Life Is What You Make It Not The Belly-aching One Associates With Primadonna Athletes …..

Life Is What You Make It Not The Belly aching One Associates With Prima donna Athletes …..

By tophatal ….. ..2012-04-28 7:14:05 AM

Well the NBA Playoffs for the 2011 season is now here , and we are aware of the final standings within the various divisions and conferences thereof . The Charlotte Bobcats had the dubious distinction of finishing with the worst record percentage wise in league history . And for team owner Michael Jordan , apart from the accolades of a distinguished career he will now be associated with of two decisions that will haunt his position as an executive for years to come. First , in 2001 when he drafted Kwame Brown straight out of high school as the number one pick from that 2001 NBA Draft , ahead of far more established and polished college players , ready to play at the professional level . And for the Washington Wizards’ franchise they have not been the same ever since that epic blunder.

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The one hope from out of this all is relates to the Charlotte Bobcats will be the hope that they can actually win out in the Draft Lottery pick from this year’s draft . With a slew of proven talent on offer , there is the possibility that Rod Wiggins can start the rebuilding process by obtaining Anthony Davis and making him the #1 overall pick. Anything short of that , and it will be another ” nail in the coffin ” of this moribund NBA franchise.

Now there’s no denying that the most enticing of the first round match-ups in the playoffs has to the be the Eastern Conference series between the Miami Heat and New York Knicks . Their epic regular and postseason battles have been well chronicled and it is certainly not going to be any different with so much on the line for both teams. The respective coaches , Erik Spoelstra and Mike Woodson have a great deal to prove . Spoelstra is under the added pressure , given the fact that his team failed miserably in the NBA Finals of last season , eventually losing to the Dallas Mavericks , in one of the biggest upsets in recent NBA history . Woodson , for his part having assumed the reins after the resignation of his predecessor Mike D’Antoni , has the team playing with some semblance of consistency . But their biggest flaw still remains the unwillingness to play a consistent brand of defense throughout the entire 48 minutes of a game. It will be incumbent upon the coach to get his players to buy into the fact that they will have to play stoutly in that particular aspect against on of the NBA’s most prolific offenses .

There’s a reason why the presumptive favorite for this season’s MVP ……… LeBron James remains one of the most dynamic and prolific scorers within the game today . And this season by any stretch of the imagination has been one of his best . Alongside James , we have Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh , two players who of anything will have to be at their very best if the Miami Heat are to come away with a first round series victory.

Game one of this best-of-seven series will be played at the AA Arena , in Miami, Florida , in what is sure to be in-front of a sell-out crowd and a national television audience of millions. That being said , I am sure that the New York Knicks led by the team’s leading scorer ……. Carmelo Anthony would like nothing better than to upset the apple cart and take down the Miami Heat. And with the highly anticipated return of power forward Amar`e Stoudemire , even if it is in something of a limited role . It is hope that they will be competitive enough to make this series a highly entertaining one . Stoudemire , coming off what has been a forced rest because of a back injury will no doubt be eager to prove that he’s back to his very best . And though earlier in the season for the Knicks the hype was simply about the play of Jeremy Lin . Let’s get one thing clear , Lin was good , but to suggest that he single-handed resurrected the fortunes of the Knicks’ season would be preposterous ! And it remains to be seen as to whether or not the former Harvard player will at all be able to make any sort of contribution to the Knicks’ postseason efforts , as he remains on the team’s injury list .

Pat Riley and Glen Grunwald as the respective front office executives for the Miami Heat and New York Knicks have a great deal riding on this series . From an economic and competitive standpoint it is imperative that their teams have undoubted success this postseason. Anything short of the Conference Finals would be looked upon as a distinct failure. Granted , over the past two years both of these franchises have been amongst the best supported teams in terms of attendance . ( 2011 & 2010 ) . And with that sort of loyalty there are the financial gains to be accumulated for both franchises . The two teams within the NBA have amongst the highest payrolls , with several of the players on the respective rosters being amongst the highest paid within the game.

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LeBron James in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated (SI’s) Lee Jenkins , where he stated that this season , he had his own personal epiphany , and that he has changed as a player . That may well have been the case because as such I would like to believe that he has shown signs of maturity as a human being and also as a player. Who can forget the sheer mendacity of James and teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in posing the question and then answering it in their own inimitable way that the team as it consisted was capable of winning multiple NBA titles , many of which James believed could be done in succession. Showman-ship no do doubt orchestrated by Pat Riley in the lead up to and acquisition of both Bosh and James indicated to us that the Miami Heat was about to become a three Ringed Circus” and not an actual basketball team . Everything was being force-fed to the public and fans alike that it simply began to alienate the vast majority of supporters of the NBA . And LeBron James certainly didn’t help his cause with that rather asinine and tedious extrapolated interview with ESPN’s Jim Gray concerning his intent in making the announcement that he would be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent to then play for the Miami Heat . That single act had made James look something of a “joke ” at the time , albeit that some rather asinine NBA analysts jumped to the player’s defense merely suggesting that it was simply naivete` and a sign of James still being young and unable to truly understand the media . I beg to differ , as LeBron James , fully understood but in this case , having been coddled as a prodigious talent in high school and having the press at his beck and call along around the clock coverage in the print and television media as to his each and every move ! He simply continued to crave the attention , with the press being all too willing to fall into the trap of ” caving to and listening to his every word” , no matter how incoherent and nonsensical his comments were said to be . One simply had to await for the self-induced implosion to happen . And for the player’s detractors it came about in the most appealing of ways , with the Miami Heat’s demise in the NBA Finals of last season. Heat GM Pat Riley was critical of those who leveled any type of criticism for the team’s play in the aftermath of the loss and it has to be said he was none too pleased even when there doubts about his decision to acquire both Bosh and James prior to last season.

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated (SI)

After tumultuous first year in Miami, LeBron returns a new man

By Lee Smith , Sports Illustrated

LeBron James sinks into a restaurant booth on the first floor of the Westin in Jersey City, N.J., and orders a chamomile tea. The sun is setting on a Saturday in the middle of April, and through the windows he can see cars snaking toward the Holland Tunnel, beckoned by the lights of New York City. “For me,” says James, “this is chillin’ time.” It is the travel day between two back-to-backs, four games in four cities, and he is swaddled in black sweats and a red Heat baseball cap with a flat black brim. His voice is hoarse but he says he doesn’t have a sore throat. He prepares the tea as if it is a science project, lifting a small jar of honey and slowly pouring it into a teaspoon he holds over the mug, until the honey is about to overflow. He lowers the spoon and gently stirs, then squeezes three lemon wedges into the tea and sucks the rinds. It is suggested that lemons are bad for his teeth. “That’s OK,” James says, easing his massive shoulders against the back of the booth. “My teeth are already terrible.” He smiles wide enough to reveal almost every one.

Tranquil moments are few in the chaotic life of LeBron James. He steals them when he can, sitting on his patio in Coconut Grove, Fla., and admiring the waves on Biscayne Bay, biking across Rickenbacker Causeway with friends to Key Biscayne, watching basketball on television and flipping the channel when the announcers utter his name. Forward Shane Battier, in his first year with Miami, sounds as if he could lead a seminar at Duke deconstructing the James phenomenon. “He is a global icon, a basket-ball monolith, the most prevalent and recognizable athlete of our generation,” says Battier. “And he’s one of a kind, because he’s the first to rise to prominence in the Information Age, which is why he’s such a fascinating sociological observation. He’s accountable every single day for every single thing, from how he plays to what he tweets to what he says in the pre- and the postgame interviews. He has a camera and a microphone on him wherever he goes, and then when he [goes out to] dinner, there’s a camera phone on him. This is what he signed up for. There is a price to pay. He understands that. But I don’t think a lot of guys could handle it.”

James isn’t just coping, he is completing one of the finest all-around seasons in the NBA’s modern era. At week’s end he was averaging 27.1 points with 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists while shooting 53.1 percent. Larry Bird never shot 53.1 percent. His player efficiency rating of 30.6 leads the league by more than four points, and he is holding opposing small forwards to an anemic efficiency rating of 10.4, according to 82games.com. The 6-foot-8 James is the Heat’s best ball handler, passer and post scorer, but he also covers everyone from point guards to centers, sometimes in the same game. “We are asking him to play at an MVP level,” says coach Erik Spoelstra, “and at a Defensive Player of the Year level.” James is attempting fewer three-pointers than ever while making them at a higher clip (36.2 percent). He is grabbing more rebounds in part because he is spending more time inside. His game log is a litany of near triple doubles. The NBA has not witnessed such a balanced and prolific individual assault since Michael Jordan in 1988-89, two years before his first title.

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Another seismic meltdown at any point of this postseason would be catastrophic for the Miami Heat organization in so many ways. Pat Riley and team owner Micky Arison can ill afford to go another season without a trophy within their cabinet . And though it as has been five years since the Heat’s sole triumph in the NBA Finals , it was felt with the acquisition of both Chris Bosh and LeBron James . The owner and the franchise’s fans would reap the benefits of that deal and in James’ own words verbatim ………………. “not one , not two , not three our four but perhaps five or six NBA titles would in the franchise’s future. ” Well as of now , the team in its present guise has yet to win its first and though on paper they well be viewed as the best team within the conference , neither their record or their play has simply reflected ….. that !

The game itself proved to me once and for all , inasmuch as Mike Woodson had in recent weeks made the this Knicks’ team play with some resolve from the defensive end . What we all witnessed was the very fact that the New York Knicks have no real wish to play defense . If that were the case , then they would not have been blown in a lopsided thirty-three point loss to the Miami Heat . Bosh , James and Wade simply waylaid the Knicks and had their way with the team . It looks as if this series will probably not go seven games but it would be of grave concern to the Knicks’ fans should they witness the team fall from grace in such an aspect.

It had to happen , a simple twist of fate can turn a season of hope into one of unimaginable nightmares . The playoff fate of Chicago Bulls as the number one seed s within the Eastern Conference now looks in jeopardy with the apparent loss of Derrick Rose in their first round series against the Philadelphia 76ers . In the latter part of the third quarter Rose was injured in a play that at the time seemed innocuous but it has somehow led to the player missing the entire postseason. The tearing of Derrick Rose’s anterior cruciate ligament ( ACL) means the Bulls’ best player will have to undergo off-season surgery to repair the damage . The Bulls came away with a victory but Tom Thibodeau is now left in something of a dilemma as how best to recover and have his team make something of their season’s aspirations .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

This NBA postseason has been beset by injuries to a number of players and it certainly has cast something of a shadow for the aspirations for Boston Celtics , Orlando Magic , Bulls and New York Knicks . Simply go down the list of players now downed by injuries ? Ask yourself this , how different would the scenarios now not what they now appear to be with a slew of players now disabled by their injury woes ? And what if anything are you most looking forward as the NBA postseason unfolds ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of the site as it is greatly appreciated .

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(1) LeBron James and ESPN’s Jim Gray speak at the LeBron James announcement of his future NBA plans at the Boys & Girls Club of America on July 8, 2010 in Greenwich, Connecticut. James announced during a live broadcast on ESPN that he will play for the Miami Heat next season. Getty Images North America / Larry Bussaca ….

(2) LeBron James and ESPN’s Jim Gray speak at the LeBron James announcement of his future NBA plans at the Boys & Girls Club of America on July 8, 2010 in Greenwich, Connecticut. James announced during a live broadcast on ESPN that he will play for the Miami Heat next season. Larry Bussaca / Getty Images North America …..

(3) ) MIAMI, FL – APRIL 28 : Guard Iman Shumpert (21) of the New York Knicks is carried off the court against the Miami Heat in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2012 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images …

(4) MIAMI, FL – APRIL 28: Guard Iman Shumpert #21, Amar’e Stoudemire (1) (C) and Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks argue with the referee against the Miami Heat in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2012 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Knicks 100-67 . Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images ….

(5) Forward LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat shoots over J.R. Smith (8) of the New York Knicks in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2012 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images ….

(6) Dimmer and dumber ! New York Knicks fans hold signs against the Miami Heat in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2012 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Marc Serota /Getty Images ………

(7) (7) Forward LeBron James (6) , (C) Guard Dwyane Wade (3) and Forward Mike Miller (13) of the Miami Heat celebrate against the New York Knicks in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2012 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

(8) Chicago Bulls Head Athletic Trainer Fred Tedeschi assists Derrick Rose ( 1) after injuring his knee against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2012 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images …..

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I’m Not Buying Into It But Someone Has To …. The NFL Where’s The Sanity ?

I’m Not Buying Into It But Someone Has To …. The NFL Where’s The Sanity ?

By tophatal ………. 12/04/26 00:35:21

The NFL Draft staged at Radio City Music Hall , New York City , New York , is here for 2012 and we are now about to see the front executives of the NFL’s 32 teams simply gauge the talent to be on display . A formal announcement has been made by GM Ryan Grigson of the Indianapolis Colts that they will after-all make Andrew Luck the #1 overall pick in this year’s Draft. No surprise there , eh ? I mean in reality the Colts couldn’t really lose , either way . It was either take Luck , or the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III out of Baylor . Robert Griffin III will be the second pick taken by the Washington Redskins , and there goes the neighborhood , because RGIII now has to deal with Kyle and Mike Shanahan . Believe me , better the “Devil” you know than the one you don’t ! . But bear in mind how god damn awful the Redskins’ quarterbacks have been over the last two seasons ( 2011 & 2010 ) within the NFL ! Please , Daniel Snyder and GM Bruce Allen don’t mess this all up , I beg of you please !

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Now while the whole world simply stops to see this three-day extravaganza simply become a bore , it has to be said the seventh and final round , after 200 plus picks , well , it gets me on edge . If last season’s NFL Draft was anything to go by , once we got beyond the second round , was there really anything else to really get excited over ? Come on now , at least be honest with yourself , it not with me then at least be honest with yourself . Cam Newton last year’s number one pick reveled in that role , excelling in that the position , as he led the Carolina Panthers on an improbable run in the NFL and thereby justifying the front office’s faith in his undoubted abilities .

As to what the upcoming season holds for the Carolina Panthers , I can only assume that Ron Rivera and his coaching staff will be looking complement the existing roster with players who will be able contribute greatly to the in light of the contributions made last season . And given what we have witnessed by way of the decisions made by the Panthers it has to be said the coaching staff hopes to be fortuitous with their picks in the 2011 NFL Draft .

With the continued uproar and the ongoing embarrassment irreparable damage done the image of the NFL . It has to be said the ongoing debacle concerning the New Orleans Saints and the “Bounty-gate” scandal has now taken on a life of its very own. With NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell not choosing to overturn his original decision as to the punishment meted out to Sean Payton (full year suspension) , Joe Vitt (eight regular season games ) , GM Mickey Loomis ( six games) and an indefinite suspension of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams . It now begs the question in light the decision rendered , what else could exactly exacerbate the situation even further ? Well , it would appear Loomis is now embroiled in a further controversy , wherein allegations are now being made that the general manager is said to have used a listening device to eavesdrop on the offensive strategies of games played by the Saints against their opponents in 2002 , 2003 and 2004 . The team’s head coach at the time was Sean Payton’s predecessor Jim Haslett . Joe Vitt , has been quick to jump to Mickey Loomis’ defense , stating that his colleague is a man whose integrity and honesty should never be in doubt and in no way would he have stooped such depths . Now unless I am mistaken , the evidence and factual as we now know them to be indicates that Vitt , Loomis , Payton and Williams all lied to the NFL commissioner , the NFL’s investigators conducting their inquiry in the allegations as they were at the time concerning the original scandal . And furthermore, all four individuals also lied to team owner Tom Benson . If Loomis has lied about that , then why would anyone now take him at his word ? Because he now is telling us the truth on this specific allegation ? It has become a pattern of behavior in terms of the determined conceit and lies . So why would anything , now change as it relates to the New Orleans Saints ? Your thoughts ?

Now unless Joe Vitt is trying to be a sanctimonious bastard , I can only surmise that he’s simply trying to alleviate the ongoing problems that the franchise is now said to be facing ! From Superbowl winners in 2010 to now , ” the pariahs “ within the NFL , with about the franchise’s only firm support now coming from their die-hard fans . The Saints in the year since acquiring Drew Brees via free agency have seen a rise in their overall support and attendance for games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome , New Orleans , Louisiana . And the quarterback’s production in the ensuing years since becoming a member of the franchise has been nothing short of amazing . And 2011 , may well have been his most prolific by way of the statistics accumulated , and the very fact that he was named NFL league MVP . Brees’ own integrity might now come into question , given his own ongoing support of his beleaguered head coach. For the life of me , I simply cannot fathom the mindset of the Saints’ players as they still come out in support of Sean Payton , even in the aftermath of his admission of guilt and his repeated lies ! As to their denials , really , innocent until proven guilty ? Oh yes , let’s continue to go ahead that with that premise shall we ? And who hear still believes that ‘ O J’ …. was innocent ? C’mon now !

As Roger Goodell has made it clear that he seeks to punish the Saints’ players involved in the scandal will be punished with impunity . While this should come as no surprise the actions of the NFLPA under its Executive Director DeMaurice Smith , and their executive committee under newly installed President Dominick Foxworth may well face something of an uphill battle in seeking to defend their members involved in this issue while not wanting to show partiality to members who may well feel that the New Orleans Saints’ players certainly at the center of it all should in some way be punished for their actions , even if they were financially rewarded as an incentive for their involvement in the scheme . Vitt maintains , that it was never his or the players’ intent to seek to go out and cause any harm but herein lies my thought to this all , why proceed with this rather asinine and infantile scheme to begin if it was their intent not to cause any harm to an opponent ? The coaches’ stance in this matter reeks of inanity but also culpability and in no way should these players be allowed to use the premise that they were under orders by their coaches to proceed with the actions in question. The financial incentives may well have been a ” means to an end ” but in all honesty and reality, they proceeded in that context of their own volition and ” free will “ . Only an ass , would now proceed to dry and defend the players and suggest that they should not be punished ! Your thoughts on the matter ?

The loss of NFL Draft picks might not really hinder the New Orleans Saints that much given the first round status within the process this year . However , I will continue to maintain that the financial punishment of $500, 000 was simply inadequate and a mere slap on the wrist for a franchise whose revenues in 2011 ran into ” tens of millions of dollars” over the course of their 2011 schedule . Goodell , and his chief legal counsel Jeff Pash have yet to convince me that their actions could not have been far more severe ! Instead , all it has indicated to me is that Roger Goodell, simply has no stomach for a real fight when pressed into action. His adversarial battle against the union (NFLPA) in the labor strife and lockout , had the commissioner coming off looking like an inexperienced novice . DeMaurice Smith , an experienced former corporate litigator with DC law firm Patton Boggs LLC as well as former US DA & prosecutor with the US Justice Department , made his NFL counterpart look completely out of his depth and looking very much the ass whose head was stuck up his own rear end ! The NFL owners may well feel that they came out winners at the end of this lockout but in reality there never was , and has been no outright winner after this particular debacle . Ten years of peace , according the NFL hierarchy and union ? That’s akin to saying that the lightly ongoing truce between the Palestinians and Israeli’s will last beyond a lifetime . And as we all know, the countless negotiations either led by the UN or the US State Department and the successive Presidents from Jimmy Carter on down has shown that , they have no real idea of the underlying issues at hand concerning the Middle Eastern crisis as it relates to Palestinian statehood . The ongoing skirmishes , loss of life and there’s no signs of a lasting peace between the two parties . And it is clear, neither have the NFL or the NFLPA as to their own ongoing problems that they are far from actually being at peace , never mind the truce that is said to be within their midst. What they have simply done is to use a Band-Aid to cover a gunshot wound to the abdomen that has bled profusely , hemorrhaging countless pints of blood in the process .

Now while ESPN will provide us with almost gavel to gavel coverage of the draft process with host Chris Berman , the analytical advice coming from Todd McShay, Mel Kiper Jr , Chris Mortensen and Adam Shefter . I would certainly like to think that they will provide the fans and draft geeks alike with something informative , rather than their continued bloated opinions that in large part at times does tend to be asinine . Someone needs to remind Mel , that Akili Smith was never going to be the next ” big thing” in the NFL and Ryan Leaf became a ” bust “ and was simply never good enough to lace up Peyton Manning’s boots , much less assist him in putting on his ” protector cup “ . Oh, the shame , and the mere fact that these analysts never come acknowledge their prognostic mistakes . Now what ?

As die-hard New England Patriots’ fan seeing the team blow their lead in the Superbowl , once again reminds me why Bill Belichick still annoys me like a fly hovering around the ominous signs of death , when there’s a dead animal carcass in sight ! Wearing a ‘hoody’ or not , there’s something remarkably disconcerting with regard to the head coach . God knows, I respect the man but his continued tinkering with the defense led me to now understand why they failed so miserably in the game against the New York Giants ! I can only hope that in spite of the team’s off-season acquisitions and their undoubted draft choices .

The needs for the Patriots remains on defense but also the fact that there’s a need for a very productive productive …… running back . Team statistics would suggest team had numerous problems over the course of the regular and postseason . If Bill Belichick and GM Nick Caserio can address the issues in question then I would like to think that Tom Brady will have the weapons that will complement his proficiency and produce another ultimately rewarding season for the New England Patriots ! Another shot at the Superbowl would be nice but I am not sure that this might be their season given the evidence this postseason . Two bites at the same god-damn apple and it’s if the team performed like aging geriatrics in need of periodontal work . Holy shit , does the team really seem that old ? Tom Brady isn’t yet ready for a hospice is he ? Or could it be that he’s laying the “wood” to Giselle Bundchen far more often than needed ? What do you think ? Man cannot live by bread alone , and he sure as hell can’t live without sex that’s for sure ! Brady , lay “the wood” because I would , and will continue to do so !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What if anything are you most anticipating as it relates to the upcoming NFL Draft ? And how do you see your team faring ? Also in light of the ongoing debacle as it relates to the New Orleans Saints do you believe the initial punishment fitting as rendered by the league hierarchy under Roger Goodell ? Chime in with your thoughts as you deem fit .

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(1) NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 26: Andrew Luck (R) from Stanford greets NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after Luck was selected #1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images …

(2) Robert Griffin III from Baylor greets NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after Griffin was selected #2 overall by the Washington Redskins in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images ….

(3) NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 26: Shea McClellin (R) of Boise State holds up a jersey as he stands on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was selected #19 overall by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images …

(4) Cam Newton(1) of the Carolina Panthers runs away from Dominique Franks (24) of the Atlanta Falcons during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Getty Images North America / Streeter Lecka …..

(5) Joe Vitt (left) and Sean Payton of the New Orleans on the sidelines of a game last season . The coaches along with GM Mickey Loomis (right) are under a league suspension for much of the 2012 regular season . Matt Moore / AFP Photo ….

(6) New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick speaks at a news conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., following the Patriots’ first-round NFL football draft selections, Thursday, April 26, 2012. The Patriots selected Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones with the 21st overall pick and Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower with the 25th overall pick. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer …

(7) NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 26: Dont’a Hightower of Alabama holds up a jersey as he stands on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was selected #25 overall by the New England Patriots in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images ……

(8) GM Nick Caserio of the New England Patriots speaks with the convened press at Gillette Stadium , Foxboro ‘ , Massachusetts . The general manager and front office staff undoubtedly hope to see the team make great strides this season , with the hope of seeing the franchise claim their fourth Superbowl title . Boston Herald / Nick Mason …..

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Metta World Peace …. Gutless Is Thy Name , Bear The Shame And Speak No More As To Your Greatness …..

Metta World Peace …. Gutless Is Thy Name , Bear The Shame And Speak No More As To Your Greatness …..

By tophatal ……. 04/26/12 …. 2:31:30 AM

The Los Angeles Lakers are a ” classless” organization and as to the less than contrite apology for what he says was simply an emotive action , it begs to the psychological disorder of Metta World Peace and his flagrant foul on the Oklahoma City Thunder’s James Harden . Mitch Kupchak is a gutless asshole , who by any stretch of the imagination will never be able to fill Jerry West’s boots as a front office executive . As for World Peace , he should consider himself lucky that David Stern showed the cojones` not often seen by this publicity craving league executive . Seven games and part of the postseason is a mere pittance in terms of a suspension , when one considers the premeditated intent and Peace’s pattern of behavior over the course of his career . Need one be reminded of the Palace of Auburn Hills’ ” fiasco ” and the melee` that embroiled Ron Artest as he was then known as an Indiana Pacers’ player , in a game played against the Detroit Pistons . Artest’s incendiary actions , in attacking a spectator and then the opposing players of the Pistons speaks volumes as to the his psychological disorder and the fact that we would later be made aware that he suffers from bi-polar disorder . But that certainly is no excuse and should not excuse his heinous act against James Harden .

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Had that been one of the NBA’s more high profiled players such as LeBron James , Dwyane Wade , Blake Griffin , Kevin Durant or perhaps Carmelo Anthony . One simply wonders what the public outcry may well have been had one of the aforementioned players been the subject of Metta World Peace’s actions and the subsequent concussion suffered ? Harden , having followed all of the league’s mandated protocols in terms passing a medical having suffered a concussion. The team’s front office has seen fit to rest James Harden for the remainder of their regular season and the initial start of their postseason schedule. Undoubtedly, as the team’s third leading scorer behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook it is understandable why Harden would be sorely missed by Scott Brooks and his coaching staff . One simply has to look at how prolific the Oklahoma City Thunder just happens to be .

As to Lakers’ coach Mike Brown he knows that his team in something of a mini-drought but I do believe that as Kobe Bryant goes , then so does this team ! Offensively and defensively the Los Angeles Lakers have been remarkably inconsistent and in pails into insignificance when one compares this team statistically in terms of last season . And while the Lakers are in something of a dog-fight in terms of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference against their Staples Center co-resident the Los Angeles Clippers .

If there is one thing that has become abundantly clear and it is that beyond Pau Gasol , Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant , the Lakers are starved of meaningful offense . And it certainly hasn’t helped that in terms the point guard play for the team it has been less than admirable . Steve Blake and Ramon Sessions simply have been nowhere as creative or productive enough provide the Lakers with the support needed in this specific category . And it simply doesn’t bode well for the Los Angeles Lakers and their aspirations for the postseason . If Kobe Bryant is to equal the tally in terms of his hero Michael Jordan , in terms NBA titles and championship rings (6) then we have to agree that Bryant will be the primary focal point for this roster as to the competitiveness of the team’s overall play. Anything short of that and the Lakers will succumb and inevitably fail during the NBA playoffs.

Mike Brown has been lucky enough to have fallen into his current position in having succeeded Phil Jackson as the head coach of the NBA’s most storied .. franchises . . The Los Angeles Lakers’ dynasty that has brought us Worthy , Earvin ” Magic” Johnson , Chamberlain , Shaquille O’Neal and Jerry West , enters a new phase as the Kobe Bryant ” era “ slowly begins to wind down . From my own perspective I have felt away felt that their was a rush to judgment when it came to the hiring of Mike Brown ! A quick fix , rather than simply getting the best available candidate. . The Lakers had one in Brian Shaw who was Jackson’s most trusted assistant . But somehow he was simply overlooked by Mitch Kupchak , and team owner Jerry Buss’ son , Stephen Buss . And while the Lakers may well be viewed as one of the most revered organizations in the NBA . My own feeling because of the lack of foresight and a proactive move by Kupchak to take charge and mete out an internal form of punishment by organization. It simply leads me to believe that Mitch Kupchak believed that the player would somehow be either be treated with “kid gloves” by the NBA hierarchy . Kupchak showed a lack of insight and acumen and by his lack of action in some ways condoned Metta’s sheer stupidity.

With it recently being revealed that the Portland Trailblazers have sought permission to approach Mitch Kupchak to gauge his interest in serving in the same capacity within their organization. Certainly that particular Western Conference franchise is in need of a very good front office executive . Especially in light of Dwayne Casey’s firing , the lackluster season by the team , by way of their play. throughout this year . The loss of Brandon Roy , notwithstanding due to his early retirement and his curtailing of a bright career due to unforeseeable but recurring injuries led to the somewhat early demise of the Portland Trailblazers. Greg Oden simply failed to live up expectations as a number one overall draft pick from 2007 . Oden’s college career while great it has to be noted , while playing for Ohio State , he was hindered by the injuries that would simply make his NBA sojourn , one of unwanted bouts of unimaginable nightmares .

Mitch Kupchak may well decide to remain with the Los Angeles Lakers but that may well be predicated upon how the team fares over the course of this postseason. A potential first round match-up against the Denver Nuggets (36-28) now awaits the Lakers based upon the conference standings and a projected season’s end record. As the third seed within conference they are firmly entrenched behind the second place Oklahoma City Thunder (47-18) and their first placed San Antonio Spurs (49-16). George Karl , Ty Lawson and his teammates would no doubt like to derail the ambitions of conference counterparts and one shouldn’t take the team lightly given their recent play over their last 10 games (7-3) .

Last season’s playoffs if anything indicated to us that one should take nothing for granted as we witnessed the demise of the San Antonio Spurs being derailed in their first round series’ loss to the Memphis Grizzlies . The Spurs at the time were the number one seed in the Western Conference and it paved the way for the Grizzlies’ improbable run during 2010 postseason. I am not about to suggest that the Los Angeles Lakers will go down without a fight but certainly without the possibility of Metta World Peace being in their starting lineup it does not make their task any easier in trying to get by the Nuggets. And while I believe him to be a player whose talent is undeniable it has been his mental psyche as to his makeup that I simply detest about the player as an individual . God knows, the NBA has enough to worry about this season without ticking time-bomb being on the rampage . But it has become abundantly clear that the NBA brand or game doesn’t need the gross-out antics of a player whose lack of contrition was deplorable and inescapable , much less the fact that no one from within the Lakers’ hierarchy chose to take the player to task for his reprehensible behavior. Mike Brown with his rather asinine statement saying that the player would be dearly missed because he’s needed in their time of need simply showed that his concerns were not for the well-being of the injured James Harden , never mind the fact that not one of the Lakers’ player showed any type of remorse over their teammate’s outlandish act ! The Lakers are no longer an organization that warrants the fans; respect but somehow this will be glossed over , merely because of David Stern’s rather innocuous seven game suspension of Metta World Peace . As I alluded to earlier , were that Blake Griffin or Kevin Durant on the receiving end of that elbow , I wonder what the outcry would be from the fans and public alike ? Your thoughts on the matter ?

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Do you feel that David Stern’s 7 game suspension of the Lakers’ Metta World Peace is adequate ? If yes or no , simply state your reasons as what you feel may or not be appropriate in terms of the NBA commissioner’s actions ? And what if anything , are you most looking forward to in terms of the potential first round match-ups during this postseason ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit .

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(1) LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 22: Metta World Peace (15) of the Los Angeles Lakers leaves the court after being ejected for hitting James Harden (13) of the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on April 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 114-106 in double overtime . Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …

(2) FILE – In this Sunday, April 22, 2012, file photo , Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace gives an elbow to Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden, rear, earning him a double flagrant foul and ejection during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. It was announced Tuesday, April 24, that Lakers’ World Peace has been suspended 7 games for elbowing Thunder’s Harden in Sunday’s game. AP Photo/Reed Saxon

(3) James Harden (13) of the Oklahoma City Thunder lies on the floor after being elbowed by Metta World Peace ( 15 ) of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …….

(4) Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on April 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(5) Mitch Kupchak ,left is seen here with the newly installed head coach Mike Brown . He succeeds the eleven-time NBA titlist Phil Jackson who won 5 titles with the Lakers and 6 with the Chicago Bulls during the “Jordan Pippen era” . Many felt that Lakers’ assistant Brian Shaw was the “heir-apparent” to Jackson . But he was overlooked by Kupchak and Stephen Buss , son of team owner Dr Jerry Buss . Los Angeles Time / Enrique Calderon …

(6) Portland Trail Blazers coach Kaleb Canales talks to his players during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Monday, April 23, 2012, in San Antonio. AP Photo/Eric Gay … …..

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Let’s Face It Baseball And Its Hierarchy Haven’t A God Damn Clue …

Let’s Face It Baseball And Its Hierarchy Haven’t A God Damn Clue

By tophatal ………… 4/24/2012 – 10:13:12 PM

Over the past few weeks I’ve been reassigned within our banking and finance section ( workplace ) in aiding with bond issues for municipalities within the state of Florida . What has become apparent in recent years are the number of municipalities , state and county governments that are in bankruptcy proceeding or who intend to enter into that particular phase . Consider the situation of Jefferson County , Alabama who recently declared bankruptcy (Chapter 9) with debts in excess of $ 4.3 billion ($4,300,000,000) and the county government itself has sought to auction off buildings owned by that governmental agency . In light of the recent acknowledgement that former Los Angeles Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt having taken the organization into bankruptcy in 2011. That Chapter 11 filing in the US Bankruptcy Court within the state of Delaware saw the ball-club with debts in excess of $1.45 billion and assets of a mere $455 million . . Not enough to satisfy with team’s creditors by any stretch of the imagination . The rudimentary issues faced by the organization which was recently bought by a consortium led by former NBA great Magic Johnson , former league front office executive Stan Kasten and the senior partners of buyout specialists and capital investment firm Guggenheim Partners LLC , whose CEO , Mark Walter , his partners in conjunction with Kasten and Johnson lodged a successful $2 billion ($2,000,000,000) all cash bid for the Dodgers.

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What might be even more exacerbating when now takes into the egregious actions of Frank McCourt , it has been revealed that the former owner will walk away $800 million after the sale of the ball-club. This may well not sit well with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ fans even with the advent of the sale to the new owners. At the same time , I have to wonder how it is that Bud Selig and the members of the league hierarchy can actually feel entirely happy with this outcome ! And while several team owners have questioned the whole bidding process and whether or not the commissioner surreptitiously favored the winning bid over that of the six other active purchasers taking part in the process . Granted , the presiding judge was aided in this endeavor by investment firm The Blackstone Group . Pardon me for saying this , but any idiot seeking to support Bud Selig as the MLB commissioner , either has to be anally retentive or simply without a god-damn ounce of common sense ! Never mind the fact that Selig’s annual salary $23 million would place him amongst the highest paid players within baseball . And to think that there are several teams within the game that continue struggle to even remain competitive much less be in a financial position to meet their payroll needs . At some point the fastidious morons out there will wake up and smell the coffee or simply continue to drink the Kool-Aid . Which is it to be for you at this juncture ? Rather than continue to act as if all is right within the world of baseball as we are said to know it .

Courtesy of USA Today

Dodgers sale isn’t win-win for MLB

By Bob Nightingale , USA Today

Major League Baseball plans to evict Frank McCourt from its exclusive club in a week, but the celebration is shrouded with caution.

Financial questions first arose when McCourt, who failed in an earlier bid to buy the Boston Red Sox , purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004 . And while his reign has left the proud franchise in financial ruins, there are fears that baseball’s rush to get rid of him could change the way teams are bought and sold.

The Guggenheim Baseball Management group , led by owners Mark Walter and Magic Johnson and President Stan Kasten, agreed to pay McCourt a record $2.15 billion for the Dodgers. The group hopes to close the deal Monday, but unlike every other baseball franchise, the Dodgers’ financial structure is not governed by Major League Baseball. A U.S. bankruptcy court judge has the sole right to make decisions on future disputes that could arise between the Dodgers and MLB, including revenue-sharing payments.

PHOTOS: Magic Johnson gallery

Once McCourt declared bankruptcy, baseball negotiated a deal with the owner and the court to allow him to sell the team to the highest bidder.

“Now every owner knows that the best way of maximizing your value is by going to bankruptcy court,” says Marc Ganis , president of Sportscorp Ltd. , which consults with MLB teams and other sports on stadium financing .

“Baseball just got taken to the cleaners in the agreement with McCourt. Baseball screwed up, and they know it.

“What they’ve done is create a league where rules apply for 29 teams, and rules apply for one team. Baseball knows it’s a problem. They tried to stop it. The judge wouldn’t let them. Now, they’ve got a recipe for disaster.”

Five MLB officials, including three owners who spoke on the condition of anonymity, privately confirm their concerns but say that many of their fears were eased in the past week. While the Guggenheim group is paying nearly three times the previous record for a baseball franchise (the Chicago Cubs were sold for $845 million in 2009), persons with knowledge of the situation, who don’t wish to be identified because of confidential issues regarding the sale, claim that only in the last few days did MLB receive detailed financial information about the purchase agreement. MLB attorneys and the Guggenheim group met several times last week with a court-appointed mediator to resolve lingering concerns.

Yet Tom Lauria, a lawyer representing MLB, said in court that baseball still was troubled that it did not know details of the revenue-sharing arrangement between the Guggenheim group and McCourt involving the Dodger Stadium parking lots, which they will share equally. There’s also a fear among owners that there are confidential provisions in the agreement that could permit the Dodgers to circumvent aspects of MLB’s revenue-sharing agreement with their regional sports network or new TV contract.

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The thought that Frank McCourt walks away from this debacle with almost $1 billion in his pocket ….. reeks of malfeasance of the highest order in which the Dodgers’ former owner and his actions were so egregious and premeditated . The fact that McCourt has rifled through the coffers of the ball-club and repeatedly used the team as business collateral , has me wondering how is it that when these actions first came to light the league hierarchy simply turned a blind eye ! Is Bud Selig that naive an individual or that much of an asshole to not recognize that an owner acted with reckless abandonment while contravening several mandated business rules , which all teams have to abide by ? Any thoughts on this at all ? McCourt’s new-found wealth has nothing at all to do with capitalism but simply a manipulation of an archaic process and system that simply rewards what on the face of it was in some ways a criminal act ! Were the teams in the game of baseball publicly listed companies then without a doubt the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) and Justice Department would have been all over the Los Angeles Dodgers’ organization. But then again both if these governmental agencies in conjunction with the US Federal Reserve and US Treasury have been about as judicious and shown enough oversight of the financial sector , as a blind man playing hopscotch in a fu_king minefield ! Shit simply gets blown up repeatedly ! Let’s get one thing clear Tim Geithner may well have swallowed Webster’s Dictionary but this ass wipe shouldn’t be placed anywhere within the close proximity of a kids’ lemonade stand much less handle the financial accounts of the US government or the handling of taxpayers’ monies , through overseeing the IRS as part of his US cabinet duties .

The Treasury Department and the SEC’s Investigative Unit have been negligent in their duties . So much so , that both sat idly by while Lehman Bros Inc , formerly the world’s largest investment bank filed for bankruptcy and doing so laden itself with debts of $300 billion ($300,000,000,000) , the largest . corporate bankruptcy US history . Financial mismanagement and the very fact that pro-forma balance sheets were being declared as authentic in their detailing of the bank’s financial status were in fact being fraudulently stated as being above reproach . The bank’s former CEO Richard Fuld in his sworn testimony to first the Senate Banking Committee and then House Finance Committee stated that during 2009 and 2010 both the audit and investigatory panels of the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department were housed in the Manhattan headquarters of Lehman Bros , as the agencies were conducting their own investigations in to the day-to-day operations of the bank and investment house was at the center of their financial difficulties . Fuld , and other senior executives within the bank’s hierarchy have yet to explain how it is the bank simply ran into such financial difficulties . It is clear that Lehman Bros was reckless , in their business practices , dealing in the financial derivatives’ markets , subordinated debt and the mortgage back debt (MBS) instruments . The latter of which systematically brought about the near demise of multi financial insurance behemoth AIG Inc . And as we know the insurance giant has received in excess of $185 billion ($185,000,000,000) . of taxpayers’ funds for the “to big to fail “ behemoth . Those funds have yet to be repaid but we have been told by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden that the taxpayer will be in receipt of their funds in full. To date AIG still owes the US taxpayer in excess of $125 billion . The US government is top-heavy with bureaucracy and in large part both legislative chambers, namely the House and Senate have a group of individuals who show about as much insight in safeguarding the country’s well-being as an arsonist would before he sets fire to his victim of choice . In this case , it has been the US taxpayer and the electorate at large who are the victims of the legislative bodies’ stupidity . .

The MLB hierarchy not-unlike the US government and specifically the House and Senate seems to be completely devoid of almost any god-damn intelligence ! You’d be hard pressed to state one piece of legislative act that has been of much use to public that has become a statute in the past eighteen months . Conservatives and Liberals alike can continue to brow-beat each other with all the animus that they can muster but in large part few if anyone , truly understands what is exactly happening in-front of their very eyes. Baseball under Selig’s hierarchy has shown about as much intelligence as can be found in a lunatic asylum filled with individuals who have been “Brady” enacted . It is safe to say that MLB has done more harm to its image over the past decade than anything that could have been done by a lone bomber on a suicide mission.

Did I miss something in the past ten days ? Almost overnight Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers has become the most ” feared hitter “ in the game . The player’s productivity for the team has been one of the primary reasons for their fast start out of the gate and they’re being seated atop of the NL West with a 3 1/2 game lead over the closest rivals within the division. While Don Mattingly’s players knowing that there now will be some semblance of continuity with new a new ownership group in place , will now do their utmost to give the fans something to feel special about .

The Los Angeles Dodgers (12-4) followed by the Arizona Diamondbacks (8-8) , Colorado Rockies (8-7) , San Francisco Giants (8-7) , and the San Diego Padres (5-12) . This time last season the teams within the NL West were still looking to make themselves resonate within the game . Come full circle , and it’s very much the same thing once again. And for the slow starting Atlanta Braves (10-6) this year will be a historic one as it will be the last season for the team’s third baseman Chipper Jones . This lifetime .300 hitter is certainly a bona-fide Cooperstown , enshrinee for the Hall of Fame .

The Atlanta Braves are the guests of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodgers’ Ballpark /Chavez Revine for two games . The first of which is Tuesday night that sees Aaron Harang (1-1, 5.40 ERA) taking the mound against Mike Minor (2-1, 3.10 ERA ) . This game if anything should give us something of an indication as to the direction of both teams and their undoubted ambitions for this year. For Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez and his managerial staff as they now doubt seek to redeem themselves after last September’s inexplicable meltdown by the team . That implosion led to the Braves missing the wildcard berth for the NL , which deservedly went to the eventual World Series champions the St Louis Cardinals . Those events if anything cast a giant shadow over the Braves’ organization and if anything showed that the inexperience of a young team at its core simply was unprepared.

This season if anything , the Atlanta Braves if they are to fare well , will have to meet head-on and defeat teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers. Easier said than done , however it tests such as this that will provide this team with the mettle it will undoubtedly need to succeed in the long-term. As I alluded to earlier Matt Kemp is off to an astounding start in the Majors . As of Tuesday , the player led his team in a number of offensive categories , batting .450, 27 hits, 9HR’s and 27 RBI’s . It’s pretty much safe to say that were there any real justice in the world of baseball then it would have been Kemp being named the NL MVP for last season rather than the Milwaukee Brewers’ …. Ryan Braun . But as we all know : hindsight is 50/50 and a bitch by any other name is still a bitch !

Beyond the prolific output of Kemp this season , we also have the player being ably abetted by teammates Andre Ethier , A J Ellis , Juan River and James Loney . This may not be the best that we will see out of this team but it certainly is now wetting the appetites of the Dodgers’ fans at this juncture . And while the Los Angeles’ pitching should not be overlooked with Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw , being a part of that pitching staff . It has to be said the ball-club now seems to be clicking on all cylinders . Kershaw , alongside , Kenley Jansen , Aaron Harang , Ted Lilly and Jay Guerra , have all created something special , of which I have no doubt that the new ownership group are thoroughly pleased with !

On the mound today for the Dodgers will be Ted Lilly (2-0, 0.69 ERA) facing Brandon Beachy (2-1, 0.47 ERA) of the Atlanta Braves . This game should make for a very interesting test of teams , given last night’s result which ended with a 4-3 victory for the Atlanta Braves .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In light of the latest turn of events concerning the Los Angeles Dodgers who do you believe has to bear the brunt of the obvious mistakes , concerning the handling of the situation ? And do you as such, believe that there is enough transparency within the game as it relates to the business dealings of the teams ? Bear in mind although they are such private business concerns but by the largess of the state and city municipalities in which they operate , all of the ball-clubs within the game receive favorable tax allowances merely for operating within that municipality . Never mind the fact that in large part , the governmental agencies also tend to finance the venues in which teams reside and play , much to the detriment of their own infrastructures . Small market teams make out like thieves in the night but rarely do you hear anything to the contrary by those who claim to be knowledgeable in such matters ! . Needless to say , the team owners and MLB league hierarchy would rather keep “this gravy train running ” at the expense of the fans and public alike . While the elected officials in question , continue to make complete asses of themselves _____ kissing the ass of the sports’ franchise owners and their respective hierarchies . Simply chime in with your thoughts on this , and anything else you believe pertinent to subject matter . And as always , thanks for the continued support of this site as it greatly appreciated !

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(1) Geithner, Bernanke, And Fuld Testify At House Hearing On Lehman Bankruptcy Former Lehman Brothers Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard Fuld (L) and Thomas Cruikshank , former member of the Board of Directors and chair of Lehman Brothers Audit Committee, testify before the House Financial Services Committee about the collapse of Lehman Brothers April 20, 2010 in Washington, DC. Court-appointed bankruptcy examiner Anton Valukas’ report, published in March, refers to a Lehman tactic that temporarily shuffled about $50 billion off the firm’s balance sheet for the two fiscal quarters before it collapsed , making the investment bank look less indebted than it really was . Getty Images North America /Chip Smodevilla ….

(2) Lehman Brothers former Chairman and CEO Richard Fuld (L) talks with Harvey Miller , business finance and restructuring partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP , before the two men testify to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission about the roots and causes of the 2008 financial and banking meltdown in U.S. and worldwide markets on Capitol Hill September 1, 2010 in Washington, DC. The commission begins two days of questioning about how two specific financial companies, Wachovia and Lehman Brothers, failed and why some institutions were considered “too big to fail” while others were allowed to fail. Getty Images / Chip Smodevilla ……

(3) Magic Johnson ,left, and former MLB front office executive Stan Kasten are part of the consortium that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers for a record $2.15 billion . Questions abound as to how the entire bidding process was actually dealt with by the presiding judge who as assisted by the investment advisory firm Blackstone Group. It is believed that Bud Selig may well have favored the ‘winning bid ‘ simply because of the price , rather than the others lodged with US Bankruptcy Courts in Delaware . There a still a number of questions that remained unanswered by Johnson and senior members of his syndicate which also includes Hollywood film producer Peter Guber and senior executives from Guggenheim Partners LLC . Rob Powell / AFP …..

(4) Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner , seen here speaking to members of the Senate Banking Committee up on Capitol Hill , Washington , DC , concerning the ailing banking industry . Geithner , was pointedly asked to explain why the likes of Lehman Bros and Wachovia Bank failed . His response was somewhat lackluster and plainly banal , much to the angst the empaneled members . Getty Images / Mark Wilson …..

(5) LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 25: Dee Gordon (9) of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after he couldn’t make a throw after making a diving stop on a ball that deflected off of pitcher Jay Guerra in the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves on April 25, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Braves won 4-2. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …

(6) Closer Javy Guerra (54) of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts as Dan Uggla (26) of the Atlanta Braves comes in to score the Braves’ third run of the ninth inning on April 25, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Guerra was the losing pitcher as the Braves won 4-2. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …..

(7) Matt Kemp ( (27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves on April 25, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Braves won 4-2 . Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ….=====================================================================================================================

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Maxwell …………… “Ascension ” from his seminal 1996 multi-platinum CD “Urban Hang Suite” . Music as it should be !

Go Buckeyes …….. Urban Meyer Is Back In Town & Ready To Throw His Weight Around

Go Buckeyes …….. Urban Meyer Is Back In Town & Ready To Throw His Weight Around

By tophatal ………..

Well it has to be said that Urban Meyer for all of his chutzpah has to my mind lost all credibility as to his standing . Not content in simply abandoning the Florida Gators program at the end of the 2010 season the coach saw fit to prematurely announce his retirement . My own perspective with regard to this all , it all boils down to the fact that Meyer and his then coaching staff had seen a decline in the team’s play after the departure of Tim Tebow to the NFL ; in 2010 . Taken 25th overall (first round) in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos , as we all know the player’s career has been well chronicled upon his arrival in the league (NFL) . The fact that he is now a member of the New York Jets speaks to the fact as how much a of “what have you done for me lately ” attitude that continues to exist within the league .

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In the aftermath of the Jim Tressel ” fiasco “ and the very fact that Gene Smith and university President Dr E Gordon Gee simply tried to negate the actions of the then beleaguered head coach indicated that they simply the violations of the NCAA rules by the program under Tressel showed how wayward the actions of the coach had been . Several players on the team and specifically team quarterback Terrelle Pryor were in large part at the center of the now factual allegations that brought about the sanctions that will see the football program being Bowl ineligible for this upcoming season , as well having lost several student athlete scholarships . The NCAA for its part under Mark Emmert have all but in essence given the Buckeyes’ program as a slap on the wrist . Collegiate Football and for all of the hypocrisy that exists within has not changed one iota and let’s be clear about something once and for all the NFL in its infinite wisdom loves nothing better than seeing the status-quo being maintained in spite of the continued controversies .

Meyer and his coaching staff this season will have to compete at a disadvantage against their Big Ten rivals . Urban Meyer with his 6 year $24 million contract in tow , now has to if anything , keep this program ticking over with a great deal of precision . He and former NFL player Mike Vrabel now have a team that if anything will have to prove that ills of 2010 has to be viewed as a thing of the past . With a slew of returning sophomores , juniors and seniors as well as the influx of freshmen hoping to make a significant contribution this season . Urban Meyer does have an extremely tough task ahead of him , and it will be these expectations that may well determine how he will be adjudged . Anything short of a winning record at least , will be seen as undoubted failure . Such are and have been the expectations of one of collegiate football’s most respected football programs throughout the years .

Meyer like his Pac 10 counterpart Lane Kiffin of USC (Trojans ) remains something of a ” pariah within the game of collegiate football and within the sport itself . As we now know USC was embroiled in a controversy of its own making that saw the athletics program sanctioned and placed on probation , therein losing scholarships for both the basketball and football programs . The actions of Tim Floyd and Pete Carroll to say the least were scurrilous and less than ethical in conjunction with that of then AD Mike Garrett . Anyone who’s of the belief that the trio were each without blame in any way either had to be downright stupid and anally retentive or simply of the opinion that the athletes at the center of this all were solely responsible , enabling the sanctions levied against USC . It has been left to Pat Haden having succeeded Mike Garrett , to clean up the mess and resurrect that athletics program . But the situation hasn’t been helped by Lane Kiffin’s antics since his installation as the head football coach and the very fact that the program has once again come under suspicion once again on several separate occasions. Can’t win ’em all they say ! Nice , at least you know what you’re getting with the USC Trojans , it goes with the adage of NASCAR . “If you ain’t cheatin’ then you ain’t tryin’ . ‘nough said on the matter !

E Gordon Gee , Gene Smith , and their own initial asinine stance was simply something that we have seen repeatedly by high-ranking academic officials when their programs have become suspect in a number of charges relating to academic fraud , recruiting violations which over the years have become a pattern of behavior. And even in light of their own in-house investigations into the school’s activities under Jim Tressel’s tenure leads me to believe that they may well have had their heads stuffed so far up their own ass that they couldn’t have possibly seen daylight !

Urban Meyer for his part , his tenure with the Florida Gators hasn’t been without controversy . Lack of accountability from the players and repeated allegations of criminal activity of which the coach would repeatedly lay the blame at the door of his predecessor Ron Zook , merely because the players in question were his recruits . If that’s not an indication of the self-aggrandizement of Urban Meyer and the very fact that the coach believes himself to be above suspicion is something that has now become atypical within the world of collegiate sports . Two BCS titles may go a long way in cementing Urban Meyer’s legacy as one of the best coaches in college football over the last decade but beyond that , he has simply had way too much baggage associated with him negatively . The Ashtabula , Ohio native will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed this season , even with the advent of knowing that the team is ineligible for a Bowl appearance . If nothing else all that Meyer can simply do , is to have his team play with a great deal of poise and ambition , if nothing else. Luke Fickell who succeeded Tressel on an interim basis did as much as could be asked of him but at the end of the day we knew that there was no way that he would be given the reins of the football program on a permanent basis.

And of the players one could positively delight in seeing with the Buckeyes this upcoming season , much of that will be predicated upon the play exhibited of last season but also how the players will acclimatize themselves to the playing schemes of Urban Meyer . I would certainly like to think that the tarnished and tainted image of the Ohio State Buckeyes can once again stand tall but there’s so much that would simply fall apart merely because of the continued pattern of behavior of the program and also that of Urban Meyer who has simply courted controversy but just like “The Teflon Don” …… John Gotti …. nothing ever seems to stick .

Of the players that I am most looking forward to seeing as the season comes into being , none more so than C J. Barnett , Zach Boren , Rod Smith , Braxton Miller and Darryl Wood who contributed greatly to the Buckeyes’ record 6-7 overall within the Big Ten standings (Leaders Division) in 2011 . However , if the Ohio State Buckeyes are to overcome the stellar performances of the Wisconsin Badgers (11-3) , Penn State (9-4) , Michigan State (11-3) , Michigan [Wolverines] (11-2) and Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-4) . Then , this season most certainly the players on the team will have to raise the level of their play , along with the coaching staff simply getting the very best out of the roster and themselves in particular .

For Urban Meyer , however , it will be the Buckeyes’ own conference schedule which will be the true determining factor this season as to how well he will fare . He has chosen to jump back into the cauldron of “fire” and that particular scene calls for him to test himself against the might of the Big Ten as well as the ” other powerhouses ” that the team will face over the course of their schedule . The funny thing is , one of the excuses used by the coach as a reason for Meyer’s stepping down while with the Florida Gators was the undue pressure , ill-health and the fact that he was unable to spend more time with his family . Now , I might hasten to add , if the SEC (SEC Conference) and the football played there is meant to be ” pressure packed “ , then what in hell does Urban Meyer expect to get or see once he gets into the full-blown maelstrom of the Big Ten and the expectations of the Buckeyes’ fans and their alumni ? Is this coach completely besides himself or simply that naive ? Your thoughts on the matter are certainly welcomed at this juncture !

With the idiocy we have seen of late concerning Bobby Petrino and his antics as the “now former head coach of Arkansas (Razorbacks) program . It has to be said that Urban Meyer’s issues pale into comparison when gauged against those of Petrino’s . Those notwithstanding , I have to ask this most pertinent of questions . If his actions upon on his hasty departure from the Atlanta Falcons wasn’t enough of a clear indication as to his less than seeming lack of honesty and integrity _____ his track record for simply having assistants depart from his association because of his lack of candor and being able to be truthful . Then why in hell would AD Jeff Long still consider Bobby Petrino a worthy candidate at the time ? Any thoughts on this matter ? Simply chime in as you see fit .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Whether or not you happen to be a fan of D 1 Football what do you envisage seeing from Urban Myer and the Buckeyes this season ? And as such , do you feel that Bobby Petrino will ultimately make a return to college football in any capacity ? Or do you feel that he will be hired as a coordinator by an NFL franchise ? Again , simply chime in with a thought on this and anything else you feel pertinent to the subject matter .

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, center, sings “Carmen Ohio” in front of the band after their spring NCAA college football game, Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. AP Photo/Jay LaPrete ….

(2) Ohio State coach Urban Meyer coaches before the start of their spring NCAA college football game Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. AP Photo/Jay LaPrete ….

(3) Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (5) , left, throws a pass over lineman Chris Carter during their spring NCAA college football game, Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. AP Photo/Jay LaPrete …

(4) (4) This April 16, 2012 photo provided by The Ohio State University Athletic Department, shows Some 3,100 students surrounding the Ohio State University football team field goal unit during a live practice at the team’s indoor practice facility in Columbus, Ohio. According to the OSU athletic department, head coach Urban Meyer wanted to bring the students closer to his team, and his team closer to students, and consider that effort a complete success. AP Photo/The Ohio State University Athletic Department, Will Shilling @ copyrighted material …. all rights reserved .

(5) NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 04: Head coach Bobby Petrino of the Arkansas Razorbacks looks down in the third quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. According to sources on April 10, 2012, Bobby Petrino will not return as head coach of Arkansas following a scandal involving a motorcycle crash on April 1. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images …..

(6) Seen here from left to right , Dr E Gordon Gee , university President of Ohio State , speaking at the dais the former head coach Jim Tressel (center) and the program’s athletics director Gene Smith , far right. Tressel issued a formal apology to the press and public alike for his involvement that embroiled the university in what is said to be numerous NCAA violations and which also had the university under investigation by the US Justice Department because of the association of several of the players with a known racketeer and gambler _ alleged gambling by members of the team . Jim Tressel was initially suspended by Smith but then later fired after it was revealed that he lied to senior members of the faculty as to the depth of his overall involvement in the scandal . AP Photo Nick Ross …..

(7) Gene Smith is seen here with Urban Meyer , just prior to the coach being formally announced as the new head coach of the Buckeyes football program . Meyer succeeded interim head coach Luke Fickell who still remains a member of Meyer’s coaching staff . It remains to be seen as to whether not the former Gators’ coach can replicate the success achieved with the University of Florida where he won two BCS national titles during his tenure . AP Photo /Aaron Talbot …….

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Mos Def ……….. ” Do It Now ”

An Ass By Another Means Or Name Is Still Simply An Ass , Come On Down Bobby Valentine ………….

An Ass By Another Means Or Name Is Still Simply An Ass , Come On Down Bobby Valentine ………….

By tophatal

It’s becoming increasingly clear that all is not well within the Boston Red Sox organization . The ball-club celebrating the centennial of Fenway Park , in the team’s last two games have been anything but competitive . Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine in recent weeks was critical of first baseman Kevin Youkilis , much to the chagrin of player’s teammates , who felt that their manager’s comments were without cause.

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From my own perspective I felt that Valentine’s hire was one of rush to fill the vacancy , rather than being one of expediency ! Team President Larry Lucchino and GM Ben Cherington clearly felt that in seeking a successor to Terry Francona was of the utmost necessity and that the individual in question had to have a high profile and a proven track record . Valentine hasn’t been a manager in the “Big Leagues” in a over a decade and his most recent challenges have been well chronicled and best adjudged as having underachieved. In many respects the team that the manager has in inherited , is one that simply isn’t good enough to be thought of a serious challenger within the AL East much less as a contender for the World Series . Much as in the same way the Boston Red Sox struggled with its pitching in 2011 , this .season it once again happens to be more of the same from a pitching staff that just seems to be lacking in confidence .

It’s hard to see how this team can proceed ahead when the manager has sought to be divisive rather than someone who shows some rationale with regard to his management style ! Valentine’s managerial staff has a great deal to prove this season as we have seen the rise in the competitiveness of AL East division residents the Baltimore Orioles , New York Yankees , Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays . In the Boston Red Sox’s most recent game played against heated rivals the New York Yankees saw fit to simply gift wrap the Bronx Bombers a win as part of the three game series at Fenway Park that saw the home fans simply aghast as to how poorly the team played . As I alluded to earlier this team’s Achilles Heel still remains its pitching but is also becoming apparent the offense has become anemic . Beyond Adrian Gonzalez , David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia there seems to be nothing going right for this organization as a whole . Most certainly , the players bear the brunt of the blame but I would say also , Bobby Valentine has done little to suggest that the transition from his successor would be a smooth one . Instead he has sought to make a number of rhetorical statements that in large part have no bearing in fact . He has failed to address his own failings as the manager and the very fact that the shows no real signs of improvement . As the month of April winds down the Boston Red Sox will struggle to make their presence felt . And certainly in the months of May , June and July , things are unlikely to get any easier if this team doesn’t find any traction within the division and over the remainder of the season .

With an additional berth now up for grabs within both leagues as the wildcard format changes for the this season . It has to be said that given the Boston Red Sox’s sojourn in 2011 and the problems that the ball-club had . Another season of indifference and many may well question why it was Bobby Valentine was hired to begin with . From the very outset , I for one certainly didn’t feel that Valentine was the right man for the position but somehow the front office saw fit to make him Terry Francona’s successor.

If Bobby Valentine , who sees himself as big-time manager can barely make it now as a manager of a team whose player at present can be best described as marginal , is unable to even motivate the players on the roster then what makes him believe that as such he is capable of actually leading this organization back to some semblance of resurgence . If this first month of the regular season has been anything to go by then it this team will be beset by problems far more than anyone could ever have envisaged . The one thing that the Boston Red Sox can ill-afford , is to have their season implode even before they’ve even gotten into any type of rhythm . Money asides, we know that for the Red Sox it is not a serious object with the organization having at their disposal the offers of their disposal the NESN and the very fact they can use their in-house broadcast outlet as a a way of writing off team expenditures against the baseball operations . Playing second fiddle to the New York Yankees in terms of team salaries I’ve no doubt that Ben Cherington will put all of the Red Sox resources at the coaching staff’s disposal in order to fully complement the needs of this team. It may well come down to the very fact that this roster will be needed to be shaken up by way of making a number of trades . I am not so sure who they will seek to render superfluous to this organization’s needs .

As the Boston Red Sox now seeks to imply its will upon this season the what moves if any that may well be made should imrpove the makeup of this team as it now exists. Last season , we saw that , then , general manager , Theo Epstein made the moves that he felt would be of benefit to the organization . With the less than exmplarary effort put forth we witnessed how woefully inept the team would be . This off-season Ben Cherington seeking to make his own mark with a number of transactions that as of yet don’t appear to be working out . And while the pressure may well be on the veteran players on this roster , I firmly belive that even greater pressure is resting upon the shoulders of Bobby Valentine to succeed in this endeavor to succeed ! So far , he is not succeeding and creates what on appearance could be a bad omen as to the Red Sox’s future this season . The Boston Red Sox this season will seek to be on an equal footing with the likes of the Texas Rangers , Los Angeles Angels , Philadelphia Phillies , Los Angeles Dodgers and the reigning World Series champions the St Louis Cardinals .

It is hard to see how anyone can view Bobby Valentine as being the right individual to succeed Terry Francona . ! As a manager , he to my mind just now happens to be ” living on borrowed time “ ! Through fourteen games this team has a 4-10 record , now carries a 5 game losing streak and their last victory came by way of a 6-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in mid April . Since then , it has been repeated series’ losses , no heart , and no real leadership on or off the field by way of the coaching staff or the players themselves. However, what might have been more inconceivable was the Red Sox’s 15-9 loss to the New York Yankees . If that game wasn’t indicative of how inept this group of players are now said to be and the mere fact that Valentine’s post-game interview at Fenway Park, clearly showed how out of his depth he now just happens to be as a manager ! Talk of having hit rock bottom and not sinking to depths lower for me , is an indication that Bobby Valentine doesn’t know what the hell he is doing ! Not now , not ever , and only perhaps by way of serendipity could things now change for this beleaguered organization .As of now , I am not so sure that is likely to happen !

The team now embarks upon a three game series against the lowly Minnesota Twins (5-11) before closing out the month of April in facing Robin Ventura and the Chicago White Sox (9-6) at US Cellular Field , Chicago , Illinois . And on the 30th April taking on the Oakland Athletics back at Fenway Park . Care to make a prediction as to how each of those series are liable to end , when one bears in mind how poorly the Red Sox have been playing of late ? Chime in with your thoughts if you so wish ?

Today’s game against the Minnesota Twins will have Jon Lester (0-2, 5.82 ERA) taking on Jason Marquis (1-0, 7.20 ERA) . Not one the face of it the most enticing of match-ups taking place within baseball this afternoon. But I am sure the fans around the country in attendance will most certainly have something to look forward to , one way or another . Lester will have to be at his leveled best to take advantage of a Twins’ offense that slowly seems to be finding its rhythm . But then again when adjudged against the baseball as a whole the Minnesota Twins still remains a pitiful organization . Off to an inauspicious start within the AL Central you simply get the feeling that we are liable to get more of the same from Ron Gardenhire’s ….. team as they struggle to maintain some form of competitiveness throughout the course of their season .

Now while it would be speculative to suggest that Valentine could very well be fired should the Boston Red Sox woes continue , then I certainly wouldn’t think it out of the question that the front office would consider such a maneuver if the incumbent manager is not able to turn things around for this organization . How quickly Larry Lucchino and the front office forget what Terry Francona was able to do for the franchise over the course of his tenure . Placing the blame squarely upon his shoulders was simply unjustified when the players themselves were unwilling to be held accountable for their actions that led to the self implosion during the month of September and their missing the postseason . If such a scenario were to arise again 2012 , then in all likelihood a number of players on this roster thought to be superfluous to their needs would be jettisoned , quite possibly with several members of the coaching staff following as well .

Terry Francona to his credit , has taken the high ground , in choosing not to berate the organization. His two World Series victories in 2004 and 2007 simply brought back credibility to a ball-club that before those triumphs had been starved of success for close a century . In the wake of his departure I would certainly like to think that the Boston Red Sox don’t sink to even further depths of mediocrity ! But bearing in mind the antics of the incumbent manager and what we know he’s all too capable of doing outside his capacity as manager . Well , it leads me to believe that the organization could one again be in for some lean and success starved years !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As to what the season holds for the Boston Red Sox remains to be seen but over the coming months there’s no doubt that Bobby Valentine will be placed under a great deal more scrutiny that he is normally accustomed to . The fans in Boston have already made it clear that they are not about to tolerate his antics or excuses and it is already plain to see that the manager , himself , is already feeling the pressure having now borne the brunt of the outrage of these ever so loyal supporters . What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? By all means do leave a comment as to your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent .

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Picture and slide show gallery details below .

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(1) A fan in a New York Yankees shirt holds up a sign referring to a Boston Red Sox clubhouse incident from last year and new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine in the first inning of a baseball game between the Red Sox and the Yankees in Boston, Saturday, April 21, 2012. The Yankees would go on to defeat their AL East divisional rivals 15-9 . AP Photo/Michael Dwyer ….

(2) BOSTON, MA – APRIL 21: Junichi Tazawa (63) of the Boston Red Sox looks back to first base against the New York Yankees on April 21, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images ….

(3) BOSTON, MA – APRIL 21: Nick Swisher (33) of the New York Yankees watches his hit as Jarrod Saltalamacchia (39) of the Boston Red Sox defends on April 21, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images …….

(4) Clueless ! Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine walks back to the dugout after removing pitcher Alfredo Aceves in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees in Boston, Saturday, April 21, 2012. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer ….

(5) Mark Teixeira (25) of the New York Yankees celebrates in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox on April 21, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Elsa Martinez /Getty Images ….

(6) Manager Bobby Valentine of the Boston Red Sox holds the ball as he waits for Matt Albers to reach the mound in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees on April 21, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images ….

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This Is Not The House That Walt Built For Mickey And It’s Certainly Not One That The Three Little Pigs Would Wish To Live In ………… A House Of Straw

This Is Not The House That Walt Built For Mickey And It’s Certainly Not One That The Three Little Pigs Would Wish To Live In ………… A House Of Straw

By tophatal …. 20th April 2012

It’s beginning to look like a circus within the Orlando Magic organization as it was announced today that the team’s besieged and beleaguered center Dwight Howard is going to miss the rest of the regular season schedule and will now forgo participating in the NBA Playoffs . A little over a month ago the Magic held the third seed within the Eastern Conference . But a rash of bad results , inconsistent play and the loss of Howard and several of key players over that stretch due to injury has seen them fall from grace .

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The injury which has seen the end of Dwight Howard’s season is one of a herniated disc in his lower back which , is apparently causing the player a great deal of pain. Given the center’s offensive prowess and the fact that he is the team’s leading scorer . The problems for Stan Van Gundy and his coaching staff will be an acute one. I’ve long-held the contention , the moment that Howard and Van Gundy began their infantile bickering , it led to simply where this organization was heading down a slippery slope . There has been a lack of respect and civility between the coach and player. Internal strife within the locker room and most certainly no clear leadership . I’ve said that Dwight Howard while being one of the game’s best players his attitude and lack of maturity has been the biggest “chink” in his armor ! He has yet to show that he has leadership abilities and I for one doubt that Howard will ever develop that trait ! Undoubtedly , Howard is the best center currently playing in the NBA but herein lies the caveat to this whole scenario , without a great supporting cast of characters the player’s game simply becomes moot. And in all honesty , this current roster of the Magic is not that impressive to begin with ! GM Otis Smith has cobbled together an ill-fitting cast of characters that simply haven’s meshed well together .

This off-season the Magic’s front office certainly has some issues to deal with as it concerns the players currently on this team . COO Alec Martins will certainly have to look at the players superfluous to the organization’s needs . Contract issues asides , if the Magic are to contend against the likes of the Chicago Bulls , Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks , then most certainly Alec Martins will have to upgrade the player personnel. Stan Van Gundy , to my mind has outlived his usefulness as a coach with the organization and it is time for the Magic to cut him loose ! His shtick , constant , bitching , whining and failure to hold his players accountable , plus accepting that he too has been at fault for many of the team’s failings. Well , it clearly shows that his time has come , and he needs to go ! And that criteria also fits a hopelessly out of his depth general manager , such as Otis Smith .

In spite of Dwight Howard’s injury issues , my bone of contention with the player , has been the fact that when given the chance to simply leave the Magic . He somehow felt that out of some undue loyalty , it would be in his best interests to remain with the organization . Given the fact , that his postseason’s forays with the Orlando Magic have seen those experiences to be an all too painful , in terms of the chapters written . Well compensated and soon to be in the final season of his contract , whatever advice that has been rendered to Howard by his agent has to my mind seen his value decline ! And now with this injury , for which he will need surgery , which will be performed by a neurosurgeon in Los Angeles , California , will see the player miss playing for Team USA at the Summer Olympics in the United Kingdom this July , 2012 .

To Howard’s credit , while he has missed the last five games with this injury , the player has been supportive of his cast-mates . It has been left to back up center Glen Davis in conjunction with Ryan Anderson to lead the team . The former Celtics’ center has gladly taken up the gauntlet and has excelled in this new-found role . Anderson for his part an excellent three-point shooter , has displayed those skills with great aplomb but his game has improved greatly over the course of this season . It will be incumbent upon this duo , along with Jason Richardson , J J Redick and Hedo Turkoglu to lift their game to new heights, if the Orlando Magic are to have a realistic chance at all of going deep into the postseason .

With the Orlando Magic currently holding the sixth seed (36-25) within the Eastern Conference , with five games remaining to go in this curtailed regular season schedule . If the conference standings remain as they are then Magic would square off against Frank Vogel and the Indiana Pacers , led by All Star …. Danny Granger and his supporting cast . And no doubt Frank Vogel would like nothing better than to have his team to a series victory over his Eastern Conference rivals . And seen as prohibitive favorites with a great deal of justification I might add , there is nothing better that I would like to see than for this Orlando Magic season come to an all too abrupt end . Simply put , Stan Van Gundy and this team have been vastly overrated . At no time have they truly shown that they are worthy of being looked upon as a championship caliber contender , and certainly , I do not believe that they have what it takes to defeat an eager and young and Pacers’ team !

As to what the future now holds for the Orlando Magic once the regular and postseason reaches its finality . It will be interesting to see what decisions may well be made by the front office as it relates to the team and other managerial and executive personnel . Dwight Howard’s eight years in the NBA since being drafted number one overall in the 2004 NBA Draft has me now wondering what ambition if any , does the center still have ! An NBA championship no doubt would ” seal “ the deal besides the accomplishments of the player. A three-time Defensive Player of the Year may well seem nice but in reality it all pales into insignificance when adjudged against that of a championship ring. Dwight Howard wants to add to his legacy but as of now it all seems to be diminishing by the second . And by no means after reconstructive surgery on his spine is there that added assurance that the player will be back his very best . The exhaustive and physical battering that his body has taken has to now be a cause for concern for the player and his future . This is not typically an injury wherein , once having returned he’s assured of being back to anywhere at his best . It will take time but also he has to be cautious if he wishes to have a prolonged career within the NBA .

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As the regular season winds down where do you believe that the Magic’s future may well lay ? Is it as a franchise with Dwight Howard ? Or as many believe it will be one without the player , with the famed center departing , leaving Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith to take charge of the personnel and its immediate future ? Chime with your thoughts on this and anything else that you believe to pertinent on the subject matter and the NBA in general .

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(1) FILE – In this April 9, 2012, file photo, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, left, leaves the court after the Magic’s 119-89 win over the Detroit Pistons in an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla. Howard told ESPN.com he will have season-ending back surgery on Friday, April 20, to repair a herniated disk. The operation will also prevent Howard from playing in the Olympics in London. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(2) BOSTON, MA – APRIL 18: Paul Pierce (34) of the Boston Celtics celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic on April 18, 2012 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images …

(3) Boston Celtics forwards Brandon Bass , left, and Kevin Garnett , right, combine to try to stop Orlando Magic forward Glen Davis (11) on a drive to the basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. The Celtics won 102-98 . AP Photo/Charles Krupa …..

(4) Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce (34) tries to grab a rebound between Orlando Magic players during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. From left are Magic’s Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson . AP Photo/Charles Krupa …..

(5) Me , not too dumb ” ! Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith speaks to the media regarding the acquisition of Gilbert Arenas from the Washington Wizards, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark from the Phoenix Suns at Amway Arena on December 18, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. Getty Images North America / Sam Greenwood …….

(6) The Orlando Magic’s very own lil’ ‘ Oompa Loompa ‘ ! Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic motions to his team from the bench during the second half against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on February 29, 2012 in Washington, DC. Rob Carr / Getty Images …….
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Battered , Bruised And Now Dementia ………… Now What ?

Battered , Bruised And Now Dementia …….. Now What ?

By tophatal …………….

He was one of but a handful of boxers to have defeated Muhammad Ali , the former world heavyweight champion of the world . Leon Spinks did at the time what many felt was impossible but it indeed became more than probable when he defeated Ali in taking the title . Four decades later , Spinks like Ali , now suffering from irreparable brain trauma . In the case of Muhammad Ali , his debilitating issues stem from not only from blunt force head trauma but also Parkinson’s Disease and the early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease . Sadly , slowly but surely the bygone age of perhaps the richest era in boxing , specifically heavyweight boxing , is on the cusp seeing a dying breed of iconic pugilistic gladiators . Ken Norton , a former heavyweight contender is now suffering from renal problems and is a mere shadow of himself. Last year , we had the death of former Ali nemesis , Joe Frazier who fought three epic bouts with Muhammad Ali during the seventies . Who can forget perhaps their most famous bout , fought at Madison Square Gardens , New York City , New York ? For those of you old enough to remember , that fight was acknowledged as perhaps the greatest heavyweight title fight in boxing history and if nothing else best title fight of any era within the sport .

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Leon Spinks and his brother Michael Spinks before the Klitschko’s were the only siblings to have held the heavyweight title , albeit , during separate time-spans . In the case of Vladmir and Vitali Klitschko , the two siblings , hold all of the recognizable titles simultaneously . But for some strange reason they refuse to fight each other , in order to create an undisputed heavyweight champion. It has now been almost a decade since we have had that unique distinction within category . The last undisputed heavyweight champion was Lennox Lewis , the now retired European fighter.

Courtesy of CBS News

Studying the brain in violent sports

By Lee Cowan , CBS News

(CBS News) There’s been a lot of concern about concussions among kids and adults who play football and other contact sports. A new study was presented recently to the American Academy of Neurology which looks at fighters. It finds three parts of the brain begin to shrink after nine years of repeated injury.

CBS News correspondent Lee Cowan reports that while the results are only preliminary, the research hints there’s a correlation between repeated blows to the head, and neurological problems, especially loss of memory.

He was one of few boxers to ever take a title away from Muhammad Ali, but 38 years after that historic bout, Leon Spinks is not the man he was.

Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Brain Research Center in Las Vegas are trying to figure out how much of Spinks’ memory loss can be blamed on repeated blows to the head.

“I never did think I had brain damage,” Spinks said recently.

His wife Brenda isn’t so sure, saying that boxing has been tough on him.

Dr. Charles Bernick, the leader of the study into brain disorders said that doctors have “known for years that boxers, perhaps 20 percent to 50 percent of boxers who’ve fought professionally, will develop long-term brain complications.”

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Leon Spinks is now part of a clinical trial being conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Research Center , in Las Vegas , Nevada , researching the effects of head trauma and the key element of gradual memory loss , which has become a daily part of the former champion’s life . Spinks and his wife Lynne , a constant companion at his side stated that the memory loss though not significant has caused the fighter to be more cautious in his daily rituals . The former pugilist in an interview with CBS news journalist Lee Cowen stated his neurological issues were in part brought on by his career as a boxer but he believes most notably so because of his age. I beg to differ , because it is widely known that boxing often referred to as the most barbaric of sports because the intent of the adversaries is to physically cause damage to an opponent with the use of one’s fists . And though we now have within our midst the fastest growing combative sport in the world , Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) . Boxing , under the Marquis of Queensbury Rules has evolved from the bare knuckle brawlers from that era to being cold , calculated and male machismo , into something of more disciplined spectacle . In this millennia the sport has become something of antithesis , with title holders more often than not seeking to avoid each other , rather than giving the fans what they want . From early sixties through to the mid-nineties , the sport of boxing and the heavyweight scene had been highly exciting . Today , it become one big ” comedy of errors” . East Europeans now dominate the scene and it has become a sad chain of events with the presence of no North American contender for the heavyweight title and almost nowhere to be seen . Fighters, who’ve an interest now seem to steering themselves towards MMA under the umbrella of the sport’s dominant promotion UFC , a privately owned entity overseen by its President Dana White .

White, in conjunction with Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta hit the “jackpot ” and now reign over a multi-billion dollar empire that has a global presence and with promotions as far afield as Japan , Brazil , UK , Canada , France and Germany . With a global audience of millions MMA has far outstripped the television audience for boxing and has easily surpassed the anemic audience drawn by televised NHL games .

As I alluded to earlier , fighters who may well have at one time sought to enter the world of boxing are veering towards the heavyweight scene of MMA (mixed-martial-arts) . The UFC’s reigning champion is Brazilian , Junior dos-Santos , who defeated Cain Velazquez for the title . Dos Santos remains an active but yet something of an unknown quantity but he has if anything proven to be one of the most dominant and well-rounded fighters within the division if not the UFC as a whole . Financial rewards within the sport is has been on the ascent , with some of the more prominent fighters now earning in the high six figures . A number of the UFC’s stable of mixed-martial-artists have become multi-millionaires , with Georges St Pierre , Anderson Silva , Jon Jones and Randy Couture now having become household names , drawing on fans across the globe but also with a growing throng of female followers. Endorsements now play a major part for the fighters within the genre and speaking as a martial arts practitioner , having gained a Black Belt third degree in Karate ( Ishin-Ryu and Shotokan) and teaching the art to service members whilst in the Royal Marines (British) . It is astonishing to see such a format take an explosive presence within the world of combative sports . Now while the rather infantile and orchestrated world of wrestling under the WWE umbrella , headed by the < McMahon family continues to make a mockery and assist Vince McMahon in becoming a billionaire . What we can now surmise is the very fact that while boxing purports to safe-guard its boxers . But herein lies the caveat with regard to the sport in the United States , with each state having its own state athletics’ commission , the rules governing the guidelines concerning a boxer’s health and medical records varies from state to state . With no uniform governing body at the national level it left to the state agencies to oversee the sport of boxing .

Within the world of MMA , under UFC’s own guidelines their fighters are subject to mandated to not only neurological tests but also in and out of season testing for barbiturates and opiates . Fighters who have transgressed the rules set by the governing body have been subjected to monetary fines and or a suspension . A repeat violation has resulted in fighter having his contract with the UFC terminated . What also sets this body apart from boxing and that sports’ numerous international governing bodies , is the very fact that at all major title fights under the UFC organizational umbrella , is the very fact that a medical staff consisting of medical doctor and neurosurgeon is always in attendance for all title fights. In the world of boxing it has become increasingly clear with promoters such as Don King and Bob Arum simply divvying up a pie ___ the sport has now become not what is in the best interests of the consumer and fighter but what just happens to be is in the best interests of the promoters such as King and Arum ! Neither , has ever been a true proponent of bringing in a more stringent regimen of testing for fighters in terms for neurological disorders now often being associated with the sport of boxing .

Bob Arum and Don King over the past four decades have in one form or another has corralled the sport into a situation where both over the course of their careers have each been the subject of the US Justice Department for tax evasion and grand larceny . King , no novice or stranger to the US Justice System has been sued repeatedly within the US Federal Court System by several boxers whom he has either managed or promoted over the course of his four plus decade career within the sport . The list is amongst some of the biggest names within the sport over the era in question , ranging from Larry Holmes , Evander Holyfield , Mike Tyson , Ali , Buster Douglas , Ken Norton , Thomas Hearns , “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler , Felix Trinidad and Hector Camacho Sr . Suffice to say , Don King might be the lowest life form within the sport who can be best described as an invertebrate ! Anyone care to proffer up an opinion on that premise ?

With this acute crisis now facing Leon Spinks it will be interesting to see what the future now holds for this once proud boxer who shocked the world deals with this adversity . Spinks with his wife Lynne at his side and children no doubt hoping that their father doesn’t have to suffer unbearably with this rather debilitating disease , it can only indicate to us how archaic the and completely corrupt the system has become . The WBA , WBC , IBF and WBO have simply become too self-indulgent , larcenous , without any lack of real leadership and accountability for their own good . And their respective mandates would indicate that when it comes to following the proper protocols expected , with regard to the safety of the boxers within their framework. It has to be said that each of the governing bodies in question have shown little interest if any being proactive in dealing with the issues of neurological disorders for the pugilists . In the UK , the BBBC (British Boxing Board of Control) , closely affiliated with the WBC , has one of the most stringent polices imaginable when it comes fights sanctioned within its mandate . Fighters have to undergo a battery of rigorous testing physically and neurologically before any sanctioned fight be it a title or none title bout. And the medical records of all fighters licensed under the Board of Control must be updated every six months . This is mandated, any none adherence can bring about the suspension of a fighter’s license . Unfortunately , such a mandate doesn’t appear to be followed by any of the state athletic commissions within the USA . Perhaps at some point those state agencies will come out of the “dark ages” and actually do something proactive rather than continue to be a complete damn joke !

Recently , the NFL has been turned upside down by the allegations and now subsequent proof of the gross misconduct by the coaching staff of the New Orleans Saints . This idiocy , has brought support and opposition for the perpetrators of the conduct in question. In many of the pieces I have read by contributors within this domain , at no point has any of the writers in question actually argued as to the gross misconduct or the lies perpetrated by Sean Payton , Joe Vitt , Mickey Loomis and Gregg Williams . Instead , the asinine stance has been about the actual position taken by Roger Goodell . At what point has it been about the position of the NFL commissioner when it should actually be about the misdeeds of the perpetrators in question ? Or are the vast majority of sports’ fans now so damn apathetic and without an iota of intelligence ? It was very much the same way with the misconduct of Joe Paterno and the scandal that embroiled him and tarnished his legacy at Penn State . The former head football coach , would have us believe that having followed what he believed were the proper protocols concerning the allegations of child molestation against his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky , nothing else needed to be done. Misguided and as idiotic as Paterno just happened to be , age is no excuse for what may been on his part an error in judgment ! And this was in light of the growing allegations that even after the first such incidents were reported , Sandusky was still luring young victims for his own lascivious needs.

Those jumping to Paterno’s defense , simply overlooked the victims and that of their families . And if that wasn’t enough many of the student body of the academic establishment were vocal in their support of the octogenarian former head football coach . It was only in the aftermath of what appeared to be growing evidence as to length and depth of these misdeeds and the “cover-up” perpetrated by the administrators that many had come to realize how inexcusable their actions were . The university’s campus police was about as thorough in its investigation as could often be seen through the bumbling and comedic attempts shown in the silent single reel comedies of the Keystone Cops ! As to the state’s own conduct and specifically that of Governor Tom Corbett , well let’s just say that he too isn’t without a few skeletons in his own closet . Anyone care to remember his handling of the Hershey School ” scandal ” as the then , Attorney General for the state of Pennsylvania ?

To my mind , Roger Goodell , has no course at this juncture but to ; come down hard on the players involved in this whole scandal . The NFLPA , its Executive Committee and Board of Player Representatives now seem to be lining up all of their ducks in a ” pretty little row ” as they seek to avert any harsh and what they deem to be undue penalties against their members . . Now let me get this straight , the union is now seeking to protect its members after several of them have acted wantonly in seeking to hurt an opponent , their own union members in a number of regular and postseason games over a three year span ? What fu_king planet are these assholes now living on ? It was every man for himself , in terms of the financial rewards as a number of Saints’ players profited greatly from the practice . A number of players not only suffered concussions , but in part , it has been confirmed short-term memory loss . Is it not bad enough that the NFL hierarchy under Goodell and his predecessor Paul Tagliabue have simply ignored the evidence that has repeatedly noted the cause-and-effect head traumas and concussion like symptoms ? . These findings have come from such noted academies of educational excellence such as Stanford University , UCLA Berkley , Harvard Medical School , BUMC , Yale Medical School , American Academy of Neurology and the governmental agency the National Institute of Mental Health . What is it that the NFL seems to be so afraid of and wants to hide as it relates to this sole issue ? Not unlike the cigarette manufacturers , who as we know had something to hide as to their own malfeasance concerning their product . It would appear in the case of NFL it all comes down to greed and the protection of its $10 billion a year industry .

As this whole “Bounty-gate” scandal came to light I have always felt had one of the league’s more prominent names (players) been subject to the New Orleans Saints’ actions , then I wonder what the public outcry might well have been ! Can you imagine if Peyton Manning , Tom Brady , Eli Manning , Ben Roethlisberger , Philip Rivers and Matt Stafford were on the receiving end of these acts ? Then what ? The Saints’ actions border on being criminal and it is becoming patently clear that a number of team owners within the NFL are not entirely happy with the snail’s pace procedure of the league’s investigation. If this has been going on since 2008 and Goodell’s investigators had evidence within their possession going back as far as 2009 ………. then what the hell have they been doing during that time ?

For those of you who now feel that the game has become something of a watered down product . Then consider how serious the ramifications might well have been had they sought to simply take that ” do nothing approach” ? The game of football in the NFL has evolved , the players have become , bigger , faster and need one say actually more violent ? But no , idiots out there would rather see that continued violence and mayhem until perhaps the actual broken bones , perhaps a femur , clavicle or deviated septum , causing blurred vision to a player , wherein such an incident could be a game changer in terms of a final result a in a meaningful game ? Is that really what we want the game now to be about within the NFL ? Unless I am mistaken the games within the NFL are not being played in an amphitheater with the players are using tridents , swords and nets as part of their arsenal as a strategy ! Football I know , is meant to be an adversarial and gladiatorial in its execution but do we really now want to see the game of football become akin to an out an out fight , in terms of two gladiators battling along the lines of the events portrayed in Oscar winning movie “Gladiator ” starring Russell Crowe ? Death there (ampitheater) was honorable , there is nothing honorable in having an opponent seek to do harm with intent to a rival on the field of play on a football field but yet as_sholes are now craving that in terms of the NFL ? Wake the _uck up and show some damn common sense for once ! .

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(1) Former world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks who defeated Muhammad Ali for the title in a classic bout in February 1978 but would subsequently lose in a title rematch 7 months later . Spinks now suffers from respiratory problems as well with the early onset stages of Alzheimer’s disease . He is now part of the neurological study being conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruva Research Center , in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP / Ricky Marshall ….

(2) Leon Spinks , right meets Muhammad Ali , then champion , for the WBA & WBC heavyweight title on 15th February , 1978 at the Hilton Hotel , Las Vegas , Nevada . Spinks would dethrone Ali for the title in a split decision . Inset , is referee Davey Pearl who was the ring official for this bout . Ring Magazine/ Hearsts New Inc.

(3) From left to right , Michael Spinks , is seen here alongside Nelson Mandela , center , and Joe Frazier . The former South African head of state met with his guests at his official private residence in Pretoria . Both fighters visited the country in August 1997. AFP/ Reuters/ Jan der Voorstedt …..

(4) UFC Light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones , left is seen here with MMA analyst & commentator Joe Rogan . Also pictured is former champion Rashard Evans . The two MMA practitioners are due to meet this month when Jones defends his title in the UFC promoted event UFC 145 at the Phillips Center , in Atlanta , Georgia . Ken Thompson / The Fighter Magazine …..

(5) Muhammad Ali onstage during Muhammad Ali’s Celebrity Fight Night XIII held at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa on March 24, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Charlie Gallay …..

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It’s Good To Know But Someone Has To Have Your Back …. Or Do They ?

It’s Good To Know But Someone Has To Have Your Back …. Or Do They ?

By tophatal ………..

The NFL Draft is a mere week away this upcoming Thursday ,26th April , 2012 . Three days of unadulterated eternal bliss for the Draft geeks out there and it gives the chance for Todd McShay and Mel Kiper to once again regale us all with their insight of the collegiate talent that will be part of this three days of apparent suspense . Given what were able to witness from last season’s draft it has to be said if the expectations are to be believed then the likelihood of a surprise seems remote at best . The Indianapolis Colts as the team making the number one overall pick which is likely to be the Stanford Cardinals’ starting quarterback Andrew Luck . Seen as the preseason favorite in 2011 for the Heisman Trophy , that accolade would be won by the Baylor’ Bears’ standout signal caller Robert Griffin III after the team’s outstanding season and Griffin’s own spectacular exploits in leading the Baylor Bears to an impressive 10-3 mark .

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There’s no doubt that Colts’ Jim Irsay has to assess the best fit possible for his team. Ryan Grigson having assumed the position of former general manager Bill Polian . The new incumbent will certainly have to make his mark , either way , his choice whatever it may well be can’t be viewed as a failure given the athleticism and talent of both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Now once we get past that number one pick it seems almost a certainty that the Washington Redskins having moved up in the draft order will undoubtedly take the second of the two aforementioned quarterbacks in question. If it is Griffin , then it certainly makes the Redskins an impact-full factor and quite possibly an outside favorite to win the NFC East . Given the quarterbacking talent on display the division , I am not so sure that even with the talents of Robert Griffin III at the helm the fortunes are likely to be as fruitful as envisioned . But most certainly it has to be better anything on offer by way of the quarterbacks on display last season for the Washington Redskins in 2011. If Rex Grossman and John Skelton got your “juices flowing” then I can only surmise that as a possible fan of the Redskins you were liable to have started the day with a lively libation of hard liquor . God knows, the Washington Redskins were extraordinarily god-damn awful this past season.

Mike Shanahan and that highly overpaid but extremely mediocre coaching staff has to bear the brunt of the blame for the mediocrity on display from the team. Bruce Allen the general manager and directly answerable to owner Dan Snyder but in reality he has to defer all personnel decisions to Mike Shanahan , as they both will be hard pressed this upcoming season to overcome the blunders that have been made by the franchise in terms of the draft picks made by he and Shanahan during their joint tenures in their respective capacities .

When it comes to prognostications concerning the NFL Draft , NBA Draft , MLB Draft and that of the NHL Draft . Well let’s just say , if you go by the norm , it’s strictly for dummies ! There’s no real all-out certainty unless the picks in question show outstanding ability and a great deal of maturity . That has been the sort of maturity shown by Peyton Manning in 1998 as the number one overall in that specific draft . And one would have to admit that Cam Newton came out of nowhere announce his presence with an outstanding and explosive season with the Carolina Panthers . Having been taken as the number one overall pick in 2011 , Newton simply announced his presence within the NFL with a string of games that displayed his prodigious talent , showing that all of bravado and skill-set shown with Alabama (Crimson Tide) was not a one and done deal .

If there’s one team that has something to prove this upcoming season then it would have to be the New York Jets . Over the past two seasons Rex Ryan and his coaching staff have simply failed to live to the perceived hype and this continued idiocy of his proclamation that this franchise has been the best in the AFC simply hasn’t been matched by results attained over that time span. In light of another obviously disappointing 2011 foray , does anyone actually believe that Rex Ryan now needs to simply shut the f_ck up and let the deeds of his team simply speak for itself , rather than continuing to make these rather asinine excuses ! Starting quarterback Mark Sanchez simply regressed during 2011 as the team became languid and simply not up to the task of being looked upon as one of the best teams within the AFC , much less the NFL as a whole .

Well we all knew that the New York Jets wanted to make something of a major splash this off-season . But hell , who knew it would take an actual act of sheer desperation to show the depths to which this organization would have sunk ? Oh , so a number of you are now of the belief that the acquisition of Tim Tebow will now make this roster simply better ? Please get a damn dose of reality and realize the fact that Tebow’s skill-set are marginal at best and the coaching staff of the Denver Broncos simply weren’t interested in improving the player’s abilities . If that were the case , then we would have seen a marked improvement in Tim Tebow’s play during 2011 with the Broncos. All of this talk of oh , what an outstanding season by the former Gators’ former starting quarterback . Has anybody simply looked at Tebow’s body of work in terms of his overall statistics for 2011 ? Plainly , while the player showed a great deal of heart , he had become more of a liability for the Broncos , rather than asset . Now there’s talk amongst those with apparent insight as to how Tim Tebow will be best used by Rex Ryan’s staff. “Wildcat anyone ” ? Oh that worked ever so well for the Miami Dolphins for the better part of one season before they were simply exposed as team without any real character , much less a coach of any standing . Tony Sparano on his best day couldn’t find his asshole with the aid of flashlight and a cattle prod , much less coach a team with a degree of certainty !

The issues for this current Jets’ roster is one of a lack of leadership and that is even with seasoned veterans such as LaDainian Tomlinson , Plaxico Burress and that infantile sniveling piece of excrement Santonio Holmes , who has simply become a plague and pariah in the latter part of his professional career within the NFL . Holmes is simply a classless individual , who rather than show that he possesses the leadership abilities , has shown that he’s no more a leader than one could consider Rex Ryan being someone who possesses a great deal of etiquette. Neither of those traits can be seen on display from either of these two individuals , be it on or off the field of play ! With Santonio Holmes signed to a long-term contract it would prove to be extremely difficult for the Jets’ front office to off-load the player at this juncture given the intricacies of his existing deal .

Let’s be clear , Tim Tebow was brought in to provide a kick in the ass to Mark Sanchez ! The New York Jets’ incumbent starter has proven to be that he hasn’t been able to fulfill the expectations , given the fact that he has been coddled throughout his collegiate and NFL career . Can someone explain to me what has been so exceptional about the quarterbacks who have played for USC (Trojans) over the last eight years , that upon their entrance into the NFL that they have simply sucked to such a degree that you simply wonder that while being good at during their careers under Pete Carroll , they have all of a sudden forgotten how to play the game ? In large part we now know that many of Carroll’s achievements at that storied program was simply built upon so many falsehoods and an environment of none compliance and to NCAA rules . Once a cheat , always a cheat , so suck it up , “bitches ” !

The needs of the New York Jets may not appearance seem like to be numerous but it is clear that this roster is far from the composite that Rex Ryan feels that he can build into a championship caliber team . From my own perspective , the leash on Mark Sanchez will have to be loosened , with the player playing to his alleged strengths whatever they may well just happen to be. If he should fail then Tim Tebow will be entrusted to lead this team , miss-targeted passes and a completion rate that may well border on statistics that the statisticians would rather not make available for the NFL , much less for the fans at large . And Tebow’s stats have been amongst the worst recorded in recent NFL history . If the New York Jets truly believe that they can ride on the coat-tails then so be it but I for one don’t see this all being as smooth a transition as the fans and NFL beat writers within the “Big Apple” and the surrounding vicinity are hoping that it will be . Granted , everyone loves an underdog , Tebow and his management will continue to ride this flea-bitten dog until it drops , because in large part they simply know this means millions of dollars for the player by way of endorsements , even if his talents are simply marginal at best . Now what for the New York Jets and their duo of competing quarterbacks ? Get the feeling that Greg McElroy will now be left on the outside looking in , as he sees himself slowly slide the team’s depth chart at the position ?

If I were to suggest to you that last season Mark Sanchez was the highest paid quarterback in the NFL would you have believed me ? At the end of the season the front office saw fit to sign their quarterback to a five-year contract extension paying the player $58.5 million ($20.5 million in guaranteed money [and with an $8 million signing bonus]) . Pardon me for saying this , I can only surmise that Mike Tannenbaum and team owner under Woody Johnson were easily induced or quite possibly seduced by the less than gaudy figures put up by the player last season that they simply said to Sanchez’s agent , his brother, Nick Sanchez …. “simply have your client sign along the dotted line ” . Based upon that assumption , it would be easy to suggest that Mark Sanchez is now in “hog heaven” with that amount of “bacon ” having just been placed on his plate . God knows, at present there are a number of quarterbacks within the NFL who are vastly overpaid , and who have simply done absolutely done nothing to be deserving of such rewards . But this is the premise upon which the NFL now seems to based in large part . ‘ Pay me now , or simply pay me later , whether or not I am an infinite success ‘ . And let’s just say a number of teams over the years have been simply burned by this process . Needless, to say the names of JaMarcus Russell , Matt Leinart , Carson Palmer and Vince Young comes to mind ! Four players who have yet to prove their worth within the NFL , in spite of the success attained by the quartet at the collegiate level . “Dough Boy” aka as JaMarcus Russell longs to make a return to the NFL but I for one doubt seriously that there would be an NFL franchise dumb enough to sign the player even to a one year contract ! Why the hell would they ? Your thoughts ? The Oakland Raiders over the years have proven that when it comes to actually assessing talent they’ve had as much success in gauging the merits of a good to moderate quarterback as Stevie Wonder would be able to , in trying to find a needle in a haystack . My thoughts here , and no one else , just saying that’s all !

With the NFL schedule for 2012 being formally announced as of 5:00 PM EST, yesterday , eagerly awaiting fans must have been thrilled by the match-ups that would be on offer for the season . For fans of the New York Jets that anticipation was answered in more ways than one with a number of games that are bound to wet their appetites . Their regular season opener sees the Jets take on their divisional rivals the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium , East Rutherford , New Jersey on the 1st September , 2012 . Before the season comes into focus the NFL Draft and the Jets’ war room will become the scene for what may well be in part the determining process as to how the team’s progress will be gauged through the year. History would suggest that the franchise will be prudent in their draft picks that has seen them in recent years come up with some rather bold choices . Some have worked out , while others simply fell flat ! GM Mike Tannenbaum , along with Rex Ryan and his coaching staff will be looking to acquire the players they believe can contribute to the organization as a whole , immediately and for the long-term .

Tim Tebow may well be viewed as a backup to Mark Sanchez for now but should the wheels under the bus start to deflate . Then simply look for the Jets’ fans to be calling for the jettisoning of the incumbent and for the former Broncos’ starter to assume that starting role at the position. Tebow for the moment , has been saying and doing all of the right things. But don’t for one moment , let that syrupy ” Goody Two Shoes ” ……………… aw shucks persona fool you ……… Tim Tebow is out to become a starter with the New York Jets and that will become an earnest fact . Not a presumption , assumption or any other slightly off-kilter premise . If he has to , he may well get down and dirty to simply prove the point that he is ready . This is Sanchez’s job to lose , even if he is being paid a king’s ransom in comparison to his understudy . Mark , my words , Mark Sanchez this upcoming season can no longer afford to fool around , and think that he’s still on campus being coddled by the coaching staff , and as he has been by the Jets , ever since his entry into the NFL in 2009 , taken as the 5th overall pick in the first round by the Jets’ organization . If he screws up now , then he has no one to blame but himself ! Your thoughts on the matter ?

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Whether or not you’re a New York Jets’ fan what expectations do you have for the organization this upcoming season ? And how do you seem faring within their division (AFC East) ? Simply leave a comment on this , and anything else you believe to be pertinent as it relates to the subject matter .

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(1) INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 07: Peyton Manning (L) listens as Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay speaks at a press conference announcing Manning’s release from the Colts at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on March 7, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts’ organization made the announcement that Manning would no longer be a player for the franchise . The renowned quarterback would sign with the Denver Broncos . Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images …

(2) Quarterback Andrew Luck of Stanford runs the 40-yard dash during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 26, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Getty Images North America/ Joe Robbins ……

(3) Quarterback Robert Griffin III of Baylor looks on during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 26, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Getty Images North America / Joe Robbins

(4) Head Coach Mike Shanahan (R) of the Washington Redskins talks with his son Kyle Shanahan (L) offensive coordinator for the team during Redskins training camp on August 6, 2010 in Ashburn, Virginia. Win McNamee / Getty Images …

(5) Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, Mike Shanahan the new Executive Vice President and head coach, and Bruce Allen Executive Vice President, before a press conference welcoming Shanahan to the Redskins on January 6, 2010 at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia. Mitchell Layton /Getty Images North America …..

(6) General manager Mike Tannenbaum of the New York Jets (L) talks with Head coach Rex Ryan and owner Woody Johnson during the afternoon practice at NY Jets Practice Facility on August 7, 2011 in Florham Park, New Jersey. Getty Images / Patrick McDermott …….

(7) New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez talks to reporters in the Jets’ locker room in Florham Park, N.J., Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. The Jets season ended without a playoff game after a season filled with inconsistent play, some in-fighting and lost opportunities. AP Photo/Seth Wenig ….

(8) New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow speaks at the Easter service of Celebration Church in Georgetown, Texas, Sunday, April 8, 2012. AP Photo/William Philpott …..

(9) DENVER, CO – JANUARY 08: Quarterback Tim Tebow (15) of the Denver Broncos receives high fives from fans after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime of the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. 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 Jeff Gross/Getty Images …

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Ludacris ……….. feat’g Shawnna ……………….. ” Stand Up ”

Don’t Start Something If You Can’t Say Something …………

Don’t Start Something If You Can’t Say Something …………

By tophatal ………….. Monday, April 16, 2012 ,

At times it never ceases to amaze me as to the naivete` of the sports fan in general ! Here’s one of the asinine premises I’ve come across as of late and that’s ……….” I want to be entertained ” rather than seeing the usual staple of teams being served up perennially by the NBA , MLB , NHL and NFL ! Well considering that first and foremost the league hierarchies in question are actually a commercial enterprises whose primary goals are to make money and that of benefiting their franchise owners and players alike , as well as their numerous corporate sponsors and as well as the broadcast outlets who carry their product . So much of these individuals who claim to have a business degree of sorts . Unless it just happened to be a degree doled out by way of some none accredited educational establishment wherein , all that was required was a small monetary donation and in return came a diploma with a name festooned , denoted in bold calligraphy stating that the recipient was now a learned scholar .

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There’s a reason why the Los Angeles Lakers , Miami Heat , Boston Celtics of the will be part of the NBA televised schedule rather than that of their fellow teams carried by the outlets who carry league’s regularly seasoned schedule games. Legacy and success still carries weight over the perceived wishes of the consumer at times . And it is the same reason why the New York Yankees , Boston Red Sox , Los Angeles Angels , Los Angeles Dodgers and St Louis Cardinals will be seen on via the national broadcast and cable outlets more often their peers even via a regional outlets .

The NFL’s premise is to build around its more high profiled teams and that of its most popular players . There’s a reason why the Dallas Cowboys remains a ” major draw ” for the NFL beyond being the most profitable NFL franchise by far . The Cowboys draw viewers and that means added revenues for the broadcast outlets . Beyond the Dallas Cowboys you also have the New England Patriots , and the two prominent New York teams , albeit that they’re domiciled in the state of New Jersey , those being the New York Giants and New York Jets . I’d mention the Buffalo Bills in greater depth but in reality , let’s get real , what has this franchise done as of late that can be thought of as being meaningful ? Answer me that , if you can ?

The NHL is still trying to find its niche but undoubtedly without the appeal of Sidney Crosby , the Pittsburgh Penguins , Philadelphia Flyers , New York Rangers , New York Islanders , Boston Bruins , Montreal Canadiens , Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings the sport of hockey game of would barely register a blip in terms of ratings . And that is in spite of the renewed and rejuvenated attempt by the NBC Sports’ Network whose whole premise seems to be ” playing up the excitement” to be found during the playoffs this postseason .

The concerns for the hierarchies of the four major sports is to build around their most popular brands and to feed it to the consumer continually . Some of the hierarchies are more successful than others while some are still trying to figure it all out . Needless to say , we can figure out which of the sports in question are indeed troubled as to a following and some might say a dwindling fan-base . And which seem to be the ones who have seen their profiles raised not just domestically but also on a global front , their fortunes have changed dramatically over the past three decades at least . Care to suggest , as to which of the four major sports have met that specific criteria ?

This past Sunday marked the 65th anniversary (Jackie Robinson Day ) of the integration of Major League Baseball (MLB) , with Jackie Robinson being the first minority player of color to play in a fully integrated professional team sport . Consider at the time also , the US military wasn’t fully integrated , wherein African-American males could not fight alongside their Caucasian counterpart counterparts . They simply relegated to menial tasks or placed in all black platoons white officer presiding over them . It would not be until eight years after the end of WWII (World War II) that all branches of the US military would be indeed be fully integrated . Robinson paved the way for many social reforms that should have had a lasting effect upon our society . But in reality the country has fallen short of the of the wishes of not just Jackie Robinson the player , and social activist but also that of perhaps this country’s greatest disciple of effective social change , Dr Martin Luther King . Personally , I feel that the league hierarchy under Bud Selig have done little of real significance on this one issue and that is in spite the RBI initiative ( Returning Baseball to the Inner Cities) ! More money is now being spent by many of the league’s more prominent teams to build baseball academies in Latin America , the Caribbean , the African continent and Far East Asia , than the league itself spends on their so-called initiative . So much for that initiative then , don’t you think ?

Angels’ outfielder Torii Hunter may well have been unto something some years back when he stated that he could not consider Latino players as such , as being akin to his own ethnicity . Annually , Selig trots out the whole charade (Jackie Robinson Day) to remind us as to the steps that had been taken by Branch Rickey and the Brooklyn Dodgers . As recently as 1987 , the makeup of African-American players within the game of baseball was in excess of 30.8% of the rosters of the teams within the league at the time . In 2010 , that figure had fallen to below 8.7 % and for this Selig and the hierarchy has no meaningful explanation . Suffice to say , that in spite of the RBI initiative the interest amongst African-Americans for baseball is no longer there and has been on the decline over the last twenty-five years. A quick fix coming from MLB , not likely given the fact that a baseball scholarship is not as meaningful or as financially rewarding as obtaining a basketball or football scholarship at the D1 level . But you’d be hard pressed to have Bud Selig work in conjunction with the NCAA and Mark Emmert to change that landscape given the premise that MLB Draft profits greatly from having a high school declare his eligibility and then enter the process and likewise also , the players at the collegiate level who follow that same path.

So NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decided to uphold his original decision to not to rescind the suspensions levied against the New Orleans Saints’ head coach Sean Payton , assistant , Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis . As great as this may well sound , this whole ” odious affair ” of the Saints’ bounty scandal has taken on a new face and life of its very own . The NFLPA (union) has in fact had in its possession evidence to suggest that this whole sordid affair was known to them for quite some time . Scott Fujita , former member player representatives for the NFLPA has admitted to Peter King of Sports Illustrated that while a player for the Saints , he had in-fact paid members of the team for “big plays” but not so , to hurt players of the opposing team . This however, doesn’t negate the fact that this all happened while Gregg Williams’ scheme was actually being enforced and suborned by the coaching staff of the New Orleans Saints . How Fujita believes his actions were any-the-less egregious than the actions that were already in place is beyond belief ! Consider the fact , that the players on the team are already being well compensated , why would any other financial in incentive be needed beyond the players' usual salary ? If this was all happening while Fujita was a player rep for the Saints , then it speaks to length and depth of this whole contrived conspiracy and how it was perpetrated . And now you have the idiocy of union itself advising its members who may well be embroiled in this mess to have their player representative at their side as well as legal counsel when questioned by the NFL investigators , who are still conducting their ongoing investigation into the affair.

The NFL , much less the NFLPA , has never been at all concerned with player safety , and this typically proves that fact ! It’s not so much the denials complacency and negligence of the league hierarchy in not acknowledging the cause-and-effect of the injuries suffered blunt force head traumas and Grade II concussions . But how has this has sat with the NFL , with the mounting evidence placed in-front of them , much of research into the injuries coming well-respected medical and universities of academia with years of experience in the area of neurology ? The league hierarchy continued to deny that the research had any merit whatsoever by stating own in-house medical advisers had conducted research which suggested evidence to the contrary . Goodell , much like his predecessor Paul Tagliabue have failed to address the issue of player safety and it has only been under pressure from the US government , specifically the House Commerce & Energy Committee , House Oversight & Gov’t Reform Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee that has now caused the league hierarchy to change its stance somewhat . And this continued idiocy that the NFL cares about its members is asinine and heightened all the more when one considers the abhorrent treatment meted out to old-time veterans , who were repeatedly denied benefits rightfully due to them . I would preface this by saying , the fact that the NFL is now the subject of two separate legal cases as a defendant at the state level and Federal level , may well be the reason why Goodell and the team owners are lining up all of their ducks in a row , as they seek to have both cases conjoined and heard within the US Federal Court System .

Courtesy of Cleveland Plain Dealer

Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita meeting with NFL officials today about bounty scandal

By Mary Kay Kabot , The Cleveland Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND — Current Browns and former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita is among the players meeting in New York today with NFL officials about the Saints bounty program and other matters, according to Albert Breer of nfl.com.

Fujita, a member of the NFL Players Association’s executive committee, has admitted to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King that he paid teammates for big plays while in New Orleans, but not for hurting opponents and not as part of the bounty pool.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and other members of executive committee besides Fujita arrived this morning at league offices to discuss sanctions against players involved in the Saints’ program.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has come down hard on current and former Saints employees involved in the program, including suspending coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season and general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games.

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I’ve long-held the contention that the NFL and union have been disingenuous and more so simply devoid of creativity and intelligence ! Both have their own agendas , which has absolutely nothing to bringing to do with seeing the brand itself grow in stature . Roger Goodell has been quick to point to the fact that during the impasse that led to the preseason being abandoned but the entire regular season being enmeshed into a tighter pattern led to some exciting football being played at times but we also had situations where a number of teams simply performed badly . The commissioner was also quick to state that the league had been the recipient of an additional $1.25 billion in added revenues by way of a newly negotiated contract jointly with CBS and Fox Sports . You ever get the feeling that it will be never enough for the NFL , while at the same time they simply coerce municipal and state employees to granting them tax incentives repeatedly each season that has appreciated value for the team owners . While in reality those agencies tend to see a diminishing return by way of that largess . Doubt my word , then ask New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg how things seem to be working out concerning Citi-Field and what now appears to be a white elephant that has yet to be filled to capacity for a regular season game . It is becoming abundantly clear that while the New York Mets may well be riding high within the NL East but the real issue still facing the front office is that of reining in costs as it relates to the team’s payroll .

Sandy Alderson and J P. Riccardi have been entrusted to reverse the recent misfortunes of the Mets’ organization . No small feat when one considers that it has been over two decades since the New York Mets won their sole World Series title . As to whether or the team in its current guise can aspire to those lofty heights will no doubt be predicated not only the team’s pitching but also how explosive that offense will be . And as good as the New York Mets appear to be at present I am not convinced that they are simply good enough to challenge the might of the St Louis Cardinals , Philadelphia Phillies , San Francisco Giants within the NL !

I’m no fan of the New York Mets as I have felt all along team owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz have been negligent , financially incompetent and derelict in their duties as the owners of this baseball club. Having dodged a bullet in their as defendant in a recent civil suit that sought the recovery of $1.15 billion received by way of the alleged investments derived from the Madoff Ponzi scheme . The Mets would settle with plaintiff’s attorney Irving Picard of Baker Potts LLC , for the rather minuscule sum of $165 million . There was enough evidence to suggest that Picard would have won the case for his clients but somehow they chose to settle . In the aftermath of this all , the 750 clients represented by the law would receive the meager sum of just over $210,000 before the legal fees of the attorney is taken into account. Someone got ” hosed ” in this whole episode and it certainly wasn’t the New York Mets ! Say what you will but the Mets are laughing , while I believe that the plaintiffs in this suit might have some issue with their lawyer ! Picard and his law firm will walk away with a tidy sum in legal fees for simply belittling the Mets . Nowhere near enough when you consider what the plaintiffs had originally sought.

The Charlotte Bobcats seem to be now bungling their way to NBA history as they seek to either rewrite the annals of the league for sheer ineptitude . With a mark of 7-52 and only seven games left before the culmination of the regular season on the 26th April, 2012. Granted , the season has been curtailed to one of 66 games and the all-time mark is that of the ‘ 73-74 Philadelphia 76ers’ 9-73 . But who knew at that the organization owned by the game’s most beloved player Michael Jordan . The front office executive has said little concerning the woes of the team and the very fact that it is becoming increasingly likely that they will not surpass that Sixers’ mark . However , Paul Silas and Michael Jordan can look back on this season as one of not only missed opportunities but the very fact this team was simply uncompetitive and had no leadership coming from anyone on the roster , much less from Silas’ staff of coaching assistants . Nothing ventured , nothing gained and that has clearly been the case for the Charlotte Bobcats . Kemba Walker may well have entered the NBA Draft with high expectations. Unfortunately for the player , his rookie season it has been one lows than highs playing on a team that certainly won’t be able to shed this season from its memory anytime soon .

I was once told by grandmother ………. “if you can’t say anything nice about anyone then try to be respectful in pointing out their problems ” . I am not so sure I can be that kind and compromising when it concerns the Bobcats ! So much was made about how great the season would be and the fact that the teams would be playing at a highly competitive level . In some cases that has been true but herein lies my issues with the season , either teams have forgotten how to play defense or simply put the level and quality of the coaching within the NBA has now sank to an all-time low ! Personally , I believe it’s a combination of both and it is unlikely change anytime soon ! Paul Silas may well have been brought in by GM Rod Wiggins to provide the young players on this team some guidance and experience but that has fallen remarkably short upon a group of players whose combined basketball IQ might not even equal that of Sarah Palin’s and Paris Hilton’s combined ! And even if the Bobcats are part of this season’s NBA Draft Lottery , a possible resurgence of the franchise won’t be an overnight thing.

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What if anything do you feel to be pertinent concerning the points raised within the piece ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit .

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Cleveland Browns’ defensive player Scott Fujita is seen here with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith heading to a meeting with of the union’s executive committee and the NFL league hierarchy this past Monday. Fujita for former player rep while with the New Orleans Saints answered questions concerning his involvement in the Saints’ now infamous “bounty program” . Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press ……

(2) Charlotte Bobcats head coach Paul Silas , left, lowers his head as his son, assistant coach Stephen Silas , right, looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, April 15, 2012. Boston won 92-84 . AP Photo/Chuck Burton ….

(3) LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 15 : Vince Carter (25 ) and Brendan Haywood (33) of the Dallas Mavericks guard Andrew Bynum (17 ) of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on April 15, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images ….

(4) LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 15: Pau Gasol (16) of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during a game against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on April 15, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(5) Minnesota Twins’ Jamey Carroll , right, crosses home plate while New York Yankees’ catcher Russell Martin watches during the fifth inning of a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Monday, April 16, 2012. The Twins won 7-3 . AP Photo/Seth Wenig …

(6) Curtis Granderson (14) of the New York Yankees is congratulated after making a catch hit by Justin Morneau (33) of the Minnesota Twins during their game on April 16, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images ……

(7) Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby warms up during NHL hockey practice in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, April 17, 2012. The Penguins face the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 of a first round Stanley Cup playoffs series in Philadelphia on Wednesday. The Flyers lead the best-of- seven games series 3-0 . AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar …

(8) New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, left, and shortstop Derek Jeter join Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie Robinson, on the field prior to the Yankees’ baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels on Jackie Robinson Day at Yankee Stadium in New York, Sunday, April 15, 2012. It is he 65th anniversary of his breaking the Major League Baseball color barrier. AP Photo /Kathy Willens …..

(9) Brooklyn Dodger infielder Jackie Robinson poses in May 1952. Courtesy of DP Archives /AP @ all rights reserved copyrighted material ….

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” For The Love of Money ” ………………. to my mind the four major professional sports’ league hierarchies are no different from the illegal drug operations of fabled fictionalized character Nino Brown from the seminal movie “New Jack City ” @ circa 1991 !

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Or have it another way via a more contemporary revamp from Easy E feat’g Bone Thugs-N-Harmony ………… ” For The Love of Money ” . Your Thoughts ?

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It Takes An Ass To Know An Ass And The NBA Is Literally Filled With Them … !

It Takes An Ass To Know An Ass And The NBA Is Literally Filled With Them … !

By tophatal ….. Friday, April 13, 2012 ,08:19:37 PM

I’m sorry but it never ceases to amaze as to the gullibility of civic and city politicians and none more so than Sacramento city Mayor Kevin Johnson and his stance that the Sacramento Kings would willingly remain within the city . It would appear that the suspicions long-held by not only the Kings’ fans but the public in general is that the ownership group led by Joe and Gavin Maloof have not negotiated in good faith with the city of Sacramento . Much of this has been closely monitored by NBA commissioner David Stern , who all along has stated that he would do his utmost to monitor the situation as it unfolds . If anyone recollects , Stern was steadfast in supporting Clay Bennett and his consortium when the Seattle Supersonics were bought and then relocated to Oklahoma City to be renamed the Oklahoma City Thunder . Bennett and his partners were less than forthcoming in their deliberations with the city of Seattle . Short of a multi-million dollar lawsuit being filed against the NBA hierarchy by the city at the time , Clay Bennett saw fit to settle with Seattle , to the tune of $25 million and leaving the city with a “white elephant” , and formerly the home of the Supersonics .

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Come full circle , and Kevin Johnson is now being on the verge of being left with egg on his face , having suggested that the city and private businesses within were prepared to finance the building of a new venue to house the Sacramento Kings . The Sacramento mayor stated that the building of $400 million state of the art venue along with residential homes and commercial properties that allegedly would be of benefit to the infrastructure and raise the profile of state capital . To my mind , Johnson has been naive` from the very start , as he has seen fit to believe that the Maloof’s and the NBA hierarchy would be willing to a negotiate honestly with his city council members . It has been this sort of naivete` that we have seen repeatedly enacted not only by the NBA but also by the NFL , NHL and MLB , as they have sought to brow-beat the municipalities in which they operate . Taxpayers’ monies being repeatedly used to facilitate the building of venues for multi-millionaire and billionaire owners , never-mind the fact that tax incentives are also used as an inducement to lure a sports’ franchise either to remain or relocate from a municipality . But yet there are idiotic fans who speak of these issues as if they have insight as to how a professional sports franchise is ran , when in reality they have about as much insight on the issue as Paris Hilton would be able to name the capital city of Nepal . And as we know , Hilton was never that bright to begin with !

The calls are now being raised for Joe and Gavin Maloof to sell the NBA franchise rather than continue to foil the ongoing negotiations. Neither Maloof , has been prepared to make a public statement themselves or through a representative of the Sacramento Kings . David Stern has remained reticent in issuing a public statement concerning why the negotiations are now at a breaking point , with the possibility this now all falling through . With the NBA hierarchy still pursuing a purchaser of another beleaguered NBA franchise , the league owned New Orleans Hornets . It now begs the question what is that Stern is seeking to achieve ? A little more than three months ago the commissioner stated that the NBA was close to finding a buyer for the Hornets . Fast forward , and there’s no sign of a buyer in sight and the franchise remains in a considerable mess , with a team that shows about as much commitment to their craft as a group of obese individuals would be if they were asked to start on a diet , having been placed in a room filled with Cordon-Bleu` cuisine . Not exactly a recipe for great success and that is now clearly the case within the New Orleans Hornets . Record-wise the Hornets and Charlotte Bobcats remain the two worst performing teams within the NBA , and over the course of this both have sunk to new depths of mediocrity within the league .

Courtesy of USA Today

Sacramento mayor: ‘Deal is dead’ for NBA’s Kings arena

By Michael J . Falgoust , USA Today

The deal between Sacramento and the Maloof brothers for a $391 million entertainment complex for their NBA Kings is off , and the 2012-13 season could be the franchise’s last in the city before relocation.

“Is the deal dead as we know it? Absolutely,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who broke off talks with the Kings’ owners, the Maloof brothers, after two hours in New York during the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting Friday.

“It just feels like they were coming up with reasons why not to do the deal.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern on Friday praised the efforts of Johnson but blamed most of this setback on an economist, hired earlier this week by the Maloofs, who concluded it wasn’t a financially sound deal.

Stern said he is “hopeful but not optimistic” that a deal could be revived after co-owner George Maloof held a news conference during the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting.

“I know we’re scheduling them into Power Balance Pavilion for next year,” Stern said of the Kings’ home since 1985.

The proposed city-owned complex would be funded mostly by issuing a parking lease to a private vendor. Anschutz Entertainment Group would have been the operator.

Maloof shot back at business leaders in Sacramento who have called for the NBA to force him and his brothers, Gavin and Joe, to sell the team, and Johnson, whom Maloof has accused of being evasive and duplicitous.

At issue is the non-binding term sheet both sides agreed to Feb. 27 in Orlando, the day after the All-Star Game.

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The Sacramento Kings are the guests of the Oklahoma City Thunder in a highly anticipated game that could very see Scott Brooks’ ….. team increase their lead within the Western Conference over the San Antonio Spurs . DeMarcus Cousins , the Kings’ best player has been something of a revelation this season but that certainly wasn’t the case earlier this year as Cousins struggled with his game an nd showing very little sign that he had matured as a player.

As this whole episode unfolds I am not so sure that this will all end in the way envisaged by David Stern the Kings’ ownership group. It could very well be that the commissioner will seek to have the Maloofs either sell the franchise or as I believe simply relocate the franchise . Stern has never proven to be a person who can be trusted to tell the truth as he sees it . Instead it has been a web of deception and lies all engineered to create and environment of well-being within the NBA . In all honesty , the league is still in a moribund financial state of affairs . Having lost in excess of $450 million for the financial year the losses this season could very well exceed a half-billion dollars ($500 million [$500,000,000]) . And for all of the apparent goodwill sought between the league hierarchy , team owners and the NBPA (union) , very little was truly achieved in terms of the new collective bargaining agreement. And that is in spite of claims to the contrary by Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and the commissioner , himself . It is becoming increasingly clear that the league hierarchy would like create stability within the league when there clearly is none to be had . .

A dour economy or not the NBA’s $4.5 billion a year industry has hit some rough waters and much of that has been due to financial mismanagement by a number of the league’s franchises and the lack oversight from the NBA hierarchy , itself. The general managers around the NBA seem at a loss to explain their dire situation and to listen to Geoff Petrie explain the reasons why the Sacramento Kings are in a such a mess , is to listen to a child explain why it is that they were caught with their hands in the cookie jar , thinking that there would forever be a bounty to be had . Petrie and his fellow general managers happen to be no better than the ” asinine owners “ and franchises that they are said to represent ! Seeing the NBA and its continued failings from a business standpoint is akin to watching the archaic business template used by the financial and automotive sectors of the economy that had been well on the way to financial uncertainty. Nonetheless, the financial and automotive sectors of the economy are by no means out of the woods as of yet. The US taxpayer is still owed in excess of $ 450 billion ($450,000,000,000) , with this sum having emanated from the TARP initiative formulated by Hank Paulson and then further increased by his successor at the Treasury Department , Tim Geithner . And with their being little oversight shown by the governmental agency that Geithner presides over as the banks resume their egregious practices , and with that scenario now engulfing this sector of the economy it is simply no different from the mess that David Stern now presides over . And less we forget , Stern has initiated the league’s own form a bailout that has 22 franchises having been in receipt of $ 650 million over the last two years . But consider this also , the NBA franchises over the last decade has sought financing in excess of $1.655 billion , much of it to said to be put to the use for the benefit of those franchises . And we wonder why there is no clear-cut leadership being shown from within the league hierarchy , much less any accountability coming from anyone with authority within NBA ? So much has been made of the fact that revenues have increased exponentially under the two decade tenure of David Stern , but in reality what has the game now got to show for itself by way of anything tangible ? There are a number teams within the NBA that not as solvent as many might well believe them to , and with the teams’ financials not being opened for public scrutiny we may never know the depth of the crisis many of these teams actually face .

Consider this , in the four years before the Miami Heat acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh as free agents prior to the 2009-10 season the franchise had accumulated losses in excess of $125 million over that period . It is the losses of that magnitude that set the chain of events into motion that saw Pat Riley orchestrate the moves that lured the two NBA All Stars to South Beach . And though the Heat would suffer the indignity of being soundly defeated in the NBA Finals of last season . The dividends reaped by the organization has led it now being the one of the “biggest draws” in the NBA over the last two seasons (2011 , 2010 ). Instead of hemorrhaging red ink in abundance the franchise is now back on a profitable financial footing. That claim cannot be made for the vast majority of the NBA’s 30 teams and that is something that David Stern would clearly like to remain under wraps . Like I said , the NBA commissioner is disingenuous and cannot be trusted to tell the truth as he would simply to create that environment of stability within what he views as his own personal fiefdom . Blinded by indifference and a gargantuan ego the NBA commissioner has become the biggest ass on the sporting landscape , only currently surpassed by idiotic antics of Miami Marlins’ manager Ozzie Guillen . Another bumbling ass wipe , who along with the ” idiotic ” front office of that organization now has a major …. PR nightmare on its hands . If Guilllen’s already outlandish pattern of behavior wasn’t enough of an indication as to what the Marlins were getting themselves into . Then how is it that they couldn’t see this grand mea-culpa by Ozzie Guillen coming down the pipeline ? Ask yourself that ? Rather than simply acting surprised by his latest asinine statement . It is not as if you hadn’t heard Guillen not make a complete ass of himself repeatedly over the course of his managerial career !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In light of the points raised within this piece do you believe that the Maloofs have acted in good faith throughout this whole process with the city of Sacramento ? And do you now feel that it is time for David Stern to step down from his position as the NBA commissioner ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit concerning the subject matter and anything else that you believe to be of relevance .

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(1) Sacramento Kings’ owner George Maloof ,left , with brothers and fellow owners Gavin Maloof , center , and Joe Maloof , right , said that the city of Sacramento hasn’t responded to his 14 questions and objections after he went through the initial terms’ sheet for a proposed new arena . US Presswire / Kevin Terada ………

(2) City of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson , himself, a former successful NBA player and now the city’s chief executive contends that the Maloofs have not acted in good faith concerning a deal to raise financing for a proposed new arena for the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise . It would appear that the team’s ownership has reneged on several proposals made by the city concerning the proposed development . The Maloofs have countered that Kevin Johnson has been duplicitous and less than forthright with regard to the original proposals which would grant the franchise lucrative tax exemptions and amenities that would lessened their tax burden as a commercial enterprise within the municipality . AP Photo / Chris Wright ….

(3) David Stern ,left is seen here with Sacramento City Mayor Kevin Johnson and Joe Maloof , a part owner of the Sacramento Kings . The three at the time met in Johnson’s office to discuss the proposed new $391 new venue for the NBA franchise . AFP/ Keith Matthews …

(4) (4) Sacramento Kings head coach Keith Smart gestures to his team in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, Friday, April 13, 2012. Oklahoma City won 115-89 . AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

(5) Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant , center, is fouled by Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins , rear, as center Chuck Hayes , right, reaches in for the ball in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, April 13, 2012. Oklahoma City won 115-89. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki …..

(6) Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (5) shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka , right, defends in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, April 13, 2012. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki … ….

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What We Don’t Need To Know About The MLB Season At Present .

What We Don’t Need To Know About The MLB Season At Present .

By tophatal ……. Friday, 13 April, 2012 , 1:10:38 PM

I know that the season is still young in baseball and with a number of teams not necessarily faring all that well I think it will be only a matter of time before we might just see the first managerial casualty of of the year ! The Boston Red Sox (1-5) at present has the worst record in the AL whereas in NL that mark is jointly held by the Chicago Cubs (2-5) , San Diego Padres (2-5) and the now besieged Miami Marlins (2-5) . And for those said to be surprised by the fact that the Marlins’ manager Ozzie Guillen had what can best be described as either a ” brain fart” or ” freeze ” shouldn’t be seen as a surprise when one considers the vitriol and idiocy shown by the manager in the latter part of his tenure with the Chicago White Sox . Guillen did just enough to alienate GM Kenny Williams and drive a wedge through his relationship with team owner Jerry Reinsdorf . Admittedly , much of this wasn’t made public until after the now beleaguered manager departed from the organization .

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With Ozzie Guillen now having to sit out a five game suspension after his somewhat idiotic remarks concerning former Cuban leader Fidel Castro which has angered the Cuban-American population in Miami as well across the state . It has to be said that the Miami Marlins’ front office were either naive` or completely stupid to think that their manager would be able to completely restrain himself from making a rather asinine remark . At the same time this won’t be the last time that Guillen will afoul of the fans , much less the public in general when it comes to his outlandish behavior as it has been a pattern that has simply covered his managerial career. As to the Miami Marlins and that exorbitantly overpaid roster . I can only surmise that Jeffrey Loria as the team’s owner wanted to make a big splash in the biggest way only way possible , while at the same time unveiling the organization’s $575 million new 37,000 seated ballpark ! The inaugural game would be a 4-1 loss to the St Louis Cardinals in-front of a sold-out crowd and a television audience . And unfortunately , the team has yet to notch its first win in the new Marlins’ ballpark . Their next chance to do so will be today when they play hosts to the Houston Astros .

Steering the team in Guillen’s absence will be Joey Cora as he tries to get this team back on the right track . In large part with many of the fans not entirely satisfied with the very fact that Ozzie Guillen only received a five game suspension , rather than being fired . It has to be said , that should the team continue to lose then this whole episode can only be exacerbated a great deal further . The pitching for the Marlins has been monstrously atrocious and the offense hasn’t really been that much better . Cora and the bench coaches have to now turn things around sooner , rather than later or quite possibly by the end of April things could be looking extremely bad for this Miami Marlins’ organization .

For the Boston Red Sox and the mere fact that so much upheaval has taken place in the off-season with the departures of Terry Francona , Theo Epstein as well as several members from their 2011 roster . With a new general manager in place it is now left Ben Cherington having succeded Epstein , to steer this organization in conjunction with team President Larry Lucchino . In the aftermath of Francona’s abrupt departure I can understand the Red Sox wanting to hire visibly high profiled new manager . But the fact that the choice just happened to be Bobby Valentine appears on the face of it , an act of desperation by the organization , rather than one of necessity . Valentine for his part is by no means a guarantee of succes but he has sought to start off with the idiocy one would come to expect of a manager whose most recent act of notoriety was to don a disguise and seat himself in the dugout , having been thrown out of the game by the officials. It’s certainly going to take more than that to turn things around for a team that was simply lacking in class and character during the latter part of the 2011 season . Suffice to say that their now well chronicled meltdown sank the Boston Red Sox to an almost new low in the annals of their history .

If this Red Sox team in its current guise is to fare well then they will have to be all too dependent upon the established stars to show real character and leadership throughout the season . Clearly the likes of David Ortiz , Kevin Youkilis , Jacoby Ellsbury , Dustin Pedroia , Josh Beckett , Clay Bucholz , Jon Lester and Adrian Gonzalez will have to show that last season’s self induced implosion is now a thing of the past . It would be remiss to think that Bobby Valentine , given his managerial experience is not good enough to turn things around . But herein lies the caveat to this all , with no one from that team willing to hold themselves accountable for the team going 7-21 in the month of September of last year and be expected to make the postseason showed how complacent this staff just happened to be ! . Then it is already enough of an indication to me that things aren’t necessarily going to change overnight in spite of Valentine’s presence ! At the same time I would be pleasantly surprised if he were to have this team mounting a serious challenge to the likes of either New York Yankees , Toronto Blue Jays much less the Tampa Bay Rays over the course of this season within the AL East ! I am personally of the opinion that the choice of Bobby Valentine to succeed Terry Francona was an outright act of desperation , rather than being a judicious and prudent selection ! Your thoughts on the matter ?

Early days yet , as they say but this may well sound crazy but even with the addition of a one more team to each league in terms of the wildcard format instigated by Bud Selig and to be implemented this year. I for one , am not so sure how much excitement will be created by such a premise ! The final day of the regular season in 2011 gave the fans everything that they could have wished for and a great deal more . So much so , that for the fans of the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves the fact of having missed the postseason through their own complacency was enough to make many of their fans inconsolable . Myself included , as a die-hard Braves’ fans as I saw the team at one point during the month of September witnessing them having in excess of a 6 game lead upon the St Louis Cardinals , only for that lead to be completely erased in the final month of the regular season . And for the Atlanta Braves’ fans still having nightmares after that meltdown , well let’s just say you’re not alone .

Well looking at the statistics that seem to matter in terms of batting averages ERA’s , home runs and wins , OBP , RBI’s and slugging percentage . It all makes for a fun read .and I for one don’t believe we will see this season, a pitcher with an ERA under 2.40 throughout the course of the season . And although we had some outstanding pitching in 2011 , those feats may well prove hard to follow in 2012. With Cy Young winners Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw looking to emulate their success of last season it could prove to be ominous for the hitters out there in 2012 . At the same time is there a remote possibility that Jose Bautista can reproduce the form in 2011 and 2010 respectively and simply prove that even as a power hitter he is by no means a fluke . The Toronto Blue Jays’ slugger is expected to lead John Farrell’s assembled team to prominence this season . That will certainly be a tall task that is being asked of an organization that in large part in recent years has barely gotten above a .500 average in terms of regular season wins and in terms of being part of the postseason , their last appearance was in 1993 . That year Blue Jays defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in taking the World Series (4-2) . This year , I am not convinced that the Toronto Blue Jays are anywhere close enough to being competitive , to usurp their fellow residents within the AL East !

John Farrell and his coaching staff will have to do their utmost have this team playing with some zeal that has been built around a young nucleus of players from within their farm system and through the draft . For the Toronto Blue Jays this might be the year for us to really gauge the progress of this organization as it seeks to make itself relevant within the game once again .

Inasmuch as both the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets appear to be now riding high , seated close to the top of their respective divisions . With a new ownership now in place after their $2 billion sale to a consortium led by Magic Johnson and Mark Walter , CEO , of Guggenheim Partners LLC , the Dodgers now look to have secured their long-term future . Johnson has stated that he and his partners are prepared to do whatever it takes to make the ball-club a success. With a long and storied history the Los Angeles Dodgers under the the ownership of Frank McCourt became a plague amongst its peers . And while much of the malfeasance was being conjured up by the owner , the league hierarchy essentially stood by as team was brought almost to extinction. Though not fully out of the woods , questions remain as to what preferences if any were made by Bud Selig as the Dodgers’ auction process was underway. Bud Selig , has said nothing about this and one doubts that he ever will as a number of team owners have questioned this whole process . While I believe Magic Johnson to be honest in his ambitions for the franchise , I am not so sure he will be able to fulfill this all within the timespan he believes it will take.

For his part Don Mattingly and his managerial staff this has to be the year in which they seek to turn things around . The era of Frank McCourt has gladly ended , much to the undoubted joy of the fans of the ball-club. The Dodgers to my mind will be hard pressed to overcome the San Francisco Giants , who to my mind has to be adjudged as the best team within the NL West ! If anyone can prove me wrong at this juncture then I would like for them express their thoughts succinctly !

The New York Mets under their manager Terry Collins has had to deal with the mess that has embroiled the organization into a financial maelstrom for the last five years . Sandy Alderson , Head of Operations along with JP Riccardi have been entrusted with the task of rebuilding the ball-club after their disastrous 2011 implosion . And as good as the Mets now appear to be . I get the impression that this ball-club is but an injury away from being comedic spectacle within the game ! The pitching staff to my mind is suspect and the offense is not that far behind in my own determination . It’s not begrudging to suggest that I have a great dislike for the New York Mets and specifically the team’s primary owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon . Described as being astute businessmen , these two assholes wouldn’t know the difference between pro-forma balance sheet and a sheet one would use to wipe one’s ass with. I’m being mild in the use of this analogy but I will continue to stick by it ! And for those idiot fans who continue to believe that the league hierarchy and owners actually have a god damn clue , then explain to me how is that three prominent teams in the last five years have all been placed into bankruptcy proceedings (Chapter 11) (Cubs Dodgers & Rangers ) primarily because of poor financial management by their respective owners at the time ? And I am suppose to believe that Bud Selig has the best interests of the game at heart ? Only unless he’s devouring the carcass of a newborn , because in essence the commissioner is a cannibal who would feed off the flesh of others if it meant his image would be left untarnished ! And Selig’s image is clearly a mess but only he and followers would deem it otherwise .

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(1) BOSTON, MA – APRIL 13: The Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays line up for the national anthem during the home opener on April 13, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images …

(2) ) Boston Red Sox outfielders Darnell McDonald, left, and Cody Ross celebrate their 12-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays after a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Friday, April 13, 2012. AP Photo/Elise Amendola …

(3) BOSTON, MA – APRIL 13: Manager Bobby Valentine congratulates Kelly Shoppach (10) of the Boston Red Sox after the game against the Tampa Bay Rays during the home opener on April 13, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 12-2 . Photo by Elsa/Getty Images ….

(4) Jacoby Ellsbury (2) of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was injured in a double play in the bottom of the fourth inning by Reid Brignac (15) of the Tampa Bay Rays the Tampa Bay Rays during the home opener on April 13, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images …

(5) MIAMI, FL – APRIL 13: Emilio Bonifacio (1) the Miami Marlins is out as second baseman Jose Altuve (27) of the Houston Astros throws to first base at Marlins Park on April 13, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images …..

(6) MIAMI, FL – APRIL 13: Jose Reyes (7) of the Miami Marlins scores a run against the Houston Astros at Marlins Park on April 13, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images … …

(7) TORONTO, CANADA – APRIL 13: … Jose Bautista (19) of the Toronto Blue Jays slides back to home plate ahead of the the tag by catcher Matt Wieters (32) of the Baltimore Orioles during an MLB game action April 13, 2012 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Brad White/Getty Images … ….

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A Quiet But Unassuming Look At One NBA Franchise No One Sees As A Threat …….

A Quiet But Unassuming Look At One NBA Franchise No One Sees As A Threat …….

By tophatal … Thursday, 12 April, 2012 9:46pm

Unassuming and overlooked throughout much of the regular season the Indiana Pacers (36-22) have quietly played themselves into contention amongst the Eastern Conference standings . Currently the Pacers have the third best record within the conference as they sit behind the Miami Heat (40-16) and the conference leading Chicago Bulls (44-14) . And while other teams have simply been inconsistent it has been the Pacers in their often unassuming approach who have put together quite an impressive run over their last ten games posting a 7-3 record , the second best behind (8-2) the Boston Celtics (34-24) .

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The Pacers’ head coach Frank Vogel has assembled a team that on the face of it wouldn’t be seen as one of the more glamorous NBA franchises . But most certainly , given the history and pedigree of the organization it would be remiss to simply write them off as being just another team that will be seen as “cannon fodder” for the likes of the Chicago Bulls and to my mind what is now becoming more apparent an overrated Miami Heat team ! The Indiana Pacers led by their best player Danny Granger who in essence had to play “second fiddle” for a number of years while Jermaine O’Neal , who became something of a “pariah” and infantile in his approach before departing to take his career elsewhere . Granger alongside Roy Hibbert , David West , Paul George , Darren Collison and George Hill have given the Pacers’ fans something finally to believe in.

Now while Magic Johnson has been center stage as the new owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers . The former NBA great whose career in the league was something to behold , with his greatest adversary during his epic playing years being none other Boston Celtics’ great Larry Bird . Their classic encounters propelled the NBA into the ” big time “ and made the brand a staple for the fans long before Michael Jordan would then become the “icon” and face of the NBA . And while Jordan has become an owner of the now failing …. Charlotte Bobcats and where his failures as front office executive have far exceeded his successes. It has been Bird who has excelled in that capacity as the general manager of the Pacers under the ownership of Herb Simon and his family . Larry Bird as general manager has simply done things in his own way , looking to bring back the years of acclaim when Reggie Miller and Mark Jackson made the franchise prominent and slayed the ” dragon “ who at the time just happened to be the New York Knicks .

Bird would like nothing better than to emulate his former teammate Danny Ainge who as the current general manager of the Boston Celtics’ franchise guided the organization to their most recent success as champions of the NBA in 2008 when they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers (4-2) . The Celtics under the reaffirmed presence of Kevin Garnett and the best point guard …. playing in the NBA at present , Rajon Rondo , the ” heart “ and soul “ of the team at present . If anyone doubts that claim concerning Rondo then consider the fact of productive output this season and the fact he accounts for more than half of the “triple doubles ” notched up in the NBA during this season and has garnered himself several “double doubles” over the course of the of the Celtics’ schedule .

Now while the Indiana Pacers sit some eight games behind the Chicago Bulls within the Central Division , with records being what they the Pacers’ schedule now becomes somewhat tenuous as it now winds down with 8 games to be played before the culmination of the regular season on the 26th April 2012 . The Indiana Pacers most certainly would like nothing better than to sweep through that schedule and add to their tally of season wins . Coming off a 104-98 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Quicken Loans Arena in , Cleveland , Ohio , the Pacers now have a return engagement with Byron Scotts’ …. team at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana , Indianapolis this Friday which just happens to be the 13th April 2012 . And hopefully it will not cast any omens of bad luck upon the teams playing at their home venues on this date .

Now while I have always been impressed with the play of Danny Granger I always felt that he was being stifled by the sheer contempt of his former teammate Jermaine O’Neal and the very fact that the talents of Granger upon his entry into the NBA in 2005 where he was drafted 17th overall in the first round of the draft that year. To my mind it also had a lot to do with the fact that the coaches Rick Carlisle and his successor Jim O’Brien who at the time who oversaw his career never truly appreciated or understood what they had within their midst . Granted, early in his career Granger had his problems but much of that had to do with the fact that the coaching staff may not have had enough faith in the young player. It took the hiring of Frank Vogel to fully appreciate the talents of Granger and with the obvious judicious drafting of players by Larry Bird seems to have the Indiana Pacers now heading in the right direction .

Roy Hibbert for his part has impressed many with his play and growing signs of maturity . So much so , the young center who was drafted by the Toronto Raptors in the 2008 NBA Draft , seventeenth overall in the first .round but somehow he didn’t seem to fit in within the Raptors’ organization . But he was then traded by the Toronto Raptors in exchange for the troubled Jermaine O’Neal , who has in essence become a nomad during the latter part of his NBA career . Frank Vogel and his coaching staff have certainly not been given the credit they truly deserve . They have this team playing with a great deal of resolve averaging offensively 96.81 ppg (5th in the Eastern Conference) and with a point differential of +2.72 with the team being indeed very proficient when scoring 100 points or more during a game . And from a defensive standpoint the Indiana Pacers are second only to the Chicago Bulls within the Eastern Conference and within the NBA overall they are amongst the more efficient teams overall in allowing 94.1ppg . .

With the postseason approaching and due to commence on the 28th April it will be interesting to see what those potential first round match-ups will be based upon the current standings and the projected year-end results . The Indiana Pacers would play hosts to the Orlando Magic (34-24) , team that in recent weeks has been plagued by a great deal of uncertainty , with the infantile behavior of both Dwight Howard and head coach Stan Van Gundy . And though the Magic do hold a 3-1 season series lead over their conference rivals. I would suggest that for the Magic , given their recent displays and lack of real cohesive consistency that match-up could end up being their own undoing . I have long-held the contention that while Stan Van Gundy is a good regular season coach but come the postseason he tends to be like a deer caught in headlights . As for Dwight Howard , at this juncture and stage of his career , I am not so sure that the commitment is there for him to give it his all in the support of the Orlando Magic franchise ! And though in their last meeting at the Amway Center , in Orlando , Florida was something of a lopsided thirteen point loss (107-94) for the Indiana Pacers , with Dwight Howard leading all scorers with 30 pts and 13 rebounds . Paul George led the Pacers in scoring 22 points and eight assists for the game . .

While I am in no doubt that this potential first round will be a highly competitive one , it is my belief that the Magic though highly favored can’t truly be considered the favorites , albeit that it just happens to be the Indiana Pacers who has the better conference and divisional record of the two teams in question . The Pacers’ playoff history though littered with some memorable moments have been few and in between . But with their last postseason appearance being 2010-2011 playoffs where a first round series’ loss (4-1) to the Chicago Bulls ended their foray in the postseason. The Indiana Pacers in the 2010-11 season posted a 37-45 .. record good enough for the eighth seed within the conference . It has been the resolve shown by Vogel to get his team playing with the determination that would see a gradual progress that has been exhibited this season .

As to the fans of the Indiana Pacers with a team has created a great deal of excitement within the state and being a surprise draw within the league this season , beyond that of the Indiana Hoosiers’ basketball program and the last decade of unprecedented success of the state’s NFL franchise the Indianapolis Colts , whom over that period of time was led by the four-time league MVP Peyton Manning . With the player having departed as a free agent to join the Denver Broncos . It has to be said that the excitement one would come to expect may well have ceased . And even with the anticipated belief that the front office will make the decision to take Andrew Luck as the consensus number one overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft (2012) . It has to be stated that the Colts are now a work in progress as they build for the future having shed players superfluous to their needs .

Tom Crean has the Hoosiers’ program heading in the right direction and that was certainly on display during the season and reflected in the play of the team . Indiana may well be about basketball and its legacy has been well chronicled that of the Hoosiers and the accomplishments of Bobby Knight . It is hoped that the fans of the game within the state can now show some real enthusiasm towards the NBA franchise .

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What if anything has surprised you concerning the NBA season from its starting on Christmas Day 2011 and the results of that day to what you have seen up until now ? Also are you of the opinion that the Indiana Pacers can be viewed as a serious threat during the postseason ? Simply chime in with a comment on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter herein . Thanks as always for your continued support of this site throughout the years , as it has been greatly appreciated !

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(1) Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott talks to guard Lester Hudson in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, in Cleveland. Hudson scored 19 points in Cleveland’s 104-98 overtime loss to Indiana. AP Photo/Mark Duncan

(2) Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel complains about a call to referee Greg Willard in overtime during an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, in Cleveland. The Pacers won 104-98. AP Photo/Mark Duncan …

(3) Cleveland Cavaliers’ Samardo Samuels and Indiana Pacers’ Danny Granger , right, scramble for a loose ball in overtime during an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 11, 2012, in Cleveland. The Pacers won 104-98 . AP Photo/Mark Duncan ……

(4) (4) Indiana Pacers’ Roy Hibbert , left, blocks a shot by Cleveland Cavaliers’ Alonzo Gee in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 11, 2012, in Cleveland. AP Photo/Mark Duncan …

(5) (L-R) Larry Bird and Earvin “Magic” Johnson answer questions during a news conference to relive their 1979 NCAA Championship Game between Indiana State (Sycamores) and Michigan State before the 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship game at Ford Field on April 6, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. Getty Images North America / Gregory Shamus …. (6) Magic Johnson and Larry Bird are seen here prior to a game between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers . Johnson and his teammates would go on to defeat the Celtics …. 104-87 . AFP/Reuters archives .

(7) ATLANTA, GA – MARCH 23: Will Sheehey (10) of the Indiana Hoosiers reacts after fouling out against the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half during the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball South Regional Semifinal game at the Georgia Dome on March 23, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images …

(8) Head coach Tom Crean of the Indiana Hoosiers talks to Victor Oladipo (4) in the second half against the Kentucky Wildcats during the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball South Regional Semifinal game at the Georgia Dome on March 23, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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A Season of Hope Or Perhaps One of Desperation ……………

A Season of Hope Or Perhaps One of Desperation ……………

By tophatal …….. 4/10/2012 08:38:59 PM

Well we’re almost a week into the MLB season and though we’ve seen a number of teams playing with a great deal of resolve there’s nothing that we’ve yet learned about the teams in question. This time last year within the standings and the results in essence that this early in the season doesn’t necessarily equate what we will actually envision seeing at season’s end . Remarkably what we have seen is an increase in salary of some teams while a decrease for others from 2011 to 2012 . The New York Yankees still remains the team with the highest payroll in the game , absolutely nothing new there when you come think of it . And Alex Rodriguez remains the highest paid player within baseball with absolutely none of his peers coming close to his annual salary . It should come as no surprise that amongst the four major sports it Rodriguez’s annual $32 million pay , that comes out tops amongst those within the NBA , NHL and the NFL . And though by way of commercial endorsements Rodriguez cannot match that of his teammate Derek Jeter who just happens to be top earner within the game when one takes into account those endorsements and other residual earnings .

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Money asides , this MLB season will be about the competitiveness of the teams and with the apparent incoming new owners of the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers , it will be interesting to see how Jim Crane , Magic Johnson and his partners look to make their respective ball-clubs relevant . So far things do seem to be panning out for the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers respectively within the NL Central and AL West . Brad Mills and Don Mattingly as the managers of the Astros and Dodgers respectively must know that they each will come under a great deal of scrutiny as the season progresses. It remains to be seen however whether or Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten will seek to make any upheavals within the front office of the Dodgers . Former owner Frank McCourt still remains a “pariah ” and for those who see his tenure of as the owner of the organization as simply a businessman who made a number of bad business decisions , I can only surmise that you have never been at the center of a multi-million dollar business concern where your every decision has a rippling effect throughout the entire organization. The fact that McCourt simply used the Dodgers as his own personal ATM for his lavish lifestyle and as collateral for several business deals that had no relationship with the baseball operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers should really give you an outright indication as to the malevolence of his actions that when he was finally caught, in a bind a lie , he chose to apportion blame elsewhere. It certainly did not help the situation that while the league hierarchy was said to be closely monitoring the situation as Bud Selig would suggest . I found it somewhat asinine that the commissioner did not think it pertinent to call in a public accounting firm to audit the books of the Los Angeles Dodgers when it came clear that the ball-club had an acute financial crisis on its hand where they were hemorrhaging ” red ink “ to the tune of several hundred million dollars and with debts said to be in excess of $ 1 billion ($1,000,000,000) .

Finally , one owner that the game of baseball hopefully has seen the last of ! And I’d dare say that Magic Johnson will not be presumptuous enough to have Frank McCourt attend an upcoming game at Dodgers Ballpark ! Surely he couldn’t be that stupid having invited McCourt to attend the opening game of the season against the San Diego Padres ? But then again who knows !

Now during the off-season much of the hoopla surrounded the Miami Marlins and the lavish spending that took place as they literally threw money at any free agent willing to make Miami the next stop of their professional career . Along with those acquisitions came that rather rambunctious character Ozzie Guillen who succeeded Jack McKeon as the team’s manager . Having left the Chicago White Sox after a rather testy relationship with White Sox general manager Kenny William it was felt that mutually for the benefit all of the parties concerned if the manager left the organization which he guided to a World Series title in 2005 . Robin Ventura was hired as the new manager of the White Sox and he will be looked upon to guide this team as they seek to challenge the dominance of the Detroit Tigers within the AL Central .

With Ozzie Guillen brought in as a manager first but also to appeal to the Latino community within South Florida . It was felt that this over-riding factor would be much more of a lure for that specific demographic along with the makeup of this roster of young determined players . Team president David Sanson , Head of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest and GM Michael Hill felt that Guillen’s hire would prove to positive within the community. But knowing how vocal and outspoken this the manager was said to be it should not have come as a surprise that Ozzie Guillen has alienated himself amongst the Cuban-American population within the city of Miami after his admiration and vocal support of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul Castro . Surely , Guillen should have known that any remark be it private or in public, showing admiration for the dictator would draw the ire of the Cuban-Americans not just within Miami but also across the state of Florida . We should remember however , that this is Ozzie Guillen , whose anti-homophobic slurs are part of the manager’s usual spiel and ignorance . Even with his now infamous expletive led rants during post-game interviews should not come as a surprise from this manager or the very fact that he once described Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez as a man of dignity and integrity ! And as passionate as Guillen just happens to be of his native country one has to ask , at what point did his brain shut down and his mouth keep on going ?

Ozzie Guillen has since apologized for his faux-pas but it hasn’t been enough to satisfy the fans within the locale and specifically Marlins’ front office . The decision was made to suspend the manager for five games starting immediately . That apology alone , may not be enough as this PR nightmare takes on a life of its own with fans already swearing off in their support of the manager and in some cases that Miami Marlins organization. Could things get any worse as of now for the Marlins ? OK , so the team was off to a welcoming start in their home opener having defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2 . Currently sitting third within the NL East behind the division leading unbeaten New York Mets (4-0) and the second placed Washington Nationals (2-2) . It has to be said that Guillen and his managerial staff may well have their work cut out for them upon his return to the team .

As the Miami Marlins go , will be dependent upon the play of Jose Reyes , Hanley Ramirez , Anibal Sanchez , Ricky Nolasco , Carlos Zambrano , Emilio Bonifacio , Mark Buerhle and Logan Morrison . And inasmuch as the Miami Marlins are favored to dethrone the Philadelphia Phillies as the divisional champions of the NL East . From my own perspective , I do believe that the division is the Phillies’ to lose but at the same time given inconsistency we have seen from this team during the regular and postseason leads me to belive that Charlie Manuel’s …. team could very well be upended over the course of the season .

From perceived greatness in their own eyes to what appears to be a ball-club seeking to redeem itself . I do believe that this season for both the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins , they will either sink or swim by their exploits on the field of play and the ingenuity shown by their managers ! Manny Acta and Ron Gardenhire given their respective roles for their teams it will be interesting to see if they can guide them some semblance of success rather than the ineptitude encountered in 2011 . And for the respective owners Lawrence J. Dolan and Jim Pohlad it has to be now or never with regard to both of the ball-clubs in question .

Given the history of the Baltimore Orioles I am not so sure that the fans of the team will be provided with a great deal of joy this season even with a rousing start which initially had the team seated atop of the division alongside the Tampa Bay Rays . And for Buck Showalter and his managerial staff if they can get these players with any modicum of aggression then it is quite possible that they could succeed but much of that will also be predicated upon the consistency of the play of the other teams within the AL East . Team owner ….. Peter Angelos and EVP & Head of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette have done little to encourage the long-suffering fans of the organization that this team is heading in the right direction . Certainly not through the decisions made via the draft or via free agency acquisitions but you would be hard pressed to realize that given the rather asinine statements that have been forthcoming from within this organization over the years.

It is unlikely that the Orioles will change their fate , in recent years this has been an organization that has been poorly served by its executives and players . The Baltimore Orioles haven’t had a winning season since 1997 when they posted a 98-64 record on their way to winning the AL East that season. The team would make it to the ALCS that year where they would end up losing the series 4-2 to the Cleveland Indians. However , the Orioles’ most recent triumph in the World Series came in 1983 in their 4-1 series’ victory over the Philadelphia Phillies . From thereon-in it has been a steep decline for the Baltimore Orioles as an organization with many of their most celebrated players merely now seen as something of an after thought . For the likes of Eddie Murray , Cal Ripken Jr , Frank Robinson , Brooks Robinson , Jim Palmer and Roberto Alomar are no doubt eager to see this team under the coaching talents of Buck Showalter do well. At this juncture I am not so sure even with the ingenuity of Showalter that the Orioles are simply good enough to succeed in their endeavor , much less have a winning foray over the course of this season ! It is simply not within this team even with the talents of Nick Markakis , Matt Wieters , Robert Andino and Wilson Betemit .

The Orioles’ next game will be part of a home series of which it will be played against the New York Yankees . The projected starters in this match-up are C C Sabathia (0-0, 7.50 ERA) and Jake Arrieta (1-0 , 0.00 ERA) in what is sure to be a thrilling duel between these two AL pitchers . Granted , the season has yet hit its stride but I do believe that we cannot gauge the teams thoroughly after just a mere week of the schedule but by mid June we should be able to tell a great deal about the expected track that they are said to be on . When gauged against the events of June 15th last year and the standings I believe it may well be something of an indicator as to how the season may well pan out . As to the aspirations of the Baltimore Orioles as they seek to enter the fray in challenging the might of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays within the AL East . It would be fitting to think that they along with the Toronto Blue Jays could make the division all the more fitting in what could be described as being entertaining beyond the dominance in recent years with the Red Sox , Yankees and Rays having the division all to themselves .

As I alluded to earlier within this piece I felt that the Minnesota Twins would face an uphill battle this season . And that seems to bearing out as the team remains win-less (0-4 ) and are the only team in the Majors in such a predicament . Given the woes of the team this and last season , and when you add in the fact that both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau both had prolonged spells on the DL played a part in what turned out to be a disastrous year in 2011 for the Twins’ organization . It is hard to believe that during the early 2000’s this ball-club was a dominant force within the AL Central and a perennial contender therein . Now having hit on hard times and with a payroll
that simply is top-heavy with regard to their committment to their stars Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau . And that is as it should be but in terms a tangible return productivity wise this and last season as neither player seems to be fulfilling that obligation .

The fact that the Twins saw fit to let Michael Cuddyer go as an unrestricted free agent indicates to me that the front office of the organization is simply clueless ! Cuddyer was the most productive player for the Minnesota Twins in 2011 but somehow GM Terry Ryan chose not to resign the player to a deal commensurate with his standing . But it shouldn’t surprise anyone who is a fan of the game given the fact that more often than not the general managers and team owners within baseball are coerced by the sports’ agents to overpay for talent that is good , bad and indifferent . And yet there’s no denying that when they have been known to make a monumental error in judgment it just happens to be the manager who tends to lose his position .

For the Twins and their aspirations this season their game will be a match-up against the Los Angeles Angels led by Albert Pujols , C J Wilson , Torii Hunter and their teammates . The AL West will be division that will be highly contested with the Angels seeking to stop the recent dominance of the Texas Rangers . The Angels for their part will likely see this game as a something of a walkover against a less than stellar Twins’ team . On the mound as the opposing pitchers will be Jered Weaver of the Angels and Carl Pavano of the Twins . As to the outcome of the game it will be incumbent upon Ron Gardenhire’s players to show their intent to be a success this season . One can only hope that the Minnesota Twins meet those expectations and thereby satisfy their long-suffering fans .

With a new playoff format set to be introduced this season , this year could end up just as thrill packed as the final day of 2011 and the events during the postseason In 2013 with the perceived move from the NL Central to the AL West by the Houston Astros , is there anyone who’s truly of the opinion that this team in its present guise will fare any better than in its previous seasons ? Never mind the woefully inept showing by the Astros and their final standings within the division ! Jim Crane may well have paid a ” whopping ” $765 million for the organization , and with some financial inducements from Bud Selig and his paeans who see this prospective move to the AL West as being beneficial for the Houston Astros and the game in general . To my mind the Astros will become just another “bitch” that the likes of the Oakland A’s Seattle Mariners , Angels and Rangers will whip up on like a ” pimp” who’s displeased with the fact that one of his prostitutes (ho’s ) hasn’t been bringing in enough money by way of her ” Johns ” ! Whoop that bitch ! Whoop that trick > ! .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What have been your impressions as the season has slowly unfolded and at what point do you believe that we shall see the contenders start to separate themselves from the pretenders within the game ? Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit .

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(1) ‘ Dumb asses ‘ come in all shapes and sizes , meet the “latest” , Ozzie Guillen ! Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen listens to a question during a news conference at Marlins Stadium in Miami, Tuesday April 10, 2012. Guillen has been suspended for five games because of his comments about Fidel Castro. He has again apologized and says he accepts the punishment. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ……. (2) Jay Hernandez of Miami protests outside the Marlins Stadium in Miami, Tuesday April 10, 2012. Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has been suspended for five games effective immediately following favorable comments he made about Fidel Castro which infuriated many Cuban-Americans. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …

(3) MIAMI, FL – APRIL 10: Protesters rally outside a press conference held by Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen for comments made about Fidel Castro at Marlins Park on April 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida. The Marlins suspended Guillen for five games over his pro-Castro comments. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …

(4) MIAMI, FL – APRIL 10: Protesters rally outside as Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen seen on a screen speaks during a press conference about comments made about Fidel Castro at Marlins Park on April 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida. The Marlins suspended Guillen for five games over his pro-Castro comments. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images ….

(5) Miami Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez prepares to throw to second for the out on Philadelphia Phillies’ John Mayberry Jr. during a baseball game Monday, April 9, 2012, in Philadelphia. The Marlins won 6-2 . AP Photo/The News-Journal, Daniel Sato ….

(6) LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 10: Javy Guerra (54) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his save and a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates with A.J. Ellis (17) in the ninth inning during opening day at Dodger Stadium on April 10, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …

(7) Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer , right, advances safely to second on a wild pitch as Los Angeles Angels’ Erick Aybar awaits the throw in the third inning of a major league baseball game Monday, April 9, 2012, in Minneapolis . AP Photo/ Jim Mone …

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MLB news .

MLB standings

MLB results 10th October 2012

MLB schedule 11th 2012

Probable starting pitchers 11th April 2012

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List the reasons why Stacey Dash is still worth looking at ? Now age 46 , she still looks real good don’t you think ?

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Terrence Howard ……. “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp ” ( Soundtrack from the movie ” Hustle & Flow”)

Justice By Any Means Necessary But Not Necessarily So In The NFL ……….


Justice By Any Means Necessary But Not Necessarily So In The NFL ……….

By tophatal ….. Tuesday, April 10, 2012 10:38:56 AM

Well for all of the idiotic posturing of the New Orleans Saints as an organization and the fact that head coach Sean Payton , GM Mickey Loomis , assistant coach and coordinator Joe Vitt sought to have their suspensions overturned . It would appear that Roger Goodell showed after-all that he does posses some intelligence even if it appears to be less than an ounce overall ! As to his mindset , and the very fact that to date the league hierarchy has shown little by way of their wish to aid their seasoned veterans now facing a great deal of uncertainty as to their health and well-being . Goodell , much like his predecessor Paul Tagliabue and the NFLPA and its hierarchy have for years ignored the plea of these players . And now because of this latest smear upon the game the fans are to believe the NFL actually cares about the players most notably those at present currently in the league ?

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Slide show for your perusal .

The commissioner was judge and jury in rendering his decision not to overturn his original ruling . But here’s my thought to this all , the monetary fine levied upon the Saints ($500,000) if anything was insult to the fans when one considers the millions of dollars in revenues that the New Orleans Saints reaps annually in terms of receipts ! As for the Saints’ owner Tom Benson , it would appear that in spite of his anguish he still retains some sense of dignity , albeit that almost as quick as this original was rendered he all too quick to seek the advice of his now disgraced coach and general manager as to who should be Payton’s interim successor for the upcoming season. At the same time Benson made the statement that Pete Carmichael would to his mind provide the team with the stability needed while the organization undergoes this controversy . Not so fast Pete , it would appear that those statements were taken out of context and your ambition to be a head coach in the NFL may well have to wait a few more years .

Courtesy of Associated Press & ABC News

Goodell Upholds Penalties in Saints Bounty Case


By Brett Martell , AP Sports Writer
NEW Orleans , 10th April 2012

If the Saints become the first NFL team to play a Super Bowl on their home field next season, they’ll do it with an interim coach and some new faces on defense.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell rejected on Monday an appeal of coach Sean Payton’s season-long suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty system, clearing the way for New Orleans to turn its focus on who should take Payton’s place.

The replacement coach could come from the Saints’ experienced staff, or he could be someone from outside the organization such as Bill Parcells, Payton’s mentor since their days together in Dallas.

The Saints did not immediately indicate how long they’ll take to make a decision on a coach, but they already have made roster moves that could potentially soften the blow if Goodell also decides to suspend players who participated in a program that paid improper cash bonuses for hits that knocked players out of games or left them needing help off the field.

The Saints have signed four defensive players in free agency, three of whom could step into starting roles right away: linebackers Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne , and defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley . New Orleans also signed former Rams linebacker Chris Chamberlain .

The NFL’s investigation found that as many as 27 Saints defenders from the past three seasons may have taken part in the club’s pay-for-pain bounty system. Some of those being investigated could include former Saints who have signed elsewhere.

Given recent history, penalties for at least some players are likely to be tough, too .

While NFL veterans say off-the-books incentives have been around for years, and some current players claim tough talk about hitting opponents so they are injured happens in locker rooms throughout the league, Goodell responded to the Saints case by handing out unprecedented penalties.

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Now while the search begins , with the likelihood that Bill Parcells , the two-time Superbowl winning head coach of the New York Giants would entertain the idea of succeeding his protege` for one year. The monetary fines notwithstanding and the loss of NFL Draft picks for 2012 and 2013 , it would appear that not all of the team owners and front office executives were entirely happy with the decision of Roger Goodell’s original decision . Many felt that the punishment simply didn’t go far enough but it begs the question , what type of verdict would have been to their satisfaction ? At the same I am of the opinion that the New Orleans Saints are not the only NFL franchise conducting such a practice now known as the “Bounty Scandal” ! . Good God , this practice has been part and parcel of the NFL and was notably practiced by Buddy Ryan whilst in the NFL , albeit that we may not know whether or not his players were said to have been financially rewarded for their excess . Your thoughts ? The fact of the matter is , the Saints were the idiots who got caught and it may not be enough to stop what we have to view as a malicious and obviously dangerous practice .

As to Roger Goodell and his face-saving and image makeover exercise for the NFL . He is now beginning to make his MLB counterpart Bud Selig seem like an insightful individual . And as we all know nothing could be further from the truth as it relates to Selig showing insight much less having an ounce of intelligence ! Simply look at his outrage after the overturning of the 50 game mandated suspension for Ryan Braun ? Knowing full well that the fault lay with the very fact that the testing laboratory failed to follow its own protocols in safe guarding the player’s test specimens , baseball’s commissioner voiced his displeasure at the verdict rendered by the arbitrator Shyam Das . If that doesn’t indicate to you how much of an ass Bud Selig just happens to be, then I certainly don’t know what will !

And with Parcells having second thoughts on taking the interim position with the New Orleans Saints , one wonders what the next step to be taken will be by Tom Benson . Personally , as this whole controversy entered the public domain I have become acutely aware as to the stance that would be taken by the team owner . Benson has been disingenuous as a franchisee within the NFL and prior to Hurricane Katrina was all too ready to uproot the Saints and relocate almost anywhere , just as long as that municipality would willingly favor his NFL franchise with some favorable financial inducements . Tom Benson , Robert Kraft , Jerry Jones , Dr John York & Denise De-Bartolo-York and Woody Johnson were steadfast in their supporting Roger Goodell as the successor to Paul Tagliabue and that was resoundingly reflected by the votes that took place amongst the league’s team owners . At some point these owners have to be aware that the unfolding controversies have been poorly handled by the league hierarchy but most notably by the commissioner , himself .

Courtesy of NFL news

Parcells tells Saints he won’t unretire to coach team in 2012

By Jason La Canofora , NFL

Bill Parcells has informed the New Orleans Saints the he will not replace suspended coach Sean Payton and is staying retired, according to a league source.

The Saints will now look to hire from within the organization. By promoting an assistant on the team, the Saints will not have to interview a minority candidate in accordance with the league’s Rooney Rule.

Assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who has been suspended for the first six games of the upcoming season, and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo are among the internal candidates who could fill in for Payton.

On Monday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld Payton’s suspension for the 2012 season along with an eight-game suspension for general manager Mickey Loomis, and Vitt’s six-game suspension.

Payton and Parcells spoke in March about a possible role with the Saints for the retired coach. Parcells said he felt “an obligation” to assist Payton, but he remained coy about if he’d fill in for his longtime friend.

Payton’s season-long suspension without pay will begin April 16. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told NFL Network’s Albert Breer that Payton “cannot be involved in any coaching activities, he can’t be at the facility, or with the team at games.”

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As this all now takes on a life of its own , it will be interesting to see how Roger Goodell and the league looks to deflect much of the negative publicity that has come its way in a rather pointed fashion. At the same time the New Orleans Saints now have to look at its own image and how it is has been irreparably damaged by this whole episode . Granted , the league may well have upheld their decision but what might be even more unpalatable was the very fact that Tom Benson would still seek advice from both Sean Payton and Micky Loomis as to an interim successor for the disgraced head coach . Of the stories I have read within this domain , none have specifically addressed the fact that Loomis and Payton repeatedly lied to the league’s investigators , the NFL commissioner , the team owner and the public at large . And Payton while recently in West Palm Beach , Florida at the league hierarchy and owners off-season meeting , chose not to apologize for his actions having met with a number of the league’s hierarchy . His less than contrite public offering , when the allegations were first revealed showed Sean Payton , as a man with little integrity ! One has to question why the punishment rendered by Goodell wasn’t more severe ? Had one of the league’s more high profiled players such as Peyton Manning , Tom Brady , Eli Manning or Adrian Peterson suddenly see their careers come to an abrupt end , had they each been on the receiving end of these actions . What type of outrage would there now be from the public , much less from the owners themselves ? Instead , it has been the apathy of the fans simply waxing on lyrically about the Saints and the mere fact that this has been much ado about nothing . Really ? Much ado about nothing when we now have seasoned NFL veterans in some cases drooling , urinating and defecating on themselves because they simply do not have the mental or physical capacity to take care of themselves . If you believe this last sentence to be false , then consider the plight of Hall of Fame player Mike Webster at the time of his death and the circumstances under which he died ? A harsh reality should now begin to set in !

In reality as proactive as the NFL now tries to be in terms the actions now being taken by Roger Goodell as the league’s highest ranking executive . The commissioner has been poorly served by his subordinates , the team owners and most notably by the NFLPA , its executive committee and definitely by both DeMaurice Smith and his predecessor Gene Upshaw as then , Executive Director of the union (NFLPA) .

In reality as proactive as the NFL now tries to be in terms the actions now being taken by Roger Goodell as the league’s highest ranking executive . The commissioner has been poorly served by his subordinates , the team owners and most notably by the NFLPA , its executive committee and definitely by both DeMaurice Smith and his predecessor Gene Upshaw as then , Executive Director of the union (NFLPA) . To my mind the NFL in terms of the assistance now being provided to its retired veterans seems to be no different than that of the less than appropriate aid provided to war veterans by the Veterans Administration (VA) ! But yet we have our , oh so patriotic politicians saluting the troops at each and every moment that they can when they’re on the political stump . In reality however , those very same politicians are simply banging the drum all too loudly with their jingoism and rhetoric ! And in doing so , they’re simply giving the electorate something that they believe they want to hear . Unfortunately , those young men and women of the military are provided with about as much care and assistance as that can be found in the squalor of a disease ridden city of third world nation . Ask yourself this , if the federal government in all of its earnest to bring democracy to such far-flung places as Afghanistan and Iraq while barely moving heaven and earth to assist its men and women in uniform in their time of need . It is no different now with the NFL and its handling of the situation and that of its veterans . Anyone care to guess why it is that you now have former players being denied their benefits that in many cases is rightfully due to them ?

The NFLPA has sought the legal counsel of Fulbright & Jaworski LLC to represent its members in any upcoming proceeding against the Saints’ players current and former embroiled in this affair . But herein lies the caveat to this all , because undoubtedly there will be those who are of the opinion that this is a matter where the players in question should be honest enough to tell the truth rather than hide behind the charade of what is already a skewered form of justice within the NFL . You had players being blatantly being order to cause undue harm and damage to an opponent and many of those players willing sought to do so for the financial reward being used as an incentive . Yet , where there is a clear case as an act of criminality this whole scenario would indeed take on a whole new light . Instead , the idiocy here is that there are those who do not feel any undue harm has been done by this at all ! Only apathy and naivete` is being shown by those who see this nothing more than being part and parcel of the day-to-day inner workings within the sanctum of the NFL . In reality , the league has become outlandish ________________ and one of avarice rather than it being simply about doing what happens to be in the best interests of the game ! .

And while the league (NFL) now finds itself as the defendants in two separate civil suits brought at the US District Court and US Federal Court , clearly the NFL seeking to makeover its image as an uncaring and unwilling entity seeking to assist the most desperate amongst its members who just happen to be in urgent need . I certainly would like to see how Goodell and the owners now address each of the cases in question ! At the end of the 2011-12 season Roger Goodell was quick to point to the fact that the league hadn’t lost any major corporate sponsors while stating that the NFL as a business entity had negotiated deals worth in excess $1.6 billion by way of additional revenues from a number broadcast outlets , very little was made of the fact that when questioned about the legal proceedings faced as he sought to deflect their importance and simply view them as meaningless . In reality NFL Chief legal counsel Jeff Pash may well see it all from a different perspective should the league as defendants be on the wrong end of either of the judicial proceedings in question .

Roger Goodell seeks to be all things to all people and it is clear while appearing to be like the consummate politician it has to be said that for all sense and purpose the electorate now appear to be sick and tired of the whole spiel being put forth by both political parties and it is the very much the same thing with the NFL commissioner at present . He’s shown himself ineffective when he needs to be effective and someone who is unwilling to stick with a tough decision even when he knows it to be right . The stupidity of it all , has been the very fact that from the outset he needn’t have adjudicated an appeal when there was already an admittance of guilt from Sean Payton , Micky Loomis and Joe Vitt . Now what ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In light of the latest developments concerning the New Orleans Saints what if anything would you now like to see happen with regard to the franchise ? And also do you believe that Roger Goodell has handled this situation to the best of his abilities ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site as it greatly appreciated !

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) FILE – This April 2, 2012 file photo shows NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell framed by New Orleans Saints hats during an interview before the grand opening of the NFL Shop at Draft store in New York. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has rejected the appeals of coach Sean Payton and other New Orleans Saints officials stemming from the league’s probe into the club’s bounty system. After hearing from Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt last week, Goodell decided Monday, April 9, 2012, to uphold his initial sanctions, which include Payton’s suspension for the entire 2012 season. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer …

(2) New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton during his season-ending news conference at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has rejected the appeals of coach Sean Payton and other New Orleans Saints officials stemming from the league’s probe into the club’s bounty system. After hearing from Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt last week, Goodell decided Monday, April 9, 2012, to uphold his initial sanctions, which include Payton’s suspension for the entire 2012 season. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert …..

(3) FILE – This Jan. 14, 2012 file photo shows San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) passing against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter of an NFL divisional playoff football game , in San Francisco. A newly released recording purports to capture former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams telling players to “put a lick” on San Francisco’s Kyle Williams to see if the receiver has lingering effects from an earlier concussion. In the recording from a meeting before the Saints played the 49ers in a playoff game in January, Williams urges players to beat running back Frank Gore’s head, “lay out” quarterback Alex Smith and go after receiver Michael Crabtree’s knee. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma …..

(4) New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, left, is followed by media as he arrives for a meeting at NFL headquarters in New York, Thursday, April 5, 2012. AP Photo/Seth Wenig ….

(5) New Orleans Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt, right, arrives with attorney David Cornwell for a meeting at NFL headquarters in New York, Thursday, April 5, 2012. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

(6) NEW ORLEANS – JANUARY 18: Owner of the New Orleans Saints Tom Benson (L) tries to put a hat on Sean Payton’s head after announcing him as the new head coach of the Saints at the New Orleans Saints Practice facility on January 18, 2006 in Metairie, Louisiana. Payton has been an assistant coach for the Dallas Cowboys for the past three seasons. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images … …..

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