Desperate measures call for desperate remedies , in desperate times

Desperate measures call for desperate remedies , in desperate times

By Tophatal

In what, once looked like a an all-out single-handed race with a hare taking the lead in the race for one of the two AL wildcard berths for the postseason . It now looks as if the Tampa Bay Rays are looking to play themselves out of contention in the aforementioned two-horse race. For Joe Maddon and coaching staff , this now comes about getting this team to recommit themselves to the task at hand. .

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Granted, the Rays were not major players in the trade deadline in making any major deals as they stood pat at the insistence of GM Andrew Friedman . With limited financial resources , there is no denying that Friedman has been able to work miracles over the past few years . So much so , that he has to be considered one of the better young front office executives in all of baseball. One of the really telling issues for the Tampa Bay Rays for this season has been the very fact that the pitchers are getting very little run support from the offense . And if that cannot be dealt with in a timely fashion , with a little more than thirty games left on the MLB schedule . It has to be said that desperation will set in not only amongst the Rays but also with a number of teams on the cusp of garnering a playoff berth and with those other franchises in locked into a tight divisional race .

The return of Evan Longoria from the DL , was seen as an added bonus for a team that was said to be desperate for run production. So erratic have been the Rays’ performances as they sought to narrow the gap between themselves and the New York Yankees (75-55) within the AL East. Now the Rays find themselves four games out of first place within the division and 1 ½ games out of the wildcard race . Coming off a heartbreaking 2-0 loss at the Rogers Center in Toronto , to the Toronto Blue Jays . The Rays will face the Blue Jays once again on Friday , with Jeremy Hellickson (8-9,3.42 ERA) on the mound facing his Jays’ counterpart Brandon Morrow ( 7-5, 3.06 ERA ) . A win , is a must for the Tampa Bay Rays , they embark on the final month of their schedule . Sunday , pits the Rays in the final game of their three game series against the Toronto Blue Jays. However, it will the highly anticipated upcoming home series against their divisional rivals the New York Yankees that may well determine how resolute the Rays are , as they seek to keep themselves apace of the other wildcard berth contenders , as well as within striking distance of the Yankees within the division. That series begins on the 3rd September ,with the first of three games of what should turn out to be a highly competitive series , which the Rays currently lead 7-5, in what is a year-long schedule of eighteen games that are normally played between the two teams.

On the mound for the Rays in the three set series against the New York Yankees will be James Shields (12-8,3.91 ERA) on 3rd September , Alex Cobb (8-8,4.39ERA) on the 4th September and in the final game of the series will be Matt Moore (10-8, 3.58 ERA) . Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi has yet to affix his starting lineup of pitchers for the series . The New York Yankees’ pitching lineup has seen a number of injuries sideline several of their starting pitchers , and it has left to Girardi and coaching staff to designate a starter for several of the team’s games according to readiness and availability at the time. Throughout much of the season , it has been the Yankees’ pitching that is and will remain their Achilles’ Heel . It is something that has not been lost on the Yankees’ opponents over the course of this season . However, with Girardi’s over-reliance on the team’s offense and the mere fact that their propensity for the “ long-ball “ (home runs) seems to be one of the team’s most effective weapons in their arsenal , and it has made it far easier for the New York Yankees to eke out their wins over the course of their 2012 schedule . Now whether or not this team can maintain its lead over the rest of their divisional rivals over the remainder of the season remains to be seen.

If there is one AL team that I would certainly like to see appear in this postseason , then it would definitely have to be the Oakland A’s ! This long-suffering franchise , often the butt of so many jokes , finally seems to living up to the potential that their fans believed that they had within them. What was once considered a two-horse race within the AL West between the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers for the divisional supremacy , has now been gate crashed by the upstart A’s . So much so , that should there be the slightest complacency amongst the Rangers, then quite possibly the A’s could walk away with their first divisional title since 2006 and first playoff appearance since that year , when they made the ALCS , only to be swept by the Detroit Tigers (4-0) in four games .

This season through sheer hard work, grit and determination the Oakland A’s are proving that this young team , that they have what it takes to challenge the might of the , Angels , Yankees , Tigers , White Sox and the Orioles . Bob Melvin and his coaching staff are proving that nurturing of the young talent and getting these players to apply themselves to the task at hand , is far more beneficial than spending countless millions on over-priced talent . At 72-57 , good enough for second place within the AL West, it has to be noted that the A’s would not have found themselves in such a position , were it not for the contributions of Brandon Inge , Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick , Jonny Gomes , Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss . From a pitching standpoint , it has been left to the likes of Tommy Milone , Jarrod Parker , Ryan Cook and Brandon McCarthy to lead the way. Granted , with the 50 game mandatory suspension of Bartolo Colon for violating baseball’s drug policy , it does leave the A’s in something of a bind. However, with what appears to be the growing confidence of the team and the ingenuity being shown by Bob Melvin , there is no reason to believe why the Oakland A’s cannot overcome such a major adversity. Even without Colon , the team is proving that they are resilient enough to plow on through without their most experienced pitcher .

With a mere thirty-three games left in their schedule, and coming off a victorious 12-7 defeat of the beleaguered Cleveland Indians . Next up for the A’s , is a three game series at the O Coliseum , in Oakland , California, against the Boston Red Sox . If Bob Melvin’s players can at least come away with either a series’ sweep or a 2-1 series’ win . then it would bode well for the team , when they are due to meet the Los Angles Angels in what might is sure to be a highly anticipated and competitive series . To date the A’s are 7-5 in their head to head meetings with Mike Scocsia’s —– Angels this season . With their resiliency , this series with the Angels , which begins on Monday 3rd September with game one of the three-game match-up should prove to be eventful . And whoever, holds sway at the culmination of this three-game set could as such be viewed as one of the team’s said to be “in the driver’s seat” with regard to assuring their own fate. So tight is the bottle-neck atop of the AL wildcard standings , that one of the teams in question can now afford to have any major slip-ups between now and the end of the season , which culminates on the 3rd October , 2012. The A’s fate, now lies in their own hands , and it will be interesting to see how this ball-club deals with the obstacles placed in their way .

The Detroit Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch is not an individual who is averse to spending money and in conjunction with team GM Dave Dombrowski , and in recent years the ball-club have spent a great deal of the owner’s money in assembling a competitive team . The biggest splash made in the off-season , came by way of the Tigers acquiring Prince Fielder as a free agent and then signing the first baseman to a lucrative nine-year $214 million contract that makes the first baseman one of the highest paid players in the game . That asides, the Tigers have simply struggled to be in recent years to make themselves part of baseball’s postseason fare. In 2011 , the team was brushed aside by the Texas Rangers in the ALCS 4-2 , and it left something of an embarrassing and unsavory taste in the mouths of the Tigers’ players.

Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland , the venerable sage of the game , along with his assistants have assembled a roster in 2012 , through free agency via their farm system . The challenge however , for 2012 , has been to main a consistency to their season , while challenging for divisional supremacy within the AL Central . That task is being made extremely difficult with the very fact that the Chicago White Sox (72-58) have been playing at a high-caliber , while not seeking to let the Tigers try to eradicate their three-game lead within the division . In their most recent game against the Kansas City Royals , Detroit did themselves no favors by simply letting that game slip from within their grasp on their way to a self-deprecating 2-1 loss to the Royals. . Clearly, it is games such as this, that the Tigers can ill-afford to lose if they are to have any chance of erasing the White Sox’s lead within the division.

The Detroit Tigers will play hosts to the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan , for three games for what is sure to be three exciting match-ups in front of a sold-out crowd of rabid and vociferous Tigers’ fans. The first of those three games takes place today with Doug Fister (7-8, 3.67 ERA) taking mound for the home team against Jake Peavy(9-9, 3.09 ERA) . This series is likely to be one of pitching match-ups , than that of it being an onslaught of offensive power being on display. The pitching staffs in question are pretty evenly matched and their respective team ERA’s are only a few percentage points (0.62) apart . Whomever, holds sway at the culmination of the series should feel content with their situation , as the season slowly meanders to a close .

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Picture gallery .

With the regular season of baseball now in its final quarter stretch run , what if anything has been the biggest surprise to you , during this season ? And which teams do you see or feel will be viable contenders for the AL and NL pennants ? To your mind which ball-club has been the biggest disappointment over the course of this year ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit on this, and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slide show details .
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Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Moore walks off the field after giving up two runs against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Toronto. The Rays would go on to lose the game 2-0 to the Blue Jays . AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim ….

(2) Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Evan Longoria watches the ball sail toward the fence after hitting a two-run home run against Texas Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison in the first inning of a baseball game , Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. The hit also scored Ben Zorbist. AP Photo/Tim Sharp ….

(3) New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia (52) looks down as Toronto Blue Jays’ Adam Lind rounds third base on a two run-home run hit by teammate Yunel Escobar in the sixth inning of a baseball game , Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Rich Schultz …

(4) Yunel Escobar(5) of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a two run double against the New York Yankees during their game at Yankee Stadium on August 29, 2012 in the Bronx Borough of New York City. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images …

(5) Oakland Athletics Josh Reddick , right, is greeted by Yoenis Cespedes after hitting a two-run home run off Cleveland Indians’ Justin Masterson during the fifth inning of a baseball game , Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Cleveland. AP Photo/Ron Schwane ….

(6) Manager Bob Melvin(6) and < Seth Smith (15) of the Oakland Athletics argue strike three with home plate umpire Paul Emmel (50) during the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 30, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images ….

(7) Kansas City Royals’ Alex Gordon , right, runs past Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird after scoring a solo home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …..

(8) Home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez (79) , center, calls Kansas City Royals’ Billy Butler , left, out after Butler tried to steal home on a wild pitch during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ….

(9) KANSAS CITY, MO – AUGUST 29 : Prince Fielder (28) of the Detroit Tigers and Mike Moustakas (8) of the Kansas City Royals laugh after colliding on a play at first base during the 6th inning of the game at Kauffman Stadium on August 29, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images …

(10) Starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the 1st inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 28, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images …….

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Times are a changing but not necessarily for the better …..

Times are a changing but not necessarily for the better

By Tophatal

Well as we now enter the final week of the 2012 NFL preseason , there is not a lot that the NFL fans have learned . The league hierarchy remains the idiotic mess we have come to expect during the tenure of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . There seems to be no real conciliatory effort on the path of the league sort out their differences with the NFLRA (Referees’ Union) . The league enforced lockout , reminiscent of their actions against the NFLPA (Players’ Union) simply indicates how out of touch with reality the hierarchy remains , whose backing by the franchise owners seems equally ridiculous . Continued blown calls by the replacement referees brought in from the D2 and D3 levels of Collegiate Football and the NFL expects the fans to be completely satisfied with this premise ? I think not !

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I will say this for the beleaguered New York Jets and the brave face that’s now being put on by starting quarterback Mark Sanchez , all the explanations in the world , simply cannot hide how woefully inept this team has been over the course of their preseason schedule to date. The much-hyped tandem of Sanchez and his backup Tim Tebow , between them the duo have yet to throw a touchdown pass in the preseason . Never mind the fact that the team’s offensive coordinator Tony Sparano continues to express his implicit and binding faith in the abilities of the duo. Personally, I would like to know what Sparano bases his premise on ! If there is said to be an NFL coach that will be more under the microscope other than Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan and perhaps Norv Turner of the San Diego Chargers , then I would be pleasantly surprised !

Given the results of the Jets this preseason their standing (0-3) within the AFC East and the very fact that both quarterbacks have performed poorly , I believe that Rex Ryan has a number of things to feel worried about . The 2012 NFL Draft and the selections made by the Jets’ management led by GM Mike Tannenbaum would suggest that they feel that this season , the organization is about to turn the corner . Quinton Coples , Stephen Hill, Demario Davis, Josh Bush , Terrance Ganaway , Robert T Griffin, Antonio Allen and Jordan White are the players sought to make a major contribution to the team this season . As the draftees taken in this draft by Jets , they each have a great deal to live up to , when based upon their predecessors from last season .

Coming off a lackluster performance in 17-12 loss to the Carolina Panthers , the Jets final preseason game has them meeting the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field , in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , this Thursday evening . With teams having to cut their rosters down to 73 players before having to whittle down to that mandated figure of 54 players , it will be interesting to see the choices that will no doubt be made by the New York Jets , as well as the other franchises around the league. This much is certain for players picked after the 5th round in the NFL Draft and the non-roster invitees left on the player personnel rosters , the final preseason games of 2012 will now mean more , than ever before .

Chris Cooley of the Washington Redskins may well have been one of the more understated players in the NFL but there was no doubt what he brought to the Redskins as a player. After eight years of service with the only professional franchise he has played for , the tight-end was cut by Redskins’ franchise on Tuesday afternoon. Drafted in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft , Cooley has been one of the corner-pieces in the franchise in his subsequent eight years with the Washington Redskins. I have no doubt that he will prove to be a valuable asset and pickup for any franchise in the NFL looking for a very good blocking tight-end and slot-receiver . With the departure of Cooley , the Redskins are left with just three tight-ends on their roster , who between them have a combined eleven years of experience in the NFL. The trio is led by Logan Paulsen , Richard Quinn and Fred Davis , and it remains to be seen which of the three will be one the main receiving targets for Redskins’ incumbent starting quarterback Robert Griffin III .

Wednesday night’s game at Fedex Field between the Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers , may well go a long way in telling us how the three aforementioned players might fare against a Bucs’ secondary that has yet to truly establish itself this preseason. For both of the young quarterbacks facing each other tonight , Josh Freeman and his counterpart Robert Griffin III. This will give both players that much-needed final tune-up before they each embark of on their respective 2012 forays into the regular season .

Oh the thought that once again baseball finds itself within the morass of more players being caught within the net cast of the league hierarchy’s drug testing policy. Heaven forbid , that Bud Selig still feels that the edicts in place have actually dampened the players’ ardor to cheat. In truth , it simply has not because at the minor league level , more players than ever before , are still being caught . A fifty game suspension while supposedly having to undergo a mandatory drug counseling program , proves to be , about as useful as handing a newborn baby a pacifier while not feeding that child for the next twenty fours . It’s not going to stop that child from crying and it certainly will not abate the cheating that has , and will continue to take place within the world of baseball. Anyone who believes that to be to the contrary has to be that naïve or not willing to accept the fact that the MLB hierarchy simply has no answer for the “monster “ that they created !

Pitch count , innings’ count , call it what you will but the jig is up, concerning the Washington Nationals and GM Mike Rizzo’s stance on the team’s starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg . This continued idiocy by the organization that it is their intent to shut-down the player for the season , once he has pitched anywhere between 160 to 180 innings for the year , sounds just as asinine today , as when it was first considered by Nationals’ front office and coaching staff ! With the team now in the midst of a tight divisional race within the NL East , one has to wonder what the mindset has to be with the Nationals’ general manager.

In continuing with this premise , this undoubtedly sends a disingenuous message to the Washington Nationals’ fans but also to Strasburg’s own teammates . Far be it for me to suggest that this maneuver indicates that the Nationals are bailing on the most successful year in the franchise’s history . I get the feeling that the feeling that Mike Rizzo has not put a great deal of thought into his proposed decision. Team manager , Davey Johnson continues to be diplomatic on the matter , simply reiterating much of the front office spiel concerning this issue .

In light of the Nationals’ recent record , if this move is countenanced and Strasburg is indeed shut-down . I would hate to see what bearing this might have on the team should they fail to make the MLB postseason . One thing is abundantly clear this is team is better off with Stephen Strasburg as part of their pitching lineup , than they are without him . Suffice to say, that if they throw away what appears to be a unique chance to make a legitimate run to the World Series , then the burden of blame for this blunder , will rest squarely upon the shoulders of Mike Rizzo and absolutely no one else ! Coming off what can be best described as something of an 9-0 drubbing at the hands of the Miami Marlins . Strasburg had one of the worst performances of his career .

Next up for the Washington Nationals is the second of a two-game set against the Miami Marlins at Marlins’ Ballpark , in Miami , Florida . On the mound for the Nationals will be Ross Detwiler (3-2, 3.25 ERA) who will face Jacob Turner (1-2, 6.87 ERA) of the Marlins . This game should be something of an indicator as to whether or not the Nationals have fully recovered from the previous night’s events . Awaiting the Nationals at the culmination of this series will be the reigning World Series champions , the St Louis Cardinals , who themselves are seeking to place themselves into playoff contention for an NL wildcard berth. The Washington Nationals will play host to Mike Matheny’s —– Cardinals in what is sure to be three pivotal games with a great deal of bearing on the divisional races , as well as the aforementioned wildcard standings .

With so much on the line for a number of teams at this juncture , it will be interesting to see which ball-clubs will be making the moves and which will fall by the wayside.

Now unless I am mistaken the blockbuster trade that essentially indicated to us all that the Boston Red Sox felt it necessary to jettison themselves of $275 million in payroll, merely to show that they sought to stand behind their beleaguered manager Bobby Valentine . Throughout the year, this Red Sox team has been lackluster , lacking in passion but above all there seems to be absolutely no leadership from anyone on the roster. There are those who may well have felt that the player dissent was justified but a great deal of the underlying issues to the Red Sox’s malaise does have a lot to do with the performance of Bobby Valentine and his staff . Uninspiring , unimaginative but above all , we are seeing a manager that in spite of his alleged experience , it does look as if the game has passed him by .

The departure of Carl Crawford , Nick Punto , Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers , now gives the NL West ball-club the added credibility they well have sought , as they seek to chase down the division leading San Francisco Giants . The Dodgers have not been part of the postseason since 2009 and a World Series appearance for this revered franchise last came in 1988 , which ended which ended with a 4-1 series victory over the Oakland A’s .

Undoubtedly, with the new ownership in tow led by Magic Johnson , Peter Guber , Mark Walter , Todd Boehly and Stan Kasten . At the heart of Johnson’s intent , is to see this venerable club back to where he believes they rightfully belong . And that is, as perennial contenders challenging a for a pennant and World Series annually , with a high-caliber team at the heart of it all.

In the aftermath of Frank McCourt’s mismanagement of the franchise, it has to be noted the sale of the team for an astounding $2.156 billion was seen as a breath of fresh air. The ringing approval from the fans notwithstanding , baseball’s handling of this entire episode should be used as a business management tutorial , as what not to do in the case of a crisis. Now with a multi-billion television contract in tow , the financial resources now at the front office’s disposal might be on par , with that of the New York Yankees . Guggenheim Baseball Partners , the holding company and proprietary owners of the franchise are the sports’ management arm of the venture capital firm Guggenheim Partners LLC . With assets exceeding $125 billion , it must be said the Dodgers’ current payroll of $ 169.8 million would be viewed a blip on their scale and it is here , where there now seems to be a diverging path between the haves and have not’s within the game of baseball . Beyond the idiocy baseball’s now apparent drug policy while netting its share of cheaters , in no way has it slowed the trend of the players seeking or using PED’s . The penalties that the league hierarchy now has in place , has not slowed the pace of the misuse and with the league now conducting an investigation into the actions of former clubhouse manager and fitness instructor Kirk Radomski . It has to be said why now , and not when allegations first came to light concerning this individual ? .

Courtesy of MLB.com

MLB explores agents’ alleged link to PED dealer

By Paul Hagen , MLB.com

Major League Baseball is investigating whether agents Sam and Seth Levinson acted as liaisons between former All-Star catcher Paul Lo Duca and admitted steroid distributor Kirk Radomski, MLB.com has confirmed.

The story first appeared in USA Today.

A well-placed source noted that, while both Major League Baseball and federal authorities are looking into the matter, this is an ongoing investigation and no conclusions have been reached at this point. The source also said this recent development stems from a story in the New York Daily News on Aug. 19 that said Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, who had just been suspended for use of performance-enhancing substances, tried to escape punishment by creating a fake website advertising a non-existent product to indicate that he unknowingly took a banned substance.

Cabrera also is represented by the Levinson’s ACES Inc. Both agents have adamantly denied any involvement.

According to USA Today, Lo Duca alleges that he was introduced to Radomski by the Levinsons. When the Mitchell Report was released in December 2007, it documented copies of three checks to Radomski for $3,200 each. USA Today reported that it has a copy of one check from a joint account between Lo Duca and Sam Levinson imprinted with the address of the agent’s Brooklyn offices.

Radomski is a former Mets clubhouse attendant; Lo Duca played for the Mets in 2006 and ’07.

The Daily News reported that federal agents have been looking into Cabrera’s associates to try to determine the source of the synthetic testosterone that was detected in the urine sample of the 2012 All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player.

One Cabrera insider, Juan Nunez, allegedly paid $10,000 to set up the bogus website. Nunez has been described as a “paid consultant” of Aces Inc. He told the Daily News that the agents had absolutely no connection to the scheme.

USA Today further reported that MLB’s probe also is focusing on a former Venezuelan bodybuilder named Cesar Paublini, who is now Cabrera’s Miami-based trainer. Paublini told the paper that he had not been contacted by investigators at this point, but added that Cabrera had introduced him to Juan Nunez.

Finally, the paper said, MLB would like to question Lo Duca to determine whether he was a paid consultant for ACES Inc.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Baseball has continued to do the fans the greatest disservice possible and granted , Bud Selig’s most recent public statement has simply been to talk about further television contract extensions , while not addressing the most acute issues that the game now has within its midst as an adversarial object . It simply has been the commissioner’s way of dealing with problems, that he has simply been unable to solve or has any idea how to deal with succinctly . In all reality , should we have expected any less from perhaps the most imbecilic executive in all of professional sports ? Your thoughts on the matter please ?

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Picture gallery .

In light of the ongoing problems within the game of baseball , what do you feel are the game’s biggest issues ? As the NFL preseason meanders to its finality, is there a chance that the NFL hierarchy and the referees’ union will come to a satisfactory conclusion that will be amenable to both parties ? Or are we likely to see the replacement referees adjudication regular season games deep into the NFL calendar ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit .

Picture and slide show details below.
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New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) reacts as the Carolina Panthers defense celebrates a sack during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ….

(2) Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) avoids a tackle by New York Jets linebacker Aaron Maybin (51) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …

(3) New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow throws a pass against the New York Giants during the second half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Rich Schultz ……

(4) Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III dives for a first down during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, in Landover, Md. AP Photo/Richard Lipski ….

(5) Chris Cooley (47) of the Washington Redskins watches a game against the New York Jets at FedExField on December 4, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. The player was cut by the Redskins’ front office after eight years of service to the NFL franchise . Patrick McDermott/ Getty Images North America …

(6) MIAMI, FL – AUGUST 28: Pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) of the Washington Nationals against the Miami Marlins as catcher Kurt Suzuki and pitching Coach Steve McCatty walk off at Marlins Park on August 28, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images …

(7) DENVER, CO – AUGUST 29: Pitching coach Bo McLaughlin (40) of the Colorado Rockies visits the mound to talk with pitcher Will Harris (48) and the rest of the infield during the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field on August 29, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The strategy visit proved unhelpful as Harris gave up a grand slam to the next batter as the Dodgers went on to defeat the Rockies 10-8 to avoid the three game sweep . Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images ……

(8) Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Joe Blanton (56) challenges Colorado Rockies’ Josh Rutledge during the first inning of a baseball game , Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, in Denver. AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez ….

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You can only continue to kick the can so far down the street ….

You can only continue to kick the can so far down the street

By Tophatal

The NFL preseason is proving to be a great deal more than a profound embarrassment for the league hierarchy. While we have the replacement referees adjudicating the games , the fans and public alike have witnessed the repeated blown calls . Yet somehow the fans are being made to endure this fiasco because NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ego seems to know no boundaries. Goodell’s power and its reach have gone beyond the usual parameter but the game’s highest-ranking official and the team owners march to the beat of their very own drum . And the cacophony of noise in question, just happens to be the billions of dollars that rolls into the NFL’s coffers on an annual basis .

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Slide show .

If the NFL is to continue to pander to the whims of the commissioner, then why can it not do so with a modicum of decency? Goodell has insisted that this league enforced lockout has been done because the officials of the NFLRA have not conducted these negotiations with any veracity , merely looking to circumvent at each and every turn in hindering any progress. The commissioner has been the one seeking an adversarial approach in these deliberations , while looking to paint the referees as the villains of the peace. Now three weeks into the preseason and we have seen a glut of blown calls , without any wherewithal from these college game-day officials , who made their mark at the D2 and D3 level of the collegiate ranks of the game.

The fans are having a hard time tolerating this fiasco , while the league hierarchy continues on their merry way with their subterfuge. At some point there will be an uproar and if this idiocy continues in its present guise , then the backlash against the NFL will be so vocal that not even Roger Goodell will be able to come up with a succinct enough answer for the ongoing problems. As we approach Week 4 of the preseason , it is becoming abundantly clear that the two parties are no closer to resolving this impasse , than they were at the beginning of these deliberations . The final glut of games begin this Wednesday , with the Washington Redskins (2-1) playing host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1).

Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan may well see the drafting of Robert Griffin III , as the “silver lining” sought, in order to make the Washington Redskins a resurgent force once again. Griffin alongside his fellow Redskins’ draftees Josh LeRibeus , Kirk Cousins, Keenan Robinson, Adam Gettis , Alfred Morris , Tom Compton, Richard Crawford and Jordan Bernstine, this has to be viewed as their chance to shine , as they seek to make their present felt in the NFL. And coming off their 30-17 annihilation of the Indianapolis Colts , in a match-up that pitted Robert Griffin III against Andrew Luck , the player who preceded him as the number one draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft . And so, far the rookies taken in this draft have slowly begun to acquit themselves to the rigors of the league and prove their worth to their respective teams.

Greg Schiano , head coach of the Buccaneers has seen his team perform inconsistently while at the same time he has lost one of the team’s defensive stalwarts in Davin Joseph . It is a significant loss for a defensive unit that prides itself on those specific capabilities but over the passed five seasons this is one of the areas where the franchise has been at their most inconsistent . This season if the Buccaneers are to fare well , then Schiano has to demand more out of his players and hold them more accountable . It was a lackadaisical effort and the very fact that Schiano’s predecessor , Raheem Morris’ failing to have the players more in line as a cohesive unit, that led to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers having a rather poor 2011 outing, with season low 4-12 record in the NFC South. This season, a great deal more is expected more from the team when they begin their 2012 when they begin their regular season schedule with a home opener against the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton on the 9th September , 2012.

For the Buccaneers , specifically the front office led by GM Mark Dominik , the franchise has struggled this preseason and for much 2011 regular season, in filling —- Raymond James Stadium , in Tampa , Florida. Excuses could be made for the dire economic situation across the country but one can only use that premise for only so long. In the Buccaneers’ preseason schedule thus far, the Buccaneers have yet to sell out any of those preseason games. Now one could subscribe to the fact, even with the NFL changing the criteria set concerning the blacking-out of preseason and regular season games within a home television market. Chances are , for the better part of the franchise’s 2012 regular season schedule , at least 6 of the team’s eight games will be blacked out . Local radio and television talk show personalities in the area have sought best to overlook this situation that seems to be a troubling issue around the NFL . No explanation has been forthcoming from Mark Dominik , Brian Ford , VP Business Administration, Jason Dial , who heads the Buccaneers’ Marketing & Sales Department . As to what this may well suggest is open to a great deal of conjecture and speculation. To my mind, even with the financial outlay in the off-season with the organization acquiring free agent players such as Vincent Jackson , this simply has not proven to be a big enough lure for the fans to make that big enough gesture to come and witness the Buccaneers play.

As the impasse continues within the NFL between the league hierarchy and the NFLRA (referees’ union) , it should not surprise anyone that for the moment the commissioner seems to have the backing of the team owners . Sooner or later, they will have to realize that the longer these ongoing negotiations continue , the more harm will be done to the league’s image. That being said irreparable damage has been done already with regard to the hierarchy’s handling labor lockout , with the NFLPA (Players’ Union) and the subsequent poor handling of the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal . We should also consider the fact that the NFL finds itself in the midst of 25 separate legal suits at various levels of the US legal system but yet we have contributors within this forum speaking as to the continued benevolent image of the NFL . It is at times like this, when one has to wonder if there is really any intelligence to be found amongst number of individuals who call themselves NFL fans ? I consider it , simply to be apathy on the part of those fans who simply are not intelligent enough to realize what is simply happening within their midst !

The NFL during Roger Goodell’s tenure has sought to create the perception that all is right with the league , when it is clearly not . Anyone currently buying into the nonsense that the issues that the NFL now faces is simply that of an enterprise undergoing growing pains as well as outside forces , had better rethink that premise altogether . A great deal of the problems that the league hierarchy now finds itself embroiled in , are in fact of the league’s own making . And that has come about the sheer ineptitude shown by Roger Goodell and wielding a wide range of powers that in most people’s eyes would be seen used by despotic or tyrannical dictator of a third-world country . Owners such as Jerry Jones , Robert Kraft , Steve Bisciotti ,John K Mara , Woody Johnson , Paul Allen and Malcolm Glazer , are only all too happy with the commissioner’s edicts , just as long as the billions of dollars that roll in annually into the NFL’s coffers shows no signs of abatement . Anything else , by way of a bye-product that is to the league’s advantage can merely be seen as icing on the cake . Care to have a slice of that cake at this juncture?

As I alluded to earlier, concerning the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , Greg Schiano will have a hard time getting this young roster in the place where it they need to be. The NFC South in recent years has proven to be a very competitive , with a now resurgent Carolina Panthers , an ever forceful Atlanta Falcons and the now beleaguered New Orleans Saints . The team’s head to head meetings with the Falcons , Panthers and Saints in recent years has not proven to completely advantageous for the Buccaneers . I can only surmise that Greg Schiano’s players will seek to re-address those problems. If they are unable to do so , then I cannot see the team in its present guise winning more than 7 games at best over the course of their 2012 regular season schedule ! At a minimum ten games will be the bare minimum for the Buccaneers to win the NFC South and by way of gaining a playoff berth that very same figure would have to come into play if the franchise are to succeed . The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not been a part of the playoff scene since 2002 . And that was the year when the franchise would go on to win it all, in defeating (48-21) the Oakland Raiders in Superbowl (SBXXXVII). In the subsequent years things have not been necessarily been to the Buccaneers’ advantage.

Buccaneers’ starting quarterback Josh Freeman has to show that last season’s frustrations and regression were merely a minor blip in his aspirations, as he seeks to viewed as one of the better —– quarterbacks in the NFL. This preseason Freeman’s game has been pretty much understated with nothing in particular that stands out . The fans will expect a great deal from the team this season and with rookies Doug Martin, Mark Barron, David Lavonte, Najee Goode, Keith Tandy , Michael Smith and Drake Dunsmore . Each of the players in question will be hoping to contribute to the franchise in whatever they can this season. With the teams now having to cut their rosters down 73 players before the final cut to the season’s roster 54 players is made . Players taken in latter rounds of this year’s draft ( 5, 6 & 7) will undoubtedly be the ones under the greatest pressure to succeed . At the same time with a number of seasoned veterans recently being shown the door , one has to wonder what the future may have in store for the likes of Vince Young , Chad Johnson and Terrelle Owens at this juncture . In this case , talented players , who for one reason or another , simply were not able to find themselves in a position to contribute positively to the respective teams to which they were assigned . It is simply a “sign of the times” in today’s NFL , as the coaches are under to pressure “ win big , win now ” and that passed reputations of players no longer count because now it has essentially become about “ what can you do for me now “ ?

There is now a great deal at stake for a number of teams in the NFL this season beyond the competitive edge that becomes part and parcel of what the NFL has now become . Coaches will have their jobs stakes , a number of players will have a great deal prove beyond trying to justify their rather outrageous salaries , while at the same time these franchises seeking ingratiate themselves with their municipalities as they either seek upgrades or a new facility that will be financed by the cities in which they currently reside . With all of the billions of dollars in revenues derived by the NFL and the profitability of the franchises in question , it still remains mind-boggling that the team owners and the league hierarchy can justify their actions in such instances , while seeking to ignore so many other issues within their midst .

As a franchise the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can consider themselves lucky enough that the Glazer family as the owners of the franchise have done just about everything necessary to make sure that the Buccaneers remains a viable concern . However, as of late, one would be hard pressed to believe that fact as the family seems to be once again devoting even more time to their other sporting interest , the world-renowned soccer team Manchester United of the English Premiership League (EPL). In recent weeks with the team having been re-listed on world bourses , such as on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) , London Stock Exchange (LSE) , Deutsche Borse and Hong Kong Stock Exchange . It is this sort of unique presence and the global familiarity of the brand that makes the franchise the most profitable and valuable sports’ brand in the world. Add into that the success of the franchises and the Glazer family are sitting on a venerable gold mine , with a license to print money almost at will. With the recent IPO (initial public offering) offering of shares, there have been very few takers , most notably because of the fallout from the Facebook “ fiasco “ and the very fact that the shares on offer (Class A) do not carry as much weight as the Class B’s retained by the family . The Class B shares are weighted shares that pay off a great deal more in dividends as well preserving the voting power of the retainers of those , for which patriarch Malcolm Glazer and his family retain 68% of the soccer club and the voting rights of 90% of the stock voting rights afforded them. It has seemingly been viewed as one the main deterrents, as to the reasons why the offer has remain lukewarm amongst investors. From my own standpoint , I believe investors seeking a long-term investment will see their investment appreciate over time but those seeking an overnight profit , well, much like those who dove into the Facebook fiasco without using due diligence . In the end , you tend to get what you pay for , and for those investors still sitting on their Facebook shares having seen the IPO tender price ($38-00) —– depreciate some 70% since that initial offer , there is not much that left to be said that hasn’t already been said. Perhaps, other than that usual cautionary tale “buyers beware” has now become “buyers’ remorse “.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this article and do you believe that the NFL and the NFLRA will resolve their issues before the regular season begins ? By all means do take time to leave a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Josh Freeman (5) throws for a first down in the first half against the New England Patriots during their NFL preseason football game in Tampa, Fla., Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. AP Photo/Dave Martin ….

(2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano, left, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick shake hands in the center of the field following the Buccaneers’ 30-28 win over the Patriots at an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. AP Photo/Brian Blanco ….

(3) General manager Mark Dominick, left, and coach Greg Schiano of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers watch a rookie practice at the Buccaneers practice facility May 4, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Getty Images / Al Messerschmidt …..

(4) Damien Duff of Fulham celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford on August 25, 2012 in Manchester, England. .

(5) Robin van Persie of Manchester United is congratulated by his team mates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford on August 25, 2012 in Manchester, England. United would go on to defeat Fulham 3-2 in the Premiership league game . Getty Images /Shaun Botterill …..

(6) Mark Schwarzer of Fulham reacts after Shinji Kagawa of Manchester United scored his team’s second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford on August 25, 2012 in Manchester, England. Getty Images /Shaun Botterill ….

(7) In this handout photo provided by the NYSE Euronext, Manchester United Executives David Gill (R), Joel Glazer (C, R) and Avram Glazer (C) prepare to ring the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange on August 10, 2012 in New York City. Manchester United shares started trading at USD 14.05 at the opening of the New York Stock Exchange. Source / Getty Images …

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Ode to the NFL “Get Money ” …….. Junior M.A.F.I.A

The pain , the joy and then the ineptitude …..

The pain , the joy and then the ineptitude …..

By Tophatal …

When all else fails, there has to be a sacrificial lamb , and nowhere does that seem to be more reflected than within the field of sports . A team is failing miserably , it is usually the manager who has to bear the burden of that blame , and that is even in light of these overpaid athletes simply not being held accountable for the ineptitude being shown on the field of play.

http://wp.me/poxLH-4W2

The pain , the joy and then the ineptitude …..

By Tophatal

When all else fails, there has to be a sacrificial lamb , and nowhere does that seem to be more reflected than within the field of sports . A team is failing miserably , it is usually the manager who has to bear the burden of that blame , and that is even in light of these overpaid athletes simply not being held accountable for the ineptitude being shown on the field of play.

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Slide show .

In a deal that has been hastily arranged to soothe the pain , the Boston Red Sox will offload the remaining contracts ($262 million) of Carl Crawford , Nick Punto and Adrian Gonzalez , along with Josh Beckett for James Loney of the Los Angeles Dodgers and peripheral players that will make up this blockbuster trade. I have said it before and I will say it again , the hiring of Bobby Valentine has been the biggest managerial blunder that this franchise has made in its existence . The driving force I believe behind this personnel blunder has been the very fact that with the departure of both Theo Epstein and Terry Francona , this ball-club was caught between a rock and a hard place . The inexperience of Epstein’s successor Ben Cherington as the general manager , and the ineptitude of team President Larry Lucchino has indicated to me that complacency had simply set in within this organization , simply because of profits derived by the Red Sox through their programming operations afforded it by way of NESN .

The Red Sox right from the start knew that their next hire had to be an experienced and known name, to succeed Francona , a manager who guided the Boston Red Sox to two World Series’ titles in 2004 and 2007. In the subsequent years since those close triumphs , it would appear that the Red Sox simply chose to rest on their laurels . That is the sort of complacency that one tends to associate with so many major corporations , once they simply reach a plateau , rather than setting themselves their next achievable goal . And that situation is now being mirrored not just within corporate America but right across the panacea of professional sports. A great deal of the Red Sox’s problems are a carry-over from last season and the sheer ineptitude shown by the team during the final month of the regular season when they failed to make the postseason foray of baseball. That failure , alongside the infighting amongst the players simply laid waste to the exposure of team, that had become so self-absorbed with their own importance, and their condescending attitude towards their fans . And nowhere was this more reflected than with the infantile behavior pitcher Josh Beckett. His own performances for the Red Sox over that time span left a great deal to be desired .

In 2012 , the Red Sox have proven to be so inept and this is borne out in the team’s record (60-66 .476) and the very fact that they have not proven to be competitive within the AL East and specifically against their main rivals within the division , the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays . It has been these failures that have cast a dark cloud over the Red Sox and their continued failure over the course of this season . It should be noted that through this timeframe , the players on the team have added little productivity by way of offense or pitching .

Whatever is now borne out of the remainder of the season for the Boston Red Sox there is no doubt that the season will be deemed a complete failure by the organization’s own lofty standards . The claims being made that this bodes well for their long-term future because their farm system provides them with a source of bona-fide talent as a security blanket . My advice there would be , it may well do that but what of the farm systems of their rivals within the division , such as the Yankees , Rays and Blue Jays ? I for one , do not believe that those systems can be overlooked ! Only an idiot would consider the notion that neither of those teams will not continue to be competitive.

The additions of Adrian Gonzalez , Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford can only make the Los Angeles Dodgers better. Albeit , that Crawford will be lost to the team for the rest of the season , with the outfielder having to undergo season-ending surgery. The immediacy of the moment will not be lost on Don Mattingly , his coaching assistants or the Dodgers’ players. The Dodgers are currently locked into an ongoing battle within the NL West against the San Francisco Giants . And there is no doubt that the winner of the division will be guaranteed a berth in the postseason . However, a wildcard berth will still be up for grabs , and it is here , where we may well see a great deal more intrigue and suspense as the regular season meanders towards its inevitability .

The San Francisco Giants(71-56) currently maintains a two-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL West. With the two team set to meet two more times over the course of remainder of the regular season , starting on the 7th September when the Giants will play hosts to the Dodgers in the first game of a three-game series . The second series’ meeting will be when the Los Angeles Dodgers play hosts at Dodgers Ballpark , in Los Angles , California to close out their regular season and their season series against their divisional rivals in October . The first of those three games will be on the 1st October in what is sure to be a highly anticipated series .

The offensive presence brought by Adrian Gonzalez will undoubtedly give the Dodgers the determination they need to get the job done but that also has to be predicated upon the talents of Matt Kemp , Andrew Ethier and Hanley Ramirez . From a pitching standpoint , the change in environment may well be the boost Josh Beckett needs to regain the form of 2007 when the pitcher finished second in the AL Cy Young standings to CC Sabathia. The season series between the Dodgers and Giants, currently has the San Francisco Giants leading the series 7-5 , with merely remaining in their year-long scheduled series of eighteen games.

The Los Angeles Dodgers with a new ownership group headed by Magic Johnson , Mark Walter , Todd Boehly , Peter Guber and Stan Kasten . Having purchased this renowned ball-club for the staggering sum of $2.156 billion , the new owners know that without the presence of a postseason appearance to culminate their season , the year would have to be deemed something of a distinct failure . The expectations were and still remain high and this blockbuster trade merely signifies that premise . As to what now awaits the fans as the season meanders towards its inevitability creates the intrigue and suspense we have come to expect of the MLB postseason .

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Picture gallery.

Are you at all surprised as to the swiftness of this blockbuster trade between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers ? And do you believe that Bobby Valentine’s position with the Red Sox is still assured ? By all means do leave a comment on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slide show gallery below .

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Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington speaks at a news conference before a baseball game between the Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals in Boston, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012. Cherington announced that the Red Sox sent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Josh Beckett and outfielder Carl Crawford to the Dodgers on Saturday, parting with the high-priced stars in a nine-player trade that is the biggest swap in Los Angeles’ history. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer ….

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez watches his three-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill ….

(3) BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 25: Mike Moustakas (8) of the Kansas City Royals connects for a two-run triple in the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 25, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Royals would go on to defeat the Red Sox 10-9 in 12 innings . Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ….

(4) Bobby Valentine #25 of the Boston Red Sox gestures toward the pitcher’s mound in the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park on August 25, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. Getty Images / Michael Hall ……

(5) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez, left, is congratulated by Luis Cruz, center, and Matt Kemp after hitting a three-run home run during the first inning of the Dodgers’ baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …

(6) Francisco Peguero (57) of the San Francisco Giants during his first MLB at bat against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning at AT&T Park on August 25, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The Braves would go on to defeat the Giants 7-3 . Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images ….

(6) Hunter Pence (8) of the San Francisco Giants scores a run against the Atlanta Braves during the fifth inning at AT&T Park on August 25, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images ….

(7) Madison Bumgartner (40) of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at AT&T Park on August 25, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images …

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Hot chic pic of the day . Jernie of King Magazine

And why grown men simply can’t act like men when they’re around Jernie . Damn !

You’ve got to pick a pocket or two …….

You’ve got to pick a pocket or two

By Tophatal

Well for the next six days, the Tampa Bay area will become the political epicenter of nation, as the RNC Convention will be held at the St Pete Times Forum in downtown , Tampa , Florida . In attendance will be delegates , from across the nation , local dignitaries, as well as senior party officials and , high-ranking corporate executives , whose party affiliations and business interests are somehow tied in, with a Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s proposed agenda for this country , should the two be triumphant in the November Presidential elections . I’ve no political axe to grind here , as I find both the Democratic and Republican party’s as equally disingenuous and as corrupt as one another ! Suffice, to say , whomever gets in , or is retained in office , the country will still be f##ked ! There, I’ve said it, now deal with it!
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Now while the economic impact of between $100-$175 million dollars will serve the Tampa Bay area, well. I find it, somewhat ironic that Mayor Bob Buckhorn is trumpeting the fact that his city is seeing a groundswell of economic gains and an increase in the quality of life . Since being sworn into office , having succeeded Pam Iorio, Buckhorn has in fact become more delusional by the minute. As he strives to make Tampa a world-class city , the area is really looked upon as being devoid of entrepreneurial talent , creativity . What might be even worse however , is that from an economic standpoint the area has become a barren wasteland. Still, Bob Buckhorn as the mayor , is entitled to his opinions as he strives to make the quality of life better for his residents .

Away from the political arena , the sporting environment is richly enhanced by the fact that Tampa becomes the off-season home and main Spring Break facility for the New York Yankees . Well, let’s put it this way, this city, lives, breathes and eats New York Yankees, by way of the undying support of the renowned baseball franchise. And inasmuch, as the Yankees’ divisional rivals the Tampa Bay Rays, in recent years had a modicum of success. This Florida franchise remains light-years away, in being like and achieving the feats of their more venerable opponent and rival.

Within the AL East in the past 5 weeks ,the Tampa Bay Rays have slowly chipped away at the divisional lead that the Yankees maintained . Through timely hitting , pitching and defense , this team has somehow managed to claw itself back into the divisional picture as well as being the leading contender for one of the two wildcard berths up for grabs within the AL . The current lead that the New York Yankees now maintained has now been whittled down to 2 ½ games within the AL East . And by Sunday , should everything fall into place as envisaged amongst the Rays players they could very well find themselves leading the division .

The waning days of July and the month of August, have has seen the Rays on a phenomenal tear through their schedule as the players have simply stepped up to the plate as and when necessary . And yes , there have been one or two shaky moments where Joe Maddon’s offense simply hasn’t supplied the pitching staff with the run support needed , thereby needlessly losing games they had well within their grasp .

On Thursday night, in an exhilarating display of pitching Alex Cobb of the Rays completely bewildered the Oakland A’s , as he pitched a complete-game shutout in leading the team to a decisive 5-0 victory over the AL West team . Unfortunately, for the meager 11,000 plus attendees at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , there to watch their hometown heroes. This was not , and I will re-emphasize that fact , this was not and should not be the way the fans should be turning out to support the team . This misnomer has always been and completely fabricated by baseball’s hierarchy , has been the fact that the franchise has always been, a well-supported team. At best the hardcore fan-base for the Tampa Bay Rays is no more than on average, 15,000 fans . There have been times where the attendance for the Rays’ games have not even hit four figures but for the official statistics, they have been rounded up to suggest otherwise . Fair-weather fans, in a city that has ideas of grandeur well above its station, which has been mirrored by the sheer ineptitude shown by the politicians at the municipal and county level within the area .

Having won the first of a three-game home series against the A’s, this Rays’ team has to keep up the momentum by looking to “sweep” the Oakland A’s out of the building and thereby endangering their opponent’s wildcard aspirations and status .In doing so , it would also send a clear message to the New York Yankees that the divisional race is far from over, and that the Rays are in it , to win it . If that is not a clear enough message , then when these two teams next meet , there will be some questions that will be asked and answered. For the moment , the must deal with the obstacle immediately in front of them . Friday , the A’s will send Jarrod Parker (8-7, 3.48 ERA) to the mound to face Matt Moore (10-7, 3.57 ERA) . Saturday sees Brandon McCarthy (6-5, 3.16 ERA) facing the AL Rookie of the Year in 2011 , Jeremy Hellickson (8-8, 3.28) in what promises to be a truly intriguing match-up . If the Tampa Bay Rays can come out the series with either an emphatic sweep or 2-1 series’ win , then it is to their ultimate advantage. As I alluded to earlier , the anticipated series’ match-ups where the Rays and New York Yankees will meet in two more scheduled series, starting 4th September, 2012 , with the second such and final series’ meeting on 14th September ,2012.

I will say this for the patriarch of the Glazer family , Malcolm Glazer having crafted a multi-billion dollar fortune from the commercial real estate market . In doing so it has afforded him to purchase two professional sporting interests . Known primarily as owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . But since 2005 as the owners the Premiership’s most famous soccer club , Manchester United . Along the way the family has been vilified and chastised by United’s fans, having leveraged the team and amassing $1.5 billion in debt. However, in the past 6 ½ years they have erased a great deal of the debt by selling of non-core assets and a number of players they felt superfluous to the team’s needs. The elder , Glazer has now ceded much of his control of the two sporting entities to sons , Joel , Avram and Brian Glazer, as the members of the family that will open a new chapter in the ownership of both professional sports’ franchises . The two sporting entities as they presently stand would be worth conservatively between $3-$4.55 billion. The soccer team with its unprecedented success was recently listed on both the New York (NYSE) and London Stock Exchange (NYSE) . With the monies realized from the issue , a great deal of the funds in question will be used to pay down debt as well as being placed into the financial reserves , for later discretionary use.

United embarks on another Premiership season , seeking to be competitive in each of the major domestic competitions as the most important club competition of them all , the UEFA Champions League . Specifically, a long run deep into the latter stages of Europe’s most prestigious club tournament can net a team millions of dollars in revenues beyond other commercial windfalls to be had. Manchester United, long considered one of the most successful sporting franchises globally , is also one of the most valuable sports’ franchises in the world . From an image standpoint there is a great deal to be desired by this most recent deal initiated by the family , and I have always felt with the shroud of secrecy under which the family operates their sporting interests , not everything done is entirely above-board and ethical .

The family’s other sporting interest as I alluded to earlier are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coming off a rather unpleasant 2011 sojourn . The franchise underwent a major upheaval with the firing of head coach Raheem Morris , with several members of his coaching staff also being let go, along with a vast array of players thought to be superfluous to the team’s needs. In the off-season the team GM Mark Dominik hired Greg Schiano , former head coach at Rutgers University . Brought into provide discipline and to resurrect the fortunes of the Buccaneers , one of Schiano’s first bold move was to jettison , the often troubled but under-achieving tight-end Kellen Winslow . That if anything, was a telling sign and the mere fact that “changes were ahead” for this Buccaneers’ organization from the player personnel and amongst the coaching staff . A tall task indeed and the changes were made during the off-season , with the team’s draft picks from the 2012 NFL Draft . It appears that there was a great deal of satisfaction came from the choices made amongst Buccaneers’ war room after the event . Add into this all, the free agency acquisitions , specifically Vincent Jackson to add another receiving threat for Josh Freeman , the Buccaneers’ young quarterback . It would appear the Schiano will make this unit more of a run and pass oriented attack . This will most certainly help Buccaneers’ new look offense led by LeGarrette Blount , Doug Martin , Michael Smith , Mike Williams , Tiquan Underwood , Luke Stocker. The traits that made the Buccaneers such a stalwart , has been the very fact, that the franchise was primarily known for its defensive prowess. Those traits came by way the foundations laid by former head coach Tony Dungy. However this preseason we have yet to see the aforementioned traits have not been evidenced by way of their play over this entire schedule .

Friday night , the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play hosts to the New England Patriots at Raymond James Stadium , in Tampa , Florida . Unfortunately, for those hoping to watch the events unfold by way seeing the game live or on broadcast television in the local television markets . The scheduled event will be blacked out , albeit that the NFL has lessen the criteria set for the televising of NFL games preseason and regular season match-ups. What seems to all the more inconceivable has been the lack of sales and marketing forthcoming from within the Buccaneers’ organization by way their Marketing & Sales’ Department. If the ineptitude being shown there is being countermanded by Mark Dominik , then to my mind this franchise will be in for a long and arduous regular season . Clearly, this is a further blow to a franchise , whose enthusiastic coach , Greg Schiano would rather not have to witness in his first full season as a head coach in the NFL .

Greg Schiano’s players I believe will be hard pressed to succeed this season within the NFC South ! While divisional rivals, the New Orleans Saints undergoes a change in its identity , the franchise remains a considerable mess . Interim head coach Joe Vitt will have to relinquish and serve a game suspension , a verdict rendered by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . The league’s handling of this whole episode has been haphazard and comedic, that one has to question the authority of the league hierarchy and how they conduct their business operations both on and off the field of play. The Buccaneers’ other foes within the division are the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers . The Panthers and Falcons , I believe will prove to be formidable foes for the Buccaneers ! A great deal of what we observe this season concerning the Buccaneers will be determined by the performances of the seasoned veterans on this team, alongside the perceived growing maturity of Josh Freeman , as the Buccaneers’ quarterback. If Freeman is unable to lead this franchise to a predetermined destination , I believe they will clearly struggle over the course of this season.

The New England Patriots will be looking to overcome whatever issues they might have, and head coach Bill Belichick , still believes they have . Tom Brady remains the quintessential quarterback and amongst the very best to have played the game . Three Superbowl victories to his name , a Superbowl MVP award , league MVP award and multiple appearances in the Pro Bowl. It is becoming clear that Brady would no doubt like to join Hall of Fame inductees , Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana , as the only two players to have 4 Superbowl victories to their name . And this remains the driving force behind the player’s ongoing career, as he seeks to join that select group of players.

As the city of Tampa now becomes the nation’s focus point of the boredom provided by the ongoing political process . I would like to think the city’s two main professional franchises (Buccaneers and Rays) will be able to provide the erstwhile fans with a great deal more entertainment than is now being provide by a bunch of political hacks and bloviate blowhards . It is not as if either of the two major political parties actually has an answer for the nation’s political woes. When it all said and done the political ad campaigns and the monies spent on those campaigns will have exceeded $2.3 billion ($2,300,000,000). Beyond the donations of the Super-Pac’s , does anyone truly believe the common man on the street legitimately wishes to donate $2,500 merely to feed the greed of a politician , who in large part , is and has always been completely out of touch with reality ? Your answers please ?

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Picture gallery .

Do you believe that both the Buccaneers and Tampa Rays are likely to have a successful outcome to their respective seasons ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) announces Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) as his running mate in front of the USS Wisconsin August 11, 2012 in Norfolk, Virginia. Ryan, a seven term congressman, is Chairman of the House Budget Committee and provides a strong contrast to the Obama administration on fiscal policy. The Republican Presidential nominee and Vice-Presidential running mate head to the city of Tampa to be formally approved by the party as nominees seeking to defeat the White House incumbent President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden . In what amounts to a campaign of sheer disingenuous contempt , neither party seems to have a platform that truly serves the country’s interests . Win McNamee / Getty Images …

(2) ST. PETERSBURG – AUGUST 24: Infielder Ryan Roberts (19) of the Tampa Bay Rays turns a double play as Adam Rosales #17 of the Oakland Athletics tries to break it up during the game at Tropicana Field on August 24, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …

(3) Infielder Josh Donaldson (20) of the Oakland Athletics is called out at home by home-plate umpire Eric Cooper after pitcher Matt Moore (55) of the Tampa Bay Rays applied the tag during the game at Tropicana Field on August 24, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(4) Infielder Chris Carter (22) of the Oakland Athletics takes the throw at first as B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays gets back safely during the game at Tropicana Field on August 24, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

(5) Pitcher Alex Cobb (53) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates his complete game shutout with catcher Jose Molina (28) against the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field on August 23, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Mark Barron intercepts a pass as New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski watches in the first half against the New England Patriots during their NFL preseason football game in Tampa, Fla., Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. Barron scored a touchdown on the play. AP Photo/Brian Blanco ….

(7) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) loses the ball as he is hit by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Michael Bennett (71) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. AP Photo/Margaret Bowles ….

(8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Josh Freeman (5) throws for a first down in the first half against the New England Patriots during their NFL preseason football game in Tampa, Fla., Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. AP Photo/Dave Martin ….

(9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ GM Mark Dominik ,left, is seen here with the head coach Greg Schiano . In the duo’s first season together , they have revamped the roster by way of the NFL Draft and via free agency transactions with a view to having a successful NFL season . AP Photo / Chris Howard ….

(10) April 27, 2011; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik , head coach Greg Schiano , first round draft picks Doug Martin and Mark Barron talk as they are introduced during a press conference at One Buc Place. Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE …
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MLB news

MLB schedule 24th August 2012

MLB probable pitchers 24th August 2012

MLB results 23rd August 2012

New York Yankees news

Tampa Bay Rays news

Tampa Bay Rays overview (2012)

Tampa Bay Rays’ team payroll (2012)

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NFL news

NFL standings preseason

NFL Preseason schedule 2012 & week 3 schedule

NFL preseason results (2012)

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NFL free agents (2013)

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ profile

Tampa Bay Buccaneers news

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ draft pick 2012

Tampa Bay Buccaneers transactions

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ preseason statistics

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ preseason schedule & … regular season schedule

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ roster

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ free agents (2013

Tampa Bay Buccaneers team payroll

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Hot chic pic of the day Chloe Saxon of the UK

Another aesthetic rendering of the delectable Chloe

Cry me a river , and I will just continue to laugh ….

Cry me a river , and I will just continue to laugh ….

By Tophatal

So as the idiocy of the NFL preseason continues , there appears to be no signs of reconciliation between the league hierarchy and that of the NFLRA (referees’ union) . The league enforced lockout of the league officials (certified referees) , has now left us with replacement officials , who are normally accustomed to officiating NCAA college football games at the D2 and D3 levels of the sport . Far be it for me to suggest with the number of preseason games that have been played , it would appear that every single event has been embroiled in some form of controversy because of a missed call by these replacement referees. Roger Goodell , a despot dictator , whose autocratic rule has simply pissed off the vast majority of the NFL fans across the country, is still of the belief that he is acting in the best interest of the league while seeking keep its image intact.

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Slide show for your perusal .

Were it not for the backing of such prominent owners such as John K Mara , Robert Kraft , Jerry Jones , Stanley Kroenke , Denise Bartolo-York and Woody Johnson , I seriously doubt that the NFL commissioner’s reign would have lasted the four years that it has . In succeeding his predecessor , Paul Tagliabue , Roger Goodell has proven to be a buffoon , who is not always willing to listen to constructive criticism , or meaningful advice , as he might well feel, that is lessens the degree of his authority as the NFL’s highest-ranking executive. The commissioner’s ongoing handling what appears to be the Saints’ bounty scandal and the mere fact that additional information has come to the fore that was not present when Goodell rendered his original verdict levied against members of the New Orleans Saints’ coaching staff , as well several current and former players. The ongoing saga has proven to be a complete embarrassment for the commissioner as well as the entire NFL and Roger Goodell’s image. The longer this saga continues, the more likely it is that we will see a growing resentment of the league by the fans.

One of the paramount issues I have with the league’s stance against the locked out officials , has been the very fact that the NFL has at no time given a succinct reason behind the lockout . This issue is not about breaking a union but solely the wish of the not wishing to succumb to the demands of the NFLRA . Initially , Goodell suggested that the NFLRA’s demands were intransigent and not in line with what they felt to be acceptable . And as part of the NFL’s rather infantile behavior the rumor mongering began with Goodell suggesting that the union had the intent to strike . At no time was there ever a formal statement by the union given , where their intent was an all-out strike action. Now it has been left to the NFL’s chief legal counsel Jeff Pash , in seeking to make the commissioner’s lessen venom behind Goodell’s earlier remarks . Once again showing that the commissioner remains a poor orator and communicator who is simply out of his depth in current position . How in hell, he was deemed qualified for this position, has to be a question , that is in need of a quick response. Then again , who amongst us has time to listen to a crass idiot such as Roger Goodell, to begin with ?

Often described as the most imposing offensive threat in the NFL , there is no denying that wide receiver , Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions might just be the best player in the league at the position . Granted, Larry Fitzgerald may feel that he is the most dominant receiver in the NFL . It would take an absolute fool to believe otherwise given the player’s credentials and how much he has meant to the Arizona Cardinals, since he was drafted third overall in the 2004 NFL Draft . Much like his NFC counterpart, Fitzgerald and Johnson have wowed the NFL fans, with their athleticism on the field and their dignity off it. Rarely, in this day and age, do we see NFL players carry themselves with such demeanor ? More often than not, a number of fans and most definitely the unsavory elements of the media are simply looking for a salacious story to offer up to the general consumer . Calvin Johnson, a first round draft pick by the Lions in the 2007 NFL Draft , has simply been stellar since his entrance into the NFL that season .

It must be noted that the NFL now has a plethora of excellent wide receivers and given the outstanding play of the top tiered quarterbacks , in what is now described as a pass-friendly league. I can only surmise that this upcoming season we are liable to see an explosion of offense once again in 2012 . This year’s draft at the wide receiver position gave us Justin Blackmon , Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright, Reuben Randle , Brian Quick , Mohamed Sanu, Juron Criner, and A J Jenkins , to name but a few. So what should we expect from these players as the regular season unfolds ? If the preseason statistics amongst the NFL rookies are anything to go by, then we should be in for a thoroughly exciting season, if these players do live up to expectations . In the 2011 regular season , A J Green , Julio Jones and Greg Little , were amongst the wide-outs who came to the fore . The 2011 postseason , and once again Julio Jones’ name gets an honorable mention, along with A J Green and Torrey Smith .

Now while the NFL is mired in Roger Goodell’s self-indulgence, in what he believes to be a justifiable action by the league hierarchy, in enforcing a lockout of the certified NFL referees. I wonder if the commissioner realizes the damage that is being done to the NFL brand and the very fact that should this action threatens to become one of unquantifiable disaster should this all boil over into the regular season ? Goodell has grossly underestimated the fans’ belief that his actions are right , and benefits the league , when it is abundantly clear that the referees have done nothing wrong . All that they seek, is to be fairly compensated , if they are being asked to give up their fulltime positions within the public and private sectors . As part-time employees of the NFL , these officials in terms of benefits are not adequately compensated and therein lies the impasse between the two sides , beyond that of an equitable compensation package. If by Week four or five of the NFL regular season and were at still at an impasse without the intervention of the federal government and an arbitrator from the FMCS being asked to intervene . It is my firm belief that the season will become a qualified disaster because if these replacement referees are still in place, and are being asked to officiate regular season games , then can you imagine what their actions could lead to once the postseason comes around , and those games actually have some bearing in determining a franchises’ fate ? Never mind the bearing this also has on the gaming industry and how the odds-makers lay their lines ?

Once again , into an NFL season we come and the idiot NFL analysts are anointing the Dallas Cowboys as one of the teams to beat within the NFC East and within the conference as a whole . Repeatedly , these morons who will continue to worship at the porcelain pot that Jerry Jones continues to defecate and urinate in , as if it were a shrine to excellence . And given the Cowboys’ record in the regular and postseason over the past five years. I would say the franchise warrants a mention as a legitimate contender for the Superbowl as one would deem Paris Hilton to be someone with above average intelligence Go figure ! The Cowboys continue to be an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum , a franchise that cannot get over their obstacles that they choose to place in front of themselves . Now in the preseason the team has performed poorly , and they are now plagued by injuries to Dez Bryant , Miles Austin and Jason Witten. The latter of whom , has suffered a lacerated spleen , and whose loss to the team for quite possibly for the next four to six weeks could have a bearing on the Cowboys’ season and their overall standing within their division. So important is Witten to the team’s offensive productivity, that he is considered to be Tony Romo’s best option for at least 55% of the team’s offensive plays and the quarterback’s safety net . Coming off two really lackluster performances, a 3-0 victory over the hapless Oakland Raiders and even more unbearable performance in a 28-20 loss to the San Diego Chargers . It has to be said that as meaningless as the claims are being made that the “NFL preseason” means absolutely nothing , I would preface it by saying , if it means nothing then why bother to watch or play the games in question ?

The Dallas Cowboys have an abundance of issues on both sides of the ball , defensively and offensively. And it would appear that head coach, Jason Garrett and his coaching staff led by Rob Ryan , at present , simply have no answers as to why the team has performed so poorly. Without answers, the questions will remain how good or bad can this franchise be? Granted, the Cowboys do play in what is said to be the most glamorous division in the entire NFL. I like to think of the NFC East as a pig being dressed up to look like a sow! In truth , beyond the New York Giants and their recent successes , there is nothing endearing at all about the division ! If anything the only advantageous thing about the NFC East quite possibly might be the fact that, three of the ten most valuable NFL franchises reside within the NFC East. Beyond that, there is not much left to be said !

There is nothing more divisive than that of the NFL “quarterback controversy” in terms of it being a “water cooler topic” of conversation . We would dearly like to be without them but the fact remains there are some god-damn awful starting quarterbacks in the NFL who are vastly overpaid . At present , Matt Flynn, of the Seattle Seahawks is the presumptive designated starter with the franchise but so poor have been his performances this preseason , that head coach, Pete Carroll, having installed the team’s rookie backup , Russell Wilson, he is now salivating over the young player’s deftness of touch, and the mere fact that he has shown a great deal of maturity beyond his years. And though the Seahawks remain unbeaten in the preseason , while leading the NFC West , this in no way should be seen as a precursor as how things are liable to play themselves out Seattle embarks upon their regular season schedule . This Seattle Seahawks will have a tough time battling a revamped San Francisco 49ers’ —- offense that is likely to be far more productive than last season . The fact of the matter is , that when these two teams meet this season in their divisional match-ups , it could very well go a long way in determining the outcome of the NFC West . Make no bones about it, John Harbaugh is looking for redemption for his team in the aftermath of the abrupt end to their postseason foray in 2011. When these two teams meet in the first of their two schedule meetings , I fully expect Russell Wilson to be the starter for the Seattle Seahawks , while on the opposing Niners’ team , it will be Alex Smith, as the noted signal caller !

Matt Flynn signed a lucrative three-year $19.5 million contract (avg. $6,500,000 per year) with the Seahawks , that in essence gave him the keys to the Cadillac . Unfortunately, for the fans in attendance at Century Link Field , in Seattle , Washington , they’re witnessing a half-empty Dodge Pinto on the field of play . The starting quarterback position with the Seahawks is now Russell Wilson’s to lose. And the likelihood of that happening will be down to his lack of command of the playbook or due to an unforeseen injury.

It is hard to figure out how things could have gone so wrong for the Arizona Cardinals after the retirement of future Hall of Fame player Kurt Warner . During his tenure Warner led the Cardinals to unprecedented heights of success , unknown to the franchise . Matt Leinart was drafted by the franchise in 2006 as the tenth overall pick in the first round of that NFL Draft (2006). The former USC standout and Heisman Trophy winner , was seen as the future of the Cardinals . And the thought of Leinart being in tandem with Larry Fitzgerald had fans and NFL analysts alike salivating as to what the future might bring. Warner, would be there to tutor the rookie, unfortunately Leinart’s learning curve took a divergent direction, and his tenure with Cardinals could , and should be considered a monumental bust . Matt Leinart was cut by the Cardinals in 2010 and would join the Houston Texans in a backup role to incumbent quarterback, Matt Schaub . He would never catch on with the AFC franchise, and is now once again holding a similar role in a rather cluttered cluster of quarterbacks with the Oakland Raiders .

Other than Kurt Warner , and Leinart , the only other players to have started at the quarterback position in that much coveted role , have been Derek Anderson , the Cardinals’ 2010 5th round draftee —- John Skelton and their high-priced acquisition Kevin Kolb . The former second-stringer with the Philadelphia Eagles was seen as one of the major off-season free agents in 2011 and was seen as the answer to the Cardinals’ prayers by GM Rod Graves .

Kolb’s displays for the Cardinals have been erratic and it was proven to be the detriment of the team last season and this preseason . Of the Arizona Cardinals’ three preseason games in 2012 , they are 1-2 , with their sole victory coming in the defeat of the Oakland Raiders 31-27 . John Skelton and rookie , Richard Lindley would prove to be far more decisive than the more experienced Kevin Kolb. Cardinals’ head coach Ken Whisenhunt , now has something of a dilemma on his hands as it becoming transparently apparently clear that the team’s offense has no implicit faith in Kolb, whom it appears has lost a great deal more than his presumed playing ability. If anything , the quarterback is now gun-shy, and scared of his own shadow. Scrambling is not one Kolb’s greatest trait , and to see the player run around the field aimlessly, heading nowhere like a headless chicken, has become a complete embarrassment for the player and the Cardinals’ franchise.

Whisenhunt and the coaching staff now have a decision to make as the Cardinals’ preseason is nearing an end . Week’s three and four will see the team face the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night , before closing out their schedule , with a game against the Denver Broncos on the 30th August, 2012. I would like to think that with these two upcoming games Kolb can acquit himself well , while proving his doubters wrong. However, the player has offered very little evidence to suggest that he is actually capable of doing that . Thereby leaving the Arizona Cardinals caught between a rock and a hard place . Kolb’s six-year $63,500,000 contract might already be looked upon as a complete waste given the meager returns from the player . In this day and age of sports , where it is about the immediacy of now ——- and the old adage “:what have you done for me lately” ? Well, it is certainly not working out for the Arizona Cardinals, in the ways they expected. Instead, an often under-achieving quarterback is being overpaid for talents not deemed worthy of the contract attained. Go figure !

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Picture gallery for your perusal

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Picture and slide show details below for your perusal .

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(1) Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones , right, is seen here with NFL Commissioner , Roger Goodell , having just left a meeting with the executive committee of the NFLPA (Players’ Union) during the league imposed lockout of last season . History has once again repeated itself , with the league hierarchy having initiated the same action against the NFLRA (referees’ union). The impasse between the league and union concerns the pay structure sought by the referees. AP Photo/ Martin Jackson ….

(2) Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson , right, scores a touchdown as Baltimore Ravens defensive back Jimmy Smith (22) runs past during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Baltimore, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. The Lions would go on to defeat the Ravens 27-12 . AP Photo/Nick Wass ….

(3) Calvin Johnson (81) of the Detroit Lions leaves the field after defeating the Chicago Bears 24-13 at Ford Field on October 10, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Gregory Shamus / Getty Images ….

(4) Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Leinart (7) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of a preseason NFL football game , Friday, Aug. 17, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. AP Photo/Matt York ….

(5) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) is sacked by Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Lamarr Houston (99) as another Raider closes in during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. AP Photo/Rick Scuteri …

(6) Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) of the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL preseason game against the Oakland Raiders at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 17, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images /Christian Petersen …

(7) 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 …

(8) Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) shakes hands with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) following an NFL football preseason game , Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, in Denver. Seattle beat Denver 30-10 . AP Photo/Jack Dempsey …

(9) Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) stiff arms Denver Broncos defensive back Rafael Bush (36) in the second half of an NFL football preseason game , Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, in Denver. AP Photo/Jack Dempsey ….

(10) Quarterback Matt Flynn (15) of the Seattle Seahawks in action against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 18, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. Getty Images /Justin Edmonds ……

(11) Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett , left, talks things over with quarterback Tony Romo , right, in between plays during NFL football training camp, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, in Oxnard, Calif. AP Photo/Gus Ruelas ……
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NFL pieces within this site

E-mail Tophatal : rapptu@gmail.com

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NFL news

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2012 NFL Draft

NFL preseason results

2012 NFL preseason schedule week 3

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New Orleans Saints news

Seattle Seahawks news

My Bullshit is just as good as his, and it smells twice as good ….

My Bulls#it is just as good as his, and it smells twice as good ….

By Tophatal

I’ll say this for Urban Meyer , ever since his return to the ranks of D 1 Collegiate Football , as the head coach of Ohio State (Buckeyes) , not much has changed amongst the persona of the cocksure and always affable coach . Granted , he is taking over from the now disgraced Jim Tressel , whose idea when it came to telling the truth , was to embellish an episode beyond the realms of anything imaginable or simply seeking others to fall unto the sacrificial sword on his behalf . Never mind the fact that university President Dr. E Gordon Gee and AD Gene Smith showed about as much intelligence, as can now be found in both federal legislative chambers of the US Congress. In other words there’s not one fucking ounce of intelligence to be found there at all ! The duo of Gee and Smith were in complete denial after revelation after revelation came to the fore as to the egregious malfeasance of Tressel , members of his coaching staff and several members of the football teams covering the periods from 2008, right through until 2011.

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Slide show for your perusal.

With the abrupt firing of Tressel in light of the findings on an ongoing NCAA investigation , it has to be said that this might well have been one of the more unsavory episodes within College Football. Although , I believe we can all now categorically agree that the events that are said to have taken place within the program have now been surpassed in its infamy by the now heinous and all too unsavory events that are said to have taken place at Penn State . The legacy of that school will forever be in tatters and it may well take a decade before all the wounds have healed and , that the legacy can be redeemed . The image of Joe Paterno is no longer that of a respected football coach, patriarch and counselor to the young men of the football program . Now, it is one of a disgraced elder statesman, who chose blind loyalty above those of the victims who were the subjects of the sexual heinous acts , of his close confidante Jerry Sandusky . While no one can be excused from this sorry episode because rarely was any common sense being shown by anyone of authority within the upper echelons of the hierarchical system of university. Such was the contempt and collusion of the cover-up, that it is still a disgrace that you have individuals still trying to excuse the actions of so many individuals at the center of this sordid situation !

Jay Paterno , while still seeking to defend the actions of his father , seems to forget that the victims of these crimes will never ever have any closure. And for all of the asinine claims of the Freeh Report are without basis in fact or cannot be recognized by a court of law. What the young Paterno should realize is that the report while not carrying the subpoena powers of a state judicial or law enforcement investigation , there were enough facts unearthed to suggest that should the state Attorney General’s Office conducted the investigation , rather than it being commissioned by the university , then there is every reason to believe that Joe Paterno could have wound up facing criminal charges for his actions in this sordid episode .

And while we are talking about action or lack of inaction thereof , Matt Millen has now lost all credibility and should keep his damn mouth shut about anything related to this episode ! . He sat idly by, even when it was revealed that Sandusky was at the center of an ongoing investigation concerning allegations of sexual abuse against these young male victims. The former Detroit Lions’ executive sat on the board of the charity (Second Mile) founded by Sandusky , that he used to procure many of his victims . But lo and behold , not once did it occur to Matt Millen to seek some sort of advice or perhaps speak with his fellow board members concerning the allegations . Instead, all we came to here from this buffoon, were some rather asinine comments as to the fact that nothing had yet been proven . Well , if many of the allegations of that had come to the fore, dated back almost two decades would it not have been in the best interest of Millen and his fellow board members to perhaps conduct an investigation , with the hiring of a seasoned professional ? Is it any wonder, that the Detroit Lions failed so miserably during his tenure as the general manager of that NFL franchise ?

Now we can all surmise what we believe the NCAA stands for, as the governing body for Collegiate Athletics. It has now come to the point that this body does not have the respect of the public , nor can it be trusted to do what is ethically or morally right . As a not for profit organization , the NCAA stands as entity in its present guise under the good graces of the House Judiciary Committee , House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and that of Senate Commerce Committee . Somehow , all four of these congressional committees have played their part in allowing the NCAA to become a quasi-bogus commercial enterprise, while being completely exempt from paying any federal taxes. Then again , we do have several bona-fide US corporations that have been allowed to get away with such a distinction, while the government and tax collecting arm of the US government continues to make excuses for not being capable to collect that taxes that they are rightfully due . Should you however happen to be a small business operator or a private citizen who just happens to be delinquent on your taxes and you will find the IRS , so quick to enter just about every bodily orifice that you possess, looking to collect what they believe to be due . Loopholes or not , the IRS under the tenure Tim Geithner and his predecessors have actually done a piss poor job with such objectives !

With the Buckeyes’ football program not being Bowl eligible this season , along with the loss of multiple football scholarships , head coach Urban Meyer and his staff will have to seek for new and improved ways to keep his current crop of players motivated . Ohio State’s 2012 recruiting class was said to be one of the best in the nation and it remains to be seen as to whether or not many of the players in question can make an immediate impact for the Buckeyes this season . Warren Ball, Jacoby Boren , Bri’onte Dunn , Frank Epitropolous , Peter Gwilym and Najee Murray will certainly feel that they can play a part in the team having a successful season .

Concentration for this team will begin with the fact that their schedule remains somewhat nondescript ,albeit that Michigan State , Nebraska , Michigan , Penn State and Illinois remains a constant staple, as part of their seasonal calendar . The Buckeyes’ season opener will pit them against Miami (Ohio) in Columbus , Ohio , on 1st September , 2012 . And given the prevalence of the teams within the Big Ten Conference and the seismic moves that have been made across the landscape of College Football and the still-to-be announced proposed moves . There have been more behind-the-scenes surreptitious deals, that have been made, and that can be found in any corrupt and sordid electoral campaign . Playing their part in this all , have been the Machiavellian antics of the broadcast networks , as they have continuously plowed tens of millions , if not hundreds of millions of dollars into Collegiate Football. Jointly, overseeing this all , have been the major conferences that make up that “corrupt organization “ known as the Bowl Championship Committee (BCS) . And now anyone , who is now of the belief that the proposed changes in the year-end format that will determine a national champion in college football , will be a win for the college football fan. Well, they had better put such thoughts to rest, on the back-burner . All the BCS has sought to do, is lure us all in, we the promise of candy like a sexual predator lures in a victim. Nothing good can ever come of such a premise , and you goddamn know , it never will.

It may well be that the Buckeyes can seek to reestablish themselves after the disgraceful saga and tenure of Jim Tressel . There were high hopes for Terrelle Pryor while he attended Ohio State , and as we now know the former Buckeye was knee-deep in so many aspects of the malfeasance , that the only route left for him was to leave the program , not quite with his tail between his legs . Pryor knowing that he was embroiled in an ever-growing conspiracy not only did Tressel subvert and condone the lies of his coaching staff but there was growing evidence to suggest that the former coach sought to have the players on the team lie on his behalf . How those allegations have played themselves out can be addressed by the actions of Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor , who have sought to distance themselves in part from many of the claims that came about . Tressell’s career will become simply another postscript in the annals of Buckeyes’ history.

Terrelle Pryor’s leap from Ohio State to the NFL by way of the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft , during which prefer before he could make his official professional debut for the Oakland Raiders , the player had to officially serve a five game mandated suspension rendered by the NCAA the part played in the Buckeyes’ scandal . When one considers the quarterbacks taken in the NFL Draft , one might deem the very fact consideration for Pryor came with the beleaguered environment of the Raiders .

The Oakland Raiders under new style of leadership , with Mark Davis , having succeeded his late father , Al Davis at the helm of this historic NFL franchise . In comes Reggie McKenzie as the general manager , with Dennis Allen being named the team’s head coach. And it is clear for all to see that the franchise seeks to make a turnaround after the years of ignominy , it now becomes even more apparent that the Oakland Raiders can no longer afford to remain the laughing-stock “ of the NFL but more importantly of the AFC West . And the 2012 NFL Draft may well have been one of the ways that the front office sought to address that, along with their off-season free agency pickups . Tony Bergstrom, Miles Burris, Jack Crawford , Juron Criner , Christo Bilukidi and Nathan Stubar , as each seeks to make their contributions to the franchise this season .

Courtesy of San Francisco Chronicle

Raiders’ Pryor taking solace in his work

By Vic Tafar , San Francisco Chronicle

Terrelle Pryor, former college football star and current Raiders project, enjoys going to work at training camp.

“It’s a grind, man,” the quarterback said Saturday night in Napa. “Right now I am taking less reps, but that’s OK. I am just grinding and having fun. Smiling and getting better. One day I am going to be where I want to be.”

There were times Saturday, though, that the smile faded.

Pryor lost both his father and mentor in a span of seven days recently. Jeannette, Pa., businessman Ted Sarniak III died July 20 at 68, and then Pryor’s dad, Craig, died at age 44 on July 26. Craig Pryor suffered from a rare neurological disorder that weakened his ankles, feet and hands.

“The toughest thing is I can’t talk to Teddy or my dad, and they’re the only people I leaned on,” Pryor said. “I’m by myself now. I try to work around it and not think about it constantly.”

Pryor was born and raised in Jeannette, a town of 10,000, starring at Jeannette High School before going to Ohio State. Sarniak was founder and CEO of Jeannette Specialty Glass and a supporter of youth sports.

“Teddy was there for me for about 10 years, since I was 12 years old. My parents worked, but I never had much money at all, I could never get what I wanted. It’s a tough time for me, because this guy stepped in and he was a mentor for me.”

Pryor was able to attend his father’s viewing but skipped the funeral services Monday because he didn’t want to miss the start of training camp.

“I knew my father would want me to come here and get my reps in,” Pryor said.

He said his teammates have been very supportive, and practice has been therapeutic.

“It’s been a release,” Pryor said. “I can zone things out and just focus on my footwork and getting better as a quarterback. I thank God that he has given me the opportunity to play this; without that, my mind would be going crazy.”

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The preseason has not been too kind for the Raiders as they have posted an 0-2 record within the AFC West which sees them rooted at the bottom of the division and one of the four teams within the AFC that still remains win-less . Results , an 3-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week one of the preseason , then to be followed up by an equally abysmal 31-27 defeat against the Arizona Cardinals , that continues to show that the team still remains plagued by continuing woes . And it appears, Dennis Allen and his coaching assistants seems to have no answer for. What has been troubling for the Raiders, during the preseason, has been the inept play from the quarterbacks on the team’s roster . If anything, without an effective passing game to complement what we already know to be a proficient rushing attack , Carson Palmer , Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor , will certainly have to be more effective if the Raiders are to prevail this season . And that is especially true, when one considers that Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning , noted quarterbacks within the AFC East seem to be showing no real signs of regressing . And with the Raiders set to meet the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers , as well as the Kansas City Chiefs , as part of their scheduled divisional match-ups . It will be incumbent upon Palmer as the starting quarterback, to be at the top of his form in those highly anticipated games.

Weeks’ one , three and six will be the first of the six divisional match-ups that the Raiders will face off against their division foes. And the games against the Broncos , Chargers and Chiefs will go a long way in determining how the Raiders will fare, as they certainly cannot go into the games in question, being all too complacent.

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Picture gallery .

What if anything are you most looking forward to as the College Football season kicks off its regular season schedule ? And do you believe that the NCAA’s handling of the Buckeyes’ scandal was handled appropriately ? Are you of the opinion that the Oakland Raiders are about turn the corner, and quite possibly make a successful run in gaining a playoff berth ? Simply, chime in with a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slide show details below.
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(1) Urban Meyer speaks to the media after being introduced as the new head coach of Ohio State football on November 28, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. Getty Images North America / Jamie Sebau ….

(2) Athletics Director Gene Smith of The Ohio State University introduces Urban Meyer as the 24th head coach in Ohio State football history at a press conference on November 28, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. Jamie Sebau / Getty Images ….

(3) Denard Robinson (16) of the Michigan Wolverines gets in for a second quarter touchdown past the tackle of Etienne Sabino (6) of the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan would go on to defeat Ohio State 40-34 . Getty Images / Gregory Shamus ….

(4) Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor (6) looks to pass as offensive tackle Joe Barksdale (72) blocks Dallas Cowboys defensive end Kenyon Coleman (99) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Aug. 13, 2012. The Cowboys would defeat the Raiders 3-0 in a complete uninspiring game . AP Photo/Ben Margot …

(5)Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen, right, talk with an official during the third quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Aug. 13, 2012. AP Photo/Tony Avelar ….

(6) Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, left, talks with owner Mark Davis at an NFL football training camp in Napa, Calif., Monday, July 30, 2012. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu …

(7) Quarterback Terrelle Pryor (right) is competing for practice reps with starter Carson Palmer (3) and backup Matt Leinart (7) during a trying time. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle ….

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Outkast ………… Roses /Caroline “

There’s no other way to describe it , other than being god-damn awful ……

There’s no other way to describe it , other than being god-damn awful

By Tophatal

Well my weekend was something of a busman’s holiday , having to bring work home , while at the same time I tried to catch up with the latest news in the world of sports . Let’s put it this way, in this day and age of the various media platforms for news information we still have the same staple of idiocy appearing within our midst . In the world of baseball it appears that the Melky Cabrera is now about to take on a life of its own the story coming to the fore that an acquaintance of the San Francisco Giants’ player sought to create evidence that would suggest the player inadvertently sought fabricate the story as to how he came to have tested positive from having ingested a banned substance . From my own perspective this only further substantiates why so many players that have fallen afoul of the testing within the game of baseball are utterly dumb and completely lacking in common sense . That being said , I am still not convinced that baseball’s hierarchy has all of their bases covered , with regard to the testing protocols and their gathering of the evidence. Who can forget the idiocy that surrounded the Ryan Braun “ episode “ , with the overturning of his 50-game mandated suspension ? Someone needs to remind Bud Selig and Rob Manfred of the rules of evidentiary gathering and how it applies to the law , rather than the commissioner continuing to show his stupidity .

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Slide show for your perusal .

With the latest story unfolding Melky Cabrera , it now look as if we will see three separate governmental investigation into this incident . The FDA , FBI and Justice Department will each seek to conduct an in-depth into the whole affair . Just what we need , another in-depth governmental investigation , from another completely inept , top-heavy and bureaucratic administration . Is it me , but when you have the Criminal Division of the Justice Department actually failing to indict or arraign anyone of 200 senior financial executives for the egregious and willful malfeasance that took place as the financial sector wilted under the chain of repeated abuses that took place . Then why the hell should I have any implicit faith in any of these agencies , much less in this present administration or the federal government ( House & Senate), itself ?

So with the firing of manager Brad Mills and several members of the managerial staff , the Houston Astros are said to be in a rebuilding mode, and are looking towards to the future . Somehow , I believe their long-term future will not be that bright , especially when one bears in mind that in 2013 , this organization will move from the NL Central to the highly competitive division of the AL West ! The difference between the two divisions of the AL West and that of the NL Central , is that of night and day . And let’s not kid ourselves , the Astros are one goddamn awful team .

Houston Astros’ owner Jim Crane may well felt he was getting a bargain when he purchased the ball-club for a reputed $775 million and then was given a $65 million hometown discount , to assist as an inducement to relocate the franchise to the American League . Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow may well have bitten off more than they can chew concerning this beleaguered and bedraggled organization . At 39-83 , the Astros currently have the worst record in the Majors , having lost four-in-a-row , as they now become the guests of the St Louis Cardinals , this Tuesday at Busch Stadium , in St Louis , Missouri . The multiple lists in ineptitude as accredited to the team this season gives credence , as to how a MLB franchise should not be ran , and by way of the on-field performances , as they do leave a great deal to be desired .

While the MLB hierarchy may well feel that the move of the Houston Astros emboldens the status that will be given to the AL . From my own standpoint , I believe that given the present play of this team , it simply weakens the American League and specifically the AL West , altogether !

As an avowed fan of the Atlanta Braves , I have not been entirely happy with the recent turn of events concerning the team ! Just when I felt that they were ready to mount a serious challenge to their NL East divisional rivals , the Washington Nationals . The players on the roster seem to find an inexplicable ways to disappoint , much to the annoyance of the fans who hope to see the franchise make the postseason . Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see Fredi Gonzalez lead the team deep into the postseason . I am certainly of the opinion , once into the divisional rounds of the MLB Playoffs , this team is more than capable of holding their own against any of the NL wildcard aspirants . First , however , the Braves will have to erase the 5 game lead within the division that the Nationals currently maintains . And with the two teams set to meet in a three-game series beginning today at Nationals Ballpark , in Washington , DC. These three games could have a bearing on how this Braves’ season is likely to continue . This much is clear , the Atlanta Braves can no longer afford to lose games to divisional rivals , much less series to sub .500 teams over the remainder of their 2012 regular season schedule.

Taking the mound for the Braves will be Tim Hudson (12-4, 3.59 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) who will be facing Jordan Zimmerman (9-7, 2.38 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) . The two pitchers will each seek give their respective teams the lead-offs they seek , by being efficient in what is sure to be a highly contested and competitive series . There is no denying that the Nationals would like nothing better than increase their lead within the division over their closest rivals and essentially sew up the NL East before entering the month of September . While much of the talk within the Washington Nationals’ environment surrounds the assertions as to whether or not , GM Mike Rizzo will seek to shut-down the season of the team’s starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg , once he meets the criteria of having pitched 160 or 180 innings . This may well negate any aspirations that this ball-club has because without Strasburg , there is clearly no way that this team can make a successful foray in the postseason . Anyone who believes to the contrary has to be completely misguided and naïve . While the conjecture and speculation continues within the Nationals’ camp , the baseball world will continue to wonder what it is behind the mindset of the front office in general, as they continue to contemplate the decision that has to be made .

Clearly no one seems to have the intent to tell team owner Jim Pohlad that the time has come to reassess the credibility of Ron Gardenhire , in continuing to manage the Minnesota Twins . Amongst the longest tenured managers in baseball , Gardenhire during his reign has seen his fair share of success as the manager of this organization . However, over the last eight years , success has been far and fleeting , and the ball-club’s situation certainly has not been helped with recurring injuries to two of the team’s most popular players, in , Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau . In recent years , the duo have become known as the “walking wounded “ , more than for their accomplishments on the diamond. Now one could attest to the fact that because of these injuries , these have been the primary issues that have led to the woes repeatedly for the ball-club. I have no doubt that Gardenhire is a very good manager but now might be time for a change, and a fresh infusion of managerial acumen and talent. Furthermore, given the money invested in both Mauer and Morneau , I believe that the dividends the Twins clearly sought to reap have not manifested itself into anything tangible at all ! The front office’s financial commitment to the two players is a combined $264 million, with Justin Morneau due to become a free agent in 2014 . And the financial commitment to Joe Mauer beyond this year , is $138 million through to 2018 , it remains to be seen whether or not both players will remain a part of the Twins’ long-term future. Clearly, it was not envisaged by Jim Pohlad and GM Terry Ryan , much less the managerial staff that the woes of the Twins would be this acute. Such has been the ineptitude shown by this team that been borne out by their depressing record (50-70) , that sees them firmly rooted at the bottom of the AL Central , some 16 games out of the divisional lead . The wildcard standings, does not reflect any better a picture for the Twins as the fans and ball-club tries to make such sense of the malaise .

Average attendance for the Minnesota Twins at Target Field , in Minneapolis , Minnesota , now sits at 35,256 per home game , which ranks sixth of the fourteen AL teams. Considered a small-market team but with big-league aspirations , the Twins now seem a distant aberration from those years where they were looked upon as perennial contenders within the AL. The organization’s last appearance came in 2010 by way of their series’ loss to the New York Yankees in the ALDS of that year . In the subsequent years since that defeat the struggles of the Twins have been well chronicled , and still are , to this day .

As the season meanders to its inevitability the Minnesota Twins will have a great deal to assess amongst the current crop of players on this roster . The front office may well seek to bring up a number of their AAA prospects to see if they have the potential to be contributors for Twins long-term. Aaron Bates , Nick Blackburn , Daniel Sattler , Darren Mastroianni , Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Wilkin Ramirez are but a few of the players that could very well be called up by the front office . It should be noted however , the real issue may not be how well these call-ups may well do but the coaching acumen shown by Ron Gardenhire , as he seeks to resurrect the Twins’ fortunes over the remainder of the season .

I am not so sure that Angels’ owner Arte Moreno can be entirely happy with what he has witnessed from his pitching staff as they were recently swept in a four-game home series at Angels’ Ballpark , in Anaheim , California , by the Tampa Bay Rays . The acquisition of Zack Greinke was meant to bolster the pitching roster while seeking a great deal more productivity from that staff. Instead, it has been somewhat of a nightmare to watch this team acquit itself over the past eight games , as the Angels have struggled to stay in contention with the Oakland A’s and the AL West leading Texas Rangers . Should the Angels fall out of contention for the division and the AL wildcard berth , then the blame for this debacle can rest squarely upon the shoulders of the pitching rotation and that of Mike Butler, the pitching coach of the Los Angels’ coaching staff . . With the monies invested in this roster by way the payroll , failure to make the postseason would have to be viewed as an immense failure for this Angels’ organization .

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Picture gallery .

After the schedule which has now encompassed 121 games , how do you envision the remainder of the season now panning out ? And which teams do you feel are now danger of falling out of the race for a wildcard berth ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit .

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Picture and slide show details below .
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LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 20: A.J. Ellis (17) and Clayton Kershaw (22) of the Los Angeles Dodgers argue a call at the plate with home plate umpire Ron Kulpa (46) after an Angel Pagan (16) of the San Francisco Giants run for a 2-0 lead during the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium on August 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …

(2) Melky Cabrera whose world has come crashing down after it was revealed that the San Francisco Giants’ player had tested positive for a banned substance . Cabrera has since apologized for this incident but it is now being revealed that a close confidante of Melky Cabrera sought to fabricate evidence to suggest that his actions were a mistake and not something that was premeditated . AP Photo / Richard Fox ……

(3) Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow ,foreground,left , is seen here with team owner Jim Crane ,right, at the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park , in Houston , Texas . The beleaguered franchise is having an indifferent season , and with the ball-club due to make the much-anticipated move to the AL West in 2013, it is believed that the Astros will struggle to remain competitive within the division. AFP/REUTERS/ Philip Marsh …..

(4) Danny Espinosa (8) of the Washington Nationals celebrates scoring the winning run with teammate Jayson Werth (28) as catcher Brian McCann (16) of the Atlanta Braves walks off the field after the Nationals defeated the Braves 5-4 in 13 innings at Nationals Park on August 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …

(5) WASHINGTON, DC AUGUST 20: Chipper Jones (10) of the Atlanta Braves (C) poses for a photo with Mark DeRosa (7) (L) and Adam LaRoche (25) (R) of the Washington Nationals before the start of their game at Nationals Park on August 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

(6) OAKLAND, CA – AUGUST 20: Darin Mastroianni (19) of the Minnesota Twins steals second base as the throw goes into center-field past Adam Rosales (17) of the Oakland Athletics in the second inning at O.co Coliseum on August 20, 2012 in Oakland, California. Mastroianni went to third base on the play. The Twins would go on to defeat the A’s 7-2 . Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …

(7) Brad Radke is flanked by Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, left, and general manager Terry Ryan, right, as he announces his retirement from baseball. MPR Photo/William Wilcoxen …

(8) Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire is seen here talking with Joe Mauer , left and Justin Morneau (33). The two players in recent years have spent more time being on the DL , than they have on the field , much to the detriment of the ambitions of the organization. The salary commitment of the Minnesota Twins to both players is an exorbitant $264 million . Morneau becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2013 , and it remains to be seen whether or not the popular play is re-signed by the ball-club. AP/Getty Images /Michael Richardson …

ANAHEIM, CA – AUGUST 19: Zack Greinke (23) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 19, 2012 in Anaheim, California. Since being acquired by the Angels from the Milwaukee Brewers the player has struggled with his form for the Angels . Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images ….

(10) Angels’ owner Arte Moreno,left, is seen here with general manager Jerry Dipoto . The duo this year have committed in excess of $285 million to sign prospective free agents Albert Pujols and C J Wilson , giving the Los Angeles Angels one of the highest payrolls in all of baseball . Mitchell Harmon / Getty Images …..

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Common …… “U, Black Maybe “

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Anthony Hamilton ……………. Coming From Where I’m From !

Swoosh, nothing but net baby !

Swoosh, nothing but net baby !

By Tophatal

It may not be too early to talk NBA , even in the aftermath of the triumphs of Teams’ USA in the men’s and women’s Olympic basketball tournament in London , with which the London Olympics (XXX th Olympiad ) came to a close . Now as the international contingent of NBA and WNBA players make their way home , the men on the US roster will now have to prepare for the NBA preseason and the regular season, which begins on the 30th October , 2012. Now, to my mind even though this past season was a truncated schedule 66 games , with many of them being back-to-back –to-back games . We were told by the NBA hierarchy that this was needed in order to facilitate the revised schedule , that was put together rather expeditiously by the league, in order to avoid the abandonment of the 2011-12 season .

Granted , this was done to avert such a situation wherein there would have been a league wide shut-down and the NBA being shuttered . This was averted , when the hierarchy and NBPA (union) reached a compromise that was said to be beneficial for all of the parties concerned . Thus far , things seem to be working out amicably for all of the parties concerned .

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With the Miami Heat having won their second NBA title in six years , with the first coming in 2006 , as a precursor to this past season’s title . Now every effort is being , and will be made to make sure that organization is prepared for a successful defense of their NBA championship. Erik Spoelstra coming off his first title and with the nucleus of the team’s roster built around LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade , the coach knows that if they are to avert any type of letdown then his players will have to remain focused to the task at hand. In the off-season the organization made a bold move in acquiring sharp –shooter Ray Allen as an unrestricted free agent . If anything this now gives the Heat’s offense even more diversity from a player of Allen’s caliber .

Certainly others may well point to the fact that the Brooklyn Nets also made their own changes in the makeup of their roster , as they seek to renew the interest in the franchise . In comes swing-man , Joe Johnson along with the three years of a rather draining contract that pays the player in excess of $62 million . GM Billy King , head coach Avery Johnson and team owner Mikhail Prokhorov obviously felt that a bold and audacious move

had to be done , in order to create a spark and in the organization and make it far more attractive and relevant once again . To my mind , beyond what is deemed the competitive aspect , from a financial standpoint something was needed, as the franchise makes the move from New Jersey to a new multibillion dollar development in the heart of downtown Brooklyn , the Barclaycard Atlantic Yards Development . The new venue will see an array of commercial and residential properties on the site along with several movie theater multiplexes, a public library and a municipal park . Prokhorov , apart from being the owner of Nets, is also one of the largest private investors in the development , having bought a large stake from developer Bruce Ratner , the former owner of the NBA franchise . The deal was done in order to fend off the financiers of the project, as money began to run out for the real estate mogul , Ratner ,in light of the financial meltdown within the commercial real estate market across the nation .

Finally , after what appeared to eons of rather inane stupidity , we have a conclusion to the Dwight Howard “saga” . The Orlando Magic relented and made the only move possible , by relinquishing the player and sending him on his merry way. In what now appears to be the “biggest move” of the off-season , Howard was part of a multi-player , multi-team trade that involved four teams including the Orlando Magic. The All Star center and three-time Defensive Player of the Year , will now take his talents to “Hollywood” , courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers . This has emboldened the Las Vegas odds-makers to make the Lakers one of the predetermined favorites in the Western Conference for the NBA title . Now where this puts the Los Angeles Lakers overall , when one considers that the reigning champions , the Miami Heat , have themselves gotten a great deal better , must now become a matter of conjecture and a great deal of speculation .

Certainly, the addition of Steve Nash to go alongside that of Dwight Howard makes this Lakers’ roster with its perennial All Star Kobe Bryant , one of the more formidable lineups in the NBA . However , it may not have occurred to some prognosticators that there now is a new “Sheriff in town” , that goes by the name of the Oklahoma City Thunder , and all roads through the conference still have to go through that team . When last I looked, they were the Western Conference champions , having easily disposed of the San Antonio Spurs in the conference finals . On their way through the earlier rounds of the playoffs , Scott Brooks’ Thunder team handed the Lakers one of the franchises most lopsided series’ defeats in their postseason history . Taken into account , I believe that was an emphatic statement as to what we ought to now expect from a lineup that now has the NBA world at its feet. To overlook that team as it appears, the odds-makers are now doing , simply shows their naïveté , while at the same time seeking to bring in the more fervent bettors , seeking to make that big wager and win.

with so many off-season moves and the uneasiness that remains within the NBA because of the present economic climate. It should be noted the blame for the league’s malaise should rest squarely upon the shoulders of the NBA hierarchy , team owners , general managers and the union (NBPA) , itself. I am sick and tired of hearing the idiocy of patrons talking about the NBA has finally come to their senses , clearly do not understand the business of professional sports. Many of the new mandates that have come to fruition in terms of the new collective bargaining agreement are nothing more than window dressing” to create the perception that the NBA is now being financially expedient . In reality, nothing could be further from the truth , as the league continues to meander along the same path , rarely seeking to change its business template . The 2012-13 season we will see a new salary cap (“soft salary”) that will be set at $58.044 million up from the previous $57.5 million but herein lies the dilemma , teams will choose to go above that salary cap figure in order to acquire the marquee talent that no doubt becomes available on the free agency market . How does that actually equate if we are being told or in this case are being led to believe by David Stern that the league does have its house in financial order ? That’s akin to having Barack Obama ordering Tim Geithner to speak directly to the House Financial Services Committee , with the Treasury Secretary coming out with his usual hokum and bunkum as to where he sees the economy heading . When I last looked, the statistics that Geithner subscribed to , might as well have been created by a group of fairies with pixie dust, with a few leprechauns and their pots of gold thrown in for good luck . Now , in spite of that with the league mandating that teams forfeit $1-50 for every $1-00 that they go over the soft cap , it seems to have done nothing to abate the appetite of the franchises as they seek to buy their way to success , rather than seeking to develop and nurture their talent by way of the NBA Draft.

With the upcoming season reverting back to the usual schedule of 82 games are what might be best described about the 2011-12 season as being one indeterminable and endurance- sapping slog . The year-long sojourn will prove exciting as well as monotonous and for a number of teams along the way there will be heartache and heart-breaks .

As a life-long fan of the San Antonio Spurs , I am looking forward to seeing what Gregg Popovich can do with a team that will undoubtedly be looking to redeem themselves after an inconsolable series’ loss to the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals of the 2011 postseason . The famed head coach will look at his player personnel over the course of their preseason as he seeks to address what he no deems to be their flaws. As always , Popovich is as astute as he is prudent in terms of assessing talent and you simply have to look at the Spurs’ draft history to realize how much of a success he has been in this aspect of the game . Popovich, in conjunction with GM R C Buford have proven to be a considerable success in their drafting of players in the years that they have worked together.

There is a reason why the San Antonio Spurs for the last fourteen seasons have averaged 55 wins per year , an unmatched record in NBA history . It has been this sort of consistency that has made the franchise one of the most consistent and popular teams in the NBA . The San Antonio Spurs may not be “flashy” , spectacular or some might say possess a persona but when I last looked, those were not the traits required to win an NBA title. And the franchise has won four titles since 1998 , all under the tutelage of Gregg Popovich , a teacher whose credentials speaks to his acumen as an NBA coach . The nucleus of Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker , have been be the omnipresent pieces in the Spurs’ dominant dynasty but now comes the time for the younger players on the roster to show their mettle and prove that they are the worthy successors to the “ Big Three” of the franchise .

It is my belief that this upcoming season , as the revert to an eighty-two game schedule we are likely to see a great deal of fatigue set in with a number of players who were participant s in the Olympic tournament for their respective countries . One has to believe that having played a truncated schedule of 66 games, a condensed postseason . we then saw many of the league’s stars then having to further let their bodies endure a torturous tournament format that left little to the imagination . Coach Mike Krzyzsewski and Team USA were triumphant , proving once again that the NBA brand reigns supreme but it would take a naïve individual to believe that while Krzyzsewski’s team were triumphant , they had an easy time during the Olympic Men’s Basketball competition . As dominant as the team was said to be , with stars such as Russell Westbrook , James Harden , Tyson Chandler , Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul , there was a sense of complacency about the players even though bringing home Olympic gold was meant to be the task at hand . Having achieved that accolade , it is now time to start afresh as USA Basketball prepares for the 2014 FIBA World Championships in Spain. From there, in 2016 and the Summer Olympic in Brazil once again becomes the focal point of basketball , as the USA seeks another triumph with their NBA stars. However , it remains to be seen whether or not there will be a format change determining an age limit for the participants of the team members . This has been something of discussion not just by the NBA but also basketball’s international governing body , FIBA. Those changes should they be mandated, will see a dramatic change in how we see USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo goes about assessing the makeup of the team’s roster. If a mandate stands and there is to be an age limit with perhaps now more than three players , with three or four years of NBA experience as part of the makeup of a roster . Consider then , how that might add to the complexity of a FIBA sanctioned international competition or that of the Olympic Basketball Tournament . From my own perspective , I believe it is time that the Summer Olympics revert back to its original ideals and the spirit of competition , rather than what we have witnessed the event having become , one of commercialism , and in many respects the Summer games have become corrupt , also being ran by committee that shows no signs of integrity or a sense of moral purpose . These are merely my opinions as it relates to the IOC and how they have conducted themselves over the years. What thoughts if any, do you have with regard to this specific issue?

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Picture gallery for your perusal and viewing.

As we approach the NBA preseason , do you believe that this regular season can reach the heights of the 2011-12 schedule ? And which teams do you believe pose the biggest threat to the Miami Heat repeating as NBA champions ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit.

Picture and slide show details below.
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(1) LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 12 : Gold medalists Tyson Chandler(4) of the United States and Kevin Durant (5) of the United States celebrate on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men’s Basketball on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympics Games at North Greenwich Arena on August 12, 2012 in London, England. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images …..

(2) United States’ Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony > , LeBron James and Kobe Bryant celebrate the men’s gold medal basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

(3)Spain’s Marc Gasol (C) holds the ball away from Lebron James (L) and Tyson Chandler during their men’s gold medal basketball match at the North Greenwich Arena in London during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 12, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder BRITAIN – Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT BASKETBALL

(4) MIAMI, FL – JULY 11: (L to R) Miami Heat President Pat Riley , Ray Allen and head coach Erik Spoelstra announce the signing of Allen at American Airlines Arena on July 11, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …

(5) Brooklyn Nets head coach Avery Johnson , from left, players Deron Williams , Joe Johnson , and general manager Billy King pose for photographers during an NBA basketball news conference, Friday, July 13, 2012, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The Nets introduced their All-Star back-court of Williams and newly acquired Johnson in preparation for their first season in Brooklyn. Johnson having been acquired also brings along a burdensome contract that only adds to the financial commitment of the Nets for the upcoming season . AP Photo/Mary Altaffer ….

(6) EL SEGUNDO, CA – AUGUST 10: Dwight Howard shows his new Los Angeles Lakers jersey after being introduced to the media as the newest member of the Lakers during a news conference at the Toyota Sports Center on August 10, 2012 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers acquired Howard from Orlando Magic in a four-team trade. In addition Lakers will receive Chris Duhon and Earl Clark from the Magic. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images …

(7) Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots under pressure from San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) and power forward Boris Diaw (33) , of France, during the first half of Game 6 in the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals , Wednesday, June 6, 2012, in Oklahoma City. AP Photo/Jim Young ……

(8) USA Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski, left, and USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo wait for the start of a news conference for the 2012 U.S. Olympic mens basketball team at the Wynn Las Vegas Saturday, July 7, 2012. Colangelo working in conjunction with Krzyzewski has brought about Team USA’s most recent success , namely Olympic gold in Beijing as well in London alongside the 2010 & 2012 FIBA World championships . Krzyzewski has not yet committed coaching Team USA for the 2014 World championships (Spain) or Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games (XXX1 st Summer Olympics) . Steve Marcus / Getty Images /AP …

(9) Team USA prior to their departure to London and their participation in the London Summer Olympics. Blake Griffin , third from the left would be unable to participate having injured himself in a team practice session . His place on the roster would be taken by Anthony Davis , #1 draft pick in the 2012 NBA Draft . Having own Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012, along with the 2010 FIBA World championships , the organization will now prepare for the upcoming World championships and the Summer Olympics in Brazil , in 2016. Under consideration by the IOC , is whether or not to institute an age limit for the team participants in the men’s and women’s Olympic basketball competition as well as FIBA’s sanctioned international tournaments . AFP/ REUTERS/ Scott Marshall …….

(10) Bruce Ratner , left, developer of the Barclaycard Atlantic Yards Development in Brooklyn ,New York in seen here with rapper and entrepreneur Jay-z , a co-owner in the NBA franchise . The venue will become the new home to the Brooklyn Nets . Ratner having sold the franchise to Russian billionaire , Mikhail Prokhorov, as well as a sizable stake in the Brooklyn development to the Russian entrepreneur, in order to stave off financial ruin and the bankruptcy proceedings of the enterprise. AP Photo/ Chris Miller …

(11) Mikhail Prokhovorov , left, is seen here with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg , center , and Nets’ co-owner Jay-Z. Bloomberg welcomed the entrepreneurs to the city , and has stated that their residency will create not much-needed revenues for the city but bring about and enrich the community at large . New York Times / Jameson Brewer …

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Anna Faris

The more things change , the more they remain the same

The more things change , the more they remain the same

By Tophatal

In what some might consider to be an exceptional season in baseball , in the space of 24 hours , it has been turned upside down , on its head . Seattle Mariners’ starting pitcher , Felix Hernandez pitched a perfect game on the way the a thrilling 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays . And for the Rays as a franchise this has been the third such time that the ball-club has been on the wrong side of such an event . This was the “third perfect game pitched of the season and the twenty-fourth in baseball history (MLB).

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Slide show.

In light of this all, it certainly doesn’t improve the situation of the Seattle Mariners and their present standing in the AL West , as that now appears to be a forlorn situation, in terms of their having any say in the determining, in the outcome within the division. For Joe Maddon and his coaching staff , it is now back to the drawing board to decide how and why things went so wrong . Coming into this game , the Rays had been winners of eight of their last ten games and with the pitching staff simply being exemplary . Now, it is the offense that has been found wanting , and for all of the talk of the welcomed return of Evan Longoria from the DL . If the team is to be solely reliant upon reliant upon to provide a “ much-needed “ spark when things go awry , then their chances over the remainder of the season will indeed become grim.

Courtesy of USA Today

Cabrera suspension latest chapter in baseball doping

By Jorge L. Ortiz , USA Today

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, who are battling for first place in the National League West, close out the season against each other in what could be a classic down-to-the-wire playoff chase.

Cabrera’s storybook season, highlighted by his MVP turn in the All-Star Game, ended abruptly Wednesday when Major League Baseball announced he had been suspended for 50 games after testing positive for testosterone, a performance-enhancing drug.
PHOTOS : Notable MLB suspensions for PED use

MORE: Column: Victor Conte says Cabrera far from alone

The ban, which would extend through the first five games of the postseason if the Giants get that far, removed a key contributor from the middle of a lineup that ranked eighth in the NL in runs.

For baseball, the suspension sent shock waves through a sport just getting over the bad taste left by the Ryan Braun case. The Milwaukee Brewers left fielder and reigning NL MVP tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in October but had his suspension overturned on appeal on a chain-of-custody issue.

“It’s bittersweet, but it sends a strong message to all athletes at every level that just because you’re the MVP of the All-Star Game doesn’t mean you’re above the rules,” said Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

That message probably wasn’t much consolation to Giants fans, who had embraced Cabrera in his first season with the club as he rose from career journeyman to stardom. Cabrera, 28, was leading the majors with 159 hits while batting .346 with 11 homers and 60 RBI, thrusting himself into the discussion of league MVP candidates.

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It remains a constant struggle for the Tampa Bay Rays to maintain a level of consistency , and it could well be the determining factor how they fare between now and the end of the regular season . The team now goes into a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels (61-55), whose season so far has been truly sensational. Any thoughts that Mike Trout would simply be a flash in the pan can now be quickly dispelled , as the young twenty-year old rookie sets the AL alight . The young rookie sensation along with the recent form of Albert Pujols , are one of the primary reasons why the Angels have been able to maintain a serious challenge to the division leading Texas Rangers (67-49). And that divisional race now seems all the more imperative with the Oakland A’s (61-55) now being added into the mix . The “Cardiac Kids” of Oakland , have found differing ways of eking out a victory when all seemed lost .

As the Tampa Bay Rays enter into their four-game series against the Angels , it should be noted that these two highly competitive teams have a common thread as the Rays’ manager , Joe Maddon , was once a bench coach under Mike Sciocsia , the current manager of the Los Angeles Angels. Furthermore , it was Sciocsia along with team owner , Arte Moreno , who gave the move their blessing, when Andrew Friedman , general manager of the Rays, came calling to assess Maddon’s interest in succeeding Lou Piniella . Maddon’s success with the Rays can be attributed to the years serving alongside Mike Sciocsia . The Rays’ manager may well micromanage this team to the nth degree but those little foibles and intricacies seem to work for the players . It is when they tend to stray from Joe Maddon’s doctrine that things start to go awry . The upcoming quartet of games against the Angels should tell us a great deal about the presumable direction that the team may well be heading in. On the mound today for the Rays will be David Price (15-8, 2.50 ERA) , as he takes on Dan Haren (8-9 , 4.68 ERA) . The season series’ match-up between the two teams , sees the Rays currently holding 5-l lead in the series , with these four games being the culmination of their year-long series. Filling out the rotation of Rays’ pitchers in the series will be James Shields (10-7,4.02 ERA) taking on Jered Weaver (15-2, 2.22 ERA ) , Alex Cobb (7-8,4.08 ERA) facing C J Wilson (9-9, 3.32 ERA ) and Matt Moore (9-7, 3..60 ERA) opposing Zack Greinke (1-1 , 5.54 ERA) .

If Joe Maddon’s players can come away with 3-1 , 2-2 series’ split , it would certainly be better than a series’ loss against the Angels . The team would then face the Kansas City Royals , in Kansas City, Missouri , for three games before meeting the Oakland A’s for another three-game set . The month of August would be rounded out with two series against the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays .

So baseball’s drug policy has nabbed another individual ? Well, this time around , the culprit just happens to be Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants . It’s not so much the surprise of another playing being caught , it is simply in this case , the profile of the individual in question . Cabrera , is one of the leading reasons why the Giants were able to supplant the Los Angeles Dodgers in NL West standings over the past week . Now with this latest “black eye” for the game the hierarchy can say “ we are catching the cheaters” ___ but we ought to bear in mind last season’s claims by Bud Selig and the MLB hierarchy . If one recalls , Ryan Braun was found to have tested positive for a banned stimulant , for which the player believes he had an entirely feasible explanation . That asides , what segued into baseball’s countenance , that they were finally catching up to the steroid abusers , has now turned into an embarrassing tour-de-force for Major League Baseball. So much so , that any remote credibility or minutiae of integrity to be had , are now long gone !.

With the mandatory 50 game first-time suspension as warranted by the league of Melky Cabrera , will likely see a the Giants’ season be somewhat curtailed given the magnitude of the player’s contributions to the team this season . For the moment , it would appear unlikely that the player will be lodging a formal appeal through the MLBPA (Players’ Union) that would see the player’s reinstatement pending a formal hearing through an arbitrator. This might be one road down which MLB does not wish to go , given the absurdity of what took place as the evidence gathered by the league against Ryan Braun in 2011, was thrown out on a technicality because of a failure in following proper procedural protocols in the customary storing of Braun’s test samples . The Milwaukee Brewers’ All Star slugger felt vindicated by the decision of the arbitrator Shyam Das . What was then even more asinine, just happened to be infantile behavior of Bud Selig and Rob Manfred in challenging not only the decision of Das but their having the temerity to suggest that he did not follow the rule of law. Bud Selig and Rob Manfred cannot comprehend the technicalities of legal jurisprudence much less understand would not have stood , had the testing facility not made such a monumental mistake . Take it for what it is , the moment Selig renders a statement about anything his sphere of influence, then you know it is time for this asshole to shut the f##k up !

For Bruce Bochy and Cabrera’s teammates , this suspension could not have come at a worst time. The San Francisco Giants have surrendered back the lead of the NL West to the Los Angeles Dodgers and begs the question as to whether or not Giants are still capable of coming away with the divisional title with the loss of Melky Cabrera ? Certainly , while the player was deemed an integral part of the roster you give the team a chance against their divisional and instate rivals . Now , perhaps not but that would have to be solely predicated upon the San Francisco Giants being able to raise the level of their play. At this juncture, a betting man would likely favor the Dodgers under such a scenario.

If the San Francisco Giants are to now have any chance of now catching the Los Angeles Dodgers , then any subsequent games between these two teams will now mean a great deal more , given what it is at stake . With the highly competitive divisions of the NL and beyond division to be won , a second place within the NL West could still quite possibly garner a wildcard berth that would ultimately lead to the divisional rounds of the postseason . In the inaugural year of the new expanded format for the playoff , Major League Baseball seeks to make 2012 one of the more memorable years within the game’s history .

It would be easy to surmise Melky Cabrera might look to be reinstated but what would that seek to prove at this juncture ? The players know the rules but so often as we have come within sports in general , the athletes believe themselves to be not only above the rules of the game but also above the “rule of law” . There are two rules of thought here to be had , cheat and you don’t caught then it is fine. However , if you do get caught be prepared to accept your punishment , that is unless you can get an attorney who can simply run rings around baseball’s hierarchy .

Trust the front office of an organization to summarily give its manager “ the kiss of death” . Pretty much a given , as the Boston Red Sox have said that they will steadfastly stand by their beleaguered manager . Managing senior partner, John Henry , minority stakeholder Tom Werner , in conjunction with GM Ben Cherington and team President Larry Lucchino have all categorically stated that the team’s manager Bobby Valentine has their full backing . If the rumors are to be believed ,when a meeting took place in Manhattan , wherein , senior members of the playing staff met Lucchino , Cherington and Henry to voice their disapproval in the way with which Valentine has handled the roster this season. The Red Sox have been mind numbingly atrocious this season and when you factor in the team’s $173.2 million payroll there has to be cause for concern . Rightly or wrongly, you can question whether or not the players should be held accountable for the ball-club’s woes but at the same time the manager’s contributions have been negligible overall. So much so, that when you have seasoned veterans such as Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez questioning Valentine’s managerial approach there has to be some justification in their voicing their concerns.

Pedroia has since backed off some of the statements attributed to the him , however , I get the feeling that the former AL MVP player’s dissent is shared amongst his teammates ! Bobby Valentine has done himself no favors with his lackluster efforts in guiding the Red Sox to a 57-60 record within the AL East . That mark by the team sees them seated in third place within the always contentious division . Given the legacy of the Boston Red Sox , as one of the more famed franchises in all of baseball , anything short of making the postseason has to be looked upon as a failure for a ball-club of its size and fan-base. Fenway Park, as one of the more fabled ballparks within the game has witnessed the fans this season not just booing the owners but if anything their most heated attacks have been directed at the manager , himself .

For his part Bobby Valentine has been nondescript and it is my belief that he did not truly appreciate the pressure under which he would be placed when he accepted the managerial role and to serve in that capacity. If the adage is , you are only good as your last job and the success achieved there . Then my question for Ben Cherington would be ——- “why hire a manager who has been away from a managerial role for almost a decade “ ? Surely there must have been far more suitable candidates for the position ? Or was it, as it now appears to be , that this hire was done as an act of capriciousness , putting style over substance ? What thoughts if any do you on that premise ?

There is still a great deal to play for as the season meanders towards its regular finality on the 3rd October , but between now and then , let the chips fall where they may, and then after, we can assess how things have gone.

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Picture gallery.

Are you at all surprised by the recent turn of events within the game ? And as things now stand what if anything are you now most looking forward to as the regular season moves towards a finality ?

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Picture and slide show gallery details below.
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Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez is congratulated by teammate Justin Smoak, right, after throwing a perfect game to end the ninth inning of baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, in Seattle. The Mariners won 1-0 . AP Photo/Ted S. Warren …

(2) Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez is mobbed by teammates, including catcher John Jaso, after he threw a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays, in a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, in Seattle. The Mariners won 1-0. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren …

(3) SEATTLE, WA – AUGUST 15: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners waves to the crowd after throwing a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field on August 15, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images ….

(4) FILE – This June 5, 2012 file photo shows San Francisco Giants’ Melky Cabrera reacting after striking out during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres in San Diego. Cabrera has been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for testosterone. The commissioner’s office says the suspension is effective immediately. Major League Baseball said on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, that Cabrera tested positive for the banned performance-enhancing substance, which violates MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi ….

(5) BALTIMORE, MD – AUGUST 15: Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine argues with home plate umpire Mike Everitt after Adrian Gonzalez (28) of the Boston Red Sox was ejected in the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 15, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles would defeat the Red Sox 5-3 . Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images …

(6) BALTIMORE, MD – AUGUST 15: Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Mike Everitt during the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 15, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

(7) Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, right, talks with, from left, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and first base coach Alex Ochoa in the dugout before a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, in Baltimore. AP Photo/Nick Wass ….

Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, right, talks with, from left, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and first base coach Alex Ochoa in the dugout before a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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Seek life elsewhere , or better yet , go take a leap off a short pier

Seek life elsewhere , or better yet , go take a leap off a short pier

by Tophatal

The NFL preseason has begun with all of the expectations the fans would come to expect of their teams . Meanwhile, this could very well be the year that for one more reason than another managerial casualty is likely to fall. It certainly has not gone unnoticed that the league will be operating under the premise of replacement referees presiding over the preseason games. For some reason the league hierarchy has seen fit to make an already bitter confrontation between the league and the NFLRA (referees’ union) into an even more contentious situation . It would appear that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has simply learned absolutely nothing at all from the hierarchy’s rather inane deliberations during their six-month long impasse that led to a great deal of vitriol between the NFL and the NFLPA . If I should hear one more asinine notion that the league came out of those deliberations as the victor, I am liable to go off an expletive laden rant against the individuals in question ! The deal ratified by and voted on by DeMaurice Smith, that is said to represent a decade-long era of peaceful coexistence between the two parties, has become a complete and utter joke . How else can one now explain the now tenuous relation between the two-high ranking executives, in Roger Goodell and his union counterpart , DeMaurice Smith?

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Slide show .

The relationship between the commissioner and the executive director has become so cooled that one seriously doubts that the duo communicate with each other directly. Communiques among the duo are probably handled by their subordinates . Furthermore, take into account the ongoing mess borne out of the New Orleans Saints’ scandal and the very fact that the league and Goodell are the subject of a joint and separate legal lawsuits brought by Jonathan Vilma . The Saints’ in his defamation suit seeks his reinstatement as well as punitive monetary damages from the hierarchy . Now unless I am mistaken this now bring s the number of legal actions the NFL is the subject of as either a defendant or plaintiff , to a total of 25 and counting . Far be it for me to suggest but there is now more action to be found in the courtrooms than from some of the putrid performances we have witnessed in the preseason ! At this juncture I’m not overly impressed by number of the games and the somewhat poor officiating by the replacement referees brought in at the insistence of the league hierarchy. Roger Goodell at his very best , well to suggest he is inept as the federal government has to leave you wondering whether not he missed his vocation in life ? God knows, since he assumed the reins from his predecessor Paul Tagliabue , it has been repeated pratfalls by this particular NFL executive !

Also at this juncture , what cannot be overlooked is how the odds-makers in Las Vegas look at the present malaise within the NFL ? How will the lines be affected , when knowing that these preseason games will be affected by the every decision that amounts to a mistake on the part of the adjudication officials ? And if this idiocy should carry over into the regular season , then what then should be made of the unfolding situation ? Clearly , this could not have been foreseen by the betting sports’ books in not only Las Vegas but also in Atlantic City , New Jersey .

So two lauded NFL franchises , the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders , were able to put on such an inept performance , which resulted in a 3-0 victory for the Cowboys . And no, that is not a misprint in terms of the final result , which if anything was something a damn misnomer . Cruel and unusual punishment , I believe for the fans in attendance that the O Coliseum , in Oakland, California ! Why should they have to endure such crap while still having to pay full price ? Well , beyond that , is there anyone of the belief that either of these two teams will be in contention within their respective divisions this Superbowl in the postseason ? Well, beyond that need we be reminded that going into week two the preseason schedule the fans will be asked to endure the embarrassment of seeing replacement officials adjudicate the games . And while that idiotic premise remains , with their being no solid movement s in the ongoing negotiations , I would hate to federal government be brought in to provide both parties with a binding arbitration agreement . Both sides are bound to be pissed , should a scenario arise .

How much , is too much , in terms of the coverage being provided by ESPN , as every non story concerning the New York Jets is delved into , as if it were groundbreaking news ? If Tim Tebow has a bowel movement , I do not need to be advised or reminded by Sal Paolantonio that the player’s stool was either brown or soft . Because as of now , that remains the only uncovered feature that has not been analyzed in-depth by the broadcast outlet, as they search to make the young quarterback an even bigger news story than he actually needs to be. Now , ever since his acquisition by the Jets , every imaginable utterance by Tebow has somehow been recorded for prosperity by ESPN. And while there appears to be some interest player’s teammate , starting quarterback , Mark Sanchez , I wonder if this much dedicated coverage would be devoted to the second year quarterback were he anyone else ?

Rex Ryan and his coaching staff were somewhat aggressive in the draft , seeking players who can make an immediate contribution to the team . With Tony Sparano being brought in to be the offensive coordinator , the talk has been about whether or that “one-trick-pony “ of the “wildcat offense” will be adopted as part of the team’s offense . Given the issues of the New York Jets last season as they sought to make themselves more competitive on a number of fronts , the Jets’ limited offensive capabilities were exposed for all to see .

Week one of the preseason schedule the saw the New York Jets as the guests of the Cincinnati Bengals in a game between these two ambitious AFC teams . Bengals’ head coach Marvin Lewis , will no doubt be looking to build upon the exploits of last season when his young team made the playoffs for the first time since 2009. It is that sort of momentum that the franchise seeks, as they look to build upon on their showing of last year. The game (17-6) itself between these two teams was very uneven in terms of its pace and that is to be expected , when one takes into account that the players are still seeking to get themselves into game-shape competition . With that as a premise, even with third and fourth-stringers on the field of play , the fans should expect so much more . After-all , they are being asked to pay regular season ticket prices for games that in essence are meaningless , albeit that the teams will nets themselves several million dollars at the expense of the fans. Diluted product or not, the NFL hierarchy has a great deal of explaining to do as it relates marketed product of the preseason . . As it now relates to the Jets, they’re being hyped as a team that’s once again on the rise , a premise which I am convinced is dubious in its nature ! This is a team that is offensively challenged and whose biggest offensive threat , Santonio Holmes , is now amongst the walking wounded with a severe rib injury.

It had to happen and it did . In light of the latest missteps in the rather understated career of Chad Johnson , you simply knew that the roller-coaster he was riding on would be derailed . Having joined the Miami Dolphins as a free agent , the wide receiver was expected to lead a young receiving corps under first-year coach Joe Philbin . There was a reason why , the former Packers’ offensive coordinator was lured away from that franchise to coach the Dolphins. Philbin bring along with him a great deal of credibility, as well as the fact that he was the calming and guiding influence that turned Aaron Rodgers into an “elite quarterback” . The same is being asked of the coach , as the front office seeks his guidance to groom their first round draft pick Ryan Tannehill .

With all of the behind-the-scenes warts and all revelations that comes about from the HBO sports’ magazine program “Hard Knocks” , there would be no way Johnson would overlook the chance to further showcase himself and his gregarious antics . Apart from his garrulous behavior , Chad Johnson sought to publicize his marriage to television reality show star , Evelyn Lozado and their then , upcoming VH1 reality show entitled show “ Chad & Evelyn “ .

Well with his now infamous physical assault of his wife of a mere 45 days , the two are now in the process of being divorced , as Lozado has since filed the petition to have marriage dissolved. That event as heinous as it is , was not the sole reason for the player’s dismissal from the Miami Dolphins. Chad Johnson’s on air antics during his face time interview with Hard Knock’s reporters left a great deal to be desired . Much of his expletive laden exchanges were simply being done to highlight the player as he felt it was the best way to make himself further known . What might be even more unpalatable however, was the player’s admittance of having the propensity to use marijuana and frequently doing when among his own small entourage . This would not be the only admission from the player as he also stated that it was his wish to be an established adult entertainer/porn star . Given the family friendly environment being created by the Dolphins’ billionaire owner , Stephen “Steve” Ross , Chad Johnson’s antics flew in the face of everything that the owner was trying to establish .

Joe Philbin may well have stated that Johnson’s failure to fit in with the environment he sought to create with the team but in all honesty which premise are you likely to believe as to the real reason for the player’s dismissal ? Spousal abuse cannot be condoned or tolerated in any form , and for the player not to show any act of contrition , in light of the revelation of the attack until some 48 hours after his release from jail . It smacks of another instance where an athlete thinks of himself bigger than the environment in which he resides beyond believing in the printed content by the press , as to his notoriety. Furthermore , GM Jeff Ireland and the Dolphins had to have known what they were getting, in a simmering powder keg and incendiary device such Chad Johnson . I mean his track record spoke for itself in recent years , and it is not as of the signs were not there already given his appearance on his then fiancé’s show (Basketball Wives), where their relationship can be best described as highly volatile and combustible . Now everything has been blown the f##k up and it would take a really desperate owner or front office executive , who would now seek to acquire the troubled player. Bear in mind , that were he to be signed by another NFL franchise he would be subject to a mandatory 4 game suspension under the league’s rules relating to player conduct. Johnson’s career I now believe is at a crossroads, and as astute an agent as Drew Rosenhaus claims to be , even he cannot be sure that he can save , much less resurrect his client’s eleven-year veteran career . This was one great big cluster-f##k of Chad Johnson’s own making, and he only has himself to blame for this mess ! Care offer up your thoughts on the matter ?

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Picture gallery.

What are your impressions of the NFL preseason thus far ? And do you believe that the league hierarchy has once again made a monumental mistake in the handling a labor related issue as it relates to the referees ? By all means do leave a comment on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slide show details below for your perusal
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(1) NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith (left) is seen here with his counterpart, Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL . Although the league’s labor issues are said to have been resolved , the relationship between the two high-ranking executives has become testy and extremely tepid . At present the union is backing its member Johnathan Vilma in his lawsuit against Goodell and the league in US Federal court , in New Orleans , Louisiana . Greg Pardue / AP Photo …. (2) Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor (6) looks to pass as offensive tackle Joe Barksdale (72) blocks Dallas Cowboys defensive end Kenyon Coleman (99) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Aug. 13, 2012. AP Photo/Ben Margot ….

(3) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) talks with an official during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Aug. 13, 2012. AP Photo/Ben Margot ..

(4) Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen , right, talk with an official during the third quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Aug. 13, 2012. P Photo/Tony Avelar ….

(5) Tim Tebow (15) of the New York Jets runs down-field on a punt coverage against the Cincinnati Bengals during a preseason NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on August 10, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals would defeat the Jets 17-6 . Getty Images North America / Joe Robbins ….

(6) Tim Tebow (15) of the New York Jets looks to pass the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals during an NFL preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on August 10, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Joe Robbins /Getty Images …

(7) Tim Tebow (15) and Mark Sanchez (6) of the New York Jets warm up before a preseason NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 10, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Joe Robbins /Getty Images …

(8) FILE – In this Sunday, July 29, 2012 file photo, Miami Dolphins’ Chad Johnson practices during NFL football training camp in Davie, Fla. Police say Dolphins receiver Chad Johnson has been arrested on a domestic violence charge, accused of head-butting his newlywed wife (Evelyn Lozado) during an argument in front of their home in Davie, Fla. The player has since been released by the Dolphins’ ,with the front office acknowledging that Johnson simply did not fit in with the team’s requirements or the direction they were said to be heading in . AP Photo/Terry Renna ….

(9) Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin talks to reporters during a news conference after NFL football training camp in Davie, Fla., Monday, Aug. 13, 2012. AP Photo/Alan Diaz …

(10) From left to right seen here are GM Jeff Ireland , head coach Joe Philbin and the Miami Dolphins’ multi-billionaire owner Stephen Ross . Ross gave the go-ahead for Johsnon’s release , having voiced his displeasure with the player’s on air behavior , while being interviewed on the HBO program “Hard Knocks” . Chad Johnson’s arrest for spousal abuse only exacerbated things further, concerning his behavior . It now leaves the veteran wide receiver without a team but with his agent Drew Rosenhaus now working eagerly to find a new home for the troubled wide receiver . AFP Photo / Tony Hall ……

(11) Chad Johnson is seen here with his wife , Evelyn Lozado on their wedding 4th July , 2012 at their wedding reception . A mere 42 days later , Lozado has filed for divorce from her husband, after his unprovoked attack , during which she questioned the player’s infidelity having found list of phone numbers and a packet of prophylactics(condoms) in the glove compartment of their vehicle . Johnson , according to the affidavit by Ms Loado head butted her (victim). The player’s claims, are that the “alleged head butt” was accidental and that far too much was being read into the incident . In light of his being released by the Miami Dolphins, Johnson has since offered a public apology to his fans , the NFL organization and to his wife , Evelyn Lozado . Drew Rosenhaus , the agent of the beleaguered wide receiver believes that his client will be back in the NFL in the very near future . @ copyrighted material Ennis & Coles … all rights reserved .

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King Kong has nothing on me !

King Kong has nothing on me !

by Tophatal

The Tampa Bay Rays(63-52) now seem to be making a credible run as they seek to chase down the AL East division leading New York Yankees (68-47) . Coming off a decisive 4-1 victory over the beleaguered Seattle Mariners , Joe Maddon’s players are now making believers out of the doubters who may well have felt that this team had been left for dead , a little more than a month ago . Having reeled off seven straight victories , the Rays are winners of eight of their last ten games, which is only second to the Washington Nationals’ run of nine of their last ten games in terms of recent winning streaks .

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Slide show .

Now while there’s still a great deal to play for between now and the end of the 3rd October which happens to be the final day of the regular season schedule of baseball games . The thought has to be , are the Rays in their current guise , capable of erasing the five game lead currently maintained by the Yankees , and thereby secure , only the baseball-club’s third divisional title in its existence , and the first since 2010 . All of this accredited, and deserved success, has come courtesy of Joe Madden and his coaching staff. At the same time , without the ingenuity and fiscal constraint shown by GM Andrew Friedman , I seriously doubt that the organization would be so resilient and steadfast in their approach. The Rays’ general manager has pared down the payroll and has it within a manageable scope for the ball-club , and to the satisfaction of managing general partner and owner, Stuart Sternberg .

With the recent return of the team’s best player Evan Longoria , from the DL , he seemed to be the individual who has provided the “spark” for the team’s recent run . Apart from the offense now once again shining bright. The contributions of B J Upton, Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist, Sean Rodriguez , Desmond Jennings and Carlos Pena , have proven to be fortuitous for the team , as they proceed on with their schedule .

However, with the offense now stepping up to the plate , the pitching staff led by David Price , James Shields , Jeremy Hellickson , Matt Moore , Alex Cobb and closer , Fernando Rodney , have simply sought to prove that this team , will no longer lay down , and remain there . Long gone are those days, when the Rays’ teams of old were the doormats of the AL East , as well as the rest of baseball at large . In recent pitching performances it has been the likes of to the likes of Shields, Matt Moore and Price to keep the Rays within distance of the New York Yankees and the rest of the teams within the AL vying for a postseason berth . There’s no denying that with the AL being so contentious , there are an ever-increasing number of scenarios arising as the teams vying for the divisional leads and wildcard berths up for grabs play themselves into contention.

The Rays , today face the Seattle Mariners in the second of a three game set at Safeco Field , in Seattle , Washington , before embarking on another three game series with against the Los Angeles Angels in Los Angeles , California . Those trio of games against the AL West team will begin on begin on the 16th August , with the first of the scheduled three-set series at Angels Ballpark , this upcoming Thursday. >. First, and foremost , today’s game against the Mariners and the rubber game tomorrow have to be the priority for Joe Maddon’s players , if it is their intent to keep up the momentum and pressure on the New York Yankees .

On the mound today for the Rays will be Matt Moore (9-7, 3.73 ERA) against the seasoned veteran Kevin Millwood (4-10, 4.38 ERA) of the Mariners . Not wishing to be complacent but at this juncture , the Tampa Bay Rays can ill afford a slip-up against a team that has struggled for much of the season . If they can add to their recent tally of victories before embarking on the rest of their West Coast sojourn , then it bodes well for their upcoming series against the Los Angeles Angels . . And for Arte Moreno , owner of the Angels , his team is now locked in a close run battle for the AL West , with the Texas Rangers . The winner of the division , could quite possibly be considered as one of the perceived favorites for the World Series within the AL . These two teams have battled each other feverishly over the course of the season , and with both having that propensity for an explosive onslaught in terms of offensive productivity , you can be sure that when they next meet , we are bound to see a number of exhilarating games .

For the most ardent of Tampa Bay Rays’ fans , I have no doubt they are at present reliving memories during the final month of last season , when the team pulled off an improbable series of wins , with the final triumph coming by way of an 8-7 victory over the New York Yankees , that would ensure the ball-club , the wildcard berth in the postseason . And as short as that foray might have been , it simply exemplified why the Rays remained such a resilient team throughout 2011 . From my own perspective , I believe that the Rays’ players would rather avoid a repeat of that suspense , no matter how exciting have been for the fans in attendance in at Tropicana Field , for that memorable night . The events as they were revealed to the fans, were not only awe-inspiring but when it was revealed that the Boston Red Sox had succumbed to the Baltimore Orioles —- 4-3 , in a defeat that completely deflated the Red Sox fans and their ambitions for the postseason . The thunderous bellows of Rays’ fans being overjoyed and excited, was simply beyond belief. The rest as they say history , and for a Red Sox team that went 7-21 in the final month of their regular season schedule , while still expecting to make the postseason. Well , apart from the complacency and conceitedness shown , it is my belief , that this was a fitting way for Boston Red Sox’s season to end , with an implosion of unbelievable ineptitude exhibited by everyone associated with the organization !

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Picture gallery .

The AL East as a division , is one that I firmly believe is within the grasp of the Tampa Bay Rays , that is if they have the hunger to overcome the obstacles placed within their way ! Those impediments would have to be specifically the Yankees within the division , and among the wildcard aspirants , the Baltimore Orioles , Oakland A’s , Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels . There is still a great deal to play for , as the final third of the regular season comes into play , and I have no doubt the Rays will seek to position themselves for that stretch run . Chances are , by no later than 1st October we may have an idea who will be within earshot winning the AL East . What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this article ? By all means chime with a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb throws against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in Seattle. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren ….

(2) Tampa Bay Rays’ Ryan Roberts , right, is tagged out by Seattle Mariners’ Brendan Ryan , left, after Roberts was caught stealing second base in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in Seattle. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren …

(3) Tampa Bay Rays’ B.J. Upton is greeted in the visitors dugout after he hit a two-run home run against the Seattle Mariners in the third inning of a baseball game, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in Seattle. The Tampa Bay Rays would go on to defeat the Mariners 4-1 . AP Photo/Ted S. Warren ..

(4) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – AUGUST 9: Designated hitter Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays bats against the Toronto Blue Jays August 9, 2012 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images …

(5) Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price follows through on a pitch against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012 in Minneapolis. Price picked up his 15th win as the Rays beat the Twins 4-2 . AP Photo/Jim Mone ……

(6) Pitching coach Jim Hickey (48) of the Tampa Bay Rays talks with pitcher Matt Moore (55) and catcher Jose Lobaton (21) during the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field on August 3, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ..

p> (7) New York Yankees’ Nick Swisher , right, celebrates his grand slam with Mark Teixeira during the third inning of the baseball game against the Texas Rangers Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Seth Wenig …

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What race ?

What race?

by Tophatal …..

Well the divisional and wildcard races are now heating up within baseball (MLB) , and it has come in the wake of some spectacular play by the teams within the AL and NL . While a number of the divisional races appear to be suspenseful , there are others that on appearance appear to be over .

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Slide show .

Since July 3rd , the Atlanta Braves(66-47) are a staggering 25-9 within baseball , the best mark of all the teams , and in achieving that mark, they have narrowed the margin between themselves and the NL East leading Washington Nationals (71-44) . That lead is now down to a mere four games , albeit that the Braves have played two games less than their divisional rivals at this point . This may bode well for Fredi Gonzalez’s team , if they can continue to maintain the momentum that the players now appear to have . The Braves will play host to the San Diego Padres (51-65) at Turner Field , in Atlanta , Georgia .

Today’s game will the first of a four-game series to be played between these two NL rivals. Taking the mound for the Padres will be Eric Stults (2-2, 2.72ERA) who will face off against Mike Minor (6-8, 4.95 ERA ). Now while many of the recent plotlines in the past few weeks concerning the Washington Nationals have emanated from within front office , the thought process being used that GM Mike Rizzo will indeed shutdown the team’s starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg . I might preface this by saying , I do not believe that Rizzo means to go ahead with the proposal. Not with the franchise being this close winning their first divisional , with the added bonus of a playoff berth as well. The idea if for the player , having pitched 160 innings for the year, he would not play a part in the team’s postseason ambition were they still to remain at that point. Strasburg has so far, pitched 133.1 innings , posting a 13-5 mark , with a 2.90 ERA.

It would appear somewhat asinine , that this premise is still being pressed ahead with by either the Nationals’ management , much less the front office executives . With so much at stake , it does give the perception that the ball-club is giving up on their season. Now, while Mike Rizzo is alluding to the fact , that it is their intent to safeguard their investment in Stephen Strasburg and his long-term future with the franchise. It remains my belief that they lost the issue, long ago , when in early 2011 the player had to be placed on the DL , then having to undergo (Tommy John) surgery on his pitching elbow. In the eyes of the Nationals’ fans this may or not be sending the right or wrong message as the organization’s ambitions. Your thoughts and the matter and what you believe to be behind this issue?

The Atlanta Braves are a welcomed story to baseball this season , a franchise that is littered with a legacy of excellence . This season , the feel-good story for the ball-club has been the fact that Chipper Jones , while having an excellent season , has let it be known that this will be his eighteenth and final year within the game . Take into account , that the Braves are the only franchise that he has played over the course of his professional career , having been drafted by the Braves in the 1990 MLB Draft . Jones’ record of achievements speaks highly as to the level of consistency that he has maintained with the Braves’ franchise.

I would like to think that with his veteran experience , Chipper Jones can lead this team with a great deal of resolve as they seek a second World Series title . Well chronicled , have been the stories of the ball-club’s successive NL East divisional titles and the dominance of that division. However , while Bobby Cox presided over a great deal of that success, it has been that with all of the postseason appearances , the franchise’s sole victory in the game’s showcase finale came in 1995 , with the series’ defeat (4-2) of the Cleveland Indians . The acclaim accorded with that team for the success attained still resonates within the ball-club that included a long list of illustrious luminaries among its ranks of the great Braves’ players .

This season, it has been Jones leading the team where it matters most in terms of the Braves’ offense . Along with Martin Prado , Michael Bourn , Freddie Freeman , Jason Heyward , Jones and Dan Uggla , the organization will be looking upon these players to spearhead the Braves onslaught from an offensive standpoint . From my own perspective, if there is a cause for concern for the Atlanta Braves , comes the mere fact that I do not believe that there is enough depth to the team’s pitching roster . If this can be rectified , then there is no reason to believe why they cannot contend with the rest of the NL , between now and the end of the regular season.

Over the past six weeks the NL West has become something of a nightmare for the Los Angeles Dodgers (62-53) . From being the high point of the baseball season news’ related cycle, with the organization having been sold for an astonishing $2.15 billion , and with the exploits of Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp being lauded . The team now finds itself locked in a battle of wills with divisional rivals the San Francisco Giants (63-52) . Granted, with the Dodgers having acquired Hanley Ramirez , as the failing Miami Marlins have begun what now appears to be a cyclical “fire sale” , the waywardness of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the moment , now seems to be back on track because of Ramirez’s recent contributions .

Not so long ago , it looked as if the Dodgers would be romping away with the division but in the space of six weeks a five game lead has been whittled down , erased , and with the Giants now holding a one game lead over their rivals. I am not so sure that , were the Los Angeles Dodgers to fail to make the postseason, after all of the euphoria in the change of ownership , of the now despised Frank McCourt , to a consortium led by Magic Johnson , Todd Boehly , Mark Walter , Stan Kasten and Hollywood and casino mogul Peter Guber . Let us just say , the despondency of the Dodgers’ fans would be something to observe as they seek to make sense of this free-fall.

The postseason means a considerable financial windfall for a franchise and for a ball-club such as the Dodgers that can mean untold millions of dollars , when a team goes deep into the postseason schedule. And even with the business acumen of Mark Walter and Todd Boehly , it will be the baseball ingenuity of Stan Kasten, that could very well determine the success that the Dodgers achieves, and which plays a part in their long-term future . What now may well provide us with the envisioned finale to this duel , between the Dodgers and Giants, might well be how these two teams now fare in their head-to-head match-ups , beyond the remaining games on their respective schedules .

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Picture gallery .

The anticipation of when the two teams next meet , will be a topic of conversation among each ball-club’s fans , when the San Francisco Giants will be the guests of the Dodgers in a three-game home series at Dodgers’ Ballpark . The first of the trio of games will be on Monday 20th August ,2012 (10:00 PM, EST). There is no doubt that the series will be riveting , with so much being at stake for both teams. Chances are whoever seeks to gain the initial advantage, will the ones who will be in the drivers’ seat. Your thoughts on that premise, and how you determine the outcome of the series?

of the divisional and wildcard races now taking place , which teams do you believe will be triumphant? And which ball-club do you believe has the most to lose? By all means do leave a comment as to your thoughts .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) New York Mets pitcher Jon Rauch (60) celebrates with catcher Rob Johnson after the Mets defeated the Atlanta Braves, 6-5 , in a baseball game , Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, at Citi Field in New York. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ….

(2) New York Mets’ Andres Torres is out at second base as Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla attempts to get the double play during the fourth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, at Citi Field in New York. Mets’ Rob Johnson was safe at first. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ….

(3) NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 11: Jason Heyward (22) of the Atlanta Braves celebrates with teammate Chipper Jones 10 after defeating the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 11, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Braves defeated the Mets 9-3 . Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images ….. ……

(4) PHOENIX, AZ – AUGUST 12: Miguel Montero (26) of the Arizona Diamondbacks can’t hold on to the ball as Cesar Izturis (6) of the Washington Nationals slides safely into home as Home Plate Umpire DJ Reyburn (70) looks on at Chase Field on August 12, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images ….

(5) Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg wipes rain from his brow in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, July 20, 2012, in Washington. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster ….

(6) Matt Kemp (27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates as he runs home following his three run home run in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies on August 8, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Getty Images North America /Stephen Dunn …..

(7) Shane Victorino (8) and Hanley Ramirez (13) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after the game against the Colorado Rockies on August 8, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers won 6-4 . Getty Images /Stephen Dunn ….

(8) Matt Cain (18) of the San Francisco Giants hits an RBI single against the Colorado Rockies during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 11, 2012 in San Francisco, California ….. Jason O Watson / Getty Images ….

(9) Buster Posey (28) of the San Francisco Giants disrupts a double play attempt by DJ LeMahieu (9) of the Colorado Rockies during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 11, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Getty Images / Jason O Watson ….

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Mileena Hayes

Into the valley of death rode the six hundred

Into the valley of death rode the six hundred

“Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!’ he said:

Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Some one had blundered:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:”
by Lord Alfred Tennyson

by tophatal

The NFL preseason has kicked off with the usual flurry though not with the expectations accorded a new season, being embarked upon within the league. In the midst of the off the field idiocy that’s said to be taking place , we still have the NFL battling litigiously as a defendant and plaintiff, in a number of legal issues that has created the perception that the league hierarchy is clearly clueless under the tenure NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . I firmly believe , that the proponents of those supporting Goodell to succeed the outgoing , Paul Tagliabue . Had they hindsight to fully grasp how incompetent the incumbent has been, it is my belief that they would have been far more judicious in their choice ! . At this juncture Robert Kraft , Steve Bisciotti , Jerry Jones , Jerry Richardson , Dan Rooney III , John K Mara , may well on the face of it, show signs of contentment with the incumbent but behind closed they might well be rethinking their position concerning Roger Goodell .

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First off, the issue of the New Orleans Saints scandal still stands within their midst , with Saints’ defensive player Jonathan Vilma’s defamation lawsuit still standing leeringly over the head of the NFL . A US Federal Court judge of the 5th District , in New Orleans , Louisiana , having stated that he believes a compromise can be worked out between the two sides , and has not ruled out hearing the case in due course. This is the last thing that Goodell as a defendant as well as the NFL wanted to hear. Such has been the poor handling of this ongoing issue , that I for one firmly believe if this matter cannot be resolved expeditiously , it could come back to be a major embarrassment for all parties concerned. As it now stands, for all of the posturing said to be taking place , neither side comes off looking good , from an image standpoint . The league has shown no transparency as how they gathered and derived much of the evidence used to suspend the four alleged players involved in the scandal. And but for the less than contrite apologies forthcoming from the Saints’ current and former coaching staff as well as GM Micky Loomis, I seriously doubt we would have truly known outright the depth of the malfeasance that has taken place concerning this sordid episode . Now to exacerbate things further the league is now embroiled in waging a battle that could very well turn into an all-out war with the league officials , who preside over the NFL games during the regular and postseason.

Goodell , prior to this latest episode with the NFLRA (referees’ union) saw fit to denounce the union, calling them disingenuous and operating from a position of strength , when in fact that they were unjustified in doing so. Furthermore, the commissioner also stated that it was unjust for the referees’ union to call for a strike action in the lead-up to the pre and regular season . Well, at no time had the union call for such an action , the only thing being sought, was there to be a starting point for the negotiations between the two sides . Something now the league has yet to acknowledge, albeit that the NFL , chief legal counsel Jeff Pash has stated that this is something the league had sought all along. Adolphus Birch III, chief labor negotiations’ adviser to the NFL , whose diligence led to what some might feel was the only way for the NFL to end its impasse with the NFLPA (Players’ Union) during their long and often contentious battle , is now said to be working closely behind the scenes with the senior members of the union’s hierarchy , as he seeks to reach a far-reaching compromise between the two sides that would lead to sanctioned officials working the 2012-13 regular season schedule . As of now, that situation remains in jeopardy , with the NFL , having already used replacement officials for the opening games of this preseason.

In terms of implicit faith , I have never seen fit to trust Roger Goodell, and how he conducts the business of the NFL ! For an individual in such a position of power , his communicative skills are certainly mediocre and I do believe that he wields far too much power in terms of his influence, and the way in which he is the sole arbiter justice , as related to the punishment meted out to the players concerning their on and off the field transgressions ! Goodell, has been quick to point out that Vilma’s actions in terms of his defamation lawsuit , has no bearing upon the actions taken by himself in suspending the player , three of his peers as well as current and former members of the Saints’ coaching staff. However, the commissioner has seen fit to hide behind the tenets of jurisprudence as it relates to the league’s own transgressions concerning their willingly withholding evidence of concerning the effects of blunt force head trauma and its cause-and-effect for current and former NFL players suffering various neurological disorders CTE ([chronic traumatic encephalopathy]), concussions , short and long-term memory loss, vision impaired issues, aneurysms . Do you get the feeling that the league hierarchy always had something to hide concerning this issue? And for the idiots out there who continue to suggest that the players knew exactly what they were getting into as it relates to the full-contact sport of the NFL . Well I would suggest you consider the actions of “Big Tobacco” and their surreptitious maneuvers concerning their product, the evidence withheld and which they sought to have stricken from their research. Are their actions any different from those of the NFL and the very fact that at no time had the league sought to make their own research public . Instead , it has been left to world-renowned bastions of academia to hold the NFL accountable for their lack of action and embellishing of the truth.

I have read number of pieces within this forum by individuals who will rail on about the grandest of the NFL its popularity but rarely have I read anyone taking the league to task on the aforementioned issues. Instead , it is if they remain oblivious to what is actually happening in-front of their very eyes or they simply lack the wherewithal to question the NFL image . Prior to the start of the preseason , Goodell saw fit to avail the fans analysts with the very to make everyone aware that the league would be adding another $1.75 billion in additional revenue by way of a renegotiated television contract . Money may well be the root of all evil but in the eyes of the NFL it is very much the dulcet tones of mezzo-soprano singing an aria . With the NBA revenues now deriving in excess of $7.75 billion annually and who continues to offer the public something of a diluted product while the franchise owners continue to cajole municipalities into using their resources to facilitate the building of new venues for multimillionaires and billionaires . And it certainly doesn’t help that rarely does the league seek to avail their franchises with its G4 loan program

when they seek to build a new facility , instead it is left to the cities where many of the franchises operate are coerced into financing such arenas. You merely have to see the idiocy of the Minnesota state legislature and the very fact that the governor , Mark Dayton (R-MN) succumbed to a number of his state legislators and the lobbyists who represented the interests of the Minnesota Vikings. Team owner Zygi Wilf was relentless in pressing the case for the franchise he owns , without ever taking into account that the state faced a burgeoning state deficit of $5.6 billion ($ 5,600,000,000), and that state agency having to furlough state employees or and cut the state’s education budget , in order to stave off financial ruin. Some would suggest that because the Vikings are part of the minutiae of the fabric of the St-Paul Minneapolis area , it was a matter of urgency that the Vikings be retained within the vicinity , rather than seeing the franchise relocate elsewhere .

Minnesota in part will be partially funding the $1.2 billion development that will house the venue that will be named Target Field , in Minneapolis . As to the franchise’s aspirations this season within the NFC North, well, everything will most certainly lead to all avenues , and will have to go through the Green Bay Packers. Head coach, Leslie Frazier will be hard pressed to make this team competitive this season, given their schedule .

GM Chris Spielman and the coaching staff were judicious in the drafting of the players they believe will make great contribution for the franchise this season. The team’s preseason schedule began with their meeting the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park, San Francisco , California ,. The resultant 17-6 loss by the Vikings, this past Friday, the event gave us little by way of an indication by way of expectation from this beleaguered franchise. Game two of their preseason schedule pits the Vikings against the Buffalo Bills . With both teams looking to resurrect their fortunes after last year’s underachievement , it will be interesting to gauge how both of these teams will fare in 2012. From my own perspective the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings are due for some good fortune but much of that will be predicated on the ambitions of the franchises and how they each seek to acquit themselves over the course of the 2012 regular season schedule .

A great deal is being asked of both Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck for this season , with both players taken as the number’s 1 and 2 draft picks in 2012 NFL Draft. Also as the top two quarterbacks taken the added pressure being placed upon further heightens the expectations. For general managers Ryan Grigson of the Indianapolis Colts and Bruce Allen of the Washington Redskins , theirs is a season which will be predicated upon the play both of these quarterbacks rookie quarterbacks. With the scintillating performances of Cam Newton in 2011 , the bar has been set very high by the 2011 number one draft pick from last season’s NFL Draft. Beyond the aspirations of Luck , RGIII , Brandon Weeden, Ryan Tannehill, Brock Osweiler and Russell Wilson , are each likely to see some action at some point during the regular season but in all likelihood their baptisms of fire will come in form of the preseason . If they are able to prove themselves to their respective head coaches , then in all probability there is the chance at some point during the regular season we are like to see the quarterbacks beyond Griffin and Luck , start for their respective teams.

If there is said to be a certainty with regard to the NFL season then it is the very fact that year-in-and-year-out there is bound to be a managerial casualty . This season will be no different , while Norv Turner continues to walk a tight rope of uncertainty and ineptitude with the San Diego Chargers . Pete Carroll , among the league’s highest paid coaches ($7.5 million a-year) continues to prove that in spite of his success at the collegiate level , he is not an NFL caliber coach . And for those making the claim that this season , this current Seahawks’ team , is the very best that unit that he has had at disposal , since he assumed the mantle of the head coach of this franchise . Let’s put it this way, if Carroll is unable to guide this unit deep into the postseason , then team owner Paul Allen , seriously has to consider jettisoning the head coach .

For Lovie Smith , this may well be the final season , with which has the chance to guide the Chicago Bears and redeem his and that of the Bears’ reputation . The 2010 NFC title game was a damning indictment of how lackluster and gutless the team just happened to be . Jay Cutler, simply has no heart , in spite of the claims that he is an immensely talented quarterback . The day he wins a meaningful game but more aptly , possesses the leadership skills to lead , then perhaps one might take those claims more credibly . If Rex Ryan missed his vocation , then it should have been as a federal legislator in either the House of Representatives or US Senate . How he can continue to come up with that deluge of garbage professing to the merits of the New York Jets while claim there is some veracity to his claims , is as asinine as the claims of Sarah Palin and her knowledge of jurisprudence . Ms Palin can you name a current US Supreme Court Justice or at least one piece of “landmark ruling “ rendered by the Justices of that institution ? That bit#h is s so dumb that those fawning over her every word , clearly have not one iota of goddamn intelligence !

If Rex Ryan is unable to secure a Superbowl title for the Jets within two years , then his reign as the head coach of this franchise , has to be viewed as a monumental failure . No excuses, about the lack of talent afforded him over the years , since he was installed as the head coach or that of not having drafted wisely . Everything has come under his watch , has been of his own volition and the coach cannot apportion blame elsewhere . Only a petulant child would seek to do that , and by appearance alone physically , Rex Ryan could never claim to be that . Mentally however, that might be another thing altogether !

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Picture gallery .

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

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) From left to right Dan Rooney , Roger Goodell , Paul Taglibue and Jerry Richardson . Goodell assumed the mantle of commissioner , succeeding Tagliabue in 2008 . USA Today/ Getty Images/ Anthony Carbone ….

(2) New England Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty (32) breaks up a pass intended for New Orleans Saints tight end David Thomas (85) during their first NFL preseason football game in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. The Patriots would defeat the Saints 7-6 . AP Photo/Michael Dwyer …

(3) A New Orleans Saints fan expresses his sentiments during their first NFL preseason football game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer …

(4) Vikings owner Zygi Wilf , right, tells the media he is open to a new stadium at the Metrodome site, but no decision has been made, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 at the State Capitol. In the background are Gov. Mark Dayton , Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Rep. Morrie Lanning , left to right. A subsequent vote taken in state legislature to approve the financing of a new venue for the Minnesota Vikings and signed into law by the state’s governor Mark Dayton. MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson ….

(5) Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, right, talks with corner-back Roy Lewis , left, following a drill, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, at NFL football training camp, in Renton, Wash. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren ….

(6) Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6), kicker Robbie Gould (9) and tackle A.J. Greene (75) watch from the sidelines against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. The Bears’ offensive line played a mere series on their way to a 31-3 loss but the quarterback remains detached and lacking in leadership with regard to his team . It remains the question that has followed Cutler over the course of his professional career since he entered the NFL Draft in 2006 AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast ….

(7) Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith speaks at a news conference at NFL football training camp at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill., Tuesday, July 24, 2012. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ….

(8) New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, right, meets with Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis after an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in Cincinnati. The Bengals won 17-6 . AP Photo/David Kohl …

(9) New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) gets up after being sacked in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/Al Behrman …..

(10) New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow passes against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/Tom Uhlman ….
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Hot chic pic of the day Tasha Douglas .

Tasha makes sure the “coochie” gets a good feeling by making sure it’s moist and aroused .

So there’s no steak that comes with this meal?

So there’s no steak that comes with this meal?

by tophatal

Defending Superbowl champions , the New York Giants come into this year’s campaign looking to make a successful defense of both the Superbowl itself , as well as their NFC East divisional title . My own thoughts are these , the division is no longer the most glamorous in all of football and the idiots who continue to buy into this nonsense that the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are still forces to be reckoned with , have absolutely no damn idea as to what the hell they are talking about ! Now, in spite of the Eagles having a great winning streak going, as the waning moments of their 2011 season petered out. What we have to look at , is the very fact is that this so-called team , is one in name only . Michael Vick remains an ever-present force and the established talents of LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson remains , and there is no denying that the Eagles do remain something of an offensive threat . However , what I have heard, no one mentions, fans or professional analysts , or otherwise , state is that the Philadelphia Eagles are a team that at times , who can become disinterested , completely complacent, and who are simply of belief that they can get by on raw talent alone . Instead , repeatedly the fans are sold “ a bill of goods” as to what we should expect from the Eagles , year-in and year-out . There comes a time where we have to ask , ‘ when is enough, enough’?

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The sorrowful loss borne by head coach Andy Reid over the loss of his son, Garrett Reid , has cast a giant shadow over the team’s preparations for the preseason and their regular season schedule . Reid , has already returned to the team’s headquarters, rather than remaining with the members of his immediate family. Team owner , Jeff Lurie has consoled his long-established coach personal friend but he understands that it is the head coach’s wish to be back amongst his players. I fully expect the Eagles’ players to rally around the head coach and try to make a success of this season ! Now comes the hard part, talk is cheap , and it will be the actions of this team that dictates whether or not 2012 will be a successful year for the franchise .

The Philadelphia Eagles will play hosts to the Pittsburgh Steeler to open their preseason schedule . Both teams aspire to make the postseason and it will be down the quarterbacks , Michal Vick and Ben Roethlisberger to make that scenario a reality. Reid and his coaching staff used the off-season to refocus their efforts on this roster , with their being a number of moves in the acquisition of free agents , while others were allowed to leave. In the 2012 Draft , the front office were judicious in taking players they felt would best contribute to the team’s needs. For Fletcher Cox , Mychal Kendricks , Vinny Curry, Nick Foles , Brandon Boykin, Dennis Kelly , Marvin McNutt , Brandon Washington and Bryce Brown . This will be their welcome and “baptism of fire “ in the NFL this season. A great deal is expected of Cox Curry and Kendricks, who were taken in the first two rounds of this past NFL Draft.

With each passing season you have to lament the ineptitude shown by the Dallas Cowboys. I am sorry but if you are trying to convince yourself after almost a decade in the league , Tony Romo is now at the point in his career , where his time has come to be considered a success . Then might I interest you in a piece of prime real estate on the outskirts of Homs, in Syria ? You not need worry about the property being in a war-torn area of the Middle East. Look , once that war is over , the death and destruction will be the least of your problems . It is laughable to even consider Romo one of the top ten quarterbacks in the NFL but yet praise has been heaped upon a player who has yet to win meaningful game over the course of his career . The biggest hindrance to this franchise, remains its bombastic owner Jerry Jones . He’s the 1,000lb gorilla in the room along with a herd of stampeding elephants . His constant micromanaging and the very fact that each decision as it relates to the franchise must have his final seal of approval , remains a constant reminder, why the Cowboys will always fall short at the final obstacle in their way . Then throw in the fact that Jason Garrett’s questionable game strategizing and decision-making is along the lines of an indecisive introvert. If Garrett were playing a game of chess , I can assure you that it wouldn’t take long beat this guy decisively in less than ten moves ! Heir-apparent and Jones’ golden child , Jason Garrett’s time , as the head coach of this franchise is now at a point where the owner may well have to reconsider his options in assessing the incumbent head coach.

The sole fact perhaps to see the Cowboys play , is to see the intensity brought to each game by DeMarcus Ware ! And just as a reminder why it’s not great to take hype over talent consider the “problem child” known as Dez Bryant. Now if I hear one more lame assed excuse, that his home life , socio-economic status played a part in this player’s latest outburst , which led to Bryant physically assaulting his mother . Then for all sense and purpose, the idiots now jumping to the player’s defense , specifically minorities, what is that you have failed to understand by Dez Bryant’s monstrous actions? My question to those being so quick to defend the player, would you be of the same mindset, if it were your mother being attacked? Wake the f#ck up and stop it with this idiocy! .

John Mara, the billionaire owner of the New York Giants would like nothing better than for the franchise to stage a Superbowl at MetLife Stadium , home to both the Giants and co-inhabitants , the New York Jets . What might now be endangering that situation at present is a proposal now being supported by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) . Christie is proposing a gambling initiative within his state that would allow for gaming beyond the controlled environment of licensed casinos and OTB’s (off-track betting) . In light of this the hierarchies of MLB , NBA , NHL and the NFL are seeking an injunction in the US Federal Courts to completely stop the initiative in its tracks . Mara insists the proposal would hinder the Giants’ chances of hosting Superbowl at the franchise’s home venue and Governor Christie’s initiative does violate a Federal statute already that exists. Now given that the gambling industry plays a significant part in the NFL , especially along the lines of the odds-makers in Las Vegas laying the lines, that sees tens of millions being wagered each week that the league (NFL) is in existence and the mere fact that Superbowl weekend becomes an explosion of activity, as it believed that close to close to $1.5 billion in bets are wagered on the event , not just domestically but also with off-shore betting enterprises .

Courtesy of NY Daily News

NY Giants co-owner John Mara and New Jersey’s Chris Christie line up on opposite sides over sports gambling

Gov. Christie wants to bring gambling to the Garden State which Mara thinks would hurt shot at hosting future Super Bowls

By David Sanchirico , NY Daily News

It’s John Mara vs. Chris Christie. Place your bets now.

The Giants co-owner waved his finger against the New Jersey governor’s attempt to legalize sports gambling in the money-desperate state of Garden State. To Mara, if Christie defeats a lawsuit with the four major professional sports organizations and the NCAA against the proposal, MetLife Stadium won’t be hosting any more Super Bowls after 2014.

“If New Jersey goes ahead with its plan and has sports betting, I don’t think there’s a chance in the world of us getting another Super Bowl,” Mara said to the USA Today. “I’m not concerned about this Super Bowl, but I will say this: It would be difficult for us to get support of the other owners for another one.”

Christie signed the Sports Gambling Law in January, which would legalize gambling on both collegiate and professional sports in the fall. In response, the four major professional sports leagues, plus the NCAA, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Trenton, citing that the law is in violation of the 1992 Professional and Amateur Protection Act. The leagues also fear that the spread of legal sports gambling could damage the integrity of their respective games.

The governor certainly does not fear the lawsuit.

“We’re going to win,” he told the Asbury Park Press. “I don’t believe the federal government has the right to decide only certain states can have sports gambling. And it does not acknowledge that there are illegal sports gambling going on in every state in America. So why is this more injurious somehow than illegal sports gambling?”

New Jersey has been under federal prohibition against sports gambling since 1994, when the federal government launched a nationwide law prohibiting betting on sports. Christie’s longing for betting will change that if he defeats the sports organizations.

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With so many states around the country seeking new revenue streams and with many of them facing budgetary shortfalls , Chris Christie may well have felt this initiative was the best way forward for the beleaguered Garden State. The state legislature has yet to address the issue of bloated $10.5 billion deficit that both legislative chambers even working through bipartisan endeavors cannot seem to agree on anything. Governor Christie portrays himself as a socially fiscal Conservative but somehow for all of that talk there has little tangible to show for it all by the governor and both state Democrats and Republicans in New Jersey. This is a picture that is now being painted right across the country within state and municipal agencies struggling to find a sound fiscal standing . Consider that this is now taking place within the state of California , where that state legislature is simply clueless as to how best to address their own financial malaise and where it now has the governor , Jerry Brown is calling for certain aggressive tax increases while cutting back on spending. on a number of discretionary infrastructure projects. It should be noted the state is now furloughing state employees but the irony of this situation is that the state is now spending more money per-capita annually on incarcerating state prisoners , than they now do in spending on the education of students within the campuses of the UCLA collegiate system . Who says that crime doesn’t say ? All this from a state with the nation’s largest prison population , while having a $16.5 billion ($16,500,000,000) budget deficit , that shows no signs that it will be dealt with expeditiously the state legislators.

John Mara , along with several prominent NFL owners, Robert Kraft , Woody Johnson , Stanley Kroenke , Jerry Jones and Steve Biscotti petitioned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to put a halt to New Jersey’s proposal. I am not so sure how the four major sports’ professional hierarchies can interject themselves into something that is simply state issue in terms of the statute being proposed in New Jersey . At the same time it does seem asinine that they would also seek to oppose gambling when it has become part of the minutiae of professional sports . Each of these sports has their very own issue to worry about and be acutely concerned with, and it remains to be seen how each deals with those problems.

As a New England Patriots’ fan , seeing the team succumb to the New York Giants in the Superbowl for the second time in five years , has me now wavering on whether or not my sanity can remain intact. Fool me three times , and I’m liable to go postal up in this b##ch! It is what it is! Every NFL franchise must meet their “ Waterloo” , in the case of the Patriots the Giants have now become a “thorn in the side “ of the New England franchise. Bill Belichick, hopefully, will have learned something from those two defeats .

Tom Coughlin working in conjunction with GM Jerry Reese have now molded a formidable talent base for this franchise to be a success for years to come . And similarly, this year, no chances were taken in terms of the players drafted and as it relates to the character and maturity. Granted , the team lost Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham to free agency with both players joining NFC rivals the San Francisco 49ers .

There is now , no doubt in my mind that Tom Coughlin will be Canton bound upon meeting the criteria for his enshrinement into the Hall of Fame ! With his mindset, he has single-handed brought this franchise back to prominence and his doubters have now fallen into line , in supporting the veteran NFL coach. The NFC East is the Giants’ to lose but I do believe that they will be tested in part by their divisional rivals , specifically by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Coughlin’s players will begin the defense of their title with the customary preseason preamble of four games , that pits them against the Jacksonville Jaguars , New York Jets , Chicago Bears and New England Patriots . The first of the quartet of match-ups takes place at Everbank Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, this Friday. I would expect that as the Giants’ preseason unfolds a number of the first team players will get the chance to re-acclimatize themselves with the rigors of the game. The first-team offense and first-team defense will no doubt be eager to get on the field and provide and indicator to the coaching staff that they are ready or the rigors of the regular season . In their 2011 preseason schedule the New York Giants went 2-2 , with victories over the Chicago Bears 41-13 and New England Patriots 18-17 . One should not at put much credence into to those results, as merited by the final preseason standings before the teams embarked on their regular season schedule.

The New York Giants’ 2012 schedule begins on the 5th September 2012 , with the team’s season opener against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium , East Rutherford , New Jersey . Week two and Tom Coughlin’s team will again be at home, hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers .

Now whether or not , Eli Manning can reproduce the form witnessed last season , where he guided the Giants with a great deal of aplomb during the regular and postseason , it remains to be seen . Certainly, Manning aided by an offensive line and a defense that at times, was uncannily proficient in their execution . Justin Tuck , Osi Umenyiora , Mathias Kiawanuka , Joseph Linval , Jason Pierre Paul and Aaron Ross will be looking to anchor a defense has to be considered one of the better defensive units not just within the NFC but the NFL as a whole .

Eli Manning , like his elder sibling , Peyton Manning , is now looking to write his own dramatic chapters to his now credible career. A far cry from 2004 when the player was taken as the number one overall pick, from that year’s draft . Having left Ole Miss , with something of a distinguished career , there were many who questioned whether or not he could surpass the feats achieved in college but better yet, be the equal of his brother. Controversy surrounded the reasons why Eli Manning refused to go to San Diego when it was suggested that Chargers’ GM A J Smith made inquiries as to his willingness to make his career there. With Eli’s father , Archie Manning interjecting himself in this all , the patriarch would categorically state that his son would not be playing in San Diego , with the San Diego Chargers . The AFC West franchise would instead acquire —- Philip Rivers. In the subsequent years, these two franchises the Chargers and Giants , have each had their high and lows.

Given the ever-changing landscape of the NFC and the very fact that the issues of the New Orleans Saints are now being magnified to ever-increasing proportions and causing greater embarrassment to the NFL and its image. Each season the fans I believe have an idea as to which franchises will be viewed as contenders and which can be deemed pretenders . Standouts in the category of contenders would have to the Green Bay Packers , San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons and the Eagles . I am not completely sold on the Chicago Bears , as I feel that Jay Cutler has yet to overcome psychologically , the events that took place in the 2010 NFC championship game that ended in a disastrous 21-14 loss to the eventual Superbowl champions of that season , the Green Bay Packers.

It is still early days yet , so we can either choose to use the preseason as a gauge as what to expect this upcoming season within the NFL . As to Chris Christie’s intent and how it might change the perceived landscape within the NFL and the wagering that takes place on the games . I firmly believe the league’s legal challenge is all too little too late ! Wagering on sporting events has been a long-held tradition that goes hand-in-hand with the events themselves . Where would be the thrill of the Superbowl for the fans who’ve placed a wager bet on the game?

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In light of what is now being proposed by the state of New Jersey , do you believe that it will be the for the betterment of the NFL sporting experience Or do you simply believe that New Jersey governor’s actions are that of a politician whose sole motivation is simply that of someone who is now completely devoid of ideas in how best rescue his state’s massive budget crisis ? Lastly, do you believe that the New York Giants as the defending Superbowl champions are capable of making a legitimate defense of their title ? If yes or no, then clearly state your reasons why.

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Picture and slide show details below for your perusal .
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(1) New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin watches his team, the defending Super Bowl Champions, practice at the New York Giants NFL football training camp in Albany, N.Y., Saturday, July 28, 2012. AP Photo/Kathy Willens ….

(2) New York Giants tight end Martellus Bennett, right, chats with running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) during a practice at the New York Giants NFL football training camp in Albany, N.Y., Friday, July 27, 2012. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(3) New York Giants co-owner John Mara, center, pauses to answer reporters’ questions at the New York Giants football training camp in Albany, N.Y., Friday, July 27, 2012. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(4) Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vick and coach Andy Reid stand on the sideline during a moment of silence for Reid’s son Garrett, who died Sunday, before an NFL preseason football against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Michael Perez ….

(5) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks to guests at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on June 8, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. CPAC is being hosted by the American Conservative Union. Christie seeks to have gambling reinstated statewide , after a federal ban instigated in 1994 , due to organized crime and racketeering that engulfed the state and led to the downfall of prominent politicians and judicial advocates during an FBI investigation. Atlantic City at present remains the only locale where there is legalized gambling within the Garden State. Many view the governor’s actions as the only way to assist the state from financial ruin because of their bloated state deficit which currently stands at a whopping $10.6 billion . Getty Images North America / Scott Olson ….

(6) California Gov. Jerry Brown (R) signs a legislation authorizing initial construction of California’s $68 billion high-speed rail line with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (L) and state and city officials looking at Union Station on July 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The bill authorizes $10 billion in state bonds to start construction of a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The “boondoggle” that the state legislators believe will create in excess of 100,000 jobs as part of an ongoing infrastructure project . Much of this however , is based upon the premise that the state would be given Federal aid once the project is up and running . The figures being bandied about in terms of that aid ranges from anywhere between $8-$14 billion . Getty Images North America / Kevork Djanszejian ….

(7) Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) and wide receiver Brandon Stokley (14) talk on the sidelines during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. The Broncos would defeat the Bears 31-3 ……. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast ….

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Leila Arcieri putting the ass back into Arcieri! And a fine piece of ass she is !