Hey Kids It’s Story Time ………

Hey Kids It’s Story Time ………

By tophatal

Stories, from not so far afield and that would appear to the hold the sports fans’ interest . Well, the NFL remains the center of focus even during the off-season and for a number of reasons , both right and wrong . Roger Goodell while still trying to make his intent clear has been handling the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal with about as much care as a murderous felon on the run , who still seeks to commit at least one more crime . The commissioner is now embroiled in a “war of words” between himself and Jonathan Vilma , a defensive player for the Saints. Vilma , is one four players named in what appears to be an all too secretive report that would suggest the scandal was an event with actuality and giving clear evidence as to its existence . Having been suspended by the league over the evidence within their possession , Jonathan Vilma has filed a defamation lawsuit in US Federal Court against the NFL as well the league’s commissioner , Roger Goodell . Furthermore , as part of that filing the player has stated that he also seeks his reinstatement by the league . Now while this process has yet to be fully initiated , a hearing will take place concerning the quartet’s suspension and it may well be here that we might have some finality to this issue but one seriously doubts it .

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Should this defamation case go Federal Court , then the league would have to lay out its case for public scrutiny , as well as that of the plaintiff’s lawyers with theirs . Inasmuch , as the league has acted in what they believe to be a positive manner , there is a distinct feeling that all has not been above reproach in the league’s handling of this issue . It is becoming all too clear that there is a great deal that the NFL would prefer not to have laid out in public . For his part, Vilma did himself no favors by choosing not to attend the league’s headquarters for questioning by the league’s investigators when requested to do so . Instead he has sought to question the veracity of the evidence gathered by the league and its subordinates while choosing to question Goodell’s integrity . This is simply another episode in a long running drama wherein the NFL has been distrustful of the players and the NFLPA (union) as the representative of its rank and file members are no closer in having a bilateral relationship with the league hierarchy. If this decade long collective bargaining agreement was meant to stand for anything and supposedly lead the league into a ten years of peaceful coexistence . Then then it is now clear that it is not worth the paper it was written on !

Global expansion , sought by the NFL ? Is it not enough that the league fell flat on its face with their farcical experiment of NFL Europe as they sought to make the game more accessible to their fans on that particular continent ? Now with several offices across the globe and an increasing presence audience in the Far East , Latin America and the African continent , the league still yearns for a physical presence with a franchise outside the American continent . How that would work logistically during the regular season as well the possibility of a franchise being part of a postseason schedule may well not have crossed the minds of the league hierarchy and franchise owners . Roger Goodell , not long after having succeeded Paul Tagliabue to his current role , had suggested that he would like to see an NFL franchise in Europe . Preferably in the United Kingdom , and more importantly, London to his mind would be the preferable choice .

Obviously , lessons were not learned by Goodell , with the NFL having lost tens of millions of dollars with their rather idiotic experiment of NFL Europe for over a decade . Nothing really tangible came out of the experiment , although some point out to the fact it allowed for some borderline talent to play in Europe , who might not have gained access to being part of an NFL practice squad. And even though at its inception NFL Europe was an initial success , the fact that could not be hidden that having to compete against such sports soccer and cricket and several other sports not just within the UK but also on the continent , NFL football could not gain the traction needed to be self-sustaining without having to depend upon its parent for the financial backing needed to exist . Initially , there were corporate tie-ins with several prominent businesses in the participating countries (UK, Germany , France , Netherlands , Spain & Belgium) but those relationships soon quickly died , without those corporations seeing their profiles raised to any major degree . Now come full circle and over decade from the folding of NFL Europe and once again we have a prominent personality once again raising the question of having a franchise in Europe .

New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft in a recent interview stated that the NFL should make a renewed effort in getting an NFL franchise off the ground and into being , in Europe within the next decade . Now unless I am mistaken the word “ England” is already part of the Patriots’ moniker . So what in hell’s name is the Patriots’ owner trying to get at ? In addition , one seriously doubts that amongst either the landed gentry of England or even amongst the country’s wealthiest individuals that any of them would have the desire to own an NFL franchise . Especially , when one bears in mind the costs involved , and all of the political and connivance and intrigue that is said to go on between the NFL , and many of the state and municipal governmental agencies here in the United States . Kraft was broad in terms , on how best this would come into being , only to suggest that the NFL had now reach saturation point and its maturation level domestically .

From my own standpoint , the league’s biggest concern should be with “ cleaning up “ its image , dealing with player safety and above all stop taking a soft-shoe approach in dealing with the Players’ Union when it comes to the “issue “ of PED’s and other illicit substances . The league having reached an agreement with the executive committee of the NFLPA has yet to enact the statute of mandatory testing of the players even if after the union itself voted on , and ratified the deal . Instead, Goodell and the owners seem to have backed off enforcing the mandate and as usual Roger Goodell comes across looking like a “cowering bitch “ and a virgin who’s afraid to be deflowered , even though she has led her partner on .

Goodell , like the other three major high-ranking executives who oversee the four major professional sports , tends to only show a backbone when he feels he is on the winning end of a fight . He might be the very worst of a really inept bunch of individuals who have no reason to be holding the executive positions in question , much less presiding over a sports’ hierarchy .

Don’t look now but the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees have some real problems on their hands . In the case of the Dodgers they have seen a five game lead within the NL West be erased within the past three weeks , while the New York Yankees have lost two of their most high profiled pitchers to the DL . For the Dodgers , their issues stem with the loss of Andre Ethier and the slow return to form of Matt Kemp , albeit that one could attest to the fact that the team’s ….. woes are far more widespread . With the San Francisco Giants having now overtaken the Dodgers for the lead within the division , this could very well take on some chilling reverberations around the organization were the team not able to play themselves back into contention .

Now as much I admire Andy Pettite , I felt his comeback to the game of baseball , and specifically the New York Yankees was a foolhardy decision ! No sooner has he returned to the organization , he now finds himself out for a possible four to six weeks with a broken ankle . To exacerbate things further , C C Sabathia is now down with a groin strain . Yankees’ fans how’d you like those apples ? And if you thought that may well have been the end of the Bronx Bombers’ worries , then think again . Their old arch rivals , the Boston Red Sox are looming close , having played themselves into contention within the AL East , with some gritty determination but also in part they have been aided by some poor performances by their fellow occupants within the division.

As contentious as the AL East is known to be this season , the division is very much there for the taking for any of the teams with the desire to make it theirs . Granted , the Yankees possess perhaps the potent offense in the game as can be seen by the run differential which is by far the best in baseball (MLB) . With the 2012 All Star Game a mere week away , it may well give the teams that are said to be ailing with injuries , a chance to look over the injury woes and perhaps how best to address those issues .

Now comes the hard part for the managers as the mid-season showcase event approaches do they allow their players to participate in the scheduled festivities or do they order them to rest . The fans’ wishes , are to see their heroes in action but at the same when the risks are too great whereby a major star could be lost for the remainder of the season , then questions arise as to what is said to in the best interests of an organization . There is no denying that the festivities that surround the All Star Game is perhaps the best of four professional mid-season showcase events of the four major professional sports . Granted , the NBA , NHL and NFL in their capacity would have you believe their respective events are by far the most popular amongst the fans but the real proof stems in the fan involvement and attendance. Baseball’s presence of mind to give the fans what they want in terms their teams’ and their performances . What might be even more impressive are the progressive statistics of the players over the ensuing years in terms of batting averages and ERA’s for the pitchers.

This year it has been a stellar season as always with teams performing up to the usual expectation , with one or two exceptions . The pitchers this season are proving that with the “right stuff” they can make the hitters’ lives a testing one . . I would certainly like to think that in the lead-up to the All Star Game and thereafter we will be seeing a great deal more from the teams. Kauffman Stadium , in Kansas City , Missouri , will be the scene of this year’s showcase for baseball . So make of it what you will .

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Picture gallery .

Do you as an NFL fan believe that we will ultimately see a franchise in Europe or quite possibly in Latin America or Canada ? By all means leave a comment on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slide details below .

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(1) FILE – This Aug. 2, 2010 file photo shows NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaking during a news conference at the New Orleans Saints’ football training facility in Metairie, La. The appeals hearing for four players suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for their role in the Saints bounty program has begun. On hand at NFL headquarters Monday, June 18, 2012, are all four players: Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who is suspended for the 2012 season, and defensive end Will Smith, who has been docked for four games; Green Bay defensive end Anthony Hargrove, suspended for eight games; and Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita (three games). AP Photo/Gerald Herbert …..

(2) New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma arrives at the National Football League’s headquarters, Monday, June 18, 2012 in New York. Vilma and three other players are appealing their suspensions for their role in the Saints bounty program. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan …

(3) Democratic Whip Sen. Dick Durbin , D-Ill., left, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speak during a media availability after their meeting to discuss bounty programs, on Capitol Hill Wednesday, June 20, 2012 in Washington. AP Photo/Alex Brandon .. …

(4) Green Bay Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove speaks to the media outside the National Football League headquarters, Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in New York. The former New Orleans Saints player had been suspended for half of next season for his alleged involvement in a bounty program among Saints players that rewarded cash for big hits on opposing players. Hargrove maintains his innocence. AP Photo/John Minchillo ….

(5) NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (L) chats with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on the field before the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Kraft in a recent interview reiterated his wish to see an NFL franchise in the UK within the next decade . Getty Images / Ezra Shaw ….

(6) LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 29: A.J. Ellis (17) of the Los Angeles Dodgers catches the ball as Lucas Duda (21) of the New York Mets scores in the fifth inning during the MLB game at Dodger Stadium on June 29, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers would go on to lose the game 9-0 . Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images …

(7) Chicago White Sox A.J. Pierzynski , right, receives congratulations from third base coach Joe McEwing as he rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees on Friday, June 29, 2012, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The White Sox defeated the Yankees 14-7 . AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …..

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NFL news

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MLB news

MLB standings

MLB results 28th June 2012

MLB schedule 29th June 2012

MLB probable starting pitchers 29th June 2012

MLB Important dates (2012)

MLB All Star Game 2012
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If at all interested take time to participate in the above mentioned poll .

Fashion Statement Be Damned I’m Now In The NBA

Fashion Statement Be Damned I’m Now In The NBA

By tophatal …………..

Tonight , is the night that NCAA Collegiate Basketball talent gets to take center-stage with the 2012 NBA Draft . Team executives , coaches , team owners , convened press , NBA Tv and the players’ families will be in attendance for with the announcement of the number one overall pick . That name will undoubtedly be , AP Player of The Year and Kentucky Wildcats’ guard , Anthony Davis . Comparisons to Bill Russell and Hakeem Olajuwon have been made with regard to Davis’ play and his basketball IQ . To my mind , the young player , is simply by far the best talent in what appears to a rather average draft ! And though it is high praise indeed , to be mentioned in the same breath , as luminaries of the NBA . The one thing that is clear , Davis will have a long way to go before he can be legitimately be thought of and held in such high esteem .

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The New Orleans Hornets have the privilege of taking the number one pick , to be followed by the Charlotte Bobcats (2nd) , Washington Wizards (3rd ) , Cleveland Cavaliers (4th) , and the Sacramento Kings(5th) rounding out the top five . That being said , there will be a number of behind the scenes’ moves as several teams will be looking to move up in the draft pecking order . For Michael Jordan , team owner and Chief Executive (CEO) of the Charlotte Bobcats , he is in the unenviable position having to make a decision as to who the franchise should take as that second overall pick . Now we can all remember in 2001 , when in his capacity as the Head of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards he introduced the world to Kwame Brown as the number one pick in the NBA Draft of that year . For the Wizards , that pick and as evidenced by the years since , nothing was ever the same again as the franchise sank into an abyss of sheer ineptitude . And even now that organization has been barely competitive , and you simply have to peruse the divisional and conference standings of this past season to see that this has been borne out .

Jordan will be assisted in the decision by team COO Fred Whitfield , GM Rick Cho and newly installed head coach Mike Dunlap . Things will not bode well should the franchise make a pick that in no way assists a team that was one of the most offensively challenged franchises of the past season . The franchise needs a player that can be productive on both ends of the floor and it seems rather unfortunate with the asinine premise of the Draft Lottery , the Bobcats will not be availed with the privilege taking Anthony Davis as their pick. Now perusing the talent that will be available , the likes of Thomas Robinson , Michael Kidd-Gilchrist , Draymond Green , Andre Drummond , Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard , might seem appealing . However, there is such a drop off in the talent level within this draft , that once outside the prospective top five picks , it all comes down to a judicious approach by the general managers and the choices made. I have always felt that the franchise with the worst record in the NBA should have the privilege of taking the number one overall pick ! . It would appear otherwise , with regard to the mindset of NBA Commissioner David Stern and the members of the league hierarchy . And in truth by no means is that top pick an outright guarantee of success in the NBA .

God knows , shivers are sent up and down my spine when I think that in 2001 , Jordan passed over such talent as Tony Parker , Tyson Chandler and Pau Gasol , amongst others . As recently as 2007 , Greg Oden having been taken as the number one pick overall by the Portland Trailbazers , has seen his career simply fizzle out like a damp squib . There’s a great deal be said for the apparent level of the collegiate talent looking to make the jump from the ranks of College Basketball to the ranks of the NBA . I have long felt that the ” one and done athlete ” as precocious as their talents might appear to be , is not always mature enough to handle the glare and spotlight of the league , as well as the wealth and fame afforded those players ! . Granted , there have been “ exceptions to that rule” and if anything , that has been a rarity . However, you simply cannot hide the fact that when there is a bona-fide talent and star with your midst , it would be foolish to overlook them .

The NBA has clearly become a league that places more value in its high-profiled stars than it does in , any of its franchises . That has , and was clearly the case this season , in terms of the NBA Finals , and the series which pitted the Miami Heat against the Oklahoma City Thunder . The event was sold to the fans and public alike , as a duel between the game’s two best players , with LeBron James and Kevin Durant squaring off against each other , as if this were a world championship title fight between two even matched pugilists (boxers). Rarely, was the event stated as being match-up of two great teams and the talent that was said to be on display . Such has now become the state of and landscape of modern-day sports , that it comes down to consumerism , instantaneous gratification , rather than the substantive body of work . What might be even more asinine may well have been the premise that as entertaining as the series was said to be , the officiating was of the highest standard possible .

Apart from the interest that the NBA Draft creates on the domestic front , we should also remember the international contingent of players also seeking parlay their own prowess as they seek to join the most competitive professional league of its kind in with the world . It will be interesting to see if any of those players can aspire to be as successful as Tony Parker or Dirk Nowitzki , for that matter . The Frenchman and his German counterpart , have reached the summit of the game , with each having won an NBA title , and surprisingly enough both were named Finals MVPs in the series in which they were participants .

As the tentacles of the NBA has now crossed international borders spanning the globe . The upcoming Summer Olympics in London, England , will grant the NBA further exposure for the game and Team USA , with its litany of stars . Jerry Colangelo as the Chairman of USA Basketball , would like nothing better than to see both the Men’s and Women’s teams reign supreme , as each seeks to make a successful defense of their titles won in Beijing , China in 2008 . In London , with the game’s ardent following and a wealth of knowledge already attained with the local fans, it will be interesting to see how they react to the stars on display during that upcoming tournament .

As an expat Brit now residing in the US , the upcoming Olympics will be of great interest to me , as many of events scheduled and the state of the art purpose-built venues will be in areas I once frequented as a teenager and as an adult . With the billions that have been spent jointly by the British government and jointly with numerous public private enterprises , the anticipation being built up amongst the nation will be gargantuan . The economic impact to the country should run into several billion dollars with an anticipated 2 million tourists set be in attendance for the Olympic Games , beyond the fervent members of national population who will also seek to attend many of the events at these games .

One of the things that always comes to the fore when the NBA Draft comes around , happens to be, shall we say … ” the sartorial elegance of the attendees “ ? . Let’s put it this way , the fashion statements being made , might either be looked upon as being stylish or downright idiotic . In recent years who can forget Joakim Noah’s suit and what appeared to be a caricature of “ The Simpson’s “ character ‘Sideshow Bob’ ? Far be it for me to suggest but what the young Frenchman lacks in style , he more than makes up for , with his work ethic on a basketball court as a member of the Chicago Bulls . Tonight , it will be interesting to see who flunks the fashion code and who stands out for all of the right reasons .

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Picture gallery .

As such are you an ardent fan of the NBA ? And two , do you believe that the Lottery System is the best way possible for the NBA Draft in its current format to be instituted ? Simply chime in on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter herein .

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) FILE – This Jan. 11, 2012 file photo shows Syracuse’s Dion Waiters (3) going up for a dunk in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Villanova, in Philadelphia. Waiters is a possible pick in the NBA Draft on June 28. AP Photo/Matt Slocum …

(2) In this Feb. 7, 2012 file photo, Florida’s Bradley Beal (23) shoots under pressure from Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky. Beal is a possible pick in the NBA Draft on Jan. 28. AP Photo/James Crisp …..

(3) FILE – In this Feb. 29, 2012 file photo, North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes (40) shoots while Maryland’s Berend Weijs defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C. Barnes is a possible pick in the NBA Draft on Jan. 28. AP Photo/Gerry Broome …

(4) FILE – In this March 31, 2012 file photo, Kentucky forward Anthony Davis (23) reacts during the second half of an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game against Louisville, in New Orleans. Davis is a possible pick in the NBA Draft on Jan. 28. AP Photo/David J. Phillip …

(5) Charlotte Bobcats new head coach Mike Dunlap, right, talks with Bismack Biyombo , left, during an NBA basketball practice in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, June 21, 2012. AP Photo/Chuck Burton

(6) In this photo provided by CBS, Miami Heat’s LeBron James, left, embraces the Larry O’Brien trophy as television show host David Letterman watches, Tuesday, June 26, 2012, on the set of the “Late Show with David Letterman” in New York. James and the Miami Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder to claim the 2012 NBA Championship. AP Photo/CBS, John Paul Filo ….. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ….

(7) Joakim Noah , right , is seen here alongside David Stern during the 2007 NBA Draft . The player was taken ninth overall in the first round of the Draft . Whatever one might think of the player’s sense of dress , you simply cannot deny his ability on a basketball court . AP Photo / Martin Freeman ….

(8) Dwight Howard # 1 pick from the 2004 NBA Draft in an official photo . Howard the choice of the Orlando Magic is now at a crossroads in his career , unsure as whether or not his future lies with the only franchise that he’s played for professionally . With the abrupt upheaval within the front office and the firing of Stan Van Gundy , a new chapter is said to be underway for the Orlando Magic . Getty Images North America / Paul Mason …..

(9) Greg Oden , left , is seen here alongside Kevin Durant of the Seattle Supersonics . Oden the number one overall pick from the 2007 NBA Draft had a less than stellar career with the Portland Trailblazers , whereas , Durant has become an omnipresent scorer within the NBA as a three-time scoring champion . In this past season’s NBA Finals Durant was the leading scorer for the renamed Sonics , now known as the Oklahoma City Thunder , who lost the series 4-1 to the Miami Heat . Courtesy of NBAE / Getty Images / Scott Harrison …..

(10) ” I’m sorry but did you say your Mama helped you get dressed ” ? Amar`e Stoudemire is seen here with NBA Commissioner David Stern on NBA Draft Day 2002 . The player was taken ninth overall by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the Draft . No longer with the Suns , the center/power forward now makes his career with the New York Knicks and was recently fined $50k ($50,000) by the league hierarchy for anti-homophobic slurs directed at an NBA fan . The player has since publicly apologized to the fan , to the NBA and the Knicks’ organization for his actions .

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NBA news

2012 NBA Draft & Draft order

All-time number one NBA draft picks

2012 NBA Draft prospects denoted in alphabetical order

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Cam’ron ………… “Down ” ………… feat’g Kanye West & … Syleena Johnson

It’s Not Baseball If You’re Not Kicking An Opponents’ Ass

It’s Not Baseball If You’re Not Kicking An Opponents’ Ass

By tophatal

And so the mess in Boston continues, as the Boston Red Sox’s downward spiral into mediocrity goes on unabated . Much of this malaise simply comes from the fact that GM Ben Cherington and team President Larry Lucchino made a monumental blunder in hiring Bobby Valentine . There are many who feel that the choice of Valentine was a judicious one because among the candidates interviewed , he was the best interviewee. For all of the alleged managerial prowess of the incumbent manager, and what we now seen borne out is the very fact that Terry Francona’s successor is making hard work of a task that comes with a great deal of pressure and scrutiny . Valentine has already alienated a number of players on the Red Sox roster and with the departure of Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox , this might further alienate the manager amongst the fans .
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It very hard to see how this team can now resurrect their season if they continue to play such bad baseball . Valentine has continued to display the talents of a manager who is simply out of his depth and this has been exhibited by team in the Red Sox’s record and standing in the AL East . The team’s pitching woes have been well chronicled over the course of the season , as it has been sporadic and all too inconsistent . The Red Sox’s most successive pitching pitcher this season has been Clay Bucholtz (8-2, 5.33 ERA) but the troubling issue beyond the inconsistency has been the numerous injuries to the members of the pitching rotation and position players . But that in of-itself should be enough not assuage anyone’s assumption as to how inconsistent the Red Sox have been . The Boston Red Sox are 4-6 in their last ten games and their schedule is not about to get any easier in the upcoming months .

Tuesday night the Red Sox played hosts to the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park , in Boston , Massachusetts . Taking the mound for host team Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2,6.06 ERA) and Aaron Laffey (0-0,3.00 ERA) of the Blue Jays . Wednesday the two teams will meet again in what will prove to be the series’ decider of a three-game series . Jon Lester (4-5, 4.46 ERA) of the Red Sox steers down Ricky Romero (8-1, 4.34 ERA) of the Toronto Blue Jays , who has been of the AL’s most successful pitchers this season . And among those pitchers it is David Price (10-4, 2.95 ERA) of the Tampa Bay Rays who leads the AL at present and perhaps at this stage of the season might be looked upon as the presumptive favorite for the AL Cy Young .

Should the Boston Red Sox prevail in their game against the Blue Jays , then to close out the month of the June they face the Seattle Mariners (31-43) they are the guests of the host team at Safeco Field , in Seattle , Washington for a four-game series . The lowly Mariners are having one of the worst seasons on record amongst the teams in baseball (MLB) . Inasmuch , as I see the game of baseball being a competitive pastime , one could not attest that the Mariners have sought to be competitive in recent years . This happens to be one of the more poorly ran organizations baseball , where the front office of this team has repeatedly found ways to waste the talents of Felix Hernandez and Ichiro Suzuki , albeit , that the players in question are well compensated . My question is to the fans of the game , would you prefer to support a team that is competitive or simply support an organization who is simply there to make up the numbers ? I was once told that the Kansas Royals were a team on the rise , that they were building towards the future , and that once on the ascent , they would become perennial contenders . That was perhaps one of the most asinine comments I have ever heard concerning the Royals , especially in light of the fact that the organization has not been of relevance as a contender in over a decade ! The Mariners and Royals are very much of a similar vein and it would appear that their respective ownership groups would prefer to keep it that way . If David Glass is said to be such a great owner , then why the hell has he not sought to make his ball-club that much more competitive ? Anyone care to answer that question ? And if Howard Lincoln and the Board of Directors of the Seattle Mariners choose not to steer the organization in the right direction . Then why the hell will they not sell the team , and be done with it ? It is not as if the value of the Mariners is not of considerable value , based on the recent sales of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros . Both of the aforementioned teams were sold for a combined $2.935 billion , with new owners Magic Johnson and his partners purchasing the Dodgers . Jim Crane , Houston based businessman , acquiring the Astros and each of these ambitious ownership groups are seeking to make their acquisitions competitive and more amenable to their respective fan-bases.

The trade of Kevin Youikilis may well not be viewed as prudent but with the promotion of Will Middlebrooks , this could all bode well for the Boston Red Sox . But that may not be enough for a team that has been struggling in terms of OBP (on base percentage) . From my own standpoint , the Red Sox’s issues really stems from the fact the team’s failure to make the playoffs last season still reverberates around the entire organization . In the month of September , the Red Sox players went 7-21 , thereby forgoing the chance to gain the AL wildcard berth that year . If things continue to spiral out of control , as I believe it will for the Boston Red Sox , then there may well be roster upheaval that will be of gigantic proportions . There are a number of players on the roster who are vastly overpaid and unproductive , and that issue has not at all been publicly addressed by anyone of stature within the front office . A far cry from the culmination of last season , when a number of front office executives sought to disparage the reputation of then manager , Terry Francona , while not choosing to hold the players accountable for that now infamous morass .

Aspirations being what they are , I would be pleasantly surprised if the Red Sox were able to play themselves back into contention within the AL East . There appears to be no vocal leadership from anyone on the roster and the from a coaching standpoint Bobby Valentine and his coaching staff are entirely bereft of creativity or ingenuity , never-mind the fact that Valentine is unable to effectively communicate with his players .. Among the impending free agents on the current roster this and next year , of whom the front office could seek to deal in order to pare down salary , while looking to assess their minor league prospects . The front office will have to make decisions concerning Erik Bedard , Daisuke Matsuzaka , Bobby Jenks , David Ortiz , Cody Ross and Aaron Cook . At the same time , with the budding young talent within their minor league system and the fact that Will Middlebrooks has now been called up , there does not seem to be a lot that the ball club can lose by seeking to jettison a number of the aforementioned players and anyone else that they feel would be superfluous to the team’s needs . I am sure that the likes of Bryce Brentz , Anthony Ranaudo , Brandon Jacobs , Kolbrin Vitek , Jose Iglesias and Matt Barnes would like nothing better than to get that call and be told “are you ready for some big time baseball “ ? These are lean times for the Boston Red in wake of their triumphs in the World Series of 2004 and 2007 . In the ensuing years there has been inconsistency , missed opportunities and a great many excuses as to the reasons for the Red Sox’s woes but no one has been willing to be held accountable .

Baseball’s midseason showcase event is merely less than two weeks away and the voting for the All Star Game has been heated with millions of votes being cast for the players in both leagues . Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers is the leading vote getter among all players by a wide margin and it is easy to understand why . He remains one the best all-round players in the league as well as one of the most popular amongst the fans . Add in the fact that the outfielder has been having a sensational season and his team has been one of the more dominant ball-clubs within the game . There really isn’t much more that needs to be added at this juncture .

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Picture gallery .

How do you see things panning out for the Boston Red Sox over the remainder of their season and should they fail to make the postseason do you believe that the manager should be fired ? With the league standings as they are at present which teams do you believe will be vying for a divisional crown and which teams are will be on track for a wildcard berth ? Simply chime in with a comment on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent with regard to the subject matter ?

Picture and slide show gallery details below .

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(1) Boston Red Sox’ David Ortiz, right, is congratulated by teammate Mike Aviles after scoring on a single by teammate Adrian Gonzalez during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

(2) Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia leaps as he makes the force out on Toronto Blue Jays’ Colby Rasmus on a grounder by teammate Jose Bautista in the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Bautista was safe at first. AP Photo/Charles Krupa

(3) Boston Red Sox’ David Ortiz beats the tag by Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie as he advances on a double by teammate Cody Ross in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

(4) Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell reacts in the dugout during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Tuesday, June 26, 2012. The Red Sox won 5-1 . AP Photo/Elise Amendola …

(5) Bobby Valentine , right, is seen here with Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington , having been formally announced the team’s new manager . AP Photo / Brian Ross …

(6) ARLINGTON, TX – JUNE 26: Ian Kinsler (5) of the Texas Rangers is congratulated by teammate Josh Hamilton after hitting a lead off home run in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers on June 26, 2012 at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images …

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Hot chic pic of the day Chanta Patton

What Is In An Arm ?

What Is In An Arm ?

By tophatal ……..

I have been reading with a great deal of interest as to who has been the most successful quarterbacks in the NFL over the past four seasons . In reeling off my own list of names , it was reasonable to assume that Drew Brees , Tom Brady , Peyton Manning , Eli Manning , Ben Roethlisberger and Tony Romo would be amongst that list . In addition, yes they were , but the real criteria set , were in terms of regular season wins by a quarterback . A great statistic no doubt alongside that of comebacks and game winning drives , that would be a great way to judge a quarterback’s abilities . Far too much is placed upon the quarterback ratings’ system and pass completion percentages but it appears these are the statistics that said to work best for the analysts and NFL coaches and their respective staffs . .
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The one name that I overlooked was that of Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan . A tremendously gifted player , the “ knock” against Ryan is that he has never been able to lead the Falcons deep into the playoffs . Ryan has amassed a 43-19 record in regular season games since 2008, which amongst the tops of starting quarterbacks over the past four seasons . For his part though , Ryan has to contend and play in one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL where the Falcons resides , that has four equally compelling teams that will be looking to play themselves into contention this upcoming season . The NFC South is home to the Falcons as well as the Carolina Panthers , Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the much maligned New Orleans Saints . Moreover, the quarterbacks to be found within the division are not too shabby when playing at their very best .

Drew Brees along with Matt Ryan , Cam Newton and Josh Freeman have their own strengths and weaknesses as players . It bodes well this season for Falcons’ head coach Mike Smith , as the team has to be viewed as the prohibitive favorites within the NFC South for the upcoming season . Smith , team owner Arthur Blank , GM Thomas Dimitroff and President /CEO Rich McKay have been prudent and fortuitous in their personnel decisions in the aftermath of the Michael Vick “ scandal “ , which essentially saw the franchise’s fall from grace and the less than honorable departure of Bobby Petrino in the wake of the scandal . Matt Ryan , who was a first round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft was taken third overall by organization . The player became a starter that season for the team , with the franchise going 11-5 within the NFL (8-4 /CONF & 3-1 non-conference). The young quarterback in his rookie season was steady but not spectacular. By comparison to his peers that season , one could attest to the fact that Mike Smith was happy with he witnessed from the young player in his first year within the NFL .

The 2012 NFL Draft for the Atlanta Falcons was built around the prerequisite needs of the team , namely a guard , tackle and nose tackle and running back . Moreover, this was borne out in the choices made by Mike Smith and the coaching staff in conjunction with Thomas Dimitroff. Peter Konz , Lamar Holmes , Bradie Ewing and Johnathan Massaquoi were the first four players taken by team in rounds , two through five . If the Falcons can improve upon last season by way of their overall statistics then it , and where they ranked defensively and on offense would be a boost for the coaching and the young players hoping to make a solid contribution for the franchise this season .

Am I convinced that Matt Ryan can join the elite quarterbacks within the NFL ? Well that would be dependent as what one constitutes as being amongst the “elite” ? The Falcons’ quarterback has proven that he is capable of leading a team but it is being able to get over that final obstacle of getting a franchise deep into the playoffs is how now adjudge the greatness of a player and that intent is to win the game’s biggest prize the ……………. Superbowl .

The Michael Vick years as we know , showed him to be a phenomenal athlete who was able to light up a game with some “ exhilarating plays “ . Vick’s on the field performances notwithstanding , it was the player’s off field issues that gained some unwarranted attention and notoriety. His lying to federal investigators and to the ownership of the Atlanta Falcons showed that the naiveté of Michael Vick as well as his lack of maturity . Vick a great deal of wealth and notoriety at a young age, and not being able to handle the public attention , as well as the praise tends to be one of the many reasons that an athlete feels that they are above the law , while feeling that they will have the backing of their entourage or the press in some instances plays into an athlete’s mindset . We have seen these scenarios played out far too often within the public arena , with many of the fans either siding with the athlete or decrying their actions , no matter how heinous their actions are said to be.

The seasoned veteran is now with the Philadelphia Eagles , where their 2011 schedule simply imploded due to their lack of real commitment and the apparent lack of ingenuity coming from head coach Andy Reid and his coaching staff . An 8-8 season led to the Eagles missing the postseason . Moreover , questions were asked as to why this team failed so miserably , in spite of the apparent talent at Reid’s disposal. The Eagles’ front office led by team owner Jeffrey Lurie , GM Howie Roseman and senior consultant Joe Banner had eschewed the idea of firing the head coach after last season’s malaise . Reid’s tenure has been filled with highs and lows , and in recent years, one could attest to the fact that it was more of the latter .

In 2012 if the Philadelphia Eagles are unable to have a successful sojourn through their schedule , then we may well see the head coach being shown the door . I am not about to suggest that the Vick “experiment” in Philadelphia has been a distinct failure but the rhetorical excuses being served up by the player and the coaching staff might just be the most asinine of the premises that best describes why this organization can be considered a joke ! That notwithstanding , the supercilious attempts by the NFL analysts to consider both the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys as being repeatedly favorites within the NFC , has to be looked upon as being rather redundant. The fact that both teams reside within the NFC East indicates how mundane that the division a has become with the ascendancy of the New York Giants in recent years and their playoff history . Do you get the feeling that the Cowboys and Eagles are envious of the Giants and their success ?

Whatever the season now holds for the Atlanta Falcons and the aforementioned teams as they embark on their respective schedules . We can only speculate on what is likely or not likely to happen concerning those franchises . As the defending Superbowl champions , the New York Giants will be the team with a bulls’ eye on their backs . Everyone will be out to take the Giants down , and I am sure that Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning will be out to prove their detractors wrong .

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Picture gallery .

The NFL preseason should prove to be interesting as we get the first glimpse of the rookies taken in the Draft and see what their aspirations may well be . If at all interested in the subject matter simply leave a comment as you see fit .

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan takes part in football mini camp Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in Flowery Branch, Ga. AP Photo/David Goldman …

(2) Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham takes part in NFL football practice, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Flowery Branch, Ga. For much of the free agency period , it appeared likely the Falcons would lose Abraham, the team’s top pass rusher. Instead Abraham has returned to find his new defensive coordinator is Mike Nolan , who was the Jets’ defensive coordinator for his 2000 rookie season. Abraham says it’s a perfect fit. AP Photo/David Goldman ..

(3) Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith conducts NFL football mini-camp, Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in Flowery Branch, Ga. AP Photo/David Goldman ….

(4) Tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) of the Atlanta Falcons breaks a tackle during the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America …..

(5) Matt Ryan (2) of the Atlanta Falcons heads off the field after the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Georgia Dome on September 18, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Scott Cunningham / Getty Images North America …

(6) Michael Vick (7) of the Philadelphia Eagles talks with head coach Andy Reid before the start of the Eagles game against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field on January 1, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. …………

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The Reimaging of LeBron James ………

The Reimaging of LeBron James ………..

tophatal ………..

Now don’t get me wrong , I believe that LeBron James , in light of the Miami Heat’s win of the 2012 NBA title , he now has the basketball world at his feet . The player exemplified what is necessary to be seen as a champion by leading the Heat all the way to the “ Promised Land” . And the way that he held the Larry O’Brien Trophy , indicated that the sweet smell of success and the elixir that comes along with it can be intoxicating . Now comes the encore for the nine-year veteran and his teammates , and that is to solidify themselves as a dynasty by winning multiple titles .

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Now for many of us who bore witness to LeBron James’ interview with ESPN journalist Jim Gray . As we can all attest to , the player used that forum to announce that he would be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to ply his trade on South Beach , home to the Miami Heat . That lone interview was ” ridiculed ” as nothing more than a self-serving act of narcissism , and showed that James as a player , lacked a great deal of maturity . The fact that there have been pompous idiots who jumped to the player’s defense by suggesting that his age has been the primary factor in his behavior should be considered asinine .

Since his entry into the NBA in 2003 , where he was drafted as the number one pick overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers . His peers, NBA analysts, and fans alike have lauded LeBron James and that if anything has played into his psyche . To my mind when you have the fact that the player being coddled as a high school “ basketball phenomenon” , with his games being televised nationally . It poses the question , as to what is most definitely wrong with the NBA and Collegiate Basketball . Now even in light , with the NBA hierarchy now working in conjunction with the NCAA and the eligibility status of players seeking to enter the professional ranks . It is still one and done ___– for a number of players at the collegiate level who seek to make the jump to the professional ranks.

James made the leap from St Mary’s High School in Akron , Ohio . Drafted by his hometown franchise , made the player one of the more welcomed athletes in the state . Team owner Dan Gilbert of the Cavaliers saw the value of the organization rise exponentially , almost overnight . The arrival of LeBron James was a boost to the local community and the economy , bringing in tens of millions annually for the franchise . The player’s seven years with the Cavaliers served notice as to how prolific the player would be . However , what held James back was the mere fact that Gilbert and former GM Danny Ferry , who assembled a rather untalented bunch of players to complement the skill-set of James .

In the aftermath of the 2009 season and the player becoming a free agent , it became abundantly clear that it was James’ intent to leave the franchise . Granted, James and the Cavaliers made an appearance in the 2007 NBA Finals , where they met the San Antonio Spurs and were swept in a 4-0 series’ defeat . The ignominy of that defeat did not sit well with the player or then head coach Mike Brown , which in essence created a deepening rift between James and Dan Gilbert . Now we can all bear witness to the events that took place in the aftermath of Lebron James’ formal announcement that he would be leaving the franchise . The repercussions and the animus shown by the fans towards James after the announcement , was somewhat reminiscent of Art Modell fleeing like a thief in the night , with NFL franchise the Cleveland Browns . Both James and Modell are still considered persona-non-grata within the state of Ohio . And though LeBron James still returns to the city where he first made his name for numerous philanthropic efforts that benefits children in the area , it has to be said, that the fans are not all forgiving of what they see was a gross betrayal by the once beloved player .

In his new guise, LeBron James may well have found peace , having won an NBA title as well as the Finals’ MVP in that series’ victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder . As the reigning League MVP , James joins a select band of players to have won the NBA’s highest individual players’ awards in the same season . In a recent interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols which was conducted after the Heat’s victory , LeBron James states that his epiphany this season came after the realization that he no longer saw himself as a villain . That specifically came about from the Miami Heat’s loss the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals . You may think of this as some sort of conspiracy but ESPN appears to be humanizing LeBron James , while looking to soften his image and make him more amenable to the NBA fans . I get the impression that David Stern loves every minute that James is seen front and center there for the fans to see .

LeBron James has become a compelling story in the NBA , and he has his detractors as well as his supporters . The league for its part needs , someone to assume the mantle of Kobe Bryant , who has been the best all-round player amongst his peers for the best part of a decade and a half . The Lakers’ great is now on the downside of an illustrious career and it would appear that the Los Angeles Lakers themselves , are at a crossroads , after a rather disappointing …. season . That however , is another story for some other day as the team’s woes , have been analyzed , chronicled, and discussed passionately over the course of the year. An uncompetitive Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise certainly , is not good for the NBA , and likewise a floundering Boston Celtics’ organization. The NBA’s two most illustrious and successful ball clubs are needed to have an omnipresent fixture in the NBA postseason . The 2012 NBA Finals may well have been amongst the highest-rated Finals’ since 2002 but that much of that was built around the budding rivalry between LeBron James and Kevin Durant . This rivalry as many purists were trying to suggest had to be seen as comparable as to those epic battles between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson at the height of their playing careers. That type of hyperbole is not yet fitting or appropriate based on such a premise . There may well come a point in the future where such an adversarial battle will be seen as being just as thrilling but both Durant and James may well have provided us with something to savor in the future .

With Lebron James’ fame and notoriety has been the fact that he is now amongst the highest paid players in the NBA but among the top earning athletes in North America , and already an already established advertisers’ dream for Fortune 500 Companies . The world has now beckons for James , as he looks to fully survey his kingdom and the subjects therein . Chances are , the player will solidify his legacy and build upon it .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

There are a number of ardent NBA fans who are happy with the landscape of the NBA , with a new order said to reigning over the kingdom and with it comes LeBron James . How he is now perceived by the public will have a lot to do with how the player chooses to carry himself both on and off the court after this triumph . Winning as they say tends to change everything and there are times when it does not . What thoughts if any do you have with regard to LeBron James’ new image ? Do you also feel that he and his teammates will aspire to win multiple titles in the near future ? Your thoughts on the subject matter and anything else you believe to be pertinent by way of a comment is appreciated .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Rachel Nichols of ESPN is seen here interviewing 2012 NBA Finals’ MVP LeBron James in a series of interviews that will be seen on the cable network over the next few days as a further expose` on the player . Just one more for the player to further raise his profile among the NBA fans and major Fortune 500 Companies who will undoubtedly seek out the player as a spokesperson . Courtesy of ABC/ESPN …

(2) Finals MVP LeBron James is seen here in an interview with Rachel Nichols in a series that will be shown by the cable sports outlet provider . @ Copyright material all rights reserved ….

(3) From left to right Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert , the team’s former GM Danny Ferry , head coach , Mike Brown and LeBron James . At the culmination of the 2009-10 season James would announce his departure from the franchise as a free agent to join the Miami Heat . Courtesy of Cleveland Plain Dealer …..

(4) MIAMI, FL – JUNE 17: (L-R) Kevin Durant (35) and (LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat look on in the second half of Game Three of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 17, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images ….

(5) At the culmination of Game 5 seen here are Dwyane Wade (left), LeBron James , center , holding the Finals MVP trophy and far right , Chris Bosh , as the three celebrate the Miami Heat’s triumph over the Oklahoma City Thunder for their second NBA title in six years . AP Photo / Ken Yamashita …..

(6) Miami Heat team President Pat Riley , team head coach , Erik Spoelstra , LeBron James , Dwyane Wade , Chris Bosh and team owner , Micky Arison . The scene at the AA Arena was to publicly introduce Bosh and James to the public prior to the 2010-11 season as members of the Miami Heat . Miami Herald / Jorge Cardosa …

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Hot chic pic of the day Vanessa Beasley .

There Is Always Next Year ….

There Is Always Next Year ….

tophatal ….

The NBA Finals gave us the finality to the postseason and the regular season , with no real surprise at the end of the day . LeBron James led the Miami Heat to their second title in six years , with James being named Finals MVP . Disappointment , may well have been the way game five ended , with Oklahoma City Thunder surrendering a lead , before subsequently bowing their heads in defeat , as the inevitability of their situation became all too much of a reality for Kevin Durant and his teammates .

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Scott Brooks as the losing coach can take solace in knowing that his team gave a gallant effort , albeit that in the game that sealed the Thunder’s fate we saw the coach’s players , simply over-matched . For the Western Conference franchise , this has been a team built through the NBA Draft under the auspices of Brooks and GM Sam Presti . The future remains very bright for this organization which has been very judicious in their business activities assembling players of character to represent the franchise . Team owner Clay Bennett and his partners are fully aware what this basketball franchise means to the community , especially the residents of Oklahoma City. A professional sport’s franchise finally came to the city , which was need of some vibrancy and excitement . The fans have relished the addition to their community , making the franchise one of the most eagerly supported teams in the NBA . The fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder can hold their heads high , even after the ignominy of defeat . Is there a lesson to be learned for the young players on the roster ? From this series’ loss, I genuinely believe that for the upcoming 2012 -13 seasons , we will see a much more resilient organization and a group of players who will acquit themselves well ! There is the common belief around the NBA fraternity that not only this franchise on the rise but there will be an NBA title in their immediate future.

Congratulations, to the players of the Miami Heat , and their thoroughly deserved series’ victory ! Along with this adulation comes the expectations and next , as to whether or not the team can make a successful defense of their title . There is no denying that Heat’s fans having waited long and hard for this victory would like to see the team’s venerable trio of LeBron James , Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh brings this franchise considerably more success in their immediate future . Pat Riley and Micky Arison have the intent not only make that possible of bring multiple title to the city of Miami but the duo are also looking to make this franchise one of the most profitable and valuable teams in the NBA . The addition of LeBron James has reaped dividends for organization and it is clear with that exposure , and the recent success , added business opportunities will come their way. Pat Riley , may well have been viewed as Machiavelli but at this juncture , I am pretty sure that Miami City Mayor Tomas Regalado will be giving the keys the to the city , to not only the team president but also the entire membership of this organization .

If ever there has been a hire in the game of baseball that on appearance you knew was a monumental mistake from the moment formal announcement was made . Then the Boston Red Sox’s hiring Bobby Valentine has to be one of the biggest personnel mistakes made by the front office . GM Ben Cherington and team President Larry Lucchino must now realize that this team is not only self-imploding but there is no apparent leadership forthcoming from any of the veterans of the team’s roster . Now with tirade coming from the Red Sox’s DH …. David Ortiz , you simply have to wonder whether or were seeing the events of last September repeat itself once again . During the final month of the 2011 regular season the team went 7-21 , missing the wildcard berth and the chance to be a part of the postseason . In the aftermath of that mess the departures of Terry Francona and Theo Epstein , essentially led to a great deal of blood-letting with a number of players being jettisoned .

The Boston Red Sox got off to a horrendous start to the season from which they have yet to recover . The team’s pitching has been abysmal in a series of games where the ineptitude exhibited has been beyond belief . The team’s offensive capabilities at best have been sporadic and unconvincing . Bobby Valentine and his coaching staff , have simply been unable to get a cohesive response from the players . The post-game interviews offered up by the beleaguered manager have been nondescript and filled with a great deal of banality . Should the season become more deplorable for the organization , then there is every reason to believe that the front office will consider making some major upheavals on the roster , while seeking to gauge the players from their minor league affiliates to see if they can make a greater contribution to the team . Whether or not calling up players such as Bryce Brentz , Ryan Lvarnway , Xander Bogaerts and Brandon Jacobs would be of benefit to the organization has to be based upon a great deal of conjecture and speculation .

From my own perspective , I believe that the Red Sox’s issues stem from the very fact their intent has been to spend capriciously on talent without truly assessing the team’s needs . Granted , with the use of NESN as an immeasurable tax write-off . However , that cannot explain how situations arise wherein the front office have enormous commitments to the likes of <a href John Lackey , Josh Beckett , Carl Crawford and Marlon Byrd . Players who have essentially failed to show their true worth to the team this season , even in the advent of a number the players in repeatedly being on the disabled list (DL) for one reason or another .

The Red Sox as they seek to close out the month of June , they will have to face the Atlanta Braves , in the second of a three-game series , being be played at Fenway Park , in Boston , Massachusetts . On the mound tonight for the Red Sox will be Franklin Morales (0-1, 3.14 ERA) against Randall Delgado (4-7, 4.12 ERA) . The two pitchers will seek get their respective teams back on track , while improving their own status within the respective leagues . Should the Boston Red Sox fail to make the postseason I do believe that there will be some major upheavals not just within the player personnel but also amongst the coaching staff and with the possibility of Bobby Valentine losing his managerial position .

If the Red Sox are said to be having major problems then what must we make of the current situation now engulfing the Philadelphia Phillies ? Such has been the inconsistency of this team that by season’s end there is the belief that Charlie Manuel and GM Reuben Amaro Jr are likely to be relieved of their duties by the ownership group led by David Montgomery . As of yet , there does not seem to be a great deal of discord between the players management and the front office executives . Now one has to question do the apparent direction that the team now seems to be heading in and what has to counteract the imbalance .

This team with a litany of All Stars in a number of positions , especially amongst the pitching roster . But therein lies the caveat to this all , as Cliff Lee(0-3, 3.48 ERA[GS 14]) , Cole Hamels , Roy Halladay , Joe Blanton and the bullpen have combined to give the Phillies a team ERA of 4.00 , which is amongst the worst in the Majors (MLB) . If that wasn’t enough the team’s offense hasn’t been better as there too they have struggled . Injuries asides , Charlie Manuel’s managerial acumen will be severely tested in the coming months . Hard to believe at almost the midway point of the season the Phillies at 38-33 sits at the bottom of the NL East , looking up at the Miami Marlins (33-37) , Atlanta Braves (38-32) , New York Mets (39-32) and the division leading Washington Nationals (40-28) .

The month of July will prove to be an extreme test of the Phillies but they still have to close out their schedule this month , with a series of games that will pit them against the Tampa Bay Rays , Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins . The results attained could very well determine how this organization deals with their adversity as they move forward . As we know , just about anything can happen during a short period but I do believe that time is rapidly running out for this organization to turn things around . Granted , the Phillies in recent years have had a considerable amount of success , most notably with their World Series triumph in 2008 , over the Tampa Bay Rays . World Series MVP Cole Hamels had an outstanding series not only in the baseball’s showcase event but also throughout much of the postseason of that year . As passionate and rabid as the Philadelphia Phillies’ fans are said to be their only intent has been to see their teams be triumphant . Winning is just about everything for those vociferous supporters . Losing on the other hand , and the players , coaching staff and the owner will must vilified , as the fans “call for blood” . Would you care to offer an opinion as to how you envisage seeing things ending up for the Phillies this season ?

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Picture gallery .

Do you believe that the Miami Heat is now geared towards making a successful defense of their NBA title ? And are you also of the opinion that the team is capable of winning multiple titles with their current “Big Three” of Chris Bosh , Dwyane Wade and LeBron James ? The ill fortune that seems to have befallen the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies , is there a possibility that either baseball team will be capable of turning their seasons around ? Take time to leave a comment on the points raised within this piece .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, left, and head coach Scott Brooks, right, wave to fans as they arrive at a rally for the NBA basketball team in Oklahoma City, Friday, June 22, 2012. Even after losing in the NBA Finals, the Thunder returned home to a heroes’ welcome. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki …

(2) Miami Heat small forward LeBron James celebrates with the most valuable player trophy after Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Friday, June 22, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

(3) Atlanta Braves’ David Ross , right, looks to the field as Boston Red Sox’s Will Middlebrooks , center, celebrates his solo home run with Cody Ross (7) in the third inning of a baseball game in Boston, Saturday, June 23, 2012. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer …

(4) BOSTON, MA – JUNE 23: Chipper Jones (10) of the Atlanta Braves watches as Will Middlebrooks (64) of the Boston Red Sox rounds the bases after his home run during the third inning of the interleague game at Fenway Park on June 23, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images …

(5) BOSTON, MA – JUNE 23: Michael Bourn (24) of the Atlanta Braves slides safely into first base beating Adrian Gonzalez (28) of the Boston Red Sox to the bag as Franklin Morales (46) of the Boston Red Sox looks on during the third inning of the inter-league game at Fenway Park on June 23, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images …

(6) ) (L-R) President and CEO of the Red Sox Larry Lucchino , Executive Vice President and General manager Ben Cherington , Bobby Valentine and Principal Owner John Henry attend a press conference announcing Valentine as the new manager of the Boston Red Sox during a press conference at Fenway Park on December 1, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Getty Images North America / Elsa Martinez …

(7) Tampa Bay Rays’ Jose Lobaton (21) scores as Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz looks for the ball in the second inning of an inter-league baseball game Saturday, June 23, 2012, in Philadelphia. Lobaton scored from first on a two-RBI double by Jeff Keppinger . AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr …..

(8) NEW YORK, NY – MAY 30: Cliff Lee (33) of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on after giving up a two run home run to Lucas Duda (21) of the New York Mets during their game on May 30, 2012 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

(9) GM Reuben Amaro is seen here alongside Charlie Manuel after the Philadelphia Phillies’ World Series’ triumph in 2008 . However, 2012 has brought along nothing but misery for the team as labor under a 38-32 record which has the ball club rooted at the bottom of the NL East . Amaro has made it clear that if the team is not in contention for the division or playoff by late July , then there will be moves made as part of a cost-cutting exercise to pare down salary . AP Photo / Paul Mason …

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MLB results 23rd June 2012

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2012 NBA Finals

Issues , Issues , Issues ……. Oh No ….

Issues , Issues , Issues , Oh No …

By tophatal

Difficult as it may now seem when a player under-achieves after one or two outstanding seasons . Questions questions arise as to how or why things go wrong . Two-time NL CY Young winner Tim Lincecum has been struggling this season , and this has become a worrisome problem for the San Francisco Giants and the managerial staff of Bruce Bochy . ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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Lincecum’s statistics (2-8, 6.19 ERA, 83 K’s, 41BB’s) reads like a horror story and it easy to understand why . The pitcher’s confidence may well at an all-time low or his mechanics are not completely in n sync . Those issues can be tweaked but at what cost to the Tim Lincecum overall and his future performances ? Matt Cain after his recent ‘ no hitter’ may well be viewed as the ace on the team’s roster . Cain has benefited greatly from his teammate’s presence with the Giants , and that was clear for everyone to see when the ball-club claimed their most recent World Series in 2010 and their 4-1 series’ triumph over the Texas Rangers .

This season within the NL West the Giants have seen the Los Angeles Dodgers race out of the starting gates and surge to a lead within the division . And for the San Francisco Giants as the month of June comes to a close , it will be interesting to see how the team acquits itself . Bruce Bochy’s players in their next game are the guests of the Oakland A’s at the O Coliseum in Oakland , California . On the mound as the opposing pitchers will be Tim Lincecum of the Giants facing Jarrod Parker (3-3, 2.82 ERA) of the A’s.

At 38-32 the San Francisco Giants find themselves four games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL West . A defeat of the Oakland A’s would certainly bode well for the Giants and certainly closing out the series of interleague games against the A’s places the team in an enviable position . Don Mattingly and the Dodgers have their issues at present , with a team that has been losers of their last three games , and winners of only four of their last 10 . Mattingly also has to contend with the fact that he has several key players on the DL , most notably the team’s best player Matt Kemp . A fit and productive Kemp , assists the Dodgers a great deal as they look to open a new chapter in their illustrious history , having been acquired in a multi-billion deal . The new ownership group led by Mark Walter and Magic Johnson , seeks to make the franchise relevant once again .

For the San Francisco Giants we will now get to see what this team is actually made of as the first half of the season plays lf itself out for their fans . With the All Star Game scheduled to take place in the month of July with the festivities being staged at Kauffman Stadium , home to the Kansas City Royals , Kansas City , Missouri ,. It should prove to be interesting to see whether or not the Giants can play themselves into contention during the second half of the season . A great deal will be dependent on the team’s pitching as well as their offense but the greatest scrutiny will be placed upon Tim Lincecum and whether or not he can regain the form that made him a back-to-back Cy Young winner in 2008 and 2009 . Lincecum , along with Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong form a formidable trio starting pitchers for the Giants . Melky Cabrera , Buster Posey , Angel Pagan , Pablo Sandoval and Ryan Theriot have played their part this season , with the feeling that if the pitching isn’t able to provide a boost for the fans then most certainly the offense might be able to do so .

There is no denying that we have seen a number of outstanding pitching performances this season , with a perfect game and a number of no-hitters to wet the fans’ appetites . And while New York Mets’ pitcher R A Dickey ( 11-1, 2.00 ERA, 103 K’s, 3 CG & 14 GS ) has been sensational . It has to be said that the remainder of the season could prove to be just as intriguing if the pitchers of AL and NL are able to keep up the a momentum while trying to silence the bats of some of the most prolific hitters in the game from the respective leagues ( AL & NL ) . The game of baseball needs as much excitement as can be achieved without the ongoing controversy that simply engulfs the sport at present . Bud Selig appears to be bereft of intelligence with regard to so many issues as it relates to the game . While commanding a staggering $24 million in salary a year , there are so many teams struggling to remain viable , albeit that their values have escalated in recent years . Moreover , that has to be pleasing to the team owners and MLB hierarchy , alike . However , it does not address the graver issues that the “small market teams “ have , in terms of trying to compete with the likes of New York Yankees , Boston Red Sox , Philadelphia Phillies , Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels in terms of team payrolls . In addition, for the commissioner who appears to so oblivious , as to the acute needs of so many teams within the game , he plays lip service , in order to create an environment of peaceful accord . Nothing could be further from the truth because as of late we have seen the idiocy whereby Bud Selig chooses to obfuscate his responsibilities , while also choosing to ignore the rule of law because a verdict is not to his liking (Braun’s 50 game suspension being overturned). ====================================================================================================================================

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Do you believe that Tim Linceum will be able to regain the form that made him a repeat winner of the Cy Young Award in 2008 and 2009 ? Which of the leagues do you believe will be favored for the upcoming All Star Game ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit . 😛

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(1) San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum throws against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of an inter-league baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. AP Photo/Eric Risberg …

(2) OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 22: Manager Bob Melvin (6) of the Oakland Athletics takes the ball from Jerry Blevins (13 ) taking him out of the game as catcher Kurt Suzuki (8) looks on in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants at O.co Coliseum on June 22, 2012 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

(3) OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 22: Gregor Blanco (7) of the San Francisco Giants gets caught in a run-down between second and third chased by Cliff Pennington (2) of the Oakland Athletics in the six inning at O.co Coliseum on June 22, 2012 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ….

(4) OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 22: Manager Bruce Bochy (15) of the San Francisco Giants looks on from the dugout in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on June 22, 2012 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ….

(5) Manager Bruce Bochy (15) of the San Francisco Giants argues a call at home plate with umpire Larry Vanover (27) in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on June 22, 2012 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …..

(6) Tim Lincecum (55) of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on June 22, 2012 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …. =========================================== ===================================================================================

MLB news

MLB results 22nd June 2012

MLB schedule 23rd June 2012

M LB probable starting pitchers 23rd June 2012

MLB standings

MLB overall team statistics

MLB daily leaders pitching

MLB daily leaders batting 😛

San Francisco Giants news

NL West

San Francisco Giants’ front office

San Francisco Giants roster (depth chart)

San Francisco Giants coaching staff

San Francisco Giants team stats overall

San Francisco Giants’ team payroll 2012

San Francisco Giants 2012 scoring summary

San Francisco Giants (38-32) results & batting splits

San Francisco Giants overview of team pitching

All Hail The King ……… Long Live The King …

All Hail The King ……… Long Live The King ….

By tophatal ……….

Well, with an emphatic victory in game five , of the 2012 NBA Finals , the Miami Heat were able to secure their second NBA title in six years . The team’s defeat of the Oklahoma City Thunder was as clinical, a display by the players , as they have exhibited over the course of this season. For Pat Riley and team owner Micky Arison this has to be seen as vindication for the maneuver engineered prior to the 2010-11 season , that brought LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami , to further their respective careers .

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Slide show for your perusal .

After a series of exhilarating displays in each of the five games of the Finals , there was no doubt that LeBron James would be deemed the winner of the NBA Finals’ MVP award . In doing so , the player joined a select band of players to have won both the regular season MVP as well as the Finals’ MVP award in the same season . Add to that crowning achievement was the very fact that the All Star guard may well have now solidified his position as the best player in the NBA by an increasingly wide margin . The Finals in some circles , were anointed as a “budding rivalry “ between LeBron James and Kevin Durant as being on par with that of those epic battles in the NBA between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson , at the height of the duo’s of Hall of Fame careers with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers . From my own standpoint , I feel it , far too early to categorize this new rivalry as being on par with that of their renowned predecessors !

Granted , James is now nine years into a career, which has seen him reach unprecedented levels within the game . Durant for his part , at the tender age of 22, has already been a three-time league-scoring champion and will undoubtedly win a great deal more scoring titles over the course of his own indomitable career. It seems fitting that the NBA now has these two great players as well as a litany of other stars to grace the game . There might be no one dominant team that harkens back to the Chicago Bulls and the Jordan years , or for that matter the years when the Lakers and Celtics reigned as they sought supremacy within the league . Are we now back at a point where as such we can relive those moments but now in the guise of the Heat and Thunder ? Well , it remains to be seen , and it will be intriguing to see how both of these teams acquit themselves in the immediate and long-term future.

In the world of sports it tends to be about the immediacy of “here and now “ : rather than what can be achieved over a period of time . Is it really that the fans desire their teams to win now , and not think about the future , and a body of work , upon which the teams and players ought to be judged ? Care to add your thoughts to that premise ?

Now for the Miami Heat’s young coach Erik Spoelstra , this has to be the most gratifying moment of his young coaching career . There were many who felt in the aftermath of last season’s Finals and the franchise’s failure in defeating the Dallas Mavericks . A great deal of speculation had arisen , as to whether or not he should be replaced with a more experienced and high-profiled head coach . GM & team President Pat Riley had implicit faith in his young protégé and that faith has reaped dividends with LeBron James , Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh buying into Spoelstra’s game plan over the course of the season . In addition, with Erik Spoelstra now having recorded his first NBA title as a head coach , there can be no doubt that he would like to add to that tally . The team’s trio of All Stars , Bosh , James and Wade , in terms of their own legacies would also like to add to this initial feat as a unit . The first title of any sort is said to be the hardest to obtain but thereafter , things are mean t to be a great deal easier . Well the Miami Heat have just got underway as they seek to add multiple titles to their agenda and that of the franchise’s history . Most certainly , the Heat’s trios of players have a long way to go before they can be mentioned in the same breath as Bird , McHale and Parish . Or for that matter , where they can be even thought of as being as great as the “Showtime Lakers “ where Magic , Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy held sway over the entire league . That is obviously the dominance that is now sought by the Heat’s current crop of bona-fide stars . Whether or not they can achieve that status will be questioned when one bears in mind the stages at where LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade’s careers is said to be at . At best , the trio collectively may well have only another five or six years together to meet their goals of winning multiple titles . And by multiple titles based upon James’ preemptive statements that would be to reel off at least four in that timeframe . .

Numerous questions have arisen as to the reasons why the Oklahoma City Thunder came up so distantly short in this series . Kevin Durant , Russell Westbrook and James Harden , it was felt , as a trio they would be able to compete against their opponents in the Finals . Young at their core , Scott Brooks’ players tried their utmost to make the NBA Finals a truly competitive matchup , and in part they were able to achieve that . It his however , in stark contrast to what we witnessed from the Thunder as they completely corralled and clinically dispatched the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals . However , the real issue with Durant and his teammates was the very fact that they simply could not retain a lead long enough , in order to distant themselves from the Miami Heat , in any of the game five games played , with the exception of the team’s game one victory . If there was said to be a flaw to the Thunder then that would certainly have to be it and the repeated chances that they let slip from within their grasp. This may well be all too painful a lesson to learn but it will undoubtedly serve this franchise well in the future . Through adversity comes determination and strength , and those are the traits that will make the team a formidable presence not just within the Western Conference but throughout the entire NBA .

The future for the Thunder appear s to be plentiful for the organization and the very fact that they have to be seen as by far the best team within their conference . Kobe Bryant is now in the declining years of a wonderful career with the Los Angeles Lakers and there seems to be no willing successor on the current roster wanting to take over the leadership responsibilities for that team. At the same time , I for one , believe that with head coach Mike Brown has the unenviable task of having to succeed his predecessor and the franchise’s most successful head coach , Phil Jackson , That is a truly daunting task in of-itself , to say the very least .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

With the NBA postseason having reached a successful and thrilling culmination it will be interesting to see how the off-season now plays itself out . All that now awaits the most ardent NBA fans is that of the upcoming NBA Draft and the decisions that will be made by the head coaches , front office executives and team owners . What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the NBA postseason and where would you rank the performances of the LeBron James during the NBA Finals ? Do take time to leave a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra celebrates after Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee …

(2) The Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh celebrates in the locker room after Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Friday, June 22, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee ….

(3) The Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade holds the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy and LeBron James holds his most valuable player trophy after Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Friday, June 22, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …

(4) Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) and Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) pause between plays during the first half at Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …..

(5) Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) and shooting guard Dwyane Wade react in the final moments during the second half at Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ….

(6) Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Derek Fisher (37) talks to small forward Kevin Durant (35) between plays against the Miami Heat during the second half at Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ….

(7) Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) and shooting guard Dwyane Wade react in the final moments during the second half at Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …..

(8) Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) shoots over Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha (2) of Switzerland during the first half at Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee ….

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NBA news

NBA Finals (2012)

Game 5 play-by-play details

Boxscore details for game 5

NBA Draft 2012

2012 NBA Draft order

NBA Finals’ MVP

NBA League MVP

NBA Finals records & statistics

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Wyclef Jean ….. feat’g Claudette Ortiz …………. “Two Wrongs ” …Big ups to my Haitian massive ! Ca qua fait ?

What In The Wide World of Sports ……… ?

What In The Wide World of Sports ………..

By tophatal

It would appear that sports could not confine itself to being competitive in nature without being embroiled in one form of controversy or another . After the idiocy that took place recently in the WBC welterweight title bout between Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao . We now have Arizona State senator John McCain (R-AZ) , weighing in on the matter , calling for a congressional hearing on the state of boxing . To my mind that is almost as asinine as the recent hearings , which were held up on Capitol Hill , in Washington DC , with the appearance of JP Morgan Chase senior executive , Chairman & CEO Jamie Dimon to answer questions as why it was a unit of the major final concern had lost $2 billion ($2,000,000,000) . A conservative estimate by most , , because there is the believe that the amount to be considerably more , a great deal more , as a matter of fact .

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Slide show gallery for your perusal .

Now while the members of the House Banking & Finance Committee fawned over the executive , Dimon for his part feigned his concerns as to the intent of the members in question. It is not as if any of the empaneled committee members have an acute understanding of the global financial markets , much less the use of the various derivatives used within the sector. Somehow , they posed questions to Jamie Dimon seeking answers as to why one unit of this vast financial concern could lose the aforementioned sum in question , while and his fellow executives failed to notify shareholders of the incident and the underlying issues at hand . Dimon was quick to point out that he was not made aware of the mounting losses that escalated in the final quarter of 2011. It has been this sort of gross misconduct within the financial sector, that goes on unimpeded and with their being little oversight coming from either the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission ) , Treasury Department or the Federal Reserve . We were told that there is enough oversight in place to monitor to actions of the banking industry . Consider however , it was this very same sector , that brought the nation to its very knees and sent the international global financial industry into a tailspin. Since then , absolutely nothing has been truly forthcoming from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke or Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner , by way of any meaningful oversight by their respective agencies .

John McCain is simply naïve , if he feels that a Senate hearing will or would be enough to bring about changes across the landscape of boxing . As it is when it comes to meaningful pieces of legislation brought about by the senator , he has been found wanting , to say the very least . Boxing has always been a corrupt sport and it has not helped that the two most powerful individuals across its panacea have failed to be proactive in actually trying to preside the very sport they promote . Promoters , Bob Arum and Don King , alike , can be best described as chameleons , that will take whatever shape or view possible , just as long as they can make a quick buck . As to the apathy of the fans questioning the result of the bout between Bradley and Pacquiao. All you need to know about that verdict , can be tied up in the following …………….. Arum’s company Top Rank Inc promoted the fight , the Nevada State Athletic Commission licensed the three judges who presided over the bout and rendered the verdict , albeit that one judge , whose experience was limited at best . But yet , he had the approval of not only the state athletic commission but also that of Bob Arum . So for the uninformed out there forming an opinion on the matter , simply get a god damn clue and stop being an ass !

A Senate hearing of any type covering the world of sports has never brought any meaningful legislation . Merely look at the antitrust exemption legislation that covers the four professional major sports ? Never mind the farce that has been enacted at the collegiate level , that sets up the NCAA as nothing more than a commercial enterprise but whose status is that of a non-profit charitable organization . And an ass such as John McCain believes that he and the members of a senate committee can bring about some semblance of change. Is it not bad enough that McCain has flip-flopped on a number of issues , and is simply clueless when it comes to matters of the US economy and foreign policy .

If the sport of boxing is or wants to be taken seriously then the four major prominent international bodies will have to get together and act as one unified voice and not currently as they do , as four self-serving entities with their own interests at heart. This is what besets the state of boxing with the WBA , WBC , IBF and WBO . Separate bodies , with their own set of rules , and who are simply so corrupt , that they are open to the highest bidder . Funny, everyone wants something but here within this particular environment no one simply has a god-damn clue as to how best to seek some sort of meaningful accord . And McCain , like many of his peers within the legislative chamber in which he serves is simply paying this issue “lip service” rather than going about and getting this country back on track . 535 members collectively, within the House of Representatives and Senate , and not one of them has any fu#king clue , as to how best to steer the country in some meaningful direction .

Alas, baseball as of late has seen its highs and lows , on and off the field of play. Away from the diamond , came the verdict that saw the acquittal of Roger Clemens , by twelve of his peers in a US Federal Court . And once again the prosecution , in this case the inept US Justice Department and their attorneys were left with “egg on their faces” and several million dollars spent on a case that really had no merit . If that is not bad enough , Attorney Eric Holder as the nation’s most senior law enforcement official is now embroiled in an unsavory matter , that not only questions his conduct but also his character in terms of his honesty . Anyone who has been keenly following the implementation of the “ Fast & Furious Program “ , wherein the Holder’s agency presided over the tracking of gun-running , specifically firearms legal and illegal that were sent down to Mexico and into the hands of the violent drug cartels , south of the border . Countless , lives have been lost on both sides of the US/Mexican border and specifically that of US Border Patrol guard .

Holder’s stance , has been that he was not fully made aware as the depth of this covert operation and the very fact of its magnitude . It has now led to a contempt of Congress vote” in the House because of the US Attorney General’s unwillingness to turn over information to the Congress. With President Barack Obama now stepping in to aid the head of that agency , by citing “executive privilege” , it begs the question how much more will the nation have to put up with , to realize that its’ government is not only broken but also lacking in integrity and leadership ?

I have always felt the AL East to be one of the most competitive divisions in all of baseball . The Baltimore Orioles this season held sway atop of the division in part , so too have the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays . With the recent spate of interleague games that took place between the members of the AL and NL , it was interesting to see how those teams fared .

Joe Maddon and the Rays in recent games have not fared that well against their NL opponents . That was there for all to see in the series that pitted this Tampa Bay Rays’ team against the division leading Washington Nationals of the NL East . For the opposing managers Joe Maddon and Davey Johnson , things seem to be spiraling out of control in terms of their conduct towards each other . In a recent game their respective teams , an assistant of Johnson pointed to the fact that Rays’ reliever Joel Peralta was using an illicit substance while pitching against the Nationals . The umpires intervened and carried out an inspection of Peralta’s mitt and hands . Pine tar was found on his hands and on the mitt , which led to his ejection from the game . Maddon , for his part weighed on the ejection by stating that he felt that the coaching staff of the Nationals being classless and that Davey Johnson was nothing more than a coward . Don’t get me wrong I do not condone the actions of Peralta but I do feel Joe Maddon has proven himself to be a complete idiot with his behavior here and then not condemning the actions of Peralta !

Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times

Managers Joe Maddon and Davey Johnson continue sniping as Joel Peralta awaits his penalty

By Marc Topkin , Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The eye black and gladiators T-shirt Joel Peralta wore around the Rays clubhouse Wednesday may have been a statement, along with the impressive eighth-inning performance. But otherwise the veteran reliever awaited his pending suspension in media silence, declining to say any more about being ejected from Tuesday’s game when umpires found pine tar in his glove after the Nationals asked for a check.

But Rays manager Joe Maddon and Nationals counterpart Davey Johnson filled the void, and the notebooks, exchanging a series of shots in separate media sessions before the teams met again on the field.

A sampling:

Johnson called Maddon “a weird wuss,” referred to him as “the guru over there,” poked fun by pointing out he also had a doctorate degree and said Maddon needs to “read the rule book.”

Maddon termed Johnson’s Tuesday tactics “underhanded” and possibly “a form of cheating,” said free-agent players may “think twice” about coming to Washington given how the staff was willing to “rat on” a former teammate and continued to strongly suggest (though without proof) that current Nationals were unhappy with what happened.

Peralta, using teammate Jeremy Hellickson’s glove, pitched Wednesday without incident, fans booing and a few chanting “Cheat-er.”

The next official action could occur today, as Major League Baseball officials will complete their evaluation of Peralta’s glove, which was confiscated during the game and shipped to New York on Wednesday, and announce discipline.

The rules mandate a suspension, and while 10 games is an established precedent as well as the minor-league standard, Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said there can be some flexibility. “I don’t think it’s that cut and dry,” he said. “Personally, I think it will be less than that, but I don’t really know. It’s in their hands.”

Johnson said he thought an ejection was enough of a punishment and that a 10-game suspension was “way too severe.”

Whatever the term, the Rays will be shorthanded, forced to play with a 24-man roster. To adjust for Peralta’s absence, they are planning to send down a position player (likely outfielder Rich Thompson) and bring up another reliever.

Furthering their woes, they are prohibited by rule from bringing back their best candidate, Brandon Gomes, who (barring an injury situation) is required to spend 10 days in the minors since last being sent down, on Monday. The leading candidates are right-handers Dane De La Rosa and Josh Lueke.

“It’s going to have a great impact on us,” Maddon said. “But even beyond that, I’m more concerned about (Peralta) personally, and the impact it may have on him.”

Several Rays said they were concerned that Peralta would be — unfairly — labeled. “He looks like a cheater,” reliever J.P. Howell said. “He looks like a jerk. And he’s not. He’s not at all. And that’s just too bad.”

They also echoed Maddon’s comments, as did some others around baseball, that use of pine tar by pitchers was widespread, and not too much advantage as it primarily served to help them hold the ball, not throw it with more movement.

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The reliever as I stated was ejected from the game played , which resulted in a 5-4 victory for the Tampa Bay Rays. Maddon’s team tonight , plays the deciding rubber of game of what has turned out to be a highly animated three-game series . And I am thoroughly convinced that the fans in attendance at Nationals Ballpark , Washington The , DC , will no doubt let their thoughts be known as it relates to the Rays’ manager . On the mound as the opposing pitchers will be Matt Moore (4-5, 4.16 ERA) of the Rays and Gio Gonzalez (8-3, 2.52 ERA) of the Nationals . These two young pitchers have been very good over the course of the season for their respective teams , albeit that in part the statistics may not bear this out . It has been a lack of consistent and timely hitting , and inconsistent pitching that has placed the Rays in their present predicament . And if the team is to gain any traction while looking to erase some of the lead that the New York Yankees have built up , as they sit atop of the AL East . Then now would be the time for the ball-club to get back on track with a number of game and series’ wins .

At the culmination of tonight’s game the Rays’ task will not get any more enviable , as they face the Philadelphia Phillies in a three-game series at Citizens Bank Ballpark , in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania . . Over these three games , it will be incumbent upon James Shields , Alex Cobb and David Price to get the club off to a very start in the hope that the offense and defense can provide the team with the added boost needed . From thereon in , one can only surmise that they will be able to play themselves back into contention , while defeating a Phillies’ team that appears to be having something of a down year on all fronts .

At this juncture , I would certainly like to think that the Rays are still in with chance of the wildcard berth within the division , if not the AL East , itself . But so much has been left to chance with the team and the mere fact that Joe Maddon’s psyche now seems to be under stress , he and the players appear to be falling apart at the seams . This roster was built this season with a view to winning the World Series . GM Andrew Friedman is seeking to be as economical in paring down the payroll . While keeping the salaries to a manageable size within the front office’s budgetary parameters. As we know each year , it has been an ongoing problem for the Tampa Bay Rays to remain competitive from an economic standpoint , and this season has been no different.

While we can lament the woes of the organization it must be said Bud Selig and the MLB hierarchy has been less than compassionate in terms of the Rays’ needs and their ultimate goal of acquiring a new venue . It no longer seems worthwhile chronicling the disparaging remarks that Bud Selig has made about not only the Rays’ ownership group , the county governments of Hillsborough and Pinellas County . Suffice to say , the commissioner has proven to be one of the biggest assholes to come down the pike and become the highest-ranking executive in baseball. Do we really need this moron in office for two more fu#king years , while the game slides further into an abyss ? Your thoughts , on the matter ?

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From my own standpoint , I find it idiotic that the government takes time to intervene on matters concerning the sports’ landscape but yet the 535 federal legislators cannot enact a meaningful piece of legislation . Can we anoint this present administration as being inept and completely bereft of intelligence and common sense ! If these morons cannot steer this country along the path of greatness , then what would make an ass-wipe like John McCain believe that he holds the moral high ground with regard to turning around the state of boxing ? Joe Maddon for his part should consider getting the Rays back on track rather than looking like a complete ass ! What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this article ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley are seen here fighting at the MGM Grand Casino & Resort Complex in Las Vegas , Nevada, The fight for the WBC welterweight title ended in a controversial split decision , with Bradley taking the belt from Manny Pacquiao, who would suffer his fist loss in seven years . AP Photo Grant Chisholm …

(2) Sen John McCain (R-Az,.) is seen here alongside Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich) , the ranking Democrat on the Senate Arms Services & Intelligence Committee , of which McCain is also a member . The Arizona senator would like to convene a congressional hearing to investigate the state of boxing , in light the recent Timothy Bradley Manny Pacquiao welterweight title fight that ended with a controversial split-decision verdict that went to the challenger , Bradley. Getty Images North America / Ken Phillips ….

(3) Promoters Bob Arum (L) and Don King (R) shake hands prior to the weigh in for the Miguel Cotto vs Ricardo Mayorga WBA Super Welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 11 , 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Al Bello / Getty Images North America …

(4) JP Morgan Chase & Co Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill June 19, 2012 in Washington, DC. After testifying before the Senate last week, Dimon answered questions from the committee about his company’s $2 billion trading loss earlier this year. Getty Images North America / Chip Smodevilla

(5) Umpire Chris Guccione leaves with the glove of Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Joel Peralta during the eighth inning of the Rays’ baseball game against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in Washington. Peralta was ejected in the eighth inning for having a foreign substance on his glove. AP Photo/Alex Brandon ….

(6) Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, right, talks with the umpires after relief pitcher Joel Peralta was ejected after umpires found a foreign substance on his glove, during the eighth inning of the Rays’ baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in Washington. The Rays won 5-4 . AP Photo/Alex Brandon …

(7) WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 19: Home plate umpire Tim Tschida talks with Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon (70) about the glove of Joel Peralta (62) during the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 19, 2012 in Washington, DC. A foreign substance was found on the glove which led to Peralta being ejected from the game. Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images ….
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Tophatal's Blog

By tophatal …… . 06/20/2012 12:33 AM (EST)

As I watch the NBA Finals (2012) unfold I am not so sure now what to take out of the events I have witnessed . Are the Miami Heat that good ? Alternatively, is it simply that the Oklahoma City Thunder were that bad and overmatched ? Based upon the evidence provided in last night’s game , it now looks as if it is a mixture of both , as Scott Brooks …. team has no answer for the prowess shown by LeBron James .

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Slide show for your perusal .

Russell Westbrook for his part , tried in vain to assist in the best way that he could by scoring a postseason career career-high 43 points , 5 assists and 7 rebounds . A solid but not overpowering 28 points from Kevin Durant , simply was not enough to…

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The Wheels On The Bus Go Round & amp; Round , Round & Round ….

The Wheels On The Bus Go Round & Round ______________ Round & Round ….

By tophatal …… . 06/20/2012 12:33 AM (EST)

As I watch the NBA Finals (2012) unfold I am not so sure now what to take out of the events I have witnessed . Are the Miami Heat that good ? Alternatively, is it simply that the Oklahoma City Thunder were that bad and overmatched ? Based upon the evidence provided in last night’s game , it now looks as if it is a mixture of both , as Scott Brooks …. team has no answer for the prowess shown by LeBron James .

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Russell Westbrook for his part , tried in vain to assist in the best way that he could by scoring a postseason career career-high 43 points , 5 assists and 7 rebounds . A solid but not overpowering 28 points from Kevin Durant , simply was not enough to provide the Thunder with the momentum they sought to square this series and tie it , at two games apiece (2-2) . Durant and Westbrook , were the only Oklahoma City Thunder players to get into double-figures in terms of scoring . That may well have been indicative of what went wrong for this team last night and over the course of this series . It seems somewhat strange , when one considers the Western Conference Finals and the players’ efforts against the San Antonio Spurs and their 4-2 series’ victory of that renowned franchise .

The issues now facing the Thunder , as they face elimination , and the loss of the series , steering in the face , a 3-1 deficit . It is that history is completely against them . as no team has ever been able to overcome a 3-1 disadvantage in the NBA Finals , ever since the game adopted a the two , three , two playoff format for the Finals . Given the intent of Heat head coach, Erik Spoelstra and his team to make quick work of their Western Conference opponents . Scott Brooks , head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder now faces a real dilemma . Does he now , go for an all-out attack while seeking to cut the series’ deficit his team faces ? Or does he sit back and play a game of cat-and-mouse with the Heat , while looking to take advantage by any possible complacency shown by his opponent ? I am now , firmly of the belief , that upon the resumption of the series , game five will prove to be the “anointing “ of the Miami Heat , as franchise wins their second title in six years , after their triumph over the Dallas Mavericks in 2006 .

LeBron James for his part , will join a select group of players to have won both the regular season MVP award , as well as the Finals MVP in the same season . Vindication for James and now perhaps for the player , his own redemption after his failure in last season’s NBA Finals . So much had been promised by the Miami Heat but he and his then teammates came up short , with their being upended by the Dallas Mavericks .

Miami Heat executives Pat Riley and Micky Arison will become the “toast of the town” on South Beach and throughout the entire city of Miami. It has been their ingenuity and the faith shown in a young coach , Erik Spoelstra , which has brought this franchise to the cusp as being champions of the NBA . Two years ago with a great deal of showmanship , orchestrated celebration LeBron James and Chris Bosh were introduced to the adoring Heat fan-base . With h a great deal of adulation , the fans and NBA writers as a whole were expecting big things from the trio . One year wiser, and a great deal more maturity being shown , it is now finally time to say ….. the Big Three have arrived “ .

There is no denying that the Oklahoma City Thunder had a spectacular season , as can be borne out by the team’s play and the ease with which they won the Northwest Division within the Western Conference . From my own perspective , I believe the events of this postseason for the Thunder will provide to be a valuable learning experience for not only the players but the entire organization , from the ownership group on down , to the front office executives , led by GM Sam Presti . The general manager along with Scott Brooks and the coaching staff have built a solid player personnel roster through smart and incisive moves . This bodes well for the franchise’s long-term future and without a doubt , they can now be looked upon as the best team within the Western Conference . That is with due deference to the likes of the San Antonio Spurs , Los Angeles Lakers , Memphis Grizzlies , Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks , in light of their respective records .

If nothing else , the joyous ride that the Oklahoma City Thunder fans have had in the last few seasons has brought a great deal of joy to the locale . And with a core group of players built around Kevin Durant , Russell Westbrook , James Harden and Thabo Sefalosha , I firmly believe that in this franchise’s imminent future , an NBA title awaits and will be theirs for the taking !

The current NBA Finals by all accounts have been the most ardently watched series since 2002 and that bodes well for the NBA hierarchy led by David Stern . As to what this might say , and appears to be a “ budding rivalry “ between Kevin Durant and LeBron , that is now being viewed along the lines of the “Bird “ & “ Magic” era and their epic regular and postseason confrontations . Well , that remains to be seen but as a passionate NBA fan , I am beginning to be thoroughly immersed in the game once again , for all of the right reasons !

On a side-note , I believe that we can attest to the fact the Charlotte Bobcats had a horrendous season ! If nothing else , they (team) simply brought a level of mediocrity to the game , that has not been seen in years . For the representatives within the front office of the organization and they are the ones who should in large part bear the brunt of the blame . The roster was assembled with ill-fitting pieces and no veteran leadership presence being shown . It seems unfortunate , that twice over the course of his career as an NBA executive , Michael Jordan is being ridiculed for his complete lack of judgment and awareness . In 2001 , and Jordan introduced the world to Kwame Brown . That is a moment in NBA history that cannot be undone !
With the departure of Paul Silas as the head coach of the Bobcats’ franchise , Jordan and his fellow front office executives sought an immediate successor to the respected coach . Jerry Sloan was given the courtesy of an interview and it was rumored that both Stan Van Gundy and Mike D’Antoni would be also subject to interviews , were they said to be interested in the vacant post . Former Lakers’ assistant head coach Brian Shaw flatly turned down the opportunity to coach the Charlotte Bobcats , while obviously gauging interest of team owners who see the former player , as a viable coaching candidate for their franchise . It now appears that the front office executives of the Bobcats have found their man , with the hiring of St Johns’ assistant coach Mike Dunlap . Far be it for me to suggest but the last Jordan hired a coach from the collegiate ranks , that hire was none other than Leonard Hamilton . His tenure as the Washington Wizard’ Bobcats’ head coach was short-lived , and considered less than a success . while Michael Jordan served as the de-facto GM & Head of Basketball Operations under then team owner Abe Pollin .

Dunlap has served under Steve Lavin as part of the head coach’s staff , while the program has had some semblance of success . Lavin has high praise for his assistant and believes he will be a success within the professional ranks of the NBA . I certainly hope so for Mike Dunlap’s sake because I would hate for his career to stall in the NBA , while Bobcats’ owner Michael Jordan sits on the sidelines and watches the franchise being engulfed in flames. In essence this is what we have all been a witness to , ever since Jordan bought out former partner and majority stakeholder Robert L Johnson , five years ago . Since then , the Charlotte Bobcats have amassed a series of NBA lows . Prior to the start of the NBA Finals , it was felt that the franchise would be in with a chance of gaining the top pick in the Draft Lottery . Instead , that privilege will go to the New Orleans Hornets , with the Bobcats taking the second pick overall in the upcoming 2012 NBA Draft . The Kentucky Wildcats’ ….. Anthony Davis is deemed to the consensus #1 pick , with their being no distinct knowledge as to who will follow suit afterwards .

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What to you as a fan , has been the most satisfying part of the 2012 NBA Finals ? And do you believe that the hiring of Mike Dunlap by the Charlotte Bobcats will serve the franchise well ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support , as it has always been greatly appreciated !

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra answers a question during a basketball news conference, Wednesday, June 20, 2012, in Miami. The Heat host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday in Game 5 of the NBA finals. AP Photo/Alan Diaz ….

(2) Miami Heat small forward LeBron James reacts during practice, Wednesday, June 20, 2012, in Miami. The Heat play Game 5 against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. AP Photo/Alan Diaz ….

(3) Miami Heat power forward Chris Bosh, left, and shooting guard Mike Miller joke during practice, Wednesday, June 20, 2012, in Miami. The Heat play Game 5 against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. AP Photo/Alan Diaz …

(4) MIAMI, FL – JUNE 19: Lebron James 6 hugs Mario Chalmers (15) of the Miami Heat after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder during Game Four of the 2012 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 19, 2012 in Miami, Florida. The Heat won 104-98 . Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images …

(5) Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook answers a question during a news conference, Wednesday, June 20, 2012, in Miami. The Thunder are scheduled to play Game 5 against the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals on Thursday. AP Photo/Alan Diaz ..

(6) MIAMI, FL – JUNE 19: Serge Ibaka (9) of the Oklahoma City Thunder attempts to block a shot by Mario Chalmers (15) of the Miami Heat in Game Four of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 19, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo by Larry W. Smith-Pool/Getty Images …

(7) Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, left, and small forward Kevin Durant listen to a question during a news conference after Game 4 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Miami Heat, Wednesday, June 20, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 104-98 . AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …

(8) Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks answers a question during a news conference after Game 4 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in Miami. The Miami Heat won 104-98. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …

(9) Charlotte Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap, right, greets his agent Bret Just , left, as his wife Mollie Busterud-Dunlap, second from left, looks on during a news conference after being named to lead the NBA basketball team in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, June 20, 2012. AP Photo/Chuck Burton …

(10) Charlotte Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap , center, poses with Rod Higgins , left, president of basketball operations and Rich Cho , right, general manager, during news conference after being named to lead the NBA basketball team in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, June 20, 2012. AP Photo/Chuck Burton …

(11) CHARLOTTE, NC – MARCH 13: Michael Jordan of the Charlotte Bobcats and Fred Whitfield answers questions about the team on March 13, 2007 at the Charlotte Bobcats Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. The former NBA great and owner of the franchise gave Mike Dunlap’s hiring his seal of approval . Mike Dunlap becomes only the fifth head coach in the franchise’s history Copyright 2007 NBAE Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images …..

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Where’s A Lawyer When You Need One ? Well , A Competent One At Least !

Where’s A Lawyer When You Need One ? Well , A Competent One At Least !

By tophatal ………… 06/18/2012

So after two needless trials , prosecuted by the US Justice Department , t; the taxpayer is left holding the bag for the millions of dollars wasted as the government’s case against seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens came crashing down around the attorneys’ ears . Needless to say , with Clemens being found not guilty his being acquitted on all thirteen counts that the federal government indicted the defendant on , it now leaves the public questioning the veracity of the cases that the attorneys seek to prosecute . Especially , where it concerns an athlete , specifically those within the world of baseball. We should remember that another of Clemens’ peers , the now disgraced Barry Bonds having been found guilty on the lesser of eight charges in his original eight-count indictment still awaits sentencing after his guilty verdict . Both Clemens , and Bonds were indicted primarily upon the premise of their testimony to law enforcement officers and the fact both were mentioned in the now “infamous” Mitchell Report ” .

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Clemens may now feel vindicated by this verdict and the very fact his legal counsel led by Rusty Hardin and Michael Attanasio were very tenacious in the representation of their client . They were able to poke gaping holes in the prosecution’s case and the very fact that the reliability of the testimony of Andy Pettite , former teammate of Clemens came into question . Pettite would claim that he may well have misunderstood a conversation that he had with his former Yankees’ teammate , in which Clemens stated he may or may not have used a banned substance . Either , their conversation gravitated towards the use of steroids or it did not . There are no in-between in terms of the discussion of using steroids . Yet , here we had have Pettite stating in essence , he may well have overstated his original conversation with Roger Clemens . Now , add in the circumstantial evidence and testimony of Clemens’ former strength trainer Brian McNamee and you had a case now sliding into an abyss in terms of its veracity . McNamee ‘s integrity repeatedly came into question , having been subpoenaed and testifying under oath to two congressional committees . The House Energy & Commerce Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee his sworn testimony was simply one filled falsehoods and half-truths . Brian McNamee lied to the congressional committee members as well as to investigators from the FBI , so I can only surmise that in lieu of the testimony the Justice Department , the witness had an agreement with the prosecuting attorneys that he would not be prosecuted by way self-incrimination.

Courtesy of Associated Press (AP) & Yahoo Sports

Clemens acquittal latest blow for sports cases

By Frederic J. Fromer , Joseph White and Pete Yost Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) Barry Bonds. Guilty on a technicality. At least that’s how much of the public sees it. It’s all that came out of a seven-year investigation into baseball’s home run king.

Lance Armstrong. Not even prosecuted. A two-year, multi-continent investigation brought to a close this year with no charges filed.

Now Roger Clemens. Acquitted on all counts. A five-year investigation ended with the top pitcher of his generation celebrating with family hugs inside the courtroom.

After three expensive failures, the government is done, it seems, with the business of pursuing high-profile cases of drugs-in-sports – with a track record not worth bragging about.

”It was a tremendous waste of federal resources,” said Stanley Brand, a long-time Washington defense attorney who was counsel to the House of Representatives from 1976 to 1983. ”The juries that acquitted these people weren’t persuaded by any of this. That’s the man on the street.”

With the government striking out yet again, the policing of drugs in sports now falls to other entities. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency filed formal accusations last week against Armstrong that could strip the cyclist of his seven Tour de France victories. Armstrong denies any doping.

Clemens, 49, was acquitted Monday on all six counts that he lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. The government had been pursuing him since 2007, when he was first mentioned in the Mitchell Report on drug use in baseball, and he famously and vehemently disavowed any link to steroids and human growth hormone at a nationally televised hearing in 2008.

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As for the forensic technicians and pathologists, who would be providing succinct detailed information in order to assist the jury in their deliberations but specifically those working in conjunction with the prosecution . It may well have been the details provided were simply too flawed . Certainly, McNamee’s own testimony, as he gathered blooded syringes and gauzes that contained Clemens’ DNA . These specimens were stored in a used soda can, then placed in a refrigerator, and turned over to the federal prosecutors. . Now unless I am mistaken either the US District Attorneys presenting the government’s case are novices or they obtained law degrees from an offshore non-accredited educational establishment . How in God’s name , could the attorneys have felt that they present the premise of tainted blooded specimens , would be a veritable way of stating the state’s case was simply beyond me . This prosecution was a cluster-fuck from start to finish , and anyone who thinks otherwise has to be a complete frigging simpleton ! Rusty Harden stymied the prosecution’s attempt with regard to Brian McNamee’s testimony by calling McNamee’s ex-wife , retired schoolteacher Eileen McNamee , whose testimony painted her ex -husband as an individual who simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth under any circumstance . And McNamee under cross-examination , first by Rusty Hardin and then by Harden’s associate Mark Attanasio showed the prosecution’s chief witness to be fallible and unable to recollect certain actions that followed a chronological timeline that matched the chain of events he first gave under sworn testimony . If that was not a harbinger of things to come and why the Justice Department’s case went up in flames for a second time . Then, it shows how complacent the attorneys were , and how they grossly mishandled the judicious prosecution of this less than compelling case. Is there a ham sandwich that these assholes could possibly indict ?

How the MLB hierarchy now views this as well as the writers of the BBWAA , who are the arbiters for the Baseball Hall of Fame and who have the final say on the player’s eligibility and enshrinement . It now has me now asking , is there a possibility Clemens gets his wish after-all in being enshrined in the Hall of Fame ? . Vindication or not , Roger Clemens to my mind faces an uphill battle as he seeks his enshrinement in the game’s most hallowed edifice . None of his philanthropic efforts and social deeds will change the public’s perception of Clemens. This whole episode has left a vast blemish on the game of baseball and certainly Bud Selig for all of his idiocy as the commissioner has stayed as far away from this drama as one would avoid a piece of fecal matter on the ground . The commissioner to my mind still remains the worst of all of the individuals to have held the game’s highest executive position ! There are those who still support Selig fully after his two decades in office as the commissioner of baseball . He still remains the consummate buffoon , and to comprehend that , one simply has look at his actions in the aftermath of the overturning of Ryan Braun’s 50 game suspension by an arbitrator (Shyam Das) . The player was said to have violated the league’s substance abuse policy but when details came to the fore , that the testing facility that handled Braun’s specimen did not follow the proper and stringent protocols as laid out by baseball’s hierarchy. We had Bud Selig and a subordinate Rob Manfred claiming that Shyam Das failed to follow the rule of law in rendering a verdict .

Unless I am mistaken , but Selig’s knowledge of the law , ranks somewhere alongside his business acumen and the fact that his dumb ass was oblivious to nefarious and egregious actions of Frank McCourt as the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Somehow , fans are all too quick to forget that in 2011 for two consecutive months , it happened to be the MLB hierarchy , with the owners’ approval , who had to “ foot the bill” and pay the salaries of the players as well as meet other discretionary monetary expenditures for the once beleaguered franchise . So much of this has been overlooked , with Dodgers having been sold to a consortium led by Magic Johnson , Stan Kasten , Peter Guber , Mark Walter and Todd S Boehly of asset management firm Guggenheim Partners LLC . That extortionate price of $2.15 billion may not be viewed as too steep a price to pay but the value of the teams within baseball having risen exponentially , faster than the rate of inflation . One can well understand why there might now be several team owners around the game who are licking their lips with a great deal of avarice . John Moores , as the senior managing partner of the San Diego Padres would like nothing better than to sell his majority stake in the franchise for a sizable profit .

With USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency) now seeking to indict seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong , it now appears that Eric Holder’s office will now get one more bite of the apple in seeking to indict another renowned athlete . And that is dependent upon whether or not the USADA seeks to work in conjunction with the US Justice Department in the prosecution of this impending case . From my own perspective I find cycling to be one monotonous bore with its governing body UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) simply chasing their own tail for over a decade as they try to clean up their sport . Never mind the fact that the Summer’s two most important events as it relates to the sport are but a few months away with the 2012 Tour de France and Summer Olympics in London with the time trials and the prestigious road races for both the men and women at the Olympic Games . The stain of shame has yet to hit the women’s events . With former contestants in cycling’s most famous race , Alberto Contador , Floyd Landis and now Armstrong having to defend their honor . Well , let us just say , whether or not Lance Armstrong chooses to defend himself against the allegations now being leveled against him . It will be interesting to see the stance that will be taken by the seven-time champion. Armstrong has always fervently denied any wrongdoing on his part , and has always pointed to the fact that has never tested positive for any banned substance while in competition over the course of his professional career. In light of this there has been growing suspicion of the cyclist as well as his former team manager Johan Bruyneel , as well as a number of his former teammates . Landis , a former Armstrong teammate , himself, a former winner of the Tour de France , was stripped of the title after it was discovered that he used EPO (erythropoietin) and a number of illicit substances on his way to that “ now infamous “ and tarnished victory . Floyd Landis has maintained that Armstrong was part of a cabal of cyclists under the tutelage of Bruyneel that used steroids and other illicit substances to boost their endurance levels . In addition , to backing up Landis’ claims were those Tyler Hamilton , who in a sworn affidavit detailed his use of EPO and the fact that he and Armstrong shared a strict regimen in the use of steroids as well as the aforementioned blood thinner .

Hamilton has never been the subject of a defamation , slander or libel lawsuit brought about by Lance Armstrong , so it begs the question who should we believe in this instance ? If the multiple Tour de France winner is adamant as to his innocence , it seems somewhat disingenuous on his part that he has not sought to issue a lawsuit against his former teammate . I can only surmise that Armstong’s legal team may well have something to hide while they seek some avenue of tacit defense . As to the jurisprudence , and the very fact that millions of dollars have been wasted on two cases that has shown the US Justice Department to be filled with buffoons ! Eric Holder , the US Attorney General has shown himself to be as incompetent as several members of this President’s …. administration . Somehow , it is beyond the scope of Holder’s office to go after white-collar criminals on Wall St , who almost brought the nation to its’ knees during the financial crisis , and meltdown that has cost the taxpayers countless billions but yet his office has chased after the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens , with little tangible to show for it at all in the end . Barry Bonds who still awaits sentencing , is unlikely to be given a jail sentence but he may well be penalized with a possible sentence of “ house arrest “ along with multiple hours of community service . Is this really how inadequate and idiotic the US Justice System has become , with their being complete incompetency , being shown by attorneys representing the US government and as such the nation ? In doing so , they have made themselves look like complete assholes !

Not one senior financial executive has been indicted in the last four years , for the egregious wrongdoing that has taken place at Goldman Sachs , Citigroup Inc , JP Morgan Chase , AIG , Morgan Stanley Inc , Bank of America Inc and the now defunct Merrill Lynch . Care to take a guess when and if , Eric Holder’s office will ever set their sights on the high-rollers of Wall Street ? Here’s a clue that is not about to happen in the lead up to a prominent election cycle where both Presidential candidates ( Barack Obama & Mitt Romney ) will try to portray themselves as the guardians of the consumers’ interests , while surreptitiously taking the “ tens of millions dollars” that will be donated to their respective campaigns in the upcoming elections . Freedom of speech , my ass ! Money corrupts , and the ingrates on both sides of the political aisle will do whatever it takes to curry favor with demagogues of Wall Street .

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What thoughts if any do you have concerning the salient points raised within this article ? By all means , do leave a comment as you see fit , and thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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Picture and slide show details below for your perusal .
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(1) Former all-star baseball pitcher Roger Clemens (C) and his legal team, including attorneys Rusty Hardin (2nd R) and Michael Attanasio (L), leave the Prettyman U.S. Court House after Clemens was found not guilty on 13 counts of perjury and obstruction June 18, 2012 in Washington, DC. The former Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees pitcher’s original trial in 2011 was declared a mistrial after the judge said the prosecution presented inadmissible testimony that prejudiced the jury. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens was on trial for making false statements, perjury and obstructing Congress when he testified about steroid use during a February 2008 inquiry by the House Oversight and Government Affairs . Chip Smodevilla / Getty Images …

(2) Former all-star baseball pitcher Roger Clemens (C) and his legal team, including attorneys Rusty Hardin (R) and Michael Attanasio (L), leave the Prettyman U.S. Court House after Clemens was found not guilty on 13 counts of perjury and obstruction June 18, 2012 in Washington, DC. The former Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees pitcher’s original trial in 2011 was declared a mistrial after the judge said the prosecution presented inadmissible testimony that prejudiced the jury. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens was on trial for making false statements, perjury and obstructing Congress when he testified about steroid use during a February 2008 inquiry by the House Oversight and Government Affairs. Getty Images North America / Chip Smodevilla

(3) Brian McNamee (L), former major league baseball pitcher Roger Clemens’ former strength coach, leaves after testifying in the perjury and obstruction trial of Clemens on May 14, 2012 in Washington, DC. McNamee says he injected the pitcher multiple times with steroids and HGH . Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images ….

(4) US Federal Court Judge Reggie Walton who presided over the Roger Clemens’ perjury trial often chided the prosecution throughout much of the trial , with regard to evidentiary presentations and also with regard to prosecutorial misconduct . AP Photo / Garth Hayes ….

(5) Lance Armstrong (left) the seven-time Tour de France champion (1998-04) is seen here with his then team manager Johan Bruyneel of the US Postal Cycling team . Bruyneel , himself a former competitive cyclist has always declared and maintained his innocence , in terms of any illicit wrongdoing concerning the teams he has managed and specifically his professional association with Lance Armstrong. Reuters/ AFP/ Gesellschaft Gmbh/ TAG: . ….

(6) From left to right , Tyler Hamilton , Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis . All three riders have come under the web of suspicion by UCI , the governing body of international cycling . But only the now disgraced Landis has been caught “cheating ” . The racer was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title . @ all rights reserved copyrighted material . Luis Barbosa ….

(7) U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (L) addresses an event to launch the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (R) and Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building May 16, 2011 in Washington, DC. Foreign ambassadors, technology industry leaders, foreign policy experts, human rights and civil liberties advocates, and leadership from throughout the U.S. Government participated in the event. It has been at Holder’s authority in conjunction with the various heads within his agency who make the decisions to press ahead with a number of trials involving Barry Bonds , Roger Clemens , Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery in recent years. Of the quartet mentioned , only Jones and Montgomery have to date served any time in a federal penitentiary for their crimes . Getty Images North America / Chip Smodevilla ….

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Who’s On Base ……… Are You ?

Who’s On Base ……… Are You ?

tophatal …. 07/17/2012 …. 1:01 PM (EST)

Having swept the Miami Marlins in their interleague series . The Tampa Bay Rays are seeking to gain some momentum , as they seek to challenge the New York Yankees for divisional supremacy within the AL East. .

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Joe Maddon , manager to the Tampa Bay Rays are playing without the team’s best player Evan Longoria , who remains on the DL but is due to return later this month. Consistency has always been the norm with the Rays but as of late both the offense and pitching has been anything but that .

The loss of Longoria has meant that the likes of Desmond Jennings , Sean Rodriguez , BJ Upton , Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist are being asked to put their talents on display , while at the same allowing the team to remain competitive . Within the AL East , a division that has always been known to be competitive and one should consider the fact that the AL wildcard representative has more often than not , emanated from within this division for the postseason. . With the expanded playoff format this season , with an additional team from each league being added into the equation . The playoff schedule for this calendar postseason should prove not only to be insightful but also very intriguing . As we as all witnessed last year , there was a great deal for the fans to be truly excited about . This season , anything short of a division win or wildcard berth and the season would have to be considered a distinct failure for the organization . We are already aware as to economic issues that the Rays face and the very fact that the team’s payroll is amongst the lowest in all of baseball (MLB). That asides, the remarkable job done by team GM Andrew Friedman places the Rays at the forefront of the game as an organization , that has been able to achieve great deal with very few resources at their disposal . If nothing else it will be interesting to see what the immediate future now holds for the Tampa Bay Rays .

Sunday , the Rays play hosts to the Miami Marlins at Tropicana Field , St Petersburg , Florida . On the mound for the home team will be Alex Cobb , who faces off against Josh Johnson of the Marlins. These two young pitchers to the appear to be at the top of their respective games but I get the feeling that the best is yet to come from these “two young phenoms”. The talk may well be about the extraordinary …. performances of the Stephen Strasburg this season for the Washington Nationals . Granted , this season has provided us with some spectacular performances from a pitching standpoint , with Phil Humber , Jered Weaver and Johan Santana pitching “no hitters “ . And most recently we had that extraordinary performance by Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants and a “perfect game” in the Giants’ 10-0 victory over the Houston Astros at AT&T Ballpark , in San Francisco , California .

For Joe Maddon undoubtedly , the most successful of the Rays’ managers in the franchise’s history , it would be fitting were he able to lead this team deep in the MLB Playoffs . At the culmination of it all would be a World Series victory . Leadership ability , is clearly, what the Rays are missing at present and much like Derek Jeter leads the Yankees by example . It is this type of leadership quality that is needed f or the Tampa Bay , if they are to excel , then the quick return of Evan Longoria and his immediate impact could be all that is needed to really give them the spark that they need . If not , then in all likelihood , Longoria and his teammates will come up short as this franchise seeks their first win of the World Series .

The Detroit Tigers to my mind are a bewildering team and specifically because of the talent on display. Jim Leyland will be hard pressed to give a worthwhile explanation as to the Tigers’ shortfalls this season. GM Dave Dombrowski and team owner Michael Ilitch have assembled a roster that is being financially rewarded rather extravagantly . Miguel Cabrera , Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander , all MLB All Stars , and they are amongst the highest-paid players on the team .

At 31-34( .477) within the NL Central the Tigers find themselves 3 ½ games adrift of the Chicago White Sox (34-30) who also lead the second-placed Cleveland Indians (33-31) by a game mere over the third-placed Tigers . There are a number of people who feel that the Detroit Tigers have been one of the major disappointments within the game of baseball in recent years . The offense of the Tigers is one of the most potent in the game and a talented pitching roster led by Verlander , Rick Porcello and Doug Fister would suggest that this team should be more than capable of being a dominant ball-club within the Majors . I am not about to suggest that if the Tigers should fall short then Dave Dombrowski would seek to fire Jim Leyland . The Tigers’ manager along with Mike Sciocsia and Ron Gardenhire are three of the longest tenured managers in the game and amongst the most successful amongst active managers .

Firing Leyland would prove to be of no real benefit to the Tigers , if there was not a suitable replacement . The real issue I believe , is the very fact that there is a real lack of depth to the team from a pitching standpoint . It has been the pitching that has proven to be the real shortfall for the Tigers as the season has progressed .

This Sunday at Comerica Park the Detroit Tigers will play host to the Colorado Rockies (25-39) . Taking the mound as the opposing pitchers , are Jeremy Guthrie of the Rockies and Matt Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers . A win for Jim Leyland’s team pushes them a game closer within the division to challenge the likes of the Indians and White but also up in the standings with regard to the wildcard berth .

As the season progresses , it will be interesting to see whether or not the Tigers can mount a serious enough challenge within the AL and baseball as a whole . The Detroit Tigers have what it takes to be a legitimate contender for the World Series , and they ultimately have to prove it . For too long , they have remained an afterthought , and that is in light of their most recent triumph in the game’s postseason finale . Jim Leyland , . his coaching staff , the players and the hierarchy of the Tigers would like nothing better than to add to the franchise’s legacy .

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Which teams and players have been the biggest surprise or major disappointment to you this season within the game of baseball ? Who are the potential teams you believe to be the favorites for the World Series ? Are you also a fan of the expanded format for the postseason , with it being inaugurated for the very first time , in 2012 . Do take time to leave a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – JUNE 17: Shortstop Jose Reyes (7) of the Miami Marlins is late with the tag as infielder Elliot Johnson (9) of the Tampa Bay Rays steals second base during the interleague game at Tropicana Field on June 17, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ..

(2) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – JUNE 17: Pitching coach Jim Hickey (48) of the Tampa Bay Rays talks with pitcher Alex Cobb (53) during the interleague game against the Miami Marlins at Tropicana Field on June 17, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …

(3) Outfielder Ben Zobrist (18) of the Tampa Bay Rays singles in a run during an interleague game against the Miami Marlins during the game at Tropicana Field on June 17, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …

(4) Manager Joe Maddon (70) of the Tampa Bay Rays congratulates infielder Carlos Pena (23) after the Rays victory over the Miami Marlins during an interleague game at Tropicana Field on June 17, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …

(5) Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen watches from the dugout during the eighth inning of an interleague baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Sunday, June 17, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays won 3-0. The Marlins have been losers of 9 of their last ten games . The losses have dropped Guillen’s team into third place (33-33) within the NL East . AP Photo/Brian Blanco …

(6) This photo made June 16, 2012 shows Detroit Tigers’ Austin Jackson during the first inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, in Detroit. The Tigers have won six of eight, their best stretch since a 9-3 start, thanks in large part because center fielder Jackson is back on the field. AP Photo/Paul Sancya …

(7)DETROIT, MI – JUNE 17: Quintin Berry (52) of the Detroit Tigers is tagged out at home plate by catcher Wil Nieves (41) of the Colorado Rockies during a MLB interleague game at Comerica Park on June 17, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers won 5-0 . Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images ….

(8) Colorado Rockies reliever Matt Belisle (34) is pulled in the eighth inning by manager Jim Tracy (4) as catcher Wil Nieves looks on during an interleague baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Sunday, June 17, 2012, in Detroit. The Tigers defeated the Rockies 5-0 . AP Photo/Duane Burleson ….

(9) DETROIT, MI – JUNE 17: Quintin Berry (52) of the Detroit Tigers has a bucket of water dumped on him by teammate Jose Valverde (46) while being interviewed by Fox reporter Trevor Thompson after a MLB interleague game against the Colorado Rockies at Comerica Park on June 17, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers won 5-0 . Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images …

(10) From left to right Tigers’ GM & President Dave Dombrowski, Prince Fielder, team owner , Michael Ilitch and manager Jim Leyland , far right . The trio of managerial and executive staff formally introduced Fielder to the convened press after acquiring the free agent and signing him to a multi-year deal . AP/Photo/ Detroit Free Press / Mark Thompson ….

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A New York State of Mind …………….

A New York State of Mind …………

By tophatal

5th September and the NFL season kicks off its regular season with a slew of games that augurs well for the upcoming season . The defending Superbowl champions the New York Giants will be looking to make a successful defense of their title . Moreover, more likely than not , they will be the prohibitive favorites within the NFC East . Tom Coughlin knows that if the team are to repeat , then their play this season will have to be at a heightened level over the course of their schedule .

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Slide show for your perusal .

The Dallas Cowboys , Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins . Each , will be looking to usurp the dominance of the Giants . Personally , I believe that the Cowboys have far more issues than their fans , coaching staff and the front office are willing to clearly admit . One of the reasons why I believe this to be true , comes from the mere fact that the team’s starting quarterback Tony Romo is not good enough to lead the Cowboys where they need to be ! He has yet to win a , meaningful game over the course of his career. If anything he has been the “model of inconsistency “ . Overrated, but somehow the gullible tv pundits are always in awe of the player. That may well come from the fact that may well be enamored with the Cowboys’ legacy , rather than anything that they have achieved that can be seen as tangible . It would be safe to assume that Romo , along with Eli Manning , Michael Vick and presumably Robert Griffin III will come under close scrutiny this season . Griffin , taken as the second pick overall , taken by the Washington Redskins , may well be under the microscope the most , of all the rookie and sophomore quarterbacks , over the course of the season . The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner has come into the league riding on the waves of expectation . And for Mike Shanahan and the team’s offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan , this could very well be the season during which both coaches will either sink or swim as Robert Griffin has his “baptism” of fire within the NFL.

The Redskins have been an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum , each time failing with ever-increasing signs of ineptitude . Last season was no different and the telling sign was the sheer incompetence shown by the starting quarterbacks who started for the Washington Redskins in 2011 . John Skelton and Rex Grossman could not “cut it “ and now the expectations are that RGIII , can , or will be viewed as the savior of this franchise .

Jeff Lurie as a team owner has to be gullible in simply going along on the premise that Andy Reid is deserving of one more season with the Philadelphia Eagles . He and team President Joe Banner have chosen to allow the head coach, one more season to turn things around , for a team that was a gigantic letdown last season . There were the repeated excuses that a number of injuries simply waylaid the ambitions of the franchise . As productive as LeSean McCoy was said to be in 2011 , the team under the apparent leadership of Michael Vick was nowhere to be seen when it mattered most .

In addition, as crazy as this might seem , even with the Eagles’ off-season transactions and their draft choices . There is the feeling that they are likely to struggle once again this season . The idiocy of the situation that because the Eagles they closed out their season on a winning streak . It meant that in 2012 we should expect that same sort of consistency , should be viewed with a great deal of skepticism . Reid , to my mind has outstayed his welcome in Philadelphia and the Eagles have now become a mundane and ordinary NFL franchise . Now while the team remains a valuable concern , it goes without saying that value alone is not the only thing that drives this franchise alone .

Now while no one is denying the unprecedented years of success , during which Andy Reid and famed quarterback , Donovan McNabb guided the Eagles to divisional titles , NFC championship games , postseason appearances and the franchise’s second Superbowl appearance. That single postseason finale event ended in an emotional loss (24-21) to the New England Patriots . The defeat reverberated not only within the city of Philadelphia but also within it made the fans aware how completely out their depth they happened to be, as an opponent of the Patriots . The infantile behavior of then teammates , Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens left a great deal to be desired , as the two bickered and cast some rather insidious and asinine comments against one another while seeking to apportion blame in so many areas . On that day, the Eagles’ offense was anemic and the play , in particular of the team’s wide receivers , was atrocious . Thankfully , “Fast “ Freddie Mitchell , whose hands of butter and grease , just happens to be no longer in the NFL . Mitchell’s bravado and the fact he is never lost for words , on that day he had nothing to say for himself or his rather mundane performance .

McNabb is no longer in the NFL but he is seeking to make a return to the league with a contender . Whether or not that materializes remains to be seen but it will also dependent upon a team’s needs for a veteran quarterback . It now seems ironic that neither McNabb nor Owens is currently in the NFL . Many fans would prefer that to be by design , rather than it simply being from the fact , neither player has caught on with a franchise at this stage . Given both veterans’ declining skillset and their advancing age , it is extremely difficult to see either of the players in question on an NFL roster by week one or week two in the NFL .

The New York Jets’ ….. LaDanian Tomlinson made it official today having formally announced his retirement from the NFL officially having signed a one-day contract to leave the game officially as a San Diego Charger . The player leaves the game as one of the as the > active rushing leader in the NFL , rushing touchdowns . But Tomlinson’s greatest disappointment may well be having to leave the game without a Superbowl ring . The player’s nine years with the Chargers and then two years of unfulfilled expectations , with the New York Jets . Where in 2010 and 2011 the team simply imploded under head coach Rex Ryan , and his coaching staff .

Inasmuch , as Tomlinson was brought in to provide some much-needed veteran leadership and stability to that roster . The lack of maturity shown by a number of players and the lack of progression in Mark Sanchez’s game eventually played its part LaDanian Tomlinson’s decision to leave the game under his own steam , and perhaps to the dismay of his most loyal fans . Clearly, one may well question where the Jets go from here this upcoming season . All of the bally hoo with the signing of Tim Tebow means absolutely nothing , when you consider the overwhelming evidence on display from both the backup and incumbent quarterbacks , that would suggest that the New York Jets have a number of issues that the organization simply has no wish to address . The sound-bytes from Tebow have now become mundane and rather asinine . Everybody is happy , well for the moment they are . But imagine how Tebow and Sanchez , the perspective for both should Jets’ season implode again ? Care to chime in with a comment at this juncture ?

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I know it is still early days yet but what significant moves do you foresee will take place once the NFL gets underway this season ? And where would you rank LaDanian Tomlinson among the great running backs over <a the last decade and where would you position him among the all-time greats in the NFL ?

Picture and slide show details below for your perusal .
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(1) New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw answers a question as he sits as his locker after NFL football practice in East Rutherford, N.J., Thursday, June 14, 2012. AP Photo/Mel Evans

(2) New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin answers a question after NFL football practice in East Rutherford, N.J., Thursday, June 14, 2012. AP Photo/Mel Evans …

(3) Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones , left, talks with this son Stephen Jones during NFL football practice at Cowboys Stadium Thursday, June 14, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/LM Otero ….

(4) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) lines up during NFL football practice at Cowboys Stadium Thursday, June 14, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/LM Otero ….

> (5) Philadelphia Eagles chief operating officer Don Smolenski , left, and owner Jeffery Lurie , center, listen to team president Joe Banner speak during a news conference at the NFL football team’s training facility, Thursday, June 7, 2012, in Philadelphia. Banner is stepping aside from the team’s day-to-day operations and taking on an advisory role, to be succeeded as president by Smolenski. AP Photo/Matt Rourke …

(6) Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid walks off the field after practice at the team’s NFL football training facility, Monday, June 4, 2012, in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Matt Rourke …

(7) Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick practices at the team’s NFL football training facility, Monday, June 4, 2012, in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Matt Rourke …

(8) New York Jets quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh , right, watches as Mark Sanchez, left, and Tim Tebow throw during NFL football practice in Florham Park, N.J., Tuesday, June 12, 2012. AP Photo/Mel Evans

(9) New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan answers a question before NFL football practice in Florham Park, N.J., Tuesday, June 12, 2012. AP Photo/Mel Evans …

(10) FILE – This May 11, 2012 file photo shows former San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson gesturing during a public memorial service for the late NFL football player Junior Seau at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Two years after leaving under unhappy circumstances, Tomlinson returns to the Chargers to sign a one-day contract and then announce his retirement after 11 mostly brilliant NFL seasons. AP Photo/ Gregory Bull …
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Bang The Drum Loudly …… The NBA Is … Better Than Ever ?

Bang The Drum Loudly …… The NBA Is … Better Than Ever ?

By tophatal … 06/15/2012 …. 11:45PM (EST)

The NBA postseason is definitely now in full swing , and the league hierarchy under David Stern have to be feeling extremely pleased with themselves . The very fact that two teams contesting the NBA Finals are considered the two best left at this stage of the competition . It pits perhaps the league’s best all round player against its most prolific scorer. The Miami Heat the Eastern Conference representative against the Oklahoma City Thunder , and their team led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook . To counteract the presence of Durant and Westbrook , coach Erik Spoelstra knows that he can rely upon LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to provide his team with the brunt of the offensive productivity sought throughout this series .

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For team franchise owners’ Micky Arison and Clay Bennett have been given the authority and responsibility to be make sure that fans are best entertained by the play exhibited on court . I have no doubt that both Arison and Bennett will imbue their respective head coaches Erik Spoelstra and Scott Brooks as to what is expected during the 2012 NBA Finals . The series is now tied at (1-1) one game apiece after the Heat’s narrow but spirited victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Games three through five , now reverts to the city of Miami where those games will be played at the AA Arena , in Miami , Florida . Sunday , in what is sure to be a sellout crowd in attendance , the resumption of the series is again up and running , with the Heat looking to make sure that the home-court advantage does work in their favor .

If LeBron James and his teammates can attain a victory then most definitely the series tilts in their favor . Beyond the Heat’s ‘Big Three’ of James , Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh , it would appear that in game two the Miami Heat found themselves a new go-to-guy in Shane Battier . Now whether or not Battier can reproduce the form shown in that game or perhaps another Heat role player can step up to the plate , it remains to be seen .

Scott Brooks knows that his team could have been 2-0 up in these Finals , had his players handled the ball more securely . Game two , exhibited turnovers by Oklahoma City Thunder , something that Brooks will seek to have his players address . And that will most certainly be something that Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook will have to take care of. Moreover , the players cannot afford to start these game off slowly , in allowing the Miami Heat to take an early lead and letting them retain that lead . Thabo Sefalosha , Kendrick Perkins , Serge Ibaka , Derek Fisher and Nick Collison will most certainly have to contribute a great deal more to this series , and when one bears in mind what Durant , Westbrook and James Harden have been able to achieve throughout the NBA Playoffs has been remarkable.

Undoubtedly , 2012 NBA Finals are living up to the “hype “ and a great deal more . However, with comparisons now being made with the apparent era of Durant & James , now we are told has begun . Many NBA writers and analysts are describing this budding rivalry as being similar in its magnitude as to the “ epic battles “ between Hall of Fame players , Larry Bird and Magic Johnson , when the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers had those monumental Finals’ series , as well as those regular season games .

Inasmuch , as I like the attributes that Durant and James bring to the game , it is far too early to make such comparisons , as to a rivalry that is on a similar scale as that Bird and Magic Johnson . Those icons of the game have certainly cemented their legacies and without a doubt one simply cannot deny what they were able to do , that raised the profile of the game at the collegiate level and then within the professional ranks of the NBA . Kevin Durant and LeBron James are a long way off from achieving the accolades and acclaim of the famed duo from perhaps the “ richest era “ of the NBA’s history . Moreover , that is with due credit of the Michael Jordan “ legacy “ and “ era “ within the NBA and the historical achievements with the Chicago Bulls .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What if anything do you anticipate seeing as the NBA Finals now unfolds ? Do leave a comment as you see fit and thank s as always for the continued support of this site .

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Chris Bosh (L) of the Miami Heat is guarded by James Harden (R) of the Oklahoma City Thunder during Game 3 of the NBA Finals on June 17, 2012 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat won 91-85 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series . AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERTDON EMMERT/AFP/GettyImages ….

(2) Head coach Scott Brooks of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on as he answers questions from the media after the Thunder lost 91-85 against the Miami Heat in Game Three of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 17, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images …..

(3) Nick Collison (4) of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes to the basket against Dwyane Wade (3) of the Miami Heat in Game Three of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 17, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo by Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images …

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant gets off a shot against Miami Heat during the NBA Finals game between the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder 17 June, 2012 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. AFP PHOTO/POOL/LARRY SMITH …Larry W Smith/AFP/GettyImages …

(5) MIAMI, FL – JUNE 17: (L-R) Kevin Durant (35) and LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat look on in the second half of Game Three of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 17, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.

(6) Magic Johnson (left) and Larry Bird seen here as college athletes , whose friendship and rivalry at the collegiate level and within the NBA simply transcended the sport . Today the duo have a life-long friendship that has stood for over three decades . Mike Portmann ….

(7) Bird and Magic square off in the 83-84 NBA Finals in which the Celtics would prevail in the series 4-3 . Reuters/ Arnold Hughes …..
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Game three Oklahoma City … @ … Miami Heat — AA Arena , Miami , Florida

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Nas …. feat’g …. Kanye West …. ” Still Dreaming ”