Call me naïve ……

Call me naïve ………..

by tophatal …..

NFL pieces within this site

Well, we are just over week away from the first NFL preseason game before the regular season gets underway on the 5th September , 2012 . Before that as I alluded to , we will have the first of series of games that presents us with the preseason with, the Hall of Fame Game that will pit the Arizona Cardinals against the New Orleans Saints . As we are already aware, the New Orleans Saints have had both their fair share off and on the field issues , which still remain unresolved and are likely to do so for the foreseeable future . The impasse that still remains questions the authority of the commissioner, Roger Goodell.

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Slide show .

With so many individuals now interjecting themselves in the unresolved issue of the Saints’ bounty scandal . It is now my belief that a federally appointed arbitrator will be brought in, to give an arbitrarily binding decision that could very well have far-reaching results beyond the scope of what anyone could have imagined. Let us not forget the sheer naiveté shown by the league hierarchy and that of the NLFPA (union) during their long-winded labor negotiations , that in the end resulted in an agreement that simply was not worth the paper it was written on . Case in point , simply look at the arguments and issues being raised concerning the punishment meted out to the four Saints’ players embroiled in this ongoing scandal. The union itself , having signed away its authority in such matters , merely to get a larger slice of the revenue pie ($7-7.5 billion) .

Anyone of the belief that the union’s executive committee is filled with a number of intelligent individuals who are advised by legal representatives with an ounce of common sense , had better rethink that premise completely. NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has shown himself to be a cunning individual , who has the ear of his members but at the same time , you have to believe that his interests and that of the rank-and-file members are on divergent paths .

Saints’ defensive player Jonathan Vilma who has a filed a civil suit in the US Federal Court in the Fifth Circuit based in , New Orleans, Louisiana. The suit filed claims defamation of character , libel and also seeks the player’s reinstatement after the commissioner’s year-long suspension of Vilma . The defendants in the suit are Roger Goodell , NFL et Roger Goodell. Jeff Pash , legal adviser , counsel for the NFL , states that the league will vehemently defend itself and the commissioner in any proposed legal issue by the plaintiff, Jonathan Vilma , and will if necessary , lodge their own legal proceeding against the suspended NFL player . I think we all know what we get , when we have far too many lawyers in one room ? No it is not a group of brilliant legal minds but an absolute cluster-f##k ignorance and stupidity ! Case in point, simply look at the makeup of the two federal legislative chambers that covers the US Congress? How many lawyers are there within the House of Representatives and the US Senate ? Far too many for my liking ! And that is even with the knowledge of working in the area but in the area of corporate law and international finance . Well at least here, the attorneys within the profession tell you to your face, that they will be taking your money .

The NFL preseason will afford us the chance to see the rookies drafted as they look to stake their claim for either a roster spot starting position for their respective teams . Last season’s number one overall pick Cam Newton had a sensational season that would see him take NFL Rookie of the Year Honors in 2011 , while leading the quarterbacks afforded the privilege of playing in all in a number offensive areas statistically . Newton’s contemporaries from the 2012 NFL Draft can only wish to succeed and attain the level of success garnered by the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback last season .

The top two picks from this year’s draft, are both quarterbacks and for Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III , their paths this season could not be divergent different . Luck succeeds a living legend , in Peyton Manning , whose accomplishments speaks for themselves , as the young rookie , Luck , seeks to resurrect the legacy of the Indianapolis Colts .

Robert Griffin III comes to a Washington Redskins’ organization , wherein , they have languished in recent years . The team’s coaching staff led by head coach , Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator , Kyle Shanahan , son of the head coach . RGIII , as he is now commonly known amongst his new-found teammates has on first glance , shown that he just wants to be viewed like any other player on the roster . That will prove difficult to do unless he can erase the memories of the quarterbacks who have preceded him for this beleaguered franchise in recent years. Last year most definitely was no exception as the fans were given the dubious privilege of having to see the exploits of Rex Grossman and John Beck . Needless to say , the fans were not enamored with what they witnessed , and dare one say, neither were the vast majority of the fans across the NFL landscape. For the legions of Redskins’ fans who attended the games at Fedex Field , in DC , as the Redskins’ 2011 sojourn ‘petered’ out like a damp squib , they can only this as a new , as Robert Griffin III sets to write his own chapter for the Washington Redskins and add to the fabled franchise’s legacy.

Griffin’s first chance to show us all, the justification in his being named the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner . The Redskins’ preseason schedule notwithstanding , it will be the regular season where the young quarterback will face his sternest test. Straight out of the gate in week one , the Redskins will face the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans , Louisiana . Given the revamped look of both the Redskins and Saints , this should prove to an interesting match-up history between these two NFC teams . The first home game for the franchise at Fedex Field , comes in week three when they face the Cincinnati Bengals on 23rd September , 2012 .

It remains to be seen whether or not RGIII can handle the limelight that will be thrust upon him playing in close proximity to the nation’s capital but with the daily glowing reports now from his fellow teammates and coaches alike . This could very well be the year, things are turned around for the Washington Redskins but much of that will predicated upon how they handle their divisional and conference rivals over the course of this season .

There was a time when Shawne Merriman was one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL . Nowadays , it might be more pertinent to ask …” whatever happened to Shawne Merriman “ ? Or, is he still playing in the NFL “ ? The answer would be ….. yes he is alive and kicking , and he is now playing with the Buffalo Bills . Yes and that last statement if you can believe it , he is playing for the Bills . What is that old saying about the Buffalo Bills ? “ No one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills . Given the franchise’s record over the past few seasons , I would hazard a guess that General George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry , had they encountered the Bills as fellow combatants fighting “ The Sioux Nation” , then the inevitability of the “ Battle of the Little Big Horn” would not have changed one iota ! . I am not saying that the Buffalo Bills have been bad over the last seven or eight years but having to endure their incompetence during that time could be considered a form of torture , cruel and unusual punishment .

Buddy Nix , general manager of the franchise over the past few seasons has sought to draft judiciously but the real issues that Buffalo Bills have had , comes from the lack of consistent play from any of their quarterbacks at the position . Apart from aforementioned trait , has been the very fact that these passers have been unable stay healthy for the entire regular season schedule of sixteen games. Ryan Fitzpatrick will once again be entrusted to lead the offense over the course of this season and it is expected with the team’s off-season moves , that unit should prove to be effect and a considerable improvement over last year , where their rankings defensively and offensively , ranked them among the middle of the pack , in the NFL overall.

Merriman, in conjunction with Fitzpatrick , Nick Barnett , Rian Lindell , Mario Williams and Scott Brian are considered the veterans on the roster , to whom the young rookies will look to , for team leadership. Chan Gailey and his coaching staff are seeking vast strides from this team , as they seek to make themselves credible contenders within the AFC East , with a possibly a view to making the playoffs . It has been a dozen years since the Bills were a playoff participant and their last appearance came in 1999. The team was a wildcard aspirant , who faced off against the Tennessee Titans , with the resultant 22-16 loss for the Bills. In the subsequent years since , the Buffalo Bills’ last winning season came in 2004 , when they recorded a 9-7 mark in the AFC East , where they finished third within the division .

The dominance of the New England Patriots within the AFC East and the considerable success that they have attained while being the dominant franchise within the division . Well , it could very well dampen the hopes of the Buffalo Bills , their ever loyal legion of fans and any aspirations that they might have . The other two occupants within the division ———– Miami Dolphins and New York Jets , are themselves in something of a rebuilding mode by way of the draft as well through free agency acquisitions . And for the respective coaches of these two teams , Joe Philbin of the Dolphins and Rex Ryan of the Jets , this season will become a test of wills for their staffs , as well as the players .

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Picture gallery .

Horses for courses as they say , and the NFL season is one of endurance and the teams playing with consistency over the course of a sixteen game schedule and that of the postseason as well . We the fans , will be asked endure a great over the course the football schedule , from the sublime , to the ridiculous, to the absurd but above all , we should expect to see the very best that the NFL has to offer on the field of play . Off it , well it has now become a matter of conjecture as to what is now taking place in front of our very eyes . I mean , it is not as if either the league hierarchy or the union have been of sound judgment when it comes to numerous issues concerning the game . Your thoughts if any concerning the points raised within this piece ?

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Picture and slide show details, below for your perusal .
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(1) Arizona Cardinals players line up in their Red-White scrimmage during NFL training camp football practice at Northern Arizona University Saturday, July 28, 2012, in Flagstaff, Ariz. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(2) Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt , center, shouts instructions as Rob Housler (84) and Larry Fitzgerald , right, get ready for a play to be called during NFL training camp football practice at Northern Arizona University, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in Flagstaff, Ariz. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(3) New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael , left, and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo , right, talk during training camp at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La., Sunday, July 29, 2012. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert …..

(4) New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) talks with assistant head coach Joe Vitt during NFL football training camp in Metairie, La., Thursday, July 26, 2012. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert ….

(5) Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, center, answers questions during a news conference at the NFL team’s football training camp in Spartanburg, S.C., Monday, July 30, 2012. AP Photo/Chuck Burton ….

(6) Ron Brooks (33) of the Buffalo Bills runs drills during Buffalo Bills Rookie Camp on May 11, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York. Rick Stewart/ Getty Images North America ….

(7) Shawne Merriman of the Buffalo Bills celebrates as he enters the stadium during pregame introductions at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 9, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Getty Images North America / Brody Wheeler …..

(8) Darren McFadden (20) of the Oakland Raiders is tackled by Nick Barnett (50) and Shawne Merriman (56) of the Buffalo Bills during a game played at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Getty Images North America / Rick Stewart ………

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Contact tophatal at rapptu@gmail.com

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NFL news

NFL schedule preseason (2012-13)

NFL schedule regular season (2012-13)

Buffalo Bills news

New Orleans Saints news

Washington Redskins news

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Rhian Sugden was unable to compete in a designated event of her choosing at the London Olympics Which event if you were given the choice, to add a designated event would it be for this luscious beauty ? Any thoughts or would you rather keep that to yourself ?

Fool Me Once ………. Then ##ck you

Fool Me Once ………. Then ##ck you

by tophatal

Sports pieces within this site

The British government has spent in excess of $42 billion to stage the Olympics , this being inclusive of building what has been described in part , as a decrepit infrastructure in around the city of London as well as various areas around the United Kingdom . London Organizing Committee chairman Sebastian Coe , worked in conjunction with the government, as well as with private enterprise and several public corporations to make the 2012 London Olympics a reality . With that in mind, the host country’s hopes of seeing the fruit of labor s endeavors bear success awaits , as the global audience of approximately 1.6 billion people will take in the 26 sports/events and 204 sovereign nations over the next seventeen days .

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Slide show.

The Opening Ceremony, itself, lavish in part, sought to eschew various areas of British culture . As an expat Brit, now residing in central Florida , I found the whole premise rather tedious, and unimaginative ! Other than the premise of HM Queen Elizabeth II being asked to accompany the Ian Fleming created character, James Bond , portrayed by actor , Daniel Craig , in an aerial skydive into Olympic Park , scene for the inaugural opening , many the events staged , came across as being puerile and lacking in substance . Ah well , what else could we have expected as Danny Boyle , director of the whole spectacle sought to surpass the spectacular show staged at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China . He was on a losing end of this proposition from the very beginning .

Expectations are high for these Games, and already there have been a number of major disappointments . The failure of Jordyn Wieber to make the all-round competition for the women’s gymnastics finals is seen as a major shock , as the young American is the current world champion in the event . So much so, that the anal retentive commentators of NBC , are calling Wieber’s elimination from the competition, an injustice. Personally, I have already begun to find NBC’s coverage of the Olympics banal and bordering on sheer ineptitude! Much of the analysis being provided, lacks insight and the so-called expertise provided comes across amateurish and uninformative. Whoever thought that an anecdote coming from NBC’s Olympic coverage host Bob Costas would feel like cruel and unusual punishment ? For Christ’s sake, can someone shove a red-hot poker in my eye, so that I will not have to endure anymore of this torture !

The Olympic Games just happens one of the few certainties where NBC is likely to make money from its coverage of the games . The broadcast network has a vested interest in the televised event being a resounding success , having paid the IOC $1.8 billion ($1,800,000,000) for the North American rights to televised the event. And NBC’s long-standing relationship with the IOC , specifically its relationship with IOC President Jacques Rogge and the executive committee repeatedly comes into question at the quadrennial staged event . That being said, if a pompous as#hole like Mitt Romney can question the London Olympic Games Organizing Committee’s (LOGOC) staging of the games , in light of the fiasco and corruption by the 2002 Winter Olympic Games organizing committee , for which Romney was paid handsomely by the USOC to clean up that f#cking mess , still has me questioning whether or not he remains the right person to defeat and succeed Barack Obama this November, to become the President of the United States (POTUS) . With the incumbent’s declining poll ratings and his endless reasoning why the US economy remains in the tank , after his administration and the US Congress sought to wastefully spend hundreds of billions of dollars , while not seeking any oversight , as to how those funds were disbursed . Tim Geithner gives me every reason to question his credentials as the Treasury Secretary !

Speaking of failures , Michael Phelps is proving to be human after-all having suffered a second defeat at these games when the US men’s 4x 100m relay team were beaten by France in that swimming for the gold medal in the event at the Aquatic Center , where the US team were firm favorites . All of this hype does become annoying , especially when the commentators of NBC are not gracious enough to acknowledge the efforts of the victors . A little bit of xenophobia it would appear, goes a long way, when the Olympic Games comes around and this network (NBC) becomes so engrossed, that they fail to show any intelligence , much less any knowledge, when it comes to many of the events ! And by way , which dumb ass high-ranking NBC executive saw fit to hire Ryan Seacrest to conduct a number of the interviews with the US athletes at the games ? Seacrest brings along about as much credibility to these interviews as Sarah Palin , were she asked to provide us with her insights on the US economy or to name one judgment rendered by the US Supreme Court .

The London Games are not heavily attended, in part because of the dire economy now engulfing the United Kingdom . The ruling Conservative Party led by Prime Minister David Cameron , is now having to backtrack on what many believe are draconian austerity measures , which if anything has seen miniscule growth in the British economy . Scheduled events have given us a half emptied auditorium , which is proving to be something of a considerable embarrassment for the LOGOC . However, what has now come to the attention of the public and led to a vocal outcry, has been the fact that many of the tickets have been designated for the dignitaries and family members of the IOC’s Executive Committee . And here I am thinking , that FIFA’s Executive Committee , led by Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter was a corrupt organization ! I guess not, as IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge and members of the executive committee have carved out a niche for themselves ! Rogge , when questioned by members of the convened press and a reporter from the BBC , admonished the journalist for posing such a question . Oh no you didn’t ? Fu#ck yeah , yes he did , and quite rightly so !

Now entering its fourth day the thirtieth (XXX) Olympiad , still has a long way to go before its culmination on the 13th August , 2012 . More or less controversy , and a little less of the asinine ravings from the commentators of NBC , and quite possibly the viewers might begin the enjoy the games a great deal more . Are you in agreement with that synopsis?

A rash of transactions , and all of a sudden not only has the baseball season become a great deal more interesting but we now know which teams we can deem a distinct failure . Come on down, the Miami Marlins ! I am sorry , but how anyone could view this ball-club as being a legitimate contender to win the NL pennant this season is beyond me ! Ozzie Guillen has brought about as much resilience to this team by way of his managerial skills , as could be found in a roomed filled with rancid fecal matter , while told that we could smell a bouquet of roses intermixed with a fine vintage bottle of champagne . This team , was assembled from ill-fitting pieces and its productivity or lack of it thereof , can be best described as being downright mediocre ! All this from a roster of players, whose payroll at the start of the season exceeded $117 million . Marlins’ general manager Michael Hill has offered little by way of a public statement as to the reasons why the Florida Marlins have failed so miserably </a this season . Suffice to say , Hill as well as many of his fellow executives are not only at a loss for words but I would hasten to add , beyond being dumbfounded . Dare one say , that the organization has been completely complacent over this entire season ?

The Marlins have bailed on 2012 , faster than the crew members of Costa Concordia abandoned the passengers of that cruise ship , the moment it went aground off an island in the Mediterranean , with the loss of over thirty lives , after the reckless actions of the vessel’s captain , Francesco Schettino , who would then along with crew members would disembark from the listed vessel without ever once seeking to secure the safety of his passengers . It has been the same malice aforethought here with the Marlins , and their lack of concern for the fan-base , who have paid out their hard-earned cash to attend many of the team’s home games at the ball-club’s new ballpark . Any hopes that the Miami Marlins might have in playing themselves into contention for a postseason berth , might seem as realistic a chance , as Ozzie Guillen being welcomed back within the halls of the Chicago White Sox organization , in the aftermath of the former manager’s repeated berating of general manager Kenny Williams and the team’s owner Jerry Reinsdorf , prior to his departure from that ball-club . A failing grade of F for the Florida Marlins’ franchise to be sure !

Now as the Chicago Cubs’ (42-58) season has surely proven to the fans of the game , that in spite of this clubs’ renowned history , they still remain a moribund organization. Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum and his managerial staff have seen this team languish at the near or close to the bottom rung of the NL Central for much of the year , and statistically they have definitely proven to be one of the poorer performing teams

within the NL . With the Cubs without any hope gaining a playoff berth or rendering their season meaningful , one has to question the mindset of GM Jed Hoyer and team President Theo Epstein . So much hoopla was created around both of these young executives joining the organization but their inaugural season with the Cubs, is now proving to be a monumental failure of seismic proportions .

It is pretty much safe to say some action has to be taken to reinvigorate this ball-club and it would appear that the potential trade of starting pitcher Ryan Dempster (5-5, 2.22 ERA) would be of benefit to the team . Three teams are now said to have a vested interest in acquiring the pitcher, and they are the Los Angeles Dodgers , San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves . Albeit, that the Giants are now said to be leaning towards acquiring Alfonso Soriano . Dempster has not revealed publicly his desired destination but it would appear that the player would like join a contender . The three aforementioned teams are certainly that and a great deal more, with each being in contention for either their respective divisions or a wildcard playoff berth.

Dempster now in the final year of his current contract, where he is due $14 million , upon which in 2013 he becomes an unrestricted free agent . Ryan Dempster has remained remarkably consistent this year, albeit that his statistics might not totally bear this out . The Cubs’ pitcher lies second overall behind Ryan Vogelsong (8-5, 2.22 ERA) in ERA among NL pitchers . As a desired target of the teams mentioned it is clear that Ryan Dempster would be a great complement for the ball-clubs seeking his services.

At point last season the divisional standings had us wondering how 2011 would finally pan out , while at the same time we also had a slew of trades as teams sought position themselves for that final run to end the regular year . History at times tends to repeat itself but not too often . This year on appearance does not appear to be one of those seasons in question. What thoughts if any do you have on this premise ?

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Picture gallery , for your perusal .

Have the 2012 Olympic Games lived up to your expectations so far ? And what event are you most looking forward to seeing ? As baseball now enters into the final third of its schedule , what hopes do you have for the teams striving to succeed ? By all means chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent .

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) In one of the rare moments of levity for the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics , actor Daniel Craig in his role of the Ian Flemming character ‘ James Bond ‘ accompanies HM Queen Elizabeth II , as they depart from Buckingham Palace as part of a “skit” where the Queen and Craig’s character would skydive into Olympic Park for the Opening Day ceremony . Obviously a “body-double’ was used to portray Her Majesty for the somewhat comical sketch . Courtesy of BBC UK .

(2) Jordyn Wieber of the U.S. competes in the balance beam during the women’s gymnastics qualification in the North Greenwich Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games July 29, 2012. Wieber failed to qualify in the women’s all-round competition in which she is the reigning world champion in this particular event . REUTERS/Brian Snyder …. BRITAIN – Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS SPORT GYMNASTICS

(3) LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 29: (L-R) The United States (silver), France (gold) and Russia (bronze)pose with the medals won in the Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay final on Day 2 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 29, 2012 in London, England. Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images …..

(4) LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 29: Michael Phelps of the United States and teammates Adrian Nathan (L), Ryan Lochte (2nd L) and Cullen Jones (R) celebrate with the silver medals won during the Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay final on Day 2 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Center on July 29, 2012 in London, England. Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images ….

(5) Seated left , Matt Lauer co-host of NBC’s ” The Today Show ” is seen here on the embankment of the River Thames along with Ryan Seacrest , who has been hired by the broadcast news’ program show to conduct interviews primarily with the US athletes and the global athletes in attendance for the Olympic Games . Seacrest’s light-hearted banter comes across as being inexperienced , and woefully inept but it has also grated on professionals and television audience who feel that NBC’s coverage and Ryan Seacrest’s interviews have devalued the content and programming overall . Take into account the poor showing of the main Olympic coverage host Bob Costas and you seemingly have a poor programming coverage of the games overall . AP/Reuters/ Philip Marshall …. ?

(6) Atlanta Braves’ Jason Heyward hits a solo home run in front of Miami Marlins catcher Brett Hayes during the third inning of their baseball game on Monday, July 30, 2012, at Turner Field in Atlanta. Atlanta would go on to defeat the Marlins 8-2 in a rather lopsided victory . AP Photo/David Tulis ……

(7) Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson wipes his face during the second inning of their baseball game against the Miami Marlins on Monday, July 30, 2012, at Turner Field in Atlanta. AP Photo/David Tulis ….

(8) Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Michael McKenry watches as Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo follows through on a three-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Monday, July 30, 2012, in Chicago. The Cubs would defeat the Pirates 14-4 . Cubs’ front office executives led by GM Jed Hoyer made a number of transactions but none that involved the trading of their starting pitcher Ryan Dempster who still remains a player within the organization with the trade deadline due to expire 4:00 pm (EST) on Tuesday , 31st July , 2012 . AP Photo/Jim Prisching …

(9) Chicago Cubs’ Justin Germano pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, July 30, 2012, in Chicago. AP Photo/Jim Prisching …..

(10) CHICAGO, IL – JULY 14: Ryan Dempster (46) the Chicago Cubs throws to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a baseball game played at Wrigley Field on July 14, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Tasos Katopodis /Getty Images ….

(11) Ryan Dempster (46) of the Chicago Cubs gets congratulated by Pat Listach (4) after hitting a triple against the Boston Red Sox on June 15, 2012 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by David Banks/Getty Images ….

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2012 London Olympics (official site)

2012 London Olympics medal tally

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MLB news

MLB free agents (2012) & ……. 2013 MLB free agents

MLB transactions

MLB results 30th July 2012

MLB Standings ….. & Wildcard standings

This week in baseball history

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Petey Pablo ……. “ Freek-A-Leek”

We Won’t Mortgage Our Future on some whacky idea

We Won’t Mortgage Our Future on some whacky idea

by tophatal ….

More baseball pieces within this site

With the non-waiver trade deadline due to hit , the teams within Major League Baseball (MLB) and a number of these ball-clubs beyond the postseason aspirations will seek to play themselves into contention for a postseason berth . And with that there will be a slew of player movements by way of the trades being conducted the general managers under the orders of the team owners . With a glut of free agents now coming unto the market the interest has undoubtedly risen with their being renewed interest Chicago Cubs’ pitcher Ryan Dempster (5-5, 2.25 ERA) . With the NL Central team essentially out of playoff contention , the front office will be looking to dump payroll , GM Theo Epstein will seek to purge the roster of players he believes superfluous to their needs .

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg sits in the dugout after being lifted in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, July 20, 2012, in Washington. The Braves won 11-10 in 11 innings. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster …..

With the Los Angeles Angels being very aggressive in the marketplace by snapping up Zack Greinke (9-3 , 3.44 ERA) , by trading for the player, in acquiring him from the Milwaukee Brewers , this sends a clear message to their opponents and divisional rivals within the AL West . Angels’ owner Arte Moreno has no desire to see his team fail once again to mount a serious challenge to a dominant Texas Rangers’ team and a resurgent Oakland Athletics’ organization . Mike Sciocsia and his managerial staff will look utilize Greinke as best they can , with his addition now bolstering this pitching roster and their overall potency within the AL. From my own perspective, the addition of Zack Greinke now gives the Los Angeles Angels the best pitching staff in all of baseball !

Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles Dodgers have also been active in the marketplace acquiring Hanley Ramirez from the under-achieving Miami Marlins . The South Florida franchise’s tailspin into mediocrity , has purists , fans and MLB analysts alike , asking whether or not we are once again seeing history repeat itself . In the offseason the ball-club sought to bolster payroll by acquiring many of the top free agents on the market , with a view to mounting a serious challenge not just within the NL but also across the landscape of baseball . Instead, the Marlins’ season has been one of sheer incompetency, with no one within the organization wishing to be held accountable for this miserable display .

Marlins’ manager Ozzie Guillen never one to be lost for words, has provided the press with no explanation as to the reasons for the team’s poor showing . Instead, it has been left to the local media market to seek the answers for what they believe to be wrong . Miami Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria , not a newcomer to controversy , is now seen as a pariah and succubus within the South Florida marketplace . This multi-billionaire art dealer and recluse , has been enabled in his efforts to finagle a $575 million ballpark that is now rarely filled to capacity . MLB Commissioner , Bud Selig was a major proponent in assisting the Marlins obtaining their ballpark , as he sought to be a necessary component in the dealings that took place between the Marlins’ executives and the council members of city of Miami government . Now with the US Justice Department investigating the municipal agency and subpoenaing records from the offices of the city council , it begs the question . Will anyone , within either the Miami city council , Marlins’ hierarchy or baseball’s operations answer any questions concerning this whole sorry episode ?

Just when you thought things could not get any better for the New York Yankees’ , baseball’s most relevant franchise once again pulls no punches . GM Brian Cashman made an audacious acquisition , with the executive acquiring MLB All Star outfielder Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners for mere morsels from within the Yankees’ farm system .

Although his productivity has declined , Ichiro is still a player capable of bringing excitement to the ballpark , any ballpark in baseball . And it has been a testament to this remarkable player and his career , that he is held in such high esteem by his peers , fans and managers alike . Make no bones about it but the New York Yankees are on a tear as their offense has become so dominant and amongst the most potent within the AL as MLB , itself . The New York Yankees have remained the omnipresent “1000 gorilla “ in the room , as each season with their vast financial resources at their disposal and with the YES Network there also to provide that added buffer , there can be no denying that the baseball world is at their very feet. Cashman as the team’s general manager can continue to throw money at a problem merely in the hope that instantaneously it will be solved . In each of the last eight years the team’s payroll has bordered on approaching , if not passing $200 million annually . And this year , once again the Yankees top the payrolls’ list among all the teams in baseball. The team’s third baseman …….. Alex Rodriguez remains baseball’s highest paid player in the game , and it would appear having signed a second $250 million deal during his professional career , the player will not be found wanting from a financial standpoint.

Undeniably, the New York Yankees have been able to use non-waiver trade deadline to its advantage each season , and you simply have to go peruse the trades associated with the franchise throughout its history and the players to have donned the team’s uniform . Working clearly with a view to making the postseason once again, Joe Girardi and his managerial staff are looking for the team to play with the resolve that has often been associated with this organization over the years .

Things were perceived to have taken a turn for the worse when the Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera was lost to the team for the season but it appears they have found a ready-made replacement in Rafael Soriano who has willingly assumed the role with a great deal of zeal . Saturday night hosting the Boston Red Sox , their arch-rivals for what has now appeared to be an eternity , this heated rivalry is amongst the most passionate within the game. The events of Saturday night would end in a victory for the Red Sox , a much-needed win for a very desperate and beleaguered team . Sunday’s game will pit Felix Doubront (10-5 , 4.54 ERA) of the Boston Red Sox against Hiroki Kuroda (10-7, 3.34 ERA) . A matchup of two evenly matched players looking to establish themselves within the lineups for their respective teams .

At 60-40 the New York Yankees have an eight game lead over their nearest rivals within the division (AL East) the Baltimore Orioles (52-49) . This divisional race is all but over and I seriously doubt that any of the division’s occupants can mount a serious challenge to dislodge the division’s leaders as the New York Yankees seek to win their seventeenth AL East divisional title. The organization’s last divisional win came in 2011 but their postseason foray was short-lived with their ALDS 3-2 series’ loss to the Detroit Tigers . The ambition of this organization has always been the goal of going into each season with the World Series as the “ ultimate prize “ . Anything short of that this year would have to be viewed as a distinct failure for the baseball club.

With this continued absurdity of Mike Rizzo , general manager of the Washington Nationals , insisting that the team’s starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg will pulled be pulled at some point before the end of the player’s full season schedule , has me wondering if this organization is truly that ambitious ! The Nationals do not have a postseason pedigree and truth be told, this is an organization that is simply over-achieving . This time last year , the Washington Nationals > struggled to make their presence felt , in any way whatsoever. And having finished third (78-83) within the NL East , simply gave us glimpse into what this ball-club has been all about . Granted , this season been an eye opener with the exceptional play of Gio Gonzalez , Strasburg , Bryce Harper , Jordan Zimmerman , Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman . Mike Rizzo is simply acting like a child , who having been given an early Christmas present has been allowed to unwrap that gift but suddenly realizes he does not want that gift to be damaged . The caveat however , has been that Stephen Strasburg was shuttered down in 2011 , with the player having to undergo “Tommy John “ surgery to his pitching arm . Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson is fully aware of the vested interest that the front office has in the player and his worth economically to this baseball franchise . The team’s profile has visibly risen with the team’s glowing performances and the fact that for the greater part of this season they have pretty much has the NL East all to themselves . . Now because of the perceived success of this year Rizzo is trying to create the perception that the only thing standing their way and the inevitable will be whether or not the team’s best pitcher will be available for a postseason assault . If only that were true because it will take a great deal more than the exploits of Strasburg, if the Nationals are to win the game’s biggest prize .

The Nationals will play the final game of a three-set series that pits them against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park , in Milwaukee , Wisconsin . Taking the mound for the Washington Nationals will be Gio Gonzalez, as he faces Mark Rogers (6-6, 4.60 ERA) of the Brewers . Although the National are 7-3 in their last ten games and an astonishing 28-19 at home and 32-21 on the road . Mike Rizzo has chosen not to make any major moves other than the release of outfielder Rick Ankiel . Standing pat for now but I get the distinct feeling this whole scenario could come back to explode in the face of the Washington Nationals’ organization . Theodore “Ted “ Lerner , principal managing partner and the largest shareholder in the Nationals would like nothing better than to see this team succeed . As to whether or not the players can fulfill the owner’s wishes remains to be seen . Your thoughts , on the matter ?

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Picture gallery .

As the final two-and-a-half months of the teams’ schedules now winds down to what we may well deem something of an inevitable end . It should prove to be very interesting to see how things play out in the public arena and their thoughts on this all . How do you see this all panning out ? Do you believe that there will anymore major moves made before the end of the trade deadline ? Chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture gallery details .

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(1) Rumored to the most sought after free agent pitcher on the market . Ryan Dempster (46) of the Chicago Cubs, rumored to be on the trading block , watches from the dugout as the Cubs take on the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on July 27, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 9-6 . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ….

(2) CHICAGO, IL – JULY 18: Will Ferrell (R) and Ryan Dempster (46) of the Chicago Cubs eat pizza on the pitcher’s mound before Ferrell threw out a ceremonial first pitch before the game against the Miami Marlins at Wrigley Field on July 18, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images …

(3) In this May 4, 2012, photo, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke throws to a San Francisco Giants batter in a baseball game in San Francisco. Greinke has been traded by the Brewers to the Los Angeles Angels for rookie shortstop Jean Segura and two minor league pitchers, in a deal announced Friday, July 27, 2012. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu ……

(4) SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JULY 28: Hanley Ramirez (13) of the Los Angeles Dodgers drives a ball for an RBI double in the top of the seventh inning scoring Matt Kemp (27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers (not pictured) to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a 7-0 lead over the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 28, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Tony Medina/Getty Images ….

(5) New York Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki , right, celebrates after scoring on a home run hit by Russell Martin during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in New York, Friday, July 27, 2012. AP Photo/Seth Wenig ….

(6) Washington Nationals’ Michael Morse left, is tagged out at home by Milwaukee Brewers’ Martin Maldonado after trying to score on a single by Adam LaRoche during the fourth inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 28, 2012, in Milwaukee. AP Photo/Jim Prisching ….

(7) Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg sits in the dugout after being lifted in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, July 20, 2012, in Washington. The Braves won 11-10 in 11 innings. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster …..

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MLB news

MLB transactions

MLB standings

MLB schedule 29th July

MLB probable pitchers 29th July

This week in baseball history

MLB team payrolls

Highest paid players in MLB (baseball)

MLB attendance levels (2012)

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Wendy-Fiore/

Hot chic ” pic of the day Wendy Fiore . For more images of Fiore simply click unto the link provided . Enjoy at your pleasure .

What is on Wendy’s mind at present ?

News around the world of sports …… NFL

News around the world of sports ……. NFL

by tophatal

Sports’ topics within this site

Well , it’s off to the races and the silly season has started in the world of sports . In the NFL we have the idiocy of Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver Mike Wallace is holding out of preseason training camp because he feels that he is deserving of a new a contract . Bear in mind that the player is barely three years into his NFL career and as productive as he has been . The player is now going about his negotiations with the front office in the wrong way . Wallace’s agent , Bus Cook is known to be a very astute agent representing a large clientele of athletes within the NFL and baseball. Certainly, Steelers’ owner Dan Rooney and general manager Kevin Colbert are use to handling such matters away from the prying eyes and the public scrutiny . Instead, Wallace feels it best to acknowledge that he is the midst of a totally unsatisfactory situation . What might be even more asinine are the player’s demands that he be paid along the lines of the best players at the wide receivers’ position !

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Slideshow .

In the midst of this all while Mike Wallace and his agent continue to play a game of “chicken” with the organization. During their idiocy the player’s teammate, and fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown has signed a 5-year contract extension that sees him being handsomely rewarded for his services to the Steelers . There is a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things with an organization such as the Pittsburgh Steelers . Perhaps someone ought to remind Bus Cook and Mike Wallace of that fact.

Holdouts will continue to be the boon of professional sports no matter what that sport happens to be. The Jacksonville Jaguars are in the midst of their own issues as it relates to a duo of players on the team’s roster . Last season’s rushing leader Maurice Jones-Drew seeks a new contract , while there still remains two years on his existing deal , that will see him receive in excess of $9.4 million . Team owner, Shahid Khan and GM Gene Smith have reiterated that they have no intention of renegotiating with the player while there still remains a contract that has to be fulfilled . Adisa Bakari , agent for the Jaguars’ running back insists that his client is deserving of a new deal , one that is comparable to his stature as the league’ s leading rusher . Jones-Drew has seen the likes of Matt Forte and Ray Rice sign highly lucrative contracts that will see both of these productive players become among the top paid players at the position within the NFL.

Troubling as this might seem , the Jaguars without Maurice Jones-Drew are unlikely to achieve that much this season while the team’s quarterback Blaine Gabbert seeks to make further improvements in his game .

the struggles the Jaguars have had their struggles during their history has been well chronicled within the NFL . And certainly Blaine Gabbert would like nothing better than to have the team’s entire offensive arsenal at his disposal this upcoming season . With that in mind , the team’s first round draft pick 5th overall

from the 2012 NFL Draft still remains unsigned. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon before having put on a Jaguars’ uniform has ran afoul of local law enforcement , having been charged with a DUI, as well as failing to comply with team rules set by head coach Mike Mularkey and his coaching staff .

Of the first round draft picks that still remain unsigned , Blackmon is part of handful of players in such a predicament. That aside, this off-season has simply been one of sheer ridicule within the NFL . Roger Goodell is a defendant in a civil suit filed by plaintiff Jonathan Vilma in US Federal Court that seeks punitive damages and his reinstatement to the league, having been suspended by the commissioner for his alleged and perceived actions in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal . Vilma’s lawsuit also charges Goodell with defamation of character , libel and slander. What a trifecta . Could there be anything else that the Saints’ defender could have missed out on ? And while that sordid episode still remains within our midst, so too does the fact that the NFL and NFLPA (union) have yet to address the reasons why they have not adopted their policy agreed to in their collective bargaining agreement concerning the mandatory (in and off-season) testing for HGH , other illicit substances as agreed to , and ratified by the union. The NFL commissioner is and will remain a pompous ass , simply clueless as to <b< what is required of him as the game’s highest ranking executive ! DeMaurice Smith , Goodell’s counterpart as the Executive Director of the union , has sought to be adversarial at every turn concerning this issue. With a congressional committee (House Oversight & Governmental Committee) now calling for hearings with regard to what appears to be a complete abandonment of a mandated agreement , as both the union and league (NFL) coming across and looking like complete idiots ! Never-mind the fact that we now have unintelligent fans trying to suggest that the NFL is on an even keel. The league remains a “cash-cow ” as we have billions of dollars in revenues coming into its coffers annually .

The Cleveland Browns remains one of the league’s biggest disappointments and I firmly believe that they will continue to be so for the foreseeable future ! This is a franchise that remains in turmoil without any clear direction as to where they should be heading. Randy Lerner , the team’s owner has now publicly revealed that he is now in the final stages of selling his majority shareholder’s stake in the franchise . It is sold on the proviso, that the new owner will keep the Browns within the state of Ohio. Other than the football program of the Ohio State Buckeyes , this program might be the most beloved sports’ entity within the state , and that is with due respect to the Cincinnati Bengals .

Lerner the billionaire entrepreneur is now at a crossroads as it relates to the NFL franchise after repeated disappointments , he must now feel that there is a need for a fresh influx of idea from a reinvigorated owner . Team President Mike Holmgren , and the de-facto general manager of Browns has tried to resurrect the fortunes of this franchise . Head coach Pat Shurmur , and his coaching staff will be asked to get this young team vying for the NFC North . However , the real issues for this franchise has and will remain the ongoing health the team’s quarterback Colt McCoy . The young quarterback has a troubled career in trying to remain consistent as well healthy. And this may well have been one of the reasons why Shurmur in conjunction with Mike Holmgren saw fit to draft Brandon Weeden out of Oklahoma State . The player was taken in the first round of this year’s draft as the 22nd overall pick and the fourth of the four quarterbacks taken in the initial round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

A quarterback controversy is likely to unfold as the Browns’ two most prominent quarterbacks will vie for that starting position. The team’s preseason schedule may well dictate who the victor may well but I would put more credence in what Colt McCoy has been able to do for the Browns when healthy and complemented with a full offensive arsenal . And the team’s regular season schedule which starts off with a home game against the Philadelphia Eagles on the 9th September, 2012. Whether or not Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy can prove themselves worthy of the starting role for the team will be predicated upon not only their playing abilities but also the leadership skills shown on the field of play. Any doubters, out there as to my thoughts on this issue ? Then please feel free to offer up a comment .

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Picture gallery .

The NFL preseason may well offer up some interesting questions and perhaps one or two answers . A great deal of that will be predicated on what we desire to see, and what we apparently will see . Andrew Luck , Robert Griffin III and Trent Richardson as the top three players taken in this year’s draft will come under the microscopic eye , as their every move will be scrutinized and assessed by the NFL analysts and fans alike . It should make for a great water cooler topic as we somehow become the Monday morning quarterback . Can we remember how the rookies of 2011 fared , if at all ?

What thoughts if any , do you have concerning this article ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit and as always thanks for the continued support of this site as it has always been greatly appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
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(1) Antonio Brown (84) of the Pittsburgh Steelers catches a pass against the Denver Broncos during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. Doug Pensinger /Getty Images North America ….

(2) Wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs by defenders Chris Gocong (51) and Joe Haden (23) of the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. Getty Images / Mark Sullivan …

(3) Steelers’ wide receiver Mike Wallace who remains a holdout from the team’s training camp who seeks an improved contract . The player and his agent Bus Cook are seemingly trying to paint the front office of the Steelers as being intransigent. AP Photo / Gary James ….

(4) Famed agent Bus Cook , an astute professional but somehow his handling of Mike Wallace may well be doing more harm than good for the player’s image amongst the diehard Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans. AP/REUTERS/ Garry Gibson …..

(5) Maurice Jones-Drew (32) of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs the ball past Dwight Lowery (21) of the New York Jets for a first quarter touchdown on November 15, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Getty Images / Jim McIsaac ….

(6) Cleveland Browns’ team President Mike Holmgren , left , is seen here with team owner Randolph L “Randy” Lerner . The billionaire business owner and philanthropist is selling his majority stake in the NFL franchise for an undisclosed sum . The deal will need the final “seal of approval” from the NFL hierarchy led by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . Paul Johnson / Cleveland Plain Dealer …..

(7) Colt McCoy (12) is seen here alongside the Browns’ first round draft pick Brandon Weeden (3) at the team’s practice facility . Team President Mike Holmgren and owner Randy Lerner seem intent on Weeden being the opening day starter at quarterback for the team . This has further alienated McCoy and his future with the organization . AP Getty Images / Paul Ronson …. ….

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NFL news

NFL transactions

NFL preseason schedule (2012) & week 1 , week 2 , week 3 & week 4

NFL regular season schedule (2012)

NFL regular season standings 2011

NFL standings conference (2011)

NFL standings league (2011)

NFL regular season results (2011)

NFL postseason results (2011)

NFL player stats & …… stats postseason

NFL team stats & …… postseason team stats

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Cleveland Browns news

Jacksonville Jaguars’ news

Pittsburgh Steelers’ news

NFL Draft 2012

Quarterbacks taken in the 2012 NFL Draft (denoted by round)

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Katie Kox/

Katie Kox always looking in some way to impart her knowledge of and on things . And with a last name like Kox , I think we are pretty much sure where knowledge lies ! What do you think ?

Say It Isn’t So

Say It Isn’t So

by tophatal MLB pieces within this site

Well , we are more than past the halfway point of the baseball season and it appears that some teams have essentially given up on their respective seasons . That most definitely is being borne out by the divisional standings , and the alarming rate and the swiftness of the transactions that have taken place in the past ten to fifteen days .

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The biggest flurry of activity has taken place has to be with regard to the Miami Marlins , as the front office has pretty much abandoned their season and their legions of fans within the South Florida area . Team owner Jeffrey Loria , GM Michael Hill have tried to suggest that their primary reason for the trade of Hanley Ramirez , has been because of the poor productivity of the player and his unwillingness to give the team a greater effort while on the field of play. That might well be the most asinine insinuation from anyone within the organization to have been heard in years . And heed my words, when I say this , the Marlins have made so many blunders that it would take a laundry list to account for them all . If Ramirez is said to be not giving a big enough effort on what has been an under-achieving team . Then what does that tell about how abysmal the Marlins have been this season ? Furthermore , if Hill and Loria are prepared to be so disingenuous as it relates to the All Star player , without apportioning any blame upon their high-priced manager , Ozzie Guillen and his managerial staff . Then clearly, the team owner and front office executive are even bigger fools than I had already taken them to be ! Since Guillen’s insertion into this organization as the successor to Jack McKeon , the newly installed manager has been a considerable bust and completely bereft any managerial aptitude .

While it has become apparent that the season has become a distinct failure for the Miami Marlins , what cannot be lost here is that Jeffrey Loria and his partners are about to make a considerable amount of money from the organization’s operations . Through the initial 20-25 games at the start of the season for the team , the franchise’s attendance levels were amongst the highest within the game of baseball . As the flaws appeared and the inconsistent play became more of a highlight things took a turn for the worst . A $575 million ballpark was inaugurated, and the praised heaped upon Loria and the organization by Bud Selig and his subordinates was almost unparalleled in the annex of baseball . If only we knew then, what we now know, as to what may have transpired . Perhaps , many of us would not have become so enamored with the Miami Marlins, and viewed them as a possible favorite to win the World Series . Suffice to say, the city of Miami remains under investigation by the US Justice Department as to their actions leading to the financing of the Miami Marlins’ Ballpark . Meanwhile, city officials remain tight-lipped and Bud Selig is nowhere to seen, as the South Florida franchise is embroiled in another controversy.

Whatever the remainder of the season now holds for the Miami Marlins , their entire fate remains in their own hands and no one else’s.

The non-waiver trade deadline is almost here and there are a number of teams seeking starting pitchers or productive players who are not offensively challenged . And with an abundance of players said to free agents , general managers now seeking to off-load burdensome contracts . This time of the season has become a testing time not just for the teams but also for the players themselves .

Doug Melvin , general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers has now stated that the time has come for the organization to seek a willing trading partner to acquire the team’s starting pitcher Zack Greinke . And based on all of the executive’s findings he feels that the player would be best suited to pursue his career elsewhere. The Brewers are having a down season and now find themselves seated in third place , within the NL Central , fourteen games out first place , behind the Cincinnati Reds (58-40) . The team has struggled , Ron Roenicke and his managerial staff have been under a great deal of pressure to succeed with this roster of players . Ryan Braun , who is considered to be the Brewers best player is having his usual productive season but while he has produced , his teammates simply have not shown up when it has mattered the most .

Undoubtedly, there will be teams interested in acquiring the services of Zack Greinke but the player this season has not shown the form that made him a Cy Young Award winner in 2009 . It was only a matter of time before we saw this scenario arise concerning an ill-fated player who is being handsomely reward by the Brewers’ organization .

The Brewers now have a three-game set series against the NL East leading Washington Nationals (59-39,.602) , who at present possess the best record in the National League . On the mound for the Brewers will be Michael Fiers (3-4, 1.96 ERA) who will face off against Ross Detwiler (2-0 , 2.14 ERA) . Miller Park, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will play host the set of games, as the fans come to see the Brewers try to resurrect their season. At this point , it is pretty much a certainty that any subsequent failure will lead to certain changes prior and in the off-season . Roenicke and Bob Melvin will now look their top prospects within the farm system , as they assess the roster over the team’s remaining schedule .

I am not about to suggest that the bottom appears to be falling out of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ season. But for all of the early midseason form that was being shown by team, things now seem to be in something of a mini turmoil . The team is now 5-5 in their last ten games and losers of their last three . As to what this might suggest to their die-hard fans can only remain a question of conjecture . Don Mattingly and his managerial staff are not only under a great deal of pressure to succeed but to also lead this team into the postseason . A change in the Dodgers’ ownership from the now disgraced Frank McCourt to a consortium led by Magic Johnson , Stan Kasten and billionaire venture capitalist , Mark Walter , means that there is an even greater transparency into the inner workings of the organizational structure of the ball-club. The same case could not be made during the seven tenure of Frank McCourt, whose misdeeds were somehow ignored and overlooked by the MLB hierarchy until it was all too late .

Now comes the hard part for the organization , after the big splash of the $2.155 billion ($2,155,000,000) purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers . In spite of the swoon, and the acquisition of Hanley Ramirez , no traction has been gained by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The early season form of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier , has tapered off to such an extent , that the addition of Ramirez has to be now seen as a positive . In the past five weeks the Dodgers’ fans have seen the team’s lead within the NL West be erased by the San Francisco Giants to the point where Bruce Bochy’s Giants have now opened up a three game lead over their instate and divisional rivals . Don Mattingly and his players , if they are to play themselves back into contention and be within striking distance of the Giants within the division or even for a wildcard berth . Then their upcoming schedule of games could go a long to indicate how ambitious the Los Angeles Dodgers are said to be .

And this weekend will be the start of what we could or should expect from the Los Angeles Dodgers . The team will be the guests of the Giants at AT&T Park , San Francisco , California , for three games starting today . Matt Cain of the Giants will be looking to show that the he, along with Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong are to be viewed as a formidable one-two-three punch and a trio that heads an NL starting lineup . The Dodgers have yet to name their starter for today’s game as the opposing pitcher against Matt Cain . Whoever it should happen to be , the duel between the two pitchers should be seen as one the major highlights of the scheduled pitchers on the mound today .

It is not only games that are needed to be won but series and with regularity by the Los Angeles Dodgers . And while the expanded playoff format does add an allure to this postseason, an additional berth, within each league, raises the suspense all the more. The financial windfall that the playoffs can create for a franchise can run into several million dollars. For an organization such as the Dodgers with their new-found wealth and raised profile those millions would be a nice addition to the millions that have been projected in revenues that will be garnered this season in the aftermath of the successful multi-billion dollar purchase of the ball-club by Magic Johnson and his associates. Missing the postseason while not catastrophic would be something of a bitter pill to swallow for the new ownership group.

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Picture gallery.

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Picture and slide show details, below for your perusal.

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(1) Atlanta Braves third baseman Juan Francisco (25) tags out Miami Marlins’ Jose Reyes after Reyes attempted to steal third base during the third inning of a baseball game, Wednesday July 25, 2012 in Miami. The Braves would defeat the Marlins 7-1 . AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee …

(2) Miami Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday July 25, 2012, in Miami. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

(3) Atlanta Braves’ Brian McCann (16) scores as Miami Marlins catcher Brett Hayes attempts the tag during the sixth inning of a baseball game, on a single by Juan Francisco, Wednesday July 25, 2012 in Miami. The Braves defeated the Marlins 7-1 . AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee …..

(4) “The Franchise ” $175 million in talent by way of salary commitment and they have proven to be a monumental failure this season ! @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …..

(5) (L to R) Larry Beinfest , President of Baseball Operations of the Miami Marlins, David Samson , Marlins president, with new Miami Marlins’ pitcher Mark Buehrle , Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Marlins general manager Michael Hill during a news conference at the Marlins Headquarter office in Miami, Friday, Dec. 9, 2011. The Marlins unveiled the newly signed free-agent Mark Buehrle. Miami Herald / DAVID SANTIAGO / STAFF

(6) MILWAUKEE, WI – JULY 26: Steve Lombardozzi (1) of the Washington Nationals tries to turn the double play as Yovani Gallardo (49) of the Milwaukee Brewers slides into second base against during the game at Miller Park on July 26, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images …

(7) St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso leaps over a sliding Los Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier after throwing to first to get Hanley Ramirez and complete the double play in the second inning of a baseball game , Thursday, July 26, 2012, in St. Louis. AP Photo/Tom Gannam

(8) Starting pitcher , Chris Capuano (35) of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 26, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ……

(9) New owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, from left, Robert Patton , Stan Kasten , Mark Walter , Earvin “Magic”‘ Johnson, Peter Guber , and Todd Boehly pose for a photo at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. The $2 billion sale of the team to Guggenheim Baseball Management was finalized Tuesday. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes …..

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What thoughts if any, do you have concerning the salient points raised within this piece ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit.

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MLB news

MLB transactions

Miami Marlins’ news

MLB standings & wildcard standings

MLB results 26th July 2012

MLB schedule 27th July 2012

MLB probable starting pitchers

MLB stats : Players

AL Batting & NL Batting

AL Pitching & NL Pitching

Team stats :

MLB team stats

AL team stats

NL team stats

Forbes.com MLB team valuations detailing revenues and profits

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Bobby Womack ………. ” Across 110th Street ”

Chalk one up for the Big Boys … Though Not Necessarily The Good Guys …..

Chalk one up for the Big Boys … Though Not Necessarily The Good Guys …..

by tophatal

Unofficially, the London Olympics kicked off on Wednesday afternoon (10:00 AM , EST) with the opening round of the women’s soccer tournament . The heavily favored US team led by Abby Wambach and team goalkeeper Hope Solo faced France in their opening Group G match . They came away with an easy 4-2 victory over their French opponents .

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Inasmuch, as I am looking forward to the games, it has to be said, there are far more consequential events that are being overlooked by the world and IOC Executive Committee . IOC President Jacques Rogge try as he must , faces a daunting task in trying to justify the game’s continuance in light of the international crisis now being played out in the international arena , as the Syrian government lays siege to its citizens . The country’s President , Bashir al-Assad has toyed with the West and the idiotic diplomatic strategy of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan . Never mind the fact that the country’s Foreign Minister , Walid Muallem , recently made the public statement that the country now possesses “ weapons “ of mass destruction , specifically Sarin gas , Agent Orange , and several other highly toxic chemical weapons . Muallem , also through a spokesman stated that the Syrian military would only use these weapons against outside insurgents and the enemies of the Syrian nation and its citizens . Somewhat asinine , when you consider the death toll in the eighteen months of internal strife and struggle has led to deaths of 20,000 Syrians , many of them innocent bystanders and civilians. What the world has now been made aware of , is that George Bush’s hunt for WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction) were in fact centered in the wrong fu#king country , as it has been proven that Iraq possessed none of the chemical weapons that the embellished evidence had suggested .

Donald Rumsfeld , Dick Cheney and the a#sholes at that venerable bastion of stupidity Fox News Channel kept on blowing smoke up everyone’s ass , and in large part, far too many of the public bought into the bulls#it. Currently , Syria possesses the third largest quantities and stockpiles of chemical , biochemical weaponry and germ warfare in the world , behind the United States and Russia . Somehow , this seemed to have escaped the attention of the CIA , NSA , DIA , Defense Department , FBI , State Dept , Senate Intelligence Committee , House Intelligence Committee and the god-damn US administration of Barack Obama .

Syria has sent a delegation of ten athletes and officials to the London Olympics. And it seems remarkable that the athletes and its delegation will be treated with the utmost respect. In this day and age , I find it somewhat ambivalent of Jacques Rogge, in not addressing Syria’s heinous actions against its populace . What has been even more asinine is the idiotic and rhetorical statement s made by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham-Clinton stating that Bashir al-Assad should step down as President , and that the heinous atrocities taking place within the country should come to an immediate halt . Now unless I am with Arab Spring “uprising “ of the past Fall , we saw the United States intervene in Libya , assisting the opposition to overthrow that country’s long-reigning dictator Muammar Gaddafi . This continuing asinine stance , in terms of US foreign policy, in fomenting strategic alliances with Arab partners , has ran aground like a vessel stuck in an oncoming maelstrom of violent weather , with no clear vision in sight . The State Department is no longer sure as to who its closest allies are , in the Middle East , much less dealing the rest of the Arab and the Muslim world . And God forbid , we have some dick-head of a specialist from the Brookings Institute try to allay our fears while still trying to espouse the view that Israel remains this country’s greatest ally in the Middle East . Fu#k that sh#t , Israel is simply glad to annually receive …. $8,000,000,000 ($ 8 billion) in non-discretionary aid , which in return it uses to buy heavy US military armaments . Why the hell else , would AIPAC (American Israeli Political Action Committee) be front-and-center , otherwise dictating a skewered and blatantly lopsided US foreign policy ? Plainly put , the vast majority of the US electorate are simply sheep who like to be led , rather than sifting through the bull#hit placed within their midst by the idiots on both sides of political aisle and diaspora !

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has shown that as the body’s most senior official , he simply does not countenance the respect needed to get things done . At the same time the five permanent members of the UN Security Council might as well be playing pool or Canasta for all of the good they are now said to be doing . China and Russia at every step, has sought to derail any real intent to bring about a ceasefire in Syria . The duos are the Middle Eastern country’s biggest trading partner and armament’s supplier. At $4 billion a year in arms’ sales , one could well understand why Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Russian counterpart , Sergey Lavrov are disingenuous , and they would rather see the United States be viewed as a “ paper lion “ whose roar is no louder than that of a mouse ,within the international diplomatic arena .

Intellectually, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s heads are rammed so far up their own ass, that they are unable to tell the difference between night and day ! If they do not realize that Bashir al-Assad is no different from his father , Hafez al-Assad , whom the young al-Assad succeeded . Then it is clear , that the information provided the duo by analysts from the NSA , US Defense Department and CIA , simply isn’t worth the paper it is written on . In other words , they are continually being provided with a whole bucket load of shit ! The estimated 20,000 lives said to have been lost in the latest Syrian uprisings are but a mere “ drop in the bucket” , when one takes into account the deaths said to have taken place during the reign of Hafez al-Assad , as the President of Syria .

With the 187 nations now either on route or having already arrived in the UK for the official Opening Ceremony this Friday, for the Olympic Games , the first controversy and act of stupidity has already raised its ugly head . Greek track star and triple jumper , Voula Papachristou , has been expelled from the game for “tweeting” racially insensitive remarks concerning African athletes and African migrants in her native Greece . Papachristou has since apologized for the remarks stating that poor judgment and the statements were originally meant as a joke . The ideals of the Olympic are foster an environment of athlete camaraderie wherein, the athletes can compete on the world stage on an equal level while exhibiting fairness and compassion . The Games’ modern-day founder Baron Pierre de-Coubertin meant for these ideals to be upheld , and in many respects those tenets have been abandoned by de-Coubertin’s successors as Presidents of the IOC . The Summer and Winter Olympics have now become far too commercialized and it has been to the complete detriment as to what the event was meant to represent .

Now there is no denying that the Olympic Games will be primarily about the more high-profiled athletes and teams in competition . Team USA Basketball , both the men’s and women’s teams will be highly favored to repeat as champions in their respective tournaments . Geno Auriemma , head coach of the women’s Team USA , will be seeded number one , and will be in Group A , pitted against China , Angola , Croatia , Czech Republic and Turkey , in the group stages of the tournament . Their toughest competition is likely to come from Australia , Brazil and China , en-route to an anticipated Olympics Final and perhaps the inevitable gold medal .

We know that the US Men’s Basketball team is laden with NBA stars led my LeBron James , Kobe Bryant , Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony . The team will be coached once again by Mike Krzyzewski . Coach K , as he is more commonly known will seek to add to his own already impressive legacy as the head coach of the national team as well as the head of the four-time NCAA championship program of Duke University (Blue Devils) .

Having won Olympic gold , in 2008 , in the men’s competition of the basketball tournament in Beijing . London 2012 will present Mike Krzyzewski’s players with a different set of obstacles and a much sterner test than most will have anticipated . Pre warm-up games asides , this team cannot afford any slip-ups at any point during the Men’s Basketball Tournament at the London Games . As highly favored as they are to repeat as champions , the bulls-eye will remain a constant target on the backs of the players , specifically LeBron James , Kobe Bryant , Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant , who are seen as the “ faces “ of the NBA . USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo has not worked in close conjunction with David Stern and the NBA hierarchy over the past three years to see this all go up in smoke . And it will be incumbent upon Team USA’s players to prove to the world that the NBA brand of basketball is far superior to that of their contemporaries around the globe . Granted , the rules to be administered for the format of the tournament will be played under the FIBA guidelines but it is anticipated that it will not prove to be a difficulty for the players or Krzyzewski’s coaching staff to understand .

Argentina , Spain and quite possibly Brazil , are seen as the toughest obstacles standing in the way of the USA repeating as champions . However, I do feel that if the team can stamp their authority from the outset , then their path to the finals should not prove to be all that difficult !

We all know of the heroics of Michael Phelps in Beijing as he swam to Olympic gold in six individual events , and then won two more gold medals in team relays . The swimmer has set his sights in London on swimming in seven events , including relays , with view to bring his medal tally to an unprecedented and astonishing twenty-one gold medals , an all-time among Olympic athletes . Phelps’ tally of Olympic medals currently stands at sixteen and counting (fourteen gold and two silver medals ) . Phelps and teammate Ryan Lochte , apart from being close friends , they will also prove to have the greatest rivalry anticipated , once the competition begins with its very first event. Both the men’s and women’s events should prove to be a real revelation , as the US’s dominance will most certainly come into question .

The real highlights and anticipation to my belief , will come from the track and field events to be held at Olympic Park in East London . The the venue that will in large part will hold the events as well as being the center the opening and closing ceremony for the games . Encompassing seventeen days , starting on the 27th July and ending 13th August 2012 , this will be the thirtieth Olympiad (XXX) of the modern era , first held in 1896 , in Athens , Greece , birthplace of the original Olympic Games . The main attraction of the track and field events will undoubtedly be the double-defending Olympic sprint champion , Usain Bolt of Jamaica . The talented sprinter , holder of the world records in the 100 meters , as well as the ” 200 meters , will hope to make a successful defense of both titles as well anchoring the 4 x 100 meter relay team (men’s) to Olympic gold for his country . Bolt however , will face a stiff challenge from teammate Yohan Blake in both events , where the talented twenty-two year-old has this year recorded the second fastest times in history , in both of the men’s sprint events . The once dominant US men’s track team is no longer there but the likelihood of Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin mounting a serious challenge to the dominant Jamaican duo remains a distinct possibility. The world record in both of the men’s (100m 9.59 & 200m 19.19 ) sprint events is likely to be challenged and perhaps lowered and that is part of the anticipation that will wet the appetites of the most ardent of track and field fans .

NBC Sports , its affiliate stations and cable partners will provide the North American television market with an unprecedented 400 hours of approximate live televised coverage (cumulative 5,000 plus hours on all of its affiliated partnering networks ) of the games , taking in repeated televising of certain events . And given the poor staple and stable of the network’s prime-time programming and television coverage . The 2012 London Olympics should provide a much-needed boost to the television viewership and bottom line for the fourth ranked television network .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As an expat Brit , now residing here in Central Florida , these Olympic Games will have a special meaning to me ! Many of the events to be staged will in and around many of the neighborhoods I frequented as a teenager . Olympic Park , itself, as it is centered in the town of Stratford , East London , and will be the venue where my attention will be keenly linked to . The town in fact , where I was born and raised , through the first eight years of my life . And though there will be venues nationwide that will stage many of the twenty six events that will make up the thirtieth Olympic Games . None perhaps , will be more riveting , spectacular or explosive as many of the track and field events taking place at Olympic Park . Whether or not you are an ardent fan of the Summer Olympics , what if anything will you be most looking forward to and why ?

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(1) Alex Morgan (left) and Megan Rapinoe celebrate as the US women’s soccer team get off the mark in their come from behind 4-2 victory over France in the opening round of group play in the Women’s Olympic soccer tournament . AP Photo / Scott Mackenzie ….

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United States’ Alex Morgan, center, is challenged by France’s Wendie Renard , left, during their women’s Group G soccer match prior to the start of the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 25th July , 2012. AP Photo / Frank Morris ……..

(3) From left to right , IOC President Jacques Rogge , British Prime Minister , David Cameron and far right Lord Sebastian Coe , Chairman of London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games . Daily Telegraph / Mark Patterson @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ….

(4) Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is seen here with Syrian President Bashir al-Assad at the presidential palace in Damascus . Failed attempts to negotiate a long-lasting and meaningful cease-fire has led to civil war in the nation of 14 million residents . The UN’s peacekeeping observers have been powerless to stop the atrocities being perpetrated by the Syrian President’s military and security forces across the country , that has led to the loss of an estimated 20,000 people in the past eighteen months . REUTERS / Hamed El Gherrouj …….

(5) Mike Kryzewski, coach of U.S. men’s senior national team, pauses during a pre-Olympic friendly basketball match against Argentina at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, July 22, 2012. … Getty Images Europe / Alain Desjardins …

(6) Greek track athlete, Paraskevi “Voula” Papachristou becomes the first athlete to be sent home from the London Olympics . Her banishment was not for a drug related offense but for “tweeting ” racially insensitive remarks about African migrant workers in her native Greece as well making remarks about a number of African athletes housed at the Olympic village . Papachristou offered a public apology to the IOC as well as to those which her comments referred to . However , the Greek IOC as well the LOGOC felt that her act of contrition was not enough in light of her comments and she was sent home , back to Athens , Greece where a possible suspension awaits the athlete by the Greek Athletics Federation . AP/REUTERS/ Miles Eastley ….

(7) Ryan Lochte , left , and teammate Michael Phelps could provide the London Olympics with one of the most anticipated and eagerly awaited rivalries . The two swimmers will face off against each other in a number of individual events in the Aquatic Center at the upcoming games . Daily Telegraph / Adrian Whitehead ……

(8) Yohan Blake (535) defeats compatriot Usain Bolt (539) in the finals of the 100 meters on the 29th June , 2012 , at the Jamaican Olympic Trials in Kingston , Jamaica . The two , are the leading contenders in both of the sprint events at the Olympics . The Weekly Gleaner / Buster Etienne

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Change you can believe in

Change You can believe in

by tophatal

In 2008 a young Democratic senator changed the course of political history by becoming the first African-American to ascend to the mantel of holding the highest political office in the nation . In the four years since Barack Obama’s ascension to the US Presidency , dependent upon your point of view , one could either determine that things have taken a turn for the worst or one’s lot in life has gotten a great deal better . I am not saying anything beyond the fact , that I still hold down a job and for the moment , I do not have the US government banging down my doors , claiming that I owe them money . Kind of makes me feel all giddy , until I realize we are now back in another fu#kin g election cycle , with two idiots aspiring to hold the office of President of the United States of America (POTUS) !

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Somehow , the expectations for the Miami Marlins this season , would be that the team was seen challenging for divisional supremacy within the NL East , having committed almost $200 million in acquiring ….. All Star caliber talent. In came Ozzie Guillen , to succeed Jack McKeon as the manager of the new look Miami Marlins , along with Guillen’s personally appointed coaching staff and a list of undisclosed requirements , which GM Michael Hill and team President Dave Sansom acquiesced to .

Through 97 games, the Miami Marlins (45-52 , .464) now find themselves fourth in the NL East standings , with only the lowly Philadelphia Phillies ( 44-54) , seated beneath them . One could simply ask , how could things have gone so wrong , so fast for this overly ambitious organization ? Having moved into baseball’s newest venue , the Marlins’ cavernous $575 million state of the art edifice was seen as a major South Florida attraction not just for the most ardent baseball fan but also as a major attraction for tourists seeking to take in a sporting event .

Ozzie Guillen outlived his usefulness with the Chicago White Sox ,albeit that he led the baseball club to their most recent World Series’ triumph in 2005 . However , a tumultuous relationship with White Sox general manager Kenny Williams , Guillen’s belligerent behavior towards the local press , and his berating of team owner Jerry Reinsdorf , led to a parting of the ways . No love lost between the parties involved , it was time for a change anyway ! If there is one thing that is abundantly clear , then it is with Ozzie Guillen , what you see , is what you get , warts and all . I mean his expletive laden rants during pre and postgame interviews have now become part and parcel of the game , as well as being part of Guillen’s shtick . Anyone who believes to the contrary clearly knows nothing about the Marlins’ manager .

This season just about everything that could go wrong for the Miami Marlins , has in essence gone wrong . Inconsistency right throughout every facet of the team’s play now exists . Neither Guillen, nor any member of his coaching staff has a cure for what ails this team . Now that discontent has set in , the front office seeks to apportion blame elsewhere , with there now being grumblings of an impending “ fire sale “ , of which Miami Marlins are said to be interested in , shipping out Hanley Ramirez as well as pitcher , Heath Bell . If the kitchen sink is also thrown out as well , as the ball club looks to bail on their impoverished season . Then for what it is worth , I say why not ! It is not as if this team was assembled with a specific goal in mine to begin with . Team owner Jeffrey Loria , is bereft of intelligence and for want of a better word , he is a lying piece of fecal matter ! Not to be outdone in the owner’s misdeeds , has been the very fact that the city of Miami remains under investigation by the US Justice Department , as to how it went about in its financing of the Miami Marlins Ballpark . Suffice to say , that city of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado remains tight-lipped as to the dealings that went on . Needless to say , the ever gullible Bud Selig firmly stands behind the actions of the city’s council members and that of the Miami Marlins’ executives . Selig’s own behind the scenes maneuvers in this all , cannot be overlooked . At the same time , given the recent ineptitude shown by US Attorney General Eric Holder’s office and that of his subordinates , I for one am not expecting much to come out of the Justice Department’s investigation ! I will call it , like I see it !

At present there are said to be several teams said to be interested in acquiring Hanley Ramirez’s services . Amongst the franchises said to be showing interest are the Oakland A’s , Boston Red Sox , Detroit Tigers , Los Angeles Dodgers and also the Chicago White Sox . It would appear that A’s general manager Billy Beane might hold the inside track in acquiring the Marlins’ outfielder but if the rumors are to be believed , then the Red Sox’s wish to off-load Carl Crawford in exchange , could be all the “sweetener” the Marlins might need to make a deal . That being said , both Crawford and Ramirez have greatly underperformed over the course of this season . If hitting on or just above the Mendoza Line were an art form , then both Crawford and Ramirez would be the “poster children” for the feat this season .

Everything about the Miami Marlins and the way that this team was constructed says “condescending” and capricious . Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking , that this was not coming , as there was little evidence to suggest at the start of this season to suggest that the Marlins should be seen as a favorite within the National League (NL) for the NL pennant , much less the World Series . Just because you dress a pig , up as a sow , doesn’t make it a sow . And similarly , that was the case with the Miami Marlins as they sought to become the New York Yankees of the NL .

As the flaws have risen , and have been exposed as to how inept the Miami Marlins just happens to be . It would appear that there is no one being held accountable on Ozzie Guillen’s staff , much less the manager himself . And for a team with a payroll < of just over $118 million , which ranks seventh highest of baseball’s thirty teams. It begs the question when will the general managers and team owners within the game , get into their thick skulls that they have created mayhem within baseball from an economic standpoint ?

Ineptitude might be seen as an excuse for the Marlins’ woes when you also take into account how mediocre the team’s pitching also happens to be . And to think , I once supported this ball club with my hard-earned cash by attending games when they played at Landshark Stadium , formerly known as Joe Robbie Stadium , home to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins . God , thank you for letting me see the error of my ways ! Now if you could perhaps see fit , in letting the Atlanta Braves at least gain that NL wildcard berth or perhaps win the NL East , then I would be eternally grateful . That is not too much to ask , at this juncture is it ?

Whether or not we now see a glutton of trades being engineered by Michael Hill of the Marlins’ front office remains to be seen . This much is clear , what started out as a season of promise for the Miami Marlins , has now become one big monumental nightmare . There is a great deal of blame to be apportioned everywhere within the Marlins’ organization . The problem being , there is absolutely no one looking to be held accountable .

At this point last season the Miami Marlins’ woes were already in evidence by way of their standing and the results during the month of July . Not much has changed beyond a bloviated payroll and a still inept organization . What more could the Miami Marlins’ fans ask for ? Your thoughts on the matter as you now see it ?

If the Miami Marlins are said to be floundering like a capsized vessel at sea . Then what should we make of the present situation for both the New York Mets (47-50) and Philadelphia Phillies (44-54) ? Don’t get me wrong , they say “ money cannot buy you happiness “ . Then , what the hell are the aforementioned teams buying with their cash ? I love fast cars and motorcycles , and I would like to think I know something about inner workings of both ! Hell , if you get me in a showroom and show me either a Lamborghini Murcielago or a Ducati 750 cc or a Ducati Imola Desmo . Then as sure hell , whatever you are selling me had better be what I am about to get . In the case of the fans in attendance for the games played by the Mets and Phillies at Citi-Field , Flushing New York and Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia . Then whatever is being sold by those organizations , is not as advertised . Suffice to say , someone is lying if that is purported to be baseball or for that matter , both are said to be very good NL , much less MLB teams .

The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies combined , have a payroll in excess of $268 million and a glut of players on their respective teams that have simply underperformed . Needless to say , once again managers , Terry Collins and Charlie Manuel on appearance , both seem to be completely out of their depth. Manuel may well have guided the Phillies to a World Series’ triumph in 2008 but in the subsequent years they have greatly under-achieved . And for Mets’ manager Terry Collins his tenure with the franchise has been filled with highs and lows . If it were not for the behind the scenes drama of the club’s ongoing financial problems , then we would be overlooking their on-field woes . R A Dickey may well be having a tremendous individual season , and the likes of Johan Santana and David Wright have had their moments . In reality , beyond the aforementioned players there is little to point to that can be looked upon as being a distinct positive for the New York Mets , this season .

Something is about to give with regard to the Phillies , as I simply do not believe that either Charlie Manuel or GM Reuben Amaro can be allowed to remain with the organization should they fail to make the postseason ! Amaro has simply shuffled the deck chairs on the Titanic as it relates to the Phillies’ foray this year . Inept would be a term of endearment to describe how abysmal this team has been over the course of this season . And if I hear one more excuse , as to injuries being the ongoing plague for the team over the course of the year . Then I would point to the fact , that the Phillies’ in-state rivals the Pittsburgh Pirates (54-42 , . 562) are doing far more with even fewer resources now afforded that team . How about them apples ? Stop with the whining , and see the Phillies for what they currently are , a team lacking in confidence and seemingly bereft of creativity on the field of play !

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In light of the trades that have taken place within the last 48 hours and the none-waiver trade deadline fast approaching . What transactions do you believe are liable to take place ? Also , from your own viewpoint where do you believe the blame lies with the bottom now falling out of the Marlins’ season ? Chime in with a comment as you see fit .

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(1) Former Miami Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez, right, hugs Marlins’ president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest , after a news conference where Ramirez spoke about his trade, Wednesday July 25, 2012 in Miami. The Los Angeles Dodgers have worked out a multi-player trade to acquire the former NL batting champion from Miami, the second big deal in as many days for the disappointing Marlins. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee ….

(2) Former Miami Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez speaks during a news conference where he talked about his trade, Wednesday July 25, 2012, in Miami. The Los Angeles Dodgers have worked out a multi-player trade to acquire the former NL batting champion from Miami, the second big deal in as many days for the disappointing Marlins. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee ….

(3) Detroit Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez , right, lifts the cap off Omar Infante during batting practice before a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Cleveland. Sanchez and Infante were acquired from the Miami Marlins in exchange for 21-year-old righty Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers. AP Photo/Tony Dejak ………..

(4) (L to R) Florida Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest , Ozzie Guillen , Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Florida Marlins President David P. Samson attend a press conference to announce Guillen as the new manage at Sun Life Stadium on September 28, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Getty Images North America / Mike Ehrmann ….

(5) New York Mets catcher Mike Nickeas and Washington Nationals’ Adam LaRoche (25) watch LaRoche’s two-run home run off of Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) in the sixth inning of a baseball game , Tuesday, July 24, 2012, at Citi Field in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek …..

(6) FILE – This May 28, 2012 file photo shows Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels throwing against the New York Mets in the second inning of a baseball game at Citi Field in New York. Hamels and the Phillies have agreed to a $144 million , six-year contract that prevents the 2008 World Series MVP from becoming a free agent after the season. A person familiar with the trade told The Associated Press about the deal on condition of anonymity because there has been no official announcement. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek, File ….

(7) ” Change We Can Believe In “. Oh really ? Well better the devil you know than the one you don’t . Wait a minute four more years of this , over Mitt Romney ? Is there a desert island I can get to , before November 2012 ?

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Being All They Can Be ……………….

Being All They Can Be

by tophatal

Well the first of the NFL teams have now began their preseason workouts with the preseason itself now less than a month away . The first of the franchises reporting just happens to be Arizona Cardinals reporting , with the team looking to redeem themselves after a lackluster season in 2011 . Having recorded an 8-8 mark last season in failing to qualify for the postseason . Head coach, Ken Whisenhunt will be under a great deal of pressure get this team heading in the right direction after a disappointing 2011 foray .

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Team owner , William “Bill” Bidwill and general manager Rod Graves have slowly sought to resurrect the fortunes of the Arizona Cardinals , after years sheer of mediocrity . The franchise in subsequent years upon the retirement of Kurt Warner , has struggled to find a suitable successor to the former league and Superbowl MVP . This season , Whisenhunt and his coaching staff will entrust the signal calling duties to Kevin Kolb . The former Philadelphia Eagles’ starter having signed a lucrative contract with the Cardinals , has yet to live up to or fulfill the obligations of that deal . Albeit, that Kolb’s backup John Skelton has a proven , and better track record as a Arizona Cardinals’ starter than the incumbent . This season , if Kevin Kolb is not able to perform up to par , then it is my belief that John Skelton will be installed as the permanent starter for this team .

Rod Graves , Ken Whisenhunt and team’s coaching staff were very judicious in 2012 NFL Draft and the choices that have been made over the years have proven to be fortuitous . The drafting of Michael Floyd , Jamell Fleming , Bobby Massie , Senio Kelemete` , Justin Bethel , Ryan Lindley and Nate Potter , are the pieces that the front office feels are complementary to meet the team’s needs , beyond that of their off-season acquisitions made via free agency . The Arizona Cardinals remains an efficient offense , with a potent receiving corps led by Larry Fitzgerald , Early Doucet , Andre Roberts and Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells makes for an explosive group of receivers . At the same time the team’s rushing offense should not be overlooked , with Wells leading the way for the team. However , as a resident within the NFC West , it should prove to be interesting to see whether or not the Cardinals can contend with a resurgent San Francisco 49 ers’ organization , a team intent on redeeming themselves after last season’s foray in the playoffs .

If anything , for Arizona Cardinals to be a success this season not only within the NFC West but the conference as a whole , then their play has to be at a heightened level and a great deal more competitive as well. Other combatants within the division are Seattle Seahawks , St Louis Rams and the Niners .

The struggles however , remain for the Cardinals , in terms of the team’s defense and the very fact that they remain one of the poorer defenses in the NFC as well as the NFL as a whole . Cardinals’ defensive coordinator Ray Horton has a great to do , in order to make this tier of players amongst , one of the better defensive units within the NFL . This much however , we do know , a great deal of the Arizona Cardinals’ success will be predicated upon the play of Kevin Kolb . As great as the claims were being made , that the player was one of the most sought after free agent quarterbacks in 2011 , I do believe that those claims were vastly overstated ! Kolb has struggled to gain the confidence of this Cardinals’ teammates and that has been pretty much indicative over the course of his NFL career . Offensive coordinator , Mike Miller and quarterbacks’ coach John McNulty will have to do their utmost in getting the very best out of Kevin Kolb as a quarterback . Based on the QB ratings (81.1) alone , Kolb would rank as the seventeenth best player at the position in the NFL over the course of last season , albeit that he only appeared in eight games for the beleaguered Arizona Cardinals . Throw out the QB ratings and simply concentrate on perhaps the one stat that is the most pertinent , and we can truly see Kolb’s worth as a quarterback in the NFL and more astutely within the NFC West in 2011 .

Defending NFC West champions , the San Francisco 49ers after the 13-3 season , which in essence , made believer s out of many , who longed for a return to the glory days of Jerry Rice , Steve Young and Joe Montana . This young and vibrant version of the team in 2011 left their fans clamoring for more . Perhaps no one person on that team of last season was more representative of that , than a rejuvenated Alex Smith . The Niners’ quarterback had the best season of his professional career , as he led this team with a great deal of authority . Now granted , during the off-season GM Trent Baalke , at the insistence of team CEO Jed York made overtures to Peyton Manning in seeking the four-time league MVP’s interest in signing with the organization . Manning , however , would parlay his worth by signing a lucrative multi-year deal with the Denver Broncos .

Alex Smith may well choose to use that slight in showing Jim Harbaugh that the front office’s overlooking his contributions will not go unnoticed . The player has seen “ his stock “ rise within the NFL , albeit the financial rewards are not on par with the “elite “ at the position or at the upper echelons of the NFL in terms of a salary . Smith however , for the moment is being handsomely rewarded by the San Francisco 49ers but undoubtedly he will seek to prove to Jim Harbaugh , Trent Baalke and Jed York , that he is an invaluable asset . As a free agent 2015 , the seven-year veteran and number one overall pick from 2005 knows that the expectations for this young team at its core , the window of opportunity is now here . They can either choose to break through or simply sit back , remain complacent or as they have been doing for the past few years , just being inept , until they laid sway to their opponents in 2011 .

At $7.5 million a year , I truly believe that Pete Carroll is being overpaid as the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks . Team owner , Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen undoubtedly believes in hype over substance . Otherwise , why would he hire a coach who departed from USC (Trojans) under a cloud of suspicion and with his integrity not being fully in-tact ? Questions that remain answered , and ones which Pete Carroll , has chosen not to answer as it relates to the sullied football program of the USC Trojans . Not that Carroll’s successor Lane Kiffin has actually improved the situation with his own missteps , having succeeded Carroll .

If there is one thing abundantly clear and which was on display as it relates to this team , and it is that the Seahawks are vastly overrated , and that as an NFL coach , Pete Carroll still has a great deal to learn in spite of his success at the collegiate level . Not that his successes during his previous tenures within the NFL were a resounding success to begin with. If anything , abject mediocrity with Pete Carroll appears to “ be the norm” in terms of his coaching ability within the ranks of the NFL . Yeah baby , the NFL has long chosen to overpay for “mediocre coaching talent “ in the NFL , and it will continue to be that way for years to come .

Draft picks asides , upon perusing this Seahawks’ roster , there is little to suggest that the team will be a major factor within the NFC , much less within the division itself once their regular season schedule gets underway . The franchise ranked in the lower echelons in a number of meaningful statistics ( 23rd points scored per game , 28th in total offense , 22nd in passing yds[194.1 per game] and 21st in rushing [109.1 yds per game] that you simply know that this season Carroll and his coaching staff will need a major miracle , if they are to overcome many of their regular season opponents . And where the Seahawks are the most vulnerable , just happens to be defensively where in 2011 they allowed an ever of 332.2 yards per game in total defense , which ranked third highest within the NFC . . So much for the Seattle Seahawks and their ambitions for the upcoming season, if only there were as good as some actually believe them to be . But that is a story for another day ! .

The departure of Jeff Fisher though something of a tragedy , indicated to me more than anything else how much of an asshole , Tennessee Titans’ owner Bud Adams just happens to be as an NFL franchisee ! Clueless , dumb and perhaps more than anything else , he thought to undermine his head coach , alienating him amongst the players but even more asinine was Adams’ choosing to side with a piece of fecal matter like Vince Young ! . The player , himself , not long with the Tennessee Titans will undoubtedly live out his professional career as a journeyman backup quarterback around the NFL . Think , Rodney Peete but with the IQ of a mentally challenged individual !

Jeff Fisher , having departed that hell hole known as the Tennessee Titans has landed on his feet but he now has a tough season ahead of him as he embarks on his first year with the St Louis Rams , as that franchise’s head coach , with a new coaching staff in tow . This franchise has been beset by problems with their being ever-growing uncertainty as whether or not Sam Bradford is indeed the quarterback to take the team to the next level . Fisher is an astute head coach who has the respect of his peers and the vast majority of players around the league . Herein , lies the caveat to this all , winning and respect go hand-in-hand but what gives the fans the greatest pleasure is to see their teams winning on a consistent basis while remaining a perennial contender . As of late that clearly has not been the case for the St Louis Rams , as team owner ….. Stanley Kroenke and the front office yearn for the days when the franchise was known as “ The Greatest Show on Turf “ were laying waste to the entire NFL .

The Rams’ team of 2001 went on to obliterate a number of NFL statistics that many thought could not be possibly surpassed . As we now know many of those records have subsequently fallen the NFL has now become more than a pass-happy form and brand of football being played to entertain the masses . Does anyone play defense anymore , within the NFL (No Fun League ) ?

From my own perspective, if Sam Bradford is not back to full strength , then his inability to lead this team will greatly impact the franchise . As Bradford goes , then so does this team , and it will be incumbent upon the young quarterback to prove to management and his teammates that he is back to his very best . In his rookie season (2010) , we saw the reasons why Bradford was made the number one overall pick from the NFL Draft of that year . The young quarterback showed a great deal of composure and leadership skills , not often seen in a rookie . That being said , 2011 and the history books were rewritten , as Cam Newton exploded unto the NFL arena . And I seriously doubt that we will see Newton’s exploits being matched during this season , by the likes of either Andrew Luck , Robert Griffin III , Ryan Tannehill or by any of the other quarterbacks taken in this year’s NFL Draft who may become a starter in their rookie season ! .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As a fan of the NFL , what if anything , are you most looking forward to witnessing this upcoming season ? And which rookie player do you believe will have the biggest impact in 2012 ? Of the points raised within this piece , simply leave a comment as to what you believe to be pertinent .

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(1) TEMPE, AZ – JUNE 13: Wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) of the Arizona Cardinals practices in the mini-camp at the team’s training center facility on June 13, 2012 in Tempe, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

TEMPE, AZ – JUNE 13: Tight end Todd Heap (86) of the Arizona Cardinals practices in the mini-camp at the team’s training center facility on June 13, 2012 in Tempe, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …

(3) TEMPE, AZ – JUNE 13: Quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) of the Arizona Cardinals stands with Ryan Lindley (14) as they practice in the mini-camp at the team’s training center facility on June 13, 2012 in Tempe, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …

(4) TEMPE, AZ – JUNE 13: Quarterback John Skelton (19) of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass as he practices in the mini-camp at the team’s training center facility on June 13, 2012 in Tempe, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……

(5) Quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) of the Arizona Cardinals talks with head coach Ken Whisenhunt after defeating the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 19-13 in overtime . Getty Images North America/ Christian Petersen ….

(6) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) passes in front of quarterback Colin Kaepernick , left, and Scott Tolzien , second from left, during NFL football practice in Santa Clara, Calif., Tuesday, May 29, 2012. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ….

(7) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith prepares to pass as coach Jim Harbaugh watches during NFL football practice in Santa Clara, Calif., Wednesday, May 23, 2012. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

(8) Former Tennessee Titans’ head coach , Jeff Fisher , and Vince Young are seen here at the funeral service of Steve McNair , the former Tennessee Titans’ quarterback , who Young called a “mentor ” and ” father-figure” . Unfortunately , none of the traits that McNair is said to have possessed rubbed off on his protege` Vince Young . The relationship between Young and the Titans’ head coach became fractured , leading to Fisher’s departure from the franchise after his authority was over-ridden by the imbecilic attitude of the team owner Kenneth “Bud” Adams , who sided with the player . Not long after , Young , himself would be waived by the Tennessee Titans . In 2011 the player was a backup to Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles . He was not re-signed by the team but was subsequently picked up as an understudy for Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Buffalo Bills . Associated Press / George Clark …..

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Houston We Have a Problem …….

Houston We Have a Problem

by tophatal ….. 07/21/2012

MLB pieces within this site

It never ceases to amaze me as to the disingenuous motives that surrounds baseball ( MLB) and the day-to-day maneuvers and ploys of Commissioner Bud Selig and the league hierarchy ! In approving the sale of the Houston Astros from former owner Drayton McClane to Houston entrepreneur and industrialist , James “Jim “ Crane for what was then a record purchase price of $ 680 million . Lost in all of this was the mere fact that Crane and his partners > were in receipt of a $65 million “ inducement “ that will see the organization be moved from the NL Central to the AL West as part of baseball’s divisional realignment , and the suggestion that this would bring some parity and a legitimacy as to the makeup of the divisions and the two leagues (AL & NL).

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This season , the Houston Astros (34-60) have not been competitive and from an attendance standpoint , the organization’s struggles continue unabated . Brad Mills and his coaching staff have struggled to get this team playing with any great resolve as they look from the basement of the NL Central at the likes of the divisional leading Cincinnati Reds (53-40) and the now surprisingly resilient Pittsburgh Pirates (52-40) . There have been few bright spots , let alone moments for the fans in attendance at Minute Maid Park , in Houston , Texas , to get really excited about . Beyond the play , of Carlos Lee , Jose Altuve , Jed Lowrie , Wandy Rodriguez , J. A . Happ and Brad Norris . It easy to understand why the Astros have continued to struggle in recent years . The ball-club’s last winning season came in 2008 and their last postseason appearance was in 2005 . That year the Astros would make the World Series where they would be swept in four games (4-0) by the Chicago White Sox , in an uneventful and totally lopsided series . In the subsequent years , managerial and player personnel turnover have been a blight to the organization .

The Astros’ front office now led by GM Jeff Luhnow , looks to rebound from those years of ineptitude and abject complacency . And this season during the 2012 MLB Draft , the organization sought to remedy their ills by making a number of judicious draft choices . Those choices along what Luhnow and the managerial staff feels is an exceptional farm system littered with top-flight prospects places the future of the Astros as they view it , in very good standing . From my point of view , I am not so sure because upon their move to the AL West in 2013 the franchise will have to deal with the likes of the monumentally talented Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers . Need one be reminded of the fact that within the AL , teams there are primarily driven by the power of their offense , more than anything else ? That “$65 million sweetener provide by Bud Selig to Jim Crane and the Houston Astros, may well be benevolent but I do not believe that it will serve them well in making up for what will be initially , a great deal of disappointment as they seek to acclimatize themselves with the nuances of the American League (AL) .

Some may well feel that the induction of Barry Larkin and Ron Santo into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York , is long overdue . Both are thoroughly deserving of the honor , and the esteem with which both are held , speaks volumes as to the impact they had on the game . Both players had multiple appearances as representatives at the MLB All Star Game , as well as Larkin having won the NL MVP in 1995 . The list of accomplishments attained by Larkin and Santo over the course of their respective careers is a tribute to the longevity as well as the brilliance of both of these self-assured and accomplished players.

Courtesy of USA Today

‘Ron Santo, Barry Larkin take place among greats’

By Jorge L Ortiz , USA Today

Barry Larkin was elected to the Hall of Fame in his third chance. Ron Santo did not get chosen until 37 years after he played his last game. With their inductions scheduled for Sunday, USA TODAY Sports’ Jorge L. Ortiz takes a look at where both players rank among Hall of Famers at their respective positions.

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Larkin long on numbers, short on games compared to peers

• PHOTOS: Hall of Fame inductees
Defensive prowess was the leading qualification for stardom at shortstop when Barry Larkin arrived in the majors in 1986 with the Cincinnati Reds.
Along with contemporaries such as Cal Ripken Jr. and Alan Trammell, Larkin helped redefine the offensive expectations for his position, ushering in the era of power-hitting shortstops that included Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra and Miguel Tejada.
There had been slugging shortstops before Larkin, most notably Chicago Cubs icon Ernie Banks, who hit 512 home runs but spent the second half of his career at first base and played more games there than at short.
Few have exhibited Larkin’s combination of defensive skill — he was a Gold Glove winner from 1994 to 1996 — and offensive capability at the plate and on the bases. Larkin ranks fourth among Hall of Fame shortstops in both on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.815) and stolen bases (379). Only Honus Wagner tops him in both categories.

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It now begs the question in the upcoming years as the eligibility status is , and will be raised , concerning the players in embroiled image tainted era of steroids within the game , and that knowingly in some areas of the press a number of journalists investigative and otherwise chose to ignore the revelations . What must or will be done with players such as Rafael Palmeiro , Mark McGwire , Roger Clemens , Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa . There is a legitimate claim to be made , that all of the players mentioned have a right to be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame , in Cooperstown , New York . However , their names are integrally and indelibly linked to the most “ corrupt era “ of the sport and knowingly so . Certainly, it has not helped that many of the journalists who covet the game of baseball as well as many of the television analysts and on-air personalities chose to turn a blind eye to the revelations as they came to the fore . Never-mind the fact that so many of the imbecilic fans with their often immature offerings came up with suggestions as to why these players had done nothing wrong and that there were no apparent dangers by their misdeeds . Clearly, when these statements are being made, then it becomes obvious that not a great deal of thought has been put in the uttering in question . For the adjudicators who make the decision as to which nominees , having met the criteria are inducted into baseball’s most hallowed fraternity . The writers of the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) will either show a great deal of favoritism , common sense or quite possibly that they simply do not care who should be enshrined within that institution . Granted, within the Hall of Fame , enshrined within that fraternity , are racists , child molesters , bigots , rapists and dare one allude to the fact characters who if they were playing in the modern era of the game would be thought of as being the “most despicable “ of characters , of questionable moral turpitude ? The Hall of Fame is meant to be about those enshrined , as being of the best of their generation to have played the game and nowhere is it written that the enshrines have to be upstanding citizens .

Baseball on the other hand , has passed itself off as the game that led the nation with its social awareness and the fact it was the nation’s pastime . Racial integration of the baseball simply does not mean , that overnight the sport should or can be looked upon as being a bastion of social awareness or the very fact Jackie Robinson’s or Hank Aaron’s name can be continually and repeatedly used as way to cure the game’s ills . Especially in light of the fact that Bud Selig and the MLB hierarchy remained oblivious as to what was happening in front of their very eyes . And even now , the commissioner remains something of an idiot concerning the issue of steroids ! Should one need to be reminded , it was primarily Selig’s intransigence that led to baseball and softball no longer being events in the Summer Olympics . That was in light of the commissioner and the union (MLBPA) not wishing to acquiesce to the rules of Board the IOC Executive Committee and their call for mandatory testing of the players . Bud Selig’s intransigence led to the fracture between MLB and the game’s international governing body the IFAB ( International Baseball Federation) . And as both now look to heal that relationship , they are jointly petitioning the IOC for reinstatement of both baseball and softball for either the 2016 or 2020 Summer Games . For those under the misnomer that the reason behind the baseball’s exclusion from the Olympics had to do with the lack of competitiveness of the teams and the sport’s popularity , that was solely a lie . It all boiled down to MLB’s grandstanding and wishes to usurp the IFAB’s authority . But then again what else should we have come to expect from an oaf like Bud Selig !

As passionate as I am about the game of baseball , I see no real reason not to include the likes of Bonds , Clemens and Sosa into the Hall of Fame , just as long as it is done under the proviso that a statement is carried denoting that the players in question were embroiled in the steroid era and not just simply a plaque denoting their achievements and nothing beyond that . I mean it is not as if the BBWAA has shown a clear predilection to show that they have even thought of doing that . And were it left to left to the mind numbing stupidity of such on-air personalities as Tim Kurkjian , Buster Olney , Rick Reilly or , Tim McCarver and Joe Buck . I would dare say that their lack of vocal outrage as to how much these players have tarnished the game would not be even raised for discussion ! The BBWAA , like MLB’s hierarchy would like to appear to be , all things , to all of the fans without actually contributing much to the diaspora as it relates to the game . The appropriate line from the movie “ Forrest Gump “ pretty much sums up what both bodies are .. about …. “ stupid is as stupid does” !

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Picture gallery , for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the inclusion of Barry Larkin and Ron Santo’s inclusion into Baseball’s Hall of Fame ? And do you believe that the Houston Astros move to the AL West in 2013 will be of benefit to the AL ? By all means do leave a comment with regard to the points raised within this piece .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Arizona Diamondbacks’ Josh Collmenter , left, kicks the pitcher’s mound after giving up a home run to Houston Astros’ ‘ Justin Maxwell , right, in the second inning during a baseball game on Sunday, July 22, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin …

(2) Houston Astros’ Jordan Lyles (41) tosses the ball in the air and teammate Marwin Gonzalez (9) takes his cap off to wipe sweat away during a seven-run sixth inning for the Arizona Diamondbacks in a baseball game on Sunday, July 22, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(3) Houston Astros’ Chris Johnson (23) gets caught in a rundown between Arizona Diamondbacks’ Lyle Overbay (37) and Stephen Drew , who would eventually tag Johnson out, in the sixth inning during a baseball game, Sunday, July 22, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin …

(4) Former Cincinnati Reds star Barry Larkin wipes his eye as he gives his acceptance speech during his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Sunday, July 22, 2012, in Cooperstown, N.Y. AP Photo/Tim Roske …

(5) Former Cincinnati Reds star Barry Larkin, right, is welcomed by Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar , left, at the conclusion of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum induction ceremony, Sunday, July 22, 2012, in Cooperstown, N.Y. AP Photo/Tim Roske ….

(6) COOPERSTOWN, NY – JULY 22: Barry Larkin poses for a photograph with his plaque at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 22, 2012 in Cooperstown, New York. Larkin played his entire 19 year major league career with the Cincinnati Reds, compiling a .295 average , 2,340 hits, 1,329 runs, 198 home runs, 960 runs batted in and stole 379 bases. He was named to 12 All-Star games and was the 1995 National League MVP. Larkin was also a member of the 1990 World Series championship team . Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images ….

(7) COOPERSTOWN, NY – JULY 22: Barry Larkin and Vicki Santo , widow of inductee Ron Santo, pose for a photo with their plaques at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 22, 2012 in Cooperstown, New York. Larkin played his entire 19 year major league career with the Cincinnati Reds, compiling a .295 average, 2,340 hits, 1,329 runs, 198 home runs, 960 runs batted in and stole 379 bases. He was named to 12 All-Star games and was the 1995 National League MVP. Larkin was also a member of the 1990 World Series championship team. Santo was named to nine All-Star games in his 15 major league seasons, 14 of which he played for the Chicago Cubs. He finished his career with 2,254 hits, 1,331 runs batted in, 342 home runs and won 5 consecutive gold gloves at third base from 1964-1968. Santo passed away on December 2, 2010. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images ….

(8) Cubs’ great Ron Santo seen here at Wrigley Field , the player was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame via the Veterans’ Committee . Santos died in December 2010 from the complications of diabetes . His plaque was presented to his widow , Vicki Santo who was joined on the day family and close friends for the induction . Courtesy of ESPN / Matt Armstrong …….

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Hot chic worth getting flustered over Amanda Righetti

British model Peta Todd

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We Make A Lot of Money So We Can Spend a Lot Money , Like The Morons That We Are

We Make A Lot of Money So We Can Spend a Lot Money , Like The Morons That We Are

by tophatal

Now while the political debate meanders on between two of the most inept Presidential candidates seeking to become President of the United States . I have to say that Barack Obama as the incumbent and Mitt Romney are giving me every reason why to find a bunker , remain there , until this whole election cycle , and process reaches a finality ! The banality of their respective campaigns , sniping at each other like infantile children , while offering little of anything tangible by way of dealing with the nation’s most acute issues . Both candidates bring along an “elitist mentality” and the alleged business acumen of Romney is only outshone by his complete idiocy as it relates to his insight on the US economy . That being said , Obama in his four years as the incumbent , has spent much of this nation’s wealth and good standing, like a sailor on furlough , who along the way has stopped at several whorehouses , seeking to gain some sexual gratification .

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This election will be all about choosing between the “ lesser of two evils” , anyone who believes to the contrary had better take a back seat and watch this eventual train wreck actually take place !

As the NBA off-season takes on a whole new shape of idiocy and opinions of the bloggers within this forum . To my amazement the sheer incredulity and complete lack of insight , remains astonishing . Case in point , after the recent decision , made by the New York Knicks , and GM Glen Grunwald in not retaining the services of Jeremy Lin . It would appear that there are those who believe that the organization has erred in that decision . The franchise sought to sign free agent , and veteran point guard Jason Kidd , while also acquiring Raymond Felton in a trade with the Portland Trailblazers .

Lin eschewed re-signing with the New York Knicks , choosing instead to sign the $25 million three-year offer sheet of the Houston Rockets . Lost in all of this , has been Jeremy Lin’s ambiguity in stating that he wanted to remain with the Knicks but somehow he chose to take Rockets’ offer , in making him a full-time starter on a <a href=”http://nba.com/rockets/stats/”&gt; team that this past season was woefully inept . The one positive thing that one can really say about Jeremy Lin , was that for initial first eight or nine games of his professional career with the Knicks , he acquitted himself well . However , fans who praised the young point guard simply overlooked the fact he remained an offensive liability in terms of handling the ball , leading to repeated turnovers (an NBA record of 57 thru’ those games) and on his defense , his game was less than marginally average . Instead , all that we could among the cacophony was the fact that “Lin-sanity” was here to stay and that the player was about to become a marketing phenomenon . In the NBA that is not what constitutes becoming a great player because if that were the case then any half-a#sed player now playing the position would be on their way to untold riches within the league.

The New York Knicks , now looked upon as the “ little engine that could not “ , for all of its grandeur and apparent wealth can be best described as an NBA franchise aimlessly going nowhere ! This was a team that during last season and during the NBA postseason had an aversion to playing any defense and that was in spite of a coaching change , with Mike Woodson being brought in to succeed Mike D’Antoni . In the first round of the playoffs the Knicks were summarily dispatched with consummate ease by eventual champions the Miami Heat . And although Lin was unable to contribute to the postseason foray of the New York Knicks , one seriously doubts that his participation would have changed the result beyond a reasonable doubt . Such was the inevitability of the whole spectacle that you have to wonder where this franchise now goes from here . Carmelo Anthony was the sole bright spot on this team during the postseason , while Amare’ Stoudemire , simply gave us one more reason , to now see him for the complete as#hole that he just happens to be !

If Dwight Howard is looking to make himself the most despised player in the NBA , then he and his agent Dan Fegan have now done enough to make that a reality . Howard has pretty much alienated himself within the greater Central Florida area . Albeit , that he has helped in this endeavor by the ongoing stupidity being shown by Orlando Magic executives COO Alex Martins and GM Rob Hennigan . In the time it would take the for the gestation period of a female pachyderm , this duo has yet to make a decision as a desired destination for the disgruntled center , who as of yesterday was still remains an Orlando Magic player . Martins and Hennigan , could not reach a compromise deal that would have sent Howard to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez , several players and cash consideration . Instead , Nets’ GM Billy King re-signed his young center to a lucrative new deal that makes Lopez one of the focal points of a team that is being restructured to complement the talents of Joe Johnson and Deron Williams .

With that failed attempt to move Dwight Howard , the Orlando Magic have taken to desperation in seeking to off-load the center and are now willing to partner up multiple teams that would facilitate a deal . Entering the fray , we now have the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers seeking make such a premise a reality . Cavaliers’ GM Chris Grant is prepared to send Anderson Varejao to the Orlando , the Lakers sending Andrew Bynum to Cleveland , with GM Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers receiving Dwight Howard . Obviously , the intricacies of this deal are not as clear-cut as it would appear to be , as much of it would predicated upon Howard being willing to sign , a trade-and-sign deal . In the midst of this all , the three-time Defensive Player of the Year has stated , he would prefer to test the free agency market in 2013 , rather than sign a deal that would ultimately be to his benefit . Is it me but is Dan Fegan intent making his client look an even bigger ass than he already is ? Or could it be that Dwight Howard is the butt-hole we now know him to be ? I will let you be the judge of that !

The longer this preposterous saga has gone , the more we can see that the NBA hierarchy , the team owners and general managers can actually conduct business proficiently and with any degree of certainty , much less integrity . Then again , it is not as if the league or owners have conducted themselves honorably , as evidenced in last season’s overly long labor negotiations . Instead , David Stern and his minions antagonized the NBPA (union) to such an extent that we were left with a truncated regular season of 66 regular games that became a physical minefield for the players as well playing in the a postseason , that for all of its drama saw a slew of injuries that curtailed the hopes of a number of teams with championship aspirations . And let us not forget , the commissioner’s ambiguity as it relates to the officiating and the very fact that in his eyes the NBA referees can do no wrong .

My own feelings , over any perceived trade , is that it will set the Orlando Magic back from a competitive standpoint , and it certainly has not helped that the franchise has yet to name a successor to Stan Van Gundy , who was fired as the head coach at the end of the regular season . It has been this incessant and insipid stupidity that has come to characterize this basketball organization in recent years , never-mind the continued underachievement during Van Gundy ‘s reign.

It would be naïve to think that the addition of Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers would not make them better . However , in light of the progress of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the continued presence of the San Antonio Spurs and the ongoing maturation of the younger players on the Spurs’ roster leads me to believe that Mike Brown’s ….. players will be hard pressed to defeat either team in a seven-game playoff series in the postseason . One could point to the fact with the addition of Howard , that of seasoned veteran Steve Nash and as always , the competitive spirit of Kobe Bryant , the Lakers would remain a constant threat . Assessing the team as it is presently structured , there are still a number of flaws that need to be addressed , apart from the somewhat lackluster coaching ability of Mike Brown .

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Do you believe that the trade of Jeremy Lin by way of a competitive standpoint , will we see the player’s improvement as he embarks upon a new phase in his career ? And what impressions do you have concerning the present situation as it relates to Dwight Howard ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit .

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(1) Mitt Romney, left , and Barack Obama , two men who seek the position of Commander-in-Chief , and the de-facto leader of the Western hemisphere . Unfortunately , as their respective campaigns are ramped up , so too becomes the vitriolic exchanges and the asinine claims being made by both Presidential aspirants . AP Photo ….

(2) New York Knicks’ GM Glen Grunwald , center , is seen here with the franchise’s two most recent acquisitions , point guard , Jason Kidd , left , and center , Marcus Camby . Picture appears courtesy of ESPN @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …

(3) HOUSTON, TX – JULY 19: Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets displays his jersey with Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander during a press conference at Toyota Center on July 19, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images ….

(4) HOUSTON, TX – JULY 19: Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets speaks to the media as he is introduced during a press conference at Toyota Center on July 19, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Lin has signed a three year $25 million dollar contract with the Houston Rockets . Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …

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(5) Joe Johnson, left, and Deron Williams smile during a news conference introducing the Brooklyn Nets new back-court of All-Stars at Brooklyn Borough Hall, Friday, July 13, 2012, in the Brooklyn borough of New York in New York. The Nets NBA basketball team re-signed Williams and acquired Johnson. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer …

(6) FILE – In this April 9, 2012, file photo, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, left, leaves the court after the Magic’s 119-89 win over the Detroit Pistons in an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla. Howard told ESPN.com he will have season-ending back surgery on Friday, April 20, to repair a herniated disk. The operation will also prevent Howard from playing in the Olympics in London. The player has now placed the Magic franchise in an unenviable position as he has stated he has no wish to sign a a sign-and-trade deal , preferring instead to “test” the free agency market in 2013 . albeit he also has no wish to remain in Orlando and be part of the Orlando Magic franchise . AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack …..

(7) Lakers’ head coach Mike Brown enjoys a good laugh while in attendance at a charity basketball event in El Segundo , California ,. Seated next to the coach is the team’s EVP & CEO Jim Buss , son of Lakers’ owner Dr Jerry Buss . Getty Images North America / Pat Rice …..

(8) Newly acquired Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash , left, holds his new jersey with general manager Mitch Kupchak at a news conference at the basketball team’s headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., Wednesday, July 11, 2012. The Lakers acquired two-time league MVP Nash from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for first round draft picks in 2013 and 2015 as well as second round draft picks in 2013 and 2014, Kupchak said. AP Photo/Reed Saxon ….

(9) Agent Dan Fegan , left , is seen here with an associate as they go over files of a prospective client prior to the 2012 NBA Draft . Fegan also represents John Wall of the Washington Wizards . Matt Pool /AFP ….

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NBA news

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NBA point guard stats 2011-12

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Top paid NBA point guards (average) & point guard (base salary)

NBA team salaries

Are you down with Your Team …. ?

Are you down with Your Team ?

by tophatal

MLB posts within this site

At this point of the MLB season , we can now assume a number of teams are ready to bail on their respective seasons . Nowhere does this now appear to be relevant than with the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies . Among the highest salaried baseball franchises in MLB , both teams now find themselves in unenviable positions . It would not be remiss to suggest that both managers are under a microscope as well as a great deal of pressure to succeed .

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For Charlie Manuel having tasted success with the Phillies in that franchise’s most recent success , in winning the 2008 World Series . It was felt that the team was built for long-term success at the highest levels . In the subsequent it years , they have been filled with highs and lows . Perhaps this season , unlike any other , it has been one of sheer ineptitude , with little by way of any tangible success or redeeming quality. GM Reuben Amaro , has been at a complete loss to explain the team’s lackluster performances on all levels. It has now reached the point where he is beginning to consider breaking up the roster and trading away players he believes are superfluous to the Phillies’ needs . Among the players now said to be on the “chopping block” , is outfielder Shane Victorino . The player is perhaps one of the franchise’s most beloved and respected players in recent Phillies’ history . This however , does not explain away the apparent woes of this organization from a competitive standpoint . Injuries asides , players such as Cliff Lee , Vance Worley , Roy Halladay , Jonathan Papelbon and Joe Blanton have under-achieved this season . The sole bright spot on an otherwise dour pitching staff has been the pitching of starting ace , Cole Hamels . And the player may well be in line for the NL Cy Young Award consideration , if he is able to maintain his current form . Hamels , alongside R A Dickey , Gio Gonzalez , Johnny Cueto , Ryan Dempster and Matt Cain might be considered amongst the favorites for the award within the NL .

Inasmuch , as the Phillies have had their problems with regard to their pitching , the offense has proven itself to be just as inept . Without the productivity of Hunter Pense and Carlos Ruiz , this team would certainly find itself in a far graver situation than at present . Currently , lying fifth , in the NL East , with a record of 44-52 . It seems hard to understand how Charlie Manuel and his staff will be extricate the team from out of this position . Not content with the fact that they are now 14 ½ games out of first place , currently held by the Washington Nationals (53-36) . The Phillies now have to be content with a situation that also finds them 11 games out , in the wildcard standings within the NL . Talk about a dire situation or what .

If the Philadelphia Phillies are to have any semblance of success over the remainder of the season , then their upcoming schedule and series of games will determine the direction that they will ultimately be heading in. Next up for the Phillies on their agenda will be a three-game home series against the San Francisco Giants (51-40) . Taking the mound for the Phillies will be Vance Worley (3-4, 4.30 ERA) against Tim Lincecum (1-6, 5.84 ERA) of the Giants . The Philadelphia Phillies are not just in need of wins but consecutive series’ wins , anything short of that would have to be seen as a disaster .

Two hundred million dollars ($200,000,000) can buy you a whole lot of luxury , if you are a multi-billionaire , as it the case , with Miami Marlins’ owner , Jeffrey Loria . This was the money spent during the off-season to acquire the presumed talent that team President David Samson and GM Michael Hill felt would be good enough to win a World Series , adding to the organization’s triumphs in 1997 and 2003 . In the nine years since that last piece of success the Miami Marlins have remained in the wilderness , with changes in player personnel as well as their managers over that time-span . The organization had the inaugural opening of the Marlins Ballpark , a $575 million resplendent edifice , built largely in part with public funds made available via a bond issue , guaranteed by the city of Miami . That asides , with the addition of Ozzie Guillen brought in to manage this team , everything was meant to be in place for the franchise to mount a serious challenge not just within the division but also across the MLB landscape .

In a season has been anything but that , in terms of the Marlins actually mounting a serious challenge . There have been inconsistencies on both sides of the plate , with several of the high-priced players on this roster repeatedly coming up short , Guillen and his managerial staff have no answers as to what ails the team . At 44-47 , it is hard to explain how things could go so badly for an organization that was said to be so ambitious from the outset , this season .

With a year that seems to be imploding right in front of the fans’ eyes at the ballpark event with the advent of sold-out attendance for a number of games . It now appears that David Sansom and Michael Hill are prepared to give up on the season , simply gambling on what the outcome might be . Wildly scurrilous rumors , not necessarily from the most reliable sources has the Marlins’ front office now prepared to pull off a mega-trade that would send Heath Bell and Hanley Ramirez to the Boston Red Sox , in exchange for outfielder Carl Crawford , draft prospects and cash consideration . Now as enticing as that trade might appear to be , I seriously doubt that the Red Sox are prepared meet the demands of the Marlins . Then again , I could very well be wrong , given the AL team’s present predicament , with them languishing in the AL East several games behind their arch rivals the New York Yankees .

Courtesy of USA Today

By Bob Nightengale , USA Today

Blockbuster trade proposed between Marlins, Red Sox

The Miami Marlins strutted into their glitzy new digs three months ago, looking glamorous for the TV cameras and thinking their offseason brilliance would make everyone want to come to South Florida .

They may have spent nearly $200 million on free agents and have the highest payroll in franchise history, but they look like the same Marlins. Management is so exasperated by their performance, they are contemplating dumping star players, including Hanley Ramirez.

The Marlins have informed the Boston Red Sox they’d be willing to trade Ramirez and closer Heath Bell for left fielder Carl Crawford and a prospect, according to four officials with knowledge of the talks. The four spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because negotiations are ongoing.

PHOTOS : MLB trade tracker
MORE : Deadline primer: 10 teams, players to watch

Two of the officials who are from the Red Sox told USA TODAY Sports there have been trade talks, but they were initiated by the Marlins. The Marlins, who sent vice president Dan Jennings to Boston to watch Crawford this week, say the talks are active, but they’re trying to determine whether to abandon their postseason hopes before pulling a trigger on any trade. They were 44-46 entering Wednesday, nine games out of first place in the National League East .

“Anything is possible,” said Crawford, who does not have Miami on his no-trade list, when approached Wednesday by news reporters. “Nothing really surprises me anymore.”

The trade would involve players signed to contracts guaranteeing $239 million, making it the second-biggest swap of contracts in baseball history. The 2004 trade that sent Alex Rodriguez to the New York Yankees from the Texas Rangers for Alfonso Soriano involved more than $257 million in contracts.

Crawford, a four-time All-Star who missed the first 89 games of the season before returning Monday, is in the second year of a seven-year, $142 million deal, a record for outfielders; Ramirez, a three-time All-Star and 2009 batting champion, is in the fourth year of a six-year, $70 million contract; and Bell, a three-time All-Star, is in the first year of a three-year, $27 million deal.

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For Carl Crawford , ever since his departure from the Tampa Bay Rays , in signing that multi-year contract (7 years $142 million ) , it has remained something of a struggle for the player to live up to that highly compensated deal . As we know , the season has been a dire one for the Boston Red Sox , and there has been a great deal of indifference between the fans and the newly installed manager Bobby Valentine . The Red Sox manager has tried just about everything in his bag of tricks , and about the only thing has not done has been to run across the center field of Fenway Park , stark naked , as a way inducing his players to be more forceful and productive . Wait a minute perhaps that may well be the next thing that Valentine tries . What do you think ?

To state that the Boston Red Sox are having a bad season would be akin to suggesting that the poll ratings for Congress are somewhat skewered , and does not reflect the true position and popularity of that legislative chamber . Just kidding , as the US Congress is , and has been as fuc#ed up this year , as it has ever been ! In the case of the Boston Red Sox , the departure Terry Francona has seen this organization take a tailspin almost into oblivion . Whatever possessed GM Ben Cherington and team President Larry Lucchino to hire Bobby Valentine , is a still a question being asked and of which in reality , no one has been able to give a succinct answer to . That is unless you just happen to be one of the moronic insiders and MLB analysts within ESPN who still looks upon Valentine , rather favorably . Not I said the fly . Neither , do I ! He is the wrong person for the position , who just happened to be in the right place , at a time when the franchise was said to be in desperate need of an experienced manager .

Whether or not this proposed deal is cultivated and the players in question are sent in opposite directions , it is by no means a certainty that it will all bear fruit for the teams in question by way of immediate success . One thing is for sure at present within the Majors , and that is , these are desperate times , calling for desperate measures for a numbers of teams looking to resurrect their seasons . The Philadelphia Phillies , Miami Marlins and Boston Red Sox are ball-clubs fitting that description .

The performances of the teams within baseball this season pre All Star Game and post mid-season event has been something of an indication as to how susceptible the fans are to first impressions . While the pitching has been in some cases truly exceptional in others, it has been truly inept . At the same time in terms of offense we have seen the likes of Josh Hamilton , Andrew McCutchen , Carlos Ruiz and Matt Kemp provide us with some scintillating performances in the first half of the season . The second half may well provide us with a great deal more but that would also be predicated upon the teams , their play and in particular that of the players , themselves .

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Picture gallery .

What are your expectation as the baseball embarks on the remainder of its schedule ? Which teams do you believe will be among the major players by way any perceived blockbuster trades ? Simply leave a comment on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter . Thanks as always , for the continued of this site , the encouragement and incisive comments brought to the fore . Greatly appreciated by myself and the other patrons of this forum !

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) (1) Philadelphia Phillies’ Shane Victorino scores on a Carlos Ruiz single as Los Angeles Dodgers as catcher A.J. Ellis applies the late tag in the fourth inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Wednesday, July 18, 2012. AP Photo/Reed Saxon ….

(2) LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 18: Matt Kemp (27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates as he runs to home plate after hitting a walk-off two-run home run to right center field against the Philadelphia Phillies in the 12th inning to win the game 5-3 at Dodger Stadium on July 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images ….

(3) Chicago Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano , left, smiles as he arrives at second base on a thrown wild pitch by Miami Marlins starter Josh Johnson during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Wednesday, July 18, 2012. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh …

(4) CHICAGO, IL – JULY 18: Manager Ozzie Guillen (13) of the Miami Marlins (R) takes out starting pitcher Josh Johnson (55) as catcher Brett Hayes (9) stands on the mound during the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 18, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images …

Chicago White Sox’s Paul Konerko watches the flight of his double hit off a pitch by Boston Red Sox’s Jon Lester in the first inning of a baseball game in Boston, Tuesday, July 17, 2012. AP Photo/Steven Senne …

(6) Chicago White Sox’s Alex Rios slides out at second on a steal attempt as Boston Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles , right, makes the play in the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Tuesday, July 17, 2012. AP Photo/Steven Senne …

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MLB Standings 18th July 2011 ….. & wildcard standings one year ago

Foster Hope While Constantly Showing Disdain ………….

Foster Hope While Constantly Showing Disdain …………

by tophatal

The London Olympics are just over a week away from the ceremonial opening . An event that h will be attended by a number of dignitaries as well members of the Royal Family at Olympic Stadium , the main venue where the track and field events will be staged . For IOC President Jacques Rogge , the event comes at a time when he is under considerable pressure to suspend the invitation and participation of Syria at the games . The Arab country’s self-styled leader, and despot , President Bashir Al Assad , and his military forces have wreaked havoc upon the citizens within the country . Claims , as to the estimates of the deaths , now reach several thousand but as with so many claims , be they from human rights’ activists to the UN (United Nations) itself , no one can really be sure of the true figure . In the midst of this all , Rogge has been a major irritant with his incessant stupidity and his greatly raised anti-feminine stance as it relates to the participation of women at all levels of the Olympic Games . He has been very much like a vessel at sea , constantly changing his position as if here were being guided by the wind, and the statement attributed to him are proof of that fact . So much so , there are many who believe that he missed his true vocation in life and that it to be a politician . Instead , he presides over one of the most corrupt sports’ organizations on the planet . Perhaps only soccer’s international governing body, FIFA , under its president Joseph “ Sepp “ Blatter might be considered a more corrupt and disdainful figure than Jacques Rogge .

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Rogge as IOC President is no different from any of his predecessors and it is has become blatantly obvious for those who would care to observe that he feels that his institution has no need to involve itself in any political activity that where the IOC feels the wrath of the alleged country being scorned . As President of the IOC , Jacques Rogge has done little to try to change the tendencies of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran , where females are kept at arm’s length and away in terms of representing their country on the international sporting stage. Then again , his esteemed institution has knowingly accepted millions in bribes in subverting the whole voting process for the designation for an Olympic host country and site . Let’s not fool ourselves here , but the claims that Mitt Romney came in, and cleaned up the mess that the USOC and St Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee ( scandal of solicited bribes by the organizing committee ) were a party to , was simply one more of an indication and reason why the IOC and the games themselves , remain a complete farce ! Romney may well brought into clean up the mess but in reality in the aftermath of it all , nothing has really changed .

Now as proud as I am to see the Olympic Games return to the country of my birth , I am not so sure that the spirit of the event will be truly upheld . For all of the talk about the games being an event where one can foster peace and understanding in a world where geo-political and economic forces are constantly at war with one another . These games will come at a time where we remain in a global economic crisis and the politicians within our midst , are so bereft of common sense and a modicum of intelligence . If you are looking for proof of that fact , then look no further than the constant diatribe from Presidential candidates , incumbent Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney . God , is there no end to this madness ? In addition, there is still three months of campaigning to endure from these two blithering idiots and mindless numb skulls ! They’re each cut from the same cloth and inasmuch as they claim to have opposing views on a number of issues , look closely at what they stand for and simply follow “ the money trail” in terms of the political donations to their respective campaigns from the Super-PAC’s (political action committees). You would have to be a complete asshole not to realize what is going on there .

Now many of you may well be aware that the USOC in their infinite stupidity saw fit to ask famed fashion designer Ralph Lauren to design the uniforms to the US athletes for the opening ceremony (27th July) . And not wishing to dispel any further why it is this country has become so imperiled as no longer being a major manufacturer of goods that crosses all sectors of the economy . How else can you explain the fact that the uniforms designed to be worn by the athletes are made in China ? Granted , we may well live in a global economy . Nevertheless, what type of message is it , that the USOC Chairman Larry Probst is trying to send, or suggest . When he states that this “ faux-pas” (mistake) is simply a minor blip but for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi , Russia , the US athletes will be dressed in US made uniforms . Chilling stupidity , on the part of Probst and his fellow members , whose organization each year receives tens of millions of dollars in donations . With the vast majority of that money coming from the public , albeit , that there are commercial tie-ins major US corporations and Fortune 500 companies . No doubt many of you will have received the customary literature in the mail from the USOC asking for donations as well your support of Team USA . I am not so sure that a donation by me , will actually make multi-millionaire team members such as Michael Phelps , LeBron James , Carmelo Anthony , Serena and Venus Williams breathe a sigh of relief that they are London bound for the Olympic Games ! That is just me pointing what out what is patently obvious !

Now there is no denying that once commercialism hit the ranks of the Olympics , everything in terms of the ideology and the very fact that the event was meant to be about bringing together athletes from various walks of life and around the globe to compete in the “spirit of competition” and ostensibly as amateurs. Now we have sham-amateurism being exhibited on the field of competition , while the ideals of the game’s modern day founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin have been thrown to the wayside . Corporations such as Nike Inc. , Adidas , GE , Rolex , GSK , Pfizer , Porsche , GM , Ford and Wal-Mart Inc. will see their profiles raised on the global stage , as NBC Sports will provide us with almost 400 hours of television coverage through their slate of networks , of the events for the North American television market . This might the one time NBC will actually turn a profit because beyond their coverage of Wimbledon ,the NFL and golf on the Golf Channel , the rest of their programming prime-time lineup is as rancid as the carcass of a decaying corpse !

From an earlier article within this site I wrote about what I believe to be the self-serving acts of the IOC an d specifically the United States and its continually failed foreign policy ! With that being said , as the US government leads , the rest of the Western hemisphere will follow . Not to be left out this idiocy has been the poor response from British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Foreign Secretary William Hague . The two have pretty much followed in line with Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in addressing the ongoing atrocities now taking place in Syria , simply pay the issue lip-service . Each of the aforementioned individuals knows that there is no way in hell that Syrian leader , Bashar al Assad will step down . He will have to be removed forcibly but herein lies the caveat to this all . While , China and Russia as permanent members of the UN Security Council flex their muscles , UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and his special to the Middle East Kofi Annan cower in the background like bitches , and the same can be said from the executives of the British and US government .

David Cameron has heaped a great deal of praise upon the shoulders of Sebastian Coe , Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games . As a former world-class athlete , Coe has pretty much caught the essence of what is expected from these games . He hopes that it surpasses those of Beijing in 2008 and the events of previous games . High hopes indeed , and not insurmountable , if many of the athletes predicted to win gold do actually live up to the presumed expectations ,

The highlights I believe , will be widespread but obviously the visibility of the track and field events , swimming , soccer and the men’s and women’s basketball competitions and tennis will take center-stage . I would have mentioned cycling in terms of the road race but as the sport itself is still embroiled in an issue of its very own making , I do not believe it worth my while to give it any further mention ! It is not as if the sport’s governing body (UCI) has done enough to stamp out the misuse of prohibitive substances at all ! All this while the Tour de France is in full swing and due reach its finality within the next few days . Ah well , it has become part of the sports’ landscape , so why should the Olympic Games be any different ?

Speaking of a sport that yearns to return to the Olympic stage , how much of an ass must Bud Selig remain , and the mere fact that his intransigence and that of the MLBPA (union) led to baseball being no longer a part the Olympics ? His unwillingness to acquiesce has led to IOC determining that baseball and softball are no longer a part of this quadrennial event . Baseball’s international governing body (IFAB) is now petitioning the IOC Executive Committee , seeking either the sport’s reinstatement for the 2016 , or 2020 Olympic Games . The sport’s departure from the Summer Olympics had nothing to do with a decline in its popularity or lack of competition . It had more to do with the reluctance the MLB hierarchy , and union failure to acquiesce to the mandatory testing of the athletes and the rudimentary changes that took place within baseball’s own asinine policy and stance at the time . Not much has changed since then in spite of the commissioner’s insistence that it has . Who are we really to believe now ? And if the idiot fans believe that the World Baseball Classic makes up for the loss of baseball no longer being part the Summer Games and the exposure raised . Then , think again ! On the grander scale of things an audience of 20 million and perhaps another 100 million worldwide , simply cannot beat the exposure garnered by upwards of 300 to 500 million watching simultaneously but there appears to be idiots out there who somehow believe otherwise ! Keep on thinking along those lines because obviously they have no unfathomable idea economically what that type of exposure means .

One of the more obscure sports that will certainly garner my attention will be that of the taekwondo competition . Specifically , I am hoping to see whether or not US athlete Steve Lopez can add to his already impressive tally of Olympic medals and his international resume` . Lopez a multiple medalist at the Olympics and world championships , is perhaps one of the least known members of the US Olympic team that will be in London . But those who know of his proficiency in this event , will know that he is one of the best in the world . As a practicing martial artist , proficient in the areas of karate , taekwondo and savate` , it is my greatest wish to see Steve Lopez succeed and further add to the luster of this sport . And while Mixed martial arts for now has no desire to enter the fray and become an Olympic sort . I am pretty much certain of this fact , UFC President Dana White will be watching closely , as he seeks to gain a further foothold in a genre , the flagship UFC is the preeminent force and promoter of the sport . It is not as if boxing at these at these Olympic Games will have a great deal to offer , and that is with the advent of women being able to participate for the very first time . . Professional boxing is now on its last legs , so why not have mixed-martial-arts enter the realms of competition within the Olympic ideal ? Hell , it would certainly garner more viewers than the sport of boxing which that has been mired in ridicule and controversy well over a decade and that is not just at the professional level but also the amateur level as well . Need I say anymore on the matter . I guess not !

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Picture gallery .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? And which events will be of particular interest to you over the course of the Olympic Games being held in the United Kingdom ? Leave a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slideshow details below for your perusal .
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(1) IOC President Jacques Rogge (left) speaks to LOCOG Chairman Sebastian Coe (far right) attends the’ London 2012 – One Year To Go’ ceremony in Trafalgar Square on July 27, 2011 in London, England. The one year countdown to the London 2012 Olympic games was marked with a unique ceremony in Trafalgar Square, with IOC President Jacques Rogge inviting the world’s athletes to compete in next summer’s games. Getty Images Europe / Clive Mason ….

(2) Jacques Rogge (L), President of the International Olympic Committee, and Sebastian Coe (C), Chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee, and Kelly Holmes (R) , former Olympian Champion speak during the 2008 Pierre de Coubertin Lecture presented by London 2012 at the Radisson SAS Portman Hotel on November 24, 2008 in London, England. The lecture covered advancing the Olympic Games, London 2012 and the future of de Coubertin’s Olympic Movement. Getty Images / Ryan Pierse …..

(3) US President Barack Obama is seen here with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin . The two world leaders have diametrically opposing views on how to treat Syria and the continued turmoil that has already led to the loss of 10,000 lives by conservative estimates . President Obama favors sanctions but has stopped short military intervention , although he believes humanitarian aid be given the Syrian people . Putin , on the other hand , favors the “failed diplomatic” strategy of Kofi Annan , which has seen cease-fire after cease-fire repeatedly broken by the Syrian military at the countenance of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad . One of the reasons behind Putin’s stance is the mere fact that Syria remains one of the largest purchasers of Russian armaments as well as being one of their biggest trading partners . AP Photo / Mark Harper ……

(5) Michael Phelps who hopes to add to his astonishing Olympic medal haul at the upcoming London games . AP Photo / Chris Harper ….

(6) Donald Trump poses for a photo with Taekwondo athletes Steven Lopez (L) , Diana Lopez and fencer Tim Morehouse (R) during the Team USA Road to London 100 Days Out Celebration in Times Square on April 18, 2012 in New York City. Getty Images /Jeff Zelevansky …..

(7) President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogue (R) presents USOC Chairman Larry Probst with an invitation to the 21st Winter Olympic Games during a ceremony for the one year countdown of the 2010 Olympic Games on February 12, 2009 at the Richmond Olympic Oval in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. Getty Images North America / Photo by Jeff Vinnick/ Getty Images … ….

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2012 Olympics

2012 Olympics news & updates

Olympic sites for the scheduled events

Participating athletes

2012 Olympics (countries)

Timetable of schedule & results

Show Me the Money and I Will Show You That I can Play

Show Me the Money and I Will Show You that I can Play

by tophatal …… NBA pieces within this site

Take it any way you can get it , and that appears to be “mantra “ for so many unrestricted free agents at present within the NBA and NFL . The once highly praised hero of the New York Knicks , Jeremy Lin now seems to be superfluous to the organization’s needs . Knicks’ GM Glen Grunwald , in the past forty-eight hours has been making deals in order to bolster the team’s roster . In , have come point guards Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd , with Kidd either being viewed as a backup to Lin , should he still be retained , or more likely the case , his coming off the bench to support Felton .

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Jeremy Lin signed the offer sheet , from the Houston Rockets which is a three-year $25 million contract , wherein , the New York Knicks now have a further forty-eight hours to review and then if they choose to , match the offer of the Western Conference …. franchise . Lin was a member of the Houston Rockets in 2011 before the player was placed on waivers , and then acquired by the Knicks . Initially the young point-guard was a model of consistency before his game fell apart because of his lack of skill-set in being unable to secure the ball and cutting down on turnovers . Far be it for me to suggest but at this moment in time the Knicks have five guards on the roster including Jeremy Lin . With the recent departure of Landry Fields to the Toronto Raptors as an unrestricted free agent . Glen Grunwald now seems to be trying to corner the market in point guards . There has not been this sort of ineptitude shown by the front office , since Isiah Thomas held the dual roles of general manager and team President within the Knicks’ organization.

The New York Knicks for their part had a rather inauspicious return to the NBA postseason losing in the first round to eventual champions the Miami Heat . The franchise , was in many ways so flawed , that you were never given the impression that Carmelo Anthony , Amare` Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler were simply good enough to defeat the Heat . Defensively challenged , one could understand the issues that head coach Mike Woodson with this group of players during the postseason . If Jeremy Lin should be jettisoned by the Knicks and his return the Houston Rockets is a successful one , then the cards still remain in play , as the Rockets seek to acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic . The drama that continues to be played out with Howard , and the franchise that he has continued to antagonize for the better part of the last six months , while acting like a petulant child has been a complete embarrassment to the NBA . As this scenario continues , the fans of the Magic must now question the experience being shown by team COO Alex Martins and the recently installed GM Rob Hennigan . The longer this idiocy remains within the public domain , the more asinine the actions of the Orlando Magic continues to be .

Dwight Howard’s initial wish , was to be sent to the Brooklyn Nets but that situation broke down , when it became known that the Magic’s desires exceeded those of the Nets’ front office . With that conclusion , Billy King in conjunction with team owner Mikhail Prokorov decided to cut their losses , as they re-signed the team’s center Brook Lopez to a multi-year deal . The Orlando Magic still remains with a very disgruntled player and a front office now at a loss , as what to do next . In addition , the franchise has yet to reach a decision , as to a successor to Stan Van Gundy . Moreover, yes, the idiocy continues , as the basketball club meanders like a listless , rudderless vessel lost at sea !

Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey and team owner Leslie Alexander have engineered the transactions wherein , they are currently some $25 million beneath the league’s mandated salary cap of $58 million for the upcoming season . With that sort of financial flexibility the franchise can offer Dwight Howard the type of deal that he seeks but little else beyond that by way of competitiveness . The longer this episode continues , the more ludicrous I believe this whole situation to be ! There seems to be no common sense being shown by the Eastern Conference organization , whereas the Houston Rockets are simply pinning their hopes on signing a player who simply has no desire to be a part of that franchise . Does that actually make any goddamn sense ?

The NBA appears to be bereft of intelligence amongst the league hierarchy , team owners , front office executives but most notably the greed of the NBPA ( union) . You would be hard pressed to indicate that the David Stern and his minions . Declining revenue streams for a number of the NBA teams , meanwhile , ticket prices are have risen on average higher than the rate of inflation , all the while there has been no real restraint being shown by teams and their owners to rein in their expenses . Much of this the commissioner shows his indifference to these issues as he seeks even more notoriety and publicity to place himself in the public eye , as much as many of the game’s more high-profiled stars . Well , David Stern is on the right track , given the situation where his annual salary , in excess of $20 million a year , and that would rank alongside many of the NBA’s highest paid stars . Not bad , for a publicity-seeking whore-monger , is it ? That is after-all what David Stern , is actually all about !

As Team USA seeks to add gold in London , at the 2012 Olympics . I believe that it is time for all of this asinine talk in making comparisons from his current roster and that of the original 1992 “Dream Team” to come to a halt ! As star-laden as the incumbent is said to be , in no way do they possess the “drawing power” or “charisma “ of the team led by Hall of Famers , Magic Johnson , Michael Jordan , Larry Bird , Scottie Pippen , Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley .

Kobe Bryant simply needs to keep his opinions to himself , instead coming off looking like a complete asshole ! As if he has not done so already , in light of his philandering , that led to his recent divorce . What it is it , that Kobe has not learned from Tiger Woods’ fall of from grace ? Was it not enough he acted like an infantile little bitch after his arrest for the sexual assault of a female hotel employee in Eagle , Colorado ? The NBA player cried off , plead his innocence but also at the same time , he threw his fellow teammates Rick Fox and Shaquille O’Neal under the bus , claiming that both Fox and O’Neal were also philanderers , having numerous sexual partners , while the Los Angeles Lakers were on the road . Kobe Bryant , a teammate you can believe in ………… really ? Only , when they are winning , mind you . Now, his dumb ass just happens to “be writing checks with his mouth “ that he simply could not possibly cash !

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Picture gallery .

What thoughts if any have you , concerning the salient points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment or comments as you see fit .

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) (1) FILE – This Feb. 24, 2012 file photo shows New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin laughing during warmups before the start of the NBA All-Star Rising Stars Challenge basketball game in Orlando, Fla. This would have been such an easy decision in February. Lin was the biggest thing in basketball, and no way the Knicks would have let him go elsewhere. Now, knowing his price and with no assurance he'll play as he did when “Linsanity ” reigned , the Knicks may allow Lin to leave for Houston. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …

(2) New York Knicks executive vice president and general manager Glen Grunwald poses for a photograph with Jason Kidd, one of the Knicks two newest additions, following a news conference at the team’s training facility in Tarrytown, N.Y., Thursday, July 12, 2012. Also acquired by the organization , center , Marcus Camby . AP Photo/Kathy Willens ….

(3) (3) FILE – This April 18, 2011 file photo shows Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard speaking at a news conference after he was presented with the 2010-11 NBA defensive basketball player of the year award in Orlando, Fla. Howard is the first player to win the award in three straight seasons. The Houston Rockets were the most active team leading up to Thursday night’s June 28, 2012 draft , making trades to position for a bigger move. As Thursday began, Houston held the No. 12, 16 and 18 picks, but more maneuvering was likely as the team took aim at a superstar big man, possibly Dwight Howard. AP Photo/John Raoux …

(4) Joe Johnson , left, and Deron Williams smile during a news conference introducing the Brooklyn Nets new back-court of All-Stars at Brooklyn Borough Hall, Friday, July 13, 2012, in the Brooklyn borough of New York in New York. The Nets NBA basketball team re-signed Williams and acquired Johnson. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer ….

(5) Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins, left, shakes hands with Rob Hennigan, center, the new general manager of the NBA basketball team, next to the team’s chairman, Dan DeVos , son of team owner , Dick DeVos , at a news conference Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. The franchise is still without a successor to the recently fired, former head coach , Stan Van Gundy .AP Photo/John Raoux ….

(6) Inset seen , are standing , Houston Rockets’ owner Leslie Alexander , seated center , head coach Kevin McHale , alongside are two Rockets’ executives on NBA Draft day . The Rockets were frugal in their draft choices , seeking to complement their roster to meet their needs . Houston Chronicle / James Nielsen ….

(7) Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey , seeks to become a ” major player” in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes . The franchise has the necessary cap room to trade for the beleaguered center but it has been revealed that the player is reluctant to join the Western Conference team . N Y Times / Barton Silverman …

(8) Members of Team USA Basketball are seen here in-front of photographers, as pictures are taken of the team . Mike Krzyzewski will seek to successfully defend the Men’s Gold medal won at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Blake Griffin , third from the left , back row, will not be a participant in London having injured his right knee during a team practice shoot-around . His place will be taken by Anthony Davis , the number one overall pick from this year’s NBA Draft . Kobe Bryant , seated front , far right, had suggested that the 2012 US Men’s Olympic roster would be quite capable of beating the “original ” 1992 US Men’s Olympic Basketball team that beat their opponents during the competition, average of 46.5 points, on their way to winning Olympic gold in Barcelona , Spain , in unprecedented fashion, that year . AP/ Reuters / Max Bronstein …..

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Hot chic pic of the day and do you love it ? Here is Cherry , and I do mean that in the most sincerest of ways .

Amie` . Damn she’s hot !

There’s No Crying in Baseball …..

There’s No Crying in Baseball

by tophatal ……. MLB pieces within this site

So the resumption of the baseball season began with a slew of games this past Friday . But the subject that seems to be heightened as of late , has to be the surprising runs of both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals . Both teams, have placed themselves nicely , to at least make a run at a wildcard playoff berth , if not winning their respective divisions within the NL (National League) .

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Slide show , for your perusal .

In addition , we also have Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo still contemplating shutting down the team is starting ace Stephen Strasburg . If we are to believe the general manager in conjunction with the managerial staff will keep Strasburg innings’ pitch count for the season at 160 innings . Now apart from Strasburg’s outstanding season , we also have the exciting play of the team’s young phenom Bryce Harper . This season however , it has been the exciting introduction of a slew of young players who have reached new heights , that now has the fans in awe . Harper , along with Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo , gives this game of baseball hope , that it may or not have recovered its tainted era of steroids’ use . Something of which baseball’s hierarchy and Bud Selig seems to be in still in complete denial as to whether or not baseball has completely recovered from that reign of malfeasance and incompetence shown by the players in embroiled in this saga , as well as the continued incompetence of the MLB commissioner .

Now while the Nationals have been in large part leading the NL East with what appears to be some ease . In reality , you would have to specify that the position that the Davey Johnson’s ….. team now finds itself in , is one of un-chartered territory . Mike Rizzo either has the intent of wanting to see Washington Nationals to win a World Series’ title or he does not . From my own perception , I firmly believe that this sends a dubious signal to the Nationals’ long-suffering fans ! I mean it is not as if this franchise has ever been a perennial contender for baseball’s highest prize . Instead, it has been this season where the team seems to have the MLB analysts and fans stepping back to take a really good look at this baseball franchise . Rizzo’s continued insistence that Stephen Strasburg will be shut down even if the team is contention places the Nationals under even greater pressure if they are without Strasburg as their headlined starter . While there has been a great deal of praise heaped upon Strasburg’s lofty shoulders , he might not currently be the best pitcher on that Nationals’ pitching staff . Simply look at the stats of Gio Gonzalez for what is clear evidence of that . Now the question that has to be asked , are the Washington Nationals capable of winning their division without Strasburg , while making the postseason ? I will let you be the judge of that !

As an avid Atlanta Braves’ . I am curious to see if Fredi Gonzalez and his managerial staff can get this team into the postseason . Winners of seven of their last ten games , the Braves currently find themselves three games behind the division leading Washington Nationals (50-35) within the NL East. In the wildcard standings they are one game behind aspirants , the Cincinnati Reds(49-38) and Pittsburgh Pirates (49-38) . With Chipper Jones acknowledging that this will be his final season in the Majors, there is a renewed interest in the Cooperstown bound Hall of Fame caliber player. Jones for his part has shown great leadership as he and seasoned veterans Tim Hudson , Brian McCann , Eric Hinske and Dan Uggla have led this team to their current record (48-39). While the roster has seen its fair share of injuries , Gonzalez has managed to get his players playing with a great deal of resolve .

The future seems bright for the Atlanta Braves with their current crop of young stars led by Jason Heyward , Luis Avilan , Mike Minor , Freddie Freeman and Juan Francisco . While I am under no misconception as to what will be needed from the Atlanta Braves , I firmly believe that they are capable of making the playoffs this season . As competitive as the standings now appear to be , it will be the teams playing with a great deal of consistency and being able to maintain that momentum , that we will see making it to baseball’s postseason grand spectacle . The team’s last appearance in the postseason came in 2010 where they end up losing (4-1) to the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS . The Giants would go on to win the World Series that year , defeating the Texas Rangers .

If there are said to be perceived favorites this season based on the play of the teams then at this point of the season , then the New York Yankees , Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox would have to be seen as the ball-clubs in contention within the AL . In the NL , those teams in question are the Washington Nationals , Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants . Granted , with an additional team within each league , now part of the playoff format in terms of the wildcard berth . This premise as engineered by Bud Selig , we are led to believe will create an even bigger interest in the postseason . It is hard to make a case against that notion , as presented by baseball’s hierarchy .

Say what you will , if baseball really wants to be taken seriously and proving to the fans that they are not still operating in the “dark ages” , then the officiating by the umpires has to be a great deal more consistent . Anyone who believes that the game can continue have these inconsistencies without there being some major controversy for the fans to gripe over , has to be questioned as to their mental health. Mike DiMuro’s incompetence and indecision only further heightens the case , that instant replay has to be added to all facets of the game . Anyone who witnessed his ineptitude during a game played between the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees could clearly see that his missed call of Yankees’ outfielder DeWayne Wise alleged catch . DiMuro’s incompetence , is now being masked by the idiocy shown by the fans who claim that baseball does not need any changes with regard to how the officials review their decisions . Yes, and Stevie Wonder was heard to make the statement … “ even I could see that wasn’t a mother-##cking catch “ ! Baseball much like the indifference being shown by David Stern and his continued backing of many of the NBA’s own inept game officials gives credence to the fact that both sports are clearly out of touch with reality , as it relates to baseball( MLB) and the sport of professional basketball . Bud Selig has remained indifferent to this continued controversy , as he has done with so many issues that currently besiege the game but yet he is still viewed as a competent executive .

Now it would be remiss not to remind fans , that this year baseball also has its lone international competition , the World Baseball Classic , with qualifiers starting September 20th-24th 2012 in Regensburg , Germany , with the following quartet of teams looking to make it through a qualifying round-robin competition . Canada , Germany , Czech Republic and Great Britain are those teams in question . The full competition itself will be 2013 , and Team USA will be managed by Joe Torre as seeks to guide the US national to their first victory in the international competition . The event in 2013 promises to be a thrilling competition as they seek win the game’s second most prominent international competition . And for those wishing to see a speedy return of baseball to the Olympics , simply ask that ” bumbling buffoon “ Bud Selig , as to the reason why the game has been shuttered by the IOC Executive Committee ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In the ensuing second-half of the MLB season what do you envisage seeing as a fan ? In addition, which teams do you believe will be ultimately triumphant as the AL and NL pennant winners ? Do leave a comment as you see fit on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Pittsburgh Pirates’ Garrett Jones, left, congratulates Andrew McCutchen (22) after McCutchens’ solo home run against the Milwaukee Brewers during the fourth inning of a baseball game , Sunday, July 15, 2012, in Milwaukee. AP Photo/Jim Prisching …

(2) MILWAUKEE, WI – JULY 15: Aramis Ramirez (16) of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates in the dugout after scoring the last run against the Pittsburgh Pirates putting the Brewers up 4-1 in the bottom of the 6th inning at Miller Park on July 15, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images …

(3) Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg pitches against the Miami Marlins in the first inning of a baseball game in Miami, Sunday, July 15, 2012. The Nationals would go on to defeat the Marlins 4-0 , to remain atop of the NL East . AP Photo/Alan Diaz …

(4) MIAMI, FL – JULY 15: The Washington Nationals celebrate victory over the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on July 15, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ….

(5) MIAMI, FL – JULY 15: Justin Ruggiano (20) of the Miami Marlins strikes out in the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park on July 15, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images …

(6) Atlanta Braves pitcher Ben Sheets delivers against the New York Mets during the first inning of their baseball game , Sunday, July 15, 2012, in Atlanta. AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton … MARIETTA DAILY OUT; GWINNETT DAILY POST OUT; LOCAL TV OUT; WXIA-TV OUT; WGCL-TV OUT ..

(7) Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) follows through with a three-run home run as New York Mets catcher Josh Thole looks on in the fifth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 15, 2012, in Atlanta. The Braves would defeat the Mets 6-1 . AP Photo/John Bazemore ….

(8) Home plate umpire Jordan Baker , right, calls a timeout after Chicago White Sox’s Paul Konerko (14) gets hit by a pitch during the eighth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, July 15, 2012. Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez watches. AP Photo/Orlin Wagner ….

(9) Yankees’ outfielder DeWayne Wise is seen here trying to make his way back unto the field in a game played at Yankees Stadium , against the Cleveland Indians . Inset , also seen , MLB umpire Mike DiMuro who made an erroneous mistake declaring an “out ” when Wise failed to catch and remain in complete control of the ball. DiMuro failed to ask the player whether or not he had caught the ball or seek evidence in light of the availability of instant replay. Numerous fans in the stands tried to make the official aware that Wise did not make a “clean catch” , during which the official shrugged off their claims . AP Photo/ Michael Smith …..

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MLB news

MLB results 15th July 2012

MLB standings

MLB schedule 16th July 2012

MLB probable pitchers 16th July 2012

Overall MLB team stats

Overall MLB team stats (Post All Star break)

AL team stats (Post All Star) & …. NL

MLB stats daily leaders [pitching] (players)

MLB stats daily leaders [batting] (players)

MLB free agents (2012)

MLB team salaries (2012)

This day in baseball history 16th July

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Hot chics pics of the day Denise Milani . Who just happens to be one of SportsChump’s favorite dream women , and you can understand why because of her “ample bounties” .

Esther-Baxter/

Esther Baxter . A ‘sista’ with a wonderful disposition about her . Girl , I do want to lay you down and “lay some pipe ” , ’cause I’m Al “The Plumber” , here , to unclog your pipes !

Myself , I’m not at all indifferent to the female form as it brings out the best in any heterosexual red blooded male ! Would you not agree ?

Here Comes the NFL and Not a Moment Too Soon ……

Here Comes the NFL and Not a Moment Too Soon

by tophatal ……….. NFL pieces within this site

With the NFL preseason , a little less than three weeks away and the first slew of games due, as a precursor to the regular season beginning the 5th September , 2012. Team are getting ready in their preparations before they report for training camps. The off-season still found to be fascinating provides with all of the round-the-clock , of the 24-hour coverage we have now come to expect . So much so , that with the launch of NBCSports Network . ESPN now has a competitor with in its midst and mix to provide the NFL fan with even more news for their already insatiable , and ravenous appetite .

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Slide show .

The off-season itself , has not been without incident , or suspense , with the news that New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees has joined a select group of NFL players to become a member of the $100 million club . Brees having finally agreed to a 5 year $100 million contract , of which $60 million comes by way of guaranteed money . In addition, the quarterback will undoubtedly end his career with the organization that he successfully brought a Superbowl (SBXLIV) .

Now with all of the tumult that has surrounded the Saints this off-season with the countless suits being issued within the US Federal Court System , there are about to be a number lawyers who are about to be well compensated . Saints’ defensive player , Jonathan Vilma has filed two separate suits in the state of Louisiana against the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell , that seeks his reinstatement , injunction overturning his year-long suspension and a defamation lawsuit singularly at the commissioner for defamation of character. Needless to say , the league itself has filed their own suit and grievance against the player , seeking to have his legal action overturned . Do you get the feeling that the acrimony between the NFL and the players , specifically the union (NFLPA) has got a great deal wider , even in light of the recent renewed collective bargaining agreement ? We were told that this agreement would bring us a decade of peace and unison between both sides . It his has been this idiocy and an agreement , simply based on greed and mistrust that has now led us to a point that even the fans now feel betrayed . Albeit , that the alleged actions by the New Orleans Saints cannot simply be overlooked , as there has been a constant slew of misleading statements from the accused and the accusers . Where is Ben Matlock or Perry Mason when you need them the most ?

The embattled New Orleans Saints will start the their season without the services of Sean Payton , as he sits out a year-long suspension . In his role as interim coach , in comes Joe Vitt , who himself will also cede to the league’s edict in having to miss eight games of the Saints’ regular season schedule . Boy , what an absolute cluster fu#k this has been concerning the New Orleans as an organization ! Never mind the fact , that team GM Micky Loomis , also under suspension is now being investigated by the Louisiana State Attorney General’s Office for illegal wire-tapping . Attorney General James ‘Buddy’ Caldwell , has already been called to task by Loomis for overstepping his boundaries by stating that there is no case or cause for Caldwell’s office to be intervening in this matter . I beg to differ , as there is clear evidence to suggest that Loomis has not only broken state laws but also Federal laws as well !

The New Orleans Saints I do not believe are the preseason favorites within the NFC ! The two teams I believe ahead of the them , are the defending Superbowl champions , the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers . In addition, all three teams as we know have Superbowl MVP’s are at the helm of their respective offenses . With Brees coming off a stellar year , which saw the prolific quarterback surpass Dan Marino’s single season passing yardage mark of 5,084 yards , dating back to 1984 . However, the Saints’ 2011 schedule (13-3) would see the team qualify as the third seed in the NFC in 2011. The team led by Brees would make the postseason where they would succumb to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round in a highly competitive game 36-32 .

The 2012 NFL Draft proved to be fortuitous for the Saints , with the coaching staff taking Akiem Hicks , Nick Toon , Corey White , Andrew Tiller and Marcel Jones in rounds three through six . The preseason will present the Saints with a number of issues . Joe Vitt , apart from having to insert his rookies , he will also have to assess the franchise’s free agent acquisitions and insert those players into the side.

The biggest hindrance for the New Orleans Saints winning another Superbowl if their ambitions are to be upheld . Then it will be for the coaching staff to overcome the obstacles that have already been place within their path beyond having to overcome what appears to be a rigorous regular season schedule . It will be incumbent , on the Saints getting off to a fast start , if they are to fare well over the course of the regular season , especially in light of what is expected to be a highly competitive …. NFC South division . A re-engaged Carolina Panthers , along with the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers gives us a quartet of combative franchises within the division . Brees , along with a trio of young quarterbacks , Josh Freeman , Matt Ryan and Cam Newton will no doubt be looking to improve upon last season’s performances , as each seeks to guide their respective teams deep into the postseason .

Week one will see the Saints take on the Washington Redskins at the Mercedes-Benz Dome , in New Orleans , Louisiana . Mike Shanahan will proudly introduce Robert Griffin III , upon whose shoulders the Redskins’ season will ride . The Saints trail the Redskins (8-15) in their head-to-head series tracing back September 1967. . I’m in no doubt that Robert Griffin III will be a success but I doubt that he will be able to have the success seen last season with Cam Newton , as the rookie quarterback and number one overall pick of 2011 simply set the NFL alight .

The Carolina Panthers are no “hard luck story” and but for the lack of a real defense , I firmly believe that the team would have had a great deal more success in 2011 . Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera , one year the wiser , will now see how this team acquits itself during their 2012 sojourn . The Panthers are firmly in place to take advantage of any missteps made by the likes of the Buccaneers , Falcons and Saints . Moreover , with the feeling that the New Orleans Saints will have their issues in the aftermath of the upheavals within the organization , I do not believe that we will see the sort of consistency often seen from this team over the past few seasons .

The NFC South could very well be a series of cat-and-mouse match-ups that will be dependent upon the divisional games and how the teams fare against each other during 2012 . Greg Schiano , the newly installed head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers strives to make this franchise relevant again . Raheem Morris’ era came and went in the blink of an eye from a coach whose inexperience was glaringly obvious for everyone to see . However, with Morris’ firing there were many who felt that GM Mark Dominik should have asked to relinquish his position. Raheem Morris’ failings were also Dominik’s as well , as both reconstructed the Buccaneers in their own image . Unfortunately , the success they strived for was nowhere to be seen , even in light of going 10-6 in 2010. That aberration along with the inconsistency shown by Josh Freeman , and you have to wonder where the Buccaneers are now heading .

In 2012 the Buccaneers will have a great deal to prove , not only to themselves but also their long-suffering fans as the fan-base of the franchise has dipped along with the television ratings in their home market . That will be the true test for Mark Dominik and the Buccaneers’ Marketing & Sales Department , beyond what the team will seek to achieve this year. The Glazer family as owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have parlayed their notoriety beyond the NFL franchise , to assume control of the EPL soccer team Manchester United , where they have devoted a great deal of the time to not only burdening that franchise with a great deal of debt ($2 billion [$2,000,000,000]) but also seeing a considerable amount of success , since they assumed full control of the team in 2005. It has been that sort of indifference shown , that has drawn the ire and anger of the Buccaneers’ fans since that acquisition . Now , Malcolm , Avram and Joel Glazer will have to reaffirm their attention back to the NFL franchise and in a consummate business manner deal with the issues that have placed Buccaneers in their current predicament .

Matt Ryan has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the NFL over the past four seasons. His maturation process has seen him improve but the “ knock against” the player has been the fact that he has been unable to lead the Atlanta Falcons deep into the postseason . Head coach Mike Smith and his young quarterback will seek to address those doubts as they embark on their preseason and regular season schedule . The Falcons possess a consistent offense but it has been the productivity of Michael Turner and the rushing offense that makes the Falcons a repeated threat as they enter the season . Whatever awaits the Falcons and their fans this season , it will be interesting see how Matt Ryan and his teammates fare .

Far be it for me to suggest but the continued hyperbole over the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles continues to grate on my nerves ! Both teams in recent years have done little to suggest that they are actually capable of winning a Superbowl . In addition , while the NFC East continues to be looked upon as one of the most desirable divisions in the NFL. In truth nothing else , other than the success of the New York Giants , the rest of occupants have offered the fans of the NFL a mere morsel by way of anything tangible in terms of success . There is no doubt in my mind that Jason Garrett and Andy Reid will be under close scrutiny of not only the fans , NFL analysts but also the respective front offices of the Cowboys and Eagles . If it has yet to sink into the pea sized brains of Jerry Jones and Jeff Lurie that their respective coaches have failed miserably in their respective capacities in 2011, then nothing ever will . Excuses abound from all corners of each of the organizations in question but yet Tony Romo and Michael Vick are continually lauded over as being amongst the very best at their profession within the NFL .

Vick while being a terrific athlete , is still in the midst of re-imaging his career and becoming much more “family friendly” . Tony Romo for his part , continues to make excuses for what is already abundantly clear for those who are willing to say it . He is a good regular season quarterback but but one who is incapable of showing the necessary traits required to lead a team deep into the postseason . This season may well hold a great deal more than great games in the NFL as it is my firm belief that there will be several coaches whose heads will be on the “chopping block” if they fail to attain some semblance of success . The suspense will unfold but quite possibly , by week six or seven we could very well be seeing the first managerial casualty of the season . Then , it could well be sooner , rather than later .

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Picture gallery .

As a fan of the NFL what are you most looking forward to , as the preseason and regular season is set in motion ? Do leave a comment as you see fit .

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass and breaking the NFL single-season record for passing yardage, held by Dan Marino, in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans. Brees has agreed to a five-year, $100 million contract with the Saints, with $60 million guaranteed, on Friday, July 13, 2012, a person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press. AP Photo/Rusty Costanza ….

(2) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, right, shares a laugh with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as they recognize Soldier Field as the only NFL stadium to become a LEED-certified green building during a news conference, Thursday, May 31 2012, in Chicago. Goodell and the NFL have filed a lawsuit against Saints’ defensive player Jonathan Vilma in seeking to overturn his defamation lawsuit against the league and the commissioner . AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast ….

(3) Tony Romo (9) of the Dallas Cowboys greets Michael Vick (7) of the Philadelphia Eagles after a game at Cowboys Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. Romo suffered a hand injury during the first quarter of play against the Eagles. Getty Images / Ronald Martinez …..

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NB : A follow-up piece with regard to the AFC will be in place , in due course .

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NFL team salaries

Top salaries (base) & …. average

2012-13 NFL salary cap set for this season at $123.55 million

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