercise on the part of the Pittsburgh Steelers in order to elicit cap space . The ramification is now there for all to see , an aging roster and the fact that it would appear that there was some internal friction within the Steelers’ locker room . This being a very proud and often cautiously ran organization that doesn’t court controversy and tolerate the players who tend to make fools of themselves are often discarded , rather than being retained long-term . Think Plaxico Burress , Santonio Holmes and Joey Porter and with their tendencies ____ who tend to ” say and do “u> the wrong things and you can now understand where I am coming from on this !

In the case of Ward it was never about that , as he was of a leader and a player of with skills , who if anything now had become superfluous to the team’s needs . Now out of this comes the very fact second year starter Mike Wallace who has now become one Roethlisberger’s primary receiving v targets and a constant threat on offense now sees himself as an ” elite “ elite wide receiver in the league . So much so , that with his contract pending the player seeks to be paid along the lines of the league’s best at the position . Pardon me for saying this , but as good as Wallace just happens to be , there’s no way in hell that he’s going to be getting $120 million (as part of an eight or 10 year contract) or anywhere close to that figure under my watch , if I am the general manager of the Steelers ! He is certainly not Larry Fitzgerald or for that matter Calvin “Megatron” Johnson by any stretch of the imagination ! Wallace through his agent has demanded that as a starting off point in their deliberations . Did I miss something here as to how good the wide-out believes himself to be . And as good a deep threat or close quarters’ receiver as he might happen to be at this juncture it is asking way to much of this organization to simply “place their eggs ” in one basket . Especially not when the issues of the Pittsburgh Steelers were abundantly clear for all to see this past season . Their defense became complacent , the offense way too inconsistent and Roethlisberger over the course of the season was inconsistent even by his lofty standards , which he freely admits to in the team’s final regular season close-out interviews with the press.

With Hines Ward having formally announced his retirement from the NFL , it remains to see where his career now takes him . Will it be in the booth as an air analyst with one of the major broadcast outlets or will it be in some other capacity ? Certainly , given his upbringing as biracial child , often on the receiving end of racial epithets merely because his mother was Asian and his father an African-American military serviceman . Ward’s own childhood experiences as a child growing up in the US left a great deal to be desired . It may well have been because of those experiences , it simply made him the gritty and determined player he became . If judged against other great luminaries within Steelers’ history such as John Stallworth , Lynn Swann and Franco Harris , chances are , he will be looked upon favorably when it comes to being possibly being enshrined in Canton , Ohio as a member of the Hall of Fame. His (Ward’s) figures in some cases surpass those of the aforementioned trio . And though the game has changed dramatically over the years . The inescapable of fact is that Wards joins a select group of players with over 1,000 career receptions , in excess of 10,000 career receiving yards and over 80 touchdown receptions . If those figures are not Hall of Fame worthy , besides the fact that he’s two-time Superbowl winner and a Superbowl MVP . Then can someone please explain to me what is ? Not that I give a great deal of credence half the time to NFL writers who adjudicate the nominees for the Hall of Fame to begin with ! For them . it all comes to down to favoritism , rather than subjectivity and the body of work of the players in question .

Now it’d be remiss to simply discount the Pittsburgh Steelers as an organization within the NFL . One only has to look over the course of the franchise’s history to see the success attained , their drafting of players and the Hall of Famers associated the Steelers . They are an abiding success story within the league and the franchise against which all others (NFL) should be judged . Now claims might be made by the fans of the New York Giants and New England Patriots and their success over the past decade plus, that they should also be considered elite and well ran franchises . But herein lies my thoughts as it relates to the Steelers , there's little turnover by way of the coaching staff and their front office executives tend not to make the mistakes often seen by so many franchises when it comes to the NFL Draft by way of their choices .

Needs or otherwise, the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t let the demands to Wallace or any other player on their roster for that fact trouble them in the slightest . They’ve been frugal , spending their money wisely by simply not overpaying for the talent within their midst . Whereas the likes of the Dallas Cowboys , Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins tend to back up a Brinks’ armored truck merely to make a player happy , even when that player just happens to be moderately average at best . Granted, the Raiders’ front office staff led by GM Reggie McKenzie and team owner Mark Davis now seem to cutting the fat from the Raiders’ roster like a surgeon who suffers from epileptic fits ! But let’s just say , that when the Raiders’ fans have questioned the fact that they (front office) fired a very good head coach in Hue Jackson , merely to that they could off with a fresh slate , then you have to wonder whether or not the late patriarch’s son has become as senile as Al Davis appeared to be in the latter days of his life as the owner of this organization !

Inasmuch as I like the Raiders as an organization , I feel that the front office has failed to recognize that times have changed and so too has the game . ! More to the point , the struggles with the franchise has always remained consistent and one can’t help but wonder what now happens with the addition of Peyton Manning into the mix , in his having joined the Denver Broncos ? If anything within the AFC West it now becomes about who wants to play ” second fiddle “ to the Broncos amongst the San Diego Chargers , Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs ? And all the more bewildering is the very fact that Norv Turner retained his coaching position with the Chargers after their half-assed season and the continued disappointment of that team . Sooner or later , Philip Rivers will have to realize that the money he is being paid simply isn’t worth it to remain in that hell-hole with a bumbling coach and an asshole in AJ Smith , who’s simply bereft of ideas when it now comes to determining talent ! Low and behold Chargers’ fans will now have endure another season of inadequacy and mediocrity from this organization and the team !

The Spanos family obviously are not overly concerned as they seek to possibly leave Qualcomm Stadium like thieves in the night ! Be it real estate billionaire Ed Roski coming to their rescue or that rather odious ingrate , the city of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa . You can be sure that the NFL hierarchy led by Roger Goodell will be firmly in the corner of Chargers’ ownership group . After-all at the end of the day , if it means that the taxpayers’ monies are being spent to facilitate the needs of a view greedy but immeasurably wealthy individuals I don’t believe that the commissioner or anyone else within the NFL simply gives a shit ! And given that Villaraigosa simply panders to whomever is willing to fund his political campaigns and excesses as a less than successful politician , I don’t feel that there’s much more that needs to be said ! I mean the mayor’s successes thus far , have been diminished by grand failures in more ways than one ! But apathy is all the more apparent amongst the city of Angels because the residents there simply don’t know any better or that bright to begin with !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In the aftermath of the recent results at the NCAA Tournament what if anything has been the biggest surprise to you in terms of the play ? And do you feel upon meeting the criteria for eligibility Hines Ward is worthy being inducted into the Hall of Fame ? Simply leave a comment on the points raised and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter . Thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Florida forward Casey Prather reacts after getting fouled during the second half of an NCAA tournament West Regional final college basketball game against Louisville on Saturday, March 24, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Chris Carlson …

(2) Louisville coach Rick Pitino hugs his wife, Joanne Minardi , after their win against Florida in a NCAA tournament West Regional final college basketball game, Saturday, March 24, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Chris Carlson ….

(3) Russ Smith (2) of the Louisville Cardinals passes the ball around Patric Young (4) of the Florida Gators in the second half during the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball West Regional Final at US Airways Center on March 24, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(4) Former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward wipes his eye while announcing his retirement from the NFL at the Steeler’s offices in Pittsburgh Tuesday, March 20, 2012. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar …

(5) Retired Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward, left, embraces coach Mike Tomlin after Ward announced his retirement from the NFL at the Steeler’s offices in Pittsburgh Tuesday, March 20, 2012. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar …

(6) Wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the football on a 95 touchdown reception against the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Steelers defeated the Cardinals 32-20 . Getty Images / Christian Petersen …

(7) Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers, a finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award , addresses the media during a news conference on February 3, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images … ….

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Damn I Knew He Was Good …. But Really !

Damn I Knew He Was Good …. But Really !

By tophatal

Don’t look now but a week from Tuesday the MLB regular season begins with a slew of games . And with the inaugural season expansion of the wildcard playoff format to be initiated this year , I would surmise that Bud Selig and his subordinates are entirely happy with this all . I’m not about to suggest that the Spring Training Standings should be viewed as a precursor to what to expect but things at this juncture doesn’t appear to be looking that great for the New York Mets , Texas Rangers , Washington Nationals and Tampa Bay Rays within their respective leagues .

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Now granted , both the Rangers and Rays made the postseason and their travails are well chronicled . Ron Washington’s Texas Rangers made the postseason finale , only to fall to Albert Pujols and the St Louis Cardinals , with the Cardinals winning their second title in 5 years .

In the advent of that triumph , Pujols departed from the team as a free agent to join the Los Angeles Angels in a multi-year , multimillion dollar contract that effectively sets the player up for life . At the same time Angels’ owner Arte Moreno can only hope that the All Star first baseman is as productive in his first eleven years , as he contends that he will over the tenure of this new deal.

Not to be outdone Prince Fielder and his considerable ability landed in Detroit , with the Detroit Tigers , much to the delight of their fans and specifically the front office headed by Dave Dombrowski . Team owner Michael Ilitch knows that with the addition of Fielder to an already productive team led by Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander the Tigers may well be viewed as one of the prohibitive favorites for the AL pennant . Prince Fielder’s contract was enough to suggest that Dombrowski’s faith in the player could well be rewarded if one judges the statistics produced as Milwaukee Brewers’ player. Nine years $214,500,000 and there were those who questioned the Tigers’ generosity in making the Fielder one of the highest paid players and first basemen in the game. And amongst the Detroit Tigers’ players the incoming free agent joins Verlander as one of the highest paid players on the Tigers’ roster .

With so many teams chasing after that proverbial pot of gold in terms of postseason glory it should come as no surprise that the contracts negotiated this off-season have topped in excess of $1.55 billion ($1,550,000,000) . That being said , I certainly would like to know with owners pleading poverty in some cases how it is that Bud Selig simply views the current status of the game as being a healthy one , .when so many of the small market teams around the league cannot solely rely upon the pittance received by way of the tax sharing revenue scheme .

The New York Mets remain a financial mess albeit that they came to an out of court settlement with the plaintiffs’ attorney Irving H Picard of Baker Hostettler LLC , with the attorney negotiating a $165 million payout instead of $1.15 billion ($1,150,000,000) sought in their original claim , as monies received by the ball-club by way of the ” Madoff Ponzi scheme” . Sandy Alderson and JP Riccardi will certainly be looking to pare down salary while seeking to make this team competitive but in all honesty I have my doubt about the team’s pitching and offensive capability this upcoming season ! And with there being every indication that the front office may well seek to ” shop” the talents of David Wright at some point during the season , does anyone truly believe that the Mets this year are in it for the long haul ? Not I , said the fly !

As it is, even with the Mets having decided to let Jose Reyes go even in the aftermath of the stupid bickering and back and forth as to claims being made both by the and Alderson as to loyalties . In truth the New York Mets’ finances did not put the organization in a situation where they could have offered the player a deal commensurate with he desired or anywhere near the apparent “going rate” for a <a href=”http://spotrac.com/top-salaries/mlb/short-stop/average/”&gt; short-stop in the game . Reyes’ deal thought to be overly generous as negotiated with the Miami Marlins (Florida Marlins) may well seem somewhat presumptuous and inflated , when one takes into account the monies spent by the organization this off-season . But it would appear that after the years of pleading poverty , owner Jeffrey Loria , <a href=”http://mlb.mlb.com/team/front_office.jsp?c_id=mia”&gt; Larry Beinfest , COO David Sansom and GM Michael Hill may well have felt that they have something to prove . The now boiling controversy that appears to implicate the Miami City Council , its mayor Tomas Regalado and the municipality’s dealing with front office executives of the Marlins as to the financing deal put in place for the team’s new stadium continues unabated. So much so , that it has piqued the interest of the US Justice Dept who have subpoenaed the records from the city as well as the Marlins seeking answers as to whether or not there may well have been anything untoward done by either side .

On the outside for now , observing this all , just happens to be Bud Selig , who did all that was asked of him by Loria in seeking to cajole and coerce the members of the city council and senior members of the Miami Dade government . Testimony from the parties involved has yet to be completed and a grand jury investigative panel by the government doesn’t yet appear to be on the agenda where the facts can be made public . No one said to be at the center of the Justice Department’s gaze wants their reputation sullied and tarnished . But guess what ? It’s already too late ………… the city itself has always been looked upon as being corrupt and let’s just say that the Marlins as an organization during the tenure of Jeffrey Loria has often been seen as one of the most despised within the game . As for the commissioner and the league hierarchy , is there anyone who truly believes that his salary ($20 million a year [having recently been given a contract extension of four more years]) is justified or that his tenure has been an overwhelming success ? State the reasons why , if you happen to be in support of the commissioner ? And if not , then merely express you thoughts also upon his leadership over the past decade plus .

Wasn’t there a time when the Cleveland Indians were considered a perennial contender within the AL Central ? It’s not so understand why this organization simply went belly up , when one consider the numerous mistakes made by the front office in recent years by way of the draft and through their free agent acquisitions . Never mind the fact the team remains uncompetitive with manager Manny Acta and his coaching staff simply looking to make something of the season , if nothing else .

Considered to be the team’s best pitcher Ubaldo Jiminez spearheads their roster which also has Justin Masterson , Derek Lowe , Kevin Slowey and Josh Tomlin but overall one views this starting rotation as one that will have exceed the expectations of last year .

And while the Indians’ fans can take heart with what they may well witness from this team this season . One of the delights may well be in witnessing one of the finest defensive players in the game today in shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera . Make no bones about it , Cabrera has to be considered if not the best player at the position in the game , he has to be ranked up there amongst his peers. Cabrera may not yet be rewarded financially like many of the premiere shortstops within baseball but in due course I have no doubt that the agents , general managers and team owners already know his true worth to the Indians as a player !

Manny Acta’s team may well struggle to contend with the other teams within the AL Central as well as the rest of the AL and no doubt against their intra-league opponents during the course of their 2011 schedule . Though I would expect Cabrera, Carlos Santana , Travis Hafner , Shin-Soo Choo and Michael Brantley to provide much of the offense throughout the course of this season . Can the Cleveland pull off a a major surprise and perhaps claim a possible wildcard berth within the AL this season ? By any stretch of the imagination based on their performances of last year , it may well be that the Cleveland Indians could shock a number of people . But much of that would be predicated upon the mindset of the players on the team . As of now I seriously doubt that they can raise the spectacle of being anywhere good enough to challenge the mainstays within the AL much less those within their own division .

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What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this piece ? Also do you believe that this season can actually live up to many of the highlights seen last season , specifically during that final month and the postseason itself ? Simply chime in with a comment as to your thoughts on this and anything else that you believe to be pertinent with regard to the subject matter .

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(1)SARASOTA, FL – MARCH 24: Shortstop J.J. Hardy (2) of the Baltimore Orioles fields a ground ball during batting practice just prior to the start of the Grapefruit League Spring Training Game against the Washington Nationals at Ed Smith Stadium on March 24, 2012 in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ..

(2) Manager Davey Johnson of the Washington Nationals talks with the media prior to the start of the Grapefruit League Spring Training Game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium on March 24, 2012 in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

(3) Detroit Tigers’ Prince Fielder hits an RBI single against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning of a spring training baseball game in Lakeland, Fla., Tuesday, March 20, 2012. AP Photo/Paul Sancya ..

(4) Cleveland Indians’ Shin-Soo Choo follows through on a base hit against the San Diego Padres in the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 22, 2012, in Peoria, Ariz. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi ….

(5) GOODYEAR, AZ – FEBRUARY 28: Asdrubal Cabrera (13) of the Cleveland Indians poses for a portrait during a photo day at Goodyear Ballpark on February 28, 2012 in Goodyear, Arizona. Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images … ……

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It’s The Silly Season And The Whole Sports’ World Is Now Watching , Waiting and Listening ……..

It’s The Silly Season And The Whole Sports’ World Is Now Watching , Waiting and Listening ……..

By tophatal ………

So what happens now with the move of Tim Tebow as the backup to Mark Sanchez ? The New York Jets swooped in as the Denver Broncos sought to jettison the player who’d been their starter for less than eighteen months . That being said midway through the 2011 season when the player was brought in by John Fox to lead the team on their improbable run into the playoffs .

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Now you’d be hard pressed to think that Tebow wouldn’t be welcomed by his new teammates but that just happened to be the case when Antonio Cromartie rather vocally stated that the quarterback wasn’t needed by the organization and their needs were elsewhere . Cormartie , may well be right on the money with his assessment but there was a reason why Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan agreed to bring in Tim Tebow . If anything , it should be viewed as an incentive for the team’s starting quarterback Mark Sanchez to raise the level of his play after a rather lackluster season in 2011. Sanchez’ QB rating and completion percentage were amongst the lowest in the AFC and NFL as a whole . Other than several first year rookie and his new teammate the former ……. USC starter was amongst the least efficient quarterbacks in the league .

Undoubtedly the pressure is on Sanchez to succeed as one the league’s highest paid quarterbacks , a number of fans will question Tannenbaum’s opinion that it was right to offer the player a three-year contract extension . But Sanchez isn’t solely to blame for the Jets’ under-achievement last season . In large part , it came down to a lack of leadership from the seasoned veterans on this roster , as well as the complacency of Rex Ryan and his coaching staff . It was that lack of leadership , no accountability and the ever-present verbose demeanor of the head coach that pretty much summed up the New York Jets and their mediocre season .

Can you imagine what might happen this upcoming season if Mark Sanchez should have a string of poor performances for the Jets ? The fans will no doubt be clamoring for Tebow to start with the hope of the player pulling off some of the regular and postseason heroics of 2011. Then what for Mark Sanchez ? Another USC Trojans’ quarterback deemed a bust in the NFL over the past decade ? Count them ? Matt Leinart , Matt Cassel , Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart . Need need one say anymore on the matter ?

With a now a mere two weeks before Opening Day for the regular season of baseball . I am not so sure as manager of any of the teams within the game I would be extremely happy at this juncture ! The craziness of this all just happens to be the number of players now said to be on the DL . A number of these high profiled stars are considered to prime starters on their respective rosters on Opening Day . The Philadelphia Phillies are sure to be without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley for their season opener . Both players were a major part of the team’s offense last season and with the loss of Raul Ibanez to free agency with the player being acquired by the New York Yankees .

It’s a pretty safe bet to say that of all the teams in the National League the Phillies are under the most pressure to succeed . With so much at stake manager Charlie Manuel , his coaching assistants and in particular GM Reuben Amaro Jr have to win this season. And nothing short of the World Series will be of no satisfaction to front office and David Montgomery as the senior managing partner of the ownership group.

Now we all know the proficiency of the pitching rotation of the Philadelphia Phillies led by Roy Halladay , Cliff Lee , Cole Hamels and the team’s newly closer …. Johnathan Papelbon . And for the former Boston Red Sox closer has a great deal prove after the team’s meltdown in the final month of the 2011 season .

I’ve always maintained the moment you hear of a front office executive stepping down from a senior position there either has to be some sort of impasse between the executives or the individual simply is choosing to pursue other opportunities elsewhere . Jeff Moorad the senior managing partner in the San Diego Padres’ ownership group is said to be stepping down in that role while still retaining a 49% stake in the ball-club . Moorad is still at the forefront of a television deal with the local Fox tv affiliate that will net the organization $75 million this season but be raised incrementally which will see the Padres receive $1 billion over the next two decades in total , as part of this prearranged deal . It is becoming apparently clear that teams within MLB (baseball) can no longer rely upon the business template in presided over by the league hierarchy . Especially in light of the incomprehensible business dealings of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets .

The Dodgers still seek a new owner as the league and the Blackstone Group sift through the listed applicants , seeking to bid for the beleaguered franchise . Blackstone is working in conjunction with the league and US Federal Bankruptcy Courts in Delaware in order have the baseball franchise back in a healthy financial state . Much of that will be predicated upon the prospective bidders and their financial status . At present the process has left us with six consortium groups seeking to own the Los Angeles Dodgers . We have yet to be made aware as to what the sale price will be . But the rather asinine and outrageous claim by Frank McCourt that the organization is worth upwards of $1.3 billion ($1,300,000,000) clearly shows the sort of reckless owner that McCourt had become ! Not content with taking the ball-club into Chapter 11 , having plundered the coffers of the organization , while senior executives mindlessly stood by Frank McCourt was as reckless and as premeditated in his actions , as a homicidal maniac ! As to what this would suggest about GM Ned Colletti , CFO Peter Wilhelm and Tommy LaSorda , well I will let you all be the judge of that !

The New York Mets for their part dodged a bullet when they reached and a settlement agreement of $ 165 million with the plaintiffs in a civil suit filed in US Federal Court , that sought to recoup $ 1 billion ($1,000,000,000) in monies said to have been received by that organization in light of the “Madoff Ponzi Scheme ” scandal . As defendants in the case along with the team’s co-owners …. Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon , the organization still faces a steep financial crevasse solely from the mismanagement of the ownership group led by the duo . And it certainly doesn’t look as if the Mets’ fans have a great deal to look forward to this upcoming season based on the ineptitude shown by the team in 2011.

I am not so sure that both the New York Mets and San Diego Padres can be considered to be viable contenders within the NL this season . However, anything is possible but based upon their standings within their respective divisions in 2011 ! It could very be that we will ultimately see a repeat of last season by way of their final positions . Neither team to my mind has really made any moves that can be considered to be major by way of improving their respective rosters to an extent you might even consider them a credible wildcard candidate , much less a divisional winner !

So the New York Knicks are back to winning ways , with interim head coach Mike Woodson having succeeded his predecessor Mike DAntoni . The former Atlanta Hawks’ coach having seen his team win five consecutive games there seems to be some sense of normalcy with the Knicks’ players. Far be it for me to suggest but with Carmelo Anthony now playing even more defense than ever before , either hell has indeed frozen over . Or there must have been some sort of financial inducement to the player beyond $18,500,000 that he will earn this year . As to what GM Glen Grunwald and team owner James Dolan might have suggested to Woodson as an incentive , one can only speculate upon at this juncture . Just kidding ! It’s about time ‘melo showed that he had some cojone`s rather than perpetuating notion that he’s amongst the elite players in the league , when he’s clearly not !

The New York Knicks’ next game will be against the Toronto Raptors (15-32) at the Rogers Center in Toronto , Ontario , on the 23rd March , 2012. The Raptors are coming off a rather lopsided defeat against the high-flying Chicago Bulls , who might just have the ” hottest player ” in the league at present with John Lucas III . The player a stand-in for the injured Derrick Rose has provided the team with the additional offense they need to meet their needs , as they seek to add a seventh NBA title to the organization’s illustrious history .

The Knicks hold a one game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks (21-24) for the eighth and final berth in the Eastern Conference . Am I about to suggest that with this all new-found resolve the Knicks can be seen as palpable and credible contenders ? Well that remains to be seen dependent upon whether or not these players buy into what Mike Woodson now happens to be selling . If they inconceivably comprehend what DAntoni was asking of them in the first place I hardly think it likely that Jeremy Lin , Tyson Chander , Amare` Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert at this juncture are still intelligent enough to comprehend what is now required of them ! As good as this team appears to be on paper there’s no denying that their record (21-25) simply bears out what they are . And that is a team that is barely average at best , if nothing else ! In reality the quality of the play in large part can be best described as abysmal by the vast majority of the teams within the NBA but nowhere has this been more evident than within the Eastern Conference .

Now while there has been great praise for the Chicago Bulls and Tom Thibodeau’s …. team . And the mere fact that they lead the conference with some ease over the more highly favored Miami Heat . I would preface this by saying , as much as the NBA pundits and fans may favor Erik Spoelstra’s …. team merely because of the presence of their trio of major NBA All Stars and a rather impressive home record . The fact that the Heat gives up on average 93.6 ppg and their point differential in victories is a mere 8.2 ppg leads me to believe that the roster engineered by Pat Riley still has some ways to go before they can truly convince me as to their legitimacy ! I still harken to last year’s astonishing NBA Finals’ defeat against the less favored but far more determined …… Dallas Mavericks led by Dirk Nowitzki .

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(1) New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan talks to reporters about acquiring NFL quarterback Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos at the LSU football Pro Training Day in Baton Rouge, Thursday, March 22, 2012. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert ..

(2) OAKLAND, CA – NOVEMBER 06: Tim Tebow (15) of the Denver Broncos prays before their game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on November 6, 2011 in Oakland, California. It was reported that the New York Jets have traded a fourth-round pick for quarterback Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos March 21, 2012. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images ….

(3) FILE – In this Nov. 17, 2011 file photo, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) and Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) walk off the field together after an NFL football game , in Denver. Tebow has been traded from the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets. AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez …

(4) Antonio Cromartie (31) of the New York Jets looks on during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Getty Images / Mike Ehrmann ….

(5) Reuben Amaro Jr (left) and Charlie Manuel take questions posed by the convened press at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania . The team is seeking to rebound in 2012 after last season’s postseason ….. debacle . AP Photo / Matthew Cameron …

(6) New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) and guard Jeremy Lin (17) talk prior to a free throw against the Philadelphia 76ers during an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, in Philadelphia. The Knicks won 82-79 . AP Photo/The Wilmington News-Journal, Daniel Sato …..

(7) ” ‘melo let me ask you once again can you spell the ” word” ‘defense’ much less play it ? (Woodson) PHILADELPHIA, PA – MARCH 21: Head coach Mike Woodson of the New York Knicks talk with Iman Shumpert (21) and Carmelo Anthony (7) during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 21, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Knicks won 82-79. Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images …….

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NBA schedule 23rd March , 2012

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Lizz Robins comes courtesy of King Magazine .

One Crime Doesn’t Necessarily Fit All ……. But Then Again It Might !

One Crime Doesn’t Necessarily Fit All …….But Then Again It Might !

By tophatal …..

Well NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has publicly issued the penalties to be handed down to the New Orleans Saints . And harsh as it may seem there are many who feel that it simply wasn’t enough in terms actual crimes as we now know them to be . Saints’ head coach Sean Payton been suspended for the entire 2012 season , and in conjunction with that suspension assistant coach Joe Vitt also has been suspended for 6 games . GM Micky Loomis was handed down a penalty of suspension without pay and no contact whatsoever with anyone within the Saints’ hierarchy . Former Saints’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams now with the St Louis Rams in a similar capacity has been suspended indefinitely and it could lead to his actual firing by the Rams’ organization , with cause . Also as part of this action , the league hierarchy has penalized the Saints $500,0000 and the organization will also forfeit two future NFL Draft picks in …… a 1st round pick in 2012 and a second round pick in 2013 .

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Commissioner Goodell having been in contact with Saints’ owner Tom Benson throughout the entire length of this investigation , and the franchise’s owner was made aware of the league’s findings forty-eight hours before it was made public. Benson is said to happy with the manner in which the investigation was conducted but said to be shocked at the severity of the penalties . With the Saints’ reputation now impugned , it’s hard to view the franchise as having any integrity whatsoever ! Sean Payton not only lied to the owner concerning the allegations when they first arose but also had his coaching staff also lie to the press , league hierarchy and public alike concerning the claims leveled against the team but the head coach also lied to league investigators at each of the interviews conducted by the league . Is it me but I can only surmise that the Saints’ head coach is simply a moronic asshole of the highest order ! And given the controversies and allegations that surfaced as to the use of illicit substances by certain members of Payton’s coaching staff as well as the head coach , himself. It begs the question , was there a case to actually conduct an investigation into those allegations which we told at the time were unfounded ? I bet they were ! Payton, we can now see is a man who lacks integrity as well as having a preponderance to avoid telling the truth . The irrevocable damage done to his reputation and that of the New Orleans Saints and lays the NFL wide open to any other multitude of sins from hereon-in .

At the heart of this all , has been the actions of the coaches in this saga and the temerity of current and former players to deny that there was ever surreptitious deal as an incentive for defensive players to go out cause harm to an opponent . Between 2008 and 2011 is primarily when Williams’ plan was put into place and carried out rather effectively over that period of time . Now we could look upon the results over that time and argue their veracity but it would be too little
, too late at this juncture . And although former Saints’ defensive player Darren Sharper has categorically stated that at no time did he or any of his teammates enact any of the strategies called for by either Gregg Williams , Joe Vitt or Sean Payton . One has to ask, is Sharper in complete denial or does he have something to hide ? With Jabari Greer now coming forward to suggest that the Saints’ integrity and that of the team has been smeared when he and other have done nothing wrong , smacks of sheer idiocy and lunacy on the part of the player ! But then again how can anyone not look at the organization and now look at this team with any integrity whatsoever !

The Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees in his first interview after the findings were made public stated Sean Payton was man of high praise and as being of someone with deep-rooted honesty and integrity . Now don’t get me wrong as much as I admire Brees as a player , at this moment in time any type of statement forthcoming from a player within this organization has to be treated with a sense of disbelief ! That being said, this story and the severity of the punishment should serve as a warning for all of the NFL’s 32 franchises . Let me pose this question to you all , when the “Spygate” fiasco came to the fore there were many amongst you who were of the impression that Bill Belichick and the fine imposed against the organization was justified because they were the only ones said to be involved in such an act . Did anyone truly believe that the New England Patriots was the only NFL team involved this whole charade ? If yes, then raise your hand like a kid in a classroom ? Less we forget , Josh McDaniels as the former head coach of the Denver Broncos enacted the same idiocy as his now mentor and head coach with the Patriots , where he now serves and the team’s offensive coordinator . Would it be remiss to suggest that there might be one or quite possibly two teams in the league now seeking to review their strategies from a defensive standpoint ? Think about at depth before proffering up an answer .

Roger Goodell has been in contact with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and it appears that the union leader along with the union’s executive committee are conducting their own investigation into the Saints’ deeds at the center of this major NFL controversy . As to what the union’s own investigation can find, is merely now mute and redundant . What is it that the union now hopes to achieve when it is clear that many of their members were apparently acting with malice a-forethought in seeking out an opponent and looking to cause harm ? And for the purists out there still espousing the idea that the game comes with many dangers . The dangers , yes , are many but they should not come about where an opponent is seeking to cause you irreparable harm and possible long-term injury . Can you imagine the public outcry that there would be had one of the league leading figures , such as recognizable names Tom Brady , Eli Manning , Peyton Manning and Matt Stafford or quite possibly running backs Adrian Peterson , LaDainian Tomlinson had suffered long-term injuries ? Consider the monies vested in the players and the very fact that monetarily the loss to a team would be catastrophic for any organization ?

Goodell has made it clear that the players involved in this scandal will face some form of punishment as deemed necessary by the NFL hierarchy . The ramifications for the New Orleans Saints will be ongoing and will certainly have an effect on their season . I would dare say also , that any former player of theirs during the time in question involved in this “mea-culpa “ now with another franchise may well be looking over their shoulder , waiting to see what the league may well have in store for them by way of a penalty .

Seeing the league now become so proactive seems somewhat like an image makeover when you now consider that the NFL is now defendant two separate civil suits one at the Federal level and one at one at the state level , Cook County Court , Chicago , Illinois . Each of the plaintiffs seek monetary damages for what they believe to negligence and fraud on the part of the league (NFL) in hiding what was said to be information within the league’s possession as it relates to the cause and effect of blunt force head trauma and concussions suffered by players during the course of their professional careers in the NFL . Given the fact that the union itself , has been just as negligent and asinine as the league hierarchy , first under Paul Tagliabue and his successor ( Goodell ) as well as DeMaurice Smith’s predecessor that bumbling and somewhat dimwitted oaf , the late Gene Upshaw ! And even though the league has set aside $1 billion ($1,000,000,000) to assist league veterans with their medical needs , it does look as if both the league and union now seem to be looking save face , after this latest controversy and debacle to hit the NFL square in the face . As to this asinine notion that the NFL really cares about their seasoned veterans , consider the plight of former Bears’ quarterback Jim McMahon . The former NFL great is now a shell of himself , now suffering from long and short-term memory loss . McMahon is part of the suit now filed US Federal Court in , Philadelphia , Pennsylvania . The trial date though not yet set as both sides are going through their preliminary hearings . Chances are , we’re about to see some the league’s dirty laundry being aired for the whole world to see .

The other case I mentioned , is a civil suit filed in Cook County by the family of the late Dave Duerson , who also just happened to be a teammate and close personal friend of Jim McMahon and a member of the Bears’ Superbowl championship winning team in 1986. Duerson , as you may well be aware died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound , having played his entire career in the NFL . Upon his retirement , the player suffered a number of hardships , a failed marriage , personal as well corporate bankruptcy for a number of businesses he had set up prior to and after his retirement from the NFL . Unbeknown to many was that, Dave Duerson during this time had been suffering severe concussions and epileptic fits . All this mind you, and we’re led to believe that a player of Duerson’s caliber was never in danger given the physicality of the game . Who’s laughing now ? Certainly not Dave Duerson , or any member of his immediate family !

Fans have always seen the league first in a competitive light with its teams vying for the NFL’s highest honor . This past season was self-evident of that . The postseason however , offered us so much more by way of the games that were on display. Who could forget the Superbowl itself and the competitiveness of the game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants ? The events as they unfolded served up a plethora of excitement that led to Giants winning their second Superbowl in five years , with Tom Coughlin pretty much being assured a place in Canton , Ohio upon his retirement . The Hall of Fame is a revered institution and I now get the feeling that a number of players on the Saints’ current and past rosters during the time these incidents are said to have occurred , may well have seen their chances of entrance being waylaid , simply for the reason that they were willing and some might even suggest unwilling participants in the schemes of Sean Payton and Gregg Williams . Chime in with your thoughts on the matter .

This upcoming season with the NFL and in particular the NFC South we may well see distinct change within the mindset of the New Orleans Saints . Certainly the other residents within the division such as the Atlanta Falcons , Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers this might well be the season where competitiveness within the division now sees some real equity between the quartet of teams . Not that the NFC South wasn’t said to be already competitive to begin with and most certainly from an offensive standpoint with . Certainly , coaches Greg Schiano , Mike Smith and Ron Rivera view the Saints in a new light . And I would dare say that Pete Carmichael Jr as the interim head coach of the New Orleans Saints may well use the season as a stepping stone to prove himself as a credible candidate for any future NFL position that may well come about .

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Do you believe that the punishment meted out by the NFL to the New Orleans Saints was fitting or do you believe it to be far too severe ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the matter and anything else you deem pertinent to this subject . And thanks as always , for the continued support of this site as it has always been appreciated !

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(1) In this Jan. 7, 2012, photo, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton yells from the sideline during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Detroit Lions in New Orleans. The NFL has suspended Payton for the 2012 season, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is banned from the league indefinitely because of the team’s bounty program that targeted opposing players. Also Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Goodell suspended Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular-season games of 2012, and assistant coach Joe Vitt has to sit out the first six games. AP Photo/The Shreveport Times, Jim Hudelson ….

(2) St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher discuss the indefinite suspension of Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams Wednesday, March 21, 2012, at the Rams’ training facility in St. Louis. Williams was banned indefinitely on Wednesday because the New Orleans Saints defensive players were paid bounties for big hits on opponents from 2008-11 when Williams was with the team. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson …….

(3) New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is seen on the television as Saints fans Bryce Powers, left, and Jonathan Hebert watch news reports of the NFL’s punishment of the New Orleans Saints football team at Walk On’s sports pub in New Orleans,Wednesday, March 21, 2012. The NFL suspended New Orleans coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is banned from the league indefinitely because of the team’s bounty program that targeted opposing players. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert …..

(4) In this Sept. 18, 2011 file photo, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton yells on the sideline during an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. he NFL has suspended Payton for the 2012 season, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is banned from the league indefinitely because of the team’s bounty program that targeted opposing players. Also Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Goodell suspended Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular-season games of 2012, and assistant coach Joe Vitt has to sit out the first six games. AP Photo/Bill Haber …. ….

(5) FILE – In this Nov. 13, 2011, file photo, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson looks on before the first half of an NFL football game between Saints and the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. The NFL has suspended Saints head coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is banned from the league indefinitely because of the team’s bounty program that targeted opposing players. Also Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Goodell suspended Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular-season games of 2012, and assistant coach Joe Vitt has to sit out the first six games. AP Photo/Rich Addicks ……..

(6) FILE – In this Nov. 6, 2011 file photo, New Orleans Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt walks the sideline during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in New Orleans. The NFL has suspended New Orleans head coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is banned from the league indefinitely because of the team’s bounty program that targeted opposing players. Also Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Goodell suspended Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular-season games of 2012, and assistant coach Joe Vitt has to sit out the first six games. AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman …..

(7) FILE – In this Dec. 19, 2012, file photo, New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis watches from the sidelines before the start of the Saints-Dallas Cowboys NFL football game in New Orleans. The NFL has suspended New Orleans head coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is banned from the league indefinitely because of the team’s bounty program that targeted opposing players. Also Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Goodell suspended Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular-season games of 2012, and assistant coach Joe Vitt has to sit out the first six games. AP Photo/Bill Haber ..

(8) FILE – In this Sept. 26, 2010, file photo, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams talk during an NFL football game at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, La. The NFL has suspended New Orleans head coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is banned from the league indefinitely because of the team’s bounty program that targeted opposing players. Also Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Goodell suspended Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular-season games of 2012, and assistant coach Joe Vitt has to sit out the first six games. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, ….

(9) Former Bears’ quarterback Jim McMahon seen here giving a rare interview on the ESPN magazine program “Outside The Lines” . The player is part of a contingency of players in a civil suit filed against the NFL in the US Federal Court in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania that seeks punitive damages against the league . McMahon was a member of the Chicago Bears Superbowl winning team in 1986 and a teammate of the late Dave Duerson . Source ESPN / espn.go.com ….

(10) Dave Duerson seen here in front of a Congressional Committee that looked into the matter of head trauma and concussions suffered by current and former NFL players . The player would die from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in February 2011 . Dave Duerson’s family claims he suffered at least 10 concussions during his 11-year career . AP Photo / Susan Walsh ……

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What Brackets It’s Still A Damn Racket ….. Perhaps The Magic Also Should Be Watching The Tournament ?

What Brackets It’s Still A Damn Racket ….. Perhaps The Magic Also Should Be Watching The Tournament ?

By tophatal ………

Well the NCAA Tournament is now in full swing and as you’d expect that the championship has already had it fair share of upsets . Out have gone Duke (Blue Devils) and Missouri (Tigers) to name but a few of the teams thought to be presumptive favorites who’ve fallen hard and fast in the competition. My own thought on the matter and it is something that I have reiterated to a patron and that I favor the field over the perceived favorites for national title . Injuries have now began to plague these teams and for the state of Florida long, a bastion of college football , they had three teams heading into the round of 32 . Unfortunately , it was not to be for USF Bulls and Florida State but two-time national champion s the Florida Gators are still riding high under the coaching skills of Billy Donovan .

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North Carolina (31-5) , led by Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall have had an impressive run coming into the tournament . For coach Roy Williams and his coaching staff are seeking to add another title to this already illustrious and much revered institution . The Tar Heels’ next game will be against Ohio (Bobcats) University this Friday in St Louis , Missouri . Given the proficiency of this team and the skills-set , I get the impression that for the Tar Heels if the chips do indeed fall their way they could add a third national title for their much respected coach . But as I alluded to earlier , this is not a tournament that should be taken lightly, wherein , you simply throw your chips down and state you’re all in behind one of the favorites . It’s never that easy and the “house” always wins .

John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats (34-2) are slowly rolling along in the tournament . And for Doron Lamb , Michael Kidd Gilchrist and Anthony Davis , this team is being asked to do what previous teams under Calipari’s tenure have failed to do and that is to win a national title for their coach . The Wildcats are certainly good enough to win but herein lies the caveat to this all , as per usual John Calipari’s players are one and done . This will be a launching pad to what they hope will be a promising NBA career. That was most certainly the case for Derrick Rose whilst a player at the collegiate level with the Memphis Tigers.

Kentucky in their next game will face the Indiana Hoosiers (27-8) this Friday in what is sure to be a competitive and highly spirited match-up between two highly respected programs . Suffice to say , the victor will certainly have a clear path the rest of the way through the South Region and on their way to the Sweet 16 .

In what is bound to be perhaps one of the best games in this round we have a match-up between two of the best coaches in collegiate basketball. Rick Pitino and his Louisville Cardinals (28-9) take on Tom Izzo’s ….. Michigan State Spartans (29-7). And as good as both of these teams are there’s enough here to suggest to me that this game might well too close to call. Care to suggest as to who you believe the winner will be ? Chime in with your thoughts .

OK so it’s now on to the NBA and the games from last night (Monday) , to be more specific that sorry ass effort put forth by the Orlando Magic in front of their fans in a hometown match-up against the Eastern Conference leading Chicago Bulls . Dwight Howard may well have made the decision not to have opted out of the final year of his contract with the Magic. But even he had to have been embarrassed by his and his teammates’ display . Suffice to say , they sucked , sucked out loud as a matter of fact !

It has often been said …..” that in the midst of chaos and turmoil out of it all comes a semblance of peace and tranquility . Over the Orlando Magic’s last ten games there has been more chaos , rather than any god damn semblance of tranquility . How in this day and age can a team put up such a putrid effort as the Magic have done in their 85-59 loss to Chicago Bulls . The team only managed to score a mere fourteen points in the first quarter , having shot under 17% for that entire period. That offensive output was amongst the lowest ever recorded in NBA history since the league adopted and started to record such statistics .

Howard as the Magic’s best player felt it best to remain with the only organization he has known over the course of his professional career. My caveat to this all , at no time has the organization’s front office executives seen fit to surround the player with a team that is complementary to Howard’s skill-set . A core group of players that at best would be bench players on the majority of the teams in the league other than the mediocre Charlotte Bobcats ( 7-37) and New Orleans Hornets (11-34) . Two of the teams in the league who have amongst the worst records within the NBA and are the least supported franchises the league .

The Magic’s GM Otis Smith to my mind like his predecessor John Weisbrod simply have no idea as to what it takes to build a successful NBA franchise ! How in God’s name either were entrusted to build the Orlando Magic is just as befuddling and puzzling as John McCain’s choice in naming Sarah Palin as his GOP Vice Presidential running mate for the then 2008 Presidential election . And as we know the rest as they say is history . The idiocy of this entire concerning the Magic’s center is that in his committing to the organization until the end of the season is no guarantee as to the team’s long-term future. Smith and team COO Alec Martins had they shown any real insight prior to the trade deadline (15th March) then they would have made a move as a way showing the franchise’s commitment to being competitive and as an indication to Dwight Howard that they mean business . From my own perspective , I also feel that Howard is somewhat naive to begin with , if he truly believes that Stan Van Gundy and the front office have done their best in surrounding him with the best players possible in terms of winning an NBA championship ! Does anyone truly believe that the likes of J J Redick , Jameer Nelson , Hedo Turkoglu , Chris Duhon , Quentin Richardson , Jason Richardson , Ryan Anderson and Von Wafer , much less anyone else on this roster is liable to put a fright in any of the teams in a playoff series in the latter part of the NBA postseason ? Well do you ?

The Magic’s schedule through the end of March is simply filled with a slew of games that will undoubtedly be littered potholes or safe passage dependent upon how one views the opponents in question . If Van Gundy can’t get his players competing with any resolve then I firmly believe that his tenure with the organization should come to an abrupt end ! In reality , he was never that good a coach to begin with , animated , obnoxious and clearly someone who believes himself to be amongst the elite of his peers when he’s simply achieved little of note over the course of his career in the NBA !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What if anything are you most looking forward to as the NCAA Tournament winds down from the Sweet 16 , down the Elite Eight , then Final Four and the championship game , itself ? And with the NBA as it relates to the Orlando Magic what opinion do you have as to the decision made by Dwight Howard to remain with the Orlando Magic until the end of the season ? Do you believe that it was the right decision made by the player ? By all means , do take time offer up a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slide show details below.

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(1) FILE – In this March 17, 2012 file photo, Baylor coach Scott Drew , right, talks with forward Quincy Miller during the first half of an NCAA tournament third-round college basketball game against Colorado in Albuquerque, N.M. Baylor is experiencing great things these days. Only a few months after Robert Griffin III became Baylor’s first Heisman Trophy winner, the men’s basketball team is in the NCAA round of 16 for the second time in three years. And the top-ranked Lady Bears are undefeated , four wins from a national championship and the first 40-win season in the long history of the NCAA. AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf …

(2) OMAHA, NE – MARCH 18: Patric Young (4) of the Florida Gators fights for a rebound against Kyle O’Quinn (10) (C) and Pendarvis Williams (11) of the Norfolk State Spartans during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament game at Century Link Center on March 18, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska. Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images …..

(3) North Carolina’s John Henson reacts after making a basket against Creighton during the second half of a third-round NCAA tournament college basketball game in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, March 18, 2012. North Carolina won 81-73 . AP Photo/Chuck Burton ….

(4) Royce White (30) of the Iowa State Cyclones looks to pass against Terrence Jones (3) and Darius Miller(1) of the Kentucky Wildcats during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 17, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

(5) Carlos Boozer (5) of the Chicago Bulls takes a jump shot over Ryan Anderson ((33) of the Orlando Magic during the game on March 19, 2012 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(6) Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, left, and Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah battle for the loose ball as Quentin Richardson (5) watches during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Monday, March 19, 2012. The Bulls won 85-59 . AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack …..

(7) Chicago Bulls guard John Lucas III , left, steals the ball away from Orlando Magic guard Chris Duhon during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Monday, March 19, 2012. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack …..

(8) Head coach Stan Van Gundy converses with Dwight Howard (12) of the Orlando Magic during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images North America Inc. / Kevin Cox …..

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Carolina Catalino . Is this an a#s worth looking at and tappin’ ? Your thoughts ? More Ms Catalino below for your edification .

Hell yeah , of course it’s worth tappin’ !

I really don’t believe that there’s much else left to be said ! Do you ?

And On The Eighth Day God Said To Peyton Manning I Just Don’t Like Ugly !

And On The Eighth Day God Said To Peyton Manning I Just Don’t Like Ugly !

By tophatal ……………

And it came to past that on the eighth day God looked down upon the city of Denver and he like Peyton Manning came to a decision . That decision was I don’t like ugly ! The big news in the NFL is that the four-time league MVP joins the Denver Broncos and this now leaves the incumbent starter at the position in something of a limbo . Tim Tebow’s heroics for the team in the latter part of the season was something to behold but it now appears to be the former Florida Gator quite possibly could be on the way out . John Elway , GM Brian Xander and team owner Pat Bowlen have to be extremely happy with their coup-de-gras. ========================================================================================================================

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Slide show for your perusal .

There’s no denying that while the Tim Tebow had his detractors and his fair share of supporters . The reality is that the player is still very much a work in progress as a quarterback . His flaws are numerous but the thing that the player has going for him is heart which undoubtedly is large . However , what the coaching staff and front office sought from Tebow was simply accuracy and efficiency . Neither of which was on display throughout the course of the player’s schedule in 2011.

Undoubtedly , Manning will be a tremendous draw for the Broncos’ fans at Invesco Field in Denver , Colorado , and for the teams within the ; AFC West who will get the chance to face this newly constructed Denver Broncos’ team , they will see this as an added fortune . At the same in all likelihood the Oakland Raiders , San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs they have to now also raise the level of their respective game , especially from a defensive standpoint .

All that now remains are for the contract details to be worked out by the mutual parties involved . John Elway will no doubt seek to indemnify the organization from any issues should Manning have a recurrence of his neck injury . At the same time Tom Condon acting on the player’s behalf will no doubt seek a contract that will reward his client and make him one of the highest paid players at the position within the NFL . Figures being bandied about would suggest a 5 year deal that pays Peyton Manning $19 million a year as a base salary (cumulative figure of $95 million over the life of the contract) .

It’d be remiss to ask what Peyton Manning brings to the table but simply look at his career stats and it’s all there for everyone to see . This to my mind makes the Broncos an early prohibitive favorite within the AFC to be that conference’s representative in the Superbowl . Now comes the hard part where does this leave the Broncos’ offensive coordinator and how will he work in conjunction with Peyton Manning ? Now for Adam Gase , quarterbacks’ coach , his task now has to be tutor Tebow , should he remain as the team’s backup , or as is being widely speculated upon the player will be traded .

Manning will have a credible offensive line to protect him and it is now being widely speculated upon , the Broncos may not stop with making the quarterback the only Colt on their roster . Free agent center Jeff Saturday could very well be joining his former teammate should a contract be negotiated that is amenable to all of the parties concerned . Certainly, for running back Willis McGahee this gives the player perfect opportunity to showcase his skills .

For the other two teams who missed out on obtaining Manning , now it’s now back to the drawing board for Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke of the San Francisco 49ers . I dare say that Alex Smith might well feel somewhat peeved that his coach sought to bring in Peyton Manning , after his having taken the Niners to the postseason where they fell to the New York Giants in the NFC championship game . From thereon-in , it was the Giants all the way, as they triumphed over the New England Patriots for the second time in five years .

For John Fox , with what appears to be a newly constructed team a great deal will be expected of the coach and his coaching staff . Should he fail to deliver, r then there are liable to be so many questions asked as , to why the failure ? It’s my firm belief that Peyton Manning is looking to play perhaps no more than another four years . At which time upon the culmination of his career he will have surpassed every statistic that matters most with regard to being a quarterback in the NFL . Already a league MVP , Superbowl MVP and multiple Pro Bowl appearance by the now former Colts’ player.

Now there may well be those who will question the following statement but it is my firm belief that the AFC West and the NFC West are by far the two worst divisions in the NFL . Simply look at the performances of the teams in question within those divisions over the course of 2011 ? I’m not saying they were bad but it gives credence as to why both divisions are the bane of the NFL ! Please, in all honesty who in hell gets excited in watching the actual Broncos play much less the Seattle Seahawks , St Louis Rams , Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers. I mean before the Niners’ exploits of last season who in all honesty saw that team coming out of nowhere to become the surprise franchise within the conference ? The Niners if they can replicate the success of 2011 has to viewed as one of the presumptive favorites within the NFC . With eleven defensive starters returning from last season Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff have to be extremely happy with the future. And even though the franchise lost out on acquiring Peyton Manning , they can rest assured that the team is still in safe hands with Alex Smith at the quarterback position . Of the quarterbacks on display within the NFC West within the division it has to be said that the veteran stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries over the course of 2011.

Having one of the most efficient defenses within the NFL as well as the NFC , the Forty Niners I don’t believe can be counted out of the equation this upcoming season and their schedule does seem favorable during the 2012-2013 NFL calendar looks to be rather appealing and favoring the franchise . .

Now in returning the Denver Broncos it seems inevitable that the franchise may well seek to trade Tim Tebow , the player , drafted 25th overall (first round) in the 2010 NFL Draft . Other players taken at the position that year have had some semblance of success in some capacity but none having reached the level of praise and at the same time , ridicule by the fans and NFL analysts alike . From my own perspective , the player’s issues stems from so many areas , much of that due to the lack of the insight shown by Broncos’ quarterback coach , Adam Gase but also from the player’s college coach Urban Meyer , who simply rode the coat-tails of Tim Tebow . In large part however , we saw the frailties and lack of real progression from the player and that was on evidence for all to see in the team’s defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots during the postseason . If that loss wasn’t enough to suggest how far Tim Tebow has to go in order to progress as a top flight quarterback in the NFL , then I certainly don’t know what is ! Being completely apathetic as to what is self-evident , then it clearly shows how out of touch the vast majority of fans just happen to be in allowing their emotions to steer them …… rather than reality .

Personally , I wish Tim Tebow all the best in his future endeavors wherever it may well be ! . But at the end of the day in the current NFL it has become win today , and do whatever it takes within reason . For the Denver Broncos it meant John Elway , doing , what he felt was best for the future of the franchise , . even if it now means Tebow has become expendable . Chances are , if the young quarterback is traded he will end up with a team that fully fits his needs and theirs his . As to where that may well be , who knows at this juncture ? Your thoughts ?

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In your view mind if anyone is said to be at fault in this whole saga concerning Tim Tebow , where do believe that apportioned mea-culpa should lay ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .

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There’s A Target Out There Somewhere But The Twins Are Not It !

There’s A Target Out There Somewhere But The Twins Are Not It !

By tophatal …..

If there was a disappointment for me last year , then it was seeing the Minnesota Twins’ season implode in 2011 . Finishing with a 71-91 mark in the AL Central it seemed as if the Twins simply weren’t competitive enough to face the all too dominant Detroit Tigers . And though the Tigers’ foray into the postseason was one that simply wasn’t a pleasant experience and it has to be said for all sense and purpose the question I am now asking and will continue to ask ………. is there a keen sense of ambition on the part of the ownership group led Jim Pohlad , who succeeded his late father , Carl Pohlad , into the position as senior managing partner ? =======================================================================================================

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Slide show for your perusal .

The two big profile names on the Twins’ roster , Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer , the faces of this ball-club . But but that simply doesn’t add to the fact that without the production of Michael Cuddyer I sincerely doubt that anyone would have taken any interest in this team . If there was one thing that was uniquely transparent with regard to the Minnesota Twins , it was the pitching rotation and their inadequacies left a great deal to be desired . And with the loss of Cuddyer to the Colorado Rockies as a free agent in December , 2011 , it now begs the question as to who will step up to the plate for the team in 2012 ? .

For manager Ron Gardenhire and his coaching assistants this season will be a true test of the manager and what he now brings to the table along with his associates . Gardenhire and the Los Angeles Angels’ …. Mike Scioscia are now two of the longest-serving managers in baseball (MLB) .

If the Twins are to survive this season < A then it will be down to Joe Mauer , Danny Valencia , Justin Morneau and Denard Span to get the offense going if they are to prevail at any point during 2011. And while the organization goes through their preseason schedule , wherein , Gardenhire assesses the roster which includes their none roster invitees . This should as such give the fans an indication as to the approach to be taken by the organization as a whole .

Now a lot of people might contend that Twins’ GM Terry Ryan overpaid in retaining Joe Mauer in light of the player’s injury prone season in in …. 2011 . But it simply has been last season that was a concern in term of productivity from the catcher for the general manager but also what appears to be a steadily declining attendance level at Target Field in Minneapolis , Minnesota . Ryan , having held the general manager’s position for the ball-club previously from 1994-2007 , only for Bill Smith to be brought for a four tenure , with the Pohlad’s then returning to Terry Ryan after four years of what may well have deemed abject failure during Smith’s tenure.

If I were an ardent fan of the Minnesota Twins my biggest worry would be the health issues as it relates to the team’s two biggest players ! There’s no doubt in my mind that Mauer and Morneau are the “heart and soul” of this organization. Without either , and there’s a better than even chance that this team is liable to be on the wrong side of a losing season ! I would also like to see a return to form of Francisco Liriano , a starting pitcher who a little more than five years ago was one of the premiere pitchers in the game . Now you simply can’t be sure what to expect of the all too inconsistent Liriano . Now it’d be remiss to suggest that injuries were not the main cause as to what has plagued the seven-year veteran but I also believe that there’s a lack of confidence with the player. And if he’s not able to overcome that then in all probability we will never see a return to form of the once respected player. Your thoughts on the matter ?

Ron Gardenhire , a former AL Manager of the Year knows that this season may well be his last chance to accomplish the feat of winning a World Series title as a manager . Long considered one of the best managers in the game it seems almost inconceivable that at each and every opportunity offered , his teams simply have come up short . And one only has to look at the teams that have simply denied the Twins a shot at the World Series in recent years .

Considered a small market team the Minnesota Twins along with the other franchises categorized within the area are not always able to retain talent , more often than not . So it came as something of a surprise to my mind when they sought to offer Mauer the contract offered by the Twins’ front office , which essentially made him one of the highest paid players in the game but also the highest paid catcher in baseball ! Given the rigors of playing the position and the very fact that nowadays the longevity of the catchers in today’s game is rarely beyond a decade or more . And as a productive as Joe Mauer is said to be what the Twins and specifically Gardenhire expects from the player , is maturity , and the ability to lead . Defensively , on this team he provides that and a great deal more . I don’t know that Mauer is willing to step away from playing the position as catcher to perhaps answer a need of the Twins to play elsewhere on the team. The organization does have two alternatives at the position in Ryan Doumit and Drew Butera at the position .

Joe Mauer is the draw on this Twins’ roster but I seriously doubt the fans are looking to simply seem him play center-field or first base when it is at as a catcher that he has made his name . As to the player’s own aspirations it’s clear that the hometown hero would like to bring a title to an organization that has been long starved of one . At some point in the not too distant future that premise could very well arise but it’s my belief that the team is still a long way of from where it needs to be in order to challenge the likes of the Boston Red Sox , Tampa Bay Rays , Detroit Tigers , Texas Rangers and New York Yankees within the AL , much less the perceived contenders within the NL .

As I alluded to earlier , with the Minnesota Twins being viewed as a small market team , it is easy envisage some of the realities that the organization faces. Financially , the Twins cannot compare to the likes of the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins as two of the more high profiled teams within the NL in terms of salary structure and it is abundantly as to who they lag behind amongst their AL rivals . Terry Ryan knows that he cannot match the resources available to the Red Sox and Yankees , as each has the largesse of their own respective sports’ cable programming outlets as a financial treasure trove ( NESN & YES Network ) . Having the outlets as a wholly owned subsidiary allows both organizations to essentially write-off any losses by their baseball operations and underwrite against those losses against the sports programming revenues . Something that the likes of the Minnesota Twins simply cannot afford in today’s game by making acquiescing to the outlandish demands made by the agents on behalf of their clients . Anyone of the believe that the Twins could simply make the outlay that the of Yankees have done in offering Alex Rodriguez that now ” infamous” $275 million 10 year deal ? Less we forget this is now being the second such deal that the player has signed over the course of his professional career . To my the vast majority of owners and general managers are simply too damn stupid for their own good and who show as about as much business acumen said to can be found , as the idiots who presently sit on the Senate Banking & Finance Committee !

The issues that faces a number of teams within MLB is not merely about reining costs but general managers , team owners and the league hierarchy working in conjunction working in conjunction of MLBPA (union ) led by its Executive Director Michael Weiner as to how best to address issues the game faces . I’m not so sure that the tete`-a-tete` . Nothing ever productive seems to come to light but somehow Bud Selig and his idiocy tends to put either a poignant spin on a story even when there’s a stench so vulgar that it simply defies logic ! . If the commissioner’s testimony to the to two congressional committees concerning the facts as he knew them to be , concerning the prolific and rampant use of steroids within baseball . Then how do you view Selig as the game’s highest ranking official as it relates to his complete gullibility and ignorance ? And when addressed on the escalating salaries within the game and whether or not he felt there was a need for a mandated salary cap ____ Bud Selig appeared to be dumbfounded in terms of rendering an answer . It never ceases to amaze me as to the gullibility of the man and furthermore his actions in the fiasco surrounding the overturning of Ryan Braun’s 50 game suspension shows how naive he just happens to be ! . And to think that the owners and league hierarchy offered him a four-year contract extension but yet somehow this appears to be justified in $20 million a year salary that this official attains from baseball ! Did I miss something here when there are at least at least 7 players at the top end of the salary scale who earn as much as the commissioner annually ? Never mind the fact that there are several teams at the lower end of the spectrum that can barely afford to spend in excess of $40 million annually but yet Bud Selig ignores that all without the assistance of the league . At some time either the fans will see the commissioner for what he is or as usual show complete apathy as they have tended to. Only then choosing something so trite when there are more acute issues that they have overlooked that in reality they should have shown more interest in !
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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Do you believe that the Minnesota Twins are capable of being a credible contender within the AL Central this season and quite possibly challenging for a postseason berth ? And given the choice , who would you like to see succeed Bud Selig as the commissioner of baseball ?

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(1) Minnesota Twins third baseman Danny Valencia catches Baltimore Orioles Mark Reynolds , right, in a rundown while trying to steal third in the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game in Fort Myers, Fla., Friday, March 16, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

(2) Minnesota Twins pitcher Carlos Gutierrez walks back to the mound with a fresh baseball as Baltimore Orioles Robert Andino , left, heads home on his solo home run in the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game in Fort Myers, Fla., Friday, March 16, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …….

(3) Catcher Joe Mauer (7) of the Minnesota Twins throws the ball back to the pitcher against the Boston Red Sox during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Hammond Stadium on March 5, 2012 in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(4) Infielder Justin Morneau (33) of the Minnesota Twins fouls off a pitch against the Boston Red Sox during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Hammond Stadium on March 5, 2012 in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …….

(5) Minnesota Twins starter Francisco Liriano delivers in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday, March 8, 2012. Liriano threw three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out five in the Twins’ 1-0 loss. AP Photo/Charles Krupa ……..

(6) Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, right, argues a batter-interference call by home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth , left, during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., Monday, March 19, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa ….

(7) Twins’ GM Terry Ryan has been entrusted with resurrecting the fortunes of the organization . AP Photo /Mark Webster ….

(8) Jim Pohlad senior managing partner of the Minnesota Twins . Pohlad assumed control of the team upon the death of his father , noted Minnesota businessman Carl Pohlad . Courtesy of the Minneapolis Post / Chris Harper ….

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Damian Marley …………….” It Was Written ” ……. & another of his more socially conscious hits . Your thoughts ?

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This Might Be As Good As It Gets …..

This Might Be As Good As It Gets …..

By tophatal

So for anyone not engulfed in watching the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament then they’re either keeping a close eye on the NFL off-season awaiting the decision to be made by free agent quarterback Peyton Manning . And just in case you were overly concerned as to where Kyle Orton will ultimately end up . Then you’ll be happy to know that the often beleaguered player is now the back-up to the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo .

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Slide show for your perusal .

And just in case you weren’t aware Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones and the organization have been penalized by the NFL for contravening one of the league guidelines as it relates to negotiations arising from Miles Austin’s contract with the team. The wide receiver’s deal was front loaded with a number of incentives , which strictly contravenes the league’s guidelines. Also falling afoul of the league hierarchy were the Washington Redskins . Team owner Dan Snyder in conjunction with GM Bruce Allen have stated that they do not agree with the verdict rendered by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . In the case of the Redskins , their faux-pas concerned the 7 year deal that was offered to their former defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth . If one recollects the player’s deal was for an astounding $100 million of which $65 million was in guaranteed money . The fact that Haynesworth was traded by the organization a mere two and a half years into the deal to the New England Patriots where his productivity was lackluster and some might even suggest inept . The Patriots themselves were never really enamored with a player that simply no longer seemed capable of showing the prowess that once made him a bona-fide Pro Bowl player .

Both the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins will have to forfeit a combined $46.5 million that will now be split amongst the other 30 NFL franchises . It seems that two of the league’s most high profiled owners Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder and their respective organizations simply can’t abide to play by the rules . At the same time should we at all be surprised by this , given the rather asinine the owners pled their case during the lockout with about as much sincerity as Syrian President Bashar Al- Assad now seems to be showing towards his citizens . Absolutely nothing that the league hierarchy does nowadays , can be viewed with any type of veracity. And did anyone truly believe that Goodell had the upper hand in the deliberations with his union counterpart DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA’s Executive Committee ? Believe that , and I’ve got a plot of desert acreage in Saudi Arabia that I think I could interest you in buying ! And it’s certainly not in the midst of some untapped area where there’s said to be a billion barrels of crude oil .

The NCAA Tournament itself is off to a nonchalant start and on has and for those whose brackets may well have gone up in smoke , then my hearty commiseration to you all ! It would appear that John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats have to favored as the prohibitive favorites to win . Statistically , this team would suggest that they have it all but at the same time , one sudden misstep could end their season in the blink of an eye.

Now I don’t know about you but knowing that the Detroit Lions saw fit to make Calvin Johnson the highest paid player at the position in the league . It as such didn’t come as I real surprise until I was made aware as to details of his contract . Let’s just say it’s money well spent by the Lions for one of the most productive …. wide receivers in the NFL today . For Lions’ coach Jim Schwartz , this gives him the chance to have at least one of the desired pieces in place to make this team an even more competitive and credible contender .

So the Portland Trailblazers saw fit to fire head coach Dwayne Casey after the team’s ….. 45 point loss to the lumbering New York Knicks . Given the issues that Casey has been faced with throughout much of the season , it certainly hasn’t helped that Brandon Roy announced his retirement after a recurrence of his weakened knees and plantar-fasciitis . It’s sad , that a player of Roy’s abilities and some might suggest blossoming career had to be cut short ! But such are the blows that life tends to deal us , that one simply can either choose to fight back when possible or simply walk away with one’s honor and health in tact .

With the Blazers’ season now on the verge if imploding it will be very interesting to see what efforts will be made by the front office of the organization in terms of resurrecting their efforts of making the playoffs . The team’s best player LaMarcus Aldridge can either choose to carry the load upon his broad shoulders should the rest of his teammates buy into his leadership . But it is my opinion the window of opportunity for this franchise has disappeared as it relates to the season .

Well , what seems to be an ” about-face” Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic are still an item . The player who could still choose to opt out of the final year of his current deal but has stated that it is his intent to remain with the franchise until the end of the season. How this premise plays itself out remains to be seen but I feel for the moment that GM Otis Smith and front office have for now dodged a bullet . COO Alec Martins now has to convince the player they have the ambition and drive to make this franchise a success . I’ve read many articles within this forum concerning the player but few have shown the insight to state what is clearly transparent . The players that Howard has been surrounded by are simply not good enough to make this team a credible challenger for the NBA title . In all honesty the likes of J J Redick , Ryan Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu are not the type of guys that are about to make the likes of the Chicago Bulls , Miami Heat or for that matter the top contenders within the Western Conference simply quiver in their boots over the course of seven game playoff series .

Howard a perennial All Star and three-time Defensive Player of The Year has yet to reach the peak of his career . Long sought after by the New Jersey Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers where the trade bait from the respective franchises were said to be either Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum of the Lakers and Brook Lopez of the Nets . And as good as those three players are said to be , I do believe that they simply are not of the caliber of Dwight Howard ! A force on both ends of the floor the center is a force to be reckoned with . Howard unlike Nets’ point guard Deron Williams has decided that he will opt out of his contract while looking to resume his career elsewhere in the NBA . Given the fact that the front office of the New Jersey Nets just seemed to be out of touch with reality , it should not surprise anyone that the point guard came to this decision . Team owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s ambition seemed elsewhere as he sought to become the President in his native Russia , while the business of the day-to- day operations was ceded to GM Billy King .

This will now become a maelstrom of complete mayhem within an organization that’s set to move into a state of the art venue in Brooklyn in 2013. The Barclays Atlantic Yards Development is seen as a pinnacle of design in terms of an NBA venue . Without a major lure in terms of a prominent NBA star , it goes without saying that the Nets’ franchise will be starved of support at the new arena. Not that their current situation is said to be healthy one at this moment in time as the New Jersey Nets are one of the least supported franchise’s in the NBA . And that clearly has been the case of the last five years for this organization , something that the league hierarchy led by David Stern has to be acutely aware of . And for all of the inane fans who feel that the commissioner has been circumspect and above reproach . Consider this, the Stern has been less than forthright in terms of the league seeking out a suitor for the league owned New Orleans Hornets . For for the idiotic numbskulls who felt that Stern’s decision to negate the trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers was beyond his authority . Consider the ramifications for the franchise and the very fact that in terms of the Hornets’ teetering competitiveness and financial stability.

The New Orleans Hornets are for all sense and purpose are a complete and utter mess from a financial and competitive standpoint . George Shinn rid himself of a franchise that had become a boondoggle , which was poorly supported within the city of New Orleans and across the state of Louisiana. Even with the league hierarchy as usual seeking some sort of monetary input from the city of New Orleans in terms of refurbishing the Hornets’ home venue . I’d like to think that there’s some hope for this franchise ! But consider this , David Stern now appears to be like his MLB counterpart Bud Selig , whose biggest concerns nowadays seems to be keeping the smiles on the faces of the team owners in the major markets . And it is no different with the NBA commissioner and the owners within the league’s largest markets , with whom he has always been willing to curry favor . Doubt my word then simply watch his antics as it relates to some of the more high profiled owners such as Micky Arison , Jerry Buss , James Dolan , Mikhail Prokhorov , Rich De Vos , Michael Jordan and Wyc Grousbeck ? At their behest and that of the other team owners within the league simply does what they believe to right.

That now simply makes you wonder at times even with Stern’s apparent autocratic rule who at times seems to be wagging the dog’s tail. The league mandated lockout this past off-season that led to a three and a half month delay to the start of the 2011 -12 season . The embarrassment to the league and damage to its image was enough to suggest it wasn’t only NBA’s nose that was put out of joint but primarily the commissioner’s ! The NBPA (union) under Billy Hunter’s direction and that of the union’s Executive Committee simply over-powered the hierarchy’s dominance and that of the owners . It also led to a number of those franchise owners questioning David Stern’s autocratic rule when their $4.5 billion a year business template was coming under a great deal of criticism and fire . So much so , that even with intervention of the FMCS , a quasi governmental agency that presided over multiple arbitration hearings seeking to a binding arbitration agreement which neither side would truly be amenable to . Not if it meant that their bounty would up for grabs , with the players getting an even bigger slice of the pie . To my mind both parties were equally to blame and no amount circus created acts of philanthropy on the part of high profiled stars such as LeBron James , Carmelo Anthony , Dwyane Wade , Kevin Durant and Deron Williams , with their charity sponsored events this during the lockout hid the fact that theirs was simply nothing more than image making exercise seeking the empathy of the ardent NBA fans and public in general alike ! At the end of it all , who to your mind came out as the victor ?

Neither side in reality actually came out ahead because the NBA has a financial crisis of its own making and neither the league hierarchy or union can use the acute state of the economy as a crux . Certainly not the way that the politicians use for their own asinine pontificating ! And certainly not the way those moronic assholes who now seek to oppose Barack Obama in the upcoming Presidential elections. If Mitt Romney who claims to be such an astute businessman sought to set himself apart from his rivals as the claim is as a co-founder of Bain Capital Inc , which he , himself cannot explain the rudimentaries of the economy succinctly but somehow in 2008 had his ass handed to him on a silver plate by his then Republican opponent Sen John McCain (R-Az) for party’s nomination that historic race. McCain , no expert himself on the economy or for that matter on foreign or domestic policy simply exposed the flaws in Romney . Much as in the same way Rick Santorum is now doing to the former Massachusetts’ governor . At the same time the White House incumbent , perhaps hasn’t yet realized that the mantra he rode in on …….. ” .change that we can believe in ” ……………….. hasn’t amounted to much .

If the NBA this season is truly looking to shed that image as a languid self-absorbed league ____ a ” monster” created by David Stern that simply sought profits and heighten the image of the players before the teams that make up the league . The branding , the riding on the coat-tails of Michael Jordan as the game gained a global image , all of that was forgotten as the billions of dollars poured in annually . Now with a diluted brand , and a product , wherein the talent has been greatly diluted , a lack of actual defensive prowess on display . Is it any wonder that the game is now at a crossroads ? Viewership is down across the board , and the attendance levels for the games has hit its trough of highs and lows over the last few seasons ( 2010 , 2009 , 2008 , 2007 , 2006 & 2005 ) .

The commissioner and the owners having opened up Pandora’s Box and now are unable to corral the elements they have placed within the fans’ midst . And for the hierarchy and owners to plead poverty when they themselves have simply not reined in costs by way of team salaries . And when concedes to the fact that the players themselves are unwilling to accede anything by way of the concessions sought , you simply get the feeling that NBA is still a powder-keg waiting to explode .

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(1) FILE – In this March 16, 2012 file photo, Denver Broncos executive John Elway , rear, smiles as he arrives at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, in Raleigh, N.C. Elway and coach John Fox traveled to North Carolina to watch Peyton Manning work out at Duke University . ESPN is reporting that Manning is negotiating to join the Broncos . Citing anonymous sources Monday, March 19, 2012, ESPN said that the four-time MVP has instructed agent Tom Condon to negotiate to complete a deal with Denver.(AP Photo/The News & Observer, Shawn Rocco ……

(2) Quarterback Peyton Manning (18) of the Indianapolis Colts smiles after defeating the Denver Broncos 27-13 at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 26, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. It was reported that Peyton Manning will sign as quarterback with the Denver Broncos, barring a snag during intensified contract negotiations according to sources March 19, 2012. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images …….

(3) Papa John’s founder John Schnatter is seen here alongside Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys. The trio were part of a tv and print commercial ad for Papa John’s Pizza . AP Photo/ Mitch Harris …….

(4) Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) reacts in the second half of their NCAA third-round tournament college basketball game against Iowa State in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, March 17, 2012. Kentucky defeated Iowa State 87-71 . AP Photo/John Bazemore ….

(5) LOUISVILLE, KY – MARCH 17: Anthony Booker (22) of the Iowa State Cyclones controls a rebound against the Kentucky Wildcats during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 17, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ……

(6) Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant , left, dunks in front of Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge, right, during the fourth quarter of a NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March 18, 2012. Oklahoma City won 111-95 . AP Photo/Alonzo Adams … …..

(7) Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins , left, defends the basket as Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge , right, shoots during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March 18, 2012. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams ….

(8) Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) shoots past Miami Heat’s Joel Anthony (50) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 18, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 91-81 . AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ….
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Kanye West ………….. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing ”

40 Acres And A Mule , So What You Got Now Spike ?

40 Acres And A Mule , So What You Got Now Spike ?

By tophatal

So did I miss something with regard to patron who tried to suggest that Mike DAntoni while being a very good offensive minded coach simply didn’t have to to do anything as it related to his young New York Knicks’ point guard Jeremy Lin . Now I won’t seek to question this individual’s mindset but I have always been under the impression was simply in the process of improving a players’ game , be they a rookie or a seasoned veteran ! Over the course of his tenure DAntoni hasn’t developed any players who one would consider to have had a major impact on the league . Certainly not Steve Nash or Amare’ Stoudemire while both were players within the Phoenix Suns’ organization . And let’s get real here , though Suns made the playoffs under the former coach’s tenure _____ where they were simply exposed during their NBA postseason forays .

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Slide show for your perusal .

As begrudgingly as the Knicks are beloved as a major NBA franchise we have to look at the recent history of the organization to realize that the Dolan family and the front office executives have made blunders that have been to the detriment of the New York Knicks . James Dolan , the whose company MSG Entertainment Inc. of which the Knicks are a subsidiary is also enjoined with the New York Rangers another lumbering giant aimlessly meandering nowhere .

In what turned about to be something of an unraveling of sorts the Knicks’ season has imploded with the fact that Mike DAntoni offered his resignation to GM Glen Grunwald which was accepted by the general manager . Mike Woodson an assistant coach on DAntoni’s staff has been handed the reins to the sputtering Knicks. Losers in of eight of their last ten games the New York Knicks are stumbling as the season has just gone beyond its midway point. Lin along with teammates Amare` Stoudemire , Carmelo Anthony and J R Smith have simply lost all momentum . At 18-34 the Knicks are locked in a battle within the Eastern Conference for the eighth and final berth for a playoff spot alongside the Milwaukee Bucks . Anyone still convinced that Mike DAntoni has really contributed to the growth of the New York Knicks as an organization ? If so , then please explain succinctly as to your reasons why ?

Within the Atlantic Division the New York Knicks currently sit seven games behind the division leading Philadelphia 76ers (25-17). As this team falls further out of contention , the more you have look at this roster to simply realize that it is now filled with ill-fitting pieces . And while of this idiocy of ” Lin-sanity “ reverberated around the league with fans simply lauding the accomplishments of the young point guard I have to wonder why no one simply didn’t question the fact that the player was at best ill-suited to be leading this staff given the premise that many believe d Knicks to be capable of making the playoffs. Lin has so far committed over sixty-five turnovers through 17 plus games. And there are those who believe that Lin is solely responsible in the growth of his own play ? Shouldn’t the coaching at least be creating the semblance of assisting the Lin in becoming a better player ? Or is that simply naivete` on the path of the patrons who believe it’s simply down the player , himself ? Your thoughts on the matter at this juncture ? That being said many of the Knicks’ woes are solely due to the ill prepared and ill-equipped staff and the fact that Mike DAntoni just isn’t that good a coach by any stretch of the imagination. The guards on this Knicks’ roster includes Baron Davis , Smith , Lin and Mike Bibby . Did I miss something here ? This quartet alone on a good simply aren’t worth the money they’re currently being paid by this Knicks’ organization . And when adjudged against the other point guards within the Eastern Conference and NBA as a whole I’ll let you be the judge as to how productive and efficient the Knicks’ guard are said to be !

I can’t remember the New York Knicks being this bad since Larry Brown was coaching the organization several years ago while former NBA great …. Isiah Thomas was a SVP & Head of Basketball Operations for the Knicks . At the same any of you with a keen insight of the NBA will know also that Thomas also senior executive within the Toronto Raptors’ hierarchy . Let’s just say that Thomas’ track record as a front office executive hasn’t been one without episodes of hilarity. Thomas whilst an executive with the New York Knicks should remember also that he also had his problems off the basketball court . A former female employee within the Knicks’ organization sued not only Isiah Thomas and the franchise for sexual harassment but the plaintiff won her case and a multi-million dollar settlement. That’s the sort of track record that not even Herman Cain could aspire to match or even surpass . But then again , who knows with the former Godfather’s Pizza chain executive ? And you wonder this ass didn’t prove to be a success in his campaign to the Republican nominee to be the challenger to Barack Obama for the 2012 Presidential elections !

Going back to Thomas’ somewhat lackluster record as an NBA executive , the fact that he would sign Allan Houston to an outrageous deal which many questioned the veracity of the contract at the time. This one of a multitude of idiotic deals that took on a life of it’s very own with an array of players who simply were either unproductive or simply didn’t live to expectations. Need I say anymore on the matter ?

Of the three most high profiled players on the current Knicks’ roster Carmelo Anthony , Amare` Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler are highest paid players accounting for over $57.5 million of the team’s overall payroll . The meager returns that the fans have seen at Madison Square Garden has me wondering when the shoe is going to drop and the Knicks’ front office realize that if you’re allegedly paying for top-notch , talent the dividends have to be a very good return on that investment . As of now , the trio have simply offered nothing the fans can actually be proud of . And last I looked , Lin face masks and t-shirts , while being rather something of a novelty simply doesn’t mean much if the team has now become lackluster and about as competitive as a damp squib !

If the Knicks were to miss the postseason once again then it would add to a barren stretch has lasted long enough for the Knicks’ fans to yearn for the return Willis Reed or Bill Bradley . And those revered Hall of Famers are not about to walk back into the ” hallowed ” and ” halcyon arena” known as “The Garden “ ….. Madison Square Garden . One of the most hallowed and revered arenas within the NBA and all of sports as a whole .

At this juncture it would be interesting find out what renowned director Spike Lee’s thoughts might be as the team’s slump has taken on a life its very own . Tonight the New York Knicks will play hosts to LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trailblazers at their home venue. One of the primary ills for the Knicks has to be the very fact that their schedule has become extremely tough over the past two weeks and it’s certainly going to get any easier over the ensuing two and half months . Would it be remiss to suggest that the New York Knicks might seek to further add to their roster by way of a trade , with the trade deadline coming up on the 15th March , 2012. And it should come as no surprise that the Milwaukee Bucks have added to their roster by acquiring the Warriors’ Monta Ellis , with the duo of both Stephen Jackson and Andrew Bogut heading to the Golden State Warriors .

If Knicks should decide to become one of “movers and shakers ” while the rest of the NBA also looks to position themselves amongst the contenders look to play themselves into contention for a playoff berth . And for Mike Woodson being entrusted as the head coach by Glen Grunwald , it is now left to the former Atlanta Hawks’ head coach to quite possibly make some semblance of the Knicks’ now downward spiraling season . It’s going to take a remarkable effort by this team with what has to be extremely exceptional contributions from Carmelo Anthony , Amare` Stoudemire , Tyson Chandler , Jeremy Lin , Iman Shumpert , Landry Fields and Steve Novak , amongst others .

Now I could lambast the New York Knicks as an organization given their ineptitude in recent years but what would be the point ? It may or may not serve a purpose but one has to point out the flaws with an franchise , rather than continue show apathy . In large part that is simply what we will tend to see from the vast majority of sports’ fans , and it is certainly no different within the NBA landscape . For the Knicks’ fans out there I would like for them to succinctly explain to me how they view this latest episode in the franchise’s storied existence ? If the rumors are to be believed then the breaking point may well have been down to what is said to be the disintegrating relationship between Mike DAntoni and Carmelo Anthony . If there is any veracity to this at all , then it simply shows us once again where the power truly lies within the NBA ! It’s certainly not the NBA head coaches , team owners , league hierarchy or for that matter David Stern . It’s the power of the coddled NBA superstar whose demeanor as a self-absorbed individual can be the “nail “ in the ” coffin” of a head coach . And not far behind , the anvil and hammer represented by the NBPA (union) who can simply pound the hierarchy into submission , at will . Doubt my word ? Then ask yourself this question ….. who profited most from the latest collective bargaining agreement within the NBA ? The executive committee of the NBPA or the league hierarchy under the tenure of commissioner David Stern ? Your thoughts ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Whether or not if you’re fan of the New York Knicks what do you envisage seeing coming out of this whole episode as it relates to the franchise ? Do you believe that DAntoni’s resignation was done to appease a player on this roster or simply down to the lack commitment by the players and that of the coaching staff ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on this and any other pertinent points as it relates to the NBA .

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Glen Grunwald the New York Knicks Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations and Interim Manager announces (R) Mike Woodson as the interim head coach of the New York Knicks following the resignation of Mike D’Antoni at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ….

(2) NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 14: Executive Chairman of Madison Square Garden & NBA Governor, James L. Dolan speaks to the media at a press conference to announce Mike Woodson as the interim head coach of the New York Knicks following the resignation of Mike D’Antoni at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

(3) Glen Grunwald the New York Knicks Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations and Interim Manager announces (L) Mike Woodson as the interim head coach of the New York Knicks following the resignation of Mike D’Antoni at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ……..

(4) FILE – In this Jan. 31, 2012 file photo, New York Knicks assistant coach Mike Woodson, left, reacts as he watches the Knicks defense while sitting next to coach Mike D’Antoni in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons at Madison Square Garden in New York. A person with knowledge of the decision says D’Antoni has resigned. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the team had yet to announce the move. AP Photo/Kathy Willens ….

(5) Jeremy Lin (17) of the New York Knicks battles for a loose ball foul with Marcus Camby (23) of the Portland Trail Blazers and Raymond Felton (5) of the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images …

(6) Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks looks on against the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images …..

(7) Mike Woodson the interim head coach of the New York Knicks calls a play during the game against the Portland Trailblazers at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images … ….

(8) Jeremy Lin (17) of the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony (17) of the New York Knicks on the court against the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images …. …..

(9) The New York Knicks’ starting five — Dick Barnett , Walt Frasier , Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere , and Willis Reed (l. to r.) — rejoice in the dressing room after winning their fifth playoff game against the Milwaukee Bucks, by a lopsided score of 132-96, and with it their first National Basketball Association Eastern Conference title since 1953. The Knicks went on to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals for their first-ever NBA championship . NBAE/ NBA Getty Images archives …….. ….

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Dedicated to the “freak-show” now known as the New York Knicks . Janelle Monae ….. feat’g Big Boi ……” Tightrope”